Too Self Conscious

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

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Fallada
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Too Self Conscious

Post by Fallada » 28 Sep 2011, 23:17

Hi all.

I'm a first time poster and I have a number of questions to ask about what piano to buy etc.

The usual stuff.

But I'll save that for later and outline an annoying problem/character trait I have first.

I started taking piano lessons just before I turned fifty, so a late starter.

I've been playing now for almost a year and enjoying it immensely.

So now I feel it's time to move up from the Roland F110 I've been using and buy an acoustic upright.

I have a decent budget of around 8000 pounds.

Of course finding the right piano involves visiting lots of showrooms and even people's houses, to try them out.

But I feel like such a dork fumbling around on the keyboard when anyone else within earshot can listen.

Ideally I would love to declare, "Right! Everybody out! I need a couple of hours alone."

I know I shouldn't let this get in my way and the sellers don't care etc.

But I can't help it and I wondered did anyone on this forum have similar problems.

Or any advice.

Thanks

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by Colin Nicholson » 29 Sep 2011, 15:52

I think if you are considering spending that kind of money, I would ask your piano teacher to try out a few pianos for you - in your presence.... a normal practice. Or alternativel book a piano tuner. The shop may also do a part exchange, but doubt if they could offer much for the keyboard....
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Fallada
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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by Fallada » 29 Sep 2011, 20:48

Thanks for the reply. My teacher is too busy to help me out though.

I'm not interested in selling the roland or part exchanging it.

Really it was the mortal embarrassment of not being able to play piano at all well within earshot

of a room full of musicians that caused me such unease.

I was wondering if anyone else has suffered this perhaps in their early days?

Cheers!

Gill the Piano
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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by Gill the Piano » 30 Sep 2011, 17:49

There won't be a room full - our dealers on here only wish there were! Most dealers respect your wishes if you either want to be left alone, or if you want someone there to play the pianos for you. They aren't ogres! Well, most of 'em aren't... :D Good luck - I hope you find something you love.
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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MarkGoodwinPianos
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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 01 Oct 2011, 08:53

My usual practise is to welcome a customer into my showroom, show them what is available and then I leave them alone for 20 minutes and disappear to my little office which is about 30 metres away. After that, I just pop my head in to see if any questions have popped up.

Some customers are different and I can tell that they'd rather I stay in the room the whole time. But often, it seems helpful for me to disappear completely. Bringing a teacher, friend, family member, family pet (!) etc can all help and is fine by me.

I only wish I stocked pianos worth £8000. My most expensive is less than £4000!
Yamaha Pianos for sale (usually 50+ in stock)
email markgoodwinpianos@gmail.com with any Yamaha, Kawai, Bechstein or Steinway questions :)

Fallada
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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by Fallada » 02 Oct 2011, 01:49

Mark, I like your style. But unfortunately I'm not a big fan of Yamahas. I'd be very happy to part with only 2000 pounds if I loved the piano so my budget is 'up' to 8000. I've tried a few shops selling both new and second hand. For me the Yamahas I played seemed almost neutral compared to when I changed seats and tried an old Bechstein that sang out. The Petrofs I tried were also secondhand and seemed a bit too mellow but I will try the new ones out. On my radar at present are Bechstein, Seiler, Schimmel, Zimmermann, Petrof, and possibly Kemble and Bohemia. I'd prefer New or nearly new and am always looking for a bargain.

Actually all these pianos are much too good for me as regards my playing skills but I have a few friends who drop by now and again and they all play. Also I figure on getting one that will last me all the way. Back in my teenage years I wanted to be a guitarist and I seem to remember reading advice from Jimmy Page to all students saying, 'Get the best instrument you can afford, and learn on that.' Always stuck in my head.

I spend a lot of time trawling the net for opinions knowing they are subjective but nonetheless trying to get a feel for what is generally said. It's like being locked in an obsessive infinite loop!

Thanks for the encouragement Gill.

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MarkGoodwinPianos
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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 02 Oct 2011, 15:39

It sounds like you're on quite a journey to find the right piano so do keep visiting piano shops near and far, small and large. I'm certain something will grab as being "the one" if you keep at it.

No piano is ever too good for any student.
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: Too Self Conscious

Post by mdw » 02 Oct 2011, 18:16

Im sure if you show you are serious most shops would give you an hour of time guaranteed by yourself after hours when they are closed.

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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by rgreig » 02 Oct 2011, 19:57

When I was looking for an upright I initially thought I would be able to buy a good second-hand model. However I found the market in high quality nearly new second-hand uprights isn't very liquid, and I ended up buying new.

I did play a second hand Schimmel (the top of the range model, 132 DT), which would fit into your budget. I thought it was a nice instrument although not very well prepared by the dealer (who seemed uninterested) so I didn't pursue it. For a beginner it would be superb instrument.

If you haven't tried them already I would also consider Kawai (new).

It is an interesting position to be in - selecting a very good piano while a beginner. I would definitely recommend getting a friend who plays to go along with you so that you can stand back and listen. I would also perhaps not blow your budget but focus on getting a new-ish piano with a very good action that will also have decent resale value (or less bad resale value!). I say that because I am sure if you continue to play your preferences in terms of both sound and touch will change and in another 8 to 10 years you will want to change. I am sure people on this forum can give advice on which manufacturers to avoid when considering depreciation. For example, the value of Petrof sinks like a stone (just look at the London piano auctions site for proof of that).

Robert

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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by joseph » 02 Oct 2011, 20:09

You're very lucky and obviously very passionate if you are willing to spend up to 8000. There are so many options for you. I see relatively young Steinway uprights sometimes go for around that price, any new japanese piano, some of the lower end but very good german pianos, perhaps sometimes you can get a 5 year old Bechstein or Bluthner for that money if you only know where to look, should the sound and touch appeal to you.

Good luck, do let us know.

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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by Fallada » 03 Oct 2011, 14:50

Thanks for your considered replies.

In reply to 'rgreig' who gave me food for thought : You are right about the nearly new market being rather thin on the higher end makes.

I did however spot a Bluthner Model C advertised on the Chamberlainmusic site priced at £9000. I'd never come across this outfit before. The site feels like you're looking for an Epsom printer or electrical components. There is no indication as to exactly how old the piano is. I called them and it's a 2005 year. They told me they are selling it for a woman who paid $20,000 for it. They must have seen her coming! Either that or they used to be more expensive.

I think of someone selling a car and placing their ad- 'Saab for sale. Red colour. 9000 pounds.' Or better still- 'Saab for sale. red colour. P.O.A.'

Like you however I may end up buying new.

I do consider re-sale value and the likelihood that my preferences could change over time and for that reason I would more readily look towards Bechstein, Bluthner or (what am I saying?) S&S. All just a little bit pricey for me unless they are a few years old.

I see that Thomann are selling the Bluthner Model C new at 11359 pounds which makes the used Chamberlain one seem slightly overpriced?

In any case perhaps a visit to Bluthner in London where I live would be the thing to do.

Thanks again for the advice and I'll let you know how it's going.

Cheers!

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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by rgreig » 03 Oct 2011, 22:11

Did you really mean 20,000 USD for the Bluthner C? Or GBP? If you assume an exchange rate of 1.5 that would make the model C around 13k GBP which I don't think is unreasonable new. If however it is GBP then they are lying. I visited the Bluthner showroom in Berkeley Square when I was looking (it is a nice showroom and well worth a visit - for one thing it will give you a chance to compare the Bluthner models with the cheaper Irmler range) and the cost of a new model B today is just above the 20k GBP mark (sticker price).

You may like to try the Bechstein Academy range which may fit into your budget if you look at the smaller models. I tried the 124cm model and for the price I was very impressed.

Robert

Fallada
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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by Fallada » 03 Oct 2011, 23:57

My mistake rgreig. My typo and I can assure you the figure was £20,000. I even pointed out this huge price discrepancy to the showroom assistant quoting him the Thomann figure. I didn't think he was lying at the time. I just assumed he had no idea of the Bluthner model C price as new. But who knows?

A showroom that I am considering travelling to is Besbrode Pianos in Leeds. They have a lot of stock, enough to make the trip worthwhile.

I've been wondering though, if I were to buy an old Bechstein, Bluthner, Steinway or whatever. Some 100 year old or 70 year old refurbished model, would I be having to spend more than usual getting it tuned and maintained? Do these pedigree piano dogs have huge vet's bills?

Maybe I see a fabulous old Bluthner that sounds wonderful to my ears. Maybe it fits all my criteria. Am I in for a few shocks do you think? This is why I would still prefer to buy new. It strikes me that my budget is maybe £4000 shy of a sure thing. I'm not a wealthy man by any stretch. I work and save and buy according to priority. I'm passionately dedicated to classical piano and taking it up has improved my life in many ways. I'm always happy to pay my teacher because it feels like money very well spent. This, along with my other passion for quality is why I'm intending to spend the amount I specified.

And I will certainly try the Bechstein Academy range as you suggest.

Thanks again for the help and suggestions.

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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by rgreig » 04 Oct 2011, 23:10

I didn't visit Besbrode when I was looking for a piano (mainly because I had already by that point decided against a Steinway K having tried it elsewhere) but I did go to Yorkshire Pianos and I'd recommend a visit there if you do go to Leeds since you can try a variety of Bechstein, Bluthner and Sauters (new, however). Perhaps stay in Harrogate rather than Leeds!

I have owned a piano that was 60-70 years old in the past and I didn't spend a huge amount on its maintenance. I have often read that older pianos don't cope as well with modern central heating systems (which is understandable!). I think the key thing would be getting it carefully inspected by a good tuner to validate exactly what has and has not been restored or replaced.

It would be interesting to know from the technicians on the forum how many uprights of that age are actually economically viable to restore. If the answer is "not many" then you may find that only a minimal amount of work is actually done in most cases.

Robert

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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by Cascade » 05 Oct 2011, 01:29

Hi Fallada

I think its perfectly normal, or at least not all that uncommon, for someone to feel self conscious about playing in a shop full of strangers. Not everyone is at the same level but that doesnt mean anyone is any less entitled to play piano or test out a particularly nice piano.

If its any consolation ive been playing the piano for almost 20 years so wouldnt consider myself a begginer but i still find it awkward playing in front of people or where people are listening from a distance and still fall to pieces/ have major irrational lapses in concentration. Call it nerves or whatever, I think its just a human affliction for some of us regardless of ability, and happens to the best of us.

So just bear in mind all those other people who can hear you have either been in your shoes already or are fellow pianists who sympathise with you want to find the piano that right for you. The rest are probably clueless all the same or not even that bothered as much as you think! Just enjoy looking for your ultimate piano as its suppose to be fun and not everyone gets a chance to do it on a healthy budget so happy hunting.... :D

Fallada
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Re: Too Self Conscious

Post by Fallada » 05 Oct 2011, 02:28

This really is an excellent site! The feedback has been very helpful.
I mentioned my problem in regards embarrassment to my teacher and she tells me this
is something I must overcome and she reminds me that I am the one paying.

Thanks for the advice Cascade. I often fall apart when I'm playing for someone.

I play my best when I'm doing what I should be doing, which is hearing the music and nothing else.
Anything that intrudes on this will break my concentration.
There is a purity and simplicity about hearing the music. Even mistakes cease to really matter.
What is the problem with a mistake? It is only the ego that has a problem with it.
Intention is everything.
Well, that and a lifetime of practice, dedication and skill perhaps.

Still, these words do not fix my problem. I won't bother the members of this site with my personal cowardice issues. Time to Man Up!
rgreig wrote: It would be interesting to know from the technicians on the forum how many uprights of that age are actually economically viable to restore. If the answer is "not many" then you may find that only a minimal amount of work is actually done in most cases.
I would also be interested in this. And thanks for the tip about Yorkshire Pianos.

I'm feeling at this point that I should have a breather. I get too intensely caught up in
the buying process and start to lose perspective.

Those names. Bosendorfer, Steinway, bechstein. There is a pull towards buying into that name, owning a piece of something romantic.
But really the feel and tone is what matters. In many ways the magnetic awareness of these brands spoils the purity of my choice much as the awareness of someone in the room spoils my choice of how to approach the music I am interpreting.

Cheers!

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