Selecting a grand piano

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Sinamsis
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Post by Sinamsis » Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:45 pm

Neo wrote:And if you thought the Schimmels made the Yamahas and Kawais pale by comparison, please don't try a Bechstein... you will end up selling your house to buy it.
There was a used Bechstein on consignment there! I briefly tried it, I need to go back and play it again. I don’t recall the price but I think it was in the same range as the newer Schimmel.

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Post by Sinamsis » Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:57 pm

dubonaire wrote:
I can't play the piano but I really want to learn now so I can accomplish more in the studio. In the Philippines there are excellent and very affordable piano teachers. (In my opinion Filipinos are great teachers because they are patient and giving.) I have this fantasy to be able to play a Rhodes, so I'm currently looking at the awesome electric pianos that are available. The 88 key MoDX looks very cool to me because in addition to some great piano emulations it also has very interesting FM functionality at a good price, and a graded hammer action keyboard. The Nord Stage would also be cool.

I completely get the point that for you it should be an acoustic piano. I think it would be a supremely satisfying, and dare I say it, grand experience to be a competent pianist sitting down at a grand piano.
I feel like in this area there are many good options, and getting a list of priorities is a good idea. I've never played a Nord but I feel like they're always touted as having very good samples. I played piano when I was young for about 7 or 8 years, then picked up a guitar and by 14 or so I gave up on piano and focus on guitar. Over the past decade or so I have greatly regretted that decision and have gotten back to learning to actually play keyed instruments. I'm sure you'll be able to pick it up, and having a nice instrument to play will only provide further positive feedback. A few years back I found a Fender Rhodes 73 in very good shape for about $450. I snapped it up without a second thought. It is a pleasure to play and has encouraged me to work further on my technical skills, which are still greatly lacking. It still plays VERY differently than a hammer action synth key bed, or a piano. It's hard to describe, but just like when playing a piano you can feel the whole mechanism working, it's the same with a Rhodes, and perhaps even more so. I don't find them quite as nuanced as a piano, or at least mine is not, when working with just the velocity of playing. But I do think the release when striking the keys also has a different effect than a piano, which adds to the expressive playing. If I had to do it over again, I probably would still buy a Rhodes (at this price). BUT I think when it comes to electric piano sounds, there is great value in going with a digital emulation. Unlike what folks are saying about voicing one acoustic piano to sound like another, I don't think you can really make a Rhodes sound like a Wurlitzer. There's a different mechanism for sound generation in each. A digital piano will often enable you to get both and more, which I think is pretty cool. When I got my Rhodes I was also looking at the Korg SV-1. It's much simpler than a Nord Stage, and much cheaper. Ha I thought it would probably check the boxes for me. For me, keeping it simple in terms of the generated sound (ha, never though of it like this, but having a more or less fixed timbre in an acoustic or electroacoustic instrument) allows me to focus on other things. Melody, harmony, movement/progression, expression, etc. Otherwise, the more features I have, the more I get caught up in sound design and lose track of these other important aspects of creating music.

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Sinamsis
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Post by Sinamsis » Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:59 pm

estin wrote:
Sinamsis wrote:
Ha, when we were younger and a real piano was well beyond our means, I tried this. I had an MPK88. My wife never touched it. These days if I were to go down this road, I'd probably just get a Nord Stage or something. But like others have said, it's not nearly a substitute, and for us definitely not an option. Haha for me, I have a Prophet X with some decent 8Dio samples, and I have a bunch of sample banks on my computer I could rely on.
Gotcha, I figured with your production experience you could program a really nice sounding and convincing environment for a vst piano to work in.

Pretty crazy reading comments about expensive high end pianos just sounding bad in certain rooms. That would suck to find out the hard way :deadbanana:
My wife is a snob when it comes to that. It has to be the real thing.

I would assume if one is spend large sums of money on a piano they've accounted for the room in one way or another. Ha, that said, I'm sure folks are occasionally surprised!

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Post by dubonaire » Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:16 pm

Sinamsis wrote:the more features I have, the more I get caught up in sound design and lose track of these other important aspects of creating music.
Don't we all!

And thanks for your advice.

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Post by Gribs » Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:13 am

I used to sit between two Steinway owners to the left and right when I was in R&D at 3M.

I would suggest, seriously, that if you are looking at over say $8k you consider hiring a person to help you find a piano. One of my former office mates did that for his Steinway. It came from an older empty-nester Mormon couple in Utah. It was a little weird, but also sort of sweet in my opinion, because the couple wanted to make sure the piano went to a family where kids would learn to play. So my office mate sent them a picture of his family because the piano finder guy said it was a really good find.

Once the piano arrived, the finder guy offered my office buddy more than double the price he had paid. It turned out the piano is from a "right" year for Steinways. Higher end instruments from long-lived companies tend to be like that. There are some years where the choice of materials, design tweaks to the action, etc., are considered to be the best years, and pianos from those years are worth quite a lot, as in over $50k for the particular piano my office mate got.

Of course, there are other piano companies that have great offerings in different price ranges, and a finder person might help a lot.
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Sinamsis
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Post by Sinamsis » Tue Dec 10, 2019 8:48 pm

dubonaire wrote:
Sinamsis wrote:the more features I have, the more I get caught up in sound design and lose track of these other important aspects of creating music.
Don't we all!

And thanks for your advice.
Ha unsolicited as it was! What do they say about opinions again??? Haha.

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Sinamsis
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Post by Sinamsis » Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:05 pm

Gribs
Haha, I've used recruiters for my business before, I never thought of getting one for a piano! Ha, that's a great idea.

The more I think about it the more I think we should spend conservatively now, do our research and take our time, and over the next couple years find what really makes us happy and then spend ridiculously (haha IMO, considering I spent most of my life driving a Civic these grands are coming in at several times more than a new Civic!). The thought of taking out a loan large enough to buy a car or two for a piano makes me anxious, even if I could potentially pay it off in the next couple years.

We have a few leads on localish used pianos ranging from $3000-$6000. We're arranging for a tech to evaluate the almost century old Steinway and appraise it, and we're going to lay eyes and hands on it this weekend. The owner is willing to give me $2000 credit for my Guild D-55 (which makes me incredibly sad to let go, but so be it). That would bring the Steinway in a range of what we were initially considering for our "starter" grand piano. The comparable model M Steinways seem to be listed for more than this, though the prices seem all over the place.

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Post by Benjaymun » Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:41 pm

Is the Alesis Nanopiano any good?

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dubonaire
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Post by dubonaire » Wed Dec 11, 2019 12:46 am

Sinamsis wrote:
dubonaire wrote:
Sinamsis wrote:the more features I have, the more I get caught up in sound design and lose track of these other important aspects of creating music.
Don't we all!

And thanks for your advice.
Ha unsolicited as it was! What do they say about opinions again??? Haha.
Not at all it's just a conversation which is valuable. I always imagined a Rhodes would have a certain feel because it is electromechanical.

Sorry massive thread drift but this is the tune thade made me fall in love with the Rhodes, bring me back the 90s please, there is so much synth goodness in this track:

[video][/video]

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Sinamsis
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Post by Sinamsis » Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:25 pm

dubonaire wrote:
Sinamsis wrote:
dubonaire wrote:
Sinamsis wrote:the more features I have, the more I get caught up in sound design and lose track of these other important aspects of creating music.
Don't we all!

And thanks for your advice.
Ha unsolicited as it was! What do they say about opinions again??? Haha.
Not at all it's just a conversation which is valuable. I always imagined a Rhodes would have a certain feel because it is electromechanical.

Sorry massive thread drift but this is the tune thade made me fall in love with the Rhodes, bring me back the 90s please, there is so much synth goodness in this track:

[video][/video]

Ha, I don't know that I would have guessed that was a Rhodes but knowing it, I can hear it. This is what really drew me to the Rhodes sound:

[video][/video]

It maintains the bell like sound but isn't quite as bright as what I get out of mine sometimes. I love the sound of a Rhodes, but I also love the sound of a Wurli!

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Post by Sinamsis » Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:27 pm

So the piano tech that gave the Steinway a once over had this to say:

Steinway M circa 1927 mahogany finish


Condition:

* Soundboard in very good condition with no visible cracks or fractures
* Bridges in very good condition with no cracks around the bridge pins
* Tuning pin-block in good condition
* Strings in very good condition with minimal corrosion
* Hammers have been replaced estimate 1970s
* Shanks, repetitions are original in fair condition
* Dampers and pedal mechanism in good condition
* Keytops in good condition
* Cabinet and case parts were refinished as some point in fair condition
* Tuning is at A440 concert pitch

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dubonaire
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Post by dubonaire » Thu Dec 12, 2019 11:47 pm

Sinamsis wrote:This is what really drew me to the Rhodes sound:
Video not available for me.

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Post by Sinamsis » Sat Dec 14, 2019 9:56 pm

We drove out and saw the Steinway today... and against everyone's advice I bought a 90 year old piano. Haha. It cost me $5000 and my beloved Guild D-55. My wife is in love with it. Hopefully it sounds half as good in the room we're putting it in. But it really did sound lovely and played well too. Working on getting it delivered now. I'll update the thread when it arrives. But I think for us this piano is just right.

The seller, btw, is a music teacher at a local university that had briefly moved to Italy. He left the Steinway in the US. While in Italy he found a Bechstein for a steal. He brought back the Bechstein, and ultimately decided to keep it over the Steinway. He initially bought the Steinway thinking he'd have to put money into it, but in the end liked it as it was. I think for our family, this is all the piano we need, and we're prepared to put money into it if needed to maintain it.

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Post by dubonaire » Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:35 am

Sinamsis wrote:We drove out and saw the Steinway today... and against everyone's advice I bought a 90 year old piano. Haha. It cost me $5000 and my beloved Guild D-55. My wife is in love with it. Hopefully it sounds half as good in the room we're putting it in. But it really did sound lovely and played well too. Working on getting it delivered now. I'll update the thread when it arrives. But I think for us this piano is just right.

The seller, btw, is a music teacher at a local university that had briefly moved to Italy. He left the Steinway in the US. While in Italy he found a Bechstein for a steal. He brought back the Bechstein, and ultimately decided to keep it over the Steinway. He initially bought the Steinway thinking he'd have to put money into it, but in the end liked it as it was. I think for our family, this is all the piano we need, and we're prepared to put money into it if needed to maintain it.
Looking at the prices for your Steinway it seems like you got a good deal, not that I know the first thing about them. Anyway, congratulations for having a Steinway in your living room!

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Post by Funky40 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:36 pm

interesting story versus your new Piano.
Congratulations !
so is your new Steinway a (small) Grand Piano or an Upright ?
For sale / reduced prices ( swiss (we are NON-EU)/ in case it makes sense_ EU/WW)(CHF +- = $):
WMD Geiger Counter: 180.- / Dotcom Q960: 700.- / Q119: 430 /
ATV A-Frame incl. Accu and Bag: 850.-, like new, quasi unused.

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Post by Sinamsis » Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:16 pm

dubonaire
Thanks! I think so too, which is what pushed us over the edge. There were several people coming to see it that day and we were afraid we'd lose the chance. He had listed it at $10k, dropped it to $7500 and then dropped it to $6500 right before I contacted him. The fact that he was willing to take the guitar (as much as it pained me) for partial credit towards the piano made the purchase a little easier for me. It's a large amount of money, but relatively small for a grand piano, and it's the end of an exhausting year, which means I needed to take a distribution from the business. Seems like a good place to spend the hard earned dollars.




Funky40

It's a model M which is one of their smaller grand pianos. I think it's 5' 7" or 8". It was built in the 1920s and is mostly original except for the hammers and action I believe. I don't have more info on the action. I will be the fourth owner. It was originally owned by a music professor in Tennessee, it was then sold to a couple in northern Virginia. The guy who sold it to me bought it from them.




I'll post photos when it arrives. I'm currently reading up on mic'ing techniques for pianos. I have not checked the forum here, but I may update the thread title and shift the focus to other things include piano recording, piano maintenance, etc if it is not already covered elsewhere.

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Post by dubonaire » Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:20 am

Sinamsis wrote:It's a large amount of money, but relatively small for a grand piano, and it's the end of an exhausting year, which means I needed to take a distribution from the business. Seems like a good place to spend the hard earned dollars.
I think a grand piano has aesthetic qualities as well. People pay almost that much for 1930s cocktail shakers. I thin you are paying for more than just a musical instrument.

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Post by pianoscope » Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:29 am

congratulations, enjoy!

Not much you can do re maintenance, checky your humidity, get a piano moisture regulator if needed, keep temperature from extremes, keep away from radiators.

recording, that's almost as big a rabbit hole as choice of piano.
Most of the sessions I do use multimic method, phasing is always an issue once you notice it. (amazing how many engineers don't seem to).

Stereo ribbon like Aea r88 into a nice pre, Dav Bg1, or stereo Fearn to dsd if you want the best. But have fun messing with pzm dpa etc, but ribbons are my choice. But with more mic its just phase phase phase..

The thing about recording at home is you will never get what you hear on a classical solo record, go warm lo-fi intimate instead. So dont bother chasing that sound with close miking and reverb. Baroque music suffers less than romantic. Bach sounds great on anything. Obviously on non classical anything goes

Also think about removing the lid and messing with diffusers, the lid of a lacquered piano is almost like putting a sheet of glass right against the sound source.

And if you want to process in your modular try ganging up some guitar humbuckers

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Post by mmp » Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:53 am

Here’s a link to a great article on piano micing from SOS.

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/piano-recording
Last edited by mmp on Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Sinamsis
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Re: Selecting a grand piano

Post by Sinamsis » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:50 pm

I neglected this thread as the holiday's were hectic. The piano came in. The wife and kids love it. I have yet to explore recording it, but I certainly will. Thanks for the heads up on that article, I found it myself a while ago. SOS is a great resource!

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Re: Selecting a grand piano

Post by sir stony » Sat Jan 11, 2020 7:52 am

Sorry, I didn't spot this topic earlier.
A friend and former colleague is a professional piano builder and tuner, and when we talked about her profession, she told me to stay away from old pianos (like 80yrs and older), as those will have more and more issues staying in tune over a longer period of time, and will eventually become impossible to tune right at all. She also said that basically, most century old pianos are hardly worth more than the material used in them, and the mellower tone is often due to the hammer heads simply being worn down and the resonator wood having lost its sonic quality (hardened, deformed, wormy, cracked, rotten, whatever can and will happen to wood). Also I learned that a few old pianos didn't use felt hammers, but leather, which may age very differently (some turn out soft or crumbly, others may turn hard as wood), even from one to the next, resulting in inconsistent timbres. A proper all around restoration of an old piano is easily half the price of a brand new, nicely handbuilt one, after all.

I hope you fare well with your pick, however, and aren't badly struck by any of these things that can go bad with old pianos. In the end, you have to like the sound and feel of it, and unless you wish to play alongside other instruments, it wouldn't even be a problem if the notes are several Hz down to keep the tuning in itself.

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Re: Selecting a grand piano

Post by Randy » Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:48 am

Quick reply to sir stony's post. I'd agree, more or less, but there are some very usable old pianos that are available for comparatively little money. It really depends on what you're going to do with it. I bought a Knabe from 1907 or 1917 (part of the serial number is faded) and, after a bit of work from a competent and reasonably-priced technician, it is great.

When I bought it (accidentally - long story), for approximately $6000.00 CAD, it was unplayable. I really liked the slightly beat up look, reminded me of, uh, me. I got several quotes, that ranged from $600.00 to $1500.00 or more to make it playable, so it pays to call around. The gentleman who did the work was realistic. He told me it was not, in his words, a heirloom piano. It had some cracks in the soundboard (which many pianos do as it turns out) and a couple of strings that could use replacing, but after a full day of work, it's now fine. For me.

I play mostly for myself, in the livingroom of my 1500 sq ft bungalow. I've been playing for 55 years or so, classically trained, followed by jazz at college. So, in my case, a really old piano turned out to be usable, and quite a bit less than the $40,000 pianos I really liked but couldn't justify.

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Re: Selecting a grand piano

Post by deke » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:40 pm

Having sold our Steinway M, I can tell you the used piano market may be worse than used cars. I think I was the only honest seller in the area. Still, I found myself begging a few potential buyers to bring a tech, much as you would have a mechanic check out a used car. The eventual buyer did just that and we were all happy. You will see Steinways for up to 30k that need work, some that have had work, but in widely varying ranges of quality on any rebuild. It’s a jungle out there with some less than honest characters. Find a really good tech first, then start exploring every piano that might be of interest. The more time and effort you take to be an educated buyer will pay huge in the end. Best of luck!

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Re: Selecting a grand piano

Post by onthelees » Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:26 am

Some of my advice has already been posted, but as I own two pianos and have been playing all my life, here's what I have learned:

1) Look for pianos used, not too old (one of mine is 100 years old, and there are intractable problems that will never be worth solving). Many people have Grand Pianos they have no space for. They have pianos they have inherited. You can buy cheap, IF you do #3...

2) Make sure your wife likes how it plays, but realize that most used pianos need regulation and some tuning and you can achieve quite a bit of improvement for a modest investment if the piano is structurally sound and capable of being regulated.

3) MOST IMPORTANT! find a reputable piano tech in your area and if you find something you are considering buying, PAY them to pull the action and check the piano out. Just like you would if you were buying a used car, and you wanted your mechanic to check it out ahead of time. You will protect yourself from a piano that's not worth putting money into, even if it seems ok. This is far cheaper than buying used from a piano store. You can get a $5000 piano, put $1000 into it, and easily have a piano you would have spent $10k for.

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Re: Selecting a grand piano

Post by SynthBaron » Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:42 am

I watched a few dozen piano maintenance/restoration videos on YouTube and it turned me into a VERY picky buyer. I've been looking for a cheap upright piano for about 2 years now at estate sales, auctions, etc. and still haven't come across anything worthwhile. I found a nice Charles Walter, but it was WAY too loud for the huge living room it was in...nevermind a tiny bedroom where I want to put it.

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