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Based on many positive reviews on this forum, my husband and I have been looking for a used Baldwin M artist series baby grand. We are looking at one today. Owned by a musician who bought it used from a now defunct local dealer; he says he has not replaced any parts (you wouldn't expect to do major work on a 40 year old piano, would you?). He's asking $5000.

We've read that Baldwin had some quality issues in 70s/80s, so wonder if a 73 model would be questionable. How's the price? We expect that the piano will have been heavily used--piano has pickups installed, and sounds like it's been used for rock or jazz. Would that raise concerns?

We have also had trouble finding a local technician to evaluate pianos for us (despite checking the local guild site). How risky would it be to buy this piano, assuming our evaluation shows nothing obvious, without a tech working it over?

Thanks everyone for your advice!

Kristen

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Hi KRW,

IMHO the Baldwin M was one of the finest small grand pianos made at that time. I usually like them waaaay more than a Steinway S.

My other favorite was the Schimmel 150 small grand piano which used some very cool design features. Unfortunately, the Schimmel did not sell as well as the company had hoped and the design was discontinued.

Anyway, a 40 year old piano will almost definitely need work. What work is needed is all about expectations. It could be as simple as a "bench regulation", voicing, and general reconditioning. it could be new hammers, shanks, and flanges, and/or pins, new strings, and dampers. I have also seen 40 year old pianos that needed complete rebuilding, including the soundboard.

Without knowing more, I could not make a valid recommendation, but the signs that the piano has had heavy play do not make me overly optimistic. What region do you live in? (Where is the piano located?) If we knew more we could likely make a recommendation based on the people we know.

Good luck!


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Rich, thanks for your response. We are in the Chicagoland area. Would appreciate any tips on local techs and also good sources for used pianos. Will circle back after we've had a look today. Thanks again! Kristen

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73 was, I think, way before the quality issues came up.

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The price seems a little dear for a 45 year old, all original 5 footer that’s seen heavy use. I’d use what the tech inspection turn up as leverage to negotiate, assuming you still want to proceed.


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$1500 at most.


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Price is too high for the piano you're describing, unless there is something we're missing.


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I'm admittedly biased...I have a Baldwin M, and sought one out largely for the same reasons cited above. My wife and I specifically wanted a smaller grand, and research showed that the M was essentially the leader in its class (to borrow some automotive lingo). That said...

I tend to agree with the others that the asking price is too high, given its age and its likely condition based on the usage you describe. For that price from a private seller, I'd expect it to be in excellent condition, and have a nearly flawless appearance.


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We've just played the M in question. Thanks for all the feedback so far!

Great sound- except for the bottom end. The lower 18 keys sound positively odd- almost sitar-like when struck. Not exactly out of tune, more like really out of phase. Any ideas what might be causing this- old tired strings?

Cosmetically, its ok, but clearly a commercial instrument. Will need to refinish music stand--appears to have a close encounter with tape and/or adhesive.

The soundboard appears intact, initialed 11/29/72 which tracks with the serial #. Some varnish/lacquer peeling at the edges. The hammers and shanks look new(ish), not nearly as much hammer wear as I expected. Have inquired about rebuilds and provenance-- not holding my breath.

Franky, I wish it did not sound so nice. Unsure whether to invest a tech's time on this one. Any advice welcome!

Also, we're on the trail of a better maintained '97 M. Sole owner is asking 9500. Were 97s still American made?

Thanks for the help!

Kristen (and Dave)

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Originally Posted by KRW
Rich, thanks for your response. We are in the Chicagoland area. Would appreciate any tips on local techs and also good sources for used pianos. Will circle back after we've had a look today. Thanks again! Kristen


There are several piano technicians that I would recommend in that area, but the most well known (no offense to others who might read this) is Paul Revenko-Jones. His phone number is 312 420-8816. I think that is his business number.

Good luck!


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Rich, thank you so much for the referral. Have not heard of Paul, so this is very helpful. We used one excellent tech to evaluate a Steinway S, but he's retiring and no longer available. Appreciate your help!
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All of Baldwin's "Artist" models (M, R, L, SF-10, & SF-10) were American made.


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I wouldn't waste money on an inspection of the $5k M--unless you just want a wake up call about what you're dealing with--it's already overpriced and needs additional expensive work from what you now describe.


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Retsacnal, your response is enough of a wakeup call for us, won't bother with the 1973 M. Still looking at the 97. Advice re: where/how to look for an M, and what years to avoid?

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Welcome to PW! I know you are looking at the M, but would you consider a larger one such as the R or L if it's still in the same price range? (Realizing logistics of the room etc. come into play too.) Thanks!


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We don't have the space for 5'8" and above, unfortunately.

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It’s better to take these pianos on a case by case basis. Although the consensus here tends to suggest that the older Baldwin artist grands were made better, you’re fighting the ravages of age, environment, and wear. I’ve played Baldwin artist series grands I’ve liked a lot from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s...however I’ve played some pretty bad ones made in each of those periods, as well.

Out of curiosity, what is your budget and what are your size limits again?


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Some great advice in this thread so far...

In my view, the reason the owner is asking $5000 for a 1973 Baldwin M, well used, is because he is a musician and likely knows the value of pianos to an extent. If a used piano dealer had this piano, they'd likely ask the same price or more.

As far as the older Baldwins being of better quality than newer ones, just before Baldwin sold out to Gibson in the early 2000s, that could be said of any and all brands of US made pianos (older ones better than newer ones). There may be some validity to that, but most likely as a sales pitch for the seller of an older Baldwin.

If you've seen and played this piano, and you really like it, it might be worth negotiating with the seller on the price, rather than giving up on it because it's old,warn and cost too much.

When I was looking at used grand pianos, and found one that might be a good prospect in terms of what I was looking for, I would search the web extensively looking for any and all sales ads of makes and models that were the same or similar. I'd compare prices and conditions based on who the seller was, the history of the piano, (if available) and the relative condition based on other criteria (which was more speculation without actually looking at and playing the pianos).

Since I started learning to play the piano, (15 years ago?) I've bought 5 used grand pianos. Of the 5, I still have 3 of them and play them regularly. The only one I feel like I paid too much for, was the first one I bought. And that was because I didn't know any better. I became a wiser shopper as time went on and I learned more about pianos. I also learned a great deal from the piano professionals here on PW; but, with all due respect, even they have their biases.

Also, and this is worth noting, the used piano market is very spotty and the availability of what you are looking for may be sparse. Also, FWIW, when a really good buy does become available on a nice used piano, at a really good price, it doesn't last long at all, before someone buys it. (Ask me how I know this. smile )

I hope this little bit of info helps.

Good luck and happy piano shopping!!

Rick


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I think the consensus is that the Artist models are good designs.

I would suggest that there are no particular years to avoid with the following caveat: have any Baldwin Artist model inspected before purchase (as with any second hand piano purchase). They wear with use and age, like any other piano, and there were some known quality control issues that surfaced in the 1980s which should be revealed by inspection if they exist in the piano you're interested in.

As terminalDegree suggests, take any second-hand piano on a case-by-case basis. For example, you've ruled one out now based on a combination of its condition and owner's (unrealistic) expectations.

Last edited by Retsacnal; 12/28/17 02:26 PM. Reason: Add last paragraph.

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