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joturn Offline OP
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Dear folks with skills...
caveat: I am no technician, but I hope for the advice of someone with skills and expertise. I am getting back into piano after years of dormancy, and my daughter is really starting to soak it up. Therefore I have revived my lifelong dream of owning a (small) grand. We've got some potential pianos to look at in my budget, which is quite humble, and we do have space.

HOWEVER, the space may be the issue, in that it is in our family room that also has a gas fireplace. The piano would be about 4 feet from the gas stove, and there is a fan constantly blowing the heat out and through the double doors of the den as this is actually our heat source for upstairs. I can possibly negotiate with my husband to turn the heat down a bit but it will likely not be off during the winter. I plan on figuring out the humidity so it doesn't dry out... we live on the west coast and it is super humid here but with the heat source in the room may need to do something extra. I did measure the humidity and temp in the space with the heat on. Humidity is around 50% and temp is about 70-72 degrees (21-22 celsius)

From what I can tell it's not ideal to put a piano in the same room as a gas fireplace but in fact this is the only space available for the purpose, and I don't see us having the stove off in the winter. Incidentally, my dog likes to lay down right in front of the heat blast so he may be acting as a shield. I swear sometimes his brains are melting.

Thanks for insight and suggestions. Even if we put in an upright instead of the grand, it would still be within 5 feet of the fireplace just based on how the room is configured.
Jo


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How is it possible that a grand would be four feet from the fire but an upright would be five feet? You said a small grand but its normal to state the length. Taller uprights,e.g. 49" can sound better than a 5'4" grand.
Ian


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Ian,

My guess would be due to the orientation of the respective units, and the location of the bench. I'm sure she will clarify. Nonetheless it does not bode well for an acoustic piano in that environment. Risky. Perhaps a good digital one?

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Don’t know what your budget is but consider an upright.
I have a Sauter 120 (because I can’t fit a grand in my small home) with the double repetition action and the piano sounds every bit as good as a 6 ft grand and plays at least as good.
On the west coast usually a dehumidifier (half of the damp chaser system) is all you need.
If you can avoid direct heat from whatever source that’s a good thing.


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Small grand pianos have highly compromised designs, and are the most difficult to stabilize in changing humidity. The cheapest are truly impossible to keep in tune.
A good 21st century vertical piano will have better scale design than a small grand, and can be stabilized for humidity change: a vertical piano is a closed box, and the back can be sealed with a light cloth or plastic curtain.
Do you want an instrument that plays well or do you want a pretty shape? (To those of us who work to make pianos play beautifully, that truncated baby grand shape is a deformity.)


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I would second the vote for a good vertical (humidity controlled of course) if an acoustic is chosen.

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joturn Offline OP
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Thanks for all the replies: I have definitely heard the advice to go for a better upright vs a sketchy teeny grand before, and I totally get that. I did recently go play a Kawaii upright (1981) that felt it had substantially more power than the small grand the owner was keeping while selling this one. And I also hear what it being said about wanting a pretty shape vs a useful instrument, so I do appreciate all of this input. The attraction of the grand is 2 fold: I'm short and can't see over an upright but with the grand am playing and looking straight out the window. I can spend hours playing and looking out the window as I'm usually just making up my own stuff anyway. The good uprights are tall enough I can't see over them. Sad but true. As well, I love the visible percussion of the open strings. Cheesy, I know, but it captures mine and my daughter's imagination to just see inside the instrument.

But what I am hearing is that a piano smaller than 5'5 feet and anywhere close to a heat source is not a smart thing investment. Thanks for helping me avoid a costly and frustrating mistake!

Presently the dog's nose is touching said gas furnace. He is either part lizard and can never get warm or his brains are completely, totally melted.

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Originally Posted by joturn
Thanks for all the replies: I have definitely heard the advice to go for a better upright vs a sketchy teeny grand before, and I totally get that. I did recently go play a Kawaii upright (1981) that felt it had substantially more power than the small grand the owner was keeping while selling this one. And I also hear what it being said about wanting a pretty shape vs a useful instrument, so I do appreciate all of this input. The attraction of the grand is 2 fold: I'm short and can't see over an upright but with the grand am playing and looking straight out the window. I can spend hours playing and looking out the window as I'm usually just making up my own stuff anyway. The good uprights are tall enough I can't see over them. Sad but true. As well, I love the visible percussion of the open strings. Cheesy, I know, but it captures mine and my daughter's imagination to just see inside the instrument.

But what I am hearing is that a piano smaller than 5'5 feet and anywhere close to a heat source is not a smart thing investment. Thanks for helping me avoid a costly and frustrating mistake!

Presently the dog's nose is touching said gas furnace. He is either part lizard and can never get warm or his brains are completely, totally melted.

JRT

Your thinking is very clear about this, a real joy to piano technicians who struggle with customers demanding the impossible.
I wish we had a beautiful solution to offer you.
Keep playing lots of different pianos, and keep learning about pianos (pianobuyer.com), and someday the answer will arrive!


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Quote
Your thinking is very clear about this, a real joy to piano technicians who struggle with customers demanding the impossible.

Yes indeed! The rationale is very well-explained and makes complete sense! No easy answers though! I guess if you had a nice big upright, you could get a substitute top panel made, with either a lattice, or plexiglass, that would let you see the action. But you wouldn't see out the window...

One thing with the smallest grands too, is that (at least in the old UK piano industry, now gone) being the smallest and cheapest in a maker's range, the factories made all the savings they could, and the tiny grands just weren't great, even down to cheaper timbers and screws. Of course, if you are going for a top-tier piano, that won't apply. But that's big money.....

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It's a possible bone of contention that upright pianos nowadays tend to have heavy top panels made of a dense particle board and coated with polyester. In the 19th century, some uprights had nice fretwork top panels, backed with silk. Much better at leatting the sound out!

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Can I suggest that you put a hygrometer in the place where the piano would be, and record the readings several times a day over a period of several weeks? See how constant - or not - the humidity is. It is swings in humidity that pianos don't like.

Also (as has been mentioned) you want to avoid radiative heat directly from the gas stove to the piano, if this is at all possible.

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Originally Posted by David-G
Can I suggest that you put a hygrometer in the place where the piano would be, and record the readings several times a day over a period of several weeks? See how constant - or not - the humidity is. It is swings in humidity that pianos don't like.

Also (as has been mentioned) you want to avoid radiative heat directly from the gas stove to the piano, if this is at all possible.

O.K., let's get far out! Track the humidity and find a way to install a baffle to direct the air flow away from the piano.
Now, find someone who can rescale a small grand piano using Paulello wire, keeping the % of breaking tension even across the piano. This will make the piano tuning less reactive to humidity change. Perhaps find a better 1940s or 50s small grand (Sohmer?), refinish the soundboard and bridges with a thin epoxy clear coat under a UV blocking varnish.[Jim Ialeggio is tops at this kind of upgrade <http://www.grandpianosolutions.com/index.html>]


Ed Sutton, RPT
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Originally Posted by Ed Sutton
Originally Posted by David-G
Can I suggest that you put a hygrometer in the place where the piano would be, and record the readings several times a day over a period of several weeks? See how constant - or not - the humidity is. It is swings in humidity that pianos don't like.

Also (as has been mentioned) you want to avoid radiative heat directly from the gas stove to the piano, if this is at all possible.

O.K., let's get far out! Track the humidity and find a way to install a baffle to direct the air flow away from the piano.
Now, find someone who can rescale a small grand piano using Paulello wire, keeping the % of breaking tension even across the piano. This will make the piano tuning less reactive to humidity change. Perhaps find a better 1940s or 50s small grand (Sohmer?), refinish the soundboard and bridges with a thin epoxy clear coat under a UV blocking varnish.[Jim Ialeggio is tops at this kind of upgrade <http://www.grandpianosolutions.com/index.html>]

Darn! I gave away a little Baldwin Ellington years ago that would have been perfect for this...but that was before Paulello wire was invented.


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joturn Offline OP
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Thanks for all the great suggestions. I got a hygrometer and decided it's too dry, and needs moisture, so have a humidifier on the. I also decided on an upright, and am just about at the finish line purchasing a Petrof 122. Going to see it with the technician on Wednesday. Should have the space prepped and ready to go by then to have stable humidity and temp.
Take care, all!
Jo


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