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#2001354 - 12/18/12 07:35 PM Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3833
I had the pleasure to give presentations to 3 classes of 6th and 7th graders today. These are kids in their first and second year of the school's keyboard class. You've seen the type of classroom - about 30 digital, non weighted keyboards reside there and the kids learn as a group.

My informal survey reports the following:

Total students - about 80

Digital piano owners 60

Acoustic piano owners about 12

Didn't have a piano - about 8

One student was actively looking for an acoustic piano, considering a Yamaha for $1200.00

I did my best to explain the merits of an acoustic over a digital.

Maybe we as technicians can help a little bit at a time, by taking a few minutes speaking to classes of kids on the advantages of digital pianos when we tune at schools. It certainly can't hurt, can it?

Speaking to three classes added an hour to my day, and I thought it was worthwhile. I gave them a hand out with some information and my phone number on it. I told them to email me or visit my web site with any questions. I don't care if I get a tuning from it - but I hope the kids will consider an acoustic piano in the future.
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#2001535 - 12/19/12 03:01 AM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1243
Loc: Reseda, California
What I learned the hard way -- and it's really important to point this out to the parents of these students -- is that it's essential to get in some practice time on a variety of different instruments. I got so accustomed to the action of my first piano that I couldn't play worth a damn on anything else, even much better ones. So, if the school has digitals, at home they should have acoustics.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2001586 - 12/19/12 07:13 AM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3833
Frankly, I expected a better showing on acoustic instruments than I got. The meager number of acoustics tells me that everyone who relies on the acoustic piano for a living needs to support it as much as possible. The hardest part is reaching the parents of these students and convincing them to get an acoustic.....and not a $400 Craigslist spinet, either......
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#2001589 - 12/19/12 07:23 AM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1918
Loc: Suffolk, England
Does anyone know whether there is any cross fertilization between digital and acoustic lines at Kawai and Yamaha?

In other words do their digitals create a market for their acoustics?


Edited by Withindale (12/19/12 01:25 PM)
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2001707 - 12/19/12 01:13 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
Bob,

I would like to comment despite not being a tech (but I am an educator!)

As an adult piano student, I started with a good quality weighted keyboard digital piano. The rationale was that once I felt I was accomplished enough and sure that I would continue on in my studies, I could justify a substantial purchase of a high quality piano. This was done with the thinking that the alternative (buying an inexpensive console or spinet of marginal quality) and having to dispose of it before purchasing a high quality piano would be far more costly and time consuming.

I was fortunate enough to acquire an older Kimball 5'7" grand piano for the cost of moving it. My tech, the very accomplished and competent Bill McKaig, has already tuned the piano and is returning in January to take the action to his shop for key bushings and regulation.

My point is this:

After playing (and I use that term loosely at this point in my studies) my Kimball, despite it having been out of tune and the action being sloppy in many aspects, there is simply no comparison with the action, sound or response of my digital piano. Even though my Kimball has a way to go before Bill has it good order, it's still so much better than the digital on many different levels.

I'm not sure how one would go about it, but anything that could be done to promote a student to use an acoustic piano has to be a good thing. Kudos to you for taking your discipline to the masses!

Dan

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#2001714 - 12/19/12 01:26 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
Gene Nelson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1464
Loc: Old Hangtown California
The advantage of a digital to a 7th grader is that it is something that can be amped up. I would also assume the same reasoning from a 7th grader about electric vs acoustic guitars.
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#2001813 - 12/19/12 05:08 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: MacDan]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1243
Loc: Reseda, California
If an old upright in decent condition could be put in that classroom, the teacher could make sure that all the students get at least a little practice time on it..... If that works out in one classroom, maybe even form a 501c3 to do it everywhere.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2001888 - 12/19/12 08:36 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3833
John, The school does have 5 Baldwin 243 upright pianos that I tuned in addition to the presentations I gave. I don't know if the kids play them much.

Dan - say hi to Bill for me......I've not seen him in years......

Ian, A store here reports selling 75% digital - 25% acoustic. I do not know if there is a trade up program or not. That percentage of digitals to acoustic mirrors what I saw in the student's pianos.
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www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#2001898 - 12/19/12 09:11 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19224
Loc: New York City
I think many of the parents made the right choice in deciding to go digital. My impression is that up to a certain price point a digital is often a far better instrument both tonally and in terms of touch. In addition, there are the obvious advantages of not annoying other family members/neighbors while practicing and less maintenance costs.

If course students should also be made aware of the advantages of an acoustic piano because they are clearly appropriate for some who are more serious, more advanced, and for those where cost is less of a consideration.

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#2001904 - 12/19/12 09:44 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1865
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
When I ask a visitor to my showroom and shop what kind of piano they have-often those with a digital will say, "I don't have a piano, I have a digital". Their answer says a lot!
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2002119 - 12/20/12 12:06 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
Mark Davis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/08
Posts: 658
Maybe the public needs to be informed that a digital piano does not hold it's value as an acoustic piano does with regards to the longterm haul. The digital is outdated in approximately 3 years and what will it's resale value be then?

Another factor is, an acoustic piano can be repaired 3 to 80 years down the line but a digital is a throw away item ultimately.

I think that the acoustic piano is often worth more than the 2nd hand piano dealer/restorer admits to the private seller.



Edited by Mark Davis (12/20/12 01:23 PM)
Edit Reason: change of sentence for clarity sake
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Mark Davis
Piano Tuner & Technician

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#2002294 - 12/20/12 05:39 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Mark Davis]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19224
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mark Davis
Maybe the public needs to be informed that a digital piano does not hold it's value as an acoustic piano does with regards to the longterm haul. The digital is outdated in approximately 3 years and what will it's resale value be then?

Another factor is, an acoustic piano can be repaired 3 to 80 years down the line but a digital is a throw away item ultimately.
A digital may not hold its value as long or as well as an acoustic but since it usually costs so much less this may not be important.

As far as being outdated in three years I started a thread on the digital piano forum about that and either 100% or close to that strongly disagreed with that statement. Most posters on the Piano Forum also disagreed with the idea. I think a digital only becomes outdated if one has to have the very latest update. But many or even most people don't care about that at all and keep digitals for 10 or more years.


Edited by pianoloverus (12/20/12 05:43 PM)

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#2002654 - 12/21/12 12:49 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Mark Davis]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3151
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Mark Davis
Maybe the public needs to be informed that a digital piano does not hold it's value as an acoustic piano does with regards to the longterm haul.


The value of any object is determined by what somebody will pay for it.

I can get an acoustic for $100 any day of the year by looking in the want ads. I can get a brand name weighted digital used for between $700 and $1200 the same way.

The longer the trend to buy digital over acoustic continues, the lower the resale value of the acoustic.

For the average nonserious or semiserious student, the digital is probably the better buy. And let's face it, the overwhelming majority of piano students fit those categories.

At least some of the digitals are played. My MIL had a piano in the house because in her generation everybody had a piano. But it was furniture, none of the 8 kids ever played it. Eventually they sold it and nobody missed it. It had never been tuned or maintained, but it had been lovingly polished like the rest of the furniture.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2002670 - 12/21/12 01:22 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: TimR]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1918
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Mark Davis
Maybe the public needs to be informed that a digital piano does not hold it's value as an acoustic piano does with regards to the longterm haul.


The value of any object is determined by what somebody will pay for it.


Wise words Tim.

People really should compare the "total cost of ownership", purchase price and servicing costs less residual value over say 5 or 10 years. I guess that will make digitals attractive.

Overall do sales of digitals increase or decrease sales of acoustics?

This topic started with a keyboard class equipped with 30 digitals and 80 students. 12 of the 80 had acoustics and 1 was looking for an acoustic.

So it seems the class will be supporting the use of 13 acoustics and may have spawned the purchase of some of them.

In addition some of the 60 digital students may go on to buy acoustics sooner or later when they can afford them.

What if there were no keyboard class?
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2002681 - 12/21/12 01:40 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
Mark Davis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/08
Posts: 658
Thanks for the run down folks! Now I am a bit wiser.
_________________________
Mark Davis
Piano Tuner & Technician

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#2002700 - 12/21/12 02:12 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
mariotto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/12
Posts: 56
Loc: EU
As a pianist and teacher I do not see how a digi could beat acoustic piano in any category. Actualy, the first years of learning piano are critical. There is something called motorical memory, I read a great paper about it. The point is, we are teaching our motorical sistem from the begining on the non councious level. As I am convinced that it is not only the weight of the key the thing that decides the touch and the music produced with our fingers, I belive digi is not an option. No metter how good or bad the piano is, there is a fisical interaction between our body and the instrument, through key, strings, bridges, soundboard... All the things that on digital instruments are not possible, because they dont exist. The digital piano to me is like a typing maschine and we know what is called the " art " of typing, it s not the art of playing the piano. But, I know many coleagues of mine that are teaching on the University level and dont have any problem recommending their students to buy digi. So, digi for amateurs, why not, for anyone willing to learn to play piano with an option to do it on a professional level, not an option. But the world today is like it is, we find so many logical reasons to do things , but too often forget the basic philosofy that stands beyond. So with pianos, the future of the music, art, and in this case pianos is measured with numbers, how many, how much, but where is the piano, the art, the meaning beyond that? Every day we have less and less good pianos and more and more advanced technology. I am very happy about it smile

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#2002707 - 12/21/12 02:26 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: mariotto]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1918
Loc: Suffolk, England
Quote of the day
Originally Posted By: Mariotto
The digital piano to me is like a typing maschine and we know what is called the " art " of typing, it s not the art of playing the piano.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2002811 - 12/21/12 06:52 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
Mark Davis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/08
Posts: 658
The Louis Renner Company was featured this month in a special Global Market Report issue of the Music Trades Magazine, which is the music industry’s oldest and most widely read and respected publication. The article honors Renner for their 130 years in the piano industry and describes the tremendous growth Renner is currently achieving in emerging piano markets as more and more piano companies are improving their quality by using Renner actions and hammerheads.

The article also describes how Renner is meeting the increasing global demand for its products without compromising quality. Most piano technicians do not receive this publication, so we have received permission from Music Trades to reprint it here (to all Renner news letter recipients) for your information and convenience.

THE LOUIS RENNER Company, which is synonymous with high-quality piano actions, recently celebrated its 130th anniversary, at the grand opening of its new state-of-the-art, 80,000-square-foot factory in Meuselwitz, Germany near Leipzig. The new factory, which augments an existing plant in Gärtringen, Germany, outside of Stuttgart, provides additional capacity to supply growing global demand. Renner actions are sold in 50 countries, but demand has been particularly strong in China.

Clemens von Arnim, current CEO and great grandson of one of the founders of the company, noted that demand for Renner actions increased 20% in 2011 because "piano makers in emerging markets are seeking to improve their quality by incorporating Renner actions and hammerheads."

He also said that Renner sales are on track to rise an additional 25% in 2012. Much of the growth in the piano business is occurring in Asia, where Renner recently established a 38,000-square-foot assembly operation that serves only the domestic Asian market. The production of the action components is done in Germany, to protect proprietary processes. Parts are then shipped to China where they are assembled and identified with special color felt.

Von Arnim said the objective is to protect and maintain the Renner standard of quality, while supplying the top end of the piano market in China and Asia. The Louis Renner Company was founded in October of 1882 by Louis Renner, who began by producing actions entirely by hand. In 1902, the company expanded its production facilities and introduced new tooling and machinery to keep up with fast-growing demand for pianos. The company has continued to expand and improve its manufacturing operations and now has a commanding share of the high-end piano action market.

MUSIC TRADES DECEMBER 2012
_________________________
Mark Davis
Piano Tuner & Technician

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#2002822 - 12/21/12 07:23 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: mariotto]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3151
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Mariotto
No metter how good or bad the piano is, there is a fisical interaction between our body and the instrument, through key, strings, bridges, soundboard... All the things that on digital instruments are not possible, because they dont exist.

I think there is something to the physical interaction, but also that you have underestimated digitals (and overestimated the quality of the unmaintained untuned acoustic pianos that 99.8% of students learn on).

The reason I think there is something to it is my observation of organists.

Three of four pianists I work with have reasonably good time. Three of four organists cannot keep a steady beat to save their lives. I believe the delay between key press and sound filling a church prevents the neural connection from being made, or from surviving long.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2002939 - 12/22/12 03:54 AM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
mariotto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/12
Posts: 56
Loc: EU
Again, i dont speak about keeping beat, this is only one of tousend things ( very important one indeed) that makes a music the music. I am talking about the interaction both fisical and neural between musician and the instrument. I was raised as a pianist with a credo that on every piano one can make a beautifull music. And this is indeed so, the piano doesnt have to be the best to conquer it. Electrical instrument have a perfect pitch, clear tone, some possibility to control the tone, but on totally different way than in the real instrument. I think this way is crucial. Some thinks not, I dont know, I think we proffesionals should keep some things untouched, because in the end we are cutting our own legs. So, european industry of pianos is destroyed, USA's also, we have cheap and bad pianos from China, I would not call it prosper, I would call it a regression. And as a last nail in the coffin, we should say to our students that digitals are a good instruments. In 30 years or so, who will produce pianos, how the school of piano playing will look like?

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#2003166 - 12/22/12 04:45 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
Scott Hamlin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 547
Thanks, Bob, for this post. It's good
to hear about someone keeping acoustic
pianos in the forefront.

I also think it would beneficial to take
these kids to a concert hall and have them
play their BEST piece on a concert grand.

I always had digital growing up (no money,
no room). When I got to college and played
the Mason & Hamlin in the Choir room I was
blown away.... then I got to play the
Steinway concert grand in the concert hall.

It was then I made it my life's mission to get
an acoustic grand of some kind as soon as I
had the space and money.

Let them hear and feel what they are missing.


Edited by Plinky88 (12/22/12 04:47 PM)
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#2009276 - 01/05/13 03:41 AM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: mariotto]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1243
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: Mariotto
As a pianist and teacher I do not see how a digi could beat acoustic piano in any category. Actualy, the first years of learning piano are critical. There is something called motorical memory, I read a great paper about it. The point is, we are teaching our motorical sistem from the begining on the non councious level. ....


Digital has two advantages: Portability, and silent practice using headphones. Or maybe two and a half, you don't have to get it tuned.

As for the neuromotor aspects of learning to play, I've found from experience that the critical thing is to get some practice time on a variety of different keyboard instruments. I started learning with just one acoustic piano. When the pinblock went bad and I had to replace it, I found that I had become dependent on its action. I couldn't play at all well on any other piano, even much better ones. So, now I have two keyboard instruments, as different as they could possibly be.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2009727 - 01/05/13 09:25 PM Re: Informal Poll - Digital Vs Acoustic [Re: Bob]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3833
Plinky, I like the idea of kids playing a concert grand, in fact, I could easily organize something like that on the Steinway D's at the University. Though I can hear it now, "no funding for the school bus to get the kids there" Still, It's worth looking into - and any funding issues can be overcome. Great idea!
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