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You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano #2733351
05/01/18 06:00 PM
05/01/18 06:00 PM
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 13
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Cristofori Offline OP
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Dear PW Friends,

I'm sharing to encourage those who may think that they could never be happy with anything but a nine-foot Hamburg Steinway that they'll never be able to afford or fit into their home.

After many years of waiting to purchase a piano, yesterday a 2003 YP-185 (6'1" Platinum line Young Chang made during Joseph Pramberger's tenure) was delivered to my home--up a flight of 18 cement steps by two determined, strapping, young fellows during a gentle, April 30th snowstorm. This was not originally the piano of my dreams, but after getting it in my home and seeing, playing and hearing it, I don't know how I could be any happier with a more expensive or a more prestigious instrument. Here are a few photos. Here are a few photos. In fact, I would be less happy, because I would have less money for retirement, travel, home repairs, eating out, donating to charity, being generous with my family, etc.

My voice teacher (a semi-famous Metropolitan Opera mezzo) recently passed away, and this was one of the instruments belonging to her estate--her daughter took the Steinway! (Her widower flattered me by giving me first right of refusal to purchase the piano.)

I'm considered a very accomplished amateur pianist. I am regularly paid for my services as an accompanist and composer/arranger, although my university education and professional certifications are in another field.

For years I've enjoyed Piano World, and for years I've subjected myself on PW to the endless debates and critiques and criticisms of all but a small handful of specific instruments made by an even smaller handful of manufacturers. I gather that most of those debates, critiques and criticisms are led by, either, technicians who know the science behind the mechanisms and materials and quality about which they comment, or by novitiates to the piano world. Rarely do I hear really great pianists commenting about how much satisfaction nearly any piano can offer, to one varying degree or another. It's kind of like that saying that I'll modify to say, "Those who can't play the piano talk about them."

Three of the professional musicians that I rub shoulders with regularly have all worked as professional pianists on a very high level; currently, one is the conductor of a very well-known choir, another is a professor of piano at a respected university, and the third is the associate conductor of a respected American ballet company. (None of them is familiar with Piano World.) I've talked with two of those men about my piano and they have been very enthusiastic about my choice/opportunity. One of the men does not have a piano in his home (just a digital instrument), another has only a beat-up spinet, and the third, until recently, had an older, smaller Weber baby grand. (Yes, I'm sure that the instruments at their work sites probably get used plenty.)

I'm trying to make the point that there are many accomplished pianists out there who spend time making music rather than fretting over having the quintessential instrument. I know a number of amateur musicians (several of them dentists or medical professionals) who hold off owning a piano because they would rather be seen without a piano than with anything less than a Steinway D. I even thought that way for awhile. But I know few people hold off on purchasing an automobile just because they can't afford a top-tier Mercedes. Instead, they buy the Ford Escort/Fusion or the Hyundai or Mazda--or a Honda Civic or Accord--and get out and see the world and live life and do things.

Again, I speak as a pianist who has probably had as at least as much experience than the average PW reader (setting the piano tech crowd aside). I've probably played on many more pianos--and really nice pianos--than most pianists here (again, setting aside the techs), due to a number of factors. My advice is to find an instrument that you like more than just average, make sure you can afford it, make sure you can live with the case, generally forget about the name on the fallboard and just get to living and making music!

As for these teachers that tell PW parents that their child won't progress without a really fine instrument, I think there's probably a threshold of acceptability, but it seems really exaggerated to me.

In truth, I was a little crestfallen when I first sat down at my teacher's piano. Then I played it! This was unlike the previous YCs I'd played. There were some really sweet pianos made by YC during that era (2000-2004). I've heard that the JPs and YPs from 2000 through 2004 were very similar instruments. Ads for a few YPs are found online right now, and a few JPs of that same period--mostly in gorgeous cabinets--are also for sale, many between $7K and $12K. I can't speak to how much I enjoy, or not, current YC or Pramberger (which are now Samick) instruments, but I did play a Del Fandrich Weber a couple of weeks ago that was gorgeous (although I didn't really connect with the action, else I would have bought it). In my own opinion and experience, Asian pianos from the twenty-first century have nothing to do with those made in the 1980s and early 1990s. The small, 1980s Kawai grands left me cold, but I've been delighted by those of recent years. Ditto on Yamaha. I've enjoyed some Chinese pianos in the last 15 years, too.

If I go to a home and there's a digital piano, the desire to sit down and play doesn't usually beset me. But if there's an out-of-tune little spinet that someone has lovingly painted in aqua high gloss, you won't be able to pull me away for love or money for at least the next 90 minutes. And if they've given up cable TV and drive an old car to be able to position on a small grand at a happy spot in their home, you can bet the crowd will be in at the piano with me (just like they would be at the turquoise Cable-Nelson) instead of watching football.

Lastly, I'll just say that the digital instrument that I'd had in my home during most of my adult life after leaving the resonant old Kimball upright of my childhood (on which I learned to play at a much higher level than most people ever do) has been eclipsed about 10,000-fold by my small, acoustic grand. I would have been foolish to wait any longer for something "better." A home is a different place than a church or a concert hall. For most of us, acoustics and budget are also very different than churches or concert halls. Again, I would only be marginally happier, if at all, had I spent $5K, $10K or $20K or $30K or $40K on another piano. I promise that you'll love the Clavinova way more than you will the blank wall. I know that you'll love the Walter/Knabe/Samick console more than you will the Clavinova (if you'll keep it in tune). And I promise that you'll be thrilled way more in one night by having the small grand than you will one, single day on your cruise or European vacation. The piano is one of those gifts that keeps on giving!

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Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733360
05/01/18 06:46 PM
05/01/18 06:46 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
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Northern VA, U.S.
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Congratulations!


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Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733362
05/01/18 06:49 PM
05/01/18 06:49 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 8
Austin, TX
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Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733369
05/01/18 07:19 PM
05/01/18 07:19 PM
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Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by Cristofori
You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano

And, you don't need to play a piano all that well to love playing your piano! smile

And, you don't need to play a piano all that well to get a lot of views on YouTube (as long as you have a good southern accent)! grin

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733374
05/01/18 07:38 PM
05/01/18 07:38 PM
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Reseda, California
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The key to it is regulation and maintenance. The OP's YC is likely very well maintained. If the Steinway D is like an Indy car, maybe this YC is sort of like a stock car racer. ;-)


-- J.S.

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Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733393
05/01/18 09:08 PM
05/01/18 09:08 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 2,435
In the Ozarks of Missouri
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Congratulations! And I share your sentiment. There are so many "good" pianos just waiting for the right person to come along, play it, and love it-then take it home! And it is so true that the piano is the gift that keeps on giving.


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Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733404
05/01/18 10:21 PM
05/01/18 10:21 PM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 4,413
Finland
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outo Offline
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I could not agree more! I had been looking for the perfect (for my budget) grand for a long time when I finally got to the point that I had two options, one larger and more expensive (for a used one) and one smaller and quite cheap. I finally thought the smaller one felt and sounded good enough and bought it with the idea of updating later. After all it really cost little and the condition was ok. Now I have had it for almost two years and I love to play it so much that I cannot imagine parting with it. It may not be perfect but it has personality and my hands and ears really like it. So even if I suddenly had a lot of extra cash I am not sure I would get another one unless I had room for two smile

Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733408
05/01/18 10:39 PM
05/01/18 10:39 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,525
Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by outo
So even if I suddenly had a lot of extra cash I am not sure I would get another one unless I had room for two smile

Nothing wrong with two; or three; or four. smile

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Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733420
05/01/18 11:56 PM
05/01/18 11:56 PM
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Finland
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If only I had the room! But I live in a flat and already have an upright as well...

Btw. What's the brand of the last photo? Looks familiar...

Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733422
05/02/18 12:32 AM
05/02/18 12:32 AM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,321
Phoenix, Arizona
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Originally Posted by Cristofori
In truth, I was a little crestfallen when I first sat down at my teacher's piano. Then I played it! This was unlike the previous YCs I'd played. There were some really sweet pianos made by YC during that era (2000-2004). I've heard that the JPs and YPs from 2000 through 2004 were very similar instruments. Ads for a few YPs are found online right now, and a few JPs of that same period--mostly in gorgeous cabinets--are also for sale, many between $7K and $12K.
Congratulations on your beautiful new piano! I agree that the Young Chang PGs, JPs and YPs were uniquely "sweet" pianos. I recall playing several of them on the showroom floor when they were new. I recently played a used 2003 JP-185 in excellent condition that sold for a mere $8K - a smoking deal in my opinion. It felt and sounded great.. Back in 2002 I purchased a special edition Weber WSG-57 that had many of the same features as the Prambergers. Sold it on consignment five years later and missed it more than I thought I would. Fortunately it eventually went to a good home. So yes, it's nice to have a top tier grand piano, but it is indeed possible to bond with and thoroughly enjoy making music on any well regulated and maintained instrument.


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Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733424
05/02/18 12:42 AM
05/02/18 12:42 AM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,591
NYC
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Congratulations on your piano! I also agree with your observations on pianos in general. I play professionally and have been through a number of instruments that were not "top of the line" but worked just fine. Numerous practice-room verticals, an old upright with a German name I have since forgotten (in the 1970s), two small rented Steinway grands, a 7-foot Weber from 1917, and finally a rebuilt Mason & Hamlin CC2.

For me, a good piano is one that allows you to get your work done, no matter the pedigree. And maintenance is important.

Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733483
05/02/18 08:26 AM
05/02/18 08:26 AM
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Posts: 12,525
Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by outo
Btw. What's the brand of the last photo? Looks familiar...

That is an older Howard, made by Kawai. Actually, the only thing Howard (sold by Baldwin dealers) about it is the name on the fall-board. It has the Kawai emblem on the sound-board, and the inside of the rim; it also has the Kawai emblem molded into the cast-iron plate/harp. It is an older model from 1969, but had been played very little during it's life.

I've promised it to my 14 year old granddaughter, who was taking piano lessons and lost interest. My son still wants the piano, but doesn't have room in his home now, although he is currently building on an addition to his home. Maybe my granddaughter will take interest in learning to play the piano again when they have the grand at their home.

The Howard 550 could use some new bass strings due to age, but it still sounds and play very well.

I didn't mean to horn in on this thread, but when you mentioned having two pianos, I was all for it! smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733484
05/02/18 08:28 AM
05/02/18 08:28 AM
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Congratulations on your new piano! May it bring you many years of joy.

Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733498
05/02/18 09:42 AM
05/02/18 09:42 AM
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You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano. I know since I played on a lowly Baldwin Acrosonic for the first 55 years of my life.

But that doesn't mean that owning a great piano won't increase your pleasure when playing. I now own a Mason BB.

I don't agree with the OP about playing a good or excellent digital vs. a poor vertical or spinet. I would much prefer the digital both in terms of tone and touch.

It is true from my experience that some professionals' home pianos are very modest for a variety of reasons. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't prefer a great piano as their home instrument.

I do think it's true that the discussion about pianos on PW overemphasizes high tier pianos although the majority of pianists don't own one.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/02/18 09:52 AM.
Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Rickster] #2733501
05/02/18 10:00 AM
05/02/18 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Rickster
Originally Posted by outo
Btw. What's the brand of the last photo? Looks familiar...

That is an older Howard, made by Kawai. Actually, the only thing Howard (sold by Baldwin dealers) about it is the name on the fall-board. It has the Kawai emblem on the sound-board, and the inside of the rim; it also has the Kawai emblem molded into the cast-iron plate/harp. It is an older model from 1969, but had been played very little during it's life.

I've promised it to my 14 year old granddaughter, who was taking piano lessons and lost interest. My son still wants the piano, but doesn't have room in his home now, although he is currently building on an addition to his home. Maybe my granddaughter will take interest in learning to play the piano again when they have the grand at their home.

The Howard 550 could use some new bass strings due to age, but it still sounds and play very well.

I didn't mean to horn in on this thread, but when you mentioned having two pianos, I was all for it! smile

Rick


Ok, thanks!
I actually have 3 pianos but the digital is on my cabin...Maybe after I retire I'll get a big old house on the countryside and fill it with old pianos smile

Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: pianoloverus] #2733648
05/02/18 05:51 PM
05/02/18 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I don't agree with the OP about playing a good or excellent digital vs. a poor vertical or spinet. I would much prefer the digital both in terms of tone and touch. .


The common error is to assume that digitals are all alike. The best of them are better than most acoustics, but not as good as the best acoustics.


-- J.S.

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Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733738
05/03/18 12:08 AM
05/03/18 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Cristofori
I'm considered a very accomplished amateur pianist. I am regularly paid for my services as an accompanist and composer/arranger

This does not compute for me...

...nevertheless, congrat's on your new-to-you piano.


"If it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington
P E R F O R M A N C E over p r o v e n a n c e

Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733746
05/03/18 12:28 AM
05/03/18 12:28 AM
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Congratulations on your new older piano.

But I will say this. Having a top of the line instrument doesn't make you a better pianist, however, having an instrument that isn't on its way out and does its job reliably, pleases you, didn't cost you a 2nd mortgage, and makes you happy is what counts.

My Vogel 177T was my piano find back in 2005. That instrument replaced two POS before it with one being a very worn out Wurlitzer spinet my grandparents gave us when they downsized so many years ago. That poor instrument had been to heck and back and then some with every kid in the family studying on it including my uncles. The key depth was so deep a glissando of any kind was impossible because you'd remove your fingertips at the first joints, let alone playing anything quickly.

My Vogel was not an expensive piano, but it was within a budget I could afford. My piano teacher laughed at my choice saying I should have gotten a Mason and Hamilin Model AA like hers. Well they don't make them like that anymore since her piano was made in 1907.

After close to 13 years I really do still like my piano. It's like an old friend whose been through the wringer with me, having seen the good and bad times, and the rough times. I did consider finding a new home for her, but I couldn't do that.


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: You don't need a luxury piano to love playing your piano [Re: Cristofori] #2733915
05/03/18 05:19 PM
05/03/18 05:19 PM
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Congratulations! And very wise words. I am currently piano shopping and it is too easy to get discouraged or dismiss everything as being 'not good enough'.


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