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Piano buying help please


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#16 zwhe

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 16:57

Interesting thread - I too am in the market for an upright piano, broadly the same price range. I already have a Yamaha clavinova which will still be useful for practice, but I would like the real deal now and feel I can justify it.

 

Just wondering:

 

1. What differences would you expect to find between a piano costing around £5k and one costing £10k? 

 

2. When you're in the shop trying out pianos, what sort of things do you do? Scales? Chords? Any tips?

Some of the things I would check are dynamic range (over the whole instrument) and quickly repeating the same note (to check they all sound as some mechanisms can't manage it). Try staccato flicking both towards you and away from you and see if you can hear the difference. Also think about the weighting which can vary greatly - if you practise on a light one, it can cause problems switching to play on heavier ones for some people. Pre-select some bits of music which sound very different (don't play the whole piece!). I would try as many as you can even if they aren't in your price range to see if you can hear the difference. If you do really like one that is too expensive, you could look out for an older one of the same model. Also bear in mind in all of this that the acoustics in a large room with no soft furnishings are likely to be very different from yours at home, so it won't actually sound the same anyway...


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#17 EllieD

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 07:59

Thank you everyone, great advice! I need to get a radiator moved, which I've got booked in for later this month, and obviously I need the shops to open again, but I'm really excited about trying lots of pianos out!

 

Zwhe - I agree, the acoustics issue is something I've thought about. I definitely don't want something that's designed to fill a concert hall! So I'll be looking at specifications as well as trying them out.


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#18 dorfmouse

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 10:39

If you can, I'd bring along a good pianist,?teacher, or check beforehand if a salesperson will be able to play some things for you in different styles. Obviously you've got to like the sound and feel for yourself, but you may get a very different impression listening from a small distance.
When I bought my new piano a few years ago the salesman was very happy to oblige. I played bits of quite easy pieces, chordy, notey, staccato,seeing how far I could cresc, dim, etc.
In the large showroom the sound was warm and velvety. In my living room it sounded surprisingly brighter and much louder to me; the piano tuner said possibly because it is at the wall rather than surrounded by space. My teacher plays it when she quite frequently visits and then I hear that warmth again and it sounds wonderful! So it's quite different being right on top of the sound to a few feet away. Best just not to torment yourself over the decision!
Another thing maybe; when my teacher plays it she is impressed that she can get a lot of pedal nuance, not just full and half pedalling, and it's an upright not a grand where that should be a given. Just another thing to try out!

I remember in one showroom, a very glamourous lady swept in, sat down at one of the pianos and played something thunderous and fast for about one minute, then swept out again muttering disparaging comments. Wished I could be so decisive!
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#19 musicalmalc

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:09

not a sensible suggestion but I spotted on eBay the other day a Pleyel grand that had been donated by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies to the arts centre in the Orkneys. Looks like the arts centre was at least partly privately funded and it has closed hence the sale. I think it had reached £4-5k but have no idea what the condition is or indeed what the transport costs would be !!!!!! 


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#20 Hildegard

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:20

not a sensible suggestion but I spotted on eBay the other day a Pleyel grand that had been donated by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies to the arts centre in the Orkneys. Looks like the arts centre was at least partly privately funded and it has closed hence the sale. I think it had reached £4-5k but have no idea what the condition is or indeed what the transport costs would be !!!!!! 

Photo and details at: https://wrigleyandth...yel-grand-piano


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#21 Edwardo

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 11:19

Try staccato flicking both towards you and away from you and see if you can hear the difference. 

 

 

 

I'm interested to hear what difference you would expect to hear, since at the moment of impact of a hammer onto the strings the mechanism is in flight.


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#22 Nine and a Half Fingers

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 15:31

Some useful info posted. I would only add that when I bought my new upright piano (Schimmel - just over 30 years ago) I think I listened to the sound more than I should and played the instrument less. It turned out that (I think) I was pretty happy with sound almost immediately. What I hadn't discovered was a marked change in the touch of E-flat (and down a bit) below middle C - to me it was much heavier than the E above it. The E-flat is the last of the keys with strings running "bottom left to top right". When I played e.g. the slow movement of the Pathetique it would drive me bonkers trying to get the right sound. In those early days, my piano was tuned by a guy from Steinway (friend of a friend - who knew?) who got the weights out and couldn't find any difference. Anyway, with much use the piano settled down and now the touch issue might just be in my head. Probably with not much to keep it company....

 

The piano has been very good overall. I was lucky in that it has proved itself in a much bigger room with bigger fluctuations in temperature & humidity than the one for which it was originally chosen.


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#23 ejw21

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 15:40

EllieD, happy piano shopping! The reply by Nine and a Half Fingers has reminded me (and I don't remember where I read it). Play a good few chromatic scales up and down the keyboard, with the top open so you can see the hammers. In some more budget models there can be issues with the crossover point (not sure if that's the technical term!) and the hammer mechanisms returning so they are all in a line. 


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#24 Clovis

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 08:46

Once you've chosen your piano ask the showroom if they can do a deal on a nice piano stool too. When I bought mine (this was a grand), we ended up with a stool, dust cover and a full day's work from a technician thrown in.


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