piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

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Keepcalm
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piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by Keepcalm » 27 Apr 2013, 08:56

Hello, My 7 yr old is learning to play the piano. I have shortlisted some second hand upright pianos (private sales) and wondered if you could advice which would be the best. I do not know anything about pianos but have read some information on the Internet and now I'm confused. I have mainly shortlisted Bentley and Steinbach because of price. There are one or two Knights and Kembles for 500-1000 but not sure if I have to spend that much at this stage. I would be very grateful for your advice.

http://www.gumtree.com/p/for-sale/stein ... 1016533660

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll? ... 1195918253

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bentley-uprig ... true&rt=nc

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/281093831701? ... 1438.l2648

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/bentley-piano ... true&rt=nc

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/171027560619s ... 1438.l2648

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/190829049859? ... 1438.l2648

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/251261410871? ... 1438.l2648
Thanks a lot for your time.

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by mdw » 27 Apr 2013, 13:13

Ebay is where I send people who don't want to pay us to scrap their problem pianos. DONT buy off ebay, go and speak to your local piano tuner/ dealer. Ebay seems to have lots of people who fancy having a go at flogging a few pianos but NO technical skill or training.

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by Keepcalm » 27 Apr 2013, 16:14

Thanks for your reply. I have looked in Forsyths in Manchester as per teachers recommendation - nothing below 1100, that too 1940 s Cramer. There is not much choice for under a 1000 in the other shops too. I'm sure what you say is correct in some cases. However, if people are trying to get a little bit more than what shops would pay for their pianos, I can imagine they would be on eBay too. Assuming people are honest in their description and if I paid a tuner to assess, would you rate any of the ones better than the others in my shortlist. Sorry to nag, but it would really help me if I could find a decent unwanted piano for under £ 500. I am sure you can appreciate how hard and frustrating it can be. Please help and thanks again.

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by Barrie Heaton » 27 Apr 2013, 16:54

If you must buy from any piano selling site including this one ther are some rules
  • One: find out who did the tuning last and call then
    Two: go and see it
    Tree: if you like pay for a tuner to go and look at it
Out of them all the Yammaha is the one with less know issues but... that is not a Garannttee that is has not got problems like lose tuning pins or bad bass strings

On the UK piano page there are Pianos for sale by Trade and there are many pianos on that section in your price rage PLUS you are covered by sale of good act
go here or clic the link to the left


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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by mdw » 27 Apr 2013, 17:15

Most shops will be including the delivery £100 1st tune £50 ish and guarantee in that price so add that on to the ebay price. I did the removal on a Kemble a few months back that the customer bought from ebay for £500. Our move cost £95 an when I got it to her she asked me what it was worth expecting me to say oooooooooooh £2k and what a bargain you have got. Ran my fingers over the keyboard and thought oh dear spit bass bridge. Popped the bottom door off and yep split bass bridge. £500 repair . Not quite the deal she thought it was.

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by SirTK » 04 May 2013, 10:33

On the other hand, lots of genuine people sell lots of very genuine items on ebay. Pianos are difficult because what you see outside is not necessarily a good indication of what it's really like.

Taking a different tack, acoustic pianos have all kinds of downsides, like weight, maintenance, need of regular tuning and the fact that you are going to have to hear your 7 year old practicing! A digital has almost none of these problems and may well be just as satisfying to your 7 year old.

A Yamaha P95 or similar may well fill the bill until such time as you want to lay out serious money for an acoustic - if ever.

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by Keepcalm » 05 May 2013, 20:07

Thank you all very much for your advice. I want to be more cautious in my approach to pianos sold on the Internet. Still looking for a suitable one.

SirTK, I wanted to buy a digital for the same reasons and also because we will be moving house in the next year. The piano teacher however insists on an acoustic piano from the beginning. Will have to rethink again.

Thanks again.

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by joseph » 06 May 2013, 15:02

As both a concert artist and piano teacher I am happy to say that at the beginning, a good digital piano is all that is required until you know if your child will continue with lessons. I think that on your budget a good digital will be a better option than an acoustic, but go and try things. There is, for instance, somebody on this forum who appears to have a Knight for sale. It might be OK......

Honestly there's nothing wrong with starting them off on a Clavinova. Yeah 20 years ago it wasn't such a good idea, but we have moved on, the technology has changed and these keyboards are a great option for tight budgets and spaces!

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by SirTK » 13 May 2013, 19:09

Keepcalm wrote:
SirTK, I wanted to buy a digital for the same reasons and also because we will be moving house in the next year. The piano teacher however insists on an acoustic piano from the beginning. Will have to rethink again.
Too right you need to rethink - about getting a different teacher, who accommodates what YOU actually want rather than what THEY think you ought to have!

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by classic-keyboard » 21 May 2013, 13:35

Sounds like that piano teacher hasn't played a digital recently. Current Yamahas are really good - I played a Yamaha Arius YDP-something in a store the other day and was astonished. The tone is really good but at your stage that isn't even particularly important. What matters is the touch and the Yamaha I played had that nailed. I believe these pianos are "exam board approved" or so a technician told me (whatever that means).

My son has a friend who went through to grade 7 with just a Casio Celviano at home.

And from what I remember about 7 year olds, they're likely to be MORE comfortable with a good digital than an acoustic. Just don't buy an 'ensemble' type piano - too many tempting toys to play with...

For instance: http://www.andertons.co.uk/home-pianos/ ... -black.asp £899 new, delivered, comes in a box and you can stick it anywhere.

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by Colin Nicholson » 22 May 2013, 07:54

Although I do some teaching in the pupil's home each week .... some of them have a digital piano, eg Kawai CN32. I dont mind teaching on them on a "lessons in your own home" basis (wouldnt have one though in my studio!] .... and most of their ABRSM results are fine [Merit & above] even after performing on a 'strange' new U1 in the exam room. However.... digitals DO have their downfalls! .....

Although some Examining Boards may 'make allowances' - I have never seen a ABRSM piano exam with a digital piano in an acoustic piano's place.... nor for music festivals/ competitions. There ARE some 'keyboard' [sort of one-band- man] set ups in festivals - but would never replace "pianoforte classes" .....

Things that are different.... regularly I carry out a mock test prior to their exam but the pupil sometimes forgets to turn the volume up to 'half way' - so the scale of C major is often very distant..... would you down-mark them? .... and would the pupil have the ability to have a direct touch on an acoustic piano?

For Grade 2 - optional piece No 6 - Cloudy Day by Norton.... the left hand starts with a chord - tied for about 4 bars.... however the chord rarely lasts 2 bars! [dont forget this is how it sounds on a digital] .... so I will down-mark them slightly. Although there is no pedal marking at the start, the chord barely sustains. Even if they start slightly louder still no difference.

However they are fine for 'general practising' only/ have a bit of fun etc.... but I would never recommend one for any more ABRSM Piano exams.

I also don't really see the point in having that middle "sostenuto" pedal!! - I mean come on.... I have only used that pedal a couple of times on a grand (used properly! ] - eg during the opening of Rachs C# minor prelude. Just wondered WHY they have a super - dupa middle pedal [which may not sustain fully] - but then have a volume slide control to adjust the overall volume.... its like having a non-working TURBO BOOST button in an old Cortina!!

I think at the end of the day - it's down to 'convenience' for the parent[s] who are NOT having the lessons and basically they should be treated on a "trial basis" for about 2 years. Also - the cost. / ease of moving it to hoover behind/ doesn't need tuning/ etc etc.... but I think I'm a true believer in "sowing the seeds" early on - get them a GOOD technique - and not 'flowering around' on my piano with undue accenting/ poor balance of tone & touch/ uneven tone & musical direction.
Digitals are the basics really - not to be taken seriously.... however ideal for rehearsals/ accompaniments/ bit of harmony teaching/ aural training.

Anyone else's views?
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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by classic-keyboard » 22 May 2013, 09:19

Colin,

Really interesting to hear a piano teacher's view on digital pianos. I know I remarked in a previous post that I believed some digitals are approved for exams, but this was only meant to be a comment on the quality of the 'action' on current generation instruments. But in terms of the basics - learning which notes are which, learning to read, developing finger strength etc. and crucially finding out if you really want to play the piano - would you feel a digital can do the job?

The sustain 'length' on a digital, assuming they're not looping the samples, would be a function of the amount of RAM devoted to each sample so I suppose that could be shorter on lower-cost instruments. Also, different digitals offer different polyphony - the number of notes that can sustain at the same time. The older generation stuff was often limited to 32 notes but current models are usually 128 or more.

The volume control is an interesting point which I'd never thought of. In theory, a digital piano should have its output fixed at something similar to the sound level of an upright piano if it wanted to be 'realistic'! I remember 40 years ago when I was learning the piano how self-conscious I would feel practicing my scales, knowing that the whole house could hear me whether they wanted to or not - and since the piano was in the lounge I couldn't play at all when the room was being used. Back then, I'd have loved to be able to plug a pair of headphones in (and probably done more practice, which I certainly needed!).

As for the third pedal, it seems like an sensible marketing move. To a non-musical buyer, all new upright and grand pianos have three pedals so they'd expect a digital to have three as well or it wouldn't look like a 'proper piano'. On many uprights, the middle pedal is for muting but this function is obviously redundant on a digital. On an electronic instrument, sostenuto is a trivial function to implement and it looks good in the brochure. (On some ensembles the middle pedal can be 're-assigned' to do other things like starting and stopping accompaniment etc.)

Another thing to note is that the second hand digital piano market is pretty buoyant and a digital is much easier to sell than an acoustic, both in terms of finding a buyer and in terms of logistics. I'd see it as a sensible move to buy a digital to start with and then look to replace it with the real thing when the student proves he's serious about learning.

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by joseph » 22 May 2013, 12:15

I would say, that unless you have a high budget and you know that the piano is going to be a long term fixture, buy a good digital to start with. OK, they don't quite have the touch or the sound, but they are fine. The keys are heavy enough and the sound is realistic enough, even and in tune. The dynamic control isn't good on any digital, but at this stage in your child's development it will be fine.

Yes it's true that you probably won't see a digital piano used in exam rooms or music festivals (although I believe it happens) and the ABRSM allow digital pianos providing they have 88 weighted keys, a recognizable piano sound, touch response and a sustain pedal, which is pretty basic spec these days.

There will come a point where, if your child progresses and takes it seriously, you might want to upgrade to a piano, but for now, if you only have £1000 to spend, then get a good Yamaha digital.

Alternatively you might be lucky and find an acoustic that somebody needs to sell and falls in to your budget. It does happen but not very often.

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by athomik » 23 May 2013, 01:09

I know that the ABRSM use a Disklavier for piano accompaniment in the exam process for players of other instruments. It might be played back electronically, but it's still a real piano.
:piano;

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by Colin Nicholson » 23 May 2013, 10:10

Some interesting points there guys.

I think that one of the main thing is that the customer is comfortable with their purchase... and that if parents are buying a digital for their child, they just need to be aware that stepping out from a digital to a "Blackpool Opera House" concert grand, there will be some vast differences. [Yeh, I played there in my youth.... just before Shirley Bassey walked on-stage!!]

Yes, I think a digital is quite capable of 'setting the scene' first and developing finger strength [tick], evenness of tone [tick] and for parents to put their kids to the test first [tick] with a digital is far better than learning on some SHED that is miles out of tune, and doesn't play properly..... so many of the boxes have been ticked so far.

OK.... I might be eating "humble pie" here [well, half a slice!] when I tell you this....
I have just restored a Bechstein upright for a customer - ok, its not a top brand [Model 10] - but the customer wanted it restored. I 'recommended' that when the piano was away, they should get a "cheap digital" to tide over during the 3 month period.... the Dad then bought a Kawai 250 for about £200 from their piano teacher.

I collected the piano at the end of the Feb .... its been completely re-strung.... action refurbished.... casework tidied up etc.... and the 2nd youngest son of theirs was about to compete in a local music festival [Whitehaven North Lakes]...... he then competed last Saturday against about 6 other competitors, played on a hired Model B Steinway grand [ the Dad couldn't get over the fact that despite how tall his 9 year old son was.... his legs were still dangling from the stool.... and he was almost looking at the ceiling to read the music!].....

Well.... he WON!! .... and practised on this old digital [which I had never played or heard]....

I finished the Bechstein a few days ago [ and up till 2am finishing off a ProShow Gold audio/visual slideshow of the restoration with over 200 images of the resto!].... and the piano was eventually delivered back to their living room - 130 miles away in ther North Lakes. Tunings are still 'in the balance' - but its settling well. Anyway, I asked the kid to play his 'festival piece' on the Bechstein.... and guess what he did???? .... he went to switch on the Bechstein AT THE WALL!!!! ...... as you can imagine.... everyone roared in laughter! .... so he played the piece [rather loud and maybe forgetting it had new strings on] - but when I tried the digital later.... firstly.... the 'piano' mode sounded like something from Dr Who!! .... the touch-depth was about 12-14mm!! .... and all the notes clicked on their release. Still.... the kid endured it, learnt his music on it and performed on a stage playing a Steinway - completely unaware!!.... and wON!

the moral of the story is of course, we asked him which instrument he preferred, and he said "Bob" [ thats the Bechstein' s pet name by the way] .... although I think now he has alot of work-out exercises to do now to overcome the new damper springs, and eventually playing on a REAL piano with a nice tone, and lots of sustain power [if needed].... they will keep the Kawai for a short period until the new strings have settled and re-tuned in a few week's time. However, the kid has always learnt on 'Bob' from the beginning.... and even his younger brother is now starting lessons.
We left them with their 'new' piano last night, and drove back the 3 hour journey!
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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by NewAge » 23 May 2013, 16:02

Some interesting points indeed above.

A visit a few months ago by our son, reminded me of one significant difference between a digital and an acoustic piano.
Although having studied in a French music conservatory, finances and space led to him purchasing a Yamaha digital, which due to travel & other work commitments he doesn't get to practice too frequently. And also, it's been a few years since he's had a chance to play an acoustic.
He recently sat at my Sauter, and began to play an old test piece from memory. What he didn't know was that I was recording with my iPad out of view.
He was obviously way out of practice, and agreed with me that he was pretty bad. But what struck me most was that it was almost totally devoid of any dynamics. I then said, "Now play it again, as an acoustic, not a digital - make it come alive!" The second time the same music was transformed, and the third time was a delight.
Although it's true many digitals perform far better than many poorly maintained upright or grand pianos, I'm convinced that extended use of a digital can hold a player back significantly, and above a certain proficiency level the purchase of a good acoustic piano should be seriously considered.
I was playing the piano in a zoo, when the elephant burst into tears. I said, "Don't you recognize the tune?" He replied, "No, I recognize the ivories!"

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by joseph » 23 May 2013, 18:24

I'm in complete agreement with NewAge. I've been doing a lot more work on a digital due to neighbour restrictions and problems with the piano and my dynamic range has been cauterized a bit. It's very frustrating. it's better than not practising at all, but it's been a bit of a leap of imagination at times. Trouble with that leap of imagination is I imagine I'm playing the dynamics properly when I go to a concert piano and I'm not.... sometimes not even close.

I really hope my agent doesn't see this post......

By all accounts the Yamaha AvantGrand is a good compromise, personally I don't care for the tone much but it does give you better control than a Clavinova.

For early stages though, these days a digital will be OK, but yes, if progress is made quickly and serious piano study is to be undertaken, then please get a good acoustic.

I would just like to state that I am of the opinion that a student should begin on the best possible piano. In an ideal world unconstrained by finance and space, a student should have access to a top quality grand from the outset. However, since that's not an option 99 percent of the time, and in a toss up between an upright that is bordering on unplayable, and a Yamaha Clavinova from the past 10 years, I would take the Clavinova. In many cases it has meant the difference between learning and not learning, and so a Clavinova is better than not learning. However, in many cases the Clavinova has become the piano of choice and people can't see past it once it's in the house. Then they get to thinking that other pianos are somehow defective because they are harder to play (because they have more response in them!), and so things start to fall by the wayside. Digitals can be an invaluable tool when used with caution and the knowledge that they perform a specific task, but they can hold one back as well.

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by classic-keyboard » 23 May 2013, 20:04

This fascinates me. The reasons why digitals should suffer this lack of dynamic range is a subject for a different thread (on a different forum on a different web site!) but my speculation is that it's the control data from the keyboard. Compact Disc has a usable dynamic range of over 90dB, which is considerably more than the 50-60dB range of a grand piano - so it's probably not the tone generators. It could be the amplifiers (but playing on headphones should resolve that). That leaves the digital signalling from the action and if this is MIDI-based, the effective dynamic range is going to be about 20dB - too narrow by a long way. it makes me wonder why having gone to such lengths to reproduce the sound of a 'real' piano, makers like Yamaha haven't been able to crack this. Has anyone played a Yamaha Silent Grand? Does this have the same reduced dynamic range?

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Re: piano buying advice please.. Gumtree and Ebay

Post by joseph » 26 May 2013, 17:54

The Silent Grands are better these days, with the introduction of the latest range, but before they were pretty rubbish tbh. The sound of the silent system on the new grands is convincing, but yes, it lacks a certain finesse, and of course you're playing through headphones.

The problem isn't just volume high to low, decibels etc, it's the nuance, the way that the keyboard responds, the sheer number of variations that are available on a real piano compared with the limited discrete variation of even the best digital.

This isn't a problem for most non-professional players, and even professional players who are not so worried about dynamics (rock pianists for instance), but for professional classical musicians it is of paramount importance to have access to a good quality grand. The notes can be learned on a digital, and some of the dynamics, but if that's all you practise on, your playing will eventually sound dry and colourless.

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