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#3015070 08/18/20 04:15 AM
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Hi everyone,

I am an undergraduate student at a conservatory in New York. During this pandemic, the school will be limiting daily practice hours to decongest hallways (as they should), so I am looking to get an upright for my apartment. A grand piano will not work due to financial and space limitations.

In my city, I have found both the Yamaha B series and U series. Because of the pandemic and 2 week quarantine I will have to undergo once I arrive, I cannot go to test out the piano. Also, because of the 2 week quarantine, I will not have any access at all to the school’s practice rooms, so I am looking for an upright piano that can go beyond just simply being used for reading notes, and react in terms of tone quality and sound to different physical ways of playing.

I see online that the U series is considered “professional grade” and the B series is more aimed for beginners starting out. Since the U series will be more expensive, is there that much of a difference, and could the B series still do what I’m looking for?

Thanks for your advice in advance!

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Sorry, a quick update: there may be some Bechstein models available too (still waiting to hear back from the store). I know Bechstein was very popular in Europe years back; does anyone have any experience with their uprights and how they feel/sound?

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Bechsteins have a richer sound compared to the Yamaha - you have to like it. Bechstein's entry level Hoffmann series are also very nice with a slightly less complex sound.

What I did like about both is the black key width - If memory serves, it's slightly wider than average. The black keys are also less glossy and very nice to the touch.
If you have very wide fingers, I could imagine this might not be perfect. I like wider black keys better - just something to consider.

There's a video comparison by Roberts pianos - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RL1KxGg5Xfk

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It's difficult without being able to audition instruments, since each one is different - although with Yamaha you're probably close to minimising that variability. I would describe the U series as a mid-range instrument which is more suited to advanced repertoire than the B, which in my view is very much a starter piano. They are also very good value second-hand.

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Renting a piano might be a good option for you. I would think the university would have a relationship with whoever they buy pianos from, maybe they could help. Next option would be used. I'm not familiar with dealers in st Louis but since you can't try it out you could buy a used piano online from a reputable dealer. It might not be a perfect fit but you would have more chance of getting an honest deal. Here in Chicago you could look at pianoland.com. their website won't win any awards but they advertise a lot on Craigslist and they sell a lot of used pianos online. You could also consider a good digital for a hopefully short period of time...


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Originally Posted by A Guy
Sorry, a quick update: there may be some Bechstein models available too (still waiting to hear back from the store). I know Bechstein was very popular in Europe years back; does anyone have any experience with their uprights and how they feel/sound?

The Bechsteins you see in store are very unlikely to be the 'real' made in Europe Bechsteins (which are very expensive) but are likely to be the cheaper ranges made abroad to a lower specification and budget. That's not to say they are bad instruments but don't think you are getting a top European piano here.

Your original requirements as stated are pretty basic and either the B3 or U1 should easily meet those, the U1 however is a better built piano with a much nicer (to my ears) tone. Also worth considering are the Kawai K300 or K500 models which, like Yamaha, are nice piano and as consistent as you get if you really must buy sight unseen.

The Kawai's have a different, darker and less bright, tone than the Yamahas, both play well and it is personal choice which sort of sound you like. I always recommend playing and listening to the actual piano rather than going by recording but if you have no choice I recommend you search through the youtube piano reviews/demonstrations by Stuart Jones. He has put up many reviews including both of those Yamahas and the Kawai models etc. Unlike many/most utube recordings these seem pretty good and a fair representation of the actual pianos character, plus they are consistently recorded so you can actually compare the sound of one piano against another (within the limits of your speakers etc.). He's a good pianist as well and not much sales dross in the videos. Please do not listen to random recordings from disparate sources and hope that you can make any meaningful comparison between them!

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Originally Posted by gwing
The Bechsteins you see in store are very unlikely to be the 'real' made in Europe Bechsteins (which are very expensive) but are likely to be the cheaper ranges made abroad to a lower specification and budget. That's not to say they are bad instruments but don't think you are getting a top European piano here.

With the NYC market and dealer, you are incorrect. Both ranges will be available. Also your characterization of the lines seems a bit harsh and only somewhat accurate.


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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by gwing
The Bechsteins you see in store are very unlikely to be the 'real' made in Europe Bechsteins (which are very expensive) but are likely to be the cheaper ranges made abroad to a lower specification and budget. That's not to say they are bad instruments but don't think you are getting a top European piano here.

With the NYC market and dealer, you are incorrect. Both ranges will be available. Also your characterization of the lines seems a bit harsh and only somewhat accurate.

Sorry, let me try again :-)

Many piano manufacturers have multiple ranges of pianos built to different quality standards and where the lower ranges are often manufactured in countries where costs are lower so that they can be sold at a more competitive price, but they are not the same pianos as the more expensive lines.

In this instance a dealer offering a 'Bechstein' piano as an alternative to the much cheaper Yamaha B3 is likely to be considering one of their cheaper models rather than those top line models originating in Europe.

Is that better?

Last edited by gwing; 08/18/20 08:56 AM.
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Unless things have changed Faust Harrison in NYC offers the C.Bechstein and Bechstein model pianos. So yes he can play the “real” models.

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A Guy, are you sure you don't want to consider a digital, hybrid, or silent option? If you live in an apartment, this would let you practice any time. It may not have the response you want, but you'll be able to return to the practice rooms after the 2 week quarantine, right? The other benefit with a digital is its portability...

Anyway just a thought.

Are you in/around NYC or more like in Upstate NY?


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Hi everyone, thanks for all the suggestions. Just a clarification: St. Louis is my hometown during breaks; I currently live in Rochester, NY for school. There are no rental programs there, and very limited options for stores. I’ve already explored perhaps renting in from NYC stores, but the moving cost is far too much for me to consider.

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Unless the NY gestapo is assigning a handler to enforce quarantine, I would just go test drive the pianos.

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Originally Posted by gwing
[quote=terminaldegree][quote=gwing]

Sorry, let me try again :-)

Many piano manufacturers have multiple ranges of pianos built to different quality standards and where the lower ranges are often manufactured in countries where costs are lower so that they can be sold at a more competitive price, but they are not the same pianos as the more expensive lines.

In this instance a dealer offering a 'Bechstein' piano as an alternative to the much cheaper Yamaha B3 is likely to be considering one of their cheaper models rather than those top line models originating in Europe.

Is that better?

Those pianos wouldn't be badged "C Bechstein" though. I'd be surprised if a dealer is saying "I've got a Bechstein in stock" but actually has a Zimmermann

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A Guy, I wondered if you were in Rochester. In that case, I recommend you expand your search to Buffalo and also maybe Syracuse. If you're buying from a dealer they may deliver that distance for free or cheaply, or you may find other inexpensive delivery options.

This might give you more options?

Good luck! And keep us posted!


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Craigslist in your area lists a $400 Young Chang, and a couple of free Wurlitzer uprights. I think you would be better off starting with one of them and finding a good technician that can make them perform better. If you wear one of them out, or develop beyond their capabilities, then you are not out much, and with any luck, you will have a technician that you can work with.


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Originally Posted by A Guy
Hi everyone,

I am an undergraduate student at a conservatory in New York. During this pandemic, the school will be limiting daily practice hours to decongest hallways (as they should), so I am looking to get an upright for my apartment. A grand piano will not work due to financial and space limitations.

I have a couple questions for my own curiosity. But the answers may be able to help the more knowledgeable members here narrow down the suggestions.

ShiroKuro already mentioned the first thing that came to my mind. Since it's an apartment, are neighbors going to be a concern? Being able to practice on a digital silently beats not being able to practice at all.

Also, what is the budget? A brand new U1 or B3 is a very large financial investments (for the average student) to buy without test drivings so to speak. From my limited time trying out B3 at the dealer, the U1 is the superior piano in both touch and sound. However, the B3 seemed like a great choice as a basic practice piano to hammer on.

Have you tried contacting any professors at the conservatory to get their input and suggestions? I would think piano choices is a pretty common question they get. Heck, you may be able to even get a video call for some 1-on-1 advice to more closely match your situation and piano goals.

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Do you happen to know the piano tech(s) at Eastman? That would be the first place I'd try in terms of looking for some possibilities that might be off the radar.


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Hi everyone, thanks again. @BDB I did notice such options on sites like Craigslist. However, to be honest I don’t feel comfortable paying for anything used from independent owners (thy aren’t from other Eastman students) without having been able to test it. Even the free ones would require a moving fee, etc.

@terminaldegree one of my studiomates helps the techs around the school, so I could try asking her. Thanks for the suggestion. What did you mean by off the radar? Like good deals that aren’t listed on other sites?

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The techs might know a student who's selling a piano that isn't widely known about, or have contacts in the local teaching community, or a client who's getting ready to downsize...or maybe a piano that's hiding in the basement of Kilbourn Hall or the Annex that could use a good home for the semester!


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@rkzhao, yes after the dealer called me back this morning, I realized I was seriously undervaluing the price of new Yamaha upright. To be honest, I think the professors right now are very busy trying to figure out the start of the school year during these times, and I hate to take up even more of their time... I may ask my professor if I have a specific model in mind at the end though.

Thanks ShiroKuro for the recommendation to expand my search. I’ll definitely look at that.

Today I found a NYC dealer that may be able to rent pianos out to the rochester area. It seems I can get a Yamaha U-series for around 110 a month, or the silent option for around 170. Of course there’s other options too, both cheaper and more expensive. Does that sound like a decent price? I would need to ask about whether it’s new, or it’s condition if it’s used, but given the price for buying it seems fair. Also, since I really only need this for during the pandemic, renting might be smarter.

Thanks for all your help everyone and answering my many questions!

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