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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: 14120
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3304
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 dealer’s 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 dealer’s 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 don’t know the difference or who couldn’t 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 don’t know the difference or who couldn’t 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 doesn’t 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 he’s 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 don’t 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.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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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 piqué:
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 don’t 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: 3304
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: 3304
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
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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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.
_________________________


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 Hernández:
 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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