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Grand piano purchase advice
#3010219 08/04/20 04:45 PM
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Hi,

Moving to a new house and will finally have space to accommodate a grand (ideally a 9ft concert size), so would like a second opinion before finally making the purchase. Apologies if it's been asked and discussed to death already, and also apologies for the long post!

I've spent the last 2/3 weeks trying the various brands around. My repertoire consists mostly of big Liszt/Russian late romantic pieces, but I'm looking to start learning more lyrical earlier romantic pieces, so a piano that would complement this would be ideal.

So far what I've tried are, in order of preference:
1. Steinway Model D (Hamburg)
2. Bechstein D282
3. Yamaha CF6
4. Bosendorfer 185VC
5. Bosendorfer 200
6. Bluthner Model 1
7. Steingraeber B192
8. Fazioli 278

I felt that I connected the most with the Steinway, but I'm hesitating. Firstly, at least to me, the draw of paying the 100k extra for a new instead of used piano would mostly be the ability for first pick from a wider selection so I could really find the perfect one - all the dealers have offered factory selection (once factories reopen and subject to distancing measures) and most as a default, but Steinway was the only one (besides Yamaha, but that one for obvious reasons) that didn't provide it as an option; I'd only get to choose between the pianos left on the floor (I think it's 2) after their other bigger client takes the first pick, which didn't really sit well with me. Also, during my viewings, I got the impression I would get brushed aside once the sale was done and didn't really get the confidence that I'll get good aftersales service, which is probably the second biggest reason to me to buy new. Finally, probably a silly reason, buying a Steinway felt like a bit of a cliche and playing into their marketing!

I thought the Bechstein fit really well with the big sounds in my current repertoire, but compared to, say, the Fazioli, it sounded very dark and doesn't really have that sparkle in the treble, so I'm mostly afraid it wouldn't be very versatile or that I'll start wishing for more sparkle down the line as my repertoire changes.

The Yamaha was a surprise. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but maybe familiarity does play a big part since that's what I grew up playing.

After that, the rest were slightly more marginal. The Bosendorfers were nice, but I didn't really feel a connection. The Bluthner had a beautiful treble, but I felt didn't really have that growl in the low end. For the Steingraeber, I thought it suffered from poor prep, either that or the room was acoustically poor. Resolution on chords at the lower end felt poor.

As for the Fazioli, I was quite surprised I didn't really like it when I really liked the Yamaha. To be fair, I don't think the Fazioli deserves its place at the bottom - I felt the testing room was acoustically poor and was too small for the piano, and I just couldn't get good control over the dynamics. Some notes also resonated in odd ways. The tone of individual notes was beautiful though, which makes me feel that it has much more potential to appeal if I could get it in the proper environment, but that might be an expensive affair. I really wanted to love the Fazioli though. The salesman was the nicest, offered to go the furthest, and aesthetically I thought it was the most beautiful.

The questions I have now are:
1. Do you think it's worth paying to get the Fazioli setup somewhere I can properly test it, or is it not likely to appeal even then? From what I've read online its tone might be too pure and not quite rich enough for big romantic works, so if it's going to cost hundreds to hire a venue and get it set up, it might not be worth doing unless there's a good chance I'll like it.

2. Is there another piano I should give a second chance to? I feel like I didn't give the Bosendorfer (VC especially) and the Steingraeber a proper chance to shine, and comparing a 6' to a 9' is probably not fair. The only issue is that there's nowhere nearby I can give the larger sizes a try and I would prefer to minimise travel these days unless, again, there's a good chance I'll really like it.

3. How much variability is there in individual pianos? Some sources say there's loads, others say not much. At the Steinway Hall, that particular Model D I tried was the only one that I liked, the rest much less (to be fair, when I was trying them out, that was the only model D on the floor, so the comparison was against a few As, Bs and Cs, all Hamburg). If there's similar variability in other brands, it could maybe just be the specific piano I was trying that I didn't connect with, in which case how do you look past all of the differences in size, voicing, prep etc. to pick the brand to go with?

4. How much of the characteristic of a piano is down to the nature of it and how much down to voicing? Maybe voicing could address my issues with the Bechstein, but I really don't have the slightest clue how much expert voicing can change a piano's tone.

5. Should I just get the Steinway?


Really appreciate whatever advice you can provide!

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Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Inkyte #3010222 08/04/20 05:02 PM
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This is your first post and you have asked for opinions on so many pianos, yet you have not filled in any details in your profile. If you cannot tell which of these pianos enthralls you then you are not ready to choose one and I doubt that anyone here can do it for you.
Ian


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Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Inkyte #3010225 08/04/20 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Inkyte
Hi,

[...]
So far what I've tried are, in order of preference:
1. Steinway Model D (Hamburg)
2. Bechstein D282
3. Yamaha CF6
4. Bosendorfer 185VC
5. Bosendorfer 200
6. Bluthner Model 1
7. Steingraeber B192
8. Fazioli 278

All the pianos on your list are top-tier pianos and the choice boils down to the one that suits you and your repertoire best.

Originally Posted by Inkyte
[...] Steinway, [...]Also, during my viewings, I got the impression I would get brushed aside once the sale was done and didn't really get the confidence that I'll get good aftersales service, which is probably the second biggest reason to me to buy new. [...]

I don't think we can comment on that, since it was the impression you formed during your personal visit.

Originally Posted by Inkyte
I thought the Bechstein fit really well with the big sounds in my current repertoire, but compared to, say, the Fazioli, it sounded very dark and doesn't really have that sparkle in the treble, so I'm mostly afraid it wouldn't be very versatile or that I'll start wishing for more sparkle down the line as my repertoire changes.

The Yamaha was a surprise. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but maybe familiarity does play a big part since that's what I grew up playing.

After that, the rest were slightly more marginal. The Bosendorfers were nice, but I didn't really feel a connection. The Bluthner had a beautiful treble, but I felt didn't really have that growl in the low end. For the Steingraeber, I thought it suffered from poor prep, either that or the room was acoustically poor. Resolution on chords at the lower end felt poor.

That's the difficulty, isn't it? Each has its own characteristic sound and feel, and sometimes it's hard to decide which is going to be the most versatile, particularly as your repertoire changes. Again, a decision only you can make.

Originally Posted by Inkyte
As for the Fazioli, I was quite surprised I didn't really like it when I really liked the Yamaha. To be fair, I don't think the Fazioli deserves its place at the bottom - I felt the testing room was acoustically poor and was too small for the piano, and I just couldn't get good control over the dynamics. Some notes also resonated in odd ways. The tone of individual notes was beautiful though, which makes me feel that it has much more potential to appeal if I could get it in the proper environment, but that might be an expensive affair. I really wanted to love the Fazioli though. The salesman was the nicest, offered to go the furthest, and aesthetically I thought it was the most beautiful.

The questions I have now are:
1. Do you think it's worth paying to get the Fazioli setup somewhere I can properly test it, or is it not likely to appeal even then? From what I've read online its tone might be too pure and not quite rich enough for big romantic works, so if it's going to cost hundreds to hire a venue and get it set up, it might not be worth doing unless there's a good chance I'll like it.

If the Fazioli is at a dealership, one presumes that the dealer wants to sell his pianos. Given the price of a Fazioli 278, it should be the dealer's responsibility to set up the piano in a reasonable venue for you to give it a fair trial. Is there not another showroom at the same dealership where you tried other pianos and where the Fazioli could be moved to? Why would you think it would be at your expense to have the piano properly set up?

Originally Posted by Inkyte
2. Is there another piano I should give a second chance to? I feel like I didn't give the Bosendorfer (VC especially) and the Steingraeber a proper chance to shine, and comparing a 6' to a 9' is probably not fair. The only issue is that there's nowhere nearby I can give the larger sizes a try and I would prefer to minimise travel these days unless, again, there's a good chance I'll really like it.

You don't say where you are located and some of your comments are indirectly local-related. "Steinway Hall" London? [...]
Originally Posted by Inkyte
4. How much of the characteristic of a piano is down to the nature of it and how much down to voicing? Maybe voicing could address my issues with the Bechstein, but I really don't have the slightest clue how much expert voicing can change a piano's tone.

A basic rule of thumb is that you should never buy a piano in the hopes of what it may become, but buy a piano for what it is and for what you like about that fabulous "is". Yes, voicing can have some effect on the sound of a piano, but since you don't know what the results will be, it's a big gamble that may not pay off.

Originally Posted by Inkyte
5. Should I just get the Steinway?

Only if you really like it.

Finally: It has often been stated on this forum that a 7-foot piano from most tier-one manufacturers is an almost ideal instrument in the sense of scale design. So, I wonder why you are looking at some instruments in the 9-foot range. Those instruments are often designed for the power required to fill a concert hall and I wonder why you feel the need for that size instrument. How big is your music room going to be?

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Inkyte #3010230 08/04/20 05:20 PM
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Which Steinway? You said there were two, and that you connected with them. Was one markedly better for you than the other?
Even though you ranked the Bechstein second, it sounds like you don't like it. The cost of the CF6 that you liked must be significantly lower than the 9-footers you're considering, so that could enter into the equation if your budget suddenly got lower (this happened to me once).

This also ignores the plethora of excellent European pianos in the 230cm range.

All of these instruments are pretty low-production, so I'd take them as you found them in terms of performance and preparation, rather than what the internet cheering section factions will have to say... For example, I've played Fazioli 278s that did nothing for me, while I played others that were nice, and one that I would have cut a check on the spot (had my finances allowed). Concert grands are individuals.


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Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Re: Grand piano purchase advice
BruceD #3010243 08/04/20 06:06 PM
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Thanks for the responses! Some very good points about there.

Originally Posted by BruceD
If the Fazioli is at a dealership, one presumes that the dealer wants to sell his pianos. Given the price of a Fazioli 278, it should be the dealer's responsibility to set up the piano in a reasonable venue for you to give it a fair trial. Is there not another showroom at the same dealership where you tried other pianos and where the Fazioli could be moved to? Why would you think it would be at your expense to have the piano properly set up?

I don't think they have another showroom, but yeah I'll ask. Another dealer that offered to move pianos for me did say it would be on my cost unless I ended up buying it, so thought it would be a similar situation.

Originally Posted by BruceD
You don't say where you are located and some of your comments are indirectly local-related. "Steinway Hall" London?

I wasn't keen on revealing my location since it does implicate local dealers and might reveal my identity, but I guess I should have been more careful.

Originally Posted by BruceD
Finally: It has often been stated on this forum that a 7-foot piano from most tier-one manufacturers is an almost ideal instrument in the sense of scale design. So, I wonder why you are looking at some instruments in the 9-foot range. Those instruments are often designed for the power required to fill a concert hall and I wonder why you feel the need for that size instrument. How big is your music room going to be?

I see, thanks for this! It's going to be around 1000sqft. I was originally going for the 7-foot, but one dealer suggested that a larger one would generally be better, and I did feel that the Model D I tried was better than the Bs and Cs and put it down to size. Also most dealers seemed to either carry the 6-foot or the 9-foot and rarely anything in between. I guess I should give the 7ft models another go.

Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Which Steinway? You said there were two, and that you connected with them. Was one markedly better for you than the other?

There was only one on the floor I was allowed to try when I was there and the other wasn't tuned, but I'll be allowed to give it a go later this week.

Originally Posted by terminaldegree
This also ignores the plethora of excellent European pianos in the 230cm range.

You're quite right, I should give them a try as well. My initial selection process was driven by the PianoBuyer "tier" list. There's really a lot to go through!


Originally Posted by Beemer
This is your first post and you have asked for opinions on so many pianos, yet you have not filled in any details in your profile. If you cannot tell which of these pianos enthralls you then you are not ready to choose one and I doubt that anyone here can do it for you.

Thanks for the warm welcome! I set up an account to ask for this specific advice. I generally try to avoid posting on forums since I typically find it too public and sometimes antagonistic. I don't know how much more detail you need other than what I have stated in my post, but if details are lacking let me know what else I need to provide. I am an amateur pianist and I've never played on a grand piano for any prolonged period in my life and likely never will besides the one that I will be buying for myself, so it's unlikely, in your terms, that I will ever be "ready" to choose a piano since I will simply lack the experience with these instruments that I'm hoping others in this forum will shed insight on.

Last edited by Inkyte; 08/04/20 06:13 PM.
Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Beemer #3010266 08/04/20 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Beemer
This is your first post and you have asked for opinions on so many pianos, yet you have not filled in any details in your profile.
Many PW members have blank profiles. It's in no way a requirement for asking opinions about pianos or anything else. The OP did give us an idea of piano ability in his post.

Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Inkyte #3010276 08/04/20 07:59 PM
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Welcome Inkyte!

Congrats on the New Home,... & the Piano search sounds Exciting

Originally Posted by Inkyte
2. Is there another piano I should give a second chance to? I feel like I didn't give the Bosendorfer (VC especially) and the Steingraeber a proper chance to shine, and comparing a 6' to a 9' is probably not fair. The only issue is that there's nowhere nearby I can give the larger sizes a try and I would prefer to minimise travel these days unless, again, there's a good chance I'll really like it.

I can tell You, the difference between a Bösendorfer 185VC, compared to a 214VC or 280VC, is substantial. If You can put Your hands on either, My guess is - You’ll really like It

Have Fun & Great Luck!


~Lucubrate


Bösendorfer 280VC
Steingraeber 130

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.“ ~Epictetus
Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Inkyte #3010285 08/04/20 08:33 PM
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As a very satisfied Grotrian (Steinweg) owner I would certainly recommend you try their 225 or larger grand. I would also search out the larger Steingraeber Grands. Good luck.

Rich


Retired at the beach

Anton Rubinstein said about the piano: "You think it is one instrument? It is a hundred instruments!"
Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Inkyte #3010365 08/05/20 05:24 AM
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Go with the Hamburg Steinway D.

Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Inkyte #3010385 08/05/20 06:50 AM
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Hi Inkyte and welcome.

Going by your shortlist and budget if you haven’t already given Schimmel pianos a try, I recommend you do. They have a nice crisp versatile treble, without sounding too bright or harsh. Just another piano to consider if you’re still undecided about the rest lol.

Personally I would go down the Bosendorfer road or the Stein Hamburg. But I’m not you and it sounds like you’ve got a clear sound in mind that you just haven’t landed on yet.


Enjoy the search!

Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Inkyte #3010399 08/05/20 08:00 AM
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When looking for the concert grand piano of the life, it would be interesting trying the more makers possible. So, besides all the excelent examples you pointed out, why not try other instruments, like the Yamaha CFX, the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX, the Grotrian-Steinweg Concert Royal, August Förster Concert Grand, and, especially, the Sauter Diamond Orpheus 275 and Bösendorfers 280VC and 290 Imperial? There is nothing to loose if you are more patient and do a more thorough search. Even if you end up choosing the Hamburg Steinway D you have already chosen since the very beginning, isn't it? At least you will have many stories to tell.

Good luck on your journey. smile


Fluxo

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Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Fluxo #3010416 08/05/20 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Fluxo
When looking for the concert grand piano of the life, it would be interesting trying the more makers possible. So, besides all the excelent examples you pointed out, why not try other instruments, like the Yamaha CFX, the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX, the Grotrian-Steinweg Concert Royal, August Förster Concert Grand, and, especially, the Sauter Diamond Orpheus 275 and Bösendorfers 280VC and 290 Imperial? There is nothing to loose if you are more patient and do a more thorough search. Even if you end up choosing the Hamburg Steinway D you have already chosen since the very beginning, isn't it? At least you will have many stories to tell.

Good luck on your journey. smile
I agree Fluxo ! Even if it involves some traveling., This whole experience is just so exciting one may as well travel.(at least where you can travel .,mind you I would be afraid to go anywhere now by plane)

Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Hakki #3010419 08/05/20 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Hakki
Go with the Hamburg Steinway D.
Oh I would not mind a Steinways D ,Hakki 😄 Thanks !

Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Inkyte #3010457 08/05/20 11:40 AM
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Enjoy the journey, take your time. If you come back to the first one eventually then it will be with much more confidence in your decision.

Also, individual pianos can be very different.

I was so fortunate as to play 3 different Steingräber concert grands in the same room at their factory and I can tell you they all had their individual character.

You don't buy a model - buy an individual.

I recently played several Steinway V and they were also different.

In both cases it was more like they were cousins not siblings.

You'll probably never play to many pianos in such a short time again, it really trains your ear on how different pianos can sound.

Re: Grand piano purchase advice
Inkyte #3010555 08/05/20 05:22 PM
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Thanks for the kind responses everyone! I guess I'll take more time to really look around and understand the offerings out there.


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