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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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19352
Loc: New York City
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
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)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#1957935 - 09/12/12 03:55 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Norbert]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19352
Loc: New York City
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
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)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
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: 859
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: 7193
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.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10363
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: 7193
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: 19352
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
Posts: 10363
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
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Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7193
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.
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#1958548 - 09/13/12 09:17 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Amaruk Offline
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Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 802
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
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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 Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6348
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
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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: 311
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
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Registered: 12/20/09
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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
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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: 802
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: 7193
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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#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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#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: 14138
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
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

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7438
Loc: Rochester MN
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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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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Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7193
Loc: torrance, CA
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

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7438
Loc: Rochester MN
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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It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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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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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19352
Loc: New York City
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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