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Action questions on Baldwin L and R models. (Read 4705 times)

Offline onesurfer1

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Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
« on: September 17, 2015, 07:43:09 AM »
Hello

I like Renner action and Kawai and Bluthner r just fine for me too as well as S&S and new M&H. I've played a new Indonesian 5' Yamaha and the action was satisfactory to me as well. My point is that I don't think I'm picky. I currently have a 52" upright and I have no complaints.

I played 2 new 2005 Gibson Era Baldwin Model R's years ago and the action felt just fine. Today I played an SF10 and the action felt fine. Felt like Kawai, S&S, Petrof.

However, I am in the market for a Baldwin L, played a 1980's this week, a 1965, and a 2001 and they did not feel satisfactory to me at all. The latter was out of tune and the owner said it needed regulation. Not a good week for me. Very disappointed. I had my heart set on a used Baldwin grand. I probably have to change my decision and start considering a Kawai or Estonia (considering my budget is about $12,500.). I really wanted American and didn't want a machine, mass produced piano. Although some old kawai's sound good to me, I've heard that Kawai is the poor mans piano and ill be reminded of that every time I look at the logo on the fall board.

Should I give up on Baldwin? If the Baldwins from 2005 were just fine when new, is it safe to assume that the actions on the L's need regulation more often than most pianos or are cheap quality? .....because the ones I played today were not good. Or did Gibson use Renner in the post 2002 BaldwinArtist Grands???

Offline visitor

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Re: Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
«Reply #1 on: September 17, 2015, 01:07:02 PM »
you can find really decent instruments in each of the brands lines/you mention.

Good Balwdwins are jiggy, and a well maintained one can be a really sweet instrument w a good tech.
If you are looking at the new Gibson-China Baldwins (which are not bad, they are just a different animal than the old Americans, so best to not compare them), you are essentially looking at higher end Chinese instruments, which can be a tremendous value.  If you consider these, I would personally lookat the top end Hailuns, i was VERY impressed by them.

Kawai's are incredible instruments and their QA is tops.  I have seen them abused to incredible lengths and they hold up under conditions I believe would have destroyed other pianos i half the time.   If you can afford it, find a really babied RX, those w the Millennium action are awesome, it's the slickest, silkiest best action I have ever played (graphite components, etc wow).

Never been a big fan of yamaha, though the japan made ones (ie conservatory models) are fine instruments, just not to my tastes.  Consider looking at a Kembel grand, it's doctored up Yamaha and the few i played has nice mellow sounds.

point is, find one w good bones and then a really solid tech to get it to your liking.


Offline visitor

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Re: Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
«Reply #2 on: September 17, 2015, 06:14:29 PM »
you can find really decent instruments in each of the brands lines/you mention.

Good Balwdwins are jiggy, and a well maintained one can be a really sweet instrument w a good tech.
If you are looking at the new Gibson-China Baldwins (which are not bad, they are just a different animal than the old Americans, so best to not compare them), you are essentially looking at higher end Chinese instruments, which can be a tremendous value.  If you consider these, I would personally lookat the top end Hailuns, i was VERY impressed by them.

Kawai's are incredible instruments and their QA is tops.  I have seen them abused to incredible lengths and they hold up under conditions I believe would have destroyed other pianos i half the time.   If you can afford it, find a really babied RX, those w the Millennium action are awesome, it's the slickest, silkiest best action I have ever played (graphite components, etc wow).

Never been a big fan of yamaha, though the japan made ones (ie conservatory models) are fine instruments, just not to my tastes.  Consider looking at a Kembel grand, it's doctored up Yamaha and the few i played has nice mellow sounds.

point is, find one w good bones and then a really solid tech to get it to your liking.


fyi these should have lots of wiggle room inthe pricing and if you're not uptight about the fallboard name and instead are more driven by value, have a look at these. I  would put these in the same tier and the Dong Bei pianos (now where Baldwin is made)

Offline onesurfer1

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Re: Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
«Reply #3 on: September 18, 2015, 09:17:23 AM »
Thank you Visitor.  I'll keep u posted.  (The newer Gibson pianos I played were pre-China).  I checked out the China models and were nice.  Spec wise they're great.  I'm a bit of a snob on what's on the fall board to my misfortune.  But w my budget if I don't get a Baldwin I'll end up w probably a nice Kawai GS, RX,  or Hailun as u suggested, Estonia, Petrof... All used of course.   Maybe I need to bump up my budget!

Offline indianajo

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Re: Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
«Reply #4 on: September 18, 2015, 03:54:29 PM »
On the 1965 Baldwin that felt bad in the original post, I hope it was damaged by high use.
In 1965 Baldwin made their own actions in Ohio. Ohio Baldwin actions should not be a limitation IMHO.   
I play 5 Baldwin pianos - two plastic key Hamilton (the budget model) 44" studios probably from the late fifties,  a plastic key Acrosonic 40 console probably from the sixties, an ivory key Acrosonic 40 console probably from the early fifties, and a plastic key Baldwin logo 9' grand probably from the sixties.
Only one has any action issues.  The plastic key  Acrosonic 40 has one hammer that sticks down when the fellowship hall is overheated and extremely dry.  It probably could use a little felt easing of the pivot.   
I play some pieces that are very fast, and don't find the Baldwin action to be a limitation.  The one speed problem I have is the 4-5 trills in Beethoven Moonlight Sonata mvt 3,  where getting 4 notes in the time alotted at 150-160 bpm keeps my speed on the rest of the piece down to 130's.  The Baldwin grand is not tactilely faster on this trill than the uprights.  I notice in many recordings, the artist limits these trills to two notes, so I'm not alone in finding this piece to be the speed limit. 
In my opinion, the only advantage of a grand over an upright, is the middle pedal that sustains only the notes down at the time of application.  Everything else, including the quality of the sound at the player's position, I prefer my two uprights, a very bright 1982 Sohmer 39 console and a 1941 Steinway 40 console with holes in the front to let the high frequencies out at the player.  The Baldwin Acrosonic consoles sound even better.  They are louder if you want that, without requiring a lot of force.  I'm have light duty muscles tendons and bones and find the uprights listed cause much less tendon pain in my 65th year.   
I don't have floors that would sustain a grand, hate moving them myself (last did it age 23) and really no room in my music room.  As an electronic specialist, I'm looking at designing the middle pedal sustain function to add to one of my consoles, electrically.  The mechanism inside shouldn't change the sound any, and still give me beautiful acoustic piano sound instead of some electronic approximation with rubber key switches that wear out in 10 light duty years. 
Hope you find a piano that meets your needs, and will fit in the elevator. 

Offline onesurfer1

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Re: Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
«Reply #5 on: September 29, 2015, 08:33:55 PM »
How about the Baldwin Model L? I played a 1979 Model L and I was impressed.  I've seen some ads and the ones from the early-mid 90's go for $13-14,500 obo.  Are these comparable to a Steinway or Mason & Hamlin?  Also, since the action is not Renner on these smaller sized models (unlike the SF-10 & sD-10), are they still good quality? what years have the frowned-upon made-in-Juarez-Mexico actions?

Offline sandracb

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Re: Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
«Reply #6 on: September 30, 2015, 11:28:55 AM »
Just my personal 2 cents. ;)

My tastes in piano action is similar to yours. I adore Renner and Kawai action, find Yamaha easy and slick to play (but TOO easy and don't like their tone but that's not relevant). I like a well prepped great Steinway action too. I prefer my actions crisp, extremely responsive and quick, with no sogginess or excessive weight. I cannot stand actions that have too much wiggle room, to me that's a waste of energy and I like precision.

I recently bought a new Kawai RX-2 (2014 manufacture) with Millenium-III. It is INCREDIBLE. The action is butter smooth, lightening fast, and so precise it's unbelievable. Nothing has compared to how it felt, not even my teacher's 1964 Hamburg Steinway B, and considering my teacher is a touring concert pianist and recording artist, I trust his piano is regulated to perfection.

However, I have also never liked any Baldwin I've ever played. Like, ever. Not in my entire lifetime, and I've played a LOT of Baldwins as they seem to be so popular around here, especially with teachers! I find they tend to be on the too-heavy and soggy side, and they feel 'lax' to me, too much play in the action makes it feel imprecise to me. Just MHO. I felt similarly about the Heintzman I had growing up.

So consider, perhaps, that despite what your brand ideal is, that you might just not be suited to a Baldwin type action. There's nothing wrong with Kawai, and I've never heard of them being a poor man's anything! They are really well respected for a reason, especially their RX and above series.  And I'd consider them nowhere near 'factory machine made', I watched their 'how Kawai grands are built' video on Youtube and was very impressed. (This only applies to their grands made in Japan though, not the Indonesian uprights). And my new piano came with an inspection card hand signed by the guy who approved the action/tuning, and a different guy who approved the cabinet/finish. I thought that was neat! It's also the most overengineered beast I've ever seen, LOL. I joked with my husband that I swear the grand is sturdier than my house's foundation.
Current repertoire:
ARCT program (Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Rach, Barber, Mendelssohn), plus Schumann's Papillons, Scarlatti, and Czerny op 740

My pianos: Kawai BL-51 (50"), Kawai RX-2 Conservatory

Offline sandracb

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Re: Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
«Reply #7 on: September 30, 2015, 12:04:18 PM »
Oh also, if you're looking at used Kawai grands, be aware their Millenium-3 action wasn't put in till after 2004. And depending on how the piano was maintained over the years, that can really affect the feel of the piano and it might be nowhere near its potential.

In my research I discovered older Kawai's have a pretty lousy rep, but their quality level in the last decade or so is just a huge improvement - night and day.

In my shopping I played a used RX3 (2006) that was just awful, but it was owned by a beginner who quit so it was never played in properly or set up well at all - voicing issues, regulation issues, pedal issues, it was awful and shocking for that quality a piano. Just goes to show how well it's maintained and set up really really matters in how a piano 'shows'.
Current repertoire:
ARCT program (Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Rach, Barber, Mendelssohn), plus Schumann's Papillons, Scarlatti, and Czerny op 740

My pianos: Kawai BL-51 (50"), Kawai RX-2 Conservatory

Offline onesurfer1

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Re: Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
«Reply #8 on: October 01, 2015, 06:36:11 AM »
thanks for all the info.  sounds like the kawai is a great piano.  i don't mind the action on the baldwins if they are in really good condition.  i've been told it takes months to find the piano you want.  I suppose if i didn't have to work for a living i would have all day every day to search and explore.

I like the american sound.  can't afford a SS nor a M&H in really good condition.  i can afford a nice baldwin in really good condition though.  if i don't get the baldwin i'll get a kawai GS-series or RX-series post 2004 if it's in my budget.

however, before i decide between kawai and baldwin, there are some other brands i'd like to explore...i.e. 1980's Feurich (german) and maybe used Estonia (post russian owned). 

any thoughts on the last pianos mentioned???

Offline sandracb

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Re: Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
«Reply #9 on: October 01, 2015, 11:29:08 AM »
I haven't played the Feurich or an Estonia, but German brands are always highly thought of and I've only heard good things about Estonia! Play as many as you can find, you never know what you'll end up loving. :)

I know I sound like I work for them now, LOL, but honestly, the Kawai RX pianos are *amazing*. They are a little heavier than some others but once you adapt the quickness is astounding, I practiced almost 8 hours yesterday (was learning a new piece and time gets away from me!) and wanted to keep going to because of how incredible the piano feels.

Good luck with your search, it can be a lot of fun, and they are totally right that you'll know when it's The One. Just make sure not to skimp out on getting a tech to look at it if it's a used piano, no matter how much you love it you don't want a lemon!
Current repertoire:
ARCT program (Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Rach, Barber, Mendelssohn), plus Schumann's Papillons, Scarlatti, and Czerny op 740

My pianos: Kawai BL-51 (50"), Kawai RX-2 Conservatory

Offline visitor

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Re: Action questions on Baldwin L and R models.
«Reply #10 on: October 01, 2015, 12:21:45 PM »
Estonia (post Dr. Laul) are incredible.  Think SS and similar build and finish quality and performance without the marketing price premium. It's a bit of a 'sleeper' piano.  I have loved every single one i have played. For the space limited their little 5'6 grand is probably the finest small grand you buy. the larger one *(they even have a new model that is a semi concert grand, i have not played it but i have played the 9 foot beast and it was incredible).
is truely fantastic.  If you can afford it and it's a gently hardly used one , w a very capable tech it's a dream instrument.  Cannot go wrong w/ a late model rx as said above.  At the price point of a good Estonia, it is worth being patient and casting a broad geographic net to see if you can swing a used Shigeru from a very motivated seller, that's the triple point sweet spot of quality, performance, and price.