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#1954395 - 09/05/12 05:27 PM New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer
Steve Cohen Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10528
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
The new, Fall 2012 edition of Piano Buyer will be posted at www.pianobuyer.com in the next day or so.

[carnival barker mode]

New Ratings!!! New feature articles!!! Updated prices and manufacturer profiles!!!

[/carnival barker mode]
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1954402 - 09/05/12 05:35 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6470
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Thanks for the heads up Steve -

LOOKING FORWARD TO READING IT - SUCH A WONDERFUL RESOURCE !!!!!!!!!!!

thumb
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#1954488 - 09/05/12 09:09 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2307
Loc: Sydney
Ditto

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#1954490 - 09/05/12 09:11 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Dave B Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1979
Loc: Philadelphia area
Steve, Is there a direct link to purchase hard copies?

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#1954492 - 09/05/12 09:15 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9404
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Now THAT is good news!
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#1954574 - 09/06/12 02:56 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Lakeside Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/04/12
Posts: 108
Loc: Beijing China
Thanks and look forward to!
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Shigeru Kawai SK-3
Kawai CA95

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#1954718 - 09/06/12 10:06 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Dave B]
Steve Cohen Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10528
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted By: Dave B
Steve, Is there a direct link to purchase hard copies?


Wait a few days then go to http://www.pianobuyer.com/buybooks.html.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1954766 - 09/06/12 11:22 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Eric Gloo Online   content
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Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1266
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Now I'm craving a candied apple and cotton candy! crazy
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Piano Technician
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#1954786 - 09/06/12 12:07 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Thrill Science Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 540
Loc: California
No changes, as far as I can tell, to the "Highest Quality" list. And U.S. Steinway isn't on it! (p.44)
_________________________
Robert Swirsky
Thrill Science, Inc.

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#1954803 - 09/06/12 12:38 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2398
Loc: SoCal
I pre-ordered mine from Amazon last night.
_________________________
Gary

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#1956632 - 09/09/12 09:27 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
I very much enjoyed the articles on boutique pianos and on regulation/voicing of performance pianos.

I have a question about navigating on each page. I have always had this problem for every online edition and I'm guessing it's due to some lack in basic computer skill.(I'm using the Flash version not that I know what that means.)

Anyway, when I enlarge the page to read it and am scrolling up and down to read the page, the page always seems to shrink back to its smaller size. So the result is while I'm reading a page I have to enlarge it several times while reading the page.

Can you tell what I'm doing wrong?

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#1956641 - 09/09/12 09:56 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Hot off the press! Gotta love it!

PLU - Once you have enlarged the page, don't click on the wheel or you will change the page size. Just roll (scroll) the wheel and it will raise or lower the page without a change in size.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#1956653 - 09/09/12 10:11 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
dsch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 325
Loc: florida
It seems to me that most makers wish to go out of business.

The price increases are breathtakingly absurd especially considering that most people have lower disposable income, not greater, with each successive year due to stagnant salaries and rising costs of food, utilities, gas, health care, and education.

Also it looks as if Larry Fine is backing away from the concept of SMP.

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#1956654 - 09/09/12 10:11 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2772
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Can you tell what I'm doing wrong?
If you are having trouble with the flash version, try the HTML version, a.k.a. normal webpage.

You lose some of the cool flash features, but it navigates fine. On the HTML version, enlarging the size is "command +" on my mac and I think "control +" on my PC.
_________________________
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#1956662 - 09/09/12 10:21 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Chopinlover49 Offline
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Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 641
I just finished reading through the new edition, including re-reading a lot of the parts I have studied before. Nice job, Larry!

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#1956781 - 09/10/12 06:42 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: dsch]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: dsch
It seems to me that most makers wish to go out of business.

The price increases are breathtakingly absurd especially considering that most people have lower disposable income, not greater, with each successive year due to stagnant salaries and rising costs of food, utilities, gas, health care, and education.
I also got the impression that the price increases were greater than usual although this was just a general impression.

I got an even stronger impression that many makers are using MSRPs that are much higher than the SMPs.

Originally Posted By: dsch
Also it looks as if Larry Fine is backing away from the concept of SMP.
Did he write something specific about that in the latest issue? If not, I see zero evidence of any backing away from SMP. It's listed on every page of the piano pricing section.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/10/12 06:53 AM)

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#1956782 - 09/10/12 06:56 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2307
Loc: Sydney
Thanks !
Is the SMP the suggested maximum price for the wholesaler or retailer ?

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#1956823 - 09/10/12 08:51 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: custard apple]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: custard apple
Thanks !
Is the SMP the suggested maximum price for the wholesaler or retailer ?
For the customer. To get the benefit from the SMP you should read the very clearly worded explanation on the pages before the SMPs for particular pianos are listed.

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#1957037 - 09/10/12 05:00 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
turandot Offline
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Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7304
Loc: torrance, CA
Stee,

I notice that the "profesional" category of pianos had a short shelf life. Maybe the tables should be marked with an expiration date like dairy products.

It would seem that Pianobuyer is now trying to tell me that Bohemia, W. Hoffmann (Tradition), Irmler (Professional)* Seiler (ES)*, Wilh. Steinberg (AC). and Vogel are better pianos than a Yamaha C or Kawai RX grand. "Good", "better", and "best" are fighting words, but I'm not sure they're in accordance with a snapshot of the market today. grin

I can only begin to imagine the tremendous effort that went into finding numerous samples of all these "Best" Intermediate grade rare birdss and the extensive hands-on testing that must have taken place before awarding them a "Best" designation.

_________________________
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The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1957051 - 09/10/12 05:22 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10528
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Tur,

The "Professional Grade" category didn't have a short shelf life. I suggested to Larry that "Intermediate Grade" was a more descriptive name and it didn't carry the baggage of the word "professional". He agreed and the change was made.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1957057 - 09/10/12 05:25 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Dave B Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1979
Loc: Philadelphia area
Turandot, Go out and look for yourself.

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#1957078 - 09/10/12 05:55 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1794
Is it possible that so much emphasis has been put on the idea that consumers have to bargain prices down that manufacturers are raising prices so that the dealers can give a greater percentage as a discount? I have long believed that this is the practice in many other industries, so why not in the world of pianos? That way, a consumer can feel that he or she got a good deal because the discount was greater. If this has happened in the world of pianos, it is a truly unfortunate byproduct of what I consider to be excessive bargaining; I would view it as an extremity to which manufacturers and dealers have bee pushed.

I heard an ad on the radio the other day that said that in many dealerships (not pianos, I have forgotten what the ad was selling, furniture I think) the discount price was becoming the "regular" price. And I am convinced that car prices increase at least in part for the reasons outlined above.

On the other hand, raw materials and fuel, as well as components of manufacturing like health care for employees, increase in cost at a rate far greater than inflation. And, has been pointed out elsewhere on this Forum, wages in countries where many pianos are manufactured are going up to approach fairer levels. So there are reasons other than marketing necessity that might cause prices to increase.

In any event, there are lots of reasons why the consumer price index (or inflation) is not a reliable gauge for what constitutes an appropriate price increase. I find it inconceivable that any manufacturer willingly prices its products at an arbitrarily high level to insure that it cannot survive the current economic climate.

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#1957088 - 09/10/12 06:16 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
Melodialworks Music Offline
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Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 1309
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: turandot

I notice that the "profesional" category of pianos had a short shelf life.


I noticed that as well, particularly because I'm in the market for a professional
grade instrument, i.e. a Yamaha C3.

How something can be renamed from "professional" to "intermediate" is very strange to me.

I wonder where the new Yamaha CX line will end up when it is added in the future, with the better parts, more hand-built, and more parameters for voicing.
_________________________
Melodialworks Music
Yamaha C3X
Yamaha CP300 + Omnisphere
Yamaha NU1 + Production Grand

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#1957095 - 09/10/12 06:28 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7304
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Tur,

The "Professional Grade" category didn't have a short shelf life. I suggested to Larry that "Intermediate Grade" was a more descriptive name and it didn't carry the baggage of the word "professional". He agreed and the change was made.


Okay Steve. So Intermediate replaces professional. But what about Good. Better, and Best? Is that warranted> on what basis?

Part of the criteria for inclusion inthe Professional class was successful use in professional installations like studios, teaching institutions, and concert venues. Make a case for me about how that applies to most of these 'Best" pianos.

I think you know what I'm getting at. Most of these "Best" pianos are not widely found in store inventories. and it's not because they're selling quickly. Many, such as the Steinberg AC and the Seiler ES, have no track records at all either under their current names or earlier incarnations. Who supplied the data? Who did the hands-on testing? What's the basis of judgment for being "Best" of grade?? And please don't tell me it was verified by the manufacturers or culled from a quick look at some show ponies at NAMM.


_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1957098 - 09/10/12 06:42 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: turandot
Okay Steve. So Intermediate replaces professional. But what about Good. Better, and Best? Is that warranted> on what basis?
The basis is the judgement of Fine and the numerous techs/industry professional he consults.

Originally Posted By: turandot
Part of the criteria for inclusion inthe Professional class was successful use in professional installations like studios, teaching institutions, and concert venues. Make a case for me about how that applies to most of these 'Best" pianos.
There no longer is a professional category so your question is meaningless. The relative ranking of the pianos(including Seiler and Steinberg in comparison to Yamaha)in the Piano Buyer has changed only a little and very gradually over the years. The names of the various categories and sub categories don't really matter very much unless you are just trying to be argumentative.

Originally Posted By: turandot
I think you know what I'm getting at. Most of these "Best" pianos are not widely found in store inventories. and it's not because they're selling quickly. Many, such as the Steinberg AC and the Seiler ES, have no track records at all either under their current names or earlier incarnations. Who supplied the data? Who did the hands-on testing? What's the basis of judgment for being "Best" of grade??
Ever think that Fine and the many people that help him make the ratings might have just a little bit more experience in every aspect of the piano industry than you? Have you even tuned a single piano for pay or sold a single piano you didn't own or been to a single factory outside the U.S., etc.?




Edited by pianoloverus (09/10/12 06:57 PM)

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#1957131 - 09/10/12 08:14 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14266
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
The basis is the judgement of Fine and the numerous techs/industry professional he consults.


If this is true then the "techs and industry professionals" failed to point out that there are often considerable differences in quality between the different models by very same manufacturer.

This is nowhere more true than among the so-called "Consumer Grade" of pianos.

And NOT only having simply to do with country of origin...

Not making this crucial differentiation, something every unbiased professional I know is only too aware of,is leaving out one very important part of the equation.

Simply rating things by "brand" deprives shoppers the opportunity to check out and select a particular model that's perhaps cutting edge and sticking out from the crowd.

Which is exactly what shoppers in today's highly varied market are after.

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (09/10/12 08:28 PM)
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#1957146 - 09/10/12 08:43 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
The basis is the judgement of Fine and the numerous techs/industry professional he consults.


If this is true then the "techs and industry professionals" failed to point out that there are often considerable differences in quality between the different models by very same manufacturer.

This is nowhere more true than among the so-called "Consumer Grade" of pianos.

And NOT only having simply to do with country of origin...

Not making this crucial differentiation, something every unbiased professional I know is only too aware of,is leaving out one very important part of the equation.

Simply rating things by "brand" deprives shoppers the opportunity to check out and select a particular model that's perhaps cutting edge and sticking out from the crowd.

Which is exactly what shoppers in today's highly varied market are after.

Norbert
I think the reason Fine doesn't rate the separate models of each piano maker is pretty simple and obvious. It's complicated and controversial enough to try and rate the makes in general.

For some makes he does discuss(and has always discussed)the relative merits of their different models in the section that has write ups on each manufacturer.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/10/12 08:53 PM)

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#1957167 - 09/10/12 10:15 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
dsch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 325
Loc: florida
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

Originally Posted By: dsch
Also it looks as if Larry Fine is backing away from the concept of SMP.
Did he write something specific about that in the latest issue? If not, I see zero evidence of any backing away from SMP. It's listed on every page of the piano pricing section.


I wrote that because in the past, there was a considerable difference between MSRP and SMP. Now, these two figures are converging for most of the "better" brands. For many brands the two values are identical. It was not always like this. I imagine that Fine received a lot of flak from manufacturers for daring to suggest that a particular discount was standard.

But who pays list price aside from institutions, professional athletes, movie or rock stars, drug dealers, politicians, and greedy developers? I'd like to know.

Ten years (or so) ago Perry Knize bought a Grotrian Cabinet for $27K. Now they are nearly triple that price. What made them worth almost three times as much in such a short time span? That, too, is something I'd like to know.

I do not wish to see the makers of the finest pianos go extinct but I honestly know of 0 people in my circle of acquaintances who could ever hope to buy one.

I guess my only hope at this point is to get a somewhat used nice instrument from a desperate seller. This is taking advantage of a different kind of desperation compared to the $1.50/hr Chinese or Indonesian labor that many of the Euro makers are now enjoying.


Edited by dsch (09/10/12 10:17 PM)

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#1957178 - 09/10/12 10:42 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: dsch]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: dsch
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

Originally Posted By: dsch
Also it looks as if Larry Fine is backing away from the concept of SMP.
Did he write something specific about that in the latest issue? If not, I see zero evidence of any backing away from SMP. It's listed on every page of the piano pricing section.


I wrote that because in the past, there was a considerable difference between MSRP and SMP. Now, these two figures are converging for most of the "better" brands. For many brands the two values are identical. It was not always like this. I imagine that Fine received a lot of flak from manufacturers for daring to suggest that a particular discount was standard.

But who pays list price aside from institutions, professional athletes, movie or rock stars, drug dealers, politicians, and greedy developers? I'd like to know.
Actually, my strong impression(not a scientific comparison)is that the opposite of what you say is true, i.e. the tendency has been for a greater increase between the MSRP and SMP for the best pianos.

Form the very beginning of the Supplements to the Piano Book(more than 10 and maybe as much as 20 years ago), Fine gave SMPs, although I think the actual term "SMP" may have only appeared when the Piano Buyer was introduced. And I believe from the beginning he also suggested typically available discounts from the SMP. All this is nothing new for manufacturers so I see nothing to indicate that manufacturers would have recently become upset about the SMPs and suggested discounts.

You mention that institutions pay full price, but the opposite is true. Institutions(as in music schools)typically receive bigger discounts than individuals because they purchase multiple pianos.

Finally, although the price of Grotrians has increased, I think your figures there are incorrect. The latest SMP for the Cabinet Grand is around 75K. With 30% off that the selling price would be closer to 52K, a little less than twice what Knize paid.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/10/12 10:51 PM)

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#1957199 - 09/10/12 11:30 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Nick Mauel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/05/08
Posts: 792
Loc: Sarasota and Naples, FL
Larry Fine's SMP is pretty much the same as an industry publication from Ancott that was available only to dealers since the 1980's but was discontinued about 5 years ago. When both price lists were published simultaneously for awhile, they were in agreement.

Dealers relied on the Ancott resource as a level playing field to see what other piano brands 'actually' cost -- and now this same level playing field is offered to consumers who consult Larry's publication.

I think that piano buyers should be grateful to have access to this very accurate pricing information.

I believe that Larry probably does most of his work for the Pianobuyer publication in this area to make sure that consumers are accurately informed.

He has stated that shoppers can disregard the MSRP (bogus) since the SMP is the most 'in the know' figure, and this is where having some standardization really helps in regard to pricing.

Some dealers subscribe to this philosophy while others do not, perhaps not wishing (nor able) to adhere to a normal margin due to very high overhead expenses.

I have always advised customers to take into account not only the piano brand and pricing, but ultimately the percentage of discount you are able to receive for a particular brand in order to achieve the best value, and having a standardized source as a starting point is a tremendous aid.

Larry is doing a great service to consumers in bringing the 'real' retail prices to the public, from which you can still expect to receive a discount, and I believe that it is done with great care and the integrity for which he is known.

I have always supported 'truth in pricing' and applaud Larry for what he has done to help our industry.

Thanks,

Nick
_________________________
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#1957233 - 09/11/12 02:02 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2307
Loc: Sydney
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: custard apple
Thanks !
Is the SMP the suggested maximum price for the wholesaler or retailer ?
For the customer. To get the benefit from the SMP you should read the very clearly worded explanation on the pages before the SMPs for particular pianos are listed.


Thanks pianoloverus.
I noticed that there is now no longer a distinction between the MSRP and the SMP for the Bechstein Academy.

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#1957261 - 09/11/12 03:17 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7304
Loc: torrance, CA
"
Quote:
There is no longer is a professional category so your question is meaningless. The relative ranking of the pianos(including Seiler and Steinberg in comparison to Yamaha)in the Piano Buyer has changed only a little and very gradually over the years. The names of the various categories and sub categories don't really matter very much unless you are just trying to be argumentative.


If I think about a dyed-in-the-wool Finite, I think of a person who is terribly insecure in his own opinions and desperately needs an authority figure to be his guide. You fill the bill. If Fine were to go off topic in a publication and declare the world to be flat, I believe you would trudge through your daily rounds wearing a parachute just in case you unknowingly veered too close to the edge.

When people disagree with a position you clutch to with all your might, you brand them as argumentative. If they pose a question you don't find interesting in your little word, the question is meaningless.

The Steinberg AC series was not in existence until very recently. Same holds true for the Seiler ES series. For you to state that Fine's ratings of these pianos have not varied much over the years in comparison to the Yamaha C highlights the depth of your ignorance.

My question, which you judge to be meaningless, was addressed to Steve Cohen. He has stated that " intermediate" was deemed better than "professional" in that it didn't carry the same baggage. He has stated in the past that the categories Mr. Fine has structured aree not a finished product and are subject to constant re-evaluation. Mr. Fine has stated the same. For you to insist that the former category cannot be part of a question simply because it has been replaced highlights once again the desperation of your insecurity and your utter dependence on whatever the current ratings scheme happens to be. You can't let go until the next set of ratings replace the old with a freshened infallibility.

I personally do not think an intermediate GRADE, especially one divided arbitrarily into GOOD, BETTER, and BEST advances the cause. This is not argumentative. This is simply feedback from one person based on that person's honest opinion. Feedback should be welcome. I believe it is. When Steve goes into what he has called "carnival barker mode" to promote Pianobuyer, he does not write: "Read it, but by all means remain silent". The game is to generate page views for Pianobuyer. Those in the biz will not pay for ads there unless it can be provem that there is a readership base.

I cannot help your helplessness in feeling so personally threatened by any criticism of Pianobuyer. I believe that both Mr. Fine and Steve are willing to consider reasonable criticism in the process of refining their product. Every professional writer that I know values reasonable criticism, and Mr. Fine is certainly a professional writer. I further believe Pianobuyer is an evolutionary process, just as the piano industry itself is an evolutionary process.

Finally, it's my honest opinion that the mixing of commercial revenues from those you evaluate and the issuance of blunt ratings such as good, better, and best cannot be credible without the inclusion of specific data that supports the findings.
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#1957279 - 09/11/12 04:45 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
Nick Mauel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/05/08
Posts: 792
Loc: Sarasota and Naples, FL
Originally Posted By: turandot
"
Quote:
There is no longer is a professional category so your question is meaningless. The relative ranking of the pianos(including Seiler and Steinberg in comparison to Yamaha)in the Piano Buyer has changed only a little and very gradually over the years. The names of the various categories and sub categories don't really matter very much unless you are just trying to be argumentative.


If I think about a dyed-in-the-wool Finite, I think of a person who is terribly insecure in his own opinions and desperately needs an authority figure to be his guide. You fill the bill. If Fine were to go off topic in a publication and declare the world to be flat, I believe you would trudge through your daily rounds wearing a parachute just in case you unknowingly veered too close to the edge.

When people disagree with a position you clutch to with all your might, you brand them as argumentative. If they pose a question you don't find interesting in your little word, the question is meaningless.

The Steinberg AC series was not in existence until very recently. Same holds true for the Seiler ES series. For you to state that Fine's ratings of these pianos have not varied much over the years in comparison to the Yamaha C highlights the depth of your ignorance.

My question, which you judge to be meaningless, was addressed to Steve Cohen. He has stated that " intermediate" was deemed better than "professional" in that it didn't carry the same baggage. He has stated in the past that the categories Mr. Fine has structured aree not a finished product and are subject to constant re-evaluation. Mr. Fine has stated the same. For you to insist that the former category cannot be part of a question simply because it has been replaced highlights once again the desperation of your insecurity and your utter dependence on whatever the current ratings scheme happens to be. You can't let go until the next set of ratings replace the old with a freshened infallibility.

I personally do not think an intermediate GRADE, especially one divided arbitrarily into GOOD, BETTER, and BEST advances the cause. This is not argumentative. This is simply feedback from one person based on that person's honest opinion. Feedback should be welcome. I believe it is. When Steve goes into what he has called "carnival barker mode" to promote Pianobuyer, he does not write: "Read it, but by all means remain silent". The game is to generate page views for Pianobuyer. Those in the biz will not pay for ads there unless it can be provem that there is a readership base.

I cannot help your helplessness in feeling so personally threatened by any criticism of Pianobuyer. I believe that both Mr. Fine and Steve are willing to consider reasonable criticism in the process of refining their product. Every professional writer that I know values reasonable criticism, and Mr. Fine is certainly a professional writer. I further believe Pianobuyer is an evolutionary process, just as the piano industry itself is an evolutionary process.

Finally, it's my honest opinion that the mixing of commercial revenues from those you evaluate and the issuance of blunt ratings such as good, better, and best cannot be credible without the inclusion of specific data that supports the findings.


thumb
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#1957333 - 09/11/12 08:42 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: turandot
Quote:
There is no longer is a professional category so your question is meaningless. The relative ranking of the pianos(including Seiler and Steinberg in comparison to Yamaha)in the Piano Buyer has changed only a little and very gradually over the years. The names of the various categories and sub categories don't really matter very much unless you are just trying to be argumentative.


If I think about a dyed-in-the-wool Finite, I think of a person who is terribly insecure in his own opinions and desperately needs an authority figure to be his guide. You fill the bill. If Fine were to go off topic in a publication and declare the world to be flat, I believe you would trudge through your daily rounds wearing a parachute just in case you unknowingly veered too close to the edge.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

What I do know is that your expertise, experience, and knowledge is miniscule compared to Fine's and those who he uses to help make the ratings. I also know what kind of person Larry Fine and I think you have a big problem by comparison in that area also. You did not reply to my previous question about whether you had sold even a single piano that was not your own, or tuned a single piano for pay, or been to a single foreign factory, etc.


Originally Posted By: turandot
The Steinberg AC series was not in existence until very recently. Same holds true for the Seiler ES series. For you to state that Fine's ratings of these pianos have not varied much over the years in comparison to the Yamaha C highlights the depth of your ignorance.
No.

I was referring to Seiler and Steinberg makes in general so my statement is correct. Fine included an asterisk next to the ratings for the newest Seiler and Steinberg models for the express purpose of indicating his ratings were based on limited experience with these models.

Originally Posted By: turandot
My question, which you judge to be meaningless, was addressed to Steve Cohen.
If you think that this means no one else should be allowed to respond then you should PM your questions to Steve.


Originally Posted By: turandot
This is simply feedback from one person based on that person's honest opinion. Feedback should be welcome. I believe it is...I cannot help your helplessness in feeling so personally threatened by any criticism of Pianobuyer. I believe that both Mr. Fine and Steve are willing to consider reasonable criticism in the process of refining their product.
The idea that I feel personally threatened by a criticism of the PB is ludicrous. But since I have talked with Larry Fine and know what kind of a person he is, I do feel strongly about what I would call not constructive criticsm but an attack.

I'm sure Larry Fine and Steve Cohen are willing to consider criticism of the PB. In the past I've posted or PM'd comments that were critical of some articles in the book. But I find your comments to be argumentative and mean spirited in tone. More like an attack than constructive criticsm.



Edited by pianoloverus (09/11/12 08:53 AM)

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#1957358 - 09/11/12 09:58 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7304
Loc: torrance, CA
plover,

I don't want to seem mean-spritied, but quite honestly, I have no interest in what you think. To put it bluntly, I don't give a damn. The only justification I could give myself for responding to your post was to correct gross factual errors, and even bearing that in mind, it was a close call. Let's just leave it at that.
_________________________
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#1957377 - 09/11/12 10:29 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2398
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: turandot

Finally, it's my honest opinion that the mixing of commercial revenues from those you evaluate and the issuance of blunt ratings such as good, better, and best cannot be credible without the inclusion of specific data that supports the findings.


Indeed. Compare the company reviews of, say, Yamaha and Kawai, in the last Piano Book supplement with the current company review in Piano Buyer and there is a marked difference in tone.
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#1957381 - 09/11/12 10:41 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Plowboy]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Originally Posted By: turandot

Finally, it's my honest opinion that the mixing of commercial revenues from those you evaluate and the issuance of blunt ratings such as good, better, and best cannot be credible without the inclusion of specific data that supports the findings.


Indeed. Compare the company reviews of, say, Yamaha and Kawai, in the last Piano Book supplement with the current company review in Piano Buyer and there is a marked difference in tone.
The last edition of The Piano Book was more than ten years ago. It's perfectly reasonable that the pianos you mentioned could have changed in that time. I know one of the recent Piano Buyer editions mentioned some specific changes to the Yamaha tone, for example.

When the first edition of the the Piano Buyer came out Fine discussed, I believe both on this forum and in that edition, the potential conflict of interest between ratings/reviews and the fact that many makes advertised in the Piano Buyer. I think the bottom line is that those who know Fine personally would rate his integrity at the highest level.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/11/12 10:58 AM)

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#1957384 - 09/11/12 10:45 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
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#1957416 - 09/11/12 11:58 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
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Loc: Surrey, B.C.
*Unfounded innuendo removed*


Edited by Ken Knapp (09/11/12 04:11 PM)
Edit Reason: Remove unfounded innuendo.
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#1957470 - 09/11/12 02:08 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Norbert
Subdividing "Intermediate pianos" into 'best-better-good' categories gives evidence of this. It has no basis of reality.

Not unless something has suddenly happened with these pianos that wasn't there before.
A simple comparison between the most recent Fall 2012 Piano Buyer and the Spring 2012 Piano Buyer shows that virtually nothing has changed except the names of some of the categories and the addition of a few recent model pianos.

1. The pianos listed in each of the three sections of Performance grade pianos are identical for Spring 2012 and Fall 2012.

2. The two levels of Professional Grade pianos from the Spring 2012 have become the top two levels("Best" and "Better")of the Intermediate Grade in the Fall 2012(with the additions of Seiler(ES) and Steinberg(AC)).

3. The highest level of Consumer Grade pianos from the Spring 2012 edition has become the lowest or "Good" level of Intermediate Grade pianos in the Fall 2012 edition.

4. The second half of the Consumer Grade Upper Level from Spring 2012 has become the top level of Consumer Grade pianos in the Fall 2012(with the edition of one new piano namely Cunningham).

The bottom line is that in the first 7 levels, however they are named, nothing has changed except the addition of three new pianos previously not included in the Piano Buyer ratings.

Originally Posted By: Norbert
First off, there cannot possibly be a number of "industry experts" who all know these different pianos in detail.
That's why the input of many different techs and industry professionals is used in the ranking determination.

Originally Posted By: Norbert
The 3 new categories now give the outward appearance that these pianos are now suddenly a few notches above others.
Not really. The relative order of the pianos in the first seven groups is exactly the same as in the previous edition. In fact there has been only a small change in relative rankings over a much longer time frame than the last six months.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/11/12 02:20 PM)

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#1957508 - 09/11/12 04:10 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2278
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Norbert
*unfounded innuendo removed.*


Norbert,

Who do you intend to impugn with this post, Steve or Larry? Are you seriously saying that Steve would endanger the reputation of Piano Buyer in order to sell a few lousy pianos? Do you really believe Larry would go along with that? I do not. I believe both of these gentlemen are far more honest than that.

This saddens me, Norbert. Just recently I defended you from a situation where it seemed apparent to me that someone was questioning your honesty and motives. Now I am seeing you doing the same thing to someone else.

Enough. Am I clear? ENOUGH.
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#1957541 - 09/11/12 05:12 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
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Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Ken:

Please let me ask you this question:

Is there perhaps a different way to discuss things here than eliminating my entire post?

Is this not a place for free speech any longer?

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (09/11/12 05:13 PM)
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#1957543 - 09/11/12 05:15 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Guapo Gabacho Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/23/11
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Loc: Rio Grande Valley of Texas
I'm with Norbert on this one about both his posts.
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#1957547 - 09/11/12 05:26 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4234
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Read the entire thread.

Here is the question to be considered and answered;

What exactly is causing the fluctuation in Piano Buyer ratings for particular models of pianos when those same aforementioned models remain unchanged technically from the previous publication of the PB.

The answer is painfully obvious to anyone who does not suffer a certain kind of blindness.

So is the answer to deleted postings.
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#1957549 - 09/11/12 05:29 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2278
Loc: Pennsylvania
e·nough   [ih-nuhf]
adjective
1.
adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire: enough water; noise enough to wake the dead.
Relevant Questions
How Much Exercise Is Eno...
How Much Ram Is Enough?
How Much Is Enough?
How Much Sleep Is Enough...
pronoun
2.
an adequate quantity or number; sufficiency.

adverb
3.
in a quantity or degree that answers a purpose or satisfies a need or desire; sufficiently.
4.
fully or quite: ready enough.
interjection
5.
(used to express impatience or exasperation): Enough! I heard you the first time.
Origin:
before 900; Middle English enogh, Old English genōh; cognate with German genug, Gothic ganohs, Old Norse nōgr; akin to Old English geneah it suffices, Sanskrit naśati (he) reaches

Synonyms
1. ample. 3. adequately, amply, reasonably.

Example Sentences
It's special enough for company, still simple enough for weeknights.
Sure enough, he says, closer inspection revealed physical differences that proved that each of the four was a unique species.
Good enough to eat right off the plant when picked at peak ripeness.
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#1957552 - 09/11/12 05:35 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2278
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Norbert
Ken:

Please let me ask you this question:

Is there perhaps a different way to discuss things here than eliminating my entire post?

Is this not a place for free speech any longer?

Norbert


1. Please refer to the answer to this question I gave you when you asked in the PM you sent me..

2. Is there a way to salvage a post in which the substance was unfounded, unsupported innuendo that either Steve, Larry, or both would alter piano ratings for their own benefit? I don't think there is..

Please refer to this post made by our gracious host, Frank Baxter...

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...tml#Post1295379
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#1957553 - 09/11/12 05:40 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Here is the question to be considered and answered:

What exactly is causing the fluctuation in Piano Buyer ratings for particular models of pianos when those same aforementioned models remain unchanged technically from the previous publication of the PB.
There has not been any fluctuation in the relative rankings of pianos in the first 7 categories(I didn't check the classes after that but I bet there has been little or no change there also.) The only thing has has changed is the name of one broad category.

A simple side by side comparison of the Fall 2012 and Spring 2012 editions makes this glaringly obvious.

But even if there had been fluctuation in ratings I think the assumption of ulterior motives because there had been no major technical changes in a particular piano is without merit. People's opinions can change; there can be additional input from techs or other industry pros since the last ratings; small changes in production methods could push a make that was near the borderline up or down, etc.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/11/12 07:57 PM)

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#1957575 - 09/11/12 06:30 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1543
Loc: Danville, California
This is copied directly from Fall 2011 Piano Buyer rankings:

PROFESSIONAL-GRADE PIANOS
Verticals: $8,000–$13,000
Grands 5' to 7': $16,000–$43,000
Bohemia
Vogel
W. Hoffmann (Tradition)
________________________________________
Boston (Japan)
Kawai RX grands
Kawai verticals (Japan)
Yamaha C grands
Yamaha verticals (Japan)



Bohemia, Vogel and W. Hoffmann (Tradition) were always ranked above (literally and qualitatively) Boston, Kawai and Yamaha.

Perhaps this was not perceived to be the case by some, but it is true. The horizontal line/rule used in the graphics was perhaps not as definitive as a separate "box" but it was clear - at least to me - that there was a distinction.

One can argue with this ranking, to be sure. But this is nothing new.

Tempest in a teapot.

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#1957606 - 09/11/12 07:50 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Furtwangler]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7304
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
This is copied directly from Fall 2011 Piano Buyer rankings:

PROFESSIONAL-GRADE PIANOS
Verticals: $8,000–$13,000
Grands 5' to 7': $16,000–$43,000
Bohemia
Vogel
W. Hoffmann (Tradition)
________________________________________
Boston (Japan)
Kawai RX grands
Kawai verticals (Japan)
Yamaha C grands
Yamaha verticals (Japan)



Bohemia, Vogel and W. Hoffmann (Tradition) were always ranked above (literally and qualitatively) Boston, Kawai and Yamaha.

Perhaps this was not perceived to be the case by some, but it is true. The horizontal line/rule used in the graphics was perhaps not as definitive as a separate "box" but it was clear - at least to me - that there was a distinction.

One can argue with this ranking, to be sure. But this is nothing new.

Tempest in a teapot.



In a way you are right. I think the Fine groupings are no more significant to Yamaha, Kawai, and Steinway/Boston than they are to the European piano community. In other words, they are a foreign curiosity and nothing more.

In another way you're wrong. There is some significance to the piano brands that have joined the group. The significance goes beyond the fact that a couple of them are comppletely fresh entries with no track record, very little market presence, and involve significant Asian OEM involvement in their production.

Another important aspect of this is that if you want to be a mapper of the market rather than a market maker, and you want your descriptive charts to serve as a rough guide to the market and not an arbitrary yardstick of pianos measured in inches, the worst possible way you could go about your task is to interject GOOD, BETTER, and BEST in your descriptions. The consumer looking for a quick fix on quality can rightly quote you as saying that the unproven X i better than then Y's and Z's that have a decades-old track record of product quality. And you know what -- it won't be a misquote.

Also, you have to consider retailer games. What's to stop a retailer from ordering a 12' long banner to adorn his store wall stating his unknown unproven Euorasian hybrid X has been judged superior to Y and Z.

Fine's been around the block. He's been misquoted by plenty of retailers and even by some makers, like Perzina. He says he doesn't want his charts taken to literally. If that's the case, he's made a really poor choice of words.

Let's see if Steve gets back and if he has anything to say about the basis of judging good, better, and best.
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#1957608 - 09/11/12 07:52 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
Guapo Gabacho Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/23/11
Posts: 445
Loc: Rio Grande Valley of Texas
Originally Posted By: turandot
Let's see if Steve gets back and if he has anything to say about the basis of judging good, better, and best.


It worked for Sears.


Edited by Guapo Gabacho (09/11/12 07:53 PM)
_________________________
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#1957611 - 09/11/12 08:04 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Larry Fine Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/06
Posts: 32
Loc: Boston, MA
I guess it's time for me to step in and answer some of the comments made here.

As I've said many times in the past, for a number of years now, especially since beginning the publication of Piano Buyer, my ratings have not been based on detailed inspection of pianos by piano technicians. The ratings are not intended as judgments about the performance of the pianos. They are intended only as a road map for those who are encountering the piano business for the first time and don't know one brand from another. They are not scientific, and I can't provide data to support them. They are based largely on price, secondarily by features, country of origin, and a few other factors, and then sometimes tweaked a little for subjective reasons, to show how the brands are generally positioned in the marketplace by those who sell them. Occasionally, where I think a brand is on the fence between levels or categories, I may use my own sense of where it "deserves" to be, but for the most part, it's an attempt to describe rather than judge the positions of the brands. After all, in most cases, neither manufacturers nor dealers pretend that every piano they make is the best in the world. They position them by price, features, and company attributes. So why is it wrong for me to try to do the same as best I can? As I say in the commentary that accompanies the chart, the actual performance of a piano may not follow exactly the position in the chart, as the price and position of a piano also takes into account factors other than performance that are important to consumers, such as name recognition, resale value, track record, warranty service, and yes, even bias for or against particular countries. But for me to get into the business of judging pianos solely on performance would open a can of worms I don't care to get into -- much too subjective, and much too time consuming. Instead, I run reviews by pianists in Piano Buyer, and hope to increase the frequency of such reviews.

Reasonable people can disagree with how all this is presented, but when I ask those who disagree to show me their own chart, they generally either eventually tell me that their disagreements are minor, or they throw up their hands and say it's impossible to do this because it's too complicated. I'm very much open to feedback, and I use that feedback extensively to experiment with better ways to present this information, which accounts for changes I make from time to time.

As the piano industry has changed over the years, and consumer and performance grade pianos have come closer together in quality, place of origin, and other factors, I felt I needed a third category to adequately describe the piano market. At first I called it "Professional Grade", but I got a lot of feedback that that term was not appropriate, in part because it might be construed as being better than Performance Grade! Therefore, I decided to use a term -- Intermediate Grade -- that did not carry the baggage of that connotation. I'm open to other names if you don't like that one. I used Good, Better, Best only to differentiate one level from another, just as I have terms to indicate those differences in the Consumer and Performance Grades. Again, if you don't like those, suggest others.

There are several rather obscure or new brands that are listed because their manufacturers or distributors have asked me to do so. It makes it easier for their dealers to sell when the brands are listed. Where I feel I have a good sense of where the brands fit in, I'm happy to oblige. Some are more difficult to fit in than others.

Norbert is right that there can be big differences even within a single brand, something I mention myself in the commentary that accompanies the chart. In some cases, I've split a brand into various parts, especially for the more popular brands, or where the differences are truly huge. I don't like to do this too much, however, as it can lead to an unwieldy chart whose detail becomes counterproductive.

As for prices, the MSRP is whatever the manufacturer gives me. The SMP is always computed the same way: I take the price a small dealer is likely to pay (that is, not a price discounted for quantity purchase), add an amount for freight and setup (and, if necessary, for duty), and then mark it up by a standard profit margin, the same for every brand. This forms a benchmark price I called SMP. Actual selling prices are usually at a discount to this price. There are, of course, many situations that could result in a rock-bottom price for a particular buyer, such as when a dealer just wants to unload an expensive piano that has been unsold for a long time, where a dealer buys a piano at a closeout price from the manufacturer, etc. But it would be wrong for me to try to publish such prices, as it would create unrealistic expectations and be unfair to everyone.

Those who harbor some suspicions about someone who both rates products and takes advertising are not wrong to be suspicious. But suspicion does not equal guilt. As I told this group when I first launched Piano Buyer three years ago, I was led to this approach because people were stealing my work and putting it up in one form or another on their websites, and consumers were no longer buying books but instead wanted their information for free. So I had a choice of either accepting advertising or going out of business. Since most pianos were by now made quite well and were no longer defective as many once had been, I decided that I could accept advertising without it actually affecting my decisions. However, it's not wrong to scrutize what I do to make sure I stay honest.

I can assure you that Steve's comments are not given any more importance than anyone else's. And to his credit, his comments have been very impartial. It's not unusual for him to speak highly of a competitive product. The idea that I am rating the brands he sells more highly than other brands doesn't even pass the smell test. In new pianos, Steve sells Kawai and Pramberger (but not J.P. Pramberger). Neither of these has changed ratings significantly.

Actually, the idea that I would favor Steve, who doesn't pay me anything, doesn't make any sense. If I were corrupt, it would be the advertisers I would favor. But which of the 50 paying advertisers would I favor? I can't favor all of them, or even more than a few of them, because their interests are in conflict with one another. Periodically, a few manufacturers or distributors do lobby me for changes to their ratings. Some of these have been big advertisers. Although I'm always willing to revisit ratings, in most cases their petitions have been rejected as being unjustified. When this happens, I do risk losing thousands of dollars in revenue, but I decided a long time ago, that I could not be in this business unless I maintained a strict separation in my own mind between ratings and advertising, regardless of the consequences. Those who know me, and in whom I confide, know that I have done this.

If one wants to find corruption here, there are undoubtedly a number of small irregularities, inconsistencies, or changes that one could find to try to support one's charge. But taken as a whole, and considering the tremendous advertising support of a wide variety of manufacturers and distributors, I think I've done a pretty good job. Indeed, the industry would not support me if they thought my ratings were up to the highest bidder.

As has been noted elsewhere, most of the rating changes in this edition have been the addition and deletion of categories and levels, resulting in a slight rearrangement, but little of significance otherwise. As has been mentioned here, this is always a work in progress, reflecting both changes in the piano industry and experiments with better ways of presenting information.

However, I never claim to have the final answer, and there's nothing wrong with people criticizing the ratings, both the specific ratings and the way they are presented. But I wish some of the most vocal critics would contact me directly with their criticisms and offer practical alternative visions and suggestions. And it's completely unnecessary to imagine the worst sort of corruption in order to criticize or disagree.

I find that many questions and criticisms would be answered if people would read the commentary that accompanies the rating chart, and the introduction to the price information. Both of those writings also change slightly from time to time.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this long response.
_________________________
Publisher and Editor, Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer
and Author, The Piano Book

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#1957630 - 09/11/12 08:55 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: turandot
Let's see if Steve gets back and if he has anything to say about the basis of judging good, better, and best.
The basis is the same as it has always been, and the explanation for the rankings has appeared in, I believe, every edition of the Piano Buyer. And the relative positions of the pianos in those three categories is the same as the previous edition and probably the one before that and the one before that(with the edition of two new models).

I find the discussion about the "good, better, best" terms beyond ludicrous. IMO the only possible reason for discussion/complaints about words like those is the desire to be argumentative. Those are just about the simplest and most straight forward words imaginable. If Fine had used A,B, and C then I'm sure the complainers would object also.

Whenever a major class has been broken down in subclasses(which has usually been the case)those words have in effect been there even if Fine used different adjectives or columns or horizontal lines to separate subclasses.



Edited by pianoloverus (09/11/12 09:35 PM)

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#1957635 - 09/11/12 09:02 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: turandot
Another important aspect of this is that if you want to be a mapper of the market rather than a market maker, and you want your descriptive charts to serve as a rough guide to the market and not an arbitrary yardstick of pianos measured in inches, the worst possible way you could go about your task is to interject GOOD, BETTER, and BEST in your descriptions. The consumer looking for a quick fix on quality can rightly quote you as saying that the unproven X i better than then Y's and Z's that have a decades-old track record of product quality. And you know what -- it won't be a misquote.
It has already been pointed out in this thread that the two new pianos you mention have an asterisk next to their listing to indicate the sampling of pianos was small.

Even if, for the sake of argument, anything you said had any validity, it would still be the equivalent of complaining about a speck of dirt on some pristine beach. Complaining about the type of font used in the book would be equally important.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/11/12 09:04 PM)

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#1957707 - 09/12/12 12:57 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Larry Fine]
rlinkt Offline
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Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 320
Loc: CA
Statement retracted. I am glad I visited all the dealers around.


Edited by rlinkt (09/15/12 01:38 AM)

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#1957718 - 09/12/12 02:27 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Larry Fine]
turandot Offline
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Registered: 01/27/07
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Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
for a number of years now, especially since beginning the publication of Piano Buyer, my ratings have not been based on detailed inspection of pianos by piano technicians. The ratings are not intended as judgments about the performance of the pianos. They are intended only as a road map for those who are encountering the piano business for the first time and don't know one brand from another. They are not scientific, and I can't provide data to support them. They are based largely on price, secondarily by features, country of origin, and a few other factors, and then sometimes tweaked a little for subjective reasons, to show how the brands are generally positioned in the marketplace by those who sell them. Occasionally, where I think a brand is on the fence between levels or categories, I may use my own sense of where it "deserves" to be, but for the most part, it's an attempt to describe rather than judge the positions of the brands.


This is only one person's opinion, or actually only the opinion of a nameless avatar with a mutt's face, but in my experience, the more unsophisticated the audience one is writing to, the more one has to guard against reducing comparisons to one-word descriptors such as good, better, and best. Those terms do not suggest price, brand legacy, or the intended positioning by a manufacturer. They strongly suggest product quality.

In the absence of any attempt to measure product quality through technical inspection and performance of different samples, I think these terms are inappropriate and misleading, all of the commentary that explains the groupings on other pages notwithstanding. You state that you are writing to an audience with little piano sophistication. This is exactly the audience over which these one-word quality descriptors will exert the strongest gravitational pull, and in cases like this, "good" will not be perceived as good, but simply the bottom of the barrel in terms of the grouping.

Quote:
There are several rather obscure or new brands that are listed because their manufacturers or distributors have asked me to do so. It makes it easier for their dealers to sell when the brands are listed. Where I feel I have a good sense of where the brands fit in, I'm happy to oblige. Some are more difficult to fit in than others.


This is what caught my eye. I felt the original professional category was a hodgepodge of proven performers such as Yamaha C and Kawai RX and some minor European brands that used manufacturing opportunities in other countries to cut costs. It seemed an odd mix, but the category also seemed like a transitional step that was part of a work in progress.

The inclusion now of some (as you say) obscure and/or new brands in this issue gave me the feeling that the new category was not becoming any more coherent. The positioning of these new brands in the 'best' category led me to question Steve as to the basis of evaluation. It seemed unlikely that it was track record since there was none. Nor did brand legacy seem important since each new entrant involved an OEM partnership with or ownership by an Asian manufacturer who did not share in the brand's legacy. My guess was that it came down to price positioning, bias toward European makers, and pressure from those European makers heavily into cost-cutting sublines that involve such overseas partnerships -- manufacturers who wanted their latest wares displayed in your publication. I will admit to a likely bias against these arrangements, but would add that the bias is based on a certain boredom with successive waves of European-branded Eurasian hybrids that have achieved little penetration in the marketplace you seek to "describe".

To see artist-level pianos from Yamaha and Kawei with extremely strong track records of performance and durability in tough placements such as studios, teaching institutions, and performance venues pushed aside for new unproven Eurasian concoctions galled me, and in all honesty still does. That's not to say that those pianos don't have appeal, but that the arrangements under which they are made don't seem to have much permanence.
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#1957799 - 09/12/12 10:49 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Larry Fine Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/06
Posts: 32
Loc: Boston, MA
Over the years, I have experimented with many different levels of detail in these charts. In the fourth edition of The Piano Book, I used an extensive rating system to rate on the basis of various factors. I found that people simply did not read it. The least sophisticated buyers told me they wanted something simpler, even if it glossed over the details. It's very easy to criticize my rating system, but much harder to come up with a better one that people will actually use. I have challenged many people in the industry to come up with one, and have yet to receive it. If you think you can do better, then show me. I would welcome the suggestions.

Some of the obscure brands that have been added to the Intermediate Grade pianos are brands that are partially made in Asia and then completed in Europe by established European manufacturers who have been in business for centuries. The fact that these brands are not well known should not disqualify them from appearing in the charts. How to classify these pianos of hybrid origin has long been a problem for me, and the adding of the Intermediate Grade has allowed me to classify them in a reasonable fashion. I do think that the fact that they are completed in Europe instead of being made entirely in Asia does add to their quality, and of course adds to their cost. Whether the extra cost is worth it or not, I'll leave to the consumer to decide. Turandot feels that their lack of track record should disqualify them from this high a rating. I feel otherwise because of the European maker behind them and involved in the actual production. Turandot's position is not unreasonable, but the price that these pianos fetch in the marketplace suggests that those who buy and sell them do not agree.

I don't agree that it's misleading to use the terms Good, Better, Best, any more than it's misleading to use Good Quality, High Quality, and Highest Quality for the different levels of Performance-Grade pianos. Generally speaking, more expensive pianos are of higher quality than less expensive ones. Depending on one's definition of quality, this correlation may be more or less perfect, but there is a strong correlation in any case. My chart, and the terms I use, reflect this reality. Again, my goal isn't to judge exactly to what extent this may or may not be true with respect to any particular brand (which in any case is highly subjective and can't really be proven), but simply to reflect the way the brands are presented in the market. I realize that this may not satisfy some piano aficionados who are looking for a hard-hitting critique, but they're not my audience for this chart.

Let me say again that Steve had nothing to do with any of this. Although he's listed on my masthead as Contributing Editor, he actually is not much involved anymore with the publication, as he is busy with other endeavors. I consult with him occasionally about particular articles that are submitted for publication, or about sales practices, dealer agreements, and other details of the piano business. Also, you should know that new pianos represent only a very small percentage of the sales of his full-line music store. Although newcomers to this site might be swayed by the suggestion that I would twist the rating chart to benefit him, those who have observed my conduct over the last 25 years should know better. I'm actually in touch on a regular basis with many dealers, many of whom I count as my friends. Collectively, they sell just about every brand on the market. I would be hard pressed to come up with a chart that would somehow benefit all of them.
_________________________
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and Author, The Piano Book

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#1957815 - 09/12/12 11:28 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
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Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4234
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
I do think that the fact that they are completed in Europe instead of being made entirely in Asia does add to their quality, and of course adds to their cost. Whether the extra cost is worth it or not, I'll leave to the consumer to decide.


Wages in Europe are considerably higher than in Asia. The quality of the components in the instrument does not change; simply the location of assembly.

Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
Turandot feels that their lack of track record should disqualify them from this high a rating.

One thing Turandot and I agree upon. How can an unknown unproven brand in the marketplace be held up to a higher level of listings than a brand with an already proven track record?

Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
I feel otherwise because of the European maker behind them and involved in the actual production. Turandot's position is not unreasonable, but the price that these pianos fetch in the marketplace suggests that those who buy and sell them do not agree.


Using this mindset I can now take my Toyota in parts and have Mercedes assemble the car which then becomes of higher quality (somehow) and a higher price? Just because things are more expensive doesn’t mean they are better quality. This is an absurd rationalization/justfication….
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#1957827 - 09/12/12 11:48 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Double post


Edited by pianoloverus (09/12/12 01:19 PM)

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#1957832 - 09/12/12 11:56 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
I do think that the fact that they are completed in Europe instead of being made entirely in Asia does add to their quality, and of course adds to their cost. Whether the extra cost is worth it or not, I'll leave to the consumer to decide.


Wages in Europe are considerably higher than in Asia. The quality of the components in the instrument does not change; simply the location of assembly.
Your statement makes it sound like you don't think cratsmanship or amount/quality of factory prep have anything to do with the quality of a piano. I think design, quality of the components, and craftsmanship are all part of a piano's quality.

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
Turandot feels that their lack of track record should disqualify them from this high a rating.

One thing Turandot and I agree upon. How can an unknown unproven brand in the marketplace be held up to a higher level of listings than a brand with an already proven track record?
No one seemed to complain when Fazioli, after a very short track record, was placed in the absolute highest level...far higher than the pianos you're discussing. Similarly, Mason Hamlin was placed in the second highest level after a short track record.

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
I feel otherwise because of the European maker behind them and involved in the actual production. Turandot's position is not unreasonable, but the price that these pianos fetch in the marketplace suggests that those who buy and sell them do not agree.


Using this mindset I can now take my Toyota in parts and have Mercedes assemble the car which then becomes of higher quality (somehow) and a higher price? Just because things are more expensive doesn’t mean they are better quality. This is an absurd rationalization/justfication….
I don't think an analogy between building cars and pianos is particularly good. I think building a piano is more than putting the parts together like a jig saw puzzle.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/12/12 11:58 AM)

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#1957846 - 09/12/12 12:30 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4234
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada


Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think design, quality of the components, and craftsmanship are all part of a piano's quality.


As the publication has little in the way to do with your involvement the point is moot.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think building a piano is more than putting the parts together like a jig saw puzzle.


This statement simply reveals an incomplete knowledge of the manufacturing industry over the last century and a half.
_________________________
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www.silverwoodpianos.com
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1957864 - 09/12/12 01:13 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think design, quality of the components, and craftsmanship are all part of a piano's quality.
As the publication has little in the way to do with your involvement the point is moot.
The point was you seemed to say that craftsmanship was not part of a piano's quality.

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think building a piano is more than putting the parts together like a jig saw puzzle.
This statement simply reveals an incomplete knowledge of the manufacturing industry over the last century and a half.
So one would have to conclude you think that building a piano is the equivalent of putting together a jig saw puzzle.

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#1957906 - 09/12/12 02:48 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
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Loc: Surrey, B.C.
I think there are a couple of issues here worth debating. [proposing a civil way.. ]

The first is "how" ratings are actually done and on what basis the results are being produced.

Quote:
But for me to get into the business of judging pianos solely on performance would open a can of worms I don't care to get into -- much too subjective, and much too time consuming.


While this is suitable for Mr. Fine and his publication, it may not be same for others.

Judging pianos on "performance" is IMHO exactly where it's at.
It's not the only factor to consider but a very important and to about 90% of our own customers.

I don't take a car apart before buying it - I test drive it.

Sure this is "subjective" but you can't create "objectivity" by simply saying "choice is always subjective anyways"

To me, this is the nature of the beast being an "instrument"
What good is it if the instrument's 'quality' is first class - but its sound as is perceived by the individual buyer - is not?

By same token, one can of course discuss "built quality" but this has so many separate aspects to it that one would be required to basically take a whole piano apart.

Some makers have done exactly this, perhaps still doing it, checking on their competitors "what is what" and how they can improve on their own learning curve.

Again and with all respect,I highly doubt this has happened concerning any of the pianos moved around by the new ratings.

So, if it's not "performance" or "built quality" - what exactly is it then?

Good sound, like good food does not fall from the sky but is the summary of everything else happening: design ["recipe"..] quality components [fresh ingredients..] and execution [chef].

When it comes to these qualities [based on personal taste of course... ;)] one simply can't fake things any longer.

"Performance" or "sound" of a piano of is often all the average shopper cares to know. Especially when based on certain price point...

This is not a criticism of Mr. Fine, far from it - but simply pointing out that results can be obtained by using different yardsticks. With different focus on things.

May each choose his/her own.

The second point I like to make is equally important if not more so.

Ratings can be made using different yardsticks but it should not occur that pianos of lower tier groups have more appealing tonality, dynamic range and musical appeal than those perhaps placed above them.

The pianist used by Piano Buyer in its 2010 edition called the new Ritmüller grands "hand down favorite" among all others tested.

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/e8ffb87c#/e8ffb87c/276

This is exactly what drew our attention to the brand, later concurring with it and coming to same conclusion of our own.

Many of our customers have as well.

In the new fall 2012 edition, Ritmüller now became suddenly downgraded although not a single thing has changed with any of their pianos.

The splitting of "Professional Pianos" into 3 further sub-groups "best" - "better" - "good" puts more visual distance between those and those within Consumer Grade pianos, something appearing to benefit some - but not others.

Creating even more confusion than possibly existed before...

It is indeed very difficult to create "ratings" for musical instruments and I certainly don't envy Mr. Fine's job.

They don't do it involving other instruments be they guitars, violins, church organs or clarinets.

In my opinion, everybody should make their choice as they see fit. There's no trick or shortcut around that.

Based on individually preference re "sound" and "performance" even among same brand instruments, the answer is never easy.

Finally, apologies to Steve Cohen who is in fact not a J.Pramberger dealer. It is also nice for Mr Fine to confirm that he is not directly involved in the ratings.

Let's move on.

May I finally pose a video of a pianist who doesn't seem to give a damn about any of this.

It inspired me - hoping it will you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu5LobqzgqY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (09/12/12 03:54 PM)
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#1957935 - 09/12/12 03:55 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Norbert
Piano Buyer, in its 2010 edition mentioned that among small grands, the new Lothar Thomma 148 Ritmüller grand was deemed a "favorite" - this apparently on a "musical test" basis.
You're confusing the review by a one or two people of a specific model in a special article on very small grands with the Piano Buyer ratings. You've often said that different models of a given maker are of different quality(for their size). However, it seems like you want the review(which was separate from Fine ratings)of one model to apply to all the Perzina models.

Originally Posted By: Norbert
The splitting of "Professional Pianos" into 3 further sub-groups "best" - "better" - "good" puts more visual distance between those and Consumer Grade pianos, something benefiting some but not others.
The second major class of pianos(called Professional Grade in the Spring 2012 and now called Intermediate)has been divided into subgroups in the past. As was already mentioned on this thread, this was done with a horizontal line just the way it was done for subgroups of consumer grade pianos. This was the case in the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 editions and possibly other editions(I don't have every edition). So the division of the second major grouping into sub categories is nothing new.

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Apologies to Steve Cohen, he is indeed not a J.Pramberger dealer, a make that appeared suddenly - and without any obvious reason - to be upgraded in the new edition.
But, as has already been mentioned previously on this thread, Pramberger's position relative to other makes hasn't changed. The only thing that happened was that the entire top tier of Consumer Grade pianos became the bottom tier of Intermediate.

While this whole sale movement(but not the division into subgroups) might give the impression that something had changed to the most naive reader, any reasonably intelligent PB reader can see that the relative position hasn't changed. If they don't see this it can certainly be pointed out by a dealer/salesperson.





Edited by pianoloverus (09/12/12 04:06 PM)

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#1957939 - 09/12/12 04:02 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
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Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Pianoloverus:

Quote:

You're confusing the review by a one person of a specific model in a special article on very small grands with the Piano Buyer ratings. You've often said that different models of a given maker are of different quality(for their size). However, it seems like you want the review(which was separate from Fine ratings) of one model to apply to all the Perzina models...

The second major class of pianos(called Professional Grade in the Spring 2012 and now called Intermediate)has been divided into subgroups in the past. As was already mentioned on this thread, this was been done with a horizontal line. This was the case in the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 editions and possibly other editions(I don't have every edition). So the division of the second major grouping into sub categories is nothing new...


It has already been mentioned several times on this thread, Pramberger's position relative to other makes hasn't changed. The only thing that happened was that the entire top tier of Consumer Grade pianos became the bottom tier of Intermediate...

While this whole sale movement(but not the division into subgroups) might give a different impression to the most naive reader, any reasonably intelligent PB reader see that the relative position hasn't changed. If they don't see this it can certainly be pointed out by a dealer/saleperson.


Mr.Fine: Thank you for your clarification in these matters! thumb

Plov: how'd you like the video?

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (09/12/12 04:20 PM)
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#1957955 - 09/12/12 04:36 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Larry Fine]
master88er Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/07
Posts: 886
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
DISCLOSURE: I have known Larry since the inception of “the Piano Book” publication in the 1980’s. I have been involved with him first as the national wholesale representative for two German companies, and simultaneously as a retail dealer who, amongst many others, Larry sometimes asks for opinion. I do advertise on both the website and the publication for my retail operation. I consider Larry to be one of my colleagues, and until a recent death, we shared a common close friend.

All of the above being said, Larry and I have agreed and (sometimes vehemently) disagreed on his ratings and some of his comments and conclusions about various brands. Over the nearly 30 years I have known him, I have never seen him alter a review or opinion (once he has formed it) to benefit anyone or any entity. In fact, even in the face of serious legal threats from manufacturers or other entities, he has never deliberately altered a review for benefit or detriment to a given brand, manufacturer or entity. To imply such is not only misguided, but also shows complete ignorance of Larry’s character. Furthermore, while one may completely disagree (I’ll get to that in a minute) with content of the publication, personal shots at Steve Cohen, who has – for better or worse- been Larry’s voice on this forum, are unwarranted and do not give any credence to one’s arguments of errors in ratings. I fully support Larry and Steve, even though I am about to lambast them for the most recent “ratings.”

I respectfully suggest that, knowing the piano landscape fairly well, to me this is the most puzzling of ratings I have seen published by Larry. IMHO, Turandot is correct that there seems to be a double standard when it comes to some of the ratings. In my arguments with Larry, often brand “prestige, history and other factors” are the explanation I have gotten for one brand being rated over another. In other cases, I have provided evidence of shenanigans in representations made by manufacturers to Larry that I personally know are not true, often by having visited the factories, and yet the manufacturers claims are extolled as a virtue when considering their rating.

For example, Larry’s recent post states that there is some weight given to alleged finished assembly being done in Europe. In several cases, I know for a fact that a completed piano arrives at a factory in Europe from elsewhere, is never opened, and then the piano is shipped stateside with a label “made in Europe” or even “made in Germany.” For years, I have complained that the problem with Larry’s ratings on some famed European pianos and sub-brands is the fact that he has NEVER stepped foot in one of the factories. I let him know, rather vehemently, that I thought the expose he did on the “changes at Steinway” in the last publication was nothing short of blind proselytizing, especially considering that most of what he writes is absorbed by his audience as dogma. Most of us in the retail side of the industry, having heard this from consumers shopping in our stores, think of Larry as more investigative than he actually is. And in my opinion, this is to the detriment of the consumer.

So why, IMO, is this rating more feather ruffling than others in the past? Certain “new” brands were given a status that Larry refused to give to others with a far greater track record. Others, with a proven track record, were demoted for no apparent reason. One brand (that I represent) that has, IMHO, one of the most, uh, service intensive – un-pianistic instruments saw its ratings improve on the very product I describe, yet, another (that I represent) has been consistent in its quality, has little service issues, and is enjoying improved market penetration only to have its rating lowered.

Additionally perplexing, as others have mentioned far more eloquently than I can, the terms “good, better, best” have a marketing connotation sure to influence the very consumers that Larry’s publication attracts.
I will say that much of what Larry writes before and after the actual ratings, which explains things like asterisks, and how to use the charts, either gets ignored by most consumers, or misquoted (at best). But, I think this puts an onus on the publication to be more careful in its choice of words AND ratings. As we all know, word choices and even background color go a long way to subliminally affect a consumer’s preference.

We all have our brand preferences, even Larry. Retailers naturally want to see the products they represent at the top of the heap with their competitors bouncing along the bottom. Again, I think Larry is consumed by fairness and even dealing. But these ratings puzzle me given the historical nature of discussions with Larry about various brands.
_________________________
Russell I. Kassman
R.KASSMAN, Purveyor of Fine Pianos
Berkeley, CA

FORMER US Rep.for C.Bechstein

SF Area Dealer: SteingraeberGrotrianSauterEstoniaKayserburgBaldwinBrodmannRitmller
www.rkassman.com
russell@rkassman.com
510.558.0765

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#1957982 - 09/12/12 06:01 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Larry Fine]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7304
Loc: torrance, CA
Mr. Fine,

Thanks for your further clarification. Though I no more agree with he Intermediate ratings than I did a day ago, I certainly understand your position. You have communicated it very clearly.

Originally Posted By: Larry Fine


Some of the obscure brands that have been added to the Intermediate Grade pianos are brands that are partially made in Asia and then completed in Europe by established European manufacturers who have been in business for centuries. The fact that these brands are not well known should not disqualify them from appearing in the charts. How to classify these pianos of hybrid origin has long been a problem for me, and the adding of the Intermediate Grade has allowed me to classify them in a reasonable fashion. I do think that the fact that they are completed in Europe instead of being made entirely in Asia does add to their quality, and of course adds to their cost. Whether the extra cost is worth it or not, I'll leave to the consumer to decide. Turandot feels that their lack of track record should disqualify them from this high a rating. I feel otherwise because of the European maker behind them and involved in the actual production. Turandot's position is not unreasonable, but the price that these pianos fetch in the marketplace suggests that those who buy and sell them do not agree.


My comments about the Euraisan hybrids were directed to the following aspects of their manufacture:

1) The agreements under which they are produced do not have any permanence. It has happened that a European piano maker has begun with one OEM partner and for whatever reason changed to another. Furthermore, it has been known to happen that a Eurasian hybrid originally described as undergoing final regulation or somehow being 'finished off' in Germany (that pesky German word: fertigung) has discontinued that practice at a later date in favor of some sort of claimed oversight at the OEM partner's plant. It's my opinion that these changes sometimes result in product inconsistency, and that that inconsistency is to the detriment of the brand in gaining any permanent traction in the market. Obviously, some of these brands have undersold your own opinion of them.

2) Whereas it is often claimed that the highest level makers manufacture pianos to an absolute standard without attention to the costs incurred (not saying that's true, just that it's often claimed), no-one would reasonably make that claim about the European sub-lines that involve any OEM. It is completely obvious that in pursuing an arrangement to manufacture a Eurasian hybird, a higher level European manufacturer is looking closely at costs and shopping accordingly for its OEM arrangements. I'm not as sure as you that the patina of brand legacy should rub off as easily on these sublines, and personally I would approach these products with more cynicism than you apparently do.

Now, I fully understand the challenge part of your posts -- the point about it being easier to lob criticism than to come up with a solution. I don't have a suggestion for you on how to improve your Intermediate category because I don't know what's inside your mind about the total structure of the piano market that you wish to present. Since it's your work, all the parts need to add up to your total concept, and frankly I don't know what that concept is at this point except that it doesn't necessitate evaluation of the playing characteristics of a minimum number of samples and doesn't involve a technical inspection.

However, I would strongly suggest that you place the Eurasian hybridss in a class of their own, even if that means booting Yamaha, Kawai, and Boston back to the consumer grade category where for years they occupied the catbird seat. I don't think their sales were impeded by their placement then, and I don't think their sales would be impeded by that placement now. I just can't see how what is represented by Yamaha, Kawai, and Boston has much in common with what is represented by Eurasian sublines 'built' in Europe.

Concerning Steve cohen, I don't know the specifics of what put Steve under the microscope once again, but I can't see how the ratings could be of any assistance to him. If anything, I'd think the Intermediate grouping would cause him to bite his tongue.
_________________________
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The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1958086 - 09/12/12 10:58 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
I know for a fact that a completed piano arrives at a factory in Europe from elsewhere, is never opened, and then the piano is shipped stateside with a label “made in Europe” or even “made in Germany.”


If that is true, it is a serious violation of the law. That company could be slapped with penalties that likely would (and should) cause its bankruptcy.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1958099 - 09/12/12 11:44 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Larry Fine Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/06
Posts: 32
Loc: Boston, MA
A reply first to Russell:

Russell, thank you for defending my integrity.

You have many times over the recent years claimed that certain European makers were actually making their pianos in China though claiming otherwise, as you say in your post. Every time you have made such a claim, I have sought opinions from others who are knowledgeable about these companies to back up or refute your claim. At most I have gotten similar insinuations, but I have never gotten evidence I could go to court with. I mean that quite literally. It's one thing to tell your customers, or make statements on a Piano World forum. It's another thing for me to put it into print in a regular publication. I have to have convincing evidence or I will not be in business very long. I don't mind telling the truth in the face of threatened lawsuits when I have the evidence to back it up (as you alluded), but your statements alone do not constitute sufficient evidence. And in one recent situation, one of my colleagues who had been in one of the factories in question refuted your claim based on what he saw with his own eyes. I strongly suspect there is merit to some of your assertions, but proof is hard to come by, and in the absence of proof, I have to fall back to the manufacturer's own claim.

If manufacturers are trying to keep information from me, they're certainly going to do so if I visit the factory. Much better to rely on third parties who may catch them with their guard down.

As for Steinway, these changes I saw for myself in the factory. In addition, I have gotten quite a few reports from technicians who work almost exclusively on new Steinways about improvements they have seen. The vast majority of the reports have been positive. That said, I have also received a few reports that can only make one wonder what they were drinking at the factory that day. (Note that my rating of Steinway has not changed.)

Russell alludes to a brand whose rating was lowered, and I have received a number of emails about that. That brand is Ritmuller. This was a very difficult decision, and I don't feel entirely secure about it. I lowered it for two reasons. First, its price is generally lower than the brands in the upper level, and perhaps more consistent with the mid-level brands. Second, Ritmuller now has new "R" models that have lesser features, and prices closer to those of Pearl River pianos. I could have divided the brand into two different ratings, and may eventually have to, but I don't like to do that too much because it makes the chart more cumbersome. So I chose the compromise position of putting it into the mid-level position. Frankly, if I had left it in this position (where it was until last year), I doubt anyone would have batted an eyelash. But because I lowered the rating, many are up in arms.

I'm not entirely comfortable with this decision because I like the Ritmuller pianos, and think that the transformation of the Ritmuller line over the last few years has been one of the more authentic and musically successful changes in the piano industry. But I felt that if I am going to describe the piano market rather than judge it, that to be consistent I had to rate the Ritmuller as a mid-level piano. I am open to further discussion about this.

I'm surprised that Good, Better, Best elicited so much consternation. It was an innocent attempt to use terms that were different from those used to differentiate the levels in Consumer and Performance grades. I still don't think there's anything wrong with those terms, but I'm open to suggestions of other terms.

Turandot: It's true that some of the OEM arrangements don't have permanence. But nothing in this world has absolute permanence, and ratings can change as necessary. I agree that European manufacturers won't put the same care and attention into these OEM pianos that they put into their regular line, but I do believe that European standards of acceptability do rub off to some extent on these instruments (provided, of course, that they actually work on the pianos, and it's not all smoke and mirrors), especially in the area of action installation and prep.

One of the threads that runs through our disagreements is that I'm trying to describe the piano market by the way that manufacturers and dealers position their pianos in the marketplace, whereas my critics are reading into it my approval that these positionings are justified. I'm resisting that role because I have found that this involves an overwhelming amount of subjectivity, and I think that I can be of more use to the consumer by describing the market than by imposing my own subjective opinions. I think my description of the market, though not the only version possible, is a reasonable one. Whether some brands are underpriced, overpriced, underappreciated, or overappreciated, is another story, one to be told by each dealer in his or her own way, and discovered by each consumer for him or herself.
_________________________
Publisher and Editor, Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer
and Author, The Piano Book

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#1958104 - 09/13/12 12:12 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
Quote:
Ten years (or so) ago Perry Knize bought a Grotrian Cabinet for $27K. Now they are nearly triple that price. What made them worth almost three times as much in such a short time span? That, too, is something I'd like to know.


here's your answer: they were never that cheap. that's not the price i paid, and the price i did pay (more) was already ridiculously below what every other dealer in the U.S. was selling that piano for.

that was an unusual situation, and can't be used to say that grotrian cabinet grands went up in cost 3x over in ten years. iirr, back in 2001, when i bought my piano, piano mill in boston, which was known for its honest dealings, good prices, no negotiating, was getting something like $38K for that piano. (i bet someone here has a better memory than i on this, but i believe the price was in that neighborhood.) MSRP at that time was around $54K, if memory serves.

the piano i bought originated in a piano showroom in germany and was never intended for the u.s. market. back at that time, i believe grotrian cabinet grands in germany did sell for around $27K. this was before the euro.

perhaps larry can speak to how the change to the euro affected european piano prices, but it seemed to me that prices went up a lot post-euro.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#1958128 - 09/13/12 01:44 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Larry Fine]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7304
Loc: torrance, CA
Mr. Fine,

Thank you again for taking the time to express your opinions in detail. You communicate very clearly. Your posts here are illuminating.

Quote:
I think my description of the market, though not the only version possible, is a reasonable one.


The purpose of offering feedback is to hold a different perspective to the light, not to persuade someone to write against the convictions he truly believes in. You are after all the author and the owner of your work. As I mentioned before, It's perfectly reasonable that your convictions flow intact into your writing, and that every category you structure should be in alignment with your overall concept of the piano market, whether I or anyone else agrees with it. Regardless of any clash of perspectives, I feel you have provided readers here a valuable service in deepening their understanding of what your ratings are and what they are not.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1958176 - 09/13/12 08:20 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: piqué]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: piqué
Quote:
Ten years (or so) ago Perry Knize bought a Grotrian Cabinet for $27K. Now they are nearly triple that price. What made them worth almost three times as much in such a short time span? That, too, is something I'd like to know.


here's your answer: they were never that cheap. that's not the price i paid, and the price i did pay (more) was already ridiculously below what every other dealer in the U.S. was selling that piano for.
And in addition, as I previously mentioned, the current price of the Cabinet Grotrian is nowhere as high(almost three times as much or 81K) as the poster said it is.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/13/12 09:57 AM)

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#1958430 - 09/13/12 04:23 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
Mike Carr Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 714
Loc: BANNED


Let me see if I got this right, when a publisher can’t sell enough books to retail customers to stay in business, switch customers and sell the retail shoppers to the industry, using the industry’s own facts, figures, and boilerplate to bolster content.

Base ratings on the publisher’s “reflections”, which apes the industry’s own perceptions, because actual performance or meaningful tests are “confusing” (the ratings seem to change every 5 minutes because someone objects or just can’t understand what the publisher is getting at, or is it really a marketing ploy to seem “fresh”?).

Cook up prices with a secret formula based on the industry’s own statistics while using industry msrp as chum, explain that while by definition a conflict of interest exists between the publisher and his new customers, er, just trust me, I’ve got it all straight in my mind . . .

When raked over the coals by various internet cynics, heart-eating competitors, crackpots and idle discontents (some almost priestly in their mien), the publisher, after a lengthy explanation ranging from confession and denial to accusation (musing about what one company is drinking), receives salvation and redemption until the next issue appears . . . Huh?

Mike
_________________________
smoke 'em if you got 'em

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#1958435 - 09/13/12 04:32 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
dsch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 325
Loc: florida
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
And in addition, as I previously mentioned, the current price of the Cabinet Grotrian is nowhere as high(almost three times as much or 81K) as the poster said it is.


Look again:
2012 Fall buyer's guide, p.213

Satin: $77.5K
Polished: $86K

It seems to me that you have a knee jerk response to contradict without checking. I would love to be grotesquely incorrect about this. Maybe then I could afford one!

These price increases take my breath away.


Edited by dsch (09/13/12 04:37 PM)

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#1958437 - 09/13/12 04:38 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Piano*Dad Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
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Loc: Williamsburg, VA
dsch,

SMP is then discounted in negotiation with the customer. This is not a normal "street price."
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1958484 - 09/13/12 06:00 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Mike Carr]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7304
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Mike Carr

When raked over the coals by various internet cynics, heart-eating competitors, crackpots and idle discontents (some almost priestly in their mien), the publisher, after a lengthy explanation ranging from confession and denial to accusation (musing about what one company is drinking), receives salvation and redemption until the next issue appears . . . Huh?

Mike


Mike,

The publisher was quite candid in explaining what his ratings were and weren't. He was also quite candid about the amount of trust he puts in the manufacturers he favors. People can make up their own mind how much weight they want to give to his apporach to the market. You can lead a horse to water, but.........................

Obviously, a professional analysis of a company within a market segment or an analysis of a whole market segment would never omit data about sales volume. This is how the market speaks, and it's pretty futile to overlook it unless you're just crusading for your own choices. In that respect alone, Mr. Fine's mapping of his market is quite different from a professional business analysis, especially since it purports to not factor in actual product quality but uses descriptors that can only refer to actual product quality. Good, better, and best cannot be seen to refer to quality of marketing, personal grooming, employee benefits, prestidigitation, or ability to control leaks to the ace investigative reporters from the industry press. grin If the market is said to shape itself according to the prices set by those who sell into it, it would seem necessary for purposes of analysis to see to what extent those who buy into it acquiesce with their wallets. At least that's what I think I learned in school. grin

Your questions about who the client really is and who or what the product really is are pertinent too. However, a man's work on which he puts his name and which he submits for public scrutiny deserves the courtesy of questions addressed directly to him, not an exhortation to stir up others before the trail goes cold. So if there really is something that Mr. Fine posted that isn't quite clear to you, ask him about it.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1958548 - 09/13/12 09:17 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Amaruk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 813
Loc: New England, USA
Let me ask this; why rank pianos at all? If we can't find a parameter that we can measure,, why not admit that no piano is "best"?

If not, then...

What language is best; German, English, or Mandarin?

What cousine is best; American, French, or Mexican?

What car brand is best; Toyota, BMW, or GM?
_________________________
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#1958566 - 09/13/12 09:56 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Amaruk]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Amaruk
Let me ask this; why rank pianos at all? If we can't find a parameter that we can measure,, why not admit that no piano is "best"?
I think that's one reason the piano rankings are given in groups.

Most would say an exact listing of every make in some ranking order would be impossible and unconvincing, but I do think there are some mostly agreed upon characteristics of good piano tone for example. Fazioli's website has a nice discussion of some of these: clarity, good sustain in the treble, dynamic range, etc. Although tonal characteristics like these cannot be measured or at least easily measured, I think experienced pianists can judge when a piano has good or poor sustain.

I also think that although some disagree with a few individual rankings (and seem to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about what they see as an incorrect ranking of a small number of pianos in the ratings chart), most people would not disagree with the relative rankings of pianos that are many levels(three or more) apart. This, I think, shows a broad brushed type of rankings is possible.

Kind of like saying one can't reasonably say if Bach is greater than Beethoven, but most would agree that Bach is greater than Blumenfeld.

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#1958570 - 09/13/12 10:08 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Amaruk]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6470
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Amaruk
Let me ask this; why rank pianos at all? If we can't find a parameter that we can measure,, why not admit that no piano is "best"?


Of course, there is no "best" piano.

BUT -

The MSRP for a Kawai RX-2BLK (5'10" - polished ebony) is $36,195,

The MSRP for a Shigeru Kawai SK2 (5'10" polished ebony) is $57,900.

Which piano is probably the "better" of the two?

Which piano does Kawai think is the better of the two?

Why do you suppose they think so? Could it have something to do with the higher quality of design and construction of the Shigeru?

BINGO !!! grin
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1958648 - 09/14/12 01:24 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
rlinkt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 320
Loc: CA
Somehow I feel a little more surprised after Mr. Fine's detailed explanation than before -- particularly about the Ritmuller. Disclosure: As a Ritmuller owner, I am biased.
Everything I have seen from Ritmuller's marketing is trying to position itself as a high end of the consumer pianos:
- "We build expensive pianos -- we just don't price them that way."
- Highlighting design by an ex-Bechstein designer
- The imagery in the ads are very consumer oriented than the more aspirational imagery from the pianos that are upmarket.

Now I am more perplexed why it moved down a notch ...

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#1958681 - 09/14/12 03:52 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
Mike Carr Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 714
Loc: BANNED
Turandot,

Courtesy tips from you? Er, when did you become the Emily Post of the internet? I didn’t think Larry needed an invitation from me to respond to anything I’ve said. This is a fairly informal message board, not the tryouts for the Yale debating team.

Not sure why my comments sparked your sudden reverence toward Larry’s candidness and the fact that he admits to publishing Piano Buyer. And “public scrutiny”? Come on. This isn't exactly the Senate. Even if there are a few posters wandering around in their bathrobes drinking gin.

And while Larry’s handwringing over where to place Ritmuller in the hall of stars may be admirable and candid, his statement, “That said, I have also received a few reports that can only make one wonder what they were drinking at the factory that day. (Note that my rating of Steinway has not changed.)” may give a better view of his impartiality than intended.

I mean, Larry is simply here showcasing his product, like all the other pros, answering a few questions, no big deal, perfectly respectable. You’re the one “galled” over Irmler and various hybrid pianos that Larry has pondered to rank in the firmament, I’m not. If Larry is "happy to oblige" a few manufacturers because it "makes it easier for their dealers to sell", why not I say, they’re paying him.

(your post was funny, though, I'll give you that)

Mike
_________________________
smoke 'em if you got 'em

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#1958704 - 09/14/12 06:22 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: carey]
Amaruk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 813
Loc: New England, USA
Originally Posted By: carey


Of course, there is no "best" piano.

BUT -

The MSRP for a Kawai RX-2BLK (5'10" - polished ebony) is $36,195,

The MSRP for a Shigeru Kawai SK2 (5'10" polished ebony) is $57,900.

Which piano is probably the "better" of the two?

Which piano does Kawai think is the better of the two?

Why do you suppose they think so? Could it have something to do with the higher quality of design and construction of the Shigeru?

BINGO !!! grin



I completely agree. But I much rather compare actual sales prices and that seems hard to obtain which is too bad. I am not a big fan of the silly MSRP discount game. In fact, it turns me off big time. The dealer that earned my business some 10 yrs ago did not engage in this. But they went out of business... frown



Edited by Amaruk (09/14/12 06:27 AM)
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#1958789 - 09/14/12 10:12 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Mike Carr]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7304
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Mike Carr
Turandot,

Courtesy tips from you? Er, when did you become the Emily Post of the internet?.....



It's hard for me to pin down exactly grin

Quote:
Not sure why my comments sparked your sudden reverence toward Larry’s candidness


They didn't.

I think you're attaching too much significance to form at the expense of substance. If there was a cue to the tone set in Mr. Fine's exchanges here, it came from him.

Your spark is undeniable, but doesn't usually lead to reverence for aything or anyone. grin




Edited by turandot (09/14/12 10:18 AM)
Edit Reason: dealing with laughter issues
_________________________
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The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1958797 - 09/14/12 10:53 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: piqué]
Grotriman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/04
Posts: 724
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: piqué
Quote:
Ten years (or so) ago Perry Knize bought a Grotrian Cabinet for $27K. Now they are nearly triple that price. What made them worth almost three times as much in such a short time span? That, too, is something I'd like to know.


here's your answer: they were never that cheap. that's not the price i paid, and the price i did pay (more) was already ridiculously below what every other dealer in the U.S. was selling that piano for.

that was an unusual situation, and can't be used to say that grotrian cabinet grands went up in cost 3x over in ten years. iirr, back in 2001, when i bought my piano, piano mill in boston, which was known for its honest dealings, good prices, no negotiating, was getting something like $38K for that piano. (i bet someone here has a better memory than i on this, but i believe the price was in that neighborhood.) MSRP at that time was around $54K, if memory serves.

the piano i bought originated in a piano showroom in germany and was never intended for the u.s. market. back at that time, i believe grotrian cabinet grands in germany did sell for around $27K. this was before the euro.

perhaps larry can speak to how the change to the euro affected european piano prices, but it seemed to me that prices went up a lot post-euro.


I did buy my Grotrian in Germany. It sold for 27K Euro which, in 2004 was around 0.8 dollars. The habit of bargaining for the price of a piano in Germany was not evident to me at that time. Beethoven piano in NYC was selling the same piano for the same converted price plus around $3K more for the shipping etc. Very reasonable I thought. Well worth the price as a Steinway A was selling for $60K at that time. And it was an A2 design, not the A4 (which they should have made, but I understand why not).



Edited by Grotriman (09/14/12 12:11 PM)
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Grotriman

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#1959037 - 09/14/12 08:39 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14266
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
As a Ritmuller owner, I am biased.


Everybody is entitled to his own bias - whatever make is chosen.

Dealers such as us are of course also deemed "biased" - it's fine by me - fully admitted....

But this is not the reason I'm writing this.

I'm writing this as a player and hobby pianist who has played literally thousand of pianos in his life.

The result of this is that I remain hopelessly "biased" towards this make: honestly believing Rit to be one of the musically most appealing pianos currently on the market.

In this case of Ritmueller, the piano actually happens to be designed by a someone very special.

Mr.Thomma is not only one of the most recognized designers alive but also the most respected piano designer and piano expert among German manufacturers themselves.

Just drop his name among any one of them - you'll see immediate respect, even reverence for the man.

Yes, I believe that Rit bringing out a cheaper line by same name "not" developed by Mr. Thomma was a mistake. I had made company aware of this plenty of times before.... cry

However to figure that Mr.Thomma - a very humble man by the way - by fully applying his talent and 40 years of dedicated industry experience would *not* be able to create a piano deserving better than "Mid-level Consumer Grade" - amounts to either not knowing the man - or the piano.

I happen to know both, remaining hopelessly 'biased' in this matter. Everybody else welcome to disagree or see things differently. thumb

If Rits are rated in top spot or at very bottom of things doesn't really seem to matter much at this stage.

Shoppers,especially the players among them can and actually - "do" make up their own mind.

But it's nice knowing not to be alone....

Norbert whome


Edited by Norbert (09/14/12 09:14 PM)
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#1959056 - 09/14/12 09:52 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
pianoloverus Online   content
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bi·as/ˈbīəs/
Noun:
Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

In other words, the word "bias" correctly used implies a non objective judgement.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/14/12 09:52 PM)

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#1959061 - 09/14/12 10:04 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Registered: 05/15/12
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
bi·as/ˈbīəs/
Noun:
Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

In other words, the word "bias" correctly used implies a non objective judgement.


Objectivity is irrelevant.


Edited by Minnesota Marty (09/14/12 10:06 PM)
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#1959065 - 09/14/12 10:23 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Minnesota Marty]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
bi·as/ˈbīəs/
Noun:
Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

In other words, the word "bias" correctly used implies a non objective judgement.


Objectivity is irrelevant.
I assume this is meant as humor.

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#1959089 - 09/15/12 12:16 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
turandot Offline
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Norbeert,

I feel your pain.

The Ritmullers of the last few years have helped Pearl River do a nice job of scraping itself off the floor of the North American market, and yes, they do sound really nice to my subjective taste (which is kind of important to me strangely enough).

Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
That brand is Ritmuller. This was a very difficult decision, and I don't feel entirely secure about it. I lowered it for two reasons. First, its price is generally lower than the brands in the upper level, and perhaps more consistent with the mid-level brands.


I don't feel Mr. Fine's pain.

The selling price which might enhance Ritmuller's appeal to consumers is apparently responsible in part for Ritmuller being penalized in the Fine ratings -- ratings which I understand are offered to novice buyer J. Q. Public to assist him in choosing a piano. Wait a minute! Does that sound right? grin Did I word that incorrectly? Is a value proposition somehow a negative for the novice buyer who knows nothing about pianos and their prices? Maybe he'd be better off paying more.

Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
Second, Ritmuller now has new "R" models that have lesser features, and prices closer to those of Pearl River pianos. I could have divided the brand into two different ratings, and may eventually have to, but I don't like to do that too much because it makes the chart more cumbersome. So I chose the compromise position of putting it into the mid-level position. Frankly, if I had left it in this position (where it was until last year), I doubt anyone would have batted an eyelash. But because I lowered the rating, many are up in arms.

I'm not entirely comfortable with this decision because I like the Ritmuller pianos, and think that the transformation of the Ritmuller line over the last few years has been one of the more authentic and musically successful changes in the piano industry. But I felt that if I am going to describe the piano market rather than judge it, that to be consistent I had to rate the Ritmuller as a mid-level piano. I am open to further discussion about this


Far better for the chart to be misleading than to be cumbersome.

Somehow I don't feel Mr. Fine's discomfort.

From a marketing point of view, PR might be pleased to purge the Pearl River name from the fallboard of any piano it sells in North America. Companies in all product fields transplant the name of a successful product to lesser products in order to shore up the general image of their products. I guess you could say PR is being greedy and deserves the wrist slap from Mr. Fine, but if a company follows up with a replacement name for the higher line product, things may work out. (Katyserberg to the ready?) Of course, that could incur another trip to the Pianobuyer penalty box. grin

As a retailer, you have a way to deal with any customer who brings Pianobuyer with him and shoves it your face as a Bible. Simply prepare a handout quoting Mr. Fine's posts on this thread. I don't think they are subject to copyright.. Chances are the customer doesn't want a map of the market which rates the 'qulaity' of asking prices.I think in most cases he's looking for a piano.
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#1959148 - 09/15/12 07:39 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
bi·as/ˈbīəs/
Noun:
Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

In other words, the word "bias" correctly used implies a non objective judgement.


Objectivity is irrelevant.
I assume this is meant as humor.


Not at all. The definition you listed, unquoted and without citation, implies neither objectivity, non-objectivity (?), nor subjectivity. However, you may interpret your own definition in any way you please.

Prejudice or bias may stem from many sources. That is why your use of "non-objective" is irrelevant. Your interpretation of your own definition is not used "correctly." The implication is merely yours alone. It is not fact, it is your conjecture.

The general use of the term "bias," within this thread, has most often been used "in favor of." Whether the bias is based on objectivity or not, is irrelevant, as the basis of the bias is left for the reader to assess.

Please don't instruct the readers how to read, think, interpret, or reason.
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#1959164 - 09/15/12 08:31 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Minnesota Marty]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
bi·as/ˈbīəs/
Noun:
Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

In other words, the word "bias" correctly used implies a non objective judgement.


Objectivity is irrelevant.
I assume this is meant as humor.


Not at all. The definition you listed, unquoted and without citation, implies neither objectivity, non-objectivity (?), nor subjectivity. However, you may interpret your own definition in any way you please.

Prejudice or bias may stem from many sources. That is why your use of "non-objective" is irrelevant. Your interpretation of your own definition is not used "correctly." The implication is merely yours alone. It is not fact, it is your conjecture.

The general use of the term "bias," within this thread, has most often been used "in favor of." Whether the bias is based on objectivity or not, is irrelevant, as the basis of the bias is left for the reader to assess.

Please don't instruct the readers how to read, think, interpret, or reason.
Well I certainly don't agree with anything you wrote in your post about the meaning of the definition I quoted. How the word "bias" was used in the thread doesn't mean it was used correctly.

As far as your "please don't instruct readers how to read, think, interpret, or reason" that is precisely what you did in your post. So it seems you want to tell others not to do something but you're allowed to do it.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/15/12 08:33 AM)

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#1959192 - 09/15/12 10:32 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Minnesota Marty]
turandot Offline
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Registered: 01/27/07
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Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty

The general use of the term "bias," within this thread, has most often been used "in favor of." Whether the bias is based on objectivity or not, is irrelevant, as the basis of the bias is left for the reader to assess.


Mr. Fine's experience goes back 35 years. For him to not have formed a bias toward cetain entities that he has come to trust would be completely unnatural. In fact, it would be preposterous. It would be equivalent to him stating: "I have been in this business 35 years, but I have learned nothing", Personally, I have never talked to anyone in the piano biz who did not have a bias based on experience.

The entities which Mr. Fine favors would certainly include some manufacturers to whom he would give the benefit of the doubt over the short term regarding their new products. It would also include the small cadre of technicians and retailers who he relies on to provide him with feedback that he can trust, that trust being essential since he has clearly stated that he does not visit piano factories to see what's going on with his own eyes and he does not personally perform technical evaluations.

Mr. Fine als made the comment that "ratings can change". In other words, what he in in favor of is subject to change based on a further accumulation of experience. This is also completely normal and reasonable.

The real question of PianoBuyer ratings is whether the structure of the charts, the introductory comments that directly precede the charts, and the descriptors in use within the charts jive with his statements on this thread that he is not ratings the pianos at all, but merely describing their positioning in the market. It's possible he's the prisoner of his own understanding of his language. It happens to writers.
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#1959213 - 09/15/12 11:50 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Nick Mauel Offline
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I would use the word 'appreciation' rather than bias in order to explain having a preference for what many have noted are pianos that are not only musical but a very good value.

After all, dealers must ultimately reach the same conclusions for the same reasons that piano consumers do when selecting a piano they will represent.

I find the Pianobuyer ratings to be less relevant than in the past. It's hard doing all of that tweaking for an industry that is constantly changing.

Gone are the days when this publication offered reviews based on a consensus of written reports of technicians from the field. How some of the newer brands are holding up after the sale I think would be of great value and interest to piano shoppers now as it was then.

Now, the constantly shifting ratings seem to be an attempt to issue a report card from within the industry itself. It is an endeavor necessary to 'keep everyone happy'. The publication seems to have to manage the industry as much as it strives to educate consumers. That is a very delicate balancing act to say the least.

On-site evaluations trusting one's own ears, eyes, and fingers are best. Larry himself has said to buy what you can see with your eyes and hear with your ears.
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#1959227 - 09/15/12 12:31 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
sophial Offline
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Perhaps it is "appreciation" for brands one represents and "bias" against what one does not ? Is it not perhaps a wee bit oversimplified to think that dealers have the entire array of piano brands to choose from and decide to select those they will carry based solely on their merits ? I always find it amusing to talk with dealers who carried a brand for years and praised it to the heavens only to hear them later, after they no longer represent that brand, trash it, or vice versa-- have listened to them run down a brand that now sits in their showroom and is suddenly wonderful. Oh the power of money to change minds... laugh

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#1959235 - 09/15/12 12:50 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: sophial]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6470
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: sophial
I always find it amusing to talk with dealers who carried a brand for years and praised it to the heavens only to hear them later, after they no longer represent that brand, trash it, or vice versa-- have listened to them run down a brand that now sits in their showroom and is suddenly wonderful. Oh the power of money to change minds... laugh


+1 grin
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#1959247 - 09/15/12 01:17 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: sophial]
Steve Cohen Offline
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Originally Posted By: sophial
Perhaps it is "appreciation" for brands one represents and "bias" against what one does not ? Is it not perhaps a wee bit oversimplified to think that dealers have the entire array of piano brands to choose from and decide to select those they will carry based solely on their merits ? I always find it amusing to talk with dealers who carried a brand for years and praised it to the heavens only to hear them later, after they no longer represent that brand, trash it, or vice versa-- have listened to them run down a brand that now sits in their showroom and is suddenly wonderful. Oh the power of money to change minds... laugh


I hate to say so, but in too many cases, you are right.

I have consulted a number of dealerships to help determine which brands would be optimal for them to represent in their market. While "performance" is a key issue, there are many other factors such as:


* Brands available to the dealership

* The density and relative affluence (demographics)of the marketplace

* What the competition carries and how those brands are presented

* The quality of the sales staff

* Margins needed to cover expenses and provide a return on investment for the owner(s)

* The goals of the owner

* "Voids" in the marketplace

* The inventory requirements to adequately represent the line and the capital or credit needs to carry that inventory.


It can be quite complex and involve both considerable objectivity and subjectivity.
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#1959251 - 09/15/12 01:36 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Nick Mauel]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Nick Mauel
Now, the constantly shifting ratings seem to be an attempt to issue a report card from within the industry itself.
Except the ratings aren't "constantly shifting" at all.

Virtually the only thing that changed in the latest edition was the names of some groups. A couple of makes moved up or down one notch and a few new makes or models were added, but except for that handful of changes/additions the relative positions of makes was just like the previous edition. In fact the relative position of the different makes has changed only a little over several years.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/15/12 01:37 PM)

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#1959253 - 09/15/12 01:42 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: turandot
Mr. Fine's experience goes back 35 years. For him to not have formed a bias toward cetain entities that he has come to trust would be completely unnatural.
What you call "bias"(not the correct word IMO) I would call understanding/experience/knowledge.

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#1959254 - 09/15/12 01:42 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
Steve Cohen Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Nick Mauel
Now, the constantly shifting ratings seem to be an attempt to issue a report card from within the industry itself.
Except the ratings aren't "constantly shifting" at all.

Virtually the only thing that changed in the latest edition was the names of some groups. A couple of makes moved up or down one notch and a few new makes or models were added, but except for that handful of changes/additions the relative positions of makes was just like the previous edition. In fact the relative position of the different makes has changed only a little over several years.


The claim that the ratings are "contantly shifting" is a myth. While there are small incremental changes, the overall ratings have evolved slowly, as has the industry.
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#1959255 - 09/15/12 01:46 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: carey]
rlinkt Offline
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The question that Mr. Fine posed is if there is better way to represent the market landscape for non-piano-savvy consumers (such as myself). Perhaps we should suggest some ideas here.

Here is my suggestion: Create a chart like the Gartner magic quadrants using the following dimensions:

- 'Perceived quality' vs. price
- The size of circle can be used to denote units sold, to give a sense of market acceptance of the product.

This is not too different from the current table, but it is a continuum rather than discrete tables, and gets rid of terms like 'Good' / 'Better' / 'Best', which to the uneducated consumer like me spell out absolute judgments rather than a nebulous personal perception.

PB did influence my initial leanings heavily. It was only a chance recommendation from a fellow forumite that led me to Kassman and the eventual purchase. While I do not know the numbers, I would guess that the vast majority of the piano purchases are made by the average non-piano playing consumers for their kids in this consumer segment. I can well imagine the financial impact that PB table can have on the dealers in this segment.

I would even suggest that PB does not need to deal with the high end much in that table, except to be comprehensive. People going for the high end are experts who know their preferences in an instrument, and do not need somebody to advise them about how the brands are positioning themselves. [This does not apply to the pricing table. That is an invaluable source of information.]


Edited by rlinkt (09/15/12 09:13 PM)

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#1959259 - 09/15/12 01:58 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
Larry Fine Offline
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Registered: 07/06/06
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Although my attempt is, as objectively as I can, to show the newcomer to the piano market how the manufacturers position their pianos in the market, I have also admitted that, ultimately, this is not a scientific, but rather a subjective, endeavor for the many reasons I have stated, and for the reasons others have stated here. Although the brands are ranked by price more than any other factor, I use terminology related to quality because, generally speaking, price correlates to quality, even if imperfectly (depending on one's definition of "quality" and what one is looking for), and because that is terminology the consumer expects and understands. The reason I do this, and the reason I write a book at all, is so that consumers, faced with 50 or 60 different brand names, don't just throw up their hands and say "It's too confusing; I'll take up some other hobby." It's simply meant as a tool for consumers to get started with, as I take great pains to say in the commentary that accompanies the ratings. The reason I have chosen to try to present the market as the manufacturers do is precisely because I don't want to pre-empt the consumers from making their own evaluations and choices by having them rely too heavily on my own judgment of which pianos are "best". I give them a tool to gain a foothold of understanding of the market -- just enough so that they don't give up -- and then I try to get out of the way. That some consumers may rely too heavily on it is often the fault of dealers who, in their own interest, try to make the ratings more important than I mean them to be. Nevertheless, from the many positive comments I've received from consumers, I think I have been reasonably successful in doing what I set out to do.

Some of the comments on this forum have been more sharply worded than necessary, and some seem more interested in tearing me down than in helping me improve what I do. However, I do appreciate all the feedback made in good faith, and it will help me make further improvements.

Larry Fine
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#1959261 - 09/15/12 02:11 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: rlinkt]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: rlinkt
The question that Mr. Fine posed is if there is better way to represent the market landscape for non-piano-savvy consumers (such as myself). Perhaps we should put suggest some ideas here.

Here is my suggestion: Create a chart like the Gartner magic quadrants using the following dimensions:

- 'Perceived quality' vs. price
I can't comment on the Gartner magic quadrants since I'm not familiar with them, but I think if one tried to create a quality vs. price rating it would potentially be far more confusing since the most expensive and highest quality pianos would generally come out looking poorly. I think it's generally accepted that as one considers more and more expensive pianos the improvement in performance/quality is not proportional to the price increase.

Originally Posted By: rlinkt
I would even suggest that PB does not need to deal with the high end much in that table, except to be comprehensive. People going for the high end are experts who know their preferences in an instrument, and do not need somebody to advise them about how the brands are positioning themselves. [This does not apply to the pricing table. That is an invaluable source of information.
I think mostly those people who buy high end pianos do so because their finances allow them to do so. If this is not the case, then Ori is wasting a lot of time with his individual Piano 101 seminars.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/15/12 02:14 PM)

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#1959293 - 09/15/12 03:56 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
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Quote:
I think it's generally accepted that as one considers more and more expensive pianos the improvement in performance/quality is not proportional to the price increase.


The key word IMHO is and remains "performance" - the direct result of all that is *quality* in a piano.

Which is exactly the junction where everybody's mind or opinion is going into a different direction.

And also the very reason why it is difficult to rate any instrument - especially in today's market.

The landscpape is entirely different today than it was 10-20 years ago when the divisions between products were far more obvious and noticeable.

Asked anybody recently who's selling guitars or violins?

My own daughter having played for last 5 years recently preferred a Chinese made Fender over another one 5 times the price.

Salesmen nodding quietly in agreement.

Not saying outcome would always be the same.

But it certainly "can"...

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (09/15/12 04:13 PM)
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#1959303 - 09/15/12 04:31 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8585
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
Some of the comments on this forum have been more sharply worded than necessary, and some seem more interested in tearing me down than in helping me improve what I do. However, I do appreciate all the feedback made in good faith, and it will help me make further improvements.

Larry Fine

Unfortunately, this does happen on Piano World. There are certain members here who choose to be excessively harsh and callous in their comments rather than offering beneficial constructive criticism. Such is an internet forum, I suppose. The moderators try to curtail this behavior as much as possible, but that is about as difficult a job as rating pianos. smile

Don’t let it keep you away… it happens to all of us at one time or another.

Thanks for your comments here and thanks for your hard work and all you do to bring us the Piano Book and Piano Buyer!

Rick
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#1959304 - 09/15/12 04:41 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Norbert
My own daughter having played for last 5 years recently preferred a Chinese made Fender over another one 5 times the price.
Anyone can prefer one musical instrument over another, but that does not mean their judgement is good or reasonable. In terms of pianos, if someone felt that a piano costing 1/5 as much as another piano was the superior instrument, one would have to conclude 99% of the time that their knowledge/taste/discernment of quality was low. I'm sure many people, especially teenagers, prefer hot dogs to rack of lamb and Justin Bieber to Bach.

Many piano buyers realize their experience in judging pianos is limited so the Piano Buyer becomes an excellent resource, both for its ratings and all its other information. Most buyers realize that dealers and salesmen, with very few exceptions, cannot be completely objective.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/15/12 05:04 PM)

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#1959316 - 09/15/12 05:31 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Registered: 05/15/12
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Originally Posted By: turandot
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty

The general use of the term "bias," within this thread, has most often been used "in favor of." Whether the bias is based on objectivity or not, is irrelevant, as the basis of the bias is left for the reader to assess.

Mr. Fine's experience goes back 35 years. For him to not have formed a bias toward cetain entities that he has come to trust ...

Turandot,

I did not state that any poster was without bias. Nor, did I infer it. That is the direct opposite of what I indicated. My posting was a direct reference to the "definition" of what a bias is, as posted by Pianoloverus, and his/her interpretation of a non cited source as basis for his/her conclusion.
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#1959323 - 09/15/12 05:39 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
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Quote:
Anyone can prefer one musical instrument over another, but that does not mean their judgement is good or reasonable.


"Good and reasonable" is good enough in the books of 95% of customers we see.

However they come to their conclusion...

Norbert
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#1959334 - 09/15/12 05:52 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
Anyone can prefer one musical instrument over another, but that does not mean their judgement is good or reasonable.


"Good and reasonable" is good enough in the books of 95% of customers we see.

However they come to their conclusion...
Except I was giving an example of where someone's judgment wasn't good or reasonable. Whether it's still good enough for them has nothing to do with my point.

I'm sure 95% of the population prefers Bieber to Bach also. That choice may be "good enough" for them but it doesn't say anything about the quality of that choice.

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#1959335 - 09/15/12 05:55 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Minnesota Marty]
turandot Offline
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Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty

Turandot,

I did not state that any poster was without bias. Nor, did I infer it. That is the direct opposite of what I indicated. My posting was a direct reference to the "definition" of what a bias is, as posted by Pianoloverus, and his/her interpretation of a non cited source as basis for his/her conclusion.


I actually agreed with you that for the most part the use of "bias' in this thread was "in favor of". Unfortunately, I did not post that. I can see in retrospect that I did not make the connection clear. But for the record, I had no disagreement with what you wrote.

I felt that 'bias' in this instance was only trotted out (not by you) to berate Norbert. As tiersome as that is, there seems to be no end to it.
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#1959339 - 09/15/12 06:05 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Turandot - Of that, we couldn't agree more!
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#1959354 - 09/15/12 06:47 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: sophial]
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Originally Posted By: sophial
Oh the power of money to change minds... laugh


Yes, I'm sure anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time talking with people who sell any particular product has encountered the representative who "loves the one they're with." On the other hand, I know some piano people who do not suddenly find all the defects in the brands they used to represent.


Originally Posted By: Nick Mauel
Now, the constantly shifting ratings seem to be an attempt to issue a report card from within the industry itself.


My casual observation is that there has been very little churning of the rankings over the past decade. I suppose it would be a fairly trivial task to review the rankings over time and examine the pattern of change. Frankly, I don't think you will detect much movement.

Actually, some small annual movement in the rankings is in the self-interest of any publisher that gains sales from publishing a ranking. Think of all the college rankings, especially the big one from US News & World Report. They use a formula that they periodically tweak. Having everyone on proverbial tenterhooks until their placement is revealed can't but be good for sales. Stasis would be boring.

I think LF's ranking system is far less moveable than ranking systems like the US News college ratings, for instance. Larry's goal is different, as is his audience, and his funding source. Larry does not sell subscriptions to PB, and this may indeed have some effect on the incentives to reshuffle the rankings deck on a regular basis.

At last report, colleges don't pay US News to produce the ranking. The advertising revenue that supports US News does not come from universities in any significant amounts. So the magazine's incentives are not shaped by the entities being ranked. They are shaped by the interest and excitement of the readership. I think this is a powerful force for movement in the rankings, even if that movement is largely driven by cosmetic changes in the measurement formula (and it is a formula). I am not at all sure that consumers in the piano market would benefit from having US News style shifts in the rankings.

Some here have talked about the biases that Larry's advertising revenues introduces, while Larry argues (effectively, I think) how his reputation is more valuable than any baksheesh he might be offered by SteinRit & HamLun. But there is a potentially powerful conservatism in the rankings in this small industry. My gut tells me that if anything, there is a bias against movement in Larry's rankings, and advertising revenue may reinforce that conservatism a bit.

The audience for buying a piano usually knows very little about the industry or the about the options. Larry says he is trying to educate people about the basics of the market more than to produce a list that people will use to judge that #33 supposedly is better than #38. I buy this.

There are only ten slots in the top ten, or fifty in the top fifty. Larry has tiers instead, though not called that name any more. But within the tiers there is no false attempt to list makers in absolute numerical order, as though quality can be understood as a simple number. Again, this is a force for conservatism. Things just don't move very much in that kind of scale.


Originally Posted By: Turandot
As tiersome as that is, there seems to be no end to it.


In a thread that has turned to LF's rankings, that typo is a Freudian slip indeed. grin
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#1959374 - 09/15/12 08:10 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
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Quote:

Yes, I'm sure anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time talking with people who sell any particular product has encountered the representative who "loves the one they're with." On the other hand, I know some piano people who do not suddenly find all the defects in the brands they used to represent.


This is perhaps true for those who sell pianos mainly by "brand". Or those who sell for "profit only"...

It is less true for those who are passionate about their job offering mainly "cherry-picked" models by the various makers they represent.

In our own case for example, we have never chosen ALL uprights or ALL grands by the makers of "Consumer Grade" we represent - in fact only few each.

Those we have singled out, however, would deserve and do seem to be getting "special attention" on market, something no "ranking" could either facilitate nor stop.

This is true for most makers today but not all businesses operate same.

There also is a difference when having a good "full-feature" and a somewhat cheaper line with its stronger brother basically keeping the lower group afloat by 'appeal' mainly.

This is exactly where the market appears to be changing today more than ever with greatest confusion as a result.

Looking at many makers' proliferation into all kinds of groups and sub-groups presents a serious problem for those trying to stay on top of things and trying to create a meaningful system of ranking.

It's not a job I would like to have due to the many different models by same makers - including their respective "sub-groups"...


It is one of my personal convictions why I believe that today's consumers should be encouraged to increasingly rely on their own sense of things instead of what others have to say.

Self included.

Norbert grin


Edited by Norbert (09/15/12 08:22 PM)
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#1959375 - 09/15/12 08:15 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Scott McBain Offline
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I totally agree to totally disagree. Opinions that influence millions to draw wrong opinionated conclusions, giving reliance to those without any knowledge on the subject - is just wrong. Forget the ratings, let them come to their own conslusions, as most do anyway.

If there were one that was the absolute best, than that is what everyone would have, obviously that is not the case.

I really think Turandot should have written the "piano book" and the 'buyers guide' - I think it would have been much more objective and accurate. Better yet, just give him some of the advertising money to edit the book prior to publication. Of course, that is just my opinion.

A Question to this very piano learned group-

Has the piano book helped the piano dealers sell more or sell better? Has it helped the manufacturers? Has the building of pianos improved because of Piano Book? There was a lot of brown nosing by the manufacturers when the first fine book came out, and I noticed that there was apprehension and posturing among manufacturers and now they are giving advertising money to the guy that most of them seemed to despise. Amazing success of the power of the pen.

I also notice that some dealers advertise in this book, no conclusion on my part if this is beneficial, would be curious from those that take part in this. PM please.
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#1959383 - 09/15/12 08:33 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
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I like to be specifically on record "not" to be criticizing Mr. Fine.

My comments were addressed at the system of ranking and the increasingly inherent problems with it. These are my opinions and opinions only. This must be clearly understood by all readers.

There's no doubt in my mind that Piano Buyer serves a large variety of people and remains a "must read" for all piano buyers today.

By same token it happens to be my belief that individual choice based on changed people's budgets personal taste, availability of brands plus local market conditions, have become the most important factor for the average consumer today.

Everybody may well disagree or ignore with this but it is still what I believe in. To be frank, it's something I'm trying to make work for my own clients to the best of my abilities every single day. In essence there's no conflict - only different ways of doing things.

I'm sure that everybody does same, however we all have different takes on things. It's the nature of the beast....

My highest respect to Mr. Fine and his unquestioned expertise about the fascinating subject that all binds us together in these type discussions.

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (09/15/12 08:53 PM)
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#1959384 - 09/15/12 08:36 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Larry Fine]
turandot Offline
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Originally Posted By: Larry Fine
Although my attempt is, as objectively as I can, to show the newcomer to the piano market how the manufacturers position their pianos in the market, I have also admitted that, ultimately, this is not a scientific, but rather a subjective, endeavor for the many reasons I have stated, and for the reasons others have stated here. Although the brands are ranked by price more than any other factor, I use terminology related to quality because, generally speaking, price correlates to quality, even if imperfectly (depending on one's definition of "quality" and what one is looking for), and because that is terminology the consumer expects and understands.


Mr. Fine,

That statement is clear, coherent, and reasonable. It speaks to both aspects of your groupings and ratings:

(1) the positioning of pianos in the market by manufacturers which you state as the basis, and

(2) the subjective judgments that are necessary to align that information with with your personal view.

The two paragraph explanation that precedes the charts in your publication also seems clear, coherent, and reasonable to me, but IMO presents a somewhat different explanation.

Originally Posted By: from PianoBuyer
The charts and commentary that follow are intended to provide the newcomer to the piano market with a simple summary of how the brands compare with one another in overall quality and recommendability, taking into account each brand's features, performance, and track record.

Any such rating system is obviously not scientific but subjective, the product of my contacts with dozens of piano technicians, dealers, and other industry personnel, as well as my more than thirty years of involvement with the piano industry. My sense is that most knowledgeable people in the industry would agree in broad terms with this comparison, though many will disagree with me — and with each other — about the details. (See my blog for additional comments on the subject of piano ratings.


The emphasis on an evaluation of quality and subjective judgment is clearly present along with "recommendability", but in all honesty, is there anything there that would clue the newcomer to the fact that the basis of the groupings and ratings is the positioning of the pianos by price in the marketplace by their manufacturers?

To make it clearer, I would take the example of Ritmuller. Is there anything in those introductory paragraphs that would clue the newcomer in any way to the fact that the Ritmuller pianos which have been on the market for a few years now have a lowered rating that is based on the prices they seem to fetch in the marketplace or the fact that a lower line has been introduced under the same brand name?
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#1959386 - 09/15/12 08:36 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
Steve Cohen Offline
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Originally Posted By: Norbert
I like to be specifically on record 'not" to be criticizing Mr. Fine.

Piano Buyer serves a large variety of people and remains a "must read" for all serious piano buyers.

By same token it happens to be my belief that individual choice based on people's budget, personal taste, availability of brands plus local market conditions have perhaps become the most important factor for consumers today.

My highest respect to Mr. Fine and his unquestioned expertise about the fascinating subject that all binds us together...

Norbert



This is perhaps the most hypocritical post I have ever read on the Piano Forum.

If it weren't posted in all seriousness, it would be laughable.
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#1959405 - 09/15/12 10:30 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
AJF Offline
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Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: Norbert
I like to be specifically on record 'not" to be criticizing Mr. Fine.

Piano Buyer serves a large variety of people and remains a "must read" for all serious piano buyers.

By same token it happens to be my belief that individual choice based on people's budget, personal taste, availability of brands plus local market conditions have perhaps become the most important factor for consumers today.

My highest respect to Mr. Fine and his unquestioned expertise about the fascinating subject that all binds us together...

Norbert



This is perhaps the most hypocritical post I have ever read on the Piano Forum.

If it weren't posted in all seriousness, it would be laughable.


Steve,
Without explanation this post reads, to me, as insulting and inflammatory.
Just sayin'...
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#1959407 - 09/15/12 10:33 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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You want inflammatory, just look four posts above yours ...
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#1959409 - 09/15/12 10:41 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Jonathan Alford Offline
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Interesting, my Ritmuller sounds and plays just as nice today as it did before the new ratings came out.

Jonathan

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#1959517 - 09/16/12 07:10 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Jonathan Alford]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Jonathan Alford
Interesting, my Ritmuller sounds and plays just as nice today as it did before the new ratings came out.

Jonathan
You're ignoring the fact, stated a few times on this thread, that part of the explanation for the tiny drop in Ritmuller's ranking was the introduction of a new model.

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#1959524 - 09/16/12 07:44 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: turandot]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Turandot
[The emphasis on an evaluation of quality and subjective judgment is clearly present along with "recommendability", but in all honesty, is there anything there that would clue the newcomer to the fact that the basis of the groupings and ratings is the positioning of the pianos by price in the marketplace by their manufacturers?
Fine has already explained that there is a very close connection between quality and price.

Originally Posted By: Turandot
To make it clearer, I would take the example of Ritmuller. Is there anything in those introductory paragraphs that would clue the newcomer in any way to the fact that the Ritmuller pianos which have been on the market for a few years now have a lowered rating that is based on the prices they seem to fetch in the marketplace or the fact that a lower line has been introduced under the same brand name?
Fine has never explained in his general comments about ratings why an individual make has moved slightly in either direction. That wouldn't be an appropriate place to put that information.

I don't think he has specifically said in any part of the PB in any of its editions why a piano has moved in any direction. I think this is probably because the ratings are controversial enough(to Piano World aficionados and dealers...not to the general public)that trying to justify every decision about ratings would create even more controversy. There has always been a fairly detailed explanation of each piano, often including recent changes, in a different section of the PB.

I'd say the huge percentage of readers of the PB wouldn't care or realize if a piano had moved slightly in one direction. As has been pointed out previously, Ritmuller was ranked where it is now in most of previous editions and only moved up for the next to last edition.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/16/12 09:36 AM)

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#1959527 - 09/16/12 07:50 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Some dealers seem to want to have things both ways. If the PB says something good about a make they sell, the customer is the first to be told about this. But if the PB says something they don't like about one of their makes, the dealer is the first to go on the attack.

It's this kind of behavior that IMO only adds to opinion that these kind of dealers are not being objective.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/16/12 01:59 PM)

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#1959538 - 09/16/12 08:22 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
Jonathan Alford Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Jonathan Alford
Interesting, my Ritmuller sounds and plays just as nice today as it did before the new ratings came out.

Jonathan
You're ignoring the fact, stated a few times on this thread, that part of the explanation for the tiny drop in Ritmuller's ranking was the introduction of a new model.


No, I am not - I was simply stating that no matter where a piano is ranked, the sound / feel does not change.

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#1959627 - 09/16/12 12:10 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
PianoWorksATL Offline
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Larry has a lot of choices to make. As manufacturers are aware of the publication, they present information as they see fit. Some are transparent because there is nothing but good news that would affect their place in the market. Some roll out the red carpet to show the latest improvements. Some stick their head in the ground and pretend it doesn't exist. Some take an adversarial stance - that while as manufacturer's they are free to produce their product, who is this guy to judge them? And a few are clamouring to get noticed and get mentioned.

Naturally, the focus of controversy is on brands that can't be satisfyingly transparent or on those that moved somehow. To use an old rating structure, what if a tier 2 brand was revealed to be sub-assembled in SE Asia despite manufacturer's silence to the question. Would they be able to maintain their spot? Would they drop one level? two? What if major tier 3 brands revealed that many of their best-sellers have been sub-assembled elsewhere for years? Would you do what the NCAA does and erase the ratings like they are records...track records? Do you issue apologies to consumers bought based upon unknown but suspected deceptions?

Is Jonathan Alford's resale value affected because Ritmueller introduced a lower series that didn't get the same treatment as Hallet, Davis & Co. (HS vs. HD), Yamaha (C, GC, GM), Schimmel (K, C), Bechstein (C, A), Story & Clark (Sig, Her), and every Samick brand that now has 3 tiers? Did Larry run out of room on the page or ink at the printers? I don't mean to be critical, but there seems to be a solution to his stated thoughts unless he believed the Ritmueller should be demoted on the whole.

I don't envy his task or believe that he is anything other than a well-intentioned professional. He's also human and in an effort to turn The Piano Book into an income, The Piano Buyer was born. On the global scale, our industry is tiny. For 100 years, there wasn't enough interest in such a publication to make it financially worthwhile. Does anyone now think there is drive enough for 2 opposing publications to handle this task? As has been hinted, how big of a pending, lasting lawsuit would it take to erase this income?

I am grateful for the resource for tabulating models and general pricing ranges. I enjoy most of the articles - the are helpful and efforts are made to establish credibility. Time magazine, it is not. I feel the ratings drive interest and page views. Page views drive advertising sales. But at some point, it is the ratings that create consequences, and that puts Larry's baby at risk. It's my pure speculation that this catch-22 has been the source of many discussions and occasionally lost sleep over how to be fair. A more cynical view might be that the churning of the ratings categories is what keeps people tuned in, so to speak, and it is intentional.

As a dealer, I have my own models at stake. I can tell you that our job of revealing new innovative designs and high-value brands is made more complicated by the rating system. Estonia cannot buy the advertising that Steinway can and the rating system is a shortcut to establishing credibility to the uninformed. Once that hurdle is crossed, it can be more fairly evaluated. Then there is a new line like Seiler ED...which in all ways of design, materials, pricing and manufacturer's positioning is meant to establish them as above Knabe (Artist) & Pramberger (Platinum). Do you think my neighbor dealers aren't going to have a blast with this asterisked ratings edge for years? Larry can have reasons for hedging his rating, but he doesn't specify those reasons, and even if he did, it would get overlooked in favor of the chart. So be it.

Good luck, Larry. I certainly couldn't untie the knots with any simple advice. I look forward to chatting with you at NAMM next year.
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#1959642 - 09/16/12 12:30 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
turandot Offline
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plover,

While I'm sure someone here will appreciate your efforts to field questions directed to Mr. Fine, that person is not me. Mr. Fine's appearances here are rare, as I'm sure you know. On those infrequent occasions when he dips his toe in the foul waters grin , if he is gracious enough to field questions, I think he deserves the opportunity to answer them himself.

Your opinions are almost a direct opposite of mine. That makes it difficult to find common ground. Your last post is a good example. There is really nothing antagonistic about it, but the fact that you consider ratings changes insignificant because they are few and infrequent is of no interest to me. That's not because of anything personal. It's simply that I hold the opposite view. To my way of thinking, if ratings changes are few and far between, a ratings change is a significant event and the reasons behind it are of interest, whether it's a downgrade of Masons or an upgrade of Hailuns.

Mr. Fine to my perception is like a painter who returns again and again to the scene of his favorite landscape to once again interpret it on canvas, making subtle changes in the execution to depict a slightly altered perception. I can respect that, and I can certainly respect his skill as a writer and communicator. You don't tell an artist how to paint his canvas, so even though I'm personally far more cynical about European-named Eurasian sub-lines than he is and don't feel that new examples of those pianos should literally go to the head of the class ahead of Yamaha C grands and Kawai RX grands, there's no point in belaboring that difference of opinion. Mr. Fine is certainly entitled to his portrait as the artist, the author, the owner, whatever. Also, as you have often pointed out, he may have forgotten more about he inner workings of the piano industry than I will ever learn in a lifetime. grin

On the other hand, PianoBuyer is in a way a scholarly work and the ratings it presents can be held to the light for examination, even if Mr. fine describes them as a rough guide for newcomers. As he has indicated, those ratings require him to make choices, choices that he describes as difficult, choices that when made sometimes leav him feeling insecure (about the choices grin) . In this sense,I don't feel it's inappropriate or badgering to ask him directly why the structure of his charts, the explanatory paragraphs that precede them, and the ratings that are contained within them are presented in the way that they are.

Mr. Fine has stated here:

"Although the brands are ranked by price more than any other factor, I use terminology related to quality because, generally speaking, price correlates to quality, even if imperfectly (depending on one's definition of "quality" and what one is looking for), and because that is terminology the consumer expects and understands."


To me this indicates some slip-sliding between price and quality that may leave the consumer with a false impression and may seem unfair to many who sell pianos for a living. It might be true that the consumer understands "quality", but he also understands 'price', Price is not an esoteric term to anyone who works for a living. Certainly, Mr. Fine would never offer an introductory explanation to the newcomer which stated:

The ratings that follow are based on price with a few exceptions. I am describing them however in terms of quality because, unlike price, that's something that you, the newcomer, can understand. grin


Now, in terms of those ratings changes, Mr. Fine has stated that it would be cumbersome to get too involved in substantive explanations in what he intends to be a simple guide. I have the opposite opinion. If the ratings changes are infrequent, as you have claimed, then I do not understand why it would be all that cumbersome to add a note within the ratings that indicates the rationale for the change. This would work both ways, upward and downward.

In the instance I chose as an example, the downgrade of Ritmuller, it would be a service to the newcomer to indicate that the change is based on factors that have nothing to do with the quality of the Ritmuller pianos that have been on the market for a few years now and which he may well have sampled, but is based solely on prices for those pianos that are lower than those of its former peers and the maker's deicsion to brand a lower line with the same name. I believe the consumer has a right to know this information. I don't think it's something that is beyond his coprehension simply because he's a newcomer rto pianos. In fact, a certain type of consumer might well regard that information as positive if he can acquire piano quality equal to the former peer group at a lower price.

In terms of the language, I recall a post long ago on this thread where a member (I think his moniker was Melodialworks) pointed out that the meanings of "Professional" and "Intermediate" are worlds apart. I would agree. I think it's an issue that won't go away even if PianoBuyer is more of a painter's landscape than a scholarly work. I realize I've belabored the point, but I really do have problems with good, better, best as well. Maybe I'm alone in that, but if so, it's more of a problem for me. Mr. Fine has stated that he wanted to use something different for that category. While the painter could say that he went with an acrylic overlay in one area of his canvas because it added a certain something, the painter is not trying to create an understanding of a consumer product category, an understanding that may affect purchase decisions (otehr than a potential buyer for his canvas grin ). Simply put, for me those terms are loaded. Sure, good, better, best are easily understood by the consumer, but often with a simplistic black and white level of understanding that has nothing to do with asking price.

Please let Mr. Fine deal with the question if he so chooses. There's no reason he has to of course. but he has been very forthcoming in this thread and we should all appreciate that, regardless of our individual opinions.
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#1959649 - 09/16/12 12:35 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Just because a post is directed to an individual doesn't mean that only that individual can respond. Someone else responding happens all the time at PW. This has happened tens of thousands of times. I'm sure Fine will corroborate, add to, correct, or ignore my post as he see fit.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/16/12 01:04 PM)

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#1959661 - 09/16/12 01:01 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
turandot Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Just because a post is directed to an individual doesn't mean that only that individual can respond. Someone else responding happens all the time at PW. This has happened tens of thousands of times.


No, I didn't ask you to let Mr. Fine answer because you have to, but simply as a courtesy. I could also ask you to not wallpaper over substantive posts that attempt to deal with the questions posed here with your cranky un-substantive retorts to anytning that displeases you. But you could say that's you've done it thousands of times, co why should you stop now?

I spent a lot of time on my post, and I'm sure that Sam did as well. It would be a courtesy for you to quit bich1ng and allow others to post without your constant heel-nipping.
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The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1959744 - 09/16/12 04:03 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
There is an Ignore setting. I find it does wonders for my blood pressure---


Edited by Jeff Clef (09/16/12 04:22 PM)
Edit Reason: worded more sharply than necessary
_________________________
Clef


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