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Looking for an upright (Read 2879 times)

Offline drkz4ck

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Looking for an upright
« on: October 26, 2016, 02:33:11 PM »
I'm about to buy an upright piano.
I don't consider looking for either digitals or grands.
I'm considering used because of budget

I was about to close a good deal with a store, but I realized I didn't like that particular instrument's touch.

They've got another one I was interested, but the hammer felt was comming off on a few notes. They said it was an easy fix, but I'm worried. Also the hammers look dirty and a single bass string sounds duller than the rest. It's from the 80's. Should I keep away from it?

Also, I can actually afford new Suzuki uprights, line from the models AU-100, AU-200 and AU-210 and so forth. All I know is they're made in Indonesia. Are they good instruments?

Thanks for the help!

Offline visitor

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #1 on: October 26, 2016, 03:04:25 PM »
a new suzu that you care fore will be more reliable and a decent instrument vs a poorly maintained old uprigth of questionable quality. given you don't like the used one, play the suzu and if you like it go that route, if you get tired a few years later, sell it and get something else.

suzu's are not 'fantastic' but they are more awful things out there, more of a student grade instrument but adequate and with new, you'll get a warranty and the store you buy from for servicing


Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #2 on: October 26, 2016, 03:22:06 PM »
play the suzu and if you like it go that route
I thought it's a bit too mellow, but I was considering giving it a try, since it's for studying and too bright of a sound could sound a bit harsh.

Also, I was told that new pianos tend to brighten up a lot during their first years, so I was kind of counting on that as well.
Or maybe even voicing in the near future

Offline indianajo

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #3 on: October 26, 2016, 04:56:53 PM »
If one hammer felt is coming unglued, the others used the same poor quality glue and they are all the same age.  
Also, a replacement bass string can sound different. it is a trial to get one that matches, there are so many variations in winding wire.  
I wouldn't buy an 80's anything except a Steinway ( not boston) mason & hamlin, pre factory closure sohmer, or maybe some european built brands not for sale here. Maybe a kawai.  Yamaha consoles sound like **** to me. Boring  bass & treble octaves.  My friend that bought a "superior" 90"s Pearl River, he has had nothing but quality problems. I bought my 1941 Steinway 40 at the same time,  sounds great and holds tune in a superior fashion.
There are tons of quality console pianos from the forties to seventies going to the dump every day around here .  Also *****y ones, you have to listen play & check them out.  There is a banged up "York" at a church downtown I'm trying to find a home for. It has beautiful top and bottom octave tone, much better than the bargain Wurlitzer they are keeping for the undamaged exterior.  The Wurlitzer has top strings too short to pluck above the damper, a sign of a "short scale" piano made to sell at a lower price. The top octave sounds "plick" instead of "ping".   There are superior Wurlitzer pianos; I've played both their good ones and their bargain ones.  A post globalization 90's wurlitzer a student had, the soft volume action was very inconsistent. Play a chromatic scale pp and see if all notes sound the same, or some don't sound at all (bad).
Other tests - play a chromatic FF scale and see if anything buzzes or doesn't damp.  Not damping can be cheap, I've fluffed up one damper with a pick on my 82 Sohmer after a dropped tuning tool bent the wire.
More tests - 1 do two string and 3 string note sound the same?
2 Do all notes  silence from the damper at the same time?
3. How fast is the action? using two hands, strike one note as fast as you can.  Can you outrun the action?  I can't on my 1982 Sohmer 39or 1941 Steinway 40.  
4. Are the hammers scooped out in the middle by too many hours? This can be repaired, but another $200 piano is a lot cheaper.  Nobody here but the Steinway rebuilder does a lot of voicing.  
5. Is the soundboard visibly cracked?
Other fast vertical brands, Baldwin, Hamilton by Baldwin, Mason & Hamlin, Chickering, Everett, Grinell Bros of Detroit, some Willis.  Baldwin Acrosonics have beautiful bright tone and are very loud, they draw a premium here, being snapped up by a craigslist bandit and resold for $700-1200.  
Don't worry about out of tune much, pianos not tuned since 1966 are a lot cheaper than the ones the dealer resells.  Also, because it is tune at a dealer, doesn't mean one pin is not loose.  That is a problem you can't really spot after a piano has been tuned.  There are repairs, but it costs money and the stupid tuner here addressed my problem with a humidifier unit, which didn't help a thing.  
Hint, my 41 steinway with a solid pin block stays stable for 3-4 years.  The 82 sohmer with 5 ply pin block need tuning twice a year to use the top octave.(I do, lecuona's Maleguena and The Holly & the Ivy arr Winston).  
The cool thing about craiglist, you get the see the pianos no dealer will touch because of finish problems.  My 41 Steinway was refused by the reseller, it has lead car wheel tracks on the kick board , a big chunk of veneer missing on the top, and some very yellow key tops on one end (water damage?)  These don't affect the sound and performance quality at all, just means mine was $1000 and the perfect ones on e-bay are $5600.  What do you want, furniture, or an instrument?  I want an instrument.  I also find missing key tops and fractured key edges no big deal. New keytops are cheap at Bills and they say super glue works fine. (I haven't tried it yet). Even my soft skin is not cut by fractured key edges.  Missing piant on the black keys is also a non-problem to me, the player, not the piano vendor.   
Best luck shopping.  


Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #4 on: October 27, 2016, 03:40:35 PM »
If one hammer felt is coming unglued, the others used the same poor quality glue and they are all the same age. 
Also, a replacement bass string can sound different. it is a trial to get one that matches, there are so many variations in winding wire.   
That makes a lot of sense. I'll keep my distance from this one

Also, because it is tune at a dealer, doesn't mean one pin is not loose.
This got me worried...
Most shops I've visited offer a 1 year warranty which covers refunds if the piano doesn't hold it's tune. But is 1 year enough time to tell if that's the case?

In my region there are not many imported models in good state. Most available at a good price are national brands which tones are either too muffled or too harsh.

I've ran across a Baldwin Petit, a Bechner 110M and a Hardman M110 within my budget. I'll visit the store tomorrow to test them out. These are 80's instruments, and I'm worrid that with the age some parts may be compromised. Specially the strings and the pinblock, which are the ones I lack the most knowledge.

Other options are to keep looking among the national brands for a particular one that matches my taste for tone. In the worst scenario they are the easiest to resell around here and I can use them as a means to acquire a better instrument in the near future.






Offline 1piano4joe

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #5 on: October 27, 2016, 04:55:13 PM »
Hi drkz4ck,

In my opinion, for various reasons as well as in the long run I think you would be much much better off with buying a NEW QUALITY instrument.

Do you have something your playing now? If so, maybe you could "save up" for the new one and ultimately buy that higher quality instrument.

If you must have something right away then I would suggest buying that new upright that you know you want and love but talked yourself out of because of price.

The money you were going to spend on the used clunker could be a nice down payment and here in the states, many stores will give you 0% financing! I don't know your situation but $100 a month (if you can afford that) is $1200 in a year. So, you take 3 or 4 years to pay it off. So what. Or maybe you get a nice tax refund and pay it off early.

I'm thinking something like $2000-$3000 for a down payment and financing the remainder. If I spent less than that on a clunker, I wouldn't be purchasing a piano at all but a PSO. That means "Piano Shaped Object"! which could mean bad action, tone, worn parts and bad glue et cetera. What if it can't hold the tuning or has bad pins or whatever? That's MORE money out of your pocket to fix. Is it not? The worst case scenario is you end up spending MORE than the cost of the new one or just as much or maybe close to it. Where is the savings/bargain there?

Since you registered on Pianostreet back in 2011 your obviously NOT a beginner and know how much piano means to you which makes the above suggestions sound.

I hope that helps, Joe.

P.S. Take your time and be patient. They say, "Good things come to those who wait". I say, "Good things come to those who think"!

Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #6 on: October 27, 2016, 05:27:39 PM »
I think you would be much much better off with buying a NEW QUALITY instrument.
That would be a very ideal situation, hahah


Do you have something your playing now? If you must have something right away then I would suggest buying that new upright that you know you want and love but talked yourself out of because of price.
Unfortunately, I don't have an instrument anymore. I sold my digital - and for an actual very good proce - just so I could buy an acoustic piano. Both my tutor and I agree this is a good decision.


many stores will give you 0% financing! I don't know your situation but $100 a month (if you can afford that) is $1200 in a year. So, you take 3 or 4 years to pay it off. So what. Or maybe you get a nice tax refund and pay it off early.
That actually sounds incredibly tempting...
I live in Brazil and music related products are heavy taxed here, but I think it's possible to get a good finacing if I can come with a part of the price upfront.


Since you registered on Pianostreet back in 2011 your obviously NOT a beginner and know how much piano means to you which makes the above suggestions sound.
Thanks for noticing and you're indeed correct. Piano means the world to me.
I haven't considered buying new ones because I was afraid of getting tangled up in debts.

I was convinced it was an ecelent idea buying used, but right now I'm a bit lost.
I'm willing to consider what everyone here has said and is yet to say.
Thanks everyone!

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #7 on: October 27, 2016, 08:09:34 PM »
On new vs. used.  There is no reason to not look at a used piano, provided that it is in decent shape (remember -- it is the instrument you are buying, not the case; it isn't going to be a piece of furniture) and you like the action and the tone.

Unless the piano has been abused or repaired by a klutz, an upright from any of the better makers should be perfectly alright -- I have one which is 112 years old and is still in excellent condition.

The pianos from better manufacturers don't deteriorate much with age (not saying that they might not need some work -- but there are new pianos which do, too).
Ian

Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #8 on: October 27, 2016, 09:45:37 PM »
There is no reason to not look at a used piano, provided that it is in decent shape (remember -- it is the instrument you are buying, not the case; it isn't going to be a piece of furniture) and you like the action and the tone.
I haven't come across any pianos yet that look like garbage on the outside but have impecable insides.
Unfortunately, the other way around happens ridiculously often and I can picture people getting fooled by it (I almost did, judging by the first post)


Unless the piano has been abused or repaired by a klutz, an upright from any of the better makers should be perfectly alright -- I have one which is 112 years old and is still in excellent condition.

The pianos from better manufacturers don't deteriorate much with age (not saying that they might not need some work -- but there are new pianos which do, too).
I'm not willing to take the risk. Some salespeople have presented me to some pianos and proudly said:
"This one has over 100 years! You should take a look!"
Then I play it, it sounds terrible and I just say whatever and move on to the next instrument.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #9 on: October 28, 2016, 01:09:28 AM »

I'm not willing to take the risk. Some salespeople have presented me to some pianos and proudly said:
"This one has over 100 years! You should take a look!"

There is no excuse for terrible sound, other than bad tuning.  Wurlitzer's bargain line had a thick soundboard that wouldn't let the sound out.  I have one I paid $50 for. It sounds a lot brighter with the top taken off, but I can't read the music that way. I keep it in my trailer I camp out the summer in, to exercise my fingers.  The top line Wurlitzer studio down at the Spring**** Methodist church sounds great, Duke Ellington played Wurlitzer grands some, there is a picture.  
But globalization has meant the production engineers have been busy making sure your new product will all fall apart at the same time.  Just like cars.  
Real pianos are not like cars, they are worn out by 1. hours of use (tens of thousands)  2. too much humidity/rain  3.  vermin damage.  Unfortunately you live in a country where 2 & 3 are pretty prevalent.  
The brands I quoted above are real pianos: before the names were bought by mega-corporations and slapped on modern insta-****.  Unfortunately I don't know the Mercosur market to recommend what is good and what is **** down there.  We had our carefully engineered to fall apart pianos here, I'll mention W*****y, K*****l my home county built piano.   My sister-in-law bought some lion logo brand in the late eighties, selling my Mother's Everett.  The movement is sticking up twenty years later in the garage- which IMHO the old Baldwin's in unheated leaky churches do not do.  I played a fifties baldwin Hamilton all summer in a 10 member country church. No issues.    I've played century old beater uprights in Sunday School, that had mostly a missing keytop problem.  There were also **** uprights built in the twenties, my grandmother had a Cincinatti, which looked like a Baldwin but sounded like **** and fell apart in the thirties.  
As far as the one year store guarentee on tuning, if they reseat or fix in the loose pin if one droops too fast, fine.  I suspect what the store will do is give you two free tunings to get it past the warranty.  Loose pins are not that common, but they do happen.  Idiots that don't know how to hold a wrench straight while tuning, are one cause.  Try that on a lugnut sometime with the " free" wrench that comes with the car, then watch your car with a flat tire get towed to the tire shop with a boogered nut.  
Strings don't wear out unless overtightened in tuning. Strings do snap occasionally, especially after long gaps in interval,  but the treble ones are easlily replaced. i've done it on my Sohmer, with industrial music wire no less, not even something special from the piano store. That one sounds better than the looped over string on my 41 Steinway, that goes faintly "boink".  Matching broken bass strings (overwound) in a 2nd world country may be a real problem, unless the manufacturer is still in business. Forturnately bass strings don't sag pitch much and don't need tightened as much as treble, either.    
To emphasize, dirt and rust on the insides are not problems.  Mouse damage and mold on the felt are.  
Stores concentrate on good furniture, most buyers won't do the tests above, and most won't practice more than 100 hours in the life of the product, either.    
New products that hold up here are Yamaha  Kawai & Steinway.  I don't like the sound of the former consoles, although their concert grands sound okay.  Petrov, Fazoli, Bechstein, Bosendorfer, I've never seen any of those in person.  
Best luck shopping

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #10 on: October 28, 2016, 01:50:00 AM »
I haven't come across any pianos yet that look like garbage on the outside but have impecable insides.
Unfortunately, the other way around happens ridiculously often and I can picture people getting fooled by it (I almost did, judging by the first post)

I'm not willing to take the risk. Some salespeople have presented me to some pianos and proudly said:
"This one has over 100 years! You should take a look!"
Then I play it, it sounds terrible and I just say whatever and move on to the next instrument.

I would invite you to come and try mine.  The 118 year old Steinway A has damaged veneer on the case around the keyboard.  It has been restrung, but never rebuilt.  It is a glorious instrument to play (some well-known professionals use it from time to time, and love it; it is my primary practice instrument, but is also used for professional concerts and recitals).  The 112 year old upright, also a Steinway, actually looks pretty decent -- and also has a wonderful sound, although nowhere near the power of the A.  The 92 year old Steinway M -- which is in an unheated space -- has neither been restrung nor rebuilt, but is also a joy to play.  Unfortunately, the finish on the lid has been really badly damaged.  All three of them hold their tuning well.  All three of them have even action and even tone, top to bottom.

Now I will grant you that there are 100 year old pianos which are junk.  As Indianajo says, there are also 10 year old pianos which are junk.  There are even new pianos which are junk, or will be about the time the "warranty" runs out.  You may well have encountered some of these.  But it would be a sad mistake (there are other adjectives I could use, but won't) to discount all older pianos on that basis.
Ian

Online dogperson

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #11 on: October 28, 2016, 05:56:24 AM »
Not sure I can change your mind on vintage uprights...  but I rescued my 116 yo upright from a garage, had it inspected to find it was in excellent shape.  In the two years I have owned it, my total investment (including purchase, moving, and the work it needed) is less than $2,000.   
I now own a vintage grand as well--- but the vintage upright will remain in my home.   

Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #12 on: October 28, 2016, 08:54:33 AM »
I would invite you to come and try mine.  The 118 year old Steinway A has damaged veneer on the case around the keyboard.  It has been restrung, but never rebuilt.  It is a glorious instrument to play (some well-known professionals use it from time to time, and love it; it is my primary practice instrument, but is also used for professional concerts and recitals).  The 112 year old upright, also a Steinway, actually looks pretty decent -- and also has a wonderful sound, although nowhere near the power of the A.  The 92 year old Steinway M -- which is in an unheated space -- has neither been restrung nor rebuilt, but is also a joy to play.  Unfortunately, the finish on the lid has been really badly damaged.  All three of them hold their tuning well.  All three of them have even action and even tone, top to bottom.
That's great! Congratulations for your instruments =)

Now I will grant you that there are 100 year old pianos which are junk.  As Indianajo says, there are also 10 year old pianos which are junk.  There are even new pianos which are junk, or will be about the time the "warranty" runs out.  You may well have encountered some of these.  But it would be a sad mistake (there are other adjectives I could use, but won't) to discount all older pianos on that basis.
Well..... Now I'm afraid to buy a piano at all... hahaha


Not sure I can change your mind on vintage uprights...  but I rescued my 116 yo upright from a garage, had it inspected to find it was in excellent shape.  In the two years I have owned it, my total investment (including purchase, moving, and the work it needed) is less than $2,000.   
I now own a vintage grand as well--- but the vintage upright will remain in my home.   
I haven't actually made up my mind. I'll keep my eyes and ears open and very attentive to what I might come across.


One very interesting thing I've noticed is that after playing countless instruments my ears are now more perceptive of their individual tonal quality.
It feels good to have developed that ability a bit, but now it means I get bothered by it more often than not... hahah

Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #13 on: October 28, 2016, 08:22:33 PM »
Editing this post because I gave up on the purchase I almost did.

It was a very good piano, but had a white coloured finished which diminishes the resell value. And was a bit too expensive for that.

back to research!
Still looking into new suzuki's AU100. I wonder if anyone has had any experience on them?

Offline indianajo

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #14 on: October 29, 2016, 10:46:56 PM »
I was going to congratulate you, but I see the deal is off. 
I have a house full of blonde furniture and Hammond organs.  It was quite the fad about 1960-68 but long dead now. I paid not much for them at charity resale shops and off the internet.   I don't expect to ever sell this stuff, it will probably be loaded in the dumpster when I expire. It takes skill to operate these 88 to 122 key instruments, and people seem to think 9 buttons and a joystick is about the right number these days (game controllers).
Perhaps heirs of the rich are less willing to invite people into their garages to buy Grandma's old hobby horse in Brazil.  Last month we had a Baldwin Acrosonic 40" console show up on craigslist in our most expensive neighborhood for $100.  Stored in the garage of course where the servants go to do laundry.  It was light maple, that unfashionable color in a time of black everything. 
I don't know if Baldwin means anything about quality in Brazil.  The new ones imported here by  gerneral music are nothing special, IMHO.  Maple action and spruce soundboard of pianos made  before 198?, those are features you're not going to get in a product manufactured in the orient.  And felt pivots and pads from those specialists in France. 

Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #15 on: October 30, 2016, 01:16:05 AM »
I've ran into a national brand upright from 2012. It's from a private party, but still in factory warranty.
I'm actually a bit shocked with the low price, even if ther are willing to answer all my questions and show me many pictures.

They say it has never been tuned, which means almost 4 years without tuning. Can that be a problem, aside from the fact i'll probable need to tune it a couple of time?

I'm scheduling a visit monday in the afternoon (which I'll do after other stores) and see if I like the sound and touch.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #16 on: October 30, 2016, 09:38:36 AM »
No, not being tuned for four years is not a big problem.
At worst, the upper notes will have to be pulled up slowly over 2 or 3 tunings. 
My 1941 Steinway 40 had not been tuned 1966-2011.  It took seven tuning passes to get it up to pitch, then it was pretty stable for about four more years. 
Individuals often have time pressure to get that huge piece of furniture they don't use out of there.  Counterfeits are not much of a problem with pianos, just look at the casting mark to verify brand. That cant be altered with a spray can or decal.  Stores can wait until they find the right customer. Prices are firmer and usually higher. 
With bad tuning, listen to the sound of the individual notes, not the ensemble.  Pieces you play would sound bad. I didn't play any pieces on the Steinway but I did the chromatic runs I described above to check the notes individually.  I noticed it had a nice, bright tone, and a light touch, as compared to the new 1982 Steinway 44 I played in a mall store.   
Best of luck. 

Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #17 on: October 30, 2016, 08:37:14 PM »
Just got word from someone who owns a Suzuki AU 200.

They commented to my question on youtube as follows:
"Oi Guaguá,
gosto desse piano. A única observação é o fato do aço que sustenta a mecânica ser frágil. Eles fizeram uma liga com outras misturas e já vi casos de pianos novos e seminovos em que ele essa peça se partiu!
Os de cauda são bem superiores."


Which freely translates to:
I like this piano. The only note is the fact the steel which holds the mechanics is fragile. They've made an alloy with other blends and I've seen cases of brand new and fresh instruments in which this piece has split!
The grands are far superior.


I think he's talking about the harp, which is a huge defect. Not worth the risk in my opinion.

@indianajo
You always comment all my posts, thanks a lot for helping! =)

Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #18 on: November 01, 2016, 11:38:39 AM »
I'll soon be looking into the last used piano around that might be interesting.
The owner has sent me a few pictures and all seemed fine, but something caught my eye.

There's a tiny black spot around one of the pins that seemed unused. I thought it could be that glue used when pins are loose, but the size of the spot is too small and the piano is relatively new (2009)

What do you guys think?
The resolution is high. You can zoom in a lot.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #19 on: November 01, 2016, 01:22:50 PM »
None of my pianos have a white ring around the tuning pins.  They just project through the metal plate. 
Perhaps this is some sort of new-tech bushing around the pins.  One of the bushings may be broken.  Don't know why it is there at all.  That is old tech.  Pins just twist into wood with some sort of light, incomplete, thread. 

Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #20 on: November 10, 2016, 11:24:49 AM »
Finaly bought my piano.
It was delivered this monday and I love it.

I bought it from a private party.

It's a national brand and will require a bit of adjustments.
I'll wait a bit till I call a technician for tuning and whatnot.

Thanks everyone for your help =)




Offline huaidongxi

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #21 on: November 11, 2016, 12:16:55 AM »
fine looking piano, congratulations.  your homeland has an incredible music culture, possibly unequalled anywhere, with a tradition of great pianists to go with the guitarists, singers, percussionists, composers....

Offline indianajo

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #22 on: November 11, 2016, 10:25:11 AM »
Congratulations. 
Nice finish. 
Let us know how it is holding up in about four years. 

Offline manuelc

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #23 on: December 01, 2016, 06:23:05 PM »
Hello there,
I own an upright schimmel K12  with silent, second hand for sale.
is this forum would be the right place to try to sell a second hand piano ?
I live in the south east england.
Thanks.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Looking for an upright
«Reply #24 on: December 02, 2016, 02:05:34 AM »
Read the thread before posting, this OP was in Brazil, about $5000 shipping charge + import fees away from the UK.  He already bought his piano.  
Pictures are traditional in real ads.  I believe gumtree is the website usually used in UK.  e-bay hides the location too well; it is not useful for selling or shopping for furniture size items. Insist on cash, I always do.  Don't let shoppers wander around your house alone.  
The US midwest is drowning in superior uprights. Why spend $$$$? I've got a free York waiting for me to pick up next time I rent a truck. Great sound, distressed finish.    Then I'll donate my $50 Wurlitzer spinet with the soundproof soundboard.  It is out at my summer trailer (caravan)  for practice.