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Advice please! 1978 Baldwin L vs 1971 Kawai KG-5 (Read 1908 times)

Offline maggiecuda

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Advice please! 1978 Baldwin L vs 1971 Kawai KG-5
« on: September 12, 2015, 04:15:08 AM »

Thank you in advance for your opinions!  

I've been looking at two pianos that I'm seriously considering buying: a 1978 Baldwin L, original soundboard looks good, inside parts look good, all original.  It was played by a musical group about once a week, maintained, and has some cosmetic case issues (chips on the edges) that the dealer will fix.  He won't go any lower than $7k + tax as it is consigned.  Really nice bass, I liked the action.

The second candidate is a 1971 Kawai KG-5.  It has a cracked soundboard, which I suspect was the source of some buzzing in the treble range.  Additionally, the case has some cracking.  There is some honky tonk sound in the treble (hammers?).  This is owned by the dealer.  He will do a full belly job, and I can have it out the door at $5k.  For $500, he'll do partial hammer work.  It was previously owned by a church, which makes me wonder if it's been ridden hard.  I'm also concerned that the soundboard and case issues might have been caused by neglect.

Both come with a 5 year warranty.

I have room for either instrument.  I've been scouring the internet researching this, but I really could use specific opinions!  I'm leaning toward the American handmade, even at the $2k additional cost.  It's newer, the lower end sounds great, and I love the tone.  On the other hand, I'm intrigued by the partial rebuild of the Kawai and wondering if that's the better buy.  I'd like to invest in a quality I can enjoy for many years to come.  I'm not interested in a transition instrument.  He estimates the Baldwin at 25 more years before larger repairs are needed, and the Kawai at about 20.



Offline indianajo

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Re: Advice please! 1978 Baldwin L vs 1971 Kawai KG-5
«Reply #1 on: September 12, 2015, 03:38:06 PM »
I'm sure a competent tech can stop the buzzing of a cracked soundboard with the proper glue.  As glue is not nearly as flexible as a strip of wood, I would suspect the brilliance of the tone would suffer.  I would want to bid on a piano like that after the repair instead of before, to know what sound I was buying.  There are a lot of dull pianos around, some people like that but I don't.  I want some brilliance (treble overtones) and impact (ping) to the tone.  The kawai console I played a few times, a mid seventies US made version, was just barely acceptable in the tone department for me. 
I play occasionally on a Baldwin grand from maybe the fifties, that was played in a Presbyterian church sanctuary for 40-50 years.  The hammers don't show any scooping in the middle.  The dampers work.  The main sign of wear is a loose pin that sags pitch in a day or two.  This might easily be repaired with the double sticky tape in the hole that a Baldwin service bulletin suggests, or perhaps an oversized pin.  So a $200 problem, not a $1000 one. The tone with the top closed is a bit dull compared to my Sohmer 39 console, but the church uses the grand as a plant stand and holiday diorama base, so I'm not likely to get access to the top up sound.  Besides, the room is 50' long and any highs would travel twice that before reflecting back to me, the player. 
I'd say $7000 for a Baldwin with  a warrenty and free moving is not too bad for my location.  I'm impressed with the four Baldwin consoles I regularly play, so I would expect a Baldwin grand to have similar consistency and durability.  One of these dates from the forties probably; it still has ivory keys.  It is the second best sounding one of the 7 consoles I regularly play. 
You can do a searchtempest.com on my location (47130) with 200 mile limit and see the 4 or 5 grands for sale in my area right now for $2000-$17000. These are owner sales, no moving, no warrenty.  I don't get out and try these, I don't have room for a grand or the $$$$ to move one professionally.  Knabe, Hamilton (Baldwin) and Mason & Hamlin are minority brands I have played the consoles of with some admiration. 
You might also do a searchtemptest on your location and see what else is available for dropping $$$$.  Check anything you look at for sticky keys, cracked soundboard, extremely loose pin (way out of tune compared to the nearby flat notes)  missing wire, mismatched bass wire, speed of action with two fingers on one note, consistency of all notes at very soft velocity (many modern pianos fail this test).   
Best of luck.  Have fun looking.