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Estonia Pianos
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Hi all,

I'm nearing the end of my search for "The Perfect Piano". Sadly, cost is always a consideration and my budget is about CAD$30-40K at its most stretched. I have tried uprights and grands from Yamaha, Kawai, Petrof, Hailun, and Bechstein and so far I'm choosing between the following.

Bechstein A124
Yamaha C2X
Kawai GX2

I will try them again in a few days which should clear things up a bit more between C2X and GX2, but my question is will I be remiss if I choose an upright piano with a more pleasant (to my ear) tone than a grand piano which has a 'better' action (faster repetition speed, and gravity-assisted damper mechanism). I so far like the tone of Bechstein and even the Hoffman T128 more than Yamaha and Kawai grands and uprights.

I'm coming back to piano after a long time and my skill level is at about grade 7-8 RCM and so don't have the refined touch of a professional pianist to guide me regarding the importance of action vs tone. My concerns are regarding the development of a proper pedaling technique which seems to almost 'require' a grand piano (that's what I've heard). So, how big of a deal is the key and damper mechanism of a grand, and should I put tone or touch as my top priority?

I'm also aware of the Estonia L168, but I have to travel to try one. But I'm not sure if I'd be able to afford it, depends on the dealer's price, but pianobuyer prices seem close enough to dealer's prices and I may be able to negotiate it to within budget. Would it be worth the travel to try that as well?

Thank you.

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I would advise getting a grand, for all imaginable reasons.
The tone of a grand can be professionally adjusted to your taste, but no tech can make an upright do what grands do mechanically.

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I have a medium-term shopping project where there is no option but an upright-- but that is driven by space more than budget.

If you have room for a bigger piano and can get something as nice as an Estonia, that would be a tough one to pass up. But you have to like it. If the (well-made but different) Japanese pianos aren't doing it for you, don't feel obliged to settle.

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Originally Posted by An Old Square
I would advise getting a grand, for all imaginable reasons.The tone of a grand can be professionally adjusted to your taste, but no tech can make an upright do what grands do mechanically.
I think that could confuse the OP. I assume you don't mean the tone can be made to sound like the Bechstein whose tone he prefers.

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Canโ€™t go wrong with a Bechstein, IMHO. I think your priority should be the piano you love the most. A grand is great, but some people absolutely love tall uprights. Pick what you love. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘


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Originally Posted by fengshaun
I will try them again in a few days which should clear things up a bit more between C2X and GX2, but my question is will I be remiss if I choose an upright piano with a more pleasant (to my ear) tone than a grand piano which has a 'better' action (faster repetition speed, and gravity-assisted damper mechanism). I so far like the tone of Bechstein and even the Hoffman T128 more than Yamaha and Kawai grands and uprights.

I'm coming back to piano after a long time and my skill level is at about grade 7-8 RCM and so don't have the refined touch of a professional pianist to guide me regarding the importance of action vs tone. My concerns are regarding the development of a proper pedaling technique which seems to almost 'require' a grand piano (that's what I've heard). So, how big of a deal is the key and damper mechanism of a grand, and should I put tone or touch as my top priority?
I've never heard anyone claim that one can't develop proper pedal technique on an upright, at least as far as the sustain pedal is concerned. I don't know if the Bechstein upright has a proper una corda and/or sostenuto pedal, but if it doesn't then only you can decide how important that is.

Unless one has unlimited resources buying a piano usually involves some compromises, but deciding between tone and touch is not a black and white issue and IMO again comes down to personal choice. The repetition speed on the Bechstein may be more than adequate for your purposes.

You could also ask the Yamaha and Kawai dealers if they are willing to try to adjust the tone of their pianos more to your liking before you agree to purchase the piano. This is a common and reasonable request.

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Quote
will I be remiss if I choose an upright piano with a more pleasant (to my ear) tone than a grand piano which has a 'better' action (faster repetition speed, and gravity-assisted damper mechanism)

I am someone who very much prefers grand pianos to uprights for a whole bunch of reasons. And I now own a Yamaha C2, so seeing the C2x in your list makes me think you have very good choices for grand options.

BUT! Having said all of that, I don't recommend you buy a piano if you're not in love with the sound. Well, and the feel of the action.

Those two things both should be present, especially when you have a budget that allows you a lot of options.

If you want a grand but don't love what you're hearing, keep shopping.

If you want the piano sounds best to you, and that points you in the direction of an upright, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying an upright.

That's my view anyway.

Definitely keep us updated!!


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Thank you all for your responses.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I've never heard anyone claim that one can't develop proper pedal technique on an upright, at least as far as the sustain pedal is concerned. I don't know if the Bechstein upright has a proper una corda and/or sostenuto pedal, but if it doesn't then only you can decide how important that is.

Unless one has unlimited resources buying a piano usually involves some compromises, but deciding between tone and touch is not a black and white issue and IMO again comes down to personal choice. The repetition speed on the Bechstein may be more than adequate for your purposes.

You could also ask the Yamaha and Kawai dealers if they are willing to try to adjust the tone of their pianos more to your liking before you agree to purchase the piano. This is a common and reasonable request.

I'm talking about the sustain pedal. I've heard it's very difficult or nearly impossible to have 8 levels of control on an upright damper pedal. I've heard at most I could do quarter pedaling if I'm lucky.

I haven't liked the tone of japanese pianos, and the quality of their tones is so different that I can't imagine voicing would be able to match the tone of the hoffman, let alone the bechstein upright.

Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
I have a medium-term shopping project where there is no option but an upright-- but that is driven by space more than budget.

If you have room for a bigger piano and can get something as nice as an Estonia, that would be a tough one to pass up. But you have to like it. If the (well-made but different) Japanese pianos aren't doing it for you, don't feel obliged to settle.

Space is not an issue, budget is. I've never tried an Estonia, will have to make a longer trip to try one!

Originally Posted by ShiroKura
I am someone who very much prefers grand pianos to uprights for a whole bunch of reasons. And I now own a Yamaha C2, so seeing the C2x in your list makes me think you have very good choices for grand options.

BUT! Having said all of that, I don't recommend you buy a piano if you're not in love with the sound. Well, and the feel of the action.

Those two things both should be present, especially when you have a budget that allows you a lot of options.

If you want a grand but don't love what you're hearing, keep shopping.

If you want the piano sounds best to you, and that points you in the direction of an upright, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying an upright.

That's my view anyway.

Definitely keep us updated!!

Thank you very much for your opinion. This sheds more light on the dilemma I'm facing. I wasn't sure if I should put more emphasis on the sound/touch/feel or potential technical advantages.

I think based on everyone's responses, the tone/sound/feel is the bigger factor here which makes a lot of senses to myself. I'm glad to hear that from everyone!

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@fengshaun

Noone will ever make Yamaha sound like Bechstein as they were designerd to sound in a particular way. If you do not like japanese grand you have to move on and try other European grand, and from Bechstein more affordable are W. Hofmann pianos. Voicing can do something, but it will not change an Apple to an Orange.

There are a lot of cheaper brands like Petrof, Schulze Pollman, Schimmel, used Grotrians, and list Goes on. I think you should either consider well rebuild European piano of top brand or look for 2nd tier new grand like Haessler, W.Hofmann, Boston, and many others (for reference of brands look at Piano Buyer).

Here in the forum we have user Norbert, who is dealer in Canda. Maybe you could write to him, if he is still active and in the business?

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He is retired, but might still have opinions!

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You had better buy the tone you want to listen to long term. It isnโ€™t crazy. If uncertain, keep trying them.

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Originally Posted by fengshaun
I'm talking about the sustain pedal. I've heard it's very difficult or nearly impossible to have 8 levels of control on an upright damper pedal. I've heard at most I could do quarter pedaling if I'm lucky.
That kind of information, if true, might be relevant to a world class pianist. I doubt even many of those would claim they needed or used 8 levels of control. I think just half pedaling is sufficient for non professional pianists and quarter pedaling would be beyond sufficient. In the tens of thousands of PW posts I have never heard anyone worry about how many levels of pedaling one can do on an upright.

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I understand that you may prefer some uprights to some grands.The Estonia 168 comes at a good price value.German made Schimmels are quite expensive.Even the Classic models are not cheap when it comes to the grands.Of course there is the Wilhelm Schimmel grands made in Poland which some do enjoy.I have never tried them.
Like you (are thinking about), I chose an expensive upright over a grand.I nearly bought a Sku3 Shigeru but then at the last minute I heard about the Schimmel K132 which I love. Sometimes (like yesterday ๐Ÿ˜€), I hear of a fabulous tier one grand and I rush off to look at it.Apart from that I never think of having a grand and am happy to have more space in my piano room.I have played the Bechstein A124, and yes it is an excellent upright.The regular concert line of the Bechstein 124 is wonderful but of course more expensive.
Perhaps try Sauter, Grotrian and Schimmel and Petrof uprights as well and as many uprights as you can just to compare to the A124.Do not forget trying the Estonia 168.Best wishes on your search for a piano with a "unique piano tone".

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Hereโ€™s a Piano Buyer review of the Bechstein sub-lines by a pianist who is a very well-regarded technician. Could be useful somehow:

https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/w-hoffmann-pianos-enticing-alternatives-in-the-mid-level-market/


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Hello, does anyone know the current price for Estonia 168? Thank you.

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Originally Posted by Majoo
Hello, does anyone know the current price for Estonia 168? Thank you.


Hi Majoo

Prices are not the same from one country to the next. Since you live in Singapore, the US prices would not help you. Is there an Estonia dealer in Singapore that you can ask?


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As far as I know, there is none in SG. Yes, I just want to know the US price, so that I can do price comparison with Yamaha grand pianos. Is it beyond 50k there for Estonia 168?

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https://thepianogallery.co.uk/videoshop/yamaha-su118-4284/

Yamaha SU118, the smaller brother of Yamaha's most expensive upright, sounds quite spectacular in my opinion.

The YUS 5 is also spectacular.

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Iโ€™m pretty sure Yamaha pianos are cheaper in SG than they are in the US, so that price comparison is, again, not useful to you.


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So your budget is CAD $30K-40K but you are left with the meager choice between an upright whose tone you like and two grands whose tone do not impress you. It seems that you would be served by wider options, unless you insist on a new piano? Because with that budget I think you should get a lot more choices from used instruments. That is, if at the end you find a {used} grand piano with a tone that pleases you, that would sidestep this dilemma altogether (and you may even have a chunk of your budget to spare}.


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