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#1258765 - 08/29/09 11:23 PM Kawai compromising quality?
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
Today we got to hear one dealer -- NOT Thomas Zoells, who was wonderful btw, and not the type to disparage anyone -- go on a surprising rant about Kawai quality and Japanese pianos in general. He said in the 60s Kawai was making some quality pianos with harder wood, but increasingly, to keep their costs competitive, they have cut corners and compromised quality. He took us into his shop and showed us two pianos that he claimed were 10-years-old that he got on trades. One was a 52" upright that could no longer hold tune -- it had lost the fundamental. The other needed a new pin block. This was the result of softer woods, shoddy workmanship, and the way they cast their plates. Claimed Yamaha was now cutting the same corners and even the RX or C lines could not be trusted to last long. After ten years, the pianos can't be trusted to hold up or keep tune.

I suspect most of this is just unfortunate salesmanship, but just wondering, is there any truth to this? Even just a grain of truth? The show-and-tell was impressive. The two pianos obviously had problems that were easy to demonstrate, but then again, maybe that's why he has them. The strange part of all of this is that we're not really considering Kawai, so I'm not sure where all this was coming from.

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#1258771 - 08/29/09 11:38 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
I left out the best part: Kawai is in financial crisis and may not exist in five years.

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#1258777 - 08/29/09 11:49 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Hi there PilgrimJoel -

I don't know about the quality issues... but...

I've also run into some dealers that instantly, without provocation!, start bashing their competition! I can't understand it either - it's completely offputting... in my case, I actually had a pretty positive view of "the other side" - so his negative comments did nothing except instantly alienate me. I have no plans to return to that store...

It's such a weird tactic to me... in my case, it was literally within a minute or so of introductions, and I did NOT bring up the other brand at all.

Very bizarre...

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#1258784 - 08/29/09 11:54 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: saerra]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
But not as bizarre as not letting us leave before calling up the owner of the store -- so we could connect with him -- who then (the owner on the speaker phone) proceeded to insult us for not immediately buying his piano, the best available anywhere for that price or even double the price.

Sorry for the tangent. Different dealer, different experience, but also bizarre.

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#1258789 - 08/30/09 12:09 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4393
Loc: San Jose, CA
I haven't had my RX for ten years yet, pilgrimj, so I guess the jury is still out. I have seen Kawai's that have had the hell beat out of them in churches, clubs, community centers etc., and still have stood up pretty well as musical instruments... but I would imagine that how long any piano will last at least partly depends on the environment and care they receive.

My impression is that the instrument quality is improving, rather than the reverse. The actions are better than they used to be; fit-and-finish looks quite good on the ones I have examined. The voice varies from one instrument to another, but I think if a person likes it to begin with, it can be kept satisfactory or improved somewhat. No doubt, costs are going up and the competition isn't exactly slackening. They seem to be pretty active in R&D, compared to what other companies do.

Pinblocks are laminated, of course; no doubt there is a percentage that go south in that first ten years, but that would qualify for a warranty repair. I'm not sure why a dealer would accept such a case as a trade. Anyway, the plate casting is not to blame for that, though drastic seasonal humidity changes might be. I have heard that Michigan is a tough climate for pianos.

Both my piano dealer and the tech who cares for my instrument say that Kawai is excellent when it comes to warranty service, and I believe them, though I haven't had any personal experience with it. Nothing made by human hands is perfect, and no one marque is perfect for everyone. If someone likes the voice, the feel, and finds the price acceptable, I would feel confident that it would serve them for quite a bit longer than ten years. Just my opinion.
_________________________
Clef


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#1258797 - 08/30/09 12:35 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: Jeff Clef]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
No piano is perfect, I don't care who the manufacturer is. The difference comes in when it is time to do warranty work on the piano that does inherit a problem. Both Yamaha and Kawai are impeccable to deal with when it comes to any kind of warranty work.

Some dealers use these tactics to scare the customer to get them to buy only a certain brand they prefer. It is very unprofessional. Others use these tactics just to slam their competition to hopefully make a sale for themselves. I wouldn't worry about it. I wouldn't return either. They don't deserve your business with that kind of attitude. Both Yamaha and Kawai have a great reputation and will likely be around longer than many others who have come and gone a few times already.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1258817 - 08/30/09 01:38 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
My impression has also been that Kawai has been improving, and I assumed there was quite a bit of consensus on that -- except for the occasional plastic parts nonsense, which was not what this dealer was criticizing.

That said, it has also been my impression that mass produced pianos are not likely to last as long as premium built ones and not worth rebuilding. But we're talking 30-40 years -- if well maintained -- instead of 50-60. Certainly not just 10. I know my 9-year-old C3 holds tune amazingly well, but I also know Chinese-built Yamahas that don't, but that's not exactly a fair comparison.

I don't know the history on the upright. The grand he showed was from a church. In the midwest, that probably means a terrible climate for a piano. Our church finally gave up on an acoustic and went digital because it was impossible to keep an acoustic tuned.

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#1258852 - 08/30/09 03:28 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
Toman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/24/09
Posts: 164
Any information that a dealer gives you about competitive products is absolutely worthless.

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#1258856 - 08/30/09 04:00 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3295
My general impression is that Kawai and Yamaha have improved over the past decade or two. In general, I think that the quality of pianos is improving throughout the industry.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1258880 - 08/30/09 06:46 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: beethoven986]
JPB RX2 Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 27
Loc: Cambridge, UK
I have an RX2 which is now 14 years old. There are no fundamental problems at all with it. It holds its tuning very well, and sounds great. It has had some very hard playing on and off in that 14 year period, and been used to learn some very big repertoire and has been a great work horse. About 3-4 years ago I had a major regulation which improved it greatly (in fact, I think it was better after that than it ever had been!) and the hammers were reshaped. This can be done numerous times again as its needed before I'll need new hammers.

I would say, however, that if I could trade this piano for a new Kawai I would - because the Millenium III actions is just amazing and wonderful - and mine does not have it.

I think you can safely ignore all that this salesperson was saying - its just crazy! And very bad salesmanship...

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#1258885 - 08/30/09 07:36 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: JPB RX2]
Rich Galassini Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 8974
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
The dealer was unprofessional and worth ignoring. That is plain and simple.

It occurs to me that when someone spends so much of their time saying negative things about someone else, perhaps they don't have enough good things to say about themselves.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Get Cunningham Piano Email Updates

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#1258900 - 08/30/09 09:08 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: Rich Galassini]
Rank Piano Amateur Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1734
By way of a corollary to what Rich says, when a dealer starts bashing the selling practices of another dealer, I always assume that the dealer who is doing the bashing knows about such practices because that dealer uses those selling practices themselves. This applies to pianos, to cars, to houses, etc. Dealers should not bash the pianos sold by others, nor the practices used by others in the selling process. The dealer that did this when I went piano shopping years ago did not get any return visits from me, once I had escaped the literal corner into which I had been backed for a 45 minute harangue about the competition, both about their pianos and their sales practices.

It all turned out fine in the end, because I ended up with a superb piano from a superb dealer!

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#1258908 - 08/30/09 09:38 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: Rank Piano Amateur]
Seeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 360
Loc: Rockville, MD
Regarding the salesperson and the dealer, RUN, do not walk, away. Sleazy, high pressure tactics on the sale - one can only imagine what it would be like to get service.

Regarding Kawai and Yamaha - they are Japanese companies. Search the web for the word "kaizen", and you'll find it translates roughly as "continuous improvement in small steps".

Search PW for the Yamaha C7. You can read about the numerous improvements to the C7 since 1990.

The competitive pressures in the auto industry have got to be as tough as the ones in the piano business. Would you rather have a 1972 Corolla or a 2009 Prius?

Points made, I hope.
_________________________
Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")

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#1258943 - 08/30/09 11:02 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: Toman]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19097
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Toman
Any information that a dealer gives you about competitive products is absolutely worthless.


So is information in the category of unsolicited praise for the lines they do carry...especially the kind that are endlessly repeated by some dealers at PW.

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#1259016 - 08/30/09 02:11 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: pianoloverus]
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
I agree that the dealer's performance was very poor. Undoubtedly he is not authorized for either new Kawai or Yamaha. In a C dealer position he is likely pushing some kind of stencil over the major brands. Just curious. What was he trying to sell you?
_________________________
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

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#1259250 - 08/30/09 08:10 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: Marty Flinn]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
We were looking at uprights -- C. Bechstein, W. Hoffman, Playel -- but I did notice quite a few Perzinas, and he did say some complimentary things about Chinese pianos. Improving, catching up (or surpassing Japanese), better value. On that, we played both W&L and Palatino -- at different dealers -- and were not very impressed. Okay as a starter piano for a beginner with limited budget, but that's it.

He's a big fan of Bechstein and Forster. Those are his premium lines, although I think he's dropping Bechstein, and I'm not sure he currently has any new Forsters in stock. Right now, he's stocking mostly budget pianos and rebuilds. He did mention that Grotrians are not dependable. They start out nice but do not age well. Unlike other premium brands, they do not improve with age, and you can't count on one to last 100+ years like Bechs and Forsters. He said this as a former Grotrian dealer with extensive experience with German pianos.

I'm not sure these were really pressure tactics. It was obvious we were not going to buy anything from him -- at least not on this visit -- and that none of the uprights we looked at really grabbed us. He was an interesting character. I think he is pretty knowledgeable and experienced, but also very opinionated and biased, and he likes sharing those opinions.

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#1259253 - 08/30/09 08:14 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13964
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
He's a big fan of Bechstein and Forster. Those are his premium lines, although I think he's dropping Bechstein, and I'm not sure he currently has any new Forsters in stock. Right now, he's stocking mostly budget pianos and rebuilds. He did mention that Grotrians are not dependable. They start out nice but do not age well. Unlike other premium brands, they do not improve with age, and you can't count on one to last 100+ years like Bechs and Forsters. He said this as a former Grotrian dealer with extensive experience with German pianos.


The man is a liar, totally ignorant or both.

Take your pick...

Norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#1259257 - 08/30/09 08:20 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: Norbert]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13964
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
pianoloverus said:

Quote:
So is information in the category of unsolicited praise for the lines they do carry...especially the kind that are endlessly repeated by some dealers at PW.


Let's do a little 'chasing' of my own for a change.

Which lines, in the particular context of this thread, are being "endlessly repeated by some dealers at PW" here?

It surely must have come to the attention of some others....

Attention, this is how things started out:

Quote:
go on a surprising rant about Kawai quality and Japanese pianos in general. He said in the 60s Kawai was making some quality pianos with harder wood, but increasingly, to keep their costs competitive, they have cut corners and compromised quality.


Curious.

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (08/30/09 08:23 PM)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#1259259 - 08/30/09 08:25 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: Toman]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Toman
Any information that a dealer gives you about competitive products is absolutely worthless.


I'm not sure this is always the case. Depends greatly on the dealer. For example, I'd listen to anything Jim Reader has to say about pianos. But in all things, you do have to sift whatever you hear.

We've noticed two types of dealers in our searches. Those who genuinely love pianos and take pride in what they sell, and those who just sell pianos like they would any other widget. Of course, the first can still be biased, but when you combine this love with good character, you get a great dealer IMO. I'd add Thomas Zoells and Chris Pfund to this list. I'm sure there are many others. For us, it helps when the dealer is a musician.

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#1259264 - 08/30/09 08:35 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
Norbert,

I haven't been on these forums long, but his comments took me by surprise. When someone trashes Kawai, you expect the plastic parts bit. He took a different angle.

-Joel (the Pilgrim)

P.S. Judging from his posts, I'd say Norbert proves you can be opinionated in a knowledgeable and decent way. Sifting still required, of course. smile

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#1259267 - 08/30/09 08:40 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
pilgrimjoel,

From what you have told us, this dealer is a floor lizard. Showing someone a catastrophe piano from a competing brand is one of the older and more despicable tricks in the book.

If you have met Chris Pfund, seen his Grotrians, and done any research of your own, you would not credit this other 'dealer's' statements at all.

Why are we even talking about this? All we know is that there is some unnamed dealer (though the number of 'former' Grotrian dealers is vanishingly small) saying rather dumb and transparently self-interested things. Is there a point here? The allegations of this supposed dealer are not very newsworthy, are they?
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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#1259271 - 08/30/09 08:50 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: Piano*Dad]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
Yes, you're probably right. Floor Lizard -- albeit somewhat interesting to us as a character, given that we were pretty immune to his pressure. I was mainly curious if others had similar feelings about QC slipping with Kawai. The consensus seems to be the opposite -- except maybe some issues with the digitals.

Of course, we didn't credit what he said about Grotrian. They're still top of our list at the moment. Although if we were looking at grands, we'd add Forster. But for uprights, Grotrian still very much our favorite.

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#1259283 - 08/30/09 09:17 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13964
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
S. Judging from his posts, I'd say Norbert proves you can be opinionated in a knowledgeable and decent way. Sifting still required, of course.


Thank you - we all "should" be opinionated - otherwise there is nothing to compare *against*.

That's why trashing a brand - any brand - doesn't make any sense - be it from a business, pianistical or philosophical perspective.

We would'nt need a great variety of pianos or some 10 million plus posts here if all could be said in one single thread and agreement about all things imaginable could be accomplished in 5 minutes flat.

We would only need to play one composer, one piece of music on only one single piano.

Next we would need an ears' specialist confirming we all hear the exact same and a neurologist confirming our brains and emotions work exactly same way as well.

Add to this one single psychiatrist confirming we all are in fact crazy - same way!

Na, that one for sure will never work....

"What a wonderful world"

Let's keep on trotting....

Norbert thumb


Edited by Norbert (08/30/09 09:22 PM)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#1259344 - 08/30/09 11:04 PM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: Norbert]
SeilerFan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/27/09
Posts: 746
Quote:
He did mention that Grotrians are not dependable. They start out nice but do not age well. Unlike other premium brands, they do not improve with age, and you can't count on one to last 100+ years like Bechs and Forsters. He said this as a former Grotrian dealer with extensive experience with German pianos.


Ahhmmm... ok... we're talking about one of the world's best makers of pianos here. Grotrians are excellent instruments. The new ones have amazing tonal color. I've played two older Grotrians that had been used at our high school. Generations of teachers and students had beaten the heck out of them, but that singing Grotrian sound they couldn't break. Although in desperate need to be rebuilt after decades of institutional use, they sound amazing.

Reminds me of that guy who - unsolicited, I might add - told me that Seilers don't hold up in the U.S. and will literally fall apart. There is always a "professional" who will tell you something absurd if they don't have real reasons.

More frequently, one hears similar allegations leveled towards Kawai and/or Yamaha. More frequently not because these makers are more unreliable but because they're better known, thus increasing the chance to be picked on. If a piano won't hold up, chances are it is not a German or a Japanese piano.


Edited by SeilerFan (08/30/09 11:07 PM)

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#1259382 - 08/31/09 12:34 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: SeilerFan]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
I should say, he claimed to be a former Grotrian dealer with extensive knowledge.... Blah, blah. I can say the Grotrian uprights are the most solid-looking pianos we've ever seen.

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#1259388 - 08/31/09 01:04 AM Re: Kawai compromising quality? [Re: JPB RX2]
gabytu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/05
Posts: 1521
Loc: Portland, Or.
Don't even consider dealing with that salesperson. He is making absurd accusations. Obviously, he is not trustworthy, and you certainly can't take his word on anything. Gaby Tu

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