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piano recommendations?
#2232843 02/16/14 10:01 PM
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Brand-new forum member here. I'm hoping to eventually replace my 1920s Nordheimer upright with a grand; it's a huge investment, so I've been doing some research hoping to narrow down the choices somewhat. I would welcome any recommendations from those with more experience in the market.

The main things I'm hoping to find are:
1. Responsive touch and action (not too stiff)
2. Warm, singing tone - mellow but clear
3. Decent-quality construction - I'd be using it to teach lessons and would like something that will last a long time and can handle quite a bit of use
4. Relatively easy to maintain and keep in tune

I've checked out a few dealers, but so far nothing that would fit my price range or my limited space has really stood out to me. Are there any grands out there under 6 feet and preferably under $20K that might meet these criteria?


Piano Teacher
home piano: 1930s Nordheimer upright
work piano: Samick SU-243M
*Currently accepting donations to the Dream Piano fund*
Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2232848 02/16/14 10:18 PM
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Since I just posted about this: I suggest trying an older M&H A to see if it suits your taste. It's 5'-8", has a warm, not-too-bright tone, nice sustain, and the presence of a much larger instrument. M&H also makes an AA, which I think is 6'-4".

Mine is quite old, and needed some action work, so it was within my (rather low) budget, and stayed that way even after action regulation. It had spent a great deal of its working life as a teacher's instrument and is nowhere near exhausted even >80 years after its birth.

Some of the old Chickerings are also pretty sweet, I think.


thorn

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1920's Mason & Hamlin A
Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2232871 02/16/14 11:25 PM
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There are plenty of good brands, reconditioned, out there. Just take the time to look.

You might have seen the pictures I have just posted of the Bechstein B I just bought. There was a gate leg A which was actually more expensive, strangely enough, but still a good buy.

There was also a baby Bluthner which had been similarly reconditioned. That was under 6'.

You can't expect just to drop on one immediately. You need to look round and let people, such as your tuner, know what you are seeking.


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2232895 02/17/14 12:55 AM
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I think you should talk to your technician about what you should be looking for. Many of the characteristics you are looking for will depend as much on the person who takes care of it as the manufacturer of the piano.


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Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2232899 02/17/14 01:14 AM
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I've seen used Baldwins that are very nice in that price range.


Poetry is rhythm
Re: piano recommendations?
thorn_was_taken #2233037 02/17/14 09:43 AM
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I'd love a Mason & Hamlin if I can find one that's both affordable and in good condition. I played one that was above my price range at a dealer's (I believe it was a newer A), and it was great. You're right about the "presence" - those pianos have some serious power.
Hadn't planned on getting something old, especially since one reason I'm looking at upgrading is because of my current piano's age, but I suppose it may be worth at least looking into.


Piano Teacher
home piano: 1930s Nordheimer upright
work piano: Samick SU-243M
*Currently accepting donations to the Dream Piano fund*
Re: piano recommendations?
phantomFive #2233041 02/17/14 09:48 AM
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Is there a big difference in quality between the old American-made Baldwins and the more recent ones, which I've heard are made in China? If so, what age range should I be looking at?


Piano Teacher
home piano: 1930s Nordheimer upright
work piano: Samick SU-243M
*Currently accepting donations to the Dream Piano fund*
Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2233059 02/17/14 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by mc_2
Is there a big difference in quality between the old American-made Baldwins and the more recent ones, which I've heard are made in China? If so, what age range should I be looking at?


There most certainly is. A 7' Baldwin from the 60's or 70's that is restrung with new hammers, knuckles and action work may be found in that price range, and I know you can get a good Mason A too.

Take care,

Steve

Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2233324 02/17/14 05:44 PM
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One piano that I'd love to try playing is the Estonia 168, but it would likely be way above my budget. I like the sound of the Estonias and have heard a lot of good things about them. Got a chance to play one of their older concert grands at a dealer's and really liked the action, too, and from what I've read the quality has improved a lot in the past few years (along with a corresponding increase in price, of course).
Anyone know if it's even possible to find a good deal on a used 168 in Canada?


Piano Teacher
home piano: 1930s Nordheimer upright
work piano: Samick SU-243M
*Currently accepting donations to the Dream Piano fund*
Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2233327 02/17/14 05:54 PM
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Personally, I think the best values are in the second-hand market, and like others above have posted, there are a lot great older models and deals out there to be had if you're prepared to hunt. That said, I didn't get the impression that you're only interested in second-hand pianos. So I'll point out the Piano Buyer link on the left margin, which links to a database of new piano models and prices (MSRP & SMP), and I think a good many smaller grands will fit well within your budget. Six months or so ago I posed the same question: what can I get for 20k, and people referred me there and pointed out a number of quality grands. Cunningham was a name that comes to mind (there were others too).

Editing to add a link to my previous post:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...20piano%20for%20up%20to.html#Post2134138

Now I see why I recall the Cunningham--several people praised it highly. Rich Galassini, who heads up that operation, is fairly active on this forum and is well respected too (he was instrumental here in helping me select my non-Cunningham piano, and I've never met him in person).

Last edited by Retsacnal; 02/17/14 06:06 PM.

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Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2233527 02/18/14 04:30 AM
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mc_2

How nice of you to ask our opinion. Sorry that we seem to be broadening your choices rather than narrowing them down!

Do you have room for a 6 foot piano? If you do, my first suggestion is to not get anything smaller. There is a notable difference in the warmth and richness of sound between a comparable 5 foot grand and a 6 foot grand. That said, you will only know the quality of the sound once you have played it.

Although quality pianos can be regulated to meet a variety of touch preferences, each piano will still have its own character. When you find a piano with an action you like, you might do some research to find out what other pianos have that same action. The Renner action is a favorite of mine. Remember that just because it has a certain action, does not mean it will feel the same, so you should play as many pianos as possible.

Regarding your requirements that the piano be decent quality construction and easy to maintain, any new piano made by a top manufacturer should meet that description. However, you should ask a technician to look at any piano you are considering. He/she can tell you things about the sound board, action, pin block, harp, strings, etc just by looking at it. That is really your best bet.

By the way, I happened to notice somebody posted a recording of their Kawai RX 5. If you could find a Kawai RX 2 or 3, that might be a nice option. Another piano I did not see mentioned was a Shimmel. Although it might be difficult to find a 6 footer in your area and price range, it is worth looking.

Did you say you are in Ontario? On craigslist right now in Toronto I see a Yamaha C3 and a Kawai KG 3, both good instruments for teaching. There are also Steinways, Shillers, and Petrofs, etc.

Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2233529 02/18/14 04:32 AM
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mc_2, I have not heard many Baldwins that have a "warm, singing tone." You might not like the way they sound if that is what you are looking for.

Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2233638 02/18/14 09:53 AM
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Thanks for the input! Kawai and Yamaha are still both on my list for consideration; my personal preferences would probably lean toward Kawai, though they're both good pianos. Haven't seen any Schimmels, but I'll keep an eye out.
6 feet would likely be difficult to fit. Might sound silly, but I'd almost rather invest the money in quality rather than size (i.e. get a nicer 5'6 over a lesser 6'3).


Piano Teacher
home piano: 1930s Nordheimer upright
work piano: Samick SU-243M
*Currently accepting donations to the Dream Piano fund*
Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2233944 02/18/14 09:00 PM
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Try a 5'7" Ritmuller. It sounds like nothing else in its price range. The piano is very mellow, but it wants to sing. Yes, it's Chinese, but judge it on its own merits. Waaay under your budget.

5'7" Charles Walter. Very hard to find used. Might, just might be able to find one for your budget. Outstanding piano.

Somebody already mentioned the M&H A. Another outstanding piano.

Baldwin R. At 5'8" can be a very good piano. Maybe not a Mason or a Walter, but a mighty fine piano in its own right.


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Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2234239 02/19/14 01:14 PM
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Piano Teacher
home piano: 1930s Nordheimer upright
work piano: Samick SU-243M
*Currently accepting donations to the Dream Piano fund*
Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2234243 02/19/14 01:17 PM
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You cannot tell anything about this piano by just looking at a few pictures. I can't even tell how old it is, what shape the action, structure, and finish are in, and what it sounds like. Nor can you tell how it has been maintained, previous environmental control, and repair needs and history.

Did you go and play it?



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Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2234251 02/19/14 01:37 PM
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No, I haven't played it yet. I live an hour's drive from Toronto, so I was trying to determine if it's even worth the trip to go see it.
The ad insists it's already been rebuilt and is in excellent condition, but you're right - that doesn't necessarily mean anything. I just wasn't sure whether people would tell me that Bluthner is a piano I have to consider at that price regardless of whether it needs work.


Piano Teacher
home piano: 1930s Nordheimer upright
work piano: Samick SU-243M
*Currently accepting donations to the Dream Piano fund*
Re: piano recommendations?
mc_2 #2243061 03/08/14 10:12 AM
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I got a chance yesterday to play the Estonia 168 I mentioned in a previous post wanting to try out, and it didn't disappoint. I loved the tone - it's rich and warm, but also seems to have a certain sparkle to it. IMO some of the other mellow pianos I've tried felt a bit muddy and/or dull and lifeless; this piano was neither, and I'd say it's currently at the top of my list as far as my "dream piano" goes.

Unfortunately, however, even though by all indications the Estonia is an excellent value, the list price is still almost twice as much as my max budget, so the search continues for a good *affordable* piano. It looks as though my dream piano will have to remain a dream for the foreseeable future, unless I happen to find a fantastic deal on a used one (or stumble across a winning lottery ticket that someone inadvertently discarded).

Or unless I decide I like the idea of living on the street, dragging my piano around town a la Bruno Mars...

Nope, not willing to go quite that far. smile


Piano Teacher
home piano: 1930s Nordheimer upright
work piano: Samick SU-243M
*Currently accepting donations to the Dream Piano fund*

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