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Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc. (Read 10488 times)

Offline joe_martin79

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Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
« on: July 30, 2002, 07:44:50 PM »
Hello everyone,

I am new here and would like to have your help with some questions regarding piano brands. My wife and I are shopping for a piano. We're getting very different stories from different dealers. I have a two part question:

1. How does a US made Baldwin rank as far as quality? We've been told by the Baldwin dealer that it is second only to a Steinway. We've been told by non-Baldwin dealers that it is comparable to a low-end Korean made piano (i.e. a lower end model by one of the better manufacturers such as Young Chang.)  We've even been told horror stories regarding warranty, whether the piano is still in manufacture since being acquired by Gibson guitar, etc., all of which is refuted by a document from Baldwin.

2. On the subject of Korean pianos; how does the Young Chang Pramberger Platinum series rate?  We are looking at vertical pianos, specifically the Pramberger JP-48 Professional Studio.  We've been told at different dealerships that this piano is as good as the Yamaha U2. Where does it really rank and what should it cost?

Any help you can give us will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Joe Martin

Offline Mandy

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #1 on: July 30, 2002, 10:39:57 PM »
Quite frankly, I hate Baldwin pianos!!  Nor do I like Young and Chang.  I wouldn't believe anything that the dealers will tell you, many of them are like used car salesmen-especially if you don't know much about pianos.  

When buying a piano, you have to think about what you are going to be using it for.  If you just want it to look nice in your living room, well then just about anything will do-if you are buying it for your child who is just starting out and not sure how long the lessons will last, then you won't be wanting to buy a Steinway Grand.

I have always had a Yamaha upright-and while at university this is what they had in the practice rooms.  They are great and very high quality pianos.  You can usually get a very good piano for around 8 to 10000 here in Canada.  Also, if you ever have any intention in selling your piano, you will want to be sure you have one that people will want to buy and one that will last the test of time.  

Buying a piano is a very personal thing-while I may te telling you I don't like Baldwins, someone else will rave about them.  It's all about the tone quality and key touch and the way the piano responds to you which is most important.  So, try lots of them out and see which one you like the most.  There is lots to think about, it's a big investment-but I would stick to Yamaha.  If you take good care of it, you won't have any problems and you will be guaranteed an excellent piano.

Offline joe_martin79

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #2 on: July 30, 2002, 11:59:31 PM »
Mandy,
Thank you for your reply! The piano will definitely be played. We are interested in an upright due to space and money restrictions. Also, due to money restrictions we are looking for the best quality we can get for our dollar. We are aware that, like most things, you get what you pay for witht he caveat that you can pay a lot for a name and get the same quality as a lesser known alternative.
My wife plays piano (but we haven't had a piano for years) and I play guitar.  She is the one that must make the decision regarding tone and touch (although I've had a little input re: tone.) I guess our primary concern is not getting stuck with an inferior piano that won't last, regardless of what our initial impression of it is. We'll definitely take your input into account.  Again, thank you for your response.

Sincerely,
Joe Martin

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #3 on: July 31, 2002, 09:35:59 AM »
OK I'll throw some fuel on the fire.  I don't know price ranges, but Mandy may have the ticket.  Yamahas are supposedly manufactured to exacting specifications, and are quite reliable.  That said, I hate to play Yamahas.  They have a harsh, brittle sound (to me) and feel just awful.  No character - the piano equivalent of a toaster.  I have an old Baldwin acrosonic (really small, really cheap), and  while it's not the finest instrument in the land (gross understatement) it has a pretty nice action, and feels good to play.  I have played some Boston uprights, and was not impressed with them either.  Most folks I know spend quite a long time finding the right piano - good luck!
So much music, so little time........

Offline joe_martin79

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #4 on: August 01, 2002, 01:45:42 AM »
Mindy (DinosaurTales),
I appreciate your input. We've looked at some of the Baldwins and liked them. I guess we've been scared off somewhat by some of the stories we've heard and by the relative rankings we've seen. As Mandy noted, most piano dealers we've talked to made their own brands sound great and the competition sound bad, regardless of what they sold. That was one of my main reasons for coming to this forum. I feel I can get some relatively unbiased feedback here.

We're going to take a look at some Steinway Bostons and Essex pianos tomorrow. They are being sold at a discount after being used for 5 days at a music festival.  Everything I've read rated both of these pianos highly with the Boston being rated higher than the Essex.  The Young Chang Pramberger typically came in somewhere around the  same level as did the Yamaha S series.

Thanks again for your input.

Sincerely,
Joe Martin

Offline MikeThePianist

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #5 on: August 07, 2002, 08:17:54 AM »
I would also suggest staying away from Baldwin pianos.  I also like Petrof pianos (their grands are cheaper than normal, they're subsidized by the Czech government).  Anyway, there's also a book "The Piano Book."  The third edition is out now.  It's red.  I can't remember where I got it, but I'm sure most music stores or book stores carry it.  Anyway, it has a profile on all international piano makers and is a very valuable resource.

Mike
Michael Fauver is pursuing his bachelors degree in piano performance at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #6 on: August 07, 2002, 09:26:59 AM »
Mike the Pianist is right.  It's called the Piano Book - I have edition 4 (I think).  I am shopping for a new piano, and it's an incredible resource.  He also prints a price guide to go with it.  I have been playing all my life, and I knew almost nothing about the instrument.  I am by no means a technician, but I am finding the more pianos I play, the more I learn of what to listen for and look for.  And you guys are right again.  There's no end to the BS you'll get from the salepeople.  They will say ANYTHING to get you to buy.  just like a car.  really.  Don't know about Petrofs, but I've heard they are nice - let us know waht you end up with!
So much music, so little time........

Offline joe_martin79

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #7 on: August 07, 2002, 07:02:38 PM »
MikethePianist and DinosaurTales,
Thanks again for your input.  I just ordered The Piano Book and the 2002-2003 supplement last night. I read about it on the internet and browsed through it at the local Barnes and Noble.  It does look like a fantastic resource.
Regarding the Baldwins.  Although I've heard and read horror stories about them, the information I've found on an apparently reliable website (http://www.pianofinders.com/educational/shortguide.htm) and also from The Piano Book contradicts this. According to Larry Fine (in The Piano Book) there have been some quality issues in the past (serious issues for a while as they attempted to compete with the Asian pianos) but that they have been addressed for the most part.  He also indicates that, (on newer Baldwins) while there may be some initial issues when the piano arrives at the dealer they tend to be very good instruments once the technician resolves those issues (this is assuming of course that the dealer spends the time he or she should on initial setup of the piano.)  Additionally, the Baldwin we are most interested in (the 248A) was newly introduced in 1997 and has received much higher marks for quality, tone and touch than most of the other Baldwins.  Have you had personal experience with the Baldwins that has made you consider them less than desireable? If so please tell me about them.

Again, I really appreciate your feedback. As you've said, the dealers are worse than used car dealers in most cases. They do nothing to make the process easier. Your help is invaluable.

Sincerely,
Joe Martin

Offline MikeThePianist

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #8 on: August 08, 2002, 09:14:36 AM »
I began my studies of piano on an old Baldwin upright.  I thought it was great, but I eventually grew out of it (the action just wasn't very good).  The only experience that I have had recently has been with their grands.  I used a couple while at Eastman last summer, and boy did they suck.  Of course, they're in a music school and used much more than they will be by you at home.  I also spoke with an orchestra conductor in my area, and he was under the assumption that Baldwin was all but dead and gone, that they were no longer producing.  I never looked into varifying that information, however, so he may be wrong.

It's good that you've look other places for information on the Baldwin brand other than from dealers.  Dealers are almost never reliable.  Of course they'll recommend the product they sell.  When your man said that it was second only to Steinway, I can't imagine that being true.  It may (and I emphasize may be a good brand, but there is no way that it could beat out everything except Steinway.  There's Busendorfer (sp?), Petrof, Kawai, Yamaha, and many others that I would prefer before Baldwin (but again, I'm also refering to grands, I haven't looked into uprights).

I hope that you've been able to extract some useful information from all that jumble.  :-)

Mike
Michael Fauver is pursuing his bachelors degree in piano performance at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Offline joe_martin79

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #9 on: August 08, 2002, 11:13:40 PM »
Mike,
Your experience with the Baldwin is good information to have.  As for Baldwin being all but dead and ceasing production, from what I've been able to determine this is inaccurate rumor probably started by competitors.

Baldwin did file Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year and on October 15th was acquired by GE Capital.  On November 9th the assets of the company were acquired by Gibson Guitar company.  According to the article on the Pianoworld site:

Quote
Gibson management promises to rebuild Baldwin back to the quality piano powerhouse it once was. Baldwin pianos will continue to be made in America while the other brands will be built overseas.


There are also rumors that Gibson won't honor warranties on pianos produced prior to the buy-out and that the plants aren't in production.  Both of these are denied by Gibson/Baldwin.

Regarding the dealer's statement that the Baldwin was second only to Steinway, I kinda took that with a grain of salt from the offset  ::).

The information you provided is very helpful, I only wish you were more familiar with the uprights.  We unfortunately don't have the room (or the budget) for a grand  :(.

My wife did play a Steinway/Boston UP-125E 49" upright and a UP-118E 46" upright (both made by Kawai) and we liked both of them.  However, they were very pricely particularly considering that both were used.  They were at a music festival event so I'm guessing they were marked up rather than down.  We've also looked at a Young Chang Pramberger JP-48 48" upright which we were impressed with.  It is new and the price was right.  I just keep getting mixed signals on the Korean pianos.  Have you had any experiece with either of these pianos (grand or upright?)  Also, what is your opinion of Kawai?  (The Yamahas we've looked at have been very expensive, but I don't feel the dealer has quoted us his best price at this point.)

Again, thanks for your help!

Sincerely,
Joe Martin

Offline MikeThePianist

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #10 on: August 09, 2002, 04:08:07 AM »
As for Steinway uprights, I haven't had any personal experience with them.  However, I have heard (I believe it was from a book somewhere) that their uprights are not all that great.  As for Young Chang, I only looked at grands, and I don't remember how it was.

I have had only good experience with Kawai's that have been placed in homes.  I have played a great many in music schools, and they just don't hold up like Steinways.  I was very pleased with their hold up, tone, and action when it was owned for personal use.  However, if I remember correctly, they are extremely pricey.  Also, Yamahas typically run very pricey as well.

I would look into a brand called Petrof.  I own an upright, and I borrowed a grand from a friend for about six months, and I was extremely pleased by both.  The color (especially in the grand) was remarkable.  They are also a little on the cheap side, since the Czech Republic subsidizes their export (although I have heard that this will not last much longer).

How long was this music festival that those pianos were in?  If it was a couple weeks, that should be fine for the piano.  However, I would stay away from pianos that are owned by music schools.  For instance, Interlochen School of the Arts sells their Kawai's periodically, and you never know how well they are maintained there.  They may be somewhat rebuffed for sale, but who knows what their long-term care was like?

Mike
Michael Fauver is pursuing his bachelors degree in piano performance at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Offline joe_martin79

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #11 on: August 09, 2002, 04:16:25 PM »
Mike,

My wife played a Steinway upright at the music festival sale and didn't like it at all.  Neither of us was impressed with the tone and the touch was definitely not to her liking (very stiff.)  Apparently Steinway isn't as intersted in the uprights as they are the grands.

I haven't priced any Kawais so far but do intend to look at them before making a decision.  Thanks for the input on them.  If their prices run on a par with what I've seen on the Yamaha so far we will probably have to rule them out.  I haven't looked at the Petrofs but will definitely do so based on your recommendation.

The Eastern Music Festival ran for 5 weeks.  Even at that some of the instruments had obviously been abused.  Some were in good shape and we were interested in them.  I don't have a pricing reference yet but felt that the $8000 for the Boston UP-125E 49" upright and $7000 for the UP-118E 46" upright was a little steep considering the Pianos had been used. (The UP-118E we looked at had actually been sold. The dealer was going to get one in that had been placed in a college (that doesn't hold summer classes) in February but I'm a little afraid of it anyway.  I expect if we consider a used piano it will be one of the ones imported from Japan which reportedly have seen little use and are typically in fantastic shape.

Again, I really appreciate you taking the time to help me on this.  Your input is very helpful.   :)

Joe

Offline MikeThePianist

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #12 on: August 10, 2002, 10:33:52 AM »
No problem!  I love pianos, and I love helping other people out even more.  I would love to hear about any new developments that come up and what you end up purchasing.  Someday I'll be buying my own piano and I may need your advice.   :)

Mike
Michael Fauver is pursuing his bachelors degree in piano performance at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Offline joe_martin79

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #13 on: August 11, 2002, 04:22:27 AM »
Mike,
I doubt I'll be able to be of much help to you when you buy a piano  :-/.  But I will keep you updated on our quest as my wife and I pursue the piano that best fits our needs.  I'll post here as the pursuit progresses.  Right now I guess we'll be on hold until I get "The Piano Book" and supplement.  Once I've read that thoroughly I feel I'll have a better idea what to look for and what to expect it to cost.

Take care, good luck on your degree and we'll keep in touch!

Sincerely,
Joe Martin

Offline joe_martin79

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Re: Brand questions - Baldwins, Prambergers, etc.
«Reply #14 on: October 25, 2002, 01:18:04 AM »
Mike, Mandy and DinosaurTales,
I just wanted to thank you again for all of your help and let you know what we ended up with. After shopping with practically every dealer in our area we purchased a Baldwin Acrosonic 2095. We loved the sound a playability.  The construction quality was very good compared to the other pianos we looked at as well. The Piano Book stated that, while they tended to need more initial setup than some brands, the Baldwin tended to be a very good piano and provide long service once initial setup issues were resolved.  I know some of you weren't too fond of Baldwins but we are very happy with our selection.  My wife is playing regularly and really enjoying having a piano again.

Thanks for your help.  :D

Joe martin