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Hi. I'm still piano shopping for my teenager.

We have narrowed it down to two Baldwin Ls, one from the early 1960s and one from 2000. We have not had either inspected by a tech but will before making a purchase. Both play well. The newer one looks very new inside and out and the older one does not.

Based on the history of the company and when they made "good" ones, is there a general reason to prefer one of these vintages (aside from the age)?

Thanks!

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All things being equal, the L from the early 60s would be the better bet. However, since all things are not equal, unless the L from the early 60s has been brought into condition similar to the 20 year old L from 2000, if the 20 year old L checks out, it is certainly better.


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I agree with Keith's assessment here... a piano that is 40 years newer, unless the L from the 60s has had extensive refurbishment, is likely going to be the best choice. But what matters most is which one your son/daughter, or you, like best.

The older L may have a better reputation for quality during Baldwin's production history, but you can't remove the years from a piano without refurbishment.

I've read that the later model Artist grands from Baldwin had quality control issues, but any issues it may have had between now and then should have been rectified/corrected by now.

I own a Baldwin R from 1999 and I love it! Played it an hour or so today. The 2000 model L should have a full Renner action.

Good luck, and keep us informed!

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Thanks! I suspected as much.

The spouse and the pianist prefer the older, less expensive piano, one because of the price ("if something breaks, THEN we pay more to get it fixed", which is true) and the other...because he thinks it plays better but I'm pretty sure he is just cheap like his parents and that is coloring his opinion. He'll refresh his memory of the newer one tomorrow.

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Originally Posted by Rickster
The 2000 model L should have a full Renner action.
Rick - I believe that only the 7 foot Baldwin SF-10 and 9 foot Baldwin SD-10 had the full Renner actions. The M, R and L models did not. smile


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Rickster
The 2000 model L should have a full Renner action.
Rick - I believe that only the 7 foot Baldwin SF-10 and 9 foot Baldwin SD-10 had the full Renner actions. The M, R and L models did not. smile

Sorry, Carey, I stand corrected. smile

I was aware that ALL the later model Baldwin SF10s and SD10s had the full Renner action; however, I was also told by a former, long-time Baldwin employee/piano tech that SOME of the "R" and "L" artist grands did have the full Renner action and some had the Baldwin action. I was also told by the same tech that my Baldwin R had the Baldwin/Mexican action with Renner hammers, based on the pics of my action I sent to them.

Again, I do stand corrected, and thanks for the clarification.

I would also suggest to the OP, YTF2020, to have either piano inspected by a qualified piano tech before purchase.

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All of the artist grands had Renner hammers from about 97 or so, and that 2000 L would have had them. As a Baldwin dealer at that time, the only pianos that I saw with Renner whips and shanks were the SF and SD models. A caution I would make is that Baldwin went belly up in early 2001, and things were sketchy with QC well before then. I sent plenty of Artist grands back to the factory, as well as other product.


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Originally Posted by Rickster
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Rickster
The 2000 model L should have a full Renner action.
Rick - I believe that only the 7 foot Baldwin SF-10 and 9 foot Baldwin SD-10 had the full Renner actions. The M, R and L models did not. smile

Sorry, Carey, I stand corrected. smile

I was aware that ALL the later model Baldwin SF10s and SD10s had the full Renner action; however, I was also told by a former, long-time Baldwin employee/piano tech that SOME of the "R" and "L" artist grands did have the full Renner action and some had the Baldwin action. I was also told by the same tech that my Baldwin R had the Baldwin/Mexican action with Renner hammers, based on the pics of my action I sent to them.

Again, I do stand corrected, and thanks for the clarification.

I would also suggest to the OP, YTF2020, to have either piano inspected by a qualified piano tech before purchase.

Rick
Rick - I got my info from the 2001 Piano Book. I have lots of experience with Baldwin's two largest models, but little personal knowledge of the M, R and L. The info from that long time Baldwin employee/piano tech may indeed be correct. Obviously the R and L grands that had the full Renner action would have been a step above the others - out the gate at least. thumb


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Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
All of the artist grands had Renner hammers from about 97 or so, and that 2000 L would have had them. As a Baldwin dealer at that time, the only pianos that I saw with Renner whips and shanks were the SF and SD models. A caution I would make is that Baldwin went belly up in early 2001, and things were sketchy with QC well before then. I sent plenty of Artist grands back to the factory, as well as other product.
Thanks for the clarification !!!!!!!!


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You probably don't have any structural worries with the older one. The newer one is more prone to structural failure such as bridges.

I would say the opposite. Get the older one, restring with appropriate wire and pins, replace knuckles and hammers, key felt and bushings and enjoy for 20 to 30 years.

Caveat: weak repetition springs that are hammer weight sensitive

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
You probably don't have any structural worries with the older one. The newer one is more prone to structural failure such as bridges.

I would say the opposite. Get the older one, restring with appropriate wire and pins, replace knuckles and hammers, key felt and bushings and enjoy for 20 to 30 years.

Caveat: weak repetition springs that are hammer weight sensitive
Steve - I'm curious - can you give us a ballpark estimate of how much all of the above for a late model Baldwin L might cost?


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The M, R & L used Baldwin's own action until 2008 (the last year of production) when they switched to a Renner action.
The SF and SD always used Renner actions.

Optional action lore: I've heard that a Renner was optional in the M, R & L earlier than 2008, and that in the very earliest years (~1965) the SF and SD could be had with either a Baldwin action or a Renner action, and that they then started supplying only the Renner because that's what everyone chose anyway (or something to that effect), but I'm not aware of anything official or literature to that effect.


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Originally Posted by YTF2020
Hi. I'm still piano shopping for my teenager.

We have narrowed it down to two Baldwin Ls, one from the early 1960s and one from 2000. We have not had either inspected by a tech but will before making a purchase. Both play well. The newer one looks very new inside and out and the older one does not.

Based on the history of the company and when they made "good" ones, is there a general reason to prefer one of these vintages (aside from the age)?

Thanks!

Would you mind sharing the asking prices for each (I would imagine a significant difference). Are the at dealers or private sellers?

Either one could potentially serve you well, depending on their conditions and your expectations.


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
You probably don't have any structural worries with the older one. The newer one is more prone to structural failure such as bridges.

I would say the opposite. Get the older one, restring with appropriate wire and pins, replace knuckles and hammers, key felt and bushings and enjoy for 20 to 30 years.

Caveat: weak repetition springs that are hammer weight sensitive
Steve - I'm curious - can you give us a ballpark estimate of how much all of the above for a late model Baldwin L might cost?

Not really, but it's usually less than the difference between the old L and the newer one. I should add, new agraffes, bridge surfacing and capo bar treatment to the job.

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
I would say the opposite. Get the older one, restring with appropriate wire and pins, replace knuckles and hammers, key felt and bushings and enjoy for 20 to 30 years.
Caveat: weak repetition springs that are hammer weight sensitive
Steve - I'm curious - can you give us a ballpark estimate of how much all of the above for a late model Baldwin L might cost?
Not really, but it's usually less than the difference between the old L and the newer one. I should add, new agraffes, bridge surfacing and capo bar treatment to the job.
Thanks !!


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There is no doubt that some of the older Baldwins, and other brands, were likely superior to their newer cousins.

But the thought occurred to me that someone, like YTF2020, the OP, and others, looking for a nice piano for their home, to play and enjoy, right away, might not feel comfortable with the idea of buying an older piano over a newer one and then having potentially thousands of dollars worth of work done to it. In a case like that, the newer piano might be more appealing, although more costly up front.

That person/potential buyer might not be well versed or knowledgeable regarding the intricacies and complexities of piano tone and touch, or even have much of a preference. Plus, I would imagine it would be nerve racking to buy an older model piano and then start looking for a tech/rebuilder/restorer to do the work, and then wait months for the work to be done, when all they wanted to begin with was a nice piano to start playing right away.

Buying the older Baldwin and having it restored/rebuilt might be the better option. But the option of buying the newer L is also an option to consider, and it would not need rebuilding, if in good condition; and a tech inspection would reveal any major flaws like a cracked bridge. In fact, the older Baldwin may well be in good, original condition, and ready to play. However, the OP did mention the components did look old and well aged compared to the newer Baldwin L.

Based on my very limited piano experience, I've come to the conclusion that newer is usually better, when it comes to pianos, although there are exceptions.

Just a little more food for thought for the OP to consider.

Rick


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Ahhh! I should have known that there are no easy answers! smile

The pianos are at dealers. The listed price difference is around $6000 US. Both probably too high but there's a pandemic going on and private party shopping with a teen is not ideal. No warranty for either. I would have a tech inspect and I do expect to spend money on repairs sooner or later.

The dealer with the newer piano is small and everything on their floor is clean, touched up, tweaked to sound their best (technical term :P), and in tune. The piano in question is positioned in a line with new ones and looks and plays as good as any of them. My untrained eye can't detect an age difference between its interior and those of the new pianos.

The older piano is at a larger place that only keeps their more desirable models up front looking top-notch. It strings are oxidized, the case look like you'd expect for the age, and the felty bits are gray with dust. No touching up of the woodwork to make it show better (which is fine--I'm picky and would rather do it myself and it's not that bad) or whitening the keys. It still sounds good and my kid loved playing it.


My son has not liked many pianos he's tried, and only ONE new one. I do appreciate how this saves me money, but I want to get something decent.

Thank you all!

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People have different personalities, and different circumstances. When I sought out my M, I wasn't worried much about the potential issues. I tend to think that a lot of "standard" concerns aren't as significant or worrisome as others might (this is a general philosophy, not just re. pianos). I have a strong internal locus of control, I'm not risk averse, and I had the resources to "fix" the normal sort of problems that might arise (invest in the money pit if that's what it turned into, or jettison it and start over, if that ended up being the better route).

I went to look at several specimens, and they were all in varying condition. Some were horrible, worn out and then ignored for decades. When I found one in good shape I bought it. It had been regularly maintained right up until shortly before I bought it. The owner offered to put me in touch with their technician, but I passed because I had hired my own tech to inspect it for me. In retrospect, I wish I had spoken to their tech, just to know it's history better, but the tech I hired said it looked like it had gotten new hammers and bass strings at some point, hadn't lacked for maintenance, and was in excellent condition overall. The case shows its age, but that doesn't bother me (in fact, I kind of like it).


I guess my point is that the specific old one's condition is what matters. Not generalities. If I had bought every one I looked at, to provide inventory for a store, then I'd be talking like Steve above, because many of them needed the exact sorts of attention he mentions (each with some subset of issues). Fortunately, I only wanted one, so I shopped a little more carefully and found one that had already had any concerns addressed along the way. But as one can infer from Steve's comments, even if a Baldwin Artist model needs work, it may still be worth the investment (and defects or deficiencies should be reflected in the price, of course).


FWIW, I also enjoy the process. For my late wife and I, it was a bit of an adventure. There's very little in our house that comes from a retail store. Almost all the furnishings have a story behind them. Including our piano.

OTOH, some people like the new car smell. Some want a warranty. Some need handholding, and a nice guy in a necktie reassuring them that they're making the right decision. But all of that adds to the price. thumb


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For me, the overriding issue would be that I could not be sure how much I'd like the touch and tone of the older piano after the work was done. Although that piano is not a core, the issue of not knowing what the result would be would be critical. What do you do if you don't like the result after additional work is done on the piano?

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Originally Posted by YTF2020
The listed price difference is around $6000 US.

Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
Get the older one, restring with appropriate wire and pins, replace knuckles and hammers, key felt and bushings and enjoy for 20 to 30 years.

At face value it seems that one can weigh the $6000 difference against the cost of the upgrades for the old piano. Would it cost less or more than $6000?


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