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#2028431 - 02/06/13 11:23 PM What is the worst piano you've every played?  
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aTallGuyNH Offline
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I'm guessing this will not take off and become a wildly popular thread on the order of AOTW, Rostoky's, and so on. However, I'm hoping it will be a fun counterpoint to all the "I happened to spot a Fazioli at the piano store the other day..." and "there's this great Bösendorfer at work that I play on my lunch hour..." stories that make me green with envy! sick

Please post if you have any war stories, or even better, video or audio evidence!!

Below isn't the worst one I've ever played, it just happens to be the only one for which I have video, because it's mine. Listen for my daughter's reaction in the middle:

[video:youtube]dR6gezYWBXs[/video]

I have access to two other truly hideous pianos, I might take videos of those too -- just for yucks. On mine, at least the keys are all intact and the action is OK. The keys are sticking much more lately vs. when this recording was made in mid-December, but it's fine in warmer weather for some reason.


"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

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#2028435 - 02/06/13 11:27 PM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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Plowboy Offline
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Very shimmery.


Gary
Essex EUP-111 at the mountains
W. Hoffmann T-122 at the beach
#2028437 - 02/06/13 11:27 PM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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I couldn't listen long enough to get to your daughter's reaction.. haha did you ever get that piano tuned? Ever? laugh

The worst piano I ever played was a piano that had the chance to be a great one. The people who owned it did not take care of it. But the sound board was in tact, and the action was fine. It just needed a tuning, maybe some felt, and a few keys needed a new plate because they had chipped. Really, just some TLC. But because nobody cared for it, it was in such a state of disrepair as to be horrendous to attempt to play.


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
#2028445 - 02/06/13 11:46 PM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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I happen to encounter A LOT of bad pianos. They are everywhere. At pubs, in hotels, even in piano shops in used section where the dealer can't be bothered prepping them to the minimum standard. One of the most memorable one during my grade 3 piano exam. I must be around 12 at the time and the examiner was a stern looking lady. I seated myself at this tall old upright, the keys are yellowed and the gaps between the keys are uneven and so huge I was scared my fingers are going to slip through the gap if I miss a key. Anyway she asked me to do some scales and the touch of the keys was uneven that it was so hard to control the evenness of each note. During pieces, I tried to do dynamics but the piano will only allow me to play forte or fortissimo. Nonetheless I got an A for that exam. laugh

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#2028448 - 02/06/13 11:51 PM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: Derulux]  
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Originally Posted by Derulux
I couldn't listen long enough to get to your daughter's reaction.. haha did you ever get that piano tuned? Ever? laugh

You can skip to 0:50 and listen through 1:05 to get her full reaction. It was hard to keep playing because I was cracking up.

Yes, it was tuned a couple days later. I wanted to record it at the very peak of its awfulness. Naturally, it fell out of tune very quickly given its neglect for that period of time. The frame wants to go back to where it was before. I'm guessing it will take at least a couple more tunings before it will stabilize.

Oh, you meant previous to that? No, not by us anyway. My wife bought it at our church's yard sale nearly 10 years ago. Who knows when it was tuned before then. She bought it because she thought it was a good deal (she was right IMHO, Vose & Sons in decent condition at $100) and that some day we might have a kid who wanted to play. She was right about that as well (it's an annoying habit of hers), but we didn't maintain it in the interim. It's a 1978, so I'm sure it was well cared for over many years until it fell into the hands of us derelicts about 25 years later.

Originally Posted by Derulux
The worst piano I ever played was a piano that had the chance to be a great one. The people who owned it did not take care of it. But the sound board was in tact, and the action was fine. It just needed a tuning, maybe some felt, and a few keys needed a new plate because they had chipped. Really, just some TLC. But because nobody cared for it, it was in such a state of disrepair as to be horrendous to attempt to play.

Our family has an upright in a summer house that is in a similar state. It's a shame. It's on an island though, so it's extremely difficult to get it serviced. Just getting it tuned is in the $250 to $300 range. It's almost pointless to even do that though since the action is so atrocious and so many of the keys are missing their tops. I've been told it was once (50 years ago maybe) the finest piano on the island. I'd guess there are no more than 12-15 there to begin with, so it's not a tough field. Still, there was a steady stream of visitors who came to play and enjoy hearing it back then. That sort of neglect is sad.


"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

[Linked Image]XXIX-XXXII
#2028452 - 02/06/13 11:54 PM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: albynism]  
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Originally Posted by albynism
I happen to encounter A LOT of bad pianos.

I'm not sure I'd agree with "happen to". The reality is that most people/organizations just don't bother to maintain them at all.


"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

[Linked Image]XXIX-XXXII
#2028495 - 02/07/13 02:08 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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Italy
I haven't actually played that many different pianos.
Mine, my teacher's, the one at the school, a few in piano shops....
However, in July 2010, the first summer after I started playing, we were travelling in France for a wedding and our 25th anniversary. We were staying at a B&B, and in the photos on the website I saw there was a piano! I was so excited.
When we got there I asked if I could play and they said the French equivalent of "Knock yourself out".... however....owwwie.... I don't think it had been tuned in 25 years. When I mentioned to the owner that it was out of tune, he was rather off-hand and uninterested. It was a pity because it was a really sweet upright, it even had candelabra on each side of the music rack.

ah well.


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#2028503 - 02/07/13 02:28 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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wow, that broke my speakers!! ouchhhh


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#2028518 - 02/07/13 03:04 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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Here's one for you aTallGuyNH:

Anyone wanna take a guess at what kind of piano this is and why it sounds so awful?

https://www.box.com/s/sogp8s33769v7380b1bn


Playing since age 21 (September 2010) and loving it more every day.
"You can play better than BachMach2." - Mark_C
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#2028522 - 02/07/13 03:20 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: Sam Rose]  
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Originally Posted by Sam Rose
Here's one for you aTallGuyNH:

Anyone wanna take a guess at what kind of piano this is and why it sounds so awful?

https://www.box.com/s/sogp8s33769v7380b1bn

It seriously sounds exactly like one of my ex-girlfriend's pianos. Eerily, the only piece I ever remember playing on it was Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu also. shocked

Having a heck of a time remembering what kind of piano it was. I can still picture everything about it, except, of course, the name.


Originally Posted by aTallGuyNH
Our family has an upright in a summer house that is in a similar state. It's a shame. It's on an island though, so it's extremely difficult to get it serviced. Just getting it tuned is in the $250 to $300 range. It's almost pointless to even do that though since the action is so atrocious and so many of the keys are missing their tops. I've been told it was once (50 years ago maybe) the finest piano on the island. I'd guess there are no more than 12-15 there to begin with, so it's not a tough field. Still, there was a steady stream of visitors who came to play and enjoy hearing it back then. That sort of neglect is sad.

You just reminded me.. the first piano I played on was an old 19th century player piano with its guts ripped out. The thing must have weighed 500 pounds and was impossible to move. The only good thing about it was that the tuning pins held. Everything else was a disaster.

I still remember little 7 year old me putting masking tape on the keys with the notes labeled, so I could learn a piece by heart without lessons. (I had just started trumpet and learned to read treble clef, so I simply counted down from treble to bass.) The piece was Albert Ellmenreich's "The Spinning Song". smile


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
#2028525 - 02/07/13 03:25 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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A year ago I stayed at a villa with a group of friends. There was an upright in the entry hall, right by the door, and another in the large living room. I thought both sounded terrible; I had only ever heard my own digital and the usual concert grands. Turns out, small upright piano's were supposed to sound that way. So ignorant! ha

Still, the one by the entrance had chipped keys, was horribly out of tune (did I mention it was right by the entrance?) and the pedal action was broken. At least the other one was in pretty good shape and one of my friends played beautifully on it.


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#2028557 - 02/07/13 05:47 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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My sister-in-law's piano. It's the one she and her sisters took lessons on 50 years ago. The one that her widowed mother sacrificed to buy and pay for the lessons. My sister-in-law inherited it when her mother died and couldn't possible part with this family heirloom.

I don't think it's been tuned in 50 years. When I sat down to play, it felt like I was in an alternate reality. Some of the notes sounded like they had loose rubber bands for strings.

But what can you say at a time like that? I couldn't be honest about how it sounded. She wants to keep the piano to pass on to her grandkids.

Sam

#2028577 - 02/07/13 07:41 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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It might be the one I grew up with. The poor thing was damaged by a leak in the ceiling--bass notes were mushy ever after. It had suffered a lot of other abuse too. This may be why I thought I couldn't play dynamics. It held a reasonable tune, though.


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#2028587 - 02/07/13 07:56 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: Sam S]  
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Originally Posted by Sam S
My sister-in-law's piano. It's the one she and her sisters took lessons on 50 years ago. The one that her widowed mother sacrificed to buy and pay for the lessons. My sister-in-law inherited it when her mother died and couldn't possible part with this family heirloom.

I don't think it's been tuned in 50 years. When I sat down to play, it felt like I was in an alternate reality. Some of the notes sounded like they had loose rubber bands for strings.

But what can you say at a time like that? I couldn't be honest about how it sounded. She wants to keep the piano to pass on to her grandkids.

Sam

Maybe you should be honest - if she really wants to pass it along, she should start getting it put into shape... sounds like it will take a long time and a lot of work to bring it back to life.


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#2028604 - 02/07/13 08:28 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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After two weeks on the John Muir Trail we pulled into Red's Meadow near Mammoth Lakes, Calif. We were really looking forward to a beer and hamburgers at the diner.

We walked in, and in a corner was an old upright. It had seen better days. The ivory keys were blackened and grimy, undoubtedly from that big fire 30 years ago. It was probably last tuned when it was delivered, possibly in the '30s judging from the sheet music on the desk.

Let's just say it was a little rough.



Gary
Essex EUP-111 at the mountains
W. Hoffmann T-122 at the beach
#2028634 - 02/07/13 09:28 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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The worst piano I ever played was in Portland Maine about 35 or so years ago. I had just begun art school and the school in those days was in a pretty run down section of town. That first month of school there was a girl I thought was cute and I was definitely interested in getting to know her better. At some point in passing I had mentioned I play piano. One day she came up to me and told me there was an old abandoned house near by that had a piano and would I like to sneak in and play it. So she and I and some other guy named Wayne from the school, headed over there. The door was pretty much off the building. Inside was just destruction, old moldy furniture, holes in the old wood floor. The roof had started leaking years earlier and water was dripping somewhere... It was dark but light poured through the cracked windows. There in the corner was an old upright. I pulled up what was left of a chair and sat down to play. I probably played some bluesy thing or another. It didn't matter because the piano was so beat, out of tune with countless keys sticking or missing nothing short of Cage's ten minutes of silence could have sounded good on it. But I tried.. I had a girl to impress. Then, while in the midst of a dramatic pause, I looked over... and she and Wayne were standing there in one of the beams of light kissing. Ah, a poignant little moment in life, now like an old faded daguerreotype, forever burned into my memory....


"One's real life is often the life that one does not lead."- Oscar Wilde
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#2028645 - 02/07/13 09:53 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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Quote
Below isn't the worst one I've ever played, it just happens to be the only one for which I have video, because it's mine.


Eeewwwww! eek

I guess one of the worst was at one of the local nursing homes. Several missing keytops, and badly out of tune, and a couple keys lower by 1/4" than others. I didn't even want to play then but teacher insisted that all of us play as we would no doubt encounter many pianos not to our liking. So I played At Last, Over the Rainbow and Heart and Soul :::full body shudder::: They seemed to enjoy it though and gave everyone a good round fof applause.


Ragdoll

At first, she only flew when she thought no one was watching.

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#2028691 - 02/07/13 11:32 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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I've encountered many horrific old pianos in my 70 years but the worst one I actually had to play for someone was at a church camp where the buildings never had any heat or air conditioning and the piano had never been tuned within anyone's memory.

Some notes literally actually went the wrong direction in a scale and you could barely tell what music I was trying to play. The unisons were were actually playing different notes.

And yet, there are people who will say that any acoustic piano is better that any digital. I think these people must live in a protected environment.


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#2028700 - 02/07/13 11:45 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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What if we asked the pianos: Who's the worst player that ever played you?


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
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#2028713 - 02/07/13 12:01 PM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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Sorry, Peyton, but that was funny.


Gary
Essex EUP-111 at the mountains
W. Hoffmann T-122 at the beach
#2028769 - 02/07/13 01:31 PM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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I know of, and have played, a fair number of terrible pianos. I think the one that takes the cake is at an apartment building owned by my grandparents, which is empty and therefore poorly heated most of the time. It hasn't been played, much less tuned, in at least ten years. As a result, it sounds predictably terrible. It also has a fair number of sticky keys.

The piano was bought for me by my other pair of grandparents when I was about six years old. I got some lessons from a nun with rheumatoid arthritis (read: terrible piano technique), and played my first tunes by ear on that piano (as I recall, the very first one was 'Te Deum'). It was probably the cheapest piano money could buy at the time, and it had had at least four previous owners. I imagine its former life was that of a honky-tonk in some smokey working class bar of the thirties.

I played on that thing for about six months before the nun with rheumatoid arthritis decided she couldn't teach anymore. Had another go at ten years old, with a teacher who didn't try very hard to challenge me, because my mother had written him a letter that said I was a child with 'limited potential'. Stopped again when she sent me to a boarding school for disabled kids a few months after that.

My final (and, probably, first 'serious') attempt at learning to play while still vaguely young enough to foster hopeless aspirations of becoming a famous pianist some day was at age fifteen. At that point, I decided that the old honky-tonk (even after a few tunings) just wouldn't do anymore. With my first summer job money, I bought a Roland digital which, in comparison to its predecessor, sounded heavenly to me. Sadly, I had to stop again at sixteen, due to several prolonged hospitalizations, and other drama in my life.

The honky-tonk was banished to the empty apartment building, where it still stands today. Its condition has only gotten worse. But it was and will always be my first piano. I have a soft spot for it somewhere in my heart.

Interestingly, I've been playing a piano of a make and model very similar to the honky-tonk's these past few days, as I went around Brussels looking for places to practice, now that I don't have a piano at home anymore. It is tuned and in reasonable condition, and doesn't sound half-bad to my ears.

With regards to the 'any acoustic sounds better than any digital' meme, though, I have to say this: I've been spoiled by my Roland RD-150, which is a 'mere' entry-level digital stage piano, but sounds way better than many other digitals I've played, and, as I discovered recently, has soured me on the sound of most acoustic uprights, even when brand-new and well-tuned. The RD-150 was sampled on a concert grand, and when I visited the piano store last week, I noticed that the jumble of sounds locked inside the cabinet of an upright just doesn't do it for me anymore.


Plodding through piano music at a frustratingly slow pace since 9/2012.

Standard disclaimer: I teach many things. Piano is not one of them.
#2029028 - 02/07/13 10:08 PM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: Sam Rose]  
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EdwardianPiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Sam Rose
Here's one for you aTallGuyNH:

Anyone wanna take a guess at what kind of piano this is and why it sounds so awful?

https://www.box.com/s/sogp8s33769v7380b1bn


I'm guessing that..it is at least a hundred years old, over damped and not been tuned in ages. Poor thing might have been exposed to damp as well.

But oddly....I like it as I love this Chopin impromptu- for me it brings up images of the poor and suffering of the C 19th ( probably because the first time I heard it I was reading about Victorian slums/life in those hard times etc)and the piano almost sounds like a ghost from the past ( not in a bad way either).

But then...I am probably wrong as I have recollections of you posting a before tuning and after tuning of your piano a few months ago?


Last edited by EdwardianPiano; 02/07/13 10:12 PM.

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Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.
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#2029030 - 02/07/13 10:15 PM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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Worst pianos I've played? Seen a few poor old neglected pianos- the worst one was left in a garden ( having been "rescued" from the road) and had keys falling off, warped and cracked lid, sodden strings etc. The woman who found it thought it might be able to be repaired. laugh!!!


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Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.
Ludwig van Beethoven.
#2029038 - 02/07/13 10:45 PM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: EdwardianPiano]  
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Derulux Offline
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Originally Posted by EdwardianPiano
Worst pianos I've played? Seen a few poor old neglected pianos- the worst one was left in a garden ( having been "rescued" from the road) and had keys falling off, warped and cracked lid, sodden strings etc. The woman who found it thought it might be able to be repaired. laugh!!!

Sure, if you replace every single piece, every string, all the felt, the frame, the soundboard...


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
#2029111 - 02/08/13 02:28 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
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My worst was at the church where they have the local elections. No-name spinet with the tops of many of the black keys broken off. I tried pressing the keys that usually result in something like Porter's "Night and Day", but that's not what came out, even from the ones that worked.


-- J.S.

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Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690
#2029124 - 02/08/13 03:10 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: EdwardianPiano]  
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 687
Sam Rose Offline
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Sam Rose  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 687
Los Angeles
Originally Posted by Derulux

It seriously sounds exactly like one of my ex-girlfriend's pianos. Eerily, the only piece I ever remember playing on it was Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu also.

Having a heck of a time remembering what kind of piano it was. I can still picture everything about it, except, of course, the name.


Sorry I've reminded you of your ex frown
I think you'll be surprised at what it is...

Originally Posted by EdwardianPiano


I'm guessing that..it is at least a hundred years old, over damped and not been tuned in ages. Poor thing might have been exposed to damp as well.

But oddly....I like it as I love this Chopin impromptu- for me it brings up images of the poor and suffering of the C 19th ( probably because the first time I heard it I was reading about Victorian slums/life in those hard times etc)and the piano almost sounds like a ghost from the past ( not in a bad way either).

But then...I am probably wrong as I have recollections of you posting a before tuning and after tuning of your piano a few months ago?



Ha! You remembered! I posted this here because it's amazing what neglect can make a piano sound like. This is a Yamaha C3 from the early 90s. I recorded this after I had it brought home a few months ago. The first owners had never tuned the thing, in almost 20 years of ownership. When I played it at their house, they were sitting around listening as if it sounded good! I was trying to ignore the sound and imagine what it would sound like when tuned and regulated. And oh BOY, is it lovely now laugh

Moral of the story: take care of your piano! A good piano that's neglected will sound awful, just like this one did.


Playing since age 21 (September 2010) and loving it more every day.
"You can play better than BachMach2." - Mark_C
Currently Butchering:
Chopin Ballade no 1 in G minor Op.23
My Piano Diary: http://www.youtube.com/sirsardonic
♪ > $
#2029144 - 02/08/13 04:06 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: Sam Rose]  
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 513
aTallGuyNH Offline
500 Post Club Member
aTallGuyNH  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 513
Originally Posted by Sam Rose
This is a Yamaha C3 from the early 90s. I recorded this after I had it brought home a few months ago. The first owners had never tuned the thing, in almost 20 years of ownership. When I played it at their house, they were sitting around listening as if it sounded good! I was trying to ignore the sound and imagine what it would sound like when tuned and regulated. And oh BOY, is it lovely now laugh

Moral of the story: take care of your piano! A good piano that's neglected will sound awful, just like this one did.

Wow... I never would have guessed that this was such a young piano! Can we hear an "after" for comparison?


"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

[Linked Image]XXIX-XXXII
#2029151 - 02/08/13 04:36 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 6,581
peterws Offline
6000 Post Club Member
peterws  Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 6,581
Northern England.
a ha I`ve played a few o` those in pubs wi the band; mic stuffed down the back . . .Actually that piano wouldn`t sound bad tuned up. And it`s a nice compact size; love the styling!

Worst in tune piano this side o` the pond was a Danneman . . my wife`s music teacher had one. I played it, and lied through me teeth to her face . . . it was dull and lifeless.


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

"[Linked Image]"
#2029221 - 02/08/13 09:15 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: Plowboy]  
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 513
aTallGuyNH Offline
500 Post Club Member
aTallGuyNH  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 513
Originally Posted by Plowboy
Sorry, Peyton, but that was funny.

Definitely... a great story, and well delivered.


"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

[Linked Image]XXIX-XXXII
#2029272 - 02/08/13 11:59 AM Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? [Re: aTallGuyNH]  
Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 39
contrapiano Offline
Full Member
contrapiano  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 39
The worst "piano" I ever played was a very small electronic keyboard about 2 or 3 octaves long with smaller and closer than standard keys.

Other than that a broken sustain pedal is the most difficult thing for me to adjust to on bad pianos.

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