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  #1  
Old 01-23-2010, 08:12 PM
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Any piano players?

Dear wife & I have been talking on & off for years about getting a piano. She played a little when young, and now plays flute. She has been wanting to get a piano for years, we never had the time or space.
Now we do.
Went to a local shop today and looked at used "gray market" Yamaha's, among others. The store had a huge selection of many brands. The owner spent a bunch of time with us, and we gravitated to several 1973 U3 models on the floor. The 2 nicest ones had all new strings, and sounded incredible.
A clip of the owner playing one is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qg8H9H-p_0s&feature=player_embedded

I know nothing about brands, etc. My ears told me these sounded wonderful. My wife has been pushing for a Yamaha all these years.
So, to anyone in the know. A 37 year old piano with new strings, 10 year warranty, and lifetime upgrade policy. A good deal? Or, would we be better off buying a substantially lesser model new for the same $$?
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Old 01-23-2010, 08:32 PM
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Yamaha produces a quality piano.
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Old 01-23-2010, 09:50 PM
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Since you are in the area, check out the folks at the Peabody Conservatory. They replace their pianos every year, and sell off last year's models at (supposedly) great prices. You've waited this long, another few months isn't much longer.

The hardest part for me ( old flute player, myself) is that I had years of following one line of the music, horizontally. Keyboard player have to read vertically, the entire two staffs, all at the same time. I'm sure its a learned skill, but it intimidates me.
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Old 01-23-2010, 11:50 PM
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I played piano when I was a kid. I am self taught. I bought a grand piano about 10 years ago and made both of my kids take lessons.
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Old 01-24-2010, 12:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MS Fowler View Post
Since you are in the area, check out the folks at the Peabody Conservatory. They replace their pianos every year, and sell off last year's models at (supposedly) great prices. You've waited this long, another few months isn't much longer.

The hardest part for me ( old flute player, myself) is that I had years of following one line of the music, horizontally. Keyboard player have to read vertically, the entire two staffs, all at the same time. I'm sure its a learned skill, but it intimidates me.
if i could do it at nine, i'm sure you can manage.

as to piano purchases, i will ask my friend, who runs the local "silverlake conservatory" (is that a plug? ) and is a bit obsessed with all things musical. did you mention the price?
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Old 01-24-2010, 06:25 AM
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First of all, the U3 is a great piano. Next I'd caution against buying a piano just for the name alone. The "problem" with gray market pianos, as stated by Yamaha *ahem* is that the humidity differences can create huge problems in the stability of the piano. This doesn't make sense to me. Every piano imported to the US is made to the same specs. There's a huge humidity difference between the high desserts of Utah and the Louisiana Bayou. Where's the problem there?

In any case, the U3 is a good one. No duplex tuning and no sostenuto pedal but really, what's the big deal?
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Old 01-24-2010, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Kuan View Post
The "problem" with gray market pianos, as stated by Yamaha *ahem* is that the humidity differences can create huge problems in the stability of the piano. This doesn't make sense to me. Every piano imported to the US is made to the same specs. There's a huge humidity difference between the high desserts of Utah and the Louisiana Bayou. Where's the problem there?
That's pretty much what shop owner Rick Jones said. He then added that the Japanese Cherry trees all over DC Metro region seemed to like the climate just fine
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Old 01-24-2010, 06:53 AM
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Thanks to all for the replies.

We are going to enlist my wife's flute teacher, who also plays piano, to help us in the decision. We really don't know anyone else who's advice we could follow. There are so many nice pianos to choose from, many in the same general price range, the decision is a bit difficult.
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:12 AM
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I play piano and guitar.

Sure Yamaha is nice, but what's wrong with a Steinway grand?
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Old 01-24-2010, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by gmercoleza View Post
I play piano and guitar.

Sure Yamaha is nice, but what's wrong with a Steinway grand?
I agree. I have a Steinway mid sized grand. A model O. My teacher had a steinway model L for warm up, and a Yamaha 7.5 foot for lessons. The bass was no where near what the steinway had. Almost phantom by comparison...
In my area, the grey market pianos have a high tendancy to develop cracked soundboards, and have buzzing sounds unless they have a humidifier installed, or the house is kept at about 40-50% humidity. Not worth it in my opinion...
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Old 01-24-2010, 12:32 PM
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^ Seems there is a Yamaha available nearby.
It wouldn't surprise me about the humidity thing, (ask any string quartet!) similar to a garage kept car, I would think.
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:17 PM
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Steinway or no way Love my out of tune baby grand in the living room. I'm not sure of its model however.
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Old 01-24-2010, 02:20 PM
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Steinways are nice, but once you've played a Bösendorfer you're spoiled for life.

I'd never fault anyone for purchasing a decent piano, but it's definitely a commitment. Given your wife's past playing experience, I'm sure you have a better idea than most of what you're getting yourselves in to. Still, far more pianos end up sitting unused in homes, despite the best of intentions. Unless one is 100% sure it's something that will see regular use, it might be wiser to start with an electronic keyboard.

Yeah, yeah...the heresy - if your wife played pianos in the past, that will likely be her response. But look at it this way - you can pick up a decent 88-key keyboard, that has decent hammer-action tactile feedback and reasonable piano sound. One can easily hone or refresh their skills on such an instrument, and unlike a "real" piano, there's no tuning or space commitment. Excellent examples can be had for far less than a decent piano. Alesis and Kurzweil 88-key models can be found on eBay pretty cheap.

Now...as somebody who played classical piano for 25+ years, I don't need to be told how much more enjoyable a good piano is over even the best electronic keyboard. But, the simple fact remains that most people just don't stick with it. If you do, great - sell the electronic keyboard, then pick up a piano. Unlike pianos, used quality keyboards are actually quite easy to sell - you would lose relatively little of your initial investment, even if you bought new.

Whatever you decide, good luck. And if you do go for a piano, there's nothing wrong with Yamaha on the lower end as others have mentioned here. But, let your ears and fingers be your guide. Play a bunch of them - even moderately experienced piano players, will notice differences between "identical" models.
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Old 01-24-2010, 03:32 PM
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Now...as somebody who played classical piano for 25+ years, I don't need to be told how much more enjoyable a good piano is over even the best electronic keyboard..
As a classically trained muscian, you will appreciate the tag line a friend of mine ( well actually a friend of my son) uses. She plays in some coffee houses in New York and environs.
Her tag line is , " Classically trained, practically broke"
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Old 01-24-2010, 04:39 PM
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We broadened our options today by visiting 2 more stores.

One small shop that specializes in rebuilding high end units, mostly Steinways, and also sells the gray market Yamaha U1's U3's. In addition, he had some Baldwins, some private labeled new units made in China, and a European brand beginning with "P". The Steinway grands are awesome, but way too big for my space, and way more $$ than we are prepared to spend. He is in the process of rebuilding a Steinway upright, which would be available in about a month. Meanwhile, his primary recommendation is either of the Gray Yamahas, which apparently turn over very rapidly. He also offered a 10 year warranty on them, and a 15 year full credit trade-up option.

The other shop, a chain store, gave me the hard sell on all the reasons NOT to buy a gray market, and pushed me to give a deposit on a new U1 at just under $8k. The guy was pleasant enough at first, but became rather obnoxious as he kept pressing to make a sale today, as if all new available U1's are likely to sell out from under me. Sorry buddy, I think not.
This store did have a very nice used Steinway upright, but at around $13k listed price, not in our price range.

We're leaning toward taking our chance on the used U3 at today's store, at about $700 below the comparable units we saw yesterday.

Thanks again to all who have commented. All additional opinions welcomed.
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