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Best performance-grade baby grand? #2083120
05/15/13 02:08 PM
05/15/13 02:08 PM
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Roy Roy Offline OP
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Hello everyone! Just found a great forum here and I have been reading a lot of posts. I'm looking for a baby grand (6' or less) with a performance-grade sound quality. I play classical music, mostly works from Schumann, Chopin and Debussy. Melodic singing and colorful tone is a priority.

I've auditioned a number of tier 1-3 pianos but having a really hard time to decide. I understand that a brand famous for its 9' does not necessarily also offer superior 5'. Budget is not an issue but I don't want to pay big bucks just because of the brand or overall reputation.

What's your opinion on which piano manufacturer offers the best "baby" grand? I'm constrainded by the size not price.

Thank you for your suggestions!

Roy

PS: I have a YAMAHA at home and didn't quite like it.

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Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083125
05/15/13 02:17 PM
05/15/13 02:17 PM
Joined: May 2006
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Georgia, USA
terminaldegree Offline
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Hmmm... it's such an individual choice I'd be hesitant to say what to get. Also, given the variability from instrument to instrument that a high-level player and listener can perceive, it would be hard to pin things down to one model. You do make a good point that some makers are more successful than others at making pianos this size (as opposed to concert grands), so I'm curious to see what recommendations you get in the sub-6' size from forum members.


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Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083168
05/15/13 03:27 PM
05/15/13 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Roy Roy
Hello everyone! Just found a great forum here and I have been reading a lot of posts. I'm looking for a baby grand (6' or less) with a performance-grade sound quality. I play classical music, mostly works from Schumann, Chopin and Debussy. Melodic singing and colorful tone is a priority.

I've auditioned a number of tier 1-3 pianos but having a really hard time to decide. I understand that a brand famous for its 9' does not necessarily also offer superior 5'. Budget is not an issue but I don't want to pay big bucks just because of the brand or overall reputation.

What's your opinion on which piano manufacturer offers the best "baby" grand? I'm constrainded by the size not price.

The Walter 175 (5' 9") grand was designed for just this purpose. A high-performance piano, nicely built using excellent parts and materials and designed for smaller spaces. It is several inches narrower than most pianos of its length and the shape of the rim is more slender and aesthetically less dominate.

They are hard to find at dealers but, if cost is not a major criteria, it might be worth a trip to the factory (in So. Bend, Indiana) to try one.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083175
05/15/13 03:34 PM
05/15/13 03:34 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Roy Roy - Welcome to Piano World!

All of the Tier One builders produce superb instruments. It doesn't matter what we like, it is what you like that is the most important. You can't go wrong with any of them.

Take your time. Play as many as you can. Be patient until a particular piano announces that it is the one. Remember, even identical instruments from the same builder can be totally different. Find as many dealerships, who handle the elite instruments, as you can.

As far as referring to concert grands, some builders are much more focused on building smaller instruments than the 9 footers and you aren't looking for a piano of that size anyway. Don't even give it a thought.

BWT - A piano in the size you are looking for is not a "baby." That would refer to the smallest grand built by any given company. It is a poor term which really means nothing.

If you might consider stretching the length up to about 6'4", you open yourself into a world of spectacular pianos. You know the names, all you need to do is become acquainted with them on a personal basis. Even at less than six feet, they all excel.

Have fun and keep us posted.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
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Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083180
05/15/13 03:41 PM
05/15/13 03:41 PM
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I am rather happy with my Shigeru Kawai SK-2, but a number of others come to mind when cost is no big issue. I played a beautiful Bluethner Model 10 (164 cm), and there is the August Foerster 170. Even Boesendorfer has two small grands in its range (170cm and, a recent addition, 155cm) but I have not played them.

Edit: So far I have not come across a Steinway below model A that impressed me but that may be a coincidence.

Last edited by maurus; 05/15/13 05:42 PM.

Shigeru Kawai SK-2, etc.
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083188
05/15/13 03:55 PM
05/15/13 03:55 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Since my first reply, I've been contemplating this further. For a piano under six feet, my first choice would be Steingraeber, followed by S&S-Hamburg. But, there are so many that one's head spins!

In reality, I would probably go with an American S&S-0.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083196
05/15/13 04:19 PM
05/15/13 04:19 PM
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Roy Roy Offline OP
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WOW! Thank you so much everyone!

To maurus: I am definitely going to try out the smaller Shigeru Kawai. Waiting for the dealer to get shipments.

To Minnesota Marty: S&S New York seems to be great. However I tried a few much less expensive competitors such as Estonia and it sounded just about as amazing as S&S. It was hard to compare as I played on them on different days. I know many people chose Estonia instead of S&S. I also saw one poster said that he would choose a small Mason & Hamlin over a small S&S at any time.

I wanted to know if price is less of an issue would that choice (i.e., Estonia/M&H > S&S) still holds true for them?

Last edited by Roy Roy; 05/15/13 04:20 PM.
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083206
05/15/13 04:43 PM
05/15/13 04:43 PM
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Surrey, B.C.
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Quote
I know many people chose Estonia instead of S&S.


We just had three in a row.

They all chose same piano: 5'6 Estonia 160.
Sorry, 168...

Norbert smile

Last edited by Norbert; 05/16/13 01:15 AM.

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Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083236
05/15/13 05:36 PM
05/15/13 05:36 PM
Joined: May 2012
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Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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I absolutely love the Estonia-190, however the Estonia-160 would not be my choice. Del mentioned the Walter-175. Again, it is the bigger brother which really comes into its own.

Under six feet, I would still go with the Steinway-0, but my ear would also lead me to the Mason-A and Steingraeber-A170. But, of course, that is just my preference.

As I said before, all of the tier one pianos are great instruments. It is your ears, fingers, and checkbook which matter most. The price range is quite wide as you have seen, but in that range, the shopper is not necessarily looking for a bargain. The value of the piano is what the piano will bring to you, not how much you paid for it.



Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Norbert] #2083260
05/15/13 06:26 PM
05/15/13 06:26 PM
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Louisiana, USA
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Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
I know many people chose Estonia instead of S&S.


We just had three in a row.

They all chose same piano: 5'6 Estonia 160.

Norbert smile


160 cm is about 5'3".

Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: swampwiz] #2083271
05/15/13 06:47 PM
05/15/13 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by swampwiz
Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
I know many people chose Estonia instead of S&S.


We just had three in a row.

They all chose same piano: 5'6 Estonia 160.

Norbert smile


160 cm is about 5'3".


Norbert misspoke - it is 168cm.

Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083274
05/15/13 07:00 PM
05/15/13 07:00 PM
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Some one needs to know his business better:)


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Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083275
05/15/13 07:00 PM
05/15/13 07:00 PM
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I love it when someone just asks for your opinion, and costs doesn't really matter. Of course, my opinion isn't worth much if the piano doesn't grab you.

Try them all under 6' and have fun doing it...BUT... you must try the small Steingraeber before making a decision. I believe its 5'7" or so. I haven't tried the small Bluthners or Forsters, and would love to play a Hamburg S&S, but I've played the others and then some. IMO the Steingraeber is in a class of its own. If you end up with a sub 6', and you want one of the best out there, you owe it to yourself to find one. And the composers you mentioned sound just great on that Steingraeber.

Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083303
05/15/13 08:25 PM
05/15/13 08:25 PM
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Rehoboth Beach De. USA
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I use to say the best under 6' grand Ive played was the Mason Hamlin A. That changed after playing the shortest Steingraeber grand. Nothing I've come across in that size category compares to it. Sadly the M&H A falls to number 2 in my book.

Rich


Retired at the beach

Anton Rubinstein said about the piano: "You think it is one instrument? It is a hundred instruments!"
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083321
05/15/13 09:29 PM
05/15/13 09:29 PM
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Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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There are some recent advances in scale design elements that rebuilders are using in small grands that no manufacturer offers.

One that is now spreading thru-out the piano technical community is stringing the piano with a blend of different wire types that helps moderate and even eliminate objectionable ringing sounds that the low tension strings of small pianos are very prone to suffer from. This stringing method is referred to as Hybrid Wire Scales. If you can find rebuilders who know how to apply these ideas you can get an amazing sounding small grand that would compare very well and probably exceed any new small grands available today.

Of course the rebuilder must have superb workmanship and be capable of tone-regulation at the highest standards.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083332
05/15/13 09:58 PM
05/15/13 09:58 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Rob Roy,

Are you considering a used piano, as Mr. McMorrow seems to recommend, or are you interested in a top quality new piano?

When having a piano rebuilt, you are trusting a single individual or a shop to give you exactly what you want. When buying new, you are choosing exactly what you want.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2083338
05/15/13 10:06 PM
05/15/13 10:06 PM
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Del Offline
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
There are some recent advances in scale design elements that rebuilders are using in small grands that no manufacturer offers.

One that is now spreading thru-out the piano technical community is stringing the piano with a blend of different wire types that helps moderate and even eliminate objectionable ringing sounds that the low tension strings of small pianos are very prone to suffer from. This stringing method is referred to as Hybrid Wire Scales. If you can find rebuilders who know how to apply these ideas you can get an amazing sounding small grand that would compare very well and probably exceed any new small grands available today.

Another option, of course, is to design the piano in a way that doesn't use strings with very low tensions.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083340
05/15/13 10:15 PM
05/15/13 10:15 PM
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Roy Roy Offline OP
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Thank you, Mr. McMorrow. To Marty, I'm more leaning towards new pianos. I have no knowledge in the technical details and it would be very hard to make a good judgement. I might also have to factory-order a piano if the dealer doesn't have the right size (in this case, I have to try a different size and have my finger crossed).

Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Del] #2083342
05/15/13 10:16 PM
05/15/13 10:16 PM
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Roy Roy Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Del
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
There are some recent advances in scale design elements that rebuilders are using in small grands that no manufacturer offers.

One that is now spreading thru-out the piano technical community is stringing the piano with a blend of different wire types that helps moderate and even eliminate objectionable ringing sounds that the low tension strings of small pianos are very prone to suffer from. This stringing method is referred to as Hybrid Wire Scales. If you can find rebuilders who know how to apply these ideas you can get an amazing sounding small grand that would compare very well and probably exceed any new small grands available today.

Another option, of course, is to design the piano in a way that doesn't use strings with very low tensions.

ddf


Is there any manufacturer does that? Sorry for my ignorance...

Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083348
05/15/13 10:28 PM
05/15/13 10:28 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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None that I know of.

Another advantage to the Hybrid Wire Scales are that more of the unisons can be fit with trichord strings-and more of the overstrung section can be bi-chords instead of singles.

Since the multiple unison strings couple at the bridge-more trichords and less singles brings a deeper, warmer, richer, more dynamic sounding soundboard/string structure.

Many of the small pianos in todays market have over an octave of single string unisons in the overstrung section and run wound bi-chords high up into the scale. The tone is simply less piano like with these arrangements.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2083356
05/15/13 10:38 PM
05/15/13 10:38 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
The tone is simply less piano like with these arrangements.

This is a statement that I could never possibly comprehend. If any piano is "less piano like," I must assume it's a digital.

Do the finest pianos of the world sound "less piano like" than the finest pianos of the world?


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2083358
05/15/13 10:41 PM
05/15/13 10:41 PM
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Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Bi-chord unisons high in the compass sound like someone trying to sing who has a very, pinched voice. No body to the sound.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083361
05/15/13 10:46 PM
05/15/13 10:46 PM
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Del Offline
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Originally Posted by Roy Roy
Originally Posted by Del
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
There are some recent advances in scale design elements that rebuilders are using in small grands that no manufacturer offers.

One that is now spreading thru-out the piano technical community is stringing the piano with a blend of different wire types that helps moderate and even eliminate objectionable ringing sounds that the low tension strings of small pianos are very prone to suffer from. This stringing method is referred to as Hybrid Wire Scales. If you can find rebuilders who know how to apply these ideas you can get an amazing sounding small grand that would compare very well and probably exceed any new small grands available today.

Another option, of course, is to design the piano in a way that doesn't use strings with very low tensions.

ddf


Is there any manufacturer does that? Sorry for my ignorance...

Both of the Walter grands (175 and 190) have uniform-tension scales through the tenor sections.

There are others such as all of the new Young Chang and Weber grands but these are not marketed as "high performance" pianos.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083363
05/15/13 10:48 PM
05/15/13 10:48 PM
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Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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For our edification, Mr. McMorrow, please outline the scale designs of all the performance grade pianos. I'm sure that would be germane to the question posed by the OP.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083368
05/15/13 10:53 PM
05/15/13 10:53 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Mr. Fandrich, thanks to you, the Walter pianos are not "high performance pianos," they are considered "Performance-Grade."

You do disservice to yourself, and to Charles Walter, to reduce them to Tier II instruments.

Cheers,


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2083384
05/15/13 11:08 PM
05/15/13 11:08 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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I will get right on that Marty! Thanks for asking! EDifying is my name after all. You are such a funny guy dude, everybody loves having you at the party. We talk about you all the time. You Kill Me. Ciao for now.
Love Ed


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2083386
05/15/13 11:12 PM
05/15/13 11:12 PM
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Del Offline
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Bi-chord unisons high in the compass sound like someone trying to sing who has a very, pinched voice. No body to the sound.

That is a rather broad and blanket statement.

The Walter 175 uses five bi-chord unisons in the under-strung tenor section -- notes #28 through #32 -- that terminate on a separate transition bridge. This piano has been available for 12+ years and has been played by some pretty good musicians during that time. To my knowledge, now one has ever called its voice "pinched" or complained about a lack of "body to the sound."

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Del] #2083397
05/15/13 11:23 PM
05/15/13 11:23 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Yes I agree it is a rather broad and blanket statement. The physics of multiple string coupling are inescapable. I have simply reduced it to a term musicians usually relate to well.

I have done the A to B comparisons many times and more tri-chord and less singles sound better if you control all the other variables. You can visit my shop to hear the pianos and that tells the truth. The only truth that matters.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083451
05/16/13 01:18 AM
05/16/13 01:18 AM
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Norbert  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,389
Surrey, B.C.
Thanks guys, of course it's Estonia "168".... blush

Quote
and Steingraeber-A170.


Yes, that's perhaps the ultimate.

But comes with price....

Norbert cry


www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642
Re: Best performance-grade baby grand? [Re: Roy Roy] #2083508
05/16/13 04:49 AM
05/16/13 04:49 AM
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 2,511
Suffolk, England
W
Withindale Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Withindale  Offline
2000 Post Club Member
W
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 2,511
Suffolk, England
Unless set on a Steinway, M & H, Charles Walter, Estonia, Shigeru, or Bluthner you could go travelling to look at a Pfeiffer 191 and other German pianos but remember I'm no good with a tape measure.


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
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