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advice regarding bench choice
#2889877 09/13/19 09:48 AM
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Hi all, first time poster here, so please let me know if I'm breaking any rules or guidelines.

I have taken up piano a couple of years ago, I'm by no means a good player but I am committed to an average hour of daily study (sometimes more like 20 minutes, sometimes more like 4 hours...). I practice with a digital piano laid on a Stagg MXS-A1 stand, adjustable in discreet increments, which has room for my legs under the keyboard like an acoustic.

Until now, I've tried sitting on a number of chairs, stools, coffee tables etc. -- whatever may have been lying about near my piano at any given point. I have not found a combination of seat & stand height where I'm entirely comfortable to play: I always feel like I seat a little too high or too low. Depending on which, I develop pain in my forearm, wrists or hands as I practice so I want to get an adjustable bench.

Another issue I have is that I tend to work on two or three pieces simultaneously at all times, often from different books. Plus finger drill books and ad-hoc printed sheet, my practice space is getting unacceptably messy. I don't want to put sheets that I'm actively practicing away in a drawer because I have learned that when I do, I generally forget about them and stop practicing them. So I also want a bench with a music storage compartment.

Given the amount of enjoyment I have been getting from playing, I expect to keep it up for the rest of my life and a Jansen bench does not feel completely indulgent given their proven durability. (I am particularly attracted to the "petite" range, which has best dimensions for my practice room and (to my mind) looks the best.)

Now, questions:
  • Unfortunately Jansen don't seem to make benches with music storage, I guess it's not really their market. But they offer the "imported" J850 which comes only in black and, sadly, I find a bit ugly personally. Could anyone clarify what "imported" entails? (Same wood as their own make? Same height adjustment mechanism? made where, how? etc.)
  • I would appreciate informed advice possible alternatives to a Jansen that matches with my situation and requirements. What would you suggest?

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Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2889887 09/13/19 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by 5150917069
Another issue I have is that I tend to work on two or three pieces simultaneously at all times, often from different books. Plus finger drill books and ad-hoc printed sheet, my practice space is getting unacceptably messy. I don't want to put sheets that I'm actively practicing away in a drawer because I have learned that when I do, I generally forget about them and stop practicing them. So I also want a bench with a music storage compartment.

Given the amount of enjoyment I have been getting from playing, I expect to keep it up for the rest of my life and a Jansen bench does not feel completely indulgent given their proven durability. (I am particularly attracted to the "petite" range, which has best dimensions for my practice room and (to my mind) looks the best.)

Now, questions:
  • Unfortunately Jansen don't seem to make benches with music storage, I guess it's not really their market. But they offer the "imported" J850 which comes only in black and, sadly, I find a bit ugly personally. Could anyone clarify what "imported" entails? (Same wood as their own make? Same height adjustment mechanism? made where, how? etc.)
  • I would appreciate informed advice possible alternatives to a Jansen that matches with my situation and requirements. What would you suggest?

Welcome to PW, 5150917069. A tangential thoughts - have you considered getting rid of the loose sheets and either going to a tablet system (such as with forScore, for example) or a system where all loose sheets live in a binder? A single binder could nicely go on a shelf or be placed somewhere without it looking messy.


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Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2889896 09/13/19 10:19 AM
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Hi 5150917069 and welcome to Piano World!

I don’t have a direct answer to your question, unfortunately. I started playing about 6 months ago and similar to you I found out quickly that I needed a better bench if I was going to practice two or more hours every day. It needed to be comfortable and adjustable. The Jansen Artist Bench received rave reviews so I bought one. All I can say is that the reviews are spot on; it’s amazingly comfortable and well-built. It’s a lifelong tool for sure, and I don’t think you can do better than to purchase one. Unfortunately the disadvantages are that it is expensive and doesn’t have a space for sheet music.

I started out buying sheet music and books but quickly learned that a 12.9 inch iPad Pro works much better for me. I download classical music scores from https://imslp.org/ for free since the copyright has long since expired on most of these works. I load them into the forScore app and use the crop function in that app the get rid of any unnecessary margins so the music is easy to read. I actually find it much easier to read on my large iPad than the original sheet music, with the added benefit of being able to play in a dimly lit room and the convenience of storing tons of music without taking up space. That was the best solution for me so I thought I would at least tell you about it in case you haven’t considered that option yet.

Best of luck!


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Re: advice regarding bench choice
JJHLH #2889917 09/13/19 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
A tangential thoughts - have you considered getting rid of the loose sheets and either going to a tablet system (such as with forScore, for example) or a system where all loose sheets live in a binder?

Originally Posted by JJHLH
I started out buying sheet music and books but quickly learned that a 12.9 inch iPad Pro works much better for me. I download classical music scores from https://imslp.org/ for free since the copyright has long since expired on most of these works.


First of all, thanks for you answers!

Maybe I should also mention that I am a Software Engineer by trade, and spend upwards from 8 hours a day looking at a screen. One of my reasons for taking up piano is to spend some sort of detox time away from the screen, so I ruled out any screen-based music sheets despite all the benefits they present and which you both mention.

I mostly work off a number of books (Mikrokosmos, Notbuchlein fur Anna Magdalena, Hannon, etc.) that take up space but wont fit in a binder. Having said that, I do download the odd sheet from IMSLP (what a fantastic resource!) and -- quite right -- I will take your advice and gather them in a binder, that'll be neater!

Last edited by 5150917069; 09/13/19 10:59 AM.
Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2889918 09/13/19 11:05 AM
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Not clear from your post, but make sure the height of your digital matches that of a traditional acoustic. If you eventually get an acoustic, take lessons, or have a chance to play on other pianos, you will be working from a standardized height. Any adjustable bench you purchase will be sized to be adjustable within that height as well. There are a number of threads that have addressed how high one should sit and the angle (or lack thereof) of one's forearm with the floor. A padded, adjustable bench is a purchase you will not regret.

My solution for dealing with numerous books and sheets is to have a stack of stacking trays against the wall next to where the piano sits. I can reach the stack from the bench. One style of stacking tray. Stuff not in active use goes in a bookcase elsewhere in the room. My bench has storage in the seat, but I don't use that space--like you said, out of sight, out of mind.


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Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2889922 09/13/19 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by 5150917069
I mostly work off a number of books (Mikrokosmos, Notbuchlein fur Anna Magdalena, Hannon, etc.) that take up space but wont fit in a binder.


They will if you make copies (copy option on printer ?) of the page(s) you are presently working with.

They other advantage of "copies" is that you can write notes on them.


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Focal Professional CMS 40 near-field monitors, Yamaha HS8S Powered Subwoofer, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs (Seldom Used), Focus Rite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface, Mackie MIX 5 Compact Mixer.
Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2889946 09/13/19 12:05 PM
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To the OP (5150917069, that's hard to remember!)

I just -- literally, about 3 weeks ago -- bought this bench from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072WMPXMM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 (click on most recent reviews to read mine, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars because the vinyl looks obviously cheap)

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Anyway, I bought this because I can't afford a real Jansen bench yet (I just spent all my money on my new-to-me grand piano!). This one was about $80. If you need an adjustable bench, this is definitely a reasonable option. I don't remember how deep the storage space under the seat is, because I have a shelf by my piano for music stuff, and two other shelves in the house for overflow music books. If you like, I can measure it when I go home, but if memory serves, it's not deep enough to store very much.

In any case, I recommend you figure out a way to have your music on a shelf rather than rely on bench-storage, because even a deeper storage space will be more limited than a shelf, and having your music on a shelf will make it easier to see what you have, what's where etc.

Good luck and let us know what you end up purchasing.


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Re: advice regarding bench choice
ShiroKuro #2889949 09/13/19 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
In any case, I recommend you figure out a way to have your music on a shelf rather than rely on bench-storage, because even a deeper storage space will be more limited than a shelf, and having your music on a shelf will make it easier to see what you have, what's where etc.

+1


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: advice regarding bench choice
Tyrone Slothrop #2890029 09/13/19 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
In any case, I recommend you figure out a way to have your music on a shelf rather than rely on bench-storage, because even a deeper storage space will be more limited than a shelf, and having your music on a shelf will make it easier to see what you have, what's where etc.

+1


+2 Have to agree with this advice.



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Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2890840 09/16/19 04:54 AM
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+3 - bench storage will always be v limited and in my opinion it will suffer from the same "out of sight" problem as a shelf anyway

I have a magazine folder (something like THIS) right beside my piano for music I want tidy but not "put away" and a shelf or so on a bookcase in the room for the music that is put away for now.
Even so, I find that the 3 or 4 pieces I am really actively working on generally stay out on the stand or on the piano.


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Re: advice regarding bench choice
barbaram #2890878 09/16/19 07:39 AM
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Thanks for the new answers over the weekend.

Originally Posted by barbaram
Even so, I find that the 3 or 4 pieces I am really actively working on generally stay out on the stand or on the piano.

So do I! This is precisely why I want in-bench music storage. But the consensus so far seems to be that it's a fad and won't actually solve my problem. Out of curiosity, are there people here that use in-bench storage and wouldn't do without it? If yes, why?

Secondly, I had my eyes on a discounted Jansen that was priced very reasonably, but I've realised the shop was based in the U.S and shipping + import duty would be excessive. Is there a retailer for Jansen in Europe, preferably in the U.K ? If not, which brands are available in Europe and equally trust-worthy?

Last edited by 5150917069; 09/16/19 07:40 AM.
Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2890882 09/16/19 07:52 AM
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There doesn't seem to be a piano bench that is deep enough to hold all of my music. I do like to have a little storage in the bench, but it's entirely unnecessary because no matter what, I've got music spilling out all over and everywhere! I purchased an adjustable bench for my digital piano (and right now I'm "stuck" with a traditional hard wood bench for my acoustic piano). My adjustable padded bench is similar to the inexpensive one posted above, from amazon. It has been fantastic, and even though it's not a high end one, it feels great and does a perfect job. I'd jump at the lower cost bench, and if you eventually want the expensive one, after yet another year or two, I'd consider it. (Just my two cents).


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Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2890974 09/16/19 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 5150917069
Is there a retailer for Jansen in Europe, preferably in the U.K ? If not, which brands are available in Europe and equally trust-worthy?


Hidrau benches are popular in Europe. They have a reputation for excellent quality, and are priced accordingly.

Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2891006 09/16/19 03:05 PM
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5150917069, sorry I didn't realize you were in the UK. I can't help with that, but good luck in any case!!


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Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2891034 09/16/19 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by 5150917069
[...]So do I! This is precisely why I want in-bench music storage. But the consensus so far seems to be that it's a fad and won't actually solve my problem. Out of curiosity, are there people here that use in-bench storage and wouldn't do without it? If yes, why?
[...]


Make sure that you test the quality of the under-the-seat storage. In some cases these benches have storage bottoms that are made either of heavy cardboard or light plywood. With a few hefty volumes stored in them, those bottoms begin to sag. If they are attached only with staples ... well, you can guess the outcome.

Remember, too, that storage space is minimal in many of these benches.

Regards,


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Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2891050 09/16/19 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by 5150917069
Thanks for the new answers over the weekend.

Originally Posted by barbaram
Even so, I find that the 3 or 4 pieces I am really actively working on generally stay out on the stand or on the piano.

So do I! This is precisely why I want in-bench music storage. But the consensus so far seems to be that it's a fad and won't actually solve my problem. Out of curiosity, are there people here that use in-bench storage and wouldn't do without it? If yes, why?
?

In my previous lifetime. I had a bench with storage but switched to an adjustable height bench, which is more useful. I fo have cabinets for scores but keep ‘music in progress’ in a large decorative metal tub next to the piano. It has worked better than bench storage for me as I do not need to get up to switch music and the storage capability is higher. I think the bucket was made for a fireplace


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Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2891083 09/16/19 05:45 PM
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wooden wine boxes, which have the same interior width as scores, are ideal for me. the scores are upright and thumbing through them is quick and simple, like going through the bins of record shops in the bygone days of vinyl lp's.

Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2891092 09/16/19 05:56 PM
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I found 6 very reasonably priced benches with music storage at Thomann in Germany. Here's a link:

Thomann Piano Benches with Storage

Take a look at all their benches while you're at their website. Of course prices and availability may change a bit should Brexit finally become a reality.


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Re: advice regarding bench choice
AaronSF #2891652 09/18/19 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by huaidongxi
like going through the bins of record shops in the bygone days of vinyl lp's.

I like the wine box idea! (FWIW, I love record shopping and still do a fair bit of it.)

Originally Posted by AaronSF
Of course prices and availability may change a bit should Brexit finally become a reality.

Hence why I'm trying to get this sorted ASAP...

Originally Posted by johnstaf
Hidrau benches are popular in Europe. They have a reputation for excellent quality, and are priced accordingly.

Originally Posted by AaronSF
I found 6 very reasonably priced benches with music storage at Thomann in Germany.

I had a quick look at the Hidrau and they do seem like a good alternative to Jansen products -- thanks for that. It looks like for most people have found that other music storage system more functional than in-bench. With that kind of feedback, I'm now thinking of getting just a cheap bench from Thomann, using a tray or something to keep my sheets, and see how I get along for couple of years. If I'm satisfied, I can upgrade the bench then. At least I won't be hurting myself anymore, which is my main concern.

Re: advice regarding bench choice
5150917069 #2891779 09/18/19 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by 5150917069
Originally Posted by huaidongxi
like going through the bins of record shops in the bygone days of vinyl lp's.

I like the wine box idea! (FWIW, I love record shopping and still do a fair bit of it.)

Originally Posted by AaronSF
Of course prices and availability may change a bit should Brexit finally become a reality.

Hence why I'm trying to get this sorted ASAP...

Originally Posted by johnstaf
Hidrau benches are popular in Europe. They have a reputation for excellent quality, and are priced accordingly.

Originally Posted by AaronSF
I found 6 very reasonably priced benches with music storage at Thomann in Germany.

I had a quick look at the Hidrau and they do seem like a good alternative to Jansen products -- thanks for that. It looks like for most people have found that other music storage system more functional than in-bench. With that kind of feedback, I'm now thinking of getting just a cheap bench from Thomann, using a tray or something to keep my sheets, and see how I get along for couple of years. If I'm satisfied, I can upgrade the bench then. At least I won't be hurting myself anymore, which is my main concern.


Sounds like a plan!


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