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I need recommendations for a upright piano (less than $5,000) that can hold tune in a harsh church environment.

Let me give you a little background information:

I attend a Chinese church with about 300 adult members + youth and children. Our church does not have a full-time music minister and we do not pay musicians, worship leaders, or choir members. We rely on volunteers on all music-related ministries. I am one of the worship leaders and my wife is a pianist and she also directs the children's choir.

Our church owns a strip mall and we use about 2/3 of the space for church functions. The rest of the space is rented out for additional incomes. Recently, our church expanded the space and now we have a choir/worship practice room. We need a piano for the room and we are given a budget of $5,000. We have two basic requirements:

1. The piano must be loud enough so the worship leaders can hear it while other instruments, including drums, guitar, and bass, are also playing.

2. The choir/worship practice room has no AC/heater during week days. AC/Heater will only be turned on on Sunday and when there is a practice during week day. Given the weather we have here in north Texas, the temperature and humidity of the room can fluctuate a lot. We need a piano that hold tune well in an institutional environment like ours.

Given our two requirements, the easy recommendation is to go with a digital. I understand all the benefits of a digital piano but I still prefer an acoustic piano. I know many of you have sold, played, and tuned pianos in church settings. What upright pianos under $5,000 (either new or used) would you recommend that can meet our two requirements?

Thank you!

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Originally Posted by Pneuma
[...]

We need a piano for the room and we are given a budget of $5,000. We have two basic requirements:
1. The piano must be loud enough so the worship leaders can hear it while other instruments, including drums, guitar, and bass, are also playing.
2. The choir/worship practice room has no AC/heater during week days. AC/Heater will only be turned on on Sunday and when there is a practice during week day. Given the weather we have here in north Texas, the temperature and humidity of the room can fluctuate a lot. We need a piano that hold tune well in an institutional environment like ours.
[...]


I think that you would be hard-pressed to find any acoustic piano that will survive well under the severe conditions which you describe. While some models of some makes of pianos are advertised as having been built for specific climate conditions, the conditions you describe are so variable that it would be difficult to satisfy your needs with an acoustic.

Parenthetically, I recall some time ago one person writing that he had found a piano that was guaranteed to have been manufactured for "the North American market." Really? The swamplands of Louisiana, the humid Florida coast, the dry glacial winters of Minnesota or the cool damp rain forests of the Pacific Northwest?

Given that all acoustic pianos are made up of primarily the same materials, materials which don't respond well to vast fluctuations in humidity levels (more than vast fluctuations in temperature), I can't imagine one brand being any more robust in those conditions than any other. Some might succumb more quickly than others,but it's hard to imagine one that will survive well in your environment.

A digital might be your best bet.

Regards,


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Another cost in an acoustic piano will be periodic tuning and regulation now and then.

In the used market, the Baldwin made Hamilton uprights were often considered for schools.

They were fairly indestructible, and I have seen quite a few that lasted a long time in a harsh environment.

I don't know whether they are still being produced with the same qualities or not.

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Digital is the right answer. If you must have acoustic, forget dealers, look for a freebie on Craig's List. That way you'll have some money left to buy a digital after you give up on the acoustic.



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An acoustic piano is out of the question in such an environment, unless there is a piano technician in your congregation that is willing to give LOTS of free time keeping your piano in tune.

Save yourself a lot of headaches and go digital. You can buy a VERY nice digital piano for $5,000.

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Originally Posted by Almaviva
Save yourself a lot of headaches and go digital. You can buy a VERY nice digital piano for $5,000.

A lot of Churches are getting rid of their acoustic piano and going all digital. I've purchased a couple of nice grand pianos from churches who went to digital, including my Yamaha C7.

And, the digital pianos are getting better, and mimic the sound of an acoustic better. Plus, all the extra options and sounds you can get from a digital piano complement the new-age contemporary worship style.

As for me, I'm old fashioned and like the acoustic better. But the digital pianos can be nice instruments (and never need tuning wink ).

Good luck!

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What will matter mostly is how much the outside humidity changes during the year. Here in the Bay Area, it does not change much, so pianos that are kept in unheated spaces are often more stable than pianos kept in heated spaces. The short amount of time that the room will be heated or cooled will not make much of a difference. It might make more of a difference for a digital, as the fluctuations in temperature can be tough on electrical connectors.


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Originally Posted by Rickster
Originally Posted by Almaviva
Save yourself a lot of headaches and go digital. You can buy a VERY nice digital piano for $5,000.

A lot of Churches are getting rid of their acoustic piano and going all digital. I've purchased a couple of nice grand pianos from churches who went to digital, including my Yamaha C7.



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I do see more and more churches go all digital and maybe that's an inevitable trend for small to mid-size churches. Thank you all for your inputs.

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Originally Posted by Pneuma
I understand all the benefits of a digital piano but I still prefer an acoustic piano.


With all due respect, I think if you're entrusted to steward the funds that other people donate, then you should do what's best for the church, and not worry so much about your personal preferences. I think most folks here prefer acoustic pianos to digitals, but it sounds like a digital is the obvious choice in this case.

A digital has a benefit related to your first criteria as well. You can just plug it into the PA and mix it's volume to an appropriate level.


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Originally Posted by Pneuma
I do see more and more churches go all digital and maybe that's an inevitable trend for small to mid-size churches. Thank you all for your inputs.


I agree that for your circumstances a digital piano is best, Pneuma. But trends also go both ways.

I have some church clients who went from a digital to an acoustic grand for their sanctuary. They understand that they must not turn off heating/AC and expect the piano to be maintainable, but having a nice grand piano is worth that to them.

Also, any church with a pipe organ understands that if they keep the room controlled somewhat they will save on maintenance there as well.

Good luck in your decision.


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Originally Posted by Pneuma
I do see more and more churches go all digital and maybe that's an inevitable trend for small to mid-size churches. Thank you all for your inputs.

The small community technical college where I work (5000 students and growing) seems to have a hard time finding a public venue in our area big enough to hold the graduation ceremony. They've used/rented a large church in the area that holds about 2500 people; still not big enough. They've gone to holding two graduations a year instead of one, May and December.

They had the December graduation yesterday at a different church that I have never visited, but had heard of it. In fact, the church was known to have some fairly high-profile guest speakers and entertainers speak and perform there (recently, Pres. candidate Dr. Ben Carson and singer Lee Greenwood... "God bless the USA"). Still, we had to have two ceremonies, one at 10:00am and then again at 2:00pm.

I was expecting to see a 7' Yamaha or even a Steinway, but they had a couple of high-end digital pianos (Yamaha/Korg).

I know not all big churches have digital pianos, but a lot of them do. And, there is nothing wrong with that. Whatever works is best. smile

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Originally Posted by Pneuma
Thank you all for your inputs.

That's all folks.

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Originally Posted by Just Steven
That's all folks.

Really? Well then, you should have said it like this... smile

"That's all folks!"

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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
With all due respect, I think if you're entrusted to steward the funds that other people donate, then you should do what's best for the church, and not worry so much about your personal preferences. I think most folks here prefer acoustic pianos to digitals, but it sounds like a digital is the obvious choice in this case.


This will not be my call. I will bring my opinions and the feedback I gathered from you guys to the pastoral staff and other decision makers. We will see how it goes.

As a side note, we have a Petrof III in our main sanctuary along with a Yamaha S90XS. The Petrof sounds pretty bad due to the above-mentioned environmental factors. We have some worship leaders opted to forgo the acoustic and just use S90XS as a digital piano. For whatever reason, none of the piano voices in S90XS sounds "right" to me, and I still prefer the awful sounding Petrof.

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Just curious - there's been no mention of a Damp Chaser in this thread. Has this been tried/considered?

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Someone suggested me to consider an American-made Baldwin 243 because they are known to be workhorses and hold tune well. My question is, how about the new Gibson Baldwin 243 made in China? Does anyone have experiences with them? Are they holding tune well like the old Baldwin 243? Are their quality similar to the American-made Baldwin 243?

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Computer components and audio gear (the guts of an electronic piano) sometimes aren't fond of climate extremes either.

How hot might it get in your rehearsal room?


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The old Hamilton's were very tough pianos. If you have room for a grand, consider a Baldwin L. A lot of choir rooms had them, and they have a big booming bass which helps keep the lower voices on pitch. This will not likely fit your $5000 budget. The real headache with the acoustic route is you probably need a church member who is capable of maintaining it, or a maintenance budget.


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