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Joined: Dec 2019
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Hi there,

I am looking for some advice, please. I returned to piano lessons a couple of years ago at 32 having played on and off to 17, getting as far as taking my grade 4. I’ve discovered a deeper love for playing this time around and will shortly be taking my grade 6 with the intention of continuing on through the grades. However, I am still currently using my digital Yamaha Arius, which I am desperate to replace with an acoustic piano. The delay in getting one is due to the fact that I’ve been holding out for my grandmothers acoustic that she left to me, but for various reasons (partly because it’s 800 miles away) I have not been able to look into transporting it down here. The piano is an upright Pohlmann (809327) that my grandmother had new since childhood sometime in the 30’s or 40’s. It hold great sentimental value for me and I’d love to continue my piano journey with it. The main issue is that I need to get it looked at by a local piano restorer, it has been left unused in my grandparents home for 20+ years. I understand there was a previous case of woodworm many years ago that was treated at the time, but I have no idea of its current condition. The cost for the restoration and transport to me isn’t an issue, this will be done purely for sentimental reasons, I understand that it won’t make financial sense. But my main concern is that I spend a few thousand or restoring the piano only for the sound quality and tone to never match that of a modern Yamaha U3 and as I fully intend to keep going with my piano lessons. I understand pianos all have different tones, but I still want a rich / non tinny sound. Should I choose head over heart and purchase a Yamaha instead? (Which i don’t really want to do). I wondered whether any piano restorer on here had any advice from experience? Many thanks in advance.

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Pohlmann seems to have been a British make. If that is the case, you are probably better off with the Yamaha.


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OP wrote:
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Should I choose head over heart and purchase a Yamaha instead?

Well, it's not the case that your only options are 1) your grandmother's piano, or 2) a Yamaha. There are a lot of other pianos you might consider. And, choosing a new(er) piano isn't necessarily a choice of "head," it could be seen as a choice of "musical heart" ...

I think it might be better to think of the question as 1) choose the sentimental instrument, which is a piano of unknown quality/sound/touch and which undoubtedly needs a large amount of work with the outcome/success of that work unknowable, versus 2) a piano (used or new) that you select specifically for its quality (in terms of sound/tone/touch etc.).

You could boil this down to a choice between sentimental value and music value. (I hope that doesn't sound harsh!)

I understand the attraction of a family piano with sentimental value. But I think you need to consider whether that instrument will support your musical goals.

A Yamaha Arius is a great instrument to start (or restart) on. It stays in tune and has consistent action across the keyboard.

For anyone wanting to advance their pianist journey, I think the next instrument should always be a step up from the current instrument. So, of course the piano should stay in tune and have consistent action across the keyboard, these are the bare minimum requirements. Then you want a responsive action to help you develop your keyboard technique, an instrument that helps you develop dynamic control, a tone that helps you think about how you play... And you want an instrument that you can have delivered to your home and start playing, not one that needs hours (and thousands of dollars worth) of work first.

The other problem with the sentimental instrument is that you don't know if whatever problems it has will actually be resolvable.

As you can tell, I'm moving in the direction of saying you should get new (or newer) piano because that will likely be the better choice for your musical development.

If you are able to keep the Arius, you might consider getting your grandmother's piano, but you may not have the space to do that? And again, I don't know what your financial situation is, but you could spend a ton of money on the old piano and it might still never been a usable and reliable instrument.

Last question: is the piano the only object of sentimental value you could have from your grandparents? Would you be less interested in the piano if you had something else? What about the piano bench, could you use the piano bench as a keepsake, and get a new piano as a musical tool? (Because that's what instruments are, after all, tools for making music...)

Ok, I'll stop there. I hope this was helpful!


Started piano June 1999.
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Someone perhaps can still keep the Pohlman for you or perhaps you could have it stored. Of course it is very difficult if she left you the piano and I hope you can be reunited with the piano.
Yes a new Yamaha U3 or a Kawai K500 would be best for you. Pianos unfortunately get older like people. So a new ( or newer) instrument would best for you.)
Best wishes with your decision.

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If you have enough space you could keep your grandmother's piano just as furniture and buy a new vertical.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If you have enough space you could keep your grandmother's piano just as furniture and buy a new vertical.
That would be ideal !

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Originally Posted by BDB
Pohlmann seems to have been a British make. If that is the case, you are probably better off with the Yamaha.

Oh dear. Are all British pianos so terrible?

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I found this on the UK forum. It seems as though they had a really long history.(back to the 1700's). If one scrolls down there is another link.

https://www.piano-tuners.org/piano-forums/viewtopic.php?t=13439

Last edited by Lady Bird; 02/28/21 06:51 PM. Reason: spelling i
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Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by BDB
Pohlmann seems to have been a British make. If that is the case, you are probably better off with the Yamaha.

Oh dear. Are all British pianos so terrible?

Probably not, but in my experience, the odds are worse than with American uprights of the period.


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Most interesting, Lady B! Pohlmann seems to have been a high-quality and innovative company. Mrs Sands, do read this.

Your link also gives this link, which is well worth reading.

Here is a Pohlman square piano of 1777. Note only one "n"; it is not clear that this is the same maker - though they may have been related.

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Buying a refurbished piano can be very satisfactory, but you get to try out the piano after refurbishment and before committing to the purchase.

Having an old piano that has not been played in years refurbished is perilous because you will have to commit to the cost before you know how it will turn out.


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Actually all British pianos are not terrible. We have very different tastes in the UK to the American taste, and it's merely a question of aesthetics. British pianos are not, and never were as powerful as their American counterparts, but they tended to have a kind of sweetness in the sound when they were at their best. Some of them could be a bit dull and later models could have fairly rubbish actions except for the Kembles which had Yamaha actions anyway.

It seems your grandmother's piano is probably a Danemann built piano in which case it at least was a good upright, although at 90 years old it's likely to need a fair bit of work to bring it into musically rewarding condition. Costs aside, the piano may have a tone you love after reconditioning or it may not, it depends who does the work.

My gut feeling on this, and it is just a gut feeling, is that you will find a Yamaha U3 to be a more musically satisfying piano to play on. They can be warm and mellow if they're voiced appropriately, and it will serve you well for a long time. You can keep the Pohlmann piano in your house and consider what to do with it later.

I would advise you before spending any money on the Pohlmann, just have it tuned and see what that reveals about its condition. It may be that it's not currently good enough to be a full time practice piano but it may be good enough to give you some happy memories.

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The OP has not returned.... I hope she will, I'll be curious to hear what she decides to do.


Started piano June 1999.
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