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Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal? (Read 4836 times)

Offline ffchopinist

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Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
« on: October 26, 2015, 07:59:55 PM »
Hi Piano Streeters! So I'm shopping for a used grand piano and came across a 6'1'' Yamaha C3 from the 80s going for about $7000 USD (less than half the price of what I would be paying from a dealer). 

However, the guy who owns it says it only has 2 pedals, supposedly because older Yamahas don't have them.  (Is this one of those "grey market" pianos...?)   That means it doesn't have the middle sostenuto pedal, which is used for some more advanced contemporary or impressionistic works.  I'm worried that not having the middle pedal available will keep me from progressing and may hurt resale value.... on the other hand, I rarely ever used it in my 10+ yrs of piano lessons.

Would you ever consider buying a grand piano that only has 2 pedals and no middle pedal?  Is this a bargain... or just a bad idea...?

Offline vevurka

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 09:35:03 PM »
Definitely I would consider especially if I will like a touch and sound of that piano. You see, sometimes you can have to play a recital on a piano without middle pedal, so there is no point to care about this pedal so much. For every advanced piece where you use it you should know how to play it without using that pedal.

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #2 on: October 26, 2015, 10:12:26 PM »
Sounds good to me, as long as the piano is in good shape overall.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline ffchopinist

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #3 on: October 26, 2015, 10:32:01 PM »
Oh interesting! I hadn't realized that you run into recital pianos that are sometimes missing a middle pedal! That's actually a really good point that it may be good to know how to play all pieces without it. 

Are you able to easily make Ravel sound right / not too muddy without a middle pedal and with just a regular right pedal then....?

(I'm thinking the lack of the sostenuto is probably a bigger issue for advanced Ravel and Debussy pieces) 

Also, what do you guys think about whether or not missing the middle medal would impact resale value down the line?

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #4 on: October 26, 2015, 11:39:37 PM »
Quote from: ffchopinist link=topic=59877.msg*/642978#msg642978 date=1445898721


Also, what do you guys think about whether or not missing the middle medal would impact resale value down the line?

I would expect it to impact resale about the same as it is right now LOL ! Lower price right ? Plus who knows where the whole acoustic piano market is headed in general really. Used acoustic pianos are already not a quick sell item in various parts of the world. The big question is overall will this piano satisfy your general needs ? Have you tried it out and it is something you enjoy playing ? If not, then all the added features in the world won't make it worth owning.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #5 on: October 27, 2015, 01:44:28 AM »
I certainly wouldn't consider reinforcing my floors for a grand without that pedal.  That is the whole point of owning a grand, for me. It's an action you can't buy here on consoles or studio pianos.  
I'm playing a piece that needs the sostenuto pedal, with 15 note spans.  Without it, I'm playing the bass note with my left heel. You could roll it, but Chicago Symphony doesn't in the most popular performance.  
It's going to be rainy all next week, I'm off to the next county to try out their plant stand (1950's Baldwin grand in the fellowship hall) with the sostenuto pedal. I hope they haven't decorated it already for thanksgiving, where I can't play it.  
My piano teacher 1959-1966 had a grand with a sostenuto pedal but she never taught me any repretoire requiring it.  
There is a second tier 6"10" grand in the next state for $900, decent looking but sitting in a garage condition unknown. My organ voicer friend has said he has played one, they are quite a decent brand.   I wouldn't drop that much on a ****** with that floor under the market. 

Offline outin

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #6 on: October 27, 2015, 04:42:21 AM »
I think it's normal for these older Yamahas to have just 2 pedals.

How often do you really need the sostenuto pedal? If you don't play 20th century music, never I guess. And even if you do, quite seldom unless you are really into certain type of music. And If you have access to another grand with 3 pedals to occasional practice when needed, I see no reason not to buy this piano if everything else checks out.

Offline richard black

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #7 on: October 27, 2015, 10:50:46 PM »
Yes, I can't remember exactly when the C3 started coming with a middle pedal as standard, but it was certainly within living memory. My Bechstein is WAY too old to have a middle pedal. Only in the last 40 or so years has it been standard fitment on any but the best and biggest concert instruments - apart from Steinway, who invented it (and not all of theirs had it until several decades later).

You don't need to do a huge amount of practice with a middle pedal. It's pretty easy to get the hang of it and you won't forget quickly.
Instrumentalists are all wannabe singers. Discuss.

Offline quantum

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #8 on: October 28, 2015, 03:17:34 AM »
How much of the repertoire you are interested in playing requires middle pedal?  If it is only small number of pieces and the sostenuto doesn't figure into the bulk of your repertoire, then I wouldn't worry too much about it.  If you know you will need it frequently, like experimenting, or want to compose music with middle pedal, it may be worth looking into pianos that have one. 

I agree with Richard, once you learn to use it you can easily adapt to one. 
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Offline indianajo

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #9 on: October 28, 2015, 06:50:59 AM »
This "adapting" to a piano with sostenuto! I don't know what universe you posters live in, but around here, the only grands available are 1. The grands where you hire the whole hall for a performance @ $$$$ per 3 hour session 2.  The grands at the university music school where if you are a valid student you get to practice on  the grand an hour at a time for few weeks before your graduation recital 3.  The grands at some churches played by the professional musician, which you are not, and nobody is allowed to touch the grand but her/him.  Not even members. 
I don't see sostenuto repretoire as that strange.  Scott Joplin for **** sakes, has some impossible notes written out unless you have one.  Look at all those half notes held out in Paragon Rag, when your hand is busy playing other notes.  Putting down the sustain just for these measures doubles the volume for those. I find the effect of occasional sustain quite annoying.  SJ did live in NYC, at the end of his life and probably had access to a sostenuto pedal.
So to put up with the bulk and weight of a grand, without reaping the benefits of sostenuto, strikes me as a non-starter.  Rather than move in one of those behemoths, I may build electric sostenuto into one of my console pianos.  That sort of effort would be a whole lot easier on my muscles.  And I could cram 2 consoles in the space of one grand.   With two consoles I and a friend can play Brahms variations on a theme by haydn, or liszt arrangements of beethoven symphonies, or the original version of Rhapsody in Blue

Offline outin

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #10 on: October 28, 2015, 07:09:02 AM »
This "adapting" to a piano with sostenuto! I don't know what universe you posters live in, but around here, the only grands available are 1. The grands where you hire the whole hall for a performance @ $$$$ per 3 hour session 2.  The grands at the university music school where if you are a valid student you get to practice on  the grand an hour at a time for few weeks before your graduation recital 3.  The grands at some churches played by the professional musician, which you are not, and nobody is allowed to touch the grand but her/him.  Not even members. 
I don't see sostenuto repretoire as that strange.  Scott Joplin for **** sakes, has some impossible notes written out unless you have one.  Look at all those half notes held out in Paragon Rag, when your hand is busy playing other notes.  Putting down the sustain just for these measures doubles the volume for those. I find the effect of occasional sustain quite annoying.  SJ did live in NYC, at the end of his life and probably had access to a sostenuto pedal.
So to put up with the bulk and weight of a grand, without reaping the benefits of sostenuto, strikes me as a non-starter.  Rather than move in one of those behemoths, I may build electric sostenuto into one of my console pianos.  That sort of effort would be a whole lot easier on my muscles.  And I could cram 2 consoles in the space of one grand.   With two consoles I and a friend can play Brahms variations on a theme by haydn, or liszt arrangements of beethoven symphonies, or the original version of Rhapsody in Blue

I would (and will one day) certainly replace my upright with a grand to be able to enjoy playing what I play (which does not include Scott Joplin) with the kind of instrument most suitable for it...And no digital with a grand action could ever be the same for me because the sound is not acoustic. But I don't see much use for the sostenuto pedal and would be quite happy to get an older grand without it, if the action and sound are to my taste. So far I have only wanted to play one single piece that calls for the sostenuto. I suspect there are plenty of people like me...

Offline michael_c

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #11 on: October 28, 2015, 11:20:27 AM »
Regarding complex impressionistic pieces, it's worth pointing out that Ravel composed his music on an Erard piano which did not possess a sostenuto pedal and Debussy did most of his composing at a Pleyel upright.

It's good to know and understand the sostenuto pedal, but it's much, much more important to perfect all the subtle uses of the sustain pedal. If you get the chance, go to a recital of a top concert pianist and (if you can manage to concentrate on the pianist's feet for the whole concert) watch how often he/she actually uses the sostenuto pedal...

I wouldn't let the lack of a sostenuto pedal be a deciding factor. If the tone and the touch of the piano suit you, and the instrument is in good condition (always get a tech to look at a secondhand piano before committing yourself), I'd go for it. If you do buy this piano, you might even consider using some of the $$ you economised to buy a DP just in order to practice the use of the sostenuto pedal. For instance, a Casio PX-160 with stand and three pedals costs around 650 USD.






Offline irrational

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #12 on: October 28, 2015, 02:02:08 PM »
Keep in mind the Sostenuto pedal was only really included from around 1875.
And even then only sparsely.
So the vast majority of common repertoire does not even know about it.

It should certainly not influence your choice in the least!
The piano sound and feel should be paramount to all other choices.
If you are not happy with those, you will not enjoy the piano in any case.

Offline ffchopinist

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Re: Would you buy a grand piano missing a middle (sostenuto) pedal?
«Reply #13 on: October 30, 2015, 01:59:16 AM »
Thanks for the great advice, everyone! It sounds like I shouldn't rule out a piano missing the sostenuto pedal if I love everything else about it.  Sadly, I didn't like the action of that particular piano.  The keys felt a bit too loose due to age, and it was hard for me to play very softly.  The search continues!