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#25445 08/25/06 02:59 AM
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I was wondering how small some acoustic uprights can get?

Also, at what point do you really start sacrificing sound in terms of size?

thanks.

#25446 08/25/06 08:19 AM
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The smallest acoustic uprights are spinets, usually around 36" tall.

I personally would not recommend getting an acoustic that is less than 45" or 46" in height; 48" is even better.

#25447 08/25/06 08:28 AM
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I think Monica is correct but I am sure she will agree if you are just starting out just about any piano in good shape will do.

Many of us started out with a "hand me down" spinet. I am still using a spinet while I search for something better. The spinet fullfilled my need for a piano with which to learn the notes and to start to gain an understanding of timing and phrasing.

During my current piano search the Schimmel is a favorite and they are not that tall. 46 -48 is a nice size for Schimmel because of their scale design.

You don't mention where you live but if you are near a big city keep an eye on www.craigslist.com The Baldwin Hamilton is a nice piano for the money. I played one for about two weeks while visiting my father in hospital this summer. These are a nice little piano and not very expensive. As with any used piano, have a tech check it out before buiying.

Have fun,
Steve


"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

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#25448 08/25/06 08:35 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Stevester:

Many of us started out with a "hand me down" spinet. I am still using a spinet while I search for something better. The spinet fullfilled my need for a piano with which to learn the notes and to start to gain an understanding of timing and phrasing.
This is a bad option for children, IMO.

There are some decent spinets out there, but most are in bad shape, since they haven't been made for decades, and were the cheapest instruments when new. This means that the pressure required to make a note play can vary on every key. How can you control dynamics? Or even play a smooth scale?

Since the instrument hinders progress, kids get frustrated and quit. They assume it's their problem, not the piano's.

Adults might be able to persist -- good for you, Stevester -- but this is one case where renting a piano is a good option "until we see if she likes it", or a digital. If your teacher would have trouble performing on your spinet, it's so much harder for a beginner.

--Cy--


Cy Shuster, RPT
www.shusterpiano.com
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Director, PTG Norfolk 2016 Technical Institute
http://convention.ptg.org
#25449 08/25/06 12:05 PM
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There's at least one exception to the size that Monica quotes. A Charles Walter console is only 43" high but has tone and touch that is excellent. It plays like a 48" plus professional upright.


Wynne
#25450 08/25/06 11:45 PM
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Thanks Guys,

I'm looking for a used acoustic that is physically small and plays decent for a first piano.

#25451 08/26/06 02:07 AM
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I think the smallest, and nicest uprights for young children are Tom Thumbs, which are tiny uprights with about 60 notes, about 40" tall, but with full upright actions. The keys are full-sized, but the keyboard is very low to the floor. They used to roll one around the night club where I work (celebrating its 75 anniversary this year!), and a couple of years ago, the manager of the club (the founder's grandson) got me to get it working for his two young daughters, and they really love it, I hear.

Tom Thumbs are rare today, and often not in good condition. Someone should resurrect them. There is a picture of one here.


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#25452 08/26/06 08:23 AM
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Folky

Just curious, what are the reasons for the size requirement?

#25453 08/26/06 09:55 AM
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I disagree Cy, I don't see any major problems with my old Gulbransen. Maybe a lot of the spinets are junk but if someone is just starting out and they are not sure they are going to continue after a few weeks and they can get a nice spinet for next to nothing and it has been checked out by a tech I certainly feel it is an option. I get mighty frustrated with a lot of the rant on PW that unless you have a "fancy pants" grand piano you are going to fail as a pianist. Regardless of what you say many people have started out with a piano which is not optimal but filled a need.

Regards,
Steve


"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

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#25454 08/26/06 10:09 AM
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The top note on almost any piano has strings about 2" long -- even on a nine-foot concert grand. That's all that's needed.

To go an octave lower, you need twice the length: 4". By the time you get to middle C, you're at 32" (call it three feet). Go the rest of the way down the keyboard on your own. I'll wait...

cool

Done already? Did you get 24 feet for the lowest "C"? Where's all that string in your piano?!?!?

Coming up with one mechanism for sound production to cover a range of more than seven octaves is the chief challenge of the stringing scale.

One alternative to lower pitch other than making the string longer is to make it thicker or heavier. If you look at the lowest plain steel strings, you can see that they're thicker than a pencil lead. The highest strings are significantly thinner, but the change is very gradual (about .001" every few notes).

The wound bass strings have a heavier core wire, and also have the windings to add mass. The greater the mass with respect to a given length, the worse inharmonicity gets. If the length didn't change, the lowest note would be something like a 3mm-diameter steel rod!

That is, unless you also changed tension, yet another option. If you've got to have the lowest string short, because of cabinet space limitations, and you've already added all the mass you can get away with (fat strings don't line up well to hammers), you're left with dropping tension, which creates that relaxed, tubby, Hawaiian-slack-key-guitar sound, with short sustain.

I found this interesting set of notes when I was looking for pictures of winding terminations (Curry found the exact one I was looking for, from some catalog):
Duke U. Notes on the physics of piano strings

--Cy--


Cy Shuster, RPT
www.shusterpiano.com
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Director, PTG Norfolk 2016 Technical Institute
http://convention.ptg.org
#25455 08/26/06 10:20 AM
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Steve,

I think you know that we have had a Baldwin spinet ("Acrosonic") that my wife played on and my daughter has used for several years now. It is certainly somewhat of a limited piano in terms of the volume of sound and I think it needs to be tuned more frequently to keep it in tune. Moreover, I would never compare the quality of our spinet to a Schimmel. But, having said that, it's a decent piano for a kid to start on. Ours has been tuned regularly for virtually 40 years and even though it is clearly beat at this point, it still sounds OK. (While the action is shot, time and use will do that to any piano.)

I agree with you on this and only partially agree with Cy. A spinet is more likely to be shot as they have not been made for a while and people are generally not likely to keep one of these in perfect condition for a long time. With respect to what is "best" for a child to learn on, my wife is still a fairly good pianist and my 11 year old daughter is spectacular, and they both practiced on this spinet. I love pianos, but ultimately I don't think an expensive piano is necessary (to a point) for a beginner to progress anymore than an expensive pair of sneakers makes a basketball player great. Just my opinion on this, I am not looking to create a controversy! Lastly, we call ours a "spin-ay" it makes it sound like a fancy piano and most people are then impressed with us, which is our ultimate goal in everything we do.

Best,

Warren

#25456 08/26/06 10:22 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Stevester:
[If] they can get a nice spinet for next to nothing and it has been checked out by a tech I certainly feel it is an option.
Steve, I think we're in agreement here. If a used piano has been checked out and is playable, it's certainly a good option. I didn't have that requirement to my post (and I wasn't talking about your Gulbransen specifically).

In fact, a lot of people would be much happier with the piano they already have, if they'd invest a little in having it regulated and voiced (I hope MrsSV is pleasantly surprised this way). This is something I include with my own service, as time permits, so that a piano's playability improves over time.

It's a matter of degree: there's quite a range between fancy-pants grands, though (wouldn't that be a great fallboard logo ? :-), and the worst worn-out 100-year-old pianos out there, many of which are significant obstacles to beginners. I'm glad yours isn't in the latter category.

If you're an adult, and motivated to learn, you can put up with some obstacles. But if you're trying to nurture a child's interest in piano, they're going to be frustrated if some notes don't play sometimes, and if they quit, they may never try again.

You wouldn't give a student driver a car with bad brakes, play in the steering wheel, and a clutch that slips, would you? That's the only point I'm trying to make.

Yes, please ask your tech about regulating and voicing. These improvements last much longer than tuning, and are worthwhile investments for most pianos.

--Cy--


Cy Shuster, RPT
www.shusterpiano.com
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Director, PTG Norfolk 2016 Technical Institute
http://convention.ptg.org
#25457 08/26/06 10:26 AM
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Cy, I agree. I understand your point better in this last post.

WS

#25458 08/26/06 10:43 AM
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Hey, it does make a great logo:

[Linked Image]


--Cy--


Cy Shuster, RPT
www.shusterpiano.com
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Director, PTG Norfolk 2016 Technical Institute
http://convention.ptg.org
#25459 08/26/06 11:01 AM
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#25460 08/26/06 11:03 AM
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I'm curious as to the size issue on an upright, too. All uprights are the same width, pretty much the same depth (+/- an inch or so) and the only variation comes with the height. If you can fit a spinet into a room, you can fit a full-blown studio upright.

My view: Get as tall a piano as you can. In general terms, the taller the piano the better the sound. This is a generalization, of course.

It is true that a big studio upright is a pain in the rear to move, compared to a spinet. Upright pianos are top-heavy and surprisingly difficult to move--even if just rolling around to another spot in the room.

#25461 08/26/06 11:17 AM
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#25462 08/26/06 12:22 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Nina:
[QB] I'm curious as to the size issue on an upright, too. All uprights are the same width, pretty much the same depth (+/- an inch or so) and the only variation comes with the height.

To your point, Nina, we just replaced our spinet with a Yamaha U1 and it is noticably narrower! It may only be a few of inches but it actually feels like it takes up less space in the room even though it is much taller than the spinet.

Warren

#25463 08/26/06 12:24 PM
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Sorry to digress, but will someone please tell me how to insert a quote "properly" from someone else's post?

--Warren

#25464 08/26/06 12:33 PM
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You're missing the ending /[QUOTE] and /[QB]. On the post you're quoting, just click on the "" icon to the right of the pencil-and-paper icon, and it will create a new reply with the whole post quoted.

You can use the pencil-and-paper icon to edit your own posts.

Did you have an Acrosonic spinet? They're pretty deep (and often are some of the best-sounding spinets).

--Cy--


Cy Shuster, RPT
www.shusterpiano.com
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Director, PTG Norfolk 2016 Technical Institute
http://convention.ptg.org
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