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Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand

Posted By: MacDan

Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/06/12 09:37 PM

Just had a co-worker offer me her mother's baby grand for the taking. I looked at it and have some reservations, even though it's free:

Sohmer 5' baby grand, about 40 years old based on the serial number. The interior of the piano needs a good cleaning and the case is in pretty good shape with a few corner dings on the woodwork. Definitely needs a tuning, and a couple of the lowest keys need their height adjusted. Other than that it appears to be in good shape without any major issues such as cracked soundboard or missing/broken strings, etc. It has sat in an air-conditioned house all of its life and was played and tuned regularly when "Mom" had it. Mom passed a couple of years ago and the piano was professionally moved to the daughter's house at that time. It has sat unplayed and untuned since then.

I kick myself because I didn't pull the action and look at the hammers to see if they were grooved....my initial reaction wasn't that great, but I fear I may have been too hasty in my assessment.

I haven't started playing yet (I start lessons in two weeks!) so I'm not really in a position to "play" it and really get a feel for how it sounds. This is a concern of mine as well.

She's offered it to several people, but gave me first dibs on it. She would like it gone this week, so I'm under a little pressure to make a decision (not by her, but more self-imposed.)

I was about to drop about $700 on a new Casio digital piano to start on so I could learn and develop my skills before investing in a good quality baby grand in a year or two.

This will cost me moving ($200 probably) and a good visit from a trusted tech (probably another $200?) to put it in good playing condition.

My gut feeling is to pass, despite only having to invest far less in this than a new digital piano....



Posted By: BoseEric

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/06/12 09:39 PM

Sohmers are very well designed and built pianos, so don't pass on a free one too quickly. Get a tech to give it a look over.
Posted By: BDB

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/06/12 09:50 PM

It might cost you more than $700 to move it, tune it, and perhaps regulate it, but it should serve you a lot better than a $700 Casio.
Posted By: MacDan

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/06/12 09:51 PM

Thanks for your input. I will be interested to see what others have to say as well.

I was thinking that if it is worth taking, for what little I may have invested it when I am ready to move up to a more expensive and modern instrument in the future I will have at least gotten my investment out of it...

Posted By: MacDan

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/06/12 09:52 PM

It is here in town, and my mover is telling me about $175-$200 to move it.

I have no idea what it would cost to regulate it. Haven't asked my tech about that.


Posted By: pianonewb

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/06/12 10:30 PM

i have never owned an acoustic, and probably never will. I play the acoustic at church(I'm the church piano player), and own a Casio PX 120 here at home. If I were contemplating a DP upgrade or the offer of the piano you describe in the condition you describe, there would be no contest. I'd jump on that offer so fast you wouldn't believe it.
And as far as having the piano regulated goes, the acoustic I play on was built in the 50s, and given to our church about 10 years ago. It gets regular tuning, but as far as I know, has never been regulated, at least since we've owned it. There are some unlevel keys, and the piano is slightly quiet in the high register, but it plays fairly well, and will probably never be regulated. I don't even think I'd be able to make our congregation understand what a regulation is and why it's needed.IMHO, as long as all the notes sound(no dead keys) and the action is not so heavy or gritty/sluggish that it cannot be played, I'd move it, let it sit for 2 or 3 weeks to settle, and have a tuning done. Although not optimal, you can hold off on regulation until you can afford it if cash is a problem. IMO the difference between a $700 DP and that acoustic, as it sits(if as described) is so great they are not even in the same universe. I'd jump on it. MHO.
Posted By: MacDan

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/06/12 10:34 PM

Thanks for your insight and opinion, Mike.

I may still attempt to find a decent used DP so I can practice at night and when it's "quiet time" around the house, since one of my sons works a very late shift that has him coming home around 4:00 am.

I don't want to get off topic, but there is a Kawai CN 290 a friend has for sale that I can probably get for $300-$400 that could fit the bill for my DP needs.

Again, thanks!

Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/06/12 11:08 PM

I'd likely go for the Sohmer, however your figures are wrong,

The piano will likely need about $1000-$1500 in action work and voicing. However, it would likely be well worth the investment.

The work could be staged over a year or two.
Posted By: rlinkt

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/07/12 12:52 AM

My daughter played on a Yamaha P140 for 3 years before we upgraded to a grand. There is just no comparison. Her teacher was not totally happy with her touch on the piano at her studio, and kept saying that the touch will not develop playing the digital keyboards. I never quite bought that argument until I saw how my daughter's touch changed after she started playing a real piano. I would jump on a deal like this in a heartbeat, unless the piano has problems.
Posted By: EChasen

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/07/12 12:53 AM

Three years ago, when I was thinking about starting piano lessons, someone offered me a 1923 Sohmer Cupid for free, and I took it. It had a nice sound, but the touch was very light--although I didn't know that at the time. I put about $1500 into it while I had it, but playing other pianos, especially my teacher's, convinced me that the touch was holding me back-and a few months ago I bought a 1995 Kawai KG-2A.

Having the Sohmer, though, gave me a good start, and a pretty inexpensive one, while I discovered this was an activity I enjoyed. I think it's hard--maybe even impossible--to pick out the right piano for yourself when you have no previous experience playing one. Friends and teachers can help you get the sound you want, I think--but not the touch or action you, not they, like.

I'd definitely take the Sohmer over the Casio for sure-I have an electric piano with a headphone jack I play when I don't want to disturb others, and the Sohmer was much more fun to play and way, way, better sounding-but understand that it may be just a way to get your feet wet as a pianist. If you like playing, you may well want something better soon, but the Sohmer will buy you some time till you know what you really want.
Posted By: MacDan

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/07/12 01:39 AM

All of your comments have been great, and have made me realize that I should probably consider taking this piano, if only for the experience of having an acoustical piano to play as I learn.

I'll continue to see what people have to say, but I suspect I will probably take it based on what I am hearing.

Thanks to all,

Posted By: pelf

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/07/12 01:45 AM

I used to practice on a Sohmer spinet 35 years ago. I really enjoyed it. I would take an acoustic over a digital anyway, but I expect that a Sohmer would be very nice.
Posted By: RickG1

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/07/12 02:34 AM

Take the Sohmer! Even if you have to put some money into it, it should be worth it.
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/07/12 02:51 AM

Go for it.
Posted By: RealPlayer

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/07/12 03:00 AM

I think it's probably a good choice for you. A composer friend in NYC asked me to look at very much the same Sohmer piano (except this one was a bit older, I think, 1960s or 1950s). At your stage it's a good idea. IMO a pro who practices many hours a day might find it a bit lightly built, but for my friend's needs (and yours) it's great, and it's what you need to have to get used to the acoustic's feel.
Posted By: MacDan

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/07/12 11:37 AM

Again, thanks to all for your thoughts and observations. After reading the responses and sleeping on it, I have decided to take the piano.

Thank you,

Posted By: Forrest Halford

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/07/12 01:54 PM

Back away from the computer. Pick up the phone and give that wonderful lady a call and say to her 'I'll take it. Thank you so much for offering such a wonderful gift'.

Posted By: Chopinlover49

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/07/12 01:59 PM

I agree. Even if you have to eventually spent a thousand or two, do you think you could buy one, fixed up, for that?
Posted By: thetandyman

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/08/12 04:17 AM

Take it, have a tech regulate it, and enjoy! Later, buy a digital for other reasons, like playing midi files and learning through the internet. I use my digital to play my 5000+ vintage piano rolls downloaded from the internet. My grand is there to inspire me to keep practicing because of it's awesome presence and sound.
Posted By: OperaTenor

Re: Should I Take It? Sohmer Baby Grand - 10/08/12 05:59 AM

Good choice, Dan. you'll be glad you took her up on the Sohmer.

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