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There is a Henry F Miller baby grand local to me that has been tuned yearly for the last 12 years (since current owner has had it) for sale for $1500. I’m trying to get a bit of info about this manufacturer and what I can expect before contacting the seller to look at it.

As a side note, I don’t play. This would be for my mother who does play and has wanted a grand piano as long as I can remember. With that said, I know it will ultimately come down to how it sounds, but I still feel obligated to do a bit of research.

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It made David Burton's list of golden age pianos that are worth rebuilding (assuming it's from 1925 or earlier).

Truth be told though, its actual condition will determine it's value. You should probably find a local technician to evaluate it for you.


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In the current market, most grand pianos priced at $1,500 are some combination of needing serious work done (that could exceed the market value of the instrument), seriously old (and beyond the typical usable lifespan of a piano), or very poor quality to begin with.

You could probably find a very serviceable $1,500 studio upright piano that's less than 40 years old, though.
I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's better to go into this with both eyes open...

Henry F. Miller has been owned by different folks and made in different places around the world, over the course of the history of that name. If you think it's a serious contender after seeing it in person (and since you don't play), I would strongly advise hiring an independent technician to do a pre-purchase inspection, so you know what this piano needs and don't accidentally buy your mother a very large paperweight!


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It depends on when it was made. There was one from about 2003 in a house where I was staying for an extended stay, and although pianos tend to stay pretty well in tune around here, this one did not. It was subtile, so it did not get picked up in inspection.


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Man for such big price you can find something more usability! Upright piano or something more effective! Check some stores (like thomann.de) for example!


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Originally Posted by Mike Shuman
Man for such big price you can find something more usability! Upright piano or something more effective! Check some stores (like thomann.de) for example!

Hi Mike
$1,500 is a low price for any acoustic piano— grand or upright. Thomann does not sell any acoustic pianos in this price range— in fact, none in the $2,000 range.


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I wish people really listened when someone posts about wanting a grand. There’s something emotional about a grand piano, and when someone *wants* a grand, telling them they could get an upright for “that price” is usually not helpful.

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This would be for my mother who does play and has wanted a grand piano as long as I can remember.

His mother probably already has a piano, perhaps an upright even.

If someone is searching for a first piano then it might be helpful to discuss their goals etc. and possibly try to steer them toward an upright. But this OP is not that kind of poster.


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ShiroKuro, I hear you. However, I also get the sense that the OP does not have a good sense of piano prices. A grand piano that is going to be a good piano for Mom to play may be significantly above the OP’s budget (if the budget is around 1500). I think the posts are well intentioned and trying to give a realistic outlook on price points of serviceable pianos. Mom’s dream may well be a grand piano, but I doubt it’s a grand piano that is in poor condition and/or is of poor quality.

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You’re right that my mom already has a piano. She has a spinet that she’s has since the 70s when my dad bought if for her new.

Her very favorite piano was one at a church where she was the pianist, it was an upright. We also had at upright at one time that sounded like an old timey player piano that I loved.

But yea, my mom has talked about owning a grand my whole life really. As I said, I don’t play, I can do a few scales and know a few songs by heart, and I have a good ear for pitch, so I could check it out, but I certainly wouldn’t buy it without having her play it for herself.

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I actually am very aware how pricey grands are. I also know that people basically give decent-to-good pianos away all the time because of how cumbersome and expensive they are to move, so my expectations aren’t set super high.

I found one on marketplace a year or so ago and my mom was all excited until she saw the manufacturer. (I honestly can’t remember which one) She had played one of that brand at one point and hated it. So, I’m trying to check this one out, the manufacturer I mean, before I contact the seller.

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Originally Posted by Skallen21
There is a Henry F Miller baby grand local to me that has been tuned yearly for the last 12 years (since current owner has had it) for sale for $1500. I’m trying to get a bit of info about this manufacturer and what I can expect before contacting the seller to look at it.

As a side note, I don’t play. This would be for my mother who does play and has wanted a grand piano as long as I can remember. With that said, I know it will ultimately come down to how it sounds, but I still feel obligated to do a bit of research.
If you can get the piano's serial number to us perhaps someone here can tell you the piano's age and source of manufacture.


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Originally Posted by Sgisela
ShiroKuro, I hear you.

Just for the record, my comment was mainly directed at Mike Shuman in this particular thread, although those kinds of posts appear all the time on this forum, so that was part of my motivation in writing it...

In any case, we've now had some additional info from OP, so I won't go on about it!

Skallen, you're right, there are sometimes great deals to be had. You basically just need to keep your eye out at all times. I won't give you "the talk" about piano prices, I suspect if you could bump up your budget, you would.

But let me just say I think it's wonderful that you're trying to help your mother get a grand, whether that ends up being this one or some other, I hope it works out!!

In any case, best of luck and keep us posted!


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Originally Posted by Skallen21
There is a Henry F Miller baby grand local to me that has been tuned yearly for the last 12 years (since current owner has had it) for sale for $1500. I’m trying to get a bit of info about this manufacturer and what I can expect before contacting the seller to look at it.
====SNIP====
$1500 could be reasonable for a grand piano in good playing condition. It all depends.
  • I've played a couple of older HFM pianos, made years ago in the USA, that were pretty nice instruments. They reminded me of the older Baldwins (pre Acu-Just Hitch pins and Renner actions).
  • The HFM name was used in making what are called "stencil" pianos by a Chinese company in the early 2000's. I can't comment on the quality of those instruments nor design specifics, but...given other stencil instruments, e.g., Knabe, the design is likely to have been different from the ones made in the USA.
  • As others have written, if you can get us a serial number, it's likely someone in the great PW hive mind can tell you the age of the instrument, and by extension, whether it was made in the USA or in China.
  • If you could get a brief video clip of the current owner demonstrating the piano, it would tell a lot about the sound. Pictures of the bass strings are helpful (are they very corroded) as are the underside of the piano (could reveal soundboard cracks), the tuning pin area.
  • Can you get a measurement of the length of the piano measuring from the front of the keys underneath the piano all the way to the tip of the "tail"?

Last, but not least, it is always prudent to pay for an inspection by an independent technician prior to buying ANY previously owned piano. Think of it as analogous to taking a car to your independent mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection.

Good luck with your piano search.


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It warms my heart to see some pushback against the usual groupthink! There are times when "get a good upright" might be a valid point-of-view, but, as ShiroKuro noted, this is not one of them.


This piano could be many things, from a modern Chinese stencil, to a "genuine" Henry F. Miller produced in the golden era, or a number of things in between. Regardless, in any of those forms it could be satisfactory for the OP's mom. Only trying it and inspecting it will really determine that.

If it was good enough for someone to buy 12 years ago, and good enough to continue to maintain annually for those 12 intervening years, then there might be something of substance there. If true, it's already ahead of the typically "hasn't been played in a decade" but "just needs tuning" specimens that abound. The usual assumption that "if it's X years old then it 'needs' A, B and C kinds of expensive work," always precludes the chance that it may have already received some or all of that work along the way (if it was needed at all).

Wouldn't it be something if this turned out to be a nice golden era HFM that had been kept in good condition? thumb


There's the full-freight retail path to piano acquisition, and then there's the second-hand piano market. There's a surplus of older pianos, and consequently they don't have much monetary value. Many are neglected. Nevertheless, some are in surprisingly nice condition. The only way to know what it is is to check it out.


Is it worth taking a chance? Could be. Invest a bit of time to see. As other have noted, a serial number would help determine its age. Pictures could help rule out some obvious things but won't substitute for an inspection. Video could also help.


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Thank you. The budget would be unlimited if possible, that’s true.

She’s late 60s and her wrists aren’t as nimble as they once were, but she stills plays at church and gives lessons. I just want her to have plenty of time to enjoy one.

I’m going to try and take her to see it this weekend and I’ll report back with a serial number if I can find then.

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I meant to suggest taking your mom with you. That’s the first and last test it has to pass anyway!


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Originally Posted by Skallen21
I actually am very aware how pricey grands are. I also know that people basically give decent-to-good pianos away all the time because of how cumbersome and expensive they are to move, so my expectations aren’t set super high.
You might keep your eye on this piano adoption site. A lot of it is just firewood but every now and then something really decent shows up. Especially with grands, people are willing to give decent stuff away because disposal is so expensive.


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
I wish people really listened when someone posts about wanting a grand. There’s something emotional about a grand piano, and when someone *wants* a grand, telling them they could get an upright for “that price” is usually not helpful.

The OP said
Quote
This would be for my mother who does play and has wanted a grand piano as long as I can remember.

His mother probably already has a piano, perhaps an upright even.

If someone is searching for a first piano then it might be helpful to discuss their goals etc. and possibly try to steer them toward an upright. But this OP is not that kind of poster.
In a case like this yes, because his mother has told him she is
would like a grand.In fact longing for a grand ..so what a joy it would be for them both if the OP can find a grand that he can afford to give her.Obviously the piano would need to have a lovely tone (like the Henry Miller probably has)The piano would need to be checked by a technician.That would go for any used piano.I do not know but it may be wise to let his mother try the piano before he buys it for her.What piano does his mother own now? Is she perhaps more fond of it than he realises?

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Of course! I would never buy any piano, even one off the showroom without letting her play it first. As much as I would love to surprise her, the last thing I would want is her to accept and not love it.

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