Today I was scoping out some Baldwin Acrosonic pianos on New York Craig’s List as I have a few East Coast Skype students who are playing not-so-terrific sounding digitals. They cannot produce a singing tone on them, or enjoy the “feel” of a real piano. (the so-called hammer-weighted feature, notwithstanding) Naturally, not every “real” piano is worth any serious attention, but there are pianos of the small variety (if there’s a space issue) that play a lot bigger than they appear, and have musical value.
In my experience over the years, a well-cared for Baldwin Acrosonic, considered the Cadillac of the spinet and console variety with its innovative wide sound chamber, is a decent acoustic option, particularly if it’s a first piano purchase. (These range in price from $450 to about $850 on the used piano market) One of my pupils got hers for $250 a few years ago, since I knew the fellow who was selling it and he gave her a bargain price. He threw in the moving for a song. Another, who relocated from Berkeley to UK had his Acrosonic packed up and transported by boat to its destination.
I have five students who own these, and they’re very happy with them. My preference is for the 1960s era Acros. Once one gets into the 80s, they are not the ones made in the US, but were sold off to Asian companies. Not the real deal. Those in the 50s are nice, but I tend to favor the next decade.
This morning I logged onto FaceTime (A New Jersey piano owner) and had the seller test out the piano for me. Naturally, it would have been nice to be PRESENT LIVE beside the piano, but I had some good information based on the ONLINE test run across the keys. While the hammer assembly looked clean, as I asked the owner to open the lid, I would have a Registered Technician detail it, and I would urge him to TUNE the piano before it’s considered for purchase. I’d want to test the tightness of the pins and the wear on the hammers. (the evenness of the action would be a factor in the overall evaluation as well)
Many sellers argue that since the piano is being moved, why bother to tune it? But that makes no sense because tuning it is like presenting a well-tended house for sale. Why would a seller want to showcase a piano that is not Up to pitch and ready to go? If I went to a piano showroom, the pianos I’d sample would be IN TUNE, regardless of the need to tune the instrument once it settled into a new environment. The advice of Larry Fine is well-taken, right out of his best-selling, Piano Book.
When I purchased my singing nightingale Haddorff, I insisted that it be tuned before I sealed the deal, and the information gleaned from the tuner was essential to my decision-making.
No digital piano can match a decent acoustic–the touch is DIFFERENT on a digital. It’s not a real piano. That’s a fact. Yet so many will argue that real pianos have to be tuned, and they can sound really awful, too. Well, who would buy an “awful” piano to begin with. One must discern what one is buying and have experts second on a prospective buyer’s intuitive love for a particular piano. For certain, there are many lovely acoustic pianos on the used piano market at very reasonable prices that are worth bringing home and this is one of them, among many.
It doesn’t hurt that the above is drop-dead good-looking as well.
Follow-up report by Dave Eggleston, Registered Piano Technician (RPT)