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You need a grand when you start using the una corda pedal a lot, and the sostenuto pedal, and playing stuff with rapid repetitions that is difficult to achieve on an upright, e.g. Ravel's Alborada del gracioso and Scarbo, Scarlatti's Kk141 etc.

Incidentally, I can do all that on my digital piano (Roland V-Piano). There are digital pianos and there are digital pianos, just as there are good acoustics and bad (poorly-maintained) acoustics.....


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Originally Posted by BDB
The una corda pedal is pretty much useless on any piano.

Unless it is ordered by a composer wink . For examle, Musorgsky "A Tear". The middle section is played with una corda. The difference in tone is very clear:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkdtdH9u0Qs


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While I agree that most digital pianos aren't enough. Sometimes you just have to make due with what you have. If you only have an upright, practice on it. I am thankful I have an upright at home when I visit so I can continue practicing. It is a fine instrument, and while not suitable for a concert hall. It is more then fine for practicing and learning notes.

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I'd say around Level 4 because that's usually the make-or-break point. Students who get past Level 4 have a tendency to keep learning piano. Ideally, though, everyone should start learning piano on a quality grand.


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Level 4? Is that an American thing? The British grading system puts a Bach Prelude and Fugue or a Mozart sonata at Grade 8. I understand the Canadian system goes to grade 10?

Either way that level should be reachable by the average player on an old upright. I used a pre-war Normelle upright - not a bad piano in it's day but no competition for a Yamaha U1. It was trounced by a 1989 Yamaha Clavinova - which I still use.

I used to have regular access to a nine-foot Bluthner grand. I'd say it was too good to practise on. It gave you everything without having to work for it.







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It's interesting that so many people are focusing on the pedals on a grand. I think you may be missing the superior harmonics and color you can get from a grand, especially a big one.


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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Level 4? Is that an American thing? The British grading system puts a Bach Prelude and Fugue or a Mozart sonata at Grade 8. I understand the Canadian system goes to grade 10?
Level 4 here is around Clementi Op. 36 No. 1 and Burgmuller Op. 100.


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Originally Posted by gooddog
It's interesting that so many people are focusing on the pedals on a grand. I think you may be missing the superior harmonics and color you can get from a grand, especially a big one.


In my experience, good upright pianos have sound that's on par with grands, and different pianos sound very different. Some grand pianos that cost a lot can have rather limited range when it comes to color.

The pedals and action however are a fundamental thing that has much less variation. It is harder to adjust to a grand if you don't practice on a grand, it just feels different when you have heavier hammers that rely on gravity rather than springs, and it feels different when the touch doesn't change when you press una corda. It is different when you can feel the dampers lifting off the strings through the pedal.

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A new, entry level upright such as a Kawai K2 or an older, well maintained one should be well able to take a player up to Grade 8 (Final, ABRSM).
Likewise a good digital such as a Yamaha CLP-440 or Roland HP-505 or better. The time to move to a grand is when you can a) feel the difference, and b) make use of the difference or, alternatively, in time to adjust before giving a performance on one.
Below Grade 6 (ABRSM Intermediate) I'd say it's completely unnecessary.

When I started playing a Blüthner grand (Für Elise) it was just another (bigger) piano. By the time I was playing the Moonlight Sonata (all three movements) I was revelling in every opportunity to get to the Blüthner.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
... and playing stuff with rapid repetitions that is difficult to achieve on an upright, e.g. Ravel's Alborada del gracioso and Scarbo, Scarlatti's Kk141 etc.
Relevant for about .1% of those who play piano.

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Your question asks at what level an upright isn't enough? I believe there's another aspect to this and it has to do with musicality. Seems to me the really avid and very musical pianist would HAVE to have a nice grand once they heard the difference. One way or another, they HAVE to have a grand--the bigger the better.

For the serious pianist who spends years and thousands of hours at their piano a very good grand is a must. Not a lot of money when spread over 10-15 years.

Bech


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My Interior Decorator said that I needed a Grand Piano to make my joint look posh ... a big room can look decidedly plebeian without the relief of a shapely hunk of furniture ...
all the best people are said to park their shiny Grand in the home Salon ... they don't have to be able to play it ... the Grand is
mostly locked up ... to stop visiting brats from indulging their sticky finger rendition of Baa-baa-black sheep.

The fact that I had to give up a new set of golf clubs and now wear a threadbare suit (with elbow patches) was well worth the sacrifice.

I always like to keep up with the Joneses.

And then I woke up and faced reality ... it didn’t take long for me to warm the cockles of my heart playing a Beethoven Sonata (Waldstein) on my Grotrian Steinweg upright.

To heck with the Joneses!!

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Originally Posted by Bech
For the serious pianist who spends years and thousands of hours at their piano a very good grand is a must. Not a lot of money when spread over 10-15 years.
It's not just about the money, you know. Many people live in places where a grand simply won't fit. I did for many years. Then it's also about other things you need to do with that money - like feed your kids. A good grand is desirable. Not a must. (Just my opinion of course.)


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by bennevis
... and playing stuff with rapid repetitions that is difficult to achieve on an upright, e.g. Ravel's Alborada del gracioso and Scarbo, Scarlatti's Kk141 etc.
Relevant for about .1% of those who play piano.


It's not limited to those pieces, the repetitions don't need to be fast for you to notice. An example would be Beethoven op.57 Appassionata, uprights and digital pianos drive me CRAZY when I play the repeated notes.

That aside, I keep seeing people mentioning sound...tbh, my grand piano's sound is not better than some uprights. Good sound is a luxury that very few people can afford, but luckily the grand action itself is much much more important, at least IMO. You can learn to deal with sound and adapt to different pianos quickly, but if the mechanical behavior is completely foreign to your hands it will be difficult to bring out the full tonal range available on a grand.

Last edited by trigalg693; 03/08/12 07:50 PM.
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Originally Posted by trigalg693
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by bennevis
... and playing stuff with rapid repetitions that is difficult to achieve on an upright, e.g. Ravel's Alborada del gracioso and Scarbo, Scarlatti's Kk141 etc.
Relevant for about .1% of those who play piano.


It's not limited to those pieces, the repetitions don't need to be fast for you to notice. An example would be Beethoven op.57 Appassionata, uprights and digital pianos drive me CRAZY when I play the repeated notes.

That aside, I keep seeing people mentioning sound...tbh, my grand piano's sound is not better than some uprights. Good sound is a luxury that very few people can afford, but luckily the grand action itself is much much more important, at least IMO. You can learn to deal with sound and adapt to different pianos quickly, but if the mechanical behavior is completely foreign to your hands it will be difficult to bring out the full tonal range available on a grand.


Also the shimmering repeated chords in Ondine are very tiring on an upright. They are also harder to dynamically control when you have to lift off them so high. But I have to live with that. I'd love to have a grand, but I simply can't fit it in my house.

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Some of my piano students have the money and the space for a grand piano, but their parents are too cheap to make the upgrade; they spent their money buying a Lexus. Playing on a grand for one hour a week (during their lesson) just isn't enough!


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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Some of my piano students have the money and the space for a grand piano, but their parents are too cheap to make the upgrade; they spent their money buying a Lexus. Playing on a grand for one hour a week (during their lesson) just isn't enough!


When I was much younger, my dad forced me to take piano lessons and believed that it was okay for me to learn on a cheap 55-key electronic keyboard! It doesn't take much guessing to find out how that went.


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So the Aussie bird currawong couldn’t buy a Grand because she had to feed her kids ... tough to be a dame.

I sold off one of my offspring (one of the girls, don’t you know) to buy my Grotrian Steinweg upright.

With two boys and three girls ... who would miss a frock?

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Originally Posted by btb
So the Aussie bird currawong couldn’t buy a Grand because she had to feed her kids ... tough to be a dame.

I sold off one of my offspring (one of the girls, don’t you know) to buy my Grotrian Steinweg upright.

With two boys and three girls ... who would miss a frock?


Nicely roasted, I bet she was delicious!


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I was shopping for a piano last year. My budget kept being bumped up because as I tried the top tier brands, I just could not go back to the brands I had initially started with. When I tried the Seiler upright, I fell in love with its tone and its touch, but getting a Seiler grand was just too expensive for us. As my husband and I were discussing whether to commit ourselves to the Seiler, he mentioned that with the amount of money we were going to spend, I could actually buy a professional grade grand if I wanted to. Without hesitation I said no because I am convinced that my Seiler will suit me fine for the rest of my life.

My Seiler (52") will stay with me for the rest of my life. Granted, I'm just an intermediate pianist, but I am not planning on becoming a professional so in my case I think that a really good upright beats a mediocre grand anytime.

MC

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