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Author Topic: What to upgrade to? Confused after reading  (Read 702 times)
donsimon76
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« on: April 21, 2017, 02:35:23 AM »

(TLDR at bottom)

I have played since I was 5, would say I am a decent player dabbling in many different styles from classical to pop. Grew up kinda poor so had crappy electric keyboards until getting a Yamaha Clavanova CVP35 back in high school. Went through a few other keyboards over the years and currently have a Korg Krome. About 4 years ago I finally got myself a real piano. It is a 1980 Baldwin Model 322 upright. I have enjoyed it a lot but the action is slow making it easy to miss notes if playing fast. Maple Leaf Rag is sad to try to play full speed. I am moving long distance and am trying to decide if I should keep it and pay the extra to move it or sell it cheap and buy something nicer when I get into my new house. I only paid $300 for the piano so the cost to move it kinda makes it not worth it. I am looking at a budget of around $6000 or less. I've been looking around online and would love a baby grand for the feel of the keys but I have seen a lot of arguments that any baby grand in that range would fall behind an upright in the same price range when it comes to sound. The room it will be going in will easily fit a baby grand. It just happens that the previous owners had a Kawai 5ft baby grand in it. Tried to get them to leave it but they didn't want to sell. I figured, hey, if it was already there. . .

I am just an amateur home player who plays for fun and my sanity. I am getting all wound up in the discussions about grand/upright/brands, etc. I almost wonder if I am better off just trying out a bunch of used pianos at a couple dealers up there (Near St Louis) and picking one that I like the feel and sound of. I don't totally trust myself though and am afraid of finding out afterwards I actually made a bad choice. I am looking for it to be a pretty permanent purchase and not want to upgrade again in a few years.

I do keep reminding myself that pretty much anything I pick will be better in probably all ways than my old beat up Baldwin.

Thoughts and advice would be much appreciated.

tldr: Have old 1980 Baldwin upright. Want to upgrade. Confused between used upright or used baby grand for my circa $6000 max price. Will be shopping in St Louis area.
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iansinclair
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2017, 02:51:40 AM »

Go for the baby grand.  I'll grant you that the sound of a 5 foot grand isn't going to be the same as that of, say, my Steinway D.  But you won't expect that.  However, it will be at least as good as -- if not better than -- any upright you could buy, unless you get stuck with a junker.  I'd go with a reasonably sized one -- a Steinway M would be about right, and would almost certainly fit -- it's 5' 7" -- as would any of its competitors, and your budget should allow you to get one is you are not unduly fussy about the looks.  The sound is superb.

Do play whatever you find -- it is a major investment -- and do get a competent tech. to look at it and make sure there are no real problems.
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Ian
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 03:04:56 AM »

I would also suggest a grand, but have another suggestion:  let your tech know you are interested in a grand.  That is how I purchased mine.   A client of his wanted to sell hers, and he called me.  Great price, and great condition.  Really, the piano of my dreams (and the tech inspection was already done  Smiley)
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donsimon76
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2017, 03:13:51 AM »

I am glad to see two people saying "Go with a grand!"
I want a grand but I need to make sure I am not letting the aesthetic blind me into getting something inferior to an upright around the same price. 

I like the idea of finding a tech once I get up there (beginning of June) and maybe finding a grand owned by a little old lady who only played hymns on it every other Sunday.  Smiley

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outin
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2017, 04:32:42 AM »

I doubt you will ever regret getting a grand of suitable size. The only regret may be if you end up with a very faulty instrument, but that can happen with an upright as well. Take your time to find one you really like and use a tech if possible in the selection process and the risk of regret is very low...
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My summer projects: Scarlatti K87, K466, K109, Scriabin op74 preludes, Chopin Waltz 69-2 and Berceuse. And just exploring more music...
hfmadopter
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2017, 11:56:25 AM »

I am glad to see two people saying "Go with a grand!"
I want a grand but I need to make sure I am not letting the aesthetic blind me into getting something inferior to an upright around the same price. 

I like the idea of finding a tech once I get up there (beginning of June) and maybe finding a grand owned by a little old lady who only played hymns on it every other Sunday.  Smiley



You need to go play some grands even if right away you don't find any in your price range , play them anyway. And not just for Rag and speed of note reps, though that should be included. Play slow articulate and moody music incorporating peddling, make tonal colors happen. Hit on an instrument or two that seems to sing to you, see how softly quietly you can play them and if FF is spontaneous, and can you build and build from PPP to FFF ? Then go try out the uprights. Can you make those same things happen ? Grands are all about note articulation, control, dynamic range, resonance and overtones, tonal colors, as well as clarity when you want that. Listen to the upper octaves, a good grand will be bell like clear in the octaves above mid range assuming they are up to tune ( not all shops keep them in perfect tune unfortunately).

Some things in common between uprights and grands: If you don't need all those ranges you can play either monotone just you don't have a lot of choice with the upright. Some uprights and some grands have exceptional tone. And when they are out of tune they all sound just as terrible as a piece of junk.
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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.
indianajo
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2017, 12:29:33 PM »

Well, I'm contrary. I played a few grands in my student days, and much preferred the Baldwin Acrosonic 44 I found at contest 1963.  The Acrosonics I play on around here confirm my love for a bright, fast piano.  They do need tuning for the strings to sing with each other, I do it myself in various church fellowship halls.  And the Yamaha 6' grand I have access to in one church confirms my contempt for the herd instinct.  Beautiful furniture, **** as an instrument.
I'm not surprised a 1980 Baldwin is slow.  I've been warning about globalized ****.  Real Baldwins were made in Arkansas or Ohio.   There is a sixties Baldwin Acrosonic at Salvation Army now for $50, a 36" spinnet, that I almost can't outrun with the two hand repetition test. And the tone. People that have blown out their ears with fireworks, weapons, loud motors, will never know what they are missing.    A 40" or higher Acrosonic is even faster.  They tend to draw $400-$600 from the flippers in flea markets on Craigslist.  Dealers with showrooms won't touch Acrosonics,  makes the new stock sound bad and there are too many of them to get $4000 for.  
If you want a dull, monotonic piano, buy a Yamaha.  Everybody else does. The salesmen with the "beautiful green eyes" has all the women in three counties mesmerized.  The people at my Baptist church are extremly fearful of overtones.   I like overtones.  My hearing still works to 14 khz, due to frequent use of earplugs.  The minister wears 2 hearing aids, likes to hunt with a shotgun. The deacons hunt, bass fish in loud boats, ride motorcycles, are deaf to overtones IMHO.  
I frankly don't know what hmfadopter is talking about.  Half pedaling, I can do that on the Sohmer 39 or Steinway 40. Le catedral integlue is suitably spooky in my music room.   One string soft pedal, my pianos are not loud enough that I need that to play very softly. I don't even use the left cram down pedal.  My pianos have a consistent touch.  The only thing I miss from a grand is the one note sustain middle pedal, but the Sohmer has bass half sustain and that covers the 15 note span of PIctures @ an Exhibition.   I'm working on an electromechanical add on to verticals for one note sustain that doesn't require 4 men, the obsolete grand board, @ $1000 a pop to move into the living room  Plus the extra beam in the basement to hold the floor up for a grand.
There are some good grands out there.  The Kawai at 1st Bap New Albany sounds pretty good.  The Coronado at St Paul's Ep New Albany sounds really great. You can't buy those new.  The Baldwin grand at Concordia Lutheran Church on Broadway in Louisville, sounds great. As does the Steinway at Kentucky Center of course. None are available for practice by amateurs.  
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hfmadopter
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2017, 03:15:17 PM »

Well, I'm contrary. I played a few grands in my student days, and much preferred the Baldwin Acrosonic 44 I found at contest 1963.  The Acrosonics I play on around here confirm my love for a bright, fast piano.  They do need tuning for the strings to sing with each other, I do it myself in various church fellowship halls.  And the Yamaha 6' grand I have access to in one church confirms my contempt for the herd instinct.  Beautiful furniture, **** as an instrument.
I'm not surprised a 1980 Baldwin is slow.  I've been warning about globalized ****.  Real Baldwins were made in Arkansas or Ohio.   There is a sixties Baldwin Acrosonic at Salvation Army now for $50, a 36" spinnet, that I almost can't outrun with the two hand repetition test. And the tone. People that have blown out their ears with fireworks, weapons, loud motors, will never know what they are missing.    A 40" or higher Acrosonic is even faster.  They tend to draw $400-$600 from the flippers in flea markets on Craigslist.  Dealers with showrooms won't touch Acrosonics,  makes the new stock sound bad and there are too many of them to get $4000 for.  
If you want a dull, monotonic piano, buy a Yamaha.  Everybody else does. The salesmen with the "beautiful green eyes" has all the women in three counties mesmerized.  The people at my Baptist church are extremly fearful of overtones.   I like overtones.  My hearing still works to 14 khz, due to frequent use of earplugs.  The minister wears 2 hearing aids, likes to hunt with a shotgun. The deacons hunt, bass fish in loud boats, ride motorcycles, are deaf to overtones IMHO.  
I frankly don't know what hmfadopter is talking about.  Half pedaling, I can do that on the Sohmer 39 or Steinway 40. Le catedral integlue is suitably spooky in my music room.   One string soft pedal, my pianos are not loud enough that I need that to play very softly. I don't even use the left cram down pedal.  My pianos have a consistent touch.  The only thing I miss from a grand is the one note sustain middle pedal, but the Sohmer has bass half sustain and that covers the 15 note span of PIctures @ an Exhibition.   I'm working on an electromechanical add on to verticals for one note sustain that doesn't require 4 men, the obsolete grand board, @ $1000 a pop to move into the living room  Plus the extra beam in the basement to hold the floor up for a grand.
There are some good grands out there.  The Kawai at 1st Bap New Albany sounds pretty good.  The Coronado at St Paul's Ep New Albany sounds really great. You can't buy those new.  The Baldwin grand at Concordia Lutheran Church on Broadway in Louisville, sounds great. As does the Steinway at Kentucky Center of course. None are available for practice by amateurs.  
You must copy and paste this message every time but this is me by now LOL Shocked  Well anyway and kidding aside, I think we all understand your view point by now, we just don't all agree.
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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.
iansinclair
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2017, 03:36:37 PM »

Well, in a sense I agree with Indianajo -- as it happens one of my other pianos is an upright grand, so called, Steinway (almost 6 feet tall) from 1904.  Good repetition, excellent tone, though not as much power as a true grand.  I also play a Steinway spinet (44 inches more or less) from time to time.  Also excellent tone and repetition, though pretty quiet (great for a small living room, though).

However, I'll stick with my original comment: a good small grand in the 5"5" to 6' range (165 to 185 cm) is, in my view, the better direction to look, since you have the room for it.  I will also reiterate what everyone else has said -- play whatever you look at.  Various folks have various tastes in tone quality and attack, and each piano is slightly different (sometimes more than slightly!) and you need to like what you are getting.  I, for example, do not care for Yamahas or Kawais.  Some people love them.  I like, but not love, the old Baldwin grands (pre about 1980) -- but I've never cared for the Acrosonics.  Some people like them.  And so on.
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Ian
hfmadopter
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2017, 04:15:14 PM »

I suspect the OP can do better with his 6.5K budget than a Salvation Army Acrosonic, if he can even find one there. Or maybe he will run into one at the dump. I just somehow suspect that isn't the answer he was looking for, but hey one never knows. I've played a couple of decent uprights,one surprisingly was a Wurlitzer console. The action was quick, the tone good, the bass was very lacking for my kind of playing but overall it was a very decent playing piano. It was not a 5'5"-6' ( 165-182- 185ish cm) grand well prepared etc. It was a very good sounding and not bad action practice piano for the second or third year piano student girl who owned it though. It would have been a good accompanists piano for a singer too.
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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.
donsimon76
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2017, 04:55:36 PM »

What is good is that I can't consider buying anything until we move into the new house in Illinois in the beginning of June. We are coming from Florida. That lets me do some looking down here and trying stuff out to get better acquainted with what I really need to be looking for once I get up there. No temptation to see one piano and stupidly buy it.   Smiley

Based on personal feelings and the much appreciated info posted by everyone, I think I will start out looking for a grand and see if I can find the right one. If the search starts to feel futile, I will look at some nice uprights and see how I feel from there. Being a good sized city (we will be living 18 miles form St Louis) there are a bunch of piano stores that sell used as well as some nice looking ones on Craigslist. For example, there is a Kawai GE-1 for $4k that looks to not have a scratch on it. Nice price even with factoring in the additional costs of getting it checked out, moving and initial tuning. I did play a Kawai baby grand a couple weeks ago but don't remember the model. It felt really nice to play but seemed a little too dark sounding to me. Funny thing is that it was in the house we are buying.
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hfmadopter
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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2017, 07:44:05 PM »

It sounds like you have a good strategy going forward.

That Kawai you played may have been dark sounding but the next might not. Much depends on the instrument itself and also how it is tuned. However I think you will find Kawais overall to be slightly more mellow than say a Yamaha, but again it depends on the Yamaha, how it is set up etc etc. You're moving to an area where instruments should be plenty to pick between. I personally think Kawai is one good choice of many.
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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.
donsimon76
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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2017, 10:12:33 PM »

If I found a Kawai like that one that sounded a little brighter I think that would definitely make me a happy camper!
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hfmadopter
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« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2017, 11:47:45 PM »

If I found a Kawai like that one that sounded a little brighter I think that would definitely make me a happy camper!

Well if I'm not mistaken a GE1 is 5'2", do you think it was that size or larger ?

RX series Kawais can sound pretty nice too. You may not get an RX for 4K but you might find one within budget from the right seller..

Also, as you age you might appreciate a bit mellower tone, I do. I even play with the top totally closed sometimes. And I most of the time play now with just the music holder open vs the top up at all and am quite happy with that. In my younger years I Liked it on the first stick best. My piano is 6ft and it's really mellow with the top all closed up.
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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.
zolaxi
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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2017, 11:48:50 PM »

It's great to so many opinions from experienced people.

But half the fun is going out and trying different pianos for yourself. You will soon discover what you prefer. The tone, the touch of different pianos is a very personal thing.

The only danger is when you fall in love with a 9 ft Fazioli and have to sell the house to buy it. But then you wouldn't have anywhere to house it, so take care.

My first grand was a Grotrian 189 which I bought new 30 years ago! I found the action very heavy and difficult to manage. Just about everything I tried seemed better. I came across a second hand, but perfect condition Yamaha C7 and I'm very happy with it.
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huaidongxi
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« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2017, 03:28:58 AM »

donsimon, methinks you will find plenty of options within your budget, if you care to invest the time and travel hassle to look and try your options in the east-central part of Il you're moving to.  Springfield and Evansville can't be far if you're close to St.Louis.  suspect there are plenty of used pianos getting shifted about on the markets in the area, and the moving costs even from Chi might not be prohibitive if you find a special piano at a decent price there.  households and economic conditions in transition will work in your favor, and that corner of the midwest is ripe with it.  the more pianos you examine and try out gives you the best chance for a sound decision and the best result, though random luck does work well for some individuals.
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