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#2071812 - 04/26/13 09:41 PM Are they also-rans or excellent?
Almaviva Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 580
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Within the last 10 years a number of prestigious piano companies have introduced lesser product lines, all of them in the "Intermediate-Grade" category. I am referring specifically to Bechstein's "W. Hoffmann Tradition" line, Bluthner's "Irmler Europe" line, Schimmel's "Vogel" line, Seiler's "Eduard Seiler (ES)" line, Wilh. Steinberg's "AC" line, and Steinway's "Boston" line. All of these intermediate-grade pianos are designed by their respective parent companies, but they are all over the map with regard to where and by whom their parts are manufactured, and where and by whom they are assembled.

I frankly don't care much about the pianistic geography - who makes these pianos' parts and where, who assembles them and where, etc. What I DO care about is the tone, touch, build quality, and longevity of the finished product.

I'd like to hear from anybody who has played, bought, sold or repaired any of these instruments. Please answer the question posed by the subject line - "Are they also-rans or excellent?"

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#2071859 - 04/26/13 11:39 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1867
Loc: Philadelphia area
Each brand has to be independently judged.

They are exactly that, "Intermediate-Grade" Pianos that are marketing themselves under a prestigious banner, and each offers something a little different.

I would suggest shopping the established intermediate manufacture's brands in direct comparison to the subcontracted branded designs they build as the outsource manufacturer.

For example; At Cunningham Piano in Philadelphia, Hailun grands and Cunningham grands are presented for comparison. Both designs are manufactured by Hailun, using equal quality materials and workmanship.

I'm sorry you don't care about the "Pianistic Geography". It has a lot to do with the build quality, the longevity of the product, and the touch and tone of the product.

And frankly; I'm sure your questions are appreciated. Please realize that the collective knowledge and experience of the many dedicated Piano World members is enormous and requires respect. Often, questions, about things like pianos, don't have a single answer. Sorry, but that's the nature of the beast.

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#2071948 - 04/27/13 05:09 AM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Dave B]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3481
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Dave B


I'm sorry you don't care about the "Pianistic Geography". It has a lot to do with the build quality, the longevity of the product, and the touch and tone of the product.


I think Almaviva was just saying he/she has no preconceived notions about the country in which it is made, just the focus on quality. Not that he/she just doesn't care.

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#2071959 - 04/27/13 06:35 AM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Rich Galassini Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9114
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Almaviva,

First, all of the lines you mention are attempts by high line boutique makers to reach into the "consumer market" of piano sales.

They all have a different target of person and, I believe, different reasons for being. I have spoken with two of the European companies owners - Nicklaus Schimmel and Karl Schulze (Schimmel and Bechstein) and I can tell you that truly, at the heart of their decisions was the desire to provide a better piano to the consumer market.

In contrast, the Boston project was decided by a corporate board in response to shareholder pressure. Although the Boston was the first of these types of offerings in the marketplace and it was innovative from that standpoint, the way it happened was more "American" in style and was definitely driven by $$$.

If you would like a glimpse into the thinking by Steinway, read the quote in "A Steinway Saga" by DW Fostle from the formal announcement of the Boston line.

The two German manufacturers that I spoke with definitely had a different spirit in their thinking.

I don't know if any of that helps you at all Almaviva, but now you have my 2 cents. smile
_________________________
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Cunningham Piano Co.
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#2072008 - 04/27/13 09:16 AM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
jdw Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 927
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I have played the W. Hoffmann and thought they were lovely pianos, with an especially beautiful tone and touch. I might have bought one if I hadn't found a fine used piano for less. There's definitely a family resemblance to the Bechsteins.

I liked the Hoffmanns far better than Bostons, but that's a matter of taste. Longevity I don't know about, as I only played them new.
_________________________
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#2072068 - 04/27/13 11:33 AM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: ando]
Almaviva Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 580
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: ando
Originally Posted By: Dave B


I'm sorry you don't care about the "Pianistic Geography". It has a lot to do with the build quality, the longevity of the product, and the touch and tone of the product.


I think Almaviva was just saying he/she has no preconceived notions about the country in which it is made, just the focus on quality. Not that he/she just doesn't care.


You are correct, Ando. That was exactly what I meant.

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#2072072 - 04/27/13 11:42 AM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Rich Galassini]
Almaviva Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 580
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Rich Galassini
I don't know if any of that helps you at all Almaviva, but now you have my 2 cents. smile


It does help, Rich. Thank you.

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#2072074 - 04/27/13 11:45 AM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14101
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
Within the last 10 years a number of prestigious piano companies have introduced lesser product lines, all of them in the "Intermediate-Grade" category. I am referring specifically to Bechstein's "W. Hoffmann Tradition" line, Bluthner's "Irmler Europe" line, Schimmel's "Vogel" line, Seiler's "Eduard Seiler (ES)" line, Wilh. Steinberg's "AC" line, and Steinway's "Boston" line. All of these intermediate-grade pianos are designed by their respective parent companies, but they are all over the map with regard to where and by whom their parts are manufactured, and where and by whom they are assembled.


These sub-lines are designed for some very simple reasons:

1] cover several price classes instead of only one.
2] allow proliferation of brand using same or similar pianos under different names
3] Make customer repeat customer applying "trade-up" scheme
4] open Chinese market for oneself with China often insisting having manufacturing there before being allowed to sell in market.

In Europe, those adhering to the philosophy of "one line-one quality" include Grotrian, Sauter, Fazioli, August Foerster, Steingraeber, Estonia and Boesendorfer.

No guessing around, no upgrading, no "stories" - no pretense.

Most importantly: No confusion for buyers!

Incidentally these are all makes doing very well in today's market.

Coincidence?

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (04/27/13 05:11 PM)
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#2072078 - 04/27/13 11:55 AM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Dave B]
Roger Ransom Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1237
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
Originally Posted By: Dave B
Please realize that the collective knowledge and experience of the many dedicated Piano World members is enormous and requires respect.


What the heck does this mean?
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#2072083 - 04/27/13 12:10 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Norbert]
Almaviva Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 580
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Norbert
In Europe, those adhering to the philosophy of "one line-one quality" include Grotrian, Sauter, Fazioli, August Foerster, Steingraeber, Estonia and Boesendorfer.

No guessing around, no upgrading, no "stories", no pretense.

Most importantly: No confusion for buyers!

Incidentally these are all makes doing very well in today's market.

Coincidence?

Norbert


Very good point, Norbert.

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#2072090 - 04/27/13 12:24 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10345
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Why the overly provocative language about "also-ran or excellent?"

Why is this a dichotomous choice?

As you might suspect, I don't think that way.
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#2072114 - 04/27/13 01:16 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Norbert]
Almaviva Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 580
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Thanks, guys, this has been very enlightening.

Norbert summarized nicely why Bechstein, Bluthner, Schimmel, etc. have introduced these "sub-lines". As a consumer, I wish to know how well these sub-line pianos compare with competitively-priced pianos with less impressive pedigrees. I don't want to assume that, just because a piano is made in Asia or is comprised of Asian-made components, it is inferior to American or European pianos.

For instance, the long-established Kawai RX and Yamaha C lines are in the same "intermediate-grade" category as the recently-arrived Brodmann Artist, Irmler Europe, Hoffmann Tradition, Vogel, Seiler ES, Steinberg AC, and Boston lines. So are Chinese, South Korean and Indonesian lines like Hailun Vienna, Kayserburg Artist, Knabe Concert Artist, Perzina, Pramberger Platinum, and Albert Weber.

My question is - Do any of these lines have an advantage over their competitors with regard to tone, touch, longevity, fit/finish, etc., or are they all about the same?

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#2072116 - 04/27/13 01:19 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Almaviva Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 580
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Why the overly provocative language about "also-ran or excellent?"

Why is this a dichotomous choice?

As you might suspect, I don't think that way.


I wanted the question to be short and pithy, Dad. That's all. Read my posting from this afternoon for a more nuanced, elegantly phrased version.

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#2072239 - 04/27/13 04:06 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7098
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Almaviva
My question is - Do any of these lines have an advantage over their competitors with regard to tone, touch, longevity, fit/finish, etc.

Yes - Just as their 'parents' differ from each other.

Play them and you will perceive the differences.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2072244 - 04/27/13 04:08 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Bob Snyder Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/08
Posts: 158
Loc: West Coast
Just a quick point of clarification.... a few posts above, Rich G. says this:

"In contrast, the Boston project was decided by a corporate board in response to shareholder pressure. Although the Boston was the first of these types of offerings in the marketplace and it was innovative from that standpoint, the way it happened was more "American" in style and was definitely driven by $$$."

The Boston Piano was introduced in 1991. We were not a publically held company until 1996, so there certainly was no "shareholder pressure". The project began several years prior to the product introduction - but after the sale of Steinway by CBS.
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#2072277 - 04/27/13 04:52 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Okay, so now this prompts a question of my own.

Alma has asked if there is any real difference between these entry- or intermediate-grade instruments. And we all know there is, some very noticeable. Now the next question should be-

What, materially, are the differences?

In pianos, like in most things, you get what you pay for. These pianos are all designed to reach a certain, lower price point niche in the market. That means that the makers had to do any or all of the following to meet that price point:

1- Take less care in the acoustical design
2- Use less expensive fabrication methods e.g. less hand work, et cet.,
3- Use less expensive materials

Since most of the replies here are by techs, I'd love to hear their input about these three aspects. The sonic differences are pretty obvious. But you guys are all in a position to know better why they are the way they are than us pianists .

Alma, I hope you don't mind me taking the conversation in this direction.

Cheers!


Edited by laguna_greg (04/27/13 04:53 PM)
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
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#2072291 - 04/27/13 05:12 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7098
Loc: Rochester MN
"Since most of the replies here are by techs, I'd love to hear their input about these three aspects. The sonic differences are pretty obvious. But you guys are all in a position to know better why they are the way they are than us pianists ."

None of the responses have been from techs. It would be interesting to get their input, however.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2072298 - 04/27/13 05:21 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14101
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
As a consumer, I wish to know how well these sub-line pianos compare with competitively-priced pianos with less impressive pedigrees. I don't want to assume that, just because a piano is made in Asia or is comprised of Asian-made components, it is inferior to American or European pianos.


The question of piano quality is becoming less and less a matter of "where" a piano is made but - "how"

My personal belief is that those who create simply "image" hoping to make their sales from there, will need to defend it later.

In addition they will have to deal with some others who do not or don't need to go route.

For example one might ask, which piano is the better one: the one "made in Europe" [or even "Germany" ] with mostly Chinese or "non-German" parts - or the one made in China but designed well and made with genuine German parts & components?

Perception may still be 'reality' for some, but that reality is quickly changing around us. They simply built "reality" - alas a new one.

In fact faster than some in the industry may like to see it happening.

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (04/27/13 06:34 PM)
_________________________
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#2072317 - 04/27/13 05:56 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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


Originally Posted By: Almaviva
What I DO care about is the tone, touch, build quality, and longevity of the finished product.


Most of this question was answered in the first response.

Originally Posted By: Dave B
Each brand has to be independently judged.
Often, questions, about things like pianos, don't have a single answer. Sorry, but that's the nature of the beast.


Tone and touch are subjective, some like one while others like something else.

Build quality would be same or close to same as the instruments referred to are in the same category, although that brings up another query;

Who exactly is making the determination of categories; intermediate level, entry level, have been mentioned.

Determined by whom? The market, the OP, or some guy who writes a book?

Longevity is not something that can be determined on new models as the jury is still out on many of the brand’s mentioned with some exceptions on the list provided.
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#2072340 - 04/27/13 06:32 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi Dan!

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Tone and touch are subjective, some like one while others like something else.


Yes, but there are some objective measures that can be compared. I mean, 48 grams is 48 grams, right? Is there any variation? And a Steinway sounds like a Steinway sounds like a Steinway, right? Steinways don't sound like a Mason & Hamlin. Whether people like that sound or not truly is subjective. But there are some comparisons one can make.

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Build quality would be same or close to same as the instruments referred to are in the same category, although that brings up another query;


Yes, but just what is the "build quality"? Are there any similarities/differences in construction methods or the materials used? They all claim to have a unique acoustic design. Do they?

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Who exactly is making the determination of categories; intermediate level, entry level, have been mentioned.


Since makers themselves are decidedly opaque about this distinction, and especially in this "intermediate" category, we are left to make our own choices. Myself, I think that a good deal of the distinction depends on marketing and price point, because that's how makers decide how much they will spend building an instrument. Do you have any opinions on the matter?

I know, I know. But it's still a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon...
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2072346 - 04/27/13 06:38 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
laguna_greg Offline
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Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Actually Marty, two of the posters so are techs, and a couple are dealers.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2072347 - 04/27/13 06:40 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14101
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:

Yes, but just what is the "build quality"? Are there any similarities/differences in construction methods or the materials used? They all claim to have a unique acoustic design. Do they?


"Materials", i.e. "specs" are often similar even between such pianos as Brodmann and some of the Euros.

"Construction methods" less so.

"Unique designs" even less, with "unique" not necessarily meaning "superior"

1000 little industry secrets - not at all.

Which is exactly why the French will give you a tour of their wineries but never tell you *how* exactly they make their
Bordeaux...

Norbert wink


Edited by Norbert (04/27/13 06:41 PM)
_________________________
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#2072350 - 04/27/13 06:44 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: Almaviva
All of these intermediate-grade pianos are designed by their respective parent companies, but they are all over the map with regard to where and by whom their parts are manufactured, and where and by whom they are assembled...What I DO care about is the tone, touch, build quality, and longevity of the finished product....Please answer the question posed by the subject line - "Are they also-rans or excellent?"


Alma, let me ask you another question. Are you asking if these "name-brand" intermediate grade pianos are as good and solid as the similar product from Yamaha or Kawai? That is their immediate competition, after all.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2072351 - 04/27/13 06:46 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7098
Loc: Rochester MN
Follow-up to Laguna Greg.

In the 'intermediate' and 'entry' areas, Boston doesn't sound like Kawai and Essex doesn't sound like Pearl River.

An added thought is that some guy wrote a book, grouping by price point primarily, for general categories. It's the 'you get what you pay for' approach.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2072353 - 04/27/13 06:48 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Norbert]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: Norbert
[quote] Which is exactly why the French will give you a tour of their wineries but never tell you *how* exactly they make their Bordeaux...Norbert wink


Norbert, I absolutely adore you!

But you are evading. I wasn't asking the Vigneron how he makes his wine, I was asking the oenologue what he thinks. And the oenologue is paid not to lie.

Gros Bisous Bien Fort,
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2072372 - 04/27/13 07:27 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: laguna_greg]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
..there are some objective measures that can be compared. I mean, 48 grams is 48 grams, right?
Absolutely not! Do not confuse the static touchweight with the way an instrument actually feels and responds in play.

Quote:
And a Steinway sounds like a Steinway sounds like a Steinway, right? Steinways don't sound like a Mason & Hamlin.
Again - I say no. Very, very few people could positively identify a piano's brand by tone 100% of the time.

It is easy for a lay-person to try to render down and simplify things, creating a black and white image. But reality is comprised of more than a few shades of gray.

The saying goes that the devil is in the details. I would counter by saying that divinity is in the nuance.
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#2072379 - 04/27/13 07:39 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: laguna_greg]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7098
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Actually Marty, two of the posters so are techs, and a couple are dealers.

The dealers I am aware of, but I don't know if they are techs. I don't think that Norbert or Rich are techs, but they do have a great deal of experience in all facets of the piano biz. Prior to your statement, none of the posters identify themselves as technicians.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2072380 - 04/27/13 07:39 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Almaviva]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14101
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
Are you asking if these "name-brand" intermediate grade pianos are as good and solid as the similar product from Yamaha or Kawai?


This IMHO is the killer question.

If "yes" then we can't talk about Japanese pianos 30-40 years old.

At that point most of them have seen their best days and few [if any] are deemed worthy contenders for rebuilding.
40 years, that's it?

If "no", then some are either highly overpriced with others being 'under-priced'

To know exactly "which is which" appears to be the "killer".

To avoid confusion why not simply pay similar [or save up a bit] to get Estonia?

Norbert help



Edited by Norbert (04/27/13 07:40 PM)
_________________________
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604-951-8642

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#2072383 - 04/27/13 07:46 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: Supply]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7098
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Supply
Quote:
And a Steinway sounds like a Steinway sounds like a Steinway, right? Steinways don't sound like a Mason & Hamlin.
Again - I say no. Very, very few people could positively identify a piano's brand by tone 100% of the time.

However, a person who is familiar with a range of different instruments, would be able to identify which instrument is a Steinway and which is the Mason in a blindfold test. It's not 'name that piano' from a single sample, but rather, 'which is which?' That's not difficult at all.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2072513 - 04/27/13 11:31 PM Re: Are they also-rans or excellent? [Re: laguna_greg]
Almaviva Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 580
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Originally Posted By: Almaviva
All of these intermediate-grade pianos are designed by their respective parent companies, but they are all over the map with regard to where and by whom their parts are manufactured, and where and by whom they are assembled...What I DO care about is the tone, touch, build quality, and longevity of the finished product....Please answer the question posed by the subject line - "Are they also-rans or excellent?"


Alma, let me ask you another question. Are you asking if these "name-brand" intermediate grade pianos are as good and solid as the similar product from Yamaha or Kawai? That is their immediate competition, after all.


Yes, Greg, that is what I am asking. I am asking if these intermediate-grade offerings from companies with impressive pedigrees (e.g., Bechstein's "W. Hoffmann Tradition" line, Bluthner's "Irmler Europe" line, Schimmel's "Vogel" line, etc.) are as good and solid as the Kawai "RX" and Yamaha "C" lines. Are they better than, equal to, or worse than the Kawai and Yamaha competition?

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