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Like others have said, I think you are taking the issue with a very large and broad spectrum, essentially listing everything you could try and locating associated dealers.

Since you are a pro player and you have already a large experience, I would assume you know pretty much the kind of sound that you like. Maybe not at a exact and detailed level, but I guess you must know the general voicing you are fond of. So I would in a first round start to narrow down on a subset of possible brands. Typically jazz and classical have different requirements. Though Petrucciani loved the Bosendorder, I would think it is not a brand often used for jazz music.

Some brands are quite consistent from model to model within the same range (typically Yamaha and Kawai) so you dont really need to play the exact model you want to get a good sense of the voicing. Other brands have more variability from piano to piano, but even then there are still some general characteristics. That should allow you to know if that brand suits you or not. For example if you like the Fazioli character, it is unlikely that you would like Bosendorfer or Mason. Of course you can sort of like both but at some point you need to decide if you want to go for the clarity of the Fazioli or the smooth richness of Bosendorfer. Thus you dont need to try every single model and brand. The Yamaha and Kawai being fairly consistent, you can quickly see if you like those.

As PL said, the easiest is to tour the main cities around you like NY and try various pianos within one or 2 days and narrow down the sound you are looking for. I suggest you take pictures of the pianos, take notes and if possible record yourself with a portable device. It is difficult to remember the exact sound a few days away. After that you can drill down into different models within the brands you have selected. But as someone said, you should always buy the piano you have tried. If you do like a piano with a lot of clarity (though I doubt), then it may be worth to try out to find a Fazioli. Otherwise I wouldnt bother.


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Originally Posted by Tgrshrk99
Don’t rule out the Yamaha CF6. Our church rented one this past Christmas. Fantastic instrument.

This is my dream piano! One day...


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Originally Posted by Sgisela
I meant to add this to my earlier post, but it timed out:

I do think it’s worth taking some time to figure out/educate yourself on how you can maintain a very high end piano. My understanding is that for some of the more unusual high end pianos out there, the knowledge about how to voice the piano (and other technical stuff related to maintaining it at a high level) is somewhat specialized. Maybe I’m wrong about this, and I certainly don’t pretend to be knowledgeable about these things. But if I were to buy a high end piano from far away, I would want to educate myself about this and talk to the dealer in advance about who is going to help you maintain your piano. Otherwise, in a year or two, you may not be as happy with your piano as you should be.
I think an excellent tech can work very well with any make. Of course, everything else being equal, if someone has a huge amount of experience with a particular make this can be helpful but that is an extremely rare occurrence even in a major metropolitan area. So as long as there is a very good tech in your area I would not choose a piano based on knowing there was a specialist for that make in your area.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Trying to play so many different makes is, for most people, unrealistic and far too time consuming. In addition, it will probably be very hard to remember how one piano's sound compares to another piano's sound even after a few days unless you can make a very good recording of each piano. And two pianos of the same make and size can also sound quite different so crossing a particular make off your list does not always make sense based on trying one example of their 7' model.

I've just spent 2-3 months going through this very process, and can strongly +1 what PLU says here. I tried to take my time and make the "journey as enjoyable as the destination," and it was. But holy cow, it took a lot of time and effort, scheduling, re-scheduling etc. And I live in a metro-enough area where there are multiple dealers within driving distance. Even then, oftentimes they only had 1-2 models in the range I was looking for.

It's easy to say "The best thing to do is take 6-18 months, go to every shop and play each piano for 2-3 hours at a time, 3-4 times each over the course of each season and moon phase, give up brushing your teeth if time constraints present themselves." In reality it's a tall order for folks who are working, or have families and other active commitments, who aren't professional players, to dedicate this kind of time. I really stretched myself thin and expended a lot of familial capital visiting half a dozen shops, and as each visit was weeks apart, it's impossible to really A/B test, and you have to kind of go with your first impression during the playing session. I made it an adventure, but it could also become a chore. especially if you have a huge internet list that you feel you must work through before making your final choice.

You have to make do much of time. And because of that, I do think it's super-important to be sure you love the piano you finalize on. I walked out of a lot of shops thinking "OK, this was pretty nice. It's an expensive piano, I should like it, right?" But that's very different from finding "the one." Only one kind of piano really hit me over the head with how much I loved it, and it happened pretty early in the process. Everything else I tried reinforced for me that the piano I really liked was in fact the one I wanted.

Definitely take notes, too. Even after trying different pianos at one shop, everything is going to be jumbled together in your head after a few days.


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
[quote=pianoloverus]Trying to play so many different makes is, for most people, unrealistic and far too time consuming...
I do think it's super-important to be sure you love the piano you finalize on...it happened pretty early in the process.

Exactly, it doesn't take long to know if you like a piano. So, as far as you can do a whistle stop tour, and make a short shorlist. Then go back to choose one, and don't forget the one at the back of your mind.

The three I have written on my shortlist at various times are a Shigeru, a baby Bluthner, and a Phoenix Steingraeber. But I bought the Ibach i had at the back of my mind.


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You've had most issues covered well. My only additional suggestion would be to try Bluthner, if you want a piano that leans more to the Cortot/Pleyel end of the spectrum. (A string instrument, not percussion.)

Their US distributor is in Lansing, MI.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Even in the NYC + Philly + Connecticut area I don't think you will find Shigeru Kawai and Schimmel and possibly others on your list.

Forte Piano in Paramus, NJ, shows both Shigeru Kawai and Schimmel under "Brands" and I've played both, there (though it's been a few years). As to being an official distributor, I can't say.

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Another vote for Forte piano in Paramus.

Great people with nice pianos.


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
It's easy to say "The best thing to do is take 6-18 months, go to every shop and play each piano for 2-3 hours at a time, 3-4 times each over the course of each season and moon phase, give up brushing your teeth if time constraints present themselves." In reality it's a tall order for folks who are working, or have families and other active commitments, who aren't professional players, to dedicate this kind of time. I really stretched myself thin and expended a lot of familial capital visiting half a dozen shops, and as each visit was weeks apart, it's impossible to really A/B test, and you have to kind of go with your first impression during the playing session. I made it an adventure, but it could also become a chore. especially if you have a huge internet list that you feel you must work through before making your final choice.

You have to make do much of time. And because of that, I do think it's super-important to be sure you love the piano you finalize on. I walked out of a lot of shops thinking "OK, this was pretty nice. It's an expensive piano, I should like it, right?" But that's very different from finding "the one." Only one kind of piano really hit me over the head with how much I loved it, and it happened pretty early in the process. Everything else I tried reinforced for me that the piano I really liked was in fact the one I wanted.

I can certainly relate to this from my own search. I wondered if I could possibly justify the outlay for a performance piano without trying absolutely everything and spending hours at a time getting to understand the nuances of different instruments and their manufacturers.

As it happened a couple of Steinway B's really impressed upon me, including a less common NYC example here in the UK. I was very attracted to the Phoenix-Steingraeber concept and felt there was a C212 that I could have lived with very happily. I love the Bluthners I have played in the past. I didn't get to try Bosendorfer or Fazioli because it would have involved yet more travelling. Within the limited scope of my searching the E-272 I bought was absolutely beyond any doubt 'the one' in my search, which I recognised as a rare purchasing opportunity to be seized. If I were buying new rather than a one off used opportunity on a rare instrument I would probably have widened the search just to be certain.

Congratulations Gombessa on your inbound VC.

I would also disagree somewhat with the point about size, I have a 9' Steingraeber in my 16' study alongside my home office setup and whilst its 'tight' I don't feel its compromised tonally or musically. I can play more quietly, in a more controlled fashion, more easily in a way that is more tonally pleasing than any other piano I've ever played. The fact that you can't realise the full potential of a concert grand in a smaller setting doesn't make it inferior to a smaller piano.


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Steve, brdwyguy, Sgisela, and pianolovers - some excellent advice and perspective for me to chew on.

Love the idea of going to Haverhill and seeing the factory and playing their various instruments in the factory. But then talked to the M and H rep today, and he said they don't always have BB's in the factory - nowadays they're sold before they leave the factory. But I did locate a couple in Wisconsin to go look at. Trouble is the other brands are harder to come by in that state. Found a few Shigeru SK6's, even though I had my heart set on the SK7 due to the extra size. But apparently from what all the dealers I've spoken to are saying, the market is such that people don't see the extra value in the 6" difference with the extra cost the SK7 incurs. So the SK6 is much more popular and that's what dealers are ordering.

Talked to several dealers today, and they reiterate the difficulties in the industry right now. Limited supply chain, backorders due to no production during covid, and now comes the increase in prices that seems to be hallmarked by everybody for April 1st. They told me that April 1st is like the piano world's fiscal year. Increased cost of shipping crates, fuel etc means 10-20% increase in prices across the board......damn....

Tgrshrk99 I have asked about the Yamaha CF series and I'm having difficulty finding anyone that has a CF6. I have heard from one dealer that the SX series is pretty close to the CF series, but that's not what I've gleaned from other sources here and elsewhere. brdwyguy I have gone to the Piano Buyer's site and it is extremely helpful. Will have to check out the book. Larry Fine seems to be a guru in piano circles, kind of like the Robert Parker of piano tastes.

pianolovers I have battled with the thought that I might lose track of the specific parameters of the first piano I try when I reach the 8th one I try. For some reason I feel I somehow owe it to myself, to force myself to at least see what is available in tonal color, response, action etc. I would imagine that at some point it involves taking the analytical elements into account, then ultimately abandoning that mindset and letting the gestalt take over as to which instrument I connect with the most. Of course I've thought about other factors - 1)the rooms these pianos are in, coupled with the room's reverberations will vary 2) the settings will vary - ie. some noisy with lots of people and distraction and others mellow and free of distraction 3) The individual piano itself, which as pianolovers described, can vary from piano to piano. So in order to cross a brand off my list would potentially require more than 1 piano per brand - yikes!, this is getting complicated.....I guess my thought was to gather a general idea of each brands flavor, then start narrowing it down to a specific piano.

So far I've located
1) 1 August Forster 215 and one arriving in a month
2) Shigeru SK6(multiple) and 2 SK7's
3) 2 Mason and Hamlin BB's
4) 1 Estonia L225
5) 1 C. Bechstein

That only took about 50 searches in 6 large metro areas and 20 calls...............

Now if I could just find them in one city....


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Piano Craft has new Grotian, Estonia and Steingraeber. Plus a few pre-owned grands The owner is a well-respected member here.

https://pianocraft.net/piano-sales-and-services/pianos-for-sale/


They are in Maryland


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Thank You Dogperson!
I KNEW I KNEW I was missing a great dealer on that list I gave Dave!

Apologies - Pianocraft!

brdwyguy


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In Detroit, I would go to Jim Reeder at Reeder Pianos in Lansing. It is not too far from you. He is very nice and I assume he will show you his rebuilding process. He has had some of the nicest larger restored Mason and Hamlin and Steinway I have seen. He is also the American distributor for new Bluthner and has large selection of potential vintage Bluthner options to choose from.
Super nice guy and readily available to get into his shop except Saturdays. Definitely worth a trip. You will at least learn from his vast knowledge and skillset.

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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
I had a dream of a Piano Emporium.
(was there a dealer where they had a large selection of brand pianos to compare side by side)


Back in 1985, we were in London for the first time and decided to go to Harrod's which at the time was famous for having a great piano store. They had rows and rows of grand pianos side by side. We saw several Boesendorfers, Bechsteins, Schimmel, Erard, Yamaha, Grotian Steinweg etc. etc. (no Steinways - although the Steinway store in London wasn't that far away, near Wigmore Hall as was the Boesendorfer store.) The Boesendorfers (our dream piano) were much, much cheaper than in the US at Harrods. My wife made the very observant comment that Harrod's wasn't know for low prices. Today, that last time we were in Harrod's a few years ago, the piano department is decimated - more Yamaha electric keyboards than acoustic pianos.

Our 1985 visit to Harrods led us on an unplanned trip to the London Boesendorfer store where the prices were better than Harrods. We told him we were on our way to the continent, and he suggested we visit Daniel Magne in Paris and his price was even lower than the London store. Magne arranged an appointment for a tour of the Boesendorfer factory in Vienna (both Vienna and Wiener Neustadt). The Boesendorfer staff people picked us up from our hotel not far from St. Stephens and drove us down to Wiener Neustadt and then back to their voicing department in Vienna on Boesendorferstrasse. I've told this next part of the story before. We ended up choosing a 225 from the factory (the four they had for final voicing were all different) and buying it from Magne. The US dollar was historically strong (only about 10% below the British pound) and the 225 cost around $24,000 including air shipment to California.


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Originally Posted by astrotoy
Originally Posted by brdwyguy
I had a dream of a Piano Emporium.
(was there a dealer where they had a large selection of brand pianos to compare side by side)


Back in 1985, we were in London for the first time and decided to go to Harrod's which at the time was famous for having a great piano store. They had rows and rows of grand pianos side by side. We saw several Boesendorfers, Bechsteins, Schimmel, Erard, Yamaha, Grotian Steinweg etc. etc. (no Steinways - although the Steinway store in London wasn't that far away, near Wigmore Hall as was the Boesendorfer store.) The Boesendorfers (our dream piano) were much, much cheaper than in the US at Harrods. My wife made the very observant comment that Harrod's wasn't know for low prices. Today, that last time we were in Harrod's a few years ago, the piano department is decimated - more Yamaha electric keyboards than acoustic pianos.

Our 1985 visit to Harrods led us on an unplanned trip to the London Boesendorfer store where the prices were better than Harrods. We told him we were on our way to the continent, and he suggested we visit Daniel Magne in Paris and his price was even lower than the London store. Magne arranged an appointment for a tour of the Boesendorfer factory in Vienna (both Vienna and Wiener Neustadt). The Boesendorfer staff people picked us up from our hotel not far from St. Stephens and drove us down to Wiener Neustadt and then back to their voicing department in Vienna on Boesendorferstrasse. I've told this next part of the story before. We ended up choosing a 225 from the factory (the four they had for final voicing were all different) and buying it from Magne. The US dollar was historically strong (only about 10% below the British pound) and the 225 cost around $24,000 including air shipment to California.

That’s a nice story but $24k in 1985 was a starting salary at IBM, post college, as that was what I earned there in 1985. So, I would have had to drop a whole year’s salary on that Bosendorfer, just not possible when I had only $3k in savings.

I did manage to buy a house for $86k back then, with $700 down, FHA loan, with closing costs financed, and eventually sold that for three times what I paid for it.

How much is the Bosendorfer worth now? I’d say around $50-70k given the cost of the new Bosendorfers. That’s actually very good in terms of holding value. You usually do better when you buy something of higher quality than of lower quality.

The relationship of tech salary to Bosendorfer still roughly holds, as starting tech salaries of over a $100k are now roughly the cost of a new Bosendorfer.

Of course, ocean shipping adds to the cost of pianos, how could it not? That’s why European pianos in the US cost more than in Europe.

Before the invention of the shipping container, which drove down shipping costs, the US did not have all of the foreign products that it does now.

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Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by astrotoy
Originally Posted by brdwyguy
I had a dream of a Piano Emporium.
(was there a dealer where they had a large selection of brand pianos to compare side by side)


Back in 1985, we were in London for the first time and decided to go to Harrod's which at the time was famous for having a great piano store. They had rows and rows of grand pianos side by side. We saw several Boesendorfers, Bechsteins, Schimmel, Erard, Yamaha, Grotian Steinweg etc. etc. (no Steinways - although the Steinway store in London wasn't that far away, near Wigmore Hall as was the Boesendorfer store.) The Boesendorfers (our dream piano) were much, much cheaper than in the US at Harrods. My wife made the very observant comment that Harrod's wasn't know for low prices. Today, that last time we were in Harrod's a few years ago, the piano department is decimated - more Yamaha electric keyboards than acoustic pianos.

Our 1985 visit to Harrods led us on an unplanned trip to the London Boesendorfer store where the prices were better than Harrods. We told him we were on our way to the continent, and he suggested we visit Daniel Magne in Paris and his price was even lower than the London store. Magne arranged an appointment for a tour of the Boesendorfer factory in Vienna (both Vienna and Wiener Neustadt). The Boesendorfer staff people picked us up from our hotel not far from St. Stephens and drove us down to Wiener Neustadt and then back to their voicing department in Vienna on Boesendorferstrasse. I've told this next part of the story before. We ended up choosing a 225 from the factory (the four they had for final voicing were all different) and buying it from Magne. The US dollar was historically strong (only about 10% below the British pound) and the 225 cost around $24,000 including air shipment to California.

That’s a nice story but $24k in 1985 was a starting salary at IBM, post college, as that was what I earned there in 1985. So, I would have had to drop a whole year’s salary on that Bosendorfer, just not possible when I had only $3k in savings.

I did manage to buy a house for $86k back then, with $700 down, FHA loan, with closing costs financed, and eventually sold that for three times what I paid for it.

How much is the Bosendorfer worth now? I’d say around $50-70k given the cost of the new Bosendorfers. That’s actually very good in terms of holding value. You usually do better when you buy something of higher quality than of lower quality.

The relationship of tech salary to Bosendorfer still roughly holds, as starting tech salaries of over a $100k are now roughly the cost of a new Bosendorfer.

Of course, ocean shipping adds to the cost of pianos, how could it not? That’s why European pianos in the US cost more than in Europe.

Before the invention of the shipping container, which drove down shipping costs, the US did not have all of the foreign products that it does now.

I was just 40 in 1985, and even with two incomes, the $24K was a stretch for us. At the time, we didn't realize that we were also playing the game of arbitrage of currencies, not knowing that the US dollar was reaching an all time high in value against the European currencies, never again to reach such heights. When we got married in 1970 (I was 25 and she was 23) instead of an engagement ring, I bought my wife to be a used Kawaii 500 grand for $1200.


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Originally Posted by astrotoy
I was just 40 in 1985, and even with two incomes, the $24K was a stretch for us. At the time, we didn't realize that we were also playing the game of arbitrage of currencies, not knowing that the US dollar was reaching an all time high in value against the European currencies, never again to reach such heights. When we got married in 1970 (I was 25 and she was 23) instead of an engagement ring, I bought my wife to be a used Kawaii 500 grand for $1200.

Our economy is a game based on couples. Couples set the prices of a lot of goods. Individuals are at a disadvantage.

I’m in favor of going your own way when it comes to relationships. So many people just follow the script. I like the idea of a piano as an engagement ring.

My wife and I eloped. We saved her family a lot of money, which would have been spent on a fancy wedding, and we enjoyed a trip to France, where she is from.

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Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by astrotoy
I was just 40 in 1985, and even with two incomes, the $24K was a stretch for us. At the time, we didn't realize that we were also playing the game of arbitrage of currencies, not knowing that the US dollar was reaching an all time high in value against the European currencies, never again to reach such heights. When we got married in 1970 (I was 25 and she was 23) instead of an engagement ring, I bought my wife to be a used Kawaii 500 grand for $1200.

Our economy is a game based on couples. Couples set the prices of a lot of goods. Individuals are at a disadvantage.

I’m in favor of going your own way when it comes to relationships. So many people just follow the script. I like the idea of a piano as an engagement ring.

My wife and I eloped. We saved her family a lot of money, which would have been spent on a fancy wedding, and we enjoyed a trip to France, where she is from.

We had our 51st anniversary last December!


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Originally Posted by astrotoy
We had our 51st anniversary last December!

Congratulations! thumb

That's not something one hears every day.


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Originally Posted by LarryK
I’m in favor of going your own way when it comes to relationships. So many people just follow the script. I like the idea of a piano as an engagement ring.

My wife and I eloped. We saved her family a lot of money, which would have been spent on a fancy wedding, and we enjoyed a trip to France, where she is from.


I'm in favor of going one's own way in most things! thumb

Mrs. Retsacnal and I had both been married before, so I didn't think a "big" wedding was necessary, but she explained to me that weddings are a big deal where she grew up, so sort of for her parents' sake she put together a tastefully proper wedding, on a reasonable budget. We rented a small historical Episcopal church that had a modern parish hall adjoining it. We had about 80 guests and a reception w/string quartet. All-in, with catering, dresses for she and the girls, etc, plus flying her parents and brother in from Jakarta, was slightly less than 8k (in 2009).

Anyway, I point all that out for a couple of going-your-own-way reasons:

First, we sort of did it on short notice. We didn't know any better, but we started planning in the summer for a wedding in October. The first wedding people we talked to literally laughed and said we couldn't do it that "fast" (seemed like several months to us, but we didn't know any better). So... we she arranged it all. And it all worked out, even on "short notice," and, frankly, it was a lot less expensive.

Second, sometimes it's ok to get bumped out of your own way. I was initially reluctant about having a wedding, but it turned out to be one of the best days of my life! The wedding was such a big success that some of her girlfriends and work colleagues were joking and asking if she could set up the same package for them.


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