Monday, February 25, 2013

I Own The Worst Piano Ever Made

The ad on Craigslist said $200 for a used upright so I high-tailed it over to Paul Smith's to find that the upright was made of the same wood used to make the 70s paneling I removed from the walls of my house. But it had a metal plaque on it that read Grand Since 1911. I said to Paul that I had no idea Grand was a brand; all these years I thought it was just an adjective. I can't believe I'm buying a Grand piano. How exciting is that! Paul shrugged and said I don't know. It worked for us on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Oy vey, it's not a Jewish piano!

The piano was moved to my house and I started practicing. Following along the YouTube piano lessons, I noticed how very similar in tone the notes I was playing were to the notes the video instructor was playing. My Grand Piano didn't even need tuning! As I arpeggio'ed up the keys, I noticed another smaller plaque that was stamped Console on the top right of the keyboard cover. It was then I decided to search on my fabulous upright Grand Piano and find out the real story. It was on that I found the following question and answer, first posted in 2005 and copied/pasted here exactly as typed.
we have a piano that came with the house we bought, I hope you can tell me a little about it. It's in good shape, it has a label with an elephant and the names Pratt,Read&Co. It also reads GRAND 1911 Is this the year it was made? I also can't find any thing about Pratt,Read &Co. Any help would be fine.

Thanks Sherri

Grand Piano - Something Since 1911


I think what you have given the description is a "Grand" brand console or spinet piano. The Pratt-Read Company is a piano action manufacturer that makes piano actions (keys/hammers, etc.) for many generic pianos. If the word "grand" appears on the key cover or above the keys, then this is a Grand brand piano. In some cases the decal has worn off or the piano was refinished at one time. If the word Grand is cast into the gold colored "plate" on the inside, then this would further indicate that it is a "Grand" brand piano. If it is a "grand" console or spinet, then it was most likely made from 1960 to 1979.

Your piano tuner/technician will be able to determine exactly what you have and provide a date of manufacture when they locate the serial number. If it is a "Grand" brand, you may want to consider a different piano if you play or have children that will be taking lessons. Out of 7300 different brand pianos produced over the last 300 years, "Grand" brand pianos are considered to be one of the worst pianos ever made with only two other brands held in less esteem. This company used the term "grand" as an effective marketing ploy because the term grand was used in conjunction with performance or concert level performers. Of course, "grand" refers to a style of piano not a brand of piano. I sure the appraisal will determine exactly what kind of piano you have.

Sincerely, Theron Ice

So I own one of the worst pianos ever made but at least it's tuned! And mark my words, the biggest musical of the teens will be written on it.


  1. Love this! I have the same piano and did a search to find out it's worth to sell it. Low and behold I own the worst piano as well! So do you want a pair? You can never have too many pianos that claim to be the worst. So I guess we will be giving this away!

  2. hahaha! There's more of them?! I moved from that house and tried to sell it for $200. Nothing happened so I ended up donating it to get the deduction. Your turn.

  3. How funny. So here's a story for you - I had one of these Grand brands I bought about 40 years ago with an employee discount when I worked at a music store. That's been my piano all this time but guess what? We bought a real grand a month ago - a baby grand Boston designed by Steinway & sons. Talk about a grand upgrade!

  4. Oh yeah, and I traded it in with the baby grand Boston purchase and got $400 for it!

  5. Wow, you bought the original one new! That is quite the upgrade. Play the baby grand in good health!

  6. I have seen these pianos in the past and they are bad to the core. They have absolutely no redeeming qualities except that they are the worst pianos that have been made in all likelihood. They sound wretched, they are a poor excuse for a piano. I can't say much more about them. These pianos are a Grand disaster.

  7. I have a question. Does the Grand Company still exist? I was handed down a Grand piano and there is a lifetime warranty. One tuner said to get rid of it but if it can be fixed it can be used for practice.

    1. In my investigation a few years back, I found no evidence that it still exists.

  8. The Pratt-Read action was one of the best in the world, with a smooth, light touch. The little Grand 1911 I restored was fun to play and uplifting, like a toy. If it has been well-maintained, this is a great piano.

  9. I am one of the few piano virtuosos who actually restore and rebuild the instruments. Not a fan of most "experts" quality of work. I got my first "grand" piano in today and its a very well built American instrument. It has a real spuce sound board (i hate plywood soundboards, sound like a tin can once the internal glue starts to let go from vibrations. Plus a good quality sound board has a matched grain pattern for quality in tone, plywood crosses the grain to prevent cracking which is a hoax anyways, get some wood epoxy fill the crack!) The action on this "grand" is a delightful medium heavy feel. I just brought it from being tuned to A410 to A440 (up a whole pitch!) in about a hour the correct way and had no slipping notes or snapped strings. Casing is solid oak, rare on a piano and definitly not asian style plywood. I would pick this piano over most pianos built after the eighties just for its parts quality and ability to not just fall apart like a peice of junk. Any used piano kept in tune and in the right environment is usually worth keeping. Use your ear. If you like the tone and feel of a piano keep it, no need for a second opinion.