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Topic Options
#2102940 - 06/15/13 02:52 PM Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer?
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi All,

This question was prompted by a very long-winded yet evolving conversation about New York vs. Hamburg Steinway on another thread.

Where do you think it's better to go see and play new Steinways? The company showroom(s) or the franchise dealer?

Have you had better luck, or gotten a better impression, from the franchise showroom or the company store?

Is one a better place to hear new NY Steinways in good condition? Or is it pretty much serendipity?

The Steinway retail business model seems to have changed somewhat over the last 20 years as older franchise dealers have changed hands, consolidated, or retrenched/gone under because of the recession. Company-owned stores have started appearing across the US. How has this affected the retail buying experience? Sales methods? Quality of the instruments?

Much has been written here about prep time on new models coming from the factory, and company policy about it. Has the new business model affected this in any way?

I'll add my thoughts as the conversation progresses. Thanks in advance for writing!
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2102947 - 06/15/13 03:04 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Company-owned stores have started appearing across the US.


These stores you mention, are they Steinway Galleries or actually owned by Steinway?

The Steinway Galleries here in Canada are still owned by private entrepreneurs not the factory.
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
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#2102948 - 06/15/13 03:06 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi Rod,

The two "galleries" I know in Los Angeles are owned by S&S. And more seem to be springing up elsewhere.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2102964 - 06/15/13 03:54 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Something called a "Steinway Gallery" can be a franchise ownership. The majority of them are. I have not heard if the recent changes to Sherman Clay, on the west coast, are now franchised ownerships or held by Steinway & Sons. Other than the recent change, here is the existing list of S&S owned facilities:

NYC - Steinway Hall
Long Island, NY
Miami, FL
Paramus, NJ
Westport, CT
Pasadena, CA (LA)
Hindsdale, IL (Chicago)
Northbrook, IL (Chicago)

I have always found the prep to be better at the Steinway owned stores. The others are catch as catch can, just like all piano stores.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2102969 - 06/15/13 04:04 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
Some of the franchise locations I've been to didn't have very good acoustics so all the pianos in the big room didn't sound very good... Too much reverb or resonance which made the treble range unclear.

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#2103032 - 06/15/13 07:51 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
master88er Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/07
Posts: 886
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
I have not heard if the recent changes to Sherman Clay, on the west coast, are now franchised ownerships or held by Steinway & Sons.


The articles in the SF Chronicle indicated that two Sherman Clay locations, Downtown San Francisco and Walnut Creek, were purchased by Steinway and will become Steinway factory showrooms.
_________________________
Russell I. Kassman
R.KASSMAN, Purveyor of Fine Pianos
Berkeley, CA

FORMER US Rep.for C.Bechstein

SF Area Dealer: Steingraeber•Grotrian•Sauter•Estonia•Kayserburg•Baldwin•Brodmann•Ritmüller
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#2103194 - 06/16/13 06:23 AM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Rich Galassini Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9396
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
I make it my business to visit showrooms whenever I travel, much to my wife's chagrin.

The two Steinway owned locations I have visited had instruments in decent shape, better than Philly's local franchised dealer, but the most impressive prep. that I have seen has been at two franchised dealers.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#2103252 - 06/16/13 10:33 AM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Gavin English Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 12
Loc: West Hollywood, CA
Hello Greg,

Here are our current company owned showrooms:

NYC - Steinway Hall
Long Island, NY
Miami, FL
Paramus, NJ
Westport, CT
Pasadena, CA (LA)
West Hollywood, CA (LA)
Hindsdale, IL (Chicago)
Northbrook, IL (Chicago)

Coming Soon:
San Francisco, CA
Walnut Creek, CA
Roseville, CA (Sacramento)

My fifteen years with Steinway has been spent at our company stores: Started at Steinway Hall, managed the Paramus, NJ showroom for eight years, moved to LA and opened the West Hollywood and Pasadena showrooms and now work with our new showrooms in Northern, CA which are opening soon.

I primarily work from the West Hollywood and Pasadena showrooms, so if visit one of those stores in the future please say "hello".
_________________________
Gavin English
General Manager - West Coast Retail
Steinway & Sons

2008 Steinway model O

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#2103271 - 06/16/13 11:12 AM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Hi Gavin,

As Greg mentioned, one of the ongoing discussions at PW is the state of preparation of new Steinways/Bostons/Essex' as they are presented in the showroom. I think we are all a bit curious if there is starting to be a crack down on the prep and tuning of the pianos at non-Steinway owned facilities? It does seem to be hit and miss.

Would you be willing to give us the actual viewpoint of S&S-NY? There are so many "opinions/facts" being offered that nobody really knows what is accurate information. There is a thread in the Piano Forum where people are adamant that there are no design differences, only casework differences, between a Hamburg-D and a NY-D. The difference in tonal structure is merely due to the "quality" standards in Germany. That counters what the technician, from Steinway Hall NY, stated in an interview at the recent Cliburn Competition.

In the Pianist Corner, there was a discussion of the tonal differences between the four "D's" at the competition. All four were very different animals.

Any clarification you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Respectfully,
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2103285 - 06/16/13 11:38 AM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
joe80 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1437
In the UK, Steinway Hall is probably the best showroom in the country with the highest level of technical assistance.

They are aware of the price of their product and make sure it is working at its best before it leaves the showroom.

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#2103314 - 06/16/13 12:48 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Carbonblob Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/13
Posts: 369
Loc: Los Angeles, Ca.
Thanks Marty,

I was a bit confused when the dealer I bought from stated they were closing their doors to become a Steinway Gallery. So that's not a factory store? All I know is they had to clear everything out and lose the competing brands (how I got the Kawai RX3) so they could become exclusive Steinway dealers.

I don't get it, why both a factory outlet and a franchise outlet (and many of these within miles of each other in LA)? If I had a franchise, I would really be ticked off the factory had a showroom siphoning off sales in my territory! I'm sure I missed something here.........blob
_________________________
KAWAI RX-3 BLAK
YAMAHA GRANTOUCH GT1

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#2103333 - 06/16/13 01:08 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Hi Blob,

That is some of the confusion, which hopefully Gavin can clarify.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2103336 - 06/16/13 01:12 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1974
Loc: Philadelphia area
The only decent place, I know of, to select a Steinway grand is in the institution selection room in Queens.

They normally have a couple of the good ones there and have them well prepped. The stock rotates out relatively quickly, so within a few visits you should find the piano you want.

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#2103430 - 06/16/13 05:07 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1793
Given that all of the pianos will be NY Steinways, my guess is that everything will depend upon the quality of the people working at a given dealership and their willingness to spend time preparing the pianos. In terms of the shopping experience, I expect that the answer will be the same: all will depend upon the individual people involved. I suppose one can hope that the factory-owned dealerships will be less inclined to try to terrify their customers into purchasing a Steinway from them (a technique that was tried out on me, although I was several years younger and a lot more timid then), but that surely remains to be seen. If all of the dealerships, whatever their ownership, base compensation upon commissions and sales goals and quotas, I would expect the shopping experience to be similar, whether for good or ill.

So my bottom line is: I would expect the shopping experience and prepping of the pianos to be based on the people in the dealerships, and not on anything else.


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#2103579 - 06/16/13 10:43 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: Gavin English]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi Gavin,

I visit Westside LA about once a month to work with clients there. I will certainly take you up on the offer.

Thanks!
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2103582 - 06/16/13 11:00 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi All,

Thank you so much for your responses so far. This is all very interesting and informative.

When I was in my 20s, it was common knowledge that the S&S franchise holder in Orange County would only pay their techs to do between 10 -20 hours prep on new instruments out of the box. I heard this from several respected tech's in the area who had worked on staff for the franchise holder for several years. The few times I went in to play those Steinways, I was not surprised they played so poorly. The sales staff was also quite surly, so I generally avoided the place and told my students and everybody else to as well. Not to mention that that particular vintage of instrument was not their best.

I studied in Paris for a few years, and when I got back to the OC in the early 90s I had occasion to go visit the new franchisee. I thought the "B"s I played at that time were a great improvement over the older ones I knew. But they still played quite rough, and sounded rather fuzzy.

Now we know for sure that S&S is changing its business model some, and factory showrooms are going to be a little more common. I certainly hope Gavin can answer our questions, and also bring us up to speed on any policy changes re prep on new pianos. I am certainly going to visit the West Hollywood showroom on my next trip to see how those pianos sound. I have not played a brand-spanking new Steinway for about 4 years, so I'm hoping I will not be disappointed.

Cheers!
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2104110 - 06/17/13 11:00 PM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Gavin English Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 12
Loc: West Hollywood, CA
Hello All:

Sorry I didn't reply earlier. Regarding the confusion on company owned showrooms and dealers, all company showrooms are called either Steinway Piano Gallery or Steinway Hall. (The only Steinway Halls are in NY and London though. The others are all Steinway Piano Galleries)

An independent dealer can either use their own name or become a Steinway Piano Gallery or Steinway Hall. Steinway & Sons licenses out these two names. In some cases when a dealer is very well known and established in a market, it makes sense to keep their name. (M. Steinert & Sons in Boston, Jacobs Music in Philadelphia, Schmitt Music, etc)

Hope that helps a little.
_________________________
Gavin English
General Manager - West Coast Retail
Steinway & Sons

2008 Steinway model O

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#2104340 - 06/18/13 11:50 AM Re: Steinway- company showroom vs. franchise dealer? [Re: laguna_greg]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2397
Loc: SoCal
To answer Greg's question, my feeling is that the Steinway owned galleries in Los Angeles do a very good job on their pianos. I purchased my fiance's Essex at the West Hollywood store and found all of the pianos I tried to be in tune. I've been in to pester them at the Pasadena store as well, and it's the same. The pianos are in tune and the actions feel good. That goes for the Essex pianos as well.

That's not the case at other piano dealers in the LA/OC area. The only exception is Kim's in Garden Grove.

How dealers figure on selling pianos that are out of tune is a mystery. I know times are tough and they are looking to cut costs, but still.
_________________________
Gary

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