I thought I’d write a little a about finding my much loved piano Humphry. I have had him for 4 years now. I was really lucky in finding him. My first year of learning the piano was done on a keyboard borrowed from a work colleague. This worked out really well, firstly it meant that I could practice late at night and turn the volume down and secondly it meant that if I found that piano wasn’t really for me, then I could give it back without having spent any money. My father has the trait of enthusiastically buying loads of expensive gear for a new hobby (Golf clubs/Model aircraft etc..) only to get bored quickly, so I try not to do the same. After 6 months I knew I was hooked so I started looking around for a real piano. My wife suggested that I should wait until I had been learning for a year, and although I outwardly agreed I still kept a keen eye out for one. I knew it had to be a proper piano, not a digital. My friend (who is an amazing pianist) has a top of the range digital, and I am not at all impressed with it. Even with the weighted keys it doesn’t feel right. And however well they sample the notes from analogue pianos, they can never replicate the actual sound or the vibrations of the real strings.
I had a look in Mickleburgh in Bristol, which has a fantastic range of second-hand pianos. Any piano that they have for sale can also be rented from them, the monthly cost depending on the list price. They also do a great deal that means that if you buy the piano within the first 6 months they subtract the rent that you have already paid out.
They had some lovely pianos in there, but I soon came to realize that I would need to spend quite a bit more than I was expecting to if I wanted to buy a nice looking piano. Given that they are such large instruments they also have to work as a piece of furniture, so aesthetics were also an important part of the considerations. We don’t have the space for a grand, but it had to be a full upright, as I am really not keen on the look of ‘console’ style. We also have quite a bit of wood in the house so to complicate matters we also had to consider the colour and tone of the wood, and I thought that it would be impossible to find one that matched in. I was slightly resigned to the fact that I probably have to buy a black piano. Which I have nothing against, but I really wanted one made of solid wood, rather than just a veneer.
Then suddenly I got really lucky on the well known auction website. I haven’t ever bought anything on there before and didn’t relish the uncertainty of bidding, however I found a potentially great looking piano listed for a fixed price (approximately a quarter of what I was expecting to pay. Even better, it was only about an hour’s drive away. We went over there that weekend, I pressed all the keys, it sounded great and look of it was just right. So I put a deposit down there and then, and arranged for collection from a local specialist piano moving firm. It being the run up to Christmas (their busiest time) they were able to collect it a week later, but it was another week before they could deliver.
And then I had it, just before Christmas 2008. I got it tuned the following March; they need at least 6 to acclimatize. And not long after I christened him Humphry. Given that we live in Wales I figure I’d go for a slightly welsh spelling.
He is a British made piano. I have done some digging into the history, and it is quite interesting, so the next post will be about this. Watch this space..