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Shopping for Piano

We are looking for a baby grand piano for our new home. I know Steinway and Sons is the best piano, but it’s way over our budget. A Yamaha is more affordable, but Tom Lee gets a fat profit margin. So I have been monitoring second hand piano sales on Craigslist and Kijiji for the past few months. I saw a very good deal, 15 years old Yamaha C1 for just $6000. I call the seller and ask to check it out. It turns out the piano is storing at a piano store, I feel a bit suspicious, thinking it maybe a trick to lure in customers, but I figure there is no harm to take a look anyway.

When we were in the store, as I expected the store owner try to sell us other pianos on floor. The store mainly carries two little known brand, Brodmann and Hailun from Chinese. The owner try to convince me his pianos are as good as or even better than Yamaha. He keep saying the new manufactures learns their skill from Europe and their piano have a European tone and criticize the Yamaha has a sharp tone. He try to demonstrate his point by playing a few notes from each piano. However I caught him trying to mislead my perception. He played his piano with a very soft touch and hit it really hard on Yamaha’s key. No wonder his piano sounds better. Pat took her turn and play the same piece of Mozart in all these pianos. I can tell the difference with my untrained ears. Estonia is definitely has richer sound compare to the Yamaha, but the sound from two Chinese brands are quite murky.

To most of my disappointment, the Yamaha is actually not a C1 but a GH1. C1 is an entry level concert grade piano, GH1 is just a Yamaha knock off made in Indonesia that does not even have a proper sostenuto pedal. At this point, I no longer trust the integrity of that shop and decide to leave. At this moment, the owner of the piano called the store and said the piano is just sold. What a perfect timing. Later that day, I found the piano suppose to be sold shows up again in Craigslist under a new ad. I am 100% sure the piano is a bait to lure innocent customer to that dishonest piano store.

Even though the piano shopping trip did not turn out as I expected, but I still learn something new about piano. The most valuable of all is I discover the Piano Buyer Guide which is very informative on anything about buying a piano. As an engineer, I don’t feel comfortable buying things that I don’t understand. Since I am not a piano player and know nothing about piano, now I feel obligated to read the Piano Buyer Guide before making a purchase decision.

My last words to those who happen to come across this blog, stay away from Heritage Piano in Surrey. Piano is probably the most expensive purchase other than a house and a car. You gotta buy a piano from a reliable source. Never deal with a dishonest piano store.

13 comments to Shopping for Piano

  • Good luck with the purchase. Is Pat a piano player already? And are you trying to learn?

    P.S. Dishonest piano store or sales tactics need to be exposed.

  • What a snake !!! I agree with Kermpton. Maybe the local Better Business Bureau or CBC’s Market Place would like to expose the scam and warn other consumers.

    • It’s too probably small a fish for BBB or CBC Market Place. When someone search heritage piano on Google, my review shows up on second page. It will really hurt its business if Google show my list my review on the first place.

  • Kempton: I am a piano player 🙂

    Hevangel: You would have to call Tom Lee about the serial number to ensure if this is even a fundamental fraud. On the surface, the ad was deceiving with a mistake about model number. Also, a serious piano purchase do not deal from these sources. You can be sure that you are fishing a salmon from a pond.

    I’m sure that this store has been in business for many reputable years. Even the big names in town (eg. Tom Lee or Long McQuade) receive the worst feedback.

    I personally don’t like Yamaha myself since childhood. That’s why I never have had one.

  • I still think that the store owner has a good faith in his business. It isn’t a good internet piano store, but it is a reputable store. The store owner is knowledgeable but I don’t understand why this ad popped up in the first place?

    PS. I am a piano teacher and will discuss with my network before making this a final deal for report.

  • Michael Cheung

    A baby grand at home is cool! Yamaha does have a sharp tone! And the keys are light to my taste.

    Do you know the resale value of a Yamaha grand or baby-grand? A store which is an authorized Steinway dealer said Steinway grand is expensive, but it doesn’t lose value. I never verify his claim.

  • Steinway really does not value if you don’t factor in inflation, but Steinway is over 50k! More expensive than a Mercedes.

    Resale value of Yamaha is OK, at least there is a market. Unlike those crappy Chinese brand, people just throw it away as junks.

  • When my wife shopped for an upright years ago, my wife and daughter rejected Yamaha because of its tinny voice. That was merely their opinion. I know nothing about it. They chose a new Baldwin.

    At last January, my daughter bought another 20-year old Young Chang baby grand for $3K. She celebrated her ARCT and started her teaching with. That was a steal even we use another $2K to do the cosmetic touch-up, since the previous owner treated it as a furniture.

    We prefer to shop a private deal. Certainly it takes some more times….

    What was happening a few days ago of your site?

    • My wife don’t like Yamaha’s voice too. I am a bit hesitate buying a Chinese made piano, it maybe just an expensive of wood.

      My ISP said my site is eating up too much CPU power and suspense my account. I only find time to call them yesterday and reactivate my blog.

  • Koala from my blog gave me a lot of helpful tips to look for a piano.

    We came across one piano selling on the internet too. It turned out the seller is a piano mover. Who knows. We didn’t even go out to take a look.

    Finally we found something we like and are able to afford.

    Good luck!

  • Peggy

    Buying a piano can be a frustrating endeavour if you are not knowledgeable about the workings or a player yourself. If you don’t play, then you should bring your teacher with you to help; any teacher worth their salt with be happy to go.

    A teacher friend of mine wrote an article about this very topic:
    http://pianoteachersfederation.org/piano-buying-tips

    The first thing to do is to learn about brands and technologies at the pianobuyer.com website, it’s free and a great resource. Know your budget, what you are looking for, and what to expect.

    Ask friends and family members for recommendations on where they bought their piano and check out the google and yelp reviews before you visit the store.

    When in doubt, hire an independent technician (ask them if they are affiliated with any stores) from the ptg.org to do an inspection for you before you buy, it might be the best $150 you spend on your piano.

    Knowledge is power.

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