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BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
#2308049 07/28/14 08:11 AM
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Friends:

Rickster's new Baldwin R calls to mind that it's very close in size to the Steinway M. There are those, like Keith K., who believe that this scale is one of Steinway's very best. Others, like myself, have never played an M that impressed in any way.

Can the experienced amongst us compare these two pianos/scales and characterise their feelings about them ?

Of course, there is always the M&A A lurking out there !

Thanks.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Karl Watson #2308053 07/28/14 08:24 AM
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Hi Karl,

Really, all three are successful scales. When Leonard Bernstein passed he had two pianos in his Manhattan apartment, A Bosendorfer and a Baldwin. It could have been an R... unless it was an L (6'3"), now I can't remember, but I can find out from his technician who is a friend of mine.

Anyway, I have played specific pianos of each of the models you mentioned Karl that have been great instruments. I have also played some real dogs from each of those models. The time of manufacture, type of use, condition, and quality/amount of maintenance all play a role in how the piano performs.

Bottom line - we will all have our personal preferences, but each of these models have tremendous potential... but not necessarily specific pianos.

My 2 cents,


Rich Galassini
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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Karl Watson #2308069 07/28/14 09:04 AM
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Or you could go for the Mason-Hamlin A like Karl said. It's a really fine piano.

Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Chopinlover49 #2308102 07/28/14 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Chopinlover49
Or you could go for the Mason-Hamlin A like Karl said. It's a really fine piano.


Oh yes, CL49! That is QUITE a successful scale. (That was one of the three I referred to in my post).


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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Karl Watson #2308159 07/28/14 01:11 PM
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Either of them can be excellent pianos. I've never had good examples side by side to take notes on how they sound different.


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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Karl Watson #2308168 07/28/14 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Karl Watson
Rickster's new Baldwin R calls to mind that it's very close in size to the Steinway M. There are those, like Keith K., who believe that this scale is one of Steinway's very best. Others, like myself, have never played an M that impressed in any way.

Can the experienced amongst us compare these two pianos/scales and characterise their feelings about them?

Assuming they are both in comparable condition:
For scaling -- i.e., overall tone potential -- I'd give the nod to the Baldwin R.

For action performance the Steinway might be marginally better. (Assuming they got the action geometry relatively close to optimal....)

If you are talking about used pianos -- which, in the case of the Baldwin you would have to be -- then it would depend on what has been done to the actions over the years. Both companies had problems from time to time. The Pratt-Win action used by Baldwin had problems with the geometry of the repetition spring and generally sloppy action construction. The Steinway has had geometry problems, we all know about the Teflon bushings and sloppy action construction. Both companies have had over-hardened hammers at various times.

If both actions have been replaced with current Renner or WN&G components then the action performance should be the same.

Assuming appropriate hammers have been selected in each case then the Baldwin R should have a better -- more articulate -- bass, a better bass-to-tenor transition and a better sounding low tenor. The Steinway M should have a marginally better upper tenor and treble.

The Steinway M looks better (in my opinion).

Better than either of these will be the Walter 175.

ddf


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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Karl Watson #2308300 07/28/14 09:38 PM
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If the R is well preserved and dates from between WW2 and the time just prior to the accu-just hitch pins it can be quite wonderful. It is less muddy in the middle C area and if all is right the treble is strong and clear. The notes at the top of the overstrung section are not quite as solid and clear as the M. These would be notes 23, 24, 25, & 26.

I am always eager to take one of these and go over everything. They respond really well to the Hybrid wire protocols. And if you recap the bridges you can optimize the treble speaking lengths which create a very clear, dynamic, warm and singing treble.

I was just tuning one I went over like this last week.

That said, M's can be very good as well. Although I would take the R I did recently over any M I have done. It just touches me more with color.


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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Karl Watson #2308303 07/28/14 09:55 PM
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<Better than either of these will be the Walter 175>

LOL. Of course, you are not prejudiced are you Del?!

Kidding aside I drove to the Walter factory a year or so ago just to play the 175. There are probably better 5'8" grands around, but I sure loved the 175. I even liked Walter 175 better than the Walter 190. Someday... maybe...

Last edited by tdv; 07/28/14 10:05 PM.

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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
tdv #2308372 07/29/14 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by tdv
<Better than either of these will be the Walter 175>
Of course, you are not prejudiced are you Del?!

Well, he didn't say the Fandrich upright. That would be really prejudiced.

However he could have. It is better. Ok - I'll admit I'm a bit prejudiced. But we have a Baldwin R in the rehearsal room next to my studio (where my Fandrich upright now lives). The Baldwin R we have is a pretty good one, with new strings, a rebuilt action, and fairly new hammers. But the Fandrich beats it on just about every front.

I spent some time doing a comparison back and forth. The Fandrich tone is more sophisticated, developed, and pleasing. The Fandrich has far superior treble (almost nothing has treble like that). The low tenor is better on the Fandrich. The transition is better. The bass is more articulate and more open on the Fandrich. I think the only place the R came out ahead is a slightly larger dynamic range - it probably can go a bit louder overall.

Yes, I like my new piano. But if you guys get the chance to play a real high end upright, it can break a lot of stereotypes we have about upright pianos. Ok, jumping off soap box now.


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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Karl Watson #2308509 07/29/14 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Karl Watson
Friends:

Rickster's new Baldwin R calls to mind that it's very close in size to the Steinway M. There are those, like Keith K., who believe that this scale is one of Steinway's very best. Others, like myself, have never played an M that impressed in any way.

Can the experienced amongst us compare these two pianos/scales and characterise their feelings about them ?

Of course, there is always the M&A A lurking out there !

Thanks.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY


The Steinway M is not IMO one of the best Steinway designs, and I don't think I ever said or wrote that. What I probably said that some Ms can be very good, and a great M is better than an average L or something to that effect.
Factory Ms can be all over the place. One of the things I like about Ms is there is a lot of tweaks that can be made on them action and sound wise that get nice results.
I do love a great Steinway, and I even like a good S.

As for a Steinway M vs a Baldwin R, that is a tough one because both pianos are so inconsistent.
If you had an ideal factory version of both, I like the top half of the M and the bottom half of the R.
A good Baldwin R is likely more bang for the buck.


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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
tdv #2308567 07/29/14 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by tdv
<Better than either of these will be the Walter 175>

LOL. Of course, you are not prejudiced are you Del?!

Kidding aside I drove to the Walter factory a year or so ago just to play the 175. There are probably better 5'8" grands around, but I sure loved the 175. I even liked Walter 175 better than the Walter 190. Someday... maybe...

You bet I am. It's not perfect -- no piano is -- but it is still one of the most advanced designs available in the under-6' range.

ddf

(And, no, I do not have any financial interest in the sale of any Walter piano.)


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
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Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Del #2308623 07/29/14 05:17 PM
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Friends:

Thank you all very much for your worthy contributions. Apologies X10 to Keith for mis-quoting him. I'd recently read an old thread of his in another, I think British forum, that did indeed contain quite a bit of dislike for the L. Unfortunately I must have remembered his remarks about the M incorrectly.

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=6967.0

At some point I must learn to trust my instincts better. I'd come to the same conclusions about the Baldwin R vs. Steinway M but was thwarted by lack of technical knowledge as well as the traditional bit about inconsistency piano to piano. Of course my old preference for Steinway PERIOD, esp. as against Baldwin, came into play and muddied the waters a bit.

I am so old that I remember a time when there were only two American pianos in the concert field, M&H having long since faded from concert venues. However, I was with the Philadelphia Orchestra one summer (could have been '71) at Saratoga and saw a Rochester CC back-stage. But regardless I'd never given up my knee-jerk prejudice against Baldwin until just a few years ago when I happened to play a concert grand from the late '50s and was quite bowled-over by its really handsome and beautiful tone. Not long after, I was listening to a number of Arrau recordings from the early 50s and noticed that same, very distinctive sound (Liszt, Chopin - Ballades, Scherzi - and the Beethoven Diabelli variations). I think that the famous Liszt Concerto No.1 with Ormandy, the one that was done in a single take, sounds very like an older Baldwin. A friend of mine that was a pupil of Abbey Simon told me that Mr. Simon always preferred the previous design to the, was it SD10 ?

Nevertheless, all this does go to show that experienced ears can find much to admire in the Baldwin product.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

Last edited by Karl Watson; 07/29/14 05:21 PM.
Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Karl Watson #2308639 07/29/14 05:32 PM
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I was offered an old Baldwin R a year or so ago, for free. It was c. 1924, had belonged to a famous poet, and his wife had no use for it, plus it disturbed their downstairs neighbors.

Well, I had no use for it either. I did play it, and it was dull-sounding, but had been uncared-for, except for tuning, for decades. I didn't need another piano that needed work!

So she offered it to anyone on her mailing list, and got hundreds of "wants"!!

It ultimately went to Barnard College here in NYC; they are getting it fixed up and even plan to have me give a concert on it!

Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Karl Watson #2308648 07/29/14 05:55 PM
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Karl--I must confess, too, I wasn't a fan Baldwin until recently. But, my entire perspective completely changed when I began to search for a replacement grand... My, my, how those Baldwins can sing!


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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Karl Watson #2308652 07/29/14 06:09 PM
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I mad cursing Baldwin pin blocks and bridge pin angles. I don't know the whole history of what changes were made when, but fine tuning on those pianos tests my maximum limits of civility; S&S is not much better, but in this case [pun: insert laugh here], it is! thumb

Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Del #2308654 07/29/14 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Del
Originally Posted by tdv
<Better than either of these will be the Walter 175>

LOL. Of course, you are not prejudiced are you Del?!

Kidding aside I drove to the Walter factory a year or so ago just to play the 175. There are probably better 5'8" grands around, but I sure loved the 175. I even liked Walter 175 better than the Walter 190. Someday... maybe...

You bet I am. It's not perfect -- no piano is -- but it is still one of the most advanced designs available in the under-6' range.

ddf

(And, no, I do not have any financial interest in the sale of any Walter piano.)


Del, what is different about the 175 in scale design from the 190 to make it your preference?

Last edited by Grandman; 07/29/14 06:10 PM.

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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
Grandman #2308685 07/29/14 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Grandman
[quote=Del][quote=tdv]<Better than either of these will be the Walter 175>

Del, what is different about the 175 in scale design from the 190 to make it your preference?

Ten years of design experience helped. I was pushier about lowering string tensions. And about putting in a transition bridge. And about "floating" the lower edge of the soundboard around the end of the bass bridge.

It's not that I don't like the 190 -- I do -- but, for its size, the 175 stands out.

I wish it had been marketed a little more aggressively and I wish more dealers had figured out that neither of the Walter grands was supposed to be brighter and more percussive than Yamahas of the time. Most of the Walter grands I've seen in homes have had chemically hardened hammers (done by their dealer's technicians) and the owners have complained about the bright, harsh sound of the pianos. So far, I've replaced hammers on two of them to restore the original design voice and the owners have been very happy with the results.

ddf


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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
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Grandman, I was the one who said that I preferred the Walter 175 over the 190. The 190 was a nice piano but I liked the tone and the balance of the 175 I played over the 190s. Just my taste and just the particular 3 - 4 Walter grands that I played. BTW I also love the looks of the 175. Nice proportions IMO. Not massively heavy looking - though massive and heavy is fine if that is one's taste.

Del, you wrote: "It's not perfect -- no piano is -- but it is still one of the most advanced designs available in the under-6' range."

While it still would not be perfect, I was thinking about the CW 175 paired with a full W,N, & G composite action inside. With the right hammers, what a piano IMO that that would be.

Last edited by tdv; 07/29/14 09:18 PM.

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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
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Tdv, i recall Del also expressing a preference fornthe 175 in one of his posts. I did not knoe the scale was different from the 190.


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Re: BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
tdv #2308743 07/29/14 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tdv
Del, you wrote: "It's not perfect -- no piano is -- but it is still one of the most advanced designs available in the under-6' range."

While it still would not be perfect, I was thinking about the CW 175 paired with a full W,N, & G composite action inside. With the right hammers, what a piano IMO that that would be.

As would I...

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
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Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
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