Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#96743 - 12/08/08 03:54 PM Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Avantgardenabi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/08
Posts: 496
Hi everyone. \:\)

Now I have to busily prepare for the finals (yay...), but I would like to start this thread. \:\)

I know that by the turn of the 20th century there were hundreds of piano manufacturers in the United States. Some were obviously bad, but many were very well respected.

My old Knabe grand piano represents one of many pianos produced during that time, of course.

But today, there are only handful of piano manufacturers remaining in the United States, and one can just use three, four, or five (maybe more, but I am not sure) fingers to count them all.

Why did manufacturers such as Chickering & Sons, William Knabe, Weber, Sohmer, George Steck, Mathushek, Kranich and Bach, Ivers and Pond, and many others simply disappeared?

I see that many Americans here are knowledgeable about pianos, and I would like to listen to your personal thoughts.

Thank you. \:\)

Top
(ads 568) Hailun Pianos

#96744 - 12/08/08 04:03 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Musical tastes changed
Piano takes too long to learn in a world with other pressures
Pianos last too long - minimal repeat business
Recessions kill businesses
Digital is a better alternative for many (low cost / low maintenance)
They take up too much space in apartments and smaller houses
Other entertainment (TV) is more universally liked

We are basically witnessing the final death throes of the mainstream acoustic piano industry. Die hards are in denial though.
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


Top
#96745 - 12/08/08 04:07 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
mahermusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 347
Loc: U.S.A.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Avantgardenabi:
and one can just use three, four, or five (maybe more, but I am not sure) [/b]
With the closing of the Astin-Weight factory in Salt Lake City earlier this year, this leaves just four manufacturers left in the US:

Baldwin (Artist Grands only)
Charles Walter
Steinway
Mason and Hamlin
_________________________
Charles R. Walter 1520 QA Mahogany #531739 w/ High Polish, Renner and Quiet Pedal

Top
#96746 - 12/08/08 04:08 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Some of it has to do with other countries with a cheaper work force producing pianos at prices not able to remain competitive within North America.

Even though those pianos were not as good, the consumer listened to great salesmen, not the piano.
Plus the economy of the 1930's did not help.

Demand is down so there is less room for top makers. No shortage of used pianos.

Hm mm, are we seeing something similar happening now?

O.K. here comes the war!!!!!!!

Prove me wrong
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
Verhnjak Pianos Facebook


Top
#96747 - 12/08/08 04:21 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
There were some depressions in the late 1800's. Many companies could not shift gears into war time production for WWI in the 19teens.
Many companies could not wheather the Great Depression of the 1930's.
Many could not shift gears into war time production for WWII.
Many upright manufacturers could not make the shift from Victorian uprights to the mew demand for spinets in the late 1940's.
Somewhat of a stasis from late 1940's through mid 1960's.
Then the Asian invasion of the Japanese, followed by the Koreans, now the Chinese.
At one time the U.S. was the appliance capital of the world. No U.S. built TV's today and most electronics are built off shore as well. Time marches on. Auto business was once the envy of and the supplier to the world. Today they are in line for the dole.
_________________________
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

Top
#96748 - 12/08/08 04:26 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
There were some depressions in the late 1800's. Many companies could not shift gears into war time production for WWI in the 19teens.
Many companies could not wheather the Great Depression of the 1930's.
Many could not shift gears into war time production for WWII.
Many upright manufacturers could not make the shift from Victorian uprights to the mew demand for spinets in the late 1940's.
Somewhat of a stasis from late 1940's through mid 1960's.
Then the Asian invasion of the Japanese, followed by the Koreans, now the Chinese.
At one time the U.S. was the appliance capital of the world. No U.S. built TV's today and most electronics are built off shore as well. Time marches on. Auto business was once the envy of and the supplier to the world. Today they are in line for the dole.
_________________________
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

Top
#96749 - 12/08/08 05:06 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Sir Lurksalot Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 1241
Before radio, television, and record players, the piano was the focal entertainment point of most middle class homes and virtually every upper class home. Now, not so much.

Top
#96750 - 12/08/08 05:08 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10452
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Not only was labor much less expensive overseas, but Yamaha developed a highly efficient mass-production factory for pianos. Until then, pianos were dominantly all hand-made.

The U.S. makers, much like our automobile industry, didn't adapt.
_________________________
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.

Top
#96751 - 12/08/08 05:20 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
"Why did manufacturers such as Chickering & Sons, William Knabe, Weber, Sohmer, George Steck, Mathushek, Kranich and Bach, Ivers and Pond, and many others simply disappeared?"


Tastes change. At one time having a piano in the parlor for family entertainment became an American dream.

The radio and and movies eventually became the family entertainment.

And of course the Depression.

And I am sure that even vehicles played a role. They took families away from the 'family parlor' and the piano as a main entertainment.

I wonder BTW, just who used to tune those old pianos. Doubt if there were enough techs around or even money enough to have them in proper form.
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

Top
#96752 - 12/08/08 06:44 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Avantgardenabi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/08
Posts: 496
Thank you for everyone's comments. \:\)

But here are some thoughts that I have:

Tastes did change over time, I guess, but sound of a piano is also elusive in its own way. Why Americans then were so eager to abandon pianos that dramatically? After all, piano is a musical instrument.

Considering how Chickering and Knabe were founded in 1823 and 1837, respectively, and given the shear market size of the United States, it would make more sense to me if at least these two manufacturers are still alive and well...

Also, why didn't American piano manufacturers expand globally, exporting their pianos overseas?

Top
#96753 - 12/08/08 06:56 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
Avantgardenabi, regarding U.S. exports, which time period do you mean? Here is my quick understanding: Consider that U.S. consumption was enough to support American manufacturers. Then with the Depression and World War II, many traditional barriers to trade were broken down. After World War II, the U.S. had the best ability to purchase consumer products. Europe and Japan were devastated from war and had to rebuild their economies. For many decades, the U.S. has been the largest market for exports from everyone else in the rest of the world.

Top
#96754 - 12/08/08 07:12 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10452
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Another factor:

Most of Europe's and Japans's factories were destroyed during WWII. They were rebuilt with 1950's technology.

The US continued to produce in factories established before WWI (many in the 1800s)putting them at a severe technogical disadvantage.
_________________________
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.

Top
#96755 - 12/08/08 07:15 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Avantgardenabi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/08
Posts: 496
Hello, guest1013,

I guess I meant time periods around 70s, 80s, or even today. \:\)

Mason and Hamlin is unheard of in East Asia (or even in Europe, I believe).

Why couldn't Chickering or Knabe survive as small but very respected piano makers, like in Europe?

I am just curious as to why the shear number of American piano manufacturers gone during the 20th century is so staggering...

Top
#96756 - 12/08/08 07:32 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
koiloco Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/16/08
Posts: 622
Loc: California
 Quote:
Originally posted by Avantgardenabi:
Hello, guest1013,

I guess I meant time periods around 70s, 80s, or even today. \:\)

Mason and Hamlin is unheard of in East Asia (or even in Europe, I believe).

[/b]
How many families in South East Asia region could afford an M&H, S&S and other Euro made piano ?
the few families who can afford a Yammie, Kawai and other Asian made are already the lucky ones.
In countries where people barely make $1000 a year, what's the point of opening a dealer to sell piano that cost 10k,20k and above; you won't sell enough to survive. Supply and demand does play a big factor here in big US/Euro companies not venturing into that market.

Top
#96757 - 12/08/08 07:33 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Jonnie P. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/05
Posts: 216
Loc: Seattle, WA
In addition to many good points being made, my two cents worth:

-The great American piano companies were created by folks who had a passion for the piano. Their subsequent offspring who inherited the business may have not had this passion - such as the Steinway family that sold out to CBS decades ago and went through a very rough period (Teflon bushings anyone?)

- As for Asia, China in particular, this excerpt from the NY Tims speaks volumes:


The Chinese enthusiasm suggests the potential for a growing market for recorded music and live performances just as an aging fan base and declining record sales worry many professionals in Europe and the United States. Sales for a top-selling classical recording in the West number merely in the thousands instead of the tens of thousands 25 years ago.

More profoundly, classical music executives say that the art form is being increasingly marginalized in a sea of popular culture and new media. Fewer young American listeners find their way to classical music, largely because of the lack of the music education that was widespread in public schools two generations ago. As a result many orchestras and opera houses struggle to fill halls.

China, with an estimated 30 million piano students and 10 million violin students, is on an opposite trajectory. Comprehensive tests to enter the top conservatories now attract nearly 200,000 students a year, compared with a few thousand annually in the 1980s, according to the Chinese Musicians Association.

The hardware side has also exploded. As of 2003, 87 factories made Western musical instruments. By last year the number had grown to 142, producing 370,000 pianos, one million violins and six million guitars. China dominates world production of all three.

The Communist Party, which three decades ago was trying to wipe out classical music, now deems it an essential component of the “advanced culture” it vows to create to make the country a true great power.
_________________________
Jonnie P.
Seattle, WA

Kawai RX-2 ES

Obsessive behaviour: Jazz and other forms of piano improvisation

Top
#96758 - 12/08/08 07:50 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Rank Piano Amateur Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1753
It seems to me that there are at least two issues being raised here, disguised as one.

1. Why the decline in piano manufacturing in America? This can actually be answered with another question: why the decline in manufacturing in America? Piano manufacturing is not the only form of American manufacturing to be in sharp decline.

2. Why the decline in piano sales in America? This is a very different question, and we need more facts in order to answer it. There may be fewer pianos purchased now than was the case 80 years ago, and pianos are certainly not the center of household entertainment that they once were. But the fact that fewer American-made pianos are made and sold does not inevitably mean that fewer pianos worldwide are made and sold.

Top
#96759 - 12/08/08 07:57 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Avantgardenabi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/08
Posts: 496
To koiloco: By East Asia I meant "northern" East Asian countries (Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan). \:\)



(Picture by J.P. Dalbera)

This is Liszt's piano made by Chickering & Sons, by the way. It's beautiful.

Top
#96760 - 12/08/08 08:22 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
ftp Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Philadelphia
Piano playing seems to be a rite of passage for an emerging middle class. It's one of the first "leisure" activities. To think that radio, TV and now the internet and computer games are natural evolutionary advances in the need to have "arrived" is probably worthy of study by someone tracing the roots of instant gratification.

Top
#96761 - 12/08/08 08:22 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
koiloco Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/16/08
Posts: 622
Loc: California
lol, Avant.

Besides Japan where living standard is pretty up there, Korea and Taiwan while started developing strongly just recently are no where near suitable (from a business aspect) markets for pianos that cost as much as S&S, M&H and other high end Euro pianos. The last time I checked, the average salary on the higher end for an engineer in Korea is about $25K/year and $20K/year in Taiwan. With these incomes averages, not many people will spend $30K on a M&H.
For China, the average income is really even lower than Taiwan and Korea.
Are there people in these 3 countries who could afford these expensive pianos? heck yeah but very few and not enough for a sustainable market investment.
Just my 2c based on what I know and understand about these countries.

Top
#96762 - 12/08/08 09:13 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Avantgardenabi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/08
Posts: 496
Koiloco,

I do not know an engineer's (which engineer...?) income now in Korea, but some rich Koreans in Dogok/Apgujeong/Cheongdam/Bundang area in Seoul can certainly afford to buy cheaper Mason and Hamlin grand. \:\) Some of them already have Hamburg Steinway, by the way, although I heard that there are only about 4 Faziolis in Korea. ;\)

Also, many Chinese in Shanghai area are really rich while others are poor, I believe. Why not sell Mason and Hamlins in Shanghai?

Even if grand pianos are too expensive (or huge) for ordinary consumers, then what about uprights? East Asians live in a tight space, and uprights are far more popular there...

I haven't seen any Mason and Hamlin uprights in Japan or Korea.

Anyway, I am not a champion of marketing Mason and Hamlins or American pianos in East Asia. This creates competition! \:D

Top
#96763 - 12/08/08 11:04 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14048
Loc: Louisiana
1. Electricity. The coming of electricity to rural America brought many forms of entertainment besides playing a musical instrument.

2. Culture. It is no longer considered mandatory for music to be included in the making of the well-rounded person.

3. Cost. A quality American piano is too durn expensive.
_________________________
www.coffee-room.com

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

Top
#96764 - 12/09/08 12:14 AM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
SCCDoug Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 663
Loc: Canada
I think that the turning point for pianos (as it was perhaps for cars) came in the 1980s when, quite frankly, the quality of many North American made pianos was terrible. The alternative was a much better made Yamaha, and not too long after, Kawai. These two brands overwhelmed the consumer grade market, and the local brands never really recovered. North American pianos became part of a high end niche market that could not sustain many manufacturers.
_________________________
Doug

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

Top
#96765 - 12/09/08 02:28 AM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
koiloco Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/16/08
Posts: 622
Loc: California
 Quote:
Originally posted by Avantgardenabi:
Koiloco,

I do not know an engineer's (which engineer...?) income now in Korea, but some rich Koreans in Dogok/Apgujeong/Cheongdam/Bundang area in Seoul can certainly afford to buy cheaper Mason and Hamlin grand. \:\) Some of them already have Hamburg Steinway, by the way, although I heard that there are only about 4 Faziolis in Korea. ;\)

Also, many Chinese in Shanghai area are really rich while others are poor, I believe. Why not sell Mason and Hamlins in Shanghai?
[/b]
Avant, "some" is the key word there in your post.
Now, think about "some" in a small population of potential piano buyers in a even smaller overall population of Korea and Taiwan and other not as developed south east asia countries. From a business stand point, that's not a good market to explore and I believe that's the reason you don't see many high end piano manufacturers venturing too much into those areas nor local dealers brave enough to carry/stock those lines. I hope you see my logic now.

Top
#96766 - 12/09/08 07:20 AM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
tmn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/04
Posts: 46
Radio

Top
#96767 - 12/09/08 07:36 AM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
I agree with Marty Flinn in answering the question of why so few remaining American manufacturers and with Steven Cohen and SCCDoug on their end-game analysis.

However, the comments about musical education no longer being seen (or provided) as an integral part of children's education and the related ideas of the piano no longer fitting our new passive entertainment, instant gratification, consumer "culture" are the most profound reasons why the piano is becoming irrelevant and absent in most American homes today, no matter where it is manufactured.

Top
#96768 - 12/09/08 09:42 AM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7148
Loc: torrance, CA
I prefer Adrian's no-blame statement that "Musical tastes changed. Piano takes too long to learn in a world with other pressures" to the finger-pointing dumbing-down, instant gratification, consumer "culture" way of illumimating the same basic facts. That's probably because I've raised four kids and realized long ago that putting down the values of the younger generation in attempting to sell other values simply doesn't work.

Blaming electricity, the radio, and the Internet would truly be blaming the messenger. Radio brought the Metropolitan Opera and world-class symphony orchestras into the homes of those who could not afford to attend live performances...probably more pleasant listening than sucking it up and listening to the family prodigy pounding out scales and Clementini sonatinas.

If the younger generation chooses not to listen to someone else's idea of great music, that's its prerogative. Satellite radio, downloads, headphones, walkmen, digital storage media, allow anyone to listen to whatever he likes whenever and wherever he likes. Whether that's a good thing or bad thing is a different argument.

Avantgardenabi,

On another thread you mentioned your age. You also showed a photo of your vintage piano surrounded by a collection of other vintage objects. You obviously have a taste for the days gone by, a taste that I would suppose you have noticed is not mainstream among you peers. a taste somewhat out-of-synch with your screen name here \:D . That's terrific because it gives you individuality and brings you pleasure. But the basic character of nostalgia whether it be for vintage musical instruments, vinyl records, tube amps, dead European composers, Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper paintings, grandma's wedding gown, or even the five and dime store, is that the appreciation is most acute when the object has become functionally irrelevant to mainstream culture. If it's too relevant, it can't be nostalgic. If it's being produced in a hundred factories, it's not very special, is it?
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

Top
#96769 - 12/09/08 10:01 AM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
verania5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/08
Posts: 386
Loc: Michigan
@ koiloco

I happen to be a citizen of Taiwan. The wealth in Taiwan has been growing exponentially since the mid 60s. I see many Benzes and BMWs clogging the street. I know this is paralleled by South Korea.
So there is plenty of money and it is not an elite caste by any means.

However the real constraint isn't money as much as the size of the average apartment. Being on a small island makes land values (and apartments) on par with Manahttan, so grand pianos really are impossible to fit into most households, except for the very wealthy. I would say 99% of piano playing households with a piano own a Yamaha of some kind, be it digital or upright. A good 1/2 of my friends from school owned pianos, it was not something uncommon or privileged. I had two different Yamahas at home in my youth.

If floor space was not such an issue I believe more people would own grand pianos. People are willing to spend money on perceived quality, as the astronomical housing prices attest. Most apartments start at $US 500,000 for a modest pad inside Taipei city limits and goes much much higher.
_________________________
Steinway M & Yamaha P120

Top
#96770 - 12/09/08 10:42 AM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by SCCDoug:
I think that the turning point for pianos (as it was perhaps for cars) came in the 1980s when, quite frankly, the quality of many North American made pianos was terrible....[/b]
Is it really fair to say "terrible," or does that statement contain a hefty dose of hyperbole?

Assuming you don't mean Steinway and Baldwin, which other manufacturers were still active in the 1980s and making inferior pianos? I guess Aeolian, Kimball and Wurlitzer could be considered terrible by some people, but, after all, their reputations were mediocre (or at least mixed) all along.

Avantgardenabi has asked specifically about Chickering and Knabe. Most people here probably know that they became products of Aeolian-American after it was formed in 1932, during which time those marques lost much of their original cachet.

But those two venerable brands had been consolidated as the American Piano Company in 1908, which suggests the market forces that affected the industry beginning with the Great Depression were already underway much earlier in the "golden age" of the American piano. Or were they?

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

Top
#96771 - 12/09/08 12:46 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
koiloco Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/16/08
Posts: 622
Loc: California
 Quote:
Originally posted by verania5:
@ koiloco

I happen to be a citizen of Taiwan. The wealth in Taiwan has been growing exponentially since the mid 60s. I see many Benzes and BMWs clogging the street. I know this is paralleled by South Korea.
So there is plenty of money and it is not an elite caste by any means.

However the real constraint isn't money as much as the size of the average apartment. Being on a small island makes land values (and apartments) on par with Manahttan, so grand pianos really are impossible to fit into most households, except for the very wealthy. I would say 99% of piano playing households with a piano own a Yamaha of some kind, be it digital or upright. A good 1/2 of my friends from school owned pianos, it was not something uncommon or privileged. I had two different Yamahas at home in my youth.

If floor space was not such an issue I believe more people would own grand pianos. People are willing to spend money on perceived quality, as the astronomical housing prices attest. Most apartments start at $US 500,000 for a modest pad inside Taipei city limits and goes much much higher. [/b]
I am very aware of the housing cost in Taiwan. Back in the mid 90 when I and my brother were buying our homes in the bay area, we really did not have a very pleasant time bidding against Taiwanese buyers \:\) Most of them cashed out by selling their properties in Taiwan and offered cash in full for houses here in the silicon valley. Thx to that crazy period, housing cost here went up the roof and out of balanced for a few years.
You did mention about the space constraint which is something I totally forgot to bring up. Great point.

Top
#96772 - 12/09/08 01:30 PM Re: Why did once-flourishing American piano industries gone?
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
Historically the peak years for piano sales in the U.S. were from 1900 - mid 1920's averaging from 250,000 - 350,000 instruments per year. The depression decade saw number well below 100k. With the exception of the WWII years, the 1940's and 50's saw production rise steadily to the 200k level. Unit sales levels were pretty constant from the 60's - the early 1980's averaging about the 250k level. But, you must overlay the Japanese units beginning in the late 1960's followed by the addition of the Korean influx beginning about the late 1970's.
Beginning about 1983 unit sales dropped below 200k and dropped below 100k a decade later. Total units today hover around the 100k mark.
The shadow cast by digital piano sales in these totals did not break the 5k level until after 1996. Today they are three times this.
Most of the cultural evolution arguments for the decline in piano production don't hold up IMO with the relative consistency of the 200k level from 1955 - 1985. The demise of the bulk of the American piano industry was due to economic forces in the first half of the 20th century and the influx of imported pianos in the second half. Similar forces on the impact of the imports are seen in the auto industry motorcycle industry in the same period.
_________________________
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Moderator:  Ken Knapp, Piano World, Rickster 
What's Hot!!
Our latest Issue is available now...
Piano News - Interesting & Fun Piano Related Newsletter! (free)
-------------------
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
119 registered (AndresD, AndrewJCW, 36251, Allard, Abby Pianoman, 35 invisible), 1343 Guests and 21 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
75602 Members
42 Forums
156329 Topics
2295969 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Feurich 190 cm grand from 1920 - Is it any good?
by pinkfloydhomer
31 minutes 51 seconds ago
Who's gigging with MP11
by 36251
Today at 07:45 AM
piano technician cost list
by ascc
Today at 01:36 AM
Liszt on Steinway A3
by Reno
Today at 01:35 AM
Roland RD800 initial impressions
by fizikisto
Today at 12:28 AM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission