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#37341 - 01/06/09 08:39 PM Played an Essex
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
I went into the S&S dealer to play a little, which I do from time to time for some public performance practice. I was waiting on someone else to finish on the D (superb player; I didn't want to rush her at all!! \:\) ), so I played a small (5'1" or so) Essex grand for a bit. I was not impressed at all. It has little dynamic range, the upper half of the keyboard is piercing bright, and the bass is very dull. The only part of the compass that was decent sounding is the upper bass/tenor area. I really could not imagine anyone buying this particular piano for anything but a shiny piece of furniture.

I've played a Kawai in this size range that has much better bass, and has superior dynamic range.

If this piano is representative of Essex grand pianos in general (I am NOT saying it is, by any stretch!!), it leaves me with one question: Why do they even bother?[/b] The Boston grands (some of which I have played) are far superior instruments to this Essex grand.

Anyway, the excellent lady pianist finished up, and I enjoyed about an hour and a half on the D.
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#37342 - 01/06/09 08:48 PM Re: Played an Essex
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I have never played an Essex. I HAVE played a Pearl River around this length and found the same characteristics you have identified.
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#37343 - 01/06/09 08:55 PM Re: Played an Essex
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Interesting P*D, since I hear Pearl River is now making Essex (or least some of them).
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#37344 - 01/06/09 09:38 PM Re: Played an Essex
Terry C. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 316
Loc: Melbourne, (Suntree) Florida
I played an essex once and i totally agree with you Horowitzian! Minimum dynamic range and a very stiff action! My impression was less than favorable!!!


Be well and happy,
Terry C. \:\)
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#37345 - 01/06/09 09:58 PM Re: Played an Essex
eightyeight_keys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/08
Posts: 383
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I agree with Horowitzian too. I found the Essex grand lacking in dynamic range, poor bass response and a rather stiff, slowish action. Pity they are not made better, considering the high price.
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#37346 - 01/06/09 10:12 PM Re: Played an Essex
Norbert Online   content
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13974
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
 Quote:
Why do they even bother? The Boston grands (some of which I have played) are far superior instruments to this Essex grand.
It prevents a Steinway dealer straying off adopting another - God forbid - *better* Chinese brand.

Staying "All in the family" - keep smiling baby!

Gosh, still miss that show sometimes......

Norbert
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#37347 - 01/06/09 10:17 PM Re: Played an Essex
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Good point, Norbert. I love S&S pianos, and the Bostons are nice, if overpriced. But quite frankly, this Essex grand is an embarrassment to the name. :rolleyes:

They really should choose something better for their "entry-level" brand.

[edit] Thanks, turandot, for catching my error. I did not mean what I had said. \:o
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#37348 - 01/06/09 10:33 PM Re: Played an Essex
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7089
Loc: torrance, CA
"these Essex grands are an embarrassment to the name."

Easy there Horowitzian!

How many Essex grands have you played?
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#37349 - 01/06/09 10:44 PM Re: Played an Essex
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
DOH!!

I meant to say "this Essex grand" I was typing fast, too fast...and it's been a long day... \:o

Thanks for the prod! ;\)

And the topic name (and the language of the OP) should give you a clue as to how many I've played.
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#37350 - 01/06/09 11:03 PM Re: Played an Essex
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
just leave off the first two letters
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#37351 - 01/06/09 11:07 PM Re: Played an Essex
tucsonpianist91 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 76
Loc: Tucson, AZ
Your dealer lets you just play? Lucky! the dealer here has a policy about students who come in and just spend time playing steinways. It's really annoying, because you have to convince them you're shopping for a piano if you want them to let you play them. \:\(

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#37352 - 01/06/09 11:12 PM Re: Played an Essex
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Is your dealer a Steinway Gallery?

Mine is an independent S&S dealer. He happens to maintain some stunning C&A D's (one of them is my favorite piano on the planet; it is a phenomenally excellent piano) and one C&A B. I am free to come in and play on them anytime I want to. I generally don't touch the "for sale" Steinways now that I have my own B.
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#37353 - 01/06/09 11:17 PM Re: Played an Essex
mdsdurango Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/04
Posts: 1755
Loc: Durango Colorado
 Quote:
Originally posted by apple*:
just leave off the first two letters [/b]
Feeling a bit frisky apple*?



mike
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#37354 - 01/06/09 11:31 PM Re: Played an Essex
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7089
Loc: torrance, CA
To sell a Sex piano, you need a pianomadam.

Horowitzian,

If your dealer is an independent, the baby Essez may be the lowest priced new grand in his shop. Some of the chains have the Henry Miller/Cristofori Sejung stuff at a lower price, but an independent probably doesn't.

It could be that the baby Essex is the least likely candidate on the floor to receive any voicing attention. It might not get the highest level of prep either if the typical potential target customer is a shopper who wants to buy the mystique at the lowest possible price.

One time pianomadam was carrying on here in this forum about how great the Essex was and my curiosity was piqued, so a week later a tried a couple. They were the mid-sized ones. I think one was a Pearl and the other a Young Chang. Both were better than I had expected and they had plenty of dynamic range for their size. My expectations were modest and I wasn't playing any Steinway D's during my visit, but my sense is that with some prep, the Essex grands can be pretty musical pianos.
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#37355 - 01/06/09 11:54 PM Re: Played an Essex
tucsonpianist91 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 76
Loc: Tucson, AZ
 Quote:
Originally posted by Horowitzian:
Is your dealer a Steinway Gallery?

Mine is an independent S&S dealer. He happens to maintain some stunning C&A D's (one of them is my favorite piano on the planet; it is a phenomenally excellent piano) and one C&A B. I am free to come in and play on them anytime I want to. I generally don't touch the "for sale" Steinways now that I have my own B. [/b]
Oh....yeah, it's a steinway gallery.

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#37356 - 01/06/09 11:57 PM Re: Played an Essex
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Probably true; prep is everything even on the el cheapo pianos.

FWIW, this piano is in one of the teacher's studios that are in this shop. It has a price tag on it, and is for sale, but it is "in use". I'd have been interested to try a bigger one, but they didn't have one that I could find. Mostly Bostons, and I know what those are like.
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#37357 - 01/07/09 12:01 AM Re: Played an Essex
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
 Quote:
Originally posted by tucsonpianist91:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Horowitzian:
Is your dealer a Steinway Gallery?

Mine is an independent S&S dealer. He happens to maintain some stunning C&A D's (one of them is my favorite piano on the planet; it is a phenomenally excellent piano) and one C&A B. I am free to come in and play on them anytime I want to. I generally don't touch the "for sale" Steinways now that I have my own B. [/b]
Oh....yeah, it's a steinway gallery. [/b]
That probably explains why they won't let non-buyers play. It's a missed marketing opportunity, though. Students (or anyone) who play well will create a favorable impression on prospective customers, showcasing the pianos.
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#37358 - 01/07/09 12:36 AM Re: Played an Essex
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
To add to my last post, there probably ought to be standards for any non-buyer playing in the store (i.e. real repertoire and no "Chopsticks"), but having good players to showcase the pianos is a marketing opportunity that dealers should not give up. Not to mention it is an enjoyable experience for the players.

Since my dealer has the C&A pianos, I occasionally see artists come in while I'm playing, and I've gotten compliments and advice from them. \:\)
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#37359 - 01/07/09 01:22 AM Re: Played an Essex
paulmarcus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/08
Posts: 57
Loc: USA
We need to keep in mind that you get what you pay for. It was mentioned that the Kawai sounded better. Of course it does.. and they're asking for more money also. Entry level baby grands just don't sound that great to seasoned musicians. I don't think the Essex was designed for the seasoned musician.

Steinway isn't stupid. The Essex is a marketing idea.. and a great one at that. They offer a full-price trade for 10 years when you're ready for an actual Steinway. We need to see it for what it is. A 5' baby grand for around $10k is definately an entry-level piano. I may be off a bit on the prices, but let's keep things in perspective:

5 footers
Suzuki $6k
Pearl River $7k
Essex $10k
Kawai $14k
Boston $18k
Yamaha $18k
Steinway $42k
Bechstein $50k
Bluthner $65k

You get what you pay for. Any piano assembled in China will more than likely sound marginal. Voicing can help any piano sound better, but it's still just a $10k piano. I personally wouldn't buy one either, but there's a huge market out there for marginally sounding pianos that look good in the living room.
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#37360 - 01/07/09 05:31 AM Re: Played an Essex
Deon van aswegen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/09/08
Posts: 142
Loc: South Africa
I agree entirely with Marcus and Horowitzian. However, I cannot but always get a sense of a small grand (5')being only a decor tool by mom, and an awe inspiring new instrument for a starstruck wannabee pianist or beginner. Looks good, nice decor, lets play.

Sadly, the development of a pianist is directly related to the instrument at hand. So even if it is a 5' Steinway, Bluthner, Kawai or Pearl River,the pianist is never going to get a sense of real sound and dynamics that a larger instrument can offer. I don't care what it is...

Almost like those small baby grand Challen's that was not even good for firewood.... ;\) now i've put my foot in it! \:D I also do not know why they even bothered....

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#37361 - 01/07/09 05:57 AM Re: Played an Essex
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1164
Loc: Singapore
 Quote:
Originally posted by paulmarcus:
We need to keep in mind that you get what you pay for. It was mentioned that the Kawai sounded better. Of course it does.. and they're asking for more money also. Entry level baby grands just don't sound that great to seasoned musicians. I don't think the Essex was designed for the seasoned musician.

Steinway isn't stupid. The Essex is a marketing idea.. and a great one at that. They offer a full-price trade for 10 years when you're ready for an actual Steinway. We need to see it for what it is. A 5' baby grand for around $10k is definately an entry-level piano. I may be off a bit on the prices, but let's keep things in perspective:

5 footers
Suzuki $6k
Pearl River $7k
Essex $10k
Kawai $14k
Boston $18k
Yamaha $18k
Steinway $42k
Bechstein $50k
Bluthner $65k

You get what you pay for. Any piano assembled in China will more than likely sound marginal. Voicing can help any piano sound better, but it's still just a $10k piano. I personally wouldn't buy one either, but there's a huge market out there for marginally sounding pianos that look good in the living room. [/b]
just to let you know, you are off. Boston's cost quite a lot more then Kawai's and Yamahas. Shigure Kawai's cost around the same as Boston
s or more

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#37362 - 01/07/09 06:29 AM Re: Played an Essex
Anonymous
Unregistered


As much as the new piano market has changed in these last few years, just imagine the used instrument market some years down the road. I find it hard to imagine anyone wanting to buy a "pre-owned" Essex, Young-Chang, or other Asian facsimile pianos.
Although, as the forests slowly disappear, firewood will be more scarce. Also, Asian pianos could make some marvelous artficial reefs and yacht anchors.

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#37363 - 01/07/09 08:09 AM Re: Played an Essex
tanjinjack Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 846
Loc: Malaysia
Alright, let me comment about the Essex that I have played which I believe is the same model played by the OP.

I am not impressed on the Essex that I tried before. The tone is bright and brittle I guess. The action is not good IMHO. I can't recall the dynamic range as I played it about half a year ago. But, my overall impression is Essex is not good. But I played a B first in that showroom and that might affect my assessment on Essex.

Anyway, Hailun (W&L) plays better than Essex.

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#37364 - 01/07/09 08:43 AM Re: Played an Essex
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Amelia,

I don't know where you get your facts, but unless the market in Singapore is completely out of step with the rest of the world, the RX is only slightly less expensive than the Boston, and the Shigeru is quite a bit more expensive than both. I don't have the current Fine supplement, but in an older edition the Shigeru list price is almost 50% higher than the Boston on the 5'10" model, for instance. The Boston, meanwhile is only about 10% higher than the corresponding Kawai. Things may have changed, but not so much as to make a Boston GP178 comparable in price to a Shigeru SK10.

Well, if the two WERE comparably priced, I know which one I would buy.
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#37365 - 01/07/09 08:47 AM Re: Played an Essex
Glenn Grafton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/05
Posts: 190
Loc: Souderton PA
 Quote:
just to let you know, you are off. Boston's cost quite a lot more then Kawai's and Yamahas. Shigure Kawai's cost around the same as Boston
s or more
I would disagree with the above. The actual dealer cost difference between comparable models from Kawai, Boston (made by Kawai) and Yamaha grands is fairly close.

The last published Ancott Directory lists the following prices:

Boston GP178 5'10" $23,700
Yamaha C2 5'8" $23,700
Kawai RX2 5'10" $22,990

There have been prices changes since the last published edition of the Ancott Directory, but it was a snapshot as of Fall/Winter 2006-2007. The prices are not necessarily what the piano sell for or the manufacturers suggested prices.

The prices do however USE THE SAME EXACT MARK UP on dealer cost so they give an accurate picture of what the cost differences really are.

Selling prices are another issue altogether. My personal opinion is this: Typically Steinway dealers feel they can get a higher mark up and will charge more for a Boston grand. The two reasons:

• Steinway has fewer dealers. Only one dealer in a given metropolitan area - and none others for some distance. Less competition in the marketplace results in higher prices since there's no pressure to offer more competitive prices.

• The Steinway image. It's pretty common that the average soccer mom feels that when she buys a Boston piano that it's a more affordable Steinway — sort of like an entry level Mercedes.

Of course reality is that the Boston is made 100% by Kawai in the Kawai factory. Same with the Essex that is made by Pearl River.

It's all about branding and the value people put on the image of the brand.
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#37366 - 01/07/09 10:33 AM Re: Played an Essex
paulmarcus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/08
Posts: 57
Loc: USA
 Quote:
Almost like those small baby grand Challen's that was not even good for firewood.... now i've put my foot in it! I also do not know why they even bothered....
Deon,

They bother because there is a huge market for those kind of pianos. The record speaks for itself. People are buying them. Obviously if people are going to showrooms, sitting down at a Pearl River or Essex or whatever, then standing up and saying "I'll take it", there is a market for it.

As a tuner I tune all kinds of pianos. I'm constantly surprised by peoples remarks about their pianos. They'll have a beautiful new Samik baby grand or Pearl River and love it. They'll talk about it like it's a new-born baby. I see it in their eyes, their excitement and enthusiasm about their piano. And then it happens.. everytime they'll ask, "So, is this a nice piano?" They love it. And I'm sitting at it and they want to know if "I" the professional share the same excitement as they. My response is always, "Yes, it's a nice piano." Because the truth is it IS a nice piano for the MONEY THEY SPENT. When I tell them it's a nice piano, I'm not comparing it with a Bluthner. I'm comparing it with they're personal "come-from" and experience.

Comments like, "it's not worth the wood it's made from" are seasoned musicians talking about pianos they would never buy. My friend just a bought a new Chevy Malibu and he acts like he just married it. My brother owns a Mercedes AMG and would probably never even sit in a Chevy. Just because we are Mercedes piano people doesn't mean the Chevy piano people have a piece of junk.

One man's trash is another man's treasure.
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#37367 - 01/07/09 11:22 AM Re: Played an Essex
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17699
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by paulmarcus:
They'll talk about it like it's a new-born baby. I see it in their eyes, their excitement and enthusiasm about their piano. And then it happens.. everytime they'll ask, "So, is this a nice piano?" They love it. And I'm sitting at it and they want to know if "I" the professional share the same excitement as they. My response is always, "Yes, it's a nice piano." Because the truth is it IS a nice piano for the MONEY THEY SPENT. When I tell them it's a nice piano, I'm not comparing it with a Bluthner. I'm comparing it with they're personal "come-from" and experience. [/b]
You are a wise and good man. \:\)
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#37368 - 01/07/09 11:31 AM Re: Played an Essex
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7089
Loc: torrance, CA
 Quote:
You get what you pay for. Any piano assembled in China will more than likely sound marginal. Voicing can help any piano sound better, but it's still just a $10k piano.
The "You get what you pay for" proposition needs to be handled with care and common sense. It can be a rational reminder to self while shopping. However, it can also be the screwdriver in any sales professional's toolbox, not just the seller of pianos. 'Higher-price-paid' generally equates to higher margin and higher commission. The difference between a commissioned sales professional with a comfortable living and one just scraping by is related to the opportunity and ability to upsell.

Responsible manufacturers will generally wholesale their own various products at prices in line with THEIR OWN respective costs. However, what happens to prices after that point in the distribution chain is less a matter of manufacturing cost and much more a matter of supply, demand, and consumer response to product promotion. MSRP piano prices are more related to promotion than actual cost. Need proof? Read Larry Fine's posts in this forum.

Also, even at the point of wholesale cost, different manufacturers have different costs based on labor, currency exchange, taxes, manufacturing efficiency, production scale, and level of engineering innovation (if any). Paying a 'craftsman' to perform a task that can be performed by a CNC machine is a manufacturer's decision. The decision that costs more is not necessarily the decision that produces better quality. Particularly with pianos, the decision may not be directly related to product quality. It may be more a matter of not rocking the boat, keeping the folklore alive, or an unwillingness to invest in machinery and physical plant because of relatively small output.

A piano manufacturer will generally leave some finishing chores to the retailer. How well the retailer performs them, if at all, may or may not affect the price. It is best to make no assumptions of a higher level of prepsration because of a higher price on the same product. Don't assume automatically that you are getting what you pay for. While it is true that retailers of low-priced pianos from China are notorious for not performing their end of the prep regimen, many rather expensive pianos from other countries are offered for sale and sold (with the buyer's silent acquiescence) in the same deficient condition.

The sound of some Chinese pianos offers a wider range of musical expression than that found on many pianos that cost considerably more. Although it is true that the ability to retain that tone over many years is not proven, your statement about "marginal" Chinese piano sound says more about the comfort of ignorance than the experience of listening. There are many outrageously expensive (at their offered prices) European pianos that are extremely well-built while at the same time frustratingly limited in tone.

 Quote:
Sadly, the development of a pianist is directly related to the instrument at hand.
This generalization should also be handled with care. A better piano will motivate practice and allow the improving pianist to develop his sense of musical expression. However, talent will overcome a deficient practice piano. A better piano will never completely overcome a deficiency in talent. These things need to be measured in proportion.

 Quote:
As much as the new piano market has changed in these last few years, just imagine the used instrument market some years down the road. I find it hard to imagine anyone wanting to buy a "pre-owned" Essex, Young-Chang, or other Asian facsimile pianos.
Although, as the forests slowly disappear, firewood will be more scarce. Also, Asian pianos could make some marvelous artficial reefs and yacht anchors.
Just keep drinking that battery acid. Everything will be fine. \:D

Horowitzian,

Look at the can of worms your have opened. \:\)

The answer to your question of why Steinway should place such a piano as a 5'1" Essex in its showrooms is really quite simple. Steinway is in business to make money. That piano will satisfy someone's particular set of expectations and will be bought and paid for by that person. It does not need to satisfy your expectations. They have something for you.
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#37369 - 01/07/09 01:06 PM Re: Played an Essex
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Well, anyway, like I said, I'd guess the only buyer for such a piano would be someone looking for a shiny piece of furniture. I could not imagine the serious musician on a budget buying this one.

Anyhow, I would have tried some bigger Essex's if they had any of them, which they did not. I'm glad, turandot, that you were more favorably impressed by larger Essex pianos. Hopefully the one I experienced is an outlier.

As far as cans of worms, all I ask is that it stays civil. ;\)
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#37370 - 01/07/09 02:26 PM Re: Played an Essex
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2173
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
 Quote:
Just because we are Mercedes piano people doesn't mean the Chevy piano people have a piece of junk.

One man's trash is another man's treasure.
So true.

For me, reading this forum is like glimpsing at life on an alien planet. Folks buy pianos selling for 6 figures as though it was an everyday occurrence. Anything under $30,000 is just an unmusical piece of furniture "with a noisemaker inside."

A couple of times a month I rent a studio at a dealer's place for practice. Afterwards he encourages me to plunk around on some of his stock. He has a 6' Conover Cable with a $6990 price tag on it. It's about the only grand in my price range around, and when the time comes for me to buy a piano, this cheap, PSO would be my treasure.

Interestingly, he says that while his Yamaha and Kawai sales are down in this economy, his Bechstein sales are unchanged.
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