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Considering an inexpensive baby grand
#3029288 09/26/20 12:51 PM
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Hello everybody,

I'd like to get some opinions about my possible quest for an inexpensive baby grand. I'm not a great pianist, more of a "home enthusiast", though I did take lessons when I was a kid. Several years ago, I had an opportunity to acquire a fairly decent upright that was basically free, but I didn't have room for it, and now that opportunity has passed. However, I now have space for a piano, and I'm thinking it might be nice to have my first-ever baby grand. I don't want to spend a lot of money on buying, moving and tuning it, since I'd only be playing it occasionally. I'm open to the idea of a decent upright, too, but honestly, I think a baby grand would look nice. So, I sometimes see low-cost (or even free) baby grands online near me, and I find myself questioning whether I would actually be happy with any of them. Obviously, they are all used, and somewhat aged (some of them are really old). I've been trying to educate myself by reading online, but I still feel like I'm not ready to take the plunge just yet. I don't need a great piano, but of course I don't want one that is unplayable, un-tunable or unrepairable. I probably wouldn't keep it forever, and I have no expectation of making money on it when I do sell it.

What are your thoughts? Good idea? Bad idea? What else should I be thinking about?

Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029294 09/26/20 01:01 PM
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A grand piano is very difficult to move, and generally requires hiring movers of some sort. So, should you find yourself with a grand piano that is actually junk or that becomes unplayable, you'll likely have to pay someone to remove it and dispose of it. For this reason alone I would caution you against procuring any "free" grand pianos. The other problem with "free" grand pianos is that very often, they actually need quite a lot of (not-at-all-free) work done on them to make them playable. Again, a good reason to avoid trying to get a free grand.

Now, if you have a budget of some amount (could be quite modest) and are able to pay for a used piano, you may be able to find a used grand piano that is not very expensive but will be a suitable instrument.

Have you looked at any pianos for sale near you? You could start with PianoMart, as well as Facebook Marketplace, these will have private individuals selling their own pianos, and as such will generally be much cheaper than trying to buy a used piano from a dealer. You might as well check Craigslist and eBay as well, although those are a little more ... tricky to maneuver IMO.

Why not start by trying to get an idea of the range of prices in your area, and using the price range you see to start thinking about what kind of budget might make sense for you? Then the next step would be going to see (play) a few that see in your budget?


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Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029298 09/26/20 01:06 PM
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The best book by far to read about buying a piano, new or used, is the Piano Buyer(see free link on this site). If you tell us your budget we can get a better idea of what to suggest. It's hard to avoid the cost of moving a grand since doing that by yourself with the help of friends is not usually suggested. And tuning at least once/year is usually needed unless one is not too fussy about the sound.

Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029304 09/26/20 01:26 PM
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I don't have a specific budget set, but I'm thinking if I can buy, move and get an initial tuning for $1,500, that would be pretty good. I've seen some pianos offered online within that amount, but I'm not entirely sure that I would actually like any of them. I'm definitely not considering moving it myself. I would get a competent, professional piano mover for that.

Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029315 09/26/20 01:57 PM
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If you ask me .... I don’t know. I am not sure if you are looking for a piece of furniture or an instrument. If you are looking for furniture then spending no or next to no cash is fine. If you are looking for an instrument, even if you will play it only occasionally, then I would suggest going to a dealer and spend quite some cash on it.
Buying used from a private seller isn’t what I would personally feel comfortable with. There is a certain risk involved with buying used from a private seller for no or next to no cash (e.g. 1500€) if you intend to actually play on it. You could end up investing more cash to bring it into a playable state, and then later on deciding that you would actually prefer something better. That would then be quite a lot of money for nothing.


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Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029318 09/26/20 02:01 PM
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The moving and tuning will cost at least $300. Plus, it would be desirable to have a piano tech check out any instrument you are serious about purchasing - just to make sure there are no major problems with it (approximate cost $100). That leaves $1,100 to purchase the piano itself - which really won't get you much in the way of a baby grand unless you stumble across an incredible deal. Quite frankly, you might have better luck finding a 30 year old upright that both looks good and plays well.


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Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029321 09/26/20 02:05 PM
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For $1500 I think you should consider a good digital piano. There is always a chance one can get a nice used grand for around $700(what you'd have left after tech inspection, tuning, and moving from your budget), but the chances are pretty small IMO. Even the appearance of the case for a $700 grand is unlikely to be particularly pleasing.

Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
pianoloverus #3029323 09/26/20 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
For $1500 I think you should consider a good digital piano. There is always a chance one can get a nice used grand for around $700(what you'd have left after tech inspection, tuning, and moving from your budget), but the chances are pretty small IMO. Even the appearance of the case for a $700 grand is unlikely to be particularly pleasing.
thumb +1 or maybe a used tall studio upright.


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Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029325 09/26/20 02:20 PM
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Thank you all for your comments so far. It's quite possible that a piano that I'd really be happy to play will cost closer to, say, $5,000. That's kind of what I'm trying to figure out. There are some "deals" out there, but usually a cheap piano is cheap for a reason. The good news is that I'm not in a hurry to rush out and buy something.

Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029333 09/26/20 02:52 PM
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C++ in that case, I recommend you start visiting some pianos and playing them to get an idea of what you might like. And then go from there?


Started piano June 1999.
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Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029341 09/26/20 03:26 PM
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Good thing you are not in a rush. It’s good to visit multiple piano stores to try different pianos both upright and grand to learn the current market value of pianos in different sizes and qualities. You could also check out estate sales and Craigslist for private sale listings. Be forewarned that many private sale pianos are out of tuning and possibly needing some repairs. You’d want to hire a piano technician for prepurchase inspection. Dirt cheap pianos have reasons for being cheap, and throwing it away usually isn’t free either. Occasionally, an amazing deal free baby grand can turn up, but you need to know what to look for and be willing to pay for repairs. Oh, be careful of too-good-to-be-true scams. It took me just about one year to research and actually finding the one that I would be happy with.

Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029378 09/26/20 05:40 PM
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You never know you may find a bargain on CL or other web sites selling used pianos.

Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029385 09/26/20 06:20 PM
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Just for fun, here are some examples that I've come across in the last few weeks. I haven't seen any of them in person, and I know that this information is very incomplete, perhaps even sketchy.

1. 1975 Kimball baby grand, don't know the size or model. Apparently it was used for decoration in a home and was not really ever played and likely not tuned, either, which is not necessarily a good thing. It has some cosmetic issues, too. This would certainly need to be inspected by a tech. Cost to purchase might be a couple hundred dollars. I'm guessing it might need repairs, too.

2. Knabe baby grand. According to the serial number, it was built in 1968. While 1968 seems like only yesterday, I've done the math and determined that it is 52 years old. smile Probably in better condition than piano #1. Asking price is just under $1000.

3. De Kalb baby grand, age unknown, serial number unknown and possibly missing altogether (the owner can't locate it). Last tuned 5 years ago. I've seen a video of it, and it sounds playable, but it's not the same as hearing and playing it in person, of course. Purchase cost would be zero.

Would any of these pique your interest?

Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029395 09/26/20 06:49 PM
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If I were you I would go and try the Kimball and the Knabe, but not the De Kalb.


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Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029396 09/26/20 06:58 PM
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I think at a price of $1000 or under it would be luck and chance involved.So I would not plan for just a grand. Decent used uprights for that price are also difficult to find.
Sometimes(???) people just want the piano out of thier home and will accept a very cheap price .
Remember the piano will need tuning regularly and things like regulation, string replacement etc. I wish you well on finding your piano. At this price it is more about condition of the piano than brand.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 09/26/20 07:02 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029399 09/26/20 07:17 PM
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Check out Piano Adoption, every once in awhile something interesting comes up there.


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Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
pianoloverus #3029404 09/26/20 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
For $1500 I think you should consider a good digital piano.

I had not really thought about that before. My only experience with a digital piano is a low-end one that doesn't even have 88 keys, but there are certainly better ones. I have a feeling that I would miss the sound that is made by a hammer striking a string.

Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029408 09/26/20 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkL
Check out Piano Adoption, every once in awhile something interesting comes up there.

Thanks. I've been checking that site for a while. Most of the listings in my state have been for spinets and other very old pianos. frown

Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029410 09/26/20 08:23 PM
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Re a digital... for $1500-2000 you can get a pretty nice digital (new)... Are there any Guitar Centers, or maybe Costco?? in your area where you could go and try one?

This one is listed at $1700:
https://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha..._UiZzzdvBPtka6oNGnMqgcPhv6YaAngfEALw_wcB

I had three different versions of this line of digital pianos (at different times, I owned YDP 121, 140, 161, but now do not own a digital piano bc I sold the 161 when I bought my grand piano)

If you've never played a good, 88-key, weighted keyboard digital, you should definitely try one. Given that you've said you won't play a lot, you might prefer the ease of a digital (no maintenance) and then if, in a few years, you find yourself really playing a lot, you can save up for a nice acoustic instrument.

I can't believe I'm telling someone to get a digital instead of an acoustic whome


Started piano June 1999.
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Re: Considering an inexpensive baby grand
c++ #3029440 09/27/20 01:42 AM
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I have a friend who decided he wanted a piano and a couple of years ago, knowing nothing about them, ended up finding a Chickering 1925 grand, about 6’ for $800 delivered and tuned. I tuned it for him last June and was surprised at how nice it is. It has a very nice tone. In my opinion it needs hammers and a regulation but he plays it and is very happy.

So there are great deals out there. I think the key is patience. The piano will find you.


-Bill L. - former tuner-technician
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