\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright (Read 1794 times)

Offline _david_

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
« on: November 06, 2016, 04:24:48 PM »
I have been playing for less than a year and am about to take my ABRSM grade 2 exam.
 My first piano was a Kemble classic that I traded in for a Zimmermann 1980/85 baby grand. The Z is a nice piece of furniture but I've made a mistake and can't get a feel for the music I'm playing on the Zimmermann. The Kemble was actually a very nice little piano.
 I moved recently to a very nice old Victorian house and the Z fits well in the room. I've started to look at videos on YouTube etc and like the look of the old bluthner and cbechstein uprights around 1900. I also love the sound. I'm now thinking of selling or trading for one of these. I'm lost with all the overstrung, underdamped terminology though.
I think my piano is worth around 1000/1500. Depending on the model you can get the old uprights from a few hundred up to thousands. I don't want to spend more money so will settle for the ones around my piano price or less. Model 8 Bechstein s are too much so I'm looking at model 9s in my price range. They are overstrung, underdamped. Are model 10s good? They are around year 1900+-. I've also seen a Bluthner around 1900 and its straightstrung, I dont know if it's under or overdamped. 
I would like a piano I could grow into if you know what i mean. Although I'm a beginner, I'm learning quickly and I feel the Z is going to feel inadequate soon.
Any thoughts or advice on the pianos I've mentioned would be much appreciated.

Thanks. 

Offline chopinlover01

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2097
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #1 on: November 06, 2016, 05:37:47 PM »
I wouldn't. The transition from practicing on an upright (which typically have weaker actions and easier control over the sound, as there isn't a lot of it) to a baby grand, despite how small it may be, is never seamless.
A grand's action is aligned horizontally as to allow the hammers to be aided by gravity. This allows for faster repeated notes, trills, etc. Learning to play on it and have the same outcome as with an upright can be a hard task.
Jazz Ambassador 8)

Offline _david_

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #2 on: November 06, 2016, 09:25:27 PM »
I wouldn't. The transition from practicing on an upright (which typically have weaker actions and easier control over the sound, as there isn't a lot of it) to a baby grand, despite how small it may be, is never seamless.
A grand's action is aligned horizontally as to allow the hammers to be aided by gravity. This allows for faster repeated notes, trills, etc. Learning to play on it and have the same outcome as with an upright can be a hard task.

Ok, thanks for the information. I've seen some amazing skills displayed on an upright many times that I'd love to be able to achieve. I don't think I'll ever be too good for an upright.(42years old!)

Offline iansinclair

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1472
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #3 on: November 06, 2016, 10:39:25 PM »
42 years is not that old.  You have a long way to go.

A very high quality upright or even a very high quality spinet can be a very satisfying instrument (my sister has a superb spinet which is a joy to play, and I have an equally pleasant big upright) but... they have to be very high quality instruments.  Otherwise the limitations of the action or dynamic range or both will limit you on most music later than Beethoven (and even on late Beethoven).

You seem to indicate that you have room for a grand, in which case I would recommend sticking to a grand, although your might want to get a better one -- or a different one.
Ian

Offline _david_

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #4 on: November 06, 2016, 11:26:54 PM »
42 years is not that old.  You have a long way to go.

A very high quality upright or even a very high quality spinet can be a very satisfying instrument (my sister has a superb spinet which is a joy to play, and I have an equally pleasant big upright) but... they have to be very high quality instruments.  Otherwise the limitations of the action or dynamic range or both will limit you on most music later than Beethoven (and even on late Beethoven).

You seem to indicate that you have room for a grand, in which case I would recommend sticking to a grand, although your might want to get a better one -- or a different one.

Thank you!

I'm very fortunate and have a large living room where my Zimmermann is currently.  It's small at 4'8" but I have the space for a much bigger grand if I wished.  Double that length easily.

I've taken note and am now re-thinking my strategy. I'm going to try and trade my piano for a Broadwood of London grand piano. They have one where I buy my pianos and I'll try my luck tomorrow and see if I can swap. It's worth the same as mine so I'll obviously have to lose out a bit financially but it's an early 1900 piano and I think I might be able to get it.

Offline indianajo

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1105
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #5 on: November 07, 2016, 09:45:06 AM »
I wouldn't. The transition from practicing on an upright (which typically have weaker actions and easier control over the sound, as there isn't a lot of it) to a baby grand, despite how small it may be, is never seamless.
 Learning to play on it and have the same outcome as with an upright can be a hard task.
This is a crock of ****.  I play mostly uprights, I can't outrun the action on the ones I own.  Would >192 bpm suit you?  That is with the fingers of two hands alternating on one key.  
Nor do I have trouble playing either loud or soft consistently.   No, I don't own a Whitney Lion or Winter, those are only  furniture.  I own Steinway & Sohmer consoles.  Other pre 1990 quality uprights are Baldwin, Mason & Hamlin, Chickering, Everett, Kawai, high end Wurlitzer.  Inspect 39" or taller pianos, shorter spinett pianos have a slower drop action.    Many of these consoles are going to the dump after listing for <$100 because people want electronic entertainment, not an instrument.  There are some pre 1930 brands built from kits that have superior actions, for example Knabe.  The problem with the better pre 1930 44" uprights is mainly the weight when moving; they are 100-150 lb heavier than a post WWII studio even.  These old ones have to be inspected carefully, there was a lot of **** sold then, especially the many surviving former player pianos. Don't drive out to see anything with a door for the piano roll.  
I've never played a baby grand I thought sounded good. They are mainly for show, IMHO, "look I'm a piano player".  
If you're going to perform on stage on a grand, by all means buy a grand to practice on, one with a heavy action.  That applies to all 300  performing classical pianists in the world. Pop pianists play on simulated grands with electronic action these days. The better to exercise the electronic PA system without amplfying the footsteps.    All the halls I perform in, have console or studio pianos.  
There are many good sounding grands over 6' , but most of them have actions that are too heavy for my native Am. forearm muscles. I could play my teacher's Sohmer grand when I was 15, but as my muscle strength declines in my sixties, I'm glad I bought quality uprights.  
Besides unique appearance, the main feature a grand has that an upright doesn't, is a middle pedal that sustains only those notes down when it was applied.  Not much literature requires this feature.  And not all grands have this feature.  
Enjoy your shopping.  

Offline huaidongxi

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 269
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #6 on: November 07, 2016, 10:17:52 AM »
with your currency given in sterling, you're on the right side of the atlantic to have access to those fine vintage uprights.  the older bechstein, bluethner, grotrian steinweg, steingraeber und soehne verticals are quite scarce on the left side, plus americans often prefer shiny new furniture over used.  my guess would be the sales of new acoustic pianos have a different split on the opposite sides of the atlantic, higher percentage of grands in the u.s.a, and the vertical market is dominated by asian brands.  many americans would have a sampling bias if they're not among the fortunate who've played top tier verticals, particularly the european makes you're considering (the 48-52 in. yamahas and kawais get praised quite a bit).  when we were shopping for a used vertical a few months ago, would have been happy to look at european brands if any could be found in our budget range, but there was virtually nothing.

Offline iansinclair

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1472
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #7 on: November 07, 2016, 02:06:22 PM »
Quite right about the bias towards grands on the left side of the pond -- and the shame is that half the people who have them rarely play them.

For what it's worth, huaidongxi, the two instruments I mentioned above are both Steinways.  The upright is a 1904 "upright grand", and the spinet a 1936 spinet.  Nice instruments...
Ian

Offline dogperson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1378
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #8 on: November 07, 2016, 02:52:20 PM »
with your currency given in sterling, you're on the right side of the atlantic to have access to those fine vintage uprights.  the older bechstein, bluethner, grotrian steinweg, steingraeber und soehne verticals are quite scarce on the left side, plus americans often prefer shiny new furniture over used.  my guess would be the sales of new acoustic pianos have a different split on the opposite sides of the atlantic, higher percentage of grands in the u.s.a, and the vertical market is dominated by asian brands.  many americans would have a sampling bias if they're not among the fortunate who've played top tier verticals, particularly the european makes you're considering (the 48-52 in. yamahas and kawais get praised quite a bit).  when we were shopping for a used vertical a few months ago, would have been happy to look at european brands if any could be found in our budget range, but there was virtually nothing.

On the North America side of the pond, there were many well-designed vintage uprights, as well, from companies that are no longer in business, -- some which need little work.  It is a shame that only a current 'big-name' upright is considered worthy.   They were 'top tier' back when they were made and should not be quickly dismissed.  I bought one for almost nothing, did the necessary work, and have a wonderful upright.  Total investment:  under $2,000.

Offline _david_

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #9 on: November 07, 2016, 03:47:55 PM »
Thanks for all the replies.  I'm in Scotland so it's mostly Bechstein,  Bluthner,  Kemble and so on here.

It turns out my wife doesn't want an upright only a grand so of course, that's now the law.  I can't complain.

I'm looking at Broadwoods in my price range. The dealer is avoiding me so it looks like I'll have to sell mine then buy again.

Offline chopinlover01

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2097
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #10 on: November 08, 2016, 03:54:10 AM »
@Indianjo I've encountered many instances (for instance, in the Ravel toccata from Le Tombeau de Couperin) where most upright actions fail. They're decent for most stuff, but you're generally going to progress better on a grand. You learn to control a greater sound.
As for things like scales and arpeggios, there isn't a piano design that's too slow for them, but it's not those that get in the way; things like repeated chords at rapid tempi, passages that need LOTS of sound to be proportional to the rest of the music (in most Romantic music, and especially in late Romantic Russian music by Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Medtner, and the like).
Jazz Ambassador 8)

Offline indianajo

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1105
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #11 on: November 08, 2016, 07:00:57 PM »
Chopinlover01, What brand of garbage upright have you been practicing on?
A Baldwin Acrosonic is loud enough to overdrive a 6000 cuft living dining room unless there is heavy carpet and wall baffling.  If you're playing louder than 120 db, IMHO you're damaging your hearing. 
8" or longer grands are admittedly louder than consoles & studio uprights. If your residence has a 30000 cuft performance space, I am envious. Both of your wealth, and of the number of friends you entertain. 
My living/music room is 3500 cuft, and the Steinway console fills it nicely, allowing me to express myself.  The Hammond H100 organ (repaired) can overdrive the space, but then it was sold mostly to churches and funeral homes, only since 2010 becoming affordable to ordinary homeowners due to the repairs required at 40+ years of age. 

Offline chopinlover01

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2097
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #12 on: November 08, 2016, 09:38:32 PM »
Yamaha M500.
A Baldwin Acrosonic also gives you far less control of your playing and the nuances of the sound.

My point was more that, as a TRAINING instrument, that a grand is often better for the development of technique, since it rarely has any mechanical issues and gives a greater control of sound.
Jazz Ambassador 8)

Offline richard black

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2104
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #13 on: November 09, 2016, 08:23:32 PM »
Some grands are quite horrible and/or horribly difficult to play. Some uprights are quite the opposite. Many of both are somewhere in the middle. I play so many of each in an average week I hardly even notice the instrument's shape any more, except as regards whether I need to look up or down at the score.
Instrumentalists are all wannabe singers. Discuss.

Offline _david_

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #14 on: November 13, 2016, 01:05:53 PM »
Some grands are quite horrible and/or horribly difficult to play. Some uprights are quite the opposite. Many of both are somewhere in the middle. I play so many of each in an average week I hardly even notice the instrument's shape any more, except as regards whether I need to look up or down at the score.

This is the reason why I have to move my Zimmermann on.

It's sound is muffled. I find it hard to articulate but I have little feel for the music I'm making on it. I've done a deal and am getting a Fazer upright in return. It's a Finnish piano and I don't think they were exported to America, could be wrong on that though. It's a lovely piano, sounds beautiful and is very well made considering how low priced they are. I'm only at ABRSM grade 2 so it will do me just fine until I can get the Grotrian-Steinweg that I'd love to have.

I might put a photo of the Fazer up when it arrives.

Thanks for all the info and advice.

Offline indianajo

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1105
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #15 on: November 14, 2016, 12:39:37 AM »
Congratulations on finding a piano you like.
Making a soundboard that will let all the frequencies out properly is a craft that requires proper material, proper technique, and probably a lot of scrapped parts that fell apart once they were shaved thin.
Pianos that have this clear tone, as the US made Acrosonics did, draw a premium even on the prices of the great console scrap-out going on now.  It is a similar process to making a good sounding guitar or violin.  Dull boring pianos  with no highs or lows like the Y***** studio at my church, can still be sold new by attractive salespeople, but eventually the word will get around. 
Best of luck with your progress.   

Offline _david_

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Selling or trading a baby grand for an upright
«Reply #16 on: November 14, 2016, 03:44:07 PM »
Congratulations on finding a piano you like.
Making a soundboard that will let all the frequencies out properly is a craft that requires proper material, proper technique, and probably a lot of scrapped parts that fell apart once they were shaved thin.
Pianos that have this clear tone, as the US made Acrosonics did, draw a premium even on the prices of the great console scrap-out going on now.  It is a similar process to making a good sounding guitar or violin.  Dull boring pianos  with no highs or lows like the Y***** studio at my church, can still be sold new by attractive salespeople, but eventually the word will get around. 
Best of luck with your progress.   

Thanks. I haven't really developed  the skill yet to be able to discern a dull piano. I played it in the store but I think I was more taken with the aesthetics and let it cloud my judgement.  Anyway, I've got one on the way that is more 'me'.  I'm not worthy of a grand piano yet!