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Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright #2946022 02/12/20 01:50 PM
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Amy Lam Offline OP
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Hi, we are looking to buy either one of these pianos for my 4.5yr old son, who just started his lesson this year, and the teacher asked us to switch from digital piano to real one.

Based on our research, people always recommend Grand/Baby Grand over Upright, but I saw a lot of bad review about the Kimball LaPetite Baby Grand in this forum, so is it still better than a Hamilton Upright?

The seller do not have much information, basically Hamilton upright is $1000, and Kimball baby grand is $600. Both have not been played much in the last 15-20yrs. These are the picture from the listings.

Could you please let me know which one is a better buy or fit for our kid? We have space for the baby grand, and $1k is reasonable for us. We really do appreciate your expert advice!



Baldwin Hamilton Upright $1000 -> [img]http://ibb.co/jwC3f8K[/img]

Kimball LaPetite Baby Grand $600 -> [img]http://ibb.co/RQCD5dX[/img]

Last edited by Amy Lam; 02/12/20 01:54 PM.
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Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946033 02/12/20 02:26 PM
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Amy Lam Offline OP
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Kimball LaPetite Baby Grand model 4520 from 1974

Baldwin is unknown model or year


Originally Posted by Amy Lam
Hi, we are looking to buy either one of these pianos for my 4.5yr old son, who just started his lesson this year, and the teacher asked us to switch from digital piano to real one.

Based on our research, people always recommend Grand/Baby Grand over Upright, but I saw a lot of bad review about the Kimball LaPetite Baby Grand in this forum, so is it still better than a Hamilton Upright?

The seller do not have much information, basically Hamilton upright is $1000, and Kimball baby grand is $600. Both have not been played much in the last 15-20yrs. These are the picture from the listings.

Could you please let me know which one is a better buy or fit for our kid? We have space for the baby grand, and $1k is reasonable for us. We really do appreciate your expert advice!



Baldwin Hamilton Upright $1000 -> [img]http://ibb.co/jwC3f8K[/img]

Kimball LaPetite Baby Grand $600 -> [img]http://ibb.co/RQCD5dX[/img]

Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946051 02/12/20 02:57 PM
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I would recommend the Baldwin.


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Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946054 02/12/20 03:09 PM
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Ditto BDB

The Baldwin is a standard workhorse piano whereas the LaPetite uses non-standard compressed components to achieve a "look" for people who wanted to acquire the minimum possible piano that they could still call a grand. The tone is horrible even if it's put in tune and the action response is not very good, either.



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Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: BDB] #2946056 02/12/20 03:10 PM
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Thank you, BDB!

Is this because LaPetite a bad piano, or Baldwin Hamilton a better piano for new student? Just trying to learn what make one better choice than the other. Appreciate your advise!


Originally Posted by BDB
I would recommend the Baldwin.

Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946057 02/12/20 03:18 PM
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The Kimballs were just poorly designed and poorly made pianos. Their actions may not work right no matter how much work is done on them. The Baldwins were made to stand up to use in the classroom, and because of the relative advantage of uprights over small grands, they sound better.


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Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: kpembrook] #2946068 02/12/20 04:06 PM
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Thank you both! I saw this video -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfS...nvsMEj7fWgZIrpiCAByEzzudwg6KuMM3qYrw0TVA

It looks very similar to that unit. How do I tell if that's the same kind of unit with the front access like such?

Originally Posted by BDB
The Kimballs were just poorly designed and poorly made pianos. Their actions may not work right no matter how much work is done on them. The Baldwins were made to stand up to use in the classroom, and because of the relative advantage of uprights over small grands, they sound better.


Originally Posted by kpembrook
Ditto BDB

The Baldwin is a standard workhorse piano whereas the LaPetite uses non-standard compressed components to achieve a "look" for people who wanted to acquire the minimum possible piano that they could still call a grand. The tone is horrible even if it's put in tune and the action response is not very good, either.


Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946074 02/12/20 04:30 PM
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It is the same. Older ones would just lift the top without the front, and the later ones have the one-piece front and top with the brace, which I have seen in a very old one marked Acrosonic with a fancy case from about 1950, except that the front and top assembly was much lighter and just held up with little brass piece that rotated out. The top locks in place if the key cover is closed, so it locks with one key. This is good if you want control over who uses the piano. I have run across one or two where a tuner who did not know how these work unscrewed the top from the piano, but replacing it afterwards is very difficult, so I had to do it. GRR!


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Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946096 02/12/20 05:16 PM
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Thank you so much for your expert advise!! Would you say $1k a reasonable price for the Baldwin unit, sight unseen and untested?


Originally Posted by BDB
It is the same. Older ones would just lift the top without the front, and the later ones have the one-piece front and top with the brace, which I have seen in a very old one marked Acrosonic with a fancy case from about 1950, except that the front and top assembly was much lighter and just held up with little brass piece that rotated out. The top locks in place if the key cover is closed, so it locks with one key. This is good if you want control over who uses the piano. I have run across one or two where a tuner who did not know how these work unscrewed the top from the piano, but replacing it afterwards is very difficult, so I had to do it. GRR!

Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946105 02/12/20 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Amy Lam
Thank you so much for your expert advise!! Would you say $1k a reasonable price for the Baldwin unit, sight unseen and untested?


Maybe not. That's an older piano, sight unseen and untested is a really bad approach, in my opinion. It could be perfectly serviceable, or be totally worn out (those pianos were often saw institutional use for decades). This is the sort of piano whose price range could vary between "free to good home" to $1,500 from a dealer with a short warranty attached. Knowing the current condition is key, and we often advise having an independent technician inspect the piano, prior to sale... just as one might if buying a used car (and didn't know a lot about cars).


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Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946120 02/12/20 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Amy Lam
Thank you so much for your expert advise!! Would you say $1k a reasonable price for the Baldwin unit, sight unseen and untested?



I don't recommend anyone get a piano sight unseen and untested.
At this point, Amy, you have the maximum amount of information you can get from the internet. Your next step is to either A) go ahead and buy the piano -- the price really isn't bad. OR B) Have a professional piano technician look at the piano and give you an evaluation for that particular instrument.
(You will need to give the piano proper care after you own it, so it can be helpful to establish a relationship with a competent practitioner beforehand, anyway.)

One source for a reliable technician is the Piano Technicians Guild website www.ptg.org . In the upper right corner is a "Find a Registered Technician" banner. You can click on it and it will take you to a page where you can enter your zip code and get RPT technicians listed for your area.

Good luck! Your music teacher is correct. Your daughter really should have a functioning real piano.




Keith Akins, RPT
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USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946121 02/12/20 06:55 PM
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If the Baldwin doesn't pass the test, I'd keep looking. Kimball's were never the greatest pianos, but I'd say the Le Petite was definitely the poorest piano they every built. I'd pass and keep looking!

Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946165 02/12/20 10:35 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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I have a couple of serious Pianists who have La Petite Kimball grands. I have serviced them for over thirty years and they are still working well. The tone is not that great but no 5' grand sounds very good.

I have corrected some issues with striking point, key bushings and regulation and that made them play quite well and sound much better. They stay in tune very well.

I have kept the clients partly in the hope they would upgrade to one of my rebuilt fine grands. The pianists like the Kimball's so well now that they won't come into my shop. I can't really win like I would want to here but, that's life!


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Re: Kimball lapetite baby grand vs. Baldwin Hamilton Upright [Re: Amy Lam] #2946280 02/13/20 08:11 AM
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The used car analogy is a very good one, I always think. You wouldn't buy a Ford untried just because Ford is a "good make". You would have to know age, mileage and service history for the particular vehicle you're interested in. And sit in it and see how it feels.


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