High level buying advice

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

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Loner
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High level buying advice

Post by Loner » 07 Oct 2011, 17:29

I have been researching the topic of buying an upright piano for a while. The piano will be used by two young children to begin with and I expect to own the instrument for the next 10yrs at least and suspect that at least of the children will progress a long way down the levels of play.

We are looking at a 2-4k budget and I understand that in and around this price range the options include a Japanese used instrument like a U3/k3 or a old german like a bechstein or schimmel (probably reconditioned to some degree) or even petrof. The shops I have visited universally recommend the Japanese option, while the qualified musician friends we have, including the Japanese, say that they would never buy Japanese as these are not comparable in feel and sound to the Germans/Europeans.

The other issue is private ( supported by a technical evaluation) or trade sale. It disturbs me that a used instrument bought from trade is estimated to be trading back in at 50% of cost immediately after the sale. This suggests to me that a private sale route is much better financially and should be reasonably safe if done in the right way and within certain parameters (like used cars)

I am prepared to invest effort in sourcing the right option and was wondering if the members could suggest the best options in terms of pianos and the best way of sourcing them.

Many thanks

Withindale
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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Withindale » 07 Oct 2011, 18:59

Your best option could be to buy a piano in good condition privately, reserving some of your budget for a piano technician to do whatever work may be necessary. This means choosing your technician is your first step because he or she MUST inspect the instrument and assess its potential before you buy it.

My personal preference is for a German piano but you should certainly consider Japanese pianos with good actions for learning purposes. When I was looking for a German piano (on a much more limited budget) I asked advice from an experienced technician who knows these instruments extremely well. He could be the ideal man to help you in your quest and I will be happy to introduce you if you send me a PM (I assume it's possible on this site - it is).

Ian
Last edited by Withindale on 08 Oct 2011, 09:28, edited 2 times in total.

Loner
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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Loner » 07 Oct 2011, 20:45

Thanks, Ian. It makes complete sense. Would you say it is more efficient to recruit a good technician from those that are part of existing established dealers/refurbishers or by asking the users private tuning services in the area?

If someone has suggestions for specific shops or people, I would appreciate it. I am based in nw London.

Many thanks
Albert

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Re: High level buying advice

Post by D.J.Smith » 08 Oct 2011, 08:51

Withindale gives good advice.

I would go further ; a technician's input is also necessary prior to purchase from a dealer. Of the four dealers of which I have direct experience, I can only recommend one.

Competent technicians are very thin on the ground. [ Most tuners are not techs]. If Withindales tech is near you it would be a good idea to use him.

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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Withindale » 08 Oct 2011, 11:40

Loner wrote:Would you say it is more efficient to recruit a good technician from those that are part of existing established dealers/refurbishers or by asking the users private tuning services in the area?
Find the best man you can by whatever means, taking serious note of DJS's comments and your own conclusions. There are no doubt lots of Yamahas and Kawais in London but you may have to look farther afield for good German pianos within your budget. The man I mentioned is in the Midlands.

I will send you a PM.

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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Loner » 08 Oct 2011, 15:40

Thanks very much for your input and the pm. Instinctively, i view the option of the old german piano as attractive at least in the short term. I guess one variable I am trying to get my head around is the maintenance costs and residual value of an instrument. The view out there seems to be that even when buying with help from a technician, it is very possible perhaps even likely that an old piece would need a major repair in short or medium term, something that could be costly in terms of cash outlay and reduce the residual value to zero. I guess in certain circumstances the piece may even become unsuitable for advanced practice and would need not only written off but also replaced. I was wondering if the members have views on this dynamic and my time horizon.

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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Withindale » 09 Oct 2011, 13:51

Ideally what you are looking for is a piano that has been lightly used. They exist but are not so easy to find. It may not be German or Japanese. A good one may have been abit neglected over the years and your technician will need to do some work to bring it up to scratch. No reason why it should need a new "gearbox" in a year's time.

Have a look at this thread http://www.clavio.de/forum/klavier-keyb ... e-alt.html in (say) Google which will translate it for you - but maybe you speak German. One pearl is 1 month in a barn is worth 60 years a temperate drawing room. If you read between the lines the thread probably says everything you need to know about finding a piano on your budget.

Ian
Last edited by Withindale on 13 Oct 2011, 22:42, edited 1 time in total.

Model V
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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Model V » 13 Oct 2011, 19:10

If it helps, I know lots of qualified musicians who own and swear by the better Japanese pianos. A well set up U3 (or C3) will give the Germans a run for their money. Our local cathedral organist owns a C3 as do I.

MV.

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Re: High level buying advice

Post by joseph » 13 Oct 2011, 21:21

Actually, also a new Chinese piano such as Brodmann will give an old German piano a good run for the money. I have a Brodmann 187 that I've had for 4 and a half years, and an old Bluthner grand. While the Bluthner is very nice to have, and sounds lovely on certain days, the Brodmann really is a better instrument.

Of course, if you're talking about a fully rebuilt German grand with a new soundboard, plank, and possibly a new action, it's a different matter. It depends on who did the rebuild of course.

I've played on lots of Bechstein model 8 uprights from the 1920s and 1930s, and while it's evident they were glorious pianos in their day, the ones in original condition usually sound tired and don't play as well as something new.

That said, you can be lucky, and perhaps you'll find an unrestored Bechstein, Bluthner or Steinway or whatever, from the 1930s and it may well just be the most beautiful piano you find. However, if you want a safe bet, then I'd go for new Chinese or Japanese. Lots of pianists do trade in their old german pianos for these new pianos, and not without good reason.

Good luck, and let us know. Although I prefer new instruments, I can't help feeling a bit nostalgic and quite excited when I find an old Bechstein, Bluthner, Bosendorfer or Steinway that still sounds beautiful. There are a couple at school that I'd love to buy and restore, but the chequebook and the living space, and the other half (who i'd give up the piano for, not that I'd be asked to) say NO! Ha!

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Re: High level buying advice

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 14 Oct 2011, 14:32

Hello Loner
Thanks for an interesting topic and welcome to the forum.

There are no doubt some brilliant bargains on the private market but it can be difficult to sniff them out sometimes. Yes take a technician with you before agreeing a price and I also agree with DJ Smith that you should also take a technician with you when viewing pianos from a trade source.

I choose to stock reconditioned U3 pianos almost exclusively as I find that they keep my customers happy. If you can get to KT3 area in London then I usually have at least 10 that you can have a bash on to help you reject or consider that option.

It's good that you say you are willing to put plenty of effort into the search because I think that the best way by far of choosing who to buy from is to visit at least 5 piano shops and as many private sellers as you can too.

It probably isn't practical to take a piano technician to all of your appointments but perhaps come up with a shortlist on your own and take a technician to help make a final choice.

I hope you will keep us updated. Take any advice you hear (including myself if you like) with a pinch of salt and just get out there and book as many viewings as you can. Trust your own judgement above whatever you have heard or read elsewhere. Go with what you feel was the best piano that you came across on your travels.

Good luck and keep us updated
:)
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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Loner » 16 Oct 2011, 21:10

Thanks very much for your input. Having having considered your comments, done ever more research, talking and thinking, I actually think that my initial focus will be a used german made piano in the 5-20 years old bracket. Although, the old pianos are beautiful, having had a detailed discussion w a UK CEO of the big 4 piano maker about piano economics and restoration process, i have convinced myself that i do not want to run a risk of the instrument starting to fall apart during my potentially long ownership period (like vintage cars).

So the way I see my options is

1 not so old German made piano from a mid to lower mid price brand, eg schimmel, roenisch, Steinberg

2 the Japanese not so old u3 or something along those lines

3 a new piano built by strong brand in china or eastern Europe.

As I said, at this point I am inclined to start my search focusing on option 1, which feels sensible but may be hard to execute relative to option 2 as there obviousy many Japanese instruments in the UK.

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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 02 Feb 2012, 17:11

I am trying to find the place to ask a new question but this will do for now. It mentions Petrof Pianos here . I read that they have long (or short ? ) term (10 year ?) reliability problems. I heard a sound sample of the Kreutzer Sonata on their home site and was really impressed with the tone. If you were a consultant for the Petrof firm what would you like changed to make them as good as possible for reliability ? Stage two of the question is ; Could a Steinway be altered to make it sound like a Petrof ? Don`t get me wrong though , I really like the Steinway sound too.

I`ve just found the New Topic box which does not always appear at the top in each category .

After some reading I find the Petrof pianos use the same Renner action as Steinways so that means they are really up to date now. As I say , as a listener I have never heard a better combination of a piano and a violin as the sample Sounds on the Petrof home page . Only as reliable as a Steinway then .That will do nicely .

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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Bob Pierce » 05 Feb 2012, 11:39

Not all Petrofs are fitted with Renner actions, Some have a cheap CZECH actions fitted which are not very well made.

Jonathan the 2nd
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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 07 Feb 2012, 02:31

What year did they change over ? Tuners have to deal with anything made for many years to come. It must make you gnash your teeth.

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Colin Nicholson » 07 Feb 2012, 08:13

probably changed over when they invented the shepherd's crook
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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Johnkie » 07 Feb 2012, 11:32

Colin Nicholson wrote:probably changed over when they invented the shepherd's crook
Exactly right Colin :D I think you'll find it happened when the crooks were non-Extended Twist

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Re: High level buying advice

Post by dancarney » 07 Feb 2012, 15:58

Johnkie wrote:
Colin Nicholson wrote:probably changed over when they invented the shepherd's crook
Exactly right Colin :D I think you'll find it happened when the crooks were non-Extended Twist

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Jonathan the 2nd
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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 08 Feb 2012, 16:52

What do you think of the sound of the new ones on their home site ? You probably have a good ear for different types .

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Re: High level buying advice

Post by Barrie Heaton » 08 Feb 2012, 21:47

If you are still looking I would have a look at this on the Uk Piano page
YAMAHA SU131S
http://www.piano-tuners.org/used-pianos ... u131s-.htm

they are very nice pianos have a few on my round many owned by students of Chets and RN who cant fit a grand in their home

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