Buying a Piano

tedluk

New member
Well, I'm about to move into my new house and one of my top priorities is to fulfill a lifelong dream and get myself a REAL piano (you know, those huge wooden boxes with all the strings- you've probably seen pictures of them ;)).

I haven't been able to play a real piano in a long time and I haven't owned one ever. My family had an upright spinet when I was growing up.

I want to get a baby grand due to space limitations. My budget won't be very large, probably in the $1500-$2000 range. I don't care if it's older, but I definitely want a good instrument, even if it needs some work.

I've been looking on E-bay and seen some decent deals, but they're usually thousands of miles away. I'm hesitant to go to local shops because I'm pretty sure I won't get a good deal that way. I also know there are some inexpensive new pianos on the market out of China- Pearl River, for instance.

So, what I'm asking from all my learned fellow players is who has a piano? How did you choose it? Does anyone know of some good quality, lesser known brands? (For instance, I was looking at a Lester which was built in Pennsylvania in the early 1900's and was known for its excellent tone.) Does anyone know of a good place to shop for a used piano or to get information on them?

In short, I need help!!

Thanks to all!

Ted
 

andydeedpoll

i do love smilies...
I've never bought a piano, but i still thought i'd give my opinions on what i'd look for ...

firstly, i'd have to say that Old is Good ... i've been playing our family piano for nearly ten years, and its steadily sounded more and more mature and generally better, as have the other three or four pianos that i play regularly at other peoples homes and at school.

secondly, don't buy anything that sounds shit :p . it sounds so obvious, but i've played pianos and just sat there wondering 'why did you ever buy this?' ... and you obviously don't really need to be able to play the piano to get a sound out of it, so just play some notes and decide if you like the sound or not... compare it to other pianos.

uprights are (slightly) more portable - you don't need to start removing windows and things to get them into your house, like my piano teacher did :p.

i'm sorry i cant give you any information on manufacturers/models etc - like i said, i've never bought a piano, and haven't played enough different instruments by the same manufacturer to be able to decide a genuinely good manufacturer from a flukey one, who happens to occasionally produce a decent instrument from the piles of fire wood they're overwise building :p

i hope that helped,

Andy
 
Well, really the only way you're going to get a half-way decent baby grand for under $2000 is to get an older one. I love grand's too, but realistically you'd stand a better chance staying in that price range with a spinet style. Regardless, one place to check might be the music departments of any local colleges or universities. Sometimes they sell their older pianos to get new ones, and despite the heavier than normal use and some possible abuse, some of them can be quite decent!

I lucked out, as my family managed to get a $20,000 Kawai KG-2A for about $5,000, and then about 6 months later the value of Kawai's almost tripled! Needless to say, it is one of the best sounding pianos I have ever played...even beating out any Steinway or Boesendorfer I've ever played. But then again, $20K is no small tag.
 

SonicAlbert

Super-Sonic "Herb" Albert
$1,500-2,000 is really, really low for a baby grand, including old ones. New grands are crazy expensive. I just helped a couple pick out a new Kawai baby grand for their daughter and it cost them almost $15,000. For the low end of their professional line, no less.

I would highly recommend you buy locally rather than eBay or having something shipped. Pianos are like violins, every instrument is different. Also, in your price range any old piano you find is likely to be a beater. So you will *definitely* want to make sure you can try it out in advance to see that it is working properly, or at the very least determine how much work will have to go into it.

Some piano shops have going out of business sales, or want to get old inventory off the books. Want ads in your local paper would be a *great* place to look for pianos. The proverbial old lady, etc.

Buying a piano is a very hands-on kind of thing. It's like buyiing a house or a car, you want to look at it in person, take it for a test drive, check it out before putting your money down. It's also the same in the sense that you may have to invest a fair amount of time into the search. You might have to drive around a lot and try out a bunch of different pianos before you find the right one at the right price. Don't settle for something not right, or something you don't like. Just keep looking until it all falls into place.

Good luck! It can be really fun checking out pianos, trying them all out, etc. I enjoy it, myself.
 

tedluk

New member
I know my budget is way low, I'll probably wind up spending more. I think I'm hoping I'll find a little old lady somewhere who's had the piano in her family for 75 years and doesn't know it's value. I've seen it before.

Obviously, a new Yamaha or Steinway, Kawai, etc. are so far out of my budget as to be laughable.

It seems like the colleges and universties do have sales frequently, but they're usually tied in with a piano dealer. I hear ads for them all the time, but I've always gotten the feeling that they're not for real. I mean, do UCLA or USC REALLY replace their pianos every year? Seems unlikely.

APL- How much do the Estonia pianos go for? I couldn't find anyone showing prices for them. Why do I get the feeling they're going to be way out of my range?? :eek:

I sure miss playing a real piano. It's been years since I got to play a good piano. 20+ years ago, I would sneak into the concert hall of a local university and play their 9' Steinway. I'd roll it out, center stage, they had a simple spotlight you could turn on the stage. There were a few of us who knew about it and whoever got there first could play for hours until the janitorial crew would come in and throw you out. It was a beautiful instrument. Those were good times. *SIGH*

Has anyone tried the cheapy Chinese pianos? Are they terrible?

Thanks for the inpur guys. I'm really excited at the prospect of having my own piano. Truly a dream come true.

Ted
 

apl

Stand Up Comity
tedluk said:
APL- How much do the Estonia pianos go for? I couldn't find anyone showing prices for them. Why do I get the feeling they're going to be way out of my range?? :eek:

Ha, ha! I don't know. But with the Euro skyin' it's probably too much. My parents were from there so that's why I threw it out. I've got one second cousin that used to work there.
 

bsr2002

Denny Crane

rjt

New member
A couple of thoughts... I have a six foot one Kawai that was made sometime after about 1987. IMHO, older doesn't mean better. Although technically the single-large size spruce boards were easier to find in the "old" days, my understanding is they have done pretty amazing work learning to glue boards together...... so go more by whether you like the sound of the piano... not by it's age. Next, a lot of people buy a cheaper piano "even if it needs repair." Some things can be fixed.... some things cost a lot of $$$ to have fixed. Specifically, it is fairly spendy to have the action remade. If the keys feel like mush or don't have a very good throw it will likely cost several times more than the $2000 to have the action rebuilt. That is the primary danger of an old piano. I know someone will disagree with me, but the playing life of a piano (unless you replace the action) is reportedly 40 to 50 years. Some may hold up better than others, but something from 1910 etc., may sound sweet, but be a very bad deal. A spinet may be more in line for the prices you mentioned. Anyway, the above is my opinion only.... a few things that guided my thoughts when I bought my piano. (as an aside, I also took my piano teacher to a piano I was considering, he didn't like it and said it was overpriced..... about 9 days later, I found the one I bought..... it was 3 inches larger, about the same age and $2,000 cheaper. A company went out of business in CA and a local piano company bought all of their stock! Moral, take or talk to someone who knows pianos :) )

Good luck and have fun.
 

SonicAlbert

Super-Sonic "Herb" Albert
I own a 1922 Steinway model "O" grand that still plays great. My father played it before me, and my grandmother played it before him. It's been in the family since it was bought new in 1922. Other than replacing hammers a couple times since 1922, the piano is in original condition and works great. I play it every day, and have since it was passed on to me when I was in my 20's. It's been all over the country, in and out of homes and apartments by stairways and crane, in all sorts of different climates. It still plays great.

If taken care of, a piano will last indefinitely. A good piano will, anyway. There's no 40-50 year limit. It's like a violin, they get better with age.
 
tedluk said:
It seems like the colleges and universties do have sales frequently, but they're usually tied in with a piano dealer. I hear ads for them all the time, but I've always gotten the feeling that they're not for real. I mean, do UCLA or USC REALLY replace their pianos every year? Seems unlikely.
Depends entirely upon the university. UT San Antonio does it every few years, and they don't replace all of the pianos at the same time, just some of them. The ads are for real, but you just have to be careful to check out the pianos first. Like someone said, take someone experienced with pianos along with you.
 

tedluk

New member
sile2001 said:
I lucked out, as my family managed to get a $20,000 Kawai KG-2A for about $5,000, and then about 6 months later the value of Kawai's almost tripled! Needless to say, it is one of the best sounding pianos I have ever played...even beating out any Steinway or Boesendorfer I've ever played. But then again, $20K is no small tag.

I've found a Kawai KG-2C that looks very nice (I've got pics, haven't seen or played the actual piano yet). Do you know what the difference between them is? They're asking $6000.00. That's substantially more than I had intended on spending, but I might be able to bargain them down a bit.

There is also a George Steck, about 80 years old. I don't know anything about their pianos. Anyone ever played one? This is a baby grand as well and they're only asking $1250.00 for it!

Any thoughts? And yes, I know I need to play the piano before I buy it. :p


Ted
 

SonicAlbert

Super-Sonic "Herb" Albert
Now's the part where you get in your car and check the pianos out in person. There's no substitute for that, as you know. You can't make any informed decision until you do that, and almost certainly, once you've seen and played the pianos in person the decision will be a lot easier.

I just did a quick search on that Kawai, and $6,000 would seem to be a pretty good price on it, depending on condition. If you can get them down a little further, that's all good of course. But this is one to seriously consider.

If the Steck has been maintained properly, is in good shape, holds a tuning, etc., then that would be another option for a lot less money. You really have to see that it doesn't have sticking notes, and other problems.
 
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