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Beginner piano advice #2536721
05/04/16 05:11 PM
05/04/16 05:11 PM
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pirke Offline OP
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A long long time ago I had some piano lessons for less than a year. Between then and now I've played several other instruments and now in my mid 30's I'd like to get started with the piano again. So basically I've forgotten everything regarding piano playing and I consider myself an (almost) total piano beginner who happens to know some music theory from my other instruments.

So I've decided to buy an acoustic piano. My search started with a budget of 5k euro and I quickly discovered that you can get a new budget upright or a 30 year old higher end used upright. I have the problem that I hear the difference in sound quality and I can easily stretch my budget. So I increased my budget to 10k euro. That's when I discovered that new budget grands or older used grands are available, or maybe a new higher end upright. But what if we increase the budget another 5 or 10k? More new grands to choose from, and they usually sound better. Size does matter... but I don't want to keep increasing my budget smile I have the cash, but I'm always looking to maximize the value per euro while assuring a minimum level of value. But where do I draw the minimum value line? For me value is a combination of sound quality and build quality.

Our living room of 50 square meters can support a grand when we move some furniture to somewhere else. So space is not an issue.

I know the best advice is to visit as many dealers as I can and play and listen to as many pianos as possible. But I'm getting lost in all the available options.

To help myself here is some of my reasoning.

Benefits of a grand:
- direct sound from the strings
- possibility to have longer strings than an upright
- repeater lever
- looks

Benefit of an upright:
- cheaper, perhaps better value per euro?

Benefits of new:
- complete history and care are known
- no usage marks
- the complete life is still ahead
- longer warranty and guaranteed quality
- latest technology

Benefits of used:
- cheaper, perhaps better value per euro?
- less initial depreciation

With so many options and brands, what is a good approach? My preference is clearly a new grand, but from a value perspective a used grand, new upright or used upright might be a better choice. I do prefer buying a piano for the next 30 years instead of upgrading every few years.


Regarding the sound I'm leaning towards pianos with a brighter mid/high, and a full heavy low. But most sounds are available by switching brands or series within a brand, so I won't make this discussion part of my question here smile

However, there is the difficulty of comparing the different pianos between dealers due to different showroom environments. Some have hard floors, or maybe lot's of carpeting and drapes. That's a huge difference in the environment which greatly affects the sound. So how do I know how something will sound in my home without trying it out at home?

For my home theater sound setup I actually did a blind test of 20 different speakers in one listening room that was setup very similar to my home environment. My hifi dealer had many differently decorated "listening living rooms" available and offered this service free of charge. After listening I could take home the speakers I liked best and try them out for a week free of charge as well. I've not seen a piano dealer with different listening rooms, and the physical difference make the comparison difficult as I'd like to go back and forth between two individual pianos for subtle differences.

Note that I can't play the piano yet (anymore) and I'm playing just some basic chords and individual notes to compare the pianos. Dealers also don't mind to play something, but I don't think they like playing the same thing over and over again and I do want to feel the keys myself.



Quick summary: I'm lost. I want to get the best value for my money but there are simply too many options...

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Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2536726
05/04/16 05:25 PM
05/04/16 05:25 PM
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DiarmuidD Offline
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My advice, considering your budget, is consider getting an older used grand piano from one of the old great names (50-100 year old Bluthner, Bechstein, Bosendorfer, Mason and Hamelin) and having it re-built OR Getting a 10-20 year old Yamaha C6 or C7. There are many other very good options but that is what I would basically do. What I wouldn't do is look at, say, Steinway or Fazioli, you pay a certain premium for the name. I say that as a Steinway owner. I love my piano but I realise in retrospect it commanded a premium price for the name. I still love it though smile

And if buying new the latest Chinese made pianos sound surprisingly good. It's probably a more disposable product but good nevertheless.

Last edited by DiarmuidD; 05/04/16 05:28 PM.
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2536731
05/04/16 05:35 PM
05/04/16 05:35 PM
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Reseda, California
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JohnSprung Offline
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The advice I always give in cases like this is to start not by finding your piano, but first by finding your piano tuner/technician. You'll need this person for the rest of your piano playing days.

The very best value for your money is likely to buy a used grand from a private seller. But to do that safely, you need an expert to evaluate it for you. Given your location, you may get some recommendations here.

Given the very large room you have, consider used concert grands. I have one in a smaller space than yours. When they're a little too old for a concert venue, the price drops drastically, and yet the can still be excellent by home piano standards.



-- J.S.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2536748
05/04/16 06:17 PM
05/04/16 06:17 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 3,740
Kuwait
PhilipInChina Offline
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Another point worth remembering, with such a large room, is that used grands are similar to some other items in that the small to medium sizes are more expensive than the very large ones. So you can get some amazing deals on 2.8 metre concert grands.

It might help if we knew where you are.


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2536753
05/04/16 06:22 PM
05/04/16 06:22 PM
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pirke Offline OP
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I live in the south of The Netherlands.

50 square meters is perhaps larger than average for a living room, it is effectively split in two areas: one area has sofas with a home cinema setup (we don't have a TV, just a projector for everything), the other area contains a dining table, a large computerdesk, a bookcase and some other cabinets. Total size is about 11*4.5 meter. A small open kitchen is attached in the middle while directly across the kitchen there is a closed staircase. The living room space between kitchen and stairs is open, just for walking from left to right. No walls separate the left and right area. Our next house will include an even larger living room as I find it too small sometimes smile

Regarding the concert grands, don't they produce too much volume? With a wooden floor, low ceiling and rectangular room I fear that the acoustics are not in my favor.

About the budget: I can spend a lot, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to. My initial budget was set at only 5k euro before I walked into a showroom... I don't mind spending 15-20k if it's worth it, but it has to be really amazing before I'll depart with the cash. The only way to get rich is by not spending your money unnecessary wink If I can get a great sound for 10k, why should I pay twice that or more?

Last edited by pirke; 05/04/16 06:23 PM.
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2536760
05/04/16 06:30 PM
05/04/16 06:30 PM
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pirke Offline OP
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And I do know my closest dealer is also a respected tuner and technician. They can give good advice, but in my experience everyone who sells pianos is not really objective in their advice. And I'm weird in the sense that I'm considering an expensive piano without being able to play it... So the dealer's I've spoken so far tend to advice the more cheaper stuff, at least initially. Only dedicated players consider buying a grand?

Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2536761
05/04/16 06:30 PM
05/04/16 06:30 PM
Joined: Apr 2015
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DiarmuidD Offline
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Then I would advise a 10-20 yer old C6 or C7 or a new Chinese 7ft+ grand. The best value options. But you could find a great deal on an old Bluthner/Bechstein/Bosendorfer and a good rebuilder.....just make sure they know how to finish it to a high standard.

For example the UK piano auctions often have very good deals on Bluthner and Bechstein grands (Bosendorfer are a little more expensive). Re-built they are gorgeous pianos.

Last edited by DiarmuidD; 05/04/16 06:33 PM.
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2536795
05/04/16 08:28 PM
05/04/16 08:28 PM
Joined: Nov 2015
Posts: 221
New Jersey
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scgrant Offline
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I ended up with a grand a little over 100 years old, but had more budget restrictions than you. I feel like a got a lot of piano for relatively little money by purchasing a partially restored grand from a private seller. I saw a lot of awful pianos and wasted some time, but ended up very happy.

I'm no expert, but it seems that age doesn't necessarily matter and cracks in the soundboard don't necessarily matter--as long as your expert estimates any incidental repairs accurately. It really comes down to whether the piano sounds and feels right to you--and the tech evaluates its condition. I preferred investing in a rebuilt piano versus buying a core as I've read that a full rebuild can be expensive.

My grand is incredibly loud for the size room I have, which I love. When I'm not shaking the rafters, I just play more softly. I did have to add a little carpeting as the previous owner had wall-to-wall carpeting and testing the piano in that room was very different than playing the piano on my own wood floors. It also took me a few months to get used to the acoustic. I had been practicing on a digital with headphones and the acoustic piano sound was overwhelming for a while.


Adult Beginner/Early Intermediate
Knabe 1902 Grand
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2536840
05/05/16 12:22 AM
05/05/16 12:22 AM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,825
Reseda, California
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JohnSprung Offline
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Originally Posted by pirke
Regarding the concert grands, don't they produce too much volume?


No. A concert grand is only as loud as you play it. It's not like cars where a 1.6 liter VW doesn't accelerate like a 7.5 liter F-350. The difference is that the concert grand can be played louder before it distorts.

Voicing is extremely important. I sometimes play a little console upright that's actually much louder for the same muscle input than my concert grand. The difference is that the console has extremely hard hammers.



-- J.S.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2537024
05/05/16 02:58 PM
05/05/16 02:58 PM
Joined: Aug 2015
Posts: 119
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Edb123 Offline
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Pirke - I know u really want a grand but what about this for starters - just while u learn

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nCkAKkwXayk

Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2537034
05/05/16 03:27 PM
05/05/16 03:27 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,922
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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pirke:

What I recommend:

Decide upon your approximate budget. Try as many pianos as you can find within or near your budget, both grands and uprights. Then, when you find the one that you prefer above all others, have it checked out by a technician. If s/he gives the OK as far as condition is concerned, that is most likely the piano that you will be most satisfied with, for the present.

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2537085
05/05/16 06:40 PM
05/05/16 06:40 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 223
So Cal
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Oasismfg Offline
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If you have the budget and room for a grand, get one. As others have said, the only way to know for sure which one is THE one, is to audition them - lots of them. Don't rush it. It took me many months to find the one I love, and when I did I knew it in the first 10 seconds I played it. And I still looked at more for a couple weeks and came back to play it a second time, just so I wouldn't make a hasty decision. I looked at both old and new pianos, several of each made my short list. I ended up with a 6'2" 1889 Mason & Hamlin for $9k, and two years later, I still couldn't be happier.

But you are a raw beginner with only a few chords under your belt. How can you make an honest appraisal of what you like? I would strongly consider buying or renting an inexpensive digital for a while, and learn a few songs to play so you can make meaningful auditions of the pianos you look at. The more experience you have, the more appreciation you will have for the finer differences in touch and sound, and the better your choice will be, just like with most things.

And yes, a great, impartial technician is your friend.

Last edited by Oasismfg; 05/05/16 06:49 PM.
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2537168
05/06/16 02:04 AM
05/06/16 02:04 AM
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pirke Offline OP
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I understand the remark of going digital initially, I also considered that just from a price perspective, just to learn to play (again). However I miss all the acoustics, the "real" sound is just not there. If it was a budget concern I'd rather go for a small cheap or used upright before going digital. However your remark is valid that is very difficult to compare pianos without being able to play them. It's a cruel world.

One benefit digital has is to be able to play with headphones. We're thinking of getting a baby and being able to play without waking it up might be beneficial. So in that sense a digital piano would be a future investment as well.

Last edited by pirke; 05/06/16 03:13 AM.
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2537192
05/06/16 05:55 AM
05/06/16 05:55 AM
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SoCal
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My plan is to also buy an acoustic piano. However, being a complete beginner at age 52, I know I don't have the experience yet to know what I am buying.
I will stick with my digital piano for now until I feel I am proficient enough to deem myself worthy of doing an acoustic justice.

@ Pirke....nothing wrong with going digital. I found that buying a digital with weighted hammer action keys was the way to go. Similar in feel to an acoustic but definitely a different sound.

David

Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2537254
05/06/16 10:50 AM
05/06/16 10:50 AM
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Oasismfg Offline
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Nothing wrong with having both if you have room and can afford it. I have both just to keep peace in the family, and I can record in MIDI with my digital. These days, you get a lot for relatively little money. The sound and touch of digitals has improved tremendously over the last five years. You're right, they don't sound like a real 6' grand. But they're not bad, and better than not playing at all when the kids are asleep. And they can be great learning tools.

Last edited by Oasismfg; 05/06/16 12:12 PM.
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2537262
05/06/16 11:23 AM
05/06/16 11:23 AM
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Rickster Offline
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Originally Posted by Oasismfg
Nothing wrong with having both if you have room and can afford it. I have both just to keep peace in the family, and I can record in MIDI with my digital. These days, you get a lot for relatively little money. The sound and touch of digitals has improved tremendously over the last five years. You're right, they don't sound like a real 6' grand. But they're not bad, and better than not playing at all when the kids are asleep. And they can be great learning tools.

You are right about the digital pianos.

I've purchased two acoustic pianos from churches who went to all digital pianos. Even though the digital, as good as they replicate the sound of an acoustic, still has somewhat of an artificial/electronic sound. Yet, a lot of churches (and schools?) are going to all digital pianos.

I don't think the digital will ever totally replace the acoustic, but I think they will have a big impact on the acoustic piano industry.

Just my .02.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2537272
05/06/16 12:09 PM
05/06/16 12:09 PM
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pirke Offline OP
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I tried some digitals today and I don't like them... So if I go digital it will be a cheap one like the new Roland FP30. Just to learn the basics again and being able to play with headphones if the need arises somewhere next year. I also listened to several higher end in the 3k euro range but for that money even the cheap Yamaha B1 sounds much better. I can get the FP30 for 599 euro, and compared to a grand that's almost for free wink

Tomorrow I'll go listen to some Chinese grands, as I've only heard some Yamaha and Kawai grands until now. But I'm eager to start playing again, and for 600 bucks I can play while continuing the search. The worst that can happen is that I'll give this digital one as a Christmas gift to my 4 year old nephew once I've found the grand I want wink

Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2537280
05/06/16 12:17 PM
05/06/16 12:17 PM
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Oasismfg Offline
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The shortcoming of most digital pianos, at least IMHO, is what they are played through - the speakers are the weakest link, simply because they have a tiny surface area compared to the sound board of a real piano. Listening to them through high quality headphones mitigates this rather nicely.

I know what it's like when you get the itch for a real piano. But take your time, don't rush it, and make an informed decision. Learn some songs, and play lots of different pianos, every chance you get. Maybe take a year, maybe build up more budget. Until you find THE one, and you know it. It's almost like looking for a life partner. If the anticipation is too great to bear, consider renting a grand.

I liked the Yamaha and Kawai grands I played. And I played a Hailun I even liked better. But the more pianos I played, old and new, the more I realized that for whatever reason, I was more drawn to what are loosely referred to golden age pianos. It was a process of self discovery that ended with a 125 year old piano.

Last edited by Oasismfg; 05/06/16 12:27 PM.
Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: pirke] #2537319
05/06/16 03:26 PM
05/06/16 03:26 PM
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Brazil
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you're a beginner and will spend quite some money on a grand to play, what? at best some Bach minuets and hanon?

just get a cheap digital piano with good action and learn to crawl before you can walk and then run with big gear


unlocked by keys
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Re: Beginner piano advice [Re: Doritos Flavoured] #2537337
05/06/16 04:23 PM
05/06/16 04:23 PM
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Portland, OR
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Cassia Offline
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There's nothing wrong with the OP (or any beginner) buying a grand if they're comfortable spending the money and dedicating the space to it.


Yamaha C2X
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