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Re: Fear of listening
Lushey1 #2844716 05/03/19 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Lushey1

As a piano salesman,I often see a look of mortal fear on the face of the non-playing piano buyer when you suggest they listen to the instrument.I find that the sound does not lie. It would seem that customers get rather caught up in model numbers,sizes,serial numbers....and the general panic about anything that is new in the market.
Oh well,such is life.
Just thinking out loud.

I sort of get it though because although I am relatively newly coming to piano in particular, having only started learning piano since February 2018, I have been a classic music appreciator for almost 40 years, but my first love is classical opera - I've been an opera fan for decades.

For opera, I know what I know. I can listen and I can judge between a good performance of an aria and a so-so performance. Listening experience to over a thousand operas over the years, certain ones, dozens of different performances, has given me that discernment. I may not have the ear for opera of an opera or music critic, but it is an ear I can have confidence in that if I make a choice *I* will like that choice and it won't be a passing fad - something I wake up in the morning and ask, "what got into me yesterday to pick that?"

With piano, I still am not sure what I am listening for. People tell me this piano sounds wonderful - well, it sounds a little out-of-tune to me. I just am not sure what to listen for.

Sure, 40 years of listening to classical has given me even a set of evaluation skills perhaps the man-on-the-street doesn't even have. But it hasn't given me enough skill to feel confident to evaluate a piano.

I'm looking to upgrade my starter (looking to upgrade myself to a hybrid and not an acoustic) but when I am in the piano store and trying some hybrids and comparing them with the acoustics in the store, and the salesperson asks me, "what do you think?" I just immediately feel a "panic, flee" reaction come on before I try to search my brain for some suitable adjectives! eek

The sound may not lie, but one needs to know what to look for.

If the only thing that mattered was that people "like what they like," they the best piano for almost 50% of the US population would play rap!


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Re: Fear of listening
Lushey1 #2844736 05/03/19 08:36 AM
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Another reason I want to hear a piano from other perspectives when trying out pianos is that I get a bit better idea of how it will sound in my home, instead of just the dealer’s showroom. I get the full experience. Sadly my ears aren’t that well trained and when I’m listening to piano comparisons, I have to listen 2 or 3 times. When I read the comments from PW posters on what they heard, many times I can’t hear all the nuances that they criticize. But, until I go deaf, I’ll keep listening and getting my ears more adept to listening to pianos.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
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Re: Fear of listening
Lady Bird #2844834 05/03/19 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
I would advise bringing someone with them who plays (may be a
start).Perhaps they need to know the basics of what tone to listen
for - bright (which many enjoy),mellow, dark, pure, singing etc.


How one gets to know / learn about the basics of the tones???
Are there any examples?

Re: Fear of listening
Lushey1 #2844899 05/03/19 06:04 PM
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Just play as many pianos as possible.See what you enjoy ,compare, make notes on the pianos you have played.
Some say we should not play classical music with a piano
that has a bright tone ?It is your music,you decide.
If we want to be purists we should only play Bach on a harpsichord
or an organ.

Re: Fear of listening
Lushey1 #2844905 05/03/19 06:33 PM
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I agree with Lady Bird on this. We have to be open when trying out pianos. If the piano sings to us, nothing else really matters.

One of my favourite pianos happens to be one particular baby grand. I am well aware of the disadvantages of smaller pianos (compared to my lottery-fantasy concert grands), but it's one of the most engaging and wonderful pianos I've ever played. It's so responsive, it's like the music is coming directly from the tips of my fingers. I remember going into a near trance once playing some Bach on it.

If I could afford a new piano, my head would say buy big, but my heart would say this little grand -which isn't for sale. I think it's easier to choose things that we can somehow rationalise as better, and not always what we love the most.

Re: Fear of listening
johnstaf #2844910 05/03/19 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I agree with Lady Bird on this. We have to be open when trying out pianos. If the piano sings to us, nothing else really matters.
I think your comment only applies to pianists who are reasonably advanced and experienced trying out/playing many pianos. If someone without those characteristics finds a piano that sings to them, there is a reasonable chance that they will be disappointed in the future. I think only a fairly small percent of people have those piano skills and experience with many pianos, but they realize this and that's why they have so many(appropriate) questions.

Re: Fear of listening
LarryMan #2844913 05/03/19 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
How one gets to know / learn about the basics of the tones???Are there any examples?


1. Read articles in the Piano Buyer and Piano Book about how to evaluate touch and tone.
2. Shop at dealers with experienced sales people who are willing to candidly discuss the differences in piano tone for the pianos they sell. Ask them a lot of questions.
3. There are some YouTube videos about tone. I don't have specific examples but one can try doing a search. One has to realize however that listening to a piano on a computer has limitations even if one uses good speakers.
4. I don't know if it's still available(couldn't find it recently) but at one time there was an excellent video on the Fazioli webstie that listed some characteristics of good tone that many/most classical pianists agree on together with specific pieces being played to illustrate how Fazioli met those characteristics. Some of those were good sustain, clarity of voices in polyphonic music, dynamic range, and others I can't recall.
5. I think Cunningham Piano website has a lot of videos showing different pianos and discussing the piano's tone. The pianist playing and discussing the pianos is Hugh Sung who is a top level professional pianist and quite good at explaining piano tone(not an easy thing to do).

Re: Fear of listening
pianoloverus #2844914 05/03/19 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by johnstaf
How one gets to know / learn about the basics of the tones???Are there any examples?



I didn't ask this question. It was LarryMan.

Last edited by johnstaf; 05/03/19 07:06 PM.
Re: Fear of listening
johnstaf #2844925 05/03/19 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I agree with Lady Bird on this. We have to be open when trying out pianos. If the piano sings to us, nothing else really matters.

One of my favourite pianos happens to be one particular baby grand. I am well aware of the disadvantages of smaller pianos (compared to my lottery-fantasy concert grands), but it's one of the most engaging and wonderful pianos I've ever played. It's so responsive, it's like the music is coming directly from the tips of my fingers. I remember going into a near trance once playing some Bach on it.

If I could afford a new piano, my head would say buy big, but my heart would say this little grand -which isn't for sale. I think it's easier to choose things that we can somehow rationalise as better, and not always what we love the most.


+ 1. When I bought my piano, I tried at least 2 that won my heart. They were twice and three times the price of the piano I bought. I’m still thrilled with my piano because I can rationalize that expense on a piano for myself. To justify my dream piano, I’d better be touring with Elton John. Or doing Vegas shows. 😊


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Fear of listening
Lushey1 #2844926 05/03/19 08:17 PM
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Choosing a piano often involves the head and the heart

Re: Fear of listening
Lushey1 #2845073 05/04/19 10:27 AM
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Thanks for the advice pianoloverus

found this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPeQh32Gwu4

Re: Fear of listening
pianoloverus #2845111 05/04/19 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by johnstaf
How one gets to know / learn about the basics of the tones???Are there any examples?


2. Shop at dealers with experienced sales people who are willing to candidly discuss the differences in piano tone for the pianos they sell. Ask them a lot of questions.



Couldn't agree more with this. There's been a lot of great discussion on this thread about how experienced players evaluate tone quality, but to a non-musician who doesn't have any frame of reference that doesn't help. OP was pointing out how non-musician shoppers are lost when it comes to evaluating a piano based on tone. They don't even have the vocabulary to describe the timbre of a musical instrument, much less do any sort compare-contrast, evaluation, or picking a preference. That's why they focus on marketing and technical features. A good salesperson can expose the customer to a variety of different sounding pianos, let them hear the difference in tone quality, and help the customer zone in on a piano that is a good fit for them.


Justin Johnson
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www.portlandpianocompany.com
Re: Fear of listening
Lushey1 #2845154 05/04/19 02:08 PM
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This question is understandable but does not need to be difficult. Everybody knows a piano can either sound good or bad depending also very much on HOW one plays it. This matter is in fact often being manipulated by clever salesmen who know how to make an even out-of-tune piano sound nice. For this reason I often demonstrate sound by playing arpeggios or simple music instead of trying to impress with complicated pieces. This also allows for sound experiences in ALL the ranges with special emphasis on treble tones. Playing several pianos virtually exact same way, I always noticed how “unexperienced” customers quickly picked up on differences this, without being distracted by their own preference of music. Of course I could have always asked “what their favourite music is” 😆 At least this worked for me. Could be worth a try! Good luck!
Norbert😊

Last edited by Norbert; 05/04/19 02:17 PM.

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Re: Fear of listening
Norbert #2845408 05/05/19 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Norbert
This question is understandable but does not need to be difficult. Everybody knows a piano can either sound good or bad depending also very much on HOW one plays it. This matter is in fact often being manipulated by clever salesmen who know how to make an even out-of-tune piano sound nice. For this reason I often demonstrate sound by playing arpeggios or simple music instead of trying to impress with complicated pieces. This also allows for sound experiences in ALL the ranges with special emphasis on treble tones. Playing several pianos virtually exact same way, I always noticed how “unexperienced” customers quickly picked up on differences this, without being distracted by their own preference of music. Of course I could have always asked “what their favourite music is” 😆 At least this worked for me. Could be worth a try! Good luck!
Norbert😊

Exactly! Even I can tell when I play arpeggios up and down and some chord cadences if a piano is out of tune. I still need to play the same arpeggios on other pianos to determine relative brightness. I guess that’s why I love Yamahas. Lots of the music I listened to was recorded on the typical studio C7. But My Oh My I think American made old Baldwin concert grands are magical.


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Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Fear of listening
Geusey #2845914 05/06/19 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Geusey
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by johnstaf
How one gets to know / learn about the basics of the tones???Are there any examples?


2. Shop at dealers with experienced sales people who are willing to candidly discuss the differences in piano tone for the pianos they sell. Ask them a lot of questions.





Again, this quote has been wrongly attributed to me. I have NEVER asked how to learn about the basics of piano tones.

Re: Fear of listening
LarryMan #2845918 05/06/19 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by LarryMan
Thanks for the advice pianoloverus

found this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPeQh32Gwu4


Hi LarryMan

You are on the right track, but the wrong train. What you have found is sampled piano sounds which have bern collated into a set. You should listen to actual acoustic pianos, ideally playing the same music with the same mic setup. It is much better in person, but audio will get you started in critical listening

Look st Cunningham Piano videos ... there are several

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ziz5SnTUsGk

Here is a different comparison by another pianist
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gr5Dbe2ASyw

Comparison of small grands

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vrxJJJkVbK4


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Re: Fear of listening
Lushey1 #2846674 05/09/19 05:52 AM
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I really appreciate your effort and time

I listen to the above recordings and it was difficult to hear the difference at first but after few more reviews and notes taking I can tell that I am able to recognized some tonal differences.

Below I will post a video of an upright piano, hoping to get your input using the correct vocabulary to characterized its tone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNE5I6MVKqg

Thanks a lot

Re: Fear of listening
Lushey1 #2846854 05/09/19 04:31 PM
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Well the repeatition action of this piano looks really good.
I will listen again at home before I make a comment on the
tone.
I often feel that these youtube videos can only reveal a limited
amount of information about the tone of a piano.

Re: Fear of listening
Lushey1 #2846891 05/09/19 07:37 PM
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Well I listened and compaired it to some other youtube recordings
of the Yamaha U1.
First speaking of the example you provided -
I found I did not like the bass especially with panels removed.
It seemed to have a dull "brassy " sound and laked resonance.
When the wooden parts were replaced I thought middle treble
and some of the higher notes much more "singing" He did not play
much lower bass notes when the panels were replaced.I would say
that although it had a brighter tone than some European pianos
it was not too bright.
I preferred this piano to the U1 if in" real listening" the bass has a
better sound than it appeared in this video.

Re: Fear of listening
outo #2853093 05/28/19 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by outo
The rare occasions when someone else plays my piano I am surprised it sounds so good... Either I suck really bad or the sound becomes even better at some distance smile


There are two things going on here. Often the piano bench is acoustically the worst seat in the house. When someone else is playing, you can relax and put all your attention into listening. When you're playing, your brain is putting most of its effort into the actual playing. So you're too busy to listen as well as you can to someone else.


-- J.S.

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