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#227309 - 07/14/05 08:29 PM Help confirm these comments
w50 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/05
Posts: 32
Loc: Singapore
In my search for a piano as a beginner, here are some (conflicting) comments I received from piano dealers. Please help me sort out fact from myth:

1. Beginners tend to only play the middle of the keyboard when starting out learning. After about 5 years or so of serious practice the weight of keys will be lighter in the middle of the keyboard and heavier at the ends that regardless of piano, I will need to change pianos in about 5 years. Buy cheap, upgrade later!

2. In a used piano, age doesn't matter. Only quality of soundboard should be considered as everything else can be serviced/overhauled/replaced.

3. In general terms, the lower price range of new pianos (last 10 years) display less quality of sound (more dead, less 'sing' and sustain) compared to older pianos at similar price point.

4. China made represents better value compared to Japan/Korea made since raw material is the same but labour rates are lower. ie I could pay more money but not get "more piano"

5. Plastic hammers will warp over time

6. All else being equal, taller in an upright is better for richness/fullness of tone. Since all is not equal, height doesn't really matter.

7. In some pianos, the strings are threaded through a positioning block at the ends (sorry don't know the term for this) which ensures accurate and consistent alignment of strings. In other pianos, strings are spaced apart only by a pin which results in inconsistent alignment and poorer quality of sound.

8. Importing a used piano from temperate to tropical climate runs many risks for the piano (sticky keys, cracking soundboard and other humidity effects).

Are these just sales talk by salesmen for selling their own pianos? Are there validity in their statements?

Thanks.
Wei

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#227310 - 07/14/05 09:39 PM Re: Help confirm these comments
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1055
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
[QUOTE]Originally posted by w50:
[QB] In my search for a piano as a beginner, here are some (conflicting) comments I received from piano dealers. Please help me sort out fact from myth:


Let's give it a whirl!!


1. Beginners tend to only play the middle of the keyboard when starting out learning. After about 5 years or so of serious practice the weight of keys will be lighter in the middle of the keyboard and heavier at the ends that regardless of piano, I will need to change pianos in about 5 years. Buy cheap, upgrade later!

Don't buy any bridges from this man. Either lying or ignorant or both. Beginners do tend to stick to the middle but a beginner isn't going to wear anything out by doing so. Sounds like he thinks you want cheap. He likely gets a better markup on something made in an Asian land with lower labor costs.

2. In a used piano, age doesn't matter. Only quality of soundboard should be considered as everything else can be serviced/overhauled/replaced.

You plannig on rebuilding your first purchase? If not then everything matters. Pianos wear out and parts age. Everything can be rebuilt but at what cost?

3. In general terms, the lower price range of new pianos (last 10 years) display less quality of sound (more dead, less 'sing' and sustain) compared to older pianos at similar price point.

This is too broad a statement to mean anything. You need much more specific info to make any judgement.

4. China made represents better value compared to Japan/Korea made since raw material is the same but labour rates are lower. ie I could pay more money but not get "more piano"

I still haven't seen a Chinese made piano that compares in general quality to a Japanese built. This a my general opinion with some caveats. Again, is this salesperson pushing cheap cause that's the impression he/she got of you?

5. Plastic hammers will warp over time.

Not aware of any plastic hammers. Plastic action parts, yes. Kawai uses lots of filled ABS and it's good stuff. (Kawai Don, you ever going to get the factory to produce replacement action parts for us rebuilders? I'd use em in mine if they fit!)

6. All else being equal, taller in an upright is better for richness/fullness of tone. Since all is not equal, height doesn't really matter.

First thing I've agreed with. All. things being equal, bigger is better. And no, not all things are =.

7. In some pianos, the strings are threaded through a positioning block at the ends (sorry don't know the term for this) which ensures accurate and consistent alignment of strings. In other pianos, strings are spaced apart only by a pin which results in inconsistent alignment and poorer quality of sound.

They're called agraffes and string spacing on them is only as good as the plate drilling spacing done by the foundry. This is a non-issue. Most pianos only have agraffes through the lower 60% of the scale. The spacing af the other strings has more to do with workmanship than anything else. Did he tell you the agraffes have their drawbacks, too?


8. Importing a used piano from temperate to tropical climate runs many risks for the piano (sticky keys, cracking soundboard and other humidity effects).

Putting any piano in a tropical environment, without humidity control, endangers it's life expectancy.

Are these just sales talk by salesmen for selling their own pianos? Are there validity in their statements?

Unfortunately, your sales person my actually believe most of this. You can always glean a little truth from anything said. I didn't have much to agree with in this case. I wasn't there so I can't really make a final judgement on the veracity of your salesman's statements. Sometimes we all hear what we want to. Sometimes we don't even want to hear the truth

Dale
_________________________
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#227311 - 07/14/05 09:46 PM Re: Help confirm these comments
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
One size fits all answer: Don't ever go back to this dealer.
_________________________
Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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#227312 - 07/14/05 10:57 PM Re: Help confirm these comments
w50 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/05
Posts: 32
Loc: Singapore
Really want to thank you Dale and Michael for your help. My impression from visiting 20+ shops is that many people buying "starter" piano do have a price point around US$3000 so salespeople pitch at that to begin with. They baulk when I say I have budget more than double that for a 5 year old kid which is when some of the above statements appear. Mind you, I have 3 kids that will be learning piano including a 3 year old that is absolutely enthralled by the piano (literally transfixed by any decent player playing and lovingly explores the keys herself). So I'm looking for one to last and I do want as non-biased views on what really matters to tone and playability. I especially didn't want to be taken in by "non-issues" as Dale mention. Thanks again, most helpful.

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#227313 - 07/15/05 08:48 PM Re: Help confirm these comments
knorris Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/04/05
Posts: 18
Loc: San Diego, California
Wei,

I am not a piano dealer or technician, just an amateur player, but I felt much better about shopping for a piano after having read The Piano Book by Larry Fine. This book is regularly recommended by many posters on this forum. Larry Fine's book covers many many topics having to do with piano construction, shopping new or used, sales tactics, and piano care, as well as reviews and rankings of many piano brands. I think I paid about $20 for this book at my local book store, and there's an ad for this book right now on this webpage (on the right margin).

It's a great resource, as is this forum.

K

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#227314 - 07/15/05 09:04 PM Re: Help confirm these comments
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
Your budget will buy you any number of very fine new pianos for your kids. Go to as many different dealers as you can find.. listen to the piano, not the dealer.
_________________________
Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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#227315 - 07/16/05 08:10 AM Re: Help confirm these comments
masaki Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 374
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Wei,
I have two comments for people who would use the Piano Book in buying and maintainig pianos outside of the US(not including Hawaii and Alaska I think).

It seems the book is written assuming readers are people who live in US where 1)in-door climate control is better made than in any other countries and 2)piano techs are more skilful, at least in voicing, than those who are in Asian countries.

----
Masaki

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