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Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
#2919606 12/04/19 07:56 AM
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Just a little background: we are a family of six and our piano is played for 2-3 hrs per day by people with a variety of skill levels. We currently have a 1950s Knabe spinnet. It’s exhausted and we need to replace it. Our youngest is two and it’s possible we’ll upgrade again when we’ve moved out of the little years so the next piano is not necessarily a “forever” piano. We do think however that we can take a big step up from the spinnet.

Now that I’ve set the stage I’ll ask my question. We have been looking at a 1988 Kimball Viennese Classic. My husband went and played it last night and he said it had a gorgeous sound and no obvious issues BUT it’s absolutely filthy and dinged up. It belonged to a church that is closing and it seems like maybe it has been sitting around (literally) gathering dust for quite a while. How concerned should we be about subtle issues he wasn’t able to hear or see last might? If we bought it we would probably have the cabinet cleaned and worked on by a professional and we’ll be talking to the technician who would go over it during that time as well. The piano in its current state (dirty and scratched but with a nice sound) is $500. How risky is this? Keep in mind it’s replacing a 60 year old spinnet that has been played to death.

Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919614 12/04/19 08:43 AM
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The Kimball is 31 years old and at the very least needs to be thoroughly cleaned and examined by a piano technician. I don’t want to sound like Dr. Doom here but the Kimball could need a lot of work to serve a family with a number of different players for any length of time. At least your exhausted spinet still plays and can keep functioning until you find a replacement.

If your piano tech gives the Kimball the OK and you like the sound and action, it could be a wonderful replacement for your spinet. Best Wishes.
You are very fortunate to have a family that loves piano and plays regularly. Congratulations- that is rather rare these days. grin


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: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919617 12/04/19 08:51 AM
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Hi
You really need to have a tech inspection before you buy it not at the same time you are working on the cabinet, as there is a lot that can need repair that you can’t see. Unless the piano has had tech work done, parts are probably worn and need replacing. Being a church piano makes an instrument wear quickly.

Even if the piano needs no work now, it will need work in the next few years. It is unlikely that you would be able to recoup that cost when you upgrade.

I don’t know where you live or what your budget is, but if this were my decision, I would keep looking.


"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
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919624 12/04/19 09:15 AM
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J&J- Why thank you! Music is a central part of family life here though none of us are professionals and likely never will be. We start the kids in lessons very young (4 or 5) and while there are all kinds of things to be said about preschoolers and music lessons I have no regrets. They have never known a time without daily music so we don’t hear the usual whining about practicing or quitting like their friends who have tried three different instruments. We do occasionally think about letting my son quit cello for piano because he spends about three times as long practicing piano (an instrument he doesn’t take lessons in) but so far he hasn’t wanted to and we don’t want to force him. I think it makes a huge difference that my husband plays daily and that the extended family values music.

dogperson- We are in the Pittsburgh area. There’s also an old Knabe grand on Facebook Marketplace but I don’t know. It’s significantly older than the Kimball and older than our current Knabe. We have such a limited budget that it’s hard for me to imagine we’re going to find something better.

And I know we should have our own tech look at it. He’s just kind of unpredictable (alcoholic) and I’m not sure I’d trust his opinion. Needless to say with a new piano will come a new tech but for the moment he’s the guy we have a relationship with. We are going to talk to the tech who has looked it over in the last month as it’s being sold by a dealer.

Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919629 12/04/19 09:28 AM
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You don't need a new piano to get a new tech. Get recommendations from friends or music schools. If you get a RPT that usually means the person will be at a minimum pretty good and the RPT has a code of ethics.

Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919630 12/04/19 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Gabrielsyme
The piano in its current state (dirty and scratched but with a nice sound) is $500. How risky is this?

How much of a risk? It depends on how much it cost you to have it moved and tuned. Let's say $500 for the piano, and $400 to have it moved, and another $150 for tuning. That is $1050. How much would a long weekend vacation cost, staying at a nice Hotel/Motel and eating out for every meal for 3 days? $800? $1000, maybe?

In my opinion, if it is indeed one of the Kimball Viennese Classic model grand pianos, one of which I owned for a while, yes, it would be worth the risk. The one I had also looked a little rough, but cleaned up nicely. The one I had also was purchased from a church. The one I had played well, and sounded good, to me, at least.

Will it be an upgrade from your current Knabe Spinet? Most likely, but I'm just guessing without actually seeing either piano. The Kimball Viennese models were well built, had a laminated soundboard, a Schwander action, and held a tuning like a rock. And, $500 is almost a giveaway price for a decent, serviceable baby grand piano of any make, in my opinion.

I've had a few "diamonds in the rough" and they cleaned up well and tuned up well, and played and sounded good to me. But that is my own personal experience. The only advice I can give you, having not seen or played the piano in person, is that, yes, it is a gamble of sorts. But I don't think you would be risking a lot of money if you bought the Kimball and it didn't turn out to be what you had hoped. It would be like risking what it might cost you for a long weekend vacation.

If you want a little "insurance" to minimize your risks, you can hire a qualified piano tech to inspect the piano before you buy it. That will cost you another $100 or so.

Just my .02, from a non-expert, which costs you nothing, and worth about what it cost. smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919639 12/04/19 09:48 AM
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I would you not just talk to a tech but that you hire your own tech to evaluate but then I am more cautious than Rick. I have bought three pre-owned pianos, two of which were under $500, but I had them inspected so I knew exactly what I was buying and what work they would need in the future.

You can search for a registered tech by zip code here
https://www.ptg.org/home


"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
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919663 12/04/19 11:59 AM
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If you want your current tech’s opinion, perhaps schedule it for very early in the morning, when he is most likely to be sober. Then find a reliable tech for the long run.


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: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919689 12/04/19 12:35 PM
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J- Ha! Not a bad idea.

I’m dancing around this tech thing a little bit and I’ll try to explain why. It’s such an inexpensive piano. We’ll probably pay another $1,000 to have it regulated and the finish touched up. Even with that investment it’s still, as Rickster said, about the cost of a weekend trip to Bar Harbor. Given the low level of investment the extra $100 to have another tech look at it seems like a lot to my husband. Perhaps some of you have a partner who is less interested in spending money on pianos than you are. Sometimes it’s wise to compromise. With that said, once the piano is in the door, it’s part of the family and will be well cared for and maintained.

Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919703 12/04/19 12:48 PM
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J- Ha! Not a bad idea.

As it turns out we’ve found an technician to look at it tonight. Sounds like he’s already jockeying to do the clean-up work. I haven’t talked to him myself but I wonder how we’ll decide whether it would be better to let him do it or use the person the dealer has a relationship with.

Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919706 12/04/19 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Gabrielsyme
I’m dancing around this tech thing a little bit and I’ll try to explain why. It’s such an inexpensive piano. We’ll probably pay another $1,000 to have it regulated and the finish touched up.
Without an inspection the $1000 figure is very speculative. It could be much more or the piano could even be untunable in its present condition. If the piano is a disaster you have the problem of trying to sell it to an unsuspecting person or the cost of having it taken to the dump.

Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919722 12/04/19 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Gabrielsyme
J- Ha! Not a bad idea.

As it turns out we’ve found an technician to look at it tonight. Sounds like he’s already jockeying to do the clean-up work. I haven’t talked to him myself but I wonder how we’ll decide whether it would be better to let him do it or use the person the dealer has a relationship with.


The conventional wisdom is to hire a technician who is independent of the dealership.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
BruceD #2919734 12/04/19 01:43 PM
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Thanks, this makes sense.

Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919743 12/04/19 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Gabrielsyme
J- Ha! Not a bad idea.

As it turns out we’ve found an technician to look at it tonight. Sounds like he’s already jockeying to do the clean-up work. I haven’t talked to him myself but I wonder how we’ll decide whether it would be better to let him do it or use the person the dealer has a relationship with.

Sorry, I'm a little confused here... I thought you said the piano belonged to a Church? Are you all buying it from a dealer or the Church?

As far as the alcoholic tuner, I feel sorry for him/her and they need help, because that is a powerful and debilitating addiction; however, hiring them for any reason, piano related or not, is a heck of lot more of a risk than buying that Kimball Viennese Classic for $500 without a tech inspection, in my view.

Good luck, and Happy Holidays! smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919747 12/04/19 02:14 PM
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These were not great pianos to begin with. It will likely need more work than you have estimated. There is not much room for improvement on one of these. The actions were very poorly made.

Although your impression that it sounds lovely seems promising you are comparing it to a spinet of low quality. It would help if you go to a lot of dealers and play some really nice newer pianos so that you can establish a baseline of what a really good piano sounds like. You will find that your ears get more sharp on the critical elements of tone. This is necessary for you to have some basis for judgement. I realize that price is a compelling part of your decision but you don't want to waste money on a piano with little potential.


Sally Phillips
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Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919750 12/04/19 02:21 PM
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I find it puzzling it is bring sold by a dealer but the dealer did not clean the piano and tune it prior to making it available for sale. You would think they would try to make it presentable.


"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
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919763 12/04/19 02:44 PM
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Rick-Yes, the tuner is a nice guy who used to tune the local college’s pianos which is how we found him. I think that relationship has since soured though. There was quite a bit of alcoholism in my grandparents generation and it is heartbreaking but a reason to be wary. The piano was bought from the church by a dealer who is now selling it.

S.Phillips- I’m not a connoisseur by any means but I have played a Bosendorfer, a couple of Steinways and most of the other better brands. I normally wouldn’t have picked up the phone for a Kimball even in my limited price range but it was my understanding that the Viennese Classic was a bit of a step out of kind for Kimball. It’s true that I wasn’t the one who actually went to the store and played it and my husband is far less picky about tone. In the other hand, it wouldn’t be hard to top our old Knabe which, though it has a solid pin block and stays in tune well, has a hard, bright sound that lacks depth and character.

Dogperson-YES. I find it extremely odd. He claims that he’s going out of business but even if that’s the case he must have had a plan when he acquired the piano. Why wasn’t it cleaned before it was put out on the floor. Which, unbelievably, is where it is. We live in a rural former industrial area where poorly run businesses often limp along for ages because rent is low and the low cost of living means you can get by. Still.

In any event. We’ll see what the tech says.

Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
Gabrielsyme #2919789 12/04/19 03:50 PM
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Yes, they were better than the regular Kimball line but the Kimball line was a very low end instrument. It is certainly not worth putting any money into as opposed to trying to find a better quality piano that could be improved incrementally over several years. Lots of better instruments sell for less than market because of case or action wear. In addition the technician will probably give a condition report and may not weigh in on the basic quality. I see in your profile that you also play stringed instruments. I would pass on this even if in good shape for the simple reason that it won't be great no matter what you do. If you can get a better instrument, it will pay to wait in the long run.


Sally Phillips
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Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
S. Phillips #2919807 12/04/19 05:00 PM
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I’m going to push back a little bit here. Not because I’m contrary, though I am sometimes, but because I’m not sure I agree. When we bought our house, a six bedroom, center hall colonial, we got it for under market value because it had a terrible 50s kitchen. The rest of the house had been well maintained but generations of owners had passed over the kitchen. We were thrilled because we knew it was a deal. We saved for a couple of years and then gutted the kitchen. In the end the kitchen didn’t cost nearly what it added in equity and it paid to take the risk.

But here’s where it relates to pianos. The house was less expensive with a rotten kitchen but not exponentially less expensive. I have been looking at pianos for years off and on and seriously for about a month. If I had five or even two thousand dollars to spend I think it would be a lot more likely I could find a below market piano that needed relatively minor work and be happy. At the $500-$1000 mark however I’m looking at 70-100 year old pianos with all original parts that probably need to be completely rebuilt, or at least would after a year or two of the kind of wear and tear that happens in this house. This piano is absolutely the newest grand I have seen that I can afford and the model happens to have a cult following. Is it ever going to be as good as something of truly high quality? Perhaps not. But I’m just not in a stage of life where I’m ready to invest in a piano of that caliber.

Re: Should we buy it? ‘88 Viennese Classic
S. Phillips #2919821 12/04/19 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by S. Phillips
Yes, they were better than the regular Kimball line but the Kimball line was a very low end instrument. It is certainly not worth putting any money into as opposed to trying to find a better quality piano that could be improved incrementally over several years. Lots of better instruments sell for less than market because of case or action wear. In addition the technician will probably give a condition report and may not weigh in on the basic quality. I see in your profile that you also play stringed instruments. I would pass on this even if in good shape for the simple reason that it won't be great no matter what you do. If you can get a better instrument, it will pay to wait in the long run.


Respectfully, I have to disagree with Sally on this one. A have a few of the Kimball Viennese grands that I service regularly. In my opinion, they are quite nice instruments, even if they do have the Kimball name on them. Of course, having only a few to work on isn't a real sample of what's out there, so take that into consideration, too.


Eric Gloo
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Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York
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