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Joined: Jun 2014
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I’m looking to upgrade my current upright (Kawai K300) to a grand in the not-too-distant future and have been researching the UK market in the GBP 10k-20k bracket.

There are lots of options for a new piano, but I have been disappointed in what is available second-hand (I’m focusing on reputable dealers who offer a warranty). It seems to be that most of what is available falls into one of two categories.

The first is new-ish (15-30 years) Yamahas (other makes of this age seem to be very rare).

The second is early twentieth century ‘big name’ pianos, mostly Bechsteins with the occasional Bluthner. I like the idea of a piano with a bit of history, but this seems to be a bit of a minefield. What kind of refurbishment work should I be looking out for? What are the chances of further major work being needed in the next 10-20 years?

Is this a fair representation of the market or am I missing something? Looking at, for example, piano auction catalogues there’s a much wider range of pianos out there, they just don’t find their way into dealers’ showrooms.

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I have been 'vaguely' been looking for a baby grand since the start of 2021 but I have tended only to consider new or maybe up to twenty years of age. There are a number of dealers in northern England offering older pianos but there has been quite a shortage of new European or Japanese baby grands. Have you looked at Besbrode's website ?

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Have you discussed what you are looking for with any of those dealers? They may have "little lists" of who wants what.


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I think the market is more varied than you suggest here but perhaps your budget shades that. Your budget may be lowish to get a recent higher end grand or thoroughly rebuilt Steinway but too high to include more recent truly budget models or even those older mid market pianos that are not so well recognised or pianos they may have taken in part exchange, also too high for even a reconditioned English made grand.

Out of interest I did a quick survey of the used grands offered by my three local dealers who had:

a) large dealer, specialising mainly in imported Yamahas plus new Kawais etc. 12 Yamahas, 3 Steinways, 1 Bosendorfer, 1 Petrof
b) large dealer, specialising in new uprights and UK sourced used pianos. 1 Bentley, 1 Steinbach, 1 Offenbach, 2 Weber, 1 Yamaha
c) small dealer and rebuilder. 2 Bechstein, 3 Bluthners, 1 Steinway, 1 W.Brese

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Originally Posted by Withindale
Have you discussed what you are looking for with any of those dealers? They may have "little lists" of who wants what.

Yes indeed. A dealer may come across many unusual nice pianos which they won't buy in for resale as they know they would be unlikely to sell in their local market or perhaps because they simply don't have room. However that doesn't stop them ringing a client they think may be interested and saying "I've found something for you".

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What size grand are you looking for? It's not surprising that the market has more Yamaha (and maybe Kawai) grands as they will likely have the largest number of new piano sales. I was offered a new C3X last February for 22k so not too surprised that these as well (as the GX3) might hit the used market in a relatively new condition and would be well within your budget.

If you're looking for a German/Yamaha SX/Shigeru level piano, then your budget is likely just a little short but there are pianos that do come up close to or sometimes without your budget

https://thepianogallery.co.uk/videoshop/schimmel-k189/

I was seriously considering this Schimmel before I found my grand. There was also another Schimmel that was from a private seller in Nottingham for a C189 (2003 if I recall) that was under 20k that has now been sold.

Vale Pianos also have a couple of grands that are just over your budget. I know prices aren't on their website but I looked at these at some point too

https://valepianos.co.uk/pianos/pre-owned-pianos/grand-pianos/rud-ibach/
https://valepianos.co.uk/pianos/pre-owned-pianos/grand-pianos/schimmel-189-konzert/

Of these I preferred the Ibach when I played both but worth calling them and trying these

If you can stretch to mid to high £20k+ then this probably is as good as it gets (not biased or anything here)

https://shacklefordpianos.com/colle...weg-g225-grand-piano-in-black-high-gloss

I called up more for personal curiosity really. The piano serial suggests it was made in 1990 so pushing your 30 year age limit a little.

When I was shopping 2020 to 2021 I saw a couple of pianos from Chamberlain's that I would have loved to play (but because of the lockdown didn't get the chance to and were sold to buyers during the lockdown). One was an SK2 that was 15-20 years old that was priced just over 20k that had some wriggle room (called up and told could get this under 20k) and a Yamaha S6 (20 years old) that was 24kish.

I would say the under 30 year old market for a something like a recent German or equivalent Yamaha/Shigeru probably starts at 20k having spent a lot of time looking at it till early last year when I bought my grand.

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Thanks for the responses so far.

I've not contacted any dealers. I'm not in a position to buy just yet so am just doing some preliminary research. All my information so far comes from dealers' websites.

I'm probably looking at something around 180cm, but will be looking at slightly smaller as well.

Having been reasonably happy with my Kawai upright I was hoping to find a secondhand Kawai grand, but couldn't. Thanks for the link to the Vale Pianos website. I see they have a few.

It sounds like there is more choice out there - I just need to try a bit harder in my search.

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Have you been looking at London Piano Auction?

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Originally Posted by maucycy
Have you been looking at London Piano Auction?

I've looked at a few auction websites, but I'd be very nervous about buying through one and would prefer the security of a dealer's warranty.

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What do people think about the early 20th century Bechsteins etc? Are they too risky or is it possible to find a gem at a reasonable price?

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Originally Posted by AndyG123
What do people think about the early 20th century Bechsteins etc? Are they too risky or is it possible to find a gem at a reasonable price?

I am willing to be corrected here but if you are looking to get a really high quality piano that plays like new then no, I don't think this is possible. The reason for this is that to get an old piano to that state takes a lot of time and money, and although a Bechstein benefitting from that work might be a magnificent piano it would not have sufficient market value to justify that work being done.

An old, to some extent rebuilt, piano might be very satisfactory but there are no generalities as it will depend entirely on the condition of the piano and the rebuilding work done and so you will need to play lots and select one that you really like. My local rebuilders that I mentioned have a nice looking Bechstein model A from 1913 for less than £6000, it looks nice, I haven't seen in in the flesh nor played it, it is described as 'reconditioned' not 'rebuilt' and it may play very nicely, but it would be unrealistic to expect that it will be as good as the 15K pianos you are considering. Do you even like Bechsteins though? Have you played one?

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Originally Posted by AndyG123
What do people think about the early 20th century Bechsteins etc? Are they too risky or is it possible to find a gem at a reasonable price?

It depends on what you're looking for from the piano you buy? If it is just a sound you love and you don't need a concert level action then there are pianos which I played where the sound was magical. However if you want an action that can match a new grand piano then that is much less likely in my experience when I was looking at grand pianos over 6 feet. I would suggest that you find 3/4 dealers that have brand new Yamaha/Kawai/Feurich (Made in China and there are threads on here about these) and really get the feel of what a new piano action is like. Spend an hour or two at each dealer just playing these new pianos so you have a baseline to compare with. Then try various reconditioned and even rebuilt pianos and see if they are good enough for what you want from a piano. I never found a european piano over 6 feet under 20k whether rebuilt/reconditioned that had a good enough action for my needs. I didn't look at any pianos under 6 feet though and after a bit of time spent playing various pianos, simply restricted myself to non conservatoire pianos under 20 years old because I didn't want to worry about the action. At the end of the day though, I would encourage you to just try as many pianos as you can to help you decide what is important to you.

Last edited by Aritempor; 01/25/22 06:18 AM.
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New Yamaha/Kawai/Feurich (amongst others) are definitely on my list to try. Maybe I'll try a few new ones just above budget as well before looking at second hand instruments. I'm just a keen amateur whose only audience will be my family and piano teacher, so the priority is a piano that sounds good with a touch that suits my playing style (whatever that might mean!).


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