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Cheaper/Smaller Acoustic Baby Grands - Which is good?


Legatoboy

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Does anybody have any input in regards to which acoustic Baby Grands in the 5' to 5'3" size and $4500-$6500 price range 'new' they could recommend.

 

I tried a Pearl River (Chinese) that I thought sounded and played the best when compared to some others for the $ ($6200 probably). I know it's a cheap chinese piano, but it's 'not bad'. Does anybody have any opnion on the Pearl River brand in terms of playability, construction, reliability, design etc..

 

Maybe I'm better off looking for a used BG piano in that price/size range? I don't care for Yamaha grands because I find their tone to 'bell like'. I heard from a piano tech. that Yamaha double wind their piano strings or something to that effect. I prefer a 'flatter' tone for lack of a better description. I do like some of the Yamaha upright 'U' series and they don't seem to bother me in terms of the 'bell like ' quality of their sound. Maybe I should just look into that. Space is a consideration, that's why the 5'-5'3" range in size.

 

I want more sustain from my notes/chords and the smoothness of a horizontal action and harp, and am eager to trade up from my fairly bland Everett Studio Upright, though it has served me well! I play Jazz, Blues and Classical mostly at home and teach on the piano also. I may want to record with the new piano too. . .

 

lb :cool:

 CP-50, YC 73,  FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, Kurzweil SP6, XK-3, CX-3, Hammond XK-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122

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It is hard to find a new, quality grand in your price range.

 

China is changing. The better Asian manufactures are opening factories in China. Some European stencil brands are coming out of Chinese factories.

 

China is getting better at selecting materials, and in quality workmanship, however, you must be very careful with specifics here.

 

Some factories/areas are better than others. For example, the factories around Dongbei are maintaining a good reputation, as they manufacture the lower end Nordiska line.

 

You probably know about Larry Fine's book, and the PianoWorld piano forum. That's where I'd start searching for information.

 

Ten years ago I was looking for a new grand with selection criteria similar to yours, and in the end I bought a Kawai upright for under $5000. I have never regretted that decision. I could not have acquired a grand for anything close to that price. The Kawai is a high quality instrument, as it has held up very well under my heavy hand these 10 years (for many years, I played for hours each day). It is still like new, relatively, although it would now benefit from a full regulation and a some voicing work. But those hammers are good for another 10 years, and the action is probably good for another 40 or more.

 

You might look at the used market. There are some very nice used instruments in the $5000 price range that, given $1500 or so of work, would be an excellent choice. You'll need to work with a qualified tech.

 

And before leaving you, I'd recommend that you stay away from grands under 6 feet. The scaling of smaller instruments causes way to much inharmonicity. Actually, many pianists consider 7 foot to be the minimum length of a good sounding grand.

 

I can't explain to you the theoretical reasons for inharmonicity in pianos, but you will hear it in the harshness coming from the bass keys of shorter grands. If you want to learn more about piano scale design, the PianoWorld site is again, a good resource.

 

Good luck and enjoy your search.

regards,

 

--kwgm

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KWGM,

 

Thank You! Very informative and thorough! I am partial to Kawais myself. I didn't like the Nordiska BG in that price range, the one I tried was very strange on the top end. I will look into the PianoWorld forum and Larry Fine's book which I have seen.

 

LB

 CP-50, YC 73,  FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, Kurzweil SP6, XK-3, CX-3, Hammond XK-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122

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Originally posted by kwgm:

And before leaving you, I'd recommend that you stay away from grands under 6 feet. The scaling of smaller instruments causes way to much inharmonicity. Actually, many pianists consider 7 foot to be the minimum length of a good sounding grand.

 

Excellent points, kwgm, especially the advice to avoid the 5' grands. Much better sound from a decent sized upright, which will also be easier to find in your price range.

aka âmisterdregsâ

 

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Yamaha GranTouch

 

Yamaha no longer markets this for the US but they can be bought elsewhere. I have played on a GranTouch for about eight years. I highly recommend it.

 

(I make no money from Yamaha but Yamaha has made a fair amount of money from me.)

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by misterdregs:

Originally posted by kwgm:

And before leaving you, I'd recommend that you stay away from grands under 6 feet. The scaling of smaller instruments causes way to much inharmonicity. Actually, many pianists consider 7 foot to be the minimum length of a good sounding grand.

 

Excellent points, kwgm, especially the advice to avoid the 5' grands. Much better sound from a decent sized upright, which will also be easier to find in your price range.
A great way to hear a simulation of inharmonicity is with the Pianoteq plugin where you can change the size of the piano up to 33ft. Supposedly at this length inharmonicity is a non-issue. You hear it when playing in the lowest octaves. Gives you a good idea of what to listen for in a real piano. Demo available.

 

http://www.pianoteq.com/pianoteq_details.php#technology

 

Busch.

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My baby is 4'10", and has all the quirks & cranks of a grand that small. My piano tech said anything under 6' is always dicey, but like you, space was a consideration, as was cost.

If I ever decide to play it more than an hour or 2 (lately) a week, maybe I'll upgrade.

I would go used, and like bb said, have the cash ready to pounce.

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I think that if you want to spend that amount, you will be better off looking for a good quality used upright studio (tall upright) such as a Yamaha or Petrof than a baby grand. If you want a good grand sound, you've got to start at 5'6" at least, and better to go to 5' 10" (the beginning of the "parlor grand" size). You can go to a local grand piano dealer and ask for a "footprint" template to lay on the ground. You aren't talking about that much more room to get to a 5'10" and you can probably find a decent used Kimball, Everett, Sohmer, Baldwin or other keyboard in that range. A newer (but not new) Petrof, Young Chang or Samick might also suffice in the 5'10" range. The advantage of a grand, even the petite baby, is in the feel of the keyboard, but when you are under 5'6", in my opinion you actually can get a better sound with a good quality studio upright.
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LB, I just bought an acoustic (Yamaha U3) so I'll update you on what I've learned.

 

First of all, Yamahas are generally known as a fine piano and is way superior to Pearl River, Young Chang, etc. The Yamahas built in Japan are consistently of very high quality. However, Baby Grands, which are labeled Yamaha G grands, are made in the US and are problematic. This is the low end of the Yamaha family. I might compare them to Pearl River and the Korean Brands may even be a tad better.

 

Sound wise, a baby grand is not as good as a full size professional upright such as the Yamaha U3, which I know you have played. So given a choice between a Baby Grand of any make, vs. a full size upright, I'd go with the upright. For the amount of money you are taking about, you can get either an almost new Yamaha U3, or you may actually find a Steinway or Bechstein. These would all be superior options to a baby grand. The next step up would be the Yamaha C series and those are made in Japan but now you're talking more bucks. Probably over $10K for a good full size grand.

 

So: stay away from Baby Grands (and Spinets of course).

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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ALL,

 

Thank you, there is much insight and useful information here. I have copied the reply's from this whole thread so far to a Word document. I will come in very handy!

 

Thanks All,

LB

 CP-50, YC 73,  FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, Kurzweil SP6, XK-3, CX-3, Hammond XK-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122

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KWGM/Burningbusch,

 

Definition:

 

"In music, inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequencies of the overtones of a fundamental differ from whole number multiples of the fundamental's frequency. These inharmonic overtones are often distinguished from harmonic overtones, all whole number multiples, by calling them partials, though partial may also be used to refer to both. Since the harmonics contribute to the sense of sounds as pitched or unpitched, the more inharmonic a sound the less definite it becomes in pitch. Many percussion instruments such as cymbals, tam-tams, and chimes, create complex and inharmonic sounds. Strings are more inharmonic the shorter and thicker they are, which becomes an important consideration for piano tuners, especially in the thick strings of the bass register; see Piano "

 

Question: Doesn't this effect Uprights also?

lb :thu:

 CP-50, YC 73,  FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, Kurzweil SP6, XK-3, CX-3, Hammond XK-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122

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You will likely find cheap quality Baby Grands in the 5' to 5'3" size in your budget.

 

I strongly suggest the Yamaha and Kawai 52" uprights

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Originally posted by Legatoboy:

KWGM/Burningbusch,

 

Definition:

 

"In music, inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequencies of the overtones of a fundamental differ from whole number multiples of the fundamental's frequency. These inharmonic overtones are often distinguished from harmonic overtones, all whole number multiples, by calling them partials, though partial may also be used to refer to both. Since the harmonics contribute to the sense of sounds as pitched or unpitched, the more inharmonic a sound the less definite it becomes in pitch. Many percussion instruments such as cymbals, tam-tams, and chimes, create complex and inharmonic sounds. Strings are more inharmonic the shorter and thicker they are, which becomes an important consideration for piano tuners, especially in the thick strings of the bass register; see Piano "

 

Question: Doesn't this effect Uprights also?

lb :thu:

Yes it does. That's why it matters that you get a large upright (like a 52" Yamaha U3 or equivalent) as these have longer strings than a baby grand.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Jazwee,

 

you said:

Yes it does. That's why it matters that you get a large upright (like a 52" Yamaha U3 or equivalent) as these have longer strings than a baby grand.
I figured as much, is there a cutoff like less that 50" or greater than 52"....?

lb :o

 CP-50, YC 73,  FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, Kurzweil SP6, XK-3, CX-3, Hammond XK-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122

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I agree that Yamahas have a bell-like tone, it's one of the things I love about them.

 

I've never cared for any grand under 5'8", but at that size there are some really good eggs. For example, the Yamaha C2 at 5'8" is a very nice piano (as are the G's in the same size), but the C1 at 5'3" is, well, ick -- I'd rather play a good digital. The C3 at 6'1" is a seriously better piano than the C2, but the difference between the two is small compared to the difference between C1 and C2.

 

There may be some good 5'6" pianos too. But under that I wouldn't bother.

 

BTW, none of these is anywhere near your price range.

 

Doesn't this affect uprights? It sure does. The only uprights I care much for are the old big-harp uprights. And I expect a different tone from an upright so I'm less demanding. Note that there are some decent newer console uprights -- probably the 52" -- but like I said I play 'em like uprights, not grands, and expect different results. Great for blues and boogie-woogie and some kinds of pop, but not really there for jazz, swing, or classical-like pieces (I don't play any "real classical"). Or some blues & rock stuff that really demands a big grand sound. Good uprights are great for Jerry Lee Lewis style stuff, though.

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Originally posted by Legatoboy:

Jazwee,

 

you said:

Yes it does. That's why it matters that you get a large upright (like a 52" Yamaha U3 or equivalent) as these have longer strings than a baby grand.
I figured as much, is there a cutoff like less that 50" or greater than 52"....?

lb :o

LB, there's no "rule". It relates to your ear. A Yamaha U1 sounds good (which is only 48"). But the question is: compared to what? The 52" (the largest uprights) sounds better. Given your budget of $6K, I would say that it is better spent on a high quality 52" upright (like a used Steinway or Bechstein, or a close to new U3). It is not enough money for a better sounding grand. To go with a baby grand would be a compromise on the sound. I know the main reason for a grand is action as well. But the action on a grand priced at $6K would probably be very low end.

 

Or you could save a few more bucks and shoot for a medium grand. BTW, I bought a U3 with the plan of upgrading to a larger grand at some point soon. The plus is that U3's are very easy to sell.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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LEARJEFF,

 

you said:

There may be some good 5'6" pianos too.

 

could you think of what those BGs might be. . .

 

I'm really looking to invest in a new piano for my jazz studies. This is why I thought a baby grand would be right. The enharmonic thing is important to a point for me I think. I'm tired of playing my upright to play jazz at home but maybe I need try more uprights! I want that grand piano sustain really, I need my chords to hang and the notes to sing more!

 

The bell like yamaha quality I find distracting for some reason , just my taste. I haven't played every Yamaha model BG or Grand, far from it, but alot of their grands have that bell like sound. I prefer a 'straighter' tone.

 

I do like Yamaha's quality without a doubt though. But your right their G series (very small) grands really pale! Of course my ideal is a Steinway! But $, forget it! I like Kawais also, I'm gonna have to try on of the 52' Kawai uprights I think. Tried the U3.... I really had my heart set on a Baby Grand though for alot of reasons. . . .Mostly the goals of my jazz study/playing and performance.

 

lb

 CP-50, YC 73,  FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, Kurzweil SP6, XK-3, CX-3, Hammond XK-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122

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LB, the sustain in my U3 beats my S90ES all the time. Don't know if it is a sample issue or what. But I do love how it sings. I don't know about any "bell" sound in my U3. Not in this piano. What is nice is that for jazz, the U3 has just the right amount of brightness that makes a nice solo line really sing. For your price range, you might find a Steinway upright, maybe not 52" but see how it sounds. All I can say is one upright is not the same as another upright. I replaced my "korean" upright and this is a night and day experience here.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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jazwee,

 

you said:

LB, the sustain in my U3 beats my S90ES all the time. Don't know if it is a sample issue or what. But I do love how it sings. I don't know about any "bell" sound in my U3. Not in this piano.
I find that the Yamaha uprights don't have and over the top amount of that bell-like quality the LearJeff talked about, alot of people really like that. The U3/U1's sound closer to my personal 'ideal' than their grand and baby grands for some reason. Maybe different string design for the uprights or just the effect of the upright mechanism/action/hammers on the string, don't know!

 

I know we talked about the U3 from the Cornilia Street Cafe I played in Greenwich Village last year. I was pleasently surprised how good that piano actually was! I do have to try more uprights. I know this now! That piano may have been a U1! Either way is was much better than I expected.

lb

 CP-50, YC 73,  FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, Kurzweil SP6, XK-3, CX-3, Hammond XK-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122

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Originally posted by Legatoboy:

LEARJEFF,

 

you said:

There may be some good 5'6" pianos too.
could you think of what those BGs might be. . .

 

 

I would consider BG Steinways. But even that is beyond a $6K budget.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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LB, if you tried a Yamaha G grand or Yamaha GC, then, it will be the lower grade one. The Yamaha C3 sounds pretty awesome to me and especially the Yamaha S4 and S6. I would say that the C3 is the one commonly found as the jazz piano at local venues. Personally, I found some of the Steinways too dark for jazz but I'm sure Bill Evans could make it work just fine :D

 

BTW LB - the sustain has to do with the kind of wood used in the soundboard. This is why Steinway's have a nicer sustain compared to a regular Yamaha.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Originally posted by Legatoboy:

KWGM/Burningbusch,

 

Definition:

 

"In music, inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequencies of the overtones of a fundamental differ from whole number multiples of the fundamental's frequency. These inharmonic overtones are often distinguished from harmonic overtones, all whole number multiples, by calling them partials, though partial may also be used to refer to both. Since the harmonics contribute to the sense of sounds as pitched or unpitched, the more inharmonic a sound the less definite it becomes in pitch. Many percussion instruments such as cymbals, tam-tams, and chimes, create complex and inharmonic sounds. Strings are more inharmonic the shorter and thicker they are, which becomes an important consideration for piano tuners, especially in the thick strings of the bass register; see Piano "

 

Question: Doesn't this effect Uprights also?

lb :thu:

Hi Legatoboy.... I own Benade's Fundamentals of Music Acoustics--I believe its a classic text--and once in a while I get it off the shelf and read it, but then I come up against a statement like the one above and my head starts to hurt.

 

The Benade book starts to talk about the mass and inertia of the string, breaking it down into finite elements, etc. I'm an engineer by training and could probably figure out the math (eventually) but I really prefer to play the thing.

 

I'll bet all uprights are inherently inharmonic, although there are a few classic designs, like that Yammy U1 and U3. My Kawai NS-20 is scaled like the U1, though Kawai swears it's better in their sales lit.

 

I'll bet you're not surprised.

regards,

 

--kwgm

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Kwgm,

 

Thanks man, your insights really helped and made me undestand that you and others have been down the same road in regards to the Baby Grand vs Upright quandry! I was feeling alittle lost from a players perspective in regards to that!

 

lb

 CP-50, YC 73,  FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, Kurzweil SP6, XK-3, CX-3, Hammond XK-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122

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I know you said space was a problem and this may not be relevant. I found a guy that was importing used pianos from Japan by the container load about 10 or 11 years ago. He would get whatever was loaded on the container for a certain price. He could sell all the 6' and under pianos he could get his hands on but had trouble selling the larger sizes.

 

He had a 6' C3 Yamaha for something like $8,000 that was sweet. Then he had a 7'4 Kawai and a 6'10" Kawai for almost half the price. I played them both and bought the 6'10". This has been my piano ever since and it has been a good one. I will possibly have it restrung and new hammers installed at some point but I will still have less than $7,000 in it.

 

I know all the piano techs and music stores will tell you that these pianos are problems. That the wood is not cured for the American market. Well my experience tells me different. After 10 years it is going strong. I am having mine tuned today and will be recording with it tomorrow. BTW I have it tuned once a year and I tweak it in between tunings and they say I shouldn't do that either. It's all about money in my opinion. They want my money and I want to keep it.

Jimmy

 

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Keep in mind that a grand piano takes a big space, and if you don't have a big space you'll need to do a lot of room treatment. However, you can do that on the cheap.

 

Also, about cured for humidity: if you run heat/ A/C most of the time, the whole world's the same. Just be sure to control humidity. Pianos made for climates were more important back when folks didn't have A/C.

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Jeff,

 

I wasn't hep to the woods designed for different climates and markets. . .

 

I am about the humidity control!

lb

 CP-50, YC 73,  FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, Kurzweil SP6, XK-3, CX-3, Hammond XK-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122

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Originally posted by BluesKeys:

It's all about money in my opinion. They want my money and I want to keep it.

:D:thu:

 

...happens to me every damn time I go to Thee Doll House. :rolleyes:

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Gas,

 

Into those 'Doll House Cookies' are you! Good For you man! Good for you! I like mine with milk!

 

Personal question! Your 'handle' seems to be a line from the Steely Dan tune 'Kid Charlimaign'.

 

If it is, and knowing Fagan's penchant for 'novella' like songwriting narrative, do you think the song is possiby about Owsley "The Mad Chemist" and primary 1st SF acid supplier. You know, his famous acid cookery or, do you think it's just about a general garden variety "cooker" from the 60's on not about that at all. I like to think it's actually about Owsely whenever I hear that tune!

 

Just alittle curious trivia like inquiry about you handle?

lb :cool:

 CP-50, YC 73,  FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, Kurzweil SP6, XK-3, CX-3, Hammond XK-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122

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