A new or used piano up to £3k

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Gromit
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A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 20 Mar 2012, 22:48

Hi everyone - glad to have found this forum having seen it crop up many times when Googling for piano information. :)

I've been a professional Clarinettist for nearly 30 years now, and whilst doing a small amount of teaching, I've pretty much kept away from it as have been too busy. I've decided though that the time is drawing near to slow down with the gigging (I'll still keep at it but it won't be full time) and to that end I'm building up my teaching - as a result I'm going to need a piano which will be used mainly for accompanying my pupils - and who knows, I may even do some elementary piano teaching too.

Sorry for the lengthy pre-amble.... :)

I've been doing a bit of homework, and found what appears to be a very good local piano dealer who's been established for many years (I'm just outside Sleaford, Lincs). The piano which crops up regularly - and he has a very nice used example (a 1975 model) - is a Yamaha U1. He also has a U3 but it's enough over £3k to be somewhat out of reach. Now, I know Yamaha have a very solid reputation for reliability/build quality but I'd like to cast the net a wee bit further - Reid Sohn seem to gain good press and something like an RS121 would suit budget-wise.

Had a very quick play of a Steinmayer 118 which whilst having a sweet sound (I preferred it sonically to the U1 if I'm honest) I'm not 100% convinced it feels overly solid? This piano will be a 'lifetime' purchase so clearly we'd love it to last us out. :)

For any advice and help given we'd really appreciate it - thanks. :)

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Barrie Heaton » 21 Mar 2012, 01:33

The problem with 1970s Yamaha is the Bass string they suck and you will end up changing them, thankfully they got better at making them most of the time

Reid Sohn are not bad at all for the price when well prepared. For me they are too bright and harsh and need a lot of toning down but they do sound nice when toned down

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 21 Mar 2012, 09:10

Thanks for the reply Barrie - that's useful information re the bass strings. I think the dealer mentioned that this particular U1 had been fully re-furbished (or certainly given a thorough once-over) and the strings may have been changed. Will double-check now though after what you've said.

Another brand which seems to get good press (and my old piano teacher rated them) is Kawai but these do seem rather thin on the ground.

Will be popping in to have a play on some pianos tomorrow afternoon so will at least have a better idea for the feel of these things - he does have a wide selection of Reid Sohn instruments on show.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by dancarney » 21 Mar 2012, 09:23

If you shop around, you can find mid-to-late 1980s Yamaha U1 for under £3K.

I've sent you a PM to help with your search.
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Barrie Heaton » 21 Mar 2012, 12:09

Hi Gromit

Reconditioned hmm sadly in the UK this term can just mean cleaned out the action. I would find out what they have changed if indeed they have change the all the Bass string then it would be a good buy its always a good idea to get a tuner to look at it Quite a few retailers are now giving 5 year garr on S/H Yamaha's

Kawai are indeed nice pianos the new one are in the same quality range as Yamaha and in some models above. I prefer the sound of Kawai over Yamaha but I do find that the older Kawais are not as stable tuning wise as older Yamaha's in a challenging environment.

Take your time give each piano a score of 1 to 10 they go back to the one you do like


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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 21 Mar 2012, 13:58

Thanks for the input, will check with the dealer as to what's been done with the U1. He did say that some of the used Yamahas he stocks are ones which have been returned to Yamaha for the full factory re-furb, then sent back to the UK. He may have been referring to the two he has in stock (a U1 & a U3).

Dan - thanks for the pm, sadly I'm unable to reply to it at the moment, must be something to do with my small number of forum postings.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 21 Mar 2012, 14:33

I agree with Barrie that it's unlikely that the bass strings have been changed.
I generally advise people to stay above 120cm in height so that you have a good chance of getting some good tone, resonance and nice bass presence due to the longer strings and larger soundboard.

The Yamaha U series certainly make most customers happy as it helps people get a top range piano for about the same price of a new Chinese piano. If you aren't sure how to spot Chinese pianos they usually have the following in common:

- German or European name
- Very shiny
- Priced £2000 - £3000
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 21 Mar 2012, 20:05

Thanks Mark - just clicked the link to your used Yamaha selection, what a great idea to video/record the selection of pianos you have for sale. Nice quality recording too - played them through my hifi from a MacBook into separate DAC and it sounds extremely good. Even to the point where I'd get a rough idea what the piano would sound like at home. 8)
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 22 Mar 2012, 23:26

Had a very enjoyable couple of hours trying a few pianos this afternoon. Those I had a play on were...

Yamaha U1 & U3
Reid Sohn 112R
Samick JS 126
Steinmayer 108
Kemble Concerto

Music I played on each piano was...

Chopin Preludes 13, 15 & 22
Rachmaninov Preludes (Op32) E minor & G# minor

Out of the above there was a clear, and surprising winner - one which I didn't expect. It was the Samick 126. I very much liked the Yamahas' action (I've played numerous Yamahas over the years) but sadly I've never been 100% convinced by their sound - in the same way I'm not a fan of their Clarinets. Today cemented the view that whilst they have their fans, it's not for me - subjective I know, but it's always going to be a personal thing.

The Samick, by comparison, was more rich, full of colour and warmth yet with a decent amount of energy and projection available and with a sweet and rounded top end. I loved this piano. Great action, easy to modulate dynamics. For less than £3.5k I could well be sold on the idea of having one. :)
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by joe » 23 Mar 2012, 15:53

Samick are great value pianos and very well manufactured,stay in tune well and if regulated well actions have a nice feel.Much prefer them as they are made in their own factory in Indonesia,and in my opinion outstrip their Chinese competitors.Another factor is the company who supply them J.Reid and Sons London probably the best all round firm in the U.K for new and quality used pianos.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by dancarney » 23 Mar 2012, 18:27

I've only ever played on three Samick pianos, and all three were very good. Could be a good bet!
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 23 Mar 2012, 18:48

Thanks for the encouragement chaps. :)

I'm popping into the shop on tuesday afternoon with my wife (who's also a professional Clarinettist) and she'll have a good listen to each piano from the other side of room whilst I play it. Often used this trick when trying out new Clarinets (and mouthpieces especially as they can change the sound of an instrument to much). Once that's done, and all is well, the order will go in for the new piano.

I know it's easy to fall into the hyperbole trap when describing items which bring out the subjectivist in us - and of course it is quite exciting getting a new piano - but I was really taken aback by the Samick. There's the old saying 'you just know when something's right' and this was it.
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Barrie Heaton » 24 Mar 2012, 11:45

Depending were you live you may want to look at this S/H reid-sohn
piano see if you can get them to come down on the price

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by joseph » 24 Mar 2012, 12:24

Samick are good pianos for the money, defo. Good firm touch and decent tone. There's the UK imprint Reid Sohn which are Samicks imported by J. Reid and badged with Reid Sohn. Same instruments, same price I think. Good luck.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 24 Mar 2012, 14:44

Well here's a turn up for the books - we've ended up buying a U3. Didn't have a particularly long play on it the other day but took Mrs G (who's also a professional Clarinettist) with me this morning to have a listen to me playing from the other side of the shop (which is a lovely old converted Baptist chapel) and comparisons between the Samick and U3 - well, it was like choosing between fine red or white wine. We ended up with the Yammie simply because it has more dynamic headroom - the Samick is more damped with less attack, but arguably easier to play. And, whilst I really wasn't a fan of the U1 at all, the U3 is I'm sure going to be a life-long friend.

Can't wait for it to be delivered now. :)

Good times ahead.
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by dancarney » 25 Mar 2012, 17:09

Enjoy! :D
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 25 Mar 2012, 18:58

dancarney wrote:Enjoy! :D
Thanks Dan - and thanks also to everyone who's taken time to reply with snippets of useful information. I can talk about Clarinets all day but when it came to pianos I really had no idea at all - always good to get a gentle 'steer' in the right direction.

With regards to the Samick vs U3 it was soooo close - we could have had either over the flip of a coin. That JS126 is certainly a lovely instrument and, had we gone for it, I've no doubt we would've been extremely happy with it. Should hopefully have the Yamaha by next weekend or very soon after all being well. :)
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by dancarney » 27 Mar 2012, 15:32

Gromit, I have it on good 'word' that you're the very same Gromit that frequents the place some affectionately call 'The Wam'. I also have a feeling that we may have exhibited at the same Pie show. Small world!
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 27 Mar 2012, 16:27

Small world indeed, Dan - and you're right, I am one and the same chap. Good show Scalford - a lot of fun. :)
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 02 Apr 2012, 20:19

U3 due to arrive Chez Gromit tomorrow afternoon around 2pm. 8)

(apologies for small outburst of excitement...not had my 'own' piano for over 25 years).
Richard.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by dancarney » 04 Apr 2012, 20:58

Did the delivery go smoothly?
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 04 Apr 2012, 21:55

dancarney wrote:Did the delivery go smoothly?
Hi Dan - very smoothly thanks, and before the rain started which was a relief. The piano sounds good - clean, crisp and quite bright with lots of power - it's quite a 'loud' instrument, especially in our living room but I'm not 100% sure I really like it which is bugging me.

To that end I'm wondering slightly if we may have been better off with the Samick 126 - if I'd been asked to choose between them (and if it had been purely my decision) then I'd have gone for the 126. Head said Yamaha because I thought a very nice used U3 would be a better 'buy' than a brand new Samick but heart - and ears to be honest - said the 126.

Dare say I'll get used to it over time.
Richard.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by mdw » 04 Apr 2012, 22:12

If they are a local dealer see if they can bring the 126 out to you for the cost of a extra move. I am happy to take 2 out at the same time as long as the customer is having one ( or pays for the move) . If the Yam is 2nd hand then it wont make any difference to the value if it goes back to the dealer as its still 2nd hand. Do it soon as you dont want to be still thinking this in 6 months time when the dealers not interested or wants a lot more cash. Get the right piano as it will niggle you every time you play otherwise. It might be the Yam but you wont know if you dont try.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 05 Apr 2012, 12:23

I agree with mdw
If this was on my patch I'd be happy to take other piano along and let you compare both pianos in the same room, one at once before making a decision. I wouldn't even charge any delivery for that. All my efforts would be making sure you made the right decision for your needs.
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Model V » 05 Apr 2012, 18:38

My tuppence worth would be don’t necessarily despair of the U3.

Where I work we have owned some Yamaha C3 grands and I’ve discovered that they’re extremely amenable to regulation when done by a good technician. One we had was a real old “shouter” but with a day’s work from a genius of my acquaintance the piano is now a beautiful “pussy cat” – completely transformed.

I’m fairly sure the same is true of the ubiquitous U3 upright and of the many I’ve encountered, some were the very best and others very worst I’ve ever played!

What I’m trying to say is that the U3 is potentially a stunning, massive, beautiful piano and if it is in good enough playing condition the tone can be suited to the room and the user’s tastes. For a top technician this really is no problem at all, assuming the condition of the piano is good.

Anyway, good luck.

MV

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by NewAge » 05 Apr 2012, 19:46

I agree with Model V, don't despair of the U3 just yet. Try the following if not already done:-
- Put a carpet beneath the piano.
- Assuming the piano is close to the a wall (most uprights are), experiment by placing the piano closer if possible, then further away.
- If no change (or even louder further away from the wall), try adding some foam insulation padding/acoustic panels against the wall, and again experiment with the distance.
If still unsatisfied, it's either re-voicing or reconsider the Samick - which you - as the pianist - appeared to prefer in the first place.
Good luck.
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 06 Apr 2012, 09:32

Thanks for the input everyone - it's much appreciated. :)

A photo of our big beastie...

Image

Above G (below middle C) the piano sounds great - even, crisp and really sparkles. Perhaps not always to my taste but dynamically it has masses of headroom. It's an 'exciting' sound, no arguments there. Below that it's a little inconsistent with a couple of notes causing resonances which don't really sound good and it's discouraging me from playing with any brio, on those particular notes.

The Samick 126, whilst sounding more subdued, was a much less lively sounding instrument but arguably more even-handed. We're off on a short family break this weekend but will get chance to pop into the dealer next thursday where I can discuss options with him. We'll have only had the Yamaha for a little over 7 days so I don't think this would be unreasonable.
Richard.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Colin Nicholson » 06 Apr 2012, 09:43

Piano looks nice - well done on your purchase.

Unusual 'resonance' sounds are usually just a couple of bass bi-chords out of tune slightly with the other - quite normal after the delivery. (Assuming its not been tuned yet?).

After your short break, a fine tuning should sort it out.
I have a customer with a U3 - and every 6 months he has it tuned.... last time I called, he said ....'this note doesn't sound right Colin' ...... 'it has a buzzing noise' ...... simply one of the strings from the tri-chord was a trace flat. Its amazing sometimes to think that even though he knows the piano is due for a tuning, he would not expect a note to be out of tune or sound wrong!!.... I explained that this is the sound to expect when a note is out of tune!! .... after he once owned an overdamped/ straight strung/ tone down upright that never stayed in tune!

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 07 Apr 2012, 11:45

Hi Colin,

The piano has had a tune, but it'll receive a much finer one (I hope!) when it's been in the house a few weeks. Makes sense to me what you say about bi-chords being slightly out with eachother, there's a slight 'beat' (as us woodwind players call it) to the the note when it's struck which is more acute when struck hard.

Don't get me wrong - we're chuffed with the piano overall, I'm keen to make sure we can get the very best out of it (by having it set up perfectly) before making any rash decisions.
Richard.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Colin Nicholson » 07 Apr 2012, 12:07

.... just hope that radiator on the right of the piano is switched off!! ?

Sometimes depending on the shop's policies, some say it will be given a pre-tune before it leaves the shop.... this will usually be just a tidy up tuning, checking the pitch etc.... however, depending on the piano's journey, the piano may end up just like it was before it left the shop! ...... this is a sort of 'customer satisfaction' thing.... and helps the sale. Wording like...... 'its been tuned' .... though, take that with a pinch of salt. Also, I think if the piano has been tuned just after its arrival (or within the 7 days) - I think this is too early really. No prob if just pulling the piano out to hoover etc., but I reckon a piano needs about 2-4 weeks to fully settle in its new surroundings & humidity levels. So a further following tuning in a short while should iron out some of the unison problems.
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 12 Apr 2012, 14:45

Hi Colin - don't worry that radiator's well and truly off. :)

Got the dealer popping round on tuesday to have a good look at the U3 - it'll have been in the house 2 weeks on that day - where he'll give the piano a really good going-over tuning wise, plus hopefully address the few notes which aren't sounding good.

Popped into the showroom this morning where we discussed the various options, and he'd be perfectly happy to swap the U3 out for the JS126 if need be. If the U3 still isn't quite what we want (after a further couple of weeks' use) then we'll re-consider the option of going for the Samick. Another factor which we hadn't really considered is that when the music room's built (which will be approx 10'x10' with a high, sloping ceiling) the U3 may end up over-powering the room somewhat. In our 21'x11' living room it does have a massive sound - in a somwhat smaller room it may be a bit too much of a good thing. :)
Richard.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 18 Apr 2012, 22:19

Update:

Dealer popped round yesterday and spent some time re-tuning the offending notes, now the piano is virtually seamless, with no peaks nor troughs in its quality of sound throughout the keyboard's range. He's done a lovely job on it.

He's suggested I live with it for another couple of weeks - I've got a lot more time now to put some hours into playing it which is good, and over that time I'll be able to come to a decision on if it's a keeper or not. On the big stuff; Chopin G Minor Prelude for example, it's a wonderful thing - really exciting to play - but on music which requires some more intimate care (F# Major of the same Preludes) it's really too forward. Music on which the JS126 really sang.
Richard.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 19 Apr 2012, 19:11

Great news. Well done to the dealer for looking after you so well :)
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 20 Apr 2012, 08:50

MarkGoodwinPianos wrote:Great news. Well done to the dealer for looking after you so well :)
Thanks Mark. :)

It may be the case that the U3 won't be the piano for me but at least with Chris's help I'll have given it a fair try.
Richard.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Ian J » 20 Apr 2012, 17:37

Hi Gromit,
As someone who has recently acquired a U3 after 15 years owning a smaller, sweeter-sounding piano (120cm Rippen Concerto) I can tell you I'm happy with the Yamaha. I accept that you might not get the sweetest tone in the treble (is this all due to the Alaskan spruce soundboard as opposed to the European I wonder?) but the clarity in the bass makes bass chords in the classical repertoire (eg final chord of Schubert's Wanderer fantasy) now 'make sense' where with a sweeter piano they can be cloying. For the Romantic rep the action and greater dynamic range of the U3 means that the control over tonal shading is greater - playing Schumann's Symphonic Etudes is a revelation after the Rippen, the ability to play quietly with control. I can see why music students love this piano - it trains them to handle grands, but it's not necessarily the piano which would get the 'nicest' sound in your room. Hope this makes sense!
Ian

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by dancarney » 20 Apr 2012, 19:14

The U series is a very good choice for students/teachers/professionals.

I help maintain around 70 Yamaha U3s that average around 6/7 hours of heavy use per day; they really do hold up very well!

Gromit, if it's too 'forward' sounding, ask your tuner about voicing it to your taste. He should be able to sweeten it up for you.
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 28 Apr 2012, 15:25

Hi guys - sorry for late reply, been a tad busy (much of it playing the piano, happily!). :)

After several weeks of getting used to our lovely U3, and giving it lots of opportunities to shine, we've decided it's not really for us. The dealer has been excellent (Chris at White & Sentance in Sleaford) and been thoroughly supportive, but having spent virtually a whole afternoon down at the shop playing the JS126 (and moving around to other pianos in the shop every half hour or so) we've decided to swap the U3 out for it - in fact 'our' 126 will be a Reid Sohn badged 126 which will be with us in a little over 4 weeks time.

There's much to like about the Yamaha - it's a glorious instrument in many ways - but what makes it work so well in a large showroom (its presence and dynamism) is letting it down in our small music room. For me, the 126 just works wonderfully well - purely subjective I know - but I adore its sound, it has a colour and richness in the 2 octaves either side of middle C which makes it a delightful instrument to play. In fact it sounds so close to the Bluthner Model B he has in the shop it's quite uncanny.
Richard.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Model V » 29 Apr 2012, 19:23

Something you said in your last post has me worried, Gromit. Did I understand you to say that your 126 is not the one you have been trying all this time? You must understand that no two "identical" pianos are the same. If you have fallen for a specific piano, you must have that specific piano; not one of the same spec. Otherwise you will be likely disappointed.

MV.

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MarkGoodwinPianos
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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 29 Apr 2012, 19:25

Very true. Make sure you have the option to reject the piano that arrives if it doesn't sounds right
Yamaha Pianos for sale (usually 50+ in stock)
email markgoodwinpianos@gmail.com with any Yamaha, Kawai, Bechstein or Steinway questions :)

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Model V » 29 Apr 2012, 19:26

...or insist on having the one you've been trying.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 12 Jun 2012, 19:21

Apologies for my silence recently, and thanks in the meantime for the input. Well, our ReidSohn RS126 was delivered today - I'd had the chance to have a decent play on it at the shop last week and from the 30 mins or so I spent with it I knew it was going to be the piano for us.

In many ways I actually prefer it to the Samick 126 I'd spent some time on before, although to be fair 'ours' was in Chris's workshop, not out in the main showroom (which is a converted old chapel - a wonderful place to play a piano in!).

The RS126 is rich, full and sweet and whilst not with as much dynamic headroom as the U3, it really sings if you play it with some brio. The action's got some good weight to it (I'm not a fan of light action pianos anyway) and it's just so darn playable

The builder is due to start building our music room/extension the end of next week so by the end of July/early August we'll have a purpose-built place for the piano to live in. Can't wait!

Couple of pictures...

Image

Image
Richard.

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by vernon » 13 Jun 2012, 21:58

alles gut-endes gut
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

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Re: A new or used piano up to £3k

Post by Gromit » 14 Jun 2012, 08:43

vernon wrote:alles gut-endes gut
:)

Je suis un lapin heureux :piano;
Richard.

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