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New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
#2862994 06/26/19 01:37 PM
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PHollis Offline OP
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Hi all-

I apologize for invading the technical forum but I'm in need of pro-level guidance. I know you guys get countless requests of this nature- so I apologize in advance for what must be a tedious ask.

I would love a referral to a piano tech in the NYC / Westchester area who I could hire and work with to help me find a Unicorn: That is, a good, playable Petit / Baby Grand that may not be in the greatest shape, but possessing "good bones" and can be worked on over time if needed.

I have very little money so I am at the mercy of auction houses, Craig's List and Piano Adoption. I’m asking here first before calling the pros listed in my Google search, because I know this is a place filled with people who love pianos and can understand when I state that this is a quest that is dear to my heart. I’m looking for the first instrument I can truly call my own. I play for an hour + at a time whenever possible, which is at least 4 or 5 days a week at the moment, work permitting. I’m a pianist of intermediate / advanced skill level and have been playing all my life (most recently in the practice rooms of my university). I’ve never been able to afford my own piano and haven’t had room until recently. I have a decent working knowledge of piano Anatomy and Physiology (I can tell if brushings and hammer felt need to be replaced etc.) but I appreciate the fact I really know nothing, John Snow. I need a pro to help me hunt.

By way of background- I'd have loved to play professionally but my paralytic case stage fright lead me down a different career path. So...I'm a research scientist >.<


Any advice is greatly appreciated, and I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.

Cheers-

PH

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Re: New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
PHollis #2863376 06/27/19 06:09 PM
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Another option to explore is renting or rent-to-own. I'm guessing that in NYC the cost is going to be higher than around here. But, if the piano turns out to be a dud, you're not married to it.


Joe Gumbosky
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"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -Marcus Aurelius
Re: New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
daniokeeper #2863426 06/27/19 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by daniokeeper
Another option to explore is renting or rent-to-own. I'm guessing that in NYC the cost is going to be higher than around here. But, if the piano turns out to be a dud, you're not married to it.



My teacher has suggested I rent an upright from PianoPiano:

https://pianopiano.com/

and I’m going to try to convince my wife. I don’t know if you’re looking for higher end pianos than they carry.


Yamaha U1 Silent Piano
Re: New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
PHollis #2863451 06/28/19 12:09 AM
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It sounds like the OP is looking to buy an older top tier piano that's maybe not in the best of condition, but is salvageable. The problem is fighting the piano, interruptions in lessons, and nickel and dime repairs.

Another option would be to rent a new or newish off- brand piano that's in good shape and possibly still under warranty.


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -Marcus Aurelius
Re: New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
PHollis #2863548 06/28/19 09:45 AM
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Thank you all SO much for your thoughtful replies. I have looked into rentals at Faust & Harrison and one other of the larger houses here in NY and was heartbroken to find the monthly payment would be higher than my car payment.

@ daniokeeper, you hit the nail on the head.
Since posting, I may have a line on a Bechstein model V that's been donated to an upstate conservatory but is not being used because the action is slow. I'm waiting to hear back from the conservatory technician on the year of the instrument and other details, but I'd desperately hoping this is not too good to be true. I'm extremely hopeful but I won't know until I play it and get more details. Crossing all my fingers and toes!

Re: New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
PHollis #2863553 06/28/19 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by PHollis
Thank you all SO much for your thoughtful replies. I have looked into rentals at Faust & Harrison and one other of the larger houses here in NY and was heartbroken to find the monthly payment would be higher than my car payment.


I thought New Yorkers didn’t own cars. smile That’s why I get to buy fun stuff, the lack of a car.

Could you tell me what models you looked at at Faust & Harrison so I can get an idea of what they have? Are you looking for grands only?


Yamaha U1 Silent Piano
Re: New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
PHollis #2863575 06/28/19 11:00 AM
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@ LarryK So funny you say that- You're 100% correct. Most New Yorkers don't own cars. We just moved to our first house in Westchester so this is my first car in 25 years! It's likewise the reason I finally have the space for a piano but also why money is still tight.

In all honesty - there isn't a single piano at Faust & Harrison that I wouldn't be thrilled to own. They are ALL gorgeous but sadly, all out of reach budget-wise.

I am looking for a Grand or Baby / Petit grand to play and love. I couldn't care less what it looks like, it's the sound and practicality of its condition that matters to me right now. As daniokeeper said- "looking to buy an older top tier piano that's maybe not in the best of condition, but is salvageable."

My current candidates are:

1888 Bechstein model V in fine shape with the exception of it's antique "sticker action" which needs to be fully overhauled or at least re-brushed and lubricated. That will be quite costly.

1926 Steinway L that is in great shape musically and only needs the trapwork on the middle peddle replaced, but is apparently kind of beat up aesthetically.

1962 Mason & Hamlin A that I have not played or had inspected yet- chief concern here is the fact it's an Aeolian era M&H. So I won't know until I play it and have a pro look at it.

Going to inspect and play the Bechstein and Steinway today. Perhaps the M&H tomorrow. We shall see!!!

Last edited by PHollis; 06/28/19 11:02 AM.
Re: New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
PHollis #2863617 06/28/19 12:58 PM
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Bechstein pianos in the UK and probably in the USA are mostly pre World War One. Carl Bechstein was a marketing whizz-kid, and that's when he had his big success. Things were never the same after the First World War.
At 131 years old (a thing Carl probably never envisaged), you are really in full rebuild territory with that piano.

Re: New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
PHollis #2863625 06/28/19 01:18 PM
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The Mason & Hamlin sounds like the best of the three.


Semipro Tech
Re: New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
PHollis #2863676 06/28/19 04:11 PM
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I just did a quick search on "piano rental nyc" and found this: https://pianony.com/piano-rental-nyc/

Grand rentals starting at $89/month. I have no idea as to their reputation or the quality of the pianos. It seems worth a phone call.

The pianos you mention all seem like they might be good choices .

You might also want to look over "The Piano Buyer" website for tips and general info:
https://www.pianobuyer.com/

Good luck smile
Joe


Joe Gumbosky
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www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -Marcus Aurelius
Re: New Yorker seeking assistance for a Unicorn Hunt
PHollis #2864148 06/30/19 07:15 AM
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If you want something that sounds good, stay away from a petite, or even a 5'2". go for 5'8". I am fond of Baldwin Rs, and they can be found pretty reasonable. If you want something affordable, and don't care so much for looks. forget anything in a showroom. I'd suggest you just get out there and talk to the salesmen and tuners and musicians that you can find. There may be something in a backroom that got scraped up during a move. Probably half a piano's worth is in it's looks. My gut feeling is you won't find what you want being advertised.

Best of luck!


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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