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Originally Posted by Withindale
I think the conventional method of regulation is the reason an upright does not repeat as well as grand. When you reduce aftertouch and jack movement, a good upright will be able to repeat as well as grand and its touch will be better. There is no need for a repetition lever, the catcher can hold the hammer while the jack nips back under the hammer butt.
I don't know enough to even understand what you wrote but it seems to me that, if this was correct, all verticals would be regulated this way and Darrell Fandrich would not have bothered to invent the Fandrich action. Is there any down side to doing what you suggested?

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I don't really know what Ian means by this either since I'm a pianist, not a technician. What I do know though, is that the grands in the same price range as these uprights (grands at 12 to 18 thousand Euro, which is the price bracket of the small W. Hoffman T160, and the Brodmanns of this world etc), were not as good, even though they were properly set up. Also, the tone of the grands in this price range were inferior to the uprights even when taking in to account bass clarity - for me, personally, a piano's tone is about far more than the bass and is more about its overall dynamic range, its voice, the control I can get over the tone, and those uprights for me blew the competition (the grands in the same price range) out of the water.

It would be a different matter comparing a Schimmel Konzert 186 (is it a 186?) to a Konzert 132, or a Bechstein 190 to a Bechstein upright, and I find that these uprights don't perform quite as well as my Blüthner - but we're comparing tier one grands to tier one uprights in this case.

In my newly formed opinion, I am now of the view that a tier one upright, in particular one at the level of the Schimmel Konzert, is better than a consumer grade grand in pretty much every way. A tier one grand is better than a tier one upright.

JohnSprung - you raise a good point here. The ongoing maintenance of every piano needs to be kept up to date if it's going to perform at its best. It helps a lot when the piano is set up properly in the first place, and that in itself will reduce the need for constant fidgeting over time. I'm not saying that it wouldn't need regulated 12 to 18 months down the line after the felts have settled, but it wouldn't be as dramatic as if the piano hadn't been properly set up to begin with. Regarding the voicing, yes you need a technician who knows what they are doing, and again it helps if it has been voiced properly to begin with. I too have never come across this level of set up in an upright before, but then it should come as no surprise that in Paris the new pianos are set up this well. For a start, many people in Parisian apartments simply couldn't fit a grand - these places are tiny and very expensive. Secondly, there are many, many wonderful pianists living in Paris. The Paris conservatoire has for a long time been regarded as one of the best piano faculties in the world along with Moscow, London and New York (Moscow is regarded as the top, but actually you can find wonderful teachers in all of them).

In London the trend seems to be that a pianist will buy a grand piano no matter what, and not buy a tier one upright. Whenever I've been in Blüthners or Steinways, or any other place that sells tier one uprights, they sit on the shop floor for ages while all the grands around them are sold. There is a view perpetuated amongst the provincial technicians that if you're going to buy an upright, you don't gain anything more than a little prestige once you get past the Yamaha U3, and all the tier one pianos are virtually the same quality. This, to me, shows an alarming lack of understanding about these fine uprights and what they are capable of. It's also true that once you get past the £12,000 (17,000 Euro) price level, most technicians in the UK will say that a grand is better no matter what. The technicians here seem to find working on uprights a mundane task, whilst working on grands is something special (granted, only a few technicians seem to really know what they are doing with any piano in this country). So the prevailing attitude is that investing time and money in setting up all these uprights on the shop floor is simply not worth it when there are grands to be sold.

Jason - with regards to me picking out things that you couldn't - yes you're right I probably can, but a lot of that comes from having played so many fine pianos in my lifetime. I've been pretty lucky that in my conservatoire years I was conditioned to play on Steinways that were as good as you'd find anywhere, and I've had a long standing relationship with Blüthner in the UK, and I've performed on some exceptional pianos including Fazioli, Shigeru Kawai, Steinway, Bösendorfer, and of course I have two Blüthners - one of which matches pretty much any of the finest pianos I've played (the other is a little more tired...) and I owned that Brodmann for a few years.

In playing and owning tier one pianos, you are gradually able to nudge open the door into the next world of tone production and sound. The Brodmann, for instance, was a great sounding piano, and it sort of sounded like a Steinway, but it didn't have that doorway that you could walk through and find a real wealth of colour - and yes, I did keep it maintained. I can't explain it very well in words, but people with tier one instruments will know what I'm trying to say. It's like, the Brodmann's tone was excellent but was always something external - like looking at the picture - whereas the tier one pianos' voice, is something that becomes internal, and puts you inside the picture, so you're able to change things and express things in the music from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. I honestly think that any pianist, no matter how bad they think they are, would benefit from having access to a tier one instrument.

Of course, when you mention the Yamaha C6, you're already talking about an exceptionally fine piano. To me, it's sort of a lower tier one (maybe tier 1.3?) and when properly set up it really can set you on the right path. It doesn't have the same wealth of possibility as a Fazioli, or a Bechstein, or a Blüthner, or a Steinway, but it is already well above the C3X in terms of what it can do.

Tier one pianos at first don't seem to offer much more than a Yamaha or Kawai - absolutely true. I know and remember this experience from my younger years. In fact, sometimes they can appear to offer less. I've had quite a few pianists play my Blüthner and they feel like they've been placed on another, very unfamiliar planet. The thing about tier one pianos is, you have to build a relationship with them. Once you know how to play on a Blüthner or Bösendorfer, or a Schimmel (these three, in particular, seem to present the biggest challenges to pianists, I don't know why), you can then go to any other piano and you know how to make friends with that piano from the start.

The way I put it is that a Yamaha or Kawai (or Brodmann, or whatever) piano is like that friend who will tell you that you are the greatest person in the world, that everything is great, that you are doing so well, will be happy to hang out with you and buy you the round of drinks, happier when you are buying the drinks, and isn't life just wonderful. Your relationship with that person always remains on a superficial level, and you love hanging around with them, but you know full well that you don't know them that well, and they don't know you. The tier one pianos, the difficult pianos, well they are the friends that really look out for you - and sometimes those friends are the ones that will drive home a few home truths to you that you don't want to hear, and sometimes you feel that they've said something that they have no right to say, and yet through all that you build a relationship with that person that can be the deepest and most enduring friendship you have.

Of course if you have a hyper critical friend that makes you feel like you have to walk on eggshells, you have a new set of problems and should probably dump them..... but who wants to buy a Waldstein upright anyway?

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Originally Posted by joe80

Of course, when you mention the Yamaha C6, you're already talking about an exceptionally fine piano.

Just to be sure: C6 or CF6?

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Dear Joe:
When you mention that playing fine Bluthners and Bosendorfers shapes one's approach to other pianos, it reminds me of Chopin's statement of his preference for Pleyel over Erard and why and how.
Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

Last edited by Karl Watson; 04/16/15 07:57 AM.
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wimpiano - I mean a C6. The CF6 is up there with the other tier ones.

Hi Karl. Yes, it's that thing of having a piano with a subtle voice makes you explore the sound world more, but having a piano with a more simple, bright voice, kind of gives you everything in one shot without having to work with your imagination. Again, talking about sound is exceptionally difficult so I wouldn't be surprised if people don't know what I mean, but I think you get the general idea.

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Originally Posted by joe80
wimpiano - I mean a C6. The CF6 is up there with the other tier ones.


I agree with Joe: the C6 is one of Yamaha's greatest pianos. It punches well above the weight of the C5 and C7. A really well set up C6 is really a high quality instrument. It's a shame more people don't know about it. It gets lost in the crowd. I'd be very interested to see if the new Yamaha CX6 has the same magic.

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Ando--I have played a well set up CX6 and it was magical.

Joe--I have really appreciated your thoughts over time on this board. I find this thread very interesting as I have played uprights (and own one) that I felt were better in every way than consumer grands I have played.

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Thanks Joe for an enlightening post. All of that actually makes a lot of sense. Indeed, imho you actually have quite a talent for explaining some of the more subtle concepts around pianos to people (like me!) who aren't as knowledgable, without being patronizing.

The comment about a tier 1 piano being more "demanding" of the musician made a lot of sense to me. Certainly a couple of the tier 1 instruments actually left me feeling less of a musician after playing them, while one or two others I just didn't "get" (for want of a better term). My experience was actually pretty close to your observation, with a Bosendorfer giving me the biggest "inferiority complex", while I just couldn't get my head round the Schimmel at all (albeit a not great experience at the dealer I tried it at didn't help there either). With others (notably the Steingraeber 130 and a couple of beautifully prepped C.Bechstein's), I certainly became aware of the "door into another world", albeit I had no confidence at all in my ability to ever walk through it (if you'd ever had the misfortune of hearing me play, you'd know what I mean smile ). The idea that you have a "deeper relationship" with that kind of piano makes sense to me, but all too often, your final line about a hyper critical friend was very close to the truth when I tried those instruments.

But I suppose the surprise to me was while the difference on quality between say , A Grotrian Cabinet and a Yamaha C3X was clearly huge, the difference between a Grotrian Concertino and the Yamaha YUS5 ) I chose wasn't clear to me in the same way that it probably would be to you.(and for me there was a huge and obvious gap when stepping down from the YUS5 or Kawai K8 to say a U3). As I suspected (and you've very tactfully explained) that probably says more about me than about the instruments, but it was a surprise nonetheless.

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Originally Posted by joe80

Of course if you have a hyper critical friend that makes you feel like you have to walk on eggshells, you have a new set of problems and should probably dump them..... but who wants to buy a Waldstein upright anyway?


What a kicker! laugh.


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Perhaps Jason it does say more about you than the instruments, but perhaps not. Firstly, we all have our tastes, and that's fine. Some people don't like certain pianos no matter how good they are at playing, and some pianos are just not well enough prepared for the prospective buyer to really know what they are capable of - which is 90 percent of what this thread is about in a way.

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I appreciate your comments on these pianos.

After all of this reading, how would you compare these to vintage Steinway uprights from 1890-1910. (I don't have access to very many new pianos, but these old Steinways have been my favorite.)

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Steve:
I'd be VERY interested in a response to this question, esp. concerning the Astoria Steinways.
On previous occasions, Del has expressed a preference for other American makes of this period, at least as subjects for restoration.
My personal experience of old, tall Steinways from the turn of the century has always been positive but I've only ever played unrestored pianos, never one that had been carefully and meticulously rebuilt. I understand that there are some significant issues with small action parts, if they should need replacing.
Please, do let's have some serious response to this very interesting question, esp. from our experienced techs.
Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

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Hi,

I don't know the Astoria Steinway uprights at all, never knowingly played one that I can remember. Regarding the Hamburg Steinway uprights - the Schimmel was certainly equal to any new Hamburg Steinway I've played (possibly even better - especially when you consider that it's £10K cheaper.....).

The only old Steinway uprights I have played have been pretty worn out, and although they've sounded OK, they were nothing like anything I played last week in Paris. I haven't played a rebuilt Steinway upright to know whether or not they compare. I could hear from even the worn out Steinways that they were great pianos, but it's hard to compare something brand new with something worn out and try to pass comment about quality and potential, unless you're a really experienced technician.

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Originally Posted by Karl Watson
Steve:
I'd be VERY interested in a response to this question, esp. concerning the Astoria Steinways.
On previous occasions, Del has expressed a preference for other American makes of this period, at least as subjects for restoration.
My personal experience of old, tall Steinways from the turn of the century has always been positive but I've only ever played unrestored pianos, never one that had been carefully and meticulously rebuilt. I understand that there are some significant issues with small action parts, if they should need replacing.
Please, do let's have some serious response to this very interesting question, esp. from our experienced techs.
Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY


For the price of an Estoria Steinway upright you could get a tier 1 piano.


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It's absolutely correct that for the price of a new Steinway upright you could have a fully rebuilt tier one 6' to 7'6 grand (depending on make, age, availability etc), but then not everyone is in the market for that grand. My piano cost a great deal less than a new Steinway upright.

Regarding Steinway uprights of different ages and with differing needs regarding restoration, Karl, perhaps you should start a thread dedicated to Steinway uprights from, say, 1880 to 1930.

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Quote
It's absolutely correct that for the price of a new Steinway upright you could have a fully rebuilt tier one 6' to 7'6 grand (depending on make, age, availability etc), but then not everyone is in the market for that grand. My piano cost a great deal less than a new Steinway upright.


This is correct.

It's also correct that the difference between "superlative uprights" and 'very good ones' in today's market is not as great as is sometimes postulated here.

Considering that you can buy a "very good upright" - even 'exceptional one' for 7-10k today, the sense of buying an upright for three times the price becomes increasingly questionable.

Perhaps this also helps explain that with a few exceptions, the uprights today are filling the halls of [most] German manufacturers, while their grands are moving quite well.

As usual, facts speak for themselves.

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 04/18/15 12:20 PM.

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Originally Posted by joe80
It's absolutely correct that for the price of a new Steinway upright you could have a fully rebuilt tier one 6' to 7'6 grand (depending on make, age, availability etc), but then not everyone is in the market for that grand. My piano cost a great deal less than a new Steinway upright.
This is not true in the U.S., at least on the East coast for Steinways and Masons.

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Quote
It's absolutely correct that for the price of a new Steinway upright you could have a fully rebuilt tier one 6' to 7'6 grand (depending on make, age, availability etc), but then not everyone is in the market for that grand. My piano cost a great deal less than a new Steinway upright.


Why buy a 'rebuilt'??

If carefully looking there are a number of grands on market today which would give most rebuilds a run for the money.

"New"

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 04/18/15 02:37 PM.

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Joe, I think that preparation in a piano makes a huge difference in it's capability. Unfortunately, when I was in Asia, I played some potentially nice pianos that were really poorly regulated and horribly voiced, making them a real struggle to play. This included a very nice Boesendorfer upright. It may be that the Paris market is more demanding in the preparation department.


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I grew up playing one of those tall Steinways. A friend of mine bought one about 30 years ago and put in new strings and hammers. Sounded pretty nice! I still have a soft spot in my heart for their sound.


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