Secondhand Reid Sohn

General discussion about piano makes, problems with pianos, or just seeking advice.

Moderators: Feg, Gill the Piano, Melodytune

Post Reply
TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by TheRedQueen » 19 Oct 2015, 11:09

Hi,

I'm looking to buy a piano for my daughter to take her to Grade 8 - I had been thinking of a secondhand yamaha U1 from a dealer (which seem to be about £2,800 upwards) but we've seen a secondhand (1988) upright 131cm Reid Sohn locally for £1300 as well as a 1993 yamaha U1 for £2100 and since we're a bit brassic I was wondering if either of these sound like a good buy? I'm not at all knowledgeable so have just done google searches which would seem to suggest Yamaha U1 from the 90s is not as good as 80s - do you agree? And what is the general opinion of Reid Sohn? It's a 131cm upright so I'm wondering if the larger size is a factor compared with the U1?

We will obviously go and see both and let her play them but I wondered just in general what do people feel about Reid Sohn and/or 1990s Yamahas?

User avatar
NewAge
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 422
Joined: 07 Nov 2007, 18:29

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by NewAge » 20 Oct 2015, 13:52

Opinions vary but I would certainly take a Yamaha U1 over a Reid Sohn, especially if the former is 90's vintage - and in good condition.
The Reid Sohn at 131cms should have a fuller base sound, but I wouldn't let that be the deciding factor, given that when you eventually want to upgrade, a Yamaha U1 should have a greater appeal to prospective buyers. Also in general, piano tuners enjoy Yamahas, which can't be said for all makes, and I would guess that a U1 should tune-up in a more pleasing fashion than a Reid Sohn (but I'll leave the specialists to enlarge on this).
Whatever, try as many pianos as your budget allows. See if you can find a Welmar within your budget, I tried 2 uprights recently similar in size to the U1, and they were remarkable instruments.
Of course the advantage of buying (say U1) from a dealer is that you can ensure that it is well prepared and tuned before delivery, plus the advantage of a limited warranty.
Obviously let your daughter have a say in the decision process. As well as hands-on, get her to listen to the piano from a distance, as the tones do vary considerably, not only between different makes but also between identical models.
Good luck, and don't rush into a purchase. There's often something a little better just around the corner. Shop around, but never buy without trying first.
Please keep us informed of your progress.
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!"

User avatar
Colin Nicholson
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1829
Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
Contact:

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by Colin Nicholson » 20 Oct 2015, 14:50

Some sound advice there....

I would choose ANY Yamaha over a Reid Sohn any day of the week. Superior mechanism, better bass.... and nicer to tune and clear in tone.

I have tuned several Reid Sohns.... not bad, but one last year, the lady mentioned loads of notes wouldn't repeat properly .... I tried it out, and it turned out with the sustain pedal used, the undercarriages weren't resetting the jacks quick enough - the lever flanges (hinges) needed re-pinning entirely. The parts are generally 'weaker' in build, smaller length keys (with no lead weights), and some of the materials a bit rough at the edges.... I would estimate this RS is about 10-15 years old. Plays fine now, but I also suspect high humidity in their dining room. I advised them to buy a hydroceel + digital hygrometer.... well, they bought the hygrometer only, and didn't listen to me for the rest. Multiple keys needed easing to free them, and an ongoing process. Might not be suitable for an aspiring Grade 8 student!

Of course, any piano you buy is subject to a proper independent assessment by a (unrelated) piano technician.

Never had any issues with Yamaha.... just the usual service work which is normal.

Don't overlook Kawai upright pianos.... very much on Yamaha's heels, and good pianos.
Try several different shops, not just the one -
hope that helps.
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by TheRedQueen » 20 Oct 2015, 19:27

Thanks both of you - that's really helpful. I'm leaning towards the yamaha now - but I'll see what she thinks and try a few others out at the shop too. Will let you know!

Model V
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 156
Joined: 09 Nov 2008, 11:28

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by Model V » 22 Oct 2015, 10:20

Yamaha over a Reid Sohn is a no-brainer. Same with many of the budget brands. Just avoid if you don't want future trouble and zero resale value. The best thing about the U1 is there are so many of them about. Think Ford Focus. Mechanics love them because they're familiar and predictable. Public love them because they are excellent at what they do and are, er, familiar.

It's the same with the U1/U3 uprights. Just get one.

Whatever you do, don't stick to one shop. There are plenty to choose from and it's worth travelling a bit. Also, U1s vary enormously (think boy-racer, badly serviced Focus against Grandpa's lovingly waxed and maintained Sunday runabout).

Could you let us know where you live? Lots of people here live and breathe pianos and will happily recommend places to try. Personally, I am not in the piano trade but buy a lot of pianos as I am in music education. I know who I trust and who I wouldn't go near in certain parts of the country, as will others here. Consider us a resource, gather information and make an informed decision.

Good luck,

MV

vernon
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1407
Joined: 12 Mar 2008, 10:29
Location: N.E.Scotland
Contact:

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by vernon » 22 Oct 2015, 22:24

Surely the second hand Yamahas are a minefield of old/older grey imports of questionable antecedents.
A new Kawai K200 would knock spots off them, in my humble opinion
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by TheRedQueen » 25 Oct 2015, 19:23

We went to see the Yamaha and in fact my daughter didn't like it - the action was very soft and the sustain was non-existant. She also felt that it had no 'character' (one of the problems we've had is that she is just 13 and it's hard to translate her rather inarticulate assessments into something we can understand - but having tried a few others now, I think what she means is that it's too bright/hard compared with the warmer sound she's used to from her old Eberhart, despite the fact that it's knackered and the action's shot). She also didn't like the Reid-Sohn, in fact, which had a definitely jangly/metallic/almost buzzing sound in the middle range.

Tried another dealer who had a 126cm Weinbach from 2002, very little used. She liked the sound loads better and we might go for that one, but she did say she found it a bit hard to play.

So, my follow-up questions would be:

1) everyone seems to love yamahas, but is it the case that their rather bright sound is not to everyone's taste? Is it the case that if you don't like them, you are probably going to prefer a European-style sound? And if so, what are the kind of brands we should be looking at? Is Petrov/Weinbach the main option in this mid range price?

2) She is used to a very soft action, so find most decent pianos harder to play - is this something to dismiss, in a way, because she will get used to them and needs to do so in order to progress? Or are there ways in which a good piano with a proper action can nevertheless be more or less responsive, in a way we should be paying attention to (she expresses this in terms of some pianos allowing her to do trills more easily)?

In terms of where we are, we're in Devon, so not that many places - we went to Piano Room, Exeter, and today to Rossner pianos near Newton Abbott, and are heading to Yelverton later this week. We had also thought of going to Chris Venables in Ringwood.

Thanks for your advice! I may start another thread specifically about the 'sound' of Yamahas.

Model V
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 156
Joined: 09 Nov 2008, 11:28

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by Model V » 25 Oct 2015, 20:47

One thing about Yamahas is that they tend to brightness and need to be kept on top of. However, budget a day with a good technician into your purchase and he will be able to voice the piano to your own version of perfection.

That said, there are other good pianos out there. I have heard great things about Chris Venables and he has a storming rep as a technician and piano expert. He also has his own "brand" which are made for him to his exacting specification. I would very strongly recommend a visit. (I do not know Chris and have no connection by the way).

How about a day trip to London? The Yamaha showroom (formerly Chappell of Bond Street) often have some very competitive re-conditioned U series uprights. They are nice people too. You would also 100% eliminate the chance of buying a duffer imo. Jacques Samuels have a range of other makes including Kawai. Worth a look. The "great" German makes have their own mass-produced lines. Might be worth a call (but Steinway's Boston range is made by Kawai).

As for touch: Your daughter should be learning on something with an average touch, tending to firm rather than soft. This will give her an advantage in that school concert or ABRSM exam. It's ghastly to have to plough through music on a piano that's harder to play than you're used to.

Good luck - and don't rush into anything!

MV

vernon
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1407
Joined: 12 Mar 2008, 10:29
Location: N.E.Scotland
Contact:

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by vernon » 25 Oct 2015, 23:56

why not just but proper Kawai K 15
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

Model V
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 156
Joined: 09 Nov 2008, 11:28

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by Model V » 26 Oct 2015, 07:53

vernon wrote:why not just but proper Kawai K 15
You are sounding like a broken record. Let the op decide from a range of options. I love Kawai pianos and so might he. But you sound as if you're on commission.

TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by TheRedQueen » 26 Oct 2015, 09:40

Well, I had heard some good things about Kawai - they do them in The Piano Shop in Bath so maybe a trip there might be worth making. But the K15 is quite short - would a small piano like that be OK for going up to diploma level?

TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by TheRedQueen » 26 Oct 2015, 11:11

Also, having done a bit of googling, it seems Kawai are noted for having a heavy action. I think this would rule them out for my daughter, we'll have enough trouble getting her to accept a medium action, never mind heavy!

User avatar
Colin Nicholson
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1829
Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
Contact:

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by Colin Nicholson » 26 Oct 2015, 14:18

For Grade 8 and beyond, I wouldn't consider anything less than the K5. The taller piano offers a better bass string length and tone, and acoustic ports. There is always 'here say' about a piano's touch, and a lot of what you hear is utter rubbish.... so take it with a pinch of salt. The newer K5 action is partially built with carbon fibre, offering a good medium touch. A good pianist should always be able to adjust to any piano in a matter of seconds. ABRSM exam centres often choose a Yamaha upright, and for the lucky ones, a grand.... the touch being slightly heavier - so we adjust to this. I myself have been teaching piano for over 30 years, and heard all the excuses!

For any previous exam results - e.g. Distinction at grade 7?? TOP marks in the pieces, with the odd one 30/30? .... yes, a K5 would be perfect for Diploma. However (with respect) - a previous 'pass' or scrape through a merit - then any decent piano would be sufficient. The evenness of tone is important for the touch aspect, so playing 4 octave scales & arpeggios/ dominant/ diminished 7ths is important, and a good right hand touch. Most good Yamahas or Kawai pianos will offer this.

Once again, the weight of an action can be reduced slightly, but its best not to mess with the general characteristics of the piano. Changing the voicing/ tone/ touch is a matter of personal taste, and if your daughter needs a top spec piano with all that, then you need to look into £8K plus pianos. The average £3-5K piano may never meet her expectations.... just like car performance. It's like wanting lots of horses and power from a Vauxhall Astra, but at the end of the day, your budget will dictate.... if there is more in the budget.... then try Seiler/ Schimmell pianos, or even Bechstein newer range.

We can offer general advice here - the actual playing/ choosing and tone selection is down to you.

Colin
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by TheRedQueen » 27 Oct 2015, 10:35

Thanks for this. I'm sure you're right, that you can only expect so much from a cheaper piano! We will carry on searching - but all the advice has been really helpful, thanks!

TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by TheRedQueen » 31 Oct 2015, 12:28

We have carried on searching, and daughter has now tried a range of pianos, but one thing I wanted to ask you knowledgeable people is about touch/action. Everyone says, let her try lots of pianos and go with what she likes - but my problem is that she is used to an old English 130cm upright piano with a very light (worn?) action, and dislikes her teacher's new Yamaha U1 which has what she feels is a very hard/stiff action. So when we go to shops, and says, yes, I like this one but not this one - how much is she likely to be just responding to a piano that's got a similar feel to her old one? Teachers also say you get used to a harder action very quickly, but we can't play the piano in the shop for a fortnight to see if she does get used to it! To illustrate my problem - she has found an older (early 1980s) Yamaha U1 she likes, and an older (late 1980s?) Kawai 131cm she likes, but when she tried the new K300 in the shop she found it 'muddy' in tone and feel, and she tried an almost new K5 and found the same - found the tone a bit 'dead' and the action stiff. But is she like a wine noob who likes Australian Cabernet and can't bear the taste of a fine French vintage - in which case should we just be saying, get the one with the best all-round reputation and hang the 'feel' or the idea of going with her preference? Thus, for example, the secondhand 2008 K5 was almost the same price as the 1980s yamaha and I can't help feeling most people on this forum would consider us utterly bonkers to buy the latter and not the former.... But then you are presenting your daughter with a piano she says she doesn't like just because it has a better rep! I'm (slightly) in despair. Any thoughts?

chrisw
Regular Poster
Regular Poster
Posts: 58
Joined: 05 Feb 2012, 13:37

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by chrisw » 31 Oct 2015, 15:26

Are any of these pianos in the same shop ? If so can you trust any of the staff to give some advice with regard to the second hand Yams and Kawais ?

User avatar
Colin Nicholson
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1829
Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
Contact:

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by Colin Nicholson » 31 Oct 2015, 15:47

The touch weight of an average new/ 2nd hand piano is around 48 - 52 grams per key.... without the dampers.
Much of this weight is down to the following:-
1. Damper spring tension (leaf springs pushing on the damper body)
2. Damper spring gauge (diameter of wire) - around 0.9mm bass, 0.8mm tenor 0.7mm treble
3. Lead weights punched into the key woods
4. Key bushings/ easing of centre chasing bushings
5. Weight & size of hammers

There are some other aspects aswell, but these are the main areas.

You can test the weight of each piano key visually by using a set of gram weights - see images >>
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=piano ... YUCh190gme

If you have no weights, then using kitchen digital weighing scales, stack a few 2 pence coins on top of each other to get the desired weight.... aim for about 52 grams, then bind them together with tape.

1. Rest the 'weight' on Middle C - key should not move down, but may wink.
2. Press the sustain pedal down fully & hold it down
3. Middle Cs key should slowly drop down fully and stop on the baize washer - in slow motion.

If the weight does not move the key, the action is heavier than normal. (Add more weights gradually)
If the weight moves slowly - spot on 52 grams - the ideal touch weight.
If the weight moves down fully without pedal, the action is too light.

Piano key weights are a selection of brass thick washers, each one stamped with the weight on.

Make a couple of weights with 2p coins.... one at 48 grams, one at 52 grams, and test each piano.

In the bass, the hammers are slightly larger & heavier, so expect a slower drop or no drop.

After purchase, if the keys are a little heavy, ask your piano tuner to ease off the tension slightly on the damper springs, or check the damper lift.... should be about 50% after the hammer is half way to the string.
Comparing touch weight to a new piano from an old piano should not be considered - there are lots of factors.

Don't play the old piano then expect the newer piano to be similar in touch weight - will never happen.
Spring tensions will be much lighter, key bushings worn, lead weights may not be there or fewer.... and the action design may be different - jack spring tension/ damper lift etc.

Changing the touch weight of a piano is risky, time consuming, expensive, and not always necessary. When you drive away in your new car, you leave the old one behind - end of! .... don't look back, and start getting used to the new touch, feel, weight of a modern upright piano. Never compare it to your old piano, unless you were to have your old piano restored.

Hope that helps

:)
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

TheRedQueen
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: 19 Oct 2015, 11:00

Re: Secondhand Reid Sohn

Post by TheRedQueen » 31 Oct 2015, 18:21

Well that was interesting - based on coins our current piano dips under 38g weight and that's without the sustain pedal coming into operation at all!

I think there's no doubt we need a new one!

I think I'm going to just go with one of the two pianos she really likes, the early 80s Yamaha U1 and late 80s BW-61 Kawai - the dealer is local, very nice and has been helpful, and probably in the end either would do her just fine. If she's happy with the piano, she'll play it more readily, and that's the point, I guess...

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests