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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
_________________________
"Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein."
-- Claude Debussy

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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 HernŠndez:
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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
_________________________
www.coffee-room.com

Over 1,000,000 posts where pianists discuss everything. And nothing.

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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 )
_________________________


Bl√ľthner USA, LLC

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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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
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: 3328
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: 3328
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: 10483
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.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

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

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

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#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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
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
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909217 - 06/19/04 04:28 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10483
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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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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
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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#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.
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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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Well said ,Larry.

As usual.

norbert \:\)
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#909222 - 06/19/04 05:24 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Horace Offline
500 Post Club Member

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 HernŠndez:

( 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: 3328
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.
_________________________
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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