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Grand or Upright: Another Variation on the Theme

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Grand or Upright: Another Variation on the Theme

Postby Dr Owl » 26 Sep 2010, 18:21

At what stage in a pianist’s development does she need a grand piano?

The reason I ask is that the Pussycat will retire fully in a few months’ time; and she intends to get back to regular piano lessons for the first time since the 1960s. If she does this, given that she’s starting from about grade 6 standard, she should go well past grade 8 in the next few years.

We bought a very basic upright piano long ago when, like many couples, we were young, in love and broke. In recent years our tuner has made many comments about its declining state so we asked him to dispose of it when the builders came in to extend the sitting room. The enlarged room (20ft x 20ft) has plenty of space for a grand.

Now my understanding (limited understanding – I’m a cornet player) is that a good upright is fine for a pianist up to grade 8, but developing advanced technique really does need a grand piano.

But when? And what sort – would inexpensive grand pianos like the Yamaha GB1 or GC1 be suitable? And does a sostenuto pedal matter?

We have a budget adequate for a rather good upright or a rather short grand. From lurking on this forum, I have inferred that people like us are well served by either Kawai or Yamaha. For grand pianos, another option is Brodmann, which might make a longer piano possible though with a lower resale value. Or, of course, the junior brands – Boston, Haessler or Zimmermann – of the big names. Is that right?

Since we live just across the Forest from a large Yamaha-Brodmann stockist, the next step is to take the Owlett family pianists (all female: the Pussycat, our daughter-in-law – a real pianist – and our granddaughter) across for a couple of hours’ jamming.

Later,

Dr Owl

----------------------------
John Owlett, Southampton, UK
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Re: Grand or Upright: Another Variation on the Theme

Postby mdw » 26 Sep 2010, 18:56

Dont bother with a grand less than 6 foot. You might as well have a big upright and a few quid in your pocket. Buy the piano you like and forget the resale value. Whats the point in buying a piano you dont like just to have a better resale value later. If you buy new you are going to lose loads of cash in the short term and if you keep long term the piano your enjoyment out of a piano you like is far greater than the few pounds better off you will be when you sell it. Its a piano not a financial investment ( ohh hang on they lost loads of money as well recently).
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Re: Grand or Upright: Another Variation on the Theme

Postby Colin Nicholson » 27 Sep 2010, 08:23

Buying a grand to do the higher grades is a fallacy really. A decent tall upright, well regulated and tuned will do the job - it didn't do me any harm as I passed all 8 grades on the same upright piano.

In any case, if anyone is doing the real ABRSM exams, you ought to be trying out different pianos to get a feel for its touch & tone/ weight of keys etc.

Very few know how to use the sostenuto pedal effectively, and even in music festivals, it is often disregarded (though accidentally pressed by younger competitors)!!

If you are playing music that requires a "tonic pedal point" - for example, the opening of Rachs Prelude in C# minor, then the sos pedal is useful so not to smudge the counter melodic figure where the hands are very close together - and to be honest, some grands sound naff if not over 6ft - so a good bass is always needed.

Yes, during rapid passages, trill work etc.... a grand action is more responsive due to the repetition lever/spring suspending the mechanism in mid-air (so the jack doesn't need to reset itself), but again, most decent uprights can also do the job.

If you do choose a grand - get one with a roller action, and preferably over 6ft in length.

If you live near London & no rush to buy just yet, why not check out the Piano Auctions at Conway Hall - the next viewing dates are Tues 14th & Wed 15th December - sale day is Thurs 16th Dec. There is a wide range of grands & uprights on sale, some a good, but be wary of rubbish aswell! Take a piano tuner with you - I went there 3 weeks ago, on Red Lion Square, Holborn WC1 They also do Steinway, Bluthner, Bechstein, Yamaha, Kawai - and some bargains under the hammer!!

CN
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Re: Grand or Upright: Another Variation on the Theme

Postby Dr Owl » 30 Sep 2010, 21:14

So that’s two votes for grand pianos over 6ft in length. Which, in our case, would realistically mean second-hand. Fair enough. Thank you.

Roller action? I thought, presumably naively, that the roller action was sufficiently good that all grand pianos now used it. Which pianos do we need to watch out for? (Out for which pianos do we need to watch?) Do all the six brands I mentioned use roller actions?

Later,

Dr Owl

----------------------------
John Owlett, Southampton, UK
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Re: Grand or Upright: Another Variation on the Theme

Postby Colin Nicholson » 01 Oct 2010, 00:49

...... Spring and Loop actions beware!! Some may be OK, but no rep lever on them..
Probably what you mention are roller actions - the S&L became extinct about 1967
Check it out!
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Piano tuning, repairs & restoration Est. 1981
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
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