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#1989325 - 11/21/12 10:22 AM Piano shops aren't surviving
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
Is it me or is the current depression REALLY hammering piano shops?

I got two emails recently of liquidation sales for two nearby piano shops... I always love wandering around in their show room and looking at their expensive steinways and uprights. But could never afford to buy one....

I suppose there are too many people like myself who look but don't buy which is killing them.

How is your area doing?

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#1989346 - 11/21/12 11:22 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
I see that many people like digitals because they are less expensive, take up less room and do not have to be tuned. Too bad because I think people can learn bad habits practicing on a digital. There is no way to compare the feeling you get playing an acoustic grand. Digitals fall short in my opinion.

rada

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#1989358 - 11/21/12 11:39 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I've seen two piano stores within minutes of my house close within the last ten years. One had existed for 100 years.

The largest piano store in Holland closed its doors last year only to open in another location under a different name.

As an aside, I received a message today from an absolutely first rate bass player from the US who is looking for work. He was the long time bassist for Ahmad Jamal (15 years at least) and was let go a few months ago. Times are tough for everyone.




_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1989377 - 11/21/12 12:10 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1776
I am hoping that piano shops will survive. There is nothing like an acoustic piano--I agree that digital pianos cannot replace them. I also believe that internet searches simply cannot duplicate the experience of in-person shopping. Pianos are musical instruments, and their very individuality will I hope keep the process of shopping in real stores alive.

And just TRY and call the internet for service or tuning!

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#1989426 - 11/21/12 01:59 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Dave Horne]
RAY930 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 85
Loc: Europe
largest shop in Hollandis Bol Piano and up to now has even open a new showroom

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#1989460 - 11/21/12 03:33 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
musica71 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/08
Posts: 424
Loc: Bend, Or.
Dealers in the US are dropping like flies. A piano IS a luxury and not a necessity I suppose (a necessity for me). A large store in Portland seems to have a liquidation sale about very other month for stores around the area.
_________________________
Musica 71

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#1989541 - 11/21/12 06:06 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Are you asking about repair shops or retailers selling new pianos.

I consider myself a shop (repair/restoration) and we are still busy but I do know retail is down for many.
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

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www.pianoman.ca
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#1989546 - 11/21/12 06:24 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
The shops nearby do both, having workshop facilities and also a showroom.

As well as a studio and some sound proofed rooms you can hire to jam, practice or take lessons in.

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#1989547 - 11/21/12 06:24 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: RAY930]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: RAY930
largest shop in Hollandis Bol Piano and up to now has even open a new showroom


Muziek Metropool (which I believe is the same name as before) has a new location.

http://www.pianometropool.nl/

They also advertise having the largest showroom. Their previous showroom in Culemborg was the largest I had ever seen. The owner couldn't play, he was just a businessman.
_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1989558 - 11/21/12 07:13 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1969
Loc: Philadelphia area
Rising overhead and reduced profit margins = less shops. I'm thinking flexibility is the key to survival these days. A different hat for each day of the week...

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#1989559 - 11/21/12 07:13 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Dave Horne]
Peakly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/10
Posts: 213
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I received a message today from an absolutely first rate bass player from the US who is looking for work. He was the long time bassist for Ahmad Jamal (15 years at least) and was let go a few months ago. Times are tough for everyone.

Yes, times are tough. We have definitely felt it. We even put our piano up for sale, but then decided to keep it, thank goodness.



Quote:
Muziek Metropool (which I believe is the same name as before) has a new location. They also advertise having the largest showroom.

Maybe they're doing well because of those two hot babes all dressed up on their home page : )

Mychal

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#1989583 - 11/21/12 09:41 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
as a long term 'customer' of the variety of piano shops within 50kms of my home, I can say without hesitation that the ones who are surviving (ie, doing very well) are offering something the others don't. the ones who'll probably be closing within the next 12 months all seem to play the same game. they have really REALLY bad and very old pianos on the premises marked up to insane prices purely to demonstrate that 'for not much more, you can buy NEW'. taking it a step further, they have vast numbers of 'grey market' japanese uprights - most of which are in excess of 25 years old, and all seem to have mysteriously 'just arrived', and double mysteriously, 'haven't been tuned yet'. so no matter which of these you might wander past and have a tinkle at, the salesperson will leap to your side and announce 'not tuned, not regulated'. really? really truly? of course all the brand new pianos will be fully regulated and tuned and ready to roll. what a surprise.

meantime, what the successful stores do is a) have every piano on the premises tuned and in top playing condition at all times, b) only carry late model used Japanese uprights in 'as new' condition, c) have a few high end grands on display d) always have a few 'vintage' pianos of better quality and condition to meet the lower end of the market. c) and d) alone can make the difference between survival and failure. having $1000 and $50,000 pianos means you meet every level of the marketplace, not just the middle - like most of the shoddy operators.

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#1989755 - 11/22/12 12:01 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
There are vast differences how dealers are doing these days, very much also geographically. We have differences between East and West and all over in between.

There are also very different philosophies among dealers with some of them described above.

If "selling volume" is what its all about, the stresses are different and can be horrendous.

For both sellers AND buyers.

"Small" can be beautiful and "smaller" perhaps even be better...

Can it be the models of the future?

For those dealers who have conscientiously chosen quality over quantity, the challenges can be name recognition, familiarity of brand or simply being able to communicate the difference, especially to non-players.

Add to this the fighting back of big companies plus their associated service staff against the upcoming guys on the block and it ain't always exactly a cakewalk....

The road may be more arduous, but in the end also more rewarding. Including with future in mind.

Fact is that quality and with it "quality of tone" is something people are increasingly becoming aware of: perhaps the one redeeming factor best suited to win out in the long run. [sorry, German descent speaking..]

In fact, people are becoming much more open to really "listen" to the different pianos on market realizing they have many attractive, even amazing options for themselves today.

How can a makers like Sauter, Estonia, even Ritmueller and Brodmann, for example be sold out for months on end, this in the middle of a recession?

Coincidence - or were we up to someting when adopting these makes?

If the remaining businesses are simply run "as usual", it will make no difference if there are 100 of them - or only one single one left.

IMHO

Start pounding...

Norbert smile


Edited by Norbert (11/22/12 12:38 PM)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#1989775 - 11/22/12 12:50 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Norbert]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19369
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Norbert
How can a makers like Sauter, Estonia, even Ritmueller and Brodmann, for example be sold out for months on end, this in the middle of a recession?
So this means you only have a few Hailuns in your store?

Or do you mean the companies are sold out for months on end? If a company only makes 300 pianos/year they only have to sell one/day worldwide to be sold out.


Edited by pianoloverus (11/22/12 02:50 PM)

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#1989785 - 11/22/12 01:09 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
TunerJeff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 476
Loc: Oregon Coast
Just got a flyer in the mail. The Steinway dealership in Portland Oregon is liquidating. They are doing appt.-only showings until December 2nd. and then Poooof! This is a Sherman-Clay outlet.

One of the better rebuilders in the Portland area just put an ad into our PTG Chapter newsletter to sell off his equipment as he is 'retiring'. Actually; 10 years ago he was empoloying 6 people full-time with rebuilding and refinishing. That has dwindled to no employees and so little work that he is choosing to close his doors.

The store mentioned in Portland? I know who you mean. The owner has a second business which is doing quite well in these economic times. The speciality? Holding close-out sales and marketing off the remains of piano outlets. That's why they have so many pianos, and hold those sales. He's bringing pianos from all over this side of the country, as he sweeps up the remains of the close-out sales.

In the last 5 years in Oregon?
All the major outlets in Eugene, Roseburg, Salem, and Portland have either closed, been bought out, or moved their location to smaller venues. All of them. Eugene, Salem, and Roseburg completely lost their piano dealerships; only Eugene has a retailer of new pianos and those are from an outfit called 'Piano Liquidators'....selling the most inexpensively produced pianos on the planet. He just moved, too. Off the center of town to cheaper digs in the sidelines.

So, from where I sit? Disposible income is lacking. People are buying less and fixing less. Fewer retailers. Fewer rebuilders.

Gobble 'til ya wobble ya'all,
Respectfully,
I am,
_________________________
Jeffrey T. Hickey, RPT
Oregon Coast Piano Services
TunerJeff440@aol.com

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#1989786 - 11/22/12 01:11 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
One thing is for certain - there will always be enough piano "shops" to support final demand.

What is going on now is nothing more than the marketplace finding equilibrium. In the USA, acoustic piano sales have fallen roughly 50% in the past 5 years. This level of volume does not support the number of dealers that existed previously. It is important that the dealers who do survive be reasonably profitable in order to provide the services that the customer expects and deserves. Things will adjust to the new reality in time.

What will happen and what is happening is that the number of brands will diminish. The marginal players or those without a solid reason for being will be squeezed out. It will be increasingly difficult for low volume brands to gain distribution at the dealer level. There simply are not enough dealers left for them to stock all the brands fighting for placement.

So unfortunately you can look for some venerable brands to disappear in the fairly near future. How soon? They may survive for another year, 2 years, perhaps even 5 years. But they will disappear. They simply are not needed.

Just my opinion.

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#1989792 - 11/22/12 01:24 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4417
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...there will always be enough piano "shops" to support final demand..."

Good call, Furt. Pretty accurate view, as far as I can tell.

All is not gloom and doom, at least not everywhere. Locally, the stores seem to be doing pretty well. Maybe not as well as they would like to. I wonder if our area is in some kind of time warp, either ahead of its time, or way behind it.

I nearly died of astonishment yesterday--- I saw a TV ad for a piano maker on MSNBC. Well, nearly; it was actually an ad for businesses in the State of New York which mentioned a manufacturer. I wonder if they'll sell any units off of it. So many other businesses, which want to move product, use advertizing to stimulate demand, but piano makers seem to know better.
_________________________
Clef


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#1989806 - 11/22/12 01:57 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
There are 4 ads for piano makers on this page alone.



Edited by Furtwangler (11/22/12 01:58 PM)

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#1989810 - 11/22/12 02:15 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10483
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
One reason that some brands are in poor supply is the lack of capital on the part of the distributor. Manufacturers are selling their production in countries and to distributors who can pay for them at shipment.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

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Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

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

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#1989818 - 11/22/12 03:09 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
all interesting stuff, and explains alot.

I maintain that at the coalface, retailers need to service the bottom end of the market in ways other than by selling new, cheap, poor quality pianos. the leading retailer in this city - a city of 5 million, has entry level pianos at $800. undoubtedly obtsined by them as trades, but they're particular about just which older trades the onsell. furthermore, these units are serviced and given a spit and polish so always look and sound great - often better than the new Chinese models sold up the road. and finally, if you buy one of these $800 pianos you're treated to exactly the same quality of service as those buying Shigeru Kawais. This store is ALWAYS busy, and you often find yourself waiting a bit as the knowledgable and highly ethical staff are in constant demand. That's quite something in a depressed economy.

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#1989862 - 11/22/12 05:09 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Furtwangler]
Peakly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/10
Posts: 213
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
In the USA, acoustic piano sales have fallen roughly 50% in the past 5 years. This level of volume does not support the number of dealers that existed previously.


Ouch. I would think not. Half of the sales gone is huge.

One thing for sure - the piano is not going away, no matter how many digital pianos are made and sold. It is a unique and amazing instrument. There is nothing else like it.

Mychal

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#1989871 - 11/22/12 05:53 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Peakly]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Peakly
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
In the USA, acoustic piano sales have fallen roughly 50% in the past 5 years. This level of volume does not support the number of dealers that existed previously.


Ouch. I would think not. Half of the sales gone is huge.

One thing for sure - the piano is not going away, no matter how many digital pianos are made and sold. It is a unique and amazing instrument. There is nothing else like it.

Mychal


You would think not? Well, think again.

It was much worse there for a while. Things have recovered from the worst!

As for more secular trends - Upright acoustic piano sales are down over 90% from the mid-70s peak years.

Any mystery why so many "shops" have disappeared?

And yes - they will not go away entirely. There will be enough to serve the market.

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#1989875 - 11/22/12 05:58 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: tonedefreegan]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
all interesting stuff, and explains alot.

I maintain that at the coalface, retailers need to service the bottom end of the market in ways other than by selling new, cheap, poor quality pianos. the leading retailer in this city - a city of 5 million, has entry level pianos at $800. undoubtedly obtsined by them as trades, but they're particular about just which older trades the onsell. furthermore, these units are serviced and given a spit and polish so always look and sound great - often better than the new Chinese models sold up the road. and finally, if you buy one of these $800 pianos you're treated to exactly the same quality of service as those buying Shigeru Kawais. This store is ALWAYS busy, and you often find yourself waiting a bit as the knowledgable and highly ethical staff are in constant demand. That's quite something in a depressed economy.


That is a very nice story. I am sure you can understand, however, that a full-fledged retail dealer would have to sell roughly 1,000 of those $800 pianos per annum to stay in business.

Which is not very realistic.

But at least it provides steady sales volume and some much-needed cash flow I am sure.

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#1989917 - 11/22/12 09:40 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
furthermore, these units are serviced and given a spit and polish so always look and sound great - often better than the new Chinese models sold up the road.


Don't know what the "Chinese models up the road" are but would like to see how the "spit and polish" oldies would be a match, let alone can outperform a new Ritmüller, Brodmann, Hailun or other top Chinese piano.

It's exactly those statements which show how grossly misunderstood/ misjudged the situation out in the market really is today.

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

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#1989919 - 11/22/12 10:01 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6101
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Allans just went bankrupt here. It had been around for over 100 years. Although I didn't buy much from them, I was sad because I liked to have a look when I went to Sydney.
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1989920 - 11/22/12 10:13 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Furtwangler]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
all interesting stuff, and explains alot.

I maintain that at the coalface, retailers need to service the bottom end of the market in ways other than by selling new, cheap, poor quality pianos. the leading retailer in this city - a city of 5 million, has entry level pianos at $800. undoubtedly obtsined by them as trades, but they're particular about just which older trades the onsell. furthermore, these units are serviced and given a spit and polish so always look and sound great - often better than the new Chinese models sold up the road. and finally, if you buy one of these $800 pianos you're treated to exactly the same quality of service as those buying Shigeru Kawais. This store is ALWAYS busy, and you often find yourself waiting a bit as the knowledgable and highly ethical staff are in constant demand. That's quite something in a depressed economy.


That is a very nice story. I am sure you can understand, however, that a full-fledged retail dealer would have to sell roughly 1,000 of those $800 pianos per annum to stay in business.

Which is not very realistic.

But at least it provides steady sales volume and some much-needed cash flow I am sure.


crazy

I don't believe I suggested that these few stores LIVE on the $800 pianos. They also sell $80,000 models. The point of the comment was to highlight the fact that as we sink further into a cash-strapped economy, being able to at least offer something cheaper than the cheapest and baddest new piano is essential. The same people who might be thrilled to buy one of these today, and get good service with it, will come back tomorrow and buy sheet music. The day after, they'll come back and buy a $4k piano. The day after that they'll come back and buy a $20k model, all being equal. Try going into a 'standard' piano store and asking to see their $1k pianos and see how far you get. If you don't meet BOTH ends of the market, you're doomed. And the bottom end is, at present, very bottom. I happen to know that one such store owner considers these very cheap pianos 'risk management', and is prepared to wear the costs associated (he makes a very modest profit on these, obviously) because it builds loyalty and keeps the till ticking over.

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#1989921 - 11/22/12 10:19 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Norbert]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
Originally Posted By: Norbert


Don't know what the "Chinese models up the road" are but would like to see how the "spit and polish" oldies would be a match, let alone can outperform a new Ritmüller, Brodmann, Hailun or other top Chinese piano.

It's exactly those statements which show how grossly misunderstood/ misjudged the situation out in the market really is today.

Norbert



These 'oldies' are between 40 and 60 years old, and they're always the better makes and individual examples. The management are very selective about which trade-ins they 'recycle', and all are serviced and prepped properly. Yes, some ARE better than the cheapest entry level Asian uprights. Not all, but some are.

I don't think there's any misunderstanding here. You either adapt to tighter purse strings or die. Not rocket science smile

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#1989930 - 11/22/12 11:14 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: tonedefreegan]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
all interesting stuff, and explains alot.

I maintain that at the coalface, retailers need to service the bottom end of the market in ways other than by selling new, cheap, poor quality pianos. the leading retailer in this city - a city of 5 million, has entry level pianos at $800. undoubtedly obtsined by them as trades, but they're particular about just which older trades the onsell. furthermore, these units are serviced and given a spit and polish so always look and sound great - often better than the new Chinese models sold up the road. and finally, if you buy one of these $800 pianos you're treated to exactly the same quality of service as those buying Shigeru Kawais. This store is ALWAYS busy, and you often find yourself waiting a bit as the knowledgable and highly ethical staff are in constant demand. That's quite something in a depressed economy.


That is a very nice story. I am sure you can understand, however, that a full-fledged retail dealer would have to sell roughly 1,000 of those $800 pianos per annum to stay in business.

Which is not very realistic.

But at least it provides steady sales volume and some much-needed cash flow I am sure.


crazy

I don't believe I suggested that these few stores LIVE on the $800 pianos. They also sell $80,000 models. The point of the comment was to highlight the fact that as we sink further into a cash-strapped economy, being able to at least offer something cheaper than the cheapest and baddest new piano is essential. The same people who might be thrilled to buy one of these today, and get good service with it, will come back tomorrow and buy sheet music. The day after, they'll come back and buy a $4k piano. The day after that they'll come back and buy a $20k model, all being equal. Try going into a 'standard' piano store and asking to see their $1k pianos and see how far you get. If you don't meet BOTH ends of the market, you're doomed. And the bottom end is, at present, very bottom. I happen to know that one such store owner considers these very cheap pianos 'risk management', and is prepared to wear the costs associated (he makes a very modest profit on these, obviously) because it builds loyalty and keeps the till ticking over.


I understand - they offer a broad range of products in every price category.

However your statement highlighted in red is where we disagree. I am highly suspicious of this scenario.

One needn't cater to all ends of the market to succeed. That is a myth. One can specialize. And that is more likely to be a successful strategy than to try to be all things to all people.

Of course, if one follows this strategy the entire business model must be in sync with it.

I know of a store near me that proudly sells pianos for as little as $100. In fact the initial visit I made to his establishment a couple of years ago, he had 3 such gems displayed out front on the sidewalk. "What is the point?" I asked myself. They were essentially junk.

At any rate, you and I are armchair experts.

Good to get your perspective on things.

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#1989938 - 11/23/12 12:00 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
that's the thing though, these people arent selling junk. their cheapest are all sound instruments which have at least another decade or so in them. as for being all things to all people - it's often these outfits that survive, when specialists don't. the difficulty with specialisation in a depressed market is that if your niche gets tight, you've had it. nowhere to go. applies equally to other specialist (aka, high end) retailers. they're dropping like flies here.

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#1989939 - 11/23/12 12:01 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
that's the thing though, these people arent selling junk. their cheapest are all sound instruments which have at least another decade or so in them. as for being all things to all people - it's often these outfits that survive, when specialists don't. the difficulty with specialisation in a depressed market is that if your niche gets tight, you've had it. nowhere to go. applies equally to other specialist (aka, high end) retailers. they're dropping like flies here.

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#1989951 - 11/23/12 01:10 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Furtwangler]
Peakly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/10
Posts: 213
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
You would think not? Well, think again.

Oops! I didn't express myself very clearly. I'm not disputing your numbers at all - that's why I said ouch.


You said:
Quote:
This level of volume does not support the number of dealers that existed previously.

And that's why I said "I would think not." I agree with you. There is no way the same number of dealers could survive such a drastic drop in sales.

Mychal

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#1989955 - 11/23/12 01:17 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Norbert Offline
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tone:

The markets are very different in different regions and while some of what you say may be true for some, it ain't for many others.

Here on the Canadian Westcoast, one beautiful old piano after the other hits the dump, nobody wants them and nobody can sell them. Just today we turned down a free Heintzman, Canada's most coveted brand ever.

When 90% of the customer base is oriental, an already 5 years old piano is considered "old" becoming often another addition to dozens and dozens of similar pianos listed on Craigslist.

The way I see the future at least for us, is trying not to serve the entire market "at all cost" but concentrate on those pianos which hopefully still make a difference.

Luckily those exist and buyers are increasingly becoming aware what they might be of where to find them.

It's neither "all good" nor "all bad" out there.

A challenge - yes - but opportunity also.

For both buyers - and sellers.

Norbert thumb


Edited by Norbert (11/23/12 01:25 AM)
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#1989993 - 11/23/12 07:01 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
tonedefreegan Offline
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Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
that might be the difference. the customer base here is probably less than 50% are of Asian extraction. actually, now that I think about it, what's with that?

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#1990011 - 11/23/12 09:05 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: tonedefreegan]
justpin Offline
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Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
Its to do with tiger parents and racism.

Asian parents like mine FORCE their children to learn an instrument. So they are not wasting their time from ther point of view.

So while other children were outside playing games and developing social skills. Asian children were inside being forced to become prodigies. Practice until their fingers bleed! I kid you not. My sister was such a prodigy. Level 8 before she was a teen. Sometimes it works out, like you see on youtube. Often it does not.

She abandoned it though as she had no interest in it.

Racism is because Asian parents only like violins (and similar instruments) and pianos. No other instrument will do.

You go to a music shop in Asia and it will be mostly be violins and pianos. Very little space for brass or guitars. Other instruments are considered low class. Thus are ignored by lots of asian parents.

Just look at youtube. You'll find a LOT of masked guitar/bass players who are masked to keep their identities secret from their parents!

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#1990098 - 11/23/12 04:05 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
j&j Offline
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Registered: 10/24/09
Posts: 444
Loc: Southwest
I guess my mom was an Italian tiger mom. laugh

We're down to only 3 piano shops in Albuquerque. Several have gone out of business in the last 5 to 6 years, including the Steinway dealer. Furtwrangler is probably right, that 3 is the number that Albuquerque can support, but it does limit a buyer's selection dramatically.

I also think that the acoustic piano market has changed dramatically for reasons beside the downturn in the economy. Young keyboard players may love, use, and buy an acoustic, but they love digitals, stage pianos, synthesizers, midi controllers, and DAWs. Digital cannot replace the sound or feel of a gorgeous acoustic, but it's dramatically improved over the last 10 years.

People are downsizing their dwellings to be closer to the city, work, theater, shops, and restaurants so they have less room for a large acoustic grand. Also, when people entertain, they typically don't spend time playing or listening to the piano. Fortunately, my friends are patient and indulge my delusions. I can't remember the last time I went to someone's house and they had us listen to their child prodigy mangle Fur Elise or any other piano piece. Instead I find myself listening politely to the blow-by-blow details of their wunderkind's soccer/softball/volleyball/football games. (I'd trade that in a heartbeat for a mangled piece from Chopin or Beethoven). With the economic, living, and cultural changes, I really hope that piano shops can find their loyal customers and stay open.
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#1990147 - 11/23/12 08:48 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: j&j]
Macy Offline
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Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 611
Maybe there is more to it than just a bad economy. My perspective as a buyer is a little different.

I went piano shopping recently, with a substantial checkbook in hand ready to pay cash for a new acoustic piano, and found the experience miserable. From poor showroom acoustical properties where every piano sounded bad, to a "prestige shop" where the most expensive new pianos were in poor condition, to salesman that spent their time telling wild stories to tear down competitive brands, to the car-dealer selling process everywhere, the experience was awful. I'm sure there are old-school buyers around that think it's just part of the charm and fun of buying a piano, but for someone like me it was a train-wreck that I walked away from. Simply not worth the trouble. Maybe it's just a bad economy, but maybe buyers expectations are also changing.
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#1990151 - 11/23/12 08:59 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Plowboy Offline
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Word.
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#1990157 - 11/23/12 09:22 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Macy]
KillerCharlie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/21/09
Posts: 142
Originally Posted By: Macy

I went piano shopping recently, with a substantial checkbook in hand ready to pay cash for a new acoustic piano, and found the experience miserable. From poor showroom acoustical properties where every piano sounded bad, to a "prestige shop" where the most expensive new pianos were in poor condition, to salesman that spent their time telling wild stories to tear down competitive brands, to the car-dealer selling process everywhere, the experience was awful. I'm sure there are old-school buyers around that think it's just part of the charm and fun of buying a piano, but for someone like me it was a train-wreck that I walked away from. Simply not worth the trouble. Maybe it's just a bad economy, but maybe buyers expectations are also changing.



I'm having the exact same experience. One dealer I want to try their pianos but they aren't prepped or tuned at all, it's really pathetic. Another dealer has their noses so high in the air that some customers just walk out of the door. I felt really uncomfortable there. Not surprisingly they've had to close one of their two shops. A third store has workers that are just clueless.

The Yamaha (plus other models) store is doing business like crazy. It helps that there are a lot of Yamaha-loving Asians in town. However it's more than that - they're nice and helpful. One of their two workers is a tech that always has every piano sounding and feeling great.

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#1990173 - 11/23/12 10:36 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Furtwangler Offline
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Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
Well, this unfortunately is all part of the weeding out process, isn't it?

Some of those dealers apparently need to disappear.

And if they continue in the current manner of dealing with customers, they will.

I guess in the "good old days" dealers such as you have described (and I know who some of them are - personally) could stay in business because business was good enough to allow this kind of stuff.

Times have changed.

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#1990176 - 11/23/12 10:54 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
beethoven986 Offline
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Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3339
The recession surely hasn't helped matters, but the piano industry is probably hurting more from other reasons:

1. The modern piano has been around in this country for over 100 years, so there is a huge excess of supply (see #2). It doesn't help that the piano plays a much less prominent role in American life than it once did (see #4).

2. Craigslist, eBay, PianoMart, etc. compete with dealers in multiple ways. People who want to sell pianos don't need a middle man anymore, and save the 40%+ commission they'd have to pay for consigning. Buyers who are economically savvy, or simply can't afford a new instrument, buy these pianos because they are often cheaper than the dealer, especially since they often don't pay sales tax. If people feel like there is no benefit to paying more, they won't (see #7)

3. Many piano dealers have been complacent and were too slow to adapt to new market rules, or ignored them completely (see #7).

4. America has failed to prioritize education in the arts in public schools.

5. The classical music scene, for a long time, intimidated or turned off would-be music lovers by being snooty and overly intellectual. The "new music" scene has stagnated for decades due to people like John Cage, and the serialist movt, taking a dump on the compositional process. Normal people don't understand or enjoy this stuff. Heck, most music majors don't, either! At the same time, how often can you program Beethoven 5 before people get tired of it?

6. People think their 80 year old George Steck grand is a valuable heirloom, and is in mint condition, despite not having seen as much as a tuning in 25 years (see #1).


7. Dealers who are honest, passionate about their products (and music), have exceptional customer service, are business savvy, and engage their community are likely to remain successful.
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#1990219 - 11/24/12 05:44 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
Originally Posted By: justpin
Its to do with tiger parents


Interesting. And funny! Especially the bit about guitarists disguising themselves on youtube. We are talking about adult guitarists, I assume. Which just makes it that much funnier - grown humans going to that much trouble for such a silly reason. What, I wonder, do they think their parents will do? fall down dead from the shame of having a guitarist in the family?

tiger parents make me sick. and I say that as an Asian parent. but I don't care if mine drop out of school and learn the banjo, as long as they earn their keep and follow their passions smile

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#1990253 - 11/24/12 09:00 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
justpin Offline
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Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
I just visited one of those sales.

It was something like £150 off some acoustic pianos.

The only ones in my price range were tiny dwarf pianos without the full 88 keys. Or ones with WORSE touch than my casio. How is that even possible! frown

I got chatting to the staff there who hovered behind me for a few minutes, he kept insisting this £4K Yamaha (which in his defence did sound lovely) was right up my street.

But aside from me in there for a whole hour, nobody else came into the shop.

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#1990262 - 11/24/12 09:22 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
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Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Beethoven is right.

My dad and grandfather were in the tuning business too. My dad taught me not only how to tune but also how to run it. Honesty was ALWAYS top on his list. Next was morals, ethics and of course, he always stressed quality. Quality and honesty is something that is lacking in so, so, many businesses today. I see it lacking in the tuning business constantly.

Dad always said that in hard times, those that generally deserve to go out should go out. Those that don't know how to run a business may go out and those that are the most unethical will be one of the first to go in many cases. I'm seeing that with tuners too. Some can't make it for many of these reasons and then some, so have left to go into something else. It may have needed weeding out.....

American tends to shop more for price over quality not only in the appliance or piano buying industry as we see posted here continually "is this a good price" but also in the quality department. Many do not even consider quality, just price assuming that one tuner is like another which isn't further from the truth. It is the same with all types of busineses. As I have said many times before, you get what you pay for in many cases if not most.
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#1990269 - 11/24/12 09:57 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
You remind me of many car mechanics around here.

In the UK we have a road worthiness test every year after the first 36 months a car has been on the road.

There are a lot of dodgy mechanics who will fail a perfectly fine car in order to make money on the workshop side of things.

I've caught several of them at it.


In fact it reminds me of a lot of things. Opticians who every single year tell you your eyes have gotten weaker. Therefore you need a completely new pair which is very very slightly stronger.

I always get two eye tests and look over last year and never bring me glasses to an eye test.

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#1990286 - 11/24/12 11:12 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
wizman Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/14/12
Posts: 4
Loc: west coast USA
i work for a major dealer here in the states and i can tell you that, for the last year, business has been extremely rough. as a sales guy, i can assure everyone that less and less people are considering grands and even verticals. most of our business is digitals. which is a sad thought from my experience because most of the digitals are just being bought by parents who want to spend the least amount of money on their kids, shying away from a $5,000 quality acoustic piano that could last a century for a $1500-$2000 digital. people's priorities are just mixed up. so many people are buying new $30-40,000 cars every 3-4 years so they can keep their status up but they're reluctant to even spend $5,000 on something that will last a lifetime.

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#1990322 - 11/24/12 01:11 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4379
Loc: Jersey Shore
Water seeks its own level. We will have enough piano shops that we need based on demand. No more, no less.

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#1990325 - 11/24/12 01:17 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1243
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Modern technology permeates our lives, or at least for those of us who live in contemporary "western" societies. It is not surprising that piano manufacturers are complying with the demand for less expensive pianos in providing cheaper "digitals". It certainly helps the large manufacturers ride through these rough, economic times. I agree that it is disappointing that priority spending on cars, which in their current form, have serious implications for the environment and city planning, takes precedence over the purchase of fine instruments of invaluable cultural enrichment and individual, intellectual enhancement. We live in a world of shifting values, steeped in materialism and "the reality is" kind of thinking. In my view, the truth is that a future generation of parents will come to their senses and make learning the piano for their children, non negotiable. In other words, I am optimistic that with the commitment of governments, educators and parents, better times are ahead for the piano industry.

Kind regards,

Robert.

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#1990339 - 11/24/12 01:50 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Robert 45]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Robert 45
Modern technology permeates our lives, or at least for those of us who live in contemporary "western" societies. It is not surprising that piano manufacturers are complying with the demand for less expensive pianos in providing cheaper "digitals". It certainly helps the large manufacturers ride through these rough, economic times. I agree that it is disappointing that priority spending on cars, which in their current form, have serious implications for the environment and city planning, takes precedence over the purchase of fine instruments of invaluable cultural enrichment and individual, intellectual enhancement. We live in a world of shifting values, steeped in materialism and "the reality is" kind of thinking. In my view, the truth is that a future generation of parents will come to their senses and make learning the piano for their children, non negotiable. In other words, I am optimistic that with the commitment of governments, educators and parents, better times are ahead for the piano industry.

Kind regards,

Robert.


Stephen Foster wrote a wonderful song entitled:

"Beautiful Dreamer"

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#1990340 - 11/24/12 01:51 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Mark...]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Water seeks its own level. We will have enough piano shops that we need based on demand. No more, no less.


I hadn't thought of that.

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#1990380 - 11/24/12 03:57 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
And nobody knows what that "level" will be.....

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (11/24/12 03:58 PM)
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#1990395 - 11/24/12 04:42 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4417
Loc: San Jose, CA
Clef
"...So many other businesses, which want to move product, use advertizing to stimulate demand, but piano makers seem to know better."

Furtwangler
"...There are 4 ads for piano makers on this page alone."

Clef
Preaching to the choir. Or, targeted marketing, to say it another way. But I was talking about mass marketing, intended to inform people (whose attention it had escaped) that they desire a certain product.

Instead of wresting sales interest from one brand to another, it actually generates new sales and creates a broader--- and less precarious--- base.
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#1990401 - 11/24/12 04:59 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Jeff Clef]
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1243
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Stephen Foster wrote a wonderful song entitled:

"Beautiful Dreamer"

Dear Furtwangler,
There is also a wonderful truism that "sarcasm is the lowest form of wit".

Kind regards,

Robert.

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#1990415 - 11/24/12 05:26 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Furtwangler]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4379
Loc: Jersey Shore
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Water seeks its own level. We will have enough piano shops that we need based on demand. No more, no less.


I hadn't thought of that.


Glad to have helped..

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#1990432 - 11/24/12 06:06 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
You ever think that pianos stores are similar to the companies that sold buggy whips that Danny Devito speaks about in Other People's Money?

... an increasing share of a shrinking market ... ?

If I had the space and the money for monthly tunings ... and regular maintenance, I'd own a nine foot Bösendorfer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7rvupKipmY
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#1990454 - 11/24/12 07:19 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Robert 45]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Robert 45
Stephen Foster wrote a wonderful song entitled:

"Beautiful Dreamer"

Dear Furtwangler,
There is also a wonderful truism that "sarcasm is the lowest form of wit".

Kind regards,

Robert.


I think of myself as a wit.

My wife says I am half right.

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#1990456 - 11/24/12 07:20 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Mark...]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Water seeks its own level. We will have enough piano shops that we need based on demand. No more, no less.


I hadn't thought of that.


Glad to have helped..


Just as long as there are always enough Estonia dealers - that's all I really care about.

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#1990458 - 11/24/12 07:29 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Jeff Clef]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1530
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
Clef
"...So many other businesses, which want to move product, use advertizing to stimulate demand, but piano makers seem to know better."

Furtwangler
"...There are 4 ads for piano makers on this page alone."

Clef
Preaching to the choir. Or, targeted marketing, to say it another way. But I was talking about mass marketing, intended to inform people (whose attention it had escaped) that they desire a certain product.

Instead of wresting sales interest from one brand to another, it actually generates new sales and creates a broader--- and less precarious--- base.


What the majority of members of this forum do not appreciate is the very small size of most piano mfrs. You might be astonished to find how small they are - including some of those advertising on this page.

They cannot afford "mass marketing". Not even close.

A small "mass marketing" budget would dwarf their annual sales volume.

And thus they certainly cannot - and should not even consider - attempting to "broaden the base". That would be suicidal, especially in a declining product category like acoustic pianos. It would be like trying to hold back the tide with a broom.

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#1990481 - 11/24/12 08:22 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Dave Horne]
dsch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 325
Loc: florida
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
You ever think that pianos stores are similar to the companies that sold buggy whips that Danny Devito speaks about in Other People's Money?

... an increasing share of a shrinking market ... ?

If I had the space and the money for monthly tunings ... and regular maintenance, I'd own a nine foot Bösendorfer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7rvupKipmY



This reminds me of a clip I show my Survey of Calculus students regarding elasticity of demand.

From "The Wire"--profanity warning:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGgRtiCVo2w

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#1990482 - 11/24/12 08:29 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: wizman]
Macy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 611
Originally Posted By: wizman
i work for a major dealer here in the states and i can tell you that, for the last year, business has been extremely rough. as a sales guy, i can assure everyone that less and less people are considering grands and even verticals. most of our business is digitals. ... people's priorities are just mixed up. ...

Perhaps you don't realize that some people's priorities have changed, and I wouldn't concede they are mixed up. For instance, until a few years ago I wasted hours driving through traffic to retail stores, dealing with salesman that didn't know their products or could care less that I got the best product for my needs, settled for products of the "wrong" brand that were in stock at one store or drove all over town to find a store that had the right brand, etc. etc. etc. My priorities were mixed up then. Now I buy a huge amount of stuff over the net whenever I can and save my time and frustration for more worthy priorities.

People change their priorities to better use their time and energy (physical and emotional) when better opportunities or better ways of doing things become available. Perhaps the move to digital pianos is in part because many people are fed up with some of the practices of the acoustic piano industry and now have a digital alternative. My recent negative buying experiences were discussed above so I won't reiterate them again here. Except to say, that anyone that willingly participates in the "car dealer sales process" to buy a piano is an idiot in my mind. I quit buying cars that way over 30 years ago and wasn't about to do it again to buy a piano now. (Unfortunately, the poor quality in the acoustic piano industry, and the lack of competition and scarcity of product in piano stores precludes many methods of working around their archaic process that are easy to use in the car industry.)


Edited by Macy (11/24/12 08:31 PM)
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CVP-409GP, Vintage D, Ivory II GP's & American Concert D, True Keys American D, Ravenscroft 275, Garritan Authorized Steinway, Alicia's Keys, EWQL Pianos, MainStage, iPad/forScore/PageFlip Cicada, Custom Mac MIDI/Audio Software Design, Macs Everywhere

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#1990521 - 11/24/12 11:03 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3869
Now that we've all moaned about the reality.....what is the fix? Is there a fix? Should Guitar Center and Sam Ash be selling acoustic pianos? At least people come to those stores and would get exposed to acoustic pianos, if they were sold there. I haven't seen much traffic in the piano stores lately. Improved economy won't be enough. The young folks are of a digital mind. One store I visited sells 75% digital, 25% acoustic. I give it 20 years, and folks will yearn for a new acoustic piano, because all they can afford is a digital. Just as many yearn for a Steinway or other similar concert quality instrument today.

I predicted the coming digital dominance some 5 years ago in these forums. I'm sad to say my suggestions then have come true.
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#1990526 - 11/24/12 11:28 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Bob]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3588
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Bob
Now that we've all moaned about the reality.....what is the fix? Is there a fix? Should Guitar Center and Sam Ash be selling acoustic pianos? At least people come to those stores and would get exposed to acoustic pianos, if they were sold there. I haven't seen much traffic in the piano stores lately. Improved economy won't be enough. The young folks are of a digital mind. One store I visited sells 75% digital, 25% acoustic. I give it 20 years, and folks will yearn for a new acoustic piano, because all they can afford is a digital. Just as many yearn for a Steinway or other similar concert quality instrument today.

I predicted the coming digital dominance some 5 years ago in these forums. I'm sad to say my suggestions then have come true.



The digital dominance is more a product of the economic times than the quality of digital pianos. I checked out all the major players in the digital piano market recently, and while they have come a long way, they are still a LONG way off the experience of an acoustic piano. I think people still want acoustic pianos more than they want digitals - it's just that money isn't as plentiful as it used to be. I think the digital trend is not as powerful as it's suggested sometimes. ie. I don't believe it's driven by a digital mindset that goes along with smartphones, tablets etc. I believe it's driven by the lower cost in hard economic times. There is certainly a battle between digital vs acoustic for other reasons including portability and size, but I think it comes down to if and when the economy of the US and parts of Europe recover. If it takes too long, the majority of piano dealers will disappear and it will be hard to get them back given how expensive a start-up piano store is to get off the ground. Markets will be lost to digital stores and it becomes a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy - people prefer digitals because that's all they can buy. If the economy turns around sooner, more dealers will be around and there could easily be a recovery of the piano market. Western countries have short memories, when times are good, they spend. Let's hope that's the case if the economy does bounce back. After trying out digital pianos recently, all I can say is we really need acoustic pianos to still be available!

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#1990607 - 11/25/12 07:46 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: ando]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
You know what I would love?

In the USA from movies (I have not been to the US in 20 years) in Baseball there are always batting cages, where for a couple of dollars you can have a go at 20 balls or something. Same with driving ranges, even shooting ranges shooting things you would never own like a 50 cal hand gun.

What is missing is something like a piano range. Where you can hire a piano for a couple of hours to jam.

Granted there is I suppose piano rental (not the buying kind) but even in 'pool a big city I can't find one, all of them demand I BUY the piano if I take up a rental.

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#1990629 - 11/25/12 09:03 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
rxd Online   happy
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1721
Loc: London, England
Most specialist piano stores in UK have teaching/ practice studios for rent by the hour.

Rental agreements generally provide for a percentage of rental to be applied to possible purchase. Taking up this offer is entirely optional.
_________________________
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"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#1990644 - 11/25/12 10:17 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1176
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: justpin


What is missing is something like a piano range. Where you can hire a piano for a couple of hours to jam.
Granted there is I suppose piano rental (not the buying kind) but even in 'pool a big city I can't find one, all of them demand I BUY the piano if I take up a rental.


Greetings,
If you were in my neck of the woods, there is always a new action somewhere nearby in a recent piano that I would love to have someone play on. I don't have a settling-in machine like the factories, so it would be great to have someone that wanted to really lay into it when it was new. Rachmaninoff or rock and roll, it wouldn't matter.
So, maybe if you look around at the local rebuilders, you may find that they would would welcome a player and would like to put a freshly built action under your hands for a while before the final regulation and voicing. I would. It can't hurt to call some up and offer your services as an action stabilizer in return for a place to play.
Regards,

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#1990648 - 11/25/12 10:22 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
I'm setting here thinking... That's a first huh???? ME thinking??? smile It almost seems to me that piano manufacturer's, Kawai and Yamaha come to mind first, are shooting themselves in the foot. That is, they used to make acoustic pianos only, sold TONS of them, Yamaha still does by comparison to say, Steinway just as an example but with the both of them also making digitals and acoustic pianos, perhaps to survive, one line has to give in many aspects that being quality to some degree, to get them out the door and still make a profit.

They seem to be focusing more on digitals and making them better rather than accoustics making them better quality.... I know, it helps them to survive either way... I do know that the profit margin seems to be (or so I was told by one of our local dealers) much greater on digitals than on acoustic pianos.

Just 1.2 more cents worth...... smile
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1990657 - 11/25/12 11:00 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3588
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
I'm setting here thinking... That's a first huh???? ME thinking??? smile It almost seems to me that piano manufacturer's, Kawai and Yamaha come to mind first, are shooting themselves in the foot. That is, they used to make acoustic pianos only, sold TONS of them, Yamaha still does by comparison to say, Steinway just as an example but with the both of them also making digitals and acoustic pianos, perhaps to survive, one line has to give in many aspects that being quality to some degree, to get them out the door and still make a profit.

They seem to be focusing more on digitals and making them better rather than accoustics making them better quality.... I know, it helps them to survive either way... I do know that the profit margin seems to be (or so I was told by one of our local dealers) much greater on digitals than on acoustic pianos.

Just 1.2 more cents worth...... smile


Don't you think Yamaha has demonstrated a commitment to their C series though, Jerry? People have been heaping plenty of praise on the new CX series. And Yamaha has been copping plenty of flak for their relatively poor innovation in digital pianos lately, compared to Roland and Kawai. Kawai has also had a number of complaints about quality control in their digital lines, but I haven't heard the same complaints about the Kawai acoustics - although I wasn't super impressed last time I played the RX pianos, I have to say.

I think these two companies are fully committed to their acoustic future, but also see it as imperative to complete the full lineup of pianos right through the digital sector. Does make sense.

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#1990725 - 11/25/12 02:28 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 638
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
These things go in cycles. I have an old Armand (a Heinzman stencil) that was built around 1900 in a time when they couldn't make pianos fast enough.

You have to remember that the upright piano was a Victorian phenomenon. It was built to go through doorways and snug up against the walls of Victorian parlours. It beat out other detritus such as square pianos and other forms that are now rare, and was paralleled by the now-defunct parlour pump organ.

The upright once again became the weapon of choice because of the direction of popular music, before, during and after the First World War, then found new life again in the Jazz Age.

It must be said that there was always a glut of pianos out there, because most were bought for people who didn't play them- especially kids. I don't know what the exact stats are, but a good number of concert grand pianos were bought to decorate living-rooms, and in the hope that children would take up the craft. As of this moment, there are two grands in the paper, free to the first person who comes and gets them. And there are pages of free pianos in the ads section of the paper. Check Kijiji, for one example.

There are several reasons why people prefer electronic pianos: portability, cost, apartment living which necessitates headphones, and the fact that people no longer live in the same house for generations. Moving a piano is a major pain in the arse. The piano I have now was given to me, and it took six of us to move the damned thing because of all the stairs and twists and turns.

But as I say, these things go in cycles. Upright bass sales were 'way down too, but sales are hot one again, partly because of Bluegrass, which has made that particular style of bass a hot item. The top makers of Bluegrass basses can barely keep up with demand right now.

In the piano world, the dedicated players of real pianos are and always have been in the minority. What the numbers reflect is popularity, such as you find when a particular breed of dog becomes very popular because of a movie. This leads to SPCA's being flooded with unwanted pets, and the same is true of unwanted pianos right now.

What we have right now is a buyer's market. If I had the space, I'd rent a 5-ton truck and load it up with unwanted pianos. All it would take to unload 'em all at a good price is for someone to make a movie about Jerry Lee Lewis.


Edited by gsmonks (11/25/12 02:29 PM)

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#1990813 - 11/25/12 08:28 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Oh sure, I do think that Yamaha is trying hard on both ends of the spectrum. Digitals and acoustics. I think when one attempts all aspects of the field, they can over extend their abilities too. At least, that's my take on it. smile Like myself for example. If I tried selling, rebuilding, reconditioning, refinishing, replacing pin blocks and on and on, I couldn't do it all well so I specialize in what I do best.

I realize of course, that Yamaha and Kawai are quite large and can diversify to some extent and probably should. I'm just thinking out loud basically looking at it from another angle is all.

I'm wondering if they both focused stronger on quality in all aspects of the piano sizes, more would sell and we'd all have less complaints too.

There are certain models of many piano companies that I truly dislike tuning due to the apparent lack of concern for quality in those particular models. Fixing that would certainly help them to sell more of them because more of us would recommend them.

Some of the distaste is preference for the feel of the piano and/or sound from pianists. Mine is more of a dislike of how they tune or stay in tune for one.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1990900 - 11/26/12 01:53 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
What we have right now is a buyer's market. If I had the space, I'd rent a 5-ton truck and load it up with unwanted pianos.


While this is true for a great many pianos out there, at same time there's others actually hard to get.

The irony of the times we're living in...

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (11/26/12 01:55 AM)
_________________________
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#1990924 - 11/26/12 03:38 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
sleepingdog Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/11
Posts: 5
Luckily for me, here in Vienna there are still a good couple of shops alive. But as someone has already mentioned, many shops need to offer "something different" in order to make money.

An approach that seems to work is what the "klaviergalerie" is doing. They offer very cheap practice rooms (around 4 € / hour) which is perfect for those of us who can't have a grand piano in their tiny flats. You book online, go there and just play for 1-2 hours. On the one hand they make good money with it, since these rooms hardly need any maintenance, on the other hand you have to cross their showroom in order to get there - which means that those who are "generally" interested in buying a piano will stop and test them.

Originally Posted By: ando
I think people still want acoustic pianos more than they want digitals - it's just that money isn't as plentiful as it used to be. I think the digital trend is not as powerful as it's suggested sometimes. ie. I don't believe it's driven by a digital mindset that goes along with smartphones, tablets etc. I believe it's driven by the lower cost in hard economic times.


I doubt that money is "that" big of an issue - for me it was definitely the space/noise-issue. I could easily afford a real acoustic piano, but it's just impossible if you live in an apartment-building with thin walls. I mean, there is the law that "allows" you to practice 1-2 hours a day, but then each and everybody in the building will hate you. Not worth it.


Edited by sleepingdog (11/26/12 03:42 AM)

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#1990932 - 11/26/12 04:40 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: sleepingdog]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3588
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: sleepingdog


I doubt that money is "that" big of an issue - for me it was definitely the space/noise-issue. I could easily afford a real acoustic piano, but it's just impossible if you live in an apartment-building with thin walls. I mean, there is the law that "allows" you to practice 1-2 hours a day, but then each and everybody in the building will hate you. Not worth it.


There are parts of the world where discretionary spending has slowed to a crawl. Even people who have the money are not spending it as freely because they are feeling insecure about what lies ahead. I think it's a bigger factor than you realise - including in the US. We are lucky that Australia and Austria are doing relatively well.

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#1990991 - 11/26/12 09:35 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10483
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
I'm setting here thinking... That's a first huh???? ME thinking??? smile It almost seems to me that piano manufacturer's, Kawai and Yamaha come to mind first, are shooting themselves in the foot. That is, they used to make acoustic pianos only, sold TONS of them, Yamaha still does by comparison to say, Steinway just as an example but with the both of them also making digitals and acoustic pianos, perhaps to survive, one line has to give in many aspects that being quality to some degree, to get them out the door and still make a profit.

They seem to be focusing more on digitals and making them better rather than accoustics making them better quality.... I know, it helps them to survive either way... I do know that the profit margin seems to be (or so I was told by one of our local dealers) much greater on digitals than on acoustic pianos.

Just 1.2 more cents worth...... smile


Jerry,

You and I very rarely disagree, but I have to disagree on this one.

There has been and continues to be a great deal of improvement in acoustic pianos. Kawai has made strides with the Millennium actions, Yamaha with the "C" Series in the 80s and the current "X" series; Young Chang with Del's designs, and to a lesser degree the Pramberger designs, now incorporated in some Samick lines.

We are seeing other experimenting with carbon-fiber soundboards and bridges with no downbearing. Self-tuning acoustic are only a few steps away. Stanwood, Touch-Weight, PianoDisc, and other after market innovations are significant.

The use of CNC machines have improved the tolerances of manufacturing and entry-level pianos are less expensive and of better quality that they were in the past.

Improvements in acoustic pianos are limited by the "traditional" aspects of piano ownership. Most musical instrument players want an instrument that is the same as they were trained on. Designs of stringed (and other) instruments have changed very little since their invention.

Acoustic pianos are "classic' instruments, bur within that stricture, I see a good deal of evolution.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

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Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

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

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#1991046 - 11/26/12 11:41 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
Wish I would have jumped into this thread earlier in its evolution. Lots of good points, including beethoven986's 7-point post on what is my page 4. And Steve is dead-on concerning acoustic improvements.. I'm not an industry expert, but I can still see it happening. Where I'd like to jump in is this:

Originally Posted By: ando
Originally Posted By: sleepingdog


I doubt that money is "that" big of an issue - for me it was definitely the space/noise-issue. I could easily afford a real acoustic piano, but it's just impossible if you live in an apartment-building with thin walls. I mean, there is the law that "allows" you to practice 1-2 hours a day, but then each and everybody in the building will hate you. Not worth it.


There are parts of the world where discretionary spending has slowed to a crawl. Even people who have the money are not spending it as freely because they are feeling insecure about what lies ahead. I think it's a bigger factor than you realise - including in the US. We are lucky that Australia and Austria are doing relatively well.

Money is absolutely one of two major issues (the other being the gradual culture shift away from forms of entertainment that would require a piano). Any time there is a recession/depression, money is tight. People begin to budget, sometimes for the first time in their life. The first thing they cut out are "luxury" goods. Here, you have to be careful-- true luxury goods (the stuff only the super-wealthy can buy) will continue to sell. But moderate luxury goods (the stuff the upper-middle, and sometimes middle-middle, can afford), practically disappear.

Unlike some other, more positive posts about the state of the piano industry, I am not sure that a true "recovery" is coming. We're still headed for a fiscal cliff. So long as the population is aging, wages are stagnated, jobs are scarce, and housing is in the toilet, I don't see how the general economy is expected to recover, let alone the piano market. If people don't have discretionary funds to spend, this type of market will never recover. It may change to adapt to the market, but I don't consider change to be a "recovery" of the old market. I consider it an adaptation/evolution in order to survive in the new market.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1991052 - 11/26/12 11:53 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Steve Cohen]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
I'm setting here thinking... That's a first huh???? ME thinking??? smile It almost seems to me that piano manufacturer's, Kawai and Yamaha come to mind first, are shooting themselves in the foot. That is, they used to make acoustic pianos only, sold TONS of them, Yamaha still does by comparison to say, Steinway just as an example but with the both of them also making digitals and acoustic pianos, perhaps to survive, one line has to give in many aspects that being quality to some degree, to get them out the door and still make a profit.

They seem to be focusing more on digitals and making them better rather than accoustics making them better quality.... I know, it helps them to survive either way... I do know that the profit margin seems to be (or so I was told by one of our local dealers) much greater on digitals than on acoustic pianos.

Just 1.2 more cents worth...... smile


Jerry,

You and I very rarely disagree, but I have to disagree on this one.

There has been and continues to be a great deal of improvement in acoustic pianos. Kawai has made strides with the Millennium actions, Yamaha with the "C" Series in the 80s and the current "X" series; Young Chang with Del's designs, and to a lesser degree the Pramberger designs, now incorporated in some Samick lines.

We are seeing other experimenting with carbon-fiber soundboards and bridges with no downbearing. Self-tuning acoustic are only a few steps away. Stanwood, Touch-Weight, PianoDisc, and other after market innovations are significant.

The use of CNC machines have improved the tolerances of manufacturing and entry-level pianos are less expensive and of better quality that they were in the past.

Improvements in acoustic pianos are limited by the "traditional" aspects of piano ownership. Most musical instrument players want an instrument that is the same as they were trained on. Designs of stringed (and other) instruments have changed very little since their invention.

Acoustic pianos are "classic' instruments, bur within that stricture, I see a good deal of evolution.


Hi Steve,

Thanks for your comments! smile

I know they are making improvements. wink Didn't mean it that way. Meant they are (maybe) shooting themselves by trying to sell both products and that greater improvements might be made if they focused more on one or the other. But, I could be all wet too in my way of thinking about it.. I'm open minded about it..
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1991064 - 11/26/12 12:22 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
SoundThumb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/10
Posts: 341
Loc: San Diego, CA
I know that we often bemoan the fact that digital pianos are replacing acoustics pianos and pushing them and stores that sell them to obsolescence. But consider that just the opposite might be happening. Could it be that the introduction of digital pianos and low cost electric keyboards have pulled in new players who otherwise would have taken up guitar or no instrument at all? Then some fraction of those new players get hooked and eventually move up to an acoustic instrument? I think that it is quite possible that without the advent of DPs, the market for acoustics would currently be even smaller.

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#1991205 - 11/26/12 06:27 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: SoundThumb]
Amaruk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 802
Loc: New England, USA
Originally Posted By: SoundThumb
I know that we often bemoan the fact that digital pianos are replacing acoustics pianos and pushing them and stores that sell them to obsolescence. But consider that just the opposite might be happening. Could it be that the introduction of digital pianos and low cost electric keyboards have pulled in new players who otherwise would have taken up guitar or no instrument at all? Then some fraction of those new players get hooked and eventually move up to an acoustic instrument? I think that it is quite possible that without the advent of DPs, the market for acoustics would currently be even smaller.

+1
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#1991208 - 11/26/12 06:32 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: tonedefreegan]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1766
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
Originally Posted By: justpin
Its to do with tiger parents


Interesting. And funny! Especially the bit about guitarists disguising themselves on youtube. We are talking about adult guitarists, I assume. Which just makes it that much funnier - grown humans going to that much trouble for such a silly reason. What, I wonder, do they think their parents will do? fall down dead from the shame of having a guitarist in the family?



I used to tell my parents that I played piano in a house of ill repute. It was easier than telling them that I worked on LaSalle Street.
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

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#1991219 - 11/26/12 06:58 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1969
Loc: Philadelphia area
SoundThumb, I was going to make the same point. Most of the pianos I service are flanked by Keyboards. Just about every pianist, amateur and professional, have both acoustic and digital. With, of course, a spattering of synthesizers. The "mini moog" seems to be very popular item these days.

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#1991220 - 11/26/12 07:12 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: sleepingdog]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19369
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: sleepingdog
I doubt that money is "that" big of an issue - for me it was definitely the space/noise-issue. I could easily afford a real acoustic piano, but it's just impossible if you live in an apartment-building with thin walls. I mean, there is the law that "allows" you to practice 1-2 hours a day, but then each and everybody in the building will hate you. Not worth it.
I don't think this is a critical issue for the population in general, because it wouldn't explain the recent decrease in sales unless you think people have started living in apartments more frequently than before.

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#1991224 - 11/26/12 07:26 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
jrcallan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 364
Loc: Pennsylvania
Aside from issues of the recession and discretionary income, I bought a Casio digital piano at Costco on a lark a few years ago. Now I have a used Kawai studio upright, am taking lessons and have become knowledgeable about baby grands since I plan to acquire one within the next few years.

So, to SoundThumb's point, if it weren't for a cheap digital, I wouldn't be in the market for an acoustic at all.

BTW, I still make much use of the Casio AP-45 which has held up very well indeed.

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#1991233 - 11/26/12 07:56 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
dsch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 325
Loc: florida
I think all of those reasons are valid but first and foremost is reduced (or zero) discretionary income.

My economic reality today is very different comapred to when I was young.

Not too long ago, the difference between a tuning from an RPTG tech and a non-RPTG tech was the difference between eating for a week and not eating. I am sure my RPTG tech did not understand this at the time but his cost for less than one hour of labor was literally a week of take-home pay for me.

I'm doing better now and thinking about upgrading. I have the cash. But it would mean giving up two years of living expenses at a time when the CNN calculator says I need $750K in today's dollars to retire at 65 (not really all that far away).

So dealers, please keep these facts in mind. It is not that we don't want to support you. We do! But we don't want to commit economic suicide in doing so.

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#1991235 - 11/26/12 08:00 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: dsch]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19369
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: dsch
I am sure my RPTG tech did not understand this at the time but his cost for less than one hour of labor was literally a week of take-home pay for me.
Even at the minimum wage, it seems like 40 hours of work would pay far more than an hour of a tech's time?

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#1991238 - 11/26/12 08:03 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: pianoloverus]
dsch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 325
Loc: florida
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: dsch
I am sure my RPTG tech did not understand this at the time but his cost for less than one hour of labor was literally a week of take-home pay for me.
Even at the minimum wage, it seems like 40 hours of work would pay far more than an hour of a tech's time?


Not in my county's school board. It was literally poverty level. They cut weekly hours to 35 and pay was only for 9 months with summers off. It was the best I could do at the time.

Some college adjunct positions are similarly low. It beat the heck out of unemployment, though!

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#1992169 - 11/28/12 09:47 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Dave B]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3869
Originally Posted By: Dave B
SoundThumb, I was going to make the same point. Most of the pianos I service are flanked by Keyboards. Just about every pianist, amateur and professional, have both acoustic and digital. With, of course, a spattering of synthesizers. The "mini moog" seems to be very popular item these days.


I find digital pianos with acoustic as well, however, teachers report that 50% of their students only have a digital piano, or worse, a small keyboard. A piano store reported selling 75% digital, 25% acoustic. Digital are the Spinets of yesteryear. The "starter" pianos.

Yes, acoustic piano sales will climb as the economy improves, but acoustic pianos are still on a long term, decades long, downward slope. 200,000 per year in the 1970's to 35,000 per year today is a downward slope in acoustic pianos - especially when you consider population increase since the 1970's. In contrast, digital piano numbers climb higher each year.

I would have to see a lot more than 35,000 acoustic sold in a year to call it a growth market.
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