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Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
#2134138 08/17/13 12:20 AM
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I've been lurking around this site for a year or so now, while I've been thinking about buying a piano. I've enjoyed reading a lot of your wisdom, and the good advice I've had in response to a question or two. Decided it's time to go ahead and purchase, for a number of reasons. I've wanted to get one, but now my daughter does too. Her interest in music is growing steadily, and she's going to be taking music theory next year. She took lessons when she was younger, and wants to start again (she's 15). I took lessons when I was a kid, and would like to take it up again too.

So I'm going to pose a little bit of an unorthodox question: If you were given only 2 criteria: $20 thousand limit on price, and a grand style (i.e. no uprights), what piano--used or new--would you purchase? I see a lot of posts about specific brands, models, etc, and there's a pretty common response: "try everything you can in your price range and buy what you like best." Well, I'm curious what each of YOU like best, not me, and why if you care to share. Like I said above, I appreciate your wisdom and experience, and look forward to reading anything you're willing to share!




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Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2134150 08/17/13 12:44 AM
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I'm curious about this as well. smile

Althought i won't be buying anytime soon, I'm just curious of what is out there..


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Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2134189 08/17/13 04:30 AM
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If you're familiar with the board, I think you can name all the usual suspects, if buying new.

Used, it gets to be more complicated. A good piano is where you find it. With a $20K budget, you can look at some very nice used pianos.

I'm not a big believer in "The One". I think different pianos can be quite good and satisfy in different ways. Therefore, when I think used, I'm thinking of a certain performance level of piano and I'm looking for the best piano I can find for the money. You have to keep an open mind, play whatever you have access to and have patience...for me the choices would be more limited than say, somebody who lived on the East Coast.

Now, if you want specifics on a used piano (just my personal preferences)...for me, I need something less than 6', because of space. Therefore, if I'm out looking in the used market, with $20K (or less) in my pocket, it's going to be a very nice Baldwin R, Estonia 5'6" or a Petrof IV.


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Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2134207 08/17/13 06:06 AM
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For me it would be the innards which would be the most critical, perhaps just below the actual sound. Also as Jolly writes there is plenty to be found in the "preloved" range.
I would look for:
1. carbon fiber sound board , or "perhaps" any board where strings do NOT impose a down pressure on the board.
2. A WNG action.
This could be an interesting topic!

Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Goof #2134213 08/17/13 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Goof
For me it would be the innards which would be the most critical, perhaps just below the actual sound. Also as Jolly writes there is plenty to be found in the "preloved" range.
I would look for:
1. carbon fiber sound board , or "perhaps" any board where strings do NOT impose a down pressure on the board.
2. A WNG action.
This could be an interesting topic!


Greetings,
Don't look for a carbon fiber soundboard, they are only found in Steingraber pianos,(I think). Down pressure, (bearing), on a soundboard is a good thing, not something to be avoided. WNG actions are fairly late things, so they may be rare in the used market.

$20K will get you a good piano, I have recently seen a 1980 Steinway L, in virtually unplayed condition, go for $ 18,000, and in the last two years, I have seen two other Steinways, an L and an M, go for $20,000. All needed the actions to be aligned and setup in order to play as they were designed,(poor factory assembly had had these pianos playing like trucks for their entire life, ) After that, they were really nice pianos and are in professional use, right now. I know of a Mason and Hamlin for $ 14K and several other Steinways for $ 12K, so if your market is anything like this one, there is plenty to look at.

You should be able to get a late model Yamaha C3 for that money, as well as any other brand that has fallen into the used world. Tell all the techs you know what you are looking for, and they will be able to steer you through the local market.
Good luck,

Last edited by Ed Foote; 08/17/13 06:39 AM.
Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2134256 08/17/13 09:01 AM
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$20,000 will get you a very nice piano. I would, however, choose a new piano. You might find an excellent used piano at that price, or you could end up searching for years. If you and your daughter are serious about re-starting, use your excitement to get a piano, start lessons, get playing, and not start a long, and possibly frustrating, search.

My recommendation would be a Cunningham 5'-10" Parlour Grand.


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It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2134326 08/17/13 11:53 AM
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I would suggest a slightly different approach. Try the different kinds of pianos to get a sense for what tonal palette you like. Based on my limited experience when I was looking, there were two camps, and for the most part I noticed that difference in the base / tenor section. [Its entirely possible that the difference extends in the higher registers, but that I can't hear those higher frequencies quite as well.] I think this is what people call the difference between the american sound and the european sound. I liked both styles, while my daughter had a definite preference for the more fundamental heavy bass tones. So we leaned in that direction.

Whichever you prefer, you will find a range of choices well within your budget. If size is not a constraint, I would strongly recommend listening to Baldwins for a lovely sound easily within your budget. Of course, if Steinways are available within that range as Ed mentioned, they would be worth checking out.

In the other camp, I found the Ritmuller to deliver the goods at far below your budget. The other pianos that I heard that had that tonal palette were considerably more expensive (and refined too).

There is much wisdom in Marty's suggestion about channeling the enthusiasm to developing the skill rather than the search!!

Last edited by rlinkt; 08/17/13 09:15 PM.
Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2134541 08/17/13 09:07 PM
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I think your $20,000 would buy you a very high quality used piano, but in new grands, some of the Kawai pianos are very nice, good action, decent tone.

Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2134723 08/18/13 08:41 AM
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When I was looking a couple of years ago, the Steinways you could get for $20,000 or under we're not in good shape. Baldwins, yes, so if you're patient you can get a really lovely piano. But it's true that the used market can take some time.

It took me six months to find my piano; to me it was well worth the wait. On the other hand, my brother in a different city started looking at the same time and had a piano within 3 weeks (also a Baldwin R, as it happens).


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Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2135063 08/18/13 10:17 PM
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Amateur Pianist and raconteur.
Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2135211 08/19/13 07:16 AM
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I agree with Minnesota Marty on this one: a Cunningham grand. There are other brands that fit the price, but this one strikes me as the having the most potential. I do not know where you are located, but if not too far away a trip to Philly might be indicated. In terms of new versus rebuilt, I recently tried out a bunch of grands, including Cunninghams and other new brands and a large number of rebuilt Steinways and other older refurbished pianos, and noticed a difference in the action between the old baby grands and the new ones that I had not picked up on before that pushed me toward the new ones. This difference is in something that (in my ignorance of terminology) I will call key depth. In other words, the older pianos gave me less room to push the key down than the newer ones did. I'm not sure really how to describe this without getting hopelessly tangled. Maybe one of the experts out there can explain. I think it has something to do with the geometry--the new pianos seemed to have a longer lever in there between the actual key and the hammer, creating the extra depth and allowing for amateurs like me to have greater control over the volume.



Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Rank Piano Amateur #2135336 08/19/13 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Rank Piano Amateur
I recently tried out a bunch of grands, including Cunninghams and other new brands and a large number of rebuilt Steinways and other older refurbished pianos, and noticed a difference in the action between the old baby grands and the new ones that I had not picked up on before that pushed me toward the new ones. This difference is in something that (in my ignorance of terminology) I will call key depth. In other words, the older pianos gave me less room to push the key down than the newer ones did. I'm not sure really how to describe this without getting hopelessly tangled. Maybe one of the experts out there can explain. I think it has something to do with the geometry--the new pianos seemed to have a longer lever in there between the actual key and the hammer, creating the extra depth and allowing for amateurs like me to have greater control over the volume.


Greetings,
The new pianos do not have geometry that is particularly different. The key dip difference that you are noticing is usual for any piano that hasn't been regulated after a lot of normal use. The punchings under the keys pack down, lowering the key, and leaving less room for it to travel. At the same time, the hammer is dropping lower from felt compression under it, and it, ostensibly, needs more key travel to make up the longer distance!
It is more a state of regulation than the vintage of the piano.
Regards,

Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2135733 08/20/13 01:39 AM
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For new, the list on this page is a good starting point for a max $20K budget (street price): http://pianopricepoint.com/pppg7/

(a few would exceed your budget a bit, but worth considering.)

Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
Retsacnal #2135939 08/20/13 11:38 AM
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If you're patient, or in a favorable geographical location, you would be able to get a superior piano lightly used. If you're impatient or geographically challenged, I'd look at the Cunningham grand if you could swing a trip to Philly.

Last: It's good to have a firm budget and stick to it. But don't immediately rule out pianos that have sticker prices above $20K; you should be able to negotiate--sometimes substantially--down from the sticker price.

Good luck, and keep us posted! And please come join us on the Adult Beginners forum; it's for restarters, too, and we have lots of fun. smile

Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
4evrBeginR #2136051 08/20/13 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by 4evrBeginR
For new, the list on this page is a good starting point for a max $20K budget (street price): http://pianopricepoint.com/pppg7/

(a few would exceed your budget a bit, but worth considering.)
Since that site uses MSRP it's of little, if any, use in terms of determining what a typical sales price might be. Much better is to use the Piano Buyer and apply their suggested discount range from SMP.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/20/13 02:53 PM.
Re: Your choice of piano for up to $20 thousand
pianoloverus #2136259 08/20/13 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by 4evrBeginR
For new, the list on this page is a good starting point for a max $20K budget (street price): http://pianopricepoint.com/pppg7/

(a few would exceed your budget a bit, but worth considering.)
Since that site uses MSRP it's of little, if any, use in terms of determining what a typical sales price might be. Much better is to use the Piano Buyer and apply their suggested discount range from SMP.


I personally know many these pianos could be purchased for less than $20K in the US. I had a feeling you were going to raise an objection about the MSRP when I posted that page. smile The important part is not the prices on that page.

For the OP, don't focus on the prices; focus on the list of pianos as they are in your price range.


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