Saturday, January 28, 2023

So I got a new piano

In retrospect, after reading, piano is my oldest hobby.

I started taking lessons the summer after first grade, so that is more than three decades ago now.

Our first piano was an upright, one my parents got for free from the zoo.  It had been in the bird house, and they left it on the front porch for three days to let it air out.  It was probably eighty years old at the time, and the ivory on the key fronts was very chipped (which was occasionally hazardous), but the resonance in the bass was glorious.

Eventually we got a replacement for that piano, an upright player piano that had been redone as a regular piano but still had all the player piano doors and whatnot.  It was also probably about eighty years old.  It played fine, and a lot of my earliest juvenile compositions were written on that piano.

So when I moved out, I got a hundred year old upright.  I paid about the same price as it cost new, not accounting for inflation.  It was a 54" upright Carlisle, built in 1899/1900 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I like the look of uprights, and aesthetically it worked well in our living room; it was actually older than the house.  And it played well enough, but...  At this point it was over 120 years old, and it was getting to where the problems with it couldn't be fixed without just rebuilding it.

54" upright Carlisle piano

So I got a book at the library about buying used pianos.  I had never really played a newer piano regularly, other than at lessons.  I knew I wanted two things in a new-to-me piano: I wanted one that was new enough for the sound quality to last me at least thirty-ish years, and I wanted one that was light enough for my husband and me to move away from the wall so I could paint the living room.  That Carlisle?  It was like seven or eight hundred pounds.  It was not budging for new paint.  So after reading the used piano book, I figured I would start looking around for a newer Yamaha; it said the used ones held up pretty well.

Back in December we went to go walking at the mall because we needed to go to the post office in it that was open till 8 p.m.  That mall also has a piano store, and I figured we could pop in and I could try out some pianos and see which kind I like.

Okay, so I like broken-in, worn-out action, because it's what I'm used to.  The new pianos felt stiff in comparison.

The new Yamahas also cost less than what I had budgeted in my head for a used one.

They had a used piano there that I liked the look and the action of, but... the stiffness in a new piano means you got much more control over the volume of what you're playing; piano and forte actually mean something with much more contrast.

I wasn't planning to actually buy a piano back in December when we stopped in the store.  But we also never got around to walking the mall that night.  (We did get the really good Chinese carryout on the way home.)  So the next day my husband called them back to order the new Yamaha.

There was a bit of a warehouse snafu, so the piano didn't get here till January 2.  It is shiny.

New Yamaha B1

It's a Yamaha B1, and the piano movers put it on furniture glides for us (recommended by the piano store owner).

I nearly cried on the first run through of the first movement of Moonlight Sonata on it because I had never had that kind of control over the volume before.

I'm still not completely used to the stiffness of the newer action, and it doesn't have the bass resonance of an upright - but it's got a little prop for the lid which helps the latter quite a bit.  I'll probably get it tuned in March sometime once it's settled for a couple months.

I was originally planning to strip the wallpaper in the kitchen this summer and paint, but now I can add the living room to the schedule too, once we decide on a color.

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