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Joined: Nov 2020
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Hey everyone --

I am considering "upgrading" from my Kawai GL20 to a much nicer vertical piano this summer. I'm moving to a new house that doesn't have room for even a small grand, so I figured I should embrace the challenge and look for a vertical piano that's a clear step up from the GL. My budget ceiling is $18K... and I might be able to stretch that to $20K max. Beyond that isn't realistic at this point.

I played a new Grotrian Concertino this morning that was an amazing instrument and everything I could ever hope for in an upright piano. But it was also way outside my budget. I had heard so many good things about the Concertino, and it did not disappoint. What an extraordinary instrument.

Next to the Grotrian was a used August Forster 125 that was absolutely gorgeous -- not quite at the level of the Grotrian, but REALLY close. So much so that I almost bought it right there on the spot, despite the fact I've just started this search. To that end, I'm curious what this community thinks about August Forster in general, and about the 125 in particular. Perhaps more importantly, since I find the Forster vertical sound and touch so appealing, are there other vertical pianos I should consider in that fit in my budget? New or used doesn't matter -- this is much more about what I can afford in the moment, though I do understand that used will likely get me a much nicer instrument than new in my price range.

I lurk here a lot but rarely post -- curious to see what the community thinks of August Forster uprights, and what other recommendations there are when it comes to the vertical piano world. Thanks in advance for any insight you might have.

Cheers,
James

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Try looking for a Petrof upright. I loved my Petrof 125. It had a sweet and clear sound, reminds me of the AF grands that I've tried (have never played an AF upright). I also really liked the Schimmel uprights. Good luck!


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Apart from Grotrian and August Forster, possibly a CBechstein A124, or a Sauter, Petrof125, Kawai 800, and of course the Schimmel C130 and especially the Koncert 132 would be great to try.This has a wonderful bass, tenor and a brilliant treble.Many 130 size pianos are said to have the sound of a grand and do not, the K132 does indeed sound like a grand.(even Larry Fine this it) It has an excellent action as well.
You may have to find a slightly used piano in some of these brands as the prices may be above your budget.If do find an affordable nearly new CBechstein R124, I think you would also be delighted.Still I am sure you would also be happy with the August Forster.(the last time I played one was many years ago, I do not remember it very well)

This may too.
https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/staff-picks-recommendations/

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Too late to edit I meant "This may help too"

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One oddball that has been mentioned kindly here and elsewhere-- the Seiler mid-range series. Made in Indonesia with German parts and tools, it supposedly delivers the goods remarkably well, for much less than $20k. And you can get those with the magnetic action which allegedly comes very close to a grand piano touch.

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You should be able to get a REALLY great upright? (up)RIGHT?!? frown

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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
One oddball that has been mentioned kindly here and elsewhere-- the Seiler mid-range series. Made in Indonesia with German parts and tools, it supposedly delivers the goods remarkably well, for much less than $20k. And you can get those with the magnetic action which allegedly comes very close to a grand piano touch.
Also the Wilhelm Schimmel, made in Poland, without the "German parts and tools,".(well perhaps... there are some) for SMP price of about $22,000.Bechstein's, WHOFFMAN made in the Czeck Republic is another to consider, at a similar cost.

The August Forster would be great but seems above your budget? What about a YUS5 (Yamaha)?

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Originally Posted by tre corda
Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
One oddball that has been mentioned kindly here and elsewhere-- the Seiler mid-range series. Made in Indonesia with German parts and tools, it supposedly delivers the goods remarkably well, for much less than $20k. And you can get those with the magnetic action which allegedly comes very close to a grand piano touch.
Also the Wilhelm Schimmel, made in Poland, without the "German parts and tools,".(well perhaps... there are some) for SMP price of about $22,000.Bechstein's, WHOFFMAN made in the Czeck Republic is another to consider, at a similar cost.

The August Forster would be great but seems above your budget? What about a YUS5 (Yamaha)?

I love my YUS5. It has German strings(Roslau)and German felt (Wurzen).

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Thanks, everyone -- I meant to jump back in here a few days ago, but got sidetracked by finals week...

The Forster is a 2004, one-owner, pristine condition 125G. It would actually only cost me a few thousand after trading in the Kawai, and I can't imagine I'd find a better upright for what amounts to a one-for-one trade. The Grotrian Concertino would be a much bigger financial drain up front, and one I can't take quite yet with one kid in college and another headed there shortly. But I totally get why people speak so highly of those Grotrian uprights. It's an extraordinary instrument.

I checked out two Seiler ED verticals, and while I really liked the action and they were solidly in my budget, I wasn't as wild about the sound -- the 132 in particular has a pronounced cabinet reverb (for lack of a better term) that I often hear especially in larger uprights. I know it's likely just a natural artifact of having a larger case, but it sounds more to my ears as if the dampers aren't quite working as well as they should. The reason I ended up in the GL20 in the first place was because I couldn't find an upright I liked that didn't have that happening to some extent -- the bigger the cabinet, the better the overall sound, but the worse that case-induced "tail" on notes. The appeal of the AF in part is that I don't hear it much at all in that piano, but the sound is full and very grand-like, along with a really responsive, light action.

Pianos on the list to try this weekend: Schimmel C123 (I think - not sure of the size), Hoffmann T128, and a M&H Model 50. The Schimmel and M&H are probably outside my budget, but I need to try them just to be sure. I might play the K500 again with a more critical ear, but I could tell it wasn't nearly the piano the Forster was when I played them back to back last weekend. Still really nice, though, and it has a familiar (good) feel in the action.

So maybe the AF 125 is the way to go after all? I guess I'm just nervous about letting go of a very nice little grand in the GL20 in order to bring home an upright. My pianist lizard brain can't compute, even though I can tell the AF is a much nicer instrument.

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I think only you can decided about the "almost swop" of your GL20 grand for the Forster 125G.Many here love thier grands and probably will find it difficult to relate.I do understand (obviously) but I think you have to decide whether a 2004 August Forster 25G is worth exchanging for a (newish) GL20.I would say go for it if that's what you love.Besides European uprights are made to last many, many years.(well the better ones are)
I cannot really say anything about the "reverb" you are talking of at all (?) in tall uprights and some grands.It is not anything I have ever experienced with my piano or a number of 130's or taller instruments except for one I tried at a dealers store.This was a 130 size piano of a top tier brand.There was a noticeable "reverb" when I depressed the sustaining pedal (damper).I later tried a different piano but same brand and model and it was fine, no problem at all???

My own dislike is for 125 to 130 pianos which sound dry, with little sustain or those where the treble is too weak for the bass.
I think when one tries one piano brand and model that is just an example of that particular brand/model and it is not exactly the same as every other piano of that brand/model.
I would suggest having the Forster 125 checked by an independent technician.If you do not think you will miss your grand, I would suggest going ahead if that's what you want.Try the Forster a few times before deciding.

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That "cabinet reverb" on the larger upright is due to the dampers not working as well on a larger upright. Since the dampers need to work vertically, they can't depend on gravity, so a damper spring is necessary to push the damper against the strings. This is one of the reasons it's harder to play ppp on a large upright, because it takes some force to overcome the damper spring before the key movement starts moving the hammers. On a good upright, like the AF, you'll notice (I noticed on one I tried in New Jersey), that they have brass damper barrels. This helps soak up the vibrating strings, better than wood or ABS damper barrels, so there is less "reverb". On my Kawai K800, I had my tech change all the damper barrels below middle C to brass dampers, and in my opinion, the sound is much nicer. It doesn't sound as rich as before, but there is much more clarity in all the notes below middle C. With heaver damper barrels, the damper spring also doesn't have to be as tight (press as hard against the strings), so that also improves ones ability to play ppp. I learned all this reading Del Fandrich's posts on the topic.

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Originally Posted by Kelwai
That "cabinet reverb" on the larger upright is due to the dampers not working as well on a larger upright. Since the dampers need to work vertically, they can't depend on gravity, so a damper spring is necessary to push the damper against the strings. This is one of the reasons it's harder to play ppp on a large upright, because it takes some force to overcome the damper spring before the key movement starts moving the hammers. On a good upright, like the AF, you'll notice (I noticed on one I tried in New Jersey), that they have brass damper barrels. This helps soak up the vibrating strings, better than wood or ABS damper barrels, so there is less "reverb". On my Kawai K800, I had my tech change all the damper barrels below middle C to brass dampers, and in my opinion, the sound is much nicer. It doesn't sound as rich as before, but there is much more clarity in all the notes below middle C. With heaver damper barrels, the damper spring also doesn't have to be as tight (press as hard against the strings), so that also improves ones ability to play ppp. I learned all this reading Del Fandrich's posts on the topic.
Well I count myself lucky in that my 132 size upright is so expressive.That was really one of the main reasons I chose my piano because is because one can play ppp quite easily with no bobbling at all.I need to look inside to see if I can see those "barrels." On the new U3's or K500 pianos I do not hear much reverb either but it is difficult to play pp on a U3 or even a U1.I have not tried a K500 for a long time.A dry treble is unpleasant especially when playing without a sustaining pedal.To be able to play pp at least is very important in an upright.Fortunatly this is easy on my piano without the use of the soft pedal.


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