Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Many Flavors of Grand

I wasn’t quite prepared to see a huge showroom of grand pianos at Rick Jones Pianos, Inc., when I went for my first look today. I was given a “tour” by very knowledgeable Paul Yarish, RPT (Registered Piano Technician) and then turned loose to play whichever ones I wanted to play.

It probably would have been better to do a blind testing, that is with the name obscured. I once again proved what a snob I am, gravitating to the Steinways, which inevitably are the most expensive.

I grew up playing a Baldwin Acrosonic spinet, a respectable piano which is now 50 years old and probably isn’t worth much more than the $700 my parents paid for it so long ago.

After playing the Kawais at Chautauqua, I know there is a big difference in the action and sound of every piano. I don’t like the crispness of the lower-end models.

But I did play a Kawai model NX-40 on sale for $17,000 that was quite nice. I also played a Boston GP-193 for $18,000 which was also more than acceptable. But the piano that stood out was a Steinway Model A for $42,000. Fortunately it was already sold to someone in Connecticut. But in actuality I can’t even consider spending this kind of money on a musical instrument.

So I walked away from Rick Jones Pianos without making a down payment on anything and now understanding why it is so important to play the piano before buying it.

The good news is I have a lead on a Steinway Model S that is being sold privately by someone who needs to get rid of it in the next 2 years before moving to Florida. He is asking a mere $12,000, which now is starting to sound like a real steal. It came highly recommended by the piano tuner of my friend Bill, who is currently my teacher. I have an appointment to see this piano on Friday.

I’m having some difficulty explaining to my husband why an investment in a piano is every bit as good or better than an investment in a new car. I reminded him that his Prius came with a price tag of $26,000. Paul Yarish reminded me that my husband’s Prius will be long gone when my grand piano still commands its purchase price or has even appreciated in value. So I am thinking of buying a piano as an investment – financially as well as in my future happiness.


Blogger Pauline said...

My Mama had a Steinway and played beautifully. I can remember her playing the March of the Wooden Soldiers for us and how we sat and played duets while dinner was cooking. I never did learn to play well...

8:42 PM  
Blogger Ruth D~ said...

I think an investment in happiness says it all.

9:04 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

Great. Then the sports car will be next.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- It's never too late to learn! There is nothing more relaxing than making music.

RuthD -- I agree!

Matt -- Let's keep the sports car idea between us! I don't want to rock the boat too much now that I'm on this piano campaign. :)

9:33 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

How exciting! I know you'll find the right piano and I know, too, that playing it will not only make you happy, but that the music you create there can enter the world and radiate happiness to anyone in the viscinity who might want to partake of it. Happiness for only $12,000? That's a serious bargain!

8:55 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- I can't let myself get too excited yet. I haven't even seen the $12,000 piano. Meanwhile I have ordered a book recommended by Jen Quan (the Chinese music virutoso who used to live with Deborah) on how to buy a used piano. I'm at least going to get educated on things like bushings in the action, voicing of the hammers, cracks in the soundboard, the damper mechanisms, do all the pedals work, depth of the damper pedal,... Should keep me busy for a while!

10:08 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I presume you are a pretty decent pianist, or else live in I a significantly higher social bracket than I do, to consider spending that much on a piano.

On the other hand, for $12K I could get a really decent camera and accessories.

3:27 PM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

I think 12K is a bargain.

I recently met a woman -who lives nearby- with the last name of Steinway (yup, the same family).
She was a piano teacher- don't you love it?
I can only imagine what her piano is....I'm drooling at the thought.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gewels -- $12K is definitely a bargain, but then again the piano is 70 years old and could need another $12K in restoration. I'm only looking at this point. But here's hoping...

8:31 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- I don't know if I would call myself a decent pianist, but I do spend a lot of time trying to be one. As for the money, we all have our priorities! :)

8:32 PM  

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