Quality used upright advice

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

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Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 30 Jan 2011, 15:28

I am about to start looking for a high quality second-hand upright piano. I have done quite a bit of online research but before I start visiting dealers I would welcome some advice from this forum.

Some background may be useful. I am not a professional but I am a reasonably advanced player – certainly well beyond grade 8. I have realised that it is highly unlikely I will ever have a house that is large enough to accommodate a grand, so for that and various other reasons I am now looking to buy an upright piano that I expect to keep for at least 20 years. So I do not really care how easy it will be to sell it in the future but I do want to ensure I make the right decision and don’t suffer “buyer’s regret” in a couple of years.

My budget is genuinely flexible. Until I have played some I don’t think I will know what for my ability is the optimum price/performance point. I cannot afford the 19k that it appears a Steinway model K commands but I can go well beyond what I see a used U3 going for.

So onto my specific questions:

1. I am thinking that I should be looking for a piano that is no more than 10-15 years old, and I am going to ignore pianos from the earlier period, even those that claim to be fully restored. My reasoning is that I am looking for a very precise action, and also one that will not be affected by modern central heating etc. Am I on the right track with that?

2. I am quite interested in actions that claim to offer superior repetition such as the Fandrich action on the Steingraeber or the Sauter. I have never played these though! However I do not want to buy something that will be difficult for tuners to regulate and maintain or will have a reduced lifetime compared with a more standard action. Can anyone comment on those aspects? Also are there any other models that I should be considering given that action is very important to me?

3. For many years I played on a 1930s Welmar and I liked the relatively mellow tone. (The action was very average but I could not afford anything better at the time). I have found Yamahas that I have played in the past a bit too bright for my taste. Are there any Yamaha models that are likely to be more to my taste?

4. How much availability is there in this segment of the market? I am in Scotland and having only looked online (where the dealer has stock online) it doesn’t appear that there is a huge number available. It seems to go from Steinway model K to Yamaha U3/5 with relatively little in between?

Thanks for any feedback!

Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 30 Jan 2011, 17:09

Would visit Peter Smith & Sons 60 Back Sneddon St Paisley if based in Scotland and would advise a new piano which would have the precision in the action you are looking for,used pianos even overhauled and fully regulated do not have the feel or response that new pianos possess.Would stay clear of imported used Yams go buy a new piano sure to be deals available,and generous warranties.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Barrie Heaton » 30 Jan 2011, 17:46

rgreig wrote:
1. I am thinking that I should be looking for a piano that is no more than 10-15 years old, and I am going to ignore pianos from the earlier period, even those that claim to be fully restored. My reasoning is that I am looking for a very precise action, and also one that will not be affected by modern central heating etc. Am I on the right track with that?
Even new piano can be effected by central heating if too dry but they do have a better chance then older pianos
rgreig wrote: 2. I am quite interested in actions that claim to offer superior repetition such as the Fandrich action on the Steingraeber or the Sauter. I have never played these though! However I do not want to buy something that will be difficult for tuners to regulate and maintain or will have a reduced lifetime compared with a more standard action. Can anyone comment on those aspects? Also are there any other models that I should be considering given that action is very important to me?
They ether uses spring or magnets and work very well in improving the repetition most are factory set and seldom need changing other then the normal regulating
rgreig wrote: 3. I have found Yamahas that I have played in the past a bit too bright for my taste. Are there any Yamaha models that are likely to be more to my taste?
All piano can be voiced to your taste I have Yamaha's on my round that are just a mellow as a Bluthner
rgreig wrote: 4. How much availability is there in this segment of the market? I am in Scotland and having only looked online (where the dealer has stock online) it doesn’t appear that there is a huge number available. It seems to go from Steinway model K to Yamaha U3/5 with relatively little in between?
This may be your biggest problem s/h Steingraeber and Sauter don't come up for sale that often and when they do can often be in a poor state as they are normally owned by good players who play them a lot

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 31 Jan 2011, 11:58

Hi Robert,
First of all, good luck with your piano shopping, it should be a fun experience for you.
If you end up leaning towards a young U3 then let me know as I've got a 2004 U3S arriving soon that I expect to be a nice example.

I am just arranging for it to be delivered to me and I expect to have it next week (W/C 7.Feb)

In the meantime, make a big list of piano shops to visit and enjoy the shopping.

If you wanted to visit my showroom near Manchester you might combine it with a trip to the below shops who are all within 30-40 minutes drive of me

Dawsons in Manchester city centre (picadilly gardens) (new and used U3s)
Forsyths on Deansgate, Manchester city centre (Wide range of new & used pianos)
Melvin from Besbrodepianos.co.uk in Leeds (wide range of new & used pianos)
Harry from pianoplus.co.uk in Prestwich (mainly new Yams I think but also some used U3s)

I have some photos of the 2004 U3S which I can send to you if you email me at markgoodwinpianos@gmail.com

Happy shopping :)
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: Quality used upright advice

Post by Johnkie » 31 Jan 2011, 15:40

Hi Robert - Adding my 5p in answer to you questions:

1. Central heating.
All pianos are affected by central heating - Modern pianos are built using better glues and methods of construction, enabling them to withstand extremes .... but nevertheless I have come across newish pianos that have had serious damage caused by central heating ....mainly due to the humidity levels being too low, causing action parts to loosen and soundboards to split.

2. Repetition.
There's very little truth in comments saying that upright pianos can't repeat as fast and as well as a grand. It depends on the quality of the action used. Good repetition is easily obtained on a good quality upright .... providing the regulation has been carried out properly and it's action has either a "Jack slap rail" or additional loop and springs .... like the Bechsteins had. The big question to ask before buying is "does this action have a Jack slap rail?" If it doesn't ... if it merely has an additional piece of felt glued to the Set off rail instead ..... don't buy it!

3. Bright tone.
One of the most voiced comments on why not to buy a piano has to be " It's too bright" or "it's too loud". The composition of felt used on a set of hammer heads governs the overall tone of the instrument. Most manufacturers send their pianos out being "Bright". Good quality hammer heads nearly always tend to be covered in very tightly compressed felt, but the trick is to re-voice it to the type of tone that the customer would prefer. Steinway Model D concert grands! They're used everywhere in the world .... and everyone is different on some way. Indeed Steinway have a selection of concert grands at the disposal of performing concert pianists .... each one different .... some in touch .... and more importantly some in overall tone. It's not hard for a professional tuner/technician to change the tone by re-voicing a set of hammers ... the difficulty is trying to change it back, perhaps to suit a particular type of music or style of composer. That's mainly why Steinway have a selection to choose from ... so that the technician only has to adjust the tone of the odd hammer that stands out from the norm of that particular piano...and not change the whole overall tone.

4. Yamaha U series.

Nice upright pianos - Good action (with a jack slap rail) - used by many good pianists (who can't afford a Steinway) - and usually have a bright tone ? Yes ... but that's not set in stone .... It can be altered to suit you ... it's just that not many people realise it!

Hope this helps.
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by vernon » 31 Jan 2011, 22:18

Whereabouts in Scotland are you? Sounds a good Aberdeenshire name.
Have you looked at the Kawais? We keep most of them in stock up in the mountains.
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 31 Jan 2011, 22:46

Thanks for the quick responses.

I am based in the central belt, and I bought my Welmar from Peter Smith many years ago so that will certainly be one of the dealers I shall be visiting.

On the point made about repetition, can I clarify exactly how good I should expect a quality upright action to be? As I understand it, it is the repetition lever that enables a grand piano action to be able to repeat while only lifting the key a few millimetres. Does a jack slap rail perform a similar function? To me the acid test is the opening few bars of the Waldstein sonata - I have never been able to play that as written on an upright piano because I have always had to raise the keys too much to keep it pianissimo (it ends up mf at best due to the speed).

How do people think that Yamaha SU7 and YUS series compare against the U3? Reading the website it is hard to understand whether the action is different? I don't want to travel the country looking for one if it's really not worth it.

Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Johnkie » 01 Feb 2011, 00:43

In answer to your question about repetition Robert - The Jack slap rail on an upright piano, if correctly adjusted should enable you to play without the need to release the key more than a few millimetres , and as far as being able to play pianissimo - that again would be perfectly possible, as long as the regulation is correct, especially the set off distance. Really it all boils down to good precise setting up and regulation, providing the upright piano has a good quality action.
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by vernon » 01 Feb 2011, 12:17

Given a well made piano then retition,"response","touch are all a matter of correct regulation,-upright or grand.
Unfortunately ALL pianos are made of totally unsuitable,unscientific materials; string,felt,wood,cloth leather,paper washers,stewed animals etc.
The regulator takes all that and with a careful sequence of adjustments bring the best result to these bits.
However, he knows that next day the temperature may be different etc.
After some playing his felts.will may be slightly more compressed and so on.
The answer is to have the piano properly regulated when it is not too worn and then it will be at it's best
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 01 Feb 2011, 14:16

If speed of response is what you are after would look at a new grand piano would be a preffered option as you are correct in your notocing the difference whilst depressing the notes.Upright pianos well regulated even the ones with the extra escapement mechanism do not perform as well as a decent grand piano and are quite often problematic.Depending on room sizes and budget the Boston GP156 grand piano is a gem both in action performance and tone,if budget is limited Kawai GM10 is a nice instrument also at the price point.Cheaper Yam grands are tinny and brittle and toning is not always possible.Would go back to the dealer in Paisley if you where happy with Welmar piano to see what sort of deal or px they can do.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 01 Feb 2011, 20:13

Joe, you raise an interesting point about a small grand piano. Action is very important to me, but clearly tone is the number one criterion.

I have only ever played a small number of baby grand pianos in the past but each of those sounded as though used tea bags were used in the construction of the sound board. I had completely discounted small grand pianos from my search on that basis (I have a relatively large room but not enough space to give up to a 5'10" grand).

Do you think that the Boston you mentioned sounds as good as a large (130cm) high quality upright such as a Steingraeber or even an SU7? How would the length of the bass strings compare?

Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Barrie Heaton » 01 Feb 2011, 21:04

rgreig wrote:Thanks for the quick responses.

How do people think that Yamaha SU7 and YUS series compare against the U3? Reading the website it is hard to understand whether the action is different? I don't want to travel the country looking for one if it's really not worth it.

Thanks,
Robert
The YUS3 is nice have a quite a few on my round used many by Chets and RNC students in their homes . The bass is much better the heavier hammers give you more control and the felt is much better to voice worth the extra

As to the Su7 Hmm I have yet to be impress with one of them not quite got the wow factor for the price but that just me

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 02 Feb 2011, 00:12

If you do come down to Northern England a visit to Yorkshire Pianos would be very worthwhile we keep all the Bechstein and Bluthner uprights (the complete range) as well as several Sauters which are amazing pianos.
We have a lovely new large showroom surrounded by beautiful countryside in Bolton Abbey (just West of Harrogate). BD23 6HZ
We were Headingley Pianos for 20 years and have finally moved out of Leeds and become Yorkshire Pianos.
Feel free to give me a ring if you'd like to talk about Sauters.
Thanks Adam Cox.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 02 Feb 2011, 15:40

Would agree with Barrie the Yamaha SU7 fails to impress built using the same materials used in concert grand the action is excellent but the tone is disappointing,would try Boston GP156 and GP163.Kawai RX1 and Yamaha C1 am sure the store who sold you Welmar have these pianos available to play,Personally these instruments outshine a 130 upright both in purity of tone and action precision.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by NewAge » 02 Feb 2011, 22:21

rgreig wrote:I am about to start looking for a high quality second-hand upright piano. I have done quite a bit of online research but before I start visiting dealers I would welcome some advice from this forum.

Some background may be useful. I am not a professional but I am a reasonably advanced player – certainly well beyond grade 8. I have realised that it is highly unlikely I will ever have a house that is large enough to accommodate a grand, so for that and various other reasons I am now looking to buy an upright piano that I expect to keep for at least 20 years. So I do not really care how easy it will be to sell it in the future but I do want to ensure I make the right decision and don’t suffer “buyer’s regret” in a couple of years.


My budget is genuinely flexible. Until I have played some I don’t think I will know what for my ability is the optimum price/performance point. I cannot afford the 19k that it appears a Steinway model K commands but I can go well beyond what I see a used U3 going for.

So onto my specific questions:

1. I am thinking that I should be looking for a piano that is no more than 10-15 years old, and I am going to ignore pianos from the earlier period, even those that claim to be fully restored. My reasoning is that I am looking for a very precise action, and also one that will not be affected by modern central heating etc. Am I on the right track with that?

2. I am quite interested in actions that claim to offer superior repetition such as the Fandrich action on the Steingraeber or the Sauter. I have never played these though! However I do not want to buy something that will be difficult for tuners to regulate and maintain or will have a reduced lifetime compared with a more standard action. Can anyone comment on those aspects? Also are there any other models that I should be considering given that action is very important to me?

3. For many years I played on a 1930s Welmar and I liked the relatively mellow tone. (The action was very average but I could not afford anything better at the time). I have found Yamahas that I have played in the past a bit too bright for my taste. Are there any Yamaha models that are likely to be more to my taste?

4. How much availability is there in this segment of the market? I am in Scotland and having only looked online (where the dealer has stock online) it doesn’t appear that there is a huge number available. It seems to go from Steinway model K to Yamaha U3/5 with relatively little in between?

Thanks for any feedback!

Robert

Rgrieg,

My priorities were similar to your own, i.e. looking for a high quality upright, fairly advanced player interested in actions that claim to offer superior repetition, a flexible budget, and preference for a relatively mellow tone.
One exception however was that I had decided on a new piano.

Prior to the search, on paper I had practically decided on a Bechstein Classic 124, having played one a few years earlier and thought when the time was right it should be 'the one'.
Finally during my search I auditioned the following from at least five different stores:-
Yamaha YUS 5
Kawai K3 & K-6
S&S V-125
Schimmel C116 and C120
Seiler 132
Bechstein Classic 118 and 124
August Forster 125
Sauter 122 Vista; 122 Resonance; 130 Competence.

Trying the S&S V-125 really assisted as a benchmark against which the others would be judged - especially for quality, as I'm a quality freak.
Most of the others were then put through their paces - all good pianos - but didn't totally satisfy me for one reason or another.
The Bechstein Classic 124 was somewhat over my budget, but I really liked the sound and the touch - a piano that most would be delighted with.
It was then that I noticed three Sauter pianos. From the moment I played the first, I knew instantly I'd made a significant musical discovery. I tried the other two. These were pianos that at last thrilled me. For me at least they had that difficult to define 'wow' factor that I'd been searching. Both the Resonance and Competence models had the double repetition action - fast enough for even the most discerning professional.
I finally decided on the 122 which has a truly remarkable touch and tone, and outstanding quality. Exactly the kind of sound and precision touch that I’d been searching for.

The bottom line is, even for a used piano, go and try as many as you can from those listed (and others), take your time, and buy the piano you like best.
Good luck in your search, and please get back to us with your findings.
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: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 03 Feb 2011, 09:40

joe wrote:would try Boston GP156 and GP163.Kawai RX1 and Yamaha C1 [...] Personally these instruments outshine a 130 upright both in purity of tone and action precision.
I have a 1999 GP156 in stock just in case you pop down to this neck of the woods.
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email markgoodwinpianos@gmail.com with any Yamaha, Kawai, Bechstein or Steinway questions :)

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 03 Feb 2011, 10:07

To the orginal threader if looking at Boston range would stick to the new Boston range in both uprights and grands as these latest technical improvements have only been implemented in the last 18 months.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 03 Feb 2011, 20:41

Thanks all for the very useful information.

I am going to visit the dealers in Scotland first (for obvious reasons) but I may well arrange a long weekend trip to Yorkshire to ensure I can get to play all the models on my shortlist.

The feedback on the Sauter is very interesting - I have read other very positive comments on the pianos elsewhere so I shall definitely try them before making my decision.

Any views on Ibach? Several years ago I played a new Ibach upright, and although it was quite small (maybe even the 118 model) I was very impressed by the tone especially considering its size.

Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 04 Feb 2011, 16:47

Ibach use to do 2 ranges in uprights cheaper range built under their supervision in Korea which from memory where called the K-series and their German made range both of which where excellent pianos use to stock the K-series and lots of pianist prefferd them to the Japanese brands selling alongside them as did aye,not sure if they still have a stockist here Peter Salisbury Pianos on Henley on Thames also had them but think he went bankrupt.Someone else on forum may know U.K distributors but almost 100% there not and we stoppedA doing them due to the huge increase in prices,would buy new Steinway Model K if you are able to afford it as the other German built pianos are not a kick in the backside off the Steinway prices,if not the new Boston upright and grand pianos are excellent pianos and the best in their range at their price point.Again its only my opinion these pianos are constantly improving whilst other makers are cutting corners.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joseph » 05 Feb 2011, 23:07

Uprights will always have a different response to grands. The upright I play most is one that I teach on in school. Its a Boston 118 and actually I have no problem practising anything on it. Yamaha U series and any piano from the premium makers are also excellent. Honestly, if you get a good technician you'll have no problem. The Boston I have to say, has an excellent response in the bass. I'm surprised that for such a small piano it sounds so good.

I have no affiliation with any dealer or manufacturer, and I have no reason to say anything about any piano other than what my experience tells me.

The only piano I really don't like is the digital I teach on at another school of mine. Yeah, it sounds OK, but even my pupils say it feels wrong. They (average age of 10) all want the old upright back. Funny isn't it.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 06 Feb 2011, 10:26

I get asked alot what the "difference" between a digital and real piano is. It's quite a difficult question particually with a top end digital. The best replies I've thought of sa far are...
It's like the difference between listening to a stero or having live music played in your front room.
Or, it's like the difference between watching a film and real life.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Johnkie » 06 Feb 2011, 12:17

Nice one A440 :wink: Very good analogies - Thinking back to the 70's when the miners strikes were on (you're most likely to be too young to remember though!) .. loads of students removed the sconces on any old piano that they had access to, and screwed them onto the walls for light while the power was off ..... the real piano thought played just as it always did! Can't do that with a digital. :lol:
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joseph » 06 Feb 2011, 16:49

thats exactly it - digital pianos are like looking at a photograph. sometimes a photo can be very good and give you the impression you are actually there, but its one dimensional.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by hammer man » 09 Feb 2011, 16:15

Sauters are very hard to beat. It would be worth a visit to the factory to choose one from the production line.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 09 Feb 2011, 17:47

Yes, that's a good idea. We've had a few customers go over and see their piano being made (really!).
One couple, Pauline and Andrew were kind enough to write their experience up as a kind of blog.
They got 5 star treatment from Sauter and I must say I'm rather jealous!
Sauter blog...
http://www.yorkshirepianos.com/pianoblog.html

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 09 Feb 2011, 18:06

Would agree that Sauters are well built pianos,but surely a Steinway V or K regulated,toned and tuned would be the preffered option in this price range as the residual value and longevity are in a class of their own,would not be swayed by the extra escapement mechanism,Steinways as they say are the choice of the nearly all the music schools,academies and performance venues worldwide and most pianist,they must be doing something right to have been around so long.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 09 Feb 2011, 18:22

joe wrote:,they must be doing something right to have been around so long.
Sauter have been around longer than Steinway and are still in the hands of the Sauter family.
It's all down to taste really we are talking about 2 prestige makers, but Steinway is about as far removed from Sauter as it's possible to be. One is a family firm the other a global concern.
It's easy to think that Steinway is the be all and end all of pianos (as many do) but I would personally differ and find a more complex and pleasing tone elsewhere.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 09 Feb 2011, 18:57

Firstly the facts they have been around longer than Steinway,secondly they have only recently been back under family management,Steinway started as a family business and has become a global concern Sauter have been in and out of business over the same period of time.Thirdly are you the sole agent for the U.K.Tone as you say is a personal thing no difference of opinion there everybody to their own.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by hammer man » 09 Feb 2011, 20:19

OK guys but what about the Steingraeber & Söhne range of uprights??????? I think that their grands are better than S&S. Gone are the days where you could look at 8 model o's and 7 would be fantastic and one would be OK, now its 2 are fantastic and 6 are OK. If you are buying for the sound, touch etc, which should be the real reason I would buy the Steingraeber. And you can buy them direct!
The I.M.I.T. will be planning a trip to the factory at some stage this year, why not tag along.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 10 Feb 2011, 16:01

hammer man wrote:OK guys but what about the Steingraeber & Söhne range of uprights??????? I think that their grands are better than S&S. Gone are the days where you could look at 8 model o's and 7 would be fantastic and one would be OK, now its 2 are fantastic and 6 are OK. If you are buying for the sound, touch etc, which should be the real reason I would buy the Steingraeber. And you can buy them direct!
The I.M.I.T. will be planning a trip to the factory at some stage this year, why not tag along.
You would buy the Steingraeber which sell in excess of £22k oppose to a Steinway approx £26k have you been sniffing the pearl glue down in your workshop.Joe Bloggs with loads a money goes looking for piano does not play what piano he going to buy? Good pianist same budget worked and saved all her life to buy her dream upright what piano she going to buy? Tell you now my son as an objective unemployed piano pedlar from years gone bye STEINWAY.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by hammer man » 10 Feb 2011, 20:04

Bye Steinway indeed!!!!!!!!!!!! Snigger. :D

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 11 Feb 2011, 09:44

Is there any truth in this claim?
Non-players buy Steinways. Musicians buy something else
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 11 Feb 2011, 14:56

Dont knock them as you dont stock them and take off your low margin tinted used Yams specks and embrace the bigger picture of piano retail.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 12 Feb 2011, 11:28

Here's my perspective, as a prospective buyer, on the points raised here about Steinway and other manufacturers. I don't make any claims to this being an informed view!

I think many people buying a "high end" piano, like me, will not really be focussing on resale value because there will be an expectation of keeping the instrument for decades.

I am certainly very keen to try pianos like Sauter and Steingraeber that will never have been heard of by 99% of the population and accept that their niche status will affect resale value, since the number of potential buyers will be very small should I ever want to sell.

The price of a new Steinway must in part cover the marketing budget. Also while their model D grand is a fine instrument, how do I know their uprights are as good relatively? (This is a bit like Mercedes S class versus C class cars).

I am also not particularly swayed by the argument that institutions buy particular marques therefore I should do the same since they must "know better". Institutional purchasing priorities will be slightly different from my priorities: they want to get a vendor that can supply in volume with consistency. This is going to favour vendors with larger manufacturing processes.

Equally I don't necessarily buy the argument that hand made is best which is why I am also keen to try the high end Yamaha models. Yamaha do have the scale to invest in their manufacturing processes and that can only make the product better.

This is my view *before* I have tried any models which I hope to start next week. I do find it odd that piano dealers do not appear to open on Sundays yet they are open Monday-Friday. Do many people buy pianos on a Monday morning? I should have thought that weekends were the peak periods for this kind of purchase.

Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 12 Feb 2011, 13:39

Sunday opening, am sure if you where to arrange a Sunday appointment beforehand most dealers would be able to arrange to be there.Sunday trading used to be on par with Saturday trading would never miss it,relaxed selling usually with the whole family present and and all the decision makers, would sell piano more times than not.Personally aye dont buy into the Sauter,Steingraeber scenario,firstly they are overpriced for what they are if you where to half the RRP would be a fair reflection what they are worth.Resale most be nice not to have to bother,no matter what piano you buy even a Yamaha at less 25% off RRP is going to depreciate and the other 2 brands even more.There are many reasons to buy Steinway pianos,tone,tuning stability,action precision etc the worlds top performers use them who am aye to argue.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Jerome » 12 Feb 2011, 17:08

The Steinway model K is undoubtedly a fine piano but other high-end uprights are just as appealing in different ways. Ibach was mentioned further up in the thread but I thought they had ceased production a year or two ago.

A sad consequence of the decline of the piano retail trade is that unless you happen to live in a large city it is hard to follow the advice to buy locally and have much variety of piano to choose from.
Last edited by Jerome on 14 Feb 2011, 01:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by mdw » 12 Feb 2011, 18:53

rgreig wrote: I do find it odd that piano dealers do not appear to open on Sundays yet they are open Monday-Friday. Do many people buy pianos on a Monday morning? I should have thought that weekends were the peak periods for this kind of purchase.

Robert
Can only say from my own view point. My wife works all week and my kids are at school ( one a border) all week. I am not going to open up all Sunday just in case some one wants to pop in. Customers can ring and I will open at a set time on a Sunday or evenings but open all day ..........nope. When I was younger I wanted the last penny profit out of the business. Now in my mid 40s I realise some of the best things in life money cant buy.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Dr Owl » 15 Feb 2011, 00:10

rgreig wrote:The price of a new Steinway must in part cover the marketing budget. Also while their model D grand is a fine instrument, how do I know their uprights are as good relatively?
Maybe our recent experience of piano buying will help answer this question ... and possibly drive you back to your sitting room with tape measure in hand!

Let me explain. The piano that we bought when we were young, in love, and broke had to be discarded. The Pussycat, newly retired, wanted something rather better. We ended up with a budget of £10K and a wish for either a new upright or a second-hand grand. No two pianos sound the same, which is most unfair, but no "baby" grands (less than 170cm) sounded nearly as good as the Yamaha YUS5 (132cm upright) in Chris Venables' showroom.

This led us to Jeff Shackell's workshop last Saturday. (Don't worry: I'm not going to try to persuade you to drive down to Oxfordshire!) We were there to try out a 2005 Yamaha C2 and a 1997 Yamaha C3; but Jeff is primarily a Steinway restorer, so we tried out a host of others as well. The two that are relevant to this post were a 1937 Steinway Model M and a 1993 Steinway Model K.

The Model K is a 132cm upright, and is often regarded as a dream upright. Yes, there are (many) enthusiasts for Bechstein and Bluthner uprights, and (a few) enthusiasts for Bosendorfer, Sauter and Steingraeber, but nobody would say the Steinway was poor. The Pussycat wanted to try a top-grade upright to see whether it would be better than a small grand. There was no doubt ... after only a couple of minutes playing the K she was already sure that she much preferred the touch and tone of the Yamaha C2.

I don't think I've heard Yamaha grands sound as good as the two at Jeff's workshop. From surfing this forum, we knew that he is highly regarded as a restorer of Steinways, and we now regard him highly too. The C3 had a slightly fuller rounder bass tone than the C2---surprisingly little in it--- and the Steinway Model M was just better ... as well as about twice as expensive.

That's the problem with the advice that all the good piano shops give you. "Your budget gives you a choice from many fine pianos," they say; "what you must do is buy the one that speaks to you, that you enjoy playing." The Pussycat quickly discovered that this piano is the Steinway Model B ... which costs more than three times our budget! (On Saturday there was even a Model D whose tone she liked less than one particular Model B.)

In summary: Lots of pianists are like the Pussycat in that they prefer Steinways---only your own ears and hands can say whether you are too. I can assure you that the Steinway Model K is a fine upright ... but that you may prefer the sound (you will almost certainly prefer the action) of quite a short grand piano, such as the 170cm Steinway Model M or the 173cm Yamaha C2 (or the equivalent from Kawai or the three Bs).

Is there any chance you could fit one into your sitting room?

John

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 15 Feb 2011, 10:17

John,

Thanks for a very interesting post.

I had been discounting small grands. I have only ever played two and they sounded terrible but on reflection that was probably in no small part to do with their quality/age. The advice I got many years ago from a dealer was to look at uprights but that was also probably because of my budget at that time.

I do think that I could fit a 170cm grand in my room subject to some negotiation with my wife (!).

In fact while researching Steingraeber, originally for uprights, I came across a description of the Phoenix system which was designed in the UK at Hurstwood Farm Piano Studios. It uses a carbon fibre soundboard which apparently gives a baby grand a far bigger sound.

I read on the Hurstwood farm website that they are now producing pianos themselves under the brand "Phoenix" that have both carbon fibre actions and carbon fibre soundboads. That really intrigues me so I have emailed them asking for further details (without reply yet though). Does anyone have any views on these new pianos and in particular on the carbon fibre soundboard? Has anyone tried the Phoenix pianos (as opposed to the Steingraeber model with the Phoenix system)?

In any case, I will certainly try some 170cm grands to see how they compare with the large uprights. How did the action on the Steinway M compare with the Yamahas?

Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Bob Pierce » 15 Feb 2011, 10:58

The "new" piano has a plastic (carbon fiber) action. Carbon soundboard covered in a very thin spruce veneer. I saw these at the Frankfurt Music Fair 2 years ago and thought they were dreadful. Its is very easy to be caught up in the enthusiasm of the sales force at Hurstwood Farm but talk to any time served technician and they will put you in the picture.
With only a tuner working at HW i would question where they are assembled!

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 15 Feb 2011, 12:21

Bob Pierce wrote:The "new" piano has a plastic (carbon fiber) action. Carbon soundboard covered in a very thin spruce veneer. I saw these at the Frankfurt Music Fair 2 years ago and thought they were dreadful. Its is very easy to be caught up in the enthusiasm of the sales force at Hurstwood Farm but talk to any time served technician and they will put you in the picture.
With only a tuner working at HW i would question where they are assembled!
Could have not put your reply across any better you are spot on.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 15 Feb 2011, 12:28

The price of a new Steinway must in part cover the marketing budget
I heard an interesting claim on the radio recently. It said that big companies such as Apple, Microsoft, McDonalds or Coke spend less money on advertising as a percentage of their turnover than small businesses do. So be careful not to believe that high marketing costs are bumping up the price of the most popular brands. It ain't necessarily so.

My comment about Steinway buyers often being non-musicians was based on my personal experience stocking both Steinways and Yamahas. I found that the Steinway buyers were far less picky about the musical qualities of the piano. It just had to look right and have the right name above the keys and they were happy. Yamaha buyers tend to be better at asking the right questions that relate to actually playing the piano rather than just looking at it. Again, that's just based my overall experience, other dealers may have different experiences.

:)
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 15 Feb 2011, 12:34

Yamaha buyers are looking for a bargain generally.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 15 Feb 2011, 13:09

I'd say not in my experience. They are just looking for good honest value which only comes from a high quality product at a sensible price.

Bargain hunters expect a grade 8 piano for £500. There's plenty of those shoppers around but they rarely find what they set out to achieve because it doesn't exist.

Other folk opt for cheap Chinese pianos. Brand new. 5 year guarantee. Free tuning. Made with German parts. Designed with help from a German man. Winner of various awards. Cheaper than a B1. Sounds like a dog. Those are the pianos that get snapped up by bargain hunters.

I think music schools are often looking for a bargain and so I'm sure there are lots of B1s being snapped up by music schools at the moment. They trust Yamaha but they want to spend £2500 per piano not £6500 per piano. So they think they got a bargain spending £25,000 on 10 beautiful new Yamahas but in the end, they probably made a poor choice.

Families who are looking to buy a piano are not so silly in my experience. They know it's their own money they are spending and they know it's their own children who will either benefit or suffer from the choice of piano. So they don't grab a bargain, they do their research and they choose high quality at the right price.
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 15 Feb 2011, 13:46

From my experience and we will deal with Yamaha primarily,action response excellent,tuning variable,tone like listening to broken glass hence the need for toning needles good small wire brush and some garnet paper.Regards to used imported Yamahas,soundboard moisture content not suitable for long term European climates,usually had heavy institutional use and many getting reconded in China using cheaper materials not Yamaha parts,soundboards reshimed or glued,restrung,cheap hammers and damper felt fitted and new loops.Years ago was one of the first importers of these pianos which where graded A,B,C and D,would only buy A grade which where in original condition and only needed tuned and regulated,again dont think theirs many tuners in Japan as every piano was as least a quarter tone flat,as years went on the quality got worse and stopped importing as i felt they where not worth the hassle.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Dr Owl » 15 Feb 2011, 14:29

rgreig wrote:How did the action on the Steinway M compare with the Yamahas?
Not much in it. The Yamaha action seems rather good ... perhaps particularly when it has been Shackelled. The Steinway tone was rounder/fuller---we liked it more.
Last edited by Dr Owl on 15 Feb 2011, 22:16, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 15 Feb 2011, 14:37

Bob,

Was the model you saw at the Frankfurt music fair one of the Steingraeber models with the Phoenix system?

Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 15 Feb 2011, 15:21

Joe I visited 6 or 7 workshops in Japan last year who specialise in restoring Yamaha, Kawai etc pianos but only one was really impressive (and BOY were they impressive!). Some of the others were OK but some were far from OK.

There is also the restoration workshop in Holland exporting quite a lot of reconditioned pianos to the UK. I've never bought from them but I know many shops who do.
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 15 Feb 2011, 15:48

rgreig wrote:Bob,

Was the model you saw at the Frankfurt music fair one of the Steingraeber models with the Phoenix system?

Thanks,
Robert
I have seen them also,Hurstwood pianos are always changing brands they supply a while ago it was Bosendorfer now its something else Stuart & Sons etc you seem to be caught up in all the tecky stuff,better to try pianos you are familiar with as there as not really been any improvements in how a piano plays for years.Personally prefer older pianos that are properly maintianed.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Bob Pierce » 16 Feb 2011, 11:14

Robert, yes it was the Phoenix. I'm serious the agraffes were so badly made you could see the file marks in them (they were manufactured in the UK). They are based on a design developed by the Broadwood company years ago, and they didn't work then.

Hurstwood invest serious money in R&D at the Steingraber factory, so the owners take it to keep the wolves from the door. I visited the factory and with the money given to them by HW they have built a temperature controlled room just to keep the veneer in.
Good luck to the factory i say.

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