We don't have loads of spare cash to spend and buying the piano meant a few sacrifices. Having taken delivery of the piano, letting it settle and then having it thoroughly examined for flaws we decided it is likely to be a keeper.
Obviously a 1994 piano is likely to have been played a fair bit and felt, leather, wood and metal behave and age differently over time. The case is in excellent condition and after a light buffing with a very fine T cut equivalent is almost as new.
After a few months and looking ahead and hearing my daughter play other pianos, often Bluthner or Steinway or simply much newer pianos I couldn't help being a bit critical of how our A1 sounded. We pondered saving again and part exchanging for a newer piano of similar size.
I was advised that perhaps hammer voicing could be an option. I'm no piano technician, but I have been in engineering using a vast array of materials over many years, I did a lot of reading and asked many people who do work with pianos about voicing hammers of this age. I also enquired about part exchanging the piano. Once I established an average price in respect of the part ex value. I decided voicing costs a very risky gamble and maybe I would be better to look at spending the difference between what we paid for the piano and what we have been offered if we part ex it on a refurbishment including new hammers. That way I wouldn't lose a pile of cash, I probably wouldn't gain either if we exchanged it.
So, new, different hammers, profiled shanks, knuckles, flanges and so on. Every part inside of the piano cleaned, everything else checked lubricated, adjusted or replaced if worn using superior parts.
The outcome is beyond what we hoped for, the piano plays and sounds fantastic. Yes we could have gone and got a brand new entry level grand piano of similar size brand new for the same overall price. What we wouldn't have got is a well made Japan built piano very similar to the C series instruments in terms of overall quality and design. The tuning is very, very stable and the sound board as aged nicely while being perfectly in tact as is every other part of the piano.
I've attached some images taken after the work was completed, also a link to a video of my daughter playing it two weeks after the work was completed. Of course none of this would be possible if piano tuners/technicians had become extinct. I'm posting this because someone who reads it might be in a similar position to where we were,
and might be considering a similar route.
Thank you for reading.
From a more general point of view, IMHO it is less important what the manufacturer's name is, all that counts is how much work and effort have been put into the regulation of a specific instrument in order to make it react and sound according to the expectations of the pianist. I recently tested the grand pianos in a dealer's showroom "just for fun" but none of the Bluethners, Steinways and Foersters she was so proud of would convince me.