University pianos

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

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DoctorAl
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University pianos

Post by DoctorAl » 27 Jun 2011, 18:08

I am a university lecturer in a Music Technology department. I have persuaded the powers that be to allocate £2750 (possibly a touch more) towards an additional acoustic piano. There may also be funds in somewhat less than a year for a better grand piano.

We need something that will cope with regular use. These pianos won't get the regular hammering of a traditional large music department at the moment, but I want to get something that could cope with that if possible. We have an adequate but very bright Kemble (the standard institutional model from circa 2004) and a 1970s Challen 5'2" grand that is adequate but not professional standard. Oh, and a Suitcase Rhodes, but that doesn't really count :wink:

For the grand, I'm thinking Yamaha C3 (or C5 if space & money permit). Funds will dictate a 20-30 year old one. But there's time to think on that one as the space for it won't be ready until 2012.

For the upright, I need to decide on a model now (University purchasing departments being what they are). I'm thinking U3, one of the many that seem to be imported from Japan. While you can buy new for that price, I'm concerned about longevity, and the variability of Chinese models. I can't afford to make a mistake here.

Obviously I will look before I buy and choose the precise piano. But are there any other pianos in that kind of price range that I should consider for institutional use?

thanks,

Al

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Re: University pianos

Post by Barrie Heaton » 27 Jun 2011, 19:59

C5 is far better for a Music Technology department The imported second-hand U3 are fine However, with heavy use the bases tend to go tubby after a few years try to go for pianos no lower than 3 mi on the S/number unless it has been restrung

New U3s are better buy in the long run they are made in Japan and are a good buy if you can afford them. Other makes to look at are Kawai K6. but £2700 will not get you a new one Avoid cheep end Chinese pianos they just can't hack it in a music deportment

Also try to buy a U1 disklavier that records, very useful for Accompanying saves money on keep buying in Accompanists and let the students who need an Accompanists work with out one

You need to get the tuning put on the Maintenance budget if possible rather than the MTs budget and try to get 3 times a year Have a word with your tuner get then on board as they will be looking after pianos


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Re: University pianos

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 27 Jun 2011, 22:10

Whereabouts are you Al?
I've got zillions of reconditioned U3s in stock in Manchester, London and Bristol. I sold 9 to a top boarding school and they seemed happy. I can't mention prices on here but look up "mark goodwin pianos" on google to get a feel for what I can supply.

I COULD stock all kinds of new Chinese and Indonesian pianos but so far I have chosen not to stock them as I don't feel that my customers will be happy with them. As soon as they are ready I'll stock them. For the same kind of money you can get a dead good Japanese piano which can be relied on for many years. Tried and tested quality.

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Re: University pianos

Post by DoctorAl » 27 Jun 2011, 22:49

I'm in the South-East, so London is a definite possibility.

The 3-mil cutoff seems to be Jan 1980, and coincidentally most of the U3s that aren't over-budget are just older than this (looking at the various reputable dealers).

Disklavier is an interesting idea, although all of our students should be able to mic up a piano and there are more pairs of monitor speakers than pianos to go round. Perhaps not at the moment, but as we continue to expand it's worth bearing in mind.

And of course, I should have thought of asking our tuner!

Thanks all,

Al

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Re: University pianos

Post by mdw » 28 Jun 2011, 06:22

Your tuner is probably your first point of call. If hes a tuner who can also supply pianos or has contacts he / she will understandably have the hump if they dont even get a chance to quote. I had a local school last year who not only paid over the odds but were also sold the wrong pianos ( Yam B1s in a tough secondary school). I didnt find out until I went to tune.

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Re: University pianos

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 28 Jun 2011, 07:27

3mil cutoff
I would happily have a sub-3mil U3 in my house. Just make sure you visit the piano before buying. There are plenty of sub-3mil U3s with clean, crisp bass sections. Mine are partially restrung down there if necessary. Other shops restring them too, but most don't bother.

Disklavier
Tons of fun but tricky to service and tricky to find someone who can service it. What purpose would the Disklavier system be for? Would a silent system suffice? They are easier to fit and easier to maintain and they have MIDI in/out/thru. Either way you'll be taken over budget if you go for a Disklavier or silent piano.

B1 for a school
I bet they could demand their money back saying they've been missold an unsuitable piano. They'd just have to refer to it as the cheapest model from the cheapest line from Yamaha's entire line of acoustic pianos. Not really the best choice for a school in my opinion.
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Re: University pianos

Post by Barrie Heaton » 28 Jun 2011, 08:09

MarkGoodwinPianos wrote:3mil cutoff
I would happily have a sub-3mil U3 in my house. Just make sure you visit the piano before buying. There are plenty of sub-3mil U3s with clean, crisp bass sections. Mine are partially restrung down there if necessary. Other shops restring them too, but most don't bother. .
They may be OK in the home but 3Mil is border line and the tuner needs
to advise on the base in a Un environment even a small dep there are the
music students, none music students and the faculty who will uses them
depend on the department you are look 7am to 8 pm use each day Older
Yamaha pianos go very tuby with hard playing
MarkGoodwinPianos wrote:
Disklavier
Tons of fun but tricky to service and tricky to find someone who can service it. What purpose would the Disklavier system be for? Would a silent system suffice? They are easier to fit and easier to maintain and they have MIDI in/out/thru. Either way you'll be taken over budget if you go for a Disklavier or silent piano.
.

Disklavier are very good for student to sit back and listen to their
work very quickly and can be used to record Accompanists, its not the
same as using a tape recorder. its the same as sitting in front of a
digital piano and a real one. However, you do need it a locked room
with restricted access Servicing them in London area will not be an
issue

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Re: University pianos

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 28 Jun 2011, 08:16

I agree an 80s U3 would be ideal :)
But if their budget wouldn't stretch that far then a 1979 U3 will keep the students happy. I often stock 1979 U3 pianos with a 3 million serial number. That could work well on this occasion as the customer would get the lower price but the higher serial number.
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Re: University pianos

Post by athomik » 28 Jun 2011, 11:34

Barrie Heaton wrote: Disklavier
Tons of fun but tricky to service and tricky to find someone who can service it. What purpose would the Disklavier system be for? Would a silent system suffice? They are easier to fit and easier to maintain and they have MIDI in/out/thru. Either way you'll be taken over budget if you go for a Disklavier or silent piano.
.

Disklavier are very good for student to sit back and listen to their
work very quickly and can be used to record Accompanists, its not the
same as using a tape recorder. its the same as sitting in front of a
digital piano and a real one. However, you do need it a locked room
with restricted access Servicing them in London area will not be an
issue

Barrie[/quote]

I know that the ABRSM uses a C3 Disklavier Mark IV for their exams. With regard to servicing Disklaviers, there will always be someone who can repair them. If there is nobody local, I have literally been to customers from Lands End to John O'Groats to fix the things.
athomik

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Re: University pianos

Post by vernon » 28 Jun 2011, 21:19

Bill
It wasn't reported to me when you pased through Inverness
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

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Re: University pianos

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 29 Jun 2011, 00:19

vernon wrote:Bill
It wasn't reported to me when you pased through Inverness
Who is Bill?
What wasn't reported to you?

?
:)
Mark
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Re: University pianos

Post by sussexpianos » 29 Jun 2011, 10:34

I have sold many U3 H, 1975+, and they are great pianos if in good condition or reconditioned well. Remember these "grey imports" have different quality levels and mostly all come from music schools. You need to speak to your tuner, and get him to inspect before you buy.
Another alternative to secondhand is a new Feurich 122, also known as Wendl & Lung. These pianos are very good for the money, cast aluminium key beds etc and a good alternative to aging U1's. You also need to think if you need a large piano? Will it need to be wheeled about? And don't forget to get a "Hands off " lock for it!
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Re: University pianos

Post by joe » 29 Jun 2011, 11:15

Am i my missing something here are most of the imported,musically knackered,tubby bass strung,moth-eaten felts,cracked keys, broken looped,shimmed soundboard,sheared pinned,not forgetting loose bridges YAMAHAS not reconditioned in CHINA using cheaper materials before been imported here.Seen a so called "factory reconditioned" one the other week looked like a U3 sounded like a cheap Baldwin,and action had been overhauled in China using low grade hammers and powder puff dampers.STAY CLEAR.

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Re: University pianos

Post by sussexpianos » 29 Jun 2011, 11:52

joe wrote:Am i my missing something here are most of the imported,musically knackered,tubby bass strung,moth-eaten felts,cracked keys, broken looped,shimmed soundboard,sheared pinned,not forgetting loose bridges YAMAHAS not reconditioned in CHINA using cheaper materials before been imported here.Seen a so called "factory reconditioned" one the other week looked like a U3 sounded like a cheap Baldwin,and action had been overhauled in China using low grade hammers and powder puff dampers.STAY CLEAR.
lol
There are good ones, and not so good ones. I have stopped selling secondhand Yams because I could not get the quality at a reasonable price on a regular basis. The last one I had, been sprayed on the side with paint which was flaking off! Take a tuner( who know's what to look for as some tuners just tune)
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Re: University pianos

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 29 Jun 2011, 12:00

I agree with Joe to avoid poorly reconditioned pianos.
I took a tour of 8 or 9 reconditioning factories in Japan to make sure I was happy that I was getting the best ones. I also only insist on buying ones that have not come from music schools. My supplier invests heavily in radio advertisements to get private sellers to phone in and sell their U3 to the workshop.
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Re: University pianos

Post by joe » 29 Jun 2011, 14:04

My advice when buying used Yamahas from Far-East get the pianos which at most require an action overhaul,and possible bass section restring,often find when buying direct instruments are half-tone flat from concert pitch you can cut out the wholesalers and go direct SUSSEX and you would be pleasantly pleased at the saving you would make downside only worthwhile if buying a 40 foot container

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Re: University pianos

Post by DoctorAl » 29 Jun 2011, 22:21

Just to say I appreciate all of your opinions. I'm off to view some pianos this weekend so will see what my eyes and ears tell me about the various Japanese imports.

Al

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Re: University pianos

Post by Barrie Heaton » 30 Jun 2011, 20:32

joe wrote: downside only worthwhile if buying a 40 foot container
How many do you get in a 40 container these day and do they still top them

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Re: University pianos

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 30 Jun 2011, 21:42

16 in a 20 foot with 3 on top. I've never seen a 40 footer.
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Re: University pianos

Post by Barrie Heaton » 01 Jul 2011, 08:02

MarkGoodwinPianos wrote:16 in a 20 foot with 3 on top. I've never seen a 40 footer.
We use to get 2, 40 footers a month back in the 80s from East Germany will lots of old stuff, tart them up then sell them to the west Germans

The 20 footer from Japan was for Grands and the 40 was for uprights I did not unload them, but they did top them, there was a lot more than 3 on top as they guys who did the unloading moaned. Again that was back in the 80s we use to have dealers queuing up for them.

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Re: University pianos

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 01 Jul 2011, 08:27

Sounds like happy times.
Who was the "we" ? :)
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Re: University pianos

Post by joe » 01 Jul 2011, 10:42

Back in the seventies and eighties my fathers business was all export 40ft containers a plenty to Ireland,Italy,France,and Holland could not get enough pianos all types floral case german over unders and over overs,straight-strungs every piano had a market.also used to sell within the U.K trade pianos which where repolished and prepared for showroom display to many retailers.Great times no weekend openings,only wholesale.

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Re: University pianos

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 01 Jul 2011, 11:52

Wow.
The UK piano trade really is almost dead then by comparison.
What went wrong?
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Re: University pianos

Post by joe » 01 Jul 2011, 12:58

Demand,internet selling,ebay,too many foreign imports,the disappearance of British makers,wholesalers of new pianos greed,cheap keyboards,but most importantly the discount battle on Yamaha instruments which devalued the entire trade.Piano sales have been in decline since the thirties,and by my reckoning the "PIANO ONLY"retailers will half in the next few years.Piano tuners who are established will survive on tunings only,no demand for overhauls,stringing or repolishing.Pianos will always sell,and the established dealers with the right costings,overheads,diversity of stock,location,and good aftersales service will reign supreme,which favours the companies which have been around a generation or 2 and have expierenced downturns in sales revenues in the past.

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Re: University pianos

Post by Barrie Heaton » 01 Jul 2011, 15:55

joe wrote:Demand,internet selling,ebay,too many foreign imports,the disappearance of British makers,wholesalers of new pianos greed,cheap keyboards,but most importantly the discount battle on Yamaha instruments which devalued the entire trade.Piano sales have been in decline since the thirties,and by my reckoning the "PIANO ONLY"retailers will half in the next few years.Piano tuners who are established will survive on tunings only,no demand for overhauls,stringing or repolishing.Pianos will always sell,and the established dealers with the right costings,overheads,diversity of stock,location,and good aftersales service will reign supreme,which favours the companies which have been around a generation or 2 and have expierenced downturns in sales revenues in the past.
Yip that sums it up

It was Hunts pianos Mark, we has a stock of over *500 pianos on 2 sites and a bonded W/house full of new ones for imports from the US to Europe but... as Joe puts it above in a nutshell it was a steady decline from about 1989

*400 boxes with strings in them and about 100 pianos

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Re: University pianos

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 01 Jul 2011, 15:59

Cheers Barrie. Haha boxes with strings in them. Don't tell PianoLove you refer to them like that!
but most importantly the discount battle on Yamaha instruments which devalued the entire trade
I haven't been in the trade long enough to have seen what life was like before that? But I remember that heavily slashed Yamaha prices was all everyone seemed to talk about when I took my first steps into the trade in 2002. I was a Bechstein man at the time so it went over my head. It still does as I don't sell new Yams. There seems to always be talk of ways that Yamaha can stop their dealers slashing prices but so far it seems they haven't succeeded.

Saying that, the new Yamaha piano websites seem to have stopped explicitly stating their percent discounts. They all just say "call for very best prices" these days. So that's good isn't it?
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Re: University pianos

Post by joe » 01 Jul 2011, 16:35

Yamaha have no interest or desire to stop"price slashing" their concern is the bottom line and volume of boxes sold and even though we have heard about "harmony agreements" in last few years dealers are working off different percentage trade lists hidden behind ex-demos,shop soiled,ex-hire,old stock etc.Kawai should learn and not follow suit,40 foot container would take 36 upright pianos loaded properly.As i mentioned in another thread MG compare freight costing for a 20 foot or a 40 foot and you save some money.A little free advice would try diversify your stock as the used Yamaha market is slow too and too many dealers doing the same thing especially where you are located SATURATED.

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Re: University pianos

Post by sussexpianos » 01 Jul 2011, 18:07

I had a huge retailer near me when I first started tuning after leaving college, Sound Instruments, they had about 7 tuners, the vans were on the road all the time, delivering, picking up. They'd buy rubbish, sell it for £250. Old overstrungs for 1200 easy. They exported loads to Italy etc. All gone now, and that was 15 years ago, not long.
I haven't been asked for a U1/U3 in years! I have a YUS on the shop floor and its been there for a while. I am selling more Kawai pianos than in the past and I used to sell many Samicks but I havent sold one of them for a while.
I remember abour 4 years ago, my best month, 22 pianos! That was September, always a busy month but then the next year it all went tits up, paid for my new T5 though :)
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Re: University pianos

Post by Barrie Heaton » 01 Jul 2011, 18:41

sussexpianos wrote: paid for my new T5 though :)
Must have been a good one if it paid for Terminal 5 :lol:
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Re: University pianos

Post by joe » 01 Jul 2011, 18:52

Sound Instruments,remember them well tried to buy up all the old Steinway,Bechstein,Bluthner,Bosendorfer etc at silly prices,they would buy instruments via the U.K.auction house network,and had musicians buying pianos for them who where trombone players,you could make good money from your German junk pianos they would buy them.Hunts would also buy used pianos in any condition at higher than required prices hence no more.The market place is always moving,interesting times ahead.

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Re: University pianos

Post by Barrie Heaton » 01 Jul 2011, 19:35

joe wrote:Hunts would also buy used pianos in any condition at higher than required prices hence no more.The market place is always moving,interesting times ahead.
Hunts did not go bust they were very profitable they were after English makes, we restrung them, new hammers, Dampers recovered key then sold them to Japan. then they got greedy and we started to use parts from the USSR a set of hammer £10.00 Set of dampers £1.00 and that was with heads. They still looked good but sounded crap The money they made was use it to buy 5 other company's one of them was the one that made the laser guidance system for the chieftain tank But.. Morgan Crucible was also after it as well, so they made the owners of Hunts an offer they could not refuse. Pianos did not fit into their portfolio it was more profitable sell the Mill and the stock then write us off as a tax loss. Handy for me as I was going to leave anyway, but it could not have lasted as the cheep pianos were running out and the buyers were buying more rubbish to get their numbers up.

But that was then

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