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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: 2295
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: 7139
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.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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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: 783
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
_________________________
Nick's Piano Showroom
Naples, Fort Myers, & Sarasota, FL
New Estonia, Mason & Hamlin, Baldwin, Brodmann & Ritmuller
239-206-4541 direct line
www.nickspiano.com

Concert Piano Technician, Dealer, and Pianist

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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: 19228
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: 7139
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.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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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: 2271
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
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.
_________________________
Gary Schenk

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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: 19228
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
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#1957416 - 09/11/12 11:58 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14117
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
*Unfounded innuendo removed*


Edited by Ken Knapp (09/11/12 04:11 PM)
Edit Reason: Remove unfounded innuendo.
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#1957470 - 09/11/12 02:08 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
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: 2207
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.
_________________________
Ken

Piano Organ Depot
http://www.pianoorgandepot.com
Hammond Organ Technician
http://www.tonewheeltech.com
Vice President - MITA, International
http://www.mitatechs.org

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#1957541 - 09/11/12 05:12 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14117
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)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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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
Posts: 430
Loc: Rio Grande Valley of Texas
I'm with Norbert on this one about both his posts.
_________________________
'86 Baldwin SF-10

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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: 4187
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.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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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: 2207
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?
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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.
_________________________
Ken

Piano Organ Depot
http://www.pianoorgandepot.com
Hammond Organ Technician
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Vice President - MITA, International
http://www.mitatechs.org

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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: 2207
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
_________________________
Ken

Piano Organ Depot
http://www.pianoorgandepot.com
Hammond Organ Technician
http://www.tonewheeltech.com
Vice President - MITA, International
http://www.mitatechs.org

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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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
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: 1523
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: 7139
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.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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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: 430
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)
_________________________
'86 Baldwin SF-10

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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: 30
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
Loc: New York City
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
Loc: New York City
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
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 305
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
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7139
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.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
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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: 30
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.
_________________________
Publisher and Editor, Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer
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
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
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….
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
Loc: New York City
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
Loc: New York City
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: 4187
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.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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