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Heintzman vs Yamaha #2850171 05/19/19 09:14 PM
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Soojin Offline OP
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So hard to choose! I’m a semi professional pianist in her 40s looking for my first and forever grand piano (so I think that means about 40 more years, based on average life expectancy for women in Canada ;-) I have been somewhat seriously looking for about a year and learning a lot from the forum.

I have a few specific questions and would LOVE to hear your views. I’m also happy to wait a bit longer to find a better piano.

I am debating between a 6’ Heintzman (250398) made in Toronto in the early 1980s, with the Renner action; and a 5.8’ Yamaha G2 made in Japan in 1975 (E 2083274). Both only had one owner, was never moved, was not played much in the past ten years or so but kept in a good house. The Heintzman is listed for $9,880, Yamaha for $10,500, so little price difference.

Q1: Are these pianos too old or will they be able to accompany me for approximately 40 years?

I found the Heintzman sound lovely and rich, but the keys a bit heavy and sound very slightly uneven. What bothered me the most was that the action was not as responsive as I’d liked (eg trills in Scarlatti). My technician looked at the Heintzman, and said it’d need regulation. Otherwise the action and pin blocks, et al, are impeccable according to him.

Q2: Can regulation make the action more responsive? I like playing fast pieces, but know nothing about what work can be done to a piano or not... What does regulation do, actually? How much would that cost?

I found the Yamaha G2 much more responsive and familiar to me, as my current piano is a small Yamaha upright and I’ve certainly played on more Yamaha grand pianos than Heintzmans when I was playing more seriously. The sound lacked a bit of a...how to say it...gravitas, though. My technician will see it with me tomorrow, but I’m less worried about his green light on this one, as the touches and sounds were very even from one end to the other. What bothered me the most was when playing a chord very softly in the base (specifically the last few chords at the end of Liszt’s un sospiro), no matter how hard I tried, it felt flat. I couldn’t get the soft, yet full base chords in the left hand that support the hauntingly fragile and beautiful high chords on the right hand.

Q3: Could tuning improve that? Anything else that can be done? At what cost?

I think my problem is that I am a pianist and only a pianist. I know the sounds I like and the mechanics/touch I like to use to make the various colours of sounds, but do not have any idea of what can be changed or done to the piano and with how much effort in a used piano... Any advice on enlightening this pianist would be very much appreciated. Thank you!


Last edited by Soojin; 05/19/19 09:21 PM.
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Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850192 05/19/19 11:51 PM
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A piano which hasn't had attention for 10 years could be a concern - or had they been serviced regularly? If they're significantly out of tune, they could take 3 or 4 services to make the tuning stable - difficult to know for sure, but something to keep in mind $$$ wise.

Remember there are plenty of pianos out there - if not today, tomorrow.

Q1 They are probably showing their age, but might have 40 years left in them if they haven't been played a lot. But you could possibly need hammers and maybe other "consumables" like strings, dampers etc by that time. Bearing in mind that, as we age, we often play a little less and less. My Mum would play about 2 or 3 hours a day in her 60s, by her 80s, it was more like ½ - 3/4 hr.

But "but the keys a bit heavy" - could be concerning. In your 40s - you can cope probably, but if you're noticing them now, by the time you're in your 80s, they might be much too heavy. If you're not enjoying it now, you'll not enjoy it when you get it home - unless it does improve. I'm not aware of Heintzman pianos at all.

Q2 A good regulation and voicing might make a significant difference - but again it might do little - but will cost an appreciable amount - ½ to one day work, possibly more if it requires parts changing.

Q3 More likely the regulation and voicing could improve that - the tuning, much less so.

Sadly, there are a lot of pianos which have never been voiced or regulated correctly. Most manufacturers specifies a service on a new piano 2 or 3 times a year in the first 2 years, a full voicing and regulation somewhere about that time. Yes, many owners ignore that and "just get it tuned" - missing out on a lot of the joy they could have had from their piano.

"I think my problem is that I am a pianist and only a pianist. I know the sounds I like and the mechanics/touch I like to use to make the various colours of sounds, but do not have any idea of what can be changed or done to the piano and with how much effort in a used piano."

I certainly relate to this - I'm mid 60s now, in my 20s and 30s I was a good pianist, but age, years of bringing up family etc, joint pain etc have seen my standard much lower than it was when I did my diploma. Now I'm retired, I'm getting to play much more. I bought a new piano about 7 yrs ago to replace my 1977 YAMAHA which I'd had since new and had basically worn out (along with our children).

BUT - I certainly knew what I didn't like and did like in a piano. I would guess I played a hundred+ pianos in my search - I went to every piano store, but didn't restrict myself to what I thought I could afford. I certainly found what I was looking for - but it was far more expensive than I wanted to pay (happened to be a D Hamburg Steinway - too big for my home for a start) but it was a dream to play. That gave me a benchmark to look for in other pianos, and I settled on a piano about ½ that price (though significantly more expensive than you're looking for. I played uprights as well as grands - one upright (a Schimmel) excited me far more than many grands I'd played in my search.

ANOTHER thought though. Not sure of your financial situation, and this could be totally irrelevant. I considered a fairly basic grand at about 50ish yrs old, and got one a few years later, quite a nice piano. But when I sorted my finances out when I retired about 60yrs, old, I was able to buy a significantly better piano then - which I'm loving.

Possibly looking for a piano to keep you for 40 years might not be the best plan?


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: backto_study_piano] #2850199 05/20/19 12:35 AM
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Wow, so much wisdom and insight in that reply - thank you. I feel like I’m following in your and your mom’s footsteps... I have been looking casually for a year, mainly out of frustrations with my small Yamaha that’s just not cutting it anymore, but have not tried anywhere close to 100 or will I have time for that with a rather demanding job and two teens to raise in the near future. So I think you are right - maybe I should aim for one that would suit me for a decade or so and aim for a much nicer one, when the mortgage and kids’ universities are done. This changes the equation slightly in favour of Yamaha, which I believe has a better resale value. Thank you.

I’d also love to hear from members with technical background to demystify how much such similar pianos can be customized and worked on. Thanks!

Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850201 05/20/19 12:48 AM
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Yes, there are a number of knowledgeable and wise techs on the forum - who will add more wisdom.

Yes, I can understand the mortgage$ and kids’ univer$itie$ from the past. 2 of mine did music at University - one a B.Mus on violin, and I was her accompanist, which was more stressful for me than her. The other did one year on Double Bass at Conservatorium - again I was accompanist.

Here in Australia, I'd suspect that a YAMAHA would be the safer shorter term buy from a retained value point of view. But, bear in mind that pianos do wear over a period of time, and that does diminish the value to some extent, so if you play it as often as you hope over say 15yrs, it will be ... more worn. Keep it well maintained. I get mine serviced twice a year - a few more $$, but it's in peak playing condition that way. Here's here in 3 days!!!

You don't need to play 100+. For my first grand, I probably played several dozen or more though. Many stores had 10-20 pianos, and I'd try them all, many I'd get up after several bars of playing and move to the next. I kept copious notes.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850547 05/20/19 08:11 PM
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I would keep an eye on Craigslist.Often people
do find bargains on pianos here.Apart from
Yamaha grands,there is Kawai ,Boston,Baldwin
and other great name brands to consider.
I do not know the price of new Hailun grand
pianos but you may even find the prices are not
not too high to consider one of these.

Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850552 05/20/19 08:26 PM
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Heintzman was one of Canada's best pianos.It sounds like you
really like the tone.Perhaps you can offer a lower price.
If the piano has been completely checked by a RPT and it
just needs regulation it may be fine for a number of years.

Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850604 05/21/19 04:43 AM
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I once read on this forum that one should choose an upright based on the action, and a grand based on the tone/sound. I've found that to be good advice. The reason is that uprights typically are at a disadvantage in the action department, while grands - below a certain size - may be at a disadvantage in the sound department. I've spent the last year auditioning uprights and grands, and have found that to ring true. In the end I chose an upright with a wonderful tone and an action which felt very close to the action on a good grand. I also considered a grand in the same budget range, but decided against it because the tone was less orchestral and rich than that of the upright.

Based on what you write, I would therefore choose the Heintzman, without any doubt. The basic tonal character of an instrument is more or less set. Yes, it can be voiced "up" or "down", but only to a certain degree. If you liked the tonal character of the Heintzman, that's an excellent starting point. I don't think you are going to see fundamental differences in the tone of the Yamaha.

What you describe about the action of the Heintzman, on the other hand, are things I would assume can be fixed by a skilled technician. Proper regulation of the action/mechanics can really do wonders, IME, if things are otherwise in technical order. How about just calling up your technician and discuss with him how much the feel of the action will change after he works on it?

Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850605 05/21/19 04:47 AM
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A few thoughts,

A 1975 G2 is not the same quality that Yamaha offers today by a long shot. With 50 years old coming up quickly I have concerns about longevity. True, I have seen G series of this age still playable and actually in decent shape, but I have my concerns.

I am not a Canadian piano expert (perhaps Rod Verhnjak will respond) but it is my impression that, in the early 1980's, Heintzman had already gone through ownership and manufacturing changes and are not as well regarded as their earlier counterparts.

I doubt that you will get 40 years out of either piano and perhaps well shorter that that.

Without knowing more, I suggest having an independent piano technician examine the pianos so you are aware of their real condition.

Good luck and please keep us posted,


Rich Galassini
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Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850607 05/21/19 04:56 AM
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And concerning the age of the instruments. I'm not a technician, only a relatively skilled amateur player who places high demands on pianos. With that caveat, I've auditioned probably close to 100 uprights and grands the last year. I've consistently found that some of the older instruments I've tried have been in excellent shape and have been very enjoyable, just as much as newer instruments. My conversations with piano salesmen and technicians have also indicated to me that a piano can easily survive many many decades of use, as long as it resides in a house with good and stable humidity conditions (and certainly if it has a Dampp Chaser system installed). Heck, I've even played on a couple of pianos which hadn't been tuned for several years, but which had kept the tune almost perfectly because they had been placed in rooms with excellent conditions!

What you desribe - one house, one owner, never moved, not much actual use - sound like fairly ideal conditions to me (as long as these houses don't have large humidity swings). I wouldn't worry about that or their longevity. Install a dampp chaser system and give it proper care, and I'm fairly certain you can keep it for 40 years without any problem.

Last edited by oivavoi; 05/21/19 05:03 AM.
Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850608 05/21/19 04:59 AM
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I don't think personally that a 1975 Yamaha is a good choice for a long-term piano. My friend has a 1974 G2, and the bass is tubby, and the action is all over the place, and the tuning pins are a little bit loose. Sure, it could have the plank replaced and new action parts put in it, and be restrung.... and bingo you've spent £12,000.....

I don't know much about Heintzman at all other than it's a name I've seen on this forum, but it sounds like an older piano from a company that was about to be sold isn't such a good bet. It looks to me like new Heintzmans are made in Korea.

My personal view is that if your budget is $10,000 (roughly the price of the G2) then you might want to look at something like a new Yamaha U1.

Another two cents of mine is that, we don't know if any piano will last 40 years. That's quite a long time. Most of the pianos I've seen of that age already need extensive work on them to bring them to good condition (as I've just said about my friend's Yamaha). Even Hamburg Steinways and other 'tier one' pianos are usually pretty clapped out at 40 years old.

When someone asks me about a piano for sale, and whether it's a good buy or a bargain, I usually say that there are no bargains when it comes to buying pianos, there's always a reason for the price, and unless it's that someone is moving and needs a quick sale (or divorce, or estate sale, you get the idea), it's usually that the piano is old and worn, in a market that's not particularly interested in old grand pianos.

Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850664 05/21/19 08:04 AM
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+1 thumb to joe80’s advice. I’m not sure how tight your budget really is but a 40 year old Yamaha grand is pretty long in the tooth so to speak. I don’t know about Heintzman. You might try to see if there are some “younger” Yamaha grands available since you like the Yamaha action. You might also find some less aged Kawais to try. Best of Luck in your search.


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Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850667 05/21/19 08:17 AM
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Yes, as I said in my first response - it "might" last 40 years. The budget is the constraint at present - and she's looking for a GRAND piano.

When I said that, I took into account "not played much in the past ten years or so" - which could well give them a chance of making 40 years. And she has had a technician look at them.

BUT - I did suggest that she consider making it a jumping off point to some "dream" piano at a later date when the financial constraints have gone.

My biggest concern was that she felt the action heavy. And, while she's only young now, that's possibly not a "today" problem, though it did seem to concern her - otherwise she wouldn't have mentioned it. And, a piano which she's not going to enjoy because of the heavy action might not get played as much as she really would like. But as joint, muscle etc issues meet us as we get older, a heavy action is something which wouldn't encourage lots of playing, even though time becomes available.

Her technician did look at it - and suggested regulation, but he didn't give her confidence that it would take it from being heavy to OK. In contrast, she's said "Yamaha G2 much more responsive and familiar to me".

The worst thing would be to buy the Heintzman, get it home, spend $1000 (??) getting it moved, regulated, voiced and several tunes - and it still not be the piano she wants. Whereas - in contrast, she sounds like she enjoyed playing the YAMAHA more.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: oivavoi] #2850675 05/21/19 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by oivavoi
I once read on this forum that one should choose an upright based on the action, and a grand based on the tone/sound. I've found that to be good advice. The reason is that uprights typically are at a disadvantage in the action department, while grands - below a certain size - may be at a disadvantage in the sound department
I can't agree with the above and that's certainly not a consensus opinion on Pianoworld.

Both grands and uprights can be good, bad, or somewhere in between in both the touch and tone. Uprights can be at a disadvantage compared to grands in the action since their action is very different but that does not mean one should choose an upright based on its touch. Shorter grands can be tonally deficient compared to larger grands but that does not mean one should choose a grand based on its tone.

Ideally one should try to find a piano whose touch AND tone one likes. Since finding the perfect piano at a reasonable price is not always easy some people make tone the more important consideration whether buying a vertical or grand while others make touch a more important consideration.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/21/19 08:47 AM.
Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: pianoloverus] #2850695 05/21/19 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by oivavoi
I once read on this forum that one should choose an upright based on the action, and a grand based on the tone/sound. I've found that to be good advice. The reason is that uprights typically are at a disadvantage in the action department, while grands - below a certain size - may be at a disadvantage in the sound department
I can't agree with the above and that's certainly not a consensus opinion on Pianoworld.

Both grands and uprights can be good, bad, or somewhere in between in both the touch and tone. Uprights can be at a disadvantage compared to grands in the action since their action is very different but that does not mean one should choose an upright based on its touch. Shorter grands can be tonally deficient compared to larger grands but that does not mean one should choose a grand based on its tone.

Ideally one should try to find a piano whose touch AND tone one likes. Since finding the perfect piano at a reasonable price is not always easy some people make tone the more important consideration whether buying a vertical or grand while others make touch a more important consideration.


Good points. I didn't mean to imply that this was a consensus opinion here. I read it somewhere, took note, and have found it useful myself. YMMV smile Let me rephrase it a bit: I find it rather rare that I come across an upright with an action I really, really like. Because it's so rare for me, it's worth it to look into such an upright a little bit extra, and see whether it can be voiced to my liking. Similarly I find it rather rare to come across a grand which is shorter than 180 cm with a tone and timbre I really really like. If I do, it's worth it to see whether the action can be adjusted and regulated to my taste.

On the other hand, I find quite often that I like the tone and timbre of large uprights (130-132 cm), and I quite often like the action/touch on grands, as long as they're not super small. So when shopping for large uprights vs smallish grands, I find that the main challenge is to find uprights with a good enough action and a smallish grand with a good enough tone.

But of course, both things should be there. I searched for over a year myself before I found an instrument within my budged which ticked all my boxes!

Last edited by oivavoi; 05/21/19 09:36 AM.
Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850731 05/21/19 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by oivavoi
Good points. I didn't mean to imply that this was a consensus opinion here. I read it somewhere, took note, and have found it useful myself. YMMV smile Let me rephrase it a bit: I find it rather rare that I come across an upright with an action I really, really like. Because it's so rare for me, it's worth it to look into such an upright a little bit extra, and see whether it can be voiced to my liking. Similarly I find it rather rare to come across a grand which is shorter than 180 cm with a tone and timbre I really really like. If I do, it's worth it to see whether the action can be adjusted and regulated to my taste.

On the other hand, I find quite often that I like the tone and timbre of large uprights (130-132 cm), and I quite often like the action/touch on grands, as long as they're not super small. So when shopping for large uprights vs smallish grands, I find that the main challenge is to find uprights with a good enough action and a smallish grand with a good enough tone.

But of course, both things should be there. I searched for over a year myself before I found an instrument within my budged which ticked all my boxes!

There is a lot of good piano logic in your post. As far as Piano World consensus is concerned, I suppose there might be a consensus to an extent regarding certain piano related subjects, but the number of members who post advice here in this form most often are relatively few in relation to the number of members registered on PW.

So, any PW consensus would be a very small sampling in terms of adequate statistical analysis.

That said, I have never seen a Heintzman piano in person but have read good things about them. I've seen several older Yamahas in person and I own one, and I'm impressed with the older Yamahas, particularly the one I own from 1978, although it has had some work done to it since I've owned it. I just played it a few minutes ago and left the piano bench with a smile on my face and the impression that maybe I can play a piano after all... smile

This is no consensus, per-se, but in my opinion I agree with backto_study_piano; the OP definitely seems to like the older Yamaha better. Rich Galassini made a good point that the newer Yamahas are better than the older ones, but they also cost a whole lot more than the older ones, by far. I guess if you have the money to buy what you want regardless of price, the field is wide open and there are lots and lots of very nice pianos to choose from. But if your budget is limited (like mine was) and you still want a nice piano, you have hunt diligently and search a lot harder to find something you like at a price you can afford.

Hence, the only consensus that really matters is what you think of the piano you are going to purchase and own for a long time...

Just my non-consensus .02... smile

All the best!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850849 05/21/19 05:13 PM
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The op said she needs a piano to last about another 40 years
as she feels that is how long she has she will live or be functional.
As many here know I bought a new piano recently.
The other day I was talking to my friends saying "when my
piano is really old I will .........? I suddenly stopped realizing
I would not be around or ......? We all burst into laughter !
Considering I am a senior (hate that word) the piano should
outlive me.We are still glad we splashed out and bought the
piano of our dreams!

Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2850888 05/21/19 08:01 PM
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Actually we first bought a used piano but did not have the piano checked.It was obviously damaged ,but we were able to return it.
So whatever you do have the piano checked out properly.
With a $10,000 of course as has been suggested you could get a new good upright, or otherwise take your time till you find the best used grand you can find. You should be able to find something with about that price.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 05/21/19 08:04 PM. Reason: Missing word
Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2851029 05/22/19 07:57 AM
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Since the OP is a pianist, she knows what sound she’s shopping for and the action she needs for the long term. I just think the budget in her market might be a bit too tight for a life long dream piano to play for 40 years. A brand new Yamaha, don’t know about Heintzman, could last 40 years depending on the care, maintenance and usage. Nothing that I’ve read or learned so far tells me that a 40 year piano can last another 40 years without a complete rebuild down the line. The piano tech would know how much quality life is left in either of the two.
I’d also think that the OP can buy the best choice for herself now but will likely want to move up again in a few years with money since saved for the dream piano. Maybe there’s less selection in the OPs area. If not, I would be looking at more pianos myself. Best of Luck Soojin.


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Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2851103 05/22/19 10:49 AM
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I'd avoid the Sklar Pepplar era Heintzman. They had some serious deficiencies because the workers were not trained and the blueprints were not adhered to. Although some came out OK, there are many underlying problems.

There are many vintage Heintzmans, the 180 cm D and my favourite, the 185 cm F.

The D is similar to the Steinway O, but has significant differences. The F is great, but only very old examples are available.

A 1960's era Heintzman D, properly restored is a great piano.

Steve

Re: Heintzman vs Yamaha [Re: Soojin] #2851205 05/22/19 02:42 PM
Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 3,034
L
Lady Bird Online Content
3000 Post Club Member
Online Content
3000 Post Club Member
L
Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 3,034
I agree the Heintzman sounds as though it is not very responsive,
although the tone is beautiful.An heavy uneven action could
be a pain.The Yamaha is a possibility depending on the condition.
As a teenager I received a new Kawai grand from my parents.
I had a pre -war Seiler with beautiful tone but a very light key
resistance(too light)perhaps because it was quite old.
The Kawai grand enhanced my playing,and I later did a B.Mus
at university,a few important performances and later it was the
instrument I often taught on.
50 years later the Kawai was old.It needed to be restrung,
probably new hammers were needed and in the
last few years it lost brilliance in the high treble.
The piano had served me well.I even moved it across from
a different continent.So recently it was sold to a Kawai dealer
where it will be restored.We replaced it with a 130 size upright
piano which is better than many baby grand size pianos.
So the op has choices a tall upright piano,or a used grand
which is not as worn out as my old Kawai.

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