New Grand <£15000 ideas???

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Mikey_1982
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New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by Mikey_1982 » 28 Apr 2011, 14:23

Good afternoon,
I'm new to the forum and would like some advice on what NEW grand piano to buy less than £15,000.
I haven't played the piano since my early/mid teens (now late twenties) and would like to start all over again with the purchase of a new piano.
I would ideally like a European manufactured piano, but open to ideas.
Size of the room to house the piano is approximately 4.5m x 4m and will only contain the piano.
Many thanks,
Mike :D

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by Dr Owl » 28 Apr 2011, 15:46

Hi Mike, and welcome to the forum.

The short answer to your question is: Yamaha C2 or Kawai RX2.

These are just over 170 cm in length: the length at which grands have a tone as good as an upright 130 cm high ... and a far better touch. The 170 cm grand the Pussycat and I liked best was the Steinway Model M -- which we couldn't afford! We bought a 2005 Yamaha C2.

Some of the residents of this forum will disagree with our piano choices. (Joe will be along in a moment to say that the Steinway is wonderful and the Yamaha is a ghastly mistake.) But they will agree with this: instruments made of wood will vary enormously from sample to sample (ask your local clarinettist), so you need to try several samples of any piano model that interests you. We tried three C2s: two were thoroughly disappointing, the third had a lovely bell-like midrange and treble.

Don't write off the possibility of buying a secondhand piano. You will get much more for your money. The safest way to do this (ie the way we chose!) is to go to the workshop of one of the very few nationally admired piano restorers. For Steinway in the South of England that is Jeff Shackell in Oxfordshire, who also restores Yamahas. The residents of the forum will be able to tell you who are the equivalent experts for Bechstein and Bluthner.

Later,

John
Last edited by Dr Owl on 28 Apr 2011, 23:11, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by piano heads » 28 Apr 2011, 16:32

Would look at the Boston range designed by Steinway and find the dealer nearest to you,usually find they are the most reputable company and have a history of piano excellence and after sales-service or Steinway would not appoint them as agents for their superior instruments.Used Yamaha market to confusing and full of erratic advice.Kawai nice piano you can scrouge the net and get your best price.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by Gill the Piano » 28 Apr 2011, 16:38

Surely Boston are just overpriced Kawai in disguise?? You'd get a better Kawai for the same money than Boston.
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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by piano heads » 28 Apr 2011, 16:51

Gill the Piano wrote:Surely Boston are just overpriced Kawai in disguise?? You'd get a better Kawai for the same money than Boston.
Should phone Steinway and they will be able to enlighten you to the subtle differences in materials used in production.The reason Kawai pianos have improved over the last number of years is due to Steinway inputs and technical expertise.Personally thought the Boston range pre 2000 where bloody awful as where many of the Kawai instruments for me it was Yamaha 9 times out of 10,but the improvements Boston/Kawai and Steinway have implemented since then have won me over and the Yamaha are again in my opinion variable to say the least.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by Mikey_1982 » 28 Apr 2011, 17:31

Thanks for the advice, what are the new Bechstein pianos like?
Mike

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by mdw » 28 Apr 2011, 18:04

You are best to go an find 3 -4 pianos YOU like then come back and ask us the pros and cons of each. Its going to last your life time so dont buy a piano you dont like the sound, touch and feel of just because someone else tells you its better. Dont use price as a guide either as there are some expensive pianos that I dont rate and cheaper pianos that are more VFM. Whats the most important thing to you, is it that its a grand good or bad, the case , the sound etc. Just remember you are the one going to play and look at it for the rest of your life not one of us.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by Bob Pierce » 28 Apr 2011, 20:01

Excellent! Someone asks for advice on buying a European piano and everyone suggests Kawai and Yamaha.
OK, so there are none made within the £15000.00 price range so lets look at other options.
Within budget are 10 year old Shimmels, Sauters and Ronich grands
for a start. Yes I know they are not new but the quality will far exceed that of the suggestions so far.
To keep Joe happy its not unheard of for Steinway to have the odd yard sale of some of the hire fleet. I saw a model A go for 20k a couple of years ago, a real bargin.
The Piano Auction in London has seen some real bargins, especially if they are not the main brands. Most German made grands are decent, although not well known in the UK they will blow the socks off of any Japanese instruments.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by joe » 28 Apr 2011, 20:19

Bob Pierce wrote:Excellent! Someone asks for advice on buying a European piano and everyone suggests Kawai and Yamaha.
OK, so there are none made within the £15000.00 price range so lets look at other options.
Within budget are 10 year old Shimmels, Sauters and Ronich grands
for a start. Yes I know they are not new but the quality will far exceed that of the suggestions so far.
To keep Joe happy its not unheard of for Steinway to have the odd yard sale of some of the hire fleet. I saw a model A go for 20k a couple of years ago, a real bargin.
The Piano Auction in London has seen some real bargins, especially if they are not the main brands. Most German made grands are decent, although not well known in the UK they will blow the socks off of any Japanese instruments.
As usual Bob advice is spot on,no need to add to that :wink:

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by Dr Owl » 28 Apr 2011, 23:10

Mikey_1982 wrote:... what are the new Bechstein pianos like?
Hi Mike,

New Bechstein grands are lovely. Of course. And they cost more than £15,000. Of course. The Pussycat preferred the Steinway tone, so we didn't search for secondhand Bechsteins. Your mileage WILL vary, and, some way into your search for a piano, you will likely discover whether you're a Steinway lover, a Bechstein lover, or a Bluthner lover. Steinway is perhaps the majority affection on this forum, but the others have their fans too; and there are some whose first love is Grotrian or Sauter.

The snag with all these high-end German brands is that your ideal is a grand piano which is
  • new
  • European made
  • less than £15,000
You can have two of these, but not all three. Several of us have breached the second requirement and suggested Japanese pianos. Others have breached the first, and suggested secondhand. An awful lot of people find that the third comes under threat too; over the course of the search their budget is forced to increase.

Each of the most famous German companies has a second brand made in an established high-quality factory ... and a third or even a fourth brand to which they hope the magic of the main brand's name will extend. Bechstein's Academy range and Bluthner's Haessler range are both made in Germany, and are, I fear, too expensive new. If you are willing to breach the "new" requirement then you might come across something reasonably new that you can afford.

Steinway's second brand, Boston, is made for them by Kawai in Japan. Certainly one to consider. Likely to be more expensive than Y or K because of Steinway's involvement. Has that involvement revolutionized K's understanding of pianos, or is it just marketing magic dust? As you can see, the folk of the forum disagree.

Bob has argued the case for breaching the "new" requirement. He's quite right to say that you can find inexpensive Steinways (*). Earlier this year, we tried two Model A pianos that cost £12,000 or so. Both were in really quite good condition; unfortunately both were over 100 years old!

Later,

John

(*) Though I think he understates the quality of Yamaha and modern Kawai pianos.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by Bob Pierce » 29 Apr 2011, 20:00

John

I do not understate the Japanese makes (I admit, I dislike them, from a technical point of view(too much plastic in the action), but If I had 15k to spend I simply would not buy one.
With careful homework you can source a decent German made grand made within the last 10 years. The recent financial woes have not been kind to the industry in mainland Europe and there are some real bargins out there.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by rgreig » 29 Apr 2011, 20:35

Mike,

I recently bought a new upright piano and I can give you some thoughts based on my "journey" with that. At one point I considered a grand,and I played a few, but I concluded that I just didn't have the space to accommodate one. You are very fortunate to be able to dedicate a room to your piano!

On the question of Kawai vs Boston, I did play several models of both of these - one of the dealers I visited had them side by side so I was able to compare them. (I don't recall the details on price but they were in a similar ballpark and I think within your budget). I am not a technician so I cannot comment on the differences between the construction of the pianos but from a pianist's perspective they are completely different. The Bostons had a much more mellow tone than the Kawais - and although I certainly don't like a bright tone they were voiced down too much for my taste. This was the case on three pianos so was characteristic I believe (and the dealer confirmed this). I certainly preferred the Kawais although I would personally prefer a warmer tone. I don't think I would have bought one but I was impressed enough by the Kawai that had I not ruled out a grand I would have made the trip to London to try a Shigeru Kawai model (there is only one dealer in the UK that stocks these).

I really liked the Bechstein pianos that I tried - the sound is absolutely to my taste (I came very close to buying a Bechstein). There are two ranges: the Academy series which are made in China, and the "C Bechstein" models which are made in Germany. I found it impossible to find detailed objective information on the real differences between these in terms of the quality and durability. The Academy series are easily spotted since they have "Bechstein" on the case whereas the German models have "C Bechstein".

I tried the A160 which had a very nice upper register but was just too small to have a bass that I considered powerful enough. In any case, it was considerably over your budget and I'm not sure how many you'd find on the second hand market. I think the A190 would be interesting to try but again a new one would be around double your budget.

I tried a Petrof grand around 170cm (within your budget) and although I really liked the tone after some research I discounted that manufacturer because of concerns about durability and quality. I also played one that was 10 years old that confirmed my concerns.

Finally, I played a 150cm Schimmel that was around 10 years old and excellent in all respects except the bass! (And well within your budget).

Are you looking for a piano that you will keep forever, or is resale value a factor? That may alter your parameters a bit. Also, was your reason for stating a preference for a "European" piano due to a preference for their tone?

I would recommend you put together a shortlist of models that you are potentially interested in (this will be a shorter list if you won't relax the "new" requirement) and try to play at least one piano from each manufacturer on the list (and be prepared to travel to find these). But as others have said, each piano is different - I ended up buying a Grotrian but tried the same model at another dealer and didn't like it at all.

Robert

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by crispin » 20 May 2011, 21:28

rgreig wrote:
I really liked the Bechstein pianos that I tried - the sound is absolutely to my taste (I came very close to buying a Bechstein). There are two ranges: the Academy series which are made in China, and the "C Bechstein" models which are made in Germany. I found it impossible to find detailed objective information on the real differences between these in terms of the quality and durability. The Academy series are easily spotted since they have "Bechstein" on the case whereas the German models have "C Bechstein".
I have a Bechstein Academy 124 upright ... it is labelled 'MADE IN GERMANY' All the hammers are labelled "MADE IN GERMANY" I would not be surprized if some parts are made in China - but in my opinion - this is a German piano. There are many differences between a C. Bechstein and a Bechstein Academy ... but to say that the Bechstein Academy is made in China is misleaading.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by schubert » 20 May 2011, 22:18

There are many differences between a C. Bechstein and a Bechstein Academy ... but to say that the Bechstein Academy is made in China is misleaading.
This is indeed misleading because wrong; Bechstein Academy pianos are not made in China:

[urlhttp://www.eastcoastpiano.com/Bechstein%20Pian ... ermany.htm][/url]

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 21 May 2011, 12:02

Customer DO care which country and which factory a piano is made in. They also care about whether a piano is shipped out to China part-way through the manufacturing process.

But manufacturers are all embarrassed about any Chinese connections and so they create vague claims about "german design" or "german scale" or "designed in consutation with a leading german piano designer".

I'm not sure if the page below goes far enough to assure customers that the Bechstein and C.Bechstein don't leave Germany at any point during the manufacturer process. Also they are leading us to believe that the 2 lines are made in Berlin but is that really true?
http://www.eastcoastpiano.com/Bechstein ... ermany.htm
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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by crispin » 21 May 2011, 13:08

I agree ... people do care and it should be made clear. however I would find it improbable that a piano is partly assembled in Germany - then shipped to China - and then back to Germany to be finished... Much more probable is that it could just cross the border into an eastern european country....
However - if it is labelled 'made in germany' one assumes that there are regulations that force a certain percentage to be made in Germany.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by schubert » 21 May 2011, 22:22

MarkGoodwinPianos wrote:Customer DO care which country and which factory a piano is made in. They also care about whether a piano is shipped out to China part-way through the manufacturing process.

But manufacturers are all embarrassed about any Chinese connections and so they create vague claims about "german design" or "german scale" or "designed in consutation with a leading german piano designer".

I'm not sure if the page below goes far enough to assure customers that the Bechstein and C.Bechstein don't leave Germany at any point during the manufacturer process. Also they are leading us to believe that the 2 lines are made in Berlin but is that really true?
http://www.eastcoastpiano.com/Bechstein ... ermany.htm
If the page below does not go far enough what about how Mr. Larry Fine explains it hte 2011 edition of the 'Piano Buyer'?
Just two quotes:
Bechstein pianos are available in two levels of quality. The regular verticals and partially redesigned versions of the old grand models are a lower-priced line known as the Academy series and say only "Bechstein" on the fallboard. The 51 1/2" Concert 8 (one of my all-time favorite verticals), several smaller verticals, and the fully redesigned grands (models D, C, B, M/P, and L), are the higher-priced line and say "C. Bechstein" on the fallboard. The company says both lines are made in Germany, though for cost-effectiveness some parts and components may originate in the Czech Republic.
[quoteThe Academy-series grands have an untapered soundboard, solid beech bridge with beech cap, maple hammer shanks, expansion-type keybed, and hammers with mahogany moldings and AA felt. The same quality wood and strings are used in both. The rim parts are joined, and the soundboard and ribs installed, in a more efficient, less time-consuming manner than with the C. Bechstein. C. Bechstein keys still use leather key bushings, whereas the Academy-series keys use the more conventional cloth bushings. Bone keytops are an option on the C. Bechstein pianos, and genuine ebony sharps are used on both series.][/quote]
For the full article, read: http://www.pianobuyer.com/spring11/159.html

Now if Mr. Fine has it all wrong I would like to see a piano professional coming up with some proof instead of insinuating the contrary. People are here to learn aren't they?

schubert

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 22 May 2011, 09:05

"The company says both lines are made in Germany, though for cost-effectiveness some parts and components may originate in the Czech Republic"

That raises the obvious questions:
1. Which specific models have Czech parts?
2. Which specific components are Czech?
3. Do any of the pianos EVER go to the Czech Republic at any stage during manufacture?

The reasons these questions are important has nothing to do with build quality or tone or action quality, the questions are important because customers care about the answers.
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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by Johnkie » 22 May 2011, 10:06

It would appear that everyone's going round and round in circles over the issues of where manufactured and where parts are sourced .... where the assembling is carried out etc etc. If the manufacturers can't (or won't) give a definitive answer to a direct question then I doubt that we could ever be sure beyond reasonable doubt.

I personally couldn't be bothered trying to answer these questions .... I'd rather just assess the overall quality of the instrument and the parts used in it's manufacture, and advise the client accordingly. :wink:
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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by rgreig » 22 May 2011, 21:38

Reading my wording on this thread, I agree that it is misleading and I apologise for that.

I should really have stated that the Academy series actions have parts that are from China.

When I was researching which piano to buy I did look into this as best I could. The PianoBuyer website (which has a lot of the Larry Fine text that was quote elsewhere in this thread) describes the actions used by Bechstein. According to that site, the C Bechstein models have the "Gold Line" action which has parts from Renner (in Germany). The Academy range has the "Silver LIne" action and it uses parts from China. It does state that the parts from China are "to the Renner design".

I was not really able to find any further objective information about what that really meant in terms of quality and longevity.

I did however also find a thread on another piano forum which did indicate that there is some debate about where exactly the Academy range are made: PianoWorld thread.

In the end, my final choice was between a Gotrian and the C Bechstein Concert 8 so this was a moot point. But I was certainly unsure about the Academy series in the context of quality and longevity. I say that as someone who is not a technician. It appeared to me that there was a lack of transparency and that concerned me - particularly since I was looking for an instrument to last for a very long time. I should also add that as a player, I thought that Academy upright I tried was excellent both in terms of tone and action.

What you are legally allowed to claim is "Made in XXX" does appear to be a grey area. I read an interesting and widely quoted paper recently written by an economist about Apple iPods that was written a few years ago. The article was not focussing on this aspect at all, but it mentioned that the iPod factory cost was $179. The components in an iPod cost something like $172 and are all imported to China - form the US, Japan, Korea and (ironically) Germany. The final $7 of the factory cost comes from China where assembly is done. An iPod may be "Made in China" but is it really a meaningful label?

Robert

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by vernon » 22 May 2011, 22:37

This is all rather academic and not new.
In the not so old days in England(till 1980s) an " X" piano( Monington, Chappell, Challen,Welmar, Cramers ,Welmar etc ( not Knight)) was basically designed by the named firm. The action, keys, frames,hammers were almost always made by exterior specialist companies.The Company assembled them under their own name with there own quality control.
( Herrburger Brooks actions, Crown frames, Long Eaton keys etc).At those times, always English companies.
Old boys down the road used to carve special legs and decorations and inlays(1960s)
.In Victorian times special firms would do fretwork and silking. For modern firms to outsource seems perfectly normal hence,
Nowadays, it is difficult to know who makes the bits but if the result is good ,so what?
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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by longbow » 23 May 2011, 11:25

You might concider looking at a Sauter Grand. I believe they are the oldest family owned piano factory in Germany, but might be a little above your budget.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by Model V » 28 May 2011, 11:42

Look no further:

http://www.shackellpianos.co.uk/grand_p ... a_2002_106

A lot of piano for the money. Will not depreciate vertically like most new Germans and good enough for the most demanding professional.

MV

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 28 May 2011, 14:03

Model V's post has just reminded of a piano I've been offered lately.
It's a Yamaha C3 that is less than 1 year old. The asking price is £13,000

If you like I can put you in touch with the seller. I'm not bothered about any commission of course. It's a private seller who has been ringing around the piano shops looking for offers.

email me at markgoodwinpianos@gmail.com if you want the contact details of the seller.
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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by mdw » 28 May 2011, 16:50

Ouch !!!! £5500 loss in less than a year thats got to hurt.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 28 May 2011, 18:45

Yep
Apparently he wants a Steinway instead so he's gonna sell up and then upgrade.
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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by mdw » 28 May 2011, 19:00

It must be nice to splurge £18000 odd and not being quite sure its what you really really want. Has he thought about spending a bit on the room acoustics and a sticky label saying Steinway for the front. Ive seen that type of change a couple of times and both of them wanted the name on the front above an beyond any improvement in the piano.

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Re: New Grand <£15000 ideas???

Post by sussexpianos » 13 Jun 2011, 15:14

Quick answer, try Kawai K2, RRP £18,190 but should be able to get it closer to your budget by asking nicely at you Local Kawai dealer. The dealer might also be able to offer 0% finance if required. The grands can be toned to your pref but they are normaly very good.
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