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Hamilton H396 grand piano #2842420 04/25/19 05:28 PM
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Pedram123 Offline OP
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Hi everyone,

I have recently been eyeing a Hamilton H396 grand piano at a local dealer. The dealer says the piano was built in the 2000s in China and is selling it at 4000 dollars. I have tested the piano on a couple of occasions and his technician has been working out the kinks and regulating the action as well as giving it some TLC before I decide to buy it. The dealer is offering a 5 year full warranty as well as free home tuning on top of all the work I'm having his technician do. So that makes me feel a little bit more safe.

Now here is the problem. The serial number on the piano is KB8129 and looking through the web, I have been unable to find when/where it was built. I looked through the online piano atlas and KB8129 does not come up, but searching 8129 under Hamilton or Baldwin brings up a piano built about 124 years ago! I definitely do not think it is that old. I brought this up to the dealer and he said Baldwin makes pianos under so many different names and it's always a challenge to search. I am happy with the price and the piano itself; the action is on the heavier side but the tone is really warm and appeals to me. Can someone help me figure out whether this is a true Baldwin Hamilton and if so is it really 124 years old or is it a more recent production?

Thank you for your help!

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Re: Hamilton H396 grand piano [Re: Pedram123] #2843201 04/28/19 10:26 AM
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Rickster Offline
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Hi Pedram123, and welcome to Piano World!

I'm surprised no one has responded already to your thread with some kind of helpful info for you. That said, I'm afraid any info I can share with you is pure speculation and conjecture.

What little I know about Baldwin is that they made the Hamilton uprights for many years, which had a good reputation for being well built pianos. I have not seen or heard of too many Hamilton branded grands, but I have heard of a few here and there. As far as the dealer telling you that Baldwin made so many different brand names that it is hard to research, I don't think so; but apparently the Hamilton H396 baby grand is difficult to find info on based on the numbers.

That said, (part II smile ) I think the dealer you are dealing with is correct; the Hamilton H396 5' grand is apparently one of the very early ones built in China after the bankruptcy and sale of Baldwin in the early 2000s. For reference, here is an ad for another Hamilton H396 grand from Piano Mart online.

Hamilton H396 ad from Piano Mart

It looks like the typical small grand piano made in China around this time. The only thing that disturbs and confuses me about the pics in the Piano Mart ad is the lettering embossed in the plate, "Hamilton since 1898 A product of Baldwin USA"; which, if made in China, is certainly not a product of USA.

Since they are asking $6000 for H396 in the Piano Mart ad, you may well be getting a good deal on the Hamilton H396 baby grand you are considering for $4000.

Again, this is just pure speculation and conjecture on my part, but I'm only trying to help (since no one else has responded to your thread yet smile ). If you like the piano and feel good about the piano, the dealer and the deal, it sounds like all is well. As far as obtaining more info from the serial numbers, chances are a Baldwin dealer would have to help you with that. There are a few members here who are Baldwin dealers. Maybe they will chime in and help.

Good luck!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Hamilton H396 grand piano [Re: Pedram123] #2843233 04/28/19 12:26 PM
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Carey Offline
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The serial number on the piano in the ad is MB8002.

That would imply that a Hamilton with the serial number KB8129 was built around the same time.

I don't know the significance of the KB vs. MB.


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Re: Hamilton H396 grand piano [Re: Pedram123] #2843237 04/28/19 12:51 PM
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Carey Offline
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Also just found reference to a Baldwin Hamilton H391 which (according to the owner) was built "around 2006" with a serial number KP8217.

I think it's safe to assume that the H396 you are considering is of the same vintage that the dealer specified.

And Rickster, I've found you can never believe what is imprinted on a piano's plate. It's all marketing hype. For example, my 2003 M&H clearly says BOSTON, when in reality it was built in HAVERHILL, Mass.

.


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Re: Hamilton H396 grand piano [Re: Pedram123] #2843254 04/28/19 02:40 PM
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Rickster Offline
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Originally Posted by Carey
And Rickster, I've found you can never believe what is imprinted on a piano's plate. It's all marketing hype. For example, my 2003 M&H clearly says BOSTON, when in reality it was built in HAVERHILL, Mass.

Well, at least Boston and Haverhill is still in the same state, country, and continent... smile

Good info, Carey.

All the best,

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Hamilton H396 grand piano [Re: Pedram123] #2843268 04/28/19 04:07 PM
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Pedram123 Offline OP
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Thank you Carey and Rickster for the help/info.

I got in touch with a Baldwin dealer last night and although he wasn’t able to locate the exact serial number I mentioned, he did say it is most likely built around 2006-2007 which is probably correct.

Having said that, I am hesitant about purchasing this piano. I have gone to the dealer multiple times and have had his technician make adjustments but I feel as if the instrument is at its max potential and that is not good enough for me. I am by no means a virtuoso but I like to practice 3-4 hours a day and generally put my instrument through a workout. I am just not getting that “special” feeling from this instrument and despite the warranty I have hesitations. I don’t think the dealer is pushing me to buy the instrument necessarily but also he is somewhat reluctant to let me try other pianos side by side which I find a little bit weird. All in all I’m having doubts and not sure if this is the best route to go.

Re: Hamilton H396 grand piano [Re: Pedram123] #2843279 04/28/19 05:13 PM
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Rickster Offline
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Originally Posted by Pedram123
Thank you Carey and Rickster for the help/info.

I got in touch with a Baldwin dealer last night and although he wasn’t able to locate the exact serial number I mentioned, he did say it is most likely built around 2006-2007 which is probably correct.

Having said that, I am hesitant about purchasing this piano. I have gone to the dealer multiple times and have had his technician make adjustments but I feel as if the instrument is at its max potential and that is not good enough for me. I am by no means a virtuoso but I like to practice 3-4 hours a day and generally put my instrument through a workout. I am just not getting that “special” feeling from this instrument and despite the warranty I have hesitations. I don’t think the dealer is pushing me to buy the instrument necessarily but also he is somewhat reluctant to let me try other pianos side by side which I find a little bit weird. All in all I’m having doubts and not sure if this is the best route to go.

I didn't want to discourage you earlier, but I think your pianoistic instincts are serving you well. 3 to 4 hours a day is a lot of mileage on a piano. So, it sounds like you need/want something a good bit better than the Hamilton H396, even if it cost you more money.

Some days I play the piano an hour or two. Some days 30 minutes. Some days 10 minutes, depending on my mood. I had a good piano-mood today and played and sang about and hour and loved it! Made me smile, which I needed. smile

Good luck and hang around and let us know what you get!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Hamilton H396 grand piano [Re: Pedram123] #2843437 04/29/19 10:53 AM
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4K may not be much in terms of piano prices, but it's a lot to spend on something that doesn't suit you. And warranties are nice, but they aren't going to cover the kind of nuanced adjustments that they're making now. Plus, having to use a warranty is a hassle and will put a crimp on your daily playing time.

As Rickster suggested, follow your instincts on this. Find a piano that you already like.



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