What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.)

Posted by: Steve Cohen

What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 10:29 AM

Since my family and, of course, our business relocated from Philadelphia to Baltimore in 1957 and continuing through 2007 we have been in direct competition with Baldwin. Kunkel Piano Company was the oldest Baldwin dealership in the U.S. and they had stores within a few blocks of our locations. Our family business, Jasons Music Center was the oldest Yamaha dealership in the U.S. having started representing Yamaha in May, 1960.

The competitive situation was very interesting. Both Jasons and Kunkel were family-owned operations, and Francis Kunkel was about the same age as my father Irv, and his son Craig was about my age. We took over the reins from our fathers at about the same time. Both operations were "old school" dealerships and both earned excellent reputations for honesty and integrity.

In those early years the Baldwin/Yamaha comparisons were dynamic and often cited, and the fact that Yamaha was "mass-produced" was a key issue. After all they were the only one made that way. Also keep in mind that these were the days when Japanese products were inevitable compared to the "cheap transistor radio." "Quality" and "Made in Japan" were mutually exclusive terms in the minds of the U.S. market!

To say that the Baldwin Hamilton 243 dominated the public school market would be a vast understatement. Until the introduction of the Yamaha P202 (forerunner to the P22), virtually the only piano found in schools was 243s and Baldwin grands. The Yamaha G7 (now the C7) sold for less than the Baldwin baby grand. The P202 retailed for about $1000 less than the 243. Back in those days the industry watched the competitive situation in Baltimore very carefully, using it to try to predict scenarios in other markets. Craig Kunkel retired a few years ago, soon after Baldwin's acquisition by Gibson. There has been no Baldwin dealer here since.

Why do I bring all of this up, you might ask. Well, yesterday we unpacked our first shipment of Baldwin pianos as their new dealership for the Baltimore/Washington and Northern Virginia market. Adding Baldwin pianos to our current offering of Kawai (in the Baltimore Market only), Pramberger, used/rebuilt Steinways, Mason & Hamlins and Yamahas, puts us in a better position to fulfill the musical needs of our shoppers.



As a major contributor here, a contributing editor of Piano Buyer, and as a consultant to the piano industry I felt that this story might not only be interesting, but needed to be posted for transparency. (it is rumored that Baldwin will be rated as Tier One pianos in the upcoming issue of Piano Buyer. smile

Having been in the business all my life, I have learned not to burn bridges. What goes around really does often come along!
Posted by: MrMagic

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 11:17 AM

Congratulations! It would be great if Baldwin could return to it's former glory!
Posted by: turandot

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 11:49 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen

As a major contributor here, a contributing editor of Piano Buyer, and as a consultant to the piano industry I felt that this story might not only be interesting, but needed to be posted for transparency. (it is rumored that Baldwin will be rated as Tier One pianos in the upcoming issue of Piano Buyer. smile


Come on Stave. Your cross-promotion of interests is all too obvious.
Posted by: Jim Frazee

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 12:01 PM

Steve,

That's GREAT! Congrats and godspeed. Will you also be selling Baldwin grands? Can't wait to hear your first opinions . . . See you at MARC. thumb
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 12:07 PM

Congratulations, Steve!
Posted by: Rickster

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 12:11 PM

Congratulations, Steve, on your new product line...

And, your story was interesting. I too have learned in life that it is not good to burn bridges... you never know what the future holds, and, quite often, we as humans do tend to hold grudges (burned bridges?). smile

Best regards,

Rick
Posted by: CHAS

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 12:17 PM

Would like to see Baldwin regain its status.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 12:31 PM



Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen

Why do I bring all of this up, you might ask.


Asked and answered.

Originally Posted By: turandot

Come on Stave. Your cross-promotion of interests is all too obvious.
Posted by: Dave B

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 12:51 PM

Interesting info. Keep us informed on how it plays out. Quality, warranty response, etc. Thanks and good luck with the line.
Posted by: PaintedPostDave

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 12:57 PM

I enjoyed reading the post, self-promotional or not. Good luck, Steve Cohen. smile
Posted by: Norbert

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 01:06 PM

Congratulations Steve!

Not for taking on the line but for deviating from your previous position not to offer Chinese made pianos.

Presumably the previously proudly displayed "No-Chinese-Pianos" sign is gone from your website now forever..... grin

Wishing you best - considering your long experience with the make, hoping the new Chinese made pianos will remember you on the ones from before ...

Norbert
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 02:08 PM

Steve,
Being a technician I am interested about the designs being used-are they the same scales that were made in the US?
Posted by: Scout

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 02:44 PM

Man, it is refreshing to read what might be at least a partly positive thread about Baldwin pianos, new or old. Positive comments about Baldwins are hard to come by on this forum. I went ahead anyway and bought a 1989 Baldwin L a month ago, and it is a gorgeous piano. We're in love and I'm thrilled.

Best of luck to you, Steve.

scout
Posted by: jawhitti

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 03:19 PM

The L is a great piano - if I had been able to find one around me I probably would have bought one.
Posted by: ando

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 04:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert


Presumably the previously proudly displayed "No-Chinese-Pianos" sign is gone from your website now forever..... grin


It does seem to be gone - pending sales figures of the Baldwin lineup for the next 2 years... If the things don't sell, the "No Chinese Pianos" sign will be back, in an even larger font than before. wink
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 06:33 PM

Life does take unexpected turns, doesn't it? Good luck with Baldwin, they sure have fallen on hard times.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 06:39 PM

Now that the supply chain to the US is stabilizing Baldwin is actually resurging. This is due in no small part to their new US distributor, North American Music and their very experienced crew, many of who were with baldwin when it was in its glory.

I think you will soon hear of another major dealership in a major market (and a regular here on Piano World) who will be adding Baldwin to their lineup.
Posted by: Supply

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 06:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Steve,
Being a technician I am interested about the designs being used-are they the same scales that were made in the US?
Yes, I am honestly curious well, what the new pianos have in common with the old ones besides the name. There as so many pianos with old German and American names on them now coming out of China which have nothing at all in common with the products made by the original company. The names are strictly used to try to conjure up some image of heritage, tradition and continuity (= quality) in the minds of would-be buyers.

Maybe Baldwin is different, perhaps they are now producing the tried and true product under more economically feasible condition in Asia?
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 07:13 PM

My understanding is that some models are re-creations of the original scale designs while others are different. I'll get the facts and post them.
Posted by: VGrantano

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/10/13 11:33 PM

I had the honor of doing business with both the Kunkel
and Cohen families through the years, Though to confess
I called on many more Cohens than Kunkles.Both names were
very well respected.
Returning Baldwin to a market as important as Baltimore
is something that will be good for the Piano industry
in the U.S. Good luck Steve.
Posted by: HalfStep

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/11/13 12:55 AM

The dealer I bought from sold both Baldwins and Kawai. For the class I wanted to purchase, the Baldwin had more features and resonated with us overall. It's a great piano irrespective of its origins. Also, some have discussed the dot on the "I" and it actually, does not have a dot or a "c" in short, I think they're coming back.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/12/13 06:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Steve,
Being a technician I am interested about the designs being used-are they the same scales that were made in the US?


I asked Baldwin for clarification. They supplied the following:

The only model that is an actual copy of a US built Baldwin is the 52” vertical model B252. That one copied the old Baldwin 6000 right down to and including the accu-just hitch pins. The 342 and 442 share the cabinet design and action design with the former US Acrosonic models 2096 and 2090 respectively, however the scale for the backframe is slightly different. Similarly, the B243 is designed to look just like the former US built Hamilton 243, but it is built on a 47” scale as opposed to the 45” scale that the old model used. As universally popular as the old 243 has been, I believe most would pick the new B243 in a blind test today. The B49 is actually the same piano mechanically as our model BH125 that is in a slightly less expensive cabinet. The cabinet on the B49 is just made for the US market and is modeled after the former US built model 248.

The new BP model grands use completely different scale designs from our US built Artist Grands. It would have been a more difficult project to move the old equipment and tooling that was used on those pianos, plus there is the possibility that someday Baldwin might again build those pianos in very limited numbers. What the BP Grands share with the Artist Grands is the same level of materials – maple inner and outer rims, wet-sand cast plates, solid high grade sitka spruce soundboards, Abel hammers, real ebony sharps, etc. They too have been styled with a classic Baldwin look to the music rack, legs, and side arms.

So what we are doing is building a similar level piano at a more affordable price, but not the exact same pianos.
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/12/13 07:03 PM

Congratulations Steve and best of luck. I genuinely hope you rebuild the Baldwin name in this area. It would be good for everyone in the piano industry. I especially hope you do well with the American made Baldwins. The idea of Baldwin making pianos in the U.S. again is great. Actually, the idea of anything being made in this country would be great, but I digress.

Seriously, good luck Steve.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/12/13 07:47 PM

Quote:

The new BP model grands use completely different scale designs from our US built Artist Grands.


Meaning supposedly "previously" U.S. made Artists Grands.
Which factory is making Baldwin pianos in U.S. today?
Not aware of any.

Quote:
What the BP Grands share with the Artist Grands is the same level of materials – maple inner and outer rims, wet-sand cast plates, solid high grade sitka spruce soundboards, Abel hammers, real ebony sharps, etc.


Sounding close to Brodmann specs. In fact heard the grands are actually made by Parsons.
Should be pretty good then....

Norbert thumb
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/12/13 08:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:

The new BP model grands use completely different scale designs from our US built Artist Grands.


Meaning supposedly "previously" U.S. made Artists Grands.
Which factory is making Baldwin pianos in U.S. today?
Not aware of any.

Norbert


You are correct. There is no current US production. But the factory is there, fully equipted and waiting....
Posted by: Eric Gloo

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/12/13 08:57 PM

Hopefully the pin blocks have been improved! smile
Posted by: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/12/13 10:16 PM

The Jasons's Music site includes the following in its write-up of Baldwin pianos:

"Since its gala opening nearly three decades ago, Baldwin has played a key role at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Today, Baldwin pianos are used for a variety of orchestral, ensemble and choral performances at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, Opera House, Eisenhower Theater and Terrace Theater.

"For more than 60 years, Baldwin has been honored to share the stage at a variety of Tanglewood’s orchestral and chamber music concerts, instrumental and vocal recitals, student performances, the Festival of Contemporary Music, and performances by both popular and jazz artists. Through the years, Baldwin also has been the piano of choice for many of Tanglewood’s visionary leaders. For more information about Tanglewood visit the BSO's website."

Putting aside the grammatical error in the first sentence of the quotation, I am having a bit of a problem with the write-up on the Jasons's Music site (which I expect is at least somewhat derived from the new Baldwin's own materials). Are the pianos being produced now really the same as the ones that have, for more than 60 years, graced various concert stages and been adopted by Baldwin Artists? Steve Cohen's own information from the manufacturer, quoted by him in this thread, seems to indicate that they are not. Yes, the brand name is the same, but are the pianos? I also looked in vain for information in this write-up on where the pianos are made. If I missed this information, I apologize, but I could not spot it at the Baldwin link. I think that one is likely to conclude from the write-up that "'America's favorite piano'" is made in America.

They may very well be terrific pianos. They will have to earn their status, though, at least in my opinion. And there are many brand names that have been purchased and applied to pianos made in different locations and by different processes from their locations and processes in the old days. It's a puzzlement, though, to anyone who tries to unravel the threads. . . .
Posted by: HalfStep

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/12/13 11:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Steve,
Being a technician I am interested about the designs being used-are they the same scales that were made in the US?


I asked Baldwin for clarification. They supplied the following:

The only model that is an actual copy of a US built Baldwin is the 52” vertical model B252. That one copied the old Baldwin 6000 right down to and including the accu-just hitch pins. The 342 and 442 share the cabinet design and action design with the former US Acrosonic models 2096 and 2090 respectively, however the scale for the backframe is slightly different. Similarly, the B243 is designed to look just like the former US built Hamilton 243, but it is built on a 47” scale as opposed to the 45” scale that the old model used. As universally popular as the old 243 has been, I believe most would pick the new B243 in a blind test today. The B49 is actually the same piano mechanically as our model BH125 that is in a slightly less expensive cabinet. The cabinet on the B49 is just made for the US market and is modeled after the former US built model 248.

The new BP model grands use completely different scale designs from our US built Artist Grands. It would have been a more difficult project to move the old equipment and tooling that was used on those pianos, plus there is the possibility that someday Baldwin might again build those pianos in very limited numbers. What the BP Grands share with the Artist Grands is the same level of materials – maple inner and outer rims, wet-sand cast plates, solid high grade sitka spruce soundboards, Abel hammers, real ebony sharps, etc. They too have been styled with a classic Baldwin look to the music rack, legs, and side arms.

So what we are doing is building a similar level piano at a more affordable price, but not the exact same pianos.


Very informative! Thanks.
Posted by: peterws

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/13/13 03:34 PM

Baldwins were stocked in the piano shop where my wife worked, teaching in Barrow in Furness, England. And they were my favourite. Now, since you`re on a roll as they say, there may be hope for British Motorcycles . . . .

http://www.bikeexif.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/velocette_venom_thruxton.jpg
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/13/13 04:52 PM

Originally Posted By: peterws
Baldwins were stocked in the piano shop where my wife worked, teaching in Barrow in Furness, England. And they were my favourite. Now, since you`re on a roll as they say, there may be hope for British Motorcycles . . . .

http://www.bikeexif.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/velocette_venom_thruxton.jpg


Are they going to start building those thumpers again?
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/13/13 08:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
. There is no current US production. But the factory is there, fully equipted and waiting....


That's interesting. And expensive. They're making $0 on it, but it must still have some costs -- property tax, security, utilities, the interest that could have been made on the value of it all.... It sounds like a situation that won't be sustained for long. I hope it ends the good way, with production starting up, rather than just selling everything.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/13/13 08:15 PM

Actually it is staffed with 4 employees. They handle warehousing & distribution, parts, and warranty services.
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/13/13 08:18 PM

Ah, that's better. Glad to hear it.
Posted by: KurtZ

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 02/13/13 08:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Originally Posted By: peterws
Baldwins were stocked in the piano shop where my wife worked, teaching in Barrow in Furness, England. And they were my favourite. Now, since you`re on a roll as they say, there may be hope for British Motorcycles . . . .

http://www.bikeexif.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/velocette_venom_thruxton.jpg


Are they going to start building those thumpers again?


My very first motorcycle was a BSA 441 Victor Special. The one with the chrome and yellow tank. 441 cc's of single cylinder goodness.
Posted by: Enrico

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/08/13 04:43 PM

I took a leap of faith with the Baldwin product and I am glad I did. For many years I had sold new Kawai products and I would say that the "quality control" that so many people associate with Japanese products is equaled in the Baldwin product today. I have been selling chinese pianos from the early days of chinese products 15 years ago and at that point the jury was out and so was the regulation of most of the products purchased from china. Chinese pianos used to need many man hours to make them a good alternative to used instruments. But today the Chinese assembled pianos are very good and equal to the Japanese assembled pianos as is the case with the Baldwin pianos. There are still a few Chinese made pianos owned by Chinese companies that are still questionable. However, the quality of components in the Baldwin and many other Chinese products meet or exceed the Japanese manufacturers. This is one reason Yamaha has upped its game with the cx series Yamahas adding things like German hammers, German strings, and more crown to the soundboard. The only thing that the Japanese may have had going for them was the brand loyalty and recognition. Now with Baldwin / Gibson ,an American company, in charge of quality control and warranty I see many Baldwins being sold in the upcoming years.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 02:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Steve,
Being a technician I am interested about the designs being used-are they the same scales that were made in the US?
Yes, I am honestly curious well, what the new pianos have in common with the old ones besides the name. There as so many pianos with old German and American names on them now coming out of China which have nothing at all in common with the products made by the original company. The names are strictly used to try to conjure up some image of heritage, tradition and continuity (= quality) in the minds of would-be buyers.

Maybe Baldwin is different, perhaps they are now producing the tried and true product under more economically feasible condition in Asia?


No news here. Just some more Chinese pianos slapping an old brand name on them and trying to profit from its halo. Given the text on the dealer website it can be considered a kind of deceptive marketing practice. There is a sucker born every minute.
Posted by: peterws

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 05:53 AM

"My very first motorcycle was a BSA 441 Victor Special. The one with the chrome and yellow tank. 441 cc's of single cylinder goodness."

It`s so hard not to resond to this. But that`s two postings on the piano site which are now featuring old British Motorbikes. I had a hand in `em both . . . . grin Sorry Adminy . . .It`ll be steam trains next . . .
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 10:19 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney

No news here. Just some more Chinese pianos slapping an old brand name on them and trying to profit from its halo.


Baldwins are manufactured in one of the oldest and most experienced piano factories in China. Rather than "slapping an old brand name on them", Baldwin bought the factory, which was considered one of the best. See: Dongbei Facts and Baldwin Facts.

Today, the designs are unique to Baldwin, and the factory is owned and operated by Baldwin. The quality control is excellent and their instruments serve well in their market segment.
Posted by: Entheo

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 10:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
(it is rumored that Baldwin will be rated as Tier One pianos in the upcoming issue of Piano Buyer. smile


i'm confused. i searched the online Piano Buyer guide for the term "tier" and only one minor reference came up -- no tiered classifications for pianos. by "tier one" are you saying that baldwin will be classified with the highest quality performance grade pianos such as fazioli and steingraeber?

i'm also confused as to how the pianos are categorized on page 44 of the PBG... without a proper matrix these classifications strike me as arbitrary opinion with no quantifiable data to back them up. the accompanying text does little to instill confidence in the classifications. i'm scratching my head over many of the classifications. hopefully the upcoming issue of PBG will correct these vague classifications.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 11:30 AM

Originally Posted By: Entheo
i'm also confused as to how the pianos are categorized on page 44 of the PBG... without a proper matrix these classifications strike me as arbitrary opinion with no quantifiable data to back them up. the accompanying text does little to instill confidence in the classifications. i'm scratching my head over many of the classifications. hopefully the upcoming issue of PBG will correct these vague classifications.


Hi Entheo.

Even though I am was and am part of the team that helped evolve the "Map", I can easily understand how the chart can be confusing. It is a very difficult and complex issue.

My best suggestion is that you re-read the first few paragraphs of the introduction to the Ma on Page 44. Introduction to the Map

Viewing the Map in that frame of reference denoted in those paragraphs may help.
Posted by: Entheo

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 01:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Even though I am was and am part of the team that helped evolve the "Map", I can easily understand how the chart can be confusing. It is a very difficult and complex issue.

My best suggestion is that you re-read the first few paragraphs of the introduction to the Ma on Page 44. Introduction to the Map

Viewing the Map in that frame of reference denoted in those paragraphs may help.


thanks steve i had read that and altho that paragraph contributes to a broad understanding it doesn't help to understand how the pianos themselves are actually classified.

IMHO it would be far better to provide a set of product matrixes by (perhaps) retail price range, e.g.:



... with categories such as rim thickness, action details (e.g. hammers: density of felt and/or mfgr=renner), soundboard type/origin/months aged (e.g. sitka spruce, 24 mths), plate type, QMS certification, country of assembly, warranty, string source & type, % handmade, etc. etc. etc. If a mfgr is unwilling to provide these details put an "n/a" in that box. the ones who provide the most details will attract the most attention. this would be a meaningful quantitative comparison IMHO.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 02:55 PM

Quote:
thanks steve i had read that and altho that paragraph contributes to a broad understanding it doesn't help to understand how the pianos themselves are actually classified.


The true 'calssification' of pianos occurs when people sit down, play them and compare them against others.

Especially at or near same price.

Likewise, few choose a restaurant by "classification", but almost everybody knows what their own taste buds like.

Ever heard of "highly rated restaurants" that disappointed - vice versa?

Norbert smile
Posted by: theJourney

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 03:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Entheo
...these classifications strike me as arbitrary opinion with no quantifiable data to back them up. the accompanying text does little to instill confidence in the classifications...


Your level of insight is profound.
Posted by: Entheo

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 03:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
thanks steve i had read that and altho that paragraph contributes to a broad understanding it doesn't help to understand how the pianos themselves are actually classified.


The true 'calssification' of pianos occurs when people sit down, play them and compare them against others.

Especially at or near same price.

Likewise, few choose a restaurant by "classification", but almost everybody knows what their own taste buds like.

Ever heard of "highly rated restaurants" that disappointed - vice versa?

Norbert smile


first, i'm not trying to hijack steve's baldwin thread, but one confusion led to another. not sure i'm going to get the answers i'm looking for.

wrt your restaurant analogy, norbert -- of course everyone has personal tastes and opinions upon which they make personal decisions. the question here is that, similar to the restaurant industry which has journalistic organizations which rate restaurants based on specific criteria & rating systems (e.g. zagat, michelin), if the only piano publication for consumers doesn't have a published baseline of data upon which to reference their classifications then how is anyone to trust that the published opinions are any more objective than anyone else's opinion? this isn't rocket science -- every industry and sub-sector has quantifiable matrices, measures and the resulting deterministic formulas for ranking.

to switch analogies yet again, anyone shopping for a car who's going to spend many thousands of dollars will go to multiple professional sources to compare features, specifications, performance, reliability history, warranty, etc. Although the decision to purchase may well come down to subjective experience it's the objective data that justifiably narrows the playing field. i doubt they're going to get that data at a dealership.
Posted by: turandot

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 04:12 PM

Originally Posted By: theJourney

No news here. Just some more Chinese pianos slapping an old brand name on them and trying to profit from its halo. Given the text on the dealer website it can be considered a kind of deceptive marketing practice. There is a sucker born every minute.


TJ,

I think what Steve has provided makes it clear that this isn't your classic case of buying a defunct piano brand name that still has a shred of respectability and slapping it on yet another mediocre generic piano. But just to add to that, I think you have to understand the DongBei sitatuion in the years preceding the Gibson purchase.

DongBei in those years was a contract manufacturer. There were no DongBei pianos per se in the West, only a proliferation of brand names contracted to DongBei by piano 'manufacturers' who were shopping contract price. In addition to the ones mentioned in Pianobuyer, there were Suzuki's, August Hoffman's, and pianosuperstore's house brand -- the Ellenburg's (I think you probably remember that one). Quality varied according to the specifics of the contract, so DongBei was as bad as its worst and as good as its best. IMO the best was Nordiska, but that's only one opinion. The Gibson purchase allowed Baldwin the opportunity to take DongBei's grand designs that always had a lot of promise and give the factory a more consistent standard of manufacture.

I first played Baldwin China grands in Spain of all places. I felt they were just about identical to the Nordiskas and Hallets I had played in the US. I bumped into them in another European country, but I don't recall exactly where. When I was back in the US, I looked for Baldwin China pianos but never did find anyone selling them. I couldn't understand it. The retail prices were extremely low according to Pianobuyer for what IMO the product offered

I still haven't seen or played one Baldwin China piano in the US, but based on what I know firsthand of DongBei's grands over the past decade, I can easily understand why Steve would take on the line if he feels that production has stabilized and the supply chain is solid. I'm sure it's a small boost to potential sales that the Baldwin name is now attached to the product. Steve has stated in the past that his client market is hesitant about Chinese pianos, and the Baldwin name probably adds some subconscious reassurance. But the bottom line is that at the time DongBei was sold, the factory was producing grand pianos as good as or better than any other piano factory in China, and those grands were in no way generic. Gibson may give DongBei grands a new lease of life in the West even if its core strategy is obviously to sell into the Chinese market.

Personally, I don't feel that the photo of Steve standing between Baldwin crates captures a moment of historical importance grin, but it does show that he's committed to giving it a go in his market and risking some of his many millions to see what happens.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 06:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Entheo
...if the only piano publication for consumers doesn't have a published baseline of data upon which to reference their classifications then how is anyone to trust that the published opinions are any more objective than anyone else's opinion? this isn't rocket science -- every industry and sub-sector has quantifiable matrices, measures and the resulting deterministic formulas for ranking.


Your supposition is in fact - not a supposition but the reality of the publication. Piano Buyer is, by far, the world's leading piano publication for consumers. And, as you point out, does not rely on metrics, or on verifiable standards. And, Larry would be the first to admit that it is subjective in many aspects.

Yet, in reality it does a great job of providing a basis for consumers and, as Larry says in the introduction to the Map, "My sense is that most knowledgable peolple in the industry would agree in broad terms with this comparison, though many will disagree with me - and with each other - about the details".

Thousands of consumers have made wiser decisions through the information in PB. IMHO, and that of many, many others, it serves it purpose well.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/09/13 06:23 PM

From my information DongBei only builds the Baldwin UPRIGHTS while the new Baldwin GRANDS are built by Parsons.

Correct me if wrong.

Interesting notes about past and present piano design by a number of different makers can be found by reading here,
unfortunately all [mostly..] in German mad

http://pianoinforum.blogspot.ca/search/label/KLAVIERBAUER

Norbert
Posted by: HalfStep

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 12:49 AM

So I recently bought a BP152. Admittedly, most of you are likely far more experienced pianists. However, this site has taught me to play, listen, and then judge. We have a Yamaha DP and then purchased an antique (albeit, great condition) Marshall and Wendell baby grand. I have posted about the M&W and really came to appreciate its history as well as its beautiful case. Anyhow, the more we play, the more we realize what our needs are. In other words, the action was not keeping up. I found myself playing the DP more but really enjoying the mellow sound of the M&W. Short story, we went to my dealer to look around. We tried out a Kawai (gm 10k, I think), the Baldwin, and some other used pianos. I was not sure what to expect with the Baldwin based on mixed reviews here but decided to go try it out. I narrowed it down to the new Kawai and the Baldwin. I preferred the sound and touch of the latter. That coupled with the slow release fallboard and the brass caps on the legs and pedals really sold me. I decided to go back the next day and have my kid play both... without revealing my feelings, she picked the Baldwin BP152, hands down. We couldn't be happier with our purchase. I am now finding that I prefer the grand to the DP for, not only its better sound, but its quicker action! So, we love our new Baldwin! Having played many other pianos, I am sure some of you would be impressed based on its class. I will def try to post pics tomorrow (I can never post here?).
Posted by: HalfStep

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 12:50 AM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
From my information DongBei only builds the Baldwin UPRIGHTS while the new Baldwin GRANDS are built by Parsons.

Correct me if wrong.

Interesting notes about past and present piano design by a number of different makers can be found by reading here,
unfortunately all [mostly..] in German mad

http://pianoinforum.blogspot.ca/search/label/KLAVIERBAUER

Norbert


I thought the grand I bought was a Dongbei built piano. My tech did as well and praised their newer piano production.

Edited to add the serial 00021
Posted by: theJourney

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 03:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: Entheo
...if the only piano publication for consumers doesn't have a published baseline of data upon which to reference their classifications then how is anyone to trust that the published opinions are any more objective than anyone else's opinion? this isn't rocket science -- every industry and sub-sector has quantifiable matrices, measures and the resulting deterministic formulas for ranking.
Your supposition is in fact - not a supposition but the reality of the publication. Piano Buyer...as you point out, does not rely on metrics, or on verifiable standards. And, Larry would be the first to admit that it is subjective in many aspects.

Yet, in reality it does a great job of providing a basis for consumers and, as Larry says in the introduction to the Map, "My sense is that most knowledgable peolple in the industry would agree in broad terms with this comparison, though many will disagree with me - and with each other - about the details".

Thousands of consumers have made wiser decisions through the information in PB. IMHO, and that of many, many others, it serves it purpose well.

In other words, Piano Buyer, as the bible for the old-fashioned (US retail) piano industry, has more in common with religion than with science.

You need to believe in it.

It is clear that thousands of consumers having bought (and bought into) it have made decisions based in part or even wholly on their interpretation of the publication, just like thousands of consumers have made decisions on where to eat in the evening after studying the advertising flyer in their hotel room.

That is different than your statement that they have made wiser decisions.
Posted by: musicpassion

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 04:30 AM

Originally Posted By: Entheo
it would be far better to provide a set of product matrixes by (perhaps) retail price range, e.g.:

... with categories such as rim thickness, action details (e.g. hammers: density of felt and/or mfgr=renner), soundboard type/origin/months aged (e.g. sitka spruce, 24 mths), plate type, QMS certification, country of assembly, warranty, string source & type, % handmade, etc. etc. etc. If a mfgr is unwilling to provide these details put an "n/a" in that box. the ones who provide the most details will attract the most attention. this would be a meaningful quantitative comparison IMHO.


Although I'm surprised the marketing departments haven't churned out information like that (actually they have... most piano manufacturer's websites do list much of this information) it's the "meaningful" part I question.

How many pianists would know the difference between Mapes Internation Gold wire and Roeslau? Is there a difference to the pianist at all? Should I get the piano with Arledge Bass Strings?

Now I'm shopping... uh oh... this piano has a slightly thinner rim, but I like it. Wait... my handy chart said thicker rims were better, right? Lets see... where are the Mason and Hamlins?

I don't think looking at the individual factors will not allow most pianists to predict how the sum of the parts will come together and form an instrument. Sometimes it seems like those who design instruments can't even figure that out.

Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 09:48 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: Entheo
...if the only piano publication for consumers doesn't have a published baseline of data upon which to reference their classifications then how is anyone to trust that the published opinions are any more objective than anyone else's opinion? this isn't rocket science -- every industry and sub-sector has quantifiable matrices, measures and the resulting deterministic formulas for ranking.
Your supposition is in fact - not a supposition but the reality of the publication. Piano Buyer...as you point out, does not rely on metrics, or on verifiable standards. And, Larry would be the first to admit that it is subjective in many aspects.

Yet, in reality it does a great job of providing a basis for consumers and, as Larry says in the introduction to the Map, "My sense is that most knowledgeable people in the industry would agree in broad terms with this comparison, though many will disagree with me - and with each other - about the details".

Thousands of consumers have made wiser decisions through the information in PB. IMHO, and that of many, many others, it serves it purpose well.

In other words, Piano Buyer, as the bible for the old-fashioned (US retail) piano industry, has more in common with religion than with science.

You need to believe in it.
The reason PB does not rely on metrics is that those don't really apply to pianos(or there are so many of them that they are impractical/not meaningful). One cannot evaluate pianos like vacuum cleaners because they are far more complex. Thus the fact that PB doesn't rely on metrics is in no way a negative.

One only has to have reasonable confidence and trust in Larry Fine and his staff to find the information in the PB useful. I think 99+% of those who know Fine think he is one of the most straightforward, honest, and knowledgeable people in the piano industry. Even those who don't know Fine personally but who read the PB can probably deduce this by considering the carefully worded descriptions and comments.

Comparing the PB to an advertising flyer for a restaurant is so far from the truth that it makes me wonder if those who say that have even looked at the PB.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 10:01 AM

Originally Posted By: musicpassion
I don't think looking at the individual factors will not allow most pianists to predict how the sum of the parts will come together and form an instrument.
Exactly, and in many cases it's not at all clear what's "better" for a given factor.

For example, rim thickness is not necessarily better as it gets larger. Some might say Mason Hamlin's very thick rims offer some advantages while others would just say they're overbuilt. If someone is interested in particular specifications of a piano, they are often available on the maker's website. Also, listing even a small number of specifications for each model for each maker would require many extra pages in the PB.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 10:01 AM

The way I see it no one needs to believe in PB, nor does anyone have to trust Larry Fine (even thought he is certainly trustworthy).

One need only to read PB and judge for themselves if the information in PB is honest and if it is helpful or not.

The feedback we have received in the 4 years we have worked on PB, much of which has been posted here, has been overwhelmingly positive. This includes feeback from high-end shoppers as well as first time buyers.
Posted by: turandot

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 10:33 AM

Originally Posted By: HalfStep
I thought the grand I bought was a Dongbei built piano. My tech did as well and praised their newer piano production.


The Baldwin China grands I played, a 165 and 185, were clones of the Nordiska G and K models. I can't imagine they weren not built at the DongBei plant.

Still, that was two years ago. Norbert has placed Parsons bait on his spinning line twice on this thread, so I imagine he has some weight on the line as well. Nothing would surprise me in the world of Chinese piano manufacture.
Posted by: Entheo

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 11:17 AM

i would argue that pianos are no more magical a product than vacuum cleaners or automobiles or restaurants in that being informed by objective information and thus being educated on a topic usually results in better decision making. people can choose to ignore the information (e.g. what type of bass string is used) but they should not be DENIED that information. a honda accord may get higher marks for reliability & resale value but someone may still choose the vw jetta because it's fun to drive -- but they should have the opportunity to make that decision in light of the facts and not a particular high priest's opinion.

i'm actually surprised at the pushback here for data matrices, which would obviously (to me anyway) increase the credibility of this publication and bring it on par with comparative publications in any other industry (a simple questionnaire sent to the manufacturers along with instructions on how the data will be used & the scoring system should easily yield the requested data). perhaps it's because it's the only game in town that feedback falls on deaf ears. if it had a competitor this feedback would surely be taken seriously.

in the meantime i'll continue to scratch my head at some of the incredulous classifications on page 44.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 11:34 AM

It is my understanding that the current Baldwin grands are made at Parsons. I believe that started about 6 months ago.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 11:37 AM

Entheo, do you play the piano, or do you just analyze specs?

Play all of the instruments on pages 44 & 45 and you may very well come to the same conclusions. You might take on the task of creating a spec based rating system, with info from the builders, and provide it to Mr. Fine for inclusion in PB.
Posted by: Entheo

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 11:49 AM

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Entheo, do you play the piano, or do you just analyze specs?

Play all of the instruments on pages 44 & 45 and you may very well come to the same conclusions. You might take on the task of creating a spec based rating system, with info from the builders, and provide it to Mr. Fine for inclusion in PB.


i do both - they are not mutually exclusive.

and i have played most of the brands (and many of their models) on pg 44.

but my point - which is being sorely missed here - is not about yet another person's opinion, but augmenting the decision making process with FACT.

and why, pray tell, should i do someone else's job for them? as i said before, this is not rocket science... a little bit of research is all that's required.

and with this i'll sign off of this rather frustrating topic of conversation.
Posted by: turandot

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 11:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Entheo

in the meantime i'll continue to scratch my head at some of the incredulous classifications on page 44.


Entheo,

The basic division of categories in Fine's writing was traidtionally related to mass-produced pianos being listed in a consumer grade and so-called hand-built pianos being listed in a performance grade. In the edition before the last one, Fine created a new category -- professional grade. Professional grade was changed to intermediate grade in the last edition because Fine felt that the term "professional" could be misleading.

Fine has stated here on PW in his posts that the division between mass-produced and hand-built is becoming less meaningful as so-called hand builders adapt to modern machinery and mass producers continue to refine their craft. I think the creation of a third category and the quick renaming of that category prove that the categorization issue is very much on his mind, and he doesn't feel he has resolved it. If you input Fine in the user list and read his posts on PW beginning with 2009, you will find that he is very forthcoming and doesn't mind a little give and take on this and other issues.

I don't understand at all the composition of the intermediate category as it is presently constituted, but I don't understand in general why Yamaha and Kawai artist pianos that are standards in performance venues are not 'performance' pianos, while other relatively obscure pianos that are virtually never used in performance venues are 'performance' pianos. Perhaps it's a category-naming issue more than a musical one, or perhaps it is categorically impossible for a mass-produced piano to crack the glass ceiling. What can you do? Fine doesn't pretend to have the final answers and his writing is descriptive, never prescriptive.
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 12:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Entheo
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Entheo, do you play the piano, or do you just analyze specs?

Play all of the instruments on pages 44 & 45 and you may very well come to the same conclusions. You might take on the task of creating a spec based rating system, with info from the builders, and provide it to Mr. Fine for inclusion in PB.


i do both - they are not mutually exclusive.

and i have played most of the brands (and many of their models) on pg 44.

but my point - which is being sorely missed here - is not about yet another person's opinion, but augmenting the decision making process with FACT.

and why, pray tell, should i do someone else's job for them? as i said before, this is not rocket science... a little bit of research is all that's required.

and with this i'll sign off of this rather frustrating topic of conversation.


It just got a little less frustrating.
Posted by: HalfStep

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 01:37 PM

http://baldwinpiano.shutterfly.com/

Okay my first attempt at linking pics
Posted by: HalfStep

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 01:38 PM

Bad resolution ughhh. Try



http://baldwinpiano.shutterfly.com/
Posted by: Norbert

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 03:27 PM

Tur:

Quote:
Norbert has placed Parsons bait on his spinning line twice on this thread, so I imagine he has some weight on the line as well. Nothing would surprise me in the world of Chinese piano manufacture.


Emotional, irrational and plain wrong.

Steve:

Quote:
It is my understanding that the current Baldwin grands are made at Parsons. I believe that started about 6 months ago.


Factual and to the point.

Norbert thumb
Posted by: turandot

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 03:50 PM

Norbert,

I welcome you disapproval with open enthusiasm, possibly more enthusiasm than Steve could summon up for your meaningless stamp of approval.

Emotional? Not really, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for a couple of the DongBei grand designs. It's not that they're to everyone's taste, but they do have their own voice. I'll be disappointed if those designs are permanently extinguished.

Irrational? Well, I did mean by weight on the line that I assumed you had a basis for your information about Parsons. Was that assumption irrational? You tell me.

Wrong? Revisit the top of this post.
Posted by: rlinkt

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 04:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Entheo

but my point - which is being sorely missed here - is not about yet another person's opinion, but augmenting the decision making process with FACT.


Entheo,

I know very little about pianos, but I did buy a piano a few months back. Here is my perspective on this topic: Products that are sold on the basis of feature comparison boil the differentiating factors down to features that mean something tangible to the consumer -- real or perceived. When I look at your product feature matrix screenshot, I mostly understand exactly what most of the line items mean from a functionality perspective. When I look at the piano marketing materials, it means very little to me. I understand what a slow-close fallboard would do, but I have no idea how a [19 cross-ply maple pinblock] or a [molded vertical maple, maple cap] bridge stacks up against competition. I know that when heard the Ritmuller I liked it, but I have no idea what a 'functional duplex scale' is. Does anybody understand how a 'functional duplex scale' compares to the plain old duplex scale, and what it means for the product?

Its much simpler to just play the product and form an opinion until pianos can be compared on tangible features like 30 FPS vs 60 FPS recording.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/10/13 05:23 PM

Originally Posted By: rlinkt
Originally Posted By: Entheo

but my point - which is being sorely missed here - is not about yet another person's opinion, but augmenting the decision making process with FACT.


Entheo,

I know very little about pianos, but I did buy a piano a few months back. Here is my perspective on this topic: Products that are sold on the basis of feature comparison boil the differentiating factors down to features that mean something tangible to the consumer -- real or perceived. When I look at your product feature matrix screenshot, I mostly understand exactly what most of the line items mean from a functionality perspective. When I look at the piano marketing materials, it means very little to me. I understand what a slow-close fallboard would do, but I have no idea how a [19 cross-ply maple pinblock] or a [molded vertical maple, maple cap] bridge stacks up against competition. I know that when heard the Ritmuller I liked it, but I have no idea what a 'functional duplex scale' is. Does anybody understand how a 'functional duplex scale' compares to the plain old duplex scale, and what it means for the product?

Its much simpler to just play the product and form an opinion until pianos can be compared on tangible features like 30 FPS vs 60 FPS recording.


I bought a new piano as well about six months ago. I made my decision solely on a comparison of sound amoungst many, many pianos all over North America (I travel a lot.). To my ears and hands, and to my my listeners, this is a piano of unusual sonority and responsiveness. I love it. However, after I got the piano I started learning about the technical side of pianos. I was blown away by the fact that, even though I have a degree in music performance, none of my teachers ever spoke to me about regulation, tuning techniques, or duplex scaling ( real or imagined), or any of the other hundreds of things that affect piano sound and quality. My point is that I was lucky. I think, in retrospect, that if the other pianos had been better prepared before I played them, I might have come to different decision. Would a matrix of piano features have helped me? Definitely, if I understood the value of the matrix items in their contribution to the sound. I could have understood why a Bosie sounds different from a M&H.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/11/13 05:32 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: Entheo
...if the only piano publication for consumers doesn't have a published baseline of data upon which to reference their classifications then how is anyone to trust that the published opinions are any more objective than anyone else's opinion? this isn't rocket science -- every industry and sub-sector has quantifiable matrices, measures and the resulting deterministic formulas for ranking.
Your supposition is in fact - not a supposition but the reality of the publication. Piano Buyer...as you point out, does not rely on metrics, or on verifiable standards. And, Larry would be the first to admit that it is subjective in many aspects.

Yet, in reality it does a great job of providing a basis for consumers and, as Larry says in the introduction to the Map, "My sense is that most knowledgeable people in the industry would agree in broad terms with this comparison, though many will disagree with me - and with each other - about the details".

Thousands of consumers have made wiser decisions through the information in PB. IMHO, and that of many, many others, it serves it purpose well.

In other words, Piano Buyer, as the bible for the old-fashioned (US retail) piano industry, has more in common with religion than with science.

You need to believe in it.
The reason PB does not rely on metrics is that those don't really apply to pianos(or there are so many of them that they are impractical/not meaningful). One cannot evaluate pianos like vacuum cleaners because they are far more complex. Thus the fact that PB doesn't rely on metrics is in no way a negative.

One only has to have reasonable confidence and trust in Larry Fine and his staff to find the information in the PB useful. I think 99+% of those who know Fine think he is one of the most straightforward, honest, and knowledgeable people in the piano industry. Even those who don't know Fine personally but who read the PB can probably deduce this by considering the carefully worded descriptions and comments.

Comparing the PB to an advertising flyer for a restaurant is so far from the truth that it makes me wonder if those who say that have even looked at the PB.


Pianos are trivially simple compared to many other complex consumer products.

PB takes advertising just like the little book/magazines one finds in hotel rooms and it is every bit as subjective and subject to conflict of interest as those publications.

I have spent money on PB in the past and found the information US-centric and woefully incomplete and ignorant of the top German brands which were listed as some kind of question mark or footnote when they did appear. A real hocus-pocus echo chamber dependent on limited, biased sampling.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/11/13 05:34 AM

Originally Posted By: turandot
Originally Posted By: Entheo

in the meantime i'll continue to scratch my head at some of the incredulous classifications on page 44.


Entheo,

The basic division of categories in Fine's writing was traidtionally related to mass-produced pianos being listed in a consumer grade and so-called hand-built pianos being listed in a performance grade. In the edition before the last one, Fine created a new category -- professional grade. Professional grade was changed to intermediate grade in the last edition because Fine felt that the term "professional" could be misleading.

Fine has stated here on PW in his posts that the division between mass-produced and hand-built is becoming less meaningful as so-called hand builders adapt to modern machinery and mass producers continue to refine their craft. I think the creation of a third category and the quick renaming of that category prove that the categorization issue is very much on his mind, and he doesn't feel he has resolved it. If you input Fine in the user list and read his posts on PW beginning with 2009, you will find that he is very forthcoming and doesn't mind a little give and take on this and other issues.

I don't understand at all the composition of the intermediate category as it is presently constituted, but I don't understand in general why Yamaha and Kawai artist pianos that are standards in performance venues are not 'performance' pianos, while other relatively obscure pianos that are virtually never used in performance venues are 'performance' pianos. Perhaps it's a category-naming issue more than a musical one, or perhaps it is categorically impossible for a mass-produced piano to crack the glass ceiling. What can you do? Fine doesn't pretend to have the final answers and his writing is descriptive, never prescriptive.


It is all subjectivity, smoke and mirrors. The classifications are demonstrably arbitrary and meaningless.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/11/13 09:02 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Pianos are trivially simple compared to many other complex consumer products.
I doubt many would agree with you.
Originally Posted By: theJourney
PB takes advertising just like the little book/magazines one finds in hotel rooms and it is every bit as subjective and subject to conflict of interest as those publications.
This topic was dealt with at length when the PB first started including advertising. Anyone who knows Larry Fine knows that his integrity is frankly astronomically high, and the huge success of the PB depends on his being honest in his evaluations over several decades.

The ratings changed very little from the around 20 years of pre-advertising days compared to the post advertising days. This seems to indicate a lack of conflict of interest.

That the rating must be to an extent subjective is a given and not a negative. Piano tone and touch are subjective as a matter of fact.


Originally Posted By: theJourney
I have spent money on PB in the past and found the information US-centric and woefully incomplete and ignorant of the top German brands which were listed as some kind of question mark or footnote when they did appear. A real hocus-pocus echo chamber dependent on limited, biased sampling.
Your characterization as "woefully incomplete and ignorant" is pure personal opinion. The top German brands are with only the rarest exception(maybe Feurich because of of its miniscule production?) ever listed with minimal information but never as some kind of question mark or footnote. In the rare cases when Fine feels there is not enough information to evaluate a make or only enough to make a tentative evaluation, he clearly indicates this which is exactly what should be done. There have been lengthy descriptions/evaluations of Boesendorfer, Schimmel, Bluthner, Bechstein, etc. for over 20 years.
Posted by: turandot

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/11/13 01:20 PM

Originally Posted By: theJourney

It is all subjectivity, smoke and mirrors. The classifications are demonstrably arbitrary and meaningless.


Arbitrary? Yes, in the sense that a classification system that divides pianos according to production methods in only one of many ways one could segment the market. Fine's subcategories that exist both above, below. and now adjacent to the glass ceiling are based more than anything else on price. That's another way to classify. One could also classify according to units manufactured, units sold, global reach, importance to the music industry, institutional placement, teacher favorites, etc. However, the results of such a classification might not be of much importance to Fine.

Meaningless? I don't think so at all. Any writer is free to structure the piano market as he wishes. The important thing is that he explains his system clearly, not that you agree with it.
Posted by: RickG1

Re: What Goes Around Comes Around! ( A long story.) - 03/11/13 04:51 PM

I have found the PB to be an excellent source of information. But, unlike Consumer Reports, I use my ears, my touch and instinct to judge a piano. Some that I thought would be PSO were, in fact, not bad. Some that had the high end name, were a disappointment. JMHO. :-)