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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. Iím 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 Ė at least so long as I kept my two cents out of it.

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

First, Iím 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 donít 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 donít have to be so fussy with these pianos. Most customers who buy them wonít know the difference anyway. The few that do, we can visit later, after the piano has been broken in. If theyíre 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 itís 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 ďaffordableĒ piano that they bought somewhere else. Itís just unfortunate that they have to learn the hard way that the low trade-in value of their ďaffordableĒ piano has made the piano less ďaffordableĒ than they thought it was.

Fourth, Iím 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 thatís 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 thatís where Chris and Alex have a problem. Chris isnít wrong in wanting to exploit the arbitrage opportunity, but each time he, or someone else does this, it cuts into Alexís 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 thatís 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 hasnít 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 Iíve 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 Ė 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
1000 Post Club Member

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.)
_________________________
Manitou - Pianist - Technician

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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: 3327
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3327
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.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#909261 - 06/20/04 01:49 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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

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#909262 - 06/20/04 03:17 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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!
_________________________


Bl√ľthner USA, LLC

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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.
_________________________
I am not you.

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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 HernŠndez:
[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: 3914
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.
_________________________
There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians

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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: 3327
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. \:\)
_________________________
www.coffee-room.com

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

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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 HernŠndez:
[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.
_________________________


Bl√ľthner USA, LLC

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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: 3327
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 HernŠndez:

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 Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
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

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3327
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:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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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 Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
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
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
\:\) Kein Angst \:\)
_________________________
Manitou - Pianist - Technician

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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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