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Author Topic: Howard Baby Grand? Junk or not?  (Read 21247 times)
maxj
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« on: June 07, 2005, 01:51:48 PM »

Is this typically a real bad piano.  It's the lowest price I have seen on a Baby Grand.  Is this one that isn't worth it at any price?  I not a pro player at all but its got to beat my 1960 Wulitzer spinet, right?

HOWARD - Product of BALDWIN, Grand Piano, 4' 11", Circa 1917, series No. 30423, beautiful mahogany body. Need work.

Stan
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mamma2my3sons
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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2005, 05:48:15 PM »

Take this for what its worth since I am a veritable piano novice (playing for just over 2 years) & the info I got was from another dealer.

Before I bought my new Kohler & Campbell grand  last fall, I considered a Howard grand-think it was maybe 5'2" or so, from the 1930's or 40's. Also mahogany. UNrestored in any way, although didn't look bad or seem to play badly at all. Local music store here in "Podunk" had it priced at almost $5k! (didn't want to negotiate much either)

I called a city Baldwin dealer who informed me that Howard was Baldwins second tierred line. Thus not as well respected as an actual Baldwin. I described the piano to him, he said it was worth maybe $1100 tops as the life of the piano was at its end & would likely need major work. Needless to say the sign on the piano 8 months later says its reduced to almost $4k (still waaay overpriced according to the information I received) & yet it still remains unsold.  I would think an even older & smaller piano such as the one you mentioned  would be worth even less than the one I saw! I'd be wary too of someone who is reticent to post the price they are asking in their ad. ...from my experience that typically means it is too high for the merchandise offered!

You may want to consider posting your inquiry on www.pianoworld.com   
Hope this was helpful. Good luck
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jr11
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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2005, 06:00:23 PM »

I don't know anything about that brand, but all pianos, unlike other string instruments, are complex mechanical devices. They have a life expectancy, and you would be buying the equivilant of a car with 200,000 miles on it. You can put a lot of work into it, but things will keep breaking... parts simply become brittle with time. The piano may have value as an antique, but for an instrument you are far better off buying something newer. Decent new pianos are cheap right now; it's definately a buyer's market.
 
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maxj
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2005, 07:24:01 PM »

Thanks for the quick replies. 

I don't think I'm ready for a new or decent sounding $5000 baby.  Can you get a decent sounding baby grand for under $5K?

I restored my Barn found Wulitzer from nonplayable(half the keys stuck) mouse house to a functioning SHINNY average/too below average tone box.  You can't polish a turd, well I guess I did but it still sounds/smells like one.


Stan
 

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Glyptodont
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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2005, 10:25:29 PM »

What you are mentioning is not just one piano, but quite a few pianos that differ in many respects, and which include differences in size and manufacture over many years.

In the 1970's and early 1980's, Kawai made the Baldwin-sold Howards.

Then getting into the late '80's and the early 1990's, Samick made them. 

You mention a size 4'11".  Another poster mentions a 5'2" Howard.  Our Howard grand,  purchased in 1990, is a 171 cm, which translates to approximately 5'8."

So it is apparent that we are talking both apples and oranges-- pianos of different size, manufacture, and origin that all happened to be sold as a Baldwin second line.

As for the comment that Howard "is a second line, and not as respected as Baldwin."  Well, to be sure.  A mid-size grand bearing the Baldwin name sells for about $20,000 to $35,000 depending on the model, whereas a second line piano such as a Howard, built offshore for Baldwin, would sell for less than half of that.  The Howard should probably be compared to other pianos in that price range, such as Young Chang and others. 

As for the comment that a Howard is "not as respected" as a Baldwin.  Is a Ford Escort as respected as a Cadillac? 

Speaking of our Howard model, Larry Fine in THE PIANO BOOK gives it a satisfactory rating and says that it may represent a good bargain as a family piano.  That is, intermittent use by family members who are generally in the amateur category.  His point, of course--  if you practice Rachmaninoff concertos for six hours a day, it is not for you.

Larry Fine also says the sound of these pianos varies by individual piano, and you should try several so as to get one with a sound you like.  With that caveat, he gives it an "acceptable" rating.

We paid $7500 for ours, new,  back in 1990.  I still play it a lot, and I like it.  Our piano tuner likes the Howard piano, and says it has exceptionally good tuning stability.  Warranty work is covered by a 10-year guarantee by Baldwin, and is performed by excellent technicians from the local Baldwin dealer.   Very little of this was needed, fortunately.

Hope you find a piano you really like --

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muzikluvvr
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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2005, 01:41:42 AM »

My first piano was a Baldwin Howard, but it was a spinet! I think it was made around 1960 or so. It wasn't a bad piano, but I took lessons on a Baldwin Hamilton (Larger model) that was MUCH better.

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Piano Again
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2005, 06:34:08 PM »

I have one of the old ones (~ 5 ft, c. 1920s). A friend gave it to me after determining it had little monetary value. The case is in good shape, and it sounds AMAZINGLY good considering it was stored in a room with fluctuating humidity and temperature and no one played it much for probably 30 years. I've had it tuned twice since last summer, and it holds the tuning pretty well. I'm considering asking a tech if it's worth it to voice and regulate it and maybe replace the strings. That being said, I wouldn't have bought it, certainly not for $4,000, or even $1,000! Better to get a good upright for that amount of money. Disclaimer: I'm not a professional pianist (although I am a semipro cellist).

(BTW, I posted here some months ago asking for opinions about this, but had no responses.)
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ajhendrick
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2015, 08:40:58 PM »

I own a Howard "baby" grand piano (5') built between 1933 and 1936. In the early 1980s I had its internals rebuilt with new strings, refurbished key tops, reweighted keys, and new hammers (from Issac) by a first class piano technician who charged me a very affordable fee due to mutual friends in the piano world. He even dealt with a couple potentially dangerous issues in the sounding board. All this turned out amazingly well. The piano has been maintained by members of the Piano Technicians Guild since then, moved a half dozen times (including across the country), and even stored in a warehouse for a few years at one point. I just had it regulated again last year, and it didn't need that much work, relatively speaking.

I'm fairly hard on pianos because I mostly play the romantics (Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Albeniz, Chopin etc.). I like to make my piano roar at appropriate points, and this piano can really do it, thanks to the new hammers.

The instrument has a very mellow and blended sound, which I greatly prefer to the brighter and more percussive sound of some pianos. It will hold its tuning for only a few days, but it falls out of tune very gradually and slowly, and never becomes unplayable to my ear. I consider the piano's sound and its "graceful tuning decline" strong points, especially given that its wooden pin block is over 80 years old now.

The biggest drawback of the piano is the action's recovery speed. Compared to a professional grade piano like, say, a Steinway or Bosendorfer, the keys come up a tiny bit more slower. You don't notice this in passage work or big chords, since the downstroke is fine. I can thunder out the piano's opening to Tchiakovsky's first concerto no problem, or manage the passage work in 3rd Movement of Beethoven's Appassionata nicely. But when you need many rapid repeating notes, such as the start of the Friska in Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, you might find the piano forcing a slightly slower tempo.

My conclusion is that if you have a good piano technician who can rebuild a pre-WWII piano for you, you can end up with an amazingly nice instrument at a very reasonable price.  Looking around at new 5' pianos with similar qualities (and admittedly, an action without the above difficulties), I'd be paying $40k to $60k. Invest a few hundred dollars and bring along a piano technician and rebuilder when you view old, used pianos. You could end up with something that sounds great, plays reasonably well, and last decades... for far less than $40k to $60k.
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hfmadopter
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« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2015, 10:25:48 AM »

The reply mentioning having a tech take a look makes a lot of sense. You don't want to buy a basket case regardless of price. My personal preferences would be to not buy a Grand under about 5'6" but if you're willing to, there are some pretty sounding shorter grands out there. There is no way sitting here to determine if the Howard you are considering could possibly be one of them. Never mind determining condition.

I own a grand, these days I mostly play digital maybe 95% of the time, including recording etc. But that isn't cheap either, not to get to the good instruments anyway.. A worthy point of digital is maintenance consists of cleaning it a couple of times a month. I use a Clorox wipe on mine, follow up with a dry paper towel. That's it. In place of a constant watch on condition of acoustic grands is really good sound system controls.

FWIW there is a growing number of popular professional artists turning to digital, not low end digital though. But ones who used to use full grand pianos in their multi million dollar professional earnings. They probably also tout the same sound crews to handle digital programming but dropped the mechanical piano technician they once employed.

There are more but these for sure always used grand pianos in the past, now digital:
Celtic Woman's (choral director on stage live, playing in conjunction with full orchestras on world tours)
Alicia Keys ( professional performer and recording artist)
Barry Manalow ( spelling but anyway on tour live)
Elton John ( live on stage)

Makes ya wonder, lol !
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