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My dream is to have a grand piano but they’re expensive instruments. How old where you when you started playing, what age where you when you bought your grand piano? How long do you have it and do you work full time or are you retired?

I’d love to hear your stories of how you chose the right one and the journey playing it!


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I was about 32 when I bought my C6 "new" in 2010 -- a 2006 model purported to have never been owned by anyone except the dealer. Back then it was going for about 50% of list, so a little under $30k. I paid for it in cash, with a bit of savings + that year's work bonus (I was and am working full time). I had it for about 10 years before I donated it to the local public school system.

I have no piano currently, but have plans to buy one in the next few years once we have more space.

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I started playing at age 5, and my parents bought me a newer used, small grand piano when I was 16. Grew up in a relatively rural area where most middle class (and up) homes could fit such a thing.

As an adult with my own money, I got my first grand piano at the age of 37. It was new, and a relatively lengthy search thread is somewhere on this site. It took a combination of savings, good fortune, buying during a depressed economy, and a short-term loan to afford it.

Now I’m two grand pianos past that one and need to stop buying them, so I can retire at a reasonable age! To answer your other question, currently working full time with a couple of small side jobs related to the industry.


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I also dreamed of owning a grand but never thought it would happen, partly because of the expense and also because I thought I'd never live some where big enough to have one.

But taking a job in an area where housing costs are quite low made a big difference (that wasn't why I took the job, it was actually a surprise cost). We bought our house in early 2019.

When it became clear that we were going to be able to buy a house, I started casually looking at used grand pianos. When we started house hunting, I had a rule that there must be a good spot for a grand piano in it -- so I ruled out homes that have big huge open living spaces with a kitchen at one end and sitting space at the other. (I didn't want a piano to be in the same room as cooking). I also ruled out some homes that had fireplaces or windows such that there would be no good spot for a piano.

As luck would have it, we found a house that had a regular living room at the front of the house and some previous owner had added a room (or turned a porch into a room, not sure) at the back of the house. And they'd opened up the wall between the kitchen and what I presume was originally the dining room. That made it possible to have a "front room" (living room), family room that was open to the kitchen, and dining room (the add-on room). Best of both worlds in that there was the nice open feeling, but also a proper room at the front of the house that was not open to the kitchen. And so the front room became the piano room!

After we moved, I started ramping up the grand piano search, in all I think I searched for close to a year, but it was really the last 4-6 months that were more seriously searching. And spending every weekend all summer long driving all over tarnation to visit different dealers and play different pianos from private sellers.

Some how everything fell into place and I was able to buy my current piano (Yamaha C2, 5'8", 173 cm, 20 y/o when I bought it) in August 2019. And I could not be happier! smile

To answer your other questions, I started playing as an adult, though I've now been playing for 20+ years. For the first year, I had a digital. Then a Yamaha U1 upright. Then we moved internationally, and I was back to having a digital for about 6ish years. Then I had a used Baldwin Hamilton upright, then a used Petrof upright, and now the grand.

I am not retired, probably 15-20 years from retiring. (Unless we win the lottery... whome


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I started piano at the age of five, and bought my first grand in my late fifties. I patiently waited until I found a piano I loved, and could buy without a loan. I played it for about five minutes and just knew it was my sought -after piano; I had to restrain myself from jumping up and screaming to the seller ‘I’ll buy it!’

I have no intention of replacing it as it is perfect for me. At some point, it may need restoration (a 1907 piano), but nothing is needed now.

I work full-time, but will retire soon.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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I started playing at 4 1/2 on a crummy "Grand" brand spinet. The first 12 years of my playing were spent on that piano with a (now-ancient) Korg Concert 2000 digital replacing it at some point as my main axe.

In high school was getting into "serious" literature, Brahms etc. that really required a grand. I ended up practicing in a mall piano store for years and also on grands at a few local spots: churches, piano teachers etc. I can't tell you how many hours I spent playing on pianos at the mall store, but there was an article in the local paper about it!

Having this cobbled-together arrangement was complicated and I was grateful for the generosity of everyone involved. I got into Oberlin with a performance scholarship despite not owning a grand for practicing.

That said, during college I inherited a little money and had saved up my own. (Late 90's) I bought a 70's Yamaha C7 for about 10k and owned it for around 10 years. I was in small spaces and it wasn't practical to ship it cross-country so it had to go. I had a great Kawai NS-20 which was a lovely apartment piano.

At one point in Los Angeles I bought a claptrap 19th century Broadwood 7-ft grand, but it was a tonal disaster. Last year I bought my Baldwin L, and recently upgraded to my Bosendorfer 213. I also have a Yamaha GranTouch.

My experience growing up makes me really appreciate having a good instrument. I've spent most of my life playing on other people's grands - it can be done! Find a sympathetic church/school - it's good for an instrument to be played!


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Owning a grand piano is quite an amazing experience, and buying one is certainly another experience altogether.

I’m currently 28, and I recently purchased a 6’2” a couple of weeks ago (it will be delivered next week!). It was a fun yet emotional process.
My parents bought me an entry-level baby grand when I was in high school, and I was able to use that as the down payment for my new piano. I also started a new, higher paying job that gave me a sign-on bonus so I used that towards the down-payment as well. The difference I utilized my high credit score for financing. Thinking of the monthly payments is daunting but the reward for me is worth the risk.

I’ve been playing piano for roughly 16 years, and even got my degree in music, so it certainly is a dream come true to own and play on a high-caliber instrument that can respond to my desires on cue. Good luck to fulfilling that dream!

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I learned piano on my mother’s Story&Clark upright. I moved away from home and lived without a piano for years. I was nearly 40 before I bought my first new Baldwin upright. I owned it for about 15 years while I worked full time. As I considered retiring I enrolled in classes at the University for piano. I traded my upright for a new Yamaha GBK1 in 2009. In 2012 I traded my GB1K for a new C3. My piano ability really matured with that Yamaha. In 2019 I traded the C3 for my Estonia L190. I was captivated by how the piano seemed to sing and the action was buttery smooth and fairly light. I worked in IT for many years and retired in 2017. We lived fairly frugally so I was able to buy myself a really nice piano. I also lucked out because I worked with a dealer that made trading up very easy to do.

Last edited by j&j; 01/05/22 05:45 PM.

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I forgot to mention that I’ve had a separate piano fund since before I bought my first piano. I saved up for my piano purchases and tuning/maintenance.


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Late 40s, early 50s couple here. We bought our piano at the end of 2020, Yamaha C3X. My wife was all about Steinway, but after hearing it, playing it, and seeing the cost, she changed her mind, lol. There was a W. Hoffman we had our eye on, it was a really nice piano, great sound. But we opted for the C3X with Enspire since we could play that with headphones when needed. I really need two pianos ;0


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I think I started piano lessons when I was 8 or 9. I started on a keyboard, but after we moved to the US (which would have been within a year of me starting lessons) my parents bought me a new Yamaha console. My sophomore year, I went to live with my aunt and uncle (it’s a long story), and they had a U1, which was my practice piano through high school.
My senior year, I participated in the Guild Auditions. The piano I played was a Steinway… either a semi concert or concert grand… my recollection isn’t fantastic on this point. But it was a REALLY nice piano, and as I went through my program, I just marveled at how responsive and beautiful an instrument it was. I felt like I had gotten to a point that I could really appreciate some of the beauties of a truly fine instrument, and I thought that one day, I’d like to own a really nice grand piano.
A few months later, I went to college. I played a very little bit in college. Then after college, I stopped having access to an instrument. I lived in apartments, and while I had always thought I’d get back to playing, 15 years went by.
In my mid 30s, I felt like I was in a financial position to consider buying a dream piano, and I did want to get back to playing. But I was very unsure about making such a momentous decision as buying a grand piano when I hadn’t played a note in so long. So more years went by. Then one of my friends told me that he really enjoyed playing the digital piano he owned. My first reaction was to dismiss the idea for myself.m But then came the pandemic, and I decided that I wasn’t comfortable with extensive in person shopping, but I also really wanted to start playing again. So I got a digital piano. I was pretty happy with it, but after about 4 or 5 months, I decided I was ready to start looking for a nice grand piano. I started shopping, and after making the rounds of the piano stores, I decided on an Estonia L210. It’s a much better piano than I am a pianist, and it makes me happy just to look at it, let alone play it.
It was by far the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought. I was 37 years old at the time of the purchase. I had saved over several years for it, and I’m otherwise a pretty frugal person. It was a huge treat to myself! But I enjoy it every day, and I anticipate many years of enjoyment.

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This is a great thread, keep the stories coming!


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Been playing on and off since I was 10. It took me another 40 years and a rekindled desire to REALLY play and REALLY learn to read music before I bought a grand. The only way to keep the wife on board was to keep the price under 10 grand (pun fully intended;-). A six month search landed me a 30 year old 6’7” Kimball Viennese for less than half that amount. My only regret is not having bought one sooner.

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i am buying one this year. sure i am a piano beginner. but on the same time there are people out there that buy sports cars or SUVs, which they don't need. I am 40 and work a lot. I still did not choose one. Kawai GX2, Yamaha C2X, maybe the smaller ones. I need some time. the 6 feet instruments from the big manufactures are too expensive, 90000€ is too much to afford.


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When I was moving from my flat 10 years ago and buying my first house with my wife, I wanted a grand piano and stipulated that there must be a space in the house that was appropriate. We budgeted for the piano as part of the move. We found somewhere appropriate (that obviously ticked all of our other various boxes) and shortly after the move I bought a W.Hoffmann T186 (over the C3 I had been considering). This also kickstarted me back into lessons after a long period away, as owning a grand demanded it. Since then, and with the growth of my business, I have moved house again (of course with a suitable piano location again a crucial factor), and also upgraded the piano to a Steingraeber 192.


Working on:
Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 ("Waldstein")
Chopin - Op. 9 No. 3 in B major
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A relative gifted me an absolutely horrible sounding grand that I played for a couple of years. It is hard to describe how awful it was (from Sears & Roebuck, from about 1925). When I played my teacher’s piano, I realized that part of the reason my practice sounded so bad was the piano. Sold the horrible one on Craigslist, and paid $700 for a 1994 Kawaii small console. Played that for a couple years, then they gave me $1000 for it toward a 1963 M&H Model A, which I paid $8k for (I was about 55 at the time).

The M&H has served me well but needs work, and I’d like to upgrade it soon, possibly to a Boston, used, of similar size, but not so old.

Buy what you can, in the knowledge that you what you like might change as your playing skills improve.

Last edited by MH1963; 01/06/22 11:36 AM.

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Hi... this is my story...

Started Piano with lessons 18-20 months ago at age 52. I had (an still have) an older Clavinova which carried me for the fist 12 months of lessons.
When I wanted to upgrade my old Clavinova, a researched all digital, hybrid, etc,. I had a hard time thinking to spend upwards of $5K or more ($10 K) for a really good digital/hybrid and it will still not be real thing.
Then decided I will go Acoustic but used: It only made sense.
It will give me the real thing, lower investment and I will keep the digital for silent practice. I am lucky I have the space.

I wanted to keep the investment around $1,000.

I could not find a decent Grand for that money. There were some decent ones for about $3000 (Korean built mainly). In reality, it seemed nearly impossible, to stay in budget for a GP., so I lower my expectations and searched for verticals.

I worked hard to search used pianos and I was able to get very good vertical ones for $200 - $300. I moved the piano (rented a truck for $50) with some buddies, so for less than $500 I had a very good vertical already tuned in my living room.

But I really wanted a Grand, so I kept learning about pianos and practicing... and keeping an eye in Facebook and Craiglist.
One lucky day I found a Knabe 6'4" from 1980 for $1700. Checked out the piano, brought a tech, he OK'ed the piano and gave my vertical away to the technician (trading it) of the moving of the Knabe. Offered $1500 to the owner.
For $2000 I have a fantastic Grand Piano that I doubt I will outperform ever in my life.

If I would do it again, and I am not that lucky to find a bargain, I will NOT buy a brand new GP. Budget max $10K and I am 100% to find a fantastic Grand Piano for that money.

Good Luck.

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Neat discussion. I started lessons around age 7 or 8 maybe. Kept up with it until I was 17 then my parents moved us out of town. I stopped lessons but kept playing for fun. I've had a few instruments to practice on with a Sony electric keyboard being the longest used one I have. My parents got me a electric organ and then a spinet piano by my early teens. I stopped playing for about 4 years because of work. I bought my house back in 2017 and realized I could fit a larger piano in the house. I also started trying to learn some new pieces as I've been playing the same stuff for just about forever. I also forgot most of the stuff I learned as a child when I took lessons so I have a long way to go. Essentially I got kinda lucky and found a 6'7" grand listed on Facebook for about $300. Took a chance and bought it. Sold my Baldwin to help pay for the moving cost. I was 32 at the time and I've had it for probably a year now. The sound is ok and it's been holding it's tuning very well. I'm always looking for something better so who knows what will take it's place in the future.

I work full-time and came into some money at the time, so that helped a lot. Technically my first grand piano was a 1886 6'10" HF Miller that I bought for my 30th birthday as a project. It's been sitting in my garage since the start of the pandemic. It's in pretty bad shape but playable. Re-strung it last summer and it's surprisingly held it's tune despite being in a unheated space since then. It's a money-pit so not going to mention how much it cost. I still play it quite often though not as much now that it's cold outside.

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The tale from 'The Clunker to The Grand Lady Amalia'

I started playing the piano at 7 or 8 years old. Catholic School Nuns (basement of the Convent) - taught all the basic theory. Was not very motivated and basically scared I was going to make a mistake and get my knuckles hit.
My mom decided to try a private teacher (Mrs. Berkowitz) - nice but a real character.

We moved to California and did not take the $100 Upright Clunker (Emerson or Lester) too expensive to move across country from Philadelphia to San Jose.

We get to California and get involved in Community Theater and I want a piano to help with learning the music of shows. (Wish my parents had let me go to the music store to choose which piano I liked) Sherman Clay in San Jose - I don't know who the salesman was but he talked them into a $500 Westbrook Spinet. Probably the worst choice for a budding piano player. (Circa 1969)

For the next 4 or 5 years - I taught myself and worked with listening to a Broadway Musical Record, learn what the music sounds like, I knew how to read music and purchased original Vocal Scores and slowly taught myself how to play bigger and bigger pieces of music. (I think now they call it the Suzuki Method)

In 1973 or so a Music Director of a show heard me playing and when I told her I never really had lessons, she approached my parents and wanted to give me a Scholarship of Piano Lessons. (Ms. Stella Loff Woods) - she was so wonderful and she taught me so much about playing correctly & classical music. I once asked her what is the BEST Grand Piano made, a Steinway? I would love to own a Steinway. She said Steinway's are great for concert halls but Mason & Hamlin's are much better for a living room. (She had a M&H and I learned to play Classical on her piano). She said someday you will sit down at a piano and KNOW that it is 'the one'!

My goals at that time were to perform on Broadway someday, her goals were for me to be a Professional Classical Pianist. I decided to leave her and even leave San Jose and move back to Philadelphia and commute up to NYC.

Life went on and I kept playing and playing. In 1989 I was living on my own with a decent but boring desk job. I got a decent Tax Refund and thought - I'm going to look at a Grand Piano and see what I can find in my price range at the time. I had around $3k - $5k I wanted to spend - $2,600 down payment and the rest on CC. I gave the spinet to my great niece and finally got a 6'1" Grand Piano.

I walked into a piano store near me (Taylor's Music in Willow Grove, PA) and I sat down at a piano that FELT like a dream and at that time on the BRIGHT side, which I actually liked. It was a piano that had been traded in that very week $4600 - Schomacker 1912 Model A Grand in Mahogany. (it recently had been rebuilt on the inside.)
Just as Stella said, I sat at this piano and fell in loved with it and knew, this is what I need right now.
I knick-named him 'Schoey' and plopped my Tax Refund down on the Piano and rest on CC.

I wound up going back to school and getting a degree in Theater/Communications
I worked part time at a Catholic HS choreographing their shows - and decided to get a degree in teaching, which I loved doing.
I eventually was hired as their Full Time Music Teacher because of my Life-Experience with Music/Theater. (1985 - 2006) I then moved to DeSales University as an Adjunct Professor of Voice for Musical Theater Majors

All this time wishing, someday I would love to own a Mason & Hamlin or a Steinway!

Jumping ahead to 2018 - moved to North Carolina, wishing/hoping I could afford either getting Schoey completely restored or purchasing a High End Grand Piano.

Did tons and tons of research on Good Piano, Better Pianos, Great Pianos. Thank You Larry Fine & Rich Gallasini & Victor Benvenuto.
Thinking hmmmmm - wonder what it would cost to rebuild/refinish or trade in this piano.
Advice is the finances are just not there at this time for either to do. (Dec 2019)

2020 - COVID COVID COVID
2021 - Both my parents were lost to COVID within 2 weeks of each other.
I then inherit a little bit of financial support from my deceased parents.

Feeling the powers to be (God & the BVM) seemed to clear the way for this.
Also wanted to give something to my Great Great Niece after I pass.
(A M&H or Steinway or even a Boesendorfer)

In all my research I find there are many more brands that would be a great possibility.
Steinway A or B (rebuilds)
M&H AA or BB (rebuilds)
Boesendorfer
C Bechstein
Fazioli

My top choice being an M&H, listening to my teacher's advice
All the Steinway's I played in the different schools & homes I played were ALL way to difficult (they seemed like they were fighting me while I was playing them)

So I decide to go out to Piano Showrooms in my area (Western North Carolina)
or even drive up to Philadelphia and meet with Rich to see what they have at Cunnningham Pianos

I go to Steinway Piano Galleries in Charlotte & Greenville (SC)
and call around the Greenville/Asheville stores for specifics of what I am looking for. - Nothing
Ok last resort - Freeburg Pianos, about 5 miles away from my home.
If this doesn't work I will be driving to Pianoworks in Atlanta and talk with Sam Bennett
or heading up to Philadelphia and dealing with a trusted friend, Rich G.

So there sitting in their showroom is a New Mason & Hamlin A and a Steinway A (which was sold, or I thought was sold)
I learn from Levi that the buyers of the Steinway backed out (Buyers Remorse) - and that the Steinway was available - hmmmmmm thinking but I'm not a fan of Steinway's.

I sit at the M&H A - 58k - ugh above my price range (trying to stay at 40k or 45+ for something special)
It's brand new & shiny and nice - but no power
I sit at the newly available Steinway A from 1912 - recently had complete refinish and some rebuilding from 1996.

Wow this doesn't play like any Steinway I have ever played but there is something special in the tone and even the touch. (Lighter than most Steinway's but not as light as Schoey)

The Steinway falls into my price range $39k - and looks basically brand new.

I play a Kawai GX-2 and inquire about a GX-3 because I like the GX2 wondering if the 3 would sound better.
The Kawai Rep over the phone would not budge an inch on the price which was the same as the Steinway.
Realizing the Steinway from the Golden Era was the way to go and was a sure thing.

I start asking about what parts were used and the Technician then says the magic thing to me, not knowing anything about me ---- 'This Piano is a Steinway that plays like a Mason & Hamlin, Renner Action/Blue Point Hammers.

I'm sold - don't want this to get away.
and hence I name her 'THE GRAND LADY AMALIA' after my mom, who's name was Amelia.

And there you have it.
I may someday sit down at a M&H AA or BB from the turn of the century and have it play and feel better than Amalia but I highly doubt it.

brdwyguy

Last edited by brdwyguy; 01/07/22 10:39 AM.

1961-1964: Lester or Emerson Upright
1969-1992: Westbrook Spinet
1991-2021: Schomacker Model A (1912) "Schoowie"
2021-Present: Steinway Model A (1912) "Amalia"

To Listen to my Music is to know me. To know me all you need do is listen to my music.
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