Quality used upright advice

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

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Bob Pierce » 16 Feb 2011, 11:23

On the subject of Yamaha's, there has been a lot of work conducted by a couple of companies who have developed a hybrid Yamaha. They replace the wrest plank and restring with German wire and Barney Unwin bass strings. Then the action has the beam rails replaced and Renner shanks and hammers fitted. A top rock band had the first one commissioned last year and now it seems more and more people are doing the same.
The results are excellent.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 16 Feb 2011, 16:23

Bob Pierce wrote:On the subject of Yamaha's, there has been a lot of work conducted by a couple of companies who have developed a hybrid Yamaha. They replace the wrest plank and restring with German wire and Barney Unwin bass strings. Then the action has the beam rails replaced and Renner shanks and hammers fitted. A top rock band had the first one commissioned last year and now it seems more and more people are doing the same.
The results are excellent.
What do they retail at? take it only on U1 and U3 and grand pianos must be old to need that amount of work or hammered to death,its amazing what retailers or wholesalers will do to make a buck using the Yamaha brand cant blame them really as impossible to make any profit selling their new pianos,more of a service.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 16 Feb 2011, 16:28

Bob Pierce wrote: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.
You are spot on,the old broadwoods where like tuning a slide guitar,end of the day if they can make a few quid selling them and there is a demand all the best. :shock:

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 16 Feb 2011, 21:44

Hi Joe
Can you update your email address as emails seem to be bouncing back from your hotmail account

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 19 Feb 2011, 23:41

So...I visited some piano dealers today to start my search. I had a great day, and I have a lot to think about. As always I would welcome people's opinions. I played a wide range of instruments in different price brackets.

I started out trying a Yamaha U3. OK but uninspiring. This wasn't a brand new instrument, and the action was clearly quite well used, but I wasn't getting much engagement from it. I may try a YUS next week, but at the moment I have mentally parked Yamaha.

The dealer had a couple of new Brodmann V series (which are apparently made in Austria). They were open about trying to shift them and had discounted them at 50% off list. I actually thought for the money that they were good - quite a responsive action, and a nice treble although the bass wasn't quite so good. Certainly better in both sound and action in my opinion than the Yamaha so not really sure why they can't shift them given the price.

I then tried a Steinberg (I think an IQ28, so 128cm tall). Its bass completely dominated and was rather out of balance with the treble so I did not linger.

The dealer had a new Bosendorfer CL130. It had a beautiful singing tone in the treble but apart from that didn't justify the price tag in my view. The bass sounded a bit muddy.

Bearing in mind the advice I had been given by Joe to look at smaller grands, I tried a second hand Schimmel grand (150cm - so not a model I think they do any more) that was 10 years old but barely used. And the action was indeed fantastic in comparison with the uprights I had tried - slightly heavier which allowed me greater control but also with a superb repetition. This piano also had a wonderful upper register. The only downside was the bass which given its length was not as rich as I would have liked. However I was really impressed.

I asked if they had any Schimmel uprights and was told that they had just received a K132 (top of the range) at the Edinburgh showroom, that was a few years old but barely used. So I drove to Edinburgh to look at that.

I stopped en route at another dealer that had mainly new pianos. This turned out to be a very interesting visit. I started with a Grotrian upright (130cm or thereabouts). Very nice bass, but I thought the action was a bit too light so I moved on. Next was the dealer's "top" upright, a Steingraeber (top of the range with the fast repetition action). I was really excited to try this but was disappointed. Although the action was much better than the Grotrian I didn't like the bass. It was nicely balanced though between treble and bass.

I then moved on to a Bechstein upright. This instrument I really did like. It had a wonderfully clear treble, and the action was nicely weighted. It was an A124 and I think the best upright piano I played all day. I would just have liked a slightly more powerful bass. Unfortunately the dealer didn't stock the Concert 8, which I would now really like to try. The dealer also had another smaller Bechstein which I also liked a lot so I think the sound of the Bechstein suits my ear.

On to my dilemma. I tried a Petrof upright (I think the 125) which I was very impressed by. It wasn't quite as good as the Bechstein in the upper register but otherwise I thought it was excellent. The dealer also had a couple of Petrof grands, and I tried the P IV (about 172cm). I thought this was a great piano - I think it had been extremely well prepared by the dealer. The action was very precise, and the tone in all registers very sweet. Until today I had never considered Petrof and I don't know much about them. How good is the quality of these instruments? Would I regret buying one in 10 years time?

I moved on to the dealer with the Schimmel upright (the K132). I did like the power in the bass of that instrument but the action was a bit uneven (it was around 10 years old although I was assured rarely used). To be fair they did say they had just got the instrument and we agreed that I would go back to try it once they had the action fully regulated.

Any opinions on Bechstein versus Schimmel? Is the Concert 8 in a similar style to the A124 but with a more powerful bass or is it very different?

Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 20 Feb 2011, 20:11

Basically its the piano you like best at the price you are willing to pay as you know i like Boston 132 and Kawai K6 regards other makes have played many Petrofs and Bechstein again they are pricey for the quality on offer aye would half the suggested RRP and look for a better deal.BRODMANN GIVE AWAY SALE must be some mark-up to offer 50% off shows how popular that Chinese make is,again Essex with Steinways input would be the choice at the lower range.Yamaha observation is quite common,used,musty and hammered by Japanese before they arrive here stay clear.Hope you are having fun.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 20 Feb 2011, 20:42

In answer to your question, yes the Concert 8 is the same shape and similar design as the 124 just bigger. We have one in stock - we keep the entire range of Bechstein uprights in stock.
It's a jolly fine instrument and many would say hard to beat for an upright (I forsee that ruffling a few feathers and causing Steinway related posts!)
Anywho at this level it's just what grabs you as has been said many times.
You can find more info on the Bechsteins from following the Bechstein link below
Good luck!

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 20 Feb 2011, 22:16

A440, thanks for letting me know that you have a Concert 8 in stock. I am planning a trip to Harrogate now - I also want to try both Sauter and Bluthner before making my mind up so it will be a great opportunity.

Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 21 Feb 2011, 10:09

Anyone who wants to know how to buy a piano should read this topic. Visiting as many places as possible is the best way. Then when you choose one get it inspected before putting any money down. The dealer should reserve it for free whilst you arrange that.

Good luck with the rest of your search. I hope you have a good visit at Yorkshire Pianos! :)
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 21 Feb 2011, 21:04

Mark,

You raise an interesting point about getting the piano inspected. Although I am realising I may end up buying a new piano, if I do end up finding a used piano I had not really considered needing to get it inspected.

If I am buying a relatively new (i.e. 10 years old max) piano that is costing more than 10k from a reputable dealer is an inspection by an independent tuner standard practice?

Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Barrie Heaton » 21 Feb 2011, 23:07

rgreig wrote:Mark,

If I am buying a relatively new (i.e. 10 years old max) piano that is costing more than 10k from a reputable dealer is an inspection by an independent tuner standard practice?

Thanks,
Robert
Depend on the individual some folk just don't trust retailers. I have been asked to look at new and S/h pianos over 35K +

No matter what your budget is a Good tuner can come into your home and spend time on the piano and make it sing.


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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 22 Feb 2011, 17:18

Hi,have you played a Steinway V or K model yet? as the Bechstein model 8 are roughly the same price if you want to send me a private message i tell you my experience with 2 of these pianos.Boston 126 and 132 are also super pianos at their price point.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 22 Feb 2011, 19:07

A440 wrote: It's a jolly fine instrument and many would say hard to beat for an upright (I forsee that ruffling a few feathers and causing Steinway related posts!)
Anywho at this level it's just what grabs you as has been said many times.
You can find more info on the Bechsteins from following the Bechstein link below
Good luck!
Ha!
Told you!
Don't let anyone tell you what you like! Only you know that.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 22 Feb 2011, 20:47

joe wrote:Hi,have you played a Steinway V or K model yet? as the Bechstein model 8 are roughly the same price if you want to send me a private message i tell you my experience with 2 of these pianos.Boston 126 and 132 are also super pianos at their price point.
I haven't yet played a Steinway but I hope to do so this weekend. My current schedule is:
  • Steinway, Yamaha, Boston this weekend (I feel that on reflection I should try a couple of new Yamahas since my only experience so far has been with a 20 year old U3)
  • Hotel is now booked in Harrogate for the following weekend hence Bechstein, Bluthner and Sauter
Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 22 Feb 2011, 20:58

A440 wrote:Don't let anyone tell you what you like! Only you know that.
I am very independent-minded so there is no danger of that!

The main thing that does worry me is the longevity over time, which I don't think I could really evaluate by inspection. For example, I liked the Petrof models I played a great deal but from searching the web it does appear they have very mixed reviews in terms of the quality of the product. Since I am making a purchase that I expect to keep for at least 20 years this is important to me.

Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 22 Feb 2011, 21:31

I've got a bit jaded by "web reviews" there is one well known "piano review" site that is just a fabrication designed to tempt readers into buying a branded digital piano!
I think you will probably be able to find good and bad reviews about almost any product on the web. There is also a lot of axe grinding out there! Sure, I'm recommending a Bechstein and Mark Goodwin a Yamaha but that's actually because we like them and so we sell them (not visa versa!).
It's very difficult to filter out bad reviews when making a purchase (and you tend to remember one bad review over ten good ones!). But we are talking major brands here that have been established a long time. Integrity of brand does not happen overnight but, unfortunately it can be undermined quickly by unscrupulous "reviewers".
Sorry if this all sounds a bit cloak and dagger but I'm sure you know what I mean.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 23 Feb 2011, 10:57

Yes the Bechstein brand been around a long time,where are the pianos made? how many owners have they had in their long history? selling a brand fine but where the quality.The 2 pianos i dislike the most are Petrof and Bechstein.Petrof are grossly inflated price wise,poor designs,action unreliable and prone to string breaking either by a good player playing it too often or when tuning due to the bad aggraffe design and angling from the tuning pins.Old Bechsteins pianos grands suffer from cracked frames,split sound boards,split wrestplanks 95% of the time,uprights are difficult to tune usually due to slipping pins and horrendous harmonics,occassionally you do find a gem but far and few between.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 23 Feb 2011, 11:14

I think the old Bechsteins offer a good alternative to the inflated prices of similar size/age Steinway grands. I prefer the lighter touch of a Bechstein grand and I love the tone too. However, I've never really taken to Bechstein uprights for some reason. Too many of them have only 85 keys or are not overstrung.

I used to stock Steinway and Bechstein grands and I always prefered playing the Bechsteins. It's definitely a big shame that about 50% of the Model B and V grands have cracked frames. The Model C seems to suffer less in that regard and the Model D and E never seem to have cracks. But the Model B was my favourite, crack or no crack :)
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Johnkie » 23 Feb 2011, 13:55

Hi Mark - I may be mistaken, but I've always found the Model A's were that Bechstein Grands that had cracked frames. :o
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 23 Feb 2011, 15:28

I forgot to mention the Model A, thanks John.
I found them to be rarely cracked. That's strange Image

I found the following:
B usually cracked
V often cracked
A not usually cracked

That's based on my experience viewing/stocking about 50 Bechstein grands. I'd like to go back into that market at some point. It's a charming market full of mystery and romance and pianos with amazing stories.
Last edited by MarkGoodwinPianos on 23 Feb 2011, 17:10, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 23 Feb 2011, 16:31

MarkGoodwinPianos wrote:I think the old Bechsteins offer a good alternative to the inflated prices of similar size/age Steinway grands. I prefer the lighter touch of a Bechstein grand and I love the tone too. However, I've never really taken to Bechstein uprights for some reason. Too many of them have only 85 keys or are not overstrung.

I used to stock Steinway and Bechstein grands and I always prefered playing the Bechsteins. It's definitely a big shame that about 50% of the Model B and V grands have cracked frames. The Model C seems to suffer less in that regard and the Model D and E never seem to have cracks. But the Model B was my favourite, crack or no crack :)
Would agree partly from a players point of view that some Bechstein grands have nice tones and a lighter touch which you may prefer, personally find them and the Yamahas too light.As a decent amateur pianist grade 8 and beyond in my teens always preferred a heavier touch,From a tuner/tech/stringer/action rebuider/etc the Steinway pianos of today and 100 years ago are in a class of their own regards materials design patents and build quality,how often do you have to replace soundboards,wrestpalnks the answer never the prices are not over inflated they are the Rolls-Royces of the piano world.By all means pass your opinion as a player but regarding the construction,rebuilding and whats invovled in the physics of Steinways you are not qualified.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 23 Feb 2011, 16:46

By all means pass your opinion as a player but regarding the construction,rebuilding and whats invovled in the physics of Steinways you are not qualified.
That was a bit rude. I'm only saying I enjoyed playing them
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by Johnkie » 23 Feb 2011, 17:21

Don't take the bait Mark - Mr Grumpy must have a degree in rudeness as well as an unbounding font of knowledge of the English language :lol:
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 23 Feb 2011, 17:32

joe wrote:,From a tuner/tech/stringer/action rebuider/etc the Steinway pianos of today and 100 years ago are in a class of their own regards materials design patents and build quality,how often do you have to replace soundboards,wrestpalnks the answer never the prices are not over inflated they are the Rolls-Royces of the piano world.
Whatever do you mean? All reputable firms replace pinbpocks and repair the soundboards in older pianos - Steinway or otherwise.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 23 Feb 2011, 17:44

Johnkie wrote:Don't take the bait Mark - Mr Grumpy must have a degree in rudeness as well as an unbounding font of knowledge of the English language :lol:
Cheers John Image
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 23 Feb 2011, 19:37

A440 wrote:
joe wrote:,From a tuner/tech/stringer/action rebuider/etc the Steinway pianos of today and 100 years ago are in a class of their own regards materials design patents and build quality,how often do you have to replace soundboards,wrestpalnks the answer never the prices are not over inflated they are the Rolls-Royces of the piano world.
Whatever do you mean? All reputable firms replace pinbpocks and repair the soundboards in older pianos - Steinway or otherwise.
The point been made is that Steinway hardly ever require the above work,secondly do you do wrestplank and sounboard replacement or shimming or do you farm it out to the poles?

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 23 Feb 2011, 19:44

Johnkie wrote:Don't take the bait Mark - Mr Grumpy must have a degree in rudeness as well as an unbounding font of knowledge of the English language :lol:
Nothing grumpy plain facts and yes my spelling and phrasing does lack as am an ignoramus but not regards pianos.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 23 Feb 2011, 20:03

MarkGoodwinPianos wrote:
By all means pass your opinion as a player but regarding the construction,rebuilding and whats invovled in the physics of Steinways you are not qualified.
That was a bit rude. I'm only saying I enjoyed playing them
What you are saying is that Steinway pianos are overpriced and from previous threads Yamahas are better :roll: What players like playing is varied but if you are talking build quality Steinway NUMBER 1

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 23 Feb 2011, 20:41

This is probably a circular argument. But as you said Steinway are the Rolls Royce of pianos - not everyone wants to drive a Rolls Royce there are plenty of other excellent makes.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 24 Feb 2011, 09:48

joe wrote:Nothing grumpy plain facts
Plain facts are fine but manners and respect cost nothing.
Be cool maaaan. Relaaaax max!
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by vernon » 24 Feb 2011, 11:09

65 years man and boy and I've only ever seen two cracked Bechsteins and one of those was Bechstein London!
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 24 Feb 2011, 11:46

vernon wrote:65 years man and boy and I've only ever seen two cracked Bechsteins and one of those was Bechstein London!
How many have you seen without cracks?
If you've seen lots of them I can't help but think you might be looking in a different area to where I've seen the cracks.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by NewAge » 24 Feb 2011, 20:37

I've been following this thread carefully, and a lot of interesting information has been given, so I have no doubt that the OP will eventually find 'his perfect piano'.
Although it wasn't stated in my earlier post, during 'my piano' search, in addition to the top-end uprights I did try, I had wanted to audition a Streingraeber and a Bechstein Model 8 but could find none available.
Had quality and resale value been the top priorities, I would probably have decided on a Steinway; I loved the sound, the feel and the quality was really top-notch.
However for me the Sauter had everything going for it, and although certainly a well established name, one couldn't say it's well-known.
I spent considerable time not only playing a couple of new Steinways, but also observing their quality and taking detailed notes. I've never worked in the piano industry, but have for over 40 years been employed in a quality control and aftermarket role for a company who's name (and especially initials) is synonymous the world over as the pinnacle of excellence. So I feel I'm a reasonable judge.......
What amazed me was also the quality of the Sauter pianos. As the touch and sound was everything I wanted, my mind was made up, but was even more surprised to see that their brochure indicated a higher quality Masterclass series, which the dealer advised me were never kept it stock. So after some interesting price negotiations and a discount that more than satisfied me, and after breaking a well-established 'golden rule' - never to buy unseen, I ordered the Masterclass 122.
Now after almost 3 years ownership, is still living up to my very high expectations.

Imho the piano I purchased is one of the very best uprights, and if the right deal can be struck, a truly amazing piano for the price.

rgrieg: May be worth trying one, if you can find one........
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 24 Feb 2011, 23:17

NewAge,

I am very keen to try a Sauter Masterclass, particularly to compare the double repetition action. I am hoping that Yorkshire Pianos will have one?

Thanks,
Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 24 Feb 2011, 23:26

Yes, we always keep a masterklasse 130 in stock.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by NewAge » 25 Feb 2011, 00:03

A440 wrote:Yes, we always keep a masterklasse 130 in stock.
I am surprised. Good news for visiting buyers though. Do you know how your Sauters are voiced?

I learnt that the popular factory-voiced options were ‘Modern’ or ‘Classic’. I preferred the more mellow voicing on the 130 I auditioned, and was told it was the ‘Classic’ voicing. (The Vista had the ‘Modern’ voicing , which I judged as being somewhat brighter).
After ½ hour or so with the 130, I became aware of my slight right-side tinnitus problem. The power of the piano was awesome. BIG in sound, which to most prospective buyers would be a plus point, not a concern. That was the main reason I went for the Masterclass 122 - classic voiced at Sauter. Also to me it appeared less top-heavy/easier on the eye.

I'm looking forward to hear of rgriegs findings, his view of Bluthner too.
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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by A440 » 25 Feb 2011, 07:45

Hi NewAge,
Yes, have all our Sauters voiced to the Classic standard. We keep the 130 next to the Bechstein Concert 8 (also a 130) so comparisons can easily be drawn.
After the weekend I will post details of the technical differences in Sauter's voicing as a new thread so it's easier to find for interested parties.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by NewAge » 25 Feb 2011, 10:59

A440 wrote:Hi NewAge,
Yes, have all our Sauters voiced to the Classic standard. We keep the 130 next to the Bechstein Concert 8 (also a 130) so comparisons can easily be drawn.
After the weekend I will post details of the technical differences in Sauter's voicing as a new thread so it's easier to find for interested parties.
Excellent.

Slightly off-topic, but perhaps interesting anyway, some time back I was carefully nosing around with a swiffter duster inside the piano with top and lower kickboard removed. My eagle-quality eye noticed slight tooling/handling marks on a light alloy bracket attached to the key rail locking lever system. Most people would never, ever have noticed it, let alone be bothered with it. But the thought of that part not being 100% perfect, troubled me. Frequently.
So I took a few photos and together with an explanatory letter sent it directly to the manufacturer.

Back came a very apologetic personal letter from Mr Sauter himself together with a package, which contained not only a new perfect bracket (which I could have easily changed out myself) but the complete key rail locking sub-assembly to facilitate fitment. Simply superb aftermarket support.
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 rgreig » 27 Feb 2011, 22:37

Regular readers may recall that I was due to visit a fourth piano dealer in Scotland this weekend, in order to try Steinway and Yamaha models in particular.

It turns out the the dealer in question is no longer an agent for Yamaha. They have moved on to Kawai now, which is not a brand that I had previously really been considering.

They had only two high end uprights to try - a Steinway K and a Grotrian Concertino (the 132cm top of the range model). I had also tried the Grotrian at another dealer, and I had not been hugely excited by it. They had a Kawai KX-6 only a few days ago but had delivered it to a customer and were waiting on new stock arriving.

I started with the Steinway and I was immediately impressed by the action. It was extremely responsive and it was possible to play truly pianissimo. Sudden dynamic changes were also effective - for example, there is a passage in Debussy's Jardins sous la pluie which goes from pp to f in the space of a bar which is often hard to achieve on an upright and I thought it worked well on the Steinway.

The Steinway also had quite a nice bass but my main disappointment was with the treble which was, I felt, a bit weak. When I tried the Grotrian, the immediate thing that struck me was the clarity and power in the treble. The action was lighter than the Steinway but after I had played it for a while I definitely preferred the sound, which was extremely warm.

So overall, I didn't love the Steinway and I got a far better impression of the Grotrian than I did at the other dealer. I can definitely see why the Steinway would appeal to some people and if forced to pick, say, between the Steinway and the Bosendorfer 130CL I would definitely go with the Steinway. Factoring in price, the Grotrian looks like a bargain in comparison with either of those models.

The dealer did not have any large Boston uprights so I tried a couple of Boston grands - a 163 and 178. The 163 had a mellow tone but the 178 was beyond mellow. It was voiced down so much it had lost all sparkle. According to the dealer that is quite commonly how they receive them from the factory.

I ended my visit by trying some Kawai grands - RX-2 and RX-3. They had great actions and a brighter tone than the Boston, without being metallic or harsh. I am rearranging some furniture to determine whether I could really fit a grand in my room (I think the answer is likely to be "no" unfortunately) but if I can I would certainly go back to try the RX-2 again. I am wondering whether the Shigeru Kawai models are worth the premium (I had never heard of these until I did some research earlier today)?

I have now discounted Petrof from my search. Having read various comments about variable quality in their models, and tried a 10 year old model whose action felt poor, I stumbled upon the website http://www.pianoauctions.co.uk. While resale value is clearly a function of more than quality, I imagine that the auction price will be a good indication of what the trade collectively thinks of their durability. A quick scan of the previous couple of years' auctions and the prices achieved shows that the trade clearly thinks very little of Petrof!

Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 28 Feb 2011, 18:52

So what your pecking order on uprights and grands so far?

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 28 Feb 2011, 21:53

Hmm, interesting question Joe.

Right now for uprights, I think it would be Grotrian first, followed by the Steinway. I wouldn't buy any of the others I tried. What about the Bechstein? I really liked the tone and balance of the Bechstein Academy series upright that I tried and I have very high expectations for the other models I am looking to try but I have researched the Academy series further and discovered that the "silver line" action is made in China hence am ruling it out. Maybe it would last 20 years and I am being unfair but I can't take that chance.

For grands, the Schimmel I played was too small but had the best action and best treble so I would say a slightly larger Schimmel would be outstanding. Second would be the Kawai RX-2.

I would add that I am now almost certain to buy a new piano rather than a used model. The advice around the precision of the new action was absolutely spot on, and there is just such limited availability (as far as I can see) of high-end nearly new uprights.

Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 06 Mar 2011, 22:09

I'm just back from a very enjoyable long weekend in Yorkshire!

The main aim of my trip was to try the Bechstein Concert 8 and Sauter Masterclass 130 at Yorkshire Pianos. I started with the Sauter. My first impression was that the action was nicely weighted - I prefer a slightly heavier action and the Sauter's was in my opinion well judged. However apart from that, I wasn't hugely taken by it. The main issue was the upper register which did not have great sustain. On the fast repetition action, I would say that the Steingraeber was better although I have no idea how the two systems differ technically. None of these pianos feels at all like a grand piano in my opinion!

The Bechstein did not disappoint. The other Bechstein model I tried elsewhere (a 124) had a beautiful treble with great clarity, and the Concert 8 married that with a bass that had power without ever feeling out of balance with the rest of the instrument.

I was also able to try a Bluthner model A (they did not have a model B in stock). This was interesting - the treble tone was truly wonderful. For example, the second movement of the Ravel Sonatine really worked well on the Bluthner. Some people have said the Bluthner sounds muffled - I certainly could not agree with that at all. And although it is mellow, the tone is not voiced away as it is in a Boston for example.

I have to go to London quite frequently, so I am going to pay a visit to the Bluthner showroom where I expect I will be able to try a model B upright.

Where does this leave me? The Bechstein is my clear favourite however when I add in the price dimension things become more complicated. The dealer where I tried the Grotrian is offering a great deal on it, which makes it 8k less than the Bechstein. I think I need to go back to play the Grotrian some more to determine whether the Bechstein really is worth the extra money. I will also try the Bluthner within the next fortnight when I am in London and then I think it will be time to make my mind up finally.

Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 07 Mar 2011, 09:17

Thanks for the update Robert.
This is all great reading :)
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 NewAge » 07 Mar 2011, 11:15

Robert,
I'm still reading your piano buying account with great interest. You are obviously going about it the right way, taking your time and making detailed notes along the way. Sure-fire ways to avoid the buyers remorse that one frequently reads on piano forums.
You obviously have two ace cards. A fine ear, and what appears to be a healthy budget for a top-rate upright.
As you appear to be an accomplished player, I picked up on a comment you made, which frankly put a bit of a flea in my ear, and I ask myself will you really be totally satisfied with an upright in the long term.
Your comment I refer to was, "None of these pianos feels at all like a grand piano in my opinion!"

I know exactly what you mean, and even the best of uprights with an outstanding repetition action will not replicate the feel of a grand - if that's what you really like. There's also that immense pleasure at just sitting down to play a grand - psychological perhaps, but not to be ignored.
If your living space now and for the foreseeable future cannot accommodate a grand, so be it. You have to be content with the best upright you can find, and it sounds like you're well on your way to finding it.

On the other hand that healthy budget for a fine upright could be useful - time permitting - to find a superb, like-new grand.
Food for thought.......
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 rgreig » 07 Mar 2011, 21:02

The question of grand vs upright is one that I have spent a considerable amount of time examining. Although my room is not tiny, I have concluded that it cannot accommodate a grand piano. I even cut some cardboard into the shape of a grand piano (full size) to position it in the room in various places but no matter where I put it, it just did not fit comfortably. Moving house is also unlikely.

Therefore I have accepted that I need to focus on an upright and make sure that I get one that will be happy with for a long time.

My comment wasn't to say that the very good uprights I have tried do not have good actions - but they really can't match the grand piano action in my opinion. I think that anyone who has his or her heart set on that aspect would be disappointed.

Robert

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by joe » 08 Mar 2011, 13:37

Grotrian-Steinweg are high quality pianos better built than Bechstein and still made in Germany to order,do take a couple to years to settle in new surroundings,super choice.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by piano heads » 15 Mar 2011, 16:57

Hi Robert,have you bought your piano yet?.

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by NewAge » 15 Mar 2011, 22:09

A440 wrote:Hi NewAge,
Yes, have all our Sauters voiced to the Classic standard. We keep the 130 next to the Bechstein Concert 8 (also a 130) so comparisons can easily be drawn.
After the weekend I will post details of the technical differences in Sauter's voicing as a new thread so it's easier to find for interested parties.
A440,
When you get a moment, I'm looking forward to reading more about the technical differences of their voicing.
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 A440 » 15 Mar 2011, 22:15

Yes I am on the case. I spoke to Sauter and they promised to interview a technician after Carnival. (the Germans get a week-long party we get a pancake !)

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Re: Quality used upright advice

Post by rgreig » 15 Mar 2011, 23:11

I have just returned from London, and while I was there I managed to fit in a visit to the Bluthner showroom. It is an extremely nice showroom, with many models available to try. For anyone looking to try Bluthner, it is definitely worth a trip.

They had three model B uprights in the showroom and naturally I tried them all. They were subtly different which does illustrate very clearly how individual pianos are - the action on one was very slightly but noticeably heavier than the others for example. Ultimately however I did not really warm to any of them - I had been told that the difference between the model A and model B was not huge, and this is certainly true.

The bass on the model B is very nice - powerful yet balanced, but the tenor is a bit disappointing. On all three models I tried it was quite reserved, and did not sing in the same way that the treble did. Although the treble had a very sweet tone it did not have the sustain of the Bechstein or the Grotrian.

The upshot of all this is that I am now down to a straight choice between the Bechstein and the Grotrian. My next step is to go back to the dealer with the Grotrian and spend some more time playing it before making a decision. It is significantly less expensive than the Bechstein which is an additional dimension to the decision.

Robert

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