In My Mind's Zen Garden
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Testing Out Grand Pianos

Yesterday my wife and I went to a local piano store to try out some grand pianos.

I hadn’t been to a piano store in eons, and the last time I went I was torn between a Boston and a Yamaha grand piano. I’ve always wanted a Steinway because of the name and prestige. And have been impressed by a Steinway grand piano’s overall tone, sort of warm yet not overly bright.. with deep tones and a wide sonic and dynamic clarity.

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But, at 40K and up, it’s just well beyond my affordability.

The Yamaha grand pianos have always been noted for superb sound and affordability. Plus, many pianists from Chick Corea to Elton John endorse Yamaha grand pianos. Elton has that famous “red” Yamaha grand, The Red Piano. He supposedly has this red piano shipped everywhere when on tour.

I’ve always been skeptical about Yamaha pianos because of my allegance to the unaffordable Steinways that can cost several 10K. But, ultimately I judge pianos by their overall sound quality and the response of the keyboard.

So, here I was checking out all the grand pianos in the store.

I don’t mean to brag when I say that I have a great ear for pianos. I figure that any musician who has an ear for music can judge for themselves what a great piano sounds like. But I will admit that I am very picky when it comes to the sound of a piano.

So after checking out virtually all the grand pianos available to me in the store, I settled with a Yamaha 5’3″ grand. The price was pretty reasonable, and the overall sound and response of the keys were pretty phenomenal.

I went into the Steinway room, of course, and tried out most of the grand pianos there. I was not impressed with what I was hearing. And was surprised by how thin sounding some of then were. I even tried out the Steinway concert grand in the back of the showroom and saw a sign that it was already sold. Of course, I couldn’t afford one anyways. But I played it and was surprised that it was out of tune! So I quickly stepped away from that one.

Most of the newer Steinways seemed to have a duller sound that what I remember, and I’ve played several Steinways during my lifetime. Could it be that American Steinways weren’t up-to-snuff with the German Steinways? Well, for the cost I was not really impressed. And drifted back to the Yamaha room.

I also tried a Boston grand piano (which is also made by Steinway) and it was okay. It just didn’t do much for me, that’s all.

For reference, I tried a Kimbal upright piano nearby and that truly sounded atrocious!

Back to the Yamaha room. I narrowed it down to three grand pianos. The smaller one was just okay. It had a thinner, smaller tone attributed to its size. The second Yamaha was pretty nice but it was pretty expensive and didn’t really sound all that great for its size.

I once again singled out the one Yamaha that seemed perfect for the price. Its tone was quite full sounding for a 5’3″ grand and the price was pretty reasonable. But, I was still skeptical and not quite satisfied.

Then the store manager mentioned that they had some special pianos at their warehouse about 3 blocks away, and he assured me that I would be quite satisfied with at least a couple of Yamaha grand pianos over there.

So, when we got to the warehouse one of the store salesmen had met us there. The store manager gave us the key and I gave it to the salesman to open the door to the warehouse.

There was at least 12 grand pianos on the warehouse floor and countless pianos still in crate boxes.

I tried all the pianos. And was very very critical with all of them. And I quickly narrowed it down to a C2 5’8″ Yamaha grand piano in glossy black finish. The sound was quite amazing. The notes played weren’t overly bright and had a nice fullness about them. The action of the keyboard was very amazing too. And being that we were in a warehouse, I’m sure that this piano would sound even better in a more acoustically tight environment. It sounded like a perfect piano for practicing and recording, and just for playing piano for hours… which I can easily do.

But to buy it or not… that was the question….



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About the author:
Has 3137 Articles

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and Amazon.com.

5 COMMENTS
  1. pat

    I had no idea about the nuances about pianos. You must have a great “ear” by now!!

  2. pat

    I had no idea about the nuances about pianos. You must have a great “ear” by now!!

  3. randomguru

    Well, I guess… I did take a couple semesters of “ear training” at San Diego State. That really helped. But mostly it’s just my experience of playing a lot of great and not-so-great grand pianos over the years.

  4. randomguru

    Well, I guess… I did take a couple semesters of “ear training” at San Diego State. That really helped. But mostly it’s just my experience of playing a lot of great and not-so-great grand pianos over the years.

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