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Returning....
#2988297 06/05/20 11:08 PM
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After a 35+ year absence from playing, I’m returning. Life, career, divorce.....anyway, I’m back to playing. And, I’m in the market for a piano...a 6’ish grand. Been researching ‘piano’s’ and have a few questions:

1) Piano STORES: I’m in a location where the nearest piano store is about 300 miles away, so I’ve been ‘net surfing and..... a piano store kept popping up, with several possible piano’s: Jim Laab’s Music store. Any of you have any experience with this big store?

2) PIANO’s: in my price range, $ 7-10,000, there are several possibilities, but on the ‘net, how are you suppose to know?

Any opinions?

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Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988300 06/05/20 11:23 PM
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I’m in the camp that believes you should always try a piano before you buy. That can be difficult, depending on where you live, but all the more important as your spending budget increases. There are a number of “destination” shops out there, so don’t necessarily settle for where the search engines first take you. Shop around, even if you’re shopping online! (I don’t mean to imply that there’s anything wrong with the store you mentioned, but just shop around.)



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Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988301 06/05/20 11:24 PM
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Btw, welcome back to the piano!



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Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988382 06/06/20 09:19 AM
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I’m checking with the Bay Area piano stores to see if they have anything in my price range. IF....they do, I’ll head down and take a look (it’s a 300 mile ‘ride’). I have been listening to various piano’s, via Laab’s website, and there’s a definite difference sound/tone. I like the Kawai’s so far. He has a couple NX-40’s, which, surfing the ‘net, is a grey market piano? And Schiller seems to be a parts piano....parts built her and assembled elsewhere, or is that unfai?

Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988385 06/06/20 09:38 AM
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3B43, welcome to PW and welcome back to the piano!

If you haven't already, start reading this site:
https://www.pianobuyer.com/

for info about grey market pianos (which I don't think is as big a deal as many people make it out to be), also pricing and just all kinds of considerations.

When I was piano shopping, my situation wasn't as bad as yours in that the closest piano dealer was about an hour's drive from me. But there weren't a lot of options in that shop, and my husband and I spent most of last summer driving all over the place to look at pianos at various dealers and also advertised by private sellers. I started "net shopping" in maybe January or February 2019, and then IIRC by around May, I was actively going to play pianos in person. I finally made the purchase in August, ironically I ended up buying from a private seller who lives in the same town as me!

But I probably wouldn't have had the courage to make that purchase if I hadn't spent all that time playing different pianos, old and new, many way out of my price range. Basically, that courage came from knowledge that I gathered through that shopping experience, and also of course from working with my piano tech and being able to have him examine the piano before I made the actual purchase.

So, I share all of that to say, even though it's a pain to be so far away, going to to actually play some instruments will be an invaluable part of your shopping process.

Also, you probably want to plan on a few months of shopping before buying.

Have you been looking at Craiglist or FB Marketplace? Maybe there are also some pianos you can go to audition that are being sold by private sellers?

Is the Bay Area you reference, the San Fransisco area? Perhaps you can make a day of it, do some advance research online and line up as many piano dealers with multiple models on their showrooms as you can find.

Do you have a digital or something right now? If so, the other thing I recommend is to practice an audition routine or repertoire. Plan for an up and down the whole keyboard test, then scales, and also figure out what pieces you will play on each piano. Then practice that routine so that you can play each piano in the same way to help you compare.

The other thing this will do is remove some of the awkwardness when you first sit down at a piano.

Re your budget, I feel like you should be able to find something, but given that it means you'll probably be in the 20 y/o range of pianos, you definitely want to play anything before buying, and also have it evaluated by an independent piano tech who you pay.

Hope some of this is helpful! Good luck and be sure to keep us posted!

Last edited by ShiroKuro; 06/06/20 09:39 AM.

Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988400 06/06/20 10:32 AM
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Thanks for the reply. I’m ‘practicing’ on the old spinet that I learned on 50+ yrs ago.....got it from my mom a few years ago. Playing scales, in an attempt to get my fingers working again, but I’ve over done it and now have tendinitis in my right forearm😂. Learning/playing stuff like Moonlight Sonata, Clair de lune, etc. Bay Area is SF and I’m calling several places to see what they have, in my $$$ range, and if they do, ride down and take a look Tuesday.

Brand wise, I don’t really have a focus, other then ‘known’ names might be safer (???). I’m in no real hurry and would definitely like to look/play one vs an internet sale. Since room is not an issue, I’d like a 6’ish grand vs a 5’-5’3”, but of course that is very $$$$$ dependent.

Thanks again.

Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988408 06/06/20 10:51 AM
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Re tendonitis and pieces that you play... I wonder if you need to start with much less demanding pieces until your body gets used to being at the piano more? I suspect that as a returning play rather than beginner, those pieces might not seem hard, but the chord structures etc. are quite demanding. Scales are definitely good, also maybe something like Hanon (but played slower rather than faster) and some more simple pieces? Then while playing, focus on keeping your arms, wrist, fingers relaxed. You might try to play for 5-10 minutes, get up, shake your arms out, sit down and play again. And lastly, a stretching routine? After practicing, do gentle stretches that focus on your upper body, shoulders, arms.

The the piano, if space is not an issue, you might find a slightly larger grand that is a great price because the smaller pianos are often easier to sell?

Re brands, the reason for focusing on known brands IMO is that they tend to be more reliable, and of course that's super important with a used instrument.

I personally don't like the Kawai action, but Kawai grands are very well-regarded and generally sound good. The Yamaha grands are generally reliable, and esp the C-series are well-regarded. Yamaha C3 is... 6'1"? IIRC.

I encourage you to play any Boston grands if you find any.... I played a Seiler that I loved but don't know much about them.

I didn't like any of the Essex grands I played (designed by Steinway, made in China)...

I'll let others comment, but IMO any Kawai or Yamaha will be a must-see.

I had planned to audition a Young Chang before I found the Yamaha that I bought, so I've never played one, but I see them pop up for sale fairly often, maybe someone can comment?

Oh, Petrof grands pop up every now and then, but I think the quality tends to be hit or miss? I loved the sound of Petrof upright I used to have but when I auditioned a used Petrof grand, it was pretty ho-hum.

If you get a list of pianos that you'll be able to audition, you could read about them in advance here: https://www.pianobuyer.com/brand-profiles/

Ok, I'll stop for now. Piano shopping, even vicariously, is just so fun! whome


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988410 06/06/20 10:55 AM
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The "ideal" situation is to look at and play a piano in person that you might be interested in buying, and before you buy. But in this day and age, it is not unheard of for someone to purchase a piano long-distance based on a video recording, or other info.

If you talk to some of the better known online piano dealers, like Jim Laabs or Rick Jones, or others, they will tell you that a good percentage of their sales is online or distance sales where the buyer never sees or plays the piano before they buy it. I think some of the dealers will agree to set up the piano at the buyers home and let them try it out before the movers leave to make sure things are acceptable; but there may be a movers fee if things are not acceptable, or not.

When I was actively looking for a grand piano I contacted both Jim Laabs and Rick Jones and talked with them via email/phone. They were very cordial and told me they sold a lot of pianos long distance where the customer never saw the piano in person before they bought; and, they had a lot of satisfied long distance customers.

I've purchased a couple of acoustic pianos sight unseen, but I got them at a price that made it worth the gamble. And, it paid off both times. I was more than pleased with the pianos.

So, there are options.

That said, I would not pay a high price (whatever that might be in your own mind) for a piano I have not seen or played.

Oh, and welcome to Piano World, and back to the wonderful world of learning to play the piano! smile

Good luck!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988805 06/07/20 04:09 PM
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I looked/listened to the piano’s, in my $$$ range, on Laab’s and Jone’s site, and there is quite a ‘tone’ difference between makes/models. I’m leery of dropping $10K on a piano I haven’t seen or touched...... I spoke to Gary, at the Music Exchange in SF, and due to this C-19 shut down (I’ll refrain comment), he hasn’t been open, or taken many piano’s in, but he is hoping that’ll change this month. If he can get a few in, in the next month or two, I’ll zoom down there and play them. Until then.....

Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988811 06/07/20 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by 3B43
I looked/listened to the piano’s, in my $$$ range, on Laab’s and Jone’s site, and there is quite a ‘tone’ difference between makes/models.

Did you get an idea of which ones you liked? (Despite the limits of video etc.)


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Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988853 06/07/20 06:10 PM
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‘Tone’ wise, I liked the Kawai RG2/3, RX2/3 over the Yamaha’ C 2/3’s.....on the video. The Yamaha’s seemed sharper, while the Kawai’s seemed more mellow...for lack of a better word. I’ve heard the Kawai’s have a firmer ‘feel’ then the Yamaha, which makes me what to play both. Since key ‘feel’ is very important to me, I’ve got to play ‘em. Gary said he had a great C5 in, at a great price, but that’s over my $$$$$$$ range.

Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988864 06/07/20 06:58 PM
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You're learning more about your preferences, which is good! So when you're ready to go and do some playing, you'll be more prepared. thumb


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Re: Returning....
3B43 #2988897 06/07/20 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by 3B43
‘Tone’ wise, I liked the Kawai RG2/3, RX2/3 over the Yamaha’ C 2/3’s.....on the video. The Yamaha’s seemed sharper, while the Kawai’s seemed more mellow...for lack of a better word. I’ve heard the Kawai’s have a firmer ‘feel’ then the Yamaha, which makes me what to play both. Since key ‘feel’ is very important to me, I’ve got to play ‘em.

Yeah, don't be surprised if they sound different in person than they do on video.



Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see
~Mark Twain
Re: Returning....
3B43 #2989190 06/08/20 08:12 PM
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While searching pianos, I saw that many, many of them are built in the 70’s/80’s. Many say ‘refurbished’/etc and am wondering if that is an issue. And, how can you tell, if the work was done correctly? I guess you have to trust someone to take a look and give you an opinion?

Re: Returning....
3B43 #2989408 06/09/20 12:43 PM
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Yes.....I’m still researching. Spoke to Russell, at the Piano Outlet, and he was explaining his cleaning process/new strings/etc. + wha t he had available in my price range: 2 G3’s and 6-7 C3’s w/the price difference being 2K & up....8500 G3 tp 10500 for C3 (no bench’s included) + $850 delivery. Questions:
1) anyone dealt with the Piano Outlet?
2) is there 2K+ difference in these piano’s for an INTERMEDIATE player?

There is an issue living in BFE....

R

Re: Returning....
3B43 #2989425 06/09/20 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by 3B43
2 G3’s and 6-7 C3’s w/the price difference being 2K & up....8500 G3 tp 10500 for C3 (no bench’s included) + $850 delivery.

I'll start with the two least important points:
Is the delivery price that much because of the distance? It seems a little high to me...
Also, why no benches? A dealer should have benches available even if they didn't come with the piano (or the original bench was damaged etc.) and should include that in your purchase.

Now as to the price... without any other information, those seem like reasonable prices. How old are the pianos? That's what matters, that and condition. Also, were they refurbished at all? Ask the dealer what was done to each piano.

As to the differences between the Gs and Cs.... in theory, the C-series should have some features that improve the construction, cabinetry etc. that contribute to the piano's reliability, tuning stability, that sort of thing. But this is not theory, this is practice and these pianos are all older. So there might be a G3 there that's better than a C3.... I think this is where you need to have an independent tech with you.

Is this the store in Ventura CA? (I googled) If so, it looks like it would be an excellent place for you to start just because you can play all those pianos in one visit.

This one:
https://www.thepianooutletco.com/product/yamaha-g2-grand-piano-built-in-1992/
is a G2, looks to be 28 years old.... Wait, are you actively not interested in anything smaller than the G3/C3 size? I have a C2 that I absolutely love, so I wouldn't argue against considering them, but a lot of people do say try to stay above 6 feet. If I had the room, I probably would have gotten a C3, but the C2/G2 size is not a deal breaker IMO.

This one doesn't show the serial number, but is a C3 (btw the link says Pearl River but the piano shown & the description is a Yamaha, probably just didn't update the page):
https://www.thepianooutletco.com/product/pearl-river-polished-ebony/

Quote
1) anyone dealt with the Piano Outlet?
2) is there 2K+ difference in these piano’s for an INTERMEDIATE player?

1. I can't help you there, but I put in a message to a piano friend in the San Diego area just in case he has heard of them.

2. That is the question, isn't it! What you want is a piano that will motivate you to play it, so the first thing is that it stays in tune and sounds nice. Then you want a good action, something that's responsive.... I have played some G-series pianos that were very nice, so I want to say no, just comparing G to C, there's not a compelling argument for paying more when you're looking at used instruments. But this all depends on the piano you find being reliable, in good shape, able to hold its tune, have good tone, good action..... So if the G3 was younger than the C3, I might say go for the younger one?? Again, condition is everything.

Ok, I think I've ceased being helpful here, so I'll let someone else take over! whome

Last edited by ShiroKuro; 06/09/20 01:33 PM.

Started piano June 1999.
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Re: Returning....
3B43 #2989436 06/09/20 01:54 PM
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If you go "down" to the bay area, you might also stop in Sacramento and look at the Music Exchange. I'd say it's worth an overnighter so you have a full day to spend in the shops in bay area.

If you check out yelp, people are either extremely happy or extremely unhappy with Piano Outlet, not much in the middle. There are also 16 reviews that they say aren't included in the evaluation, not sure what that means. And there are 3 reviews taken down for violating terms of service, which implies they were pretty negative. Anyway, I don't put a lot of stock in yelp, but this would raise my defcon level slightly.


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Re: Returning....
ShiroKuro #2989485 06/09/20 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
This one doesn't show the serial number, but is a C3 (btw the link says Pearl River but the piano shown & the description is a Yamaha, probably just didn't update the page):
https://www.thepianooutletco.com/product/pearl-river-polished-ebony/

In addition to a wrong looking URL, one of the provided pictures is of an old Mason Hamlin...

At the $10k and under retail price range, the amount of refurbishment is going to be very little, with a focus on cosmetics, in order for the dealer to make any profit. Hammers will usually be reshaped, not replaced. Strings, cleaned up, rarely new. Tuning pins, soundboard, bridges, action— original. Case parts cleaned up and polished to look nearly new.

The performance level (touch and tone) of these pianos vary a lot, so buying from a distance is a really bad idea if you’re a player. The extent of any more serious issues these pianos could have lies “under the hood”, where an independent technician inspection prior to sale is strongly advised, and pictures alone won’t tell the full story.


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Re: Returning....
3B43 #2989507 06/09/20 06:47 PM
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Please check out other dealers in the Bay Area while you are there.


"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

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Re: Returning....
3B43 #2989637 06/10/20 08:54 AM
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I’m waiting to hear back from MUEX, in SF, before I do anything. They have 5-6 stores, throughout the Bay Area, and he was hoping to be opening up for business ‘soon’. While it’s about a 300 mile/one way trip, I’m hoping he’ll have a few piano’s for me to look at/play.

I’m appreciate all the input. Thanks!

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