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Estonia Pianos
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For a new piano, if you played several new models from the same manufacturer, how comfortable would you feel purchasing the next model up in size without auditioning it first? For example, if a dealer (or multiple dealers you visited) only had a 6'2" and a 7' grand of the same series that you thought were great, how hesitant would you be to order the 7'6" or 9'2" sight unseen? Please let me know what your experiences are and what conditions there must be for your experience to apply. Looking forward to reading about your thoughts on this.

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I'd say not at all. Each model has it's own scale, I think. Those may vary quite a bit. For example, my 170cm/5' 7" grand has bass strings angled sharply across the treble, to put the bass bridge away from the rim (and avoid a cantilevered bridge). The next model up doesn't use this design at all.

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Never, ever buy a piano sight-unseen, even identical models of something you played. Definitely never if it's a different model, to boot!

Yes, people sometimes get away with it, and I even "had" to do it myself (bad idea, proven), so don't ever do it if you can help it.

I also know people who have ordered a piano, it got to the dealer, the person didn't like it, and they were not obligated to go through with the purchase.


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In my view, buying any piano sight unseen, unheard and unplayed, is a gamble to an extent. The more it cost, the higher the stakes/gamble.

That said, it has been my experience, which is limited, that the larger grand pianos tend to sound noticeably better than their shorter counterparts, of the same brand, or different brands. Not saying bigger is always better, but when it comes to acoustic pianos, that is usually the case.

However, so many other factors/variables are also part of the equation when considering larger grands as opposed to smaller ones.

Not sure I answered your question, but hope I added some thought seeds to ponder... smile

Good luck!

Rick


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Manufacturers are more successful with some models and less successful with others. It is more difficult to make a good 7'6" grand then a good 7' and much harder still to make a really stand out concert grand. In other words, there are several excellent 6' grand pianos from various companies but far far far less successful concert grands.
There are a number of reasons for this including most manufacturers make far less larger pianos so they have less experience, and of course as the size and price goes up the expectations do as well. It is also just harder to balance a concert grand between treble and bass, particularly in the money areas of the treble.

With all that, if the dealer you are working with has sufficient expertise and experience with concert and semi concert grands ( most dealers do not since most dealers sell very few of these instruments as well as are unlikely to have staff who are serious enough and experienced enough as pianists with concert grands or techs who have worked on many ) and they strongly recommend the larger pianos your bet is definitely hedged.


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Originally Posted by Kelwai
For a new piano, if you played several new models from the same manufacturer, how comfortable would you feel purchasing the next model up in size without auditioning it first? [...]

So uncomfortable that I would not do it. With any piano, new or used, I would have to try it before I buy it. Once I found the one I like, I would visit it several times to convince myself of my initial reaction before committing myself to the purchase.

Regards,


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In my experience, when I searched my piano, I played 2 different Kawai GL20 and recognized their sounds are different. I also have same experience with 3-4 Kawai K800. I think the sound of each piano is unique in my perception so we should not purchase a piano without audition.

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I’d be reluctant on that. I tried Estonia L168, L190 and L210. These three pianos are so different. I also tried brand new Mason & Hamlin B (5’4) and A (5’8). Every piano is just being so different. I like that particular Mason & Hamlin B more than the A, and I like the L210 more than the rest of Estonia pianos.

The only exception might be Yamaha production pianos. They are so consistent.


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I would not do it.

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Even Yamaha are unique instruments. Try before buy!

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Speaking of Yamaha, I was told by my dealer that when buys the concert CFX, a trip to the Yamaha facility is included so the pianist can make the final selection and can have it specially voiced to the pianist’s taste.
When I bought the Estonia, I tried a Schimmel C169 which was very nice and was told I could order the C189. I picked the Estonia L190 because it was sitting there fully prepped. It did need its tuning adjusted but there it was for full examination and once the tuning was adjusted I could play it as long as I needed to decide.
Apparently buying sight unseen and unplayed happens all the time but for me, buying a concert sized piano, especially a very expensive brand, I would expect to be given the opportunity to have it voiced and regulated exactly to my taste.


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Every dealer we visited had instruments in every size in nearly every brand too interrest. We were planning on a 7’ piano but “accidentally” tried the next size up and saw what a huge difference it was. As others have said, you must play the heck out of any piano you plan to buy and be 100% satisfied with it before you decide. Dealer must provide instrument prepped to your satisfaction as part of the showroom experience.

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Originally Posted by j&j
Apparently buying sight unseen and unplayed happens all the time but for me, buying a concert sized piano, especially a very expensive brand, I would expect to be given the opportunity to have it voiced and regulated exactly to my taste.
Ideally, yes. But realistically why should a dealer voice and regulate a new instrument each time a potential buyer comes along? Shouldn't the buyer first make some type of commitment to purchase the instrument prior to that extra work being performed?


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I mean if I could afford a Bosendorfer concert grand, I would also afford a trip to Austria to the Bosendorfer factory to personally pick it out.


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The general problem with piano manufacturers is they think if they are making a longer piano they must make the hammers larger and the soundboard/bridge more massive.

This kills tone and touch and answers why Mr. Kerman's observations are true.

Steinway's have very successful large pianos and they are lighter in general than all the other makes. (They still err in making their hammers too heavy since about WW2.)


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Thanks everyone for your replies. I was hoping the answer was going to be different and the only exception was if the piano was a dud for some reason. I thought if people loved brand X, it was because the sound and design philosophy was applied across their entire line. Sure, there would be model to model variations and you could find your favorite among them, but I didn’t think a single non-defective model could completely turn you off. It seems that extrapolating across the lines may be the goal of the manufacturer, but whether they were successful or not, depends on whether I’m just a sucker for long bass strings (which I am!) or demand something beautiful and balanced (which I do!). It explains why the PianoBuyer has “standouts” for specific models, and Mr. Kerman and Mr. McMorrow’s reply/explanation seems to addresses this concretely. I’m glad there was overwhelming consensus that it’s not unreasonable for me to expect to audition the piano, but that puts my local official dealers unfortunately out of the game, again.

The advice I need next is with respect to how to tackle this problem:

For SonatainfSharp’s reply: how does one arrange an order and not be obligated to purchase? Did the manufacturer buy the piano back from the dealer, and sell it for a discount to another dealer that had better market demographics for that model? Or was it a model that the dealer assumed they could sell anyway? i.e. Does the manufacturer ever back the dealer up in a bind like this?

Is this a case where I just need to drop the local dealer and work with the manufacturer to find help me find the right dealers to work with? Does going to the factory help, i.e. do they tend to have a store with all the models? Is the additional discount off SMP more/less than at a dealer?

All suggestions welcome!

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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by j&j
Apparently buying sight unseen and unplayed happens all the time but for me, buying a concert sized piano, especially a very expensive brand, I would expect to be given the opportunity to have it voiced and regulated exactly to my taste.
Ideally, yes. But realistically why should a dealer voice and regulate a new instrument each time a potential buyer comes along? Shouldn't the buyer first make some type of commitment to purchase the instrument prior to that extra work being performed?

I didn’t express myself clearly. If I was ordering a concert sized grand unseen and unplayed, when the piano was delivered to the dealer, I would expect to be able to try it out before delivery after the full dealer prep and have it voiced and regulated to my specifications before it’s delivered to my home. I would pay for the piano when it was ordered. It’s still a huge gamble which is exactly why I chose the Estonia instead of ordering a Schimmel C189.


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It would be interesting(but perhaps impossible) to know what percent of people buy pianos without trying out the particular piano they want in the showroom or buy the next larger size model of a given make without trying it but having tried out a smaller model. I have a feeling the percent is quite high and undoubtedly higher than the percent of PW members who would buy without trying out the piano in the showroom. PW members, or at least the frequent posters, are not at all representative of typical piano buyers.

I also think most makers have a typical sound and touch profile meaning for brand X, size A and size B would tend to sound and feel more similar than brand X size A and brand Y size B.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
It would be interesting(but perhaps impossible) to know what percent of people buy pianos without trying out the particular piano they want in the showroom or buy the next larger size model of a given make without trying it but having tried out a smaller model. I have a feeling the percent is quite high and undoubtedly higher than the percent of PW members who would buy without trying out the piano in the showroom. PW members, or at least the frequent posters, are not at all representative of typical piano buyers.

I also think most makers have a typical sound and touch profile meaning for brand X, size A and size B would tend to sound and feel more similar than brand X size A and brand Y size B.

I think that’s exactly what my dealer had assumed was if I really liked the smaller Schimmel that I would order the C189. But for me, at least, pianos are pretty individual and if I’m going to sink money into a piano, I want to play it first. Since I’m on my 4th piano I don’t match the profile of the typical piano shopper. The other thing about ordering a piano, I would get less discount from SMP. That’s one of the reasons I want to select from what’s prepped and on the showroom floor.


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Originally Posted by j&j
The other thing about ordering a piano, I would get less discount from SMP. That’s one of the reasons I want to select from what’s prepped and on the showroom floor.
Why less discount from SMP?

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