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#235646 - 04/22/06 12:48 PM HELP! Dazed and Confused!
c.aber Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/21/06
Posts: 4
Loc: Spring, Texas
I want a grand piano. I'm not sure what kind of piano I want, but I want one. I began my search by talking to dealers around the country to look for a nicer used piano. At the time, I was considering Yamaha C2 or a Kawai RX series instrument. In the process of calling, I found a used Estonia grand in another state. I had not heard about them and was referred to this forum to do some research.

Estonia feedback seemed very positive and set out to do more investigating. Before I could do much, the piano sold. Boo-hoo!

I first visited the local Steinway dealer who carried many brands. There I found Petrof, Boston and mostly Chinese pianos. I plainly stated I wanted to avoid Chinese instruments. It's a personal choice.

The Petrof was descibed to me as a "poor man's Steinway". This was a little disturbing to me as I didn't feel as I looked like a poor person and had not asked about Steinway. When I mentioned I had researched Estonia, I was told they had carried Estonia and Petrof side by side for years and that Estonias simply wouldn't sell while sitting next to a Petrof. I told him I wanted to play one and he said he thought the local Estonia dealer had moved out of his old store in the middle of the night and was most likely out of business.

The salesman then told me I should look as Boston and began bombarding me with the Steinway spin on selling a Boston piano. During the conversation, he told me that within the country of Estonia, Boston was the number one selling piano. He claimed Estonians don't even buy their own pianos. I felt a snow job and I left. I don't think he could have told me the truth if he had too. (Certainly an opinion.)

I then went to the local Estonia dealer to see if there was a chance he had a used Estonia. He told me they were fairly rare but would contact me if he got one on trade. I told him of my interest in a C2 or RX2. He showed me a Kemble grand piano model 173. He told me Kemble was a division of Yamaha, and the 173 was the same piano as a Yamaha C2 except for the name and the color of the metal inside. He pulled out the key bed of the piano and indeed it was marked Yamaha. The piano sounded and played really nice, however, again I wondered if this made any sense. Why would Yamaha do such a thing?

He had a really nice selection of Estonia pianos but the new ones were out of my price range. I told him what the other dealer had said about selling Estonias and Petrofs side by side and he claimed the other dealer had never sold Estonia at all and that indeed HE was the first dealer in their market to ever sell them.

He also said I was over-stressing the buying issue and that what I should really focus on was finding a piano that I loved and buy it. He said the best way to buy a piano was by playing as many pianos as I possibly could.

I aksed him about whether he was going out of business. He said the building they had been in for 10 years had been sold and they had just opened their new store. It certainly did not look like the seedy atmosphere I was expecting, the store is beautiful and filled with lovely instruments, mostly Eurpoean.

However, I don't know if I buy the "Kemble-Yamaha" thing. I felt like the snow was beginning to fall again.

Today I am going to another large chain store. I would much prefer buying from a locally owned store, but I don't know how to sort through the bull and get to the bottom line.

Anyone here who can help me sift through fact or fiction would be appreciated. I just want to know the truth about what I am hearing.

God this is to long and I apologize for spelling (the spell checker doesn't work) but this is a huge purchase for me and I thank-you ahead for your help.

Cheryl Abercrombie

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#235647 - 04/22/06 01:04 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 15189
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Your story - as far as the dealers are concerned - speaks for itself.

The Estonia dealer told you the truth, plain and simple.

Estonia dealers have sometimes gotten a bum-rap by other dealers for the simple reason that their pianos have become so very successful in recent years.

In the past, all kinds of smear-campaigns were virtually the order of the day - I had my own share of them in the Vancouver,B.C, area...... \:D

Of course for the simple reason that it was costing these guys deals - especially when you consider that they had gotten used to rule the land with their own one or two top pianos .....

Kemble, by the way, are nice pianos and totally legit, owned by Yamaha and made in England - some say they're even a bit better than their Japanese made counterparts.

He also said I was over-stressing the buying issue and that what I should really focus on was finding a piano that I loved and buy it. He said the best way to buy a piano was by playing as many pianos as I possibly could.
That would be my advice to you as well.

Come back when you have perhaps played some more pianos and let's discuss things with you at that point.

Happy hunting...er.. *playing*....

Norbert \:\)
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642 www.eliteheritagepianos.ca Edmonton, Alta dealers for Estonia,
Brodmann 780-405-8908

#235648 - 04/22/06 01:51 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
tenuki Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/06
Posts: 672
Loc: Seattle, Wa
Slow down! give youself a couple months for your search. play every piano in your area that is for sale (well, as far as possible) Here is a link to a FAQ that is being created for piano shoppers, all my advice and a lot of others is there.

Only the humble improve.

#235649 - 04/22/06 01:52 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6195
1. If you want to buy Yamaha/Kawai, please go visit Yamaha/Kawai dealers. If you go to somewhere else, they will try to sell you something else.

2. The mutual mud-slinging among dealers are just that -- mud-slinging. Ignore them (or at least ignore all the wild stories they tell about their competitors).

3. The part about Estonians not buying Estonia is mostly true. The smallest/cheapest new 5'6" Estonia goes for roughly $20k a pop in the US. Estonia's per-capita income is roughly $15k. Estonia makes about 400 pianos a year, and 90+% are exported to North America. It's easy to see that Estonians do not buy Estonia pianos going by these numbers. That said, I highly doubt that the Boston brand is the best seller in Estonia. If I have to guess, I'd guess that the Petrof brand is the best seller there (if not some Asian brand).

4. Kemble and Yamaha -- Yamaha owns part of Kemble, and Kemble-branded pianos do indeed contain lots of Yamaha parts. See http://www.uk-piano.org/history/history_1.html and just "search" for the "Kemble" keyword through out the page.

5. Yes, do focus on finding a piano you like within your price range, and a good way to find that piano is to play as many different pianos as you can.

Good luck.
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#235650 - 04/22/06 02:06 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
Restating Ax's comment:

Estonians probably aren't buying Estonia pianos NOT because they are bad pianos, but because they are relatively expensive and unavailable there.

In Estonia I played only unfamiliar-named pianos from the communist era (no Estonias or Bostons).
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

#235651 - 04/22/06 02:10 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
tenuki Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/06
Posts: 672
Loc: Seattle, Wa
You most definately need to buy from a local store for one reason - you need to play any piano you buy before you decide to buy it.
Only the humble improve.

#235652 - 04/22/06 02:17 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
ftp Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Philadelphia
If I were Estonian I would envy the Chinese. Apparently they get to buy German pianos. ;\)

#235653 - 04/22/06 03:41 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
Jeffrey L. Wong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/04/05
Posts: 55
Loc: The Woodlands
This is a very unique situation...as matter of fact, someone came to my store asking these exact questions and interested in these exact pianos.
I am a Steinway & Sons dealer with 30 years of reputation in my community for excellent piano selection, prep and service.

The bottome line is on piano selection...
1. be realistic on what you want to spend vs. what kind of performance you expect.
2.Be direct with your search and your question. Reputable piano dealers don't employe slimy salespeople, so you shouldn't be misleading with your intentions.
3.Pianos are not Cars, Big Screens or anything else you buy that is discounted in a high margin of percentage. it is what it is. Handmade pianos cost more than production manufactored pianos. better wood cost more than cheap wood, woods cost more than plastic, foamcore or particle boards are even cheaper! you get what you paid for.

Brand name shop don't always work to your favor, do business with a dealer that offers service and confidence. Optimum piano selection does require one's understanding of their own personal preference.
Jeffrey Wong
Forshey Piano Company - The Woodlands
Jeffrey L. Wong
Forshey Piano Company - The Woodlands
know pianos I do...feel the force

#235654 - 04/22/06 03:45 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
kokomo61 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 678
Loc: Herndon, VA
Kemble is a decent piano, and (I thought) it played and sounded better than the Yamaha C2. If it turns out that, after you've played lots of pianos that the Kemble is the one that best meets your feature/performance/price specs, then you will have found a very good piano. BUT....play a lot more before you buy, and ignore any spin from salespeople about competing models...
Estonia 190, #6098

#235655 - 04/22/06 05:11 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 18116
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
In the FAQ tenuki told you about is the most important advice: Buy and read the Larry Fine Piano Book.

If you feel comfortable letting us know your approximate budget, we could perhaps give you more specific advice about brands you might want to try.
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

#235656 - 04/22/06 06:54 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
seebechstein Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/04
Posts: 1085
Loc: houston
Cheryl, I bought a new grand piano in Houston a year and a half ago. It was a frustrating, confusing time. I agree with Mr. Wong from the Steinway dealership when he says you don't just go into a piano store and buy one like you would buy a TV. But I will add that if you have a problem budgeting for a new Estonia, you likely won't be buying a Steinway from Mr. Wong either.

The best advice is to stop talking to dealers, and start letting the pianos talk to you. In other words, start playing pianos and try to draw your own conclusions.

By the way, after months of searching I ended up buying a new Estonia from Scott Covington. He didn't run away in the middle of the night, he had to move because they're clearing land for some monstrous edifice on the corner of Westheimer and Kirby. It sounds like you visited Scott's new store -- I heard it was going to be in Sugarland -- quite a drive from Spring! But given what he usually carried for inventory at his old location, I'd assume that a monthly visit to him would be educational for your fingers and ears. The most important thing is: take your time! And take everything the salespeople say with a grain of salt.

(edit) Ok so it appears Scott Covington's new store is on Kirby just north of the Southwest Freeway. So he only ended up moving a few blocks!

#235657 - 05/14/06 07:50 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
RWDHouston Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/13/06
Posts: 1
I would highly recommend NOT using The Piano Store in Houston. My experience with them was very unpleasant and I never did receive the piano I requested after months. Our relationship has dissolved.
Please check the BBB for unresolved complaints a Marvin Zindler on May 10th had a complaint that The Piano Store would not address until the media was involved.
There are a lot of piano stores out there...I would recommend looking elsewhere and save yourself alot of headache.

#235658 - 05/14/06 08:22 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
mamma2my3sons Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/03
Posts: 746
Loc: Midwest of the great USA
About that particular piano store below is a blog of someone (name of Schuman) who posted here originally. After months of waiting for his piano that never was delivered to him (although he paid $45K in advance)-he began posting receipts & recordings of phone calls between himself & the dealer!!
The thread was removed because of threatened litigation from the dealer (who posts here on occasion I believe)

The original poster never did get the piano (a litany of excuses from the dealer-the most amusing being that it was left in a hotel room by the delivery guys! \:D ) Think months & months later he finally got his money back. . .. Beware!


#235659 - 05/14/06 10:43 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 15189
Loc: Surrey, B.C.

Yours was a very fair statement coming from a dealer!

Norbert \:\)
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642 www.eliteheritagepianos.ca Edmonton, Alta dealers for Estonia,
Brodmann 780-405-8908

#235660 - 05/15/06 01:54 PM Re: HELP! Dazed and Confused!
sleepy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 330
Besides contacting dealers for used pianos, you might try contacting (reputable) rebuilders. (Reputable in the sense of their technical skills.)



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