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Our "new" 1949 Baldwin M #2746816
06/24/18 09:44 PM
06/24/18 09:44 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 2
Denver Co
S
SteveInDenver Offline OP
Junior Member
SteveInDenver  Offline OP
Junior Member
S

Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 2
Denver Co
New user / first post. I want to start by thanking Pianoworld and everyone who contributes here. I have spent a lot of time reading, researching, pondering and generally learning over the past several weeks. Many of my internet searches ended up here, and time and again I found the information helpful and insightful. I want to call out Del specifically, as I found his posts to be particularly insightful. As an engineer I appreciate the detailed explanations and the "why" behind the "what" -- so thank you.

Full disclosure: I don't play piano, in fact I don't play any instrument, and really I'm not much of a music person at all. (I know)

My wife played viola through college (not a music major) but hasn't played for 20 years. She has wanted to learn to play piano for a long time, and recently she and our two daughters started taking lessons. We realized our digital piano just wasn't going to do it any longer, so we started researching pianos several months back.

After wading through hundreds and hundreds of articles, forum posts, expert opinions, etc, we came to the conclusion that a good quality "gently used" Japanese upright was the right path. A Yamaha U1 or a Kawai K300 in the $4,000-$5,000 range seemed like it was in our future. A grand of any sort wasn't on the radar (too expensive), ditto for the more "exotic" European and American brands. We didn't even talk about Baldwin ("they went downhill in recent years").

So how in the heck did we end up with a 1949 Baldwin grand when we set out to buy a relatively new Japanese upright? A few reasons:

1. I had in the back of my mind that we should consider a grand from the outset if we could find something reasonably priced. The logic being that with 3 people playing, one of them could get to a point where they would benefit from having a grand. If nothing else they might enjoy playing it more.
2. I'm not a big fan of how upright pianos look. Not the best way to choose a piano, but if I have to look at it every day it's better to like it.
3. We played the Yamahas and Kawais, and we didn't really like them. The Yamahas, including several small grands, actually hurt my ears (as in I couldn't tolerate it for more than a few seconds) The first time I thought it was just a bad example, or that the room was creating a problem (tile floor low ceilings, hard walls), but after about the 4th or 5th Yamaha, I realized there was no way we were going to buy one, at least not in the price range we were considering. The Kawais were better in this regard, but they didn't grab us.
4. We kept an open mind, and played things that we wouldn't consider on paper. This included a wide range of brands that we hadn't heard of, pianos that were too old, and price points that were really pushing our comfort zone.

The Baldwin was WAY too old (1990 or so was our cutoff)
The Baldwin wasn't black.
The Baldwin wasn't a Yamaha or Kawai.
The Baldwin was over budget.

That's 4 strikes against. But then we played it. The mind was still saying "no way", but the heart said "wow!" Rather surprisingly, we both responded the same way. As we made our way through the store, playing a range of new and used uprights and grands, including some much bigger ones, we kept coming back to the Baldwin. I was really impressed with how the bass sounded compared to other pianos in the same size range.

After about the 4th time going back to the Baldwin, we started to actually consider it as an option. The mahogany case started to actually look good to us (we preferred black). The thought of a very old piano started to appeal to us. The idea of having a small grand vs an upright started to take root. But without a doubt, it was the sound that was front and center. It was the best sounding piano we had played up to $15,000 (not that we did an exhaustive search of pianos in that price range). We played a lot of pianos, some we hated, many we liked OK, but we fell in love with one.

After talking with the sales people, we learned that it was on consignment and that a lot of work had been done in recent years. New hammers, new strings, soundboard repaired, harp re-bronzed, case refinished, etc. We brought in an independent piano technician who looked it over thoroughly and gave it an A+, saying "They did everything they said they did, and they did it very well." He did mention that the action was very even, but "on the heavy side." (This gave us pause, but after some research and discussion with our piano teachers, we got comfortable with it)

So, after some haggling, we ended up with a 1949 Baldwin M. It looks beautiful, and it sounds beautiful. I know it won't have the sound of a bigger grand, and in some ways I wonder if we should have considered spending more and going bigger, but overall I think we ended up in a pretty good place. For someone who doesn't play piano, I'm pretty excited about it - sort of a weird situation. I have enjoyed researching and learning about pianos and I have gained a great appreciation for the skill and craftsmanship that goes into building and repairing them. I'm also very satisfied that we were able to provide what seems to be a good instrument for my wife and daughters to practice and learn on.

Thanks again to everyone on the Pianoworld forum! This has been an invaluable resource during our search and decision making process.

-Steve

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Re: Our "new" 1949 Baldwin M [Re: SteveInDenver] #2746819
06/24/18 10:03 PM
06/24/18 10:03 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 2
Denver Co
S
SteveInDenver Offline OP
Junior Member
SteveInDenver  Offline OP
Junior Member
S

Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 2
Denver Co
Note: I wasn't trying to say that Yamahas are bad pianos, just that they don't agree with my ears. (could be my mild tinnitus that's causing the problem). So, sorry if I offended any Yamaha owners - I know they are very well regarded instruments.

Re: Our "new" 1949 Baldwin M [Re: SteveInDenver] #2746841
06/25/18 12:00 AM
06/25/18 12:00 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 81
Indonesia
F
Faiz Offline
Full Member
Faiz  Offline
Full Member
F

Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 81
Indonesia
Originally Posted by SteveInDenver
Note: I wasn't trying to say that Yamahas are bad pianos, just that they don't agree with my ears. (could be my mild tinnitus that's causing the problem). So, sorry if I offended any Yamaha owners - I know they are very well regarded instruments.

It's completely fine, piano sound is very personal.
Enjoy your new piano! wink


Let's help each other... laugh
Re: Our "new" 1949 Baldwin M [Re: SteveInDenver] #2746964
06/25/18 01:09 PM
06/25/18 01:09 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 62
S
Standalone Offline
Full Member
Standalone  Offline
Full Member
S

Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 62
Congrats.

My ears agree with you. So do my son's -- we just got a 1930's Baldwin R for him a week ago or so, as he continues his serious study of pipe organ and piano at age 13. He played lots of Yamahas and particularly enjoyed some 1950's and 60's G7's. At 13, a powerful sound is where it's at!

But the Baldwin (new keytops/hammers/pins/etc.) won out -- and was a great deal. Warm, powerful, a sensitive sustain pedal, and a very wide dynamic range. We're ecstatic!

Re: Our "new" 1949 Baldwin M [Re: SteveInDenver] #2749889
07/06/18 11:23 PM
07/06/18 11:23 PM
Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 71
LearnEveryDay Offline
Full Member
LearnEveryDay  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 71
Originally Posted by SteveInDenver
New user / first post.
......
4. We kept an open mind, and played things that we wouldn't consider on paper. This included a wide range of brands that we hadn't heard of, pianos that were too old, and price points that were really pushing our comfort zone.

The Baldwin was WAY too old (1990 or so was our cutoff)
The Baldwin wasn't black.
The Baldwin wasn't a Yamaha or Kawai.
The Baldwin was over budget.

That's 4 strikes against. But then we played it. The mind was still saying "no way", but the heart said "wow!" Rather surprisingly, we both responded the same way. As we made our way through the store, playing a range of new and used uprights and grands, including some much bigger ones, we kept coming back to the Baldwin. I was really impressed with how the bass sounded compared to other pianos in the same size range.

After about the 4th time going back to the Baldwin, we started to actually consider it as an option. The mahogany case started to actually look good to us (we preferred black). The thought of a very old piano started to appeal to us. The idea of having a small grand vs an upright started to take root. But without a doubt, it was the sound that was front and center. It was the best sounding piano we had played up to $15,000 (not that we did an exhaustive search of pianos in that price range). We played a lot of pianos, some we hated, many we liked OK, but we fell in love with one.

......

-Steve


Very interesting post, Steve! Music is a matter of the heart, and your choice of an instrument clearly followed the logic of your heart and not that of your mind!

I know Yamaha pianos are very popular nowadays, but, similarly to you, I prefer not to endure an overly bright tone of a Yamaha piano. I like a warmer tone of a Kawai, but some Kawai pianos may sound a tad too mellow. I guest that's why, similarly to you and you wife, I fell in love the tone of a Baldwin piano... I think the Baldwin pianos, old as many are now, have a very distinctively Baldwin's tone.... And not a Yamaha's tone nor a Kawai's tone...can surpass it !


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