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#909165 - 06/18/04 01:40 PM Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Prep, prep, prep. Everyone talks about it, but I am starting to suspect that very few here know what it is.

The following is standard operating procedure at Piano Craft for all new Grand Pianos. This is nothing new. It comes from our experience, and the recommendations of manufacturers such as Mason & Hamlin, Bluthner, Steingraeber etc. This work is appropriate for all grand pianos.

The following is regulation and does not include the multiple tunings required for stability, voicing, or multiple follow up services. I know a lot of this will need explaining, so I am hoping the fine techs who contribute to this forum will chime in. You will notice a lot of redundancy in this process.

Phase 1: Estimated time 12 hours

1 Bed key frame to key bed
2 Lubricate key frame guide pins
3 Polish capstans
4 Level keys
5 Set key dip
6 Regulate end keys of each section completely
7 Adjust hammer height on remaining keys to match samples
8 Escapement on remaining keys
9 Drop on remaining keys
10 Space hammers to string ( square and travel as needed)
11 Space repetitions to hammer shanks
12 Space back checks with bending pliers
13 Adjust jack to knuckle
14 Adjust back checks
15 repetition springs
16 repetition lever height
17 readjust hammer height to samples
18 readjust hammer line slightly if needed for after touch
19 even out aftertouch on sharps with front rail punchings
20 retighten all action screws

Phase 2: Estimated time 8 hours

1 Adjust hammer height on remaining keys
2 Escapement on remaining keys
3 Drop on remaining keys
4 Space hammers to strings ( do not square and travel with this step)
5 Check spacing of repetitions to hammer shanks
6 Space back checks with bending pliers
7 Adjust jack to knuckle
8 Adjust back checks
9 Repetition springs
10 Repetition lever height
11 readjust hammer height
12 re-evaluate aftertouch on naturals, adjust slightly if needed
13 even out after touch on sharps by adding or removing front rail punchings
14 retighten all action screws
15 readjust back checks to 1 1/4" if geometry permits

Above times do not include the following:

Lubricate trapwork and tighten all trapwork screws.

Regulate damper pedal:

1 lost motion at 1/4"
2 Key bed upstop adjusted or present to allow damper lift slightly above that of sharp damper when lifted with key
3 Up stop adjusted slightly above lift of dampers with sustain pedal pushed

Shift Pedal

1 Check each hammer for excessive shift.
2 Check pressure of cheek block guide plate on guide pin in action
3 Shifts easily and smoothly

Sostunoto

1 doesn't pick up dampers when depressed
2 holds any and all dampers lifted by key before pedal is pushed

I hope this is useful.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909166 - 06/18/04 02:21 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
enescu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/03
Posts: 109
Keith, what do you mean by sample keys? Are the samples provided by the manufacturers or is it something to adjust according to the customer's desire?
Do you do the same prep for all pianos, no matter what brand/provenience?

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#909167 - 06/18/04 02:38 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Keith:

You're doing this on each and every Bluethner and Steingraeber you're getting from Germany?

norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909168 - 06/18/04 02:43 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
oh, great, keith. now every piano owner here is going to get piano anxiety over whether their piano was prepped like you prep yours. ;\)

just a little advance soothing: calm down, boys and girls. if you like your piano, don't worry about what prep was or wasn't done on it. and if you have a problem with your piano, call your dealer.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#909169 - 06/18/04 03:30 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6186
Question: After 20 hours of "prep" as Keith D. Kerman described, how many repetitions of, say, Beethoven's complete "Moonlight" sonata, can be played on the piano before you deem it needing another round of adjustment by a technician, again?
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#909170 - 06/18/04 04:18 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
axtremus: what level of servicing are we talking?
What Keith has layed out is not some special super duper prep ... I have a feeling he and I, and maybe Manitou will talk ourselves horse trying to explain to everyone here that this is basic. It's what EVERY new piano needs (and doesn't get).

So to answer your question... what level of prep do you want?
Assuming you have the basic level of prep described above, you can maintain that at any level you the customer feel is appropriate.
A concert level or servicing would require this work to be done, or at least touched up before each performance.
The average person might have this work touched up twice a year at each tuning.
I tried hard to sell "service agreements" to customers where we would address these types of issues at each tuning, not once every 10 years.

And yes, Pique's right, if you like your piano there's no problem. And if you have a problem, yes call your dealer.
But if you come to this forum to become "educated" about pianos, and to become a "smarter shopper", then pay attention to these things.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909171 - 06/18/04 04:21 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by enescu:
Keith, what do you mean by sample keys? Are the samples provided by the manufacturers or is it something to adjust according to the customer's desire?
Do you do the same prep for all pianos, no matter what brand/provenience? [/b]
We break the piano down into 5 sections and regulate the end keys ( 10 keys total) in each section completely ( step 6 in phase 1 above). These keys become the samples for adjusting the hammer height on the remaining keys ( step 7 above). If you need to change something, you want to know after 10 keys, rather than after 88. The hammer height is set to get the correct after touch.

We do the same basic prep on all of our new grand pianos. We have a standard that we are always trying to meet. Some pianos reach that standard more easily than others, and this is not always about how much the piano sells for.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909172 - 06/18/04 04:30 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
lucian Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/03
Posts: 404
Loc: Belgium
Keith,
what are You using for:
2 Lubricate key frame guide pins
_________________________
lucian
"more I learn,less I know"

piano tuner/technician (sort of..... ;\) )

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#909173 - 06/18/04 04:45 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Norbert:
Keith:

You're doing this on each and every Bluethner and Steingraeber you're getting from Germany?

norbert [/b]
Yes.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909174 - 06/18/04 04:49 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6186
KB, thanks for your explanation. And I certainly thank Keith for outlining the steps for "prep"ing pianos for the readers' education \:\)

 Quote:
Keith wrote: "We do the same basic prep on all of our new grand pianos. We have a standard that we are always trying to meet."
My question was, using Keith's own "prep" procedure and his own standard, how many iterations of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata can the piano withstand before it stopped meeting that standard (and reach a point where it needs a technician to adjust things to bring it back up to standard again) ? Assuming, of course, that the piano is kept indoor with proper humidity control just as in Keith's showroom. Just wondering if Keith might have a rough, "order-of-magnitude" estimate that he is willing to share. ;\)
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#909175 - 06/18/04 04:51 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by lucian:
Keith,
what are You using for:
2 Lubricate key frame guide pins [/b]
Lithium grease
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909176 - 06/18/04 05:20 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:
KB, thanks for your explanation. And I certainly thank Keith for outlining the steps for "prep"ing pianos for the readers' education \:\)

 Quote:
Keith wrote: "We do the same basic prep on all of our new grand pianos. We have a standard that we are always trying to meet."
My question was, using Keith's own "prep" procedure and his own standard, how many iterations of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata can the piano withstand before it stopped meeting that standard (and reach a point where it needs a technician to adjust things to bring it back up to standard again) ? Assuming, of course, that the piano is kept indoor with proper humidity control just as in Keith's showroom. Just wondering if Keith might have a rough, "order-of-magnitude" estimate that he is willing to share. ;\) [/b]
Did you call me Meith?!

The phase 2 part of my initial post is what needs to be monitered and maintained by your tech. It is hard to answer your question because different pianos are more or less stable in different areas. The better the piano is, and the more often the prep work gets gone over ( just like tuning) the more stable it will become. All of this work that I am describing will make the piano better down the line as well. It doesn't just dissapear, but it must be maintained.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909177 - 06/18/04 05:27 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1097
Loc: El Cajon, California
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:
[QUOTE]
We do the same basic prep on all of our new grand pianos. We have a standard that we are always trying to meet. Some pianos reach that standard more easily than others, and this is not always about how much the piano sells for. [/b]
20 hours seems like a lot, especially when it involves names like Bluthner, Mason and Steingraeber.

Without naming names, could you please give us an idea of the range of hours spent? In other words, what is the least amount of time spent when a piano arrives in particularly fine condition. How much time must you spend on a piano that needs a lot of work. It would be interesting to know how much variation there is in the condition of pianos arriving from the factory.

Also, do you find significant variations in quality control among products from the same manufacturer?

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#909178 - 06/18/04 05:40 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6186
Thanks Keith for your answer. \:\)

If you don't mind a another follow-up question:

How well would the "prep" survive a move? Say, the dealer put in 20 hours of prep, then the mover moves the pianos 50 miles over to my house and the truck sustained a few bumps and pot holes -- how much of the "prep" would survive?

I ask because, well, I'll be moving my piano in the near future -- I have planned to arrange for a technician to do some voicing and regulation work after the move, I'm just curious to predict how much a move would change my piano's state of "prep."

Keith and KB both characterize the procedure as "basic prep" needed by all pianos.

So I am also curious about why the manufacturers don't get it done (while "part 2" has to be repeated by the dealer/technician from time to time, the factory could have done "part 1").

Of course, if moving the piano from Germany to the US would undo a lot of the prep, then it becomes quite reasonable that the factory leave the prep work to the dealers. Then the question becomes -- is there a better way to package/ship a piano to preserve its "state of prep"?

Thanks.

(That "Meith" thing was an unintended slip of finger, and has since been corrected -- no offense intended, my apology for the mistake.)
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#909179 - 06/18/04 05:48 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Ramirez:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:
[QUOTE]
We do the same basic prep on all of our new grand pianos. We have a standard that we are always trying to meet. Some pianos reach that standard more easily than others, and this is not always about how much the piano sells for. [/b]
20 hours seems like a lot, especially when it involves names like Bluthner, Mason and Steingraeber.

Without naming names, could you please give us an idea of the range of hours spent? In other words, what is the least amount of time spent when a piano arrives in particularly fine condition. How much time must you spend on a piano that needs a lot of work. It would be interesting to know how much variation there is in the condition of pianos arriving from the factory.

Also, do you find significant variations in quality control among products from the same manufacturer? [/b]
Steve,

Bluthner, Steingraeber and Mason & Hamlin all arrive in generally very fine condition. They still all basically recommend what I described in my initial post. It takes us, on average, 20 hours to do this work. Some techs are faster at this process than others, but the way you get fast is by doing it over and over, and that's what my techs do. I titled this post "Basic Grand Piano Prep" , and I meant basic.

By the way, if you don't sell the piano for 6 months or a year, the process must be repeated ( although it goes faster and faster each time ) and the hours add up even more.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909180 - 06/18/04 05:56 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Ax:
We always seem to come back to this point! \:\)

The customer doesn't demand it. This business like any other is governed by supply and demand. People don't demand a higher level of prep and/or service and therefore don't get it. The manufacturer has all sorts of things governing what they can and can't do. Cost of production, keeping competitive, etc. And all of these things can't supercede what you the customer are willing to pay for a piano.

I don't think the regulation shifts that much during transit, I just don't think it's leaving the factory at it's highest level.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909181 - 06/18/04 06:21 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:


How well would the "prep" survive a move? Say, the dealer put in 20 hours of prep, then the mover moves the pianos 50 miles over to my house and the truck sustained a few bumps and pot holes -- how much of the "prep" would survive?

So I am also curious about why the manufacturers don't get it done (while "part 2" has to be repeated by the dealer/technician from time to time, the factory could have done "part 1").

Of course, if moving the piano from Germany to the US would undo a lot of the prep, then it becomes quite reasonable that the factory leave the prep work to the dealers. Then the question becomes -- is there a better way to package/ship a piano to preserve its "state of prep"?

Thanks.

(That "Meith" thing was an unintended slip of finger, and has since been corrected -- no offense intended, my apology for the mistake.) [/b]
I have been called much worse than "Meith". No apology needed, I thought it was funny.

If your piano is properly secured in the move, most of the prep will be maintained. The problem will be the different climate in your new house.

The better manufacturers do go through most of what I am describing, multiple times, to a very good standard, and it doesn't get messed up being moved from Germany, or Boston. It does change dramatically from the change in climate, and new pianos just require being gone over again and again to get them stable.

There are of course pianos that arrive from the manufacturer in very bad condition, and this means that the dealer has to do more of the factories job, but more likely than not, it will just be at best an unfinished poorly responding piano.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909182 - 06/18/04 07:51 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
*message deleted*

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#909183 - 06/18/04 07:53 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
Keith - Thanks for an informative thread. Could you also describe the level of service you recommend to your best customers for after the sale - i.e. how often to tune, what type of regulation etc. Also, do you think this is needed for pianos other than Tier One grands - e.g. for Japanese uprights, for Tier 2 uprights, Pramberger grands etc. Thx

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#909184 - 06/18/04 08:01 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Keith,

In your original post you are inviting a technical discussion among techs on the subject of prep. Yet you did not post this in the Piano Pechnician's Forum where such discussions would normally occur. You put it in the Piano Forum where all the consumers frequent.

It therefore gives the appearance that you are actually attempting to create a free advertisement for your store rather than honestly being interested in a tech discussion. The other dealers here have shown class in not bringing this up, but I am neither a dealer nor classy.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#909185 - 06/18/04 08:09 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Rick, I don't think that's a very fair assessment.

First off... I stopped looking and posting in the Technical forum a long time ago for a few reasons. The most noteworthy being the lack of posts there. Here on the piano forum we often have discussions in a real-time manner.
Your posting on this thread proves that technicians are reading it, so what's the problem? Certainly most of our technical discussion takes place here.

Second,
Technician's opinions aside, it is the consumers who need to hear about this level of prep. I applaud Keith for offering a level of prep that very very few dealers offer. It's nice to know that there are others out there offering pianos at their full potential rather than "good enough".

As I've already mentioned, this is basic prep, so it really shouldn't advertise anything about his store, other than that he's doing what he's supposed to, and many others are not.

I'm sorry if that makes others feel that the cards are stacked against them. But I highly doubt Keith's going to steal any sales away from them ... especially with this crowd.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909186 - 06/18/04 08:18 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
Rick,
You're selling yourself short. I am a dealer, and sell quality goods at a fair price. But if I follow the 20 hour plan to prep every piano, I'd be out of business before I could pay the technician's bill. What do you feel is 'standard' prep for a new piano? Basic regulation and a couple of tunings allows me to sell pianos at a fair price. Further voicing and 'tweeking' is an additional cost I leave to the customer's discretion. If it is something that is covered in warranty, I gladly cover it. But 20 hours of prep? It seems unreasonable.
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909187 - 06/18/04 08:40 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Rick,

I understand that you would see it this way, and I debated with myself about posting this for exactly the reason you describe.

I have spent a lot of time today trying to offer something of value to this forum. People are constantly talking about prepping pianos on this forum, and I wanted to describe from my perspective what that means. Because I feel there are several good techs here with a lot to offer, I asked them to help describe this process. They are welcome to contradict me or whatever. I think many participants in this forum are interested in more detail regarding prepping pianos. If you want to describe your approach to prepping pianos, I would be very interested, as would many others, and I wont accuse you of trying to get a free advertisement for your service business.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909188 - 06/18/04 08:50 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
Rick,

Every self proclaimed dealer or technician is doing some sort of advertising when they post on this forum.

I agree with your sentiment with regard to those individuals who exaggerate their credentials or who privately solicit business with their emails to clients. I wish there was a strict code of conduct for "industry" people on this forum. But if there was it would be completely unenforceable.

I think this thread speaks to Keith's personal philosophy about piano prep.

Each instrument is born with a unique voice. In every case that voice is compromised when the form or relationships of the individual components varies from it's intended design.

So often times this means that pianos and their owners must start a pilgrimage towards the true voice of their instrument.

It sounds like Keith is just trying to show dealers and clients alike how to shorten their journey.
_________________________


Blüthner USA, LLC

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#909189 - 06/18/04 09:14 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Well said Alex

And Rick, re-reading my post it is a bit agressive. I hope you don't think I was jumping down your throat ... I wasn't.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909190 - 06/18/04 09:15 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:

It sounds like Keith is just trying to show dealers and clients alike how to shorten their journey. [/QB]
20 hours of prep per piano? How does that shorten the journey? It is a great check-list of all the things that must be considered (I just passed a copy on to my technician), but is it truly reasonable and economical? Maybe for a handfull of 'top tier' grands, but for the majority of grands sold (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) it isn't.
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909191 - 06/18/04 09:28 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Eric,

I don't for one second think that the way I run my business is the only way, or even the best way. You strike me as a fair guy who is a straight shooter, and I am sure that is how you run your business.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909192 - 06/18/04 09:28 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by Eric F:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:

It sounds like Keith is just trying to show dealers and clients alike how to shorten their journey. [/b]
20 hours of prep per piano? How does that shorten the journey? It is a great check-list of all the things that must be considered (I just passed a copy on to my technician), but is it truly reasonable and economical? Maybe for a handfull of 'top tier' grands, but for the majority of grands sold (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) it isn't. [/QB]
Eric,

I suppose I was implying that a fully matured piano is a piano capable of top performance.

Keith's checklist seems to serve this Idea.

A tier one piano is capable of so much more then a Chinese or Korean piano IMHO. This warrants the extra time needed to bring it to it's pinnacle.
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Blüthner USA, LLC

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#909193 - 06/18/04 09:42 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
Rick - I can hardly be accused of posting too many overly pro-dealer comments, so I think I can say that I am glad Keith started the thread. I would like some other techs or dealers to counter his view, or for both sides to quantify what the extra level of prep really means in terms of both price and performance to the average hobbyist piano player. (Is all this really necessary, and what does it cost a buyer, since Keith doesn't run a non-profit piano charity?) If that was done, this thread would be of interest to this piano player/ future grand buyer. Yes, this forum is advertising for dealers, but buyers can get a real good sense of each dealer from their posts too. (And sometimes not the sense the dealer might want.) So long as it is clear from his post that Keith sells expensive pianos with a certain level of prep in the DC area, I find no problem with his post, and would like more specific facts, on both sides.

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#909194 - 06/19/04 02:57 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Eric F,

I can't really say what the standard prep is since I have only worked with a small sampling of dealers. I would say with reasonable confidence that the vast majority of dealers are not putting in the kind of expense into prep as Keith is doing. But some dealers specializing in the high end certainly are and perhaps a very few are doing it to lower priced pianos are as well. Of course the prep has to be built into the price somehow, but some dealers may have the kind of reputation and rapport with customers where the customer is taught to appreciate the added value that comes with the added price.

As to the hours spent on prep, my experience is that many high end pianos actually don't need 20 hours prep to play their best. OTOH, some do leave the factory notoriously rough and definitely need it.

I do the kind of work the person paying me wants done. Sometimes there is a prep goal of achieving all that can be achieved. This might be because it is an expensive piano, or it might be prepping pianos for a trade show (NAMM) where the manufacturer wants the product to show in the best possible light. 20 hours of work can happen in either case. In fact I just spoke with someone routinely putting in 30 hours on very expensive pianos of a brand that that leave the factory quite rough. But for the price and profit margin involved with that brand, they *ought* to be prepping them so well, as unprepped they aren't performing much better than the average unprepped Chinese piano.

Other times I may be dealing with low-end pianos with shallow profits and non-musician customers concerned mostly with cosmetics and getting the lowest price possible. In such a case a dealer is worried most about competing on price and may simply pay to tune it and fix any key that is not working adequately. 20 hours of prep on such a piano would certainly kill what little profit there may be in it for the dealer, though the piano may benefit.

So there are two ends of the prep spectrum. But since the majority of pianos sold are at the low end of the price spectrum, one can draw one's own conclusions as to what happens to most pianos.

I personally would like to see more prep done more often, as too many pianos are playing below their potential due simply to lack of prep (OTOH many owners don't play and wouldn't know the difference). But it has been the culture of piano retail that the vast majority of people are buying based on price, and it seems to be a pretty deeply ingrained habit of most retailers to worry about getting the sale and not much more. However if consumers demanded better prep and performance and were willing to pay the price, the industry could change and the demand for better tech skills would raise the skill level of the average tech as well.

But consumers are unlikely to make that demand en masse. So ideally, the dealer would do the prep, and teach the customer why it is important and convince them the added price is desirable for the value given. The dealer would also prime the customer as to the continuing care and maintenance of the piano so both dealers and technicians are on the same page and consumers aren't getting conflicting info- which is currently hurting everyone. I believe in some foreign cultures it actually works that way. But these are ideals practiced by a very few in the U.S., in my experience. Instead dealers and techs are often in opposition to each other and consumers are mostly bewildered.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#909195 - 06/19/04 03:53 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
velopresto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Santa Clara, CA
I'm jumping in late on this one, but here goes.

Most of the dealers I know in my area really don't want to spend much money on prep. In store tuning, fix sticky keys and other obvious problems, yadda, yadda, yadda. The sad thing about it is that most pianos will never reach anything close to their potential. Even great pianos.

I don't think most of the stores around here could afford pay a tech for 20 hours per piano. A day's work, yes, and that would be a great improvement over what we see now.

Another negative is that the customers have been trained to look for the lowest possible price, not quality of work. This does not elude dealers, though it does cut hugely into any possible spending on piano prep.

If you think about it, though, everyone profits if the pianos are dialed in before they leave the showroom: the customer gets a great piano, technicians get to do what they do, manufacturers have a fine example of what their instrument is supposed to be out in the field, and the dealer gets great exposure, as in, "hey, this plays and sound great! Who'd you buy it from?"

I'd like to see dealers offer service packages with the pianos they sell. X amount of dollars extra for Y amount of extra technician's time, post-delivery. Have any dealers out there tried anything like that?

Just my 2 cents,

Dave Stahl
_________________________
Dave Stahl
Dave Stahl Piano Service
Santa Clara, CA
Serving most of the greater SF Bay Area
http://dstahlpiano.net

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#909196 - 06/19/04 05:23 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
JPM Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/24/03
Posts: 1010
Loc: NM, GE & Wash. DC
Keith, thanks for posting your Basic Grand Piano Prep checklist. I find it very helpful. The term "preparation", in and of itself, is a rather nebulous. Identifying the specific steps and procedures adds clarity to the discussion. If nothing else it helps educate piano owners/buyers about the amount of work that is involved in doing a complete grand preparation.

It also highlights that there are varying levels of preparation being done. Now I understand why one recent forum participant advocated buying a piano at the lowest price obtainable. His rationale was that he could then pay his tech a rather modest sum to bring the piano up to its performance potential. Obviously, a few hundred bucks will not buy him the kind of comprehensive preparation you have laid out here.

Ax, I hope a long distance move doesn't completely undo the work I had done to my piano. Will let you know how it goes.

Rick, I think discussions like this one will help educate consumers so they can become more value oriented. I think most buyers focus mostly on selling price because it represents the single biggest expense and also because they do not know about or appreciate the other aspects of piano ownership. That's why having a discussion like this one is useful.

JP
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#909197 - 06/19/04 07:56 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:
Rick,

Every self proclaimed dealer or technician is doing some sort of advertising when they post on this forum.
[/b]
Alex, it is refreshing to hear a dealer say that. So often the dealers around here make it appear as though their only goal in contributing is the overall betterment of mankind.

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#909198 - 06/19/04 09:02 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
How can a buyer "tell" what level of prep has been done on a piano, other than asking the dealer (who will always say, "lots")? Are there any tell-tale differences? Between a full prep of the sort being described here, and the cheaper "tune and fix sticky keys"? What should a buyer look for? (Or know is missing, and then expect a better price?) This may be especially difficult for a buyer when trying a piano brand they are not familiar with for the first time, in a new store. PW posters frequently say, "This dealer or that dealer preps their pianos well/ not well." How to tell if this is true or not?

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#909199 - 06/19/04 09:25 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jolly Offline
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Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14051
Loc: Louisiana
 Quote:
I'd like to see dealers offer service packages with the pianos they sell. X amount of dollars extra for Y amount of extra technician's time, post-delivery. Have any dealers out there tried anything like that?
I think it would work with the well-informed consumer, but how many of those walk into the dealer's showroom?

Knowing what I now know, there are many pianos I would buy in the crate, given the right price, and let my tech uncrate and do the prep work in my home.

My tech would probably prefer this, since I feed well. \:D
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#909200 - 06/19/04 10:43 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
velopresto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Santa Clara, CA
Thanks to the internet and sites like this, there are far more informed customers than there were a few years ago. In speaking to dealers, I've found that some see it as a problem. What they often get is customers who want the perfect piano(a mythical creature) fully prepped, at a low price.

As a sidebar to this topic, I thought you all might be interested in this. For any who are able to get to Nashville this year for the national PTG convention, I'd like to point out that there is a seminar on dealer/technician relations, and how to improve them. The focus is on working together to achieve a common goal, to keep the industry alive and thriving.

I've been assigned to call some of the dealers in the Nashville area to inform them of the dealer outreach seminar. Here's the sad news: I was given a list of 8 phone numbers that were listed in the NAMM directory as active in 1997. Of those numbers, only 2 were NOT disconnected.

In the end, we have to be concerned about this industry. Will everyone end up buying pianos on the internet and shipped directly to their doors without ANY prep whatsoever?

Dave Stahl
_________________________
Dave Stahl
Dave Stahl Piano Service
Santa Clara, CA
Serving most of the greater SF Bay Area
http://dstahlpiano.net

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#909201 - 06/19/04 10:50 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Manitou Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
A large part of an honest dealer's job, is to explain to the naive customer, what prep is and which his pianos are getting.

Very few get these high levels of prep, even at NAtional shows I go to.

The pianist,once educated to this level and playing pianos at this level can in fact begin to tell a piano that is or is not well prepped. It falls under education, and we can all learn. As a Technician and pianist, I can instantly tell if a piano has been prepped (taken care of) and what it mechanical and tonal issues are. I am not a rare person for many musicians and Technicians can do this. Education, no more. But once you know, it becomes difficult to buy into lesser agendas for piano maintenance.

I have counted over 3000+ minute adjustments I make for a complete piano preparation, from 2mm down to palpable friction levels only. Pianos wear better, fuction better, run like a BMW not a HArley and will do this for much longer. Once at this level, get your (Knowledgeable) Tech to spend 30-50 minutes at every visit go over regulation and voicing. This will help insure that the piano is always up to its potential.
Sure, after 3-4 years of playing you may have to reshape hammers and redo voicing, but the benefit of this kind of prep is very long lasting.
_________________________
Manitou - Pianist - Technician

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#909202 - 06/19/04 11:31 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Allazart Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/16/02
Posts: 389
Wow, I appreciate this thread. I was tempted to create a topic asking what constitutes "prepping" but was afraid the question would be too basic. This has answered all my questions.

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#909203 - 06/19/04 01:38 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
taiwan_girl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/04
Posts: 332
Loc: Illinois/Thailand/Korea
I appreciate the thread that Mr. Keith started. I believe that most of the people dealer/non-dealer, technician/non-technicial, etc.) who come to the forum here are doing so because they want to be better educated about pianos. Many are (or soon will be) shopping for a piano, or have bought one in the past, and the extra knowledge can only be beneficial. It definitely is for me. \:\)

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#909204 - 06/19/04 01:50 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
John Ruggero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/04/02
Posts: 161
Loc: Raleigh
I think one point that is important to mention is the fact that like our store and some others across the country, Keith is the one prepping his own pianos. Technician based stores don't have to contract out all of their floor work. This make putting the exta time into prep more feasable. I can sympathize with Keith on this topic. We spend many hours prepping our pianos to play to their potential, but still, we will lose sales to the guy down the road who doesn't do a thing to his pianos but sell them at a cheap price. It is a harsh reality of the piano buisness that customers don't know what good prep is. Most don't even care. They would buy one out of the box if it was cheaper. We figure that if we keep doing what we are doing, eventually people will gain an appretiation for what a good, well prepped piano sounds like.
_________________________
John Ruggero
Ruggero Piano
Raleigh, NC
A technician based, distributer of fine pianos including Boesendorfer,Fazioli, Mason and Hamlin, Schimmel, Charles R. Walter, Estonia, and Falcone
www.ruggeropiano.com

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#909205 - 06/19/04 02:07 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Ruggero:
I think one point that is important to mention is the fact that like our store and some others across the country, Keith is the one prepping his own pianos. Technician based stores don't have to contract out all of their floor work. This make putting the exta time into prep more feasable. I can sympathize with Keith on this topic. We spend many hours prepping our pianos to play to their potential, but still, we will lose sales to the guy down the road who doesn't do a thing to his pianos but sell them at a cheap price. It is a harsh reality of the piano buisness that customers don't know what good prep is. Most don't even care. They would buy one out of the box if it was cheaper. We figure that if we keep doing what we are doing, eventually people will gain an appretiation for what a good, well prepped piano sounds like. [/b]
.


John,

Your post reminds me of a gentleman who purchased a piano an east coast dealer last year. The piano he purchased was a line we carry at Classical Grands.

He did not purchase from us because he got an incredibly low price from this dealer over the phone, who made no mention of apprpopriate in-home service.

He is a musician and upon receiving the piano was very happy with his purchase.

As time went on the piano started changing. He approached every dealer and technician in town to voice this instrument that had become very brittle sounding, especially in the treble.

In the end he was referred to us by several sources and he did infact come into our store seeking my help. He played the model he had purchased on our floor and really liked it's voicing.

I told him that my time was taken up with Classical Grands clients and that I could not offer immediate personal help.

I gave him the names of a couple of good and trusted technicians.

As he left he said that had he known what the piano was going to need in the way of follow-up service he would have paid more to have the proper local support.

Chances are he would have made a similar deal with us had he given us the opportunity to meet.

I think the service oriented dealer is one who not only preps the piano in the store but also one who puts himself on the hook after the sale is made.

Price is a sudductive motivator, but support is a priceless companion.

( excuse me if this sounds corny )
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#909206 - 06/19/04 02:07 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
Kieth:

The way you run your business is admirable. I used to sell pianos in the D.C. area, and know how tough the competition is. I have always felt that the better the piano sounds and plays, the easier it is to sell it. A well prepped piano does sound and play better.

On our floor, we do a couple of initial tunings, and basic regulation corrections. From there, if a customer likes a certain piano, but has reservations on voicing or touch, I'll have my tech do the required work to make the customer comfortable to go on with the purchase. Many times, I'll ask the customer to stop by and watch the work, using his insights to make the piano perfect in his eyes.

Good techs are invaluable to a piano dealer. And they are a wonderful resource for the customer's technical questions. They also have the potential to assist the dealer in the making the sale with truly demanding customers.

As I stated earlier, your approach to prepping is admirable.
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909207 - 06/19/04 02:17 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Selling a piano well-prepped,well-serviced and well-priced,is, at least for me, one and the same thing.[/b]

And if I can save someone $10,000 by buying a 'cheaper' piano than originally budgeted which actually performs as good or even better[/b] than the one the competition offers for that much more, is plain and simply "good business".

In fact, astoundingly so.

End of free business consultation.

norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909208 - 06/19/04 02:20 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Ruggero:
I think one point that is important to mention is the fact that like our store and some others across the country, Keith is the one prepping his own pianos. Technician based stores don't have to contract out all of their floor work. This make putting the exta time into prep more feasable. I can sympathize with Keith on this topic. We spend many hours prepping our pianos to play to their potential, but still, we will lose sales to the guy down the road who doesn't do a thing to his pianos but sell them at a cheap price. It is a harsh reality of the piano buisness that customers don't know what good prep is. Most don't even care. They would buy one out of the box if it was cheaper. We figure that if we keep doing what we are doing, eventually people will gain an appretiation for what a good, well prepped piano sounds like. [/b]
I am not a piano technician, and I don't want in any way to imply that I am. As I have mentioned many times before, my business partner, Sam Powell is our head technician. I am the person who makes the decisions as to how we operate our business. I employ several fantastic technicians, who I harass all day long trying to learn what is possible in making a piano sound better, and then I decide if it is worth including this or that step in our procedures. It is the most enjoyable part of running my business.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909209 - 06/19/04 03:03 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Horace Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 505
"By the way, if you don't sell the piano for 6 months or a year, the process must be repeated ( although it goes faster and faster each time ) and the hours add up even more."

This, to me, is rather terrifying. If I'm buying from a premium dealer who charges a premium price for premium prep, it seems that I'll also need to pay a really good tech to come repeat that whole process every 6 months to a year!

I really don't believe that it makes any sense, for the vast majority of the piano buying public, to pay that much for prep. I'd be happier and feel safer with an unprepped piano that I really liked than a prepped one (especially if I paid significantly less for the former). At least the unprepped one won't be inexorably deterioriating after I buy it due to a precarious level of prep that takes a good tech several days to complete - and which would cost $1000/year (or more) to maintain.

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#909210 - 06/19/04 03:35 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
Horace:

Once you get your piano home and accustomed to it's new environment, basic regular tunings should be your only concern. If maintainance on most pianos cost $1000/year or more, there would be alot less piano buyers out there. Also, warrantee issues would arise if you were having to pay that amount to a technician on a yearly basis.
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909211 - 06/19/04 03:41 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Horace,

read this post from Manitou again, especially the last paragraph. This should alleviate your concerns.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Manitou:
A large part of an honest dealer's job, is to explain to the naive customer, what prep is and which his pianos are getting.

Very few get these high levels of prep, even at NAtional shows I go to.

The pianist,once educated to this level and playing pianos at this level can in fact begin to tell a piano that is or is not well prepped. It falls under education, and we can all learn. As a Technician and pianist, I can instantly tell if a piano has been prepped (taken care of) and what it mechanical and tonal issues are. I am not a rare person for many musicians and Technicians can do this. Education, no more. But once you know, it becomes difficult to buy into lesser agendas for piano maintenance.

I have counted over 3000+ minute adjustments I make for a complete piano preparation, from 2mm down to palpable friction levels only. Pianos wear better, fuction better, run like a BMW not a HArley and will do this for much longer. Once at this level, get your (Knowledgeable) Tech to spend 30-50 minutes at every visit go over regulation and voicing. This will help insure that the piano is always up to its potential.
Sure, after 3-4 years of playing you may have to reshape hammers and redo voicing, but the benefit of this kind of prep is very long lasting. [/b]
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909212 - 06/19/04 03:50 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Horace:
"By the way, if you don't sell the piano for 6 months or a year, the process must be repeated ( although it goes faster and faster each time ) and the hours add up even more."

This, to me, is rather terrifying. If I'm buying from a premium dealer who charges a premium price for premium prep, it seems that I'll also need to pay a really good tech to come repeat that whole process every 6 months to a year!

I really don't believe that it makes any sense, for the vast majority of the piano buying public, to pay that much for prep. I'd be happier and feel safer with an unprepped piano that I really liked than a prepped one (especially if I paid significantly less for the former). At least the unprepped one won't be inexorably deterioriating after I buy it due to a precarious level of prep that takes a good tech several days to complete - and which would cost $1000/year (or more) to maintain. [/b]
Horace, please excuse me for using you as an example, but your post shows just how difficult the piano business is.

NO, you would not have to repeat the process every 6 months. Not even close. Once a good prep job is done to a decent piano, maintaining that level of performance will add, on average, about 1 hour to each tuning. So it would cost about an extra $100-$200 per year to maintain.

While I applause Keith's intentions in this post, it has gone on so long that the core issues have become clouded.

Good prep, when necessary or desired is expensive. It makes sense for a good player with a good piano. Yamaha and Kawai come out of the box needing very little other than tuning. Yes, they can be voiced and regulated to a finer degree, but they are usually fine right with minor attention. The same is true of Kawai and usually true of Young Chang and Samick's production, although they are not as uniform, out of the box, as Yamaha and Kawai.

Steinway intentionally leaves the final prep to their dealer network. Most of the Tier 1 pianos come in to their dealers needing little; some need more than others. "Optimizing" them (a term we use for voicing and regulating them to sound and play as good as they can), is often not enough of an improvement to be worth the cost unless the buyer is a descriminating player and can appreciate the more subtle differences. Even in that situation, the optimizing should take place after the pianos has been in the home for 4-6 months and only with the input of the player.
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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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#909213 - 06/19/04 04:04 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Horace Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 505
Thanks, Keith and Eric. While I would love to believe that 20 hours of prep will make a significant and noticable (even to an amateur pianist) difference that will last effectively forever with only slight maintenence work concurrent with tunings and at no or very little additional cost, it doesn't explain why Keith preps the entire piano again after 6 months to a year. If that's useless compared to simple maintenance work, why do it?

I would also love to know why the piano manufacturers don't do this prep work themselves, if it makes a big, permanent difference. According to the dealers posting here, very few dealerships go to the trouble to make these permanent and very important adjustments, so the manufacturer would presumably do so themselves, in order to put thier best foot forward in the marketplace. Perhaps it's the journey from the factory to the distributor to the dealer that eradicates any potential manufacturer's prep, but if so, then maybe the prep isn't really that permanent to begin with - and customers should, in that case, be made aware that when they move, they'll have to have the entire process redone.

quote by SC:
"Horace, please excuse me for using you as an example, but your post shows just how difficult the piano business is.

NO, you would not have to repeat the process every 6 months."

I'm just trying to get straight some apparently contradictory information being provided in this thread. If that makes the business of selling pianos for a viable profit more difficult, then that's a shame.

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#909214 - 06/19/04 04:05 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
I find that in some pianos action regulation will collapse in the first year or two (requiring a re-do of some but by no means all prep points), others not. It depends on the stability of the soft materials the company uses (felt, leather, etc) and how well broken in the piano is before it leaves the factory.

It's really good if a piano is 'played in' at the factory for a number of hours, then re-regulated before shipping out, because regulation is more stable that way. But only some follow this practice.

In a typical low-end piano it almost makes more sense to play it in for a year, THEN prep. Because if you prep right out of the box, you only need to do a lot of it again after it breaks in.

In high end pianos, some are like that, others not. It depends on the company.

Some prep points have to do with getting the strings settled in. But in some ways, it's only a shortcut to what happens over time and a few tunings anyway.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#909215 - 06/19/04 04:12 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
Many pianos are on a salesfoor for more then 6 months. During this time they might be rolled back and forth during floor moves. Some might require additional regulation due to the jostling of the instrument.
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909216 - 06/19/04 04:25 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Steve C.:

So true.

Let's not forget that every Mercedes or BMW gets also "prepped" when rolling off the boats but it's not like re-building the whole car.

With all due respect to the fine techs here advocating very elaborate proceedures on each and every piano -
I don't agree or face this dilemna in our day by day business - never have.

And we sell to lots of fine pianists.

We do our professinal routine work on every piano including usually 2 tunings before it even gets delivered.

About 4-6-8 hours covers absolutely everything most pianos here require bringing them to their *pratical* top condition. Some even less.

After this, it becomes splitting hairs, look for work, ie. "trouble" or improve upon the unimprovable.

And I know techs who insist on all of this and tell their clients it's necessary service every two years.

For which.... they charge accordingly.

Except their pianos - after that - don't perform or sound any better than the ones maintained by more 'normal' good-excellent service.

We once had a tech from another city visit here and this guy would try to impress us with a lot of this type of talk,i.e "prepping" etc.

We then let him look at one of our newly arrived and already fully prepped grands [by one of the area's absolutely top tech's Mr.Grant Ferguson!]-except we didn't tell him that it *was* prepped.

The 'complaints' were endless.

Next we showed him a Chinese grand which was fresh out of the box - untouched mind you - which he found....

.. "astoundingly well prepped and serviced"!![/b]

Go figure! \:D

norbert
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#909217 - 06/19/04 04:28 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Steve Cohen Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Why don't the manufacturers handle quality prep?

Assume that it would take only 8 hours. That would require one full timer for each piano produced each day. Make 1 piano a day and you only need one "final prep technician".

Unfortunately, with the exception of a very few hand-makers, piano factories turn out 10-100 pianos a day! They simply cannot afford to maintain the staffing levels that would be required.

Having the dealers do the final prep spreads the work out over the country and shifts the cost to the dealership.

As this thread points out, there is tremendous variation in dealer prep. It is up to the customer, working with the dealership, to determine what level of prep is appropriate for them.
_________________________
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Since 1937.

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

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#909218 - 06/19/04 04:37 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
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Loc: Surrey, B.C.
The real reson I found is that the calibre of fine, top notch [concert quality] tuner/techs - which come only in after the whole piano is finished - don't often work in factories at all.

They're far too busy working for themselves in the community, doing perhaps one or two pianos a day,before having to take a well deserved break.

You can't massproduce excellence.

Unless you find factories who are able to retain these 'animals' with extrememly flexible work schedules and pay them accordingly.

Of which I only know a handful.

pst..pst... ;\)

Norbert
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909219 - 06/19/04 04:42 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
You've got to give the Shiguru Kawai people credit. One of the benefits they offer to purchasers is having a Shiguru tech come to the house and do a full regulation after delivery. And that's anywhere in the world.
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909220 - 06/19/04 04:43 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
I've stayed out of this thread because the last thing I want to do is cause any of the dealers here to think I'm questioning them, or saying anything bad about them. But the simple fact is, most true premium pianos do not require the kind of work being described here.

I'll use Bechstein as an example. Bechstein puts every single one of their pianos through many, many tunings, regulations, voicings, etc. at the factory. But then they do something else. Before the grands are crated, they go to Bechstein hall where their best prep men work with the pianos for several months. Some of the finest concert pianists in Europe come through, play them, make recommendations, the technicians make the changes, they are played again, more changes and adjustments, until the pianos are completely broken in, and regulated and voiced to perfection. The pianos may spend 6 months being played and adjusted before they pass inspection to be shipped out. I have *never* uncrated a Bechstein that needed much more than a slight brushup on the tuning. And no offense to the fine technicians here, but I don't think anyone here is any better qualified than Bechstein's veteran finish technicians.

Walter pianos are thoroughly prepped at the factory, even to the point of having it all done again just before it leaves the factory. I've never seen a Walter that arrived with uneven voicing, though the entire piano may be voiced differently than some want it. I do not recommend spending the massive amount of time and money on a piano like this that is being talked about given the fact that there is only one way to break in a piano, and that is time, and use. You can fiddle and fuss all day long for a week, but until the action is "played in" it is all for nothing. You can take the action apart and spit polish ever pin in it, but until that action has broken in, you're wasting your time.

My biggest problem with the discussion is the impression being left that *every single piano* gets this kind of attention. No offense, but there is a little "sales spin" being added to the mix here by some, and it's causing the wrong impression to be left. On the pianos where one *can* justify spending this kind of money, this kind of work is hardly necessary right out of the box, and much of it should be left until after the piano has some breakin time. On the pianos where this level of expense *can't* be justified, I am not buying into the idea that anyone is going to those lengths. Not only will the marketplace not support it, the typical customer for these products don't need it, and can't really tell the difference. Besides, the lower the quality of the piano, the more affected it is going to be by breaking it in.

I'm not trying to question anyone as to their level of truthfulness in their descriptions of what they claim to be doing to every single piano they sell. I *am* questioning however, the necessity of it all. This level of detail should happen after the piano has had a good bit of breakin time on it, and I'm not saying that because I'm someone who is too cheap to do it, or don't have high enough standards. My standards are just as high as anyone's here. I'm saying it because in my opinion most of it, particularly when talking about a true premium piano, is more self serving than it is beneficial to the piano, or to the customer buying the piano.

I stick to my previous statement - I can prep any piano to a perfectly acceptable level in less than 4 hours, and I'm talking about the cheap stuff. Would a picky fussy tech be able to find a few things that need improvement? Sure. But the last 16 hours worth of work is only yielding about a 5% improvement over where I'll have it, if that. To me, that is simply not justified, and spending that kind of money for that little improvement on a piano that hasn't even had time to break in yet is wasting the customer's money. High end pianos need very little when new. Spending 20+ hours on a premium piano without doing that to the preferences of the final owner is again, in my opinion, a waste of the customer's money. It sounds good when talked about, it leaves nice warm fuzzies with the public, but it just isn't called for.

Now - don't accuse me of attacking anyone, I'm not. And don't come back at me with your *own* attack trying to portray me as someone who doesn't understand or care about quality prepwork. Those who know me know better than that. I just think a little reality is missing in the whole picture being presented here, and I don't know how to correct the picture without making someone mad.
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#909221 - 06/19/04 05:10 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
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Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Well said ,Larry.

As usual.

norbert \:\)
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#909222 - 06/19/04 05:24 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Horace Offline
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Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 505
"I *am* questioning however, the necessity of it all."

I seems to me to be a rather questionable price-point tactic. In order to justify an increase in price, a dealer needs to do something that is supposedly value-added. They do the prep, then proceed to convince customers (most of whom are amateur private players) of the great added value. We've witnessed much of that convincing process in this thread, and apparently much of it is, at the least, arguable.

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#909223 - 06/19/04 05:28 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:

( excuse me if this sounds corny ) [/b]
Doesn;t sound corny, it sounds like an extended sales pitch. Just like most of this thread.

To make this more realistic and useful you should quote what this customer paid, and what you charge for the same piano. My bet is that he paid many thousands less than you charge, and that if he found a good tech to work on
his piano, he;d still be thousands ahead.

For people who may be feeling frightened by all this prep talk, let me just say a couple of things:

1. IT is clear that lots of the unwashed masses (like me) do not know that their less than 'concert prepped' piano is a POS, yet they are still happy with it.

2. I live in NYC. My tech is highly respected and not cheap. (he prepped the Chopin cycle pianos for Garrick Ohlsson, has done prep for Ruth Laredo,etc) My ~3 year old AF needed regulation after I bought it earlier this
year and I got 3 hours of work for about $300 bucks (piano was fabuous after that). Chances are that a few tweaks here and there when you get tunings will keep your piano in great shape without a huge expense.

3. Having a good relationship with a reliable tech is key to piano health. Your tech will be there long after the warranty is gone or the dealer goes out of business, or the company disavows it;s previous liabilities (like Gibson Baldwin).

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#909224 - 06/19/04 05:31 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Cohen:
While I applause Keith's intentions in this post, it has gone on so long that the core issues have become clouded.
Good prep, when necessary or desired is expensive. It makes sense for a good player with a good piano. [/QB]
Steve, it also makes sense, to me, that a lesser player will benefit, ( often more than a good player ) from a beautifully responding piano.

 Quote:
Yamaha and Kawai come out of the box needing very little other than tuning. Yes, they can be voiced and regulated to a finer degree, but they are usually fine right with minor attention. The same is true of Kawai and usually true of Young Chang and Samick's production, although they are not as uniform, out of the box, as Yamaha and Kawai. [/QB]
I agree that Yamaha and Kawai do a nice job at the factory. If one reads through the prep procedures outlined and recommended by Yamaha, Kawai, Samick, Young Chang, Petrof, and pretty much everyone else, they will see procedures that are very, very similar to what I have outlined. Of course, they understand that their recommendations in this area are unlikely to be followed.

 Quote:
Most of the Tier 1 pianos come in to their dealers needing little; some need more than others.
The Tier 1 pianos we carry come to us in fine shape. We still take this approach. The tier 1 manufacturers, also recommend this approach. I did not invent it, I took the recommendations of the manufacturers we carry and respect along with our experience and the advice of other top techs. Again, I entitled this thread " Basic grand piano prep", and I meant basic. Certainly pianos can be sold and enjoyed with other approaches. Sorry that this came out with a bold font, I didn't mean it to, and I don't know why it did.


 Quote:
"Optimizing" them (a term we use for voicing and regulating them to sound and play as good as they can), is often not enough of an improvement to be worth the cost unless the buyer is a descriminating player and can appreciate the more subtle differences. Even in that situation, the optimizing should take place after the pianos has been in the home for 4-6 months and only with the input of the player. [/b]
If you reread my initial post, I specifically did not include tuning or voicing in what I outlined. I do consider multiple tunings and voicing as part of prep work. The approach you describe is valid, and I consider it necessary. I would catagorize it under follow up service, and as additional to basic grand piano prep.

Steve, I am glad you have offered your perspective on this topic, and I am sure most find your approach to be more than sufficient.
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PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

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#909225 - 06/19/04 05:45 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Is anybody here at all *listening* to the piano end user,i.e. consumer-pianist-customer him/herself?

Or are we making all kinds of assumptions on their behalf?

If he/she is entirely happy with the purchase, enjoys the piano every day - for years that is - then why would anybody insist of having to add what Larry rightfully called above - the final [irrevelant] 5% 'improvement'??

Even if you prep a Fazioli for the next 4 weeks
[which most likely wouldn't need it to begin with
\:o ] nobody can guarantee that - as a result - you would like it necessarily any better and.... buy it!

Unless you already *have*.

And never forget it's nice to give customers some surprises.

By perhaps giving them some extra free service when they need it - but least expect[/b] it.

In years to come.

[2nd free lesson in good business consulting.... ;\) ]

norbert
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www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909226 - 06/19/04 05:48 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry:
It sounds good when talked about, it leaves nice warm fuzzies with the public, but it just isn't called for.

[/b]
It also leaves nice warm fuzzies in the wallet of the technician. ;\)
_________________________
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"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909227 - 06/19/04 05:56 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by Christopher James Quinn:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:

( excuse me if this sounds corny ) [/b]
Doesn;t sound corny, it sounds like an extended sales pitch. Just like most of this thread.

To make this more realistic and useful you should quote what this customer paid, and what you charge for the same piano. My bet is that he paid many thousands less than you charge, and that if he found a good tech to work on
his piano, he;d still be thousands ahead.
[/b]
We'll have to disagree here CJQ.

I have never used this forum as a billboard for my store. I have never advertised prices in my signature or solicited business on this forum.
The fact that my store name is in my signature is to clearly represent that I am a dealer representing a certain group of makers.

You have no idea what our pricing policies are so how in the world can you assume that he bought it for thousands less?

The client did say that he wished he had purchased it from us because of the support.

He believed he made the wrong choice before entering our store. Hopefully my referral of a good technician changed his mind.

The dealer he bought it from routinely sells out of their territory with no real after sale service to support the customer. The client bought this piano based not only on price but on a promise, a promise the original dealer did not keep. That dealer wanted to move a unit. Perhaps his client will come on this thread at some point and reveal the details of his transaction. I don't feel it is my place to do this.
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#909228 - 06/19/04 06:07 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
Cristopher:

How is this an 'extended sales pitch'? The dealers who have contributed to this thread have done so for the sake of discussion on prepping pianos. We've offered many approaches to prepping, but no one has used this thread to sell their pianos. I would think that if nothing else, a piano buyer reading this would add this discussion to his checklist of things to consider when purchasing a piano. Isn't that what this forum's about?
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"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909229 - 06/19/04 06:11 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1097
Loc: El Cajon, California
I appreciate this discussion more than any recent thread I can remember. Everybody who has posted so far has done a public service that outweighs any hurt feelings that may have resulted. Many thanks gentlemen!

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#909230 - 06/19/04 06:37 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry:


My biggest problem with the discussion is the impression being left that *every single piano* gets this kind of attention. No offense, but there is a little "sales spin" being added to the mix here by some, and it's causing the wrong impression to be left. On the pianos where one *can* justify spending this kind of money, this kind of work is hardly necessary right out of the box, and much of it should be left until after the piano has some breakin time. On the pianos where this level of expense *can't* be justified, I am not buying into the idea that anyone is going to those lengths.


I stick to my previous statement - I can prep any piano to a perfectly acceptable level in less than 4 hours, and I'm talking about the cheap stuff. Would a picky fussy tech be able to find a few things that need improvement? Sure. But the last 16 hours worth of work is only yielding about a 5% improvement over where I'll have it, if that. High end pianos need very little when new.

[/b]
Larry,

I am glad you joined in, and offered your very valid perspective. I actually started this post because of what you wrote in another thread, about 4 hours worth of prep getting a Hallet & Davis grand to an acceptable level, and another 16 hours worth of work not making any or much difference.

I want to respond to your articulate and well thought out thread.
First, about Bechstein. We have 5 or 6 Bechstein grands in our service clientel that are less than 10 years old. They are certainly fine pianos, and no doubt the approach taken by the Bechstein people at the factory was one of high integrity and skill. I had never heard that Bechstein completes their pianos and then takes another 6 months to break them in before delivery. Astonishing. From our records and experience, I would put the Bechstein in a category with Bluthner, Bosendorfer, etc. regarding factory prep and stability. I have not seen the Bechstein recommendations about dealer prep, but I imagine they are not all that different from Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber etc. As an aside, one of our clients has a 5'11" Bechstein from around 1990 that has a sticker on the plate that says "Seasoned for the North American Climate". We would take a similar approach to prep work with a Bechstein as with a Bluthner. You may feel that much of the work we do is wasteful and unnecessary, we feel it improves our product. To each their own.

KB, your family carried Bechsteins, did you approach them any differently than your Bosendorfers or Steingraebers?

Regarding taking this approach with every single piano being sales spin, you may not believe it, but it is standard operating proceduere for our new grand pianos. It was not my intention to appear boastful, just to offer my perspective. You may think I am full of it, and that's fine. I would be dissapointed if you didn't give me the benefit of the doubt, as I respect and enjoy your posts here.

As to your being able to prep a cheap grand piano to a perfectly acceptable level in 4 hours, I am sure this is true. I don't want to debate what acceptable means, but I don't doubt what you are claiming. I am sure we also can get a cheap piano to an acceptable level in 4 hours. We do it all the time for our service clients. As to the remaining 16 hours yielding 5% improvement, that is debatable, but even 1% overall improvement to the way a piano sounds or plays, to me, is significant. I find small improvements to be accumulative, and really make the differance.

If potential clients find our approach wasteful, extreme, excessive etc. we will probably not sell them a piano. Many people don't relate to our approach.

Again, I am glad you joined in here, because I think many will really benefit from what you have to say on this topic.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909231 - 06/19/04 06:56 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
So it seems that even out of the professionals there are those who know the standard, and those who don't. Of course those who don't think they do, because the standard they work to is the highest that they know. I think those that know this higher standard though, can't go back to a lower level of service. And those who don't know this standard find it completely unecessary, or a bunch of "hubbub".

You can show someone the difference between boxed wine (not the fancy boxed wine mind you) and a ten dollar bottle very easily. It's a bit harder though to convince someone that there's a difference between a 50 dollar bottle and a 500 dollar bottle.
I'm sure though, that once someone has been drinking $500 bottles of wine for awhile, they will have a hard time going back.
I don't say this with a snobby tone as some must be thinking. I've never had a $500 bottle of wine, so I don't know that I can appreciate the difference. But I know there are people who can. And rather than tell them they're silly for having the taste they do, I commend them for having the level of appreciation necessary.
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#909232 - 06/19/04 06:59 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
And I commend them on the money neccesary. \:D
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"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909233 - 06/19/04 07:06 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
It's exactly the higher[/b] standard we're after and nobody in the world is adhering to it any better or with any more regularity/consistency than the factories within the Austro-Germany-Italy triangle.

Don't forget these guys are watching over each others shoulders just as the guys from BMW, Mercedes or Audi do.

I have received and delivered pianos from Germany [and even Estonia!] straight to my waiting - sometimes impatient - customers.

Including concert halls.

Without ever even the slightest,anywhere near serious, complaint.

web page

And some of them have posted their experiences here.

And a number of techs fighting over who will be selected to do the "after-factory-prep-service" later.

A few weeks[/b] ....later, that is!

norbert
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909234 - 06/19/04 07:15 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
Thanks, Keith. It is my opinion that spending the extra time you're talking about on a lower to midrange piano is wasteful for a couple of reasons. It isn't because it won't help the piano, and it isn't because the clientele for it don't deserve it. It's because 99.999% of them can't tell, and would much prefer to save the extra money. Second, it's because in an unstable piano of modest construction (how's *that* for saying "cheap"..... ;\) ) it simply isn't going to last long enough to provide much benefit. The pianos will change too much during breakin.

The typical buyer for a Chinese or Korean piano (or Japanese, for that matter) are more interested in price than they are subtle nuances of improvement yielded from extreme attention to detail in prepwork. They don't care if you spent 2 hours hand polishing the capstans, they just want the keys to go up and down smoothly. If given the choice between having them go up and down even more smoothly and saving an extra 200 bucks on the piano, they'll take the money. I would be amazed, if you took two pianos just alike, gave one just enough work to be in good tune, evenly voiced, and the action work smoothly, and took the other one to the highest level of perfection you were capable of without altering or adding something else to the piano, the vast majority of your customers for those types of pianos couldn't tell the difference. But they *can* tell the difference in price. They can't absorb all the "tech talk" involved in explaining why it is desirable to have that extra 5% improvement, and the one the guy has down the street plays just fine, but is cheaper.

Now - a question - if you lose the customer because they couldn't appreciate the finer level of prepwork on a price point piano and they buy from the guy down the street who could save them 500$ on the same or similar piano, who loses?

The customer.

Sure, you lost a sale. Your competitor made a sale. But the one that lost the most is your customer. Why? Because you are capable of providing your *customer* a far superior level of after the sale service. And they've made the wrong choice, thinking they saved 500$. This customer saved 500$ on the price, but in the process will never realize the full potential of what they purchased, because the other dealer probably isn't going to see that they get it. Given that the goal isn't to bring glory to yourself, but to offer a meaningful benefit to the piano owner, this is an important point.

To me, while I'm not trying to tell you how to run your business or telling you you're doing it "wrong", it makes more sense to get that price point piano good enough to be pleasing, and make the sale. Once they are your customer, the relationship with these folks changes. Now you are their *dealer*. Now, you are in a position to take time and educate them. Now, you can work with them to develop their instrument to its full potential, and you can do it as the piano breaks in. The customer wins, because they have the support of a caring dealer who is willing to educate them, work with them, and capable of making quality improvements to their piano. As Allstate would say, "they're in good hands".

The highly knowledgeable, sophisticated musician buying an expensive premium piano is handled differently, and the pianos he's looking at are different as well. Now you can start doing more on the front end if you wish. Personally, I preferred to let the Bechstein technicians present *their* work to the customer, and then build a relationship with the potential buyer by working with him/her to detail the piano to *their* preferences. That meant the really detailed stuff happened once they had a particular piano in mind. These customers are aware of the costs of tailoring an instrument to their desires, and the cost factor becomes less of an issue.

Just my thoughts.
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#909235 - 06/19/04 07:18 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
good post Larry.

It helps me to be able to see what "others" in the industry think, and I think we've had a very good discussion here.
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#909236 - 06/19/04 07:26 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
True, KB!

And when you really look at it, you dont have to go the "my-piano-more expensive-because-of-my-blahblahblah-work" route at all.

Just fire the salesman [weasel.... \:D ] and stick the saved commission into the piano with more service.

Without[/b] becoming more expensive!

[free 3rd lesson in running a successful piano business.. \:D ]

norbert ;\)
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#909237 - 06/19/04 07:45 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
ummmm, that would be the end of my job Norbert!

plus... there'd then be nobody there to do the prep.... double loss!

\:D \:\) \:D \:\)
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#909238 - 06/19/04 08:16 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
No, you would be even more[/b] busy!!

It's the competition's sales weasels.... you'll send packing![/b] \:D

norbert
_________________________
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#909239 - 06/19/04 08:27 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:
[QB]

You have no idea what our pricing policies are so how in the world can you assume that he bought it for thousands less?
Because he bought a piano 3000 miles away and paid for shipping it back. Nobody does this to save 2oo bucks. I also know some 'east coast' pricing on 30-40k ish pianos that is 5-10 thousand dollars less than mid and west coast.

Since you did not provide pricing, I made a guess. Since you continue not to provide pricing, I guess I'll have to stick with my guess.

If the case you are quoting is someone who paid just a few hundred dollars or even a couple of thousand dollars less buying a piano 3000 miles away, then they really are not particularly clever shoppers.


 Quote:

The dealer he bought it from routinely sells out of their territory with no real after sale service to support the customer.
Oh, the dreaded out of territory monsters. Why not drop the brand name if they do not support the kind of rigorous channel support you are in favor of?

 Quote:


Perhaps his client will come on this thread at some point and reveal the details of his transaction. I don't feel it is my place to do this.
That would be helpful, let's hope they come forward.

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#909240 - 06/19/04 08:36 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Manitou Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
(Norbert - I can't even begin to tell if your posts are all drug-induced or your alter ego wirtting for you. Either way, I rarely understand what it is you are attempting to communicate ?)

Larry,

You've appeared to say 2 conflicting things: 1; Bechstein and other top pianos don't need hours of prep and 2; it makes more sense to prep a top piano than spend 4+ hours on a cheap piano ??

I quite like KB's wine analogy. We most oft have differing personal standards and once used to them, apply them generally. What I consider to be the "best" prep possible (within 2 days of work) may be similar but not quite equal to KB, or Keith or Cohen. Nonetheless, it has been verified that from the mouths of the top piano builders, they fully expect qualified Techs to perform this kind of re-regulation of action and tone. They may not have your standard in mind, and those of us following theirs, may not either.

P.s, During a lunch with Luc Boulay (head of Pleyel distribution) when discussing this kind of prep, he said "this is normal and represents the TVA or Tax on Added Value".
I enjoy $50-$200 bottles of French wine, my wife prefers the $15 Beaujolais. Different perceptions and/or education of quality.
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#909241 - 06/19/04 08:39 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
"Oh, the dreaded out of territory monsters. Why not drop the brand name if they do not support the kind of rigorous channel support you are in favor of?"


Christopher, I'm pretty sure that if there are "territories", then this manufacturer does support a dealer network. This doesn't stop dealers from exploiting this though (including a few in your area). It should be the manufacturer who drops the dealer, not the dealer dropping the manufacturer.
Why should Alex be punished for someone else breaking the rules?

And why aren't you understanding at all of this problem?
Does nobody see the importance of a dealer network for properly representing pianos? If it's not important, let's all just order pianos directly from the manufacturer.
... wait... how would we choose which one we want? University sales?
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#909242 - 06/19/04 08:40 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Manitou Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
Cohen

I do not really agree with your statements about Yamaha or Kawai arriving in such great condition as to not need this prep either.

That would suggest that a Steingraeber or Bosendorfer is in a lesser state of function than the superbly regulated Yamahas ??

For a Yamaha (in my experience) their greatest needs are in tone production. While overall regulation is acceptable, it is by no means perfect or even better than let's say Sauter of Schimmel (which I often do full preps on).
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#909243 - 06/19/04 08:48 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by KlavierBauer:

And why aren't you understanding at all of this problem?
Does nobody see the importance of a dealer network for properly representing pianos? If it's not important, let's all just order pianos directly from the manufacturer.
... wait... how would we choose which one we want? University sales? [/b]
KB,

Somewhere between University sales and "20 hour concert preparation for every piano" type dealers, lies the truth about what I think most people want from a dealer.

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#909244 - 06/19/04 08:50 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by Christopher James Quinn:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:
[QB]

You have no idea what our pricing policies are so how in the world can you assume that he bought it for thousands less?
Because he bought a piano 3000 miles away and paid for shipping it back. Nobody does this to save 2oo bucks. I also know some 'east coast' pricing on 30-40k ish pianos that is 5-10 thousand dollars less than mid and west coast.

Since you did not provide pricing, I made a guess. Since you continue not to provide pricing, I guess I'll have to stick with my guess.

If the case you are quoting is someone who paid just a few hundred dollars or even a couple of thousand dollars less buying a piano 3000 miles away, then they really are not particularly clever shoppers.


 Quote:

The dealer he bought it from routinely sells out of their territory with no real after sale service to support the customer.
Oh, the dreaded out of territory monsters. Why not drop the brand name if they do not support the kind of rigorous channel support you are in favor of?

 Quote:


Perhaps his client will come on this thread at some point and reveal the details of his transaction. I don't feel it is my place to do this.
That would be helpful, let's hope they come forward. [/b]
CJQ,

CJQ,


I don't favor rigorous sales channels as you put it.

I favor a dealer having the ethics to be up front about what a piano needs once it has been delivered into the home and their ability to render that service.

I favor a dealer getting to know the expectations of the client and giving the proper advice, even if it means losing a sale.

How do you know what west and midwest pricing is? What is your source for such information? You present your opinion as if it is unimpeachable. A dealer network's pricing can vary greatly from county to county in any given state. With this being the case how can any person state that this is the westcoast,midwest or eastcoast price?

incidently price the client paid included delivery.

You assume to much here CJQ. I have nothing against clients buying outside of their local area. I only hope that they first preview the piano and do their homework. I would hope that the dealer informs them about the service the piano they are about to purchase will require.

Don't confuse or assume my intent here.

This clients regretted his purchase. I would have sold him the piano for the same price and given him the best service that we are capable of.

In the end a dealer moved a unit and a customer is unhappy with their purchase.

It looks as if only one party won here.
_________________________


Blüthner USA, LLC

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#909245 - 06/19/04 09:07 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:
[QB]
How do you know what west and midwest pricing is? What is your source for such information? You present your opinion as if it is unimpeachable.

People quote prices here that they paid or saw shopping, I know prices I saw while I was shopping. I have seen huge differences. I also know that many many people shop locally then come to the NY area and make a deal. They do this for a reason: big price difference or selection they can not find locally.

I present my opinion as my opinion - it's a as useful or worthless as anyone wants to make it. I don;t sell pianos or make money in any way with them, I'm just a consumer with an opinion.

 Quote:

This clients regretted his purchase. I would have sold him the piano for the same price and given him the best service that we are capable of.

If that's the case then the client was a fool. What could have motivated someone to buy a piano long distance at the same price a local dealer offered it?.

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#909246 - 06/19/04 09:14 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Then there are lots of fools CJQ, because it happens frequently.

Remember, a dealer doesn't have to actually give a better deal to snag a sale, they just have to get the customer to think that they're getting a better deal.

Those of us dealers who communicate with each other regularly know there are customers who against their better judgement buy what they think is a better deal, eventhough it ends up not to be in the longrun.

I'm just speaking in general of course.
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#909247 - 06/19/04 09:44 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Larry, that's one of the best posts you ever made.
_________________________
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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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#909248 - 06/19/04 11:04 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
You've appeared to say 2 conflicting things: 1; Bechstein and other top pianos don't need hours of prep and 2; it makes more sense to prep a top piano than spend 4+ hours on a cheap piano ?? [/b]

I haven't said anything that is conflicting, you have misunderstood what I said.

No, directly from the factory, Bechstein, nor any other premium piano of note does not require 20+ hours worth of prep time right out of the box. I know there's some remarks that have been made about how the premium makers "expect" this to be done to their pianos, but as you'll see in a moment, that is being misrepresented. Your second part is so off the mark I don't really know where to begin to explain it to you. It doesn't even resemble what I said. Let me try again.

I didn't say "it makes more sense to prep a top piano than spend 4+ hours on a cheap piano", I said that top pianos need it the least and cheap pianos need it the most, but the cost of doing it is too much for a cheap piano, and less an issue on the top one. Add 500$ to the price of a 5995 baby grand "big sale this weekend", and see what happens to your sales. Add 500$ to a 50K piano, and it doesn't make that much difference, particularly when you factor in the fact that the buyer for the 50K piano is able to appreciate the improvement, and willing to pay for it.

As to premium makers expecting the dealer to do high level technical work, this too is getting twisted up a bit in this thread. Yes, they do. Most of them *insist* that a dealer be able to do this level of work before they'll even give you the line. The problem is, it is being presented here as if these manufacturers are expecting you to do this to their pianos right out of the box. This is simply not the case. Yes, their pianos are going to need technical work, and yes, they expect their dealers to be competent and capable of offering a high level of it. But they expect this work to be done *when the piano needs it*, not as an excersize in marketing yourself as being more capable than they are of getting their pianos right. A premium piano will *need* this level of work after the piano has had some breakin time on it, and not a day sooner. The manufacturers aren't telling you this is the kind of work they expect their dealers to do because they think they are shipping you pianos that need it, they are telling you they expect you to be able to do this level of work when it is *time* to do is. Voicing, yes, to meet the purchaser's tastes. Keeping it in tune, taking care of small adjustments as needed, yes. But to take a brand new premium range piano and convince myself that I need to redo their work straight out of the crate? I wouldn't be so presumptuous. Your job is not to redo their work, it is to keep the piano up to their level of work. So yes, they "expect you to do all this regulation work to their pianos".

On a mass produced low to midrange piano, sure - they need tons of work. But now you're back to the cost factor, and the fact that if you expect to sell many of them at all, you're going to have to stay price competitive. Prepping Nordiskas or Young Changs to the tune of 20+ hours each, and you aren't selling many pianos, or making any money on the ones you *do* sell. One tech can prepare 2 pianos a week. You simply aren't going to find enough people who will pay you 6995 for a piano they can get for 5995 everywhere else, just because you've "outprepped" the competition.

So my point Manitou, is that the numbers just won't add up for the low end, the customers at that end of the market can't tell the difference, and if you lose the sale to a dealer who can't or won't ever offer this level of service to the customer, they lost too. The most important part of giving the customer excellent service - is to have a customer to start with. Balance your technical prowess with your business sense, and do that shopper a favor - get their business, *then* help them develop both their own knowledge and appreciation for the finer points of concert quality technical work, and develop their piano to its full potential in the process.
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#909249 - 06/19/04 11:47 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
All in all a great discussion, on all sides. One question: aside from a dealer's self report, how does one tell what level of prep a piano at a new dealer (let's say one is shopping for a new piano) is at? If one asks the dealer, I am sure they will say their prep is exemplary. What should an amateur player look for as an independent check on what the dealer is telling them?

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#909250 - 06/20/04 12:36 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Jeffrey,

we do our best to keep records of what we have done, when it was done, and who did it for every piano. We are not perfect at this,but we do our best. It gives us great information for future reference, and on occasion, if a customer asks just what you are asking, we show them. I am sure others keep good records also, some more detailed than us. Others who do good work may not keep good records, and I suspect you want to know how to tell if you think the dealer might invent records. You need to find a top independant technician, who is experienced in fully prepping pianos, and pay them to look at the piano in question, and assess its condition. We have had some of the pickiest techs imaginable really hold our feet to the fire, and this is part of why we take our approach. We also have had "techs" come in who we would not allow to dust our pianos exert their influence in this circumstance. We have a great professional relationship with many of the techs in our area and tremendous respect for professional technicians in general, but be warned. There are techs who claim independance, but have "arrangements" with one dealer or another. Unlike the dealer, where it is obvious that he is trying to sell you a piano, a techs hidden agenda may be harder to smoke out.

Once you find a qualified tech, they often will give a laundrey list of things to do to a piano before giving final approval. So if you really want to hedge your bet, and you don't trust your dealer, you will have to pay the tech to look over the piano twice. You can do 100 hours of prep, and a tech will always find something.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909251 - 06/20/04 01:46 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry:
No, directly from the factory, Bechstein, nor any other premium piano of note does not require 20+ hours worth of prep time right out of the box. I know there's some remarks that have been made about how the premium makers "expect" this to be done to their pianos, but as you'll see in a moment, that is being misrepresented.

I didn't say "it makes more sense to prep a top piano than spend 4+ hours on a cheap piano", I said that top pianos need it the least and cheap pianos need it the most, but the cost of doing it is too much for a cheap piano, and less an issue on the top one. Add 500$ to the price of a 5995 baby grand "big sale this weekend", and see what happens to your sales. Add 500$ to a 50K piano, and it doesn't make that much difference, particularly when you factor in the fact that the buyer for the 50K piano is able to appreciate the improvement, and willing to pay for it.

As to premium makers expecting the dealer to do high level technical work, this too is getting twisted up a bit in this thread. Yes, they do. Most of them *insist* that a dealer be able to do this level of work before they'll even give you the line. The problem is, it is being presented here as if these manufacturers are expecting you to do this to their pianos right out of the box. This is simply not the case. Yes, their pianos are going to need technical work, and yes, they expect their dealers to be competent and capable of offering a high level of it. But they expect this work to be done *when the piano needs it*, not as an excersize in marketing yourself as being more capable than they are of getting their pianos right. A premium piano will *need* this level of work after the piano has had some breakin time on it, and not a day sooner. The manufacturers aren't telling you this is the kind of work they expect their dealers to do because they think they are shipping you pianos that need it, they are telling you they expect you to be able to do this level of work when it is *time* to do is. Voicing, yes, to meet the purchaser's tastes. Keeping it in tune, taking care of small adjustments as needed, yes. But to take a brand new premium range piano and convince myself that I need to redo their work straight out of the crate? I wouldn't be so presumptuous. Your job is not to redo their work, it is to keep the piano up to their level of work. So yes, they "expect you to do all this regulation work to their pianos".
So my point Manitou, is that the numbers just won't add up for the low end, the customers at that end of the market can't tell the difference, and if you lose the sale to a dealer who can't or won't ever offer this level of service to the customer, they lost too. The most important part of giving the customer excellent service - is to have a customer to start with. Balance your technical prowess with your business sense, and do that shopper a favor - get their business, *then* help them develop both their own knowledge and appreciation for the finer points of concert quality technical work, and develop their piano to its full potential in the process. [/QB]
Larry,

You are the only one who has said right out of the box. What about a week later, or a month, or two months. Norbert seems to be delivering all of his pianos directly to his customers, and uncrates them there, does nothing, and everything is perfect. I haven't been able to find these prep free magic pianos, and I often don't sell one of my $50,000 or $100,000 pianos for 2 or three months or maybe even longer. The new high end pianos I buy, even though they have the best possible factory prep done,wood seasoning, workmanship,etc. are unstable when brand new, and require multiple regulation passes and tunings to get them stable at the standards set by the manufacturer. Everyone often buys new pianos that were completed in the winter, and then shipped and uncrated in summer, or vice versa. These pianos can be nearly perfect when uncrated, and then go wildly out of tune and regulation one week later. They then absolutely need multiple passes to get them to factory spec.
I also have never seen a new piano that couldn't be dramatically improved with expert voicing. Never. Not Mason & Hamlin, Steingraeber, Bluthner, or Bechstein.
And what I am describing is exactly what manufacturers recommend, from Young Chang,Yamaha, Kawai, Fazioli, Mason & Hamlin, Steinway, Bluthner, Steingraeber, etc.

I am not saying that all of this has to be done to sell a piano, or even to satisfy most customers. I am not saying that dealers who take a different approach are wrong, or bad.

As to your statement that top manufacturers insist that their dealers are able to do top level prep, I disagree. I find the norm to be that tier 1 pianos are being offered to and sold by dealers with woefully inadequate technical ability.

As to your comments that shoppers buying $50,000 pianos being more discriminating than shoppers with much lower budgets, I disagree. I have many good friends and clients who are sensitive pianists and highly discriminating, who can only afford a $10,000 grand or maybe a $5000 upright.

I do agree that to give excellent service you need customers to start with. And I think the approach you have described is one way to achieve that. Also, although we offer pianos at different price points, our focus is really the high end. I am sure that your experience in selling more affordable pianos, is much much greater than mine, and that is not a back handed compliment. It is one of the many things that I need to improve on, and I read your posts thoroughly and get a lot out of them.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909252 - 06/20/04 02:44 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
I am sure that your experience in selling more affordable pianos, is much much greater than mine, and that is not a back handed compliment. It is one of the many things that I need to improve on, and I read your posts thoroughly and get a lot out of them.[/b]

I don't take it as a backhanded compliment, but it did make me realize that maybe thought I sold mostly midrange products. I was the second largest Bechstein dealer in the country, as well as handling several other premium makes. I was a Bosendorfer dealer for many years, and I'm a rebuilder. High end is what I do. You are not operating at a higher level than I am accustomed to. With 30+ years of it under my belt, I'd say I have more experience with the high end than *you* do. And I don't mean that as a backhanded "slap", just that I've been around for a long, long time.
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#909253 - 06/20/04 02:54 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
I didn't mean to imply that in the slightest. Larry, with all of your experience, perhaps you should become an industry consultant. You could add that credential to your signature line, and be taken more seriously. ;\)
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909254 - 06/20/04 03:21 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
perhaps you should become an industry consultant.[/b]

I should.... but I've got to write the book first...... \:D
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#909255 - 06/20/04 10:04 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
irving Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 705
Loc: Irvington, NY
Keith, Alex, Larry, Chris et al,

I have deliberately kept out of this terrific thread that Keith started because I wanted to see where it would go. Im always eager to learn things that might be of value to me and to my customers and this thread was sure to elicit information, thoughts and ideas that would be useful at least so long as I kept my two cents out of it.

Okay, Ive stayed quiet until now. Now its my turn to stir up the pot a bit.

First, Im a bit perplexed that no one has mentioned two of the most crucial things that should be done as part of what I consider to be basic prep. The first is to examine and optimize each and every termination point (including re-seating strings and bridge pins as needed); the second is to determine, and correct as needed, optimum strike point.

Second, I find it strange that Keith considers voicing to be separate from basic prep. To my mind, touch and voice are so inter-related that voicing must be a central element in basic prep. Indeed, a substantial part of the time and effort that we invest into what I call basic prep has to do with voicing. This may all boil down to semantics. If so, no big deal. But then, what happens to the 20-hour calculation? Does voicing boost it to 24 hours?

Third, one of the reasons some of us dont deal with certain piano brands is that they need at least as much prep as the pianos that we do deal with and the end result is not so satisfying. Since the cost of the prep work in these pianos often cannot be recouped, how could we possibly sell them? Well, as Larry and some others here have said, one way or the other, is that we need a different mindset. We dont have to be so fussy with these pianos. Most customers who buy them wont know the difference anyway. The few that do, we can visit later, after the piano has been broken in. If theyre still not happy after such a visit or two, they can trade up to something else. I can accept this and so should you Keith. Maybe its not right for you and me. For some of us, this is just not a fun way to be in the piano business. But it is a legitimate approach and I have no quarrel with those who take it. There are many people who want to own a piano who will never understand and so will never really need the good stuff. I take solace in knowing that a few of them will eventually seek a piano from you or me because they got started with an affordable piano that they bought somewhere else. Its just unfortunate that they have to learn the hard way that the low trade-in value of their affordable piano has made the piano less affordable than they thought it was.

Fourth, Im disturbed by the near-acrimonious tone in the dispute that has emerged here between Chris and Alex, two good people who have both contributed much that has been of value to this forum. There is no way that I can settle the dispute in favor of one or the other because they both have legitimate positions. On the one hand, as this thread clearly shows, there is a high degree of custom, pre-and post-sale attention that can be part of the sale of a piano. For some of us, such attention is an integral part of the piano sale. For others it is not. And thats okay; some customers demand and expect attention, others want to buy a piano (or PSO) at a low price. Still others, like Chris, see some opportunity for arbitrage, a way to get good attention and lower price. And thats where Chris and Alex have a problem. Chris isnt wrong in wanting to exploit the arbitrage opportunity, but each time he, or someone else does this, it cuts into Alexs business, penalizes him for providing the level of attention that he believes in and that he feels he should be fairly paid for. If all that has happened is that Alex has lost some business, well thats life. Chris has the absolute right to seek and exploit his good deal. Unfortunately (and this is not at all meant as a cut at Chris) too often a good deal is not all that happens. Too often the arbitrage sours. Alex has lost a sale, the customer hasnt gotten what he hoped for, and Alex is asked to clean up the mess. Believe me; I know exactly the frustration that Alex feels because Ive also been asked to clean up the results of such arbitrage gone awry - more often than you might imagine. The end result is that everyone loses (the local dealer who lost the sale, the manufacture whose reputation has been hurt and, of course, the customer). Only the remote dealer who made the quick sale comes out ahead but often not as much as he might think. He has earned some ill will and sometimes he loses his franchise.
_________________________
Irving
Faust Harrison Pianos
We sell new Bechsteins, Yamahas, Mason & Hamlins, Brodmanns and W. Hoffmanns, and rebuilt vintage Steinways. All rebuilding is done in our own factory. www.faustharrisonpianos.com

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#909256 - 06/20/04 10:34 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Manitou Offline
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Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
KB,

Is it so presumptuous to beleive that a (rare) highly qualified Tech, could take a brand new out of the box German high end piano, and spend considerable time to rework action and tone so that it ends up rather better than it was? You did work @ Schimmel as a Tech, you know well the standards for the German Techs and school they learn at. Could one begin to say that after leaving the assembly line, they are impossible to make better, save after 6 months of playing?

(This is tongue in cheek, for I have also been to Factories, and seen thousands of out of the box top pianos, that with skill and knowledge where made even greater (not to the dismay but delight and expectation of their manufacturers.)
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#909257 - 06/20/04 10:44 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by irving:
Keith, Alex, Larry, Chris et al,
First, I?m a bit perplexed that no one has mentioned two of the most crucial things that should be done as part of what I consider to be basic prep. The first is to examine and optimize each and every termination point (including re-seating strings and bridge pins as needed); the second is to determine, and correct as needed, optimum strike point.

Second, I find it strange that Keith considers voicing to be separate from basic prep. To my mind, touch and voice are so inter-related that voicing must be a central element in basic prep. Indeed, a substantial part of the time and effort that we invest into what I call basic prep has to do with voicing. This may all boil down to semantics. If so, no big deal. But then, what happens to the 20-hour calculation? Does voicing boost it to 24 hours?
[/b]
Irving,

It is about time you joined in.

Your point about optimizing each and every termination point is dead on. As is your point about optimum strike point. Very, very important stuff.

Yes, voicing and multiple tunings are absolutely part of basic prep, and will add even more time to the 20 hours I described. I didn't get into those things for a couple of reasons. I felt that voicing would be such a huge topic, that it deserved its own separate thread. I also feel that voicing, tone building, etc have already been written about here ( although certainly, many would be interested in further explanation) whereas other elements of prep were never explained. I also knew that my 20 hour number was going to get a strong reaction, so if I got into numbers like 25 hours, or 30 hours, people would think I was even more nuts.
I am really glad you joined in, Irving.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909258 - 06/20/04 10:48 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
Keith, all: thanks for posts (regardless of position, I like seeing the different approaches). However, Keith, you didn't quite answer my question. I wasn't asking 'how to keep the dealer honest' by checking records, though given your list and others, I now have specific questions to ask, and if the dealer/salesperson says 'what's that' I have my answer. My question was: how does a beginning/amateur player tell walking into a new dealer, how well they prep their pianos, based on their own playing?

The reason is two-fold: (1) On PW people often post piano or dealer reports saying "Dealer X is famous for prep" or "Dealer Y preps the pianos poorly" or "I didn't like this [famous brand] piano, perhaps it was poorly prepped". Dealers, on the other hand, sometimes justify a premium price, by saying that their added value is, in part, superior prep. Other than the piano being out of tune (which I have experienced in piano shops and believe I can tell), what does one look for while playing? Even action on the keys, no internal noises on the sustenudo, or what?

(2) Does the extra level of prep make a big difference to the playing of a beginning or average to below-average hobbyist player (where I would put myself)? Perhaps this is at the root of Chris's and others concerns about prep levels (which doesn't come free, unless Keith and others run piano charities). What should such players notice? For example, I play fake book melodies experimenting with chord voicings and am trying some beginning Bach dances, playing about half an hour a day. I will never be a concert pianist, but I love music, enjoy what I am learning, and think even my entry-level upright piano in my home sounds much better than my very fancy stereo system. I suspect many piano buyers are like that, and not professional musicians. There seems to be a difference not about what concert pianist-level prep should be, but about cost-effectiveness (for both dealer AND customer) for the average piano sale and average piano buyer. Thanks in advance.

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#909259 - 06/20/04 10:58 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
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Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Irving,

I 100% agree with and accept the third point in your post. If some of my prior posts indicated otherwise, that was not my intention.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909260 - 06/20/04 11:03 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
 Quote:
Originally posted by Manitou:
KB,

Is it so presumptuous to beleive that a (rare) highly qualified Tech, could take a brand new out of the box German high end piano, and spend considerable time to rework action and tone so that it ends up rather better than it was? You did work @ Schimmel as a Tech, you know well the standards for the German Techs and school they learn at. Could one begin to say that after leaving the assembly line, they are impossible to make better, save after 6 months of playing?

(This is tongue in cheek, for I have also been to Factories, and seen thousands of out of the box top pianos, that with skill and knowledge where made even greater (not to the dismay but delight and expectation of their manufacturers.) [/b]
Manitou, this is not a ****ing contest about who is the best technician. You are so busy promoting your own ego that you are missing the entire point, and hindering productive discussion. Yes, it is presumptuous. Your first presumption is to bring Schimmel up as an example of a top line piano. I have no doubt many people here can do as good if not a better job than a Schimmel technician.

Stop stroking your ego and try to contribute something useful.
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#909261 - 06/20/04 01:49 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
And perhaps also stop using drugs [ yourself![/b] ]...

.....to understand the Elementary School Grade 1 points.....

......a lot of good people here have made by now about...

....1000 times.[/b]

norbert
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#909262 - 06/20/04 03:17 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
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Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
Irving,

I don't have an ounce of ill will towards CJQ.
I am a bit jealous that his initials sound so cool though.

My intent was misunderstood. First and foremost my comment about price being a motivator but service being invaluable was not a sales pitch as was charged.

Secondly I have no problem with a dealer selling a piano to a person out of their area as long as the client knows what to expect. This implies actually previewing the piano in person to ensure that it is in fact the right instrument.

The dealer should also be realistic about the level of service they can render out of state.

I applaud CJQ's enthusiasm regarding pianos. If more people had it then American culture would be all the richer.

I am curious to hear Rich Gallisini's take on all of this.

Take care and happy fathers day!
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#909263 - 06/20/04 03:19 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
samekenny4 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 144
Loc: So. California
One more opinion from a piano consumer.
After the piano had enough dealer/manufacturer prep for me to decide to buy it. . .
I chose to hire my own tech (one recommended by the manufacturer itself) to do the in home set-up, all tunings and voicing and regulation from day one.
I agreed to pay for all of the work out of my own pocket.
The dealer and I agreed to this *before* discussing price.

Good techs are very expensive, but worth it.

This was nice because it let the dealer off the hook financially for what can turn out to be a can of worms. (How many hours of prep is needed for the piano to finally be right?)
Who determines how much set up is right when it is included in the sale price?
The buyer?
The dealer?
The Tech?
When the dealer closed this deal he knew his post-sale maintenance costs would be exactly zero.

I got to choose the tech.
Also my tech has one boss now, not two.
He knows he has carte blanche to do whatever is needed to optimize the piano.
I think my prep dollars may go further since there is only one mouth to feed.
This is not cheap for me, but I think it is best for all 3 parties.

YMMV.
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#909264 - 06/20/04 03:44 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
Manitou - I do hope you apologize to Norbert, who has helped several piano buyers on this site (who were not in his store and never would be), including MM (who posted publically) and myself (in a private e-mail). I have teased him about "speaking Canadian" before, but your post had a tone of hostility that doesn't seem warrented by anything he has ever said about you or anything else. You only make yourself look bad among the regular readers of PW.

Norbert - Thx for posting a different POV than Keith et at.

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#909265 - 06/20/04 04:50 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:
[QB]
I don't have an ounce of ill will towards CJQ.
I am a bit jealous that his initials sound so cool though.

[QUOTE]
And I'm jealous that you have taken the tour of the AF factory! Plus you have an accent in your last name, and know how to use it.


 Quote:


The dealer should also be realistic about the level of service they can render out of state.

Which the consumer should realize is effectively ZERO. Short of reimbursement for agreed expenses (tunings, etc) and standing behind a warranty claim.

Irving uses a good expression here, "arbitrage". I gladly paid for the tech work on my lightly used piano rather than have a premium dealer do it and charge me a premium buried in the inflated sale price.

Alex has always been a gentleman here and I do not wish to extend the acrimony, but one must realize how incredulous it does sound to find out that a person shopped locally and then ended up buying the same piano across the country for the same price. I suppose there are some wacky consumers out there and plenty of shifty dealers, but it is difficult to conceive of a sales pitch that would lure a buyer into such a situation.

My apparent contrarian view on many of these points is rooted in a belief that it is possible to get a good deal from a high volume seller who is respectable and will stand by the product if it requires warranty work.

I have played a large number of new pianos that were prepped minimally (as in not at all, really), just tuned and sticky keys unstuck - that were wonderfully musical. Dozens of them. Now I am not a concert pianist, or high level technician or extremely qualified in any way that people should takle my opinion as gospel. But I do have a sensativity towards the piano, and I often find my reactions are very similar to far more sophisticated players' reactions to the same piano. And I tell you in all honesty that the average to advanced player of classical music would probably find the pianos which were minimally prepped to be quite acceptable. Coupled with a reduced price and the knowledge that there will be adjustments necessary at the expense of the buyer, these pianos are a bargain.

I am not saying that there is no value added by the dealer in a highly prepped piano, I just think that most struggling musicians desperate to have a quality instrument would gain more in a reduced purchase price, and waiting to later have the advanced prep as they can afford it - and the piano needs it.

Further, this value added may in fact be invisible to all but the most sophisticated of pianists, and therefore all this prep talk is a bit of a red herring. Throw in a free bench - now that's something we can see. 20 hours of prep before I got there? Well, how do I know it was worth it?

I hear the frustration of some dealers here about the competition about prep, where the competitor is claiming the piano is well prepped when maybe it isn't. I don't know how to deal with dishonest dealers but it seems to me that a premium dealer is either going to survive because of that business model and the reputation they have related to it, or fail because of it. I can't open a CD music store and only sell my favorite Wagner recordings and Favorite Jussi Bjoerling pre-war recordings exclusively, and then complain when my competition is doing better business because they also sell Brittany Spears. Or even complain that they are selling the Wagner stuff I have cheaper (because they sell volume, and can sell cheaper).

Walking into a place like Faust is mesmerizing. And for all my infamous price talk, I tell you all straight up that if I had decided to buy an Estonia, I would not have for a second thought about going anywhere else. The value added was very apparent the second you walk in the door.

Maybe I'd feel the same if I walked into Alex or Keith's or Jonathan's shop if I lived in the area, my point is that the high end quality business model requires, axiomatically, that you give up on other types of sales. You can not possibly expect everyone to appreciate high end prep and with the resources of the internet, more and more people buying higher end pianos may feel as I do. Sell me the piano, I'll pay my tech to upkeep it.

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#909266 - 06/20/04 04:57 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3915
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
And one from a non-technical consumer...

Many decades ago, I chose medicine as a career due to, as much as any other reason, having had a family member require much medical attention, during which time I and my other relatives felt totally in the dark about what was happening, without any control of the situation. After reading this thread, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm not going to have to become a piano technician in my retirement.

And then I think, hey, let's get a grip on reality. I can tell when I'm enjoying the instrument I'm playing on, when it responds, when it sounds good. If it's not there when I try it out, I shouldn't buy it. If the dealer has a reputation for poor support, same thing. I guess the consumer most at risk is the non-musician parent buying an instrument for children to learn on; bring a person skilled in teaching kids along with to evaluate the piano if you're in that situation.

Buying an unplayed instrument (as over the internet) is buying a pig in a poke.
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#909267 - 06/20/04 05:19 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Christopher,

I think you make a lot of valid points. I do take slight exception to your implication that piano dealers that do premium work charge inflated prices for it. I think this thread has expressed that there are many different ways for a piano dealer to offer value to their clients and different clients have different needs.
Irving, Alex, Jonathan, and I don't generally hear from the many satisfied customers who bought pianos that were prepped to a different standard than the appraoch we might take. We hear from the very dissatisfied customers who were sold a sub standard performing piano without a thorough explanation, and don't know where to turn. You have a clever and sophisticated approach that is well beyond most piano shoppers, and obviously works well for you. I just want to remind you, that there are many dealers doing minimal prep and service who are charging by far, the highest prices. These are actually the most successful, from a bottom line point of view, piano dealers out there. I can assure you that clients that are attracted to, and appreciate, the approach that Alex, Jonathan, Irving, and I have described in this, and other threads, are receiving tremendous value from us, in every sense. The ones that don't like our approach buy elsewhere.
I am glad you are here to offer your perspective.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909268 - 06/20/04 06:11 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14051
Loc: Louisiana
From the guy who owns the Chinese piano:

Price, gentleman. Price, and value.

Some of you are fiddling, while Rome burns.

There will always be a market for the best. A great piano, prepped to the nines, performing like the Ferrari it is. Yet, how many cars are on the road, and how many of those are Ferraris?

I'm the consumer, and I'd daresay I'm pretty average. I want a piano that looks good. I want a piano that plays well enough for the causal player. But mostly, I want a piano I can afford, a piano that will still let me keep a roof over my head, and food on the table.

Now, some in this thread are saying that we of the unwashed masses don't know the difference between good, and great. Perhaps beginners don't, but I believe most any pianist that can stagger through a Broadway showtune, can tell the difference between a lower tier, and an upper tier piano. We just don't have the money to pay for the difference.

So we look for the best we can afford, and we shop hard, within a given budget. At the prep levels some of you are talking about, a lot of prospective buyers couldn't afford an accordion.

So what to do? You do what dealers should - you carry a breadth of lines, at different pricepoints. And you try to make a living, which by definition, means making a profit.

I don't think you can consistently make a living putting 20 hours into every Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Eastern European piano sitting on your showroom floor. The one exception would be the technician/owner, and then it seems that if you can average $40/hour working outside of the store, you may still be going in the hole.


One other point...someone mentioned earlier the folly of buying a crated piano, sight unseen. For some makes, I agree.

But for others, send me the piano, and save me five large (or maybe more), and I'll handle my own prep, thank you.

After all, how do the dealers get them? I understand that some pianos may be better than others, but I don't subscribe to the Goldilocks Theory. At least not at my level.

Ok, folks, end of rant. \:\)
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#909269 - 06/20/04 07:27 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:
Christopher,

I think you make a lot of valid points. I do take slight exception to your implication that piano dealers that do premium work charge inflated prices for it.[/b]
Inflated meaning that the cost of doing business is higher, thus the price of the product is higher. You've got to make the cost up somewhere, no? IF you are saying that with all this meticulous prep you are still selling your pianos cheaper than other guys, then I suppose there is a marketing issue here.

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#909270 - 06/20/04 08:00 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:
You have a clever and sophisticated approach that is well beyond most piano shoppers, and obviously works well for you.
[/b]
Well, I sort of came up with it after I bought my piano. I learned a lot here afterwards, and a lot from revisiting piano dealers after I bought.

 Quote:

I just want to remind you, that there are many dealers doing minimal prep and service who are charging by far, the highest prices.

OK, but given the total lack of documented selling price data, I'll have to take your word on it.

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#909271 - 06/20/04 08:37 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by Christopher James Quinn:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:
[QB]
I don't have an ounce of ill will towards CJQ.
I am a bit jealous that his initials sound so cool though.

[QUOTE]
And I'm jealous that you have taken the tour of the AF factory! Plus you have an accent in your last name, and know how to use it.


 Quote:


The dealer should also be realistic about the level of service they can render out of state.

Which the consumer should realize is effectively ZERO. Short of reimbursement for agreed expenses (tunings, etc) and standing behind a warranty claim.

Irving uses a good expression here, "arbitrage". I gladly paid for the tech work on my lightly used piano rather than have a premium dealer do it and charge me a premium buried in the inflated sale price.

Alex has always been a gentleman here and I do not wish to extend the acrimony, but one must realize how incredulous it does sound to find out that a person shopped locally and then ended up buying the same piano across the country for the same price. [/b]
CJQ,

This customer never came into our store before he purchased. We were never given a chance to compete. The out of state dealer gave his price over the phone without any other consideration.

Had he come into our store this situation would have never occured.

We think that price should be important once the "right" instrument is selected. When people call soliciting a price only response from us we tend to advise a trip into our store.

Like many dealers here we are competitive but we believe that finding the right instrument should always come first.

The other dealer didn't prepare his customer for what to expect. He didn't make sure that the tech support was going to be there. This is what I have a problem with.
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#909272 - 06/20/04 08:41 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Christopher,

There are many expenses that go into running a business other than service. If business one spends $10 on service and $5 on sales and marketing, and business 2 spends $1 on service and $20 on sales and marketing, and they both offer the same product, business one has a lower cost of doing business. And perhaps business two's sales and marketing helps them to sell the product for a higher price than business one, in spite of the fact that business one spends 10x as much on service.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909273 - 06/21/04 06:02 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:

This customer never came into our store before he purchased. We were never given a chance to compete. The out of state dealer gave his price over the phone without any other consideration.

Had he come into our store this situation would have never occured.[/b]
Alex, I think all would agree including the most price-conscious of shoppers, that this customer was a fool. Always give the local guy the first shot and a chance to counter-offer if you find one cheaper elsewhere. Then weigh the benefits of supporting the local economy, establishing a relationship (visitation rights to the store!), etc before going out of town.

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#909274 - 06/21/04 11:50 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
" if the buisness spends $ 10 on service and $ 5 on sales...."[/b]

Don't forget there are places where they spend $ 10 on service but 0 on sales!

Which,alone, very quickly can lead to some serious[/b] value in the marketplace.

Giving a customer a superior product within[/b] a price competitive environment in regards to all other players out there, is the very name of the game.[/b]

Isn't this the very essence of success of such lines as Estonia and several German makes competing against the more established titans?

YES....[/b] and now I have given here once and for all my entire business secret away!!

Better[/b] piano for same or even less[/b] money!

[One more tip: don't spend too much on rent.... ;\) ]

OH SCHUCKS[/b]....another freebe... :rolleyes:

norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909275 - 06/21/04 11:58 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
larry wrote:
"Balance your technical prowess with your business sense, and do that shopper a favor - get their business, *then* help them develop both their own knowledge and appreciation for the finer points of concert quality technical work, and develop their piano to its full potential in the process."[/b]

i have to agree with this, and also with what kenny and cjq and jolly have written.

there is a certain kind of customer who perhaps doesn't trust his/her own taste enough to shop the way cjq describes and how i shopped, and they will want to go to a premium dealer who does all this prep work, and happily pay whatever premium that may cost them because they have the security of 1. knowing they will be taken care of and 2. that their piano's potential has been optimized.

to patronize that kind of dealer, you have to have the money to do so. but if you have champagne tastes and a beer budget, those dealers are out of your league. you need to find someone who can offer value, quality, and service, though maybe not perhaps to the same pinnacle standard. there *are* such dealers, and they are honest and ethical dealers, you just have to look around. i met plenty of them on my piano hunt.

i think kenny's solution is a brilliant one and works well for anyone who trusts his own taste enough to go that route.

serving the customer first is what brings you business, not serving the idea of the ideal piano. the customers has to be more important that the piano, or your standards for the piano, if that makes any sense. i think the wagner CD store analogy is an apt one.
_________________________
piqué

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Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#909276 - 06/21/04 12:04 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Well put, Pique!!

[Gee, I wish I could write like that.... \:D ]

norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909277 - 06/21/04 02:06 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
HammerHead Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/03
Posts: 354
Loc: Metro Atlanta
You know, I run across this program on cable about billionare toys, and this one is about an outfit called Kalamazoo Grills, I think it is, that manufactures completely custom, stunningly elaborate outdoor barbeque units that can cost 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars, and even comes with a chef, at least for a while. How does that relate to this thread? Well, I'm thinking there are worse ways to spend your bucks than in the manner that's being heatedly debated under this topic. As I believe either Shakespeare or Emeril put it, "is it nobler to expend your capital in the service of high art, or in the pursuit of grilled lamb chops"? I suspect most here would favor the former. Though who are we to deny a man his tenderloin?

Honestly, if your motivation for insisting on premium prep to a piano is somehow linked with a preference for $500 wine bottles and $40,000 barbeques, then perhaps you ARE just one of those insecure, rich "boutique" people. On the other hand, if your cost-is-no-object attitude is motivated by purely artistic impluses, then I'd have to grant a measure of respect, while still wondering how you've managed to hold onto enough cash over time to indulge such finer urges.

I think Larry and others promote a sensible, real world approach that is hard to argue against. But I also think that if you're spending 50K or more for a grand why NOT polish it to its pique, I mean peak? I probably would, too, if I had the jack--I'd just want to be d**m sure the tech(s) doing the work actually knew how to improve rather than merely change the original "canvass"! Which is why, I'd certainly have to seek out one of the truly primo dealers like the guys posting here. But to argue that this level of hyper-service (basic? sorry, no way!) is universally necessary is really giving a distorted impression to the average Joe-Jill confused-as-hell customer, and does little service to an already limping business sector.

But again, there are worse ways to empty a wallet...
_________________________
HH
Completely and forever out of the music business (but still full of opinions)

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#909278 - 06/21/04 02:14 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Roxane Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 932
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jeffrey:
However, Keith, you didn't quite answer my question.

My question was: how does a beginning/amateur player tell walking into a new dealer, how well they prep their pianos, based on their own playing?

Other than the piano being out of tune (which I have experienced in piano shops and believe I can tell), what does one look for while playing? Even action on the keys, no internal noises on the sustenudo, or what?

Does the extra level of prep make a big difference to the playing of a beginning or average to below-average hobbyist player (where I would put myself)? [/b]
Jeffrey, since no one has addressed your answer, perhaps I can share my experience as a pianist and consumer. As a teenager, I considered myself a fairly advanced pianist, having attained ABRSM Grade 8 (typical repetoire: Bach WTC, Beethoven Sonatas etc.). I had learned on an upright and had a Yamaha P22, followed by U3X, both uprights, at home.

After a hiatus of almost 20 years from lessons, during which time I played relatively non-demanding pieces for my church and choir, I decided to treat myself to a grand. I knew that my technique was rusty, but I still had a good ear and after shopping around a bit, the sound that fitted my modest budget was a Schimmel. I was estatic with my Schimmel when it was first delievered, and decided to resume piano lessons, but with a new teacher. After less than 6 months with this teacher, I was not only back to my previous standard of playing, but had even surpassed that.

Unfortunately, this was when my frustrations with my Schimmel began. The piano just could not reproduce the fine nuances that I could now control with my fingers. In addition, the action was also not as responsive as I wished. This was in comparison to the sound and action of my teacher's Grotrian. The dealer sent their technicians (two of them) three or four times to regulate my piano (but nowhere close to the 20 hours of basic prep mentioned by Keith) and my piano still does not perform the way I want it to. Two years later, I have given up trying. I still do not know whether it is the limitation of the piano (Schimmel is only Tier 2) or the limitation of the technicians or both. Norbert, who has some experience with technicians in my part of the world, had suggested that good technicians are few and far between here. In fact, a technician from Australia flies in semi-annually to privately service only Steinways for many owners, and the Sauter dealer brings in a Sauter technician from Germany to do the same.

As a kid/teenager, I went through 5 different teachers (and a couple of these teachers even produced international concert pianists!), but none of them had shown me ways of varying my "touch" to produce differences in tonal colour and dynamics, which I only learned from my current teacher. Had I not studied with her, I have no doubt that I would be very happy with my Schimmel, because, for all my playing experience, all I could really tell was that the sound was pleasing and the action is even.

What I am trying to suggest, in a roundabout way, is that unless one's technique is good enough to create a wide range of dynamics, and more importantly, tonal colour, by using different "touches", it would be difficult to tell on one's own whether a piano has been prepped to its full potential. One can compare the sound of different pianos and tell which is most pleasing, but it would be near impossible for the action, beyond basic things such as evenness. For such pianists, a piano that is prepped to an acceptable level would more than suffice, since they would lack the necessary technique to take advantage of the piano's complete capabiltites. Of course, with an improvement in skill and technique, pianists could become more discerning and demanding sometime later.

Btw, Keith, KB or Manitou, should you ever find yourself in Singapore, contact me. I would gladly pay for your 20+ hours of TLC on my piano!

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#909279 - 06/21/04 04:45 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
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Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Roxanne,

Good post. I started trying to answer Jeffrey's question a couple of times, but I just couldn't find the words.

I would add that some less advanced players are very sensitive to how precisely a piano responds and some advanced players don't give a flying fig as to the condition of their piano ( as long as it is basically has 88 working keys)
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909280 - 06/21/04 04:59 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
What I am trying to suggest, in a roundabout way, is that unless one's technique is good enough to create a wide range of dynamics, and more importantly, tonal colour, by using different "touches", it would be difficult to tell on one's own whether a piano has been prepped to its full potential. [/b]

roxanne, in my experience, a piano that is capable of responding to nuanced touch, teaches the pianist about the existence of nuanced touch and how to use it. i'm an intermediate player, and i bought a grotrian in part because of this piano's ability to teach me about touch.

when i go to my lessons and play my teacher's old yamaha c-3, i can bring what the grotrian taught me to her piano. my teacher has been working with me since well before i owned a piano, when i was practicing at the local music school, and she watched the transformation in my touch and told me it was from playing the grotrian.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


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#909281 - 06/21/04 05:13 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Manitou Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
To Norbert (and his fans), there was no hostility in my post, only a sincere affirmation of my incomprehension of his posts; fact.
Maybe, what was missing was the little smiley face, to help add intonation to my thoughts...

Larry,

You do speak much of ****ing contests, of which I have never (fact) participated in. You rant long and LOUD to make your points clear, but I will not bow to your age, experience of superior ego either. We don't agree on top notch prep, so be it. Don't begin to attack my person though to make your point.
I will let this run its course, and those yelling the loudest will appear to have made a better point. Fine. When someone with a great piano, who understands and wants great prep comes askin', at least some of us will have the education to be able to respond to those needs.
_________________________
Manitou - Pianist - Technician

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#909282 - 06/21/04 05:38 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Thank you Manitou! \:\)

Of course as a family man with three young kids, I didn't want to be confused with the drug culture out there....

P.S. For any [occasional!] German-thinking English-writing confusion I caused \:D

- my sincere and profound apologies to all!

norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909283 - 06/21/04 07:36 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Manitou Offline
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Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
\:\) Kein Angst \:\)
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#909284 - 06/21/04 07:55 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
Roxane - What I had inferred from the lack of response to my post was that a true beginner or weak amateur player would not notice much difference (and that people didn't want to hurt my feelings by saying so). But if it really takes an ABRSM Grade 8 playing ability, plus a great teacher, to notice the differences, I wonder what segment of the piano-buying and playing population really reaches that level. Especially, who reaches that level of playing, and has the bucks to buy a mid-five figure or higher piano.

Pique also makes a good point - it might make sense to buy a piano with abilities beyond what one can use, because a better piano leads you in good directions.

Keith - You more or less seemed to agree with Rox. But I would suspect that only a small percentage of the buyers of big-dollar pianos (your clients) are also extremely accomplished players (there being an inverse relationship in this society between an artistic career and monetary success). Is this correct? (I have a relative who owns a Bosendorfer 280, but doesn't play. He put in a player mechanism, and hires people to play at his house when he has parties. The money was trivial to him. He does enjoy the piano he bought a lot and is very happy with his purchase.)

Different dealers on this thread have described different approaches to prep, customer service and cost. But if only 2% of piano players can appreciate regulation to the level of tonal coloring (and not just "being in tune"), then is the level of prep described really "basic"?

Thanks in advance for replies.

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#909285 - 06/21/04 09:37 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
When I spoke to Mark Andre Hamelin the other day about his own Estonia grand, I asked him point blank how he liked it.

He said: "fine,... but I think it could benefit from a little regulation here and there".

Humbler words,in my view, have never been spoken.

P.S. Hope this wasn't too mysterious.... \:o

norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909286 - 06/21/04 09:50 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
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Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Jeffrey,

Each step in prepping a piano improves it. Some things are more dramatic than others, and sometimes it depends on how off the piano is in the first place. Different people are more or less sensitive to different things at different levels. For some, regardless of ability, taking away a bit of excess friction makes a noticable difference, for others, a really out of tune piano doesn't phase them in the least. All of the steps taken in prepping a piano have an accumulative effect. The piano "sings " better ( slower decay), it plays smoother, it plays faster, it plays more evenly, it is less percussive, it has a larger dynamic range, etc. etc. I don't know what you will respond to. Maybe it will be nothing, maybe the piano just seems a bit better, but you can't articulate why, maybe it is a night and day difference.

Most people don't experience before and after with these procedures in such a way that they
can really articulate why they like it better. It all often adds up to, " this just feels and sounds better, but I don't know why."

My feeling is that tiny improvements in a piano make for a much more enjoyable experience for most people who are trying to make music. I don't expect my customers to become experts at discerning fine levels of prep, that is my job. Their job, is to notice if they like the piano they are playing, and if they buy it, how do they enjoy it over time. I have customers that are very inexperienced players, that really feel and notice everything that is not perfect. And they only enjoy their piano when it is at its highest level.

I can't prove what percentage of people at what level appreciates a really well prepped piano, but I would say it is a high percentage at every level. For some, even if they can tell the difference, they would rather save the money, for others, even if they can't tell the difference, they insist on having their piano in tip top condition at all times. For some, they don't appreciate it initially at all, but over time they really start to understand

Developing an appreciation for a piano that is really responding at a high level is a skill that develops more easily for some than others, but being a musician is all about being sensitive and being able to discern tiny nuances, so I really don't think that appreciating a well prepped piano is beyond the abilities of the folks that participate here. They just may or may not value it.

I hope this makes sense.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909287 - 06/21/04 10:00 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
Keith (and all) - Thanks for replies. The only real answer is of course to play different pianos, and see what one enjoys at different skill and budget levels, based on one's personal preferences. (Also, enjoyment of a fine musical instrument may only be partly related to skill, if one enjoys music. I have as much fun picking out a fake book "Take the A Train" as I have had going to the Village Vanguard, hearing someone else play.) But having people spell out the differences helps me (at least) know what to pay attention to. Putting musical concepts in words can help one focus on certain aspects of playing. That is one reason I asked.

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#909288 - 06/21/04 11:13 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
irving Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 705
Loc: Irvington, NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:

Each step in prepping a piano improves it. Some things are more dramatic than others, and sometimes it depends on how off the piano is in the first place. Different people are more or less sensitive to different things at different levels. For some, regardless of ability, taking away a bit of excess friction makes a noticable difference, for others, a really out of tune piano doesn't phase them in the least. All of the steps taken in prepping a piano have an accumulative effect. The piano "sings " better ( slower decay), it plays smoother, it plays faster, it plays more evenly, it is less percussive, it has a larger dynamic range, etc. etc. I don't know what you will respond to. Maybe it will be nothing, maybe the piano just seems a bit better, but you can't articulate why, maybe it is a night and day difference.

Most people don't experience before and after with these procedures in such a way that they
can really articulate why they like it better. It all often adds up to, " this just feels and sounds better, but I don't know why."

My feeling is that tiny improvements in a piano make for a much more enjoyable experience for most people who are trying to make music. I don't expect my customers to become experts at discerning fine levels of prep, that is my job. Their job, is to notice if they like the piano they are playing, and if they buy it, how do they enjoy it over time. I have customers that are very inexperienced players, that really feel and notice everything that is not perfect. And they only enjoy their piano when it is at its highest level.

I can't prove what percentage of people at what level appreciates a really well prepped piano, but I would say it is a high percentage at every level. For some, even if they can tell the difference, they would rather save the money, for others, even if they can't tell the difference, they insist on having their piano in tip top condition at all times. For some, they don't appreciate it initially at all, but over time they really start to understand

Developing an appreciation for a piano that is really responding at a high level is a skill that develops more easily for some than others, but being a musician is all about being sensitive and being able to discern tiny nuances, so I really don't think that appreciating a well prepped piano is beyond the abilities of the folks that participate here. They just may or may not value it.

I hope this makes sense. [/b]
Keith,

It makes a lot of sense. Well said. Nevertheless, there is still a conundrum for better dealers with regard to the central issue presented by this thread:

1. Should such a dealer fail to prep each of his pianos to a high standard, invariably certain customers and their technicians would notice this and the dealers reputation would suffer. Some of his customers might then write on this forum that they found better-prepped pianos elsewhere.

2. Should the dealer fail to provide the highest level of after-sale service, invariably certain customers and their technicians would notice this and the dealers reputation would suffer. Some of his customers might then write on this forum that they got better after-sale service elsewhere.

3. But when the dealer goes for the high standard in each piano, some customers who dont know the difference or who couldnt care less take their business elsewhere because they balk at the cost. Some of them might even write on this forum that they got a better price somewhere else.

4. And when the dealer chooses to provide the highest level of after-sale service, some customers who dont know the difference or who couldnt care less again take their business elsewhere because of the cost. Some of them might even write on this forum that they got a better price somewhere else.

5. And should the dealer try to have it both ways, sell some pianos the usual, high-standard, way and others the low-cost way, he discovers that it just doesnt work. The low-cost pianos get nailed to the floor and cost him a fortune in overhead. When he suggests to a customer that a low cost piano could be improved at extra cost, she arches her eyebrows as if to ask what sort of game hes playing. And when he finally does sell the piano to the cost-conscious buyer, he ends up feeling guilty (for having sold a sub-par piano); embarrassed (when her pianist friend learns that she bought the piano from him); and stupid (when he ends up spending a fortune in service calls that he provides even thought the sales contract says sold as is).

Keith, maybe there is a way to sell pianos that would satisfy more people than we do. I just dont think that you or I will ever figure out how to do it.
_________________________
Irving
Faust Harrison Pianos
We sell new Bechsteins, Yamahas, Mason & Hamlins, Brodmanns and W. Hoffmanns, and rebuilt vintage Steinways. All rebuilding is done in our own factory. www.faustharrisonpianos.com

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#909289 - 06/21/04 11:40 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Well, I've missed out on about two pages of this, and don't think I can address everything I want to.... so just the top two \:\)

Irving: first off, thanks for joining the thread. In response to your firs post, I COMPLETELY agree.
I think bedding the keyframd, determining the strike point, and seating strings at bridge and hitch pins (and sometimes seating bridge pins themselves) is VERY important in building tone and a solid foundation for the following regulation.

Larry:
I don't think Manitou is being an egotist, but I also know him personally.
After reading your posts in this thread, I've come to the conclusion that you and I simply see a different standard of prep, and that's perfectly ok. I just want to reassure you that Manitou is not massaging his ego, rather speaking frankly about something he is very passionate about, both as a performance major, and as a top technician.

As for Schimmel techs... as I'm sure you know having sold high end pianos for so long.... All German techs come from the same school in Ludwigsburg. So most techs in most factories will have the same standard of work ... except for what they learn after school from the individual manufacturer they work for.
Walking into some truly hand-crafted shops like Steingraeber, you will see a very different level of technician, who has a much better understanding of things than one at a larger factory. STILL though, this person only knows what they've been taught. So even these pianos don't come perfect.
And I have spoken to Herr. Steingraeber about this issue before, and Manitou is NOT twisting his words. Many of these manufacturers understand that after arriving here, these pianos need this kind of work. Warped keyframes alone can lead to all sorts of regulation issues, and someone like Mr. Steingraeber (former head of EU PTG) isn't dumb about these things.
If a customer doesn't requre a piano to be at it's best for it to make them happy, that's wonderful. But I'm not going to feel bad about applying my standard to each piano I have the opportunity to.
_________________________
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#909290 - 06/22/04 12:25 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Roxane Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 932
 Quote:
Originally posted by piqu:
roxanne, in my experience, a piano that is capable of responding to nuanced touch, teaches the pianist about the existence of nuanced touch and how to use it. i'm an intermediate player, and i bought a grotrian in part because of this piano's ability to teach me about touch.
[/b]
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:
Developing an appreciation for a piano that is really responding at a high level is a skill that develops more easily for some than others, but being a musician is all about being sensitive and being able to discern tiny nuances, so I really don't think that appreciating a well prepped piano is beyond the abilities of the folks that participate here. They just may or may not value it.
[/b]
I agree completely that one does not need to be an advanced pianist to appreciate subtle differences in touch and tone. It is a matter of developing a musically sensitive ear, and if one has a good piano like pique, one would be able to experiment with different touches to elicit what one hears in one's mind. It is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: had I continued learning and playing on a Yamaha upright, say, I would be unaware of my capabilities as a pianist and also the possibilities on a grand. Previously, when I compared my playing to recordings, I had been frustrated because, try as I might, I could not sound as good, even for simple pieces, not in terms of speed/accuracy, but tone production. I attributed this to that fact that I had reached my limits as a pianist. It was only 6 months into lessons with my current teacher that I realized that much of my frustration was because I did not really know the different techniques for a more nuanced touch, and my piano could not produce the corresponding tone. A lesser piano (both in terms of quality and prep) does restrict one's development as a pianist but one would need to be aware there is a problem in the first place, and that it is a not a problem with the pianist! It is precisely because my teacher has such a fine piano and she is such a fine teacher that I started developing a more musically sensitive ear, so much so that I am now frustrated because my Schimmel cannot reproduce the experience to the degree I wish.

Non-players or beginners shopping for a good, well-prepped piano face a daunting task. If one is still desperately finding one's way around the notes and keyboard and trying to keep time etc., achieveing the correct dynamics and legato/staccato are probably the best that one would expect in terms of the musicality of a piece. It does take some experience in playing, a good ear and a good teacher to discover the more subtle aspects of tone production. Hence the exhortation to play as many pianos during the shopping process as possible, because this is one of the best ways to educate oneself to the large variations in tone that exist from one make to another, one model to another, and even between the same make/model.

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#909291 - 06/22/04 05:51 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by irving:
Keith, maybe there is a way to sell pianos that would satisfy more people than we do. I just dont think that you or I will ever figure out how to do it. [/b]
Irving, it sounds to me like you agree with my assessment that high end dealers will either make it or fail based upon that businesss model or to use my analogy, you are sure that the only way to stay in business is to only sell those Wagner recordings?

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#909292 - 06/22/04 01:09 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Christopher,

Your analogy of a CD store selling only Wagner recordings is incomplete. A better analogy would be a CD store that only sold Classical and Jazz, but didn't offer Britney Spears or Madonna, even though by offering Brittney Spears you might get a chance to expose someone to Mozart. This same record store might also offer LPs, and try to give their clients an oppurtunity to hear analog vs. digital. And perhaps, this same store offered cheap classical recordings by Naxos, but the owner, beause of his or her extensive knowlege and experience, only offers the better ones. Perhaps this store offers 2 or 3 versions of the Beethoven String Quartets, chosen out of the many, that have been selected due to the owners experience, rather than offering every recording ever made, regardless of quality.... Perhaps also, this store employs a staff of highly educated and experienced music connoisseurs to help their customers, who are interested, in their choices. And perhaps also, this store employs experts in the area of Audio equipment, who will go to the persons house and help them set up their stereo so it sounds the best, or maybe even suggest better components, or higher quality cables. I could go on and on, and of course this is still an incomplete analogy, but I think you get my point.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909293 - 06/22/04 01:25 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:
Christopher,

Your analogy of a CD store selling only Wagner recordings is incomplete. A better analogy would be a CD store that only sold Classical and Jazz, but didn't offer Britney Spears or Madonna, even though by offering Brittney Spears you might get a chance to expose someone to Mozart. This same record store might also offer LPs, and try to give their clients an oppurtunity to hear analog vs. digital. And perhaps, this same store offered cheap classical recordings by Naxos, but the owner, beause of his or her extensive knowlege and experience, only offers the better ones. Perhaps this store offers 2 or 3 versions of the Beethoven String Quartets, chosen out of the many, that have been selected due to the owners experience, rather than offering every recording ever made, regardless of quality.... Perhaps also, this store employs a staff of highly educated and experienced music connoisseurs to help their customers, who are interested, in their choices. And perhaps also, this store employs experts in the area of Audio equipment, who will go to the persons house and help them set up their stereo so it sounds the best, or maybe even suggest better components, or higher quality cables. I could go on and on, and of course this is still an incomplete analogy, but I think you get my point. [/b]
Actually your extended, excellent analogy works maybe for your business model, my analogy worked for my illustration which was that you can't set up a business which is designed to appeal only to the very erudite, or very wealthy or very exclusive in some way, and then complain when you don't get other customers.

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#909294 - 06/22/04 01:58 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Christopher,

I could not agree more. You have no idea how much I am glad you made this point. I hope at no time did it sound like I was complaining. I think if you read through my posts again, you will not find me complaining at all. You make your choices, and you live with them, or adapt, or fail.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909295 - 06/22/04 02:00 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Well said
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#909296 - 06/22/04 02:29 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by Christopher James Quinn:
you can't set up a business which is designed to appeal only to the very erudite, or very wealthy or very exclusive in some way, and then complain when you don't get other customers. [/b]
I don't know of any store in the U.S. that fits this description. This sounds like the spin a cut and run dealer would place on those dealers who are true advocates of quality instruments and quality service.

The "high end" piano retailer is one who is preserving a standard of quality and most times offering those at the mid-level a true choice between a mass produced piano
or an instrument offering better materials and performance.

My earlier exchange with CJQ was not a complaint about losing a deal. It was a commentary on a breach of proffesionalism in my industry.
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Blüthner USA, LLC

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#909297 - 06/22/04 03:15 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Christopher James Quinn:
you can't set up a business which is designed to appeal only to the very erudite, or very wealthy or very exclusive in some way, and then complain when you don't get other customers. [/b]
I don't know of any store in the U.S. that fits this description. This sounds like the spin a cut and run dealer would place on those dealers who are true advocates of quality instruments and quality service.

The "high end" piano retailer is one who is preserving a standard of quality and most times offering those at the mid-level a true choice between a mass produced piano
or an instrument offering better materials and performance.

My earlier exchange with CJQ was not a complaint about losing a deal. It was a commentary on a breach of proffesionalism in my industry. [/b]
I can think of a couple of stores that fit the description in the goods they offer, except I don't hear them complaining about losing customers.

My analogy was definitely not meant for you Alex, in case that is not clear. I was largely being broad and general and a bit platitudinous.

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#909298 - 06/22/04 03:21 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:
Christopher,

I could not agree more. You have no idea how much I am glad you made this point. I hope at no time did it sound like I was complaining. I think if you read through my posts again, you will not find me complaining at all. You make your choices, and you live with them, or adapt, or fail. [/b]
Complain away, it's a free country! (oops, that's coffee room chatter...)

yes, adapt or fail...

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#909299 - 06/22/04 04:05 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by Christopher James Quinn:
adapt or fail... [/b]
I sure hope you're wrong here. Did you know it is now possible to purchase Chinese grands with very well known American names over the internet?

This seems to be they way the piano industry is heading. I would never abandon our retail store our customers or our suppliers for this type of approach.

My hope is that there are those people who appreciate the effort a great maker puts forth to create a truly magical instrument.

My hope is that people put a value on a dealers commitment to continue their support after the sale. Regardless of what others may want people to believe, there is a difference between makers. Quality materials and the skill in execution of a design does directly translate into the instruments musicality.

I hope people aspire to a deeper musical experience. I hope more people experience the satisfaction and profound fulfillment that only music can bring. I hope in their homes they can own an instrument that takes them to this place. If they can can achieve all of this with a piano that requires little prep and minimum maintenance then more power to them.

Please let me know what piano this is and I will adapt in a hurry.


My hope, in the end is that there is room for everybody.
_________________________


Blüthner USA, LLC

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#909300 - 06/22/04 05:39 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
wonderful post Alex

If we're starting a revolution, count me in!!
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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