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Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? #2709503
01/28/18 04:18 PM
01/28/18 04:18 PM
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Jack Knuckle Offline OP
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I am a keen amateur pianist (and organist) to Grade 8 standard in the UK and am making preparations to buy a new "forever" grand piano. This will replace the upright that I learned on as a child and that my parents and grandparents before me learned on which is now well over a century old and for a long time has far more sentimental value than musical value. I haven't ordered anything yet as I still want to audition a few options but the one to beat from my shortlist so far is the Feurich 178. It fits my budget and the sound and touch are absolutely what I like to find in a piano. 180cm/6 foot seems to be my "sweet spot", anything less and I find the bass too weedy, any longer and it won't fit the room.

My music room was originally the dining room of a Victorian house which has had a wall knocked out straight through into the front living room which is a similar size, so the total room is now about 9m long by 3.5 m wide by 2.7m high with one half measuring 4.5m reserved for music making. It currently houses an upright piano and an organ. Floors are solid laminate. Picture below is taken with my back to the front half of the room, where originally the music room ended, and I am looking into the space where the new piano is to go:
[Linked Image]

I'm hoping kind folks here can advise me on piano layout as there are a few traps to consider. The corner cabinet can be moved but the organ can't go anywhere else. There is also a radiator which is normally on most of the time in winter otherwise the room can get quite cold and there are French windows (doors with glass) in one corner.

(1) With the piano diagonally facing the window it fits but the player's back will be against the radiator which would be uncomfortably hot in winter;
[Linked Image]

(2) With the piano right hand side against the far wall the bench could be stowed under the keyboard to allow better access to the French windows but the long edge would face into the room;
[Linked Image]

If I place the piano with the long left side along either wall, it would either
(3) partly overlap the windows, which risks sunlight bleaching the case over time
[Linked Image]

(4) or partly cover the radiator and risk being damaged by heat
[Linked Image]

(5) Or I could place the piano at 45 degrees facing the opposite way to option 1 but the lid would still point towards a wall.
[Linked Image]

Option 1 probably looks and sounds best, 2 is the best use of space, and option 5 may be the best compromise. What would you do if it was your music room?

Jack Spanner

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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709505
01/28/18 04:33 PM
01/28/18 04:33 PM
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Georgia, USA
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Move the radiator where the upright piano is now, and place the new piano where the radiator is. I have no idea how expensive that might be or even if it is possible.

Sam

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709506
01/28/18 04:33 PM
01/28/18 04:33 PM
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I am no expert by any means... but a few thoughts: I like Option 3 if you can manage direct sunlight somehow. It leaves more room to walk between piano and organ and also it will let the sound go into the next room via arch when the lid is open - hopefully will be better acoustically?

Osho


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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Sam S] #2709510
01/28/18 04:51 PM
01/28/18 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam S
Move the radiator where the upright piano is now, and place the new piano where the radiator is. I have no idea how expensive that might be or even if it is possible.

Sam


You know, if this is a first floor, it might be doable. I'd look around the basement and, if it seems it might be practicable, ask for a quote. Seems like the ideal solution. Certainly wouldn't want the lid opening to a wall right next to it and the consensus is that proximity to the radiator is a bad idea.

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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709511
01/28/18 04:57 PM
01/28/18 04:57 PM
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David-G Offline
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Jack, welcome to the Forum. Can I ask what aspect the window faces (N/E/S/W) ?That could be relevant to the sunlight question.

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709512
01/28/18 05:00 PM
01/28/18 05:00 PM
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Melville Saskatchewan
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Is that a steam rad or hot water? I don't see any outlet pipe attached to it so I'm guessing steam?

You might want to consider taking it out and replacing it with an overhead radiator and possibly a ceiling fan to circulate the air. You don't want an overhead rad with a built-in fan, though -- those things are noisy and generally a terrible thing unless your main concern is fast recovery and nothing else matters. But ceiling fans can be very quiet if you get one with enough blade width to move air without needing much rotation speed.

I don't know much about steam radiators, though. With hot water you can pretty much plunk a radiator down anywhere you want, but steam works with gravity and there are more restrictions on how one can be connected and still work properly.

You can always build a bulkhead around any exposed pipes to make them look pretty afterward; just hunt down or make some moulding that matches the rest of the room.


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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: FrankCox] #2709514
01/28/18 05:05 PM
01/28/18 05:05 PM
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I suspect the rad is hot water, which is pretty standard for central heating in the UK. Can I ask what you mean by an "overhead radiator"?

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709520
01/28/18 05:18 PM
01/28/18 05:18 PM
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Jack,

1,2,and definately three does not leave the 3ft space required to extract the action for piano regulation.

ian


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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709521
01/28/18 05:20 PM
01/28/18 05:20 PM
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Victoria, BC
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I think that (2) and (5) are probably the worst options for positioning the piano in this room. Given the size of the room, you may not often want to open the lid, but with (2) you could not even get to the side of the piano to raise the lid and in both (2) and (5) you would have the sound projecting immediately against the wall. If the lid were to be opened, even on half-stick, the sound should be projected into the room.

(1) is problematic not only for the reason that you state but also having the tail of the piano in the widow. This could not only eventually damage the finish (unless drapes were always drawn during sunshine, but could adversely affect the piano in other ways, with one portion of it subject to sun and heat while the rest remains in shadow.

(4) is also bad for the piano with the radiator being adjacent to the bass end of the keyboard and what effect direct heat from the radiator might have on that portion of the piano (tuning, and perhaps action as well(?).

None of these placements seems to be ideal or even satisfactory. I would not know what to do except, contrary to your wishes, to invest in a higher-grade upright in place of a grand.

Let's hope that others have some practical suggestions that will prove more helpful than mine.

Regards,


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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Beemer] #2709522
01/28/18 05:21 PM
01/28/18 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Beemer
Jack,

1,2,and definately three does not leave the 3ft space required to extract the action for piano regulation.

ian


Well, yeah, but assuming it has casters...

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: tend to rush] #2709524
01/28/18 05:25 PM
01/28/18 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by tend to rush
Originally Posted by Beemer
Jack,

1,2,and definately three does not leave the 3ft space required to extract the action for piano regulation.

ian


Well, yeah, but assuming it has casters...


Moving a piano of that weight on casters on a laminate floor? I would think not. The casters will definitely need caster cups to protect the floor and unless one can get felt-bottomed caster cups, the piano won't be easily moved when sitting on caster cups.

Regards,


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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709529
01/28/18 05:43 PM
01/28/18 05:43 PM
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Melville Saskatchewan
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An overhead radiator is just a radiator mounted high on the wall near the ceiling. Any old radiator will work for that, but they actually make radiators that look like a crown moulding specifically for that purpose if you want to be fancy.

Overhead radiators aren't particularly common (other than the shop-style fast recovery rads that you see in workshops and garages) but they do exist and if you're prepared to deal with the air circulation issue by installing a fan the result isn't that much different than installing a rad near the floor.


If you're a zombie and you know it, bite your friend!
We got both kinds of music: Country and Western!
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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709546
01/28/18 06:08 PM
01/28/18 06:08 PM
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I would say (2) is out because you cannot get into the corner. (4) is out because the piano is too near the radiator (unless you move the radiator, perhaps to the wall between the garden door and the organ?). (5) is out because the lid angles the sound the wrong way, as Bruce points out. So that leaves (1) and (3), which are effectively variants of each other. Both of these options have two significant problems - the effect of the sun, and Beemer's point about leaving room to withdraw the action.

The sun issue might be solvable by installing an anti-UV film on the windows. I don't have personal experience of this, but you can easily find possibilities with a quick internet search. Alternatively, just draw the curtains when the sun is shining on the piano. If this makes the room too dark, you could replace the curtains, or install an inner curtain, with a material which diffuses the sunlight without blocking it altogether.

Re withdrawing the action, I wonder if Beemer's three feet is a little pessimistic? My own piano is in the corner (similar to position (3)), and there is an obstacle only 26" from the front of the piano. But there is no problem in withdrawing the action. Perhaps you should contact Feurich, explain your predicament, and ask what is the absolute minimum distance between the front of the piano and a wall which would allow the action to be withdrawn.

Do you use the door to the garden frequently? If so, perhaps (1) would make access to the door a bit awkward. I think (1) might look best, but (3) might be more practical. If you plump for (1) but are worried about your back getting hot from the radiator in winter, you could always keep a towel or a shawl handy to drape over the radiator while you are playing.


Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709556
01/28/18 06:24 PM
01/28/18 06:24 PM
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Jack - Quite frankly, none of the options you presented are ideal - but option 3 seems the closest to being viable (as long as you either keep the drapes closed, or keep a cover on the piano itself when its not in use to avoid sun damage to the case). Would it be possible to repurpose any of the other spaces in your home to accommodate the six foot grand? Perhaps a section of the current music room can be dedicated to another use when you aren't playing the organ. If this is the only room in your house that can accommodate the piano, perhaps the best solution would be to purchase a new 52" upright to replace the current family heirloom. It would certainly be a major step up for you.


Last edited by Carey; 01/28/18 06:48 PM.

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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709561
01/28/18 06:46 PM
01/28/18 06:46 PM
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Can you turn off the radiator and get and portable electric heater? I live in NYC and never have heat on (or a portable heater) in the room where I have the piano, but I think the building I live in has very thick double windows.

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709627
01/28/18 11:01 PM
01/28/18 11:01 PM
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Jack - I would be very interested in any info you could share about the organ in your music studio. smile

Last edited by Carey; 01/28/18 11:03 PM.

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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Carey] #2709654
01/29/18 12:46 AM
01/29/18 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Carey
Jack - I would be very interested in any info you could share about the organ in your music studio. smile


Yes, do you have pipes tucked away all over the house (given the number of stops just on the left)? Or do you have a combination of display or speaking pipes and electronics?

I agree with Carey that a fine upright might be more satisfactory in such a room.


WhoDwaldi
Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709740
01/29/18 10:28 AM
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Jack Knuckle Offline OP
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Might try a few uprights to see how they measure up to the Feurich but my wife's suggestion of a new grand as a fiftieth birthday present struck me as not being something one could reasonably turn down. The window does have curtains and faces towards the south west so doesn't get a lot of direct sunlight except at the end of the day but it would be a nuisance to have to keep the curtains permanently drawn. The radiator is in a hot water circulation system and position is pretty much fixed as I don't want to have to take up all the floorboards and fit a new floor to move it a few feet. Positions 1 and 3 seem the best compromise - if in practice the curtains conceal the bass end the long end along the back wall and the piano doesn't have to come too far forward for me to be in a comfortable position with the stool against the wall then option 3 might be best, otherwise I guess it will be option 1 in summer and option 3 in winter!

Regards, Jack

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709753
01/29/18 10:58 AM
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There may be some coating that you can put on the glass that lets you see out but blocks most of the sunlight. Otherwise, a nice cover would protect the finish.

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709761
01/29/18 11:23 AM
01/29/18 11:23 AM
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The organ is the elephant in this room. Could it go in the corner where the little diagonal cabinet is, without interfering with the window? If not, perhaps against the other wall, with the radiator moved? The piano then goes where the organ was, bass side against the wall.


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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709775
01/29/18 12:00 PM
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I definitely think Option 1 is your best bet for many reasons giving the architectural features of the room and the placement of the organ for both acoustical and aesthetic reasons.

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709782
01/29/18 12:21 PM
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For the time being I would opt for Option 1. If that radiator gives off too much heat in the winter, consider moving it in the future if it is not too expensive.

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709805
01/29/18 01:27 PM
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Personally I'd go go for option 1, but there's nothing to stop you moving it around to find out which one suits your lifestyle. I guess it's all down to whether the floor is going to mark from the castors, and that's probably down to how it was laid with laminate.

Currently, I have solid oak flooring which won't compress when you wheel a piano over it, and hence doesn't mark. My experience with Victorian and Georgean floorboards is that they nearly always mark / deform through compression, so I've always had 200mm x 200mm x 18mm plywood castor blocks to spread the weight, particularly when on a carpet. You can paint them the same colour as the carpet, or even better, glue a carpet offcut to the top.


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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709811
01/29/18 01:36 PM
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I would go with Option 1 or 3, as that should provide sufficient clearance from the radiator while allowing the piano to project its sound out into the room.

A window covering on the window, such as drapes or a cellular shade, can prevent sun-bleaching of the piano if the window gets direct sunlight.


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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709973
01/30/18 02:30 AM
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Hi Jack,

Though I don't have any suggestion, I wish to say thank you so much for the photo. Your music room is soooo beautiful ! Thanks for sharing.

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2709991
01/30/18 05:28 AM
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I would get a quote for moving the radiator, it's often not that expensive, especially when considered in the context of your overall piano budget

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2748537
07/01/18 12:45 PM
07/01/18 12:45 PM
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Jack Knuckle Offline OP
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Thanks to all the contributors to the thread above. I visited several piano stores in my hunt for the perfect piano within my budget. In the end and after playing many different pianos I narrowed down my options to a new Feurich 178 or a restored "big four". The difficulty I encountered with the latter was that there was an abundance of lovely looking Bechsteins, Bosendorfers, Bluthners and Steinways at every price point that were described as "fantastic condition" or "recently restored" but when I actually got to see them most were just tired, poorly regulated or tatty looking and of the few that were completely rebuilt they tended to be way outside my budget or simply not as appealing to play or listen to as I had hoped.

Eventually I came across a Bechstein Model V in a privately listed sale that looked stunning from the photographs. Inquiries established that it had been totally rebuilt by SAP in Poland with case restoration, new Abel hammers, mostly new action and a restring whilst retaining the ivory keys and soundboard just last year. It also had a comprehensive regulation and voicing to a smaller room than mine, so it is easy to play without being too light, and by default is quite soft and restrained whilst having the capacity to unleash great power. Burr walnut inside the keyboard lid and rim only added to the visual appeal. I arranged to see it and was in love within a few moments of starting to play - it had the perfect combination of a stunning visual appearance, beautiful tone and a buttery smooth clean action. It is now sitting in my living room next to the organ, and whilst I was sad to see the upright go as it had been in my family for over a century, realistically there was no space for two pianos and there really was no contest between a straight strung overdamped upright that couldn't stay in tune versus what is effectively a brand new Bechstein.

As it was almost a foot longer than what I had measured for, it did end up being in direct sunlight through the French windows. However, I kept the curtains closed until I was able to rectify the sunlight problem, and used an externally-fitted reflective window film that cuts out heat and light transmission by around 80% - enough for the piano lid to remain cool to touch even in direct summer sunlight yet with limited effect on visual light so the garden is still clearly visible (except at night, which is when the photos below were taken). It is far enough away from the radiator not to be a problem though we won't have that on full any more in winter and it can be moved on the laminate floor if access to the action was ever needed for regulation though I don't anticipate that being necessary any time soon.

So the moral of the story is that perseverance will reward you if you are not in a hurry - I saw and played a few pianos prior to this that I would have been very happy buying though had they all been on sale together I would without hesitation have bought the Bechstein. I have consistently been impressed more by Bechsteins than any other high end piano and am delighted to finally own one. To anyone considering it I'd say it was definitely worth selling both my kidneys to pay for it ;-)

Incidentally a few people asked above about the organ - I built it myself and it is entirely digital in sound production, utilising the Hauptwerk virtual organ software program. The facade pipes are real (as in, rescued from a redundant pipe organ - but they merely conceal speakers behind them.

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Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2748541
07/01/18 01:18 PM
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Seething - just seething with envy.

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2748546
07/01/18 01:31 PM
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In the Ozarks of Missouri
NobleHouse Offline
500 Post Club Member
NobleHouse  Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 598
In the Ozarks of Missouri
What a "sweet" piano and setup you have-congratulations!

Re: Where in the room should I fit a grand piano? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2748547
07/01/18 01:37 PM
07/01/18 01:37 PM
Joined: May 2017
Posts: 415
Rural UK
F
Fareham Offline
Full Member
Fareham  Offline
Full Member
F
Joined: May 2017
Posts: 415
Rural UK
I'm glad you happenstanced on the old fishtail Bechsteins. IMHO they are one of the best mid-sized pianos of pre-WWI, and I had around 20-30 of them through my hands over a 15 year period, many moons ago. I think this would have been one of the last fishtails before the 'modern' models A --> E, if the fall board is original - I'm sure you will have looked up the date from its serial number. I know of a dozen of them in private hands of that age, and they just keep going and going and going ... and sound very nice, even if the action on many need attention.

I had a rebuilt model IV - all 7' 4" of it (everything except soundboard replaced) for nearly 20 years, before moving to a 1985 S&S 'D'. The only things I did 'wrong' were to have its case stripped and black polyestered, and red felt used throughout instead of that blue / green (which I've never much liked). By the look of the photos, that's one of the best finished I've seen in years, and I'm sure it plays as well as it looks.

Good stuff.


The English may not like music much, but they love the sound it makes ... Beecham
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