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Searching for a new grand piano!

Posted By: twocats

Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/23/15 02:01 AM

Hello, piano lovers! I posted here a couple of months ago asking about feedback on my Petrof voicing, which sounded muffled to me. Since then I have been trying hard to break in the voicing and it's been improving over time, and if it's like the Petrof upright I had before it should become quite lovely. It's really quite a nice piano (especially for the price), but I thought that in a few years, I would try to find my "dream piano".

Well, I recently had a stopover in California and checked out an older German-built Feurich. The tone definitely showed its age but the touch was just amazing, and it made me realize that when I felt that I couldn't play the first page of the Chopin Ballade No. 1 as sensitively as I'd like, that it wasn't me, it was the piano! While it looks like it won't work out (thanks to R. Kassman and Judy with the Feurich for talking to me about it!), now I'm on the hunt to find another piano that can respond with such sensitivity. I like reading about other people's searches for their pianos and thought I would share my own smile

I ended up visiting the three big piano stores in Portland this weekend. My first stop was Michelle's, where they have a consigned 5 year old Estonia 190 in pyramid mahogany for an unbelievable price. I have read so many great things about the recent Estonias, but it just wasn't for me, both in touch and tone. It'll be a fabulous deal for someone else! I played a bunch of other pianos, including their Steinways, but nothing caught my eye. There have been two Steinways that I have played in my life that I loved-- one that was in my college dining hall that they would open up for recitals, and one concert grand. I didn't play any that came close to what I remembered from years ago.

Today I decided to go to Classic Pianos. They have a huge selection, and I must have tried out 20-30 pianos. I'm not sure if I prefer a slightly brighter tone, but my two favorite pianos were a new Schimmel and a new Bosendorfer, both ones facing the wall (perhaps reflecting the sound more?). I felt that many of their pianos sounded too muted down for my taste, and it was hard to get good dynamic range. I think the Schimmel was the most expensive line and I didn't note the size (so confusing to have all the different lines!) and the Bosendorfer was a 6'3" that was a couple years old-- I greatly preferred the tone to the brand new one next to it. It was an extremely sensitive piano but at over $70k, way out of my price range! They have a little house adjacent to the store where they can bring 2-3 pianos for you to compare side by side in a home environment, and I also tried the two Schimmels in there. Brian asked me what I didn't like about the touch and tone and I couldn't give him a clear answer, just that it didn't feel quite right. I always knew that I'm particular but I didn't realize just how particular until today!

Since I still had some time, I also stopped at Portland Piano Company on my way home. I've been there a couple of times to attend master classes (as an audience member) and concerts, but have only played a few of their pianos. I got to play two new 7' Faziolis, a Fazioli concert grand, a Shigeru Kawai SK-3, a Grotrian, and an assortment of used pianos. My favorite by far was one of the 7' Faziolis that had been voiced more mellow than the one next to it, so that it was mellow but still very clear. I liked it very much but still didn't feel that it was the one (and good thing, given the $117k price tag!).

So, today I found out that I have extremely expensive taste and am very particular about what I like in pianos. I had expected to find many pianos that I liked and could narrow down to my favorites, but I just wasn't crazy about most of the ones I played. I did play a couple of old Baldwins (probably 1950's or 60's) that clearly needed some work, but in general I liked their touch and tone. I have a feeling that this will end up being quite a long search! Next time I go up to Seattle, I plan to visit some stores there, and also when I visit my sister in the Bay Area. Stay tuned smile
Posted By: AZ_Astro

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/23/15 03:44 AM

I really enjoyed reading about your experience. I envy you the ability to play at a high level with the ear to go along with it.

I have only been playing for 3 1/2 years and have a long way to go. But, like you, I have made the rounds of local dealers and have been playing their high end and used pianos. I am able to discern the bell-like clarity of some of the high end Yamahas and distinguish them from the more complex timbre of the Steinways and Mason and Hamlins. But I am sure I still have a long way to go in developing my ear.

As for touch, I played a Kawai Shigeru a year ao (I think I've played six of them now) and was blown away at how easily I was able to convert my musical impulses into sound.

I was haunting the local Kawai/Schimmel dealer a month ago and played a new Schimmel that was quite spectacular in both tone and touch. I really loved playing it and the owner of the store said: "It sounds like you've found your piano." And, you know what, if I'd had a spare $77,000 in my pocket that might have been true! Ha ha.

So - I recognize your quandry and am delighted to hear your thoughts as you progress through your search. Best wishes and good luck in your search!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/23/15 05:13 AM

Thanks, Astro! I thought the Shigeru I played was voiced way too mellow. They had another but the lyre wasn't properly attached so I didn't get to try it. The touch was pretty responsive but I had expected more due to its reputation.

Pretty excited to plan a piano hunting trip to Seattle in the next few weeks!
Posted By: AZ_Astro

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/23/15 06:38 AM

Sounds like fun. Enjoy the trip!
Posted By: BrianDX

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/23/15 11:45 AM

Hi twocats!

Really enjoyed reading about your piano buying experience.

Our experiences (about this time last year) were a bit different, although in the long run it kind of matches yours (I'll explain that in a minute).

We knew we wanted a nice grand, but thought an entry-level grand was all we could go for. Now due to having played on Yamaha C-series pianos before (including our teacher's beautifully restored 1972 C3), I'll admit we had bit of a bias for Japanese instruments. However, when we tried the GC1M both of us did not care either for the feel of the action nor the overall tone. The plastic feel of the keys also bothered us.

We tried other brands in the store (did not play the Steinways for price and other considerations) and was not making a connection.

Finally even though it was out of our price range we tried the C2X on the floor. Loved the feel of the action, the tone, the feel of the keys themselves, everything. And, after a few lucky breaks we were able to procure the piano, and we have never looked back.

The interesting part is this: A few months ago I finally had the chance to play a few high-end pianos (including Steinway). I was very surprised to find out these instruments (some that cost 3-4 times what our C2X cost) really didn't raise the bar for me at all. Were they beautiful looking and sounding, sure. Did they offer a higher level of performance to justify their much higher prices, not for me.

So yes, I'm more convinced than ever that the logo on the fallboard is one of the least important aspects of the buying process. I still think however, that the entry-level pianos we tried were noticeably lacking in many areas, and I'm glad we made a "once in a lifetime" purchase, rather than buying a "starter" piano.

Best of luck on your search.
Posted By: Rich D.

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/23/15 02:23 PM

I know the feeling of falling in love with high end pianos. Once I played my first Grotrian many years ago, there were few pianos, to my ear that could match it. In addition to the pianos you've already tried I would also put Sauter, and Steingraeber on your list. The Sauter Omega 220 is one of the best grands of that size I've every played and any size Steingraeber grand is extraordinary in every way musically. Steingraeber being probably the only piano that might draw me away from Grotrian. Good luck, and have fun in your search.

Rich
Posted By: Withindale

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/23/15 06:13 PM

An expertly rebuilt piano could be the answer. When you are in Seattle you could visit Ed McMorrow at Mukilteo and see.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/23/15 06:25 PM

Brian - I did try some Yamaha CX series and they were nice instruments! The Steinways that I played really did not excite me, although one sounded lovely when I heard someone else playing it.

Rich - I will try to play those-- think there is a Sauter dealer in Seattle. Except now I'll just be lusting after more pianos that I can't afford, haha.

Ian - thanks for the recommendation, Ed had already reached out to me. I can stop at his workshop on the way to Fandrich & Sons smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 05:38 AM

Just returned from Seattle! I must have played 40-50 pianos during this trip. Details to come, with a few pics as well. I was told that I have Perri Knize's sensitive hearing-- not sure if this is an affliction or a blessing, but I'm definitely on my own little Grand Obsession journey. I'm embarrassed that I ever felt that she was too fussy and obsessed!

SPOILER: I found my dream piano.

SPOILER #2: I can't afford it.
Posted By: BornInTheUSA

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 07:55 AM

Originally Posted by twocats
Just returned from Seattle! I must have played 40-50 pianos during this trip. Details to come, with a few pics as well. I was told that I have Perri Knize's sensitive hearing-- not sure if this is an affliction or a blessing, but I'm definitely on my own little Grand Obsession journey. I'm embarrassed that I ever felt that she was too fussy and obsessed!

SPOILER: I found my dream piano.

SPOILER #2: I can't afford it.


If you have the money tied up in 401K's or IRA's, you could transfer some of it to a self-directed IRA and "invest" in a piano.

I thought it might be borderline illegal, but this guy is doing something like that - but he's renting out his instruments.
https://www.trustetc.com/about/news/etc-in-the-press/new-york-times

And Mason & Hamlin is even spinning their pianos as "investments."
http://masonhamlin.com/investment



Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 11:58 AM

Originally Posted by michaelha
And Mason & Hamlin is even spinning their pianos as "investments."
http://masonhamlin.com/investment
Even though I own an eight year old BB and like it a lot, I find that ad appalling. It's just complete nonsense considering all pianos depreciate at least for the first 10-20 years.
Posted By: PhilipInChina

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 01:46 PM

If pianos appreciate in value why would manufacturers want to sell them?
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 02:43 PM

Originally Posted by michaelha
If you have the money tied up in 401K's or IRA's, you could transfer some of it to a self-directed IRA and "invest" in a piano.

I thought it might be borderline illegal, but this guy is doing something like that - but he's renting out his instruments.
https://www.trustetc.com/about/news/etc-in-the-press/new-york-times

And Mason & Hamlin is even spinning their pianos as "investments."
http://masonhamlin.com/investment

Oooooh, that just seems... unwise. This piano costs more than the condo I used to have in Austin.
Posted By: PianoWorksATL

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 04:39 PM

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Even though I own an eight year old BB and like it a lot, I find that ad appalling. It's just complete nonsense considering all pianos depreciate at least for the first 10-20 years.
Yes and no. Because of the longevity of good pianos (upper middle & above), they outlast and outpace inflation. It's not a stock or bond, but it's not a typical depreciating asset like a car or appliance.

I find that most good pianos surpass the original purchase price ~ 12 years (exceptions for concert grands, exotic finishes, or below average condition). If the piano is well bought (with some reasonable initial discount), that time frame can be shortened to 7-10 years. There are always unpredictable forces like our recent, extended recession or changes to a brand's positioning that can alter this track. Truly, most mid-grade pianos follow this financial track as well.

Depreciation is always vs. price for new. Your piano will eventually pass your purchase price and will stay above it for decades before it reaches the point where it will need to be rebuilt. And at that point, the cost of restoration vs. replacement (because yours is a premium, performance level instrument) will make financial sense as well.
Posted By: PianoWorksATL

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 04:41 PM

Originally Posted by PhilipInChina
If pianos appreciate in value why would manufacturers want to sell them?
If art pieces appreciate in value, why would artists want to sell them? wink
Posted By: BornInTheUSA

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 06:08 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by michaelha
If you have the money tied up in 401K's or IRA's, you could transfer some of it to a self-directed IRA and "invest" in a piano.

I thought it might be borderline illegal, but this guy is doing something like that - but he's renting out his instruments.
https://www.trustetc.com/about/news/etc-in-the-press/new-york-times

And Mason & Hamlin is even spinning their pianos as "investments."
http://masonhamlin.com/investment

Oooooh, that just seems... unwise. This piano costs more than the condo I used to have in Austin.


I forgot to say, only if you have oversized retirement accounts, but definitely don't put your retirement at risk.
Posted By: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 07:05 PM

"Surpassing the original purchase price" does not make something into a good investment, even if that's what happens to high end pianos (which I have to say I doubt). There are several reasons for this:

1. Something may be a decent investment if it can later be sold for more than the cost basis. The cost basis of a fine piano is not the purchase price. You have to add sales tax, the costs of maintaining it, moving costs, etc., in order to generate the basis, which will be substantially more than the purchase price.

2. Something may be a decent investment if it can later be sold for more than the cost basis, taking inflation into account.

3. There is a difference between getting one's money out of an asset and selling an asset that is a good investment. Getting your money back (even if you could when you sell the piano) is not enough to make something into an investment.

4. You have to sell the piano in the right market to the right people. You cannot sell it to a dealer, because the dealer will need to buy it for some fraction of what the dealer expects to get for it. You cannot sell it at auction, because auction prices are low, and there would be huge premiums to pay the auction house in any event. You would have to sell it to an individual purchaser through some private mechanism, and I cannot believe that an individual would pay anything like retail value (even set at the used piano price point) for a used piano. A buyer in such a situation would need a bargain, or else he or she would go to a dealer, who can do things like provide a warranty.

Anyway, this is what I think.
Posted By: PianoWorksATL

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 08:16 PM

Considering that the best current savings rates lose money vs. inflation, even with the barriers to liquidating a piano, it's a less risky investment than, say, stocks & bonds, homes or even gold over the last few years.

I'm not saying it's a musician's retirement replacement (like with rare violins), but compared with any other product you can use on a daily basis, many pianos could be defended as a "safe" place to spend.

It's hard to believe that our perspective is not skewed by our lengthy recession. Even as the piano market recovers, it's still much smaller than recent historical averages. In the past with higher historical averages, reselling on the private market was also easier, faster, with less dramatic discounting required. I could point to numerous contributing factors including craigslist, retiring baby boomers, music education in schools, households spending priorities, etc.

The interest in learning to play an instrument remains high, and that innate desire keeps us in business.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 08:48 PM

I brought three pieces to audition pianos:

1) Chopin Ballade No 1, the piece that started it all (why I started taking lessons again, got a grand, looking for another grand...). The first page requires a *very* sensitive touch and there's a huge dynamic range through the piece, and also covers a good span from bass to treble.

2) Schubert Impromptu Op 90, No 3: I haven't actually worked on this piece but can sight-read it decently. I wanted to check the sensitivity to the delicate arpeggios in the right hand and make sure that I could play them softly without the notes disappearing. It turns out that this was a really great selection that brought out different colors in the pianos that I hadn't expected, and that I didn't hear in the other pieces. A few pianos that had very nice touch felt like they were "running away" with this piece, like I lacked as much control on the arpeggios as I'd like. Really glad I brought this.

3) Mozart Piano Concerto in E-flat Major: I used to work on this in high school. I threw it in the bag because it's a nice Classical piece that includes elegant, very typical Mozart bits-- and my sonatas book is too fat wink
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/15/15 11:01 PM

My first stop in Seattle was Classical Grands, where I was met by Steve. It's a part-time business (by appointment only) and I got the feeling that they may not continue after selling their remaining pianos. They had two 7-year old (new) August Forster grands and a German Feurich. He said that he had his tech focus on tuning the AF 190, since he thought the bigger piano would be my focus, but I found the treble a bit too harsh (it was up on a wooden "stage" area), so quickly moved down to the carpeted area where he had a smaller AF and the Feurich. I found the August Forster voice to be big, very clear and cheerful. It actually reminded me very much of my Petrof, maybe a tad more responsive in touch but not enough to upgrade. The Feurich was voiced very mellow, but I liked the touch more. Too bad I couldn't have the touch of the Feurich with the tone of the AF....

Next stop was... lunch! My cousin met us at The French Bakery in Bellevue, where I shouldn't have assumed that the salmon sandwich was smoked (it was a salmon salad) and should have gotten their delicious prosciutto sandwich instead. We pulled out of our parking spot as I looked up Classic Pianos on my GPS, and found that it was just two blocks from there! So we circled around the parking lot and parked again smile

I was very impressed by the prep at Classic Pianos in Seattle. You walk into a room full of Yamahas (which I didn't try), and can go through there to another room with their high-end grands and uprights, which included Schimmels, Bosendorfers (including two art-case ones), restored Steinways, and a couple of Yamahas too. I sat down at a Schimmel and started playing, and told my husband, "this is a nice piano!". The touch on all of the Schimmels was exceptionally smooth and buttery, with a good feeling of depth. Then I moved to the first Bosendorfer in the line and instantly fell in love. This is what people mean when they say a piano plays itself! It was completely effortless, with a beautiful singing, rich tone. It was such an utter joy to play, and I kept telling my husband how amazing this piano was (he has no musical ear whatsoever). And the best part was, we could take home that Bosendorfer 225 for just $165K.... I didn't like any of their other Bosendorfers that much, but went back and forth between the four Schimmels for a while. When I played the Schubert on the first one, I had the feeling that the arpeggios were running away from me, and only one of the Schimmels sounded richer and more controlled than the others for that piece. Turns out that the one I liked was a Konzert, while the rest were Classic. I really liked the touch on all those Schimmels but felt that the voicing was too mellow. Again, could be that they were new pianos, meant to be brightened over the next few years, but I prefer a "lightly broken-in" piano with a tone that I already like. (Also, I prefer used pianos to new for price reasons as well.)

Last stop of the day was Northwest Pianos. They had a used Sauter Delta that was supposedly modeled after Beethoven's own piano, which was really the ugliest piano I've ever seen. It didn't sound great, either, I want to say it reminded me of a harpsichord. I also played a brand new Sauter Omega, which the guy said needed more work by the tech, it didn't leave much of an impression on me. I was really excited to try the Sauter uprights-- I understand now what people mean by it being similar to a grand action, but I found the "springiness" strange and prefer the touch of a nice Schimmel or Petrof upright. They had a few Petrof uprights (I used to have a 125) and the touch of the 131 was really quite nice and responsive. I played a used Petrof III and the touch was very light and easy to play, much lighter than my Petrof IV, but I thought the tone of my piano was much better.

I felt after the first day that I was validated in thinking that I would know when I found the right piano. All I had to do was find one at about 1/5th the price wink

Posted By: BornInTheUSA

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/16/15 02:34 AM

Bosendorfer's have that effect on people. the SMP is $178K for the 225, I wonder what type of discounts you can expect for a Bosendorfer? Are they more/less non-negotiable or are they like Yamaha's where the street price is sometimes close to 50% off MSRP?
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/16/15 08:50 PM

Originally Posted by michaelha
Bosendorfer's have that effect on people. the SMP is $178K for the 225, I wonder what type of discounts you can expect for a Bosendorfer? Are they more/less non-negotiable or are they like Yamaha's where the street price is sometimes close to 50% off MSRP?

I only fell for that one Bosendorfer-- I've probably played about 10 now, including a concert grand. I did get offered a very good price for a 185CS (well below SMP) that I was requested to keep confidential, so honestly I have no idea about pricing flexibility. I'd definitely try to make it work if they were willing to knock off $100K though wink
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/19/15 05:18 AM

Day 2 of my Seattle piano search (now that I've gotten around to my photos):

We started the day by visiting LightHammer Pianos, Ed McMorrow's rebuilding workshop in Mukilteo. I'm sure Ed will see this; it was really nice to meet you, Ed! Hope you don't mind me saying that you're a character smile Ed was really quite a gracious host, and his rebuilds were definitely among the best I've played.

[Linked Image]

I started with the three Steinways at the right, which were nice but didn't grab me. I then played the little Baldwin at the end, which had a nice, rich tone. I liked it more than the Steinways, for sure. I then moved on to the 5'1" Chickering which may just be the prettiest little piano I've ever seen! It had an incredibly smooth and sensitive action, and a big and rich voice for such a little piano. I wanted to love it but the tone was too warm and "thick" for me, I guess I like a little more sparkle and immediate clarity. Ed said that the tone would brighten over time and that he knew what the result would sound like, but I could only refer to what was in front of me.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Ed also had a massive Chickering (photo didn't come out) that had a rich bass, but I thought the touch wasn't as nice as the little one. The thing that struck me the most about his pianos (especially on the Chickerings) was the sustain-- held notes were long and I really felt that they bloomed, like the sound quality would change over time. In contrast, my Petrof also has pretty good sustain but the note is just long, and I don't feel that there is a character to the sustain itself. Anyway, Ed has really nice pianos, the tone just wasn't for me. But if I was really limited in space I may very well have gone for that little Chickering....
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/19/15 06:45 AM

Quote
My first stop was Michelle's, where they have a consigned 5 year old Estonia 190 in pyramid mahogany for an unbelievable price. I have read so many great things about the recent Estonias, but it just wasn't for me, both in touch and tone.


Michelle's no longer an authorized Estonia dealer so they may have a vested interest to not show an Estonia in best prepped condition. Classic Pianos, their direct competitor in Portland,will.

Quote
I got to play two new 7' Faziolis, a Fazioli concert grand, a Shigeru Kawai SK-3, a Grotrian, and an assortment of used pianos. My favorite by far was one of the 7' Faziolis that had been voiced more mellow than the one next to it, so that it was mellow but still very clear.


I don't blame you but you need to compare this 7' Faz against others of same size. We recently sold a 6'10 Estonia exactly against this model - and won.

But not always so lucky: we also lost one recently in same comparison.

It can go either way: not bad considering there's almost 70 k difference between the pianos...

When in bay area, do check out Kassman.

Russell has a way to shed unexpected light onto these type questions.

Plus he has a special gift to save $$ for his customers...

Norbert wink
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/19/15 07:38 AM

Norbert, after playing so many pianos it's pretty clear to me that the Estonia at Michelle's was completely unprepped. However, the one I played at Classic didn't do anything for me either, it seemed too mellow and lacking dynamic range.

That 7' Fazioli at Portland Piano Company was my favorite of the pianos there but I didn't love it, I just liked it more than the others. But if you keep reading you'll find that I fell for a 7' Bosendorfer! I'm just playing all the pianos I can and seeing what I like, while pretending I don't know the price wink

I may very well be going to the Bay Area, both because my sister lives there and a crazy possible opportunity-- about a piano, of course. But more on that later, if it happens. I'd love to visit Kassman's store if I go.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/19/15 05:15 PM

Continuing Day 2 of our piano search in Seattle (which actually ended up being Days 2 and 3...), we drove up to Stanwood in the afternoon to visit Fandrich & Sons. A little background here, I've been wanting to visit their workshop for about 10 years now, since reading about the Fandrich Vertical Action when I was researching on upright pianos (I'm a compulsive-research type person!). We lived in Austin then and a visit wasn't really practical.

Anyway, I was really excited to go see them! They live and work on a beautiful wooded property, and this was their piano showroom:

[Linked Image]

It was so clear when we visited Ed McMorrow that he loves his work, and the same is true for Darrell and Heather Fandrich. When I visited, they had a 5'5", a 5'7" (or maybe it was a 6'2"?), and a new 7-footer that they were still working on. They said that it had just come from NAMM and the tech there had voiced it, so Darrell was working on voicing it to his taste. They also had a 1980's W. Hoffmann (built in the Feurich factory), and a "demonstrator closeout" August Hoffman. They didn't have any of their vertical action uprights, but had a Bohemia upright.

I think I should make it clear that I was pretty exhausted by the time we got there. I hadn't been sleeping well for a couple of weeks, and although playing tons of pianos is fun, it can be tiring too. I had so many expectations for these pianos, but when I sat down the touch just didn't seem right. The two smaller Fandrich & Sons grands seemed like they had really deep key depth, and the key travelled down too fast. The 5'5" actually had a bigger and clearer voice than the bigger grand next to it (I found out later that it had different bridge technology, and Darrell said he could probably bring out the most from that little piano). I played the 7-footer, and although it had the richness that you'd expect from such a big piano, I could hear a lot of pinging overtones in the treble.

The W. Hoffmann was way too mellow and I found that the action wasn't sensitive enough. The 5'8" August Forster had a big, clear, cheerful voice and a nice touch, similar to the one that I had played at Classical Grands.

Anyway, it was at this point that I told the Fandrichs that the touch just wasn't for me (and I was sad to have to tell them) and they debated between themselves for a bit and concluded that I must like a heavier, more meatier touch than most other people. We took a tour of their workshop and they showed us an older tropicalized, metal-studded piano they were refurbishing (should have taken a photo!). At this point, we left to go to the cottage that we'd rented up in Mount Vernon so that my husband could enjoy a couple of days off that didn't involve pianos.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/19/15 05:42 PM

The next day, we were enjoying the cottage when I got a phone call from Heather Fandrich. She said that the 7-footer definitely wasn't representative of their work since it was voiced by someone else at NAMM, and Darrell had spent quite a bit of time on more voicing, and would I return the next day on our way back to check it out and give my opinion? She didn't want me to leave with the wrong impression of their pianos.

So the following morning we went back to Fandrich & Sons before driving back to Portland. The 7-footer definitely did sound much better in the lower and middle ranges. Heather said that the treble still needed more work. I heard another pinging note and Heather fixed it on the spot. I went back and played the rest of the pianos. Maybe because I now expected a light touch, I wasn't so unnerved, though it was still not for me. The 5'5" piano had a beautiful tone and quite a big voice, reminded me of a well-prepped Steinway. And the slightly larger model was perfect for the delicate Schubert Impromptu, but not satisfying for the louder pieces. I played the W. Hoffmann again, and Darrell started voicing it when I said that it was too mellow for my taste. What Heather said was a perfect description of what I was trying to say-- she said that I must like a bit of "sparkle" in the tone. I think the W. Hoffmann did sound a bit better after Darrell voiced it.

Here's where it gets interesting: the Fandrichs started to tell me that half of it is the piano, and half of it is work by a good tech. They told me that if I mostly like my Petrof, have a good tech spend a day or two fine-regulating it, and then refine over many trips until it's the piano I want. So suddenly, after all that searching, maybe what I was looking for was at home and just needed its potential to be unleashed! I told them that I had an appointment to play a used Shigeru Kawai and also a Schimmel K189 back in Portland, but I would definitely consider their advice.

Here's Heather and Darrell with their 5'5" grand:

[Linked Image]

It's this afternoon that I'm going to check out those two other pianos, and I've been really mulling over whether I should keep the Petrof if neither of those pianos are "the one". In the end, I think I've played too many incredibly nice pianos to feel happy with what I've got.

There's also a (crazy) potential opportunity in CA that I'm not ready to talk about yet... part of me thinks that it's insane for me to consider and part of me is saying "yes! book your tickets now!". So let's see smile
Posted By: AZ_Astro

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/19/15 10:37 PM

Originally Posted by twocats


Here's where it gets interesting: the Fandrichs started to tell me that half of it is the piano, and half of it is work by a good tech. They told me that if I mostly like my Petrof, have a good tech spend a day or two fine-regulating it, and then refine over many trips until it's the piano I want. So suddenly, after all that searching, maybe what I was looking for was at home and just needed its potential to be unleashed!



That one comment about 1/2 piano and 1/2 tech is pretty insightful and helpful. It's the sort of comment that seems simple but has never been so succinctly articulated.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/19/15 11:39 PM

twocats,
Thanks for your visit and posting the pictures.

I was trying to discuss what you dislike in your Petrof to help guide you in any work that may be possible to bring you into accord with it. What you need to keep in mind is that pianos get brighter with use. I have found it far more efficient in delivering long term musical satisfaction to work with hammers that you bring up to tone. Your Petrof has hammers that must be brought down to tone and they do not hold up as well nor do they hold their voice as well long term.

At the time of your visit I had done no tuning/regulation or voicing on any of the pianos in my showroom for three months. This should give you some inkling of the kind of longevity work like mine provides. I have pianos I rebuilt thirty years ago that I still service and I have been able to experience how tone evolves with use and what kind of setup provides the best long term musical value.

There are no new pianos that contain the elements I provide in my rebuilds that produce this stability and response. If there were, I would sell them.

If what you dislike in your Petrof's tone is the somewhat "nasal" sound that all the ones I have played had-then you may need to replace the piano. This nasal tone quality is deeper in the piano than the hammers. Voicing the existing hammers or replacing them and tone regulating the entire piano can mitigate some of this tone quality, but it will always remain at some level.

Thanks for visiting!
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/19/15 11:57 PM

Originally Posted by AZ_Astro
That one comment about 1/2 piano and 1/2 tech is pretty insightful and helpful. It's the sort of comment that seems simple but has never been so succinctly articulated.
Trying to put some fractional amount on each seems rather silly to me. Why not just say the prep is very important or a great piano does not show its greatness without the work of a good tech. Actually, when dealing with tier 1 piano, some have said one of the main differences is the amount of factory prep they receive so the part about the importance of a post sale prep may not be so true.
Posted By: BDB

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 12:50 AM

Manufacturer's prep gets the piano ready to be shown. Dealer's prep may refine that. Post sale prep is what a piano needs for the long run.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 05:18 AM

Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
If what you dislike in your Petrof's tone is the somewhat "nasal" sound that all the ones I have played had-then you may need to replace the piano. This nasal tone quality is deeper in the piano than the hammers. Voicing the existing hammers or replacing them and tone regulating the entire piano can mitigate some of this tone quality, but it will always remain at some level.

Hi Ed, actually, I don't dislike the tone of my piano. It's quite sweet and lively, though after playing many more (expensive) pianos, I've come to appreciate the more complex and rich tones that some others have. Though after playing more pianos today, I think maybe it's also a size issue... the bigger pianos of course have a depth that isn't fair to compare against my Petrof.

My issue is more with the touch, which I suppose that I could have a good tech work on. But I think at this point, I'm just looking for a piano that I feel more emotionally connected to smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 05:34 AM

Played more pianos today at Classic Pianos, and my favorite of the day was a Schimmel K195 with platinum hardware. I actually thought that it might be the same favorite Schimmel from my Seattle trip, but upon coming home and comparing serial numbers, it turns out that they weren't the same piano. But I think they might be the same model! If the price wasn't so high, it could be a serious contender.

I also played a used Shigeru Kawai SK5. It was in a very small living room, with the opening up against the window. The owner said that he usually plays with the lid closed since the sound is so big, but I went ahead and played at full stick, which resulted in quite a big, clear sound. At one point I decided to take it down to half-stick, and was surprised at the sudden sweetness and warmth in the tone! The touch was on the heavy side when playing pianissimo in the mid-lower range, and the owner said that the MPA had lightened the touch, which surprised me. It was an incredibly responsive piano and trills were easy despite the heavier touch (which I'm sure could easily be addressed by a tech). It's definitely on my list.

A very cool thing is that the owner really loves piano, both playing and attending performances, and said he'd send me info on a bi-monthly recital if I'd like to go play in front of others. I already made one friend who came to play the Petrof (we've been swapping piano search stories) and it's so nice to meet more people in Portland who love music!
Posted By: BornInTheUSA

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 09:11 AM

Originally Posted by twocats

Hi Ed, actually, I don't dislike the tone of my piano. It's quite sweet and lively, though after playing many more (expensive) pianos, I've come to appreciate the more complex and rich tones that some others have. Though after playing more pianos today, I think maybe it's also a size issue... the bigger pianos of course have a depth that isn't fair to compare against my Petrof.


It's because it doesn't have the violin corpus. Jk. joke from another Petrof thread.

Anyway enjoying your comments.
Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 09:33 AM

Originally Posted by twocats


I also played a used Shigeru Kawai SK5. It was in a very small living room, with the opening up against the window. The owner said that he usually plays with the lid closed since the sound is so big, but I went ahead and played at full stick, which resulted in quite a big, clear sound. At one point I decided to take it down to half-stick, and was surprised at the sudden sweetness and warmth in the tone! The touch was on the heavy side when playing pianissimo in the mid-lower range, and the owner said that the MPA had lightened the touch, which surprised me. It was an incredibly responsive piano and trills were easy despite the heavier touch (which I'm sure could easily be addressed by a tech).


Don't assume that! I've found that Kawais are heavier than many high tier pianos - and even after techs have lightened them as much as they can, they are still not what you would call a light action. The only way to make them play lightly is with lighter hammers - which you probably wouldn't do with a new piano.
Posted By: WimPiano

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 11:11 AM

Beautiful showroom you have there Ed, and a lovely little Chickering!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 02:58 PM

Originally Posted by ando
Don't assume that! I've found that Kawais are heavier than many high tier pianos - and even after techs have lightened them as much as they can, they are still not what you would call a light action. The only way to make them play lightly is with lighter hammers - which you probably wouldn't do with a new piano.

ando, thanks for this feedback! I'm not looking for a light action, just a bit lighter than what I played last night. Hmmmmm, if I end up being serious about the SK, maybe I should start a new thread and see what other SK owners have to say.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 03:06 PM

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by AZ_Astro
That one comment about 1/2 piano and 1/2 tech is pretty insightful and helpful. It's the sort of comment that seems simple but has never been so succinctly articulated.
Trying to put some fractional amount on each seems rather silly to me. Why not just say the prep is very important or a great piano does not show its greatness without the work of a good tech. Actually, when dealing with tier 1 piano, some have said one of the main differences is the amount of factory prep they receive so the part about the importance of a post sale prep may not be so true.

In case I misquoted the Fandrichs, I probably paraphrased the message. I don't think they actually meant a strict half and half smile
Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 03:21 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by ando
Don't assume that! I've found that Kawais are heavier than many high tier pianos - and even after techs have lightened them as much as they can, they are still not what you would call a light action. The only way to make them play lightly is with lighter hammers - which you probably wouldn't do with a new piano.

ando, thanks for this feedback! I'm not looking for a light action, just a bit lighter than what I played last night. Hmmmmm, if I end up being serious about the SK, maybe I should start a new thread and see what other SK owners have to say.


People who love the Shigerus love this action because it offers great dynamic control and it's very durable and consistent due to the use of carbon fibre action components. I love it in theory, but for me it's a little too heavy. If I play very rapid arpeggios like Chopin's etude op 10 no 1, I feel it tires me out. But that's because I've always enjoyed lighter action pianos. It really depends on what you've played all your life as to what an adjustment it would be. For playing slow music, I love the control of the Shigeru - it's just the fast stuff that feels like too much muscular effort for me.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 04:03 PM

Originally Posted by ando
People who love the Shigerus love this action because it offers great dynamic control and it's very durable and consistent due to the use of carbon fibre action components. I love it in theory, but for me it's a little too heavy. If I play very rapid arpeggios like Chopin's etude op 10 no 1, I feel it tires me out. But that's because I've always enjoyed lighter action pianos. It really depends on what you've played all your life as to what an adjustment it would be. For playing slow music, I love the control of the Shigeru - it's just the fast stuff that feels like too much muscular effort for me.

Hi ando, while I'm not at the level of playing that Étude, I think the SK from yesterday would tire me out for sure.

I was just offered a very good price for the Schimmel K195 at Classic so I'm taking that into serious consideration. I'm just waiting for a response from the seller of a piano in CA. If he wants to move forward, I'll go down there in May to check out his piano!
Posted By: BornInTheUSA

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 04:44 PM

Kawai/Shigeru made a change in their newer models to lighten up the action by making the key sticks longer. The new Shigeru models have an "L" at the end, SK-5L for example and they changed the series to GX for Kawai.

I recently played a SK-7L and the action was much lighter and more sensitive than my RX-5. I would try to hunt one down if you liked the previous Shigeru.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 05:29 PM

Originally Posted by michaelha
Kawai/Shigeru made a change in their newer models to lighten up the action by making the key sticks longer. The new Shigeru models have an "L" at the end, SK-5L for example and they changed the series to GX for Kawai.

I recently played a SK-7L and the action was much lighter and more sensitive than my RX-5. I would try to hunt one down if you liked the previous Shigeru.

Thanks, michaelha! I didn't love it enough to go hunting one down in other cities, but will definitely keep the SKs in mind if I happen to be near one.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/20/15 06:51 PM

Sadness! I'll share what I've been hesitant to talk about. There's a used Bosendorfer 225 in CA where the owner wants to find the right home for his beloved piano, and even asked me to send recordings of my playing. I believe him when he said he's turned down several offers. He had said there's another offer being considered, and just when I was ready to make a leap and book a flight, he said that they're going to have the piano "visit" the other folks and see if it will work in their space. I think they are worried that the sound will be too big. So, I can still wait (and think that I should, since I would have so many regrets if the piano ends up being available and I've moved on). But I definitely feel a bit sad. And it's my birthday.

But, moving on for now, there's a 2000 Bluthner Model 6 about an hour and a half from me. Any thoughts on whether I should check it out? The only thing is that it's a bubinga finish. I honestly don't know if I could stand looking at a "leopard print" piano for the rest of my days and I think my husband would really hate how it looks! I haven't actually seen a bubinga piano in person but have seen plenty of photos. I'd say that satin mahogany is my favorite finish-- I like a nice, understated wood finish.
Posted By: Chewbacca

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/21/15 03:04 AM

If you are looking for a lighter touch then Bluthner may suit you: these pianos definitively have the lightest touch of all the top brands I have played. When well set-up the action is very responsive, which is great for playing music with a lot of fast/ligh ornements.

The tone is not for everyone though. Personally I love it.

Model 6 is a fantastic piano. If you happen to like Bluthner and are looking for a dream piano you ought to try the amazing model 2.

Cheers,
C
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/21/15 03:47 AM

Originally Posted by Chewbacca
If you are looking for a lighter touch then Bluthner may suit you: these pianos definitively have the lightest touch of all the top brands I have played. When well set-up the action is very responsive, which is great for playing music with a lot of fast/ligh ornements.

The tone is not for everyone though. Personally I love it.

Maybe not for me then, as I don't like too light a touch. Also not sure if I like the tone that I heard from a video. Thanks, you just saved me a trip to see the leopard-print piano smile
Posted By: Cassia

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/21/15 04:45 AM

There's a Bluthner II at Michelle's right now. Perhaps give that a try, and if you like it, it may be worthwhile to check out the model 6. Heck, I might check out the model II myself after Chewbacca's assessment.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/21/15 04:48 AM

Quote
If you are looking for a lighter touch then Bluthner may suit you: these pianos definitively have the lightest touch of all the top brands I have played.


I never quite understand why touch should have something to do with 'brand' Especially when using same Renner action...

Our techs have regulated dozens of pianos to owners specs and individual preferences.

Admittedly very few are really good at that.

Which is where "it's really at"

IMHO.

Norbert
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/21/15 05:25 AM

Originally Posted by Cassia
There's a Bluthner II at Michelle's right now. Perhaps give that a try, and if you like it, it may be worthwhile to check out the model 6. Heck, I might check out the model II myself after Chewbacca's assessment.

Hmmm, I don't see it on their website. But looks like they have some interesting new used pianos since I was there a month ago!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/15 07:06 AM

I'm still a bit in shock, I can't believe it's happening! The owner of the Bosendorfer 225 in CA called me this evening and asked if I would like to come try it. I just booked tickets and will be going the weekend of May 16th.

He really loves this piano so much and wants to see it go to the right home. I also talked to his tech today, and he said that it's his favorite of all the pianos he services. And it's one of the most beautiful pianos I've ever seen! Lest I spoil everything, I will try to patiently wait until my visit and try not to get my hopes up. But I'm not sure how I'm going to sleep tonight smile
Posted By: terminaldegree

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/15 12:07 PM

Good luck to you! Try not to get overly excited until you actually play the thing - sellers have a tendency to over-promise about what they have, since they have a vested financial interest...

Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/15 12:25 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
I'm still a bit in shock, I can't believe it's happening! The owner of the Bosendorfer 225 in CA called me this evening and asked if I would like to come try it. I just booked tickets and will be going the weekend of May 16th.

He really loves this piano so much and wants to see it go to the right home. I also talked to his tech today, and he said that it's his favorite of all the pianos he services. And it's one of the most beautiful pianos I've ever seen! Lest I spoil everything, I will try to patiently wait until my visit and try not to get my hopes up. But I'm not sure how I'm going to sleep tonight smile


I wouldn't be able to wait - I'd do it this weekend, or get in my car and drive all night till I got there. grin It's just too darn exciting to wait! I would kill to own a Bösendorfer 225. Good luck, hope you get it. smile

Btw, why do you have to fly there? Whereabouts in CA is it? Must be in the south, right?
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/15 02:08 PM

Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Good luck to you! Try not to get overly excited until you actually play the thing - sellers have a tendency to over-promise about what they have, since they have a vested financial interest...

Thanks for your good wishes! I genuinely believe that it's a very special piano and worth the trip to see. Though I've been so particular that if it doesn't sing to my heart, that's up to my heart to decide. I suppose I will know in about a month!

Originally Posted by ando
I wouldn't be able to wait - I'd do it this weekend, or get in my car and drive all night till I got there. grin It's just too darn exciting to wait! I would kill to own a Bösendorfer 225. Good luck, hope you get it. smile

Btw, why do you have to fly there? Whereabouts in CA is it? Must be in the south, right?

Thank you!!!! I can't even believe it's within the realm of possibility for me. When I bought my Petrof, I was looking for a nice piano for a good price and thought I'd be happy. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world today. Even if it's not the one, just the fact that I'm even in the position to consider it is pretty crazy to me.

It would probably be a 10 hour drive from here, it's 2 hours from SF. But my sister lives close to SF, and I hate driving long distances, and my husband and I share a car... so it just makes more sense to fly smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/15 08:33 PM

I got this e-mail from the tech I've been talking to, a good friend of Darrell Fandrich. I thought it might be of interest to the folks who were commenting on the importance of prep and maintenance, and for anyone else in a similar search situation.

"I talked with Darrell at length after your visit. He puts you in the <1% of skilled amateurs who really know what they want in a piano, and will search until they find it. He thinks the best path forward for you would be to team up with a skilled technician and make the Petrof as good as possible. Expect to spend at least a year improving the piano, with a couple sessions working on precision regulation of the action, and a couple more extensive sessions working on voicing the hammers. This would provide the best possible education for you about what can be accomplished (and what the limits are) for improving a good piano. You might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome!"

I wonder if anyone like me actually listens to this (very practical) advice! I feel like I experienced the magic in that one piano, so the feeling is out there and possible, and I just want to find it again and take it home with me! Oh my god, I'm just like Perri Knize. I think I need to brace myself for some disappointment.
Posted By: winston9t4

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/23/15 03:56 AM

twocats, really enjoyed reading through your search. I am also looking for a grand piano (in Seattle) and would love to compare notes. How did you evaluate each piano? Did you try to quantify each piano by assigning scores in various categories?

My budget is also probably more modest.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/23/15 04:50 AM

Originally Posted by winston9t4
twocats, really enjoyed reading through your search. I am also looking for a grand piano (in Seattle) and would love to compare notes. How did you evaluate each piano? Did you try to quantify each piano by assigning scores in various categories?

My budget is also probably more modest.

Hi winston9t4, thanks! Oh goodness, I didn't do any sort of formal evaluation, just relied on my gut feeling. What I've written was whatever I remembered.

I'd go check out Classic for sure, I really liked the Schimmels there and I thought their prep was excellent, with butter-smooth touch. They're not cheap though-- I was a bit taken aback by the current prices (but you can expect a discount off the tag price). And of course the Bosendorfer I love is there! If they haven't moved it, it's the second piano against the window. If you want a little taste of heaven! They also have a whole front room of Yamahas but I didn't try them, the new "X" series ones are supposed to be a more mellow than the older ones and really nice.

I'd also go check out Ed McMorrow's workshop in Mukilteo and Fandrich & Sons in Stanwood, to get a really interesting education if nothing else. Heather Fandrich said that they have visitors this weekend, so Darrell was going to do more prep on all the pianos before then. Ed had a little Baldwin rebuild (not yet refinished on the case) that I thought was quite nice, and I'm guessing the price would be pretty good on it. And of course he had that lovely little Chickering.

Hehe, if you're willing to drive to Portland, my Petrof is for sale and the price is right wink Despite my trying to find its replacement, it really is a nice piano!
Posted By: winston9t4

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/26/15 03:23 AM

We went by several stores today, including NW Pianos. Just a follow-up on the Sauter Omega, my wife was very impressed by it. I thought it sounded great as well, so maybe it was the prepping issue. I would give it another chance if you are ever by again. smile
Posted By: Furtwangler

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/26/15 03:36 AM

For those who may be interested, here is an example of a familiar piece being performed on a beautiful Sauter Omega:


Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 02:45 AM

Oh, the sound of that piano in the recording is lovely, even on my iPad! Perhaps I would have really enjoyed the Omega if it had been prepped properly.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 07:07 AM

Quote
Perhaps I would have really enjoyed the Omega if it had been prepped properly.


Not prepped properly by the people who import and represent them?

Norbert shocked
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 02:33 PM

Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
Perhaps I would have really enjoyed the Omega if it had been prepped properly.

Not prepped properly by the people who import and represent them?

Norbert shocked

It had just arrived, the guy said that the tech needed to do more work on it.
Posted By: winston9t4

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 06:28 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
Perhaps I would have really enjoyed the Omega if it had been prepped properly.

Not prepped properly by the people who import and represent them?

Norbert shocked

It had just arrived, the guy said that the tech needed to do more work on it.


Yes, we just saw it this past weekend. It was now setup in the front of the store, as apparently the piano to use for any concerts/recitals.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 06:49 PM

Quote

Yes, we just saw it this past weekend. It was now setup in the front of the store, as apparently the piano to use for any concerts/recitals.


I saw it there years ago.

Presumably not same piano...

Norbert
Posted By: Furtwangler

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 06:58 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
Perhaps I would have really enjoyed the Omega if it had been prepped properly.

Not prepped properly by the people who import and represent them?

Norbert shocked

It had just arrived, the guy said that the tech needed to do more work on it.


Uh huh. Riiiiiight.
Posted By: winston9t4

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 08:38 PM

Originally Posted by Furtwangler
Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
Perhaps I would have really enjoyed the Omega if it had been prepped properly.

Not prepped properly by the people who import and represent them?

Norbert shocked

It had just arrived, the guy said that the tech needed to do more work on it.


Uh huh. Riiiiiight.


Wow you guys are tough! Well, I don't have any reason to doubt the store. It seems like there was a significant change to the piano between twocats' and our visit. It sounded great to my wife now, who has played several nice pianos like Steinway D's in piano competitions. The teacher she studied with also had a Steinway D.

Getting back on topic, she also really liked the Estonia 190 at Classic, and of course the Bosendorfer 225. Unfortunately, I missed her playing those as I had to go pick up the kids.
Posted By: Furtwangler

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 08:47 PM

Originally Posted by winston9t4
Originally Posted by Furtwangler
Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
Perhaps I would have really enjoyed the Omega if it had been prepped properly.

Not prepped properly by the people who import and represent them?

Norbert shocked

It had just arrived, the guy said that the tech needed to do more work on it.


Uh huh. Riiiiiight.


Wow you guys are tough! Well, I don't have any reason to doubt the store. It seems like there was a significant change to the piano between twocats' and our visit. It sounded great to my wife now, who has played several nice pianos like Steinway D's in piano competitions. The teacher she studied with also had a Steinway D.

Getting back on topic, she also really liked the Estonia 190 at Classic, and of course the Bosendorfer 225. Unfortunately, I missed her playing those as I had to go pick up the kids.


Please let me clarify my attempt at a humorous comment:

What I am skeptical about is strictly the statement that "it had just arrived". Just arrived from a rental engagement perhaps. Just arrived on our shores, I rather doubt.

I, like your wife love Estonia 190s. And I adore the Bosendorfer 225 - which is unquestionably one of the very finest pianos made.

As is the Sauter Omega in my very humble opinion.

My sarcasm was directed elsewhere.

Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 09:25 PM

Originally Posted by winston9t4
Getting back on topic, she also really liked the Estonia 190 at Classic, and of course the Bosendorfer 225. Unfortunately, I missed her playing those as I had to go pick up the kids.

Bummer, looks like I missed out on playing the Estonia (didn't see one at Classic in Seattle). There was only one at Classic in Portland and it had a slightly "tinny" treble, which sounds like it really wasn't voiced up to potential.
Posted By: terminaldegree

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 10:09 PM

Originally Posted by Furtwangler

Please let me clarify my attempt at a humorous comment:

What I am skeptical about is strictly the statement that "it had just arrived". Just arrived from a rental engagement perhaps. Just arrived on our shores, I rather doubt.


Hi Furtwangler,

In this case I can corroborate the story, as I was considering taking a trip to Seattle very recently to look at larger grand pianos, and had to wait to book a ticket if I was going to see a new Omega at that store.
Posted By: Furtwangler

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 10:43 PM

I stand corrected then.

And did you see it?? And loved it I hope.
Posted By: terminaldegree

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 10:50 PM

I had lined up quite a trip to see many large grand pianos at a few different places (and see the PNW for the first time in my life), but a convergence of career and medical-related things in the family had me cancel at the last minute.
Posted By: Furtwangler

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/27/15 11:01 PM

Well, if and when you re-schedule - and for anyone searching for a larger grand piano for that matter, here is another candidate that I can recommend, albeit difficult to locate unfortunately:

PUT ON YOUR HEADPHONES, FOLKS

Here is the August Foerster 215

This is another "hidden gem"

Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/01/15 06:00 AM

I took the afternoon off today, and decided to go look at more pianos smile

Michelle's had some new (to me) pianos: two August Forster 215 grands and a Bluthner Model 2, all from 2002. Unfortunately, one AF was not tuned yet, and the other needed some voicing. At least I really felt the responsive action that everyone keeps talking about. The Bluthner needed voicing, too, so I couldn't really evaluate the tone. It didn't have that "plucked wood" sound that I heard in a recording (if anyone understands what I mean by that).

The almost 20-year-old 7' Fazioli was still my favorite piano there (wonderful touch!), but I noticed today that the keys looked like they were in pretty rough condition, and I felt that it had limited dynamic range. I suspect from the lack of wear on the hammers that they were new and needed to break in.

I played some newer Steinways, and the touch was very much like what I remembered from Fandrich & Sons. I can't really explain it well, it's like a lighter touch but the transition from the top to bottom of the note isn't smooth and even (maybe this is the "bump" some people have mentioned?). I also played their Steinway concert grand, which wasn't my favorite piano in terms of sound, but boy did it feel marvelous under my fingers! There's something so satisfying about playing big pianos.

I also went to Portland Piano Company, and this time they had three 7' Fazioli grands! The first one that I played in their bigger room sounded subdued, similar to the used one at Michelle's (maybe a new piano that needed breaking in). But the two in the lower room sounded wonderful! Both had clear, sparkling voices and of course, that touch. I think last time I liked the one voiced slightly mellower, but this time I think I preferred the other. My fickle brain! They had a couple of Shigeru Kawais, an SK2 and an SK3, in different rooms. Both had incredibly responsive identical touch, I don't even want to say buttery, more like silky cream. They weren't heavy like the used SK5 that I'd tried, but had a satisfying depth. I found the voicing on both to be too mellow for my tastes. The guy I talked to said that they have an SK6 out on loan, so if I can make my way over to that office on a weekday, I could play it.

I played on a new Grotrian grand that wasn't there last time, not sure what size but seemed pretty big. It definitely had a very unique tone, reminded me of harps for some reason, and that particular piano had a big voice. I definitely didn't feel as much in control (spoiled by the Faziolis and the Shigeru Kawais!). They just got another Grotrian in, a 6'10", and said they'd contact me once it's prepped.

I really think that despite my initial goal to stay around 6 feet so that the piano doesn't take up the whole room, I'm really going to end up around 7 feet. That seems to be the sweet spot in terms of tone (and the physical limit of my space). Or maybe that Bosendorfer just convinced me!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/04/15 12:25 AM

Went to Portland Piano Company today to play a new Grotrian Charis (6'10") that was just prepped. It had a really nice action, very sensitive. It wasn't smooth or buttery, but extremely controllable. The tone was clean and refined, the word "elegant" comes to mind. This was the studio matte black finish, which looked exactly like powder-coated steel. It looked indestructible, but it really wasn't to my taste (although it costs quite a bit less than a normal finish, I'm told!).

The store had a piano festival going on right after my visit, and there were little kids around 10-11 years old who got to compete on Faziolis and Shigeru Kawais. Lucky kids, I remember there were some pretty dubious quality pianos that I used to compete on. My sister and I would compare notes depending on what room we were in to mentally prepare for the piano.

One very interesting tidbit that I got during my visit is that Grotrian will be putting out an anniversary model this year, and instead of pricing it extra, will be discounting it so that people who want a Grotrian can afford it! She didn't have details on price, but said that the special piano would be arriving in early July.

Also played a 1980's Yamaha C7 that was already sold. I really liked the touch, and was surprised at how elegant and slim it looked. I'm wondering if it's the effect of being in the showroom or whether it would look enormous in my living room. My 5'8" Petrof looks big and triangular, though I think it shrank from when I first got it wink
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/12/15 06:38 PM

Just sold the Petrof this morning! I have to say, moving a piano out is almost as stressful as moving one in. The movers were also a bit sloppy about putting their muddy shoes on my nice rug (it's Portland, and it's raining) despite my repeatedly asking them to be careful about it and put down pads. We have a no-shoes home and it was already difficult enough for me to watch.

The new owner of the Petrof and I were chatting as we watched the spectacle, and I found out that her daughter's new piano teacher is my teacher! So I may be running into them at a recital sometime down the line smile

I'm leaving for CA this weekend, so let's hope if I find my dream piano there!
Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/12/15 06:40 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
Just sold the Petrof this morning! I have to say, moving a piano out is almost as stressful as moving one in. The movers were also a bit sloppy about putting their muddy shoes on my nice rug (it's Portland, and it's raining) despite my repeatedly asking them to be careful about it and put down pads. We have a no-shoes home and it was already difficult enough for me to watch.

The new owner of the Petrof and I were chatting as we watched the spectacle, and I found out that her daughter's new piano teacher is my teacher! So I may be running into them at a recital sometime down the line smile

I'm leaving for CA this weekend, so let's hope if I find my dream piano there!


Really hope the Bosie is a winner now! You might be pianoless for a while if not.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/12/15 08:04 PM

Originally Posted by ando
Really hope the Bosie is a winner now! You might be pianoless for a while if not.

Thank you! I'll also be visiting R. Kassman's shop, so hopefully there will be lots of great options. Otherwise I may just hang out at Portland Piano Company a lot in the next while wink
Posted By: Twindad

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/12/15 11:15 PM

Hi twocats,

Hope the Bosendorfer works out for you, but if not, there are lots of good options at Russell's shop. I happened to drop in there last weekend (I bought my piano from him last fall and pop in every once in a while when I'm in the neighborhood). Played a 6'3" Steingraeber that was unbelievable - outplayed a C.Bechstein B by a country mile.

Good luck!
Steve
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/12/15 11:39 PM

Originally Posted by Twindad
Hope the Bosendorfer works out for you, but if not, there are lots of good options at Russell's shop. I happened to drop in there last weekend (I bought my piano from him last fall and pop in every once in a while when I'm in the neighborhood). Played a 6'3" Steingraeber that was unbelievable - outplayed a C.Bechstein B by a country mile.

Thanks, Steve! Unfortunately I only have one hour of appointment time with Russell but am very much looking forward to my visit. Now that the trip is imminent, I'm panicking a bit about having to make some very big decisions in very little time! But I think I just need to trust my gut-- it probably took me about a few seconds to fall in love with that one Bosendorfer so I should know if I find another special piano.
Posted By: Twindad

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/13/15 01:45 AM

My view - trust your gut.

Not that my experience should be the model, but when I sat down at the C. Bechstein in Russell's shop (which is now in my living room), it was instantaneous. I had played a lot of pianos, and the sound and feel of this piano just grabbed me and said "I'm the one". It took me about an hour to rationalize spending a bit more than I had budgeted, but in the end, I cut a deal with Russell that very day.

Best impulse purchase I've ever made!

I'm the player in my house, but when my son sits down and plays the Bach C-Major Prelude or the beginning of Beethoven's Pathetique 2nd movement (the only things he knows - he's a violist), the sound is just so beautiful, it still gives me chills.

Don't force it - you'll know if it's right. smile

Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/13/15 03:11 PM

Steve, I really love how you described your experience smile

You're right, I'll know when I find the right one-- sometimes I need a reminder that I shouldn't have to convince myself. I'm really glad that I played that Bosendorfer so that I know what "love at first touch" feels like. For a while there I thought I might settle for a new Schimmel Konzert, but no, not for this lifetime purchase. I had already settled for the Petrof since I didn't want to spend very much to upgrade to a grand, and look where it got me!
Posted By: JamesW2

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/14/15 03:11 AM

Hi twocats,

Not sure if you saw it, but Portland Pianos posted a "near 7'" Steinway B with a "craigslist special" of $29,900. You might have already played/passed on it, but thought you should know.

Regards,
James
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/14/15 05:03 AM

In my many years of being in this business I have come to the conclusion that those who keep [endlessly] looking for their dream piano are in essence looking for something concerning their own identity - both as a person and artist.

It seems to be often much more about themselves as people than just the instrument.

There's nothing wrong with this but as reasonably "confident artist" it would come more natural to find a tool that does the job with what I already have as a musician - rather than expecting to receive something that would define me and otherwise not be there.

Similar like: does the cowboy ride the horse or is it the horse?

Perhaps this is a little philosophical for some but IMHO seems to perfectly explain why no 2 people in this world can or would ever agree on an instrument's "preferred" tone be that a violin, trumpet, guitar or piano.

In fact I have often observed that those spending most time on their initial search finding the "right" piano often spend least later playing on it.

Not true perhaps for those like Perri Knize ( wink..] or some other esteemed members here: if you were one of those look back and ask yourself if what I said has some truth to it.

(In which case you wouldn't probably be reading here any more...)

In this context it is not terribly interesting what particular instrument was chosen in the end by any one buyer.

But how it has helped to keep his/her interest and love for it as time went on.

Something I very much wish twocats to be happening in her life later.

Norbert smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/14/15 03:59 PM

James, thanks! I probably did play it a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately, I have not found any Steinways I like during this search, although there was one magnificent one from college that I still remember.

Norbert, sounds like you're making a general statement, not directed specifically at me, so I'll take it as such. I certainly don't want to keep looking for more pianos after I decide on one (and be perpetually unhappy with what I have). So I want to do it right this time smile I would imagine that as a dealer that you'd be an advocate of "find the one that makes your heart sing"!
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/14/15 06:39 PM

Quote
I would imagine that as a dealer that you'd be an advocate of "find the one that makes your heart sing"!


Of course.

But hopefully forever...

Norbert thumb
Posted By: Rich D.

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/14/15 07:10 PM

Twocats,
You'll have to let us know what you think of Russell's Steingraeber grands. I haven't played one Steingraeber grand that I thought wasn't exceptional. Good luck with your trip.

Rich
Posted By: Piano.Brazil

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/14/15 08:09 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by ando
Don't assume that! I've found that Kawais are heavier than many high tier pianos - and even after techs have lightened them as much as they can, they are still not what you would call a light action. The only way to make them play lightly is with lighter hammers - which you probably wouldn't do with a new piano.

ando, thanks for this feedback! I'm not looking for a light action, just a bit lighter than what I played last night. Hmmmmm, if I end up being serious about the SK, maybe I should start a new thread and see what other SK owners have to say.


May I suggest you try a piano with a WNG composite action. Like you, I have tried at least 50 pianos on a "search my dreampiano" trip to USA, and one thing that caught me up with the one I chose (M&H BB) was the lightness and uniformity of the touch. I assure you I'm very happy with my instrument.
Best luck in your search!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5vySjJwQRw&index=7&list=PLnkemINf3YXhy1qAtmb3CwseQ7YYSDgYG

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6Wev0zlkKc&index=2&list=PLnkemINf3YXhy1qAtmb3CwseQ7YYSDgYG
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/15/15 02:38 PM

Originally Posted by Piano_Brazil
May I suggest you try a piano with a WNG composite action. Like you, I have tried at least 50 pianos on a "search my dreampiano" trip to USA, and one thing that caught me up with the one I chose (M&H BB) was the lightness and uniformity of the touch. I assure you I'm very happy with my instrument.
Best luck in your search!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5vySjJwQRw&index=7&list=PLnkemINf3YXhy1qAtmb3CwseQ7YYSDgYG

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6Wev0zlkKc&index=2&list=PLnkemINf3YXhy1qAtmb3CwseQ7YYSDgYG

Piano_Brazil, are the recordings of your own piano? Lovely! I was also planning to stop by Piedmont Piano in Oakland, which is an M&H dealer. It happens to be on the drive back from Berkeley to my sister's place.

I fly out tonight, whooooooo!
Posted By: Piano.Brazil

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/15/15 09:25 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by Piano_Brazil
May I suggest you try a piano with a WNG composite action. Like you, I have tried at least 50 pianos on a "search my dreampiano" trip to USA, and one thing that caught me up with the one I chose (M&H BB) was the lightness and uniformity of the touch. I assure you I'm very happy with my instrument.
Best luck in your search!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5vySjJwQRw&index=7&list=PLnkemINf3YXhy1qAtmb3CwseQ7YYSDgYG

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6Wev0zlkKc&index=2&list=PLnkemINf3YXhy1qAtmb3CwseQ7YYSDgYG

Piano_Brazil, are the recordings of your own piano? Lovely! I was also planning to stop by Piedmont Piano in Oakland, which is an M&H dealer. It happens to be on the drive back from Berkeley to my sister's place.

I fly out tonight, whooooooo!


Yes! Those are my friends, and teachers, past and actual, during the welcome party to my BB at home.
There are many more videos on Youtube which you can reach from those two.
And believe me: don't miss the Masons!!!! laugh
ps: please, let me know your impressions afterwards.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/18/15 03:27 AM

Quote
May I suggest you try a piano with a WNG composite action. Like you, I have tried at least 50 pianos on a "search my dreampiano" trip to USA, and one thing that caught me up with the one I chose (M&H BB) was the lightness and uniformity of the touch. I assure you I'm very happy with my instrument.
Best luck in your search!!


What is a "dream piano" for one person may not be the same for another.

Of course it's nice to try all kinds. thumb

Curious how OP's shopping trip is coming.

When people are going "through the motions" as twocats seems to, a certain [unmentionable] piano seems to get their attention again and again. Provided they can find one.

What's happening?

Been a bit silent on this thread for a while...

Norbert smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/18/15 06:09 AM

I'm in the Bay Area right now. Should I be live-posting my thoughts?

Sorry, too busy eating! :P
Posted By: Karl Watson

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/18/15 12:53 PM

Have to confess (guilty pleasure) that I'm enjoying this search enormously. Hope you will indeed keep us posted as you go along. You will have a WONDERFUL experience at Russell's. And, of course, there is the long-awaited 225.

I'm all agog.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/19/15 11:02 PM

Originally Posted by Karl Watson
I'm all agog.

That is the first use of the word "agog" I've heard outside of Les Mis ("I am agog, I am aghast! Is Marius in love at last?"). I had to look up what it actually meant smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/19/15 11:55 PM

Day 1 in the Bay Area: "Meeting Bo"

"Bo" is the name of the Bosendorfer that we went to check out in Sonoma County. The owner calls himself "Bo's human dad" and the tech is "Bo's uncle" smile He had told me that Bo was on a Bosendorfer Tour of 25 pianos, and stood out as "the best" in both sound and beauty to him, his tech, and the Bosendorfer staff, as well. While I've been told to take all this info with a big grain of salt, I thought I should at least go check it out, especially since my sister lives in the Bay Area. I still couldn't get the thought of that 225 up in Seattle out of my head, and while Bo was still way out of my budget, my husband said that we could make it work for my lifetime piano (yep, that's how budget creep happens!). I had talked to the tech on the phone, and he told me the full story: Bo had actually belonged to the owner's former partner, but she passed away from cancer. Since then, the owner has done some composing, but doesn't really play. So he is understandably extremely attached to his piano, treating it like a family member, and is very particular about finding the right home for it.

It was a full month since I booked my tickets to when I finally got to meet Bo and his family (the owner, his wife, and his tech) this past weekend. They live out in wine country, in a beautiful property that they're renting from a friend. They have cats and two gorgeous Icelandic horses, and prepared a bunch of lovely food for us to snack on, including lemonade made from lemons and agave from the garden! They were really so sweet and we (me, my sister, and her husband) liked them so much.

So I finally met Bo, a 15-year old Johann Strauss Bosendorfer 225 art case in pyramid mahogany, and the most beautiful piano I've ever seen. I normally think pyramid mahogany is over the top, but it works on Bo. I think they used subtler grain patterns, and the Viennese styling is just stunning. The lid was up on full stick and Bo's owner had set up a microphone and cameras (he's a professional videographer, and wanted to film me later) and so I asked for a bit of privacy and sat down and played. Boy, was it loud! The room was small, and very live, with windows on two sides and tile floor, and the sound that filled the room was bright and a bit brassy. I wasn't able to play softly at all. Bo's owner said that they could put something under the piano (yes, please!) so we stuck a blanket underneath. Still loud. I tried half stick, then quarter stick (or whatever the mini-stick is called), and finally closed the lid. Suddenly the tone was very sweet, and I was reminded of what I liked in the Seattle 225. The only thing that I found was that the top octave was too bright, and could use some voicing down. I really liked the tone of the rest of the piano.

I played for quite a while, and my sister played too. We both noted that it sounded really good from the other room. The tech came at one point and said that he had to leave, so we chatted a bit. He said that Bo retained its factory voicing, and has not has anything done (except tuning) since it was purchased. He said that it's a 15-year old piano but really only has 3-4 years of use on it. From playing Bo and seeing the light wear on the hammers, I have no doubt that it's true. The case was in pristine condition as well.

I didn't feel the instant connection that I had felt with the 225 in Seattle, but this was also a used piano that could use some regulation and a bit of voicing. The touch was very sensitive, so that wasn't an issue. The one thing that bothered me about the touch was what my sister referred to as a slight "hollowness", the way that old pianos feel. I prefer a slightly meatier touch and still remembered the buttery feeling of the 225 and the Schimmels up at Classic in Seattle, which I attributed to their tech. I had just gotten a response from Ori the day before and he'd mentioned that there had been a Bosendorfer action change since Bo was made, so I was concerned that it was the nature of the older action (thanks to Rich and ChrisV for putting me at ease!). I thought I'd talk to my tech (who was only available after I got back home) to see what he thought, and go play some more pianos in the next few days before making any decisions.


Posted By: aesop

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 01:07 AM

Hi twocats, thanks for your sharing! Comparing the sound of new Schimmel Konzert with Grotrian, which do you like better? Since you've played on both the two high-end instruments recently , l'd like to hear your idea about it~:-)
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 01:12 AM

Day 2 in the Bay Area: East Bay Stores

R. Kassman: The next day we visited R. Kassman's store in Berkeley. I would like to thank Russell for his hospitality-- he is obviously an expert in his craft and was very friendly and welcoming. His storefront is very unassuming, and I think any passers-by would be shocked to enter and discover his beautiful showroom! Russell definitely has a different sales philosophy from other stores: a customer makes an appointment for some dedicated time, and Russell guides them based on their tone preferences toward their perfect piano. I thought it was a bit like getting your vision tested at the eye doctor when they say "do you prefer 1 or 2? 2 or 3? 3 or 4?" until you arrive at your prescription (and moment of clarity-- like my pun?). Russell said that he has pianos of three tonal profiles, and made an analogy to preferences for "chocolate or vanilla". I've had a few days to think about my visit, and I think the ice cream analogy is very apt, so that's what I'm going to run with smile

I think that Russell's method works really well for people who have a specific tonal preference, but what if you like multiple tonal preferences, depending on the piano? Suppose I like both chocolate and vanilla (which I do!), but I'm really picky. I prefer a dark chocolate that's not too bittersweet but not too light either. And a rich Mexican vanilla hits the spot. If I'm asked to choose what I'd prefer between milk chocolate and a normal vanilla, I don't have a strong preference either way. But if I taste a flavor that I love, or a flavor that I hate (licorice!), I would have no hesitation in choosing. And that's before we add in the dimension of texture: I love a rich, creamy ice cream, but not so heavy that it'll make me sick, and not too thin and light, which is unsatisfying. Wow, ice cream makes for such an awesome analogy!

Russell asked me to play a passage and go back and forth between the first piano (our "reference piano") and multiple other pianos that he chose. If there was another favorite, that one then became our "reference piano". Unfortunately, I don't have strong memories of many of the pianos since I only played a few passages (first page of Chopin Ballade plus a bit of Schubert Impromptu) which are both lovely and soft. All the pianos were meticulously prepped and passed my "Schubert test" for control. I remember the first piano was a smaller C. Bechstein with ivory keys, which had a sweet tone and a light, precise touch. A larger C. Bechstein that had very "golden", ringing tones and too heavy a touch. A Sauter that I think Russell said had the cleanest tone of them all, which I found too clean. The Estonia was supposed to be one of the "middle ground" pianos with a clean treble but more complexity in the tenor and bass. At one point we were between the Estonia and the first C. Bechstein, and when I couldn't decide which I preferred, Russell told me where to stand while he played, and I definitely liked the Estonia better as a listener. That was the third Estonia that I've tried (one used at Michelle's, and one new at Classic in Portland) and I think I just don't love the touch and tone of Estonias. The touch reminded me of how a lot of the new Steinways felt, and the pianos at Fandrich & Sons (so I'm sure a lot of people love that kind of touch, just not for me). The tone has these overtones which sound like bells chiming together and which I actually find a bit unpleasant when I'm playing (sorry Norbert, I know you're going to be horribly disappointed to read this!). I only hear that unpleasantness as the player, but I prefer a slightly more mellow and sweet tone from the listener's perspective, as well. The smaller Steingraeber that I played had an amazing touch, but it felt like a very new piano that still needed breaking in (don't know if it was actually brand new, but I have found so far that new pianos are lacking in dynamic range and have this mellowness that I felt with that piano). There was also a Grotrian where the touch was very much like the one I played in Portland.

When I commented about the Estonia's touch, Russell took us upstairs to the Estonia in his recital hall, and it had a much smoother feel that was much more enjoyable. He told me that I probably just liked the feel of pianos that have been broken in. My sister and I felt that the upstairs Estonia was too bright and piercing. Russell also let me play the Steingraeber concert grand (that Valentina Lisitsa had recently recorded on!) and his personal Steingraeber that was not for sale. Both had an incredible touch and a very dark, rich tone. I had never understood what people meant by "dark" and the word immediately came to my mind with the Steingraebers. My sister asked if there were any other pianos that Russell suggest that I try, and he said that he just had no idea what I liked, and that I seemed to change my mind a lot. He also said that he only shows pianos in the budget, as it wouldn't be fair to start with his top pianos and then compare against others-- fair enough!

I'm sure that Russell's sales method works wonderfully for many of his customers, but it didn't work for me. I would have preferred to have the pianos that were in my budget open to try, and just play them all! I skip around a lot, sometimes moving to another piano after just one phrase, sometimes playing one page and continuing the next page on a different piano, or staying a bit longer and trying different things on a piano that I like.

Thanks again to Russell for the tour of his wonderful showroom! Really beautiful pianos and a must-visit for any piano seekers in the Bay Area.

DC Piano Company: My sister wanted to stop at this store in Oakland. They have a lot of used uprights and appear to be the local Kawai dealer. My surprise find here was a Seiler ED168, which had a sweet tone and quite a nice touch!

Piedmont Pianos: Unfortunately, there was a big crowd seated ready for a recital. We had 10 minutes before it started and one of the guys quickly suggested a Yamaha C6X and a used Bosendorfer 200 to try. They didn't have any new Mason & Hamlins in stock, and I didn't like the used model A that they did have. They had some really lovely looking new Bluthners that I didn't get to play. I sat down at the 7' Yamaha C6X and was surprised to find a wonderful touch and a warm and singing tone. The Bosendorfer was too bright and old-sounding, so I went back to the Yamaha. I only had a few minutes and didn't want to disturb the audience with a forte passage, but it was a really nice piano.

P.S. Piedmont Pianos really need to update its website. I was expecting an old and dark store from the photos on their dated website, but their showroom is very nice!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 01:21 AM

Originally Posted by aesop
Hi twocats, thanks for your sharing! Comparing the sound of new Schimmel Konzert with Grotrian, which do you like better? Since you've played on both the two high-end instruments recently , l'd like to hear your idea about it~:-)

They're really different! The Schimmel Konzerts that I tried (6'5") were more mellow, clear and rounded, sweet. Very pleasant but with less personality. The touch is very smooth and buttery. The Grotrians sounded much more refined and elegant with more clarity. The touch was very precise and I got the feeling that I was very much in control.

If I had to pick one between the two, I'm not sure which one I'd choose. Maybe I'd ask for a Grotrian to be voiced differently to see if that would make it a winner. But that's my taste, and you should see which one appeals to you more smile
Posted By: aesop

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 01:39 AM

Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by aesop
Hi twocats, thanks for your sharing! Comparing the sound of new Schimmel Konzert with Grotrian, which do you like better? Since you've played on both the two high-end instruments recently , l'd like to hear your idea about it~:-)

They're really different! The Schimmel Konzerts that I tried (6'5") were more mellow, clear and rounded, sweet. Very pleasant but with less personality. The touch is very smooth and buttery. The Grotrians sounded much more refined and elegant with more clarity. The touch was very precise and I got the feeling that I was very much in control.

If I had to pick one between the two, I'm not sure which one I'd choose. Maybe I'd ask for a Grotrian to be voiced differently to see if that would make it a winner. But that's my taste, and you should see which one appeals to you more smile

Got it~ Thx a lot for your opinion! And wish you good luck in your piano searching :-D
Posted By: dynamobt

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 01:49 AM

This is fascinating to follow. You are picky. But, it is as it should be. You are going to plunk down a lot of money on a piano. And it should knock your socks off.

I just hope you find a piano that makes you feel the way I felt when I first sat down to play my vintage Mason & Hamlin. To this day, nearly 15 years later, I still get that feeling when I sit down to play it. And that is also how it should be.

I hope you find you piano of a lifetime.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 01:55 AM

twocats:

Congratulations to your finding your dream piano and thank you for sharing your intense thoughts with us.

I agree that Kassmann has one of the best selection of high end pianos in U.S: noone in his right mind and anywhere near him can really afford not to visit his incredible showroom in Berkely!

To be frank and by same token I love customers like you who play a great deal of pianos, all in different locations and then come to a conclusion of their own in the end.

Needless to say that this may vary from person to person and piano to piano. Even among same brands and models there can be considerable variation.

Ironically I had 2 customers like you over the weekend, both Chinese Canadians with kids in absolute top ranks. I often have to remind myself not to address them with
"Hello Lang-Lang" grin

Both ended up choosing a certain make if slightly different models. Both had played a myriad of other pianos elsewhere. Money not being the object...

To make sure, this was not a foregone conclusion and yes, it took the better part of Sunday too. But it's name of the game: let best one win!

Except "best" can mean slightly different things to different people. Even among same make sometimes. It means something different to you, to me and of course every piano shopper out there including each one of our own customers.

Really glad you found yours - hope you'll enjoy!

Norbert thumb
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 02:13 AM

Day 3 in the Bay Area: SF

Music Exchange: I was meeting up with my friend in SF yesterday and I asked her if we could go to Music Exchange, the local Bosendorfer dealer. I ended up walking through the Tenderloin to get there, which was really sketchy. Luckily, no crazy people accosted me!

Music Exchange has quite a few Bosendorfers, including a 225. I played it and immediately asked the guy if it was new. He said it was just a couple of months old, and I really felt it. I played the rest and didn't feel like they were anything special. They had a "Beethoven" special edition that had Beethoven sheet music printed under the lid, and a small mother-of-pearl inlay of Beethoven's face on the music stand! It was pretty creepy. Why didn't I take a photo? smile I asked if they had any Yamaha C6X's for me to try, and they just had a C5X. I was underwhelmed.

I started playing a restored Steinway, and the guy said, "that was actually rebuilt in Portland!". And it turns out that he (Gary Egger) works pretty closely with Classic Pianos, and knows all the guys up here. The piano community is small! I ended up talking to him for quite a while about Bo. He said that the price is a really great deal, and he said that I should definitely talk to a tech about my action concerns. He said that the tech that he would recommend is a Bosendorfer expert but is at the Aspen music festival all summer, but that he has a protege who is an action expert and could help me to inspect Bo. Gary said that techs seem to have this uncanny ability to understand what their clients are trying to convey smile

Day 4: Portland

Classic Pianos: This afternoon my friend came to pick me up from the airport, and I asked if we could stop at Classic Pianos on the way home. I asked if they had a Yamaha C6X, but they only had a C5X and a C7X. I didn't have the same "this is nice!" reaction that I had to the C6X at Piedmont. I'm wondering if the showroom makes a huge difference to my perception-- Classic in Portland and Russell's showroom both have cement floors, whereas Classic in Seattle and Piedmont had carpeting. I played the new Bosendorfer 225 that I had played a few weeks ago (I recognized it from the protective film still on the finish!), and it had a nice tone and touch, but was not magical. They also asked me to try two Yamaha CF pianos, I think a 6'1"(?) and a 7', which were not for me.

My tech said he'd call me tonight!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 05:21 AM

I just talked to my tech for over an hour.

I'm getting Bo, the used Bosendorfer 225 in California! But I expect you all knew that smile
Posted By: BornInTheUSA

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 07:23 AM

Cool, Piedmont has a C6x...I think I'm going to go check it out.

Thanks for the write-ups, entertaining to read. And I agree about your experience at Kassman's, I like stores where I can try whichever piano, but my guess he's trying to minimize the mileage on the nice pianos. I suppose it also gets annoying to have all these people come in looking to spend $4000 and say, "hey can I try that $100,000 Sauter or Steingraeber" and endure listening to them play Fur Elise on it for half an hour. But then again, I think that comes with the turf. Actually, I think a lot of people come in with a small budget but quickly expand it once they play that $100,000 piano, but who am I to say...

Congrats on Bo, btw.
Posted By: winston9t4

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 07:27 AM

Congrats!
Posted By: Piano.Brazil

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 07:27 AM

Originally Posted by twocats
I just talked to my tech for over an hour.

I'm getting Bo, the used Bosendorfer 225 in California! But I expect you all knew that smile


Ok, good luck with Bo.
But post some pictures of him, because we/re so curious...
Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 12:40 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
I just talked to my tech for over an hour.

I'm getting Bo, the used Bosendorfer 225 in California! But I expect you all knew that smile


Wow, what a great moment for you! And a lifetime more to come. A well prepared Bosie is something to behold. I hope to join your club one day.

Enjoy and congratulations! smile
Posted By: backto_study_piano

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 12:57 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
I just talked to my tech for over an hour.

I'm getting Bo, the used Bosendorfer 225 in California! But I expect you all knew that smile


Congratulations!!!
Posted By: Karl Watson

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 01:48 PM

What a unique opportunity and so glad that you are able to have what must be a truly wonderful piano.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 03:11 PM

Thank you, all! I still can't quite believe it's happening!

Will be probably another 3-4 weeks before I get Bo home, as we get our funds together and schedule the shipping. I will definitely post photos then! I don't think I got very good photos this time since the room was so small. Besides, I need to do a big reveal! wink
Posted By: dynamobt

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 03:19 PM

Congratulations!
Posted By: Stubbie

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 05:10 PM

Congratulations!

What was the gist of your conversation with your tech? Obviously he allayed any concerns you had.
Posted By: Markarian

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 05:28 PM

I briefly considered a used 225 on my search. A really fun piano to play, very lovely. I suspect if I had gone that directly I would be happy as well.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/20/15 06:02 PM

Originally Posted by Stubbie
What was the gist of your conversation with your tech? Obviously he allayed any concerns you had.

My tech asked me to describe the touch that I wanted (which I did using inadequate words and references to other pianos), and what I wanted to change in Bo's touch. He confirmed that the tech that preps for Classic in Seattle is one of the best, and that the subtle touch changes that I wanted were probably just a matter of prep. He says that I'm very aware of what I'm looking for, and set the expectation that this may take some time as he tries things and gets my feedback. And we generally chatted smile

There was a Steinway in college that was in the dining hall of one of the residential colleges that they'd let people use for recitals (they have a heavy focus on music and spend a lot of money in that direction), that both my sister and I remember as being a magnificent piano with a full-bodied touch and glorious sound. I really didn't like the touch of any of the new Steinways that I'd played, and my tech says that although Steinway claims "we don't make any changes", they do make small modifications over time and their actions have gotten much lighter in recent years. I told him that we both remember that Steinway, but it was about 15 years ago and I'm not sure how accurate our memories are! It might be this mythical "dream instrument" that we've built up in our heads. One very interesting thing that he said was that he doesn't think there are that many truly amazing pianos out there in the world, and that after playing so many pianos during my search, it's possible that I wouldn't like that Steinway anymore. But I'm not sure of that-- it was a very special piano!

I really do believe that there are pianos out there that just have extra magic to them. When I talked to Gary at Music Exchange, he said that the two pianos that stuck in his head were older pianos where he didn't even remember the names, but he had a "religious moment" with them. It sounds like a few people have had that experience with their special piano, and still have that feeling many years later.

Posted By: Caine

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/21/15 07:59 PM

TwoCats-

Thank you so much for posting your story- congratulations on your decision!

I just read the entire thread today, and found it fascinating. In part this is because I am on a similar quest and yesterday played many of the same pianos you played at the three stores in Portland. I have also played the used SK5 that you played!

I currently have a Kawai KG-2D (5'10") that I bought new some 25 years ago (at Day Music, now the location of Classic Pianos in Portland), and am now looking in the 7' range- so your experiences very much parallel my next few weeks. Personally, I liked the Shigeru and the heavier action is OK with me, possibly because my Kawai is on the heavy side as well. But I would like to get a larger piano. Apparently, the SK6 you mentioned at Portland Piano is due back in the next couple of days so I am looking forward to trying it out.

All that being said, clearly, my budget is more limited than yours (and my skill/talent as well!). It sounds like you've made a wonderful decision and I, along with the rest of your faithful readers, will be looking forward to your future posts about your new "Bo!"

Posted By: chasingrainbows

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/21/15 09:32 PM

Markarian, how does the Bosie 225 compare with your Steinway B in sound? I just purchased a B this year (it's under 10 years old).
Posted By: Markarian

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 01:09 AM

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Markarian, how does the Bosie 225 compare with your Steinway B in sound? I just purchased a B this year (it's under 10 years old).


I actually just realized I completely mixed up models and misspoke. It was a Bosendorfer 275, the exact one featured in this video below. It was about 30 years old, gorgeous condition (aside from extensive crazing in the lacquer of the plate). It was priced attractively, but in the end I really had to say I was in love with the Steinway sound. I had little to complain about on the 275, but I wanted something newer and New Yorker. As I said, if someone had made the decision for me and dropped this thing in my music room, I think I still would have been quite a happy camper. Congrats again!

Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 01:56 AM

Tuning anybody perhaps?

Norbert help
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 03:42 AM

Caine, thank you! I had also started to feel like 7' was the sweet spot in terms of tone-- I had started the search looking at pianos around 6'. Though 6'6" (the used SK5) seems to be a good size, and that piano had plenty of power! Just hard to judge in that small room. You should post about your piano search now that mine is over!! smile

Markarian, I think if you had bought a concert grand, you'd have even more issues with loudness! Would the piano even fit in your space?
Posted By: Caine

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 03:50 AM

I will post about it on a separate thread- didn't want to hijack yours!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 03:53 AM

Originally Posted by Caine
I will post about it on a separate thread- didn't want to hijack yours!

Yay! smile
Posted By: Markarian

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 04:33 AM

My complaints about loudness ended up being in large part to an apparently long-undiagnosed sinusitis. I'm on antibiotics, so the piano is sounding like its old self again.
Posted By: PhilipInChina

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 05:16 AM

I'm not laughing at your illness, but that is quite amusing. Nothing wrong with the piano!

Hope you get the sinusitis fixed OK.
Posted By: Rich Galassini

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 11:10 AM

Originally Posted by twocats
Thank you, all! I still can't quite believe it's happening!

Will be probably another 3-4 weeks before I get Bo home, as we get our funds together and schedule the shipping. I will definitely post photos then! I don't think I got very good photos this time since the room was so small. Besides, I need to do a big reveal! wink


Late congratulations!

Enjoy - I have had musicians choose a Bosendorfer 225 over a Steinway D. The palette that this instrument can offer is simply stunning.
Posted By: WimPiano

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 11:51 AM

Congratulations!! To me it's the perfect piano in it's size range.
Posted By: KurtZ

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 02:20 PM

Originally Posted by Markarian
My complaints about loudness ended up being in large part to an apparently long-undiagnosed sinusitis. I'm on antibiotics, so the piano is sounding like its old self again.


Clearly an acoustics problem. Run some pyramid foam up there and you'll be right as rain. grin
Posted By: Twindad

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 03:09 PM

Congrats on the piano! Hope you have many years of enjoyment from it.

Now the hard part is waiting!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/22/15 08:39 PM

Markarian-- really glad you figured it out! I can just see it now, someone complains about loudness and in addition to piano and rug placement, we have to ask "and did you check whether there's something wrong with you?" wink

We got the funds together and scheduled a mover, and Bo is getting picked up next Thursday or Friday! The owner was getting teary when we talked about the pick-up last night. He and his wife are so nice and I hope they come visit us to see Bo in its new home. Bo should arrive before the end of June-- he needs to make a stop in Central Oregon and get scheduled with a few other pianos before the movers make the trip up here!
Posted By: Markarian

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/23/15 12:37 AM

To be fair, I worried for weeks that the problems I was experiencing was some soer of permanent disability. I'd rather the piano be wrong than my cochlea.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/23/15 12:44 AM

Originally Posted by Markarian
To be fair, I worried for weeks that the problems I was experiencing was some soer of permanent disability. I'd rather the piano be wrong than my cochlea.

I'm sorry you had to go through that, very glad that it wasn't anything serious (on either end!). Just wondering, did you experience a metallic hiss on some loud notes? I heard that sometimes (on both my previous upright and grand) and was wondering if I might have a bit of tinnitus. Or maybe what you have!
Posted By: backto_study_piano

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/23/15 03:49 AM

Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by Markarian
To be fair, I worried for weeks that the problems I was experiencing was some soer of permanent disability. I'd rather the piano be wrong than my cochlea.

I'm sorry you had to go through that, very glad that it wasn't anything serious (on either end!). Just wondering, did you experience a metallic hiss on some loud notes? I heard that sometimes (on both my previous upright and grand) and was wondering if I might have a bit of tinnitus. Or maybe what you have!


Hi - I guess no 2 people are the same, but my tinnitus I can't hear while I'm playing.

Loud noises will cause the tinnitus to temporarily get louder (like dog barking in a small room).

It's when I'm not playing, it becomes annoying - the quieter the environment, the louder the crickets & ocean noise in my ears are. My home is near a motorway, so I have some background constant noise which helps, but I tend to have music or the radio playing most of the time (including while sleeping). Playing piano or organ helps.

I guess if your piano is VERY loud, and you play it for long periods, it could cause damage to ears or tinnitus, but I'm no expert on that. There has been discussion about tinnitus on PianoWorld forums - you can search for it.

I probably wasn't so careful protecting my ears when younger. However, tinnitus only became apparent after an ear infection (as well as severe vertigo), though I think the tinnitus might have been there slightly before.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/23/15 06:29 PM

Back to Study, I guess I had never looked up the actual symptoms of tinnitus. I didn't realize that it's a constant ringing in your ears. Sounds pretty awful, especially for a musician frown

The metallic hiss is annoying but hasn't bothered me enough to figure out what's causing it. But if it continues with Bo, I should probably get it looked at! I do get bronchitis regularly (used to be yearly) and am now wondering if I have some sinus issue....
Posted By: Markarian

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/23/15 06:47 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
Back to Study, I guess I had never looked up the actual symptoms of tinnitus. I didn't realize that it's a constant ringing in your ears. Sounds pretty awful, especially for a musician frown

The metallic hiss is annoying but hasn't bothered me enough to figure out what's causing it. But if it continues with Bo, I should probably get it looked at! I do get bronchitis regularly (used to be yearly) and am now wondering if I have some sinus issue....


A LOT of it has to do with where your head is in relation to the room. I get all sorts of weird standing waves and harsh reflections if the music desk is tilted a certain way, or if I am playing the higher octaves...only to put my head near the pinblock and not have it be as harsh. Sound is weird, yo.

Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/23/15 06:52 PM

Originally Posted by Markarian
A LOT of it has to do with where your head is in relation to the room. I get all sorts of weird standing waves and harsh reflections if the music desk is tilted a certain way, or if I am playing the higher octaves...only to put my head near the pinblock and not have it be as harsh. Sound is weird, yo.

The hiss is actually in my ear. Maybe it's the hair follicles wreaking havoc! Bodies are weird, too smile
Posted By: phacke

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/23/15 08:17 PM

Greetings, twocats-

Check out
http://www.chat-hyperacusis.net/post/broken-speaker-sound-in-ear-6740652
http://www.chat-hyperacusis.net/post/myoclonus-tensor-tympani-syndrome-or-worse-851438
http://www.hyperacusis.net/hyperacusis/home/default.asp

Some say pink noise helps. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC578OQYGf8

Best wishes-

Posted By: Robert 45

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/23/15 09:07 PM

Most of us experience tinnitus or related hearing problems as we get older. However, our love of music should always remain intact.

Congratulations twocats on acquiring a gorgeous Bösendorfer 225!

Robert.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/24/15 03:02 AM

You can test whether the "hiss" you hear on some notes is generated internally or is solely due to your hearing senses by playing the offending note staccato. If the hiss lingers longer than the note. the hiss is in your head to some degree.

Plenty of pianos have some hiss notes in the treble. They can be from too broad V-bar on the plate, duplex segments too close to consonance with the transverse modes, longitudinal modes beating in the duplex segments and/or speaking length, and bridge pins made from too hard a metal.
Posted By: phantomFive

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/24/15 03:07 AM

Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
You can test whether the "hiss" you hear on some notes is generated internally or is solely due to your hearing senses by playing the offending note staccato. If the hiss lingers longer than the note. the hiss is in your head to some degree.

That sounds like it would make it hard to be a piano technician.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/24/15 04:37 PM

Thanks all for indulging my theories of what may or may not be wrong with me wink. I'll see if I experience the same with Bo. It was a "tssss" sort of hiss and not a blown speaker crackle, and I'm fairly sure it was in my ear (there was also separate piano buzzing that I've experienced that was a similar hiss but that I didn't think was me).

Anyway, will stop derailing my own thread and let you all know when Bo shows up!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/27/15 11:05 PM

I wired over the money this morning (eeeeeeeek! Not sure if my bank account is ever going to see such a huge sum again!!) and we've been waiting for the funds to show up in their account. Bo is scheduled to be picked up tomorrow afternoon and will be delivered to our home before the end of June-- it depends on when the movers can fill up the truck to make a trip to Portland. I'm glad the whole thing is still feeling a bit surreal, otherwise I would be fidgeting with impatience for the next month. Though I suppose there is still plenty of time for that!

I just got this e-mail from the owner. I mean, the previous owner!! smile


Subject: Bo's New Musical Partner & Owner Twocats

Message:
Twocats is now the owner of a truly magnificent work of visual and sonic art; a Bosendorfer Strauss Model 225 piano ! ! !

We wish you two the very very best of wondrous and magical musical experiences together.

Congratulations Twocats ! ! !


EDIT: I know some folks are probably going to say something about wiring money vs the security of escrow for such a huge transaction. The (previous) owner offered to split fees for escrow, but after meeting him and his wife and also talking to their tech over the last while, I trusted them and didn't feel that it was necessary. YMMV.
Posted By: phacke

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/28/15 01:09 AM

Greetings,
I'm more wondering about the storage conditions (environment) of the piano for the month of June, and if that is cause for concern.

Best wishes-
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/28/15 06:00 AM

It's being moved by well-regarded piano restorers who have a climate controlled space for storing pianos, so it should be fine! Also, staying on the temperate West Coast. One other option that I had looked at would have routed through Utah!
Posted By: Caine

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/28/15 06:17 AM

Watching from this end, it's all so exciting! Here's hoping the month of June passes quickly for you!
Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 05/28/15 07:05 AM

Oooh, so exciting! Hope it all proceeds nicely for you, twocats. smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/07/15 06:25 PM

Bo is getting delivered on Thursday afternoon!!!

I actually haven't been going crazy with anticipation, because we've been busy with guests and moving this:

[Linked Image]

to here (down a long flight of stairs and to the bottom of the slope, a few IKEA bags at a time):

[Linked Image]

so I've been keeping busy. We are about halfway done-- the wood chip pile is now smaller than a car!

Oh yeah, and I dug trenches and dragged/rolled some awfully big logs from an enormous pile into what you see in the pic. It's hard to tell the scale but the space is huge!! We went in with our neighbors to reclaim it from a blackberry and ivy-filled wilderness to this (pink dogwood plus native plants are in the plan). We rented goats. What you've heard about Portland is true wink

I think the next few weeks are going to be wood chip hauling in the morning, and piano playing in the evening smile
Posted By: Rickster

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/07/15 07:52 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
We rented goats.

Well, I've got 11 goats myself...

This past spring, one of my females died a week or so after she had twins. I raised the twins on a bottle. Surprisingly, goats can make a good pet, and a good lawn mower! smile

[Linked Image]
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/07/15 08:45 PM

Rickster, so cute!

I was a bit tempted to keep one of the goats, but our cats are already enough of a handful wink
Posted By: KurtZ

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/08/15 01:15 AM

Rick,

There's no end to your mystery. Everyday, it's a new surprise.

Kurt
Posted By: Plowboy

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/08/15 02:42 PM

Originally Posted by Rickster
Surprisingly, goats can make a good pet, and a good lawn mower! smile


We had a goat lawn mower when I was a kid. (No pun intended!)

His reward at the end of the summer was being guest of honor at a barbecue!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/09/15 11:52 PM

Bo is here!!!

I can't speak highly enough of Esquire Piano, the piano restoration company that moved my piano. Paul Spillan has been working on pianos his whole life (his dad started the company) and he knew exactly what he was doing (e.g. whether the piano would clear on the back end by what looked like less than an inch as they got into the house). There were a couple of times that I almost had a heart attack though, but just from the nature of the move wink They are based in Central Oregon but I think they restore and move pianos up and down the West Coast. They also quoted me half what the other movers did with full insurance coverage, and had come highly recommended to the previous owner.

Bo sounds wonderful, especially on the lower end. I started off on half-stick because it seemed loud, but now I'm up to full stick and it has a much fuller and enveloping sound. Some of the notes in the top octaves definitely need to be voiced down (and tuned!), but overall it's lovely. The "loose" feel that both my sister and I experienced isn't there anymore-- I think it might have been psychological, due to the small and bright room. And wow, I'm shocked by how pristine the case is. The soundboard could use some dusting but it's like a brand new piano showed up in my home. Also, the previous owner didn't mention that he was sending along a custom cover!

Okay, back to practicing. Pics to come, once I have some time to edit them. I can't wait to have my tech come!
Posted By: Cassia

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/10/15 01:44 AM

Congratulations! I can't wait to see pics! (And btw, I owe you an email, so sorry!)
Posted By: Rickster

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/10/15 02:02 AM

Congratulations on Bo!!! smile

Can't wait to see the pictures!

All the best!

Rick

Posted By: phacke

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/10/15 03:20 AM

Originally Posted by twocats


... we've been busy with guests and moving this:

[Linked Image]


My first thought was that, after all, you didn't like the Bösendorfer at all, so you put it through the chipper.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/10/15 05:17 AM

Here's one photo that my friend took on her phone! The only thing missing is the other cat smile

[Linked Image]
Posted By: backto_study_piano

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/10/15 05:32 AM

Originally Posted by twocats
Here's one photo that my friend took on her phone! The only thing missing is the other cat smile


Wow - congratulations, he looks lovely. Enjoy. (and don't worry about the other cat - it'll turn up for dinner!!)

With the tuning and voicing, generally you'd leave him a few weeks to acclimatize which also gives you a chance to listen closely, get used to the different tonal character of the new piano, and ascertain how you want him to sound. You could also have decided whether you'll be more likely to play mostly with lid closed, short stick or long stick. I found it took me a while to be able to say "I want all the notes to sound more like these ones", which gave the technician a guide.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/10/15 09:14 PM

Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
With the tuning and voicing, generally you'd leave him a few weeks to acclimatize which also gives you a chance to listen closely, get used to the different tonal character of the new piano, and ascertain how you want him to sound. You could also have decided whether you'll be more likely to play mostly with lid closed, short stick or long stick. I found it took me a while to be able to say "I want all the notes to sound more like these ones", which gave the technician a guide.

Thank you for the advice! I was going to wait a couple of weeks for the piano to settle in anyway, but you're right in that my impressions could change over the next while. So far the lower half sounds rich and wonderful, but there are some upper notes that are quite piercing (possibly exacerbated by being out of tune?). Can't wait to get those fixed, as I work on the "il più forte possibile" section wink
Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/10/15 09:21 PM

Oh wow, I'm green with envy! But also very happy for you. smile I hope some day the heavens will conspire to bring me such a piano...

Enjoy!
Posted By: chasingrainbows

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/10/15 09:26 PM

Hi twocats, been following your thread and was awaiting delivery with much excitement! I recently purchased a Steinway B, that is slightly under 10 years old. I waited 5 weeks before having it tuned, even though it was out of tune upon delivery, and my very sensitive ears did not take kindly to it. I also felt that the bass was rich and deep, the upper portion pleased me, but the mid range sounded very bright and twangy. I've had two voicings and 2 tunings since delivery and it is out of tune again. Unfortunately, there are still some notes that are too bright, metallic and twangy. I would prefer to have the dealer send his tech out again in the hopes that another voicing will do the trick. I will continue to follow your journey. Feel free to PM me if you want.
Posted By: Caine

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/17/15 02:56 AM

Congratulations on taking delivery TwoCats! Very exciting.

Our paths are similar as I just took delivery of my Mason Hamlin BB. Technician comes Monday and then I'll get some posts up.

When do we get to HEAR your new Bosie? ;-)
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/17/15 05:20 AM

Originally Posted by ando
Oh wow, I'm green with envy! But also very happy for you. smile I hope some day the heavens will conspire to bring me such a piano...

Thank you, ando! I very much hope the same for you smile

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Hi twocats, been following your thread and was awaiting delivery with much excitement! I recently purchased a Steinway B, that is slightly under 10 years old. I waited 5 weeks before having it tuned, even though it was out of tune upon delivery, and my very sensitive ears did not take kindly to it. I also felt that the bass was rich and deep, the upper portion pleased me, but the mid range sounded very bright and twangy. I've had two voicings and 2 tunings since delivery and it is out of tune again. Unfortunately, there are still some notes that are too bright, metallic and twangy. I would prefer to have the dealer send his tech out again in the hopes that another voicing will do the trick. I will continue to follow your journey. Feel free to PM me if you want.

I'm sorry to hear about your tuning issues, I'm wondering if the piano hadn't been tuned much by its previous owner and needs extra tunings for stability? My tech did tell me that voicing was going to be a process over multiple visits. Maybe your tech did not want to over-voice it, better to do it a bit at a time?

I'm actually wondering if some of the bright notes on my piano are due to being out of tune. I remember the tone being quite even except for some harsh notes in the top octave. The out-of-tune notes do stick out and sound louder!

Originally Posted by Caine
Our paths are similar as I just took delivery of my Mason Hamlin BB. Technician comes Monday and then I'll get some posts up.

When do we get to HEAR your new Bosie? ;-)

Congrats to you as well! My tech isn't coming until the first week of August (due to summer vacation with his family and also to let Bo stabilize) so I'm eagerly awaiting his visit. I'm working diligently on the Chopin Ballade No. 1, just need to get the Presto section up to speed. I think I'm on track for September, which will be one year from when I started trying to learn it (and I had guessed it would take me a year)! I'll record it after I'm done. Bo is definitely making me a better pianist!

I hope you'll share recordings of your new piano as well! The case looked beautiful in the earlier photo-- I love ice cream cone legs and satin mahogany is my favorite finish smile
Posted By: Dariod'85

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/17/15 02:28 PM

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Posted By: Markarian

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/17/15 08:23 PM

When my B arrived, my tech was there the next day to take the action out and give it a full regulation in his shop. A week later, he returned and spend two consecutive days tuning and voicing . The result was nothing short of bliss. The piano arrived good (and in tune) and ended up great afterward. Congrats OP! Shoot me a PM if you're ever in Seattle and want coffee.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/19/15 04:31 AM

Originally Posted by Markarian
When my B arrived, my tech was there the next day to take the action out and give it a full regulation in his shop. A week later, he returned and spend two consecutive days tuning and voicing . The result was nothing short of bliss. The piano arrived good (and in tune) and ended up great afterward. Congrats OP! Shoot me a PM if you're ever in Seattle and want coffee.

I'd actually love to play your B if I'm visiting Seattle smile It's been quite a long time since I played a good Steinway!

And feel free to ping me if you're in Portland!
Posted By: chasingrainbows

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/20/15 11:54 PM

Markarian, do not want to hijack twocats great thread, so I will PM you.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 12:35 AM

Photos of Bo! The pyramid mahogany finish looks a bit intense in some of the photos but is really quite understated and classy in person. I'm still in awe every time I take off the cover and think that it's the most beautiful piano I've ever seen smile

The lower registers are still a dream to play. I've been playing some different pieces (instead of just focusing on the Ballade), which is helping me to identify which upper notes sound good as "reference notes" for my tech, who should be coming next week. The pedal started making some noises a few days ago (was completely silent before), am glad that this happened before my tech showed up. I hope that I'm not getting too used to the harsh upper notes so that they'll sound too muted once voiced properly!

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Posted By: backto_study_piano

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 02:46 AM

Congratulations - he's beautiful.

(Interestingly, only 3 photos showed up on my PC (windows 7), but 16 showed up on the Watched Topics email.)

EDIT - I came back to my computer 5 minutes later, and they'd all loaded - maybe slow internet today?
Posted By: BornInTheUSA

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 03:30 AM

Nice.

One question though, is the piano blocking the entrance to the other room?
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 04:31 AM

Originally Posted by michaelha
One question though, is the piano blocking the entrance to the other room?

There's enough room so that I can walk through without it feeling like a squeeze, since the piano is angled so that it's over the step. I'm really pleased that I can access the keyboard from both sides with no problem as well! It actually doesn't feel much bigger than the Petrof, I think because the Petrof was shiny black and bulky, and drew attention to itself smile
Posted By: phacke

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 04:42 AM

Fantastic.
Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 04:45 AM

Wow, just stunning!
Posted By: KurtZ

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 07:37 PM

Some of the stridency you're experiencing could be from having your ears in a corner of 3 smooth reflective surfaces. It would be a shame to needle the hammers to death trying to solve an acoustics problem.

Nice photos. Esthetically I'm not a fan of side logos for home pianos but not enough to keep me from buying a piano whose sound pleased me.

congrats. It's been a long and interesting journey for you and us. I'm glad you shared it here.

Kurt
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 08:10 PM

Thank you, all!

Originally Posted by KurtZ
Some of the stridency you're experiencing could be from having your ears in a corner of 3 smooth reflective surfaces. It would be a shame to needle the hammers to death trying to solve an acoustics problem.

Oh, I hope not! There are a few good notes (like a C# and an F an octave down from the top), and also I think the worst notes are very warbly and out of tune, so I'll re-evaluate the voicing after my tech does the first tuning. Hopefully this weekend!
Posted By: dynamobt

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 08:32 PM

Bo is just gorgeous!!
Posted By: nancyde

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 09:38 PM


what a gorgeous piano!
Posted By: Doritos Flavoured

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 09:52 PM

indeed. looks as delicious as caramel chocolate. wanted to lick it
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/27/15 11:14 PM

Originally Posted by Doritos Flavoured
indeed. looks as delicious as caramel chocolate. wanted to lick it

Remind me never to invite you over to my house wink
Posted By: chasingrainbows

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/28/15 02:58 PM

twocats, it is GORGEOUS!!!! Wow, I'm so happy for you. It's like staring at the Hope Diamond. smile
Posted By: Steve Peterson

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 07/28/15 03:44 PM

Just...wow. What a beautiful instrument. Can't want to hear some recordings of it once it is voiced and tuned.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/02/15 03:51 AM

My tech finally came today! He spent about 8 hours here, some of it spent chatting and having lunch, but he probably spent several hours just working on voicing with me. He said that overall, Bo was about 25 cents flat (which indicates to him that I'll probably need more tuning in a few months) but in excellent condition and only lightly played. He did some regulation which resulted in a much more sensitive touch and ability to play pianissimo-- said next time he'll do more regulation which will give me even better pp but didn't have time today. He got rid of all the harsh (what he calls "hot") notes and voiced the piano down a bit overall, with endless patience for my feedback. Also, some notes were already going out of tune during the day, so that's how fast things can change! I'm still getting used to the mellowed tone (was LOUD before!) but overall everything is better. Right now I think Bo would sound better once the voicing is played in a bit, but maybe I just need to get used to it. It sounds and plays like a different piano!

He also asked me if I was going to change the name smile I normally don't name my stuff, but Bo came with the name (and a very sentimental previous owner), so the name is here to stay... although maybe it would be appropriate to spell it "Beau" wink

I'm thinking about recording something but I can count my current performance-ready pieces on one hand, and the ones that I can play doing my own page-turns get me down to one or two... so let's see how things go!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/02/15 11:57 PM

I made a recording! Had some technical difficulties (will post another thread on this) but hope this captures some of Bo's sound smile

Tchaikovsky - June
Posted By: dynamobt

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/03/15 12:17 AM

What a beautiful sound!!! Sounds as gorgeous as it looks!!
Posted By: sirwormsalot

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/03/15 06:32 AM

what an amazing instrument
Posted By: Tuneless

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/03/15 10:56 PM

Oh, twocats, you have ruined me. That sound is like nothing I have heard before, and I have been sampling regularly at Living Pianos sales web site. How can anything less than this ever be satisfying. Its a good thing I will not be ready for a grand piano for a long time to come.

PS. Your playing is wonderful
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/04/15 12:16 AM

Originally Posted by Tuneless
Oh, twocats, you have ruined me. That sound is like nothing I have heard before, and I have been sampling regularly at Living Pianos sales web site. How can anything less than this ever be satisfying. Its a good thing I will not be ready for a grand piano for a long time to come.

PS. Your playing is wonderful

Oh Cynthia, you are too kind! Thank you, and to the others who commented as well.

Today I'm working from home and decided to take a break and play a bit, and (two days after my tech came) Bo sounds wonderful. My tech really did a beautiful job with voicing. Funny how the brain works, sometimes you just need to step away so that you're not comparing with what you're used to (kind-of like the trauma of drastically changing wall colors). What I had perceived as "slightly too mellow, needs a bit more sparkle" now sounds clear and sweet, and boy, the piano still has a huge voice. Imagine what it must have been like before the voicing!

When I want to play pianissimo in my left hand, my fingers can practically float on the keys and I don't lose notes. I can hardly believe that my tech can "improve the pianissimo" after more regulation, maybe that's what will take Bo to the level of that new 225 that I fell for-- the feeling that the piano understands my intentions and plays itself. But it's still wonderful-- I feel like a better pianist on Bo smile
Posted By: wouter79

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/05/15 06:42 AM

Sounds and looks very nice!

BTW I never saw that double headed eagle/adler/whatever on a Bosendorfer.
Posted By: wouter79

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/05/15 06:45 AM

> The recording level was set too low so I had to pull it up in post and clip the highs.

It seems the recording level was TOO HIGH, I hear some clipping around 1:55
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/05/15 02:53 PM

Originally Posted by wouter79
> The recording level was set too low so I had to pull it up in post and clip the highs.

It seems the recording level was TOO HIGH, I hear some clipping around 1:55

Nope, too low smile The file was barely audible when I copied it to my computer, and I had to amplify it a ton which is when it got clipped.
Posted By: wouter79

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/05/15 03:08 PM

Then you over-amplified it to the point of clipping
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 08/05/15 03:19 PM

Originally Posted by wouter79
Then you over-amplified it to the point of clipping

Yep, I realize this... Got lots of help on how to approach recording next time, how to set levels, recorder placement, etc. This was definitely a learning experience and took a good chunk of my Sunday!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 09/29/15 10:02 PM

Session #2: My tech came this past weekend and spent an entire day working on Bo!

There were a few notes that did not hold tune well (one actually went off before he left last time, and was the first to go off days after our first session), and he spent quite a bit of time working on the tuning stability of the top two octaves. He did three passes of tapping the strings with a wooden mallet to accelerate the out-of-tune process and then tune, and he had also built a tool to gently stretch the wires where they bend around the bridge pins. This process really put the piano out of tune the first few times, but was quite stable by the time he was done!

My tech also adjusted the let-off, which he didn't have time to do last time (my teacher says I have to work on playing softly, and my tech says this will give me much better ability to play pianissimo without the notes disappearing), and we spent many hours working on voicing again. Bo has a few notes that sound rather harsh and unpleasant at mezzoforte and louder. My tech was able to fix these through needling, but different ugly notes started appearing after he left (all in the same area! grrr). It's definitely going to be an iterative process.

He voiced down Bo quite a bit, and it sounded very sweet and musical with the front panel and music desk off, but once everything was assembled again I found the tone to be too muffled. Though I had been through muffled initial voicing with two other pianos, I was still taken aback at the change, but hope that I'll get used to the new tone and also break in the voicing over the next couple of weeks. If not, my tech says he'll sand the hammers a bit to bring back more sparkle to the tone at our next session.

Then there was the whole discussion of what "buttery touch" means to me. Thanks to Sally and Olek for suggesting that my tech work on the knuckles next time! He also said that he has a very easy and reversible way to simulate adding more weight to the mid-range, so we can try it out and see what I think. He says that with every session, he'd like to leave Bo playing a bit better than from his previous visit smile

Bo is a really lovely piano to play (and look at; I never get tired of admiring it!) and I find myself being able to extract more out of the music, especially now that I've made progress on memorizing sections of the Ballade and not being quite as reliant on the sheet music (though I'm still quite terrible at memorizing!). Maybe I'll make enough progress to try recording by the end of the year.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 09/30/15 04:22 AM

I have never found tapping strings down on the bridge and forcing them to form sharper bends at the bridge pin useful for tuning stability or tone except when the wire is first installed and put at pitch. Pushing the strings down onto the bridge with more force than an unaided hand wielding a length of wooden dowel produces will damage the bridge surface.

There are many techs who do "seat strings" like your tech did-but I don't want them touching one of my pianos. I have no difficulty getting great tuning stability just by using proper tuning techniques. And "string seating" procedures like you described do not eliminate false beats with any consistency beyond random happenstance.

There is a whole school of "bridge/string beaters" out there in piano technology practice and I rail against it. The bridge surfaces can get so indented around the bridge pin that the string wants to spring back out of the groove and climb the bridge pin leaving contact with the wood and inducing a fuzzy tone. This causes tuning instability also.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 10/02/15 02:06 AM

Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
There are many techs who do "seat strings" like your tech did-but I don't want them touching one of my pianos. I have no difficulty getting great tuning stability just by using proper tuning techniques.

Well, my tech's treatments seem to have stabilized the bad notes. He said it's likely due to Bo not being tuned regularly for the past while (I'm guessing after Bo's main pianist had passed away some time ago...). Bo's tuning had dropped quite a bit when he came for the first session.

It sounds like you have a very different approach from many other techs, but I trust mine and he's been doing a great job on Bo thus far!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 02:56 AM

I'd mostly been updating on my "buttery touch" thread, but am coming back here. I've found a highly recommended Bosendorfer-trained tech to come work on Bo, but he's not free until the end of January to come for a week. He said that there's a lot of things that he can do for the touch and that he can definitely improve the voicing-- no promises on whether I'd like it, of course, but he'd do his best.

In the meantime, there's been a lot happening in my life and I haven't been able to practice for a couple of weeks. I finally had time this afternoon to play and was hoping that coming back to Bo after a break, I could have an open mind and be okay with the new voicing. But I instantly felt so depressed. The word that popped into my head was "neutered". All the power that Bo had is gone; it just sounds muffled.

I feel really upset at both myself and at my tech. I knew exactly what I wanted him to work on for the voicing when he came, but then he said "do you mind if I take everything down a bit?" and I just said yes. He thought that Bo was too loud. I should have known better than to deviate from what I wanted, after more than a month of playing and taking notes. He should have known better than to ask for a change from someone who knows exactly what they want. I felt like this at the time, but playing Bo today, all of those feelings of regret and despair are fresh again. What makes it worse is that I really like my tech and consider him a friend, and now I have to let that go as well (well, I still think of him as a friend, just soon to be ex-tech...).

I had loved playing Bo before, even though I was waiting for the touch improvements and kept hearing those persistent harsh notes in that one octave, but now it's just depressing. Today I think I'll resign myself to hating the new sound and maybe tomorrow I can practice, not to savor the music but to just keep learning the tricky passages. Three more months and I can only hope that the expensive and busy new tech will fix everything.
Posted By: Rickster

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 03:11 AM

Originally Posted by twocats
In the meantime, there's been a lot happening in my life and I haven't been able to practice for a couple of weeks. I finally had time this afternoon to play and was hoping that coming back to Bo after a break, I could have an open mind and be okay with the new voicing. But I instantly felt so depressed. The word that popped into my head was "neutered". All the power that Bo had is gone; it just sounds muffled.

I feel really upset at both myself and at my tech. I knew exactly what I wanted him to work on for the voicing when he came, but then he said "do you mind if I take everything down a bit?" and I just said yes. He thought that Bo was too loud. I should have known better than to deviate from what I wanted, after more than a month of playing and taking notes. He should have known better than to ask for a change from someone who knows exactly what they want. I felt like this at the time, but playing Bo today, all of those feelings of regret and despair are fresh again. What makes it worse is that I really like my tech and consider him a friend, and now I have to let that go as well (well, I still think of him as a friend, just soon to be ex-tech...).

I had loved playing Bo before, even though I was waiting for the touch improvements and kept hearing those persistent harsh notes in that one octave, but now it's just depressing. Today I think I'll resign myself to hating the new sound and maybe tomorrow I can practice, not to savor the music but to just keep learning the tricky passages. Three more months and I can only hope that the expensive and busy new tech will fix everything.


I'm sorry to hear of your dissatisfaction with the voicing your tech has done to Bo.

I'm certainly no pro, but before you fire your tech and friend, why not give it a bit more time and pound the heck out of the keys... play Bo like you mean it! smile Pound every single key hard, repetitively.

You might be surprised how fast that power comes back. All voicing is usually temporary anyway, and the hammers naturally get hardened with more (and harder) playing.

Either way, I hope you can get the sound and power back like you want it.

All the best,

Rick
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 03:24 AM

Originally Posted by Rickster
I'm certainly no pro, but before you fire your tech and friend, why not give it a bit more time and pound the heck out of the keys... play Bo like you mean it! smile Pound every single key hard, repetitively.

You might be surprised how fast that power comes back. All voicing is usually temporary anyway, and the hammers naturally get hardened with more (and harder) playing.

Thanks, Rick, I did try that already when I first felt that everything was muffled, but to no avail.

But the voicing is just a part of it, there are still areas where I felt where Bo could be better, and my tech seemed to be "done" with his ideas. I had already been feeling that I needed someone with concert-prep experience-- someone who is used to getting every last bit of performance out of a piano. My tech is not that person; I think he's used to getting 80-90% of the way there and his clients are happy. I had been clear from the start that I want Bo to play as well as it can. He didn't do a full regulation and new tech and I are both bemused as to why he didn't as his first step.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 04:13 AM

Quote
I had already been feeling that I needed someone with concert-prep experience-- someone who is used to getting every last bit of performance out of a piano.


Then either your hearing or the piano has changed since.

If it's the latter, let it be known stability of work is as important as accomplishing results initially. Perhaps sit back a bit and give it a second try after while.

And check the room humidity: even small changes can make a difference!

Outside that, afraid to say something doesn't seem quite right here...

Norbert frown
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 05:30 AM

Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
I had already been feeling that I needed someone with concert-prep experience-- someone who is used to getting every last bit of performance out of a piano.


Then either your hearing or the piano has changed since.

If it's the latter, let it be known stability of work is as important as accomplishing results initially. Perhaps sit back a bit and give it a second try after while.

And check the room humidity: even small changes can make a difference!

Outside that, afraid to say something doesn't seem quite right here...

Norbert frown

I didn't like the new voicing (tech's second visit, the first time was a huge improvement) the minute the piano was "put back together" with the front panel and the music desk on. It sounded fine when he was doing the work with the panels open (which is loud!) but we were just playing individual notes and focusing on getting the voicing even. I was disappointed at the result, and my tech was disappointed that I didn't like it. We both agreed that I would give it a chance and maybe I'd get used to it, but apparently I just hate it.

The touch issues are ongoing, I know that Bo is not where I want it to be in terms of touch and that's what I meant by looking for a tech who is used to doing concert-prep....
Posted By: Rickster

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 01:11 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
The touch issues are ongoing, I know that Bo is not where I want it to be in terms of touch and that's what I meant by looking for a tech who is used to doing concert-prep....

Maybe some of the pros here will see your thread and send you a PM recommending a concert-tech in your area. The best concert techs are usually willing to travel, but that is included in the price... which is going to be expensive (depending on your definition of expensive smile ).

It is not unusual for a concert-level tech to charge $1000 + expenses for a days work.

Good luck!

Rick
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 03:15 PM

Originally Posted by Rickster
Maybe some of the pros here will see your thread and send you a PM recommending a concert-tech in your area. The best concert techs are usually willing to travel, but that is included in the price... which is going to be expensive (depending on your definition of expensive smile ).

It is not unusual for a concert-level tech to charge $1000 + expenses for a days work.

New tech does do concert prep locally smile

I just need to be patient and wait the three months before he can come! And right after that week I'll be traveling for a while and away from home. Soooooooo much patience.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 09:04 PM

Quote
I was disappointed at the result, and my tech was disappointed that I didn't like it.


This would indicate to me your tech did the best he could.

Perhaps another time, another chance...

Norbert
Posted By: dhull100

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 10:26 PM

For what it's worth, I'm learning to give up waiting for the stars to align for perfection or chasing "the" ideal sound. I've been frustrated with sound of a piano before, only to have my teacher evoke near miraculous sounds from it. We are part of the equation, both input and perception (it changes for me at least). Take heart, and maybe enjoy what's there (surely a lovely instrument) until the next tech comes. Great pianists have suffered but become great with lesser instruments than most of us, I suspect! I recall a video of your playing, so talent is not lacking! I am surely amateur, so feel free to ignore all of this. Certainly I don't write this to dismiss your concern and frustration--rather to encourage enjoyment of the music in the meanwhile.
Posted By: Rickster

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 10:47 PM

Originally Posted by dhull100
For what it's worth, I'm learning to give up waiting for the stars to align for perfection or chasing "the" ideal sound. I've been frustrated with sound of a piano before, only to have my teacher evoke near miraculous sounds from it. We are part of the equation, both input and perception (it changes for me at least). Take heart, and maybe enjoy what's there (surely a lovely instrument) until the next tech comes. Great pianists have suffered but become great with lesser instruments than most of us, I suspect! I recall a video of your playing, so talent is not lacking! I am surely amateur, so feel free to ignore all of this. Certainly I don't write this to dismiss your concern and frustration--rather to encourage enjoyment of the music in the meanwhile.

+1... smile

Also, and ironically, the voicing/sound/tone (or whatever you want to call it) on a piano can change from one day to the next, or even from morning till evening of the same day.

For the perfectionist pianists, hire a good piano tech to stay on site and available 24/7/365. grin

Rick
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 11:07 PM

Originally Posted by dhull100
For what it's worth, I'm learning to give up waiting for the stars to align for perfection or chasing "the" ideal sound. I've been frustrated with sound of a piano before, only to have my teacher evoke near miraculous sounds from it. We are part of the equation, both input and perception (it changes for me at least). Take heart, and maybe enjoy what's there (surely a lovely instrument) until the next tech comes. Great pianists have suffered but become great with lesser instruments than most of us, I suspect! I recall a video of your playing, so talent is not lacking! I am surely amateur, so feel free to ignore all of this. Certainly I don't write this to dismiss your concern and frustration--rather to encourage enjoyment of the music in the meanwhile.

Thank you for your kind words... but I'm not even trying to find "the ideal sound" or anything close, I just wish I hadn't told my tech to go ahead with his suggestion which ruined the sound. Imagine an upright where someone put down the mute middle pedal and lowered down a piece of felt. I exaggerate, but that's mostly what it sounds like to me... there's really no fortissimo left in Bo.

Anyway, it's all very fresh since I was really hoping when I sat down to play yesterday that it would all be okay. Currently, playing is just a reminder of the mistake. I just need more time and patience and am still holding lots of hope that the new tech will make everything okay.
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/02/15 11:28 PM

Loss of dynamic range is a common problem among voicers who mean well but often 'don't' deliver on the goods. Have seen this on a number of occasions.

One way to avoid this is to have the technician complete only a few keys at a time, kind of like giving you a taste of things. Then progress along same lines as you approve and like his work.

Letting the guy do the whole piano all at once and then having it tested after can be risky leading often to disappointment.

Don't ever think a good tech 'knows all' - he doesn't.

The one who does 'know' is - you.

Don't ever forget this....

Norbert
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/15 12:00 AM

Originally Posted by Norbert
Loss of dynamic range is a common problem among voicers who mean well but often 'don't' deliver on the goods. Have seen this on a number of occasions.

One way to avoid this is to have the technician complete only a few keys at a time, kind of like giving you a taste of things.
Then progress along same lines as you approve and like things.

Letting the guy do the whole piano all at once and then having tested after can be risky leading to disappointment.

Don't ever think a good tech 'knows all' - a common mistake.

The one who does 'know' is - you.

Don't ever forget this....

Norbert

It's also tricky because everything sounded so much louder with the front panel and music desk off, so I couldn't compare it properly with what I was used to. I'm sure Bo would make a lovely chamber instrument where the pianist tops out at mezzoforte :P

You are absolutely right, the only person who knows what I like is me.

Anyway, hopefully these emotionally exhausting and expensive learnings will come to an end. Will post back after new tech's visit, hopefully with good news.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/15 02:41 AM

Two cats,
Have you expressed your dissatisfaction about the present tone to the tech who did the voicing?
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/15 02:51 AM

Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Two cats,
Have you expressed your dissatisfaction about the present tone to the tech who did the voicing?

I wrote to him today. There are also other reasons as to why I decided to go with someone else for future work-- not because I'm unhappy with the touch progress thus far, but because I want more than I believe he is capable of doing.

The new tech would not want further voicing work done on Bo, so having the original tech remedy the voicing is not an option that I'm considering....
Posted By: McKnight

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/15 07:07 AM

Play the piano more. It will brighten up. How many hours of play since the voicing? One of my pianos sounded like cotton until I put in about 100 hrs. Now three years later it is too bright.

If you want it louder right now practice with ear buds or ear plugs in for 45mins. Take them out and the piano will seem overwhelmingly loud and powerful.
Posted By: Rickster

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/15 12:52 PM

Originally Posted by McKnight
Play the piano more. It will brighten up. How many hours of play since the voicing? One of my pianos sounded like cotton until I put in about 100 hrs. Now three years later it is too bright.

This is what I suggested as well...

I've seen it work for me. And, as you say, one would be surprised how fast the soft voicing can brighten up in a short amount of time.

This is why many technicians do a little voicing each visit with regular customers.

Of course, it's possible that the hammers can be over-voiced to the point of being ruined; one could try the chemical hardeners, but that would not be my choice.

To be honest, it gets a little tiring just talking about it. smile

Best wishes to twocats!

Rick
Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/15 01:11 PM

Twocats - maybe you could pay a neighbour's kid to pound in these hammers for you. One dollar for every run through the 88 keys! I believe these hammers will probably come good with some playing on them. It's distressing to hear your piano change so much - especially when you have paid for it, but hammers do brighten with playing. It wouldn't surprise me if the tone is actually not bad by the time your concert tech is able to get there. 3 months is plenty of time to compact those hammers again - unless you feel you don't want to play it because of how it sounds.

I think you just have to hang in there and play the "long game". These things take time - I'm sure your piano hasn't undergone any irreversible changes. Your patience will be rewarded and it will work out in the end.

Best wishes.
A.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/15 03:34 PM

Okay folks, thank you for your inputs. I will work on pounding in the keys. I've probably played about 10 hours since the voicing, did do some pounding when I was frustrated at the sound, but my husband asked me to stop (will make him go upstairs if he's getting a headache from it). The next two weeks I have more time to practice and I do want to continue to make progress on the Presto anyway, can't play it up to speed and keep it clean.
Posted By: Robert 45

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/15 04:43 PM

Hello twocats,
Your Bösendorfer piano looks magnificent and has inherently a beautiful sound. I am sorry that some problems with the piano have been so disheartening for you.

Apart from the expense of buying a very fine piano, the emotional investment can be even greater and we can feel so bitterly disappointed when it seems that an instrument is not meeting our expectations.

Issues with the action should be more readily improved by an excellent technician, but attaining the sound we desire often demands more time and patience.

I certainly hope that both the tone and its touch can be eventually put right.

Enjoy your very beautiful piano!

Kind regards,

Robert.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/15 06:50 PM

Thank you, Robert. It is definitely emotional, and I have made such a huge lifetime decision this year, spending much more than I felt comfortable with to try to bring home that amazing experience that I had with the 225 that I couldn't afford.

I think that now that I've vented out my frustrations, it's time for me to stop dwelling on what has happened-- so while I greatly appreciate everyone's posts and support, I think I'm at a point where seeing a new message about this just pulls me back to my negative feelings, so I would like to put the subject to rest for now and focus on the future.

I plan to do 5-10 minutes of daily key pounding until the new tech comes, and well, I'm rather behind on my goal to finish the Ballade within a year (but all the piano search and delivery wait time doesn't count, right?). So I have lots of practice that I should be doing anyway!

My now former tech wrote me back a very nice e-mail:
"Thanks for your thoughtful note. [New tech] is an excellent and highly-regarded technician with several weeks of Bosendorfer factory training. I'm sure he will bring out the best in Bo!
...
Please send me an update after [New tech's] visits. I would very much like to listen to the results of his skills, and see the smile on your face when Bo is delivering what you desire!"


So all is okay with our friendship, and he promised to stop by if he's in the area. He really is such an interesting and genuinely nice person, and someone I am happy to know.
Posted By: chasingrainbows

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/15 11:25 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
Thank you, Robert. It is definitely emotional, and I have made such a huge lifetime decision this year, spending much more than I felt comfortable with to try to bring home that amazing experience that I had with the 225 that I couldn't afford.

I think that now that I've vented out my frustrations, it's time for me to stop dwelling on what has happened-- so while I greatly appreciate everyone's posts and support, I think I'm at a point where seeing a new message about this just pulls me back to my negative feelings, so I would like to put the subject to rest for now and focus on the future.

I plan to do 5-10 minutes of daily key pounding until the new tech comes, and well, I'm rather behind on my goal to finish the Ballade within a year (but all the piano search and delivery wait time doesn't count, right?). So I have lots of practice that I should be doing anyway!

My now former tech wrote me back a very nice e-mail:
"Thanks for your thoughtful note. [New tech] is an excellent and highly-regarded technician with several weeks of Bosendorfer factory training. I'm sure he will bring out the best in Bo!
...
Please send me an update after [New tech's] visits. I would very much like to listen to the results of his skills, and see the smile on your face when Bo is delivering what you desire!"


So all is okay with our friendship, and he promised to stop by if he's in the area. He really is such an interesting and genuinely nice person, and someone I am happy to know.


twocats, I am going through almost the identical situation with my new Steinway B. I posted a thread, titled Voicing fears. I PM'd you.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/04/15 08:30 AM

I really pounded on Bo. All 92 keys smile So much that my fingers hurt from the percussion.

And Bo did sound less muffled than a couple days ago, although I still couldn't get a proper fortissimo from my normal playing, just from the pounding.

And then I practiced for a while, and then was sight reading through some mellow stuff (Bo has sounded pretty good even in muffled-down state for these pieces), then was flipping through some Chopin Nocturnes and got to Opus 48 No 1, which is big and dark and rather intense near the end (I think I need to put it on my list to learn!). This was three hours after I started, and suddenly the sound opened up and it was back! I have noticed this before but thought it was my imagination, that Bo sounds better after being "warmed up", like the sound resonates more into the air. The big chords were crisp and clear. And then I played some Mozart, which had sounded really dreadful before, and the melody line was clean and lovely again! Bo is back, and I am in love again smile

All of you who told me so, you were so right! Thank you!!
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/04/15 03:04 PM

It is good you are back to enjoying the sound of your piano.

It is bad that the tone changes so quickly from playing. Hammers should stay in voice for quite some time and many made today do not.

Piano owners should not have to have their pianos tone reduced wholesale every time it is tuned.


Posted By: chasingrainbows

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/04/15 03:15 PM

Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
It is good you are back to enjoying the sound of your piano.

It is bad that the tone changes so quickly from playing. Hammers should stay in voice for quite some time and many made today do not.

Piano owners should not have to have their pianos tone reduced wholesale every time it is tuned.




I agree, Ed. It is so frustrating. Unfortunately, I have not experienced that moment twocats has, where I felt that my piano was back to the gorgeous piano I played in the factory.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/04/15 05:08 PM

Some thoughts I had since last night... I have no idea how much of the change is in my head. After playing for three hours, am I just used to how it sounds? Also, it really does help to expect it to sound awful and then be pleasantly surprised when it's not in fact as bad as you'd thought.

Anyway, at least I'm fairly sure that some "un-muffling" progress is being made, will of course continue practicing and keep pounding if needed.

Still can't wait for new tech to come. He had said that the tonal palette was flat and that it should bloom, and I really do hope to get the buttery touch I've been looking for.
Posted By: Rickster

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/04/15 06:18 PM

I've read on numerous occasions here on Piano World where a new piano with new hammers or a rebuilt piano with new hammers, or any piano with new hammers, has to be "played-in" for it to reach its maximum tonal sound.

This is especially true with new Steinway pianos (or at least, Steinway is the one I've read the most consistent info about)... in fact, I've read that it can take 2 or 3 years of playing for a new Steinway to reach its maximum potential.

That seems really odd to me, but not totally outrageous. I've experienced the voiced-down/muffled hammer sound and the building back up to power process through hard playing, or just playing in general over time.

I don't think tone building is ever quick and easy...

All I know is what sounds good to me; I have no idea what sounds good to others. smile

Just a thought...

Rick
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/04/15 07:31 PM

I managed to squeeze in a few minutes of playing before leaving home today, and it's not in my head-- Bo's voice is back!

Regarding muffled voicing, the stupid thing is that this is the THIRD time that I have gone through the exact same thing, but with three different pianos and three different techs. The difference this time was that Bo wasn't too bright to start with, so in my mind it went from a good to a bad state which was very upsetting. Logically, I should have known that I've gone through this twice before and that it would be okay again.
1) My Petrof upright was very bright when I bought it and I asked my tech to voice it down. It was very muffled after the voicing, but opened up after two weeks to one of the nicest upright tones I've ever heard.
2) My Petrof IV was also very bright when I got it. My tech voiced it down and it opened up a bit after a few weeks and didn't sound quite so dampened. I went off on my piano search and sold this piano.
3) Bo! Muffled tone mostly gone through very aggressive pounding for about 10 minutes. My fingers hurt.

So, the odd thing is that none of the techs told me that this is normal and that I should just play it in. They said to keep playing and wait and see if it improves, but I got no reassurance that it's *completely normal* for the piano to sound muffled to the owner right after being voiced down (whether or not this mostly psychological from being used to the previous state, but apparently lots of people experience this). I had all this reassurance from pianists, but I really wanted to hear it from the tech who did the work. It also did not help that new tech said that all this is nonsense and that a piano should be voiced to the pianist's satisfaction and not need breaking in. So my conclusion is that each tech approaches voicing completely differently, but if the tech leaves your piano muffled, you need to break it in, else hopefully you find a tech who makes you happy after your visit with decently lasting results.

New tech had said that Bosendorfers are very finicky instruments to maintain at full potential (and that there's no sense in buying such an instrument if you don't have it there), so I should expect to need regular maintenance but that the results will be worth it...

chasingrainbows, I think you need to do some major pounding on your Steinway... use your elbows and fists if you need to!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/25/16 06:26 AM

It's been three months since I booked the appointment, and at long last New Tech is coming tomorrow to work on Bo for a week. I hope that my patience pays off! Unfortunately I have a long international trip right after all of this work, so I won't be able to enjoy the results for a while. But hopefully it's something to look forward to when I return, unlike getting back to my job smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/25/16 10:48 PM

New Tech is here. Unfortunately, it looks like some deeply incompetent tech back in the day had put some petroleum-like lube on every internal metal pin they could see, as well as the capstans. This caused some of the felts to harden, which New Tech says is probably why I noticed noisy keys. He is deeply shocked and said that he's only seen this kind of thing on old uprights. I helped him with cleaning the pins with a cloth and rubbing alcohol, but we can't undo the damage to the felts.

He had intended to work on Bo all week, but because of the lubrication damage, he now says that there's limited work that he can do that would provide enough benefit for it to be worth it. He said that eventually I'll have to do a full regulation when I replace the hammers and whippens down the line anyway (~$10k), and his recommendation is not to duplicate the work now. In the meantime, he's working on voicing and assured me that I'll see some improvement there. But he said it's a testament to the quality of the piano that even after all of this, that it still plays so nicely.

EDIT: New Tech just left for the day. The keys are affected, too, where the pin goes in. He had been wanting to put something down there to swell the holes and make them tighter, but the wood won't absorb it due to the lubrication. He texted two other techs, he said the ones he respects the most in the Pacific Northwest, and one offered to buy him a beer and the other suggested what amounted to replacing the keys ($12k). So looks like he's going to work on evening out the voicing and bringing it closer to Bosendorfer specs tomorrow, but any major improvements will have to happen later at significant expense.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/26/16 03:42 AM

twocats,
Assuming the black gunk your tech found is grease graphite, you should be able to remove the grease, (which is what causes most of the problem), by using a solvent to clean the balance rail; holes, key-pins, bushings. After the grease is removed the wood will absorb thinned glue so it is possible to glue-size the balance rail key-holes to remove excess play. The wood probably will retain the black graphite stain, but functionality would be restored.

Replacement of keys on such a new piano would be extremely unusual.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/26/16 03:55 AM

Ed, it was a clear thick grease, like Vaseline (there was some that we could see around the holes), although when we tried to "dry remove" it from the key-holes using Q-tips, there was some black residue.

He said that some older techs used a grease that was a mix of different things including something like lamb's oil? I don't remember exactly, but it sounded unpleasant. He was considering using a solvent but was concerned that the grease in the holes will just go deeper into the wood with unknown long-term effects. Is it safe to do so even if we don't know what kind of grease it is? And I'm not clear, are you also suggesting that he uses a solvent on the felts as well?

He didn't suggest actually replacing the keys, but he felt that there was some excess play that he would like to remove if possible. Thank you for your help!
Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/26/16 05:14 AM

Twocats, I doubt it will be that bad when you get the key bushing redone. Once the felts are pulled out, it should be possible to clean out the mortises and glue in new felt of appropriate thickness to give your keys the right balance of cushioning and stability. Likewise for the capstans and felts. It will cost a bit and take a bit of time, but it won't be anything like $12k. This kind of work often needs to be done anyway on an instrument of this age - and swelling up felts is never a permanent fix for worn bushings anyway. By getting it done, it will play even better - like new! Keep your chin up. smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/26/16 06:16 AM

Hi ando, the $12k quote was if (down the road) I wanted to get entirely new keys, which I wouldn't do unless the excess key motion gets way too loose over time. To be clear, he didn't suggest that I do this, I just asked about the cost. Hopefully the lubricant is what Ed thinks it might be and can be removed with solvent so that we can fix the loose key-hole issue (the key-holes were what he was going to swell with glue, not the felts!), otherwise I'll just have to live with the slightly noisy keys in the middle of the keyboard that I had noticed. Actually, these days it doesn't bother me much anyway! I guess I got used to it smile The lubricant was completely unexpected and my tech didn't want to experiment with solvent on my keys in case it caused side-effects.

With regards to the other work, my tech thinks that since I'll have to get new hammers and whippens down the line due to aging parts ($10k), that it would be in my best interest to wait for the full regulation that will have to be done then and save the money now. He is very meticulous and a perfectionist, and I can see that it pains him that the hammers have been voiced a bunch already and he can't do everything that he wants to. Right now the most annoying thing to me is the cluster of harsh notes, so if he can fix those, that's my top priority. Bo is really a very lovely piano to play, though of course I'm a bit disappointed that after my wait, the magic is not happening this week.

So I'll enjoy Bo in its current condition, and someday when it's time I'll have some major work done (and spend some major cash!) and my tech can bring Bo to its full potential smile


Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/26/16 04:05 PM

In the past, I have used lacquer thinner to wash grease off of and out of piano parts. You have to experiment with the exact method to use depending on what tools you have available. You do need to do it outdoors so the fume problem is lessened.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/26/16 04:36 PM

Thanks, Ed, will discuss with my tech when he comes today!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/28/16 01:17 AM

My tech finished his work today. He doesn't like to experiment on clients' pianos for things where he doesn't definitively know the result, and he says he makes a lot of judgment calls about focusing his efforts on areas with a higher return on investment. Because of the lubricant causing unknown interactions and because another technician has already done voicing and changed the hammers, my tech didn't feel that he could expand the tonal palette and improve the touch as he had originally planned-- he said he could do some things if I insisted but recommended against it as it would get very expensive. So he didn't try getting the lubricant out of the wood/felts with solvent (though thanks again to Ed for the advice on this!), and mostly worked on voicing out the metallic notes.

He said that there's a threshold to needling the hammers at which point it will kill the hammer, so there were a few notes where he was able to get a lot of improvement, but there are a couple of places where there's still a slight metallic edge at forte that I can live with. Basically he wanted to get Bo to a point where I can enjoy playing without the really bad notes sticking out, but he said that until I replace the hammers I will have to adjust as a pianist to some of the idiosyncrasies. He kept saying to me at the end of each day (after expressing his disappointment that he's limited by the current condition) that since he has experience he knows how much potential there is and he wishes he could give that to me now, but it is still a very lovely piano as it is and the 225 is his personal favorite model.

So, I am happy. Bo is really a delight to play and ranks up there with the 7' Fazioli that I quite liked, even though neither of them just disappear under my fingers like that dream 225. But I have that to look forward to in the future when the hammers and whippens need to be replaced, as my tech will do a full regulation then and tailor his adjustments to suit the way I play smile

I meant to make another recording on Bo before I go on my big trip, but I'm not ready and I have so much to do before then, so it will have to wait. But I will post here when I do that. I think Bo has come a long way since the original recording!
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/29/16 06:03 AM

I'm not understanding the exact situation very well. Are the holes you're trying to clean lined with felt bushings? That would be a problem since you don't want to damage the felt. I can't see that lacquer thinner would do anything but clean the wood, but it might also remove oil from the felt and will dissolve any glue holding the felt in place. A solvent won't carry the grease further into the wood. If the grease were just applied, I might worry about that, but it sounds like what is there has had plenty of time to penetrate. Now you have to actually leach the grease out somehow.

I'm not sure lacquer thinner is the right solvent, since it's a mix of chemicals. I might try acetone or mineral spirits first. Probably mineral spirits. Or if you need to spray something into a hole, maybe starter fluid. That's just ether and will evaporate almost instantly. Don't smoke while using any of these chemicals.

I have a book on wood finishing by Bob Flexner and I think it has a section on how to remove grease or silicone residue from wood. You have to do that before applying any finish except possibly shellac. My Flexner book is packed in a box since we're moving, so I can't check it for you, but I suspect a google search will also get you some information.

You can rest assured though, that there is a solution to your grease issue. Cleaning grease off wood is not a new problem. Wood workers have been doing it since the band-saw was invented.

Todd
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/29/16 03:39 PM

Twocats

I think you and your piano tech can ask the expert himself. Bob Flexner literally wrote the book on wood finishing. Cleaning stuff off wood is part of the prep, so if anybody will know what you can safely use, or at least, what chemist to call to ask, it's him.

If somebody called me for advice because somebody put grease in their gazilliondollar work of art, I'd be flattered, and from his writing style, Flexner seems like a pretty low key and nice guy. If you get an answer from him, post it here so any future techs who encounter this know what to do.

http://news.thefinishingstore.com/?author=12

Best,
Todd
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/29/16 07:15 PM

Hi Todd,

My tech wanted to get the lubricant out of the keyholes (the holes going through the wood at the end of the keys). The holes are not very big and some areas had lubricant smeared liberally on the pins. He is concerned that using a solvent will drive some of the lubricant deeper into the wood with unknown effects. Also, he said that with pianos, tolerances of a fraction of a millimeter matter, so a furniture refinisher would not have the same concerns.

I'll pass on the info you sent though, thank you!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/29/16 09:28 PM

My tech's response:

"Thanks for sharing the idea with me. I have followed Flexner since he first started writing about finishing wood about 20 some years ago.

One of the worlds experts on piano keys and probably this country's best key maker is a friend of mine. I talked to him yesterday about your piano.

My recommendation to you remains unchanged: I'm not comfortable recommending service on your piano that is significantly uncertain as to its outcome. At some point in the future when the piano becomes less enjoyable to play, I would be willing to try to flush out the wood with solvents, as well as replace hammers, other parts, maybe whippens, fully regulate and voice, and anything else needed at time which would be the best strategy in my opinion to improve the enjoyment of your piano."

Sounds like a plan smile
Posted By: Toddler2

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/30/16 04:36 AM

You'd be very surprised at the tolerances wood workers care about, but that isn't really the issue. You have a wood and grease problem, and your tech doesn't know much about how they'll interact. Bob Flexner does. Bob is the guy who knows about solvents and finishes and how they interact with and affect wood.

Realize that people throw lacquer thinner and solvents into Steinway hammer felts all the time. Lacquer is just cellulose and lacquer thinner mixed together, and lacquer thinner isn't all the same. If they overshot, they sometimes added a little acetone, the most volatile ingredient in lacquer thinner, or lacquer thinner, but without the cellulose mixed in. That would push the nitrocellulose deeper into the felt to soften the outer contact area.

I'm pretty sure you can't drive grease deeper into wood with a solvent, than it would eventually go all by itself. At worst, if the grease were newly applied, you might drive it in faster, but then it would be more dilute because part of what absorbed into the wood, would be solvent. And the solvent would evaporate away. At this point, whatever is in your wooden parts is pretty much absorbed as deep as it's going, and it's pure grease. Rinsing with a solvent can only decrease the concentration of grease in the wood.

I'm just an amateur woodworker, and I pride myself on being reasonably bright, but I don't know what that much grease will do to the wood over the next several years. It might weaken it, or heck, it might preserve it. It's not something I'm an expert on.

Bob might not know either, but on subjects like wood, grease, how solvents or grease affect wood strength, wood size, if the species matters. . . it's sorta 100% certain Bob Flexner knows more than you, me, and your tech combined.

PS) does your tech want the holes tighter or looser around the pins?
Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/30/16 07:33 AM

It's quite likely that these keys will have no problem accepting new key bushes. The grease has been applied over the felt and has spread to the surrounding wood, but I'd wager that the hide glue they use to stick the felt onto the wood has protected the area where the bushes are. This means you can just give the keys a basic clean, then scrape out the felt and old glue, exposing the untainted wood underneath. Then just glue some new bushes in there. I really think this is how is will play out. Grease can't get past a barrier like hide glue. I doubt it would seep in through the sides very far. So I'd be quite optimistic that these keys will be fine and won't have to be replaced.

Even if the wood had been saturated in the whole mortise are, there are key specialists who can route out the affected wood and glue in a block of fresh wood, route/drill the mortise and put fresh bushes in. It would be extraordinary to have to junk a whole set of Bösendorfer keys.

It'll all work out. But you may have to get a different tech to do this part of the work.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/30/16 08:37 PM

Thanks, Todd-- my tech is willing to try a solvent later on in the piano's life but it's not impacting the performance enough at the moment for him to think it's worth the time (my money). He had wanted to make the key holes smaller using hide glue, but the glue is beading up due to the lubricant, and with the extra step of removing the lubricant, he no longer thinks that adding hide glue is a worthwhile step for now. There are other things we'll have to deal with sooner (like new hammers) before we get to that level of performance optimization. Part of me wants to throw lots of money at the piano and get it really amazing now, but the practical side of me is glad that my tech is recommending this course of action so that I don't go broke wink And Bo really does play beautifully already, it's just not an out-of-world experience and that's okay.

Ando, it's actually not the key bushings that he wanted to work on, it's the key holes that have no felt in them. But looks like we'll try some solvent in the future! His friend also suggested cutting out the "bad parts" and putting in new blocks, but down the road I think he might try the solvent first.

Either way, thank you both for reassuring me that when he does use the solvent, that it will not cause any problems! smile

I am super-busy packing and taking care of last-minute errands before I head off to India on Monday, so all this piano stuff is the least of my worries right now. I did want to make that recording and hopefully I won't have totally lost my chops by the time I get back.

Posted By: Toddler2

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/31/16 02:02 AM

TwoCats,

I am so sorry I didn't understand the issue before. Your solution could be much easier than I had thought, and yes, it's a woodworking thing, again. Woodworkers us shellac as a sealer all the time when wood has been contaminated and they can't get something to stick to it.
Sadly, many woodworkers also use shellac as a sealer on non-contaminated wood. That's silly. It works, but there's no need for it. People do that just because of Zinzer's great at marketing shellac as a sealer.

But you're issue actually is contaminated wood, and shellac is perfect for that.

I suggest you have your tech try pre-treating one hole with a little 1 or 2 pound cut fresh dewaxed shellac. Google to learn what that is, and if you buy Zinzers sealcoat, which is a 2 lb dewaxed shellac, make sure it's from someplace where you know it's less than 6 months old.

Shellac has a limited life after you dissolve it in alcohol, and old doesn't dry as well as fresh. I used to mix my own. In fact, I can see if I have any flakes around if you like. Good shellac, either fresh seal coat or stuff you mix yourself, will dry in 10 minutes, probably a minute if you blow on it with a hair dryer or fan.

So treat one hole and see if your tech can apply his hide glue. If it doesn't bead up, problem solved. If it still beads up, you just wipe off the glue and remove the shellac with a little denatured alcohol. Heck, you could use EverClear. Just don't let Bo drive for a little while if you do that wink

Oh, the other nice thing about shellac, besides being super fast drying, there are no toxic fumes like lacquer thinner or organic solvents. It actually smells pretty nice.

If you have doubts about this, you can always try it on a test piece of scrap wood. Smear on some of that grease if there's any left in the piano, wipe, add shellac, and try your hide glue fix.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 01/31/16 05:27 AM

Thanks for the detailed info, Todd! I passed it onto my tech smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/20/16 08:13 PM

I'm back from my travels and have been crazy-busy getting all of my things done before I have to return to work, but I did do some playing and found Bo's touch to feel surprisingly heavy and even a bit sluggish. The pianissimo ability is noticeably worse. I'm sure some of it is weather-related, and maybe part of it is my getting weak from being out of practice. The good news is that the voicing has held up and the ugly notes that were sticking out didn't return. But anyway, I contacted my tech and said that I would like him to do any needed regulation (he had said that the hammers could benefit from re-pinning for sure), even though I knew that he was trying to save me money by not doing work that would have to be repeated when I get new hammers 5-10 years down the line. That's a long time! I really want Bo to be playing as best as it can in its current condition, and maybe I haven't communicated well enough to both techs that it would be worth a couple thousand dollars to me. We're scheduled for three days (10-20 hours) of work in about 5 weeks-- yay!! I can't wait to be done with all of my errands so that I can get back to eternally trying to finish the Ballade.

And it occurred to me that it's been close to a year since I started talking to Bo's previous owner about possibly making a trip to California. Wow, it's been such a journey.


P.S. Todd, my tech was not a fan of the shellac idea; he said that it would create a brittle film that would make the noisiness worse. But thank you for the suggestion!
Posted By: Cassia

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/21/16 04:40 AM

Welcome back, twocats! Despite the enchantment of travel, I'm sure it's good to be home and especially back at your piano. I'm sorry to hear that Bo's action isn't up to par, I know exactly how frustrating that is. I hope the 5 weeks until your tech visit don't go by too slowly.

Which ballade are you working on? I think you said the 1st in an earlier post?
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/21/16 06:12 AM

Thanks Cassia, five weeks is not that bad, last year I had to wait several months every time to get a tech visit! I have to do some slow practice anyway to get my chops back, so the action won't bother me as much. I'm working on Ballade No.1, which I started a year and a half ago and was hoping to finish in one year. Every time I make progress I get super busy and regress... don't think I will ever be able to play it cleanly through but I am now aiming to get reasonably close to that. And then I will record it... that'll be a long day wink
Posted By: Cassia

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/21/16 03:30 PM

Well, if it makes you feel any better (actually it probably won't), I've played that Ballade for more than a decade (I won't say how much more) and it still isn't where I would like it to be. I think that piece is my lifetime endeavor.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/21/16 04:52 PM

Originally Posted by Cassia
Well, if it makes you feel any better (actually it probably won't), I've played that Ballade for more than a decade (I won't say how much more) and it still isn't where I would like it to be. I think that piece is my lifetime endeavor.

New goal: make a recording by the end of this year! Let's see if I keep pushing out my goal until I hit a decade wink
Posted By: rapide

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/25/16 04:11 PM

This is a fascinating topic. Surely someone else has encountered this or a similar problem. Have none of the Bosendorfer agents on the forum an opinion?

Posted By: Beemer

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/28/16 05:05 PM

What puzzles me after reading this whole thread is why there is no mention of getting the previous owner to identify the original tuner/tech.

I thought at first the "grease" that was mentioned was a high tech piano lubricant called Protek CLP. This is used by many techs to lubricate the hammer pins and balance rail pins. I use this on my own piano. However from your description it looks like the 1 part baby oil to 8 parts Naptha (Ronson lighter fluid) that was used before the expensive Protek CLP became available. This oil/naptha mixture was commonly listed in the service manuals for electric pianos.

I assume you were present when the two techs were voicing? Did either after needling hit each hammer's felt with a tool and/or or use a hot ironing tool to smooth the voiced surfaces? My understanding from my tech studying is that hammering is essential to ensure even reseating of the disturbed felt layers.

A good source of voicing information is in the Arthur Reblitz book

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=reblitz+piano&oq=Reblitz+&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l3.4862j0j4&client=tablet-android-samsung&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8#imgrc=R4FstNAsFpHsiM%3A

Ian


Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/28/16 05:27 PM

Beemer, the original tech was there when I went to play the piano in CA-- he's the one who has serviced the piano since it was purchased new. He told me he's done nothing to the piano except tuning.

The first tech who did the voicing did use a little hammer to flatten out the felt after needling to brighten it up. The second tech also uses files to shape the felt.
Posted By: Beemer

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/28/16 06:02 PM

Twocats,

I note that you have never posted in the Piano-tuner Technicians group of this forum.

I suggest that you do make a post there but concentrate on the technical problems only. The professionals there are very busy people and may not have the time to go through your thread from the beginning.

You could post a link to the part where the problems arose but also post a link to the whole thread which may be of interest to some.

Some in the other group are also experienced rebuilders of premium grade pianos like your own and I have found them very friendly and supportive.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/forums/3/1/Piano_Tuner-Technicians_Forum.html

Ian


Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/28/16 06:48 PM

Thanks for the suggestion, Beemer, but I don't want to add more cooks to the kitchen, so to speak! smile I think the tech I have right now is one of the best in the area and he's the one who's getting to see my piano in person, and he has other techs he's talking to as well. I'm hoping to get a full regulation and then hopefully get the performance I'd like down the line when hammers and possibly more have to be replaced. I really didn't realize how much wear on parts happens even though the piano was really only played a lot in the first five years, before the former owner's partner passed away.
Posted By: Beemer

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/29/16 12:01 PM

I just read a dealers comment that your model has a "unique removable capo bar". I don't know how this is fixed but you never know it might need tightening by your tech.

Just a guess,

Ian
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 03/29/16 02:15 PM

Hi Beemer, are you a tech?

I found this on Wikipedia: "There are also two other features of Bösendorfers that are shared with only a few other piano brands: one is a removable capo d'astro bar in the treble, which facilitates rebuilding of the instrument and, Bösendorfer says, provides greater acoustic separation from the plate, decreasing tonal absorption; the other is single-stringing, providing each string its own individual hitch pin on the plate instead of connecting it to a neighboring string. This design may slightly improve tuning stability and is an advantage in case of string breakage."

It sounds like the removable bar is for easier rebuilding and something to do with tone. I'd really prefer not to make suggestions to my tech if they're just guesses, although I appreciate your looking into it!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/21/16 12:55 AM

Re-Pinning The Hammers

My tech came today. He did some voicing on the recurring harsh note, but said that it had been treated with some sort of hardener so he wasn't sure if he could do much else. Then he re-pinned all the hammers except for the notes with the bass strings. The hammers had quite a bit of swing in many of them, and this tightened them up. Re-pinning hammers is not exactly the process that I'd expected. He had to remove each pin and replace it with a slightly bigger pin, and he said a lot of it has to do with the feel and knowing what the result should be like. It's a very time-consuming process.

I noticed some difference when he had first re-pinned one octave, but then it became quite obvious when he finished that it changed the tone. It makes sense if you think about it, because the looser hammers would strike with a bigger force, and now the tone is more round and sweet. As a surprise, it seems to have cured the harsh note! A few other notes are now sticking out a bit and a few others are very muffled at pianissimo and "felty", possibly due to the hammers being slightly misaligned. I feel that I have more control over the touch but also that everything feels heavier, since it takes more effort to get the same kind of volume that I'm used to. It's actually making my wrists tired.

Tomorrow he said he'll start on the regulation and look at some of the friction issues. Hopefully this will solve the heaviness that I'm experiencing now. But so far I think this is progress!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/16 12:59 AM

Regulation, Part I

My tech started the regulation today. First he did the hammer mating for all of the keys (he showed me one bass key where a string wasn't getting hit) and then said the key dip (and something else, I forget what) was a bit too much and asked if I'd like it adjusted to Bosendorfer specs-- he'll be doing that tomorrow. Then he worked on "setting the repetition levers to the height of the jack". It's nice that he explains everything he's doing if I ask, even though I don't really understand a lot of it. He says that tolerances of thousandths of an inch make a difference.

He says that the touch won't be finalized until he adjusts the key dip tomorrow, but he did a tuning before he left and asked me to re-find any voicing anomalies, since those would have changed again from today's work. I do find a noticeable difference in the touch so far. Everything feels a bit tighter and more even, and the tone is much rounder and sweeter, but also softer. However, some notes in the middle octaves and also a few notes that get a lot of forte play in the Ballade are noticeably punchier now-- have marked them all with painter's tape to get some attention tomorrow! He offered to put some "hot sauce" on the bass area to perk it up a bit, which involves putting a bit of hardener on specific parts of the hammers to counter the voicing down that my previous tech did. I did some playing and I think I'll take him up on that!

I am thrilled to have this tech be working on Bo smile It's already playing like a different piano!
Posted By: Cassia

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/16 01:11 AM

So exciting! I can't wait to hear how regulation part 2 goes!
Posted By: Bach48

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/16 03:11 AM

Dear Mrs Meow,

Wow, I just found your thread! I'm new here and I'm not good at figuring out where to find things yet! But what a journey you have been on! I am learning so much from you. Thanks for chiming in on my thread. I kinda feel like writing you a poem about your amazing journey, but I wouldn't, so I shouldn't, and I won't so I don't. Hehe. Anyway, I can see a book, along the line of Grand Obsession! Coming your way. I love love love your writing! Ok kitty,now that you have it in your home, have you been able to stop purring? I wouldn't be able to contain myself. My thanks also goes out to Mr. Meow who has supported you throughout this whole journey of catharsis. Please tell me I have the two right kitty cats... OMG I hope so, otherwise I'm really going to look crazy, not that I'm not... Ok I hope you will start posting links of you playing your Chopin!!

Posted By: ando

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/16 03:55 AM

Originally Posted by Bach48
Thanks for chiming in on my thread. I kinda feel like writing you a poem about your amazing journey, but I wouldn't, so I shouldn't, and I won't so I don't. Hehe.



oh god, please no more poetry! Mercy!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/16 05:08 AM

Hi Bach48, thank you! From one particular (or should I say fussy, haha) person to another, you can now see why I gave the advice I did. smile

Unfortunately, the recordings will have to wait until I am happy with my progress-- which is going to take a while longer!
Posted By: Beemer

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/16 08:00 AM

Originally Posted by twocats
Hi Beemer, are you a tech?

I found this on Wikipedia: "There are also two other features of Bösendorfers that are shared with only a few other piano brands: one is a removable capo d'astro bar in the treble, which facilitates rebuilding of the instrument and, Bösendorfer says, provides greater acoustic separation from the plate, decreasing tonal absorption; the other is single-stringing, providing each string its own individual hitch pin on the plate instead of connecting it to a neighboring string. This design may slightly improve tuning stability and is an advantage in case of string breakage."

It sounds like the removable bar is for easier rebuilding and something to do with tone. I'd really prefer not to make suggestions to my tech if they're just guesses, although I appreciate your looking into it!

Hello Twocats,

No I'm not a registered piano technician (RPT) just someone who has been learning the process and tuning, voicing and regulating my own piano over the last two years.

I always read the threads here of folk who have disappointing experiences with their piano. It lets me learn more about the technology and solutions offered by others.

In a past life I was a maintenance technician looking after complex machinery. My waking hours and many sleepless nights were spent figuring out what was wrong and how to fix it. All that said everyone has a speciality and I do not have the decades of experience that many RPTs have. So it is important for me not to propose anything that might be detremental or even to upset an RPT especially your own.

Your story is most interesting and I look forward to reading Bo's progress.

For what its worth my piano sounds very different morning or evening. Its not humidity, as I'm in temperate Scotland, but must be temperature as we like our lounge cosy at night.

Ian
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/16 04:15 PM

Hi Ian (sorry I keep addressing you as Beemer, even though you sign off as your name!), thanks for following! Regarding your piano sounding different from morning to night, the relative humidity changes when you turn up the heat in the evening, and I believe that's what affects the piano, not the absolute humidity.
Posted By: Beemer

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/16 09:18 PM

😸😸,

Its been such a log thread that I have forgotten what you played for us. Perhaps you could persuade Bo to speak again?

I played a new Blüthner Model A today and it reminded me that it is the sound that we all love 💓 not the technology.

Ian
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/22/16 09:38 PM

Originally Posted by Beemer
😸😸,

Its been such a log thread that I have forgotten what you played for us. Perhaps you could persuade Bo to speak again?

Hee hee, nice icons!

I might re-record June-- click on the "meow" below to hear the first recording. I would definitely place the recorder up at the opening of the piano (last time placed it on a shelf on the other side of the room) and set levels based on the max volume this time! I had so much trouble with the technical difficulties of recording the last time around. Plus, getting a clean take on top of it all smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/23/16 12:17 AM

Regulation, Part II

My tech reduced the let-off and key dip today. He said that the let-off needs to be close, but that pianos change day-by-day (especially Bosendorfers due to the spruce wood), and that if he sets it too close the hammers can stick. He put thin paper washers under the keys to reduce the key dip, and then treated the lowest octave or so of the bass notes with an acetone-based solution in certain parts of the hammer to give them a bit more growl.

We had lunch together and chatted about a bunch of stuff (he's also a foodie!), but he said that he has mixed feelings about my situation because his philosophy is to do only the level of work that will be noticeable to the client, otherwise it wastes the client's money and is also not personally satisfying to him. He had thought that some voicing would be enough for me at his first working visit (the visit where he discovered the lubricant), and said if he had realized that I appreciate a concert-level regulation, his approach would have been completely different. Now I understand why he was so reluctant to take me on as a client when he came for the initial evaluation, and why I had to be adamant about wanting him to do the work! He said that we're getting into the realm of concert prep now, but that concert pianos and also pianos at the factory require three rounds of regulation-- every adjustment affects other things, so you need to iterate to get closer to the optimal result. We're definitely not iterating for my home piano, though! He's going to adjust the damper timing at his next tuning visit, which he said will give me more control. He says it's very uneven right now.

After lunch, he voiced down the treated bass notes until they were at a satisfying growly (but not overpowering) level, and we took a look at the notes that I had marked with painter's tape to get some voicing attention. The piano is now much more even in both touch and tone, with a "tightness" to the touch that I very much like, although I'm still getting used to it. My tech says that he recommends that I be on a 4x a year tuning schedule, especially since I'm working on pieces that are "knocking it out of tune". He said that some hammers at are capacity for voicing in the treble since there isn't much felt remaining, and he won't be able to do much with them if they need to be voiced. He laughed before he left, said that I won't need voicing if I just don't play, or play with a lot less power :P

Overall, it's a great improvement! The response is definitely different from what I'm used to, and I need to adjust to that. It'll just be a few months before it's time for the summer tuning, and he'll adjust the damper timing then. This is all so wonderful. Finally, I'm getting closer to the touch I was looking for smile
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 06/16/16 02:13 AM

Finally, I have another recording of Bo, ten months after my first one (took a break from working on the Chopin Ballade to learn this for my dad's birthday)! And I'm really happy with the recording quality after getting lots of help and doing a *ton* of experiments to get a good setup smile

I had hoped to get my tech to come regulate the damper timings and to do my summer tuning (does the treble sound a tad flat?) before I made the recording, but I cut it too close. Hoping to record the Ballade by the fall!

Posted By: Norbert

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 06/16/16 03:25 AM

Quote
...it reminded me that it is the sound that we all love 💓 not the technology.


That's about the most sense I heard in a while.

Norbert shocked wink
Posted By: oldmancoyote

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 06/16/16 07:22 AM

Thank you, twocats. Great way to start my day.
Posted By: Beemer

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 06/16/16 06:46 PM

Hello Twocats,

Thanks for posting your "final" performance. I think I need to offer another piece of recording advice.

Vimeo has a much better sound playback system. If you must use YouTube then you should post at a minimum resolution of 720p.

480p does not use high quality sound compression. I can hear lots of distortion which I know is not on your original file.

Ian
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 06/16/16 06:53 PM

Originally Posted by Beemer
Vimeo has a much better sound playback system. If you must use YouTube then you should post at a minimum resolution of 720.

480 does not use high quality sound compression. I can hear lots of distortion which I know is not on your original file.

Hi Ian, I wonder if this is actually the compression from Windows Movie Maker. I had exported at "computer quality" but maybe I should have done "TV quality". I hope my final recording doesn't have distortion, but I didn't send you that one. I can try to re-export the video later and see. Thanks for your feedback smile
Posted By: Beemer

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 06/16/16 07:05 PM

reported elsewhere is the problem with windows movie maker. Sound codecs in the program are not optimised for high quality.

In Windows Movie Maker, try going to “Tools > Options > Compatibility” and unchecking all the filters ending in .ax. It is possible these .ax filters are causing low audio quality in the movie preview and saving. This solution is common if you have installed a bunch of new codecs and filters. Also, if audio quality was fine before and now is low, it may be due to installation of new filters.

Ian
Posted By: Cassia

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 06/16/16 08:43 PM

Lovely, twocats! Your dad will love it, I'm sure!
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 06/17/16 05:29 PM

I just sent the family slideshow video to my dad. Tried to upload the mp3 to Soundcloud for better sound quality to share here, but got an automated "copyright violation" e-mail. Um, I'm flattered, but the differences between me and Elisabeth Leonskaja's playing are pretty obvious! For one thing, she doesn't play any wrong notes :P
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/16 04:16 PM

Damper Timing Regulation

It took me a long time to get my tech out here (like, a 4 month wait!) to do the damper timing regulation, since he's so busy. I was actually out of town for a family emergency, but he said he didn't need me around so I came home to the work done. He had emailed me saying that the dampers were way out of spec and most of them were far too late, with a few that were far too early.

Bo plays like a completely different piano now! I actually wish that this had been done much earlier, as both my previous and current tech spent a lot of time (== money) on voicing harsh notes with me that resolved themselves with proper regulation. I know everyone says the regulation must be done first before voicing, but I think the techs all initially assumed (with good intentions) that they could do much less and make me happy. Ugh, expensive learnings but hopefully my current tech will be working on Bo for many years to come.

Anyway, the results: the touch feels much, much better, a bit firmer and a lot more controllable-- definitely more "buttery". When I was learning the Chopin Nocturne for my dad, I always felt like I had to spend so much effort to control it on this piano, and that feeling is gone. The tone is mellower and any harshness in the treble has disappeared. There had been a couple of notes that I had asked him to voice (he didn't feel comfortable doing that without me present) which used to stick out a ton, and now they only sound slightly different from the notes around them-- I really have to look for them and hear the difference only because I know they're there.

I am very happy with the changes and feel like I came home to a new piano! I think this is the last major work that my tech had planned to do before I invest in a new action and hammers in 5-10 years (and he'll do the solvent on the keysticks then), and I no longer feel like I'm "settling" for Bo's current state until then.

I guess this wraps up my piano saga, for now smile
Posted By: Cassia

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 11/03/16 05:41 PM

Oh yay! What a relief that is. I'm so happy your tech was able to make such a huge difference, and what a nice thing to come home to after your family emergency.
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/12/17 07:19 AM

Tuning at A442

I have an exciting update!! I asked my tech to tune Bo at A442 after reading this thread, and he did a pitch change followed by another tuning for stability. Then he spent a bunch of time voicing uneven notes that needed attention. I didn't hear that much of a difference when he was here, but I got a chance to play more this evening and WOW! The bass and middle registers are much sweeter and much more resonant. The top notes of the treble got more thin and shrill, but I hardly play up there anyway, so it doesn't bother me.

I kept playing, and suddenly realized that this is the sound of the 225 that I fell in love with! The piano belongs in this pitch! Next time my tech comes, I'm going to have him tune at A443, the Bosendorfer factory setting. We've been making gradual progress on improving the touch and sound, but today's change has been nothing short of magical. Plus, usually I find the touch a bit too firm when the piano is freshly tuned (as it gets out of tune, it gets louder and my perception is that the touch gets lighter) but right now with the new resonance, the firmness is just how I like it. The previous owner had told me that this is one of the few Bosendorfers that has a "swirl", where the sound swirls up and envelops you-- I had thought at that time that it was a load of crock but if a swirl is what I loved in the other 225, my piano now has the same wonderful sound that seems to hang in the air. I didn't experience this effect with any other Bosendorfers that I played, including two other 225s. Whatever it is, it's beautiful.

Today my tech said for the first time that I have a really great piano and that he really likes it now, after all the work we've put into it. We didn't make a connection to the pitch change as he didn't think it would make much difference, but he wasn't a fan of my piano when he started out. And today I'm also fully convinced that when I eventually get new hammers and have the action rebuilt, I'll have the piano of my dreams. There's a lot of life left until we get there, but I'm still very happy with Bo's current state smile The missing piece for the sound was simply the tuning! (I feel like I'm living Grand Obsession, again.)

P.S. It was two years ago this coming Sunday that I reached out to Bo's owner for the first time. What a journey it's been!
Posted By: nancyde

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/12/17 01:27 PM

Fabulous! I have been following your journey all the way and am so happy for you. Many happy hours with Bo.
Posted By: terminaldegree

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/12/17 01:56 PM

I'm glad to hear you're happier with your piano, but I suspect the "bunch of time" he spent voicing has a lot more to do with your satisfaction with the piano's sound (and just being freshly tuned) than whether the piano was set at A442 or A440. It would make an interesting test without these variables, anyway.
Posted By: Beemer

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/12/17 02:43 PM

Originally Posted by twocats
Tuning at A442

I have an exciting update!! I asked my tech to tune Bo at A442 after reading
this thread, and he did a pitch change followed by another tuning for stability. Then he spent a bunch of time voicing uneven notes that needed attention. I didn't hear that much of a difference when he was here, but I got a chance to play more this evening and WOW! The bass and middle registers are much sweeter and much more resonant. The top notes of the treble got more thin and shrill, but I hardly play up there anyway, so it doesn't bother me.

I kept playing, and suddenly realized that this is the sound of the 225 that I fell in love with! The piano belongs in this pitch! Next time my tech comes, I'm going to have him tune at A443, the Bosendorfer factory setting. We've been making gradual progress on improving the touch and sound, but today's change has been nothing short of magical. Plus, usually I find the touch a bit too firm when the piano is freshly tuned (as it gets out of tune, it gets louder and my perception is that the touch gets lighter) but right now with the new resonance, the firmness is just how I like it. The previous owner had told me that this is one of the few Bosendorfers that has a "swirl", where the sound swirls up and envelops you-- I had thought at that time that it was a load of crock but if a swirl is what I loved in the other 225, my piano now has the same wonderful sound that seems to hang in the air. I didn't experience this effect with any other Bosendorfers that I played, including two other 225s. Whatever it is, it's beautiful.

Today my tech said for the first time that I have a really great piano and that he really likes it now, after all the work we've put into it. We didn't make a connection to the pitch change as he didn't think it would make much difference, but he wasn't a fan of my piano when he started out. And today I'm also fully convinced that when I eventually get new hammers and have the action rebuilt, I'll have the piano of my dreams. There's a lot of life left until we get there, but I'm still very happy with Bo's current state smile The missing piece for the sound was simply the tuning! (I feel like I'm living Grand Obsession, again.)

P.S. It was two years ago this coming Sunday that I reached out to Bo's owner for the first time. What a journey it's been!

Hi TwoCats,

I'm out of hospital after my spine operation so building up my time back on my Blüthner and of course here on this great forum. I read your post about taking Bo back to it's 443 roots 😊. You might find this thread interesting.

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/1404143/Bosendorfer%20tuning%20above%20440.html

Ian
Posted By: twocats

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/12/17 03:16 PM

Thank you, nancyde and Ian! Ian, hope you have a quick recovery and can get back to enjoying your piano!

terminaldegree, it's definitely not the voicing that caused this change. He didn't voice the whole piano, just fewer than ten notes that were either sticking out (since I'm working on such limited repertoire, I put a lot more use on a few notes-- my tech says that I play "aggressively" and he sees that in the hammer wear) and trying to smooth out some persistent harsh notes. The harsh notes got better but there's almost a whole octave about three octaves from the top that didn't sound good when I first got the piano, and don't seem to be able to be permanently voiced nicer. I think it will eventually just need new hammers. Also, I have *never* felt that my piano has resembled that of the dream 225, before or after tuning, and now it does.

I actually also saw the link that Beemer posted last night and sent it to my tech. I'm not the only one who's experienced this! A few fascinating quotes:

Originally Posted by Silverwood Pianos
The recommendation from the company is all Bosendorfer models are to be tuned at 443. This changes the plane line of the strings and changes the tone slightly.

Originally Posted by Marty Flinn
Several months ago our top tuner spent weeks at the Bosendorfer factory learning the ins and outs of the beast. Upon his return he brought our floor models up to 443 and they leaped to life. He explained that all the prep work at the factory in final voicing is done at 443. The difference was startling.
Posted By: Cassia

Re: Searching for a new grand piano! - 04/12/17 03:49 PM

I'm so happy that Bo is finally getting close to being your true dream piano. It sounds like the change in pitch has had a profound effect, and I'm sure once you do get new hammers, Bo will be absolutely stunning. I can't wait to hear it again!
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