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Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192234
04/19/08 06:51 PM
04/19/08 06:51 PM
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Posts: 62
Eastern WA
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Vonette Offline OP
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Well, I've given in to the desire for a truly nice piano. I've been spoiled by the M&H grand I play at church, and so since my budget did not allow me to buy a nice piano, I'm starting a second part-time job so I can afford one! However, since I live in a small-town area, there's not much available around here. I did find out that a local piano tuning family (husband/wife team) also rebuilds and refurbishes used pianos and sells them. They've been doing this for decades and are well-thought-of around here. I want either a really nice upright (at least a studio size), or a smaller grand (at least 5'6" and preferably 5'8" or 6').

They didn't have any uprights that I would consider seriously, but they did have three grands I loved! Unfortunately, I can only afford the cheapest of the three. So what do you think of this deal? The piano is a Baldwin 5'8" grand from the 1930's. The hammers are newer, the strings are brand new, the keys are being rebushed, the plate has been refinished, and all the action has been refurbished/replaced. The keytops are original plastic (wish they were ivory!) but with no chips or scratches. It looks like the piano was refinished at some point during the last 30 years so it looks OK though not new. The price includes delivery and the first tuning for $9000. Also, this couple takes monthly payments and does not charge interest. All they require is that I pay it off within 3 years. So, given these "extras" do you think the price is fair?

Next weekend I'm going to a seminar in Bellevue, WA, and plan to stop in at three piano stores nearby (Helmer's, Sherman Clay, and Prosser if I remember the names correctly). I thought I'd get some input on this local deal so I can be better equipped to make a decision about what I see in Bellevue. I like the idea of spending my money locally and not having to have the piano shipped across the mountains if possible. Plus, if I buy in Bellevue, I'll have to get financing with interest. Still I'm excited to see what I can find!

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Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192235
04/19/08 07:28 PM
04/19/08 07:28 PM
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If it is truly a Baldwin from the 1930s, it would have had ivory keys originally. Baldwin made a number of different lines of pianos, and only the true Baldwins would begin to command this sort of price. There should be lettering cast into the plate that says it is a Baldwin, not just "A Product of Baldwin."


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Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192236
04/19/08 08:52 PM
04/19/08 08:52 PM
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San Francisco
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The best used piano money that you can spend is that spent on a prepurchase inspection by an experienced tech who has no affiliation with the seller. You'd want an independent assessment of what has been replaced, what has been modified, and what is original.

Please mention to the sellers that you need to have your tech explain things to you. If they object, pass on it. This is an old piano. Work not done or not done right will get you a money pit.

IMO the action is the crucial element in determining a price. "Refurbished/replaced" - what and why.

If you have any problem understanding your tech's report, you could request clarification on the Tuner-Tech's forum.

IMO unless there has been substantial replacement of the action parts, this piano is seriously overpriced.

They're *asking* $9k.

If paying over time is a positive, present value tables for a consumer loan at market interest will give you the dollar value for the no-interest loan.

Glad you're looking forward to the Bellvue trip. Finding the right piano can be a wonderful adventure.

Patience and persistence. Please keep us posted.

Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192237
04/19/08 09:29 PM
04/19/08 09:29 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
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Massapequa, NY
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I agree with FogvilleLad, and I hope you can find an experience tech to look at the instrument. You can find a tech in your area if you go to The Piano Technicians Guild website and you will find a list of piano technicians in your area.

You also want to get Larry Fine's "The Piano Book" as it gives you a complete writeup on what to look for in a piano and questions that you need to ask. Best wishes and let us know if everything works out with the Baldwin.

- Mark


...The ultimate joy in music is the joy of playing the piano...
Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192238
04/19/08 09:47 PM
04/19/08 09:47 PM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 686
Louisiana, USA
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Quote
Originally posted by Vonette:
The keytops are original plastic (wish they were ivory!)
I am a bit displeased that you harbor such ill will toward our pachyderm friends.

Quote
Originally posted by Vonette:
The price includes delivery and the first tuning for $9000. Also, this couple takes monthly payments and does not charge interest. All they require is that I pay it off within 3 years. So, given these "extras" do you think the price is fair?
Presuming a consumer interest rate of 10%, this would equate out to about a cash price of $8K. That doesn't sound so high if the piano has been well restored. Others have mentioned that the 2 best actions you could take is to read the Larry Fine book, and if you are still interested in the piano, get an independent tech to examine it.

Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192239
04/19/08 10:29 PM
04/19/08 10:29 PM
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Posts: 62
Eastern WA
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Vonette Offline OP
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BDB's comment brings up an interesting question. When exactly did plastic key covers come into use on pianos? Currently, I am using a "temporary piano" I picked up cheap at an estate sale and according to the serial number it was built in 1939 or 1940. It has plastic keys and they are definitely original (everything on this piano is original!). This "temporary piano" of mine is a Howard product of Baldwin.

But the grand I am considering buying is definitely a true Baldwin. I didn't look up the serial number on it (just took the lady's word on the age). I'll be sure to do so before purchasing -- but it wouldn't make much difference if it was 1930s or 1940s, would it? Sorry, no ill will intended towards the elephants! I'm glad they no longer allow the use of ivory, but since the old pianos already have it, it seems like it would a nice bonus if I'm going to buy an old piano. It does feel nice.

Thanks for the tips. I have a technician I trust who also tunes pianos for Whitman College here. I thought it might be awkward to send him to evaluate his competitor's work, given the small number of techs that work here, but I can see your point. I have already read Larry Fine. Very helpful indeed.

In truth, the piano I really wanted from this couple costs $15,000 -- if only I could afford to go that high! It's actually another Baldwin from the same era, but they've gone all out on it. They put in new Italian strings, totally replaced the action with Renner Steinway action, replaced the soundboard with new solid spruce, re-ebonized the case, and put on new keytops. It plays and sounds like a dream! After playing that one, I have to believe they know what they are doing.

Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192240
04/20/08 02:03 AM
04/20/08 02:03 AM
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Posts: 312
Seattle, Washington
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Hi Vonette:

Here's a 1992 Baldwin for sale in Auburn WA:

http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/msg/648462099.html

and it is much less expensive and newer than the partially restored/conditioned one you are looking at.

Therefore, I think the price is too high.


Baldwin SF-10 320152, Marshall & Wendell, Steinway B
Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192241
04/20/08 02:11 AM
04/20/08 02:11 AM
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Seattle, Washington
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Hi Vonette:

Here's another one in Bellevue--a 1968 5'8". Also, quite a bit less expensive than the $9K.

http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/msg/648223469.html


Baldwin SF-10 320152, Marshall & Wendell, Steinway B
Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192242
04/20/08 02:31 AM
04/20/08 02:31 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 4,683
San Francisco
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And $6900 is the asking price.

Good work.

Vonette, in general, recently manufactured pianos are bolder and brighter. That refurbished Baldwin should have a mellower tone than do the newer ones. Do your ears like its tone? (Please be sure to test the sustain, especially in fifth and sixth octaves. Lack of sustain there indicates a deteriorated 'board.) Even if they do - and the tech's evaluation hasn't yet been done - my initial reaction is that it's either overpriced or seriously overpriced. They're asking $9k.

Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192243
04/20/08 02:44 AM
04/20/08 02:44 AM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 62
Eastern WA
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Vonette Offline OP
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Thanks. I have been watching craigslist, too, and I did see both of those pianos post. Of course, there is no guarantee they will still be there when I get to Bellevue in a week. Also, my time to shop is very limited, and I don't know my way around there well. That's why I'm focusing more on the piano stores which are all within a mile of my hotel. My concern with the 1992 Baldwin is the year. I know that just before Gibson took over Baldwin was letting go of their experienced builders and put out some not so great pianos. Wasn't 1992 about that time? My concern with the 1968 Baldwin is that it sounds like it's had a lot of use (formerly owned by a professional musician? How many hours did he play it everyday?) It's 40 years old and may need new hammers and who knows what else. Plus, once I add the cost of shipping it almost 300 miles and the cost of financing and the first tuning (all of which are included in the $9k piano), is it really any cheaper?

Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192244
04/20/08 02:44 AM
04/20/08 02:44 AM
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Quote
It is a Howard product of Baldwin. But the grand is definitely a true Baldwin.
A Howard is not a true Baldwin. The designs are different, and even their #2 line Hamiltons were a lot lower quality than the Baldwins. People buy these lesser pianos at Baldwin prices far too often.


Semipro Tech
Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192245
04/20/08 02:46 AM
04/20/08 02:46 AM
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Posts: 62
Eastern WA
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Vonette Offline OP
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You misunderstood me BDB. (Probably my fault for not explaining clearly.) I was saying that my current piano (circa 1940 studio upright) is a Howard. The grand piano I am considering buying is a true Baldwin.

By the by, I am not locked into buying a Baldwin brand by any means. It's just that around here, these are the only decent pianos I am seeing for sale. Everything else is Kimball or Story and Clark or Wurlitzer -- all passable brands but not for me. The rest are far worse. I'm sure in Bellevue I'll find some other options.

Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192246
04/20/08 02:54 AM
04/20/08 02:54 AM
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Re the quality of the '92, the best used piano money that you can spend... It would be expensive to bring in a tech every time you're interested. So liking a piano's tone and then bringing in the tech is a good way to proceed.

In my post above, I should have included that wide swings in humidity cause soundboards to deteriorate. Pianos which have spent their lives on the coast side should have better 'boards. You'd of course want your tech to check for any signs of rust;-)

Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192247
04/20/08 02:57 AM
04/20/08 02:57 AM
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Quote
It is a Howard product of Baldwin. But the grand is definitely a true Baldwin.
In the piano industry,a product of Baldwin among piano professionals is not considered a "real Baldwin" A real Baldwin is considered of their artist series Ex.E,G,C,M,R,L,F,SF10,SD10 etc.
Ellington,Howard,Monarch,Hamilton were Baldwin Execs.whom Baldwin used as stencils for their(lower series)classic line. So.....a rebuilt Howard for 9K is like buying a restored Gremlin Get my drift! 9K w/no interest is a steal of a deal. Unfortunately not for you! Only the seller and the tech you hire. Who has time to do a comprehensive restoration on a Baldwin Howard. The core piano is obtainable in the marketplace ....uh for free. You pay for the restoration the piano is free!
Quote
They put in new Italian strings, totally replaced the action with Renner Steinway action, replaced the soundboard with new solid spruce, re-ebonized the case, and put on new keytops. It plays and sounds like a dream! After playing that one, I have to believe they know what they are doing.
Italian strings,What strings are they? Renner Steinway action But the piano is a Baldwin smile All in jest! Keep looking and keep posting possible prospects and the pros will steer you to the right choice. wink


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Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192248
04/20/08 03:08 AM
04/20/08 03:08 AM
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Eastern WA
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Vonette Offline OP
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Again, sorry for the miscommunication, but the grand piano I am considering is NOT a Howard. It is a true Baldwin. (The Howard I was refering to is a different piano, the piano that I currently own and do not wish to keep!)

Regarding the $15,000 piano that I fell in love with but could not afford . . . She told me the name of the Italian strings but I don't remember not being an expert in these things. Yes, it did strike me as a little funny too that so many different brands were mixed into this piano, but the tone and touch were just fabulous! The $9000 piano had nice tone, but the $15,000 one was just fabulous! I got the impression that it was one of those projects where the builder got so attached to the project that he put more money into it than they expected to be able to get back out. But man was that a nice piano.

Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192249
04/20/08 03:37 AM
04/20/08 03:37 AM
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Eastern WA
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Vonette Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by FogVilleLad:
Re the quality of the '92, the best used piano money that you can spend... In my post above, I should have included that wide swings in humidity cause soundboards to deteriorate. Pianos which have spent their lives on the coast side should have better 'boards. You'd of course want your tech to check for any signs of rust;-)
Whatever piano I buy, I'll be installing a Dampp-Chaser to help with those humidity swings. No point in spending thousands and letting the piano deteriorate. I just noticed that the '92 Baldwin you are recommending was posted earlier for $7300 and now has been reduced. Things that make you go, Hmmmmmmm.

Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192250
04/20/08 04:27 AM
04/20/08 04:27 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Vonette:
My concern with the 1992 Baldwin is the year. I know that just before Gibson took over Baldwin was letting go of their experienced builders and put out some not so great pianos. Wasn't 1992 about that time?
Hi Vonette,

You are absolutely right. I think it was 1966 they stopped making Baldwins in Cinncinati, where they were originally manufactured and were at that time competing with Steinway.

I purchased a 1965 Baldwin R for 10,000 from a dealer. I put 1,000 into it to have it refurbished.

It had a cherry wood colonial case and was a beauty and was a wonderful instrument I felt for the money.

I had it for around 10 years and then sold it to one of my student's parents. I asked 9,000 for it and we split the moving costs.

They are enjoying it as much as I did.

I agree with the posters who recommend having an experienced tech take a look, and then it is up to you, if you like how it plays and looks. If you do and it gets a green light from a tech, I personally do not think it's a bad deal.


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member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation
Re: Baldwin grand piano, What do you think of this deal? #192251
04/22/08 02:29 AM
04/22/08 02:29 AM
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Monterey Bay, California, USA
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Make sure the tech you hire isn't connected in any way to the seller... some of the "rebuilding" details seem questionable... And where I live, Baldwin's don't have this kind of resale price at this age.

In other words, this is an old piano. Restored, rebuilt or "refurbished"? Just like a car, putting in a new "engine" doesn't make it good as new... there are lots of other things that might soon need attention. A refinished plate and new strings might just be covering up an old soundboard, bridge, or pinblock, not to mention trapwork, etc.


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