How Would You Rate Pianos?

Posted by: Steve Cohen

How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 03:59 PM

If you were rating pianos, based on quality of construction, performance, and image, how would your ratings differ from Larry Fine's Current Ratings?
Posted by: M.O.P.

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 04:05 PM

Steve, got your kevlar vest on? smile Actually, this is a great question. Can't wait to hear Turandot's answer.
Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 04:46 PM

Well I certainly would not rate anything on image.
Image can be manufactured easier than a well built piano.
All you need is advertising and constant plugging.

If it were up to me pianos would be simply be rated by price.
What is better to one may not be better to another.

Most people can't tell the difference anyways so they purchase what they have been led to believe. And sometimes its a salesman or book that led them to that conclusion.
Posted by: M.O.P.

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 05:04 PM

Well said, Rod.
Posted by: AJF

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 05:04 PM

Well I'd certainly put Shigeru Kawai in the top tier. But I also think my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world and my cats are the cutest smile
So I suppose getting past personal biases would be challenge number 1.
I think Larry's book does a really good job of this.
It would be nice to see Yamaha's S series included in the ratings. I've played a number of these pianos and think they are easily on par with the very best.
Posted by: M.O.P.

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 05:05 PM

You just got extra Husband points. Be sure to leave this post up where your wife will happen to see it. smile
Posted by: Bob

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 05:50 PM

In addition to Fine's criteria, I'd rate pianos by ease of tuning. If a piano is difficult to tune, it's defective IMHO. The customer may never know it, except they wonder why it's difficult to keep the same tech coming back, or they wonder why the tunings never hold. If a piano is a bear to tune, some of us tag it "don't tune again".

Example - one of my old customers from Chicago emailed me last month. He has a piano highly regarded on this list, but it's a pain to tune. The pins are too tight, too skinny, too flexible, and take forever to properly set. It used to take me almost 2 hours to tune it. Since I moved away 5 years ago, he's tried two different tuners, and neither one could tune the piano to his satisfaction. He wanted a recommendation for a "good" tuner. What he needed was a "good" tuner who is willing to fight with the pins till they were properly set.

We shouldn't have to fight with tuning pins.

It would be useful to rate pianos on ease of tuning or more generally ease of service.

Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 06:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
Well I certainly would not rate anything on image.
Image can be manufactured easier than a well built piano.
All you need is advertising and constant plugging.


So then a certain Chinese piano beginning with H must be Tier 1 at least according to plugging points.
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 06:25 PM

Just for you Nancy. smile

I kind of see it Rod's way. I suppose image in this case is mostly pedigree based on tradition. That's certainly not to be dismissed, but I don't think it should have automatic weighting.

I'd do away with the ratings tables completely. I'd simply list pianos in alphabetical order under three categories.

Premium products from prestige makers

Proven products from established makers

Newer lines and models from emerging markets

The last list would include all products made in China and Indonesia whether they had Yamaha, Irmler, Kawai, or George Steck on the fallboard.

Rated groupings lead shoppers to oversimplify what is anything but simple...the choice of a piano. Doing away with the tables would encourage shoppers to do their own homework with their fingers and ears first.

All the nitty gritty stuff can be listed in the information available under each 'maker's' name. That would include negative stuff like Bob is talking about (if it's a widespread problem that is documented), and positive stuff if Mr. Fine is inclined to do so based on available data and/or personal opinion.

This approach would lead shoppers to check out pianos available before making a short list based only on rough quality groupings in a publication. In my book that's the way to go. When you find something you like, you reference Mr. Fine's excellent commentary on a company's history and tendencies. I've always appreciated that text information far more than ratings tables.

If the ratings tables (and the relative quality they imply) are to stay, I'd like to see some cracks in the glass ceiling between performance grade and consumer grade. I doubt if the distinction between hand-built and not hand-built is worth the cost of a bold line of division at this point. I'd be happier with a Yamaha C than with many of the lesser performance grade pianos, but that's just personal opinion.

Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 07:24 PM

I agree that it would be best if piano shoppers used their ears and fingers to evaluate pianos, but that's just not the way the world works. There is value in providing such a service because there's so much misinformation out there and there's much that only a technician would be able to discern. Perhaps it would be best if we could all have a concert level tech accompany us on our piano shopping forays, but again the world just doesn't work that way.

The problem with a source like the buyer's guide is that it tries to codify personal opinions into generalizations about brands. I once compared a 7' George Steck (in fancy mahogany) with a RX6 (at 3x the price of the Steck). I know the Steck had been prepped by a good tech, but it lacked punch and depth of tone and the action felt funny. The RX6 was just a nice instrument, but it paled compared to the Shigeru Kawai SK7 in the same room. I have clear opinions of these 3 pianos but I wouldn't want to take these opinions as indicative of how those brands would typically compare. For that you need the network of techs that Larry has developed. The problem with such a network is its a collection of individual opinions. Still at some point such a collection takes on value.

The only other fair way to provide such a service would be to take the Consumer Reports approach. Purchase pianos from dealers at retail and test them. Something tells me such a business model wouldn't be workable. Al this tells me that what has already been created is doing pretty well. I'm guessing Steve's post is asking for ways to improve what they do and I applaud the effort. Good luck.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 07:28 PM

Only one person has answered the question in the OP (which was using the present rating system, what changes would you make in the ratings). And all they did was recommend that the piano they owned should be tier 1.
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 07:32 PM

Uh.......Steve, this might not answer your question as you intended, and perhaps I am very naive, but....

I kinda like the way you are doing it now.

Maybe that is because I pretty much always agree with the way things fall.

I know ratings systems like this will never be perfect or satisfy everyone but - works for me.

But what do I know??
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 07:46 PM

I always liked you.

Now I know why! laugh
Posted by: PianoMan1958

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 07:48 PM

I guess I would rate the pianos on how well they played and sounded. A friend of mine who is a piano tech says he finds creams and lemons within the same respected brands, including Steinway.

I've played some very nice pianos (from baby grands to concert grands) within the Steinway, Baldwin, Yamaha, and Kawai brands and I've played some very bad pianos within these brands as well. The Yamahas tended to be a little more consistent (yes, they're most all bright, ha) but you just can't beat the Baldwin and especially Steinway concert grands when they're been well maintained. You can just feel the power at your fingertips.
Posted by: terminaldegree

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 08:10 PM

I don't feel like I've played enough new examples of most of the tier 1,2,3 brands to say unequivocally that any one brand is incorrectly ranked in a definitive way. Exemplary prep can make a tier two instrument perform as well or better than some tier one pianos, though it isn't reflected in the chart.

Although this wasn't your question, I'm with Turandot regarding the best "consumer grade" pianos being rated lower due to mass-production. I know it's explained, but so many folks think the tier structure is an absolute. How about the old rating system with 1-5 stars for various criteria for each make?

I played two 6+ foot tier 2 grands at a very prestigious dealer, which happen to be some of the "darlings" of the forum that were, frankly, something of a disappointment--not comfortable naming names until I've played more of them, though.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 08:13 PM

Glad to have this thread, and in fact even just that LINK!!
I'd looked a few times for that listing lately, and hadn't found it.

Besides being a little unhappy that NY Steinway isn't in the highest ranking, since I have one (although I do happen to like Hamburgs better, which I always assumed was just a preference rather than a difference in quality), I'm surprised that Petrof is quite as high as it is. I just went shopping this month to replace our "2nd piano" (a little Yamaha) and checked out a number of Petrofs very closely, since 'on paper' it seemed to be my kind of piano -- and didn't like any of them as much as I liked the Kawai GE series (not to mention the RX).

I know that Larry Fine and I are talking about different things. He's talking quality, I'm just talking what I like.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 08:17 PM

Originally Posted By: AJF
.....I also think my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world and my cats are the cutest smile....

Best post, no matter what else there might be on here. smile
Posted by: SeilerFan

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 08:30 PM

I would DEFINITELY put the Kawai RX and the Yamaha C grands in the "Good Quality Performance" category. That's what many of these pianos do during their lives: serving in practice rooms and quite a few performance locations. Day after day, and holding up quite well. I think they are performance level.
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 08:48 PM

Yes I am kinda surprised that Yamaha isn't up on the good quality side. Certainly is a fine piano in my mind.
Posted by: PianoMan1958

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 08:56 PM

Yamaha certainly doesn't vary as much from model to model as some of the other good brands do. They may not be the best when comparing one particular piano to the best of another brand but from what I've heard from my piano tech friends, they definitely are consistently good pianos overall.
Posted by: Stearman

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 09:22 PM

I guess I would go on a number system, and the one with the highest numbers is the top paino.

For example, have different categories, and assign a number from say 1-6 or 1-10 with the higher number being better.

Example of categories: Finish, resale value, stability, etc. You get the idea, but the authors will have to make up the categories that will help to describe a complete paino, and that is the hard part.

I feel that people like numbers and with this, they might be able to judge quality.
Posted by: charleslang

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 09:34 PM

There might be an advantage to not assigning an 'overall' number.

I think that one thing people don't like about the rankings is that a piano falls into just one category, and the implication is that anything in category 3 is inferior to anything in category 2 (I'm aware that in the text this issue is addressed, but I think readers still respond that way).

If they were ranked in several categories it would be more apparent that a piano's attractiveness is a matter of many factors.

Even if there were just three categories - quality of construction, performance, and reputation, or something like this, it would break up the field a little more and allow people to focus on what they care about the most.

I know any publication has a limited budget, but it would be interesting to see how pianos would be ranked in blind performance tests by jazz pianists, and classical pianists (two rankings). This would provide a nice balance to the valuable information that is given from a technician's perspective.
Posted by: BDB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 11:38 PM

I would assign three categories: Comes as a decent piano, can be made into a decent piano, cannot be made into a decent piano. The first two categories may depend on the dealer, rather than the piano.

Beyond that, it is difficult to differentiate them, because the differences may be more of taste, or they may require quite a bit of familiarity with enough samples to distinguish between them.
Posted by: Nick Mauel

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/26/10 11:48 PM

Rating pianos in a publication that sells paid advertisements, by anyone other than Larry Fine, would be difficult and suspect, if not impossible.
Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 01:46 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
I would assign three categories: Comes as a decent piano, can be made into a decent piano, cannot be made into a decent piano. The first two categories may depend on the dealer, rather than the piano.


I like that.

I evaluated a grand piano a few days ago for another dealer that was having trouble with a client not being pleased with their new piano. The dealer had hoped I could remedy the issues.
I definitely fit into your third category.
Posted by: BDB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 03:10 AM

Oh, I bet with a hacksaw, some glue, and a big enough hammer, we could make you into a decent piano!
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 08:16 AM

...and duct tape.
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 10:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler

The problem with a source like the buyer's guide is that it tries to codify personal opinions into generalizations about brands. I once compared a 7' George Steck (in fancy mahogany) with a RX6 (at 3x the price of the Steck). I know the Steck had been prepped by a good tech, but it lacked punch and depth of tone and the action felt funny. The RX6 was just a nice instrument, but it paled compared to the Shigeru Kawai SK7 in the same room. I have clear opinions of these 3 pianos but I wouldn't want to take these opinions as indicative of how those brands would typically compare. For that you need the network of techs that Larry has developed. The problem with such a network is its a collection of individual opinions. Still at some point such a collection takes on value.


The network of techs can deliver the goods on build quality and ease of maintenance, but can they tell you that Sejungs are basically innocuous vanilla pianos (not necessarily a pejorative) in terms of their expressive range? Performance capabilities need to be brought into the equation, and that information should never come from piano retailers. I'm not sure that there is or ever has been a network of high-level players representing a variety of genres feeding this sort of information. If there were, and if their opinions had weight in the ratings, I doubt that the ratings would take on the distinct geographical origin-based and price-based shape that they traditionally have.

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
The only other fair way to provide such a service would be to take the Consumer Reports approach. Purchase pianos from dealers at retail and test them. Something tells me such a business model wouldn't be workable. Al this tells me that what has already been created is doing pretty well. I'm guessing Steve's post is asking for ways to improve what they do and I applaud the effort. Good luck.


No doubt the random purchase of test pianos at retail prices on the open market (as opposed to the loan of chosen samples by manufacturers, their distributors, or retailers) would in itself be prohibitively expensive. As the buyer market shrinks in Mr. Fine's US-centric sales territory, the array of makers and lines available continues to grow. Consumer Reports style testing is also extended testing that in the case of pianos would necessitate specialized equipment to simulate humidity changes and heavy use over a period of time far in excess of a bi-annual publication schedule. Equipment is expensive. Time is expensive. Factor in that Consumer Reports adamantly refuses all advertising.

I wouldn't exactly applaud Mr. Fine's effort to adapt to the market. He is, after all, trying to earn his living. To me it's a question of leveraging the market very similar to what print media in general is struggling with as it attempts to adapt itself to the predominance of electronic media by leveraging the right balance of free and paid content.

The original Piano Book was a bit more outside the industry than the current Piano Buyer. Mr. Fine didn't deal in picks and pans at that time, but I think his words revealed a more critical eye. There was also no advertising. In recent years there have been no Piano Books, but instead annual updates. In those updates rankings became a tease. With not much new to talk about other than emerging markets and makers, pre-publication buzz was largely about what rating Mr. Fine would assign to any piano X. The pre-publication buzz and published revelation assured lively debate here, but if Mr. Fine's customer base were drawn only from piano nuts, afficionados, performers, and pride-of-ownership types, I doubt he could make a living at all. Another part of the changing business model was the paid telephone consultation. I think implicit in that offer was the buyer's hope that with a monetary incentive and the privacy of the telephone, Mr. Fine could speak with complete candor (since no one in the industry would be listening unless an undercover industry person was forking up the $50 to initiate the call grin)

With the Piano Buyer format, I think we have Mr. Fine and Mr. Skinner in the role of industry spokespersons, not a bad thing at all. The expansion of Mr. Fine's embrace to include the digital world should not be taken lightly. IMO it's the perfect fit. Mr. Fine's side of the biz needs a lot of help to get out of survival mode. Mr. Skinner's needs a lot of clarification to cut through some non-empirical tech jargon and to get to the meat of the issue. With the current Piano Buyer format you can have obvious puff pieces such as 'High-end dealers discuss their brands'. In the original Piano Book, that would have stuck out like a sore thumb. You can also have guest reviews such as the Chinese grand review in the first issue and the upcoming PW member reviews. Why not? diversity keeps content fresh and widens the reader base. But.......just how critical an eye can you share with the readership?

The question is how to leverage appropriately where the ability to leverage exists. PW has been leveraged one way. Steve is free to run amok in the piano forum with his good-natured teasing and PW membership can be used as a test market. Makers, distributors and retailers are being leveraged a completely different way. They are being asked to pay for Mr. Fine's reputation for integrity and industry influence. How far away can you wander from market price differences in assigning quality-based ratings if you wish to keep that leverage and that revenue stream going and possibly growing? We will see. Incisive quality ratings might bite. Can or should they bite the hands that feed?
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 10:47 AM

Originally Posted By: turandot

The network of techs can deliver the goods on build quality and ease of maintenance, but can they tell you that Sejungs are basically innocuous vanilla pianos (not necessarily a pejorative) in terms of their expressive range?
IMO most/many of the good techs can evaluate a piano's expressive tone far better than all but (maybe) the most advanced professional level pianists. In terms of both the number of different pianos and the variety of pianos makers most techs also have hundreds or even thousands of times the experience compared to almost all non techs and non dealers.
Posted by: Bob Snyder

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 11:00 AM

The question isn't so much "how would you rate pianos" as it is "how would you like to see pianos rated".

What I’d love to see is something that will never happen – but here’s the short version.

First, the pianos would be prepared by individuals selected by the manufacturers. This would give us at least some degree of assurance that the pianos evaluated would be representative.

Second, the pianos would have NO identification on them – or at the very least, the Piano book / Piano buyer folks wouldn’t be able to see it. It would be a blind evaluation.

Third, the pianos would have no label as to where they were built. Again, evaluation would be truly, legitimately blind. The brands would not, and could not be placed in various groups or tiers prior to anyone playing or hearing a note. The pianos themselves would determine that, as opposed to their being predestined to be in one group or the other, based on the name on the fallboard and the “Made in..” sticker on the back.

Finally, the pianos would be evaluated not only by a group of piano tuners and technicians, but by a group of high level pianists as well. These two groups often see things very, very differently. The pianos would be evaluated strictly on their musical performance and construction characteristics.

At the end of the day, what we’d end up with as a result of the approach above would still be a collection of opinions; but at least it would have some objectivity associated with it.
Posted by: M.O.P.

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 11:05 AM

Even attempting what would seem to be a common sense rating such as this, BDB, is subjective depending on a technician's qualifications and abilities, etc.

As was said in an earlier post that a piano is defective if isn't easily tunable, can be based on many factors. "Easily" means different things to different people, and it can all be based on an individual's skill level, knowledge, level of expertise, their personal preferences in instruments, their loyalty to a dealer or brand, etc. I'm not implying the poster is deficient in any of these things, and I'm certainly not questioning his abilities. Implying that a piano is defective because someone says it isn't easily tunable isn't specific enough and very confusing to the general consumer because there's more to it than just turning a tuning pin.

And, you're quite right, the possible categories you suggested could and would very well depend on a dealer and who they have prep their pianos, what they're prepping, how much time they spend, etc., etc.

There's just no easy answer to Steve's question, and it is interesting to read the suggestions.
Posted by: M.O.P.

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 11:06 AM

Thank you, Turandot.
Posted by: M.O.P.

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 11:20 AM

Nice idea, Bob, and I agree 100%. This is something some piano dealers have talked about for years. I would add one more category of judges to the mix of the "blind" groups. The general consumer. Many hobbyists have valid points and ideas, and let's face it, far more pianos are sold to the general population's household than to the top level musicians.

And one more suggestion, I like the idea that each manufacturer hires their own choice of technician, BUT the technicians get a specific amount of time for the prep. Just about any piano can be made to sound good for a "taste test" given enough time, energy and resources.

Perhaps we can do this one day. You just have to ask yourself one question.....Are you ready for a throwdown?
Posted by: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 11:27 AM

This would be an interesting exercise...
I am sure that it is rarely considered that most technicians trained by the manufacturer should be able to prepare a piano to the 'recipe'...getting to the crux of what the manufacturer intended.

It has long been a contention of mine that many techs not having this 'basic training' miss crucial elements by a mile....and many dealers pay lip service to the whole issue of prepping...allowing instruments to fall out of the box onto the floor until a potential customer shows interest.

Your suggestions of a 'level playing field' would allow manufacturers to represent their pianos and maybe have them as a demonstration as to how they would like their instruments to be prepped and presented.

Count me in...any time, any place....blindfolded if necessary.....I'll be there.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 01:00 PM

I was looking forward to seeing more specific replies to exactly what you were asking.
I imagine you were too. smile
Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 01:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
Originally Posted By: BDB
I would assign three categories: Comes as a decent piano, can be made into a decent piano, cannot be made into a decent piano. The first two categories may depend on the dealer, rather than the piano.


I like that.

I evaluated a grand piano a few days ago for another dealer that was having trouble with a client not being pleased with their new piano. The dealer had hoped I could remedy the issues.
I definitely fit into your third category.


Originally Posted By: BDB
Oh, I bet with a hacksaw, some glue, and a big enough hammer, we could make you into a decent piano!


Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
...and duct tape.


Thanks guys thumb

Obviously I meant to type It definitely fit into your third category.
Posted by: Hop

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 01:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
If you were rating pianos, based on quality of construction, performance, and image, how would your ratings differ from Larry Fine's Current Ratings?


I would try to develop an objective (as possible) way to describe the (not limited to) following:

a) tone, at various parts of the keyboard; at breaks
b) touch
c) tuning stability
d) appearance
e) volume / projection

I would then use this vocabulary / rating system to describe, as accurately as I could, each piano under test. This would then provide to the consumer the best information available for determining what he would prefer to purchase.

Items like tuning stability could result in a ranking, where higher is better. Items like volume/projection could also be ranked or graded, but not in the sense of better or worse. Items like tone could probably only be described.

I don't follow the wine review publications, but I'm guessing that their vocabulary to describe taste and body might be some sort of a guide as to how to go about creating a vocabulary to describe tone and touch. To me, for example, the tone of a Kawaii grand (like the GS30) is distinctive. I can hear it, and I can tell in my own mind exactly how it sounds. I can even compare it in my mind to others, such as Steinway. But I can't describe it to someone else. So a constructed vocabulary would be useful.

Hop
Posted by: master88er

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 04:57 PM

I think Bob Snyder and Peter Sumner have the correct formula for objectively evaluating the instruments. I have often heard European manufacturers complain that too many American technicians do extensive "work" on their instruments to change them into something the manufacturer had NO intention of building. Comparing intruments that have been prepared true to the manufacturers intent would ensure the aural vision and sanctity of the makers performance concept.

Oh wait, doesn't the Paris Conservatory already do that with the Diapason D'Or? Or is it FORBOTTEN to mention that here. blush

One blaring correction I would make, if I were Larry, is that I would visit some European manufacturers before I rated their products based on assumption. And yes, I have said that directly to Larry.
Posted by: tuner2

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 05:42 PM

Right on, Russell!!
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 05:50 PM

Too lazy/tired to quote. Apologies.

Plover,

I understand what you're saying about the practiced ability of techs to discriminate tone. There's certainly something to that. OTOH, an evaluation of the extent to which the expressive range is available on demand under playing conditions requires play. The tuner/tech I've used the last few years is very skilled. However, he can't play worth a lick. Not a problem at all, but I wouldn't want him choosing a piano for me or evaluating the playing capabilities of various pianos.

Bob Snyder,

The concept you have suggested has the upside of giving all participants an equal position at the starting line. The downside is that it's one individual piano selected by the maker which will be judged at a particular moment in time.

These are not the conditions under which most pianos are dealer-prepped, seen in showrooms, or chosen by buyers. No doubt it would be interesting and the bragging rights would provide substantial pub for the winner(s). But most of us don't ride stallions that will be raced once and retired from competition. We select among the showroom nags that are available, and if we're smart, we feed them well in exchange for their services over time.

A minor point also is that many players of the caliber that you would surely want to render judgment in such a frightening test would recognize pianos by things other than their stamped origin or fallboard name. Plate and case designs (from certain well-known makers at least smile ) are not all that hard to figure out.

Master 88er,

I don't know how it works exactly, but while the players in the Diapason D'Or don't know the cost of the pianos, the relative cost is factored into the final rating assigned.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 06:30 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot

I understand what you're saying about the practiced ability of techs to discriminate tone. There's certainly something to that. OTOH, an evaluation of the extent to which the expressive range is available on demand under playing conditions requires play. The tuner/tech I've used the last few years is very skilled. However, he can't play worth a lick. Not a problem at all, but I wouldn't want him choosing a piano for me or evaluating the playing capabilities of various pianos.
I think that the "the expressive range" of a piano is not very different from a piano's tone. My tech is a terrific tech and a decent pianist, but I play far better than he does. I would have no problem having him help me choose a piano or evaluating a piano's capabilities. In fact, he helped me choose my present piano. I think he can corrrectly evaluate a piano's expressive potential and touch better than close to 100% of non professional pianists. Any lack in his playing ability is made up many times over in terms of his experience, training, hearing skills etc. If good techs couldn't hear the same things as the best pianists, I think it would be very hard for them to voice a piano to a customer's liking.
Posted by: sophial

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 08:34 PM

I’d like to see ratings that break out dimensions along the lines of what the Piano Book used to do, so that performance (tone, touch, dynamic range and responsiveness, tonal range), construction quality, fit and finish, and quality control could be evaluated separately again. I think this would give a more detailed picture and allow consumers to determine what is most important to them and to search accordingly. Sometimes in all the fuss over fit and finish, attention to visual detail and factory preparation, the basic issue of performance as a musical instrument seems to become less paramount, rather than the sine qua non of evaluating a piano. Obviously not everyone may feel that way, but it would allow consumers to make decisions based on what is most important to them.

It might help to address inconsistencies such as this: In the last full edition of the Piano Book, here is what Fine said about NY Steinway: “Although the reviews in this book tend, by their nature, to highlight the problem areas, my sense is that most technicians feel that Steinway grands, properly serviced, are among the best-performing pianos- if not THE best- made.” (p.146) He gave them maximal five star ratings in performance while dinging them on quality control. It’s interesting that despite Fine noting in more recent supplements that the pianos out of the NY S&S factory have been coming out better prepared, with fewer concerns that needed to be corrected over the past several years, the quote above was left out of the new Piano Buyer.

What is also interesting is the statement in the Piano Buyer (and Mike Carr also pointed this out recently) that manufacturers were redesigning the European pianos for “better sound projection, tonal color and sustain—that is to sound more like American Steinways.” Hmmm……the supposedly “audibly higher quality” European pianos needed to be redesigned to sound like NY Steinways to improve their sound projection, color and sustain—arguably among the most valued qualities in piano sound! Inconsistencies like this lead me to take the Piano Buyer ratings with a large dash of salt.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 09:01 PM

In the final analysis a piano is about its musical expression in representation of the music being played.

A well built piano without redeeming musical qualities is as valuable as a well built chair put into the attic for storage.

While much is being said [and postured..] about construction, design, componentry and so on, the final mark wil always be about the musicality a piano offers to the player.

And this is where the problem will always be.

Unfortunatly, this most important aspect of an instrument - any instrument that is - is often the least understood or *agreed* upon.

It is certainly impossible to 'understand' for those not actively involved in playing themselves or at least being able to crititically 'listening in'.

Even in those circumstances, there will always be differences of opinion.

Unfortunately for much of the industry, it's become all about *selling* and making money.

Norbert
Posted by: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 09:16 PM

Probably the most sense you've made in years.....thank you Norbert.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 09:36 PM

What would you guess is the percentage of Steinway buyers that have Steinway's image as one of their primary motivations to buy?

Is one of the benefits of owning a Steinway that it impresses others? If so, does that benefit have value?
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 09:38 PM

Well my grandma bought her piano purely on looks! That thing is pretty bad to play. And has so many issues. Wish she had bought a used Kawai or yamaha. She just loved the french look of the hyundai.
Posted by: ChasT

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 09:59 PM

Weren't those French Hyundais made by the Huguenots that didn't stop in New Orleans? I think some went on to China to design piano cabinets for Pearl River. whistle

Charles
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 10:05 PM

Well it wasn't made in france, or new orleans thats for sure. wink
Posted by: fingers

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 10:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
What would you guess is the percentage of Steinway buyers that have Steinway's image as one of their primary motivations to buy?



Steve,

I would guess it is the same percentage as Bosendorfer buyers that have Bosendorfer's image as one of their primary motivations to buy. wink

fingers
Posted by: Bob

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/27/10 11:00 PM

About 50% of my Steinway customers are fairly good players, and want to own a piano that plays and sounds good, 40% play somewhat and want the Steinway name, and the last 10% just want the name on the furniture.
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 01:40 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: turandot

I understand what you're saying about the practiced ability of techs to discriminate tone. There's certainly something to that. OTOH, an evaluation of the extent to which the expressive range is available on demand under playing conditions requires play. The tuner/tech I've used the last few years is very skilled. However, he can't play worth a lick. Not a problem at all, but I wouldn't want him choosing a piano for me or evaluating the playing capabilities of various pianos.
I think that the "the expressive range" of a piano is not very different from a piano's tone. My tech is a terrific tech and a decent pianist, but I play far better than he does. I would have no problem having him help me choose a piano or evaluating a piano's capabilities. In fact, he helped me choose my present piano. I think he can corrrectly evaluate a piano's expressive potential and touch better than close to 100% of non professional pianists. Any lack in his playing ability is made up many times over in terms of his experience, training, hearing skills etc. If good techs couldn't hear the same things as the best pianists, I think it would be very hard for them to voice a piano to a customer's liking.


Plover,

As I said, I see your point. I just don't agree with you. Not a problem, and I mean no slight to techs and tuners either.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 08:21 AM

Originally Posted By: sophial
What is also interesting is the statement in the Piano Buyer (and Mike Carr also pointed this out recently) that manufacturers were redesigning the European pianos for “better sound projection, tonal color and sustain—that is to sound more like American Steinways.” Hmmm……the supposedly “audibly higher quality” European pianos needed to be redesigned to sound like NY Steinways to improve their sound projection, color and sustain—arguably among the most valued qualities in piano sound! Inconsistencies like this lead me to take the Piano Buyer ratings with a large dash of salt.
I don't think the Fine statements are inconsistent. Of the three qualites projection, color, and sustain I think only sustain is almost universally admired (by classical pianists but perhaps not jazz pianists). Projection seems only important in concert venues, and if color was universally admired I don't think Bechstein would be highly admired in both the past and present.

I think Fine is just saying that European makers who want to sell their pianos in the the US have begun catering more to American tastes, not that American sound as typified by NY Steinway is better.

The Fazioli site lists five characteristic they feel are representative of good tone: clarity, uniformity, wide dynamic range, selective, and long duration(sustain). Not all characteristics of NY Steinway IMO.
http://www.fazioli.com/en/
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 09:45 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

I think Fine is just saying that European makers who want to sell their pianos in the the US have begun catering more to American tastes, not that American sound as typified by NY Steinway is better.


I can confirm that you are correct.
Posted by: pno

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 10:44 AM

As a piano shopper, I would want to see the pianos being tested are randomly selected from randomly selected authorized dealers without the dealers/manufacturers knowing.

If the dealers typically prep their pianos, fine. If they don't that is fine too. Just do what they usually do with their usual technicians, no more no less.

The point is to make sure the pianos being tested are at a level representative to what the customers would typically get from dealers. No more no less. This is most meaningful to us piano buyers. It also motivates manufacturers to make sure that the pianos that they sell at dealers floor are well finished, not some work-in-progress, and that the dealers do the proper prep.

There is very little point in testing specimens that are specially selected and prepped by the manufacturers because those are not what the customers would get. But I can see why manufacturers want to do it this way because they simply want to use the rating as a marketing tool.
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 10:58 AM

Perhaps we could simply adopt the "Caddyshack" method:

Judge Smails: "Well Ty, how'd you shoot today?"
Ty: "Well Judge, I don't keep score."
Judge: "How do you measure yourself against other golfers?"
Ty: "By height."
- Caddyshack
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 10:59 AM

I think it would be fair to have the pianos randomly selected, but expertly prepped by the manufacturers, if the manufacturers actually made a point of insisting that their dealers regularly prepped their instruments to any kind of standard.

I like Bob Snyder's approach although the big drawback is that any pianist who is good enough to have legitimate opinions on these pianos will certainly know a Steinway when they play it, whether they can see it or not, and the familiarity gives Steinway an advantage that cannot be overcome with blindfolds.

The only way to really make this fair, and get really useful information, is for the reviewing pianists to live with the instruments for a while. That would take away some of the familiarity bias, and it would also allow some real world experience with the pianos. How long do they stay in tune, in regulation, in voicing. I know there are pianos out there that make a great initial impression, and the better one gets to know them, the less interesting they become. Other instruments reveal themselves better over time but don't make such an impressive first impression.
Some instruments are better practice pianos and others are better for performing and still others work well with one type of repertoire and not so well with another and this sometimes takes time to be revealed.
I would also like to see each respective model reviewed in this way as there are more and less successful models within every manufacturers offerings.
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 11:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman
I think it would be fair to have the pianos randomly selected, but expertly prepped by the manufacturers, if the manufacturers actually made a point of insisting that their dealers regularly prepped their instruments to any kind of standard.

I like Bob Snyder's approach although the big drawback is that any pianist who is good enough to have legitimate opinions on these pianos will certainly know a Steinway when they play it, whether they can see it or not, and the familiarity gives Steinway an advantage that cannot be overcome with blindfolds.

The only way to really make this fair, and get really useful information, is for the reviewing pianists to live with the instruments for a while. That would take away some of the familiarity bias, and it would also allow some real world experience with the pianos. How long do they stay in tune, in regulation, in voicing. I know there are pianos out there that make a great initial impression, and the better one gets to know them, the less interesting they become. Other instruments reveal themselves better over time but don't make such an impressive first impression.
Some instruments are better practice pianos and others are better for performing and still others work well with one type of repertoire and not so well with another and this sometimes takes time to be revealed.
I would also like to see each respective model reviewed in this way as there are more and less successful models within every manufacturers offerings.


Bob Snyder's test included techs' evaluation. Their identification skills would surpass those of almost all players.

Keith,

Your test conditions of living with several pianos for a while are a mite unrealistic despite the good points that you make about initial impression and how it can change.

Also, since you are the leading proponent of Dan's corollary, your post is far too wordy and should be dismissed. grin If you can reduce it to a soundbite, it would be much more useful.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 11:12 AM

As the OP let me add another criteria to suggested rating methodologies.

The should be feasible. In fact, they should be doable.

The reason I posted this thread is that Larry is examining possible alternatives to the rating system currrently in Piano Buyer. We see the upside to these ratings as well as the downsides.

Many of the suggestions made here, while appreciated, in reality could not be accomplished.

Perhaps I should have asked "How would you suggest Piano Buyer ratings and rating process should be structured"?
Posted by: pno

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 11:14 AM

It is hypocritical for manufacturers to insist on testing only their approved selected specimens because this proves that the ones they sell are not the ones they send to test. If they are really that good, they should have confidence on all of their production units, not just the 'approved' one.
Posted by: Bob Snyder

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 11:43 AM

How is it hypocritical for a manufacturer to be able to be responsible for the preparation of their own pianos? I'm not talking about the selection of the piano itself; I am talking about the person who prepares it.

Having the pianos randomly selected – but then prepared by a person of the manufacturer’s choosing, as one person recommended, would be fine.

Also, having pianos randomly selected from any dealer – this would tell you more about the dealer, than it would the piano.

There are many people – in many professions – to whom the quality of a piano is extremely important. The weakness of the current evaluation system used by the Piano Book is that it considers only the opinions of one of those groups of people. And I am convinced that in an uncomfortable number of cases, a verdict is handed down without anyone even touching the piano in question.

And when you add to that the fact that one or more of the technicians who contribute to this book are, or were authorized representatives for the very pianos they evaluate, is it any wonder that the brand(s) they DO represent do very well in their evaluations?

Posted by: Axtremus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 11:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
If you were rating pianos, based on quality of construction, performance, and image, how would your ratings differ from Larry Fine's Current Ratings?


Hi Steve,

I will build a computer model to find some sort of Nash equilibria based on the following inputs:

How much manufacturers and dealers are willing to pay me to rank their pianos highly and/or to rank their competitors' pianos lowly, and may be how much individual piano owners are willing to pay me a "vanity fare" to rank their pianos highly and/or to rank their neighbors and/or in-laws' pianos lowly.

I will also rank on many different dimensions -- e.g. performance, quality, value, durability, finish artistry, design innovation, ease of moving/transportation, tuning stability, ease of tuning, ease of voicing, child-proof ratings ... ; even provide rankings by regions and price ranges. It's like the Oscars; the more categories there are, the easier it is to make more people happy. And I get to drag it out longer and fill it with more advertising slots.

smile

laugh
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 12:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob Snyder
How is it hypocritical for a manufacturer to be able to be responsible for the preparation of their own pianos? I'm not talking about the selection of the piano itself; I am talking about the person who prepares it.

Having the pianos randomly selected – but then prepared by a person of the manufacturer’s choosing, as one person recommended, would be fine.


Excuse my own misinterpretation of your first post. I thought your plan called for maker selection of the test instrument. There is nothing hypocritical about your proposal. There is the problem of the ease of identification though, even with no markings of any kind on the pianos.

Originally Posted By: Bob Snyder
The weakness of the current evaluation system used by the Piano Book is that it considers only the opinions of one of those groups of people. And in many cases, I am convinced that in an uncomfortable number of cases, a verdict is handed down without anyone even touching the piano in question.

And when you add to that the fact that one or more of the technicians who contribute to this book are, or were authorized representatives for the very pianos they evaluate, is it any wonder that the brand(s) they DO represent do very well in their evaluations?


That's a real problem. It's dubious enough to be making qualitative ratings from the standpoint of an industry spokesperson supported by ad revenues. To hobnob with certain Euro makers, be tight with certain retailer/techs, and give precedence to their opinions, all of that would negate the usefulness of the high-end piano ratings completely.

Steve C,

If the ratings have to be there, and I understand you need as many baited hooks on the line as you can to sell Piano Buyer, I like the system in the last (and final?) Piano Book. In that system the descriptive text on each maker ended with "Consumer Rating" under five different categories. I've never quite understood the logic of the categories, but I do like the breakdown of the components that result in the overall rating.

As an example (Piano Book 2001)

Fazioli

Performance *****
Confidence *****
Quality Control *****
Warranty *** and one half
Information ** and one half

As a reader, I could then ignore the information downgrade and focus on what seemed important to me. If I were buying Chinese or Indonesian and assuming the risk, I could de-value the confidence category.

Perhaps these categories could be tweaked to better fit the market nine years later.

Of course this really doesn't matter a whole lot if Bob Snyder's points are correct. In that case, you have a big credibility problem.
Posted by: Bob

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 12:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
As the OP let me add another criteria to suggested rating methodologies.

Perhaps I should have asked "How would you suggest Piano Buyer ratings and rating process should be structured"?


How about a web site where someone enters in a piano model and serial # and rates the piano on these factors:

1. Tone - even and quality
2. Action - touch and regulation quality
3. Tuning stability - tuning pin feel
4. Cabinet/finish quality

Ratings 1 to 5 with 1 being poor, 5 being excellent.

Multiple raters would be required to register to prevent fraud.

The ratings are compiled at regular intervals and posted for all to see.
Posted by: charleslang

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 12:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob

How about a web site where someone enters in a piano model and serial # and rates the piano on these factors:

1. Tone - even and quality
2. Action - touch and regulation quality
3. Tuning stability - tuning pin feel
4. Cabinet/finish quality

Ratings 1 to 5 with 1 being poor, 5 being excellent.

Multiple raters would be required to register to prevent fraud.

The ratings are compiled at regular intervals and posted for all to see.


I'm still worried this would be abused by owners or sellers of certain brands. I think that seeing a brand name tends immediately to distort things. You would also have many first-time owners who are excited about their pianos - whatever brand - and will give it the highest rating.

One site that I think is surprisingly successful is the Hurstwood Farm rating page, where there are recordings of the same piece on several pianos. The recordings are not labeled, so any bias according to brand is eliminated. I think the results of the ratings are really telling about tone quality.

How fantastic would it be, to present this on a larger scale, with more brands? Let all the manufacturers prepare their instruments, isolate each one in the same acoustic environment, record the same two pianists (one classical, one jazz), and present the clips to the public.

If a brand is too 'good' for such a test, then they could be pressured to participate, simply by still including their piano in the test, but as prepared by a technician not associated with the company.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 01:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob Snyder

There are many people – in many professions – to whom the quality of a piano is extremely important. The weakness of the current evaluation system used by the Piano Book is that it considers only the opinions of one of those groups of people. And I am convinced that in an uncomfortable number of cases, a verdict is handed down without anyone even touching the piano in question.

And when you add to that the fact that one or more of the technicians who contribute to this book are, or were authorized representatives for the very pianos they evaluate, is it any wonder that the brand(s) they DO represent do very well in their evaluations?


Hi Bob,

While what you posted above was true some time ago, it is no longer the case. The ratings are no longer based solely on reports from technicians. Larry uses many more sources including the opinions of experienced players (particularly those that have both a wide and deep experience of brands and models), the information provided by manufacturers, as well as information provided by reputable and trusted dealers. After all, they have deep experience of their brands just out of the crate, on the floor and in the field. All of these opinions are considered on a "trust but verify" basis.

In addition, I read the overwhelming percentage of posts here on the Piano Forum. There are MANY here that know what they are talking about, also with wide and deep experience, and give their detailed evaluations on brands and models, some that they own and as well as those they encounter outside the home. I discuss these opinions with Larry, have him read selected threads, and he seriously considers them among many other factors.
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 01:32 PM

Quote:
While what you posted above was true some time ago, it is no longer the case. The ratings are no longer based solely on reports from technicians.


Full disclosure of the present system would be a better remedy than conceding a previous bias and saying that it's not that way anymore.
Posted by: charleslang

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 01:41 PM

Anyone else think it's disturbing that one of the factors is 'image'?

Only in the world of pianos!

All the praise for Larry Fine's ethics (and the praise is impressive) aside, one wonders what all might bump up the 'image' category.
Posted by: sophial

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 01:42 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: sophial
What is also interesting is the statement in the Piano Buyer (and Mike Carr also pointed this out recently) that manufacturers were redesigning the European pianos for “better sound projection, tonal color and sustain—that is to sound more like American Steinways.” Hmmm……the supposedly “audibly higher quality” European pianos needed to be redesigned to sound like NY Steinways to improve their sound projection, color and sustain—arguably among the most valued qualities in piano sound! Inconsistencies like this lead me to take the Piano Buyer ratings with a large dash of salt.
I don't think the Fine statements are inconsistent. Of the three qualites projection, color, and sustain I think only sustain is almost universally admired (by classical pianists but perhaps not jazz pianists). Projection seems only important in concert venues, and if color was universally admired I don't think Bechstein would be highly admired in both the past and present.

I think Fine is just saying that European makers who want to sell their pianos in the the US have begun catering more to American tastes, not that American sound as typified by NY Steinway is better.

The Fazioli site lists five characteristic they feel are representative of good tone: clarity, uniformity, wide dynamic range, selective, and long duration(sustain). Not all characteristics of NY Steinway IMO.
http://www.fazioli.com/en/


What I said was "arguably among the most valued qualities"-- not better -- but certainly not inferior either, which the PB suggests by the "audibly higher quality" phrase. One can argue that the European version of these qualities (if one can generalize to that extent, which is debatable) is different and lovely, and should be preserved, and I would agree with that. But one can also argue that the sound qualities of the NY Steinway are of no lesser quality and in fact have been among the most prized and emulated in the world.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 01:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Axtremus
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
If you were rating pianos, based on quality of construction, performance, and image, how would your ratings differ from Larry Fine's Current Ratings?


Hi Steve,

I will build a computer model to find some sort of Nash equilibria based on the following inputs:

How much manufacturers and dealers are willing to pay me to rank their pianos highly and/or to rank their competitors' pianos lowly, and may be how much individual piano owners are willing to pay me a "vanity fare" to rank their pianos highly and/or to rank their neighbors and/or in-laws' pianos lowly.

I will also rank on many different dimensions -- e.g. performance, quality, value, durability, finish artistry, design innovation, ease of moving/transportation, tuning stability, ease of tuning, ease of voicing, child-proof ratings ... ; even provide rankings by regions and price ranges. It's like the Oscars; the more categories there are, the easier it is to make more people happy. And I get to drag it out longer and fill it with more advertising slots.

smile

laugh


Sounds like a valid approach to me? Two questions:

Are you available to do the work? And, what's a "Nash equalibria?"
Posted by: sophial

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 01:51 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot
Quote:
While what you posted above was true some time ago, it is no longer the case. The ratings are no longer based solely on reports from technicians.


Full disclosure of the present system would be a better remedy than conceding a previous bias and saying that it's not that way anymore.
\

+1
Posted by: schwammerl

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 02:00 PM

Perhaps viewed from a different perspective, why not continue using the actual 'criteria groups' of 'quality of construction', 'performance', 'image' (complemented by one or more groups id required, but....

Instead of lumping them all together as to get one final ranking out of it, have the piano brands ranked within each of the 'criteria groups' (quality - performance - image ..).

You would get within each 'criterium' a ranking of the brands. Perhaps a certain brand would come out within the top three in e.g. 'construction quality' whereas the same brand could only be ranked e.g. in the medium category of performance or image.

It would then be interesting to see whether or not any or some brands or ranked at the top in all the 'criteria groups'!

Also any potential buyer could focus on that 'criterium group' which he feels most important for him.

As to how to go about putting up the various rankings, techs and dealers would be well placed to judge upon 'construction quality', players to judge upon 'performance' and a market sevey amongst owners and non-owners for 'image'.

schwammerl.
Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 02:14 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot


As an example (Piano Book 2001)

Fazioli

Performance *****
Confidence *****
Quality Control *****
Warranty *** and one half
Information ** and one half



I have always preferred this type of rating over the present.
Also it gives opportunity to rate uprights and grands from one manufacture.

I believe it is more usable than just a blanket group.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 02:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
Originally Posted By: turandot


As an example (Piano Book 2001)

Fazioli

Performance *****
Confidence *****
Quality Control *****
Warranty *** and one half
Information ** and one half



I have always preferred this type of rating over the present.
Also it gives opportunity to rate uprights and grands from one manufacture.

I believe it is more usable than just a blanket group.


This is certainly one of the methodologies Larry is considering. It worked well in the past.
Posted by: AJB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 02:18 PM

I have long thought that basing a piano buying decision on the Larry Fine book would be foolish.

It is useful background reading for some. That's about it. Personally I am far less interested in what technicians and dealers think about pianos, than I am about what really good players think about them.

For me, once a piano has passed the core attribute of being sufficiently robust and well made, the technician can bow out. All I care about then is its capability as a musical instrument. I couldn't really care less what anyone else thinks about a piano's performance capability if I am considering buying it - but I have been playing since I was 5 and have bought a few pianos. If I was a novice player then I would mainly seek the input of good players.

Steve says above:

"All of these opinions are considered on a "trust but verify" basis."

It is not possible to "verify" opinions. They are by their nature subjective. So if Larry or Steve are "verifying" an opinion and not agreeing with it, then all they are doing is changing a third party opinion for one of their own.

I pay no heed whatsoever to Piano Buyer these days. I think it would have a great deal more credibility if a co-auther or credited senior editor was an internationally respected player (or two). This is no doubt difficult when Steinway and Yamaha artists programs have a vice-like grip on the circuit, perhaps inhibiting some players from expressing a preference outside of the established brands.....

I also think that Piano Buyer is unfortunately undermined as a reasonably independent source of information, by being constantly touted by a dealer on here. Part of the reason for this damage is the constant niggling between Steve and Norbert which, to me as an observer from the sidelines, simply damages them both.

Adrian
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 02:24 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB
I have long thought that basing a piano buying decision on the Larry Fine book would be foolish.



I'm quite confident that Larry would agree with that!

I certainly do.
Posted by: Bob

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 02:28 PM

Originally Posted By: charleslang
Originally Posted By: Bob

How about a web site where someone enters in a piano model and serial # and rates the piano on these factors:

1. Tone - even and quality
2. Action - touch and regulation quality
3. Tuning stability - tuning pin feel
4. Cabinet/finish quality

Ratings 1 to 5 with 1 being poor, 5 being excellent.

Multiple raters would be required to register to prevent fraud.

The ratings are compiled at regular intervals and posted for all to see.


I'm still worried this would be abused by owners or sellers of certain brands. I think that seeing a brand name tends immediately to distort things. You would also have many first-time owners who are excited about their pianos - whatever brand - and will give it the highest rating.


How about a fifth catagory? What best describes you? Tech, Teacher, Artist, Salesman, Consumer.

Treat the evaluation accordingly.
Posted by: Bob

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 02:51 PM

Here's one way of rating products in the photographic industry:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controll...orToReadReviews
Posted by: Ken Knapp

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 02/28/10 07:05 PM

Four posts have been removed. One which needed moderation and three which continued the the discussion which needed moderating.

Carry on. smile


Ken
Posted by: AJB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 03:06 AM

Inappropriate Ken. You have bowed to pressure from Steve Cohen.

Steve opens himself up to criticism with his constant touting of Piano Buyer, a publication in which he has a financial interest. Whilst the publication may be useful to some people, it is not the only piano publication around. If piano world truly has a policy of not permitting dealers to tout their products, it seems unfair to have one rule for Steve and a different one for all the other dealers.

In his signature he describes himself as Contributing Editor and Advertising Director, which implies a significant degree of influence over the published material, especially as he also calls himself "Piano Industry Consultant" (though without stating which brands use his consulting services). Whilst the terminology that Norbert used to describe Steve's role was incorrect it was partially caused by Steve's own signature.

Kind regards

Adrian

Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 10:17 AM

I concur with you wholeheartedly AJB and was wondering where you were on this one.

I have witnessed this before on this forum, and been involved in, the favoritism shown to certain posters, while others have differing rules applied.

This not only reveals the leanings of the moderator Knapp, it also reveals the desire that poster Cohen has to limit discussion of, and censor, certain aspects of this thread. One could, by extension, think this of the materials supplied in the future book releases. Will the desire to skew the information in the book be too tempting?

In other words, being an owner of a piano dealership, and having a financial interest in a publication of piano playability and quality is such an obvious conflict of interest, one has to wonder if this book release will end up with any measurable credibility.

Same goes for this forum if the moderators keep up with this type of nonsense.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 10:23 AM

That is just about what Steven said. Not as elegantly put, mind you.
Posted by: sophial

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 11:29 AM

quote from Dan Silverwood:
"In other words, being an owner of a piano dealership, and having a financial interest in a publication of piano playability and quality is such an obvious conflict of interest, one has to wonder if this book release will end up with any measurable credibility."

Agree. This issue that Dan notes, along with that of having a publication that rates and review a product having income based on advertisers whose products are being reviewed, opens large questions about independence and conflict of interest. Steve keeps saying -- well, show me the page or passage that reveals any bias-- as if that settles the question. No, it doesn't. Potential bias due to conflict of interest typically won't show itself that obviously but can affect decisions at every point in the process from who is asked to contribute, to the types of questions asked, to how the information is weighted and presented, to the wording choices, and ad infinitum. Sometimes it is what is NOT said as much or more than what is stated that can be affected. The line between content and advertising has also been blurred in the Piano Buyer as certain dealers contribute articles on why we love the pianos we sell. Ok, we can all recognize that as harmless fluff but you won't see that in Consumer Reports either.

If you follow medical and pharmaceutical research at all, there is now good data that the source of funding can affect the results found and presented in research studies. Studies funded by industry sponsors are significantly more likely to find positive results for their product than those funded independently despite the protestations of the researchers that their studies are conducted completely free of bias or influence. These forces operate at subtle (and at other times not so subtle) levels. In some situations, there has been more overt pressure to suppress or change findings.

Of course, buying a piano is not a life-or-death decision (although around here we tend to treat it that way smile ) and we can enjoy the Piano Buyer for what it is-- entertaining, with some good information and those glossy colorful ads-- while keeping its limitations and realities in mind.

Bottom line is there is no free lunch.

Sophia
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 11:47 AM

Originally Posted By: AJB
Steve opens himself up to criticism with his constant touting of Piano Buyer, a publication in which he has a financial interest. Whilst the publication may be useful to some people, it is not the only piano publication around. If piano world truly has a policy of not permitting dealers to tout their products, it seems unfair to have one rule for Steve and a different one for all the other dealers.
I don't see the slightest way Steve opens himself up for criticsm. PB may not be "the only piano publication around" but I would assume it's by far the most successful, most used, and it's by far the best IMO. I think saying it "may be useful to some people" is the understatement of the century. As far as rules against not touting products, it's also clear that this is enforced minimally if at all at PW. In addition to all this Steve Cohen continually makes posts that help piano buyers where there is no connection to to PB or products he sells.

Originally Posted By: AJB
In his signature he describes himself as Contributing Editor and Advertising Director, which implies a significant degree of influence over the published material, especially as he also calls himself "Piano Industry Consultant" (though without stating which brands use his consulting services). Whilst the terminology that Norbert used to describe Steve's role was incorrect it was partially caused by Steve's own signature.
First of all, the incorrect terminology Norbert used to describe Steve's role is just one grain of sand on a whole beach of similar statements. If Norbert misread the signature, that's not someomone else's problem. I think "co-editor" would imply something like equal input compared to Larry Fine, and this would not be something I would infer from Steve's sig.

Since I assume Steve Cohen's signature line expresses his positions correctly, there's nothing that can be done about this anyway. You don't expect him to write Contributing editor(but not co-editor)do you?
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 01:02 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

Since I assume Steve Cohen's signature line expresses his positions correctly, there's nothing that can be done about this anyway. You don't expect him to write Contributing editor(but not co-editor)do you?


What is expected is proper conduct with regard to conflict.

To give the appearance of no conflict a decision will have to be made. Either be a contributing editor of a piano quality guide and put your dealership into a “blind trust” (operated by someone else, usually a trust officer)

Or be a dealer and sell the interest in the publication. An attempt to wear both hats, while perhaps from sincerity, to become both, leaves the “appearance” of impropriety.

Example: I read the PB guide about the glowing reports of a piano model. Then I attend the Jason’s Music Centre to look at the instrument in question and lo and behold! The same guy that writes the glowing report in the book sells the same instrument??? This is pretty bad optics would you say?

You might fool a five yr old with this kind of thing......
Posted by: Aliwally

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 01:54 PM

My response is how do they rate pianos in other countries. Like England, Japan, Germany. Do they all look to America for the ratings, or are there pianos built so well they do not have to really rate them. What are we rating the ones that are considered budget models, should they even be rated. We you rate the $$$$ ones, it's more on a personal attraction, as the build quality is probably not an issue.

As far as Piano Buyer goes, it is a guide, not the Bible. I think they do a fine job as it takes a lot of time, patience and energy. I look at it as a guide not the Bible and more of a guide to newcomers, budget-seekers, than folks who use or work on them for a living.

The only people that may have a problem are the salesman, I wonder why?

I am just looking forward to the next issue.
Posted by: terminaldegree

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 01:57 PM

Since we're all busy "piling on" Steve, I just took a look at the Jason's Music website, which purports to sell new Kawai and Pramberger pianos.

Raise your hand if you think Kawai and Pramberger pianos were unfairly rated upward in the Piano Buyer. Those brands occupy category 4 and 5, with the exception of Shigeru up in #2. That seems about right to me, possibly a little too harsh a rating for the RX series Kawais.

Do you think these were mis-rated due to bias, or misrated at all? I don't.

FWIW, Steve is one of just a small handful of dealers here who bother to assist potential customers with brands and models of piano he doesn't even sell, or sells against. That's more than I can say for many of the dealers and industry professionals here.

Yes, he's promoting the piano buyer. Last time I checked, they bought ad space here on the right side of the page.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 01:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Aliwally
My response is how do they rate pianos in other countries. Like England, Japan, Germany.


Not every culture believes you have to look in a book to tell you what you are supposed to like or think.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 02:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos


Example: I read the PB guide about the glowing reports of a piano model. Then I attend the Jason’s Music Centre to look at the instrument in question and lo and behold! The same guy that writes the glowing report in the book sells the same instrument??? This is pretty bad optics would you say?
Is your example hypothetical or actual? I thought Larry Fine has final say about all reviews/discussions of individual makes(other than ones clearly written by others in a different section of the PB)?
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 02:50 PM

Originally Posted By: sophial
This issue that Dan notes, along with that of having a publication that rates and review a product having income based on advertisers whose products are being reviewed, opens large questions about independence and conflict of interest.
This topic was discuessed on PW before the PB came out and I believe Fine also talks about this in the intro to the PB. I found the discussions more than adequate to dispel any doubts about conflict of interest.
Posted by: Nick Mauel

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 02:57 PM

I like what Sophia said:

"Sometimes it is what is NOT said as much or more than what is stated that can be affected."

This is the thing I miss the most about the former Piano Book - its frankness.

Thankfully however, there are many experts on this forum willing to give good advice.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 03:08 PM

If someone is called to the bench, he can no longer be your friendly neighbourhood lawyer.

Larry Fine hardly ever posts here - he needs to be respected for this.

Norbert
Posted by: AJB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 03:57 PM

Pianoloverus

My post was not an attack on Steve Cohen. It was in fact a general point that we cannot expect Piano World to be credible as an industry guide for consumers if there is one rule for certain dealers and a different rule for everyone else.

It is not equitable for Norbert to be criticised for his promotion of his brands, when Mr Cohen is allowed to mention piano buyer in bold at every available opportunity. I am aware that this is apparently done with Ferank Baxter's permission - but my personal view is that to permit this freedom to the extent that Steve uses it is an error of judgement. It detracts from PW and I feel may even be at the point of detracting from the credibility of piano buyer.

But more than that it is entirely improper in my view for PW moderators to bow to pressure from Mr Cohen for posts to be removed because he takes issue with them. There is a back track that has gone on here, with significant PM traffic behind the scenes.

As to his signature - my point is a simple one and Steve is well aware of it. He calls himself a contributing "editor". Use of the word editor suggests, in plain and simple English, that he has some form of editorial role and thus makes decisions about content.

If, as Steve has said to me, decisions about content are made by Larry Fine and not be Steve, then Steve's title is misleading. He may be a "contributor" to piano buyer, but not an "editor".

Furthermore, Steve has a financial interest in piano buyer, the extent of which is not disclosed.

I am not suggesting that Steve is biased or that he is unfairly promoting his own brands. However, this does not remove the clear conflict of interest. A person does not need to be indulging in unfair bias for the potential for conflict of interest to exist. It is this 'potential' that undermines the credibility of piano buyer because Steve is also a dealer and promotes himself as an "industry consultant" with undisclosed consultancy connections.

It is for these reasons that I consider Ken's removal of posts at Steve's request to be improper if Ken purports to act in an even handed way.

Norbert's point that Larry Fine rarely posts, tells us nothing. Steve is doing it all for him.

Piano buyer is useful for those who know little about pianos if they wish to know more about origin and manufacture. Since it went free and on-line, it must generate advertising revenue and it must promote itself in order to provide the traffic that advertisers require. Like it or not, this inevitably exposes the book/web-site to a charge of potential conflict of interest too, whether or not actual bias exists.

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 04:17 PM

Adrian:

Yours is a totally logical post addressing the very important issue of "independence" "neutrality" and "non-interference"

It has nothing to of with 'personality' or perceived 'hostility' on those who point things out.

This is very important as I personally have never sought conflict with Mr.Cohen, someone I have kown for many years.

If this simple point made in Adrian's post is not understood or accepted, it will IMHO effectively eliminate the usefulness of Piano Buyer as an independent buyer's guide.

In fact I would admit to this immediately exact same if *I* was in Mr. Cohen's position myself.

Norbert
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 04:38 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB
It was in fact a general point that we cannot expect Piano World to be credible as an industry guide for consumers if there is one rule for certain dealers and a different rule for everyone else.
I think it's far different to officially allow someone involved with a piano buyer's guide(which discusses all pianos and is free)to post about the book at PW and to allow dealers of specific makers to make posts pushing those pianos.

PB has been out for quite a while and I don't think this issue has even come up until this thread. As another poster has said, do lots of PW members think the reviews/ratings of pianos sold at Jason's Music are outrageously overrated? Or is it more like virtually no one thinks they are overrated?

The fact is that when people ask here for advice about pianos, by far the most common advice given by non industry professionals at PW is to read the PB(or to read the Piano Book and its Supplements before the the PB was published).

Posted by: Piano World

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 05:07 PM

There are a couple of reasons why I've allowed Steve to bring up the Piano Buyer in posts:

1.) It is a FREE piano resource on the Internet written by the same author who has been producing the well known Piano Book for years. Larry Fine and his publications have been highly respected by both the industry and the public for a long time now.

Steve does not push his own agenda in these posts, nor does he try to direct anyone to his own store, he simply points out the benefits of the PB and occassionaly asks for feedback from our members (much like Haliun is doing right now about their web site).

2.) We have a reciprocal advertising agreement between the Piano Buyer and Piano World. No money is exchanged, we simply promote in each others "publications".

3.) I know that Larry truly values the input he gets from our membership and takes your feedback to heart. I think it's a great opportunity for communications between the people who create the Piano Buyer, and the audience it is intended to reach.

You should know that most of the major piano manufacturers also audit the forums, even if they don't participate. They realize the value in reading what so many piano buyers/owners/players have to say.

While we're on the subject...

It's a fine line (no pun intended) we walk here between providing information and "selling". While I discourage businesses from soliciting sales from our members (other than purchasing obvious ads, which as you can see, we label as ads), I don't want people in the business to be afraid to post here either.

If all we ever hear from is piano players/owners, and never from the professionals in the industry, it becomes a one way street. I'd like to have a little more open communications provided once again that it doesn't dissolve into nothing but a sales pitch.
Posted by: AJB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 05:19 PM

Pianoloverus

You seem to be subscribing to the model which says:

"all the other sheep are jumping over the precipice so it must be a good idea".

The principle of conflict of interest is very well established. Why not stand back and view it dispassionately?

I would also disengage from the recommendations of piano buyer. Years ago, when I first started posting here, it was recommended frequently by numerous posters (including me, occasionally). This is because it was a useful technical guide that was untainted by the advertising and the potential for bias. It had the defect of being a technician's rather than a player's view, but that was at least clear.

In contrast, now it is touted frequently by only a few people, at least one of whom (Steve Cohen) has a vested interest in the commercial success of the publication / web site.

You are clearly a defender of Mr Cohen as your recent posting record amply demonstrates. Fair enough, but I wonder if you are standing back and looking at this entirely fairly?

The latter part of this thread (in the last 24 hours) has mainly been about Steve, who defends and promotes piano buyer vigorously, and Norbert who defends and promotes Brodmann and Hailun equally vigorously (though he has vowed to cease and desist!). Both positions have become tedious to some, judging by recent posting history on a few threads.

In both cases the central point is that over promotion becomes counter-productive and potentially damaging.

I am not disputing that piano buyer has some value. I am merely pointing out that ramming this down our throats all the time may make some of us question the motives and then question that value.

In the end I couldn't care less what two dealers in a sea of dealers do. But I do think that Piano World is a much bigger entity and should ideally be maintained as a fair and reasonable place where our shared enthusiasm for pianos can be discussed without the agendas of a small group being followed.

Larry Fine's publication had much more credibility when it was more independent and when it was not being so blatantly rammed down all our throats on this forum by a dealer with undisclosed interests in it and undisclosed claimed industry consultancy arrangements. You are entitled to have a different view if you wish and I shall respect that right.

KInd regards

Adrian
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 05:29 PM

Quote:
Rating pianos in a publication that sells paid advertisements, by anyone other than Larry Fine, would be difficult and suspect, if not impossible.


It is also true of a publication by Larry Fine. If I am researching a purchase, any article or publication which is paid for by manufacturers and dealers of that product is going to be very suspect. While Larry Fine is held in high regard here, to the general public he is an unknown. By accepting money from those he rates, he has damaged his credibility.

This is not an attack on Larry Fine, but this is how an outsider is going to view it. And that's the real problem with the piano ratings now.
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 05:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Nick Mauel
I like what Sophia said:

"Sometimes it is what is NOT said as much or more than what is stated that can be affected."

This is the thing I miss the most about the former Piano Book - its frankness.

Thankfully however, there are many experts on this forum willing to give good advice.


I liked Sofia's post as well, and I agree with you about the frankness that comes from being a bit more outside the industry. but this is a far different time from the late 80's and early 90's.

There are two ways to look at this. The first is about synergies. Frank Baxter makes no secret of trying to earn a living through PW. Larry Fine will not be able to get by on revenues from re-issuing the Piano Book every few years. That's about as viable as making one's fortune publishing a mainstream daily newspaper for street corner sales. If Frank and Larry have formed a contractual relationship to assist each other and have not taken into account the philosophical leanings of every member, that's life. Do you really think that contractual relationships between piano retailers and distributors are based on giving consumers every break possible?

This is about synergies and mutual survival in a tough environment. It's a business venture. Is Dan on the board of directors? Does he have a stake here? I don't think so. All of us can like it or leave it, or more pragmatically, see how it plays out before reaching a conclusion that our heavily-invested free memberships are being jeopardized. grin The end-product may have more fluff, less candor, and enhanced entertainment value alongside the ads. That's not all bad. The piano industry on Larry Fine's home turf doesn't have much going for it in the way of pizzazz. Maybe this will help.

The other way to look at it is that PW membership is being used as a test kitchen for sampling opinion. If people feel used and abused that this is what the cost of their free membership is exposing them to, then they can tune out, offer none of their priceless opinions for free, and stew in their own juices.
Posted by: AJB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 05:35 PM

Frank posted whilst I was typing.

I still think you have allowed this to go too far Frank. It is one thing for you to carry a piano buyer advert in exchange for Larry to carry one for PW. It is entirely another to allow Steve Cohen to mention it at every opportunity.

His signature promotes his store and his consultancy.

I agree that Larry's book was well respected in times gone by. Now that it is advertiser funded and has at least one dealer with a financial interest, is that respect undiluted? Questionable.

And permitting moderators to delete posts that raise pertinent points about Steve's role is going a long way down the street of bias and favouritism.

I also question the relevance of Steve's promotional posts. He tends to jump in with a "read piano buyer" response. He rarely, if ever, states exactly where in piano buyer one might find something direct;y relevant to the thread.

You state that piano buyer is free on the web. You seem to infer that this is a virtue. This may be so - or it may not. It is not a virtue if the reality is that bias in imperceptibly creeping in due to the need to satisfy advertisers, investors and interested parties. Whichever way you look at it, the publication is less independent than it was, and it would appear less frank in its expressed views.

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 06:35 PM

The PB piano ratings(at least for the performance pianos, the only ones I read)are extremely close to the ones in the last edition of the Supplement.

Have makers with big ads suddenly been given rave reviews after receiving poor reviews previously? Or have makers with no ads suddenly been given poor reviews after receiving good reviews in the past?

IMO the individual piano reviews are similar in tone, content, the precision and objectivity of the writing, and what I would call "bending over backward to be fair"?

Much ado about nothing IMO.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 06:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Piano World
We have a reciprocal advertising agreement between the Piano Buyer and Piano World. No money is exchanged, we simply promote in each others "publications".


And this is where this agreement ends. We all like to barter, nothing wrong with this: Any sudden additions to this agreement will be viewed as favoring one side or another…...

Now here comes the rationalization:

Originally Posted By: Piano World
There are a couple of reasons why I've allowed Steve to bring up the Piano Buyer in posts:

1.) It is a FREE piano resource on the Internet written by the same author who has been producing the well known Piano Book for years. Larry Fine and his publications have been highly respected by both the industry and the public for a long time now.

Steve does not push his own agenda in these posts, nor does he try to direct anyone to his own store, he simply points out the benefits of the PB and occassionaly asks for feedback from our members (much like Haliun is doing right now about their web site).


By becoming a part owner of this book business he has a vested interest in the success and continuation of this publication.
One could not deny that this is part of his agenda.

You would like to scratch each other’s backs fine. But do not expect the entire world to go along with it or agree.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 07:03 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB

I still think you have allowed this to go too far Frank. It is one thing for you to carry a piano buyer advert in exchange for Larry to carry one for PW. It is entirely another to allow Steve Cohen to mention it at every opportunity.


My mentions of Piano Buyer are a minority of my posts AND are usually on point to the topic.

Originally Posted By: AJB

His signature promotes his store and his consultancy.


Dealers are encouraged to uses sigs to be transparent. Currently I am consulting only Larry Fine, but occasionally I am contractually prohibited from identifying clients.

Originally Posted By: AJB

I agree that Larry's book was well respected in times gone by. Now that it is advertiser funded and has at least one dealer with a financial interest, is that respect undiluted? Questionable.


There are 280 pages of "evidence" in the current issue of Piano Buyer, and in a week or so, our Spring 2010 issue will add many more. Your slur in saying "Larry's book was well respected in times gone by", is unfounded. While I agree in totality that there is a potential for abuse, or "dilution" as you put it, so far NO ONE has pointed out where abuse has occurred. We each have the potential to be a murderer, but until one finds the dead body, you are innocent until the evidence proves you guilty. Claiming that Piano Buyer might be bias is patently unfair when the evidence doesn't support the charge.
Originally Posted By: AJB

And permitting moderators to delete posts that raise pertinent points about Steve's role is going a long way down the street of bias and favouritism.


The reason the post was pulled was because it contained FALSE information that was potentially damaging to both me and Piano Buyer, in addition to a personal attack on me. It violated Forum rules. You say "going a long way down the street of bias and favouritism." It was not a biased decision, and the post was offensive enough that it would have been pulled regardless of who posted it.
Originally Posted By: AJB

I also question the relevance of Steve's promotional posts. He tends to jump in with a "read piano buyer" response. He rarely, if ever, states exactly where in piano buyer one might find something direct;y relevant to the thread.


If I make a post that you judge as irrelevent, feel free to post a reply to that affect. If I have time, I usually post a link to the page in Piano Buyer where the pertinent information can be found. Your claim of "rarely if ever" is simply inaccurate. Often the OP needs general information, or would benefit from multiple articles. In those cases I simply recommend the book.

Originally Posted By: AJB

You state that piano buyer is free on the web. You seem to infer that this is a virtue. This may be so - or it may not. It is not a virtue if the reality is that bias in imperceptibly creeping in due to the need to satisfy advertisers, investors and interested parties. Whichever way you look at it, the publication is less independent than it was, and it would appear less frank in its expressed views.


You imply that bias is creeping in. You imply that it is less independent. You imply that it is less frank in its views. I say that these positions are catagorically false.

If you have any evidence to support these claims, or if you find any in the future, please bring them to our attention.

Kind regards

Steve
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 07:39 PM

Perhaps it is time that Larry Fine himself chimes in at this point and sets the record straight.

There's too much posturing going on and the issue is IMHO of crucial importance for P.B.

Ideally we can all step back a bit an give those who are indeed sincere a chance to "prove their stuff"
Let there be plenty of goodwill....

In my book, Mr Fine never had to do this before and it is indeed regretful that this appears to be necesary at this juncture.

My own basic question in all of this would be simply this:

"Is Mr. Cohen as "co-editor" of P.B. in any shape or form involved with - or 'influential' in - the present or future 'ratings' of the publication?"

If anybody here can be trusted with the answer 100% - it would be Mr. Fine himself. This I shall present as my sincere belief in things.

Norbert
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 07:45 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
The PB piano ratings(at least for the performance pianos, the only ones I read)are extremely close to the ones in the last edition of the Supplement.

Have makers with big ads suddenly been given rave reviews after receiving poor reviews previously? Or have makers with no ads suddenly been given poor reviews after receiving good reviews in the past?

IMO the individual piano reviews are similar in tone, content, the precision and objectivity of the writing, and what I would call "bending over backward to be fair"?

Much ado about nothing IMO.


Advertising has made no difference to your opinion, or mine, of the objectiveness of Piano Buyer, but to those who don't know Larry Fine from Moe Howard, the potential for bias based on ad revenues is there. That will result in a loss of credibility to the-man-in-the-street.
Posted by: fingers

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 07:50 PM

I'll bet that Steve C. is real glad he started this thread. crazy

fingers
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 08:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Perhaps it is time that Larry Fine himself chimes in at this point and sets the record straight.

There's too much posturing going on and the issue is IMHO of crucial importance for P.B.

Ideally we can all step back a bit an give those who are indeed sincere a chance to "prove their stuff"
Let there be plenty of goodwill....

In my book, Mr Fine never had to do this before and it is indeed regretful that this appears to be necesary at this juncture.

My own basic question in all of this would be simply this:

"Is Mr. Cohen as "co-editor" of P.B. in any shape or form involved with - or 'influential' in - the present or future 'ratings' of the publication?"

If anybody here can be trusted with the answer 100% - it would be Mr. Fine himself. This I shall present as my sincere belief in things.

Norbert


This morning I asked Larry to post. He assured me he would this evening or tomorrow.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 08:04 PM

Originally Posted By: fingers
I'll bet that Steve C. is real glad he started this thread. crazy

fingers


Well, the first page or two had some good ideas on it!
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 08:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary Schenk

Advertising has made no difference to your opinion, or mine, of the objectiveness of Piano Buyer, but to those who don't know Larry Fine from Moe Howard, the potential for bias based on ad revenues is there. That will result in a loss of credibility to the-man-in-the-street.


Hopefully, if the man in the street reads the the intro to the PB, he will feel otherwise. If not, then since this was apparently the only viable way to continue publishing the PB, what's the point in claiming there's a potential problem on this site whose members are not in the man in the street crowd?
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 08:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary Schenk

That will result in a loss of credibility to the-man-in-the-street.


Further to this thought, it will damage the credibility of the publication and also the old family dealership. Think about it. Joe six-pack reads the PB and then reads this forum with what……… 10 yrs of postings by Cohen a part owner of this publication?

The optics of this is horrible. It will play like a bag of rocks.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 08:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: Gary Schenk

That will result in a loss of credibility to the-man-in-the-street.


Further to this thought, it will damage the credibility of the publication and also the old family dealership. Think about it. Joe six-pack reads the PB and then reads this forum with what……… 10 yrs of postings by Cohen a part owner of this publication?

The optics of this is horrible. It will play like a bag of rocks.


Your friend Norbert has mis-characterized me as co-author, a misrepresentation first utter by him; now you chime in with a new claim, also false, the I am a part owner of Piano Buyer.

Do you guys coordinate your misrepresentations and the rst, or are they random falsehoods?
Posted by: Nick Mauel

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 08:24 PM

Turandot, the frankness I mentioned earlier was not just a product of the 80's and 90's, it was seen right up until the 2008-2009 Annual Supplement.

Steve, I don't think you can argue with Adrian that the new publication is not less frank in its views. It most definitely is and I would be glad to cite numerous examples. However, I'm not objecting to this, as I realize it is simply a thing of the past now that things are being done differently.

A kinder, gentler Piano Book is still (so far) a service to this industry. Thank You, Larry Fine. I don't know anyone who has read your publications forwards, backwards, sideways, and upside-down more than myself, and have used them to help educate customers over many years.

Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 08:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
You imply that it is less independent. You imply that it is less frank in its views.


Hello Steve,

I own several print copies of The Piano Buyer. I've used the online version. We occasionally share them with customers, use them as references and I even enjoy the articles. I am not advertised in the book.

In The Piano Book, and certainly The Annual Supplements there are year over year changes in the different editions that I believe are evidence of this eroding frankness.

Perhaps my favorite recent example was in the description of Steinway & Sons(NY):

In the 2007-2008 Annual Supplement, in the commentary following the Group 1 rankings (page 14), "Steinway & Sons (New York), at its best, has one of the finest sounds of any piano in Group 1--and relative to the others in the group, the worst workmanship. It's a testament to the amazing piano designs of this venerable brand, and the integrity of its sound-body construction, that instruments with so little finesse in workmanship can potentially sound and play so well." shocked

In the 2008-2009 Annual Supplement, same place (page 14), "Steinway & Sons (New York), at its best, has one of the finest sounds of any piano in Group 1, but relative to the others in the group, there is less attention to detail in a number of areas of production and musical preparation. It's a testament to the amazing piano designs of this venerable brand, and the integrity of its sound-body construction, that the instruments can potentially sound and play so well." blush

It is certainly fair and reasonable for Larry to modify his words, to better explain his criticisms. I'm not accusing Larry of bowing to outside pressures, but side by side, readers may fairly call this language less frank in nature. From there, the reader is free to judge for themselves why softer words were chosen.

Try not to become too defensive. You help make and promote a good product. Larry's book has helped change the industry for the better. Because of how the books are compiled, the presence of Ads, it is a business with good intentions but not above such scrutiny. I look forward to the new edition.
Posted by: Nick Mauel

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 08:55 PM

Sam, I believe that instance has actually already been explained by saying something to the effect of "Oops, what was I thinking?" But you make a very good point and somebody didn't like seeing that in print!

I like things like "These pianos are probably not going to win awards for anything in particular..." Or, such-and-such pianos "have a tone that neither offends nor delights".

Another thing that's much less frank than in previous years is some of the cheaper models of a particular brand not being criticized even when it would be justifiable to do so. Sort of like a 'don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all' policy.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 08:55 PM

Hi Sam,

Consider this possibility: Since 2007 Steinway has been steadily improving their workmanship and Larry's evaluations have evolved along with the improvement.
Posted by: Nick Mauel

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 09:00 PM

Perhaps Steinway will consider purchasing an advertisement.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 09:04 PM

Originally Posted By: Nick Mauel
Perhaps Steinway will consider purchasing an advertisement.


Spring 2010 (out in a week or so) - Page 12 wink
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 10:09 PM

At no point have I ever claimed Mr Cohen's title to be
"co-owner" or done so to *mislead* anybody.

What would have been the point of this?

Mr. Cohen's title, according to his own signature and Piano Buyer listings on page 2, is "Advertising Director" and "Contributing Editor"

It's the "Co-editor" that carries - at least in my mind - a very special responsibility for fairness, independence and neutrality.

It's a responisbility that goes far beyond what an average guy or dealer could ever say here on the site.

It is the very mark by which Mr. Fine has earned his integrity and respect this, for many years.

What is really amazing is that this very very simple point is so hard to acknowledge or accept.

Unless "co-editor" of course is a totally meaningless position with absolutely no real or potential influence for content.

This is, what IMHO needs to be clarified here.

P.S. Silverwood Piano and our company are not 'friends' - we actually sometimes compete in same market.

Any chance to resolve this matter honestly and amicably?

Norbert
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 10:18 PM

While I'm with those who wonder about conflict of interest, it looked to me like this thread was supposed to be about whether people thought any of the ratings should have been different.

Unless I missed something, there were only about 3 or 4 suggestions that any pianos should have been rated differently than they are.

If that means everything else is fine (so to speak), that would seem to suggest it's pretty fine. smile

I love "tangents" as much as anybody, but I always thought tangents aren't supposed to be instead of the original point. I'd love to know which other piano ratings anyone feels should have been different.
Posted by: Nick Mauel

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 10:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
What would you guess is the percentage of Steinway buyers that have Steinway's image as one of their primary motivations to buy?

Is one of the benefits of owning a Steinway that it impresses others? If so, does that benefit have value?



I just wondered why an 'industry consultant' needs to ask such questions, and others like it.
Posted by: fingers

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 10:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Hi Sam,

Consider this possibility: Since 2007 Steinway has been steadily improving their workmanship and Larry's evaluations have evolved along with the improvement.


I don't think Sam really wants to acknowledge that possibility, as it does not serve his opportunity to spread FUD.

fingers
Posted by: Nick Mauel

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 10:47 PM

I didn't think it was possible to spread FUD using any of Larry Fine's statements. He is clearly against it.

A dealer who cites Larry Fine's statements is exactly the opposite of a dealer using FUD tactics.

(FUD = Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)
Posted by: fingers

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 10:49 PM

Quoted from the preface of the 2nd Edition of The Piano Book-
" Finally, the very popular but troublesome numerical ratings of piano quality have been removed because of overuse and abuse..."


"...As a result, some reviews have been "softened" a little to keep the peace and avoid expensive litigation. Although I don't think any reader will be misled, you may wish to "read between the lines" as you read the brand reviews..."

Evidently, the astute Mr. Fine understood these challenges way back when.

fingers
Posted by: fingers

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 10:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Nick Mauel
I didn't think it was possible to spread FUD using any of Larry Fine's statements. He is clearly against it.

A dealer who cites Larry Fine's statements is exactly the opposite of a dealer using FUD tactics.

(FUD = Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)


Nick,

Please don't pretend to be naive. You know very well about 'spin". Give me a break!

fingers
Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 10:59 PM

Originally Posted By: fingers
Quoted from the preface of the 2nd Edition of The Piano Book-
" Finally, the very popular but troublesome numerical ratings of piano quality have been removed because of overuse and abuse..."
fingers


The current rating system is also used in the same manner.
What's the difference?
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 11:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C


I love "tangents" as much as anybody, but I always thought tangents aren't supposed to be instead of the original point. I'd love to know which other piano ratings anyone feels should have been different.


Well, Mark. Certainly your own tangent is as valid as any other, but the thread topic is changes to the structure of the ratings, not the rankings of individual pianos.

Originally Posted By: Nick Mauel
Perhaps Steinway will consider purchasing an advertisement.


Well, that's the thing Nick. I don't know if you're joking or serious, but leverage is the issue here. It's not so much who has it because that can go back and forth as relationships develop. It's more about how it's used or not used.

I was checking out the new Hailun website this afternoon and noticed the prominent links to PW and PB - links which praised both enterprises.

Who's got the leverage in this c ross-linking? Did money change hands? Which direction? If it passed to PW will Frank leverage Hailun competitors by telling them Hailun is a client and they'd better get on board too? Even my teenage son did that when he was selling sponsorships for his track and field team. Once he nailed down the first pizza shop account, everything fell into place with the others. grin

Will Hailun expect favorable treatment here? Will you [Nick] spend sleepless nights worrying that Hailun has too much influence on this forum? grin

These are silly little examples, but it really is a whole different ballgame once the ad revenues enter the picture. Some people have implicit trust in Mr. Fine. Others wonder about undue leverage or influence peddling, not because it's Mr. Fine's style, but because it's the way of the world.

For consumers like me it just makes sense to see how it shakes out. Personally, whatever it is, even just a slick coffee table item with no teeth, I fully expect it will reek with integrity. However, I can understand the huge concerns of people who make their living selling pianos, and,,,,,,, getting back to that Steinway text alteration, I can understand why Mr. Fine might soften that text just so he wouldn't supply free ammo to dealers competing against Steinway.
_________________________
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 11:16 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot
Well, Mark. Certainly your own tangent is as valid as any other, but the thread topic is changes to the structure of the ratings, not the rankings of individual pianos.....

It is?
That's not how I read it.
Let's see what he asked:

"If you were rating pianos, based on quality of construction, performance, and image, how would your ratings differ from Larry Fine's Current Ratings?"

I can't see that as meaning what you said, even if I try real hard.

But I appreciate that you at least addressed this. Nobody else has.
Posted by: Nick Mauel

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/01/10 11:39 PM

Originally Posted By: fingers
Quoted from the preface of the 2nd Edition of The Piano Book-
" Finally, the very popular but troublesome numerical ratings of piano quality have been removed because of overuse and abuse..."


"...As a result, some reviews have been "softened" a little to keep the peace and avoid expensive litigation. Although I don't think any reader will be misled, you may wish to "read between the lines" as you read the brand reviews..."

Evidently, the astute Mr. Fine understood these challenges way back when.

fingers

Fingers,

The 2nd edition of The Piano Book is from 1990. Since you are quoting passages regarding reviews and rankings, is this not too far in the past? Or, is it OK to reference reviews from 20 years ago?

In the paragraph just before the one you quoted from, Mr. Fine notes the challenge he had come to understand: "As consumers became aware of the book, its impact on piano sales was felt, and I found myself and my work very much noticed in the industry."
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 12:02 AM

Mark C,

You're right. The OP was misleading. A while back, between the time that the InFinite British Columbian and US Allies stormed the Piano Buyer Ad Revenue Tower and the time in which Udo Steingraeber signed Terry's piano, pocketed Terry's Montblanc, and left town.......somewhere in between there at some indistinct moment that will forever be remembered even though it cannot be precisely reckoned, Steve had an epiphany and said what he really wanted from the thread........that being, to be hammered from all sides.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 12:39 AM

Originally Posted By: turandot
Mark C,

You're right. The OP was misleading....

Thanks for the acknowledgement, turandot.
But I don't think the OP was misleading at all.
I think the problem was that the title was ambiguous, and people just ran the wrong way with it, without closely reading the post (which did totally clarify the title).

And for some reason, Steve never came in and told people that they were going in the wrong direction. Maybe he decided he was happier with what people thought he had asked......
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:27 AM

Quote:

And for some reason, Steve never came in and told people that they were going in the wrong direction.


He did. Here you go.

Quote:
The reason I posted this thread is that Larry is examining possible alternatives to the rating system currrently in Piano Buyer. We see the upside to these ratings as well as the downsides.

Many of the suggestions made here, while appreciated, in reality could not be accomplished.

Perhaps I should have asked "How would you suggest Piano Buyer ratings and rating process should be structured"?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:32 AM

Yes -- I thought that wasn't a clarification, but a change, as he seemed to imply at the beginning of the post you quoted (in a part that you omitted). I meant he never just said people were addressing a different question than he had asked, which it seemed they were.

If this other thing really was what he meant in the first place, then I was the one who misinterpreted the OP.

But obviously, no matter. Y'all are off in this other direction, and Steve seems happy enough with it.
In a way. smile
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:33 AM

Quote:
"How would you suggest Piano Buyer ratings and rating process should be structured"?


Personally I have come to believe "no structures" - "no ratings"

Why not let people decide what they wish to buy and how much they are willing to spend on their puchase.

Just as cars or other big ticket items.

It's happening everywhere else in world.

Norbert
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:46 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Yes -- I thought that wasn't a clarification, but a change -- sort of a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" (as he seemed to imply at the beginning of the post you quoted, although you omitted that part). I meant he never just said people were addressing a different question than he had asked, which it seemed they were.

If this other thing really was what he meant in the first place, then I was the one who misinterpreted the OP.


Mark,

I dug that post out from under the rubble. That's enough exertion for me. smile I'll leave you to your thoughts about why and why not.

Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:47 AM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Why not let people decide what they wish to buy and how much they are willing to spend on their puchase.

You want no evaluations, no ratings???

Quote:
Just as cars or other big ticket items.....

Evaluations and ratings of cars and other big-ticket items are very prevalent and extremely popular, and people rely on them hugely.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 02:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: Nick Mauel
Perhaps Steinway will consider purchasing an advertisement.


Spring 2010 (out in a week or so) - Page 12 wink

Well! There you have it!

The decision of Fine, Cohen et al to soften the critique of Steinway was a commercially sound one for the publication.

If Steinway continues to advertise and commits to multiple pages for multiple years, then the sky is the limit on how they can improve their ratings!

Quid pro quo.

Ain't the America way great?
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 02:28 AM

Quote:
You want no evaluations, no ratings???


While this may work fine for some people and be even be 'necessary' for some - it's becoming way too political for my own taste.

As long as there are are huge commercial interests at stake, it will be a battle ground forever.

Sorry to be blunt but I don't like the fact that things are seemingly becoming more commercial all the time.

This is only my *opinion*, no offense intended.

Anybody 'rating' violins, guitars, drumsets or church organs?

Think about it.

Norbert
Posted by: theJourney

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 02:38 AM

Originally Posted By: PianoWorksATL
In The Piano Book, and certainly The Annual Supplements there are year over year changes in the different editions that I believe are evidence of this eroding frankness.

Perhaps my favorite recent example was in the description of Steinway & Sons(NY):
...
It is certainly fair and reasonable for Larry to modify his words, to better explain his criticisms. I'm not accusing Larry of bowing to outside pressures, but side by side, readers may fairly call this language less frank in nature. From there, the reader is free to judge for themselves why softer words were chosen.


So you feel that the publication is suffering from less Frankness and is reflecting instead creeping Steveness? Or is it simply "business is business" where today's mission is -- coûte que coûte -- selling advertising and supplements and building shareholder value with "love for sale".

There is of course no free lunch. By offering free internet copy with a patina of objectivity and co-opting supposedly open and objective internet forums with "anything goes", under the table, "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" agreements, manufacturers who pay for the privilege can have access to a wonderful Trojan horse of a way to influence insecure piano buyers with "genuine" and "authentic" reviews of their products.
Posted by: AJB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 03:09 AM

Steve - just to clear up any misunderstanding, I have not said that you are a co-owner of piano buyer. I have merely stated that you have a financial interest in it. This conclusion can be reached from your own assertion of position (as we assume you are not for free: contributing editor and advertising director and now you have said that you are also a consultant to Mr Fine). And in any case you have previously confirmed that you do have a financial interest.

With respect, Steve, you are being obtuse in defending your conflict of interest, and your arguments about murderers etc are fallacious. Many industries, such as law, finance and banking, are regulated to deal with the well understood concept of conflict of interest. The purpose is to ensure that consumers or customers can have confidence that there could be none. There is no suggestion of impropriety - merely a method of adding credibility (because in the past there most definitely has been impropriety!)

Pianos don't matter much and hence there is no regulation. This does not erase conflicts of interest though. The potential for them still very much exists and we must take it on trust, apparently, that you and others are not influenced by these conflicts.

You must see that your potential conflict of interest is obvious. No one in this thread has said that you have been dishonest in any way. But it is the potential that damages the piano buyer, as a seed of doubt is inevitably sown in the minds of impartial users.

As to the editorial point. I have not described you as a co-editor. I assume that when Norbert or others make reference to a co-editor they are abbreviating your title from contributing to co. This obviously upsets you, but the reality is that any word, followed by "editor" must suggest in plain English usage, that you are doing some editing of material in piano buyer.

If you don't want to create the impression that you have an editorial role, then you should change your signature to show yourself as a contributor rather than an editor. Then the clear presumption would be that someone else is editing your material. Your signature and title presently creates a problem for you and for piano buyer.

It is hard for you credibly to deny that you have very frequently touted piano buyer on this web forum. Rarely have you pointed people to a relevant page in piano buyer - the touting is general rather than specific. This is consistent with the role of an Advertising Director, who is keen to demonstrate to advertisers both traffic and profile. Fair enough. Tout away - but don't expect all members to find it terribly palatable.

As you are a dealer and have had in the past by your own admission confidential consultancy relationships with piano manufacturers, and presumably hope to obtain further consultancy work in the future, it must raise in the mind of a dispassionate observer "might this man have pulled some punches in order to favour his contacts?"

Now, we on the forum know you would never do such a thing. But you must see that to the casual observer, the risk of bias remains. This undermines piano buyer's credibility.

Larry Fine has worked for many years to produce a book and regular supplements that was well respected in the industry. I have made no slur about this (contrary to your false assertion). I have merely stated what I believe to be a fact. It was well respected. I am not so sure that the respect remains at the same level today.

Larry Fine has taken a new path with piano buyer and introduced a commercial element. By its very nature this dilutes the perceived independence, whether or not it reduces the actual independence of view. This is logically undeniable.

Larry faces the difficulty of many people who are key to a business idea - it is closely associated with him and his own integrity. If he wishes to sell (as has been suggested many times) or retire, the value of the publication going forward can no longer depend on his personal integrity and name, and this presents a continuity problem that affects the business value of his venture. To continue, at some point Piano Buyer must have a new owner, or it will disappear. It seems to me that credibility going forward will depend greatly on the credibility of any new owner, co-owner or material participant. But this is a future issue for Larry.

All of these points do not mean that piano buyer is no longer useful to some people. It is free and, leaving aside the common argument that something free is worth exactly what you paid for it, it still delivers information and a method of comparing instruments that many find interesting and worthwhile.

My own very personal view, is that piano buyer is a somewhat less independent publication that it was. It is perceptibly less frank and I would be more inclined to question whether it is telling me the whole story these days. This is of course just a personal view and others may well hold a different opinion.

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 09:21 AM

Originally Posted By: Norbert

Mr. Cohen's title, according to his own signature and Piano Buyer listings on page 2, is "Advertising Director" and "Contributing Editor"

It's the "Co-editor" that carries - at least in my mind - a very special responsibility for fairness, independence and neutrality.
The first sentence says "contributing editor". The very next one says "co-editor" which not only changes the word but IMO implies equality with Larry Fine as an editor. This seems completely illogical.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 09:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
"How would you suggest Piano Buyer ratings and rating process should be structured"?


Personally I have come to believe "no structures" - "no ratings"

Why not let people decide what they wish to buy and how much they are willing to spend on their puchase.

Just as cars or other big ticket items.

It's happening everywhere else in world.

Norbert


Because most perple know very little about pianos (and much more about cars, which are also extensively rated). And most shoppers don't have the time to invest that would be necessary to gain an in-depth understanding of the piano market, or even about those brands that are locally available. I would even go as far as to say that Brodmann, Perzina, Hailun, Ritmuller, May Berlin, Palatino, and others are being given serious consideration by more shoppers due to their improved and improving ratings in Piano Buyer. Shoppers are looking for help, and while Piano Buyer certainly isn't perfect, it is the best alternative available.

I am very proud to be a part of it.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 09:26 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Norbert

Mr. Cohen's title, according to his own signature and Piano Buyer listings on page 2, is "Advertising Director" and "Contributing Editor"

It's the "Co-editor" that carries - at least in my mind - a very special responsibility for fairness, independence and neutrality.
The first sentence says "contributing editor". The very next one says "co-editor" which not only changes the word but IMO implies equality with Larry Fine as an editor. This seems completely illogical.


Not only illogical, but an outright falsehood. I am not, a co-editor, nor have I ever claimed to be. That invention was Norbert's.
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 10:04 AM

Originally Posted By: AJB


My own very personal view, is that piano buyer is a somewhat less independent publication that it was. It is perceptibly less frank and I would be more inclined to question whether it is telling me the whole story these days. This is of course just a personal view and others may well hold a different opinion.


I guess you feel that at some point Piano Buyer or one of its predecessors was giving you the whole story. That doesn't really square with your expressed opinions of Fine publications in the past. I doubt from anything you've said in the past that you've ever based a purchase (or accepted free loan grin) of a piano based on Fine's take.

The man has said in his opening remarks that he welcomes his role as a GUIDE rather than a CRITIC and that Piano Buyer has a different thrust and different purpose from his earlier publications. Your arguments are always carefully structured, but Fine's opening remarks in Pianobuyer are far more impressive, to the point, and pertinent to an understanding of what Piano Buyer purports to do.

The publication exists because of ad revenue. It will succeed or not succeed based on content. Fresh content is on the immediate horizon. You're jumping the gun.
Posted by: sophial

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 10:20 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: Nick Mauel
Perhaps Steinway will consider purchasing an advertisement.


Spring 2010 (out in a week or so) - Page 12 wink

Well! There you have it!

The decision of Fine, Cohen et al to soften the critique of Steinway was a commercially sound one for the publication.

If Steinway continues to advertise and commits to multiple pages for multiple years, then the sky is the limit on how they can improve their ratings!

Quid pro quo.

Ain't the America way great?



No worries, Journey, this statement did not make it into the Piano Buyer from the last full edition of the Piano Book:
“Although the reviews in this book tend, by their nature, to highlight the problem areas, my sense is that most technicians feel that Steinway grands, properly serviced, are among the best-performing pianos- if not THE best- made.” (p.146)

Well, that could complicate the story....

Remember it's not just what is said; it's what is NOT said as well.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 10:27 AM

Originally Posted By: AJB
My own very personal view, is that piano buyer is a somewhat less independent publication that it was. It is perceptibly less frank and I would be more inclined to question whether it is telling me the whole story these days. This is of course just a personal view and others may well hold a different opinion.

I am extemely familiar with the Piano Supplements for the last ten years at least. I am extremely familiar with the last two editions of The Piano Book and the Piano Buyer. I see nothing in the PB that indicates it's "perceptibly less frank" than ealrier editions of the Bupplement or Piano Book.

I don't think even a single example of this has been given on this thread. The one example about the review of NY Steinway referred to two editions of the Supplement and was easily explained by Fine's statement that quality control was improving.

I think it's silly to expect that the phrasing of each review to be exactly the same every time. This would assume that the opinions of the people giving those reviews to Larry Fine and Fine's own opinion have to remain fixed. It would also assume the same collection of people are responsible for the input on each piano for every edition.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 10:34 AM

(He also invented what he said about 'cars and other big-ticket items.' You didn't have to concede on that.)
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 10:43 AM

Let me put the advertising issue in perspective:

The single biggest asset Piano Buyer has is Larry Fine and his reputation. (I know I'll be personally attacked on this, and could, in advance name those who will do so, and what they are going to say!)

The cost of a full-page ad in Piano Buyer to multi-issue advertisers is relatively inexpensive.

Would we jeopardize Larry's reputation by "accommodating" an advertiser for such an insignifcant amount?

Give me a break!!!

Posted by: sophial

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 10:45 AM

AJB set out the conflict of interest issue very well. The idea that there has to be a bleeding body or smoking gun is simply wrong. It's a matter of protecting against the thousands of small and not so small ways that decisions can be affected consciously or unconsciously at every point in an evaluation process as I wrote before-- ranging from whose opinions are sought, how the questions are worded and interpreted, how they are weighted, wording choices, etc. Credibility as an independent rating source depends on maintaining the appearance as well as the reality of independence from the entities that stand to benefit from the ratings. This has been the elephant in the room all along since the Piano Buyer appeared.

Sophia
Posted by: terminaldegree

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 10:46 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney

Well! There you have it!

The decision of Fine, Cohen et al to soften the critique of Steinway was a commercially sound one for the publication.

If Steinway continues to advertise and commits to multiple pages for multiple years, then the sky is the limit on how they can improve their ratings!

Quid pro quo.
Ain't the America way great?


1. Wasn't NY Steinway downgraded in the last tiered rating system in the Piano Buyer?
2. Has NY Steinway quality control/finished instruments improved in the past few years? The technician I respect most seems to think that the current new crop of NY S&S are the best he's ever seen in his lifetime. How many NY S&S pianos do you get to play over there?
3. Isn't S&S and their affiliated dealers one of the largest advertisers in all musical publications in the US? Local, state, and national music teachers organizations, industry publications, etc. etc.

Your "conspiracy theory" seems weak at best based when put in perspective. Yes, I'm an apologist...
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 11:17 AM

Quote:
I assume that when Norbert or others make reference to a co-editor they are abbreviating your title from contributing to co.


Exactly, not very hard to figure out...

Everybody can understand what a "Director for Advertising" is.

But "Contributing editor"? Is this a secret?

Or is this part of it:

Quote:
Larry and Me.

That's what we were doing at NAMM. You should remember, you were there right next to us as we interviewed Indrek on updating our Estonia information for their profile..


Norbert
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 11:22 AM

Originally Posted By: terminaldegree

1. Wasn't NY Steinway downgraded in the last tiered rating system in the Piano Buyer?
2. Has NY Steinway quality control/finished instruments improved in the past few years? The technician I respect most seems to think that the current new crop of NY S&S are the best he's ever seen in his lifetime. How many NY S&S pianos do you get to play over there?
...


So you're saying that while Steinway quality improved, they got downgraded in Piano Buyer. Maybe if they had purchased an ad they wouldn't have been smacked down.

I don't think this is the case at all, but this is a perfect example of the can of worms that gets opened when advertising revenue comes into play.

So perhaps the answer is indeed that the best way to change the ratings of pianos is to have no rating. Keep the Piano Book style descriptions and prices of pianos along with good articles about pianos and shopping for them. That would remove any idea of conflict of interest, no?
Posted by: AJB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 11:35 AM

Turandot

I follow your perspective. (And you are right, I didn't consult piano buyer about whether the free loan was a good idea ;-). I think my points have become diluted by discourse. My starting point and where I still am:

1 Mr Cohen is obviously and blatantly conflicted
2 There appears to be favouritism in favour of Mr Cohen and piano buyer and this favour is not extended to other dealers
3 It was inappropriate for the moderator to remove several posts when Mr Cohen complained
4 Mr Cohen's editorial title suggests he edits and is therefore a content decision maker.
5 The co-editor / contributing-editor terminology is mere semantics that Mr Cohen could resolve personally by not calling himself an editor
6 I do not think it is appropriate for Mr Cohen to be permitted to make constant references to piano buyer in a generic way (with no reference to post specific guidance) when other dealers are castigated for brand promotion and breaching pw "rules".

I wonder how other advertisers feel now that they have learnt that there is a no cost reciprocal advertising arrangement between piano buyer and piano world? Does everyone get this benefit?

If they don't, then it must be a bit galling, especially when a dealer is allowed to promote pb constantly in threads.

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 12:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary Schenk
.....So perhaps the answer is indeed that the best way to change the ratings of pianos is to have no rating.....

Here's the problem: People LIKE ratings.

This has been seen in other venues also. Here's a couple:

The (great) baseball writer and analyst, Bill James, at first just wrote theoretical pieces about his ideas. He had trouble getting them published. He was told that what people want to see is ratings and rankings -- take his ideas and show how players and teams would rank. That worked -- and over time, his ideas caught on.

And there's also this familiar notorious thing: music competitions.
We're fond of saying that competitions are stupid and destructive, who needs them. Yet, when the organizations put on festivals that are just "celebrations," with no competition and no ranking, somehow we're not nearly as interested.

People like ratings.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 12:33 PM

Originally Posted By: terminaldegree
Originally Posted By: theJourney

Well! There you have it!

The decision of Fine, Cohen et al to soften the critique of Steinway was a commercially sound one for the publication.

If Steinway continues to advertise and commits to multiple pages for multiple years, then the sky is the limit on how they can improve their ratings!

Quid pro quo.
Ain't the America way great?
1. Wasn't NY Steinway downgraded in the last tiered rating system in the Piano Buyer?
2. Has NY Steinway quality control/finished instruments improved in the past few years? The technician I respect most seems to think that the current new crop of NY S&S are the best he's ever seen in his lifetime. How many NY S&S pianos do you get to play over there?
3. Isn't S&S and their affiliated dealers one of the largest advertisers in all musical publications in the US? Local, state, and national music teachers organizations, industry publications, etc. etc.

Your "conspiracy theory" seems weak at best based when put in perspective. Yes, I'm an apologist...


There were different rating systems in the PB and the Supplement that immediately preceeded it. NY Steinway was not downgraded in the PB.

In the Supplement, NY Steinway was rated in Tier 1C and in the PB it was in 2A(the highest level in Group 2). But since the PB Tier 1 didn't have A,B, and C levels and Tier 1 in the PB included the pianos in Tier 1A from the most recent Supplement, there was no downgrading. Most or all of the piano in Tier 1B and 1C in recent Supplement were moved to Tier 2A in the PB.

I think this is an example how misinformation or lack of complete understanding can be harmful.

Posted by: theJourney

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 12:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary Schenk
[quote=terminaldegree]


So perhaps the answer is indeed that the best way to change the ratings of pianos is to have no rating. Keep the Piano Book style descriptions and prices of pianos along with good articles about pianos and shopping for them. That would remove any idea of conflict of interest, no?

There would still be the possibility to "damn with faint praise."
Posted by: M.O.P.

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 12:48 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB
I wonder how other advertisers feel now that they have learnt that there is a no cost reciprocal advertising arrangement between piano buyer and piano world? Does everyone get this benefit?

If they don't, then it must be a bit galling, especially when a dealer is allowed to promote pb constantly in threads.


At the risk of starting up yet another firestorm, yes, it is a bit galling, and no, its not a good feeling.

IMHO, Frank has the absolute right to make any type of arrangements he wishes with individual advertisers. But to announce the arrangement between PB & PW publicly on the forum is distressing to an advertiser who has and is paying for advertising here all the while not being able to self-promote in threads.

This is my opinion only, I don't presume to speak for others.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:02 PM

Originally Posted By: M.O.P.
Originally Posted By: AJB
I wonder how other advertisers feel now that they have learnt that there is a no cost reciprocal advertising arrangement between piano buyer and piano world? Does everyone get this benefit?

If they don't, then it must be a bit galling, especially when a dealer is allowed to promote pb constantly in threads.


At the risk of starting up yet another firestorm, yes, it is a bit galling, and no, its not a good feeling.

IMHO, Frank has the absolute right to make any type of arrangements he wishes with individual advertisers. But to announce the arrangement between PB & PW publicly on the forum is distressing to an advertiser who has and is paying for advertising here all the while not being able to self-promote in threads.

This is my opinion only, I don't presume to speak for others.


Piano Buyer gets thousands of unique visitors online every month, and is growing. The overwhelming majority of those readers are acutely interested in pianos and many do not know about Piano World. Piano World gets significant traffic by advertising in Piano Buyer.

I am sure Frank would be glad to discuss ads swaps with other sites that provide the same number and as well-targeted a reader as Piano Buyer does.

If M.O.P. has that kind of draw, let Frank know. But, no one should be galled by this swap unless they have the same advantages to offer.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: M.O.P.
Originally Posted By: AJB
I wonder how other advertisers feel now that they have learnt that there is a no cost reciprocal advertising arrangement between piano buyer and piano world? Does everyone get this benefit?

If they don't, then it must be a bit galling, especially when a dealer is allowed to promote pb constantly in threads.


At the risk of starting up yet another firestorm, yes, it is a bit galling, and no, its not a good feeling.

IMHO, Frank has the absolute right to make any type of arrangements he wishes with individual advertisers. But to announce the arrangement between PB & PW publicly on the forum is distressing to an advertiser who has and is paying for advertising here all the while not being able to self-promote in threads.

This is my opinion only, I don't presume to speak for others.


Piano Buyer gets thousands of unique visitors online every month, and is growing. The overwhelming majority of those readers are acutely interested in pianos and many do not know about Piano World. Piano World gets significant traffic by advertising in Piano Buyer.

I am sure Frank would be glad to discuss ads swaps with other sites that provide the same number and as well-targeted a reader as Piano Buyer does.

If M.O.P. has that kind of draw, let Frank know. But, no one should be galled by this swap unless they have the same advantages to offer.


As always, this answer has nothing to do with potential piano consumers other than seeing them as gullible marks to be taken advantage of by undisclosed, mafiosi arrangements.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:40 PM

I don't understand why the question is suddenly shifting to P.W.

Frank is not a "Contributing Editor" of *Piano Buyer* - he is the owner of this website.

He does not take swings at other members and has never expressed his preferences 'for' or 'against' certain makes.

He does sell stuff but it has nothing to do with piano brands or 'ratings'

Frank has been a most gracious host and should be completely left out of the discussion.

The basic question was 'ratings' and if and to which extent Mr. Cohen is personally involved in this as "Contributing Editor" of Piano Buyer.

Norbert
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:43 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB


I think my points have become diluted by discourse. My starting point and where I still am:


No, I read you loud and clear. Realitically, to accomplish the changes you want, you will need to exchange your seat among the bored for a seat on the Board here. Good luck with that!

Adrian and Nancy,

Pianobuyer gets a free ticket here. MOP gets a free ride. AJB get a free ride. turandot gets a free ride. It's all FREEEEEEEEEE!!! grin

Frank's largesse exceeds his business sense. grin

Nancy, At $196 for a multi-issue PB ad, how can you go wrong? grin


Posted by: AJB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:51 PM

I disagree. Frank has unfortunately involved himself by:

a) allowing moderators to delete posts that don't suit Steve Cohen
b) allowing Steve Cohen to advertise piano buyer indiscriminately in his posts, even though Steve has a vested interest in PB advertising revenue among other things
c) revealing that there is a no-cost reciprocal advertising deal (that Steve has felt it necessary to defend) that other dealers do not benefit from.

But I do agree that the central issue is Mr Cohen's conflict of interest.

And the fact that this calls into further question (along with the obvious advertising aspect) the independence of piano buyer.

Adrian
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 01:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
I don't understand why the question is suddenly shifting to P.W.

Frank is not a "Contributing Editor" of *Piano Buyer* - he is the owner of this website.

He does not take swings at other members and has never expressed his preferences 'for' or 'against' certain makes.

He does sell stuff but it has nothing to do with piano brands or 'ratings'

Frank has been a most gracious host and should be completely left out of the discussion.

The basic question was 'ratings' and if and to which extent Mr. Cohen is personally involved in this as "Contributing Editor" of Piano Buyer.

Norbert


That question has been answered by Larry at http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ml#Post1386478.
Posted by: M.O.P.

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 02:02 PM

It's not $196. Read it again.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 02:12 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB
I disagree. Frank has unfortunately involved himself by:

a) allowing moderators to delete posts that don't suit Steve Cohen
b) allowing Steve Cohen to advertise piano buyer indiscriminately in his posts, even though Steve has a vested interest in PB advertising revenue among other things
c) revealing that there is a no-cost reciprocal advertising deal (that Steve has felt it necessary to defend) that other dealers do not benefit from.

But I do agree that the central issue is Mr Cohen's conflict of interest.

And the fact that this calls into further question (along with the obvious advertising aspect) the independence of piano buyer.

Adrian


In answer to your claims:

a. The moderator deleted the posts becausse he agreed that they were inappropriate, and they were. I have no leverage in that matter other than to report the post and ask that it be removed.

b. Piano World's owner, Frank Baxter has posted here his reasoning. It is certainly his right to what he feels is fair, not have to bend to your pressure. smile

c. The exchange wasn't made between a "dealer" and Frank. It was made by Larry and Frank. It wasn't between Jasons Music Center and Frank, although I am sure that if a dealer could provide Frank with a large steady source of reader, he would be nore than willing to deal.

As to my supposed conflict of interest I refer tou to Larrys post: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...tml#Post1386478
Posted by: SCCDoug

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 02:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Let me put the advertising issue in perspective:

The single biggest asset Piano Buyer has is Larry Fine and his reputation. (I know I'll be personally attacked on this, and could, in advance name those who will do so, and what they are going to say!)

The cost of a full-page ad in Piano Buyer to multi-issue advertisers is relatively inexpensive.

Would we jeopardize Larry's reputation by "accommodating" an advertiser for such an insignifcant amount?

Give me a break!!!



Steve, the problem is that there is no difference between a perceived or actual conflict of interest in terms of the damage it does to an organization. This is one of the fundamental lessons those of us who have to pass yearly 'code of conduct' exams learn early on. I can have every faith in your integrity and in Mr. Fine's, but that isn't really the point.

Each of us, when doing research on any significant purchase, needs to make an assessment on the value of the information presented based on its source. When buying an automobile you are going to likely going to be more careful with advice coming from a newspaper supplement as compared to Car & Driver, or perhaps on the other end of the spectrum, Consumer Reports or JD Powers. By choosing to become an advertising vehicle for the product you are evaluating the perception of conflict of interest is unavoidable.

I have no issue with PB and the decision to take advertising and wish you the best of luck. I believe PB still has a valuable role to play, especially in the age of the internet. But forgive me for saying so, it is naive for you and Mr. Fine to expect that adopting a new business model would not impact how you are perceived in the marketplace.
Posted by: M.O.P.

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 02:27 PM

As usual, the tread has gone off the rails. I confess, and will admit, I have let myself get sucked into it. smile

Turandot - I have no beef with Steve that PB has made a nice arrangement with PW. Free enterprise, I said Frank has the absolute right to make any deal he wants. No sour grapes here because of it. Announcing it on a public forum can be misunderstood and lead to further issues. My skin is plenty thick (has to be in this business :)), taunting and such is generally recognized and just slides right off.

Steve - My last commentary is this: It's wonderful PB has a nice arrangement with PW for the advertising. I understand SEO, PPC, and all the other fun stuff of internet advertising and how it works. My point is all who pay for advertising here always see a pickup in their traffic when reviewing their site analytics. We wouldn't advertise if the traffic didn't pick up, both here and other places. Both of my sites have increased traffic. I'm just not allowed to reference continually the same way PB is to get the numbers even higher. That's just the way it is.

PB is a great publication and I know all involved have worked very hard on it and continue to do so. I believe it is a good reference for those shopping who are trying to educate themselves. I hope it is around for a very long time and continues to improve. It will always be controversial, just as the printed edition always has been. Its just the nature of the beast. Larry Fine is an upstanding member of the piano community and I have no doubt he is fair, and will continue to be.

I'll retire to the sidelines to watch the rest of the game now, maybe it will get back on track. Anything else said will just be provoking more bad vibes. Hate bad vibes, they don't benefit anyone.

Cheers, everyone!
Posted by: Piano World

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 03:29 PM

Originally Posted By: M.O.P.
As usual, the tread has gone off the rails. I confess, and will admit, I have let myself get sucked into it. smile

Turandot - I have no beef with Steve that PB has made a nice arrangement with PW. Free enterprise, I said Frank has the absolute right to make any deal he wants. No sour grapes here because of it. Announcing it on a public forum can be misunderstood and lead to further issues. My skin is plenty thick (has to be in this business :)), taunting and such is generally recognized and just slides right off.


Would it have made a difference if I'd said we (PW) purchased $1000.00 worth of advertising from PB, and PB purchased $1000.00 worth of advertising from PW?

Because essentially it was figured as a swap. We could have exchanged checks, but that seemed a little silly.

My 2 cents, backing quietly away from the room before more arrows start flying :-)
Posted by: sophial

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 03:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: Norbert
I don't understand why the question is suddenly shifting to P.W.

Frank is not a "Contributing Editor" of *Piano Buyer* - he is the owner of this website.

He does not take swings at other members and has never expressed his preferences 'for' or 'against' certain makes.

He does sell stuff but it has nothing to do with piano brands or 'ratings'

Frank has been a most gracious host and should be completely left out of the discussion.

The basic question was 'ratings' and if and to which extent Mr. Cohen is personally involved in this as "Contributing Editor" of Piano Buyer.

Norbert


That question has been answered by Larry at http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ml#Post1386478.


No, actually it has not been answered. As I responded to Larry, good intentions do not constitute a credible means of handling the kinds of conflicts of interest that your multiple roles raise, Steve. Being a good guy doesn't give you immunity from this issue. It's akin to saying "Well the rest of you can use the boats, we'll just walk across the water." This type of response, that it somehow doesn't apply here along with the indignant bluster, diminishes rather than increases confidence that it is being handled appropriately.

Sophia
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 04:10 PM

Sophia,

Do you think that Piano Buyer would better serve the typical consumer if manufactuter's and dealer's perspectives were not examined and accurately explained to shoppers?

You and other have levied some very strong criticism about potential conflicts of interest, when in fact, while the potential is there, it simply hasn't happened! Sure, you can talk endlessly about how little things creep in, yet no one has based their criticism on the content of Piano Buyer.

Principles, in theory, without reality.

I know that I will not change your thinking. However I KNOW what has gone on in my relationship with Larry and Piano Buyer, and I know that what you suspect and accuse us of simply hasn't occurred.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 04:26 PM

Almost no one on the the thread has accused the author or contributing editor of anything specific regarding the supposed conflict of interest due to advertising. The one specific criticsm about NY Steinway's rating going down is not true for anyone who compares the PB and latest Supplement with any care.

Then, some say Mr. Fine and Mr. Cohen are of the highest integrity, but I'm concerned about what the average non piano nut will conclude?

Why not just let Mr. Fine and Mr. Cohen worry about that(if in fact, they have to)?
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 04:29 PM

Quote:
Do you think that Piano Buyer would better serve the typical consumer if manufactuter's and dealer's perspectives were not examined and accurately explained to shoppers?


This is not the question at hand.

The question of "how" "by whom" and "in which way" this information has been collected and becomes published "is"

Norbert
Posted by: AJB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 04:56 PM

You either understand the concept of conflict of interest and how this undermines credibility or you don't. It does not require a negative effect of conflict of interest to have occurred for the conflicted parties to be damaged by association with a conflicted position. Anyone who works in law, finance and banking is taught this rather basic concept as a junior.

Steve and pianoloverus either do not understand this or pretend not to, as the latter suits their position. There comes a point when sustaining their "show us proof" argument" simply undermines their credibility even more.

Everyone who is conlficted will always say "I am a good boy. Show me the evidence that I am not". Get real.

Turandot. You were off by a factor of 10. This is mots unlike you ;-) The sums involved may be significant in the context of an advertising budget for a small dealer struggling in the present recession.

A
Posted by: schwammerl

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 05:08 PM

Perhaps this whole debate has gone a bit too far off the rails while in fact this is not necessary.

As Larry Fine explained himself in a seperate thread here recently P.B. serves as a general orientation for the vast majority of piano buyers.

It may well not at times competely satisfy the high value seekers of the traditional Piano Forum public (the minority of piano buyers), but isn't that where the Pinao Forum is for? For the high value seekers and for those wanting additional information after having read P.B. (complementarity).

As someone said here P.B is not the 'bible' (or any other Holy Book) and even if it were, in this modern age a good deal of exegesis (= a critical explanation or interpreation of a text) is common sence.

In fact I found a mature recommendation of how to use the P.B on the new US Hailun website:

Quote:
In addition to their own analysis, the editors invite other knowledgeable authors to contribute significant articles. While reading The Piano Buyer, the reader needs to be aware that the publication mainly solicits information from suppliers and manufacturers and does not seek to substantiate its validity per se. Thus the reader still has to apply appropriate discernment. We heartily recommend this publication as one of the best sources to help you begin on your piano search.


What is more I think is that in the future it will become ever more tough setting up a ranking by brand as already now the sound character of various models of the same brand are no longer uniform. This was brought up - I think by Norbert - when discussing Hailun and is summarized nicely again on their new US website:

Quote:
Hailun pianos do not reflect a certain preferred sound philosophy. Rather the instruments give expression to the cumulated experience and tonal inclinations of those piano-builders who primarily created them.


schwammerl.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 05:23 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB
You either understand the concept of conflict of interest and how this undermines credibility or you don't. It does not require a negative effect of conflict of interest to have occurred for the conflicted parties to be damaged by association with a conflicted position. Anyone who works in law, finance and banking is taught this rather basic concept as a junior.

Steve and pianoloverus either do not understand this or pretend not to, as the latter suits their position. There comes a point when sustaining their "show us proof" argument" simply undermines their credibility even more.

Everyone who is conlficted will always say "I am a good boy. Show me the evidence that I am not". Get real.

Turandot. You were off by a factor of 10. This is mots unlike you ;-) The sums involved may be significant in the context of an advertising budget for a small dealer struggling in the present recession.

This is not a court of law or Wall Street. I doubt many planning to buy a piano think or care or even know how conflict of interest is viewed in those arenas.

If someone feels there is a conflict of interest then I guess they won't value PB ratings/reviews as much as someone who doesn't feel there is a problem. PB is a great book even if one only looks at all the rest of the information besides the reviews/ratings.

Aren't the people involved with the publication of PB the only ones who should be concerned about this(if, in fact, they need to be)?

You say "get real" and I say "learn how to trust someone".
Posted by: BDB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 05:28 PM

This topic went astray when it became a discussion rather than a poll.
Posted by: turandot

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 05:45 PM

Quote:
"Turandot - I have no beef with Steve that PB has made a nice arrangement with PW. Free enterprise, I said Frank has the absolute right to make any deal he wants. No sour grapes here because of it. Announcing it on a public forum can be misunderstood and lead to further issues. My skin is plenty thick (has to be in this business :)), taunting and such is generally recognized and just slides right off."


Nancy,

I certainly wasn't taunting you or anyone else. I just find it peculiar that so many here seem to feel that a free membership entitles significant representation in the decision-making process. I certainly understand that retailers may feel nudgy about the leverage that becomes available under cross-promotion and ad revenues. I'm not blind to that. I doubt very much if Larry Fine and Steve Cohen are blind to it either. I'm quite sure that they both understand that they are navigating a difficult course.

My contention has been that these are different times and the publication has a different purpose. a purpose clearly laid out by Larry Fine in the opening remarks of Piano Buyer. I prefer the blend of changing content and hard information, and the recognition that the digital world should not be ignored. This is new territory. Steve has invited ideas and suggestions for new content. I've sent him a few. He has acknowledged receipt and expressed thanks. I'm sure he would do the same for anyone here who took the time. Steve has shown a receptiveness to change in this publication format that he has never shown here in his stubborn mule-like defense of the industry sales and distribution model as the only possible model. grin

I also prefer the blunted sword to the sharpened one, especially in the light of the ad revenue. If Mr. Fine blunted his sword in his criticism of Steinway, he forced its competitors to focus on the virtues of their own products rather than pummeling the shortcomings of Steinway. I think that's a good thing. If he were to temper both his criticism and praise of all makers going forward, I think it would suit his new business model and new purpose well. The more detailed he becomes in critiquing, the more his points can be exposed to the criticism that the good piano is where you find it, under the care and preparation of a dealer who takes his own responsibilities seriously. Does anyone want to ask him to establish dealer rankings? grin

If you remember my first post, I suggested that the ratings be abandoned in favor of an alphabetical list of maker's models in three categories: premium products from prestige makers, proven products from established manufacturers, and newer products from factories in emerging markets. This would allow a maker's products to be represented across three categories, and not lumped together because of the prestige of certain members of its lineup. I suggested that the nitty-gritty (including any significant documented negative information) be relegated to the text descriptions of each maker. I still feel the same way, but I hardly expect to have a say in the matter. I rather enjoy that Steve throws these questions out here, and that Larry Fine has a capacity to change with the times.

Nancy and Adrian,

I apologize for my factor-of-ten miss on the ad cost. I thought I read $196. Maybe I read incorrectly; maybe I did read that and it was edited. In any case, no taunting from me. and absolutely no wish to undermine the efforts of Larry Fine, Frank Baxter, and Steve C. to do something that requires great care in planning and execution to pull off. I hope everyone would rather see them succeed than fail.
Posted by: Marty Flinn

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 06:32 PM

I read the first few post on this thread and became disinterested in evaluation methodology. I tapped back in today and was blown away. So, I went back to the beginning and read the whole sage straight through.

Here are some truths that seem self evident to me, but somehow escape several posters:

1.Frank Baxter owns this site and offers it FREE. It doesn’t have to be fair (although I believe it is). It doesn’t have to be unbiased (although I believe it is). It only has to be what Frank Baxter wants it to be.

2.The moderators (Ken Knapp, et. al.) work for/answer to Frank Baxter. They do not operate in a vacuum or unilaterally. I do not believe they act capriciously, with malice, or have any agendas other than the forum rules that are posted.

3.I see the Forum posters and lurkers in four categories: a. Industry professionals (not likely to shop for pianos). b. Tuners/technicians (not likely to shop for pianos). c. Regular, long time members (have pianos). d. Actual novice, first-time piano shoppers/buyers. Larry Fine’s Piano Buyer is written for category d, not really for the rest (although all may benefit from the book).

4.Some might see Jenn and my book as one of the only other competitive guides to Larry Fine’s publications. We simply do not have a problem of Piano Buyer being promoted on the PW Forum. It is being offered free on the internet. If it were not offered free I might object.

5.I see no problem with PW Forum and Piano Buyer having reciprocal advertising agreements. It is fitting and offers a synergy to both. See thought #1.

6.From time to time I have thought Steve Cohen’s touting Piano Buyer a bit excessive. Then I return to my thought that the folks that need the information the most are not regular posters who are on the Forum daily. The ones that need it the most are those to drop in for a couple of days with questions during their shopping. There is a constant flow of these folks with ad hoc needs coming into the Forum weekly then drift away after they buy a piano. Viewed in this context, Steve’s postings are legitimate, and timely, IMO.

7.The information in the Larry Fine publications are his and other’s opinions and observations. He has always been careful and consistent at the beginning of each publication to state his methodology and this concept. So much of what is dealt with is subjective. It was never presented or intended to be imperical.

8.Steve Cohen has been above board and up front with this association with Larry Fine and Piano Buyer from before the beginning. I have yet to see evidence from any industry professional retailer/dealer of bias or influence by Steve in Piano Buyer. Larry Fine's publications are sold and viewed internationally. Steve has one location in Maryland. It is ludricrus to suggest that Larry Fine would allow his work to be compromised by Steve for his retail gain. It is even more ludricrus to suggest the Steve would try.

9.For those who can’t “abide” Frank’s Forum content, style, moderation, advertising, etc., don’t participate. Have you forgotten yourselves? You are guests here. Find another outlet for your “expertise” in ethics, publishing, retailing, fairness, etc.

10.For those who can’t tolerate the Piano Buyer for its POTENTIAL for unfairness and advertiser paid bias (I have not seen any evidence of this), don’t dial it up for free. Better yet, take the time and energy and write your own!

Instead of posting about pianos, their care, their enjoyment, the enjoyment of making music, construction, terminology, methodology, brands, models, performance etc. Too many folks here are obsessed with telling (shouting) at Frank how to run his business, Larry Fine how to write and promote his publications, Steve Cohen how to part his hair, and retailers how to represent and sell their products, IMHO.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 07:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Sophia,



You and other have levied some very strong criticism about potential conflicts of interest, when in fact, while the potential is there, it simply hasn't happened! Sure, you can talk endlessly about how little things creep in, yet no one has based their criticism on the content of Piano Buyer.

Principles, in theory, without reality.

I know that I will not change your thinking. However I KNOW what has gone on in my relationship with Larry and Piano Buyer, and I know that what you suspect and accuse us of simply hasn't occurred.


Sure about that?

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen

1st, As my signature indicates, in addition to being Piano Buyer's Advertising Director, I am a Contributing Editor. As such, I have been consulting Larry on all major issues for well over a year.

3rd, you question whether my position at Piano Buyer compromises the integrity of the publication. I assure you that it does not. If you or anyone else see any indication, in the current or any future edition, that Piano Buyer has compromised its independence and neutrality, Larry and I encourage you to bring it to our attention. We have a new issue coming out in a few weeks. There will be several possible controversial changes. Feel free to scrutinize every word!

Part of my job at Piano Buyer is to protect our biggest asset: Larry Fine's reputation for honesty and integrity. In that light I, and Larry as well, hope that all readers of Piano Buyer, including you, diligently scour every issue for any indication that we are violating the trust Larry has garnered since The Piano Book was first published over 20 years ago.



I am sure many will be busy with scrutiny. Careful what you wish for.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 08:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Marty Flinn
I read the first few post on this thread and became disinterested in evaluation methodology. I tapped back in today and was blown away. So, I went back to the beginning and read the whole sage straight through.

Here are some truths that seem self evident to me, but somehow escape several posters:

1.Frank Baxter owns this site and offers it FREE. It doesn’t have to be fair (although I believe it is). It doesn’t have to be unbiased (although I believe it is). It only has to be what Frank Baxter wants it to be.

2.The moderators (Ken Knapp, et. al.) work for/answer to Frank Baxter. They do not operate in a vacuum or unilaterally. I do not believe they act capriciously, with malice, or have any agendas other than the forum rules that are posted.

3.I see the Forum posters and lurkers in four categories: a. Industry professionals (not likely to shop for pianos). b. Tuners/technicians (not likely to shop for pianos). c. Regular, long time members (have pianos). d. Actual novice, first-time piano shoppers/buyers. Larry Fine’s Piano Buyer is written for category d, not really for the rest (although all may benefit from the book).

4.Some might see Jenn and my book as one of the only other competitive guides to Larry Fine’s publications. We simply do not have a problem of Piano Buyer being promoted on the PW Forum. It is being offered free on the internet. If it were not offered free I might object.

5.I see no problem with PW Forum and Piano Buyer having reciprocal advertising agreements. It is fitting and offers a synergy to both. See thought #1.

6.From time to time I have thought Steve Cohen’s touting Piano Buyer a bit excessive. Then I return to my thought that the folks that need the information the most are not regular posters who are on the Forum daily. The ones that need it the most are those to drop in for a couple of days with questions during their shopping. There is a constant flow of these folks with ad hoc needs coming into the Forum weekly then drift away after they buy a piano. Viewed in this context, Steve’s postings are legitimate, and timely, IMO.

7.The information in the Larry Fine publications are his and other’s opinions and observations. He has always been careful and consistent at the beginning of each publication to state his methodology and this concept. So much of what is dealt with is subjective. It was never presented or intended to be imperical.

8.Steve Cohen has been above board and up front with this association with Larry Fine and Piano Buyer from before the beginning. I have yet to see evidence from any industry professional retailer/dealer of bias or influence by Steve in Piano Buyer. Larry Fine's publications are sold and viewed internationally. Steve has one location in Maryland. It is ludricrus to suggest that Larry Fine would allow his work to be compromised by Steve for his retail gain. It is even more ludricrus to suggest the Steve would try.

9.For those who can’t “abide” Frank’s Forum content, style, moderation, advertising, etc., don’t participate. Have you forgotten yourselves? You are guests here. Find another outlet for your “expertise” in ethics, publishing, retailing, fairness, etc.

10.For those who can’t tolerate the Piano Buyer for its POTENTIAL for unfairness and advertiser paid bias (I have not seen any evidence of this), don’t dial it up for free. Better yet, take the time and energy and write your own!

Instead of posting about pianos, their care, their enjoyment, the enjoyment of making music, construction, terminology, methodology, brands, models, performance etc. Too many folks here are obsessed with telling (shouting) at Frank how to run his business, Larry Fine how to write and promote his publications, Steve Cohen how to part his hair, and retailers how to represent and sell their products, IMHO.


This is simply the best post I have read on PW. (Is anyone surprised?)

Marty, thank you very much. I needed that!

[I assume you won't mind my copyig it to Larry's Post. If so, let me know and I will remove it.]
Posted by: gurugeek

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 09:22 PM

AJB and others,
If I may, many of your arguments make no sense whatsoever. It would be like saying that because CNN or the Financial Times, New York Times etc. do have advertisers they will be partial by promoting advertisers in their articles/news reports. Similarly, if you want to use the car comparison, cars magazines are full of advertisements yet they can do their own evaluations and ranking.

Similarly Business Week does a ranking of Business Schools and, obviously, it does accept ads that have no influence on the ranking.

The idea that to be independent someone has to avoid advertisers (and money) like a plague is
naive at best. You clearly stated that you feel that Piano Buyer is, to your personal opinion, less independent than it used to be. Yet you didn't produce any convincing evidence.

The idea that ratings should be made only by professional piano players is dangerous too. Some piano brands do tie up artists to their brand making them not ideal testers. Moreover, personal taste plays an even higher impact when you deal with artists.

On another note I can't list all the users that did that but I found the comments against the moderator and site owners even more silly. They have no duty to conform to your idea of free speech and they have all the rights to remove something if they feel is rubbish (and given the quality of some posts, I think that they do often turn a blind eye..perhaps too often).

I found piano buyer very useful and I don't have the feeling that the listings/rankings are tied up to any particular advertiser. I applaud their idea and entrepreneurial spirit to cover their costs with advertisers.

It beggars belief how some members think that no one is entitled to cover costs/make a profit while providing a service. Apparently, in their ideal world, editors etc. should work for free to provide them with a service they have the right, with no valid ground, to snob.

The presence of advertisers is a confirmation that the industry does trust that publication and, very fairly, is paying to be present with an ad. Would you prefer an ad free guide with an hidden agenda? I wouldn't.

Regards
David
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 09:24 PM

Thank you, David.
Posted by: Bob

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 10:11 PM

I don't know Steve , but the quality of his posts and his industry knowledge rank high with me. The piano ratings in PB represent my experience over the past 25 years. Larry Fine has done a superb job. I have not seen any bias in any ratings.

Here once again is one way camera lenses are rated at a retail stores web site. If a "unbiased" rating method is desired someone might want to start a piano ratings site where the public, teachers, techs, salesman can all contribute.

Visit: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controll...orToReadReviews
Posted by: sophial

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 10:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Sophia,

Do you think that Piano Buyer would better serve the typical consumer if manufactuter's and dealer's perspectives were not examined and accurately explained to shoppers?

You and other have levied some very strong criticism about potential conflicts of interest, when in fact, while the potential is there, it simply hasn't happened! Sure, you can talk endlessly about how little things creep in, yet no one has based their criticism on the content of Piano Buyer.

Principles, in theory, without reality.

I know that I will not change your thinking. However I KNOW what has gone on in my relationship with Larry and Piano Buyer, and I know that what you suspect and accuse us of simply hasn't occurred.



Steve, I think the typical consumer would be better served by having someone report on those issues who is not consulting to some of the (undisclosed) manufacturers whose products are being reviewed and who is not a dealer selling some of them.

I'm sorry but you're indicating that you don't really understand the basis of conflict of interest policies. Your multiple roles create the conflict of interest-- whether actual bias happened or not. Nobody is suggesting that you and Larry sit down and calculate your ad revenues or consulting fees and then adjust your content accordingly. Bias hardly ever is so blatant or obvious. The answer to the question of how the conflict of interest affects what is in PB is : we don't know-- and that's part of the problem. You and Larry don't know even though you may feel strongly that you do, and that is also part of the problem. People rarely think they are biased in these kinds of situations or are aware of the subtle ways this happens. That is why COI policies were developed. As AJB said, this is basic law, business and research ethics 101.

I have not “accused” you of anything – I and a number of others here have pointed out that there is indeed a conflict, that it erodes the credibility of PB, and changes the nature of the publication from the earlier versions of the Piano Book. Methods to mitigate conflicts, like having a firewall between those in charge of content and those involved in advertising, and full transparency about relationships that could influence practices, don't seem to be happening here, as far as can be seen.

As I said in a previous post, this is not life and death stuff, and I like pretty pictures of pianos as much as anyone around here. Piano Buyer has lots of fun stuff in it but I no longer consider it an objective guide to piano comparisons.

You and Larry will run your businesses as you see fit and that is of course your right. As a thoughtful consumer, I have the equal right to see Piano Buyer as less credible, objective and independent as a result.

Sophia
Posted by: jazzyprof

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/02/10 11:06 PM

Originally Posted By: sophial
I no longer consider it an objective guide to piano comparisons.

Can there ever be such a thing?

In fact, Piano Buyer has never pretended to be anything other than a subjective guide. You only have to read Larry Fine's own words in PB (bolds mine):

"Any such rating system is obviously not scientific but subjective, the product of my contacts with dozens of piano technicians, dealers, and other industry personnel, as well as my more than thirty years of involvement with the piano industry. 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.

The key to proper use of this chart is not to cling to it too tightly but to understand that, given its subjectivity and simplicity, it should be used only as a learning tool."

If you ever thought it was an objective guide you are probably in the minority.
Posted by: sophial

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 01:27 AM

Perhaps "noncommercial" might be a better term then than "objective".
Posted by: AJB

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 02:22 AM

David - you accuse others of being naiive yet you say things like this: "The presence of advertisers is a confirmation that the industry does trust that publication".

The industry (in fact any industry} places ads because it raises their profile and helps them to sell more pianos. Thats it. It has nothing to do with trust and everything to do with dollars.

Steve feeds the advertising machine because that is what he is paid to do - ramp up traffic to support the advertising dollars.

The two threads have generated much PM and email traffic. I have presented one side of the argument, Steve's cheerleaders have tried to defend him. I am not persuaded by the defence and I am well aware that many others think that Steve is blatantly conflicted an that pb is less objective than it was.

As to the point in a post above that pw belongs to Frank and he can do what he wants. Steve made this pert justification to me at one time too. To me this misses the point. Piano World is nothing without its content. For that, and its continued life, it required lively discourse and an active membership. The active members collectively are the most important feature.

The time difference does create a disconnect in these threads at times. It is early here! Counsel for each side has presented its arguments and the jury is out. The ones with something to lose are Steve and Larry. They either take criticisms on board or not. It is their business model that is having its value damaged.

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 09:20 AM

Originally Posted By: sophial


I'm sorry but you're indicating that you don't really understand the basis of conflict of interest policies. Your multiple roles create the conflict of interest-- whether actual bias happened or not. Nobody is suggesting that you and Larry sit down and calculate your ad revenues or consulting fees and then adjust your content accordingly. Bias hardly ever is so blatant or obvious. The answer to the question of how the conflict of interest affects what is in PB is : we don't know-- and that's part of the problem. You and Larry don't know even though you may feel strongly that you do, and that is also part of the problem. People rarely think they are biased in these kinds of situations or are aware of the subtle ways this happens. That is why COI policies were developed. As AJB said, this is basic law, business and research ethics 101.
Sophia


This is written by someone who understands the problem completely and can see the larger picture. With conflict of interest it is not the bias that is the problem. It is the “perception of bias” that the rest of the world will have. This is the “optics” that I referred to earlier.

I believe this is a fortunate thing for this to have come out here even though this is a public forum. Remember as I mentioned in an earlier thread, this forum represents.0001% of the total population on this continent.

Because we are a world community of people who share a common interest (pianos) we can share our opinions, bicker, disagree, argue, and still come to a resolution/solution to take to the rest of the world.

Better to get this all out in the open previous to going forward.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 09:53 AM

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos


I believe this is a fortunate thing for this to have come out here even though this is a public forum. Remember as I mentioned in an earlier thread, this forum represents.0001% of the total population on this continent.



Too many decimel points.
Unique visitors in 2009 = 5,172,840

Approx. population of U.S. = 303,000,000
Approx. population of Canada = 33,500,000
Total population of the two = 336,500,000 (ok, it isn't the entire continent, but you get the idea).

5,172,840 is 1.5372481426448738% of 336,500,000

Sorry, couldn't help it.
My other job is SEO/SEM/Internet Marketing consultant much of which
is based around site analytics.

I now return you to the original topic of rating pianos (that was supposed to be the original topic, wasn't it?).

Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 09:59 AM

Frank

Are you trying to say that over 5 million individual human beings visited this site in 2009???
Posted by: theJourney

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 10:00 AM

With emphasis on trying.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 10:10 AM

Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Frank

Are you trying to say that over 5 million individual human beings visited this site in 2009???



Not trying, fact.
Keep in mind they didn't all visit the forums.
There are over 1000 other pages to Piano World and they get a lot of traffic.

Google has 75,300 pages indexed, Yahoo has over 615,000 indexed.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 10:10 AM

I think that is exactly what he is trying to say.

Staggering, isn't it?
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 10:11 AM



My mistake before coffee. Allow me to rephrase then. I meant to write the membership being 45,000 approximately and with 360 million between Canada/US/ Mexico. The percentage of the total population that is a member here is what I was referring to.

I am sure there are a lot of people who just read and are not members..........

Better?
Posted by: Piano World

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 10:14 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
With emphasis on trying.

Tell me ... Do you have anything good to say about anyone or anything?

It must be hard going through life thinking everyone is wrong but you.
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 10:15 AM

Well, as I write this there are just over 300 people on this Piano forum. And normally the number on this forum rarely exceeds 400 at any given time.

I daresay of the 300+ individuals on this forum now worldwide, 200 are most likely "regulars".

Or am I wrong about this?
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 10:41 AM

Back on topic:

In 38 years of this business, I have never read the PB and I am not ever going to be interested. I form my opinions of musical instruments based upon each one as an individual case. I don’t view JD Power or any of the other consumer guides mentioned previously.

However let us take a look at something by comparison.
Consumer Reports, carries NO advertising – it is funded entirely by subscriptions and donations. If a product is rated highly in their reviews, and the product manufacturer decided to advertise this fact, Consumer Reports will promptly take them to court.

One of the most highly respected consumer magazines on the planet. This one I do read.
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 10:42 AM

"If a product is rated highly in their reviews, and the product manufacturer decided to advertise this fact, Consumer Reports will promptly take them to court."

Huh? They do???
Posted by: theJourney

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 10:46 AM

Originally Posted By: Piano World
Originally Posted By: theJourney
With emphasis on trying.

Tell me ... Do you have anything good to say about anyone or anything?


Very much so. Check out my posting history over the years.

However, I also have a low tolerance for self-serving BS.
Pianoworld unfortunately suffers from a lot of BS and particularly from too many people earnestly believing their own BS.

Finally, I am not the one making wild claims about the reach of this site, I am not the one poo poo-ing genuine concerns about the appearance of conflict of interest at piano buyer, I am not the one giving special treatment to favored posters on a supposedly public forum including unilaterally deleting posts and having different rules for those who buy their way through money or consideration into special treatment, and I am not the one claiming that just because pianoworld is privately owned that it is not subject to generally accepted standards of propriety consistent with its purported public function.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 10:52 AM

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Back on topic:

In 38 years of this business, I have never read the PB and I am not ever going to be interested. I form my opinions of musical instruments based upon each one as an individual case. I don’t view JD Power or any of the other consumer guides mentioned previously.

However let us take a look at something by comparison.
Consumer Reports, carries NO advertising – it is funded entirely by subscriptions and donations. If a product is rated highly in their reviews, and the product manufacturer decided to advertise this fact, Consumer Reports will promptly take them to court.

One of the most highly respected consumer magazines on the planet. This one I do read.


Consumer's Report reports on such a wide range of products and services that it can attract enough subscribers to support the publication. This is not so for the piano industry.

If anyone feels they have a better business model than PB, they can try to convince Larry to shift to it, or try it themselves.

Someone once said that democracy was a lousy form of government, but it was the best one out there! We don't think PB's model is "lousy", but we maintain that it is the best we (or anyone) has come up with in the piano industry.
Posted by: sophial

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 11:09 AM

Steve Cohen wrote: "If anyone feels they have a better business model than PB, they can try to convince Larry to shift to it, or try it themselves. "


How about at the very least having full disclosure and transparency about any financial relationships you and Larry have with industry and having a firewall between advertising department and editorial (content) functions?

Sophia
Posted by: appleman

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 11:13 AM

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Consumer Reports, carries NO advertising
Like communism, this is good in theory, but the fact that Consumer Reports, which reports on many products, is the only one to do this proves it's not good in practice for any specialized review company.

Faulting a specialized review company for not following an unattainable standard is silly, especially if we can't prove that there's anything different if they did obtain that standard.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 11:15 AM

My summary opinions on this subject are these:

1] Frank Baxter and this site should never have been part of this discussion. The agreement he has with PB is of no significance to anyone. Business happens and in this case it is marginal and inconsequential.

2] Same is true for Larry Fine and PB. We ave long accepted and very much APPRECIATED Mr. Fine's work for what it is. Never portrayed as perfect or all-inclusive, it is as good as it gets. Once you get in this type work, it will never be completed, fully up-to-date or will 100% accurate.

3] The onus in this debate IMHO is entirely on Mr.Cohen.

In his new role and as "contributing Editor" of PB he has to show much greater restraint.

His own retail business is all Japanese and Korean pianos.

Mr. Cohen's website is uniquely strong worded against Chinese pianos, creating an outspoken negativism against a large segment of pianos on market today. Pianos which are constantly and rapidly being re-developed, creating advancements on the market. As such they will *have to be* continuously re-assessed in Mr. Fine's PB.

The mentioned circumstance of strong anti-Chinese propaganda in Mr. Cohen's own website is not only peculiar, it is in essence "hostile"
And this is clearly where the problem starts, certainly in regards to his new role as "Contributing Editor" of P.B.

In addition and as part of his new function as "Contributing Editor" Mr. Cohens' tone towards others here needs to be restraint, moderate and considerate. As "part time judge on the bench" one cannot say all one wishes [or feels like] unless one is willing to make oneself susceptible to exactly the type suspicions expressed.

"Interference" in things is one thing - power wielding, bullying, outright criticism and subtle manipulating of others, is quite another.

We all can make up our own mind about pianos and that's' something that Mr. Fine has always encouraged himself.

What was a small bon fire has become a bush fire.

By all parties adopting a more restraint, thoughtful, mutually respectful and co-operative tone, we should be able to move forward.

I certainly *will* - and hope others will follow suit.

Cheers to all.

Norbert smile
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 11:17 AM

This is not about a better business model...never was. Here it all is in a nutshell:

If you own a piano rating guide and take advertising dollars from piano manufacturers you have a conflict.

If you own a piano dealership and sell pianos in the rating guide while simultaneously have a financial interest or any other interest in the publication you have a conflict.

If you own a dealership that sells pianos and have a financial or other interest in a publication that rates pianos, further, are a member of a piano forum and post favourable things about the guide that you have an interest in you are so hopelessly conflicted it is abundantly clear then you do not understand the conflict guidelines.

But I believe you do understand all of this Mr. Cohen and simply are obfuscating the reality that some of us have attempted to demonstrate to you.

It is how the world views this..These are not my rules..I don’t make the marketplace I just like everyone else try to live within it.

I am sure you involvement with Fine is somewhat benevolent because he wants out of the business. I just think your approach is somewhat misguided.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 11:52 AM

Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Well, as I write this there are just over 300 people on this Piano forum. And normally the number on this forum rarely exceeds 400 at any given time.

I daresay of the 300+ individuals on this forum now worldwide, 200 are most likely "regulars".

Or am I wrong about this?



In the one forum, yes you are correct. I look at the bigger picture as visitors rarely limit themselves to one forum.

If you look at the last box on the bottom of the right column, it gives a snapshot of the current count for registered and unregistered visitors. Those numbers are generated directly from the ubb software.

The numbers below come from the analytic software on our servers.

Here is a SnagIt screen capture of the 12 months of 2009, including the totals (it also shows the breakdown for Dec. 2009).






This one might be easier to read:



Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 11:58 AM

Thanks.
Posted by: Ken Knapp

Re: How Would You Rate Pianos? - 03/03/10 08:03 PM


I think this topic needs to be put out of its misery.

Ken