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#1864502 - 03/19/12 04:03 AM piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase
Bumble Bee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/12
Posts: 46
I am buying piano for my daughter. I asked her teacher if he has any recommendations. So he told me 2 places and consultant to talk to at each location. And he said to be sure to tell them the studio that my daughter is taking lesson from, they will give me a good price, as there is some history between the two. The teacher then said when we decide on the piano, regardless of used or brand new, he would like to try it before we buy it. I have heard that teacher might get kick-backs, which I think is very reasonable. I am just wondering is it customary for me to pay him for his time to go to the store to try the piano for my daughter.

The two stores are the two of the biggest piano store in the city, even if he didn't tell me to go, I would have probably ended there, as one is the authorized dealer for Yamaha, and one is the authorized dealer for Kawai. Both brands that I know I want to consider even without asking him for recommendation.

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#1864505 - 03/19/12 04:13 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21810
Loc: Oakland
I think if the teacher insists on trying the piano before you buy, then the teacher should do it free of charge, although you could offer a tip.

However, you would probably get better information about the piano from the teacher's technician. We techs know more about pianos than teachers do, since we see more of them.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1864515 - 03/19/12 04:38 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7407
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
There are several factors at play here. Teachers need to support local dealers, otherwise, there won't be any. Larger dealers provide a number of valuable services to teachers. Some are combination instrument and music dealers, and the support is obvious. But stand alone piano stores often provide recital venues for teachers. It only make sense to help those who are helping you. Local dealers need to support teachers, if they want a stream of prospective buyers. Without buyer feedback, dealers won't know which teachers are supporting them, and which are not.

As for kickbacks, in the US, most teachers are uncomfortable accepting these, and suggest dealers just work with the client to reach a price which both are happy with, and leave us out of the equation. This is not necessarily true in other countries. Considering the differences in culture, what works for one may not work for another.

A good tech can provide a prospective buyer many useful insights on a potential instrument, but a good teacher, who is an advanced player, and who is knowledgeable, can provide a different set of insights on an instrument, especially in areas of playability and evenness of tone. Many areas overlap, and our vocabulary is different, but the meaning is the same.

As far as compensation of your teacher is concerned, if he volunteered, I'd take him at his word and not worry about compensation, but come Christmas time, remember him generously!

Are you looking at a grand or an upright? The uprights are build in such greater numbers these days, and the process so automated, that there is much uniformity in quality and sound. There isn't much either a tech or teacher can tell you that can be changed. A grand, especially those 6' and under, are more machine made than not, but has more handwork, as I understand it, than a typical upright. Grands over 6' tend to have the most hand work involved, and thus show the most variation from instrument to instrument. Perhaps as a general rule, the higher the price, the more valuable the resources of a solid tech and your teacher will be.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1864530 - 03/19/12 05:53 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
The cupboard seems rather bare musically ... suggested by the piano-buying hesitancy ... and doesn’t indicate an important vibrant musical home setting for the young learner.

However, where the parent finds themselves in the “clueless” category, it is strongly recommended that outside help (a musical friend) be sought ... to help with an assessment of piano purchase.

Only when a trusted and qualified specialist (no kickbacks please) vets and approves the goods, should any money change hands.

Nothing quite like a cup of tea/coffee and cake for Joe Blogs (festooned with all those musical degrees) to welcome the eventual piano delivery.

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#1864563 - 03/19/12 07:58 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7407
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Bumble Bee
I am buying piano for my daughter. I asked her teacher if he has any recommendations. .... I am just wondering is it customary for me to pay him for his time to go to the store to try the piano for my daughter.

I nearly forgot. I recommend to my students that they study the Piano Book by Larry Fine, to learn more about the instrument, and some of the situations they may encounter in the buying process.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1864628 - 03/19/12 10:04 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I have gone with students to help them purchase pianos. There is only one place to do so where I live, so that narrows things down considerably. What I have done is played several models in several price ranges for them, then had the student try each of them out. I have never told them which one I like the best, but in each case, they chose that very one! They have been very happy with their choices, too.

I really don't think there is anything to fear when you are looking at a brand-new piano from a respected line. If they are considering a used piano, I don't go with them and I recommend they have a tech look at it.

I have never charged them for my time, but the piano store has sent me thank-you gifts. I never knew they did such things and I still don't expect it.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1864701 - 03/19/12 12:42 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Originally Posted By: Bumble Bee
I have heard that teacher might get kick-backs, which I think is very reasonable.


We have 3 local piano dealers. None give "kickbacks" although 2 stores give a small percentage discount on purchases to teachers and one store provides recital space. OTOH the Yamaha dealer does no networking with teachers and gives no discounts. They figure their brand name sells itself.

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#1864753 - 03/19/12 02:15 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1374
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Kickbacks are common for piano teachers, and it sounds like this may indeed be the situation with our poster. I find them sleazy, unless the teacher and the store acknowledge the kickback upfront to the purchaser - which of course never happens.

If you are just deciding between a new Kawai and a new Yamaha, you don't need a teacher's help. You can make your own decisions. If you want to widen your shopping, however, you'll have to do some homework.

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#1864771 - 03/19/12 02:51 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Once I knew about the "kickback", I did indeed tell my students' parents. It's part of the trust we have with each other. I wish my students had alternatives here, but they don't, unless they wish to travel 3-4 hours or purchase a used instrument from a private party. We're not all sleazy and dishonest.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1864775 - 03/19/12 03:00 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Peter K. Mose]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3171
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Kickbacks are common for piano teachers, and it sounds like this may indeed be the situation with our poster. I find them sleazy, unless the teacher and the store acknowledge the kickback upfront to the purchaser - which of course never happens.


Sure it does. I tell my students up front when the subject arises and they ask about buying/trying out a piano. Nobody thinks it is wrong.

BTW, its not a "kickback", which is pejorative, and implies sleaze and bribery. Its a "Finder's Fee", which is common and legal in many business arenas, especially "big ticket" items such as real estate, where they are called "Referrals", and with real estate, are usually closely regulated by law.

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
We're not all sleazy and dishonest.


Thank you.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1864851 - 03/19/12 05:13 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Bumble Bee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/12
Posts: 46
Hi, Thanks all for the inputs.

BTW I think if the teacher gets referral fee, it is great!

For the piano teachers out there, could you let me know if you expect to be gifted/compensated for the time that you spend on trying out the piano? Or is it considered a nice touch from the teacher to the student.

I am in Canada. I am mostly likely be getting a brand new small grand piano. The teacher have already said that once I have decided on a model, put a hold on it, and he will go try it. The thing is that the actual piano that I will be getting will be delivered from the warehouse, so the model the teacher will try will actually be a floor demo. I guess since the size I am considering will be mostly machine made, he will just want to make sure the model/line is suitable.

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#1864852 - 03/19/12 05:15 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1374
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Rocket's and Minniemay's piano-purchasing candor with students is refreshing, and I stand corrected.

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#1864853 - 03/19/12 05:24 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1374
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Bumble, if the teacher is not trying the actual piano you are purchasing, and you are buying a new Kawai or Yamaha from a major dealer in your Canadian city, there is zero need for him or her to be part of this piano purchase. Save your money.






Edited by Peter K. Mose (03/19/12 05:27 PM)

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#1864860 - 03/19/12 05:28 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I have never asked or expected compensation from my students when I go with them to purchase a piano. I'm just happy they're willing to put out the money to get one! That's why I go with them. Even though they are buying new, they don't necessarily have the trained ear to hear what makes one sound better than another.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1864866 - 03/19/12 05:37 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5550
Loc: Orange County, CA
Also remember to tell the students' parents to spend money maintaining their pianos!! Some parents think they've shelled out $4,000 for an instrument and that's the end of their responsibilities. Regular tuning is just the beginning.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1864870 - 03/19/12 05:39 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
christineka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/11
Posts: 331
Loc: Utah
I would highly recommend posting about your piano search/buying up in the "piano forum" as those guys can help you better.
_________________________
Christine *mom* to
4 daughters, 2 sons
*1912 Lindman Player-Piano*

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#1864884 - 03/19/12 06:09 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Luke in ChiTown Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/11
Posts: 96
Loc: Chicago, Illinois, USA
The amount of money that a piano teacher is going to get in return from a piano purchase is pretty small. It's not going to influence their recommendation one way or the other. In many cases, I've recommended students purchasing instruments from a different source because it was better value and was the best choice for them at the time- even though I could've gotten a small finder's fee by recommending the local dealer.

A teacher who offers to try a piano out for you is not going to expect any kind of compensation in return. Too many of our students practice at home on absolute junk, and we know the complete turnaround in attitude and leaps in improvement that occur when a students gets a quality instrument at home.

Definitely take the teacher up on the offer.

Best of luck!
_________________________
Memorizing note names is boring…
Apps are cool!
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Now available for Android as well as iOS devices.

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#1864911 - 03/19/12 06:47 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1374
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Luke, some teachers do hustle at this referral game. That sounds like the situation with our OP. If Bumble were suddenly interested in buying a used Petrof privately off of Craig's List, I would be curious to know the teacher's advice.

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#1864916 - 03/19/12 06:49 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
I would simply take the teacher at their word - they offered, probably out of their feeling of professional responsibility to their student's learning. Like lesson preparation, it is unpaid time, or time paid for by regular lessons.

I would not offer to pay, but a small token of gratitude would, I am sure, be appreciated.

My son's guitar teacher did the same for me. He came to the shop to try out guitars, and helped me buy one I am happy with. His reasoning - he teaches in our house, and *he* will suffer if I make a bad choice, for years to come. Now I am a piano teacher and understand why I would do the same for any student. (I got him a whisky, and if he got a commission from the shop I don't care).
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


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#1864962 - 03/19/12 08:12 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Minniemay]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11800
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Even though they are buying new, they don't necessarily have the trained ear to hear what makes one sound better than another.

It is the function even more than the sound that would matter to me. Before you have the technique you cannot test the responsiveness of the instrument while a teacher who is an accomplished player can.

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#1864969 - 03/19/12 08:35 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: ten left thumbs]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3171
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs

My son's guitar teacher did the same for me. He came to the shop to try out guitars, and helped me buy one I am happy with. His reasoning - he teaches in our house, and *he* will suffer if I make a bad choice, for years to come.


It is in the teacher's best interest for the student to get a good instrument.

Regardless of where it comes from, be it brand new or used, as a teacher I want my students to have the best possible instrument. If I don't care about their instrument and its ultimate effect upon them, then I have no business "teaching" piano lessons.

Furthermore, if I will go to check on a piano only if the dealer tosses me a few dollars after the purchase, but not go to a private sale (or to another dealer) because there is no $$ coming to me, then that too is not ok.

The student's success as a pianist is my teaching goal, and that certainly involves them having the correct and inspiring instrument.

Once I had a student joyfully announce that they had just got a new piano; new to them, about 100 years old elsewise, a completely worthless junker monster upright.

I wish I could have gone with them. I would have paid to go. To add insult to injury, they actually paid money for it, plus paid more to move it. A very uncomfortable and unfortunate situation.


Edited by rocket88 (03/19/12 10:13 PM)
Edit Reason: clarity
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1865049 - 03/19/12 10:39 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Monaco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 387
Loc: GA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
The uprights are build in such greater numbers these days, and the process so automated, that there is much uniformity in quality and sound. There isn't much either a tech or teacher can tell you that can be changed.


I disagree with this statement. Ignoring the fact that no 2 pianos are exactly alike, the work that dealers do to pianos varies significantly. This "prep work" or lack there of can cause huge differences in the way a piano feels and sounds and even effects the longevity of the piano.
_________________________
Ben Ereddia
Piano Teacher
Beginning Tech

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#1865055 - 03/19/12 10:46 PM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Monaco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 387
Loc: GA
I know that teachers are generally some of the most giving people in the world. This is evidenced by many of the replies here. But, I believe it is important to note that, if a teacher should choose to donate their time and effort, it is out of the kindness of their heart.
If a teacher says he will do so, that is wonderful. No need to compensate them.

I don't think anyone should ever expect someone to do so without offering compensation.
_________________________
Ben Ereddia
Piano Teacher
Beginning Tech

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#1865147 - 03/20/12 01:32 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1374
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
I'm with Ben here, and he and I have actually acted as paid piano consultants on occasion. That's a clearer monetary relationship between piano purchaser and outside expert.

What I find interesting is still the original post. We have a parent, Bumble, who sounds like he or she is unfamiliar with pianos. So naturally the question is put to the friendly piano teacher: "Can you help our Bumble family find a better piano?"

Teacher says: "With pleasure, Mr. or Mrs. Bumble. Go to Kawai dealer X and Yamaha dealer Y, and be sure you speak to salesperson XX and YY at each place, and be sure to drop my name with both of them. This is very important. And whatever you do, don't complete the piano purchase until I have a chance to drop in and see my friend XX or YY on your behalf.

"I do understand that you're going to buy this shiny new Asian piano straight out of the crate in the warehouse, so I won't actually be playing your instrument at all, but nevertheless it's still important that you allow me to finesse this deal for you, to get the most favorable terms."

This is not piano purchase help. It is graft.

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#1865158 - 03/20/12 01:56 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2777
Loc: western Wisconsin
I am thrilled when a student, friend, or colleague asks me to assist them in shopping for a piano. When this has happened, I have never asked for compensation. If our search takes us through a meal time, it's nice if the person I'm helping would spring for lunch, etc.

There's only been one instance when a store suggested I would get some sort of compensation for steering a customer to purchase from them. It came off very slimy, and I was quite frankly offended by the offer.

I don't tell people what to buy; instead, I help them make an informed decision about piano size, type, understanding maintenance requirements, what to pay, and what's possible within their budget. I never cross the line and suggest exactly what to buy.
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Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
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#1865180 - 03/20/12 04:20 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Monaco]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7407
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Monaco
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
The uprights are build in such greater numbers these days, and the process so automated, that there is much uniformity in quality and sound. There isn't much either a tech or teacher can tell you that can be changed.


I disagree with this statement. Ignoring the fact that no 2 pianos are exactly alike, the work that dealers do to pianos varies significantly. This "prep work" or lack there of can cause huge differences in the way a piano feels and sounds and even effects the longevity of the piano.

Ben, it would be interesting to hear from some techs on this subject. I believe I first heard this from a tech (perhaps more than one). I really wonder if piano dealers do anything other than a tuning on an upright, regardless of what they might say.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1865215 - 03/20/12 08:05 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
Monaco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 387
Loc: GA
I am quite sure that some dealers prep their pianos, and most (at least in the Atlanta area) don't.

If you wish, you can view many threads on dealer prep to confirm this.
_________________________
Ben Ereddia
Piano Teacher
Beginning Tech

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#1865226 - 03/20/12 08:34 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Bumble Bee]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1238
Loc: Berkeley, California
please do not just get a boxed piano thinking it will be the same as the one you might like that is the floor model. I had an experience where a buyer selected a particular studio Kawai upright at one of our dealer stores in Clovis (now out of business) among lines of Kawai studios, that stood out as far better than the others. The buyer failed to put the serial number of this piano thinking it was going to be the one she chose. After she left another buyer came in the store, and loved the piano that now had a SOLD sign on it. The dealer then came over, and lifted the SOLD sign saying, it was okay. He could still sell the new person this one since the other buyer would take a boxed model. Well fast forward the clock and I heard from the first gal purchaser since she was interested in taking piano lessons and had my business card, and she specifically expressed disappointment in her NEW piano.. because it did NOT sound like the one she chose.
Sorry to disagree that all NEW uprights sound the same... But John I do agree with you that a piano teacher offers a dimension of evaluation about tone and feel that should be in addition to the tech eval... I tell students to have a tech eval and the tech should not have a financial relationship to the dealer. I don't get commissions or kickbacks when I check on pianos for my students. It's a courtesy extended.
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#1865227 - 03/20/12 08:36 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: music32]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1238
Loc: Berkeley, California
I want to add to the story I recounted that the dealer did NOT put the serial number of the piano I mentioned on the INVOICE which to me is a very serious omission.
_________________________
Piano blog: Performances, Instruction, Interviews
http://www.arioso7.wordpress.com

You Tube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/arioso7



NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
NYU, M.A., Steinway M grand and Baldwin, Yamaha Arius141
MTAC Alameda

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#1865231 - 03/20/12 08:47 AM Re: piano teacher trying out the piano before purchase [Re: Monaco]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7407
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Perhaps some do prep uprights, or say they do, but I wonder what kind of upright would really need much prepping. Of the four uprights I've purchased since 1968, all arrived untouched by the dealer, and all were fine, except, of course, for tuning and some very minor adjustments, which were accomplished on site. The instruments were, in purchase order: Baldwin Hamilton, Sauter, Grotrian, and finally, a Boston. The Boston had a very minor issue with the setting of one string, which my tech took care of (I suspect most people could have lived with it). None needed prep like resetting key let-off, correcting key dip, etc., etc. And all were quite well and evenly voiced. Our church has taken delivery of both a Yamaha and Boston upright in the past ten years, and both arrived in the factory crates. Neither needed any work except tuning.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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