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My first post here, from Sweden so have patience with the language.

Just bought a Yamaha C3 1977. Did a big mistake by not testing it before buy..a friend looked/played on it and said it was ok.

Visually it is in good condition. But the sound....

I also have an older grand from 1930..not serviced in a looooong time, only tuned. It sounds wonderful.

The Yamaha sounds like you have the treble knob on your home stereo turned all the way down and the tweeters removed from the speakers......no top end at all.

Only bass and very bright mid...it sounds very lo-resolution.

I cant judge by the hammers how much it has been used but the only previous owner was an older couple who had this piano in their home.

The action dont feels worn out in any way.

Would new hammers change the sound much?

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How much do you or your friend know about piano technology? You said 'no top end at all' which is not a useful description for anyone here to help. I think you need the services of a professional piano technician to assess both of your pianos.
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Hammers can make a profound difference in tone. I’m assuming by ‘top end’ you mean the treble end of the piano? If so, it could possibly be the hammers, but not necessarily.

It’s be helpful if you made some recordings for us to hear.

I agree with Beemer that ultimately you’ll want to have a piano technician come out.

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Hammers could be ruined, strike point could be wrong, strings could be brittle, soundboard could have too little or too much downbearing, piano could be water damaged…and maybe a couple of other possibilities. It could be one of these things, or a combination of them. I have come across a few older Yamahas where I was surprised by the lack of characteristic crispness/brightness. I think the last one had been intentionally voiced that way by a technician.


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Yes its the treble thats missing..my opinion. I have discussed it with some techs in my area. One of them said that Yamahas from this time could be very bright in the mids, so it might be that this isnt a piano for me 😦 but i was expecting more treble from it.


But i have played 2 other Yamahas and both of them have alot more treble than mine.

There is a brand new c3 2 hours away from me in a store but i have read that Yamaha have made changes trough the years on C3 so its maybe not a fair compare.

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It probably needs the hammers filed and the action regulated. But diagnosis over the internet is fraught with peril.


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Originally Posted by heliac_swe
Yes its the treble thats missing..my opinion. I have discussed it with some techs in my area. One of them said that Yamahas from this time could be very bright in the mids, so it might be that this isnt a piano for me 😦 but i was expecting more treble from it.

Yamaha’s can sound really excellent and balanced, and a lot of that has to do with the technician rather than the piano itself. The ‘brightness’ is most significantly an issue of hammer voicing rather than design. Of course the word ‘brightness’ could mean different things to different people, and there are other aspects which affect how we perceive a piano’s ‘brightness’.

If I were you, I’d find a technician or shop which has Yamaha’s that they’ve specifically worked on and which sound good to you, and ask then to assess your piano. Not all technicians are good at voicing even if they know how to do it.

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I was now away and tested a Yamaha G2 1984 at a friends friend. One owner, standing in the house since it was bought in 85. Nothing has been done trough the years except tuning. Sounded way better than my C3.

Someone must have messed with my hammers to make it sound this dark.

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Voicing is very subjective, meaning people like their piano to sound the way they perceive that it should sound. My guess is that yes, someone wanted the piano to sound very mellow and so it was voiced that way. It might be brightened up by some hammer hardener. I've had good luck with that on many pianos. But you'll want to work with a local tech to figure that out.


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Agreed. Probably a tech was asked to make it mellow ("it's too loud for me"). Also, Yamaha hamnbers tend to lose their "voiceability" after about 25 years. This one is about 45 years old. If it was done in its later years, you practically have to KILL the hammers in order to make any substantive difference. Sometimes they can be "brought back", sometimes not. It depends on what's been done, how much, and the the abilities of the the tech trying to bring it back from the dead. (BTW the design lifespan of a piano is about 30-40 years).

But, as stated several times, you need to develop a relationship with a good tech and get his/her opinion on the matter.

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A tech is coming soon with a couple of hammers from another C3 that sounds nice (his opinion). He will install them and we will see if it makes any difference. He says its about 35000 SEK (4000 USD) to replace all hammers with new ones.

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Sounds like a good idea.

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Test a few hammers in various locations on the piano before committing to the work, if you can. I was just around a newer Steinway D with a very dead treble, and by swapping a few hammers from a known good D we were able to determine that a new set of hammers wasn’t going to fix anything.

If you don’t notice a very positive change after this test, don’t spend the money, and perhaps consider selling the piano (the market for good used pianos is pretty hot right now) and start over with a piano whose tone you like…and have actually tried first! Just my opinion. smile


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Yes, thats exaclty what i want to do. If it "comes" alive when testing other hammers im willing to pay for a replacement. Otherwise i will sell it and find another one with the right tone.

Right now there is a Bluthner 280 cm with the "aliquot" string for free pickup not far away from me. Im going to test it this evening. It might be a find...or a total crash smile

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Originally Posted by heliac_swe
A tech is coming soon with a couple of hammers from another C3 that sounds nice (his opinion). He will install them and we will see if it makes any difference. He says its about 35000 SEK (4000 USD) to replace all hammers with new ones.


You might also ask your tech to harden one of the hammers as well and see how that plays. I would expect that to be a lot cheaper than replacing them if the revoiced hammer sounds good to you - and if you are going to replace the hammers anyway there is nothing to lose by experimenting.

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Reshaping the hammer to proper shape (removal of any string grooves, then diamond shape) and getting rid of "dead" useless felt would be first step (make sure let-off adjustment is correct at 2mm), listen, perhaps pound the crown a little, then finally perhaps some gardener such as b-72 in the shoulders (or a few drops at the crown). Make sure your variables are reduced. Make sure keyframe is solidly bedded to keybed. Make sure hammershank bushings are free, Jack aligned to core, etc.

There are numerous things that can contribute to power loss. Start from the bottom up.

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About the 1913 Bluthner 280 cm Aliqout...i played it last night. Last tuning was 2009, but it was only 2 notes that was "way out". It sounded amazing, i was stunned. Very calm in the mid with sweet highs and a powerful bass. I experienced the distance from pressing the key til i bottomed pretty short...but it was great to play on anyway.

If i can get some friends for help i think i will pick it up...it was for free. But its a big heavy bastard...

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Originally Posted by heliac_swe
About the 1913 Bluthner 280 cm Aliqout...i played it last night. Last tuning was 2009, but it was only 2 notes that was "way out". It sounded amazing, i was stunned. Very calm in the mid with sweet highs and a powerful bass. I experienced the distance from pressing the key til i bottomed pretty short...but it was great to play on anyway.

If i can get some friends for help i think i will pick it up...it was for free. But its a big heavy bastard...


Free may be a great deal or it may be a money pit. Be wise and have a tech inspection before you take it home. Last tuned in 2009 is a red flag you should have checked.

If you live in the US or Canada, you can search for a tech at PTG.org


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Heliac,

Do you have experience moving pianos? That thing could easily tip 1500 lbs. But potentially it is a superb instrument. (Repeat potentially)

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Have moved 4 grands with success and 0% damages but never anything in this weight. About 1000 lbs if you take away the loose parts.

I have tools for it, stretcher and a wagon and some big friends.

It will end up in the dump if noone takes it...im considering to pick it up. I can have tech to look when i have it at home. It will cost me almost nothing to bring it home.

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Okay. Principle is the same...just a lot more weight to control. As long as it's under control you're golden.

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Originally Posted by heliac_swe
Have moved 4 grands with success and 0% damages but never anything in this weight. About 1000 lbs if you take away the loose parts.

I have tools for it, stretcher and a wagon and some big friends.

I always moved my former Steinway L whenever I moved house (too many times…) and with a few guys and good equipment it was fine. When I got my M&H BB I knew it would be heavier but didn’t realise just how much heavier it would feel. I haven’t moved it since that first move and I’m not sure I want to again! smile

With that said, I’d take a 9’ Bluthner in a second if it was free and in decent enough condition.

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Why not have the check tech the Bluthner before it gets to your home? Would save a lot of trouble, and you've already been burned once.


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My plan is not to replace the Yamaha. If it comes alive with new hammers i will replace all of them and keep it. Its the right size for the room and in very good cosmetic condition.

The Bluthner is more for fun..ill bet it will never come up a Bluthner 280cm for free again in Sweden and there are other people in line for it so i just cant let it go away haha.

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Originally Posted by heliac_swe
My plan is not to replace the Yamaha. If it comes alive with new hammers i will replace all of them and keep it. Its the right size for the room and in very good cosmetic condition.

The Bluthner is more for fun..ill bet it will never come up a Bluthner 280cm for free again in Sweden and there are other people in line for it so i just cant let it go away haha.


Why don’t you let the Bluthner ‘get away’ to someone with the skills to restore it?


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A free Blüthner 280 is one of the things I like to dream about.

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Originally Posted by johnstaf
A free Blüthner 280 is one of the things I like to dream about.


That is why this piano needs to go to someone with the skills to restore it— not to someone who will likely toss it to the curb. It is likely to need signifcant work, whether it plays or not. The piano deserves that restoration.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Why don’t you let the Bluthner ‘get away’ to someone with the skills to restore it?

Because i now have the chance to own one of these. I have enough money to pay someone to make 100%..if i feel for it.

If i dont..im sure someone will take care of it.

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Originally Posted by heliac_swe
Originally Posted by dogperson
Why don’t you let the Bluthner ‘get away’ to someone with the skills to restore it?

Because i now have the chance to own one of these. I have enough money to pay someone to make 100%..if i feel for it.

If i dont..im sure someone will take care of it.

That’s great to hear —/ thanks !


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Heliac,

Just please be careful! We don't want the next post to be: "Well, I should have listened to the warnings..."

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@Heliac_swe: I'm glad to read that you're taking the Bluthner, and that you have the funds to restore it if you like it enough. There aren't a lot of Bluthners here in the USA, so my experience with them is somewhat limited. I like the few newer ones I've played here. They can sing, but I found they can't be pushed to project like, e.g., a Steinway.

That said, one of the most beautiful pianos I have ever played was at the Kultur Museum in Waldkirch. It was an older Bluthner, circa 1920 I think, not sure exactly how long, but shorter than a Steinway "B" - maybe about the size of an "A", but with a very square "tail". It had the old style action. Long story shortened - the piano sang in the space (hall seating about 75 to 100 people, wooden floor, live acoustics). It was very easy to play legato. Playing fast repeated notes, not so much. I hope yours can sing at least as well as that one.

Please let us know how it goes - and, yes, that thing is going to be HEAVY.

Best of luck.


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I'll take beauty over volume any day of the week. Just finished a SS B that sings gloriously, though I have specifically not chased maximum power since its going into a not so large room...but the beauty of tone is stunning.

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Also have a 1875 Bluthner sitting in the shop...on its side...awaiting...someday...

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Now i had a visit from a piano tech. He sanded one hammer, and warmed it with a tool (like a solderingtool). There was a difference, but not as much as i wanted.

Then he replaced one whole shaft and hammer, and did some adjusting to that one. And there was a big difference, its hard to tell just from one note how the whole piano will sound, but its was much more treble and "overtones" from the replaced hammer.

It was from Abel and actually ment for a Steinway.

So now i have to decide if i should sell it to someone who likes the tone, or put some more money in it.

If i replace the hammers, shafts and strings/nails...i am 47 now, maybe the piano will last for the rest of my life with only tuning. ??

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Heliac, you have gotten yourself into a difficult choice. Bluthners are amazing and beautiful, as the Yamaha C3 is a war horse that will last you the rest of your life. Hard to pick a dance partner at this point. For the long run, the Yamaha C3 will be much more reliable compared to the older Bluthner action. Do you have room for both?


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I have room for both, so the Bluthner is like a side project. The C3 is ment to be in my livingroom.

Its pretty much money to to replace the hammers, the tech wants about 6000 to replace hammers Abels and do a complete adjusting to the action. He said that there is peolpe who likes the tone thats in my C3 (i dont)..so if i can sell its the easiest for me.

But how come that its so expensive to adjust the action? He said that my piano was in very good condition, both technical and visual. Ive been looking on instruction videos for action adjusting..its no black magic..i cant see why im not able to do that myself?

I know the cost of the material from Abel incl that i send in my old hammers and get prehung back....and thats very very far from 6000.

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6000 what?
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50000 SEK...thats about 6000 USD

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But how come that its so expensive to adjust the action?

Time. You don't have a clue as to how much time and expertise is involved in good work. It is much more than just screwing pre-hung hammers on a rail and calling it a day.

Not knowing what is involved, you don't respect the value of the service offered by the tech. That is not a good start to a positive working relationship with the technician.

I wouldn't try to go cheap on an instrument of the quality of a Bluthner.


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Its the Yamaha, not the Bluthner.

Its not about respect..im just curios.

I can guess that the Bluthner require much more hours than the Yamaha to get the action ok. And it seems like every tech i have asked have like a "flat rate" for adjusting action. That sound strange to me.

And...im not a profeesional piano player, i dont need a piano with the action performing like Lola Astanova have wanted. I have 2 other grands, both nearly 100 years old. One of them works GREAT to play on for my needs and it hasent been touched by a tech for decades, only tuned.

The Yamaha feels like an almost brand new instrument to play on..when the tech mounted another hammer/shaft in it he only adjusted "let off", because the new hammer came i little closer to the string. I played it and didnt notice any significant difference for the key with the new hammer...except for the tone.

So put in new prehung hammers..and make them travel ok..im pretty sure i can do that. And adjust the let-off...im pretty sure i can do that to. I dont think the piano will be "unplayable" by doing that. But i will save 5000 bucks..and probably have the tone back.

If something takes 40 hours to do i have to pay for 40 hours. But i dont like to pay someone to do something that i can do myself when its this amount of money... In this case i dont know if i can...but its definitly worth a try.

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You are totally free to do it yourself. Some have done it and it came out fine. Others have done it and when they run into unexpected problems (which they attempt to "fix" but don't know how) then they call in the experience and end up paying more to have to undo what they did and then do it right.

You are correct though...it ain't rocket science...go for it and save the big buckos. I considered doing my hernia operation myself but then figured it would be better to pay someone with experience. Coming up soon.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Last edited by P W Grey; 07/29/21 12:24 PM.

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I hope you dont think i disrespect an experienced and educated pianotech..i would never call myself a tech or offer me to repair someones elses piano.

There will always be people that is curios how things work (like me)..and they can be a pain the ass for other people i know that. I looked at your website P Grey, nice furniture work there, but i can tell that the guy with pianohammers totally out of line, thats not me. Im 47 and i have spent whole my life to explore technical stuff and put it into reality. Im not smarter than anybody else..but i love technical challanges.

On the other hand there will always be people that says stop...i cant do this, i have to call someone. And that why the world goes round..if everyone is exactly same the world would not be a fun fun place to live in.

Im reading every night and watching videos.... there is tons of info on web..no matter what info you want...i slowly build up my knowledge, and its important not to rush. But i will come to a point were i feel safe enough to grab this mission..OR i will end up calling someone. Time will tell

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You seem like the kind of person who could do it (up to a point). This is why I say go for it. However, things don't always go smoothly and problem solving can become very interesting. Most people are unfamiliar with much of what we do and why. You however may be astute enough to figure things out. Far more likely on a Yamaha than a Bluthner.

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what if action is ok and you just need better strings? Ask Paulello.

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Nice post P Grey. Thanks.

Yes ive been thinkin about strings to. Whe have already found out that the tone came alot back buy swapping one hammer. Most likely someone has voiced the hammers down to much. The soundboard is intact, and the downforce (stegtryck in swedish) is ok.

If i ask you guys to rank..and maybe how you think/know how the different parts in a piano affect the overall tone? I suppose a crakced soundboard and lost downforce could place first but thats not the case for now..

1 Hammers??
2 Strings??

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Originally Posted by heliac_swe
Nice post P Grey. Thanks.

Yes ive been thinkin about strings to. Whe have already found out that the tone came alot back buy swapping one hammer. Most likely someone has voiced the hammers down to much. The soundboard is intact, and the downforce (stegtryck in swedish) is ok.

If i ask you guys to rank..and maybe how you think/know how the different parts in a piano affect the overall tone? I suppose a crakced soundboard and lost downforce could place first but thats not the case for now..

1 Hammers??
2 Strings??

The action is always thought as a "solution", I am not an expert but I think it's mostly about the strings (are they really good?), tuning pins (are they really stable?), and hitch pins (are they really stable?). These are not too expensive to replace, and if you have a bad piano it's a great motivation to become a DIY tech.

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The best way I can put it from my own experience is, if you only have funds to replace one or the other (but not both), then go with the hammers. This obviously assumes that the stringing assembly is still fully operational (though aged). That being said, bass strings deteriorate faster than treble wire, so that can make a difference. Plus, when replacing strings you must also (almost always) replace the dampers.

So in terms of which will be more noticeable in and of itself, IMO hammers.

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+1 Peter.


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If i decide to take care of it on my own its definitly the hammers that goes first.

But i dont really know wich hammer...one tech told me to only use Yamaha original. But there is Renner and Abel and they seems to be good too.

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I've replaced Yamaha with Abel. Very good hammers.
I agree with Peter...new dampers are a must with new strings. Vital.
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You can purchase the entire hammer/shank/flange assembly from Yamaha and screw them on. Space AND travel the shanks, correct any twisted with heat, and the rest is regulation.

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From my experience with Yamaha pianos, I would only go pre-hung if it’s a factory Yamaha set. These pianos are extremely sensitive to hammer strike point and a tiny variation could have your highest notes sounding wooden.

Even with a pre-hung set all the hammers have to be set for resting height, ensure they’re hitting the strings correctly. The let-off, repetition levers and springs reset. Jacks must be relocated to the new knuckles and all the back checks need to be set. So nearly a complete regulation.

Then there is the voicing…


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Actually, if I'm not mistaken, pre-hung is the only way you can get hammers from Yamaha anymore. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but somehow I seem to recall hearing that on my last conversation with the service dept.

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That must lead to hard work at the top mustn't it?
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Well...now the Yamaha is sold. There was a guy, very good classical player, who liked the dark tone.

I tried a Wendl & lung from 2006..tone ok but the action was poor.

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Originally Posted by N W
That must lead to hard work at the top mustn't it?
Nick

I always have my doubts about pre-hung anything, but Yammys tend to be pretty consistent and accurate.

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Hello again.. Now i have tried a swedish Malmsjö 211cm from 1950 totally rebuilt with new black polyester coating. It outperformed the Yamaha in almost every aspect. The price is about 20000 USD. Im on my way to try a Petrof 237 1974, also totally rebuilt with new polyester coating. 22000 USD. From waht i can find out from Swedish forums the quality should be better on Malmsjö than Petrof. I suppose that Malmsjö hardly exist in the US..but what do you think about Petrof?

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A question for the piano forum?


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Maybe this question fits better in another part of the forum? But pianotechs may have some good answers about building quality..

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Pianotechs with lots of customers who love their Petrofs may not want to tell you they are rubbish, if that is what they think. On the other hand pianists may be only too happy to tell you what they think about their Petrof pianos.


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You have a good point there smile

The best thing is to drive there and test it myself.. I think both of them are good so might be a matter of taste in the end.

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Originally Posted by heliac_swe
You have a good point there smile

The best thing is to drive there and test it myself.. I think both of them are good so might be a matter of taste in the end.

That's what the Piano Forum will say !!!


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I know this is the wrong forumsection but why start a thread without endning it smile

After hundreds of miles in my car an testing about 10 grands...i finally bought one.

A swedish Malmsjö 1948 211cm totally rebulit and with new polyester coating. It sounds and behaves fantastic!

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I have read that these are wonderful instruments. Never seen one on this side of the pond though.

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Congratulations. A splendid piece of Swedish heritage to enjoy.


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