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#909060 - 06/11/03 10:35 PM Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
PianoHumbled Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 22
Loc: San Diego, CA
Still new to the piano world but was wondering if there is any kind of agreed upon or accepetable playing/practice behavior when browsing in stores for pianos. I was in a store the other day with just my wife and the owner and we were exploring a few different models. We had been there for 5 minutes perhaps when another customer walked in and the owner and this customer exchanged greetings as they obviously new eash other.

The customer states "I'm just going to play a round a little."

The owner "Sure, no problem."

And you have guessed the end of the story. The customer sits down at the 7 footer and begins to play Rachmaninov's Loud Concerto number four in Loud Sharp, with emphasis - and feeling.

Needless to say our shopping was over. I can't hear the C chord I have finally located on the 44" upright over the din and we politely excuse ourselves.

I'm sure I will return again but have decided that when I enter a piano store I will check the place out and sense the state of the customers and their progression in their listening before I just start banging away.

I also understand that the Piano Warehouse super sale is not the place to demand or expect quiet but is the expectation of a first come first listen atmosphere unreasonable or will I just not find the environment that will allow a more serious evaluation of pianos and just accept that its a free for all and was meant to be that way?

Thanks
_________________________
Humbly Yours

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#909061 - 06/11/03 11:00 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
 Quote:
begins to play Rachmaninov's Loud Concerto number four in Loud Sharp[/b]
That's funny. What I found best was to go during the week during the day. What else can you do?
_________________________
"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
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#909062 - 06/11/03 11:24 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19479
Loc: New York City
I've had the same experience. Sometimes I just wait but other times I play even louder. And it doesn't have to be a piece(although I once started playing the opening of The Great Gate at Kiev when I was interrupted). You could just play a chord or some octaves fff over and over and the person who interrupted you might get the point. Don't let their more advanced skills intimidate you. As you have seen, courtesy and advanced pianism don't always go hand in hand.

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#909063 - 06/12/03 12:58 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
RealPlayer Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 2342
Loc: NYC
PianoHumbled, you just have to walk over to Mr. or Ms. Budding Virtuoso, feigning great admiration, position yourself next to the keyboard and "accidentally" cause the fallboard to do what it does best.

That's why they call it a "fallboard," anyway. \:D

I can't believe I just wrote something so catty, but it's late and I'm punchy. I'm sure I'll regret it in the morning...
_________________________
Joe

www.josephkubera.com

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#909064 - 06/12/03 08:20 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I've had that happen as well.

The other etiquette issue I've experienced is that I just cannot stand having the salesperson nearby when I'm playing. I'm not that good, I make a lot of mistakes, and I'm self-conscious.

Is it considered rude for me to want as much privacy as I can get and to ask the salesperson/owner to give me a few minutes?

And can I ask . . .

What do salespeople *really* think when a customer of middling ability starts to play in the store?

Just wondering.

Cindy
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#909065 - 06/12/03 08:55 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Linda in PA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 767
Loc: PA - USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
. . .ask the salesperson/owner to give me a few minutes?[/b]
I have no qualms about asking for a little distance. If I'm nervous about someone hovering over me, then I'm not going to be focused on assessing the piano. I understand that salespeople want to be sure I don't abuse their instruments, but they don't need to be right over my shoulder to monitor that. And it's not as if I can readily shoplift a piano, so I don't see the need to deny the customer a little elbow room.

I've never had an issue when I asked for a few minutes alone. IMO, the best salesmen will give me ample time alone and then, recognizing my limited ability, will offer to play (or have someone else play) the piano in which I've shown the most interest. That enables me to better appreciate the range of dynamics and expression that the piano is capable of delivering in the hands of a more experienced pianist.

. . . Linda

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#909066 - 06/12/03 11:38 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10493
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
This is a matter that we dealers are faced with every day. I'm not sure there is a "right" answer. However there are some things I will stick out my neck and advocate:

1. No chopstix, Heart and Soul, glissandos of all 52 whire or 36 black keys, etc.

2. Keep volumes as low as possible. If you need to hear what the piano will do when pounded, do so for a short period of time, or at least watch for disruptive effects...(we often can't hear on the phone or hear other customers inquiries.)

3. Take as much time you need to evaluate the instrument, but no more. Practice at home.

4. If you are no a serious shopper, defer to other customers in the store who may be.

5. If you anticipate a lengthy evaluation, call ahead and make an appointment.

6. Keep your purse (with those metal feet) off the piano.

7. If you have children with you, control them or better yet leave them home. It is difficult to focus on the evaluation if you kids might be destrying the Grotian 9 footer! And don't ask you 7 year old which one they want. Their criteria is not rational, whatever it is!

The bottom line is to be considerate of the dealership. Keep in mind that, while you are there, the business is running, and that the staff is there for many hours before you came and after you leave. Try to do a full evaluation without disrupting the business or driving the staff crazy.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#909067 - 06/12/03 12:51 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
I'm the last person who should be chiming in about etiquette, but what Steve Cohen's post said is very good.
I have always found that the people sampling musical instruments the loudest are not the best players. I was shopping for a guitar a few years ago, in Rochester, NY, and a "regular" came into the shop and played bluegrass (not very well), with fingerpicks, so loud I could not hear myself. I told the owner, who obviously knew the annoying guitarist, that I was close to buying "this particular Martin guitar," but I can't hear what it sounds like. "Oh well, I'm going back to the city today. I guess I'll look for something similar there." I assume the owner got the point.

The same is true for piano dealers. If you are in a piano store where someone is playing Rach's "Variations on a fortississississimo theme for all 88 keys (simultaneously)," you probably have a right to mention to the dealer that you would love to try out pianos more, but you can't hear yourself ("Anyway, that dealer across town shouldn't be too busy now," you mention as an aside).

Which brings up the problem that dealers face with some of these customers who play loud for a long time. How do you tactfully tell them that they are perfectly welcome to bang on your instruments until the last piece of felt falls of the last remaining hammer (because there's still the potential for a sale), but five other customers just walked out of the store holding their ears?

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#909068 - 06/12/03 01:00 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
byebye Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/03
Posts: 1426
Yes, I was one of those bangers and pounders. You really need to put a piano through its paces, including the full dynamic range. But I was generally shopping on weekday afternoons. On the rare occasions I was shopping on an evening the stores were still empty. I guess that says something about the state of the economy.

Would you test drive a car only in the parking lot? If the salesperson actually lets you drive the car as you would drive it everyday, you may very well be satisfied enough to buy it.

Maybe that's why the salespeople at the K & C dealer didn't want to waste their time on me. Or maybe they thought the piano would fall apart!!

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#909069 - 06/12/03 01:04 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Macaw Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/03
Posts: 30
Loc: North Bend, Washington
 Quote:
"Variations on a fortississississimo theme for all 88 keys (simultaneously),"
I prefer the term blastissimo .

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#909070 - 06/12/03 02:35 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
bcarey Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 3378
Loc: North Carolina
I do agree with MarkS that you have to really put the piano through its paces, to thouroughly evaluate it. Personally, I would not pay what a piano, especially a grand, costs without doing this. This doesn't mean playing fff for 2 hours or playing glissandos and chop sticks.

When I shopped, I made appointments ahead of time and asked when the store was likely to have the lowest traffic. It worked. We were the only people there when playing.

I think there is nothing wrong with a serious customer asking if they could have time to play without others playing at the same, while offering to take turns. I also think a dealer could handle this by courteously approaching a customer and explaining the situation.

I would never go to a piano dealer just for the fun of playing pianos, without asking the dealers permission, then scheduling my playing around all his serious customers. Truthfully, I haven't done it but know I would feel uncomfortable doing it at all! \:o

Steve, I see your point about customers interferring with you or your staff conducting business, but I really see no way that it's not going to happen given you are a piano dealer. All I can tell you is that when the phone rang, I softened my playing and asked if I should stop playing temporarily. This must be a constant problem for dealers.

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#909071 - 06/12/03 02:46 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
There's nothing wrong with playing a piano the way it's meant to be played. A showroom may need to be designed better if they can't close an office door to gain phone privacy.

I think the most annoying thing is when someone is playing (good/bad serious/not serious) and someone comes in and starts playing over them. This is incredibly rude, whether or not the other player is a shopper. This is the dealer's responsibility to "ref" their showroom.

When a regular comes in to "play", the dealer is the one who has to ask them to stop when a serious shopper comes along. But it's rude still if the shopper just hops on and starts playing, assuming that they're the more important customer.
It works the other way as well, when someone more advanced plays over the less advanced person, thinking somehow that their ability (or complete lack thereof) gives them priority.

As I mentioned in another etiquette thread, please PLEASE leave strollers in the foyer.

If someone's playing, don't interrupt them. If they're not there to buy a piano, it's the dealer'r responsibility to maintain order, and make sure everyone gets a turn.

KlavierBauer
_________________________
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#909072 - 06/12/03 03:02 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10493
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
bcarey, its nice to know that you are so considerate...others, let's say, are not.

I agree that a serious shopper who plays should put a piano under serious consideration thru its paces. Unfortunately, what often happens is:

A shopper walks in and sits down to one of our grands and starts playing Bartok Microcosmos at Blastissimo volume. I approach them and ask them if there is anything I can help them with. The say that they just want to try out the pianos. I ask if they have a piano at home. They often have a good grand and are not in the market for a piano at all.

What do I do? I do not want to offend them. As fine players they probably make recommendations to friends. If they like my pianos they will refer others to me. However, while they are there, we cannot talk on the phone or wait on other customers (and we are a full-line dealership, carrying guitars, band and orchestral instruments, etc.). Also, we have 6 teaching studios in full-time use. The teachers often complain that too much noise from the salesfloor, interfers with the lesson.

We look at each instance individually. Usually, if I find that there is no possibility of a sale I take action. If it is an inexperienced player (usually a guitar shopper), I explain that we have lessons going on and ask them to play as softly as possible. If it is kids banging, I tell them that "it's ok to look, put please don't touch". If it is a "player", I tell them that we have lessons going on and ask them to keep the volume down.

You would be amazed at the %age of shoppers who still just bang away, or who are offended that we would not allow them to try all the instruments in the store. After all, isn't that why we are there? Aren't we there to display and expose our manufacturers wares, so you can evaluate them and buy them off the Internet? "You are a music store, why can't we play?"

Unfortuanately, there is not good answer. This situation is part of the business. But it is a part that dealers need to handle every day and they must handle it "right", whatever that is!!!

Maybe Larry's solution is best. Get OUT of retail!! \:D

Pardon the rambling...
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#909073 - 06/12/03 03:39 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
bcarey Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 3378
Loc: North Carolina
A thought. I once went into a toy store at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. They had a big bold sign that said, "Please Play With The Toys". This wasn't your Walmart variety toys, nor did they have breakable dolls. Really unique toys. They had an adult level table where you could play with the toys. I bought a jumping bunny because it reminded me of the Energizer bunny commercials.

Perhaps you could, have a sign or handout that said "Please Play The Instruments', followed by a set of rules of courtesy so to speak.

With all those instruments, it must get noisy!. Ever thought of soundproof booths for horn players and guitarists?

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#909074 - 06/12/03 03:40 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
RealPlayer Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 2342
Loc: NYC
Macaw wrote:

 Quote:
I prefer the term blastissimo
Blastissimo. I love that!

Charles Ives somewhere wrote the indication:

Allegro con fistiswatto \:D
_________________________
Joe

www.josephkubera.com

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#909075 - 06/12/03 03:58 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
PianoHumbled Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 22
Loc: San Diego, CA
As I look back at my initial visits I was probably the one interupting customers already in-store and playing the pianos, and have since chosen to just be a little more considerate - of everyone - store owners and customers alike.

I also once chose to ask politely if I might listen in on the questions that a customer, who had arrived before me, had for the owner as they perused a few different models. I was able to learn a little more from questions I may not have asked and got to listen to pianos played in different ways. THEN I began to bang away on that middle C - just kidding.

All great advice and I do not envy store owners as you are bound to do it wrong no matter the decision. Thanks.
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Humbly Yours

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#909076 - 06/12/03 04:01 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
DSE Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/06/03
Posts: 7
A couple of piano stores we went to had a childen's area with a TV and videotape machine or toys to keep our 4 and 7 year old entertained while we shopped. (We also let them bring their Gameboys). This was much appreciated. While we could have hired a sitter, that can be a prohibitively expensive proposition if you want to try as many pianos as possible to help narrow your choices. Actually, all of the stores we visited were very accomodating.

Once we had narrowed our choices, we did hire a sitter so we could focus on making a decision without the distraction of our kids.

We did have situations in which non-serious customers would come in and play all of the pianos (rather loudly). Becasue it seems impossible to avoid this, one salesman scheduled an appointment for us after closing hours so we could try the piano undisturbed. Very nice.

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#909077 - 06/12/03 04:19 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
.rvaga* Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 2046
Loc: Portland, Oregon
 Quote:
bcarey:
Perhaps you could, have a sign or handout that said "Please Play The Instruments', followed by a set of rules of courtesy so to speak.[/b]
OK, I'm guilty. . .

Bcarey has a great idea.

At least, it would work on someone like me: I'm not rude, but sometimes I'm oblivious!

\:\)

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#909078 - 06/12/03 09:57 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
byebye Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/03
Posts: 1426
Salepeople are not always pianists. I had the feeling that they liked to hear the pianos played and wished that there were customers in the store to hear them played seriously--as if I were providing a free demonstration. As I mentioned, the stores were, with one exception, empty, so I wasn't disturbing other customers. I think, too, that it was clear that I was a serious buyer (since I did not own a piano) and not a tire-kicker (pedal-stomper?)

It still concerns me as to how empty the stores were.

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#909079 - 06/13/03 07:08 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9306
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
I enjoy having our pianos really "played". Of course we have them throughout a huge free standing building with many large rooms, so two or even three people can pound away in different areas and never even meet.

When we have conflicts, I will simply ask both parties to take turns. I have actually had a few customers strike up great conversations this way and walk out friends (or at least friendly).

Now about kids... I don't have a problem asking a child for proper behavior when a parent doesn't. I do it with a smile and in front of the parents so everybody knows "the deal". Usually that is enough. Kids don't want to be rude or brats, in general. It is just sad that many are not taught how to act in public.

My 2 cents,
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#909080 - 06/13/03 07:19 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Jim Lobs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/21/03
Posts: 124
Loc: MD
I know of one high-end dealership (in the DC area) that only is open by appointment. That way, there is no problem with competing players, and it is a pleasure to play there. They seem to be doing quite well with this approach, though I can't see how it would work with a mass market, volume dealership.

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#909081 - 06/13/03 07:21 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9306
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Oh... we also keep little prizes around in case the kids hit "the wall". All you parents know what I am talking about. Then we have a coloring contest. Unfortunately, when we are low on prizes, some kids have won ketchup packages, bench wrenches, and whatever else we have laying around in our desks. \:D

If you give it to them like its a big deal, they usually seem excited... I just wonder what they call us after they leave the store.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#909082 - 06/13/03 07:24 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9306
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Actually, Jim, alot of dealerships (like us) do both, having regular hours and then hours by appointment.

This is the best way for all concerned, i think.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#909083 - 06/13/03 07:50 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
bcarey Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 3378
Loc: North Carolina
Rich,

The dealer we purchased from also offered to meet us after regular store hours. We hated to ask him to take away from his family time unless it was necessary and scheduled our visit for Monday morning at 10:00. It was a great time, for us at least.

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#909084 - 06/14/03 10:30 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
justme Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/03
Posts: 4418
Loc: Englewood, FL
If you ever want to drive a salesperson crazy all you need to do is bring a cheap date into the store and serenade her with Billy Joel songs. Or better yet Fur Elise over and over again.

UGH!!!!!
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http://toosad4words.blogspot.com/

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#909085 - 06/14/03 10:57 AM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14051
Loc: Louisiana
In my part of the worl, piano shops tend to be small affairs. Two people doing the JLL technique, at the same time just wouldn't work.

Luckily, it rarely happens, because business is slower.

If there was a piano I was really interested in, after initial perusement, I liked to talk to the owner, and arrange an appointment to come back, and be more thorough.

I even had one owner nice enough to open up on a Sunday afternoon! I didn't buy a piano from him, bt I felt so bad I left him enough money for lunch for his staff the next day.
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#909086 - 06/14/03 07:57 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
pianogurl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/03
Posts: 61
Loc: Ohio
This is great to read! We may be visiting some piano stores soon, so it's great to know the etiquette for piano shopping.

Just a question for all the people who work in a piano showroom--how did you get to work there? Do you have a degree in music? Thanks so much!

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#909087 - 06/14/03 08:30 PM Re: Piano Shopping - In Store Ettiquette
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14140
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
People clashing in stores is my great speciality.

Kids banging with piano lids and JerryLeeLewing
on piano keys my alltime passion.

That's when I get get really good.[watch German blood in action..... ]

Because I know this is the one sure way to hell.

And there's nothin' left to loose.

So you go all out.

Today I smashed a piano lid down so hard it almost broke.
"Good your kids didn't play this one" I belatedly said.

"Someone did this the other day and broke a little kiddie's finger"

"They're're now in court" I explained, "and I'm called in as witness".....another lie,of course!

With the great symphonic players I let then do their stuff until I sit down and play WITH them!

Rachmaninoff and Boogie make an awesome pair!

And the teacher who shows up here regularly and 'tests' all my pianos by playing the same two notes on every piano....I offer a discount on piano lessons....you guessed right...MINE! \:D

Nothing better than a mess in the piano showroom.

That's when the Rottweilers come loose.

Hey,did you know that quite a few musicians love dogs??

Who says we only do pianos?? \:D \:D

norbert
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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