When you know what you want to accomplish in terms of piano sound,
when you have adequate technical skill and understanding of the various parts of a piano, when you begin with good solid instruments that haven't seen too much abuse, not so much use as to warrant a complete rebuild (in which case, for better or worse, the piano becomes something a little different anyway), when you have had occasion to work with many well known athletes of the piano, who are actually out there performing feats of pianistic perfection to dazzle, inspire and challenge the rest of us, when as it happens you have the ability to put all this together on a modest but manageable scale, in a place that is off the beaten track, but as it turns out not so very far off that it may be worth the visit, then you have the Used Piano Center in Mechanicsville, New York.
Those who have read my posts over the years and have ever heard me discuss "the ache" and what that means will be able to understand much of what I am about to describe. To those that aren't familiar with what I mean, it has to do with the desire every active pianist has for an upgrade, especially if they feel constrained, or worse, by the piano they presently own. I have felt this way for a long time about my piano, that it is time for a replacement, especially after getting the keys recovered. When the keyboard came back, my first reaction was I want to sell it. But, It's not like I was really actively looking for its replacement. The events of the past few years having certainly taken much attention away from piano playing for me, but the truth is that the piano I own has lost its ability to inspire me.
The proprietor's name is Evan Tublitz and you can find out more about him here: http://www.usedpianocenter.com/
First sampled selections were four very nice Steinway parlor grands, each one with its own distinct takes on the Steinway voice. They all had the capacity to make me want to spend more time playing them as they were all in wonderful prep, far better than average. Then I sampled a Yamaha and Kawai grand. They also had very much nicer tone and touch than expected, fully prepped, ready to play and in tune. There was a striking something about the way all these pianos were prepared that made them standouts, the signature of the technician. Now, we all have our particular preferences just as we do in wine or ... music, as with fine automobiles, as with fine pianos. There are even a few of us who can afford more than one nice grand these days. That's when you can't make up your mind and have enough money to afford it. For most of us, it's a luxury we are striving for.
Then, to get back down to earth, I sampled a few of his nicer upright pianos (Yamaha), and the same attention to detail was clearly present.
Mr Tublitz, a musician himself, as well as an obviously gifted technician, had created what he described loosely as an "European sound", which perhaps sound most corresponded to a concert hall or recording studio prepped Hamburg Steinway or Bechstein, or as close as it was possible to get to that sound, given the raw materials.
This impression was further reinforced when I returned home and began to listen to some very fine recent recordings of works by Chopin, Mendelssohn, Scarlatti, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. The common thread among these recordings was that same "European sound". It seemed to me at that instant, dawned the understanding that the next logical step for me was to get a nice upright piano that had been specifically prepped to have that particular sound.
So that was it. The ache is getting close to pianos one wishes one could afford to buy simply because one is pretty sure that these instruments would make one a better pianist, to be better able to hear perfectly everything you play, to have better command over each phrase as the action is a more reliable extension of your technique, to have the means without any further excuses, to pursue pieces one once thought beyond comprehension or ability.
Mr Tublitz clearly had many of these pianos right there in his modest shops and more importantly he would be on the lookout for more that could be turned in this sensible direction. His own musicality has led him to know what a working pianist needs most from a piano.
A few more notes: He had many grands that I didn't play, but one I did was a nice big Ibach in great condition, also a fine old time Steinway O in an exotic wood case and a nice little Knabe that played and sang as they should. These magnificent pianos, some quite old, had all been restored and given that masterful voicing and action prep that one expects from concert hall or recording studio pianos (and often rarely finds!). I was really quite surprised and glad to have found this excellent craftsman and his enterprise so close to where I live.
Over the years, it has been my fortune to be able to find the Piano World Piano Forum, to be part of its occasional but regular posting contributors, not representing anything or anyone in particular, except for the idea of "growing the game" as it were; getting more people, especially adults, to take up playing the piano for pleasure and more. Therefore in keeping with my previous posts, please consider my review of this retailer as my personal opinion. Each person has different anticipations and expectations and must invariably reach his or her own conclusions.
I may not check back all that regularly for any responses. If you have any specific questions, you can find out where to reach me on this website.