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Searching for a nice grand
#2962011 03/30/20 06:03 PM
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Good afternoon,

I am looking to purchase a grand piano - again. I used to own a Mason & Hamlin BB7 a few years back, but I needed to sell because we were moving across the country (from Atlanta to Seattle). There was too much uncertainty regarding where we'd end up, including whether our new house could fit a 7' piano (pricier out here in Seattle = smaller house) In retrospect, storing it might have been a good move, but what can you do. Choice made sense at the time. Recently, I've been practicing on a Kawai MP11se. Decent enough for now.

Anyway, I've started looking again and am trying to find a great, new piano - something in the 6-7' range. I play jazz, not really a classical player.

I've tried several Estonias in that size range and found them beautiful, crystalline, clear, articulate, lovely but felt like I was missing the sumptuous tone that I could get from my Mason & Hamlin & didn't feel like I could get the bass to growl/punch, not as prominent as I might like. Part of me feels like maybe I'm just missing the point with them. It sure sounds beautiful for some things.......just stunning in some ways. I found myself spontaneously starting to play this version on it, which I forgot I figured out a long time ago: I Remember You - Marcus Roberts

I've also tried the Yamaha CX series (6 an 7 ft). They certainly sound warmer than I remember of Yamaha's. It's hard to describe, it almost had a 'bright/warm' sound, like the tone had two layers within. The piano felt and played big (could play it in a big, orchestral Erroll Garner type manner and it held up well). That said, one thing I was struggling with is this sense that the piano had a lot of reverb from within the cabinet. It was almost like the piano was in a hall, and it was that sound exiting the piano. That's an exaggeration of course, but I'm not sure of a better way to describe it than that - inherently highly reverberant. So it felt warm, clear, but somehow distant. Does that make any sense to those who have played them? I felt like I would want to have available a more intimate, present, 'felt-y' tone. For how I play, I preferred it over the Estonia (e.g., channeling Erroll Garner on the Estonia felt odd), although I think the Estonia did what it does best to a higher level than the Yamaha and can understand the appeal.

I've also tried a Bosendorfer 185VC. That was a big (pricey) problem. Warm, round, clear, felt-like tone that could blend, or not - just wonderful. Very expensive. Coronatimes might help but still very, very expensive.

I thought to go back to Mason & Hamlin, but it seems like Mason and Hamlin isn't being sold anymore in my area, prior dealers no longer carrying them? I thought maybe try out an AA or BB again, but nothing appears to be available anywhere (hence looking back and thinking that storage might have been an option). I did enjoy playing it (recording before the sale - Sample).

Any suggestions or other brands to try? Trying to find that sweetspot but it's almost like there's a hole in the market without Mason & Hamlin there. When I was first shopping, mid 2000s, there was a lot of activity around MH as the more-affordable-yet-blindfold-test-passing-no-brainer alternative to a Steinway.

I appreciate any thoughts or suggestions.

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Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962036 03/30/20 08:09 PM
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Hmm... I've not been in the market for a grand. Also, I don't know what the recent vintage of M&H were like, I won't have a lot of direct advice on capturing that appeal. I have, however, been checking recordings and following conversations here.

Steinway is a useful fulcrum for pricing-- many premium European makes do list for much more, and there is a growing herd that costs less while being pretty good. Not sure how that plays out at the salesman's desk. A lot of wiggling and slithering room there between list and actual price paid.

There are some other Yamahas that are remarkably lush, if videos and testimony are to be believed. The S_X line, which is not as expensive as their top line but seems to offer a lot of charm to go with the reliability. 3, 5, and 7.

Then there is the parade of Germans. Grotrian, Steingraeber, Bechstein, Sauter seem to head the queue around here. In many cases, those are expensive, although Bechstein's "Academy" series is a lot cheaper and doesn't always suck, by a long shot. If the economy takes a real swan dive, they might have a lot less pricing power in the barely-used market.

If you haven't read it, pianobuyer.com has a list of profiles and prices (https://www.pianobuyer.com/brand-profiles/) and some brief essays by technicians and tuners with their impressions (https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/...h-end-pianos-they-service-parts-1-and-2/).

Sounds like a nice project. Have fun!

Last edited by Maestro Lennie; 03/30/20 08:13 PM.
Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962052 03/30/20 09:42 PM
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at my last visit to a showroom to look at used pianos, one that stood out < $50k. was a boesendorfer 200. my initial suggestion would be to stay patient and wait for a boesendorfer you enjoy appears in your budget.

some jazz players in the past century liked Baldwin grands. if that included you, and you're not biased against trying something made in the people's republik, Parsons now builds Baldwins.

Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962066 03/30/20 10:45 PM
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Re: Searching for a nice grand
huaidongxi #2962067 03/30/20 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by huaidongxi

some jazz players in the past century liked Baldwin grands. if that included you, and you're not biased against trying something made in the people's republik, Parsons now builds Baldwins.


The new Baldwin grands don't sound like the old ones. I do like a well-prepped 190 model, though.


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Re: Searching for a nice grand
terminaldegree #2962068 03/30/20 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree


I’ve been to Classic Pianos in both Seattle and Portland at various points over the last few years and have never seen then on the floor. I’m not sure why, but nothing to try regardless.

Last edited by mrhudson; 03/30/20 10:54 PM.
Re: Searching for a nice grand
terminaldegree #2962070 03/30/20 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by huaidongxi

some jazz players in the past century liked Baldwin grands. if that included you, and you're not biased against trying something made in the people's republik, Parsons now builds Baldwins.


The new Baldwin grands don't sound like the old ones. I do like a well-prepped 190 model, though.


I have a Baldwin BP190. TerminalDegree,what prepping do you suggest? Voicing? It is an expressive, resonant instrument though some notes sound brighter or mellower than others. Perhaps it is the location in the room - I have it against a wall which is not idea due to standing waves and partials that may degrade the sound.

Your thoughts? Sorry for derailing the thread.

Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962089 03/31/20 01:05 AM
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To perform at their best, all pianos require some prep work prior to sale. How much of that happens at the factory, the dealer, or in your home varies by brand, model range, and typically is commensurate with the price paid (and, for that matter, how much the dealer is discounting from SMP pricing). Those dealers who are marking down 40% from SMP are most likely doing as little prep as possible to make money on a piano sale, or are typically least willing to do much in terms of after-sale service. Of course, I'm painting with a broad brush...


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Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962264 03/31/20 03:02 PM
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Have you tried Schimmel Konzert? I thought the ones I tried had such beautiful clarity. If my dealer had a Konzert K195 in stock when I bought my Estonia.... well maybe not. Schimmel Konzerts are noticeably more expensive than Estonia. But if you’re considering M&H and Bösendorfer you’re under different price constraints. And you really should try the new Yamaha CFs. They fly much higher than the CX series and are pricier for sure. The bigger your budget, the more breathtaking pianos you can include in your shopping. Best Wishes.


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Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962272 03/31/20 03:19 PM
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Stick with looking for a Mason Hamlin BB or AA. It seems from your post that you really miss the BB. Worth a one or two day trip to find some to play when the world gets back to normal.

Rich


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Anton Rubinstein said about the piano: "You think it is one instrument? It is a hundred instruments!"
Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962273 03/31/20 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by mrhudson
Originally Posted by terminaldegree


I’ve been to Classic Pianos in both Seattle and Portland at various points over the last few years and have never seen then on the floor. I’m not sure why, but nothing to try regardless.


Yeah. That’s true. When I went to the Albuquerque store, called Pianowerkes, partner of Classic Piano, they showed a link to Mason & Hamlin. When I went to the sale late October 2019, I asked about seeing Estonia and Mason & Hamlin and was told they had one Estonia and did not or no longer offered Mason & Hamlin. Since some of the Classic Piano crew was helping with the sale and had to ask other people about having M&H’s in stock, I’m thinking there may have been issues? But who can know know the hearts and minds of folks in the piano business? I think the worst job in the world for me would be to manage a whole team of luthiers and piano makers. That’s like herding sharks. laugh


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Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
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Re: Searching for a nice grand
j&j #2962274 03/31/20 03:28 PM
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No wonder orchestra leaders have a distinctive title. They deserve it!


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Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962303 03/31/20 05:00 PM
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I played almost every piano is Dallas last summer and finally got it down to a new Estonia 190 and a 2-3 year old M&H AA with the 190 offered around 2k less than the Mason. I got the M&H.


M&H AA
Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962306 03/31/20 05:21 PM
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If you like an American sound, Steinway may be having some unusual deals in the midst of COVID—though everyone probably is.

Re: Searching for a nice grand
j&j #2962311 03/31/20 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by j&j
Originally Posted by mrhudson
Originally Posted by terminaldegree
I’ve been to Classic Pianos in both Seattle and Portland at various points over the last few years and have never seen then on the floor. I’m not sure why, but nothing to try regardless.
Yeah. That’s true. When I went to the Albuquerque store, called Pianowerkes, partner of Classic Piano, they showed a link to Mason & Hamlin. When I went to the sale late October 2019, I asked about seeing Estonia and Mason & Hamlin and was told they had one Estonia and did not or no longer offered Mason & Hamlin. Since some of the Classic Piano crew was helping with the sale and had to ask other people about having M&H’s in stock, I’m thinking there may have been issues? But who can know know the hearts and minds of folks in the piano business? I think the worst job in the world for me would be to manage a whole team of luthiers and piano makers. That’s like herding sharks. laugh
M&H has bounced around between at least four different dealers in the Phoenix area during the past 20 years - but at least they've had a presence here.


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Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962339 03/31/20 06:49 PM
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I was in a similar position as you earlier this year, looking for new 7ft class grands. I tried the CX, CFX, 214VC, Model B, Fazioli, M&H BB, Estonia 190, Steingraber, Sauter, among others. Couldn't find an CF or SX. I did also really like the Baldwin BP190. I would have gotten the Steingraber but it was out of my budget. I ended up with a Bluthner Model 4.

Last edited by RdWing; 03/31/20 06:50 PM.
Re: Searching for a nice grand
Carey #2962354 03/31/20 07:29 PM
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It is a shame because I thought I might have the opportunity to try a new M&H, without having to travel out of state. I’ve only had a single chance to try an older grand. I couldn’t tell if it had a typical M&H sound or feel. No telling really with a single used piano.


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Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962387 03/31/20 09:24 PM
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Mr. Hudson, two questions. Do you have a budget? If so, how much? and are you willing to buy a used piano or only a new one? The answers can broaden or narrow your choices.


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Re: Searching for a nice grand
mrhudson #2962493 04/01/20 09:02 AM
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I don't think anyone has mentioned the Shigeru Kawai (SK) pianos here. They are quite lovely. I think the sound is a little closer to the american sound than the Yamaha CX line. I've played several lovely SK6 and SK7 pianos. The Millenium III action is a lot like the WNG action you'll find in a new M&H.

Re: Searching for a nice grand
GC13 #2962639 04/01/20 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by GC13
I don't think anyone has mentioned the Shigeru Kawai (SK) pianos here. They are quite lovely. I think the sound is a little closer to the american sound than the Yamaha CX line. I've played several lovely SK6 and SK7 pianos. The Millenium III action is a lot like the WNG action you'll find in a new M&H.


Thanks for the reminder! If you can find them in inventory I hear the new Yamaha SX series with special rim design can be lovely. Unfortunately my dealer had none in stock, but he did let me try the CF4 which was wonderful. But yes, check out the Shigerus for sure.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I save far better than I play!
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