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Questions in prep for buying a grand piano #2809038 01/31/19 03:29 PM
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I am in the planning stages to buy a small-ish grand piano (small because of both budget and the room it will go in). I'm hoping to find and buy a piano within maybe the next 6 months or so. I have only ever own upright pianos, so although I've played grands before I'm not super familiar with them or the shopping/buying process, hence this thread.

Here are the questions I have right now:
1) how to decide between buying from a dealer vs. buying from a private seller (Craigslist etc.). I have an upright that I'll need to get rid of, and if a dealer could offer a little money for it (or discount on the purchase price) and take away the upright, that right there would be a huge benefit IMO. And of course some dealers will offer free delivery, another huge plus for me. Also, don't some dealers offer financing? If so maybe I could push up my budget (see below), which would be another plus of going with a dealer. It seems to me the only plus of going with a private seller is the possibility of getting a really good deal price-wise. Are there other pluses I'm missing?

2) how to evaluate a dealer if I decide to go that route. How can you tell if a dealer is reputable etc. I will be shopping mostly in the Carolinas, and could consider anywhere between Atlanta up towards Asheville and Charlotte. I see some local piano shops online, and then also places like PianoMart.com and Adoptagrandpiano.com -- are those sites reputable/trustworthy?

3) What kinds of criteria to set for myself. I sort of don't want to get anything that's very old because I don't want to have an instrument that needs a lot of work. My current upright is... rickety, rattle-y, squeaky.... smile So I don't want that in the next instrument I buy. Does it make sense to set a certain age as a criteria, like say nothing more than 20 years old?? But I know my budget is a limitation too... (see below!) I am thinking I don't have a brand preference... yet. What other criteria are there that I might use to automatically rule out certain options?

4) Budget -- I am hoping to stay under $10,000. I know that's not very much. So what can I expect in terms of options, for example? Or, should I try to find a dealer that will offer the financing option and try to push my budget up?

4) how to evaluate brands. I am familiar with and have played the following grands: Yamaha, Kawai, Boston, Baldwin, Steinway, Schimmel... I think that's all. I don't want to even consider Steinway because I think it's just going to be an elevated price and I don't need to pay extra for a name. (Also any Steinway in my budget is probably going to be very old.) Right now, I feel like the bar I have is set super low -- I want a reliable instrument that will hold its tuning and not rattle! So I would be happy to consider a Yamaha (my first upright was a Yamaha, I loved that instrument)... I don't remember ever playing a Kawai that I liked a lot, but I have the impression they're reliable, so I'd be happy to try them out.... But there are lots of brands I see on Craigslist that I don't really know anything about, like Wurlitzer, Young Chang... Pearl River.... How should I think about these other brands? Are there some "cheap" brands I should rule out right away?

5) An independent tech. I plan to ask my piano tuner if he will evaluate pianos for me. If he says no (and he might if it involves a long drive, which I anticipate for the area where I live) then I will try to find someone else, but I do plan on having an independent tech if I buy from a private seller. What about if I buy from a dealer, do I still need to find an independent tuner/tech to evaluate the piano?

Ok, I know this is super long, so I appreciate any advice/comments anyone is willing to share. TIA!!

Last edited by ShiroKuro; 01/31/19 03:30 PM.

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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809072 01/31/19 04:27 PM
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The minimum size I consider would be 5'8".

I would focus on Yamaha grands since you like the tone and feel.

Play lots of Yamaha C2 grands and hope to find one in good shape.

And if you find one, you might have to stretch your budget a bit.

Have the piano checked by an unbiased RPT before you buy.



Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809077 01/31/19 04:45 PM
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S, have you played top level uprights very much ? with your budget, and room size, you could get more piano (quality, sound, response) in an excellent upright. if you go shorter than about 170 cm, finding a good grand might be tough in your price range. if you're committed to getting a grand, be prepared for an extended search, and learning along the way.

Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809078 01/31/19 04:50 PM
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Be aware that if you trade in your upright for a discount on a piano at the dealer's, you will likely have less (or no) room to negotiate down the price from the SMP.

If you haven't been reading the Piano Buyer's Guide, now is the time to start.


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809090 01/31/19 05:20 PM
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Hakki, thanks for your comments. I just googled difference b/w Yamaha G series and C series and found an old PW thread, so that was super helpful! I was thinking I would go a little smaller than that, but I think it will fit in the space I have for it, so that size may be an option.

Quote
And if you find one, you might have to stretch your budget a bit.

Yeah, this is the biggest details, isn't it...

huaidongxi, I hesitate to say top level... but I have played some *very* nice uprights, including the one I owned in Japan, which I kept very well-maintained and tuned etc. And I've played some very nice grands, mostly pianos that were used for piano lessons, but some that were very nice. And then I've played a lot of pianos (grands and uprights) that really needed some TLC :P I used to live in Japan (where I worked in public schools that have lots of nice pianos), so I have played a lot of Kawais and Yamahas, but I'm less familiar with a lot of the pianos you see advertised online in the US. I currently have an older Petrof upright, which I like except for all the rattles and buzzes. (It actually sounds pretty good and holds its tuning really well, but I think the rattle-y-ness is because of age and possibly neglect from its previous owner, and also I think it's something of a budget-model as far as I can tell from various Petrof lines.) If I still had the Yamaha U1 I had in Japan, I might not be considering a new piano, but this buzzing is bugging me and I think it's time for a better instrument.

So, back to your point about uprights... I know there are some very nice uprights, and a quality upright, well-maintained, is a very nice instrument. But I think I want a grand (I just want it to be a nice grand). Whenever I have the chance to play a grand, I love the experience (and I love not having the sound thrown back in your face! laugh ) Also, lately I've been playing a lot of duets (with a violinist) and I think it would be nice to play on a grand for that kind of music as well. So that's part of the reason why I'm considering grands.

Stubbie,
Quote
Be aware that if you trade in your upright for a discount on a piano at the dealer's, you will likely have less (or no) room to negotiate down the price from the SMP.


Aah, this is good to know. So, I wonder if a better idea would be to negotiate a price, and then bring up the upright later?? Or does that make it seem the customer is trying to do a bait and switch?

Also, what does SMP stand for? I'm planning on buying used, so I'm thinking that if you mean "suggested manufactor's price" that might not be relevant?

Also thanks for reminding me about the piano buyers guide, I've just bookmarked it!


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809099 01/31/19 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Also, what does SMP stand for? I'm planning on buying used, so I'm thinking that if you mean "suggested manufactor's price" that might not be relevant?

Also thanks for reminding me about the piano buyers guide, I've just bookmarked it!
The Piano Buyer book you linked will explain SMP and MSRP and it's very important to read that section carefully. SMP-suggested maximum price MSRP is irrelevant and should be ignored at the dealer. Much more to understand about this and it's clearly explained in the book.

Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809101 01/31/19 05:46 PM
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Thanks!


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809106 01/31/19 05:54 PM
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Well, you like Yamahas, it so happens that in that price range, the most common used grand to find in good condition would be a Yamaha C2. They are all over the market for between 5k and 10k in differing conditions. If you find a great condition G2 (restored or something) then that might be an option too, although it is a bit shorter than the C2 at 5'7". If lucky, you may be able to find a C3 in good condition. Kawai has some pretty good used grands on the market in that price range, you're bound to find some good KG2's on the market, I'd definitely try those out.

As for brands in general, stick to the ones you know, but add a few others. Kawai, Bechstein, Mason & Hamlin, those are all brands commonly seen on the used market. From my experience at some dealers, Bechstein pianos (regardless of models) are often in good condition. Couldn't tell you why, but I've come across many well priced ones that don't appear to lack in any department. All in all, specific models you want to look out for are the Yamaha C2/C3 models and the Kawai KG2 models, and stick to the familiar brands aside from that. Do always get an independent tech, many a times it will be the case that a dealer's tech is biased.

Dealer or private, the difference is price. Many dealers will try to rip you off by charging the extra 20-30% for a used grand more than in the private market, for only 2-3 years warranty. That's not worth it no matter the circumstances. If a dealer isn't willing to offer a decent warranty (5 yrs~) then there is likely a reason. Private market deals aren't less reliable by any means, as long as you get a good independent inspection. If you buy from a reputable dealer, though, with good warranty, the extra price is often worth it.

The easiest thing to do is to look around on the private market (not solely craigslist) and scope out the potential deals. Desirable models and brands, look for their prices and then look at any dealer's which is available to you. If the dealer has multiple options for you, it's probably worth going there assuming prices are reasonable. If they offer decent warranty and the piano's condition is good, then it saves you a heck of a hassle. If not, keep looking on the private market. There are more used grands than ever before on the market (and at far cheaper prices), it shouldn't take you that long to find something which suits you below 10k.

I also wouldn't say 10k is that bad of a budget, in the 7.5k-10k range you'll already start to see many fine pianos which, if in good condition, will outperform any upright. It's below that 7.5k mark where you'd be far-fetched to get a truly good grand.

Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809108 01/31/19 06:03 PM
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ThomasG, thanks for the encouraging comments! (And for not making me feel like a cheapskate! laugh )
So, beyond Craigslist, what are some other good ways to find private sellers? I have heard people mention eBay (and I did see that there are obviously pianos for sale on eBay) but the location things seems a bit of a hurdle there. I am going to let my tuner know I'm in the market for a grand, and also the person who sold me my Petrof (who's a fellow who sort of collects and sells pianos as a hobby so to speak). But beyond Craigslist, are there other good places to look for private sellers?


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: Stubbie] #2809113 01/31/19 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Be aware that if you trade in your upright for a discount on a piano at the dealer's, you will likely have less (or no) room to negotiate down the price from the SMP.

If you haven't been reading the Piano Buyer's Guide, now is the time to start.

This is very true. However, many people would rather have a kidney removed without the benefit of anesthesia than be stuck selling and helping move an old upright. I myself would be examining the kidney option. If they’ll take a trade in on your old upright, take it. It’s so much less hassle but it will cost some negotiation room. Yes, many piano dealers offer financing but check the interest rate. Some piano makers offer low interest loans on new pianos. Yamaha was offering 0% up until New Years on many models.


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809130 01/31/19 06:57 PM
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Your location definitely matters, but some commonly used platforms would be eBay, Pianomart and Klaviano. Of course, the location and luck plays a big part on the private market. There also tend to be stores that wouldn't classify as dealers which buy and resell used pianos, could find a steal there.

I also forgot to mention Petrof as a notable brand. Their models created past 2000 or so are generally of high quality. Myself I've only played on a single Petrof grand of which I don't even know which model it was, but it sounded great. I've heard it mentioned many times that they have some great deals on the market, I'd recommend checking those out if you get the chance.

Anyways, good luck on finding something suitable.

Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809137 01/31/19 07:21 PM
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One other place to look for private sellers was mentioned by someone in a recent thread, and that was in the classified ads of local (hard copy) newspapers and flyers. Some people never have gotten comfortable with the online world, but have a piano they no longer can play and would like to sell. The old style classified ads are where they are likely to advertise.


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809180 01/31/19 09:30 PM
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ThomasG, I've never played a Petrof grand. I actually really like the sound of my Petrof upright, if it was just in a little better shape.

Stubbie, I'll check on some hard copy newspapers, thanks for the suggestion. I'm kind of remote from places where I would expect those ads to appear, but I'll try to figure out how I can expand my search a little more beyond just the internet.


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809360 02/01/19 09:53 AM
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Thanks again for all the comments and advice, I feel like I can sort of get started looking, and exploring the various dealerships that in a two hour (ish) radius from me.

It might be a while, but when I buy something, I post a report. (That or I'll post back asking for help when I find two pianos and can't make up my mind! laugh


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809367 02/01/19 10:06 AM
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There is some good advice above, but it lack a key element, in that it generalizes about the value added by purchasing from "a dealer".

There are dealers and there are dealers. Some after acquiring a used grand service is thoroughly, bringing it back to like-new condition, while other dealerships tune them, handle any obvious problems and clean them up cosmetically.

While the length of the dealer's warranty is a factor, it is difficult to separate the conscientious dealer from the,(diplomatically) less conscientious one. If the dealer has many (more than 20 or so) excellent reviews on line I would trust them, particularly if they describe in some detail why they were well-reviewed. Further, I would ask your piano tuner about the reputation of the local dealers. If you have friends who have pianos, ask them their experience with dealers and have them ask their tuner and/or teachers about them.

You will very likely pay more in purchasing from a dealer, but it may be well worth the expense.


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809379 02/01/19 10:55 AM
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Steve Cohen is always right on point. Buying a piano new or used can be complicated for most of us non-professionals. A piano has thousands of moving parts so it’s extremely difficult for the non-professional to sort the wheat from the chaff. Check reviews carefully and get acquainted with a good piano technician. A piano tech’s evaluation of a used piano, especially one advertised on Craig’s List or the newspaper is an absolute necessity. I would also ask their advice on a used piano in a dealer’s showroom too. If you’re gonna buy new, ask the tech their opinion of the dealer’s prep of new pianos. Best of Luck!


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809670 02/01/19 10:36 PM
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I would suggest seeking the help of a technician/rebuilder. He/She may know one of their clients who has a piano for sale. The technician will also likely know a lot about the history of a piano.

Like many of us, I've had some comically bad experiences with piano dealers. One time I visited a dealer who sold almost everything except Steinway. He kept one battered, out of tune, wreck of a Steinway on the showroom floor so people could compare Steinway to his pianos. He couldn't wait to have someone try the Steinway, and then try the ChinaPiano. Wow. Just... Wow.

Another time a dealer almost yelled at me that "my piano was obsolete" because I wasn't interested in his used piano with a 20 year old, broken disclavier.

Steve, I know there must be good dealers out there. They can sure be hard to find, however.


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2809742 02/02/19 08:00 AM
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Thank you Steve, j&j and musicpassion for you comments. I will try and figure out the reputations of the various dealers I’ve found online. The one closest to me seems to not have any online reviews (although I’ll look again). It’s quite local so that may be why. But there are a handful of other ones that I’m planing to visit (all involving more of a drive unfortunately) and they are in bigger cities so hopefully there will be more info online about them to help me evaluate them.


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Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2810259 02/03/19 04:08 PM
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I would advise playing as many grands as possible before making a decision. I traded my yamaha upright for a kawai ge 20, never got used to it, and now am at point of buying a new hamlin and mason 50 upright. (I stuck with the kawai since 2009, but am ready to let it go).

Re: Questions in prep for buying a grand piano [Re: ShiroKuro] #2810269 02/03/19 04:36 PM
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You should go on Craigslist Atlanta. There are 10-12 used Steinway Ms and Mason and Hamlin As for sale, including a few at a dealer.

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