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Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
#3029624 09/27/20 04:08 PM
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Hi all, I could use some advice on buying a grand piano. I live in a small city. I've been looking for about 7 months now and in that time, only a few used pianos have come up for sale. I've tried most of them. I'm wondering what you would all advise:

- I can test pianos in a couple of the larger centres (4.5 hours away, 7 hours away), but likely only once. I'd probably have to rush it a bit too, as I'd have to drive in, test all the ones I'm interested in, and get back here in time for the work week. Do you think it's too risky to buy based on one playing (and having a tech inspect, of course)? Should I even bother?

- Buying new? Has anyone here initially look for used, and went new instead? Even with a new piano, I still want to try the actual piano I'd be getting. We have a single piano store in our entire region and they have pretty limited inventory. At the moment, the only GPs they have are a Yahama GC2 and a C3X (too big for my space, I think). Initially, I wanted to spend < $20k (CDN) on a used piano, but I can reluctantly stretch to $35-40k (CDN) for the right piano. I wonder if that's a big enough budget for a decent new piano. Our store is a Yamaha dealer, and the only new GPs I've ever seen in their store are Yamahas.

- ... Or should I suck it up, stop being impatient, and just wait until the right one comes along in my area?

If you're curious, so far I've tried:

- '93 Yamaha G3 (I prefer more clarify in the bass)
- '35 Bosendorfer 170 (several issues that would require $$$ to rectify)
- '91 (?) Yamaha C1 (didn't like the touch)
- '93 Yamaha C3 (too bright for my taste)
- '90 Yamaha GH-1B (several things I didn't like)

... and this week, I'll be testing a 2013 Essex EGP-155 (private sale) and a few others at the local store.

Thanks for any advice.

Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3029635 09/27/20 04:35 PM
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WYTILTLIS, you have my sympathy! Not being close to dealers can be very frustrating! I was casually search for maybe a year, and then the last 5 months it seemed like we just spent all of our free time driving back and forth to far-flung dealers and private sellers. I eventually found a 20 y/o Yamaha C2 that I liked and could afford (from a private seller right here in my town, which was ironic) and that's the piano I have now.

So, it sounds like your situation is a little worse, because 4.5 hours away is pretty far to get to a big city with more options. Yikes!

My questions for you are as follows:

1. Have you now played enough pianos that you think you'll be better able to make a choice when you find one you like? For me, I played so many different new and used pianos that by the time I made my decision, I was pretty confident in my ability to evaluate the piano. I also had a piano tech lined up and ready to go at that point, so I did have him evaluate it before I made my final decision. If you think you've played enough pianos, you might be able to buy one based on one playing. Do you have a routine for auditioning the pianos? If not, I recommend one (I had a routine plus a set of specific pieces, it took me about 30-40 minutes to go through the whole routine each time I played a different piano).

2. Can you get an idea in advance of how many pianos you'll be able to audition in the city? Then do as much research in advance as possible, and get a piano tech lined up locally so that when you're ready to decide, you can get that evaluation done.

3. Could you do an overnight visit to the farther city? You'd need three days, I guess, two for driving there and back, and one day for shopping and playing.


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3029742 09/27/20 11:01 PM
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I’m curious if you have competent tuner-technicians in your neighborhood you can count on to maintain your new piano? You might want to talk to a few and get their feedback.


-Bill L. - former tuner-technician
Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3029748 09/28/20 12:14 AM
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@ShiroKuro
I think I have a good handle on testing pianos (yes, I have a routine that takes about 45-60 minutes). With the Covid situation, it's hard to say how many pianos I can test in a day if I'm doing so at a store; many places require us to book an appointment, so I am guessing 4-6 during the day (if the drive between stores isn't too long), and maybe one more at a private sale at night. I will have one full day to test plus up to early-mid afternoon on the day I leave - it's not much, but it's all I can manage, unfortunately.

Generally, I'll know within a few minutes if I truly DON'T like the piano and I won't bother auditioning it further. It's all the others that take so much time and makes these "piano testing trips" so arduous. I'm sure you can relate! I'm happy for you that you were able to find a piano that you like even if it did take some time.

@WBLynch
We have 2 techs in our town. The one I use said that he rarely sees good pianos up for sale in this area since people here tend to keep them. He also said he's no longer up-to-date with the sales side of things, and wouldn't be able to advise on whether or not a piano is appropriately priced.


I suppose the other option I have is to buy the piano I like best locally ... although I'm not crazy about the idea.

Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3029828 09/28/20 09:20 AM
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WYTILTLIS - I understand your dilemma. It’s far easier to buy something locally. But then you’ll never know what you may have found, fell in love with and maybe purchased if you traveled further. If it were me, but it’s not, that nagging thought would haunt me every time I sat down to play my Yamaha. I think you should do at least one drive out there so you know. But you’re not me so your decision might be different. Best Wishes!


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3029830 09/28/20 09:24 AM
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You can also check what typical delivery prices you’ll be charged if you purchase from a dealer 4 1/2 hours or more away.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3029857 09/28/20 10:52 AM
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I think you should consider going to a big dealer like Cunningham in Philadelphia or somewhere in a large city so you can try out as many as you like in one day. Take a couple days off work if you can so you can go back the next day and start narrowing down your selection. All of a sudden you will know which one is right for you. I bought my Bösendorfer new in Germany after the dealer offered to rent it to me for up to two years and applied all the rental payments to it’s final purchase price. Look at it as a long term investment rather than an expense.

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 09/28/20 10:57 AM.

Bösendorfer 170
Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3029921 09/28/20 02:10 PM
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As others have said, I'd go someplace that has a large inventory of used pianos and deals in shipping them around the country. Two examples I know of are Rick Jones PIanos outside of Washington DC, and Piano Land outside Chicago. I used to stop in to Rick Jones when I had business in DC and they let me play all day even though they knew I wasn't going to buy anything. There are many other reputable places around the country that have large used inventories for you to try. If you indicate your location, someone will be familiar with that area. Even if you had to fly somewhere for a weekend, flights are cheap right now.


Yamaha P90, Kawai GL-10
Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3029948 09/28/20 03:29 PM
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I think the OP is in Canada, so buying a piano in the US and then having to deal with shipping *and* customs might be too much hassle.

WYTILTLIS, which big cities are closest to you?


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
ShiroKuro #3029973 09/28/20 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
I think the OP is in Canada, so buying a piano in the US and then having to deal with shipping *and* customs might be too much hassle.
[...]

... and expensive; I speak from experience!

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3029995 09/28/20 05:14 PM
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Yes, @ShiroKuro is right, I'm in Canada. The closest large city is Vancouver, BC. In the other direction, it's Calgary, AB. Shipping with a dedicated piano mover is pretty expensive; depending on the mover, / location / piano, I was given ballpark quotes of $3k to $6k. That's a part of the reason why I'd prefer to buy local! I'd rather spend those extra $$$ on the piano itself.

It sounds like the general consensus is to travel to find the right piano. I'll have to try and make it work. On the good side, my local store just told me they recently received two more used GPs, so I'll have more to try than just the new Yamahas.

@Lakeviewsteve
I am super envious of your Bosendorfer! A new one is way out of my budget, but they are such beautiful pianos.

Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3030012 09/28/20 06:10 PM
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Did you ask any dealers in Vancouver or Calgary if they offer any deals on shipping? Maybe there's a dealer that will include free or much discounted shipping if you buy from them.

Another shipping option is to use piano *movers* on both ends, to load and unload, but you do the driving yourself. (I would want to avoid that if it were me, but still, just a thought)

In any case, good luck with the two new options, keep us posted!!


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3030033 09/28/20 07:08 PM
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Hi WYTILTLIS---Here's what I did, and oddly, I've never seen it mentioned on Piano World.

I wanted a good piano, but I didn't much care how it looked. I asked my tuner if she knew of a rebuilder that would accommodate that wish, and she thought a bit and came up with a name. So I called that guy, and we did a deal--in fact, he just brokered the deal, he didn't own the piano himself. So I got a good piano that didn't look so great. The rebuilder also sold his rebuilt pianos, but this was a quick buck and no work for him. Also, I got him to sell my old Yamaha for me, so he made money on that too.

caveats--I live near Boston MA, where rebuilders are fairly thick on the ground. I got my techie tuner to check it out for me for not much.

I had been to several piano stores around my area, and did not trust the dealers. But I did trust my tuner--she went to North Bennett Street school (a big deal around here).

Hope this helps.

Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3030035 09/28/20 07:10 PM
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I can relate to this situation. I’ve made quite a few out of town trips but they were still around 2-3 hour drives.

In addition to all the great suggestions above, I’ll add that you should shop around for a mover. Sometimes there are smaller movers that are only known by word of mouth that provide excellent service and quite affordable. Also it doesn’t hurt to contact other piano technicians close enough to ask about pianos for sale in their area. They might know of someone selling or planning on selling.

Re: Need Advice on Buying a Grand Piano - Limited Options
WYTILTLIS #3030304 09/29/20 04:12 PM
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Thanks, everyone, I've gotten some great suggestions from this thread.

I did play a beautiful new Yamaha C3X at the store today! It's outside of my budget, though, and they didn't have a C2X to try (small store).


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