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Hello,
I wonder whether you can recommend a minimum set of repertoire that allows one to judge the action / sound of acoustic pianos?
What would you play at the shop to narrow down your liking?
Thanks


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I would play a couple of scales, including a chromatic one, some chords, and I would play two pieces that I love and that are quite different, for instance, one piece with much legato and pedaling, another piece with much staccato.


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Thanks @Animisha for your recommendation.
May I ask the reasons behind those actions?
Scales / Chromatic / Chords to hear the overall harmonic tonal quality, legato piece to judge the sweetness of the harmonics & key action for note connection & staccato for responsiveness as well as velocity perhaps?
Cheers


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Animisha's response was what my teacher wished me to play for her when she was evaluating me as a potential student.

She subsequently suggested that when I found an acoustic piano I liked, to employ a technician to inspect the piano to establish, among other things, how many tunable years were left in the instrument.

All the best in finding your piano.

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Originally Posted by TonyDIGITAL
Thanks @Animisha for your recommendation.
May I ask the reasons behind those actions?
Scales / Chromatic / Chords to hear the overall harmonic tonal quality, legato piece to judge the sweetness of the harmonics & key action for note connection & staccato for responsiveness as well as velocity perhaps?
Cheers

You got it! smile

Originally Posted by tholepin
Animisha's response was what my teacher wished me to play for her when she was evaluating me as a potential student.

Nice to hear!

Originally Posted by tholepin
She subsequently suggested that when I found an acoustic piano I liked, to employ a technician to inspect the piano to establish, among other things, how many tunable years were left in the instrument.

All the best in finding your piano.

Very good advice.


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The goal should be to test the entire piano range; this will probably need to be a lot more than playing a couple of pieces you like. Play at the far bass: chords, octaves and parts of chromatic scales. Listen. Repeat for the middle and upper registers.

Play very soft. And very loud: scales , including chromatic scales. Listen to hear every note.

When I was Piano shopping, I did not play any piece completely through. I chose a few select measures and I played them consistently from one piano to the next. The goal should be that you predetermine what you will do and you do it consistently from one Piano to the next. you want things that you can do relatively quickly so that you can try a lot of Pianos

My thoughts… YMMV

Last edited by dogperson; 10/27/21 06:28 AM. Reason: Typos

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La Campenella will tell you everything wink

Besides what is mentioned above play single long notes to hear how the sound attack is, how it blooms, where it is reaching its climax and how it fades. This one of the most crucial thing in piano.

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Originally Posted by TonyDIGITAL
What would you play at the shop to narrow down your liking?
I would play the Chopin Nocturne in C# minor, Op. posth. If the piano doesn't produce beautiful singing tone, I'd move on.


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Originally Posted by TonyDIGITAL
Hello,
I wonder whether you can recommend a minimum set of repertoire that allows one to judge the action / sound of acoustic pianos?
What would you play at the shop to narrow down your liking?
It would depend on your current skill level, of course.

Personally, I'd first play chromatic scales starting from the lowest key all the way up to the top (switching hands halfway) and back down again, slowly at first, then faster and faster, at all dynamic levels, to make sure all the keys have even and responsive actions, that the keyweight and 'feel' (including inertia) is OK, and that the amount of gradation in the key-weight (where the low notes are 'heavier' than the high notes) is acceptable to me, and that the sound of every individual note appeals, no matter how loud or soft. In my experience, Fazioli pianos have the least amount of gradation (apparently from 52g on the lowest A to 48g on the highest C), though I haven't actually measured their keyweights myself (I play their pianos, not measure them wink ), which might be partly why so many pianists love their actions, as do I.

Then, I'd play music with lots of one-handed repeated notes that test the rapidity of key return, so Scarlatti's Kk141 and Scarbo will be on the agenda. (Playing repeated notes with two hands don't give you a good idea of key return responsiveness.) Then some music with lots of chords loud and soft ranging widely over the keyboard - Rach's Op.3/2 is good - to see how the tone quality varies as you voice the chords in various ways and degrees. That will also show if a particular range of notes stick out in an unwanted obtrusive manner which make it difficult to bring out specific notes that you want within the chords.

Then, I like to hear how a simple inner 'tenor' melody sounds when enveloped by surrounding accompaniment, so I'd play the Kupelwieser-Walzer (Schubert/R.Strauss) as well as an old favorite of mine, Schumann/Liszt's Widmung. Does the melody sing out the way I'd sing it (if I had Pavarotti's voice wink ?)

Finally, I'd play suitable 'test pieces' that check out so many things - all manner of light staccato touch and articulation (and responsiveness), pedal effects and sustain, inner melodies, scales & arpeggios & octaves & rapid chords: Mendelssohn's Rondo capriccioso and Ravel's Ondine.

Of course, just because a piano doesn't quite 'pass' all my tests above doesn't mean that it's no good for me: what matters is whether I can "work with it" rather than dismissing it because it doesn't fulfil all my criteria in matters of sound (though responsiveness of action is mandatory). After all, even one's nearest and dearest doesn't fulfil all one's criteria for one's perfect partner whistle, but you see something great in them, and are able to work with them to bring out the best in yourself as well as in him/her, just like you work with your piano to get the best out of it as well as yourself. Marriages are rarely ever made in heaven, as Socrates never said.......


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I'm the opposite. After the first few notes I know whether I like the piano or not. Further playing only serves to confirm that first impression.

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I’d play relatively advance pieces (up to 3) on different pianos. Need to play pieces written for piano as much as possible, not ones for other instruments arranged for piano. Playing pieces intended for harpsichord on piano is not the best.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I'm the opposite. After the first few notes I know whether I like the piano or not. Further playing only serves to confirm that first impression.

That's what I ended up doing although I was not shopping for acoustic. I was looking to upgrade from a Yamaha DGX something keyboard to a DP with weighted keys. I'd practiced my whole repertoire to prepare for the shopping excursion, but all it took was a few notes played on each of about 4 different DP's. I stayed within budget, but ended up spending 3 x what I thought I would. Didn't get get the most expensive one either. The next one to it either sounded better or had a better feel for me.

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There are a couple of spots under the hood, where it changes from 1 string to 2 strings to 3 strings being struck. So, the chromatic scales would indeed be good in checking out a smooth and even transition from 1 to 2 to 3 strings. Or just open the hood and look for these transitions and check those areas in particular. That is one thing I would do. Not sure if these transitions are always in the same spot, or how this may be different on a Grand Piano, but by simply looking you can see what is going on.

With those things checking out OK, you can get a pretty good sense of the feel of it quite quickly, but try a few things out like tunes with pedal and quick tunes with no pedal. As many different types of things you could play in short order would be good. You don't need to be there all day. But, don't forget to check out the pedal action too.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I'm the opposite. After the first few notes I know whether I like the piano or not. Further playing only serves to confirm that first impression.

Yea me too.



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I think the answer depends on the repertoire you currently play and plan to play.
I played parts of 4 pieces: a Mozart sonata, a Chopin waltz, an Afrocuban dance by Ernesto Lecuona, and Barber’s Excursions #4. A lot of this was determined by the fact that these were pieces I had worked on since getting a digital piano 6 months prior. But I think it ended up being a reasonable set of pieces to get to know pianos.

I have never speed dated, but that’s sort of the mental image that comes to mind when going piano shopping. You are trying to get to know pianos, quickly. For me, I did not find playing scales was very helpful in terms of getting to know pianos. Interestingly, I also found the Chopin to be not particularly helpful — because unless there were major issues with a piano (like issues with the damper pedal not working or major unevenness in touch from note to note, etc), I enjoyed playing the waltz on all the pianos, and I enjoyed how it sounded. I ended up being most particular about the Mozart, and from my list of pieces, this was the one that really had the largest impact on my decision. The Lecuona selection has a very large dynamic range (and lots of chords), so it was also very helpful in terms of getting a sense of how I interacted with the piano in different parts of the dynamic range. It also is very, very different from the Mozart, and I wanted a piano that I enjoyed playing both of these pieces on! The Barber is just a really fun piece, with the kind of fast repetition of notes that bennevis mentioned. All the serious contenders handled this wonderfully, but it was just fun to play (and much more fun on a grand piano than on a clavinova), so it was impossible to resist playing this as well.

But I have to stress, this was highly personal. If you have no interest in playing Mozart, you should not be making decisions on the basis of K333. Pick an assortment of things that you enjoy, that are different from each other, but that you think will be important to help you to get to know the different instruments. You can also refine this as you go through your search - figure out which pieces are most and least helpful to you in evaluating what you like more and less about different pianos.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I'm the opposite. After the first few notes I know whether I like the piano or not. Further playing only serves to confirm that first impression.
I’m the same way, LOL.


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