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Feb 24

Can an Upright be Better Than a Grand?

Over the last decade or so, the piano business has changed greatly. Houses are bigger, and Chinese grand pianos are now credit card items. As such, quality uprights have had very little demand.

This is a shame, and I will tell you why.

The popular shiny black small grand pianos do indeed look beautiful, and when brand new are not unpleasant to play. What they cannot do, and this applies to almost all new pianos under $50,000 today, is play pianissimo, or allow the colouring of tone. They play loud, louder and loudest and the more they are played, the harsher they get. Many of these pianos in the entry level area have actions that may be fine for beginners, but many of them lose their evenness over a short time.

A quality upright, however, is made to the highest standards, and as such are usually at least $35,000 new and some models much more. Many of them have a repeating spring in the action allowing a touch similar to a grand and can repeat faster than entry level pianos. They also can allow tone colouring and a great dynamic range.

In the past, many great uprights were produced. One of the best being the Heintzman from Toronto.

Perhaps the best one ever made, in many piano technicians’ opinion, is the Bechstein Model 6. This piano is almost 5′ tall and can compare to many 7′ grand pianos in tone and dynamic range and in fact, is better than many grand pianos at any price range. Along with high quality components, superb design and scaling and the absolute best workmanship, they also have the repeating action.

We are fortunate to have just had one arrive in our shop. It is a Germanized Ebony, a process similar to French polishing. These finishes last longer than others and are easier to restore.

Our model 6 is in the evaluation stage and we will have a report on the work to be done and its cost, but I know it will be in line with the entry level small grand pianos, but it is not made of MDF chipboard. There really is no comparison for a piano student or professional looking for a good piano at a good price.

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