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Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
#2830144 03/22/19 07:15 PM
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Any thoughts on ordering a piano vs. buying one that's "on the floor" of a piano dealer? I would prefer a different finish, and wonder whether I can expect significant differences between two versions of the same model, one that I've tried, and like, and one that I might order in a different finish, but of the same model. Is this risky?

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2830152 03/22/19 07:44 PM
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Yes, possibly, depending on how particular you are. Even mass produced acoustic pianos are made of natural materials and will vary from unit to unit -- like bananas at the grocery store, you want the ones you selected, not just a random bunch. It's not at all unreasonable to write down the serial number of the piano you picked, to be sure you get the right one. Then again, I'd be delighted with any brand new Bosie or Steinway or Yamaha.... ;-)


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Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2830170 03/22/19 09:10 PM
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Floor model any day ,I had experience with a U1 straight from the warehouse. The piano had good potential but needed regulation,which ultimately was by the dealer.It was just too new.The piano's" moods "changed from one week to the next sometimes a metalic sound in the treble.
Then it seemed to get much brighter!
The technician said it would need to be voiced in a few months.
It was just too new and needed a great deal of tuning as well.
We upgraded eventually but that's a different story.
If it's a high end piano it may work but I do not think I would take
a chance.

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
Lady Bird #2830195 03/22/19 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Floor model any day ,I had experience with a U1 straight from the warehouse.
It's unlikely the piano will be straight from the warehouse assuming the dealer agrees to prep the piano although that doesn't mean there still doesn't exist the chance that the OP won't like it. Nor can the OP be sure how good the prep will be.

Some makes are known to have much greater consistency from the factory so if the OP wants one of those there is a reasonable chance he could be satisfied. Dealers of those makes could comment more on exactly how consistent those pianos are from the factory. Whether or not to take a chance depends on how much the OP wants a finish not available in the showroom and how fussy he is about tone and touch.

Perhaps some arrangement could be made to agree to pay something to the dealer if the OP really dislikes the piano. That way the dealer could price the piano less than usual and have a greater than usual chance to sell it and the OP would pay only a penalty and not end up with a piano he didn't like. I don't know if dealers ever make this kind of arrangement.

The situation when a buyer wants a non standard finish when this, as if often the case, requires a commitment to buy the piano because it requires a special order from the dealer is an important but not often discussed topic.

Maybe some dealers or buyers who have gone through this scenario can comment or offer suggestions.

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2830232 03/23/19 03:00 AM
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If it is a Kawai or Yamaha IMO it might not be too risky.
Back in 2005 I bought my Kawai RX-2 grand unseen and I was not frustrated .

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2830242 03/23/19 04:33 AM
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I wouldn't recommend buying a piano unseen. I wanted an upright Bechstein and liked the sound of the one in the showroom but wanted a different model of the same size. The dealer was happy to order the one I wanted provided I buy one of them. After trying the newly ordered piano it just didn't sound the same in the base. I played them side by side and even got other people to play them.

I ended buying the piano with the superior sound regardless of the looks.

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
Hakki #2830250 03/23/19 05:05 AM
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Agree with Hakki. Unless it is a Yamaha or Kawai it is definitely not worth risking it. Tune is more important than looks.

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2830263 03/23/19 05:46 AM
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+1 with what Hakki said. Yamaha and Kawai are more consistent and a lesser risk.

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2830281 03/23/19 07:05 AM
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I could never do this. Each specimen is just too different. Might you be able to travel to a dealer where they have an example in your desired finish? Not sure which brand you are considering. If you aren't picky about piano tone and feel, not a problem. But you are on a piano forum, which at least suggests it won't be simply decor. Best of luck, and enjoy the process as much has possible.

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2830288 03/23/19 07:45 AM
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To the OP - what brand and model are you considering ordering? This would make a huge difference to my opinion.


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Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
Rich Galassini #2830491 03/23/19 03:59 PM
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Thanks for your insights, everyone.

I was considering a Kawai K-300 or -400. Or a smaller W. Hoffman.

But now, I've tried an older Petrof, and am considering it. Any thoughts on the Soviet-era, Czech-made Petrofs?

Last edited by ASR; 03/23/19 04:06 PM.
Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
willpianist #2830593 03/23/19 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Floor model any day ,I had experience with a U1 straight from the warehouse. The piano had good potential but needed regulation,which ultimately was by the dealer.It was just too new.The piano's" moods "changed from one week to the next sometimes a metalic sound in the treble.
Then it seemed to get much brighter!
The technician said it would need to be voiced in a few months.
It was just too new and needed a great deal of tuning as well.
We upgraded eventually but that's a different story.
If it's a high end piano it may work but I do not think I would take
a chance.

Originally Posted by willpianist
Agree with Hakki. Unless it is a Yamaha or Kawai it is definitely not worth risking it. Tune is more important than looks.

Yes a U1 is a Yamaha piano.You may have a piano well prepped but if it is brand new in the shop (just from a warehouse )still expect that you will have to tune the piano more often than normal and it may need to be voiced in a few months time.
When we upgraded to a European piano I tried a few new arrivals in other piano stores but ultimatly decided on a floor model.It some how seemed to be better than than the other ones.I can only think that it had more work done on it and it had settled down in the months it had been a floor model.When it had its final prep it was amazing.
Saying this I do know of at least one member of this forum who ordered a similar piano sight unseen and he seems very happy with his decision.

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2830813 03/24/19 12:36 PM
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I myself prefer display models for the what you play is what you buy comfort. The piano’s on display have gotten full dealer prep and have had some time to settle in. If I was interested in ordering a different finish I would ask the dealer directly about the ordering process and what assurances s/he gives about my satisfaction. From what little I know is once the piano arrives at the dealer’s and is uncrated and prepped, the buyer gets to try it out before delivery. I do know how much additional prep is done to meet the buyer’s satisfaction varies widely. Ask the dealer directly about the ordering and delivery process.


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Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
Rich Galassini #2831157 03/25/19 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
To the OP - what brand and model are you considering ordering? This would make a huge difference to my opinion.


As others have indicated, the brand / model is key. There is more consistency among some brands, but in my experience that can still be significant differences in touch and tone. If I were going to order sight unseen, I'd want an agreement in place to have the piano regulated and voiced to my liking upon delivery. Yamaha's can be some of the most consistent in the industry, BUT I've played brand new showroom C7's that I loved and others not so much. But I've learned that as long as the piano is constructed properly, a good technician can work wonders on a quality instrument.

I'm more of a classic, black satin finish guy, so my shopping experience was easier than someone who wants a different finish, color, or art case/ornate case.

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
j&j #2831170 03/25/19 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by j&j
I myself prefer display models for the what you play is what you buy comfort. The piano’s on display have gotten full dealer prep and have had some time to settle in. If I was interested in ordering a different finish I would ask the dealer directly about the ordering process and what assurances s/he gives about my satisfaction. From what little I know is once the piano arrives at the dealer’s and is uncrated and prepped, the buyer gets to try it out before delivery. I do know how much additional prep is done to meet the buyer’s satisfaction varies widely. Ask the dealer directly about the ordering and delivery process.
On special orders for a finish not normally carried by the dealer, the buyer usually must commit to purchase. Although most dealers will try to regulate and voice to the buyer's liking there is no guarantee this can be done.

As far as pianos already on the dealer's floor, the amount of prep done varies greatly among dealers and can even vary among the pianos at a particular dealer. So the phrase "full dealer prep" is not particularly meaningful. But your suggestion of asking the dealer for assurances still makes sense although they may only commit to trying their best to voice and regulate the piano to your satisfaction.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/25/19 09:48 AM.
Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2831179 03/25/19 10:25 AM
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Pianoloverus- yes you have clarified the situation. When I went piano shopping, I didn’t have too many choices within reasonable driving distance. I was fortunate that the Yamaha dealer did (in my opinion) very good prep on all the pianos I was interested in. My ears aren’t really discerning enough that I would worry too much about ordering a different finish from this dealer and commit to purchase because I trust Yamaha, Schimmel, and Bösendorfer would deliver a piano I would love. If it needs additional prep time or voicing to sound great and worth my money, I know a fabulous tech that could make it my dream come true.
I’ve noticed with some brands that getting the walnut or mahogany finish is nearly as expensive as buying the next bigger model. I’d much rather have a bigger piano than a gorgeous walnut finish. But that’s just me.


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Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2831180 03/25/19 10:40 AM
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A good tech can make up a lot of the differences between individual samples.


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Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
ASR #2831204 03/25/19 12:19 PM
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My experience says try before you buy. I bought a Hailun 178 that I really liked, but it was damaged during delivery. It was replaced with a new one that I really didn't like and was returned. I ended up with a lightly used Grotrian that I played several times before purchase and am still happy with. Good luck.

Re: Ordering a piano vs. buying what you try
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Originally Posted by ASR
But now, I've tried an older Petrof, and am considering it. Any thoughts on the Soviet-era, Czech-made Petrofs?


More so than any other piano, have your tech inspect it. Inspect very thoroughly. I haven't dealt specifically with Petrof's, but anything in any industry from the Soviet period can be full of surprises....



-- J.S.


-- J.S.

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