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#2149770 - 09/14/13 12:06 AM Need advice for buying first grand  
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I bought a new Yamaha U1 just under a year ago, for my then 5 year old son who was just starting lessons. The kiddo looks like he's going to stick with piano, and while I'm sure the U1 would be a perfectly fine instrument for him for many years, I unfortunately am growing increasingly disappointed with having purchased a vertical. It actually doesn't fit very well in my living room which has a somewhat unique layout, plus it seems sad that my little guy has to face a wall while he plays. Aesthetically, a grand would look much better in the space, and the kiddo would also be able to see out (he loves to perform on grands for an audience smile. Doubtless there are other more important benefits, but as I know fairly little about tone, touch, etc., these (shallow as they may be) are the most obvious to me at this point in time.

I'll be taking a significant depreciation hit selling my U1 after only one year, and so I'd like to be a bit smarter in my next purchase. First of all, I plan to purchase used! What other criteria should I target if trying to maximize future resale value (in case I get the upgrade bug again)? Brand? Size? Color? Price range? Are there certain sweet spots for the used grand market?

Thank you in advance for your help!

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#2149795 - 09/14/13 12:45 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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My suggestion is that you keep your son on the U1. This way the only chance for him to sit in front of a grand is if he performs good enough to be on stage, which is a huge incentive for the budding pianist. smile

Now, on to your questions around buying a grand, you seem to focus a lot on its financial future. If indeed your first priority is to minimize future financial hit, then the logical way is to buy the cheapest grand on the market (say, a used Chinese or Indonesian grand) and put the savings into stock or bond or house or mutual fund, etc. If in a few years it breaks, just buy another one. Financially you will be ahead of any piano owner.

#2149798 - 09/14/13 12:50 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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You might check with the dealer to see if they offer a trade-up.


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#2149801 - 09/14/13 12:56 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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From a functionality point of view, I think moving to a used grand piano after owning a new U1 for a beginning student who's only 5 isn't necessary on any reasonable pedagogical level. In fact, depending on what you choose, the touch and tone of your next piano could actually be worse...

From an aesthetic point of view, I would offer two thoughts (you didn't mention the dimensions of your space, nor the ceiling height): Although 95% of the vertical owning population keeps their pianos on a wall, you don't have to place/angle it that way. Second, I find some of the smallest grand pianos rather odd looking (in a way that is less elegant than a 48" vertical), as they're wider than they are long.


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#2149809 - 09/14/13 01:37 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Congratulations on being a wonderful parent!

Since your son is only 5YO he has so little experience with pianos that choosing one would be very difficult at this stage.

Can you find a church or friend that has a grand that he can go play on every week or so? Also take him into piano shops every now and then to let him try different pianos.

Then when he is 10YO or so he will be able to help select a suitable grand. Meanwhile save a little money each month for your "Grand Fund".


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#2149810 - 09/14/13 01:39 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Thank you for the quick replies! jc201306, I should clarify that "minimizing future financial hit" is not quite what I meant by "maximizing future resale value". I don't wish to purchase the cheapest grand on the market--rather, I would like to buy the Yamaha U1 in Polished Ebony-equivalent (e.g. well-known, reputable, popular size/model/color, etc.) of a grand piano so that it'll be both good for my kiddo and not particularly difficult to resell later should I desire to do so. If I were selling my U1 after, say, 5-10 years rather than 1, or if I would have purchased my U1 used, I would have no regrets whatsoever despite being out more money in absolute terms than I would have if I had simply purchased the cheapest piano available. I apologize I didn't make this clear.

BDB, the dealer only offers a trade-in value of 70% of the purchase price. Considering my U1 is only 1 year old, that is an extraordinarily bad deal for me--I can recoup quite a bit more selling privately.

terminaldegree, I would definitely endeavor not to downgrade any features in moving from the U1 to a grand. My intent is to spend at least 2-3 times the price of the new U1 on a used grand--do you think that would be sufficient to attain decent quality? Also, I could probably comfortably fit a 6 ft. grand in my space--it's not so much the size of the room that is an issue currently with the vertical, but the layout (I'm not sure how to describe it, so please just trust me that it looks weird wink. How large do you think a piano should be in order to look proportional in terms of length vs. width?

#2149821 - 09/14/13 01:54 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Ed McMorrow, thank you for your kind words! My son, who just turned 6, seems to have really taken to the piano--he performed in 4 recitals, a festival, and a Piano Guild Audition (where he played 15 pieces!) this first year, all on grands (his lessons also take place on a grand) and loved every minute. You're right, of course, that he will develop his own preferences in an instrument as he progresses. Selfishly, I just don't think I can wait that long with this aesthetically displeasing sight in my living room--I suppose I am not such a wonderful parent after all... :P

#2149826 - 09/14/13 02:03 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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If I was your little boy, I would prefer to keep my new U1 then to trade for an used grand piano. Seems you want to do this because like so many people you want a grand piano looking piece of furniture in your living room. Unless you have a healthy budget, you are not doing him any favors. If you go to a Yamaha C2 or larger gently used or new, that would be one thing. If you get him some small 5' thing, don't bother. The U1 is better than most tiny baby grand pianos. Go to the Yamaha dealer and ask for a good deal on a new Yamaha C2X and asked for what you paid for the U1. They do this all the time, and you shouldn't lose that much money.


Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci
#2149832 - 09/14/13 02:36 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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4evrBeginR, yes, 5'8" or larger is what I had in mind, and I actually would consider a newish, used C2--what a coincidence that you mentioned it! I assure you that I'm not just looking for a pretty piece of furniture, and I definitely do not wish to shortchange my little guy's piano education. That said, I really don't want to buy brand-spanking new again, until/unless, as Ed mentioned earlier, the kiddo has developed the chops to pick it out himself and I have more faith that it'll be a keeper.

#2149875 - 09/14/13 06:13 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Are you sure you can get more than 70% of the new price selling privately? You do take a big hit in resale when the piano is no longer "new." My impression is that people buying privately expect a bargain price.

I completely understand your desire for a grand. I do think you can find good ones in your price range, but it can take a lot of time looking if you want high-quality used (with action and sound that will serve your son better than the U1). Is your son's teacher able or willing to help in checking out a piano? or another experienced pianist, as well as a technician.

The resale market for pianos seems unpredictable, with so many people going to digital and the increasing quality of the cheaper imports. Yamaha certainly has the name recognition, but I think you get more piano for the money with brands like Brodmann or Hailun. Now, if you can find a gently used, American-made Baldwin R or L, you could be happy for quite a while (I'm biased, of course, but they can be a real bargain because the company's decline has undervalued them in the market).


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#2149929 - 09/14/13 08:58 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Cardinal201,

Opinions will be varied because most of us, including myself, inject our own circumstances into advice and decisions. As an older adult, who has been around the block a number of times I will venture my opinion too... Do what makes you happy. Only you know what your financial capabilities are and only you know how ardent your son is about piano. It sounds like you have thought it through and it could be a win win for both you and your budding pianist. Perhaps you too can take up piano... it would be great fun for both of you and would probably shorten the learning curve a bit. It sounds as if you find the looks of the upright somewhat irritating and that will probably only get more so with time.

You only live once. If you prefer to look at a grand in your home then by all means go for it but just be careful when shopping for a used one and make sure you have a reputible tech with a lot of experience check it our prior to purchase. Yes, you will take a hit because, just like with a car, the first three years carry the biggest depreciation but that is the price we pay to get what we want when we want. If you shop wisely, the grand you purchase now will be sufficient at least until your son gets his scholarship to a music conservatory. wink (BTW, it goes by very fast so enjoy and savor every moment!)

#2150023 - 09/14/13 12:30 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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I think used - as you're planning - is a good idea. That is where the best value can be found. Since you're thinking about resale I'd suggest picking a major brand: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway, Mason and Hamlin, etc. This list isn't meant to be comprehensive.

Happy shopping!


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#2150045 - 09/14/13 01:19 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Originally Posted by Cardinal201
[T]he dealer only offers a trade-in value of 70% of the purchase price. Considering my U1 is only 1 year old, that is an extraordinarily bad deal for me--I can recoup quite a bit more selling privately.


For being such a greenhorn, you seem to know a lot about being a used piano dealer, as you think that you can do a better job of marketing your piano than an established piano dealer.

Originally Posted by Cardinal201
[I] would definitely endeavor not to downgrade any features in moving from the U1 to a grand. My intent is to spend at least 2-3 times the price of the new U1 on a used grand--do you think that would be sufficient to attain decent quality? Also, I could probably comfortably fit a 6 ft. grand in my space--it's not so much the size of the room that is an issue currently with the vertical, but the layout (I'm not sure how to describe it, so please just trust me that it looks weird wink. How large do you think a piano should be in order to look proportional in terms of length vs. width?


Well, no matter how weird it looks to you, a picture would be worth a thousand words to us. smile

So presuming that you can fit a 6' piano, and you want something of comparable quality to the U1, then the simple answer is to get the Yamaha GC-2, where you can get the trade in (if you want it.)


#2150115 - 09/14/13 04:13 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Cardinal201 Offline
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jdw and swampwiz, I wouldn't dare think I could do better marketing my piano than an established dealer, but I do know I can beat 70% because I already have an offer of 85% from a legitimate private party (a fellow parent at my kiddo's school). I should have mentioned that my dealer's offer of 70% applies to a trade-in at anytime--70% would be much more attractive for a U1, say, 10 years old rather than 1. Apologies for not having stated that earlier!

In any case, thank you all for your helpful input! I will take my time and continue my due diligence, and hopefully have good news to report at some point!

#2150137 - 09/14/13 04:59 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Originally Posted by Cardinal201
jdw and swampwiz, I wouldn't dare think I could do better marketing my piano than an established dealer, but I do know I can beat 70% because I already have an offer of 85% from a legitimate private party (a fellow parent at my kiddo's school). I should have mentioned that my dealer's offer of 70% applies to a trade-in at anytime--70% would be much more attractive for a U1, say, 10 years old rather than 1. Apologies for not having stated that earlier!
I wouldn't wait too long on the 85% offer because, although I am no expert on this, I think it will be hard to beat that. If you want to take time finding a grand(a good idea and probably quite necessary if you want to buy used), you can always rent a piano in the meantime.

For your stated budget of 2 or 3 times the cost of the U1 there should be quite a few excellent options. And certainly don't worry about those who criticize the idea of getting a grand for its aesthetic appeal. The beauty of a piano as a piece of furniture should not be underestimated and is a perfectly good reason to want a grand. Another piano you might want to consider is a new Brodmann which is one of the highest rated Chinese pianos.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/14/13 05:02 PM.
#2150139 - 09/14/13 05:04 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I wouldn't wait too long on the 85% offer because, although I am no expert on this, I think it will be hard to beat that.


I tend to agree, if you're sure about making the switch and are financially ready.


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#2150194 - 09/14/13 06:24 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Well, and one more comment re. the 'furniture' aspect of the grand. It's not even remotely why my husband and I bought ours. (I'm the only one who plays right now). We bought it because it was easier to get into the house than a full vertical, and there were simply more good used grands to choose from. However our living room layout necessitated the placement of its huge ancientness in a central spot, and that's how I learned that...

A grand piano is a practice magnet.

Every time I walk past it I want to sit down and work a section of something. When I'm elsewhere in the house, it exerts a weird gravitational pull on me, and eventually I find myself drawn to the living room to play just a little bit more.



thorn

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1920's Mason & Hamlin A
#2150197 - 09/14/13 06:33 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Take the 85% offer. I differ a bit from the others in that a newish C2 is going to be tough to find. What you will probably find are older models that all have very different issues that you will need a good technician to sort out. Since you are not the pianist and the pianist you have is very young, your ability to find a suitable used piano from a private source will incur a lot of expense in having those pianos inspected for problems which will come with a used piano with no warranty.

Given your situation, I would recommend that you find a good dealer that you trust and let them find something for you that comes with some sort of warranty. If legitimate dealers don't have anything lightly used you should just bite the bullet and get a new piano with a warranty. Although I agree that finding a new grand that is better than a U1 will be expensive.

None of us can recommend specific used pianos because in theory a used Yamaha C series or Kawai RX (GX) might very well be a great piano but it could have just come out of a house from a flood zone with hidden damage. Used pianos will always have to be inspected by a qualified tech because lots of problems that are very expensive to repair will be invisible to you and are not detectable by a 6 year old pianist, no matter how enthusiastic.



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#2150228 - 09/14/13 07:46 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: thorn_was_taken]  
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#2150231 - 09/14/13 07:48 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: S. Phillips]  
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I agree with Sally about being very prudent in shopping used pianos...

But to the OP: please don't be scared away from used pianos. You do need the technician to evaluate it (even if it's at a piano dealer). But good technicians can determine these things. That's their job.


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#2150466 - 09/15/13 09:34 AM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: thorn_was_taken]  
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Originally Posted by thorn_was_taken
Well, and one more comment re. the 'furniture' aspect of the grand. It's not even remotely why my husband and I bought ours. (I'm the only one who plays right now). We bought it because it was easier to get into the house than a full vertical, and there were simply more good used grands to choose from. However our living room layout necessitated the placement of its huge ancientness in a central spot, and that's how I learned that...

A grand piano is a practice magnet.

Every time I walk past it I want to sit down and work a section of something. When I'm elsewhere in the house, it exerts a weird gravitational pull on me, and eventually I find myself drawn to the living room to play just a little bit more.



Thorn was taken,

Well said and so accurate! To be sure, it is indeed a "practice magnet". I think you may be the first to put into words what we all discovereed the day our grands arrived in our homes. There is just something about it and like you, I experience the force field of my baby grand. I can hardly walk past it without getting pulled onto the bench and have to conciously fight the "force" if I am to tend to other matters. I would say that my time at the piano has almost doubled. I consider my "baby" to be the best single monetary investment of my life and I have been around for some time.

This is not to say that uprights cannot be fine pianos and many are quite wonderful. I'm sure many pianists prefer to have an upright or a DP for many different reasons. The beauty of it is that there is something for everyone.

#2150540 - 09/15/13 01:25 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Stating the 'practice magnet'-thing as an aphorism was risky, wasn't it. But I had a fairly strong idea from my lurkings here that I wasn't the only one who felt this way. heh.

And it might be the exactly same for one who has acquired a similarly significant vertical, auditioning instruments, choosing the right one, negotiating, transacting, rearranging the room -- all on one's own.


thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

1920's Mason & Hamlin A
#2150576 - 09/15/13 03:01 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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good one......Practice Magnet!

I guess that means my TV has opposite poles cause it's been negelected for decades!



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#2150657 - 09/15/13 05:16 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Carbonblob]  
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So funny. I have watched almost no TV since the arrival of the instrument -- so we now have two points in the data set...


thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

1920's Mason & Hamlin A
#2150832 - 09/15/13 09:24 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Agree. To me, New grand = no tv time + lack behind on house chores + more carryout (for dinner).

Last edited by RX2Bunny; 09/15/13 09:25 PM.
#2150840 - 09/15/13 09:36 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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Cardinal, I think if you can get 85% back on your U1, you're in REALLY good shape. I bought a brand new K-5 a year ago and sold it after 1 year to upgrade to grand. I had to take a 25% loss and it's a private sale. If I had waited for the right buyer, maybe I could have gotten more money, however, I was having a very attractive offer on the grand so I kinda had to sell my upright quick. so if you only need to take a 15% loss, it's a great offer.

#2150926 - 09/15/13 11:31 PM Re: Need advice for buying first grand [Re: Cardinal201]  
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I agree re. The 85%. The sooner you get your grand, the longer you'll have it; and if you wait in order to have more use from your U1 in order for whatever % you recover to be more... significant? you also wait for grand prices to increase.

Also: ebony pianos with a lacquer finish in good shape will tend to slightly improve the price you get if you sell it -- and will greatly improve the speed with which it will move.

Also: buy and read Larry Fine's book, 'The Piano Book'. It is loaded with excellent information. Also read the section in the current update of the book relevant to used pianos and the market for same (buy a copy, or read free online).


thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

1920's Mason & Hamlin A

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