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Topic Options
#1998255 - 12/12/12 09:42 AM Fact or fiction?
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
Was in a piano shop again blush the biggest one on the area today and the sales man had a chat with me about a number of things.

He pretty much said digital pianos made in China on a production line cost very little to make what with common parts to most of the production line.

So when you buy a digital piano even the fabled NU1 the majority of the price you pay isn't in the putting together of it. The majority of the price is to pay the patents and royalties on the sampled sounds.

He went onto say that Yams can be an even bigger rip off because Yam makes acoustic pianos and can sample their own pianos. While Casio doesn't and therefore has to buy in samples and pay royalties on them.

He was of course trying to make me buy an acoustic piano and was heavily biased towards them. He kept pushing me towards this far too expensive Yamaha B1. Had I been there longer I'd have probably signed a piano rental agreement....

Stating that a piano I buy from him (acoustic) will last a life time. While a DP won't and next year when Yam comes out with the NU2 then your machine is then out of date.


How much of this is true how much is salesman spiel?

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#1998263 - 12/12/12 10:01 AM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

The electronics market,computers, stereos, calculators, digital pianos, and any other item I failed to mention, is all pretty much the same; ever-changing rapidly, and outdates itself constantly.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1998265 - 12/12/12 10:09 AM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9200
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
There is some truth in what he said. I have owned several digital pianos over the past 25 years or so. They do not last like a good acoustic piano, at least not with consistent heavy use. I was also moving a couple of them regularly.

However, a good digital piano is a better instrument to play than an acoustic piano that is in bad shape.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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#1998280 - 12/12/12 10:44 AM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...the majority of the price you pay isn't in the putting together of it. The majority of the price is to pay the patents and royalties on the sampled sounds..."

I suppose Microsoft, the movie and music industry, and many others can breathe a sigh of relief now that the Chinese manufacturers have become so conscientious about this 'patents and royalties' thing.

You may be better served by setting your own budget for what you can afford at this time, and by doing your own research into the product that will best meet your needs--- rather than being arm-wrestled into something you may regret.

AP or DP (or, eventually, both), I suggest you consider not only the product's suitability for your needs, but also the company's reputation and the care they give their customers.

A new acoustic piano could be expected to last 40 -50 years or more, with good care and maintenance. Digitals will last a shorter time. Mostly what happens is that technology marches on and leaves the models current today behind, or parts and service become unavailable. Of course, if you beat either to death, death will come sooner--- but this can hardly come as a surprise.

Factual or fictive--- what good would it do you to know?
_________________________
Clef


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#1998294 - 12/12/12 11:10 AM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
Its the old pinocchio story.. a digital wishing to be a real piano.. thats why they keep striving and upgrading every few years..I have a Yamaha p60.. I hope it'll be my last
digital ever! the only good thing is you can play with headphones..
it can't beat the feel/sound of the real thing..


Edited by Bob Newbie (12/12/12 07:17 PM)

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#1998304 - 12/12/12 11:17 AM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19280
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

The electronics market,computers, stereos, calculators, digital pianos, and any other item I failed to mention, is all pretty much the same; ever-changing rapidly, and outdates itself constantly.
Actually, I think this is a false "negative" about digital pianos. Although digital piano prodcuts are ever changing I do not think a digital piano outdates itself so quickly unless one has a poor digital or one feels one must have every latest improvement. To me that's kind of like saying every piano without a WNG action is outdated and somehow inferior or saying that a 12 year old Estonia has outdated itself.

It may be true that digitals don't last as long especially with the heavy use some of them get and may not be worth the money the repair, but I think that's partly because they are so relatively inexpensive to begin with.


Edited by pianoloverus (12/12/12 05:48 PM)

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#1998327 - 12/12/12 12:01 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8491
Loc: Georgia, USA
I'm sure there was some sales pitch/seed thoughts in the salesman's conversation.

I personally prefer an acoustic piano, but I do own a Casio Privia 310 digital that I play regularly; it is light and easy to transport. Also, the used Casio's I see on CL and eBay sell for almost as much as a new one; so, that does not compute with the idea that they are outdated so quickly.

Thing is, you can buy a pretty decent digital piano for much less that a decent acoustic, although the acoustic piano has many advantages over the digital, IMHO.

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1998348 - 12/12/12 12:40 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
DanS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 555
Originally Posted By: justpin

He went onto say that Yams can be an even bigger rip off because Yam makes acoustic pianos and can sample their own pianos. While Casio doesn't and therefore has to buy in samples and pay royalties on them.


I call BS on this. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm quite sure that you don't have to pay royalties to the companies of instruments you sample. You'd probably have to license use of their name, if you wanted to advertise what brand was used, though.
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#1998379 - 12/12/12 01:32 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: DanS]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2730
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Originally Posted By: DanS
Originally Posted By: justpin

He went onto say that Yams can be an even bigger rip off because Yam makes acoustic pianos and can sample their own pianos. While Casio doesn't and therefore has to buy in samples and pay royalties on them.


I call BS on this. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm quite sure that you don't have to pay royalties to the companies of instruments you sample. You'd probably have to license use of their name, if you wanted to advertise what brand was used, though.
Bingo!

Here's the reality, an acoustic piano produces sound in a way that mere speakers cannot emulate. The dynamic response of a digital is different from an acoustic. A well made digital should last a long time, maybe 10 - 20 years. I've had a Yamaha P60 for about 6 - 7 years and so far it's absolutely fine for what it does. I don't use it as much as I used to because I don't have to worry about disturbing other people in the house. In terms of satisfying musical experience my Estonia 190 is so much better that unless I need a keyboard in my studio or outside the house I don't play the Yamaha.

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#1998510 - 12/12/12 05:47 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

Actually, I think this is a false "negative" about digital pianos. Although digital piano products are ever changing I do not think a digital piano outdates itself unless one has a poor digital or one feels one must have the latest improvement.


Well,
If you believe that is a false negative then it would be best to have a conversation with the companies that produce the digitals. New models come out every few months or years, the producers claim the older models are now obsolete and parts become suddenly unavailable.

All of the electronics I mentioned previously are guilty of this fact. It is the only way to get the consumer to continue to consume.

This is exactly why one can purchase a digital piano and then the following year it is practically worthless. I don’t make it so, the market does.

The electronic goods market in no way relates or compares to the acoustic piano market.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1998518 - 12/12/12 06:00 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19280
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

Actually, I think this is a false "negative" about digital pianos. Although digital piano products are ever changing I do not think a digital piano outdates itself unless one has a poor digital or one feels one must have the latest improvement.


Well,
If you believe that is a false negative then it would be best to have a conversation with the companies that produce the digitals. New models come out every few months or years, the producers claim the older models are now obsolete and parts become suddenly unavailable.

All of the electronics I mentioned previously are guilty of this fact. It is the only way to get the consumer to continue to consume.
First I'd say there is a difference between saying the digital becomes outdated and saying the parts are no longer available.

The availability of parts on older models is only relevant if they need new parts. The Yamaha Clavinova I used to play on for musical productions when I was teaching could not have gotten much harder use than it did but it was still going strong after ten years.

If one includes computers among electronics than my computer has hardware insurance that I purchased and is covered for the first five or six years.


Edited by pianoloverus (12/12/12 06:19 PM)

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#1998542 - 12/12/12 06:44 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada


Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
First I'd say there is a difference between saying the digital becomes outdated and saying the parts are no longer available.


When parts are no longer available the unit becomes outdated. Have fun being continually obtuse if that is how you would like to spend your time here.

Oh and BTW your beloved computer after five or six years is junk. Purchasing all the insurance you would like does not mitigate that fact.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1998546 - 12/12/12 06:57 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10471
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
A digital piano that is still satisfying its owbers needs is not obsolete, regardless of age or technology.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

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

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

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#1998577 - 12/12/12 08:44 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1955
Loc: Philadelphia area
Is my Christmas sweater outdated after 20yrs? Don't read too much into what the salesman says about digital keyboards. I know people who have 15-20yr old keyboards that are working fine. Yamaha has been updating their acoustic 'smaller grand' line over the last few years. So the GB1 could be discontinued and replaced by another smaller grand model. Oh! The thought of being out of date for twice as long.

The decision is simply practical. Which one has the features that suit your needs and situation. Your not going to beat the sound and playability of good acoustic grand. But the keyboard is a different species that offers portability and volume controls,etc.

To answer your question; Yes, it is salesman spiel; and Yes, there is a speck of truth in what he is saying. I'm just wondering how labor and royalty costs are figuring into buying decisions.

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#1998580 - 12/12/12 08:54 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19280
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos


Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
First I'd say there is a difference between saying the digital becomes outdated and saying the parts are no longer available.


When parts are no longer available the unit becomes outdated. Have fun being continually obtuse if that is how you would like to spend your time here.

Oh and BTW your beloved computer after five or six years is junk. Purchasing all the insurance you would like does not mitigate that fact.
My computer is fine in every respect for my needs and is certainly not junk in any sense of the word.

I quoted your post about digital pianos become outdated(using your definition about parts becoming available which I think is the one that's obtuse) on the digital pianos forum and asked for opinions. Last time I checked the posts virtually no one agreed with you about the need to replace electronic parts being a common problem or any difficulty in finding replacement parts if the need actually occurs.



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

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#1998589 - 12/12/12 09:09 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

New models come out every few months or years, the producers claim the older models are now obsolete and parts become suddenly unavailable.

All of the electronics I mentioned previously are guilty of this fact. It is the only way to get the consumer to continue to consume.

This is exactly why one can purchase a digital piano and then the following year it is practically worthless. I don’t make it so, the market does.


This is simply not true.

Case in point:

Back around 2004, I purchased a Roland RD700sx, a top of the line stage piano. I used it gigging virtually every weekend, and on several tours...lots of heavy usage and travel, playing Jerry Lee Lewis style piano among other styles. (read...lots of very hard usage).

It never gave a bit of trouble, and I only sold it six years later to upgrade to the more recent incarnation of the piano, the RD700gx. The reasons I upgraded were two: First, I got a great deal on the new unit, and Second, I was concerned that the heavy useage on the old one might cause it to fail while out on the road.

The new unit is essentially the same piano, plays virtually the same, and sounds the same as the old unit. Its like a 2012 Corvette compared to a 2010 Corvette...same basic unit, a few tweaks and changes.

The older unit sold for about 65% of its original cost. It was snapped up very quickly, despite its age, and the buyer was thrilled to get it at that price, which was a bit less than the completed sales of the same unit on e-Bay.

Hardly "practically worthless".

The bottom line is that if you buy a quality late-model digital, it will not be obsoleted because by now (2012), the technology is mature, in that the good units actually sound like real pianos, play decently, and have reputable manufacturers that provide parts.

The units that are practically worthless are those built back when digital pianos were a new thing. In the store where I work, a used Korg from 1999 or so sits, no one wants it, because it sounds like electronic door chimes instead of a real piano. And its keyboard feels weird, and it weighs a ton. Ante-deluvian obsolete technology. The digital piano world is much different now.

ps...If you want to hear what the Roland RD700gx sounds like, listen to my free song link in my signature below.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1998599 - 12/12/12 09:27 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Annitenth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 462
Loc: Texas
I bought my digital almost 18 years ago, and it's still working fine with absolutely no expense through the years. If I could only have one, I'd choose a "real" piano, but the digital is fun and not necessarily a quickly outdated piece of junk.
_________________________
Anne
Bsendorfer 225
Technics PCM Digital Ensemble PR307

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#1998607 - 12/12/12 09:41 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2705
Loc: Atlanta, GA
If you are looking at very high-end digitals, the technology and value curve is the steepest. When you compare to a good but much more modest level of acoustic, the value curve is more flat. Start moving up the levels of acoustic pianos and see how steep it gets. The $$$ (or for you ₤'s) intersect at very different points on the curve. But remember that location on the curve does not actually translate into high or low value, it only indicates how much more you have to spend to gain incremental improvements.

The spiel is arguing a position, not explaining a set of facts.

There is a value intersection that I commonly run into with customers needing a first piano. Think of the what kind of acoustic piano you can own (including all costs, transportation and service for the first 3 years) for $2,500. First, there is nothing new with factory warranty. And generally you would be looking at near entry level if a late-model used or quite old if mid-level and ancient if high-level. Compare what you get in a digital at that range. Accurate, consistent performance, clean & new cabinet, 3 year (and sometimes 5 year) factory warranty, and certainly some features not available on an acoustic.

Move up to $5k and the digitals become more of a niche product and feature driven while some new and certainly late-model used acoustics become very appealing to middle of the road, first piano buyers. Are you in the niche or not?

What is also interesting to me is that while your saleman is pushing the middle of the road aspects of an affordable acoustic, digital piano manufacturers are heavily marketing their basic bonus features of headphone jacks, connectivity & recording capability as desirable for mainstream players and all students.

For 100 years, all you could do with a phone was talk to other people. Now an iPhone is a mini-Tablet computer with a phone app.

That's not to say that medium-sized grands and larger will ever become obsolete, however it is easy to see a future where a digital piano is a more accepted & integrated learning tool. Grands are already reserved for when space and budget will allow.

I know that's not an answer. My question for you is are you looking for a first piano, last piano, or both?
_________________________
Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
Bsendorfer, Estonia, Seiler, Grotrian, Weber & Hailun
Pre-Owned: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway & other fine pianos
Full Restoration Shop
www.PianoWorks.com
www.youtube.com/PianoWorksAtlanta

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#1998803 - 12/13/12 08:13 AM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
Its not that digital pianos become "obsolete" they don't, its the maufacturers that keep touting .... "these new ones look/feel/sound just like the real thing"!
so what does the customer do..he plunks down more money just to get something that
closely resembles an acoustic..thats the "marketing hook" and don't get me wrong they are improving..but it still ain't the real thing..just a good substitute..

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#1999077 - 12/13/12 05:30 PM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
The fact is simple. Digital technology that cost thousands of dollars ten years ago, say 2 gigabytes of memory, costs $10 today. That means it is now economically feasible to have many gigabytes of memory in any consumer device when it was unthinkable ten years ago. If the sound of a digital piano is sampled and stored in memory, clearly you could store a much larger sample set with today's technology and even a larger set with tomorrow's technology. The technology will continue to allow for improvements.

You can buy a brand new Yamaha DP that's basically their Clavinova 2 or 3 generations back now relabeled to some other sub-brand for half the price or less of a current Clavinova. Obviously, fabrication is not what you are paying for. You are paying a premium for the latest design.

Either way you buy a new digital piano every so often, or you pay an expensive tech to keep your acoutic piano at primo condition at a considerable cost over the years. This is definitely the optimal approach.

I have a friend who tunes her son's piano every 2 or 3 years. When I told her the piano is badly out of tune, she said, "really? doesn't sound that bad." I think her son would have been better off with a digital piano.

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#1999674 - 12/15/12 03:44 AM Re: Fact or fiction? [Re: justpin]
Maxtor Offline

Bronze Supporter until Jan 01 2013


Registered: 08/14/11
Posts: 182
I'll try to keep this short and sweet, as most important topics have been coverd already.

First, electronics do not become obsolete until they can no longer carry out their basic intended function. Relatively few existing electronics fit into this category, the most common was probably the analog televisions which will no longer operate because the signals are now all digital. In the business world, computers used to store data on magnetic tapes, and many companies still do - it's cheaper than harddrives. Forbes has an article on it at http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomcoughlin/2012/05/17/magnetic-tape-turns-60/ and also points out that it will continue to be the most efficient storage medium for several years in the future.

So, that magnetic tape similar to VHS and casettes that is 60 years old - it's still modern technology and better than the alternative. THAT is an example of how long technology can last.

Calling a technology obsolete just because a newer version is released is like calling a Yamaha C7 obsolete because Yamaha now makes a C7X.


Now, onto the royalties: I think the dealer was talking BS, because royalties contracts are often covered in non-disclosure agreements so there is no way for him to know anything about it. Inside of a multinational company, royalties contracts can also be used to shift profits from one nation to another that has lower tax rates. The finance side of things can get very messy and dirty. I have doubts that any royalties may be owed at all - if I bought a Steinway, I think I would also own the sound which comes from that piano, and could record it to my heart's content. Advertising the recordings as having the Steinway sound would probably require some licensing agreement because of the Steinway trademark and brand name.


Finally, for the price and value of digital pianos. The dealer has some hints of truth in what he said - the marginal cost of producing an electronic piano may be low. The "marginal cost" is defined as the cost of producing a single extra item. So (to make an extremely exagerated example), a company may spend $1,000,000 to develop, produce, and sell 500 digital pianos. But it may only cost them $1,000,100 to produce and sell 501 digital pianos - the marginal cost of piano #501 is $100, while the average cost of each piano is nearly $2000. The piano companies have accountants and finance experts who plan all this out, and they balance all the factors to try to maximize profits. They try to keep a very stable price that may decrease a bit over time, so it's not really worth waiting for the price to come down.
Making a breakdown of how much of the cost is for raw materials and how much is for development is almost impossible, because those raw materials are electronic components that were developed by someone else.

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