Is Irmler made in China?

Posted by: swampwiz

Is Irmler made in China? - 05/10/08 12:08 AM

Someone on another thread mentioned that Irmler is a Bluthner managed, Chinese made piano. That would make it the only Chinese manufactured brand in Tier 2 (and the only one other than Perzina that is not in the {bottom} Tier 4.)

If this were true, then it would seem that the Irmler would be the steal of the century, as obviously being Chinese, it must an inexpensive instrument.

Or maybe Larry Fine made a mistake? Or maybe some funny business going on?
Posted by: kenny

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 05/10/08 12:16 AM

FWIW Fine's 07/08 Supplement says Irmlers are made in Poland, and Bluethner's lowest-cost brand Breitmann is made in China.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 05/10/08 12:39 AM

from Ingbert Bluthner-Haessler in the Chicago Tribune
 Quote:
"The Irmlers are Chinese-made, but we run them through our factory here before they are sold. They are voiced here,"
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-piano-0430apr30,0,4712774.story?page=1


Wiz,

Bluthner distributes Breitmann pianos too. They are made for them in China by Artfield (who also build some Suzukis). Some Irmlers were built in Poland.
Posted by: schwammerl

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 05/10/08 07:40 AM

As far as I know there are two lines of Irmler pianos:

* The Irmler Professional line (built in Poland; at least they say European made):
http://www.bluthner.co.uk/irmler/profgrands.html

* The Irmler Studio Line (made in Asia) of which they claim (from website):
 Quote:
Advanced quality management, fine materials from Germany, supervised production by German Craftsmen, and final inspection guarantee many years of musical enjoyment.
- so in line with what has been written in the Chicago Tribune article.
http://www.bluthner.co.uk/irmler/studiogrands.html

schwammerl.
Posted by: Ori

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 05/10/08 10:27 AM

No, Larry Fine did not make a mistake.

The Irmlers that are distributed in the US are made in Poland.
The Chinese pianos that are available through Bluthner dealers in the US are called Breitman.

As far as I know, in Europe and/or Asia they market the Chinese made pianos under the name Irmler, which may be the source of the confusion.
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 05/10/08 01:31 PM

Ori, [/b] People who care about this marque should give the family a heads up re being clear when doing interviews with the U.S. media. I'd hate to see another Ibach.
Posted by: swampwiz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 05/10/08 01:37 PM

OK, I think I understand.

There is:

Irmler Professional, marketed as Irmler Europe (except in the USA where it is marketed as simply Irmler), made in Poland, that Fine has as Tier 2-C.

Irmler Studio, marketed as simply Irmler (except in the USA where is it marketed as Breitmann), made in China, that presumably Fine would rate down with rest of the Chinese.

It seems that the poster who claimed that Irmler was made in China was not accurate (he should have said something like "the lower line of Irmler".)

So basically, Irmler Professional is simply Bluethner's slightly lower class product, akin to Schimmel's Voegel, while Irmler Studio is just a standard cheap "European managed, Chinese manufactured" budget brand.
Posted by: Basil

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 05/10/08 05:23 PM

 Quote:
Someone on another thread mentioned that Irmler is a Bluthner managed, Chinese made piano. That would make it the only Chinese manufactured brand in Tier 2 (and the only one other than Perzina that is not in the {bottom} Tier 4.)
I haven't seen the most recent LF rankings but I always thought Haessler was Bluthner's second product - and so prob Tier 2 - and Irmler would below that (and not Tier 2). May well be out of date of course.
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 05/10/08 05:31 PM

In the most recent supplement, Haessler is 2B, Irmler is 2C.
Posted by: swampwiz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 05/12/08 04:28 AM

Basil is correct. Haessler seems to be higher tier than Irmler. The Haessler is made in Leipzig, so I guess that former East Germany is considered a higher quality location to manufacture than Poland, but lesser quality than the former West Germany.
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/06/08 01:11 PM

I have a friend Ivan Kahn of Encore Pianos in Dallas who is adding the Bluthner, Haessler, Irmler, Breitmann line to his store. I asked him about this and he gave me the name of a factory source. So I called him and asked him where Irmler is made. He said "Why don't people ask if they want to know." So he was happy to answer my questions but it is complicated.
Bluthner has always been made by the best quality of craftsmen in Leipzig, Germany.
Haessler has always been made by the best quality craftsmen to a new and different Bluthner design also in Leipzig.
Irmler has been made in Poland and China and will now be made in Korea by Samick but this is complicated and see below.
Breitmannn is made in China to German specifications and supervision and sold in the US only. These pianos are no longer being made but are still being sold.

Irmlers and Irmlers Europe were made in Poland but the Polish factory has been sold. The current supplies in the US and Europe were made in Poland. In Poland they used many German parts and they were Bluthner designs and supervision. In Europe they sell Irmler Students which were made in China but no longer are being made. In the US these are sold as Breitmann pianos. The new Irmlers pianos which are shipping now to dealers in the US and Europe are made by Samick in Korea to German specs., German design and use many German parts.

I was told that this is further complicated by the fact that most pianos are made from parts from many different locations. Bluthner, and others, are striving to make the very best pianos possible at different price points. And so a company such as Bluthner is looking all over the world to find the best parts made from the best materials with the best labor. Bluthner feels that they need to control design, materials, quality and therefore product as much as they can.

Bluthner also owns the Shiller name and these pianos are the same as Irmler (and Irmler Europe) and were made in Poland.
Posted by: swampwiz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/06/08 02:23 PM

Methinks that Bluthner wants to capitalize on the good reputation of Irmler (currently Tier 2C) by now sourcing that brand by the cheap Korean production. This will work until Larry Fine catches up and demotes it to Tier 3 (or lower.) But it looks like Haessler will continue to be a good solid Tier 2 product.
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/06/08 02:51 PM

sw,[/b] the Irmler decision is puzzling. The original arrangement seemed ideal: Polish-made instruments checked in Leipzig meant that low wage workers produced a product whose quality control could be easily exercised by the parent company.

How much lower - if at all - are wages in South Korea? Will Bluthner maintain an on-site presence?
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/06/08 03:25 PM

from Ingbert Bluthner-Haessler
 Quote:
"Not everyone can afford 40,000 euros [$60,000] for a piano. Our dealers need a range of instruments to sell,"
from wiz
 Quote:
Bluthner wants to capitalize on the good reputation of Irmler (currently Tier 2C) by now sourcing that brand by the cheap Korean production. This will work until Larry Fine catches up and demotes it to Tier 3 (or lower.) But it looks like Haessler will continue to be a good solid Tier 2 product.
So, which do you believe?

1. The company is trying to offer desirable products at different price levels.

[or]

2. The company is trying to outfox the public and stay one step ahead of Larry Fine

Wiz,

No offense, but I don't think your comments have any credibility whatsoever.

Why is Korean production "cheap"?
Why is Haessler a "good solid" product?

Have you ever seen or played a new Irmler?
Have you ever seen or played a new Haessler?
Hacve you ever seen or played a new Breitmann?
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/06/08 04:05 PM

Thanks tunandot. I agree with you. I have never played or seen these pianos except for Bluthner. So I have no personal experience with them. However I do believe that Ingbert and Christian Blüthner-Haessler are among the finest piano manufacturing people in the world. I also believe that like Steinway, and even more than Steinway, they are trying to make the best pianos anywhere at different price levels. I personally like German pianos and I am interested in how the best Germans are working with our world economy to thrive in the 21th century.

By the way I am interested in how BMW owns Rolls Royce and Mini and has designed better cars which are made in England and the US and elsewhere. Boy I love my BMW car and have a bias. Yet we also own a Japanese car.

I look forward to playing these Bluthner pianos when they get to my friends store.
Posted by: swampwiz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/06/08 06:03 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by turandot:
Wiz,

No offense, but I don't think your comments have any credibility whatsoever.

Why is Korean production "cheap"?
Why is Haessler a "good solid" product?

Have you ever seen or played a new Irmler?
Have you ever seen or played a new Haessler?
Hacve you ever seen or played a new Breitmann? [/b]
I say that Korean production is cheap because as of yet, there has been no product that is Tier 2.

I have not seen or played the brands you have described, but I have read excerpts of Larry Fine's latest book. And even if I were to have auditioned these brands, I am not the expert that Larry Fine is.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/07/08 11:36 PM

German manufacturers have basically 2 types of philosophies today:

1] Go ahead and put some capital investment into China building some sub-lines from their marques, or at least using extensively parts/components from there.

This way you can supply your dealer network with cheaper pianos similiar to the Steinway- Boston-Essex system,preventing those guys to shop elsewhere.

You also - and this may be just as important - get your foot into the huge Chinese domestic market, a market with incredible future potential.

Dangers:

You are risking 'blemishing' your own good name and/or end up in a quagmire of credibility - perhaps affecting the entire line along the way.

No names mentioned to protect the innocent... ;\)

You also get into a head-to-head competition with many other low priced makes - something that may or may not be advisable to do in today's market.

Just imagine your next door competition will be Yamaha, Kawai, Brodmann, Hailun and so on - the list is endless.....

2] Stick with what you're doing best and do it better. Build a top-top Mercedes period - not a "Mercedes-Chrysler".

Your books will be looking great - just as does Mercedes' after shedding off Chrysler: the appreciating of the world will find you and buy.

Including many,many Chinese millionaires in the future.

Perhaps more than all of Germany could ever build for.....

Norbert ;\)
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 12:36 AM

Norbert, the bias which shows by the brands that you sell is showing badly in your comment above. \:\( The comment above is a poor description of your category 1. Your comment also leaves out the German brands which are in between your categories 1 and 2., such as Bechstein and Schimmel. Lastly, please remember that there have been several brands in your category 2 which are now out of business, such as Ibach. I'm sure that you mean well with this comment, but you need to do a better job with less bias.
Posted by: schwammerl

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 01:48 AM

 Quote:
Your comment also leaves out the German brands which are in between your categories 1 and 2., such as Bechstein and Schimmel.
Jordang I don't understand what you mean.
Although Norbert did not mention any brands, when you say Bechstein and Schimmel are between his 'categories 1 and 2' you probably refer to the Bechstein Academy (with it's confusion about build location and parts used) and the Vogel line by Schimmel (made in Poland)?

However I would still put Bechstein and Schimmel in 'category 1' as they both have the Asian built Euterpe and May Berlin lines respectively.

schwammerl.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 09:02 AM

from Jordang
 Quote:
Norbert, the bias which shows by the brands that you sell is showing badly in your comment above. The comment above is a poor description of your category 1. Your comment also leaves out the German brands which are in between your categories 1 and 2., such as Bechstein and Schimmel. Lastly, please remember that there have been several brands in your category 2 which are now out of business, such as Ibach. I'm sure that you mean well with this comment, but you need to do a better job with less bias.
Jordang,

I think you may have misinterpreted Norbert's comments. I don't think he showed a bias in that post. He mentioned perils that are connected with both market approaches. Those that get involved in Asian parts sourcing and contract building may be " risking 'blemishing' your [their] own good name and/or end up in a quagmire of credibility - perhaps affecting the entire line along the way". Those that stick to what they do best may be missing out on "the huge Chinese domestic market, a market with incredible future potential". This 'missing out' is no small argument because demand for acoustic pianos in Europe is declining even if nowhere near as precipitously as it has declined in the US. Even if the acoustic piano becomes a cultural curiosity in the West, it may become a cultural necessity for families of means in China.

Certainly Norbert's representation of Grotrian and Sauter indicates he is comfortable with these two companies who stay true to what they do best, but I really don't think he's making an absolute endorsement of that business model here. One thing that Norbert does not mention is that no maker in Germany can be assured of permanent sourcing of all needed parts inside Germany or even inside Europe. If and when more piano parts suppliers there shut down or move to Asia, the option of remaining pure German or pure European in terms of parts pedigree may be lost, even if the spare-no-expense execution of the build design is not.

I think your examples are a bit off as well. Ibach was certainly in Norbert's first group, not the second. At the time of its demise, several of its German rivals commented on the factors that brought it down. The consensus opinion was that Ibach never recovered from the mis-step of having pianos manufactured in Korea that wore the Ibach fallboard name. If that analysis is correct, the Ibach case is an example of "blemishing your own good name and ending up in a quagmire of credibility".

Schimmel is not between categories. It is solidly in Norbert's first group as well. Schimmel's May Berlin pianos are made in China of parts from different Chinese manufacturers. Schimmel's Vogel line is made in Poland and Schimmel's own Classic line is at least partially made in Poland as well. I'm not saying that's bad or good. I don't think Norbert is saying that either, just as he's not saying that the Steinway strategy is bad either.

Bechstein is not such a clear-cut case as Schimmel, but Karl Schulze's own comments about the company's activities in Asia leave no doubt as to which approach Bechstein is pursuing. Even if you accept the Bechstein Academy as a German piano, you cannot dismiss its Bohemia and Hoffmann lines which are stated to be manufactured in the Czech Republic, or its Euterpe line, which is clearly manufactured in Asia. Again, I'm not knocking this. It may be the most rational approach going forward. I'm just saying that if you read Norbert's group descriptions carefully, Bechstein, like Schimmel, is clearly in the first group.

One comment I would add to the discussion is that the 'stick-to-what-you-do-best' approach will probably work only as long as it results in, or is perceived to result in, a superior product. If it becomes economically attractive for Asian builders to focus on building Asian pianos to the European standard of builder's intent, parts sourcing, and execution of build, then they may pose a threat to those European boutique brands that spare no expense to themselves or to you--the buyer. At the moment, the stereotype of Asian manufacturers cutting corners on quality still holds sway, especially in esoteric places such as this forum. Should Asian pianos become available which prove conclusively that not every cost savings is a corner cut, then the perception of Asian pianos will be re-defined except for those who need, for whatever reason, to maintain a cultural bias.
Posted by: Axtremus

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 09:09 AM

Every time I read something like the sort of "pure blood" argument (e.g., what's "purely" made in country X, what's not), I feel like resurrecting the Asian Piano Club thread. Heck, I'll go do it right now. It's overdue for an update anyway. \:D
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 01:09 PM

Norbert's first category is a German company building in China. His second category is German company which is pure German and he describes it as having order "books looking great." Many German companies are using low wage Central European countries to source brands and parts. They seem like the middle category to me. And to describe the first category as the losing one and the second category as the successful approach as Norbert does is not accurate. Some companies in the second category have lost great sums of money, such as Bosendorfer.

Norbert also leaves out the whole Japenese and Korean companies. Plus many German companies used to have pianos made in other countries such as South Africa and England. (By the way that is an interesting story in itself. Ivan Kahn was telling me many of the details of how his family made pianos for German companies in S. Africa.)

My point is that their are not two simple categories of German and how it does or does not buys Chinese. Even the name of this thread is misleading. Irmler has not ever been made in China.
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 02:45 PM

Turandot, I really appreciate your thoughtful and detailed posts and your great knowledge. And I usually appreciate Norberts posts. Now if we can get him to shape up enough to post his real picture...
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 03:21 PM

from Jordang
 Quote:
My point is that there are not two simple categories of German and how it does or does not buy Chinese. Even the name of this thread is misleading. Irmler has not ever been made in China.
No argument about there not being simple categories....many different ways that the game is played in terms of levels of disclosure, levels of hype, branding, requirements placed on dealers, etc. I don't think you want to say that Irmler has never been made in China though, especially in light of your post here of the information received from your friend Mr. Kahn.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 05:23 PM

Jordang, you misunderstood what I said.

My message was directed primarily at those German makers who think they can/will successfully compete with lowerpriced lines of pianos in the future.

The fact of the matter - and this is only an expressed opinion on my part - is that if they keep dabbling in lower end lines and putting their resources into this - they will be eaten alive.

If this is called "bias" - so be it - I mean it.

Entry into China,and the rest of the world, will not be happening by competing with the Chinese or even Japanese on their own level - but by offering something truly special.

Ibach, Pfeiffer, Thuermer or Feurich were/are too small a company to make a difference one way or the other.

For those remaining left and in operation today, the stakes are far higher.

Meantime, let everybody suit themselves the way they see fit.....

Norbert \:o
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 07:28 PM

N, [/b]I think that there's a place for companies with B and C lines. For example, The Steinway family of pianos. Profits from the sales of the B's and C's can be applied to promoting the A's.

Asian manufacturers probably will move up-market, but their products won't have the caché of the storied brands. The premium pianos will attract sophisticated shoppers. Those folks will be able to distinguish between incarnations, e.g., Samick's Knabe, and the real deals.

There will be some status-seeking buying and the 'Net will be a source for forming opinions re desirable brands.

I'm more concerned about Baldwin. If as someone recently posted, that company has decided to brand everything as a "Baldwin," I fear that they'll end up muddying their own water.

We shall see....
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 07:55 PM

Turandot I stand corrected. Yes the Irmler Students sold in Europe were made in China and these same pianos are sold in the US as Breitmann.

Norbert. I guess that you will be wrong. I understand Steinway to be a German brand also making many pianos in Germany. So you are predicting that Steinway, Bluthner, Schimmel, Bechstein, and Yamaha Bosendorfer and maybe others will be "eaten alive." I hope and guess not.
Posted by: swampwiz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 09:27 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by FogVilleLad:
Asian manufacturers probably will move up-market, but their products won't have the caché of the storied brands. The premium pianos will attract sophisticated shoppers. Those folks will be able to distinguish between incarnations, e.g., Samick's Knabe, and the real deals.[/b]
Aside from the 2 mainstream Japanese manufacturers - Yamaha & Kawai - no Asian manufacturer has been able to get its premium brand into Tier 2. So obviously, the piano experts have been able to distinguish between the incarnations.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 09:28 PM

 Quote:
So you are predicting that Steinway, Bluthner, Schimmel, Bechstein, and Yamaha Bosendorfer and maybe others will be "eaten alive." I hope and guess not.
No, but if the top Germans keep muddling in lower lines, it will or certainly *can* affect the status of their own marques in the end.

Nobody can pull off just as easy what Steinway has been doing for decades now - time has elapsed and it is a different playing field today.

If I like to buy the best there is, I like to buy from makers who are dedicated to exlusive quality,like Rolex watches or Meissen Porcelain.

interesting chapter here if you like:

http://www.meissenusa.com/company/history.html

Building all over the world IMHO, only serves to erode the confidence I would have in such company striving to maintain a top notch position.

Norbert
Posted by: Alex Hernandez

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 06/08/08 09:37 PM

The Blüthner factory has recently expanded to accommodate among other things increased Irmler production. Instruments bearing the Irmler name originate in different parts of the world and are shipped to different parts of the world.

All of the instruments that are sold outside of the Chinese market are finished in Leipzig. Many final and critical decisions are executed in the factory to guarantee the best musical performance and the best value for the individual.

The Irmler pianos sold in the United states represent the finest Irmler pianos available anywhere in the world and compare favorably to many tier 2 and some tier 1 instruments IMO.
Posted by: TheCaz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/23/08 02:35 AM

This is an interesting topic, and one in which the Tier 1 manufacturers really don't have to worry about diluting the quality of their name as long as they don't dilute their Tier 1 products. Steinway has created the prototype of how to run this business. There is absolutely no product contamination between Steinway and its Boston and Essex lines. Steinway is simply grabbing additional slices of the market without making any capital investment in setting up its own manufacturing facilities. It simply buys the pianos at a manufacturer's wholesale price and has the pianos shipped either directly to its dealer network or to a distribution point where it can check out the pianos one last time to correct minor defects and to cull out the dogs. Engineering costs are minimal and it incurs no manufacturing costs.

Furthermore, its risks actually get lower as Asian manufacturing improves and the price point largely holds, i.e. when pianos improve in quality fatser than they do in price, it improves the overall number of people who might one day want to trade up to a Tier 1 product. In short, the new millionaires being minted in China are not buying Hailuns, Stecks, and Brodmans. They're buying Steinways, Bosendorfers, Bluthners, etc. Steinway, for example, lists China as one of its fastest-growing international markets -- and it makes absolute sense.

How well is the strategy working? Of Steinway's $235 million in revenues last year about 20% (maybe $47 million) was from the sale of Boston and Essex pianos. Are those buyers getting a little slice of Steinway because the pianos are "Steinway designed?" From a marketing perspective, they certainly are, although it's questionable how much they're really getting technically. When I asked a Steinway sales rep why I should pay more for a Boston than an equivalent Kawai, she explained how the wood was cured for a longer period and that Boston pianos would age better and hold their tone better over the years. At that moment, I understood the true meaning of ROFLMAO as the room smelled of buffalo.

The bottom line, however, is that buyers plopped down about $47 million for overpriced Asian pianos for the right to be members of the Steinway family. Are they stupid buyers? There's no doubt, for example, that an equivalent Kawai is just as good at a lower price point, and there's also no doubt that you can get an equivalent Chinese brand to an Essex for a lower price. What you cannot get, however, is the Steinway magazine sent to you every month, and you also cannot be part of a Tier 1 prestigious piano family like Steinway. You also get the security that comes from buying from a major name manufacturer, along with the assurance that the piano at least meets a good quality standard. The Essex pianos may not play or sound better than a number of Chinese models, but they're certainly solidly built and make a fine entry level piano, albeit for $1K to $2K more than stencils with a far less well-known name.

So given that there is a value associated with the security of a brand name and the psychological value of belonging, buying a Boston or Essex piano, or Vogel or May Berlin, or Irmler, etc. may just be worth it as long as the name in question completes the marketing loop and makes you feel like you're a member of an exclusive fraternity. After all, owning a piano and playing music is ultimately a form of entertainment and who is to say that the value of belonging to a prestigious family isn't worth the premium you paid?

Think about it. Almost everyone on this board would agree that there was something that makes paying $30K for an Estonia or $60K to $90K for a Steinway or $100K+ for a Bosendorfer, Bluthner, or Fazioli worth it because they deliver that special extra that somehow reaches into your soul. Is it really worth that much money when you can get functional performance from pianos for only $15 to $25K? It probably is. So what's the big deal if you pay a few thousand more for a Boston, Essex, Vogel, May Berlin or Irmler if the benefit is the values of belonging and security?
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/23/08 10:08 AM

Caz,

I agree with you up to a point. I don't think the 'family of fine pianos' approach is so much to make hay in the USA though. That may have been true of Steinway's plan years ago. But the Europeans are coming late to the party and there's not much hay to be made here anymore.

This is really about getting a toehold in Asia both in terms of manufacturing relationships and marketing channels. The Euros realize their manufacturing costs are not competitive with those in Asia and that their biggest potential sales market is in Asia. US may be strategic, but not the place to look for high-volume sales. We have a bad economy and a declining interest.

One other thing. People pay the Estonia premium for what's inside the piano, not for any mystique that surrounds it. The same is true of people who buy a thoroughbred from Sauter, Steinbraeber, or any other maker who isn't dabbling in the 'family of fine pianos' approach.

Some of the European companies that are marketing sub-lines are quite reticent (to be polite) to reveal to the potential customer just where on earth the piano has been made. Read the Bluthner statement from Alex Hernandez on this thread about the Irmler sourcing. I know someone who recently shopped an Irmler. He asked about the piano's origin from the dealer and sent two separate e-mails to people inside the Bluthner company. He couldn't get a clear answer from any of the three, and he was no looky-loo. He was at the point of purchase. The best he could get was the assurance that the pianos were finished off in Leipzig. If the Euro manufacturers take the approach of ordering a batch from here, a batch from there, and maintain flexibility in sourcing to harvest the best Asian product at the lowest cost, they will not have continuity in the product line like that which Steinway has accomplished with their Boston line. This may limit sales to discriminating customers.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/23/08 10:14 AM

One of the most loosy goose pianos I ever played was a Chinese(?) made Irmler. It was even worse than Estonia before it became a US sensation.
Posted by: TheCaz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/23/08 10:56 AM

It's one thing to start sourcing from Asia; it's another to feel comfortable about it. Steinway created the family fiction and met it head on. As a public company, they had no choice. They have to make such disclosures otherwise they'd be sued into oblivion by their shareholders.

I can understand how a privately-held Tier 1 European firm can be embarrassed about it and try to hide it. In the long run, however, that's a really bad strategy that will backfire on them. A lot of owning a piano is perception. How would you like to find out that your beautiful piano from the family of Bluthner that you thought was from Germany really came from China? You might be Dastocksauer ab, which the language translation website said was ****ed off in German.
Posted by: Starting Over

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/23/08 01:35 PM

For all the heat Steinway takes on PW, I do think they've handled this issue well, making no secret about where their pianos are made. People care and want to know about this for their own reasons and it really doesn't matter what those reasons are. I am interested in where a piano (or anything else) is made and it can be a factor in my buying decision. I would not necessarily rule out a piano based on where it was made but I definitely would rule out a piano if I couldn't easily find out where it was made. Obfuscation by manufacturers and their dealers on this question is self-destructive behaviour. In the face of such obfuscation, people may assume there is something to hide and look elsewhere.
Posted by: TheCaz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 12:11 PM

Let me give you a case in point. I looked at new Schulze Pollman uprights the other day: the 114, 118 and 126. All played very well, and it looked like they were members of the same family. The 114 was $7,500, the 118 was $9,500, and the 126 was $11,500. The 118 and 126 are true Italian brothers with Renner action and hammers, Roslau strings, and a soundboard from the Val die Fiemme forest. The 114 comes from Asian (China, I think?), and has a different soundboard, strings, and action. Apparently, about the only things that are the same are the Renner hammers and the name on the case.

How do you spell misleading practice that leaves a bad taste in my mouth? Ironically, the piano played great. Nevertheless, it's a mystery piano because I don't know its sourcing. Furthermore, S-P doesn't even have it on its website, so I can't find out.

If there's someone from S-P on PW, please tell your management that they're only hurting their great name by not dealing with this correctly. If it were properly disclosed and labeled at the dealer, I wouldn't have any problems at all. I'd probably be raving about how great a piano it was for the price ...
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 12:41 PM

 Quote:
For all the heat Steinway takes on PW, I do think they've handled this issue well, making no secret about where their pianos are made.
Surely you jest.
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 12:44 PM

 Quote:
How do you spell misleading practice that leaves a bad taste in my mouth?
Am I the only one that thinks we hold piano manufacturers/retailers to a different standard than other industries/products?

If I'm shopping for a SubZero fridge, a BMW or an Italian couch, do I really know where all the components are made and is the pricing of that product truly "transparant"? If I asked the dealer to carefully detail the source of all the components, and what their margin was, would I really have a basis to be offended if that information was not readily forthcoming?

I'm not trying to raise a stink, I'm truly curious how we piano lovers come to the conclusion that these kind of issues are offensive and misleading, when outsourcing and global procurement in the pursuit of providing a variety of attractive price points is one of the hallmarks of modern society and a significant contributor to our Western style of living.

It has to be more than the simple European image issue. I still like BMW's and Gagganau appliances (don't own either), and if they work right, that's enough for me. I know that BMW's are made in South Carolina.

Do those of you who take such offense at the lack of forthcoming clarity hold the manufacturers of all your other purchases to the same standard?

Note my key caveat..."it has to work right".
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 01:13 PM

Eric,

I have to disagree with you here. I'll be joining Starting Over when he marches out the dealer's front door. If the seller of a piano when confronted point-blank with the simple question: "Where was it made" chooses to hem and haw, bob and weave, and refuse to give a simple answer, I'm not interested.

This idea of final inspection, fine-tuning, finished off, fertiggestellt, post-assembly regulation, etc. is reassuring in that it stresses the company's committment to back the product. But it's not a substitute for a simple disclosure of the country of manufacture.

Personally I'm not afraid of 'made in China', 'made in Indonesia, or 'made in Macao', but let's be realistic. In terms of pricing and value received, apples need to be compared to apples, and oranges (such as your delectable avatar) to oranges. \:\)
Posted by: Vince in Vegas

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 01:13 PM

Well actually if the thing works (i.e. touch and tone) and it isn't falling apart I couldn't care less where it was built. Clearly a lot of forumites do care.

From TheCaz " Ironically, the piano played great" do you mean surprisingly? Do you find irony or surprise in a piano that performs well but dosen't have a known pedigree? I wouldn't be gripped by either of those emotions if I sat at any piano that sounds and feels good.
Posted by: TheCaz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 01:33 PM

Actually Eric, I have no problem whatsoever with outsourcing in a global world, but it's the manufacturers who have created the problem, not the consumers. As a way to distinguish quality of the European pianos versus Asian ones, the Euro manufacturers like S-P make it a point to tout Renner actions and hammers, Val de Fiemme soundboards etc. My problem comes when they then introduce a model that doesn't match those specs without such disclosure. If they didn't say anything about the sourcing and parts in any of the models, then I wouldn't have a problem at all. I'd be free to judge by sound and price, wouldn't I?

But who created the image that Val de Fiemme soundboards are better than ones Asian companies source from Sitka forests in Russia, or that Renner hammers are better than Asian hammers, or that Renner actions are better than ones made in Asia? It certainly wasn't the Asian manufacturers?

I don't want to be harsh, but it seems to me that the Euro manufacturers are now being hoisted by their own petard.
Posted by: TheCaz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 01:56 PM

Vince,

I don't care where it's built. I care about being given a misleading impression. That's what I meant when I said that ironically it played great. As far as I'm concerned, if S-P can keep prices down and still build a great-sounding, quality piano, I'm all for it.

I didn't create the image that Euro parts were better than Asian ones, or that pianos manufactured in Europe were better. The Euro manufacturers did.

The irony, of which surprise is a key component, is that I really couldn't distinguish by sound and touch that the 114 wasn't the same as the 118 (obviously not as big a sound), although a more experienced player might, so I'm not the best arbiter here. And if I can't, what does that say about the superiority of Renner actions, Val de Fiemme soundboards, and Roslau strings, which cuts to the heart of the matter, doesn't it?
Posted by: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 02:48 PM

If you look at the stickers on new car windows, they tell you where the parts were made (above a certain percentage) and where the car was assembled. Most BMWs were not made in South Carolina.

On a semi-relevant note, is there a thread (or would it be appropriate to start one) for questions about the new Larry Fine supplement? I have a couple of questions I would like to ask about it.
Posted by: Vince in Vegas

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 04:02 PM

TheCaz "The irony, of which surprise is a key component, is that I really couldn't distinguish by sound and touch that the 114 wasn't the same as the 118 (obviously not as big a sound), although a more experienced player might, so I'm not the best arbiter here. And if I can't, what does that say about the superiority of Renner actions, Val de Fiemme soundboards, and Roslau strings, which cuts to the heart of the matter, doesn't it?"

Good points and well said. I now understand the earlier statement.
Posted by: Starting Over

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 04:11 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Furtwangler:
 Quote:
For all the heat Steinway takes on PW, I do think they've handled this issue well, making no secret about where their pianos are made.
Surely you jest. [/b]
Nope, not at all. It's easy to find out where they're made. Discussions on the Forum about S&S pianos often focus on the differences between Hamburg and New York models, which Hamamutsu assembly line Boston pianos are made on, why Pearl River vs Dongbei etc., never about what country of origin. That's a given.

I first learned where S&S family pianos were made when I visited my local S&S dealer for the first time a couple of years ago and asked where their pianos were made.
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 05:18 PM

Actually, T, I think you ARE agreeing with me...we (the collective we of piano geeks) do in fact hold piano manufacturers to a different standard than we do other high end, expensive product manufacturers.

Not right or wrong, necessarily.
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 05:39 PM

Bose, it's all about transparency. Lower down the chain, the inquiry might be about who actually manufactures a certain stencil.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/24/08 07:04 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by BoseEric:
Actually, T, I think you ARE agreeing with me...we (the collective we of piano geeks) do in fact hold piano manufacturers to a different standard than we do other high end, expensive product manufacturers.

Not right or wrong, necessarily. [/b]
Eric

Agreeing with you? That would be awful. I don't want that. Think of my image, man! \:D

Seriously, I think the workmanship...the fitting of the soundboard, ribs, plate, etc. is a different issue from the possibly unfinished state of a factory-shipped piano.

In the ever-more-popular final inspection routine among European manufacturers, I don't think any found deficiencies in materials and construction workmanship can be overcome without a teardown. Action regulation and whatever else can make the piano the best it can be, but does not change what it is. It is what it is. If it was made in China it's a Chinese piano. If it was made in Indonesia, it's an Indonesian piano. If I ask a sales pro what it is and he will only tell me where it received its final inspection, or where its various components were harvested, I suppose that he's afraid to tell me what it is. Maybe he doesn't know either. \:D But it just doesn't feel right.

BTW, I'm no geek. I'm not sure you are either. Don't you have some kind of one-off radial back UX type experimental Yamaha vertical contraption at home? \:D

If a Chinese manufacturer chooses to put at the top of its website.......

"Our pianos are made in China. They are unabashedly Chinese and we are proud of them. We will offer you European upgrades for action, hammers, soundboard, etc. if you like and are willing to bear substantial added cost, but we stand behind our Chinese pianos made by Chinese workers of 100% Chinese components and are confident that they will meet with your satisfaction."

......I will be a fan of that maker's marketing.
Posted by: PianoPro

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/25/08 01:15 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by BoseEric:
 Quote:
How do you spell misleading practice that leaves a bad taste in my mouth?
Am I the only one that thinks we hold piano manufacturers/retailers to a different standard than other industries/products?[/b]
You mean like:

GM (General Motors)

Aveo-Made in Korea
Cobalt-Made in Mexico
Impala-Made in Canada
Tahoe/Suburban-Made in U.S.A.
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/25/08 06:27 PM

A few years Lee Iococca was president of Chrysler. He went to Japan with a delegation complaining of how many Japanese car companies were hurting US industries by making their cars in Japan.

When he got back a reporter questioned him because so many parts such as seats were made for Chrysler in Mexico. He was asked how much of Chrysler cars were made in the US. His reply was that at least 50% of the Chrysler car parts were made in the US. Now I'm sure the percentage is lower.

I believe in honesty in advertising and piano companies should answer questions about were things are made. But the quality and deserved rating of a piano, IMO, is not closely correlated with the country of manufacture.

(By the way I just learned that Frank has improved this forum spelling so very much. If you right click on a misspelled work then the computer suggests correct spellings. How nice. Thanks Frank.)
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/25/08 07:07 PM

 Quote:
(By the way I just learned that Frank has improved this forum spelling so very much. If you right on a misspelled work then the computer suggests correctly spellings. How nice. Thanks Frank.)
And it is working flawlessly!
Posted by: M&B

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/25/08 08:34 PM

Among all members posting on this thread, if somebody shows a good grasp of the piano industry is Norbert. His posts couldn’t be more accurate; he is practically predicting the future.
IMO For the most part German manufacturers are not longer interested in what Norbert already mentioned: “Stick with what you're doing best and do it better”. Over pricing pianos to the dealer network doesn’t make them enough money; therefore other alternatives most be found.

OTH Steinway is the only company with a name big enough to build sub-lines, make money, keep their reputation immaculate, AND set-up future Steinway buyers.

The Japanese have done also a good job as well. They make all their lines with the same name and simply divide them in categories. Off course they built their reputation from ground up; this is what is allowing them at this point to move successfully on either direction.

BTW It is a shame that a piano manufacturer such as Blüthner cannot make enough money to sustain healthy business without the need of stencil brands and confusing stories that make them look almost shady.
Respect to those manufacturers taking “the high-road” instead of compromising their image or integrity.
Posted by: Alex Hernandez

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 12:59 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by M&B:
Among all members posting on this thread, if somebody shows a good grasp of the piano industry is Norbert. His posts couldn’t be more accurate; he is practically predicting the future.
IMO For the most part German manufacturers are not longer interested in what Norbert already mentioned: “Stick with what you're doing best and do it better”. Over pricing pianos to the dealer network doesn’t make them enough money; therefore other alternatives most be found.

OTH Steinway is the only company with a name big enough to build sub-lines, make money, keep their reputation immaculate, AND set-up future Steinway buyers.

The Japanese have done also a good job as well. They make all their lines with the same name and simply divide them in categories. Off course they built their reputation from ground up; this is what is allowing them at this point to move successfully on either direction.

BTW It is a shame that a piano manufacturer such as Blüthner cannot make enough money to sustain healthy business without the need of stencil brands and confusing stories that make them look almost shady.
Respect to those manufacturers taking “the high-road” instead of compromising their image or integrity. [/b]
This post is wildly off base and frankly insulting. I would invite you to offer a detailed and factual argument that supports the idea that offering a more affordable instrument compromises a manufactures integrity.

I, for example love the Shigeru Kawais that I have played but wouldn't for a moment think that the RX cheapens the Kawai image.

I predict that Irmler will be a strong competitor in your market. Russell Kassman is a dedicated dealer who offers a well prepared and well supported inventory in the bay area ( if you are the dealer I am thinking of ).
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 01:53 AM

Posted by: Alex Hernandez

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 02:25 AM

Posted by: M&B

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 03:31 AM

A. Hernandez,

A) Kawai has been making pianos for 80 years. They came into the market as a modest piano manufacturer from Japan, always under the shade of Yamaha. Today, they have an amazing piano in tier One. OTH The name Bluthner has existed for over a 100 years always known as high-end piano maker; today they're venturing into the cheap piano manufacturing.
Using Kawai as part of your argument is irrelevant by just looking at the history of these two companies, and where they are situated in today's market.
BTW Hirotaka KAWAI uses his real last-name; I wonder if Christian's last-name is really Bluthner?

B) The fact that you are here on behalf of Bluthner proves my point. I’ve never seen any Fazioli or Steingraeber sales representative trying to clean up their name here at PW.
Do you know why ? Because they have nothing to clean up. Nor Sauter which by the way I think this is one of the lines your friend Mr. Kassman. is representing. (great pianos too)

C) Since you brought up the name of Mr. Kassman. If I remember well a few moths ago YOU will not recognize him as Bluthner dealer. Today he still claims to be a Bluthner dealer; and all he has is one Bluthner on the floor.
Is this all it takes to be a Bluthner dealer? One piano.
Do you think Steinway will let anybody buy one piano, then allow them to declare their store Steinway dealers? The answer is NO.
This shows how unprofessionally Bluthner is running business; and how much they care about the prestige of the company.

D) If Bluthner has decided to make lower priced pianos ( cheaper over priced stuff). The smart thing to do is not to associate the cheap pianos with Bluthner. Alex! There are excellent pianist who has never heard of the name Bluthner. What is making you guys think that consumers interested in lower priced pianos will get excited over a Korean made piano designed by Bluthner? (This is where Norbert make a lot of sense. He is right . You can’t compete in that market with this business model)
BTW Bluthner should have a sales rep dedicated to the cheaper stuff, this way Bluthner’s sales representative (you) won’t have to get involved into this mess of who makes what and where.

E) I’m a dealer but not that dealer. But since you opened a can of worms, I’ll take up on it.


Dear Alex I don’t have any intention of insulting anybody. It is also understandable that you are not responsible for the good or poor management of Bluthner.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 10:17 AM

 Quote:
I offer my opinion to you with all due respect and hope it gives you the answers you have been seeking.[/b]
Since I asked you to supply the answer to a simple factual question and since you declined to do so, I fail to understand how you could possibly think you gave me the answers I have been seeking.

Consumers who wish to know where a piano was made have a right to expect an answer to that question. SMC is not a country of origin. It is my understanding that production costs in Korea have reached the point where they rival those in Germany and that SMC is increasingly shifting its production to Indonesia.

If the new Irmler in US inventory is made in Korea, then say that. If it is made in Indonesia, then say that. If it is made in China, then say that. If there are new Irmlers in US inventory that have been built in different countries, then say that and provide an answer to the question of how those manufactured in different countries can be told apart.

You cannot be naive enough to think that these things do not matter to consumers, to retailers, or to those such as Mr. Fine who critique industry products. This continuing unwillingness to answer the question with digressions into subjective piano tiers and the product lines of a Japanese competitor can only do harm to a marketing effort in the long run.
Posted by: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 10:55 AM

The only reference to Irmler in Larry Fine's 2008-09 supplement is that "Bluthner has temporarily discontinued the Irmler and Breitmann piano lines." If this is correct, it answers the question of where Irmler pianos are currently being made: they aren't.
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 11:13 AM

Turandot. My infomation did not come from Ivan Kahn alone. It came from a higher up exec. with Bluthner, and not Alex. I believe it to be correct. Why do you not believe it? My explaination is detailed and factual. I did not get all of your questions answered, as you had not yet asked them. Unless you are actually shopping for an Irmler, I believe that you have enough questions answered. I was told and Alex has told you that the US Irmlers currently in dealers were made in Poland and the ones which are now being prepared to be shipped to dealers are made in Korea.

Now it is time that you showed some courtesy to others.
Posted by: Alex Hernandez

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 11:55 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by M&B:
A. Hernandez,

A) Kawai has been making pianos for 80 years. They came into the market as a modest piano manufacturer from Japan, always under the shade of Yamaha. Today, they have an amazing piano in tier One. OTH The name Bluthner has existed for over a 100 years always known as high-end piano maker; today they're venturing into the cheap piano manufacturing.
Using Kawai as part of your argument is irrelevant by just looking at the history of these two companies, and where they are situated in today's market.
BTW Hirotaka KAWAI uses his real last-name; I wonder if Christian's last-name is really Bluthner?[/b]
Kawai makes a high end and an entry level, That is good business. I don't understand why you criticize the Blüthner family for offering an affordable alternative to the public.

 Quote:
Originally posted by M&B:

B) The fact that you are here on behalf of Bluthner proves my point. I’ve never seen any Fazioli or Steingraeber sales representative trying to clean up their name here at PW.
Do you know why ? Because they have nothing to clean up. Nor Sauter which by the way I think this is one of the lines your friend Mr. Kassman. is representing. (great pianos too)[/b]
This smacks of bitterness and is regrettable coming from a representative of such esteemed lines. Can we find a more respectful way to address your issues?

 Quote:
Originally posted by M&B:

C) Since you brought up the name of Mr. Kassman. If I remember well a few moths ago YOU will not recognize him as Bluthner dealer. Today he still claims to be a Bluthner dealer; and all he has is one Bluthner on the floor.
Is this all it takes to be a Bluthner dealer? One piano.
Do you think Steinway will let anybody buy one piano, then allow them to declare their store Steinway dealers? The answer is NO.
This shows how unprofessionally Bluthner is running business; and how much they care about the prestige of the company.[/b]
Mr. Kassman is now an official Blüthner dealer as I have stated on this forum before. It is not his fault that we cannot make our instruments fast enough.

 Quote:
Originally posted by M&B:

D) If Bluthner has decided to make lower priced pianos ( cheaper over priced stuff). The smart thing to do is not to associate the cheap pianos with Bluthner. Alex! There are excellent pianist who has never heard of the name Bluthner. What is making you guys think that consumers interested in lower priced pianos will get excited over a Korean made piano designed by Bluthner? (This is where Norbert make a lot of sense. He is right . You can’t compete in that market with this business model)
BTW Bluthner should have a sales rep dedicated to the cheaper stuff, this way Bluthner’s sales representative (you) won’t have to get involved into this mess of who makes what and where.[/b]
The Blüthner legacy stands on it's own and it's pretty wonderful my friend. Blüthner is but one voice in a choir of wonderful piano makers today. It is true not everyone knows about us but that doesn't mean we have failed, it only means we have yet to be discovered.

 Quote:
Originally posted by M&B:

E) I’m a dealer but not that dealer. But since you opened a can of worms, I’ll take up on it.[/b]
Can you understand it is difficult for me to take your criticism seriously when you choose to hide behind an alias. I invite you to publish your contributions under your real name with a link to your store. That way we all know who you are and the consumer can decide if your style is a match for them.

You know my real name, where my store is and everyone can hold me accountable for my contributions, I am comfortable with that, please do the same.

 Quote:
Originally posted by M&B:

Dear Alex I don’t have any intention of insulting anybody. It is also understandable that you are not responsible for the good or poor management of Bluthner. [/b]
I am a blessed person my friend and I suspect you are too. I would love to help you or anyone else by offering my experience and expertise here on Frank's wonderful forum. But I think we can accomplish much more by remaining civil to each other.

Good health and good business!
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 01:45 PM

Alex,[/b] I missed your post re Kassman having become a Bluthner dealer. IMO that's a good thing, because he is well established and already had the Irmler line. (Have heard an Irmler only via a recording. Like its mellow tone.)

Bluthner's take on the "family of pianos" concept will be a little more difficult to implement in the states, because the firm is not yet well known. Americans are becoming more knowledgeable, so the long run prospect, IMO, is good.
Posted by: master88er

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 03:09 PM

M&B:

As you well know, R.KASSMAN was a Kawai dealer for several DECADES and, in fact, we were a charter inner circle dealer for nearly our entire time as a Kawai Dealer, and I have great respect and admiration for many folks at Kawai, including Harry Kawai. I have been to Japan many times (including recently) and the fact that they are now choosing to build products primarily in Indonesia does not mean they are any less of a quality piano than when they were primarily built in Hammamatsu. The fact that Bluthner has produced a piano in Irmler that, IMHO is qualitatively equal to the products Kawai is producing throughout its line-up, but with a European emphasis on warmth of sound and traditional Irmler/European design is a credit to Christian Blüthner and his foresight. In times past, many hailed Koichi and Shigeru Kawai for doing exactly the same thing, as proudly declared in the "Artisan Select" brochures of the 1990's. For years, Kawai proudly extolled its "more European" approach to sound in comparing its products to Yamaha.

The fact that you recently lost a Kawai grand sale to an Irmler should indicate that you are spending far TOO much of your time denegrating other products and not enough time extolling the virtues of those you sell!

"BTW Hirotaka KAWAI uses his real last-name; I wonder if Christian's last-name is really Bluthner?"

You should really check your facts before you start slinging mud. Perhaps you were unaware that Shigeru Kawai was NOT a Kawai!!! He married the daughter of Koichi Kawai and took HER family name! Again, this is a well documented fact and your lack of knowledge about the brands you purport to represent is astonishing.

"C) Since you brought up the name of Mr. Kassman. If I remember well a few moths ago YOU will not recognize him as Bluthner dealer. Today he still claims to be a Bluthner dealer; and all he has is one Bluthner on the floor.
Is this all it takes to be a Bluthner dealer? One piano."

You are incorrect as to the number of Blüthner pianos R.KASSMAN currently has in stock. While it is interesting that you are so obviously worried about us as a competitor that you allege to know my inventory/products intimately, you neglect to take into account instruments that may be on loan or recently sold. The fact that we provided pianos (including Blüthners, Steingraebers and Sauters) to the renowned international music festival in Napa Valley, Festival del Sole, perhaps accounts for you or your detectives incorrectly counting our stock. Next time, just identify yourselves so we can offer you a cup of coffee.

We have been a Blüthner dealer since 1997. My relationship with Christian Blüthner and the factory continued even when I took a hiatus from retail to care for ailing family members. Christian Blüthner is a valued friend and business associate (as is Ulrich Sauter and other European manufacturers). The direct factory relationship that I enjoy admittedly sometimes results in misunderstanding with the USA representatives. But as with any family, these small issues are always resolved byt the diligent managment of Christian Blüthner, contrary to your immature assertions.

"E) I’m a dealer but not that dealer. But since you opened a can of worms, I’ll take up on it."

Many in this forum have challenged you to reveal yourself. Your vitriol coupled with your cowardace are nausiating and denegrate not only the brands you purport to represent, but also piano dealers in general. Whether you are Scott McBain of McBain/Carnes piano San Jose or Don Belville of Marin piano is inconsequential. Your recent postings taking cheap shots at other dealers and manufacturers that you don't represent while hiding under a mask is evidence of your lack of moral character and fiber. IMHO you have lost all credibility with the people in this forum, which is your just reward!
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 03:17 PM

master88er, [/b] glad to learn that you're an official Bluhner dealer. I like the "family of pianos" concept.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 07:08 PM

 Quote:
Unless you are actually shopping for an Irmler, I believe that you have enough questions answered. I was told and Alex has told you that the US Irmlers currently in dealers were made in Poland and the ones which are now being prepared to be shipped to dealers are made in Korea.

Now it is time that you showed some courtesy to others.
Jordang,

I'm not sure that it is your right to tell me when I have had my question answered sufficiently. I have said nothing disrespectful to Mr. Hernandez. It is my experience in life that persistence and disrespect are quite different things. It is also my experience that persistence beyond a certain level bears no fruit, so I will not be asking the question again in this thread.

Regarding courtesy, there are some elements present in recent posts on this thread that are related to the usual internecine combat among competing industry people. I have not touched on those. Perhaps my simple straightforward questions have been lost in the overall texture of that commentary.

You are quite correct in your assumption that I am not shopping for an Irmler. However, I have an acquaintance who was, and he was interested in the same simple questions. Both at the point of purchase and beyond the actual purchase, he was denied an answer to those questions. He chose to go ahead and make the purchase anyway. The merits that he felt were present in the piano outweighed his concerns about its origin. I would say that is a very good endorsement of the piano by him, but I know that he is still troubled by the fact he could not get his questions answered.

There may come a time when consideration of a piano does not need to involve a consideration of the actual piano manufacturer, of the component manufacturers, and of the country of origin. That would be a fine thing, but realistically speaking, I don't think we are there yet. I don't think that Mr. Fine and some others with considerable influence in the industry feel that we are there yet either. Do you feel that we are?

Were I to ask where a Bluthner had been made, I obviously would receive a direct straightforward answer. I realize that manufacturers who are trying to build pianos with a good level of performance at an affordable price must keep their manufacturing and component sourcing options open to do the best they can within a budget for a target price. On the other hand, if a budget line such as Irmler has in its relatively short history been manufactured by different factories in different countries under different contractual arrangements, it does not instill in a buyer the same level of confidence that a long interrupted production run in one factory would.

Every piano maker is of course free to choose its own level of disclosure, just as every consumer is free to vote yes or no with his wallet. Personally, I would not buy a piano without first having an answer as to the country of manufacture. But that's one vote, perhaps the only vote. That doesn't matter to me. I just wouldn't do it.

Addendum:

BTW, Jordang, it is my understanding that the information you have provided in the quote I excerpted at the top of this post is incorrect.
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 10:03 PM

Turandot, you amaze me with your knowledge of the piano industry and you amaze me with your detailed writings here on PW. You have my real respect.

 Quote:
BTW, Jordang, it is my understanding that the information you have provided in the quote I excerpted at the top of this post is incorrect.
So that is why you quote Ori and me and then said that we were wrong. and you said :
 Quote:
It would seem impossible for all of the above to be correct.
You have never said why you think several of us are wrong. Ori, Alex, Ivan Kahn, and another Bluthner exec. have all said the very same thing. Irmlers sold in the US have been made in Poland and will now be made in Korea by Samack. Irmlers Students sold in Europe were made in China and the same pianos are still being sold in the US as Breitman until the supply is sold out. These pianos are no longer being made. Irmlers sold in Europe have been made in Poland. (The factory has been sold.) All of these pianos are designed by Bluthner and are shipped to Germany for finishing.
Now in courtesy, if you want to tell us that these four people are wrong, then you must tell us how they are wrong and bring your evidence.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 10:25 PM

Jordang,

Unless you are actually shopping for an Irmler, I believe that you have enough questions answered.

Just kidding

I never said that anyone was wrong. I said that if you added all of that quoted information together, it couldn't all be correct.

Thank you for your nice comment, but I really don't know so much. The little that I do comes from asking questions, getting answers, and getting further independent confirmation of those answers. You can probably see the irony there I would think.

Anyway, I'm sending you a PM because I think that you and I both can admire a company's efforts to bring cheap pianos to a higher level of performance. I'm afraid that's getting lost here in this thread with its industry backstabbing. So look for the 'evidence' in your message box. \:D
Posted by: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/26/08 10:28 PM

No one has responded to the question implicit in my quotation from Larry Fine's supplement. Are Irmlers still being made or not? I would love to know. If they are no longer being made, it would answer the question of where Irmlers are now being made.
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/27/08 12:49 AM

Rank piano Amateur, I believe that your question has been answered by me several times. Irmlers were being made in Poland but the factory has been sold so they are no longer making them there. Currently they are being made in Korea and being shipped to Germany for final finishing. So for a while no Irmlers were being made. However, I was told a month ago that the new Irmlers had not yet arrived in the US.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/27/08 08:32 AM

Rank,

Please note that while Jordang is no doubt trying to be helpful, (s)he does not represent Bluthner in any capacity. If you wish to explore why Mr. Fine's new update would say that Irmler is no longer being made while simultaneously new Asian Irmlers are in fact for sale in the US and have in fact been sold in the US, you might inquire directly to Mr. Fine. Bear in mind that a contract with the new Asian supplier would need to have been signed, that the pianos would have needed to be built, that the pianos would have needed to be shipped from Asia to Leipzig, and that the pianos would have needed to then be shipped from Leipzig to the US to be available for sale, and in fact some actually sold at around the same time the update was released.

Mr. Hernandez is an official representative of Bluthner. Unless the Republic of Samick is a country, he has not confirmed that the new Irmlers have been manufactured in any country. He has declined my invitation to do so.

Since you have been exploring many questions about the new Fine supplement here recently, it might be good to take your questions directly to Mr. Fine. If your interest is in clarifying certain things in the book, and not in getting advice about buying a piano, you may get a free answer. \:D It's worth a shot in my estimation.
Posted by: Alex Hernandez

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/27/08 12:08 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by turandot:

Mr. Hernandez is an official representative of Bluthner. Unless the Republic of Samick is a country, he has not confirmed that the new Irmlers have been manufactured in any country. He has declined my invitation to do so.
[/b]
In a previous post I wrote the following:

"The current Irmler imports achieve that, and with the belly's and in many instances almost complete instruments (that come from Samick) this goal has been accomplished."

Please read my post before implying that I am being evasive.

Thanks
Posted by: Glaswegian

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/27/08 12:42 PM

Sorry to butt in to an argument that has nothing whatsoever to do with me, but is all this stuff really important?

Why am I poking my nose in? When I was looking for an upright piano I followed the best advice that many people give on this forum and tried out lots of pianos and chose the one which I liked the touch and tone of best which fitted my budget. After trying Yamahas, Kawais, Kembles (I'm in the UK) I finally settled on an Irmler. To my ear at least, it had the best tone of all the pianos I tried and I loved the touch, just perfect for me.

Do I know where it was made? No, no idea. The thought never crossed my mind and I never asked.

And I'm a very happy Irmler owner, wouldn't dream of swapping it no matter where it was made.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/27/08 01:07 PM

Posted by: Norbert

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/27/08 05:15 PM

People sometimes forget that much of the mentality and motivation of German manufacturers is driven by other forces than is commonly assumed over here in North America.

Let's not forget while America has always been busy talking about "America", a huge new nation called the "European market" has long emerged, a borderless nationhood of countries closely aligned in politics, defense, commerce and culture.

Add to this that Germany/Europe has always been by far the strongest market for traditional German makers themselves with almost all their tradionally supplied stores there having meantime adopted their own Chinese house brands - something which has affected the market there in a very considerable way.

Everybody knows it is much easier to sell a cheaper piano than an expensive one, and the traditional manufacturers there had to make their moves to react to this situation somehow.

As a result, and this perhaps more than anything else, the situation has pursuaded some of the German makers to not only "get in on the Chinese pie" - as is commonly assumed - but also ensure to keep their flock in line eating "same grain" from the "same mill" - as they have done for a very long time in the past ....

Nobody likes the "new kid on the street" - and the German manufacturers, realizing their own traditional world had been changing around them, were no exception to this.

Add next the advantages of offering interesting 'trade-up schemes' similiar to Steinways' Essex-Boston-Steinway model plus the hope to sell *billions of Chinese* ;\) your own pianos - made there of course - and the *ring of logic* starts to close ever more quickly....

The net result is a dissemination of products and qualities today as never seen before, something that will IMHO,offer both rewards and failures in the long run.

My own take is that the dangers actually outweigh the hoped-for [short-term?] advantages in the future, but this is simply my own opinion as a German raised writer.

This despite the fact, that VW for example, has booked a 36% increase in car sales this year - this being based entirely on the Chinese market and their Chinese production facilities there......

In the meantime, consumers may wish to make their decisions based on their own take of things - and of course as always - the instrument itself.

If the Chinese [and certain others..] will be beaten at their own game now or in the future, remains to be seen.

A competitive world it *is* - and most certainly increasingly - *will be*.

As a German manufacturer, personally speaking, I certainly would focus my own resources exactly where I can - always have- and most likely always *will* succeed.

Having done so for a very long time.... \:o

Just an opinion, of course - no special powers of prediction intended or pretended....

Norbert ;\)
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/27/08 06:25 PM

I'm more optimistic for those manufacturers over the long run. Americans are becoming more knowledgeable and the Chinese are already showing interest in Steinway. If the manufacturers of other premium brands work to establish a reputation in China, their A lines should do well there.
Posted by: Alex Hernandez

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/27/08 07:41 PM

Posted by: swampwiz

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/28/08 05:45 PM

It looks like I have spawned a great thread.

I wonder if Larry Fine has updated his ratings to include all the various changes in the Blüthner family. If I were consumer that read that Irmler is Tier 2C, and unknowingly bought a Chinese Irmler (that obviously would be rated as Tier 4), I would be quite upset.
Posted by: M&B

Re: Is Irmler made in China? - 07/29/08 10:10 PM

Posted by Alex Hernandez:
 Quote:
The current Irmler imports achieve that, and with the belly's and in many instances almost complete instruments (that come from Samick) this goal has been accomplished. Still, the time and expense that is invested to bring these components/instruments to Leipzig for optimization and final preparation before they arrive in the U.S. elevates their performance and in my opinion shows a sincerity of intention regarding the value intended for the public.

Please Sir Swampwiz may I kindly rectify your stament?
Korea...Korea...please it is not made in China. Our Chinese fellows could get offended at this point they are making better pianos than their Korean comrades.

BTW Since I'm already here I would like to ask Mr. Hernandez...

Bluthner ship components and provide specifications to Samick. Obviously because this is a new project Bluthner provides a number of experienced personnel to supervise the operation.
Then the whole batch of pianos gets ship back to Leipzig for optimization, by this time all pianos get unboxed and are absolutely free of defects. Once the very same guys who work on Bluthners finished working on the pianos; they will be crated again and ship to America. (By the way no wonder why Mr. Kassman doesn't get his Bluthners on time; people at the factory are too busy OPTIMIZING Irmlers) \:D

IMO With all that goes into building Irmlers, they should cost as much as Bluthner.
I'm just thinking in terms of shipping cost, import taxes, custom fees, transportation from the docks to the factory and everything else involved in the process.
Unless they are just another stencil.
How do you wholesale a 52" for less than $3200?