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Buying a piano, need help: Baldwin sf10 new (1980's-early 90's) vs vintage (1920's or 1960's) (Read 2716 times)

Offline onesurfer1

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Hello,
I'm interested in purchasing an American made 7' Baldwin sf10.  I have less than $15,000 USD in my budget. 
I prefer the tone of a M&H or American Steinway but clearly it's not in my budget.  Baldwin seems to be the best choice. 

Carnegie hall used a vintage restored 1925 Baldwin Concert Grand ( http://mms.stparchive.com/Archive/MMS/MMS10251988P01.php ).

What's the difference in Baldwin vintage and the ones from mid 80's-early 90's?  Do they sound entirely different? Is it worth looking into  or should I just focus on the 80s and 90s  Pianos??

Offline indianajo

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I've played a 1950's (?) Baldwin grand, about 9', in a church fellowship hall.
It was badly out of tune, but after a couple of hours with a wrench, I don't know why they replaced it with a Yamaha.  Maybe they like satin black? Maybe the donor was fasciinated by the "beautiful green eyes" of the salesmen in town that I have heard about from other Yamaha owners?
One wire was badly out of tune, but an oversized pin or a little double sticky tape in the hole should make great improvement  on that.  If the tuner didn't suggest that, instead of coming to tune once a month, he was grubbing money. 
Like all grands, the good tone goes out to the right, not at the player. As a console owner, I prefer the sound of my 1982 Sohmer 39 & 1941 Steinway consoles, from the playing position.  But pleasing the player is not why people buy grands. The middle pedal works on this one, which is necessary for some of my more advanced pieces, which is why I am so interested in it.  I've also not played another grand since 1966, and they require more force than an 82 Sohmer.
The felts in this church use one are fine, not scooped in the middle like a college practice piano would be.  Condition is fine. I didn't inspect for soundboard cracks, but I don't hear any buzzing.   
I've played a lot of 40's and 50's pianos, I wouldn't be a bit afraid of one.  The wood was probably superior to anything sold in the eighties or nineties or from Asia, except for Steinway of course that makes no compromises.  The solid pin block in the 41 Steinway certainly holds tune longer than the 5 ply one in the 82 Sohmer. 
An old piano, sometimes you have to fluff up a damper with a pick to make it damp, or glue it back on with a little white school glue if you bump it and knock it off (dropped tuning socket).  I don't see why that is a reason to be afraid. Pianos aren't cars, they are damaged more by hours of use (conservatories) than sitting around like a home use piano does a lot.   
I'd be much more afraid of modern QA errors like my friend's "superior" 2009 Pearl River piano that has broken 4 wires on the same pin, and the dealer won't fix it because my friend was in the Army and moved a lot and doesn't have all the paper invoices.   Baldwin didn't make QA errors, IMHO. I've played 4 consoles recently besides this grand, all from the 50-s and 60's, all are great pianos.  The Hamiltons had inferior overtones of course, due IMHO to the shorter wires installed.  I haven't touched a Baldwin Hamilton grand, but I'd suspect they are cheaper because of a thicker soundboard and shorter cheaper wires, like the consoles are.
4 of 5  post 80's pianos I've played, they were a pile of ****. The Pearl River, one Yamaha, one Wurlitzer, one store brand using Lion heads for a logo. The Yamaha with the player disc drive installed owned by a piano teacher, it was okay but didn't sound as bright as my two pianos.    I suspect that modern quality extends to grands, but don't have access to any of those.   

Offline iansinclair

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Well now, my friend Indiana rambles a bit -- but we would agree: a vintage instrument, provided it is in decent shape, is a fine investment.  In fact, unless it has been seriously abused, it is probably a better investment!

The vintage Baldwins were very very fine pianos.  Right up in the top drawer.  I'd be delighted with a 1920's one -- if I didn't have a very fine piano right now.
Ian

Offline visitor

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i personally love the sf10's and have it on my list of a wish instrument to someday own. those were handbuilt by the kinds in a specialized alabama shop if not mistken. even when production moved and outsourced, they held on as a sort of boutique for a bit.  i'd be ecstatic with a good condition well maintained one. powerful sensitive instrument, good action. deep dark 'american sound' but clear enough to sing when needed.  actually i like it better than a lot of steiny model b's i've played.


Offline onesurfer1

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Hi Visitor.  Given that u have experience w both the Steinway B's and Baldwin SF10's, how would u compare the two in both craftsmanship and tone? I'm very curious.

Offline visitor

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in my opinion an american ss B is on par quality wise as a sf10 if they are in similar condition. if it has been refinished by anyone other than the factory, then it depends on the refinisher.
I think 'asking price' point wise they were not too far off either, gain both being hand built usa instruments, ss always demands a premium and will do so at resale, but i don't make a decision on like this on resale.

i think sf10s were selling/asking before discounts in the 75K-80K range new towards the end there. they are s sleeper/bargain now. on the used market you'll play probably close to double for a B vs a similar condition baldwin.

the B may some some slight aspects of higher quality or finish, but not double quality or performance, so cost benefits analysis I would buy the baldwin, you could spend a coupe K even to let a master tech really trick it out for you and still come out 10s of thousands under budget vs a B just because it's a steiny.

just look on Ebay, I think i saw a pristine/almost new SF10 as the most expensive listing for the model this a.m. for like 25K.  and that's negotiable, you could ship it across the country and still come out ahead at that price, and you can find really nice sf10's way cheaper too. if renished, then it's a different game and you need to play it to see what's going on.

it's a personal decision, some people need a ss, i only loved 2 model b's ever, one was a special refinished one on my professors studio (he had two b's , i loved one, hated the other), another was a Hamburg B which is a different animal.

at the 20K range i'd get the baldwin. If i were going into the 40-55K +/- range, finding a used shigeru 7 becomes a worthwhile effort.


Offline onesurfer1

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Well, bad news.  A 7' piano doesn't fit in my building's elevator!
;-( I live on the 14th floor and my BF doesn't think it would fit in our living room. 

Back to the drawing board!