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Posted By: Retsacnal Baldwin M ? - 08/23/13 04:16 AM
As some of you know, I've been looking for a small grand piano. I've done a lot of research, and asked some questions, but now I'm curious about this specific model. In fact, I'm going to look at one tomorrow.

After reading a lot of posts on here, it seems many people highly regard the Baldwin M. There are also some detractors, given it's size limitation (5'2"), but I've read quite a few posts that say it seems to overcome its size, and/or at least performs better than other pianos in its size range.

I'd love to have some current opinions about the M (the posts I read spanned a few years). I also have a couple questions:
  • A lot of posts referenced the "Artist Series." Is that different from the regular M model? From a certain year or production era? How can I determine if this model is or isn't an "artist" model?
  • I read on here that Baldwins suffered quality problems around 1999, but the one I'm going to look at was built in 1974--were there any problems in that era?
Thanks in advance. You folks are awesome. I've spent hours and hours reading this forum, current and older posts. In fact, it's not uncommon lately for me to fall asleep with my iPad on my chest, browser open to pianoworld!
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/23/13 06:01 AM
Since you are probably only going to find used Baldwin M in todays market-the condition and quality of preparation/re-conditioniong/rebuilding are going to trump most initial build considerations. Hire an independent technician to inspect any prospects that pass your initial smell/touch/hear tests.

Make sure they look for poor quality glue joints where the soundboard meets the rim and between the bridge and soundboard. Some newer Baldwin grands have problems there.
Posted By: Rich Galassini Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/23/13 10:17 AM
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT

Make sure they look for poor quality glue joints where the soundboard meets the rim and between the bridge and soundboard. Some newer Baldwin grands have problems there.


Good call Ed.

Also, check for bridge pins that are secure and not pulling out of place, particularly in the age range you are considering. The vertically laminated bridges without caps have a tendency toward this problem.

Personally, I like a fine Baldwin M better than most Steinway S models I have played. If you find one you enjoy, you potentially have a fine piano.

Oh, and an M made in the USA is by definition an Artist Series piano.
Posted By: Rich Galassini Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/23/13 10:21 AM
One other thing:

I believe that after her Estonia, the Baldwin M was our dear Apple's favorite piano.

Please correct me if I am remembering wrong people.

...missing you, Apple. frown
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/23/13 11:10 PM
Thanks, guys, for the feedback!

Ed, thanks for the tips. I would definitely have it checked out by someone competent, but after today's visit I didn't look at the innards too deeply, and probably won't follow up on it.

Rich, thanks too. I'd seen your favorable comparison to the Steinway S in an older post, and almost quoted you. I think apple also commented in the same post. This post. Your comment gives me the impression that Apple no longer visits this site.

Anyway, the piano was described as a "really excellent" instrument. I was disappointed. It had some nicks and scratches, which didn't surprise me given its age. I'm not a great player, but I've poked and prodded at pianos my whole life. Started lessons in 2nd grade, and continued for 5 years. And off and on since then I'll sit down and "play" sometimes if I happen across a piano. In college I took voice lessons and sang in choir--I'd often sneak into a practice room and fiddle around with a piano. My point is, that while I'm not a "pianist," I do have a good idea what the keyboard should feel like, if that makes sense.

I'll itemize the things I noticed, since each may have a different cause, and/or need a different repair (I'm new to this):
  • Some of the gaps between keys were distinctly wider than others. Not that a pencil would slip though, but enough that it kind of stood out--maybe 1/8 inch in a few random places.
  • There was a lot of side-to-side play in the keys. I could rest my hands on top, and sort of shift them left and right. Maybe 3/16 of an inch or so, but some spots seemed worse than others.
  • Depressing the keys took distinctly more effort than normal. I can't really put a metric on how much, but enough so that I didn't feel comfortable trying to play it.
  • I played some simple chords and stuff, and chromatic scales, and I noticed that it also made "creaky" noises at times, sometimes with key depression, and more when keys were let up quickly (perhaps more discernible because the string was making less noise). There were certain groups of keys that "creaked" pretty much any time I pressed them, and some others seemed a little bit sporadic.
The piano was in surprisingly good tune (considering the above), and as an "instrument" it sounded pretty nice when the owner played it for me. She was able to play it well and make it sound nice, but she acknowledged the "creakiness."

Clearly, it needs some work, and perhaps parts too. I don't even know enough to know if it's worth looking into, how much that kind of work would cost, or if it'd exceed the value of the piano.

I also visited a piano store, and after playing two or three pianos that were in proper working order, I can confirm my observations above.
Posted By: Dave B Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/23/13 11:33 PM
You're describing a very worn action. Get a tech-check. Might only need new key-bushings and regulation or it could need all new action parts.
Posted By: Jolly Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/24/13 12:18 PM
Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
One other thing:

I believe that after her Estonia, the Baldwin M was our dear Apple's favorite piano.

Please correct me if I am remembering wrong people.

...missing you, Apple. frown


M or R.

At one time she owned one, or the other.
Posted By: Rich D. Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/24/13 02:08 PM
Apple owned a Baldwin M.

Rich
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/27/13 04:35 AM
Can anyone recommend a good tech/appraiser in the Washington DC area? To look at this, and potentially other pianos?

Just out of curiosity, what might a new action run (ball park figure)?

Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/27/13 05:16 AM
Rick Butler pops into my mind without looking at my list.
Posted By: Rich Galassini Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/27/13 10:54 AM
DC is practically my back yard. A few names that come to mind in the general area are David and Robin Pitts, David Hughes, Sam Powell, and Chuck Cohen.

Where exactly is the piano?
Posted By: Rich D. Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/27/13 12:41 PM
I've used James Colwell (http://jamescolwell.com/) for years. He's a excellent rebuilder as well as all around great piano technician. His fees are also very reasonable. He covers the whole DC area. Good luck.

Rich

Posted By: Minnesota Marty Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/27/13 12:47 PM
Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
DC is practically my back yard.

Rich, you have a very lovely back yard. However, when are you going to redo that big, rectangular water thing, and turn it into something truly tasteful, like a grand piano shaped swimming pool?
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/27/13 10:49 PM
The piano is in Hyattsville, MD, but the seller told me last night that it had been sold on Sunday.

This is the piano:

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/mld/msg/4021303927.html

She said she needed to sell it by the end of the month, and I emailed to say that her tech had never returned my call, and that we were going out of town on the long weekend, so I didn't think we'd be able to work anything out. When I visited to see the piano I didn't itemize all the issues like I did above, only pointed out the "creaky/squeaky" keys. She said, "oh yeah, that just started," but she was able to reach right over and hit a few of the worst ones. Seller struck me as disingenuous, but, of course, she has her own agenda.

Anyway, so I emailed to say that I thought the piano had potential, but needed a lot of work, and listed the same issues as above. I didn't list it above, or mention it in the email, but the pedals seemed to have more resistance than pedals normally do, and there was also what appeared to be a water stain on the sound board.

She replied that her tech "thought $200 would be enough to correct the flaws you mentioned, which is why I didn't ask $4K." Why not invest the 200 to get 1000 more back. Earlier she told me that he said it was worth 4500, but did not say it needed any repairs. Even when I pointed out the squeaky keys, she didn't say "he said $200..."

Frankly, I don't know why she's telling me any of that if she sold it. That's all she needs to say. The ad's still up, and it has been reworded to say some of the above.
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/28/13 12:43 AM
btw, thanks Ed, Rich D, and Rich G. Once I find another piano I'll still need to work with someone.
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Baldwin M ? - 08/28/13 12:45 AM
Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
DC is practically my back yard. A few names that come to mind in the general area are David and Robin Pitts, David Hughes, Sam Powell, and Chuck Cohen.

Wow, just looked a little closer at the names--David Pitts was my dad's name! Small world.
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