Tuesday, 5 May 2015

GRAND comparisons

It’s always telling to compare a piano’s tone, resonance and decay in the showroom where purchased to its performance in one’s living space. Unfortunately, one cannot transport the piano to one’s home while evaluating it at the store. In this regard, I can share a pertinent experience where a 7′ ft. Grotrian grand whose bass resonated off the roof in a Los Angeles warehouse environment, died in my arms, or shall I properly say in my hands when it arrived in my small piano room. The question remains, should the room have killed the bass? (while other ranges of notes were quite pleasing)

My new Baldwin 165 (5’5″) was a feminine piano from the start, but its bass and tenor had a more defined presence, boosted by a LIVE acoustic at the piano dealer’s space. Again, it was impossible to factor in the acoustical shift in my box-size apartment notwithstanding its hardwood floors and 1950’s era plaster walls.

Beside the NEW Baldwin grand sits my OLD Steinway M, (5’7″) 1917 that’s about to have two days of meticulous regulation. And despite its current land mines, it has more definition and reverb in all ranges, though I’ll concede that Baldwin 165 has a superior, to-die-for shimmering upper treble and touch perfection from note to note.

Enter, Baldwin Hamilton 1929 that was recently bestowed upon one of my students. It was my Blind Date piano that I purchased after a phone interview. Its profoundly long decay made it an instant Valentine’s Day addition to my piano collection.

Just a snatch of Hamilton reveals a lovely, defined and resonant piano with a decent bass and loving alto/tenor. Its upper range treble however, not sampled in the video below, was like glass due to hammer felt thinning, so it didn’t round out at the peak. Yet it had more character and personality than many shiny new pianos on display in showrooms around the country–(i.e. those nameless cookie cutters that are mass-produced)

Judge for yourself what resonates for you in these Grand comparisons, and add in my student Judy’s Steinway A, 5’11” for good measure. Note in particular, the Bach Invention 1 side-by-side samples.

Bach played on Steinway M (No pedal used)

Bach played on Baldwin 165 (No pedal used)

Same Invention on Steinway, M

Original Content: GRAND comparisons

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