Kawai vs. Boston

Posted by: Luke's Dad

Kawai vs. Boston - 03/29/03 08:19 PM

Don't blame me, Chopstix requested this :p

There can be a lot of confusion about the two pianos, IMO they are both great pianos and Kawai has done a superb job in the RX line. There are some differences however that I feel do make a difference:

The most obvious difference is the square tail soundboard on the Boston series. I'm sure many of you have heard some salespeople go on about this ad nauseum, and while it does make for a slightly bigger soundboard; the important part about the design (according to a technician and designer I trust) is that it helps center the bridge a little more evenly.

Another difference is in the action. Not the ABS vs. wood debate, I think Kawai has done a great job proving the benefits of ABS; but in the design itself. The Boston action does use the same geometry as found in Steinways, this does allow for a slightly quicker repitition, and several more degrees of dynamic control.

Another difference IMO deals with the materials. Boston uses a slightly higher grade of spruce than most Kawais I've seen. Slightly closer grain pattern and slightly straighter grain. The felt seems a little more resilient as well. The Bostons in our teaching studios don't need to be voiced as often as the Kawais.

OTOH, a lot of Bostons I've played at some dealers couldn't compare to some of the RX's on my floor. The problem is the same one that alot of people feel is inherent in Steinways. These pianos require a lot of prep. When you uncrate a Kawai, you tune it, let it sit, tune it again, and you have a great sounding piano. When you uncrate a Boston, you need to tune it, let it sit, tune it again, do a little voicing (particularly in the mid through treble usually), and maybe a little regulating. When it's done, a well prepared Boston sounds better and plays better than a well prepared RX. Unfortunately, not all dealers put the work necessary into the Bostons. If they did, this discussion wouldn't be occuring as often as it does.

Now for the rebuttal: ;\)
Posted by: HammerHead

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/29/03 10:27 PM

Luke's Dad,

I thought your post very lucid and informative on what is an often hashed-over subject. May I probe you a bit further by asking about "Knabe"?

Where is it made, by whom, and what is it really, now? I don't mean the quotes around "Knabe" to be a smart-alek thing, but I admit that while anybody who's paid for a trademark can certainly put it on anything they please, it does rather stimulate my sad glands when names that once denoted high quality appear under more dubious flags. Do you have any thoughts about this?

Thanks.
Posted by: Larry

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/29/03 11:12 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Luke's Dad:

The Boston action does use the same geometry as found in Steinways, this does allow for a slightly quicker repitition, and several more degrees of dynamic control.
[/b]
That's the Steinway sales spin, but not the facts. The only difference in a Steinway "accelerated action" and other actions (should we call them "decelerated"?) is that instead of beveling the sides of the balance rail, Steinway uses a rounded balance rail. Anyone who has even glanced at a piano key sitting on the balance rail can see that it simply doesn't make the slightest bit of difference whether the rail is rounded or beveled. With the bushings between the key and the rail, they both clear just fine. Claims that Steinway "accelerated" actions give the piano quicker repetition and "several more degrees of dynamic control" is nothing more than marketing BS. No offense to you, you're simply repeating what you've been told.

As for felts and soundboard quality being different, chalk that one up to your being influenced by marketing too. The felts used in both pianos are exactly the same, and the soundboards used will end up in whichever piano happens to be going down the assembly line. There is no difference. You may have found a few Bostons that looked better than a few Kawais, but it was pure coincidence. Limit your examination to just Kawai, and you'll find some of them will be better than others too. It's wood after all. No two pieces are alike.
Posted by: Alex Hernandez

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/29/03 11:38 PM

William,

I really enjoyed your informative post regarding Kawai's production of the Boston line of pianos.

As I read your presentation I had the following thoughts.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Luke's Dad:
Don't blame me, Chopstix requested this :p

The most obvious difference is the square tail soundboard on the Boston series. I'm sure many of you have heard some salespeople go on about this ad nauseum, and while it does make for a slightly bigger soundboard; the important part about the design (according to a technician and designer I trust) is that it helps center the bridge a little more evenly.[/b]
And what exactly is the benefit of "centering" the bridge? How does it aid in the bridges performance? How does it optimize the extra soundboard area? If this is a design enhancement would Steinway ever incorporate it?

 Quote:
Another difference is in the action. Not the ABS vs. wood debate, I think Kawai has done a great job proving the benefits of ABS; but in the design itself. The Boston action does use the same geometry as found in Steinways, this does allow for a slightly quicker repitition, and several more degrees of dynamic control.[/b]
Does the Boston use the half round dowel for the balance rail like Steinway does?

Does a Steinway action have better repitition then a Renner action? And if so how does that effect the value and performance of Steinways made between 1980 and 1985 since those pianos contained Renner actions?

Again I am not trying to start a flame war but after reading your post I had several questions regarding the information you presented.

Soundboard performance is dependent on many things. Is a Boston a better sounding instrument then the Charles Walter 190? The Walter restricts energy going to areas of the soundboard that detract from its clarity.

How does the treble sustain of the Boston compare to other instruments in its size?

I welcome your input on this subject. The whole Boston/Steinway relationship has needed clarification for some time. Please answer these long standing questions.

What does the Boston use for it's rim material?

Does the Boston use the diaphragmatic soundboard?

Does the Boston use the hexagrip pinblock?

As my signature says I am a dealer who represents other makers and I will to the best of my ability answer any questions you may have.

Thanks. \:\)
Posted by: Luke's Dad

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 01:58 AM

Hammerhead,

The Knabe pianos are being made by Samick now. Up until recently they were being built by Young Chang. Unfortunately,those pianos were not the greatest quality and hurt the brand name. They were mostly made as a cheap piano for Piano Disc installs. (Caution! you may still find pianos bearing the Knabe name brand new in stores that were the Young Chang Knabes) I don't mean that to be derogatory of Young Chang, the PG series are very nice pianos. The new Knabes by Samick are supposed to be based off of the original scale designs of Knabes built in Baltmore. As I'm not a technician, I can't say for sure if this is true, but I can tell you that a while back, Samick was buying up every old Knabe they could get their hands on. Whether it is the original scales or not, it is a much improved piano over the regular Samick and Kohler & Campbells. Frankly, to me, it sounds pretty close to the Kohler & Campbell Millenium series. The Knabes are new to my store, so I still have a lot to learn about them. Does anybody else have more info? I'd be very grateful!


Larry,

I've been very impressed with many of the things I've seen posted from you, you really seem to know your stuff about pianos. Plus your ability to articulate your point is fantastic. However, I fear you may be misinformed on several points:
The accelerated action does not involve the rounded balance rail. The rounded balance rail was a completely seperate patent that came out in the same year. The accelerated action, which was patented in 1936, actually deals primarily with the method of weighting the keys. If you like, I can forward you the patent numbers and specs if you would like. A lot of Steinway salespeople make the same mistake you did.(As a side note, the accelerated action was designed by the Josef Hofman who also invented the modern shock absorber!) As far as the geometry of the action goes, if you compare the whippen and jack assembly of the Boston and Kawai pianos, they clearly do not match up. Now anybody that passed a highschool physics class can understand that any difference in the length or angle of a lever (Which, in simplest terms is what the action of a piano is, a series of levers) will affect the velocity and resistance of the lever and the mass it's moving. Plus, frankly, I've got nothing to gain in using a marketing tool. I sell both of these pianos, and at pretty comparable pricing. It doesn't matter to me financially if they choose a Kawai or a Boston. Yet time and time again if both pianos are prepared properly, the majority of my clients do feel a difference. If principles seem to make scientific sense, and most clients feel s\the difference in a neutral environment, that doesn't feel like spin to me. As far as the felt, soundboard, etc..., all anybody has to do is pull a hammer from both pianos and compare, the shape and consistancy are different. I'm not making any claims that can't be proven just by looking at them and using common sense. However, I am in an unusual position in that I do carry both brands. Gives me a chance for a little more comparisons.

Alex,

As far as the centering of the soundboard, I'm not too sure of that myself. As I explained, the principle was taught to me by a tech that I generally trust not to put a spin on things. As far as Steinwaever using it: It's based off of the design used in the Steinway models L, A, and B. As far as the Renner action, which Renner action? The one used by Samick, Estonia, Bluthner, or just about anybody else who ever built a piano. Renner is a manufacturer that builds products to their customer specifications. Does anybody believe that a Renner action used in a Kohler & Campbell is the same as the Renner action used by Bluthner? Of course not. All I can say there is this, I am incapable of outplaying the actions of Steinway and Bluthner (Or Bechstein, or Fazioli, or Bosendorfer, etc....)

As far as the sound of a Boston vs. a CW190, first that's completely subjective, and second, this post is concerning Boston vs. Kawai. (I would like to put a well prepped instrument of CW in a room with a Boston and make that side by side comparison some day)

And for your final questions:

Inner rim: Matoa, same as Kawai
Soundboard: Tapered, not diaghramatic
Pinblock: Not hexagrip, but is hard rock maple

My opinion is this: A Boston is not quite as close to a Steinway as Boston dealers would like you to think; it's also not quite as close to a Kawai as others would like you to think. The truth, as usual is somewhere between the two. \:\)
Posted by: Alex Hernandez

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 02:39 AM

William,

Thanks for the reply I appreciate the effort my friend. But mentioning A Steinway in the same breath as a Bluethner is straining your credibilty (j/k). ;\)

I feel the diaphragmatic design is a wonderful way of dealing with the problems a compression crowned soundboard represents but I feel there are other designs that do even a better job.

I think people should judge a Boston on it's merits and not be led to believe it's a cheaper Steinway.

And lastly your point about Renner actions is well taken but you suggested greater dynamic control and repitition with the Steinway action.
I think that is a slippery slope at best.

I have sold many new Steinways in my time and know they were great pianos...but when it came time to buy my ultimate instrument I purchased a Bluethner (almost a Foerster).

I see you own a Steinway and I think that's great. We both believe in our makers.

P.S. I kid Steinway but believe me the respect I have for them is genuine.
Posted by: Larry

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 10:46 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Luke's Dad:

However, I fear you may be misinformed on several points:
The accelerated action does not involve the rounded balance rail. The rounded balance rail was a completely seperate patent that came out in the same year. The accelerated action, which was patented in 1936, actually deals primarily with the method of weighting the keys.
[/b]

Close, but just far enough off to be wrong. The rounded balance rail may have a separate patent, but the fact remains it is a major component of what is called the "accelerated action". I think most people here would believe Ed Foote, so here is a post Ed made some time back regarding the "accelerated action"

Ed Foote post in the PTG Forum

Then we can look at Steinway's website and see a listing of their patents. The only thing you find mentioning an "accelerated action" talks about the key mounting - ie balance rail.


Yet time and time again if both pianos are prepared properly, the majority of my clients do feel a difference. If principles seem to make scientific sense, and most clients feel s\the difference in a neutral environment, that doesn't feel like spin to me. As[/b]

Back when Kimball was in business I was one of their bigger dealers. I was also a Kawai dealer. Many times I'd have this situation - the parents would bring their teacher with them to look at the Kimball grand they'd fallen in love with, only to have the teacher turn her nose up before she even sat down to play it, and tell them they had to buy a Kawai. If they couldn't afford the Kawai, that left them afraid to buy the one they wanted, unable to buy the one the teacher wanted, and many would end up not getting anything.

I solved the problem. I fabricated a Kimball fallboard that would sit in the slot of a KG2, and a Kawai fallboard that would sit in the slot of a 5'8" Kimball. When the teacher would start in about how awful the Kimball was, I'd ask her to please give them a chance, "just play this one over here that I have specially prepped". While she was playing the Kawai that said Kimball and telling the parents how awful it was, I'd be telling the parents what was happening. Then I'd ask her to play the Kimball that said Kawai on it. After she'd brag on its rich tone, excellent touch, and tell the parents how much superior it was to the "Kimball" she had just played, many times the folks would then thank the teacher for her time, and after she left, they'd buy the Kimball they wanted.

My point then is the same as I make now - preconcieved notions plus a little suggestion,the right atmosphere, and you can get whatever response you want out of most people. This is sales 101, and it's as old as the hills.

I don't mean this in a confrontational way, by the way. Nor do I mean to leave the impression that you are purposely swaying people. I'm simply saying on this point that many people will sway themselves. Try an experiment - make a Boston say Wurlitzer or something on it, and then don't say a thing. Just place it next to a Kawai, and listen to the comments. It may surprise you what you hear.
Posted by: HammerHead

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 11:14 AM

-----------------------------------------------
Larry:
... I solved the problem. I fabricated a Kimball fallboard that would sit in the slot of a KG2, and a Kawai fallboard that would sit in the slot of a 5'8" Kimball. When the teacher would start in about how awful the Kimball was, ...
----------------------------------------------

Gees Larry, did you really do this!? From what I know about piano teachers, they'd have had multiple contracts out on you, tried to run you over in the parking lot themselves, or at least trashed you to their pupils and parents with the most vile invective a real or imaged erudite education could conjure up. Oh, it's clever and I don't doubt the results, but I am curious if this caused you any repercussions, and are you recommending the use of such "reality-revealing" tactics?? \:\)

HH
Posted by: KlavierBauer

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 04:02 PM

Not to agree with Larry (wouldn't that be a cardinal sin!) \:\) But I think he's hit the nail on the head.

It's important for people to know the truth about these matters.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it was my understanding that the Boston was simply produced in the Kawai factory, then labeled "Boston". It wouldn't make sense to me that there would be a factory where they produced the same piano twice, one slightly different than the other. As far as key weighting goes (again, correct me if I'm wrong), but I was under the impression that Steinway was static weighting their keys just like everyone else is doing. Steingraeber is the only one that I know of who's really trying to revolutionize the key weighting scheme.

Now of course there are slight variations in the way actions are weighted, but for the most part, these manufacturers are doing the same thing in the factory. 52 (or 48) grams on the front of the key, move two lead weights around the back of the key until front drops, pencil mark, drill, swedge. Maybe you're referring to a graduated weighting scale? Maybe that's what's considered "accelerated"... but again, it's not unique. A lot of manufacturers also graduate their weighting scale from bass to treble.
I'm not trying to flame here, so please don't take it as that. I'm just trying to clarify in my head what's actually going on here. What I read in your post seemed like repeated facts, rather than a comprehensive understanding of the design attributes being discussed. Again I don't want to start anything, but to my understanding, the Boston and the Kawai are the same thing. I was under the impression that there weren't any design differences.

As for one piano needing just a tuning, and the other needing "a little regulation". I know that Kawai has a reputation of being pretty close out of the box. But let's be honest, both of these pianos can use a lot of prep work out of the box. As can most pianos. A Boston needs more than a little regulation work, unless we're just trying to get it working good enough that nobody notices anything wrong with it.

KlavierBauer
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 05:45 PM

Originally posted by KlavierBauer:

"Steingraeber is the only one that I know of who's really trying to revolutionize the key weighting scheme."

What are they doing?
Posted by: .rvaga*

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 06:51 PM

 Quote:
Larry:
... I solved the problem. I fabricated a Kimball fallboard that would sit in the slot of a KG2, and a Kawai fallboard that would sit in the slot of a 5'8" Kimball. When the teacher would start in about how awful the Kimball was, ...
As a teacher, I could see myself sitting there playing, thinking to myself hmmmmm, why is the bass so thin. Must need voicing, or maybe it's the acoustics of where the piano sits. Action doesn't feel crisp, probably needs regulating. Is it my imagination? hmmmm, if I lean on the bass I can compensate somewhat, still sounds shallow (these guys don't know how to prep a piano, but I won't say that out loud). But, I know the potential of these instruments (we'll get my tech to bring out the potential), so I'll keep my negative comments out of this and recommend to my student based in large part on my years of experience. After all, I'm not the kind of person that wants to make a salesperson or store owner feel uncomfortable by being confrontational, I'm too gracious a person, and purchasing a fine instrument should be a joyous occasion, not a result of condemnation of one brand over another.

And then, Larry makes a fool out of the teacher, and nothing the teacher can say would get him/her out of the situation.

Making a teacher out to be a fool is not a good sales tactic, in my opinion. This is "Sales Weasel" brought to the highest level: making a sale at the expense of the integrity of a teacher.

If I EVER heard of such a tactic used, I would blacklist the dealer, and let everyone in the local MTNA know about this, as well as colleagues in local colleges/universities.

You would do better to educate the teachers in your area with information, rather than trick them so you could make a sale.

Posted by: Jolly

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 08:25 PM

But did not Norbert use a similar tactic, by placing a Steinway stencil on a Chinese Bergmann?

He didn't sell the piano that way, or course, but he did make his point: Too many of us engage in "fallboard phallicism", or pick what we "think" is right, rather than what our hands and ears tell us.

Let's go waaaaay back, and remember the case of Nils Luehrman. Now, I know that many on the board did not care for his attitude on many things, but I remember his piano safari quite well. It was only after he started to make sure by various means, the marque of the piano would make no impact upon the buying process, that he finally found "his" piano. And that piano turned out to be a K&C grand.

Preconceptions are not always good.
Posted by: Larry

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 09:09 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by rvaga:

Making a teacher out to be a fool is not a good sales tactic, in my opinion. This is "Sales Weasel" brought to the highest level: making a sale at the expense of the integrity of a teacher.

If I EVER heard of such a tactic used, I would blacklist the dealer, and let everyone in the local MTNA know about this, as well as colleagues in local colleges/universities.

You would do better to educate the teachers in your area with information, rather than trick them so you could make a sale.

[/b]
I don't think you've got the whole picture here.

What's "sales weasel" about showing people they are getting bad advice from a pinhead who shouldn't even be there trying to help?

The teachers who came in with an open mind like you described yourself as having didn't get taken to these pianos. So I'll ask you a question: John & Jill Smith are looking to buy little Jennifer a piano. John & Jill have set up unreasonable parameters - Jill insists on a grand or nothing, and John is only able (or willing) to spend 6K. They don't know beans about pianos. I spend half a day with them helping them find the best grand for their money. They find one, and they love it.

Little Jennifer of course, just wants to learn to play the piano. She can't write a check for anything. She has to go with whatever the adults decide to do.

But John and Jill are "smart consumers"..... they know to get that piano teacher over and have him or her approve their selection! After waiting yet *another* week for the adults to make a decision, in walks little Jennifer with her parents, and the teacher. The teacher is a self important bag of hot air. SHE knows *everything* about pianos, I am nothing more than someone to sneer at and dismiss as nothing more than some money grubbing used car salesman. *SHE'S on the scene, and she's going to save the day!!! She walks over to the 6K grand, turns her nose up at it before she even tries it because it doesn't have her favorite brand name on the front. She proceeds to sit down and tell them all the reasons it isn't as good as the 25K piano down the row. Then she takes them to the 25K piano and tells them they shouldn't buy *anything* until they can afford to get one of these.

Now, being the professional that I am, I have already explained to John and Jill about the better pianos, and have been completely honest with them about what the 6K piano is. When they left the last time they were aware of all these factors and were happy with their "near decision". But there is that issue of trust and motives - to John and Jill, since I am the one selling, even though they can tell I am being honest with them, they are afraid not to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt, since to them he/she has no profit motive, and is, after all......

a "professional".....
So....

Little Jennifer goes home without a piano. John and Jill are determined that they will save up for the "right piano". And every day, little Jennifer gets older, living without a piano, and without learning how to play one. Do you really think I give a big rat's behind what that teacher thinks of me? Not one bit. He/she has acted in an unprofessional manner, and allowed her own ignorance and lack of common sense to deny little Jennifer what she wanted - a piano. I for one will not sit there and let such a teacher do this kind of damage to little Jennifer. I will expose him/her for the ignorant, self important blowhard that she is, and she can just deal with it. Because I know there are a lot more than this one teacher in the teacher's association, and most of them already know what an idiot she is, and would agree with me.

I've had to deal with all kinds of teachers. I've had them come in the day before their appointment with me and the parents to say "Dealer X will pay me 400$ for telling these people to buy their piano. If you want them to buy yours, 400$ is the price to beat". Do you think I give a big rat's behind about that teacher? No. I simply go to the phone, call the customer, and tell them their teacher is in the store a day early, in fact she is standing there now if they'd like to talk to her, and she is negotiating for pay. "She says she's going to tell you to buy the one at Dealer X unless I pay her more than they will, and I just wanted to know how much you want me to add to the price to cover her extortion."

I've had teachers come in and be very professional, who will discuss with me right in front of the customer what their budget is, and upon hearing the situation, judge the piano as a 6K piano, fully understanding that the main goal is to get little Jennifer a piano. I've had them admit that they really don't know that much about pianos other than their own personal preference for touch and tone, and tell the customer that she trusts my integrity, and the piano they've picked out plays really nice.

Most of them simply tell their students to come see me and buy whatever I recommend in their price range. But when one becomes an obstacle to little Jennifer getting a piano, I will show them no mercy. You see, the one in the whole scheme of things that matters to me is little Jennifer. Not the teacher, not me, not anyone, other than little Jennifer. Would I prefer that little Jennifer get to own a better piano? Sure. But only John and Jill can determine that one. I can only try to help them find the best piano they can get for the 6K they're willing to spend. And I don't need some self appointed "expert" coming along screwing things up for little Jennifer.

Surely you understand where I'm coming from here. I'm not "tricking the teacher just to make a sale". I'm tricking the teacher to expose her for the ignorant, biased, poor source of information that she is being. If the teacher is giving good information, I have no problem with it, even if they end up buying something somewhere else.
Posted by: HammerHead

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 11:11 PM

Larry (mainly),

I have to agree the "fallboard transplant tactic" as you fleshed it out above in full context seems quite justifiable. Even if your professed, overriding concern for "Little Jennifer" was also tempered with just a touch of concern for not losing sales, I would still say that applied--AS YOU DESCRIBE--the teachers in question had it coming.

I don't know how common teacher kickbacks are now, but they certainly were pretty standard practice (ok, for SOME!) during the period I was associated with a dealership (and we're talking over a decade ago--have had absolutely nothing to do with the business since about 1990, BTW). I guess I thought then that "everybody" kind of knew about this and it was no big deal (it was also more like $40-$75 a shot, as I remember). And in some defense of the teachers, at least in smaller, 2 or 3 store cities, the instigators tended to be the dealers themselves. This did always seem to have encouraged one or two aggressive types who saw the potential and tried to augment their teaching income with near-extortion on the side--as you described. But I think that was, IS?, truly the occasional bad-apple exception.

I'm wondering, are there any other dealers here who will touch this subject with a ten-foot lid-prop? Is it a big deal, passe, or just business as usual? I mean, many service businesses often customers $50 bucks or so for referrals. Is this on a different level, ethically speaking, because of the inside professional link? Do teachers that post here take great offensive, and think this is a uniformly bad thing?

HH
Posted by: RMAC

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 11:26 PM

I have to hand it to you Larry. You tread where very few dare.

I can't even count the amount of times that a piano teacher who thinks that he or she knows more about what is out there than I do, ruins a perfect match of piano to customer.

I must preface this with saying that there are plenty of teachers who know who makes a good piano and who doesn't, and others that trust me and know me well enough that I won't recommend anything but what I feel are the best pianos for what their students are willing to invest, and who are a pleasure to deal with.

But there are plenty of them who are very highly opionated about brand X vs. brand Y, based on something that may have been true 25 years ago. They often turn their noses up to great pianos that they have never heard of and recommend a piano like (insert name of big Japanese piano, golf-cart, motorcycle,and outboard motor company here) over anything, not knowing or caring that they make about seven different levels of quality, in about five different countries and that many of them are among the worst values out there.

And there are others who could care less about what their students buy as long as they are getting paid the most possible for their approval.

It is difficult to bite your tongue at and not say what you really think. Most of us don't want to jeapordize any referrals that come our way and we hope that we can somehow educate these teachers and techs enough or at least get them to be more open minded about what may be unfamiliar to them, or of companies that have dramatically improved what they offer.
Posted by: Rick Clark

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/30/03 11:52 PM

Larry typed: "I solved the problem. I fabricated a Kimball fallboard that would sit in the slot of a KG2, and a Kawai fallboard that would sit in the slot of a 5'8" Kimball. When the teacher would start in about how awful the Kimball was, I'd ask her to please give them a chance, "just play this one over here that I have specially prepped". While she was playing the Kawai that said Kimball and telling the parents how awful it was, I'd be telling the parents what was happening. Then I'd ask her to play the Kimball that said Kawai on it. After she'd brag on its rich tone, excellent touch, and tell the parents how much superior it was to the "Kimball" she had just played, many times the folks would then thank the teacher for her time, and after she left, they'd buy the Kimball they wanted."

Those are some nice brass body parts you have there. You are my new best friend.

Regards,

Rick Clark
Posted by: JohnC

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/31/03 12:08 AM

 Quote:
What really gets me are the ones who are charging the family for their opinion and then asking me what's in it for them if they approve the piano.
This type of behavior is disgusting. Even as in Larry's example where they may not be charging the family but still basing their recommendation on a kickback. I'd fire them so fast it would make their head spin. I'd also report them for ethics violations to any employer/school/organization I could.

 Quote:
I've had them admit that they really don't know that much about pianos other than their own personal preference for touch and tone
Some admit it, some don't. From the little bit of experience I have had speaking with teachers I have found most of them to be pretty ignorant of the piano market. Nothing wrong with that if your honest. Some are more honest than others about it.

Moral of the story...weasels come in many flavors. Some can be found teaching music not just selling instruments. ;\)
Posted by: .rvaga*

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/31/03 01:13 AM

Larry,

Yes, I see where you're coming from now. I thought you were painting with a much wider brush, so to speak.

The blow-hard teacher. . . I KNOW HER. . .SHE HAS BEEN CLONED!

I must admit that before joining this forum, I was totally out of touch with all the new instruments, the stencils, the quality issues and how they are handled from the top to the bottom range. But, I'm the type of guy that you would be able to talk to when I visited your store, because I'm interested - always interested in what's under the hood, and enjoy learning from the expertise of others.

So, I retract my angry post. You have a very good point in the reality of many situations involving "Thuh Teachuh Hass Arrihved. . ." that comes in as the expert, with little to back it up, and a great deal of influence on the family.

\:\)
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/31/03 10:50 AM

Unfortunately the problem isn't limited to teachers. I have had techs and professional players use the same tactics.

Generally not PTG members, however.
Posted by: ejks

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/31/03 09:30 PM

I heartily concur that there are many "know it alls" in the piano industry. Performers, technicians and teachers. After "weaseling" or sneaking in a "fake" fallboard I think it would have been best not to tell the parents but take the teacher aside afterwards and show him/her. As much as I agree with the perception that some teachers are "know it alls" it seems there is a little vindictiveness involved here. What good is it to "put down" a teacher in front of their clients while "elevating" yourself?? They can be "put in their place" in a more discreet manner. I understand the need to address bias and predjudice but it doesn't seem to me that a sales person should act unprofessional to prove a point and intentionally expose a person for the fool they really are. Making it possible for a little girl to get a piano is noble but how far does one go??
Posted by: BC

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/31/03 10:19 PM

Who cares who makes what piano? Do you like it? There's no objection to the quality of the piano is there? The price is right isn't it? then what's the real reason you're not buying this piano?

How about that? let's not spend all of our time trying to convince our customers that one brand is just as good as another. Let's focus our time on the instrument in front of us at the time. If it isn't the piano for them, then there's nothing you can do about it. You can't force them to buy! Well some people can force customers to buy but that's how they work. Come on people what's really important?

BC
Posted by: ejks

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 03/31/03 10:27 PM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by BC:

"...You can't force them to buy! Well some people can force customers to buy but that's how they work..."

That's right BC, sales weasels use deceit.
ej
Posted by: Larry

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 07:26 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by BC:
Who cares who makes what piano? Do you like it? There's no objection to the quality of the piano is there? The price is right isn't it? then what's the real reason you're not buying this piano?

How about that? [/b]
It obvious you've never sold anything.

 Quote:

let's not spend all of our time trying to convince our customers that one brand is just as good as another. Let's focus our time on the instrument in front of us at the time. If it isn't the piano for them, then there's nothing you can do about it. You can't force them to buy! Well some people can force customers to buy but that's how they work. Come on people what's really important?

BC[/b]
You're missing the entire point. In the example I gave, I wasn't trying to force anyone to do anything. With me, a customer can make any choice they wish - they can buy piano A, they can buy piano B, or they can not buy anything from me at all. But they should make their decision using facts, not misinformation from a self important blowhard teacher who hasn't taken the time to either learn about the pianos or who doesn't seem to understand that not everyone can or will afford the one she wants.

Someone said I did a bad thing by not pulling the teacher over to the side instead of the customer. This is nonsense. The teacher isn't the one who is about to spend money. The teacher isn't the one who will own it. If the teacher is being a hindrance to the parents being able to make an informed decision through her own ignorance and ego, then what she is doing to harm the parents should be exposed. It is up to her to learn what she is doing wrong. It is not up to me to worry about her feelings - my loyalty is to the customer. And it has nothing to do with "putting the teacher down" in order to "elevate myself". *I* didn't fit into it in any way. If the teacher was the all knowing wizard of knowledge she is claiming to be, she would have known the pianos weren't what they claimed, wouldn't you agree? Don't you think you'd know the difference between a Kimball and a Kawai? All I was doing was letting her show the value of her advice. If her knowledge and information was worth anything, she'd have told them the piano she thought was a Kawai was not as good as the piano she thought was a Kimball, wouldn't she? That was just as much a possibility as what always happened. So I wasn't doing anything to the teacher. The words came out of her mouth, not mine, and if her advice was based on knowledge of pianos (which is what the customer was trusting her for) then she'd have caught it right away. The person who needed to know she was an idiot was the customer about to spend money, not her.

It is interesting that the ones who have voiced their dismay at this are teachers. Has the bitten dog barked here?
Posted by: byebye

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 09:31 AM

Larry,

Now if the Kimball had been carefully prepared and the Kawai (with the Kimball fallboard) hadn't been tuned or serviced in years the teacher might have been right. I'm sure that you would never do this, but I wouldn't completely dismiss the possibility for others. And there are more subtle versions of this, such as the dealer I visited which had a Weber WSG57 sale priced right near the door when I walked in. I had to walk around it to get to any of the other grands. It played very nicely. The pianos which I came to try, Petrof/Weinbach, unfortunately, made a very poor impression. Although I am just a piano teacher I could tell the difference. Was the dealer trying to sell the Weber, a line which he was discontinuing? Perhaps. At another dealer the largest Young Chang JP (7' 4" I think) was sitting up on a stage-like display platform. It didn't play as well as the PG 5' 9" in the row of grands on the floor. I suspect in this case it was just neglect on the part of the dealer.

I may not always reveal all my opinions to the salesperson, but I have to admit that I have played pianos with a lesser name which performed better in the store than the "big guys." After all, I just purchased an Estonia!

While you're at it, do you have a BMW 330xi wagon with a Chevrolet Cavalier nameplate on it for the Chevy price. I'll be right over!!
Posted by: Nina

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 10:07 AM

Sorry for my naivete, but are there REALLY situations where teachers get kickbacks for recommending specific pianos?

I've never heard of this before with teachers (have heard of it with "independent" tech evaluations), just curious.

Thx
Nina
Posted by: Mystic

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 10:15 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Nina:
Sorry for my naivete, but are there REALLY situations where teachers get kickbacks for recommending specific pianos?

Thx
Nina[/b]
Absolutely! Not all but qiute a few! I've had some say, what is my commission, deduct that from the final price to my student, not often though..

I've also had 'one' not too long ago advise me that the store down the street offered a larger com than we did and would take her student there with no concern to which piano was better suited for the student..
Posted by: BC

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 10:27 AM

larry,

my comments weren't directed towards you. If you took them personally then please forgive me. I am so tired of the same old lame sales pitch. All i was trying to do is focus my time selling what is infront of the customers at that moment. If you spend time pulling out the features, advantages, and benefits of that instrument then overcome objections (which there shouldn't be any if you have done a good job of opening and qualifying) then the customers will tell you if they want the instrument. But they will only tell you if they believe that the benefits they are getting are worth more than the amount of money they are paying. We shouldn't waste our time forcing an instrument down someone's throat. (not that that's what you do... just a statment for the masses) My sales approach works Marvelously. And i have enjoyed every second of working with people so that they get what they need... not what I think they should want. Give it a try... you may like it.

BC
Posted by: Jolly

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 11:16 AM

Nice evolution of the thread, with some nice viewpoints. But I think I'll head back to the original post...

Just from talking to people, to techs, and from internet sampling, it is my impression that the Boston owners that are most pleased with their pianos performance, are those who have gone "the extra mile", and given their pianos the extra TLC they require.

So here is the question, based upon Like's Dad's original assertion: Do Boston pianos, specifically the grands, have more potential than the Kawai RX series?

And if they do, is that attributable to the scale differences, or the different hammers? Or some other quality?
Posted by: shantinik

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 11:35 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by MarkS:


Now if the Kimball had been carefully prepared and the Kawai (with the Kimball fallboard) hadn't been tuned or serviced in years the teacher might have been right![/b]
At the piano party at Classical Grands, Alex had two M&H BBs. One sounded pretty much like you'd expect an M&H to sound. Big bass, broad, affecting sound in the tenor, full, not overly-bright sound in the treble, but with excellent sustain. In short, an M&H.

Then he had another one, which was subject to much discussion. It didn't sound in the least "like an M&H". Bass reduced, but very clear. Tenor extreemely even, but also dart-like, even laser-like. Bright treble. It sounded like a "European" piano (a Bluthner Model 4? a Sauter?)

My initial take was not to like it. It didn't sound like what I expected. But when I was able to put aside the fact that it was an M&H and just listen to the sound (ably produced by Steven Metzler), it was an extremely nice instrument. I am absolutely convinced that if the fallboard was covered up, virtually no one would ever have guessed it was an M&H.

I heard Norbert take a 6'10" Young Chang and voice it in such a way so as to have it resemble a 5'6" Estonia -- not totally successful, but take the name off the fallboard, and one would never guess it was a YC. Darrell Fandrich offered (I didn't ask - he offered) to spend a day to make his 5'8" Fandrich sound like a 1914 6'4" Knabe. And I heard a tech/dealer take a 6'3" Pearl River, put about 40 hours into it, to make the sound resemble a Steinway M that he had standing right next to it. (I think he used it as the benchmark.)

In short, at least on the basis of sound, I think we are being far too hard on the teachers. Dealers and techs claim their capacity to change the sound of a piano -- why should we be surprised when teachers (or even performers) can be confused?

Shantinik
Disclosure: I am neither buying nor selling anything, and so I am free! \:\)
Posted by: ejks

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 09:59 PM

Although this is off topic I wanted to respond::

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Larry:

Someone said I did a bad thing by not pulling the teacher over to the side instead of the customer. This is nonsense...[/b]


Sure it’s nonsense, you can’t humiliate the one you dislike. After all it is the teacher that is the villain here. Somehow the one who helps develop the talent suddenly becomes the “idiot”. True, the teacher isn’t the one about to spend the money. True, the teacher isn’t the one who will own it. It is the teacher that is the “hindrance”. Let’s just have dealers “teach”. They know so much. Yeah, I know that’s ludicrous. But this does have something to do with putting the teacher down. I’ve read some previous posts and there does “seem” to be some pent up resentment. It sounds like some sales have been “lost” because of some “know it all” teachers. Yes, I said before there are some “know it all” teachers, performers, technicians and dealers. But, I don’t feel it is up to the dealer to throw down the gauntlet and “correct” everybody. Presenting the facts is what I believe the dealer should be doing. Let the buyer, the adult buyer make their own decision. I just feel that tactic is underhanded and unprofessional. You said you were letting the teacher “show the value of her advice”. Wrong, showing the parents and students. Yes, the words came out of her mouth but those words were based on perceived truth portrayed by the dealer.[/b] Larry, I believe you are a very knowledgeable person and you have offered a tremendous amount of valuable information on this forum and I’m sure many other venues. More than I’ll ever know. I don’t doubt or question your expertise for a second. The only place I disagree with you is the manner and tactic here. I understand you have come across some teachers that have acted ignorantly. I don’t think it is the perogative of the dealer to publicly humiliate the teacher. If this kind of situation were handled in a more diplomatic manner you would stand to gain more in ways other than money.

It is interesting that the ones who have voiced their dismay at this are teachers. Has the bitten dog barked here?[/b]

You tend to stereotype people and it seems you might be misled by your “assumptions” here. I would hope all sensitive people within the music community would be dismayed at this tactic. By community, I mean teachers, technicians, sales professionals, dealers, performers, pianophiles as well as all reputable business people. Yes, and hopefully slowly educate all those “know it alls”. Also, you really don’t know people that well. I don’t consider myself a great teacher but I do feel I am still learning. I for one, attend the regular monthly PTG meetings in my area and have studied piano technology for some time. I don’t claim to know as much as you do about the piano but I am learning and I am not above attending those meetings. I might add as you probably well know many RPT’s don’t even attend them. I imagine they are the “know it alls” in their field. This is one piano teacher that doesn’t fit your stereotype and isn’t above learning all aspects of the piano. I can’t expect you to agree with me but since this place is a vehicle for discussions I wanted to register my opinion no matter how flawed you think it is. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

P.S. Just as an aside, another "proof" that I am still trying to learn:: I wrote an e-mail to you last week asking you about the Hallet & Davis piano I believe built by Dongbei in China. Although I am not fond of Asian products I am willing to learn about them and the market so I wrote you because I noticed it was advertised on your website and my question to you was asking if you could inform me of a Hallet & Davis dealer in my area. I would just like to learn. I received NO response.[/b]
Posted by: BC

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 10:24 PM

good job! You really know how to make your points clear. I agree totally!

BC
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 10:30 PM

I have had my share of problems with "teacher and Tech bandits" but I too disagree with Larry's approach and attitude. In fact, I am reather surprised that he takes such a harsh position.
Posted by: Larry

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 10:54 PM

Whew.....

First of all, I didn't use this tactic routinely. It came about after the same two or three teachers kept doing the same thing.

Let me tell you about one of these "brilliant" teachers. She had a student who was extremely talented, a girl of about 15. Her father was filty rich. He could have bought any piano he wanted to buy. But he was also a self absorbed jerk, and he refused to buy her a piano at all. All she had to practice on at home was a Casio keyboard.

In spite of it, she won competition after competition, until she had worked her way up to and won the state competition. All of a sudden her father was getting patted on the back and a lot of attention, and all of a sudden he realized *he* was looking bad for not having bought his daughter a real piano. So he decided to save face and agreed to buy her any piano the teacher said she should have.

At the time I sold Kawai. The teacher's ego began to swell over getting to "personally" pick the piano, a GS-70 Kawai (7'6"). She was known to be a pompous know-it-all old bag by every teacher in the teacher's association anyway - an organization I might add that I have been quite active in local to my business and am well respected by most of them. Also, the teacher was almost slobbering giddy over getting to "spend" all that money.

The teacher decided that just letting the guy buy the piano wasn't good enough. SHE had to have a little time in the limelight too. So she turned to him and said "it's a great piano, but it needs a little work." The father turned to me and told me to make the teacher happy, and once I had done so, he would write the check.

I showed her every respect. A total of five different techs voiced the piano for her, never pleasing her. The action was regulated 3 times by three different techs, and she was never pleased. 5 bass strings were replaced at her command, even though there was nothing wrong with them. With each voicing, I tried to tell her as politely as I could that what she was asking for would ruin the hammers. It didn't matter. SHE was the all knowing, all seeing "professional" - I was just a mechanic. She even told me that, using those words. She said in fact, "I can understand why you wouldn't know anything about the musical aspects of a piano - after all, you're just a repairman."

All through this, which covered about a 2 month period with her coming in and commanding the entire showroom's attention for 2 to 3 hours every other day, only to find one more thing that wasn't "quite right", the girl kept saying "It sounds just fine to me! Can I get it now?". Finally the father came in while she was there, and said "Is it ready yet?" I kept my mouth shut, and let her finish her own mess. She told him "No. It still has 3 notes in the treble that aren't quite right yet." The father said "If it has so many problems that it can't be fixed in two months of work, it isn't worth owning. My daughter is doing just fine on the keyboard. She can continue to use it." And he turned and walked out of the store, without buyin a piano. In truth, there had never been anything wrong with the piano. It was just fine from the start. But you see, he wasn't going to listen to me, because she had made it clear to him that SHE was the authority on pianos, and I was just a "mechanic". Today, the girl is in her late 20s, married with 2 kids of her own, and she doesn't even play the piano any more. She quit shortly after this fiasco, and never went back.

Now tell me.... at what point would I have been justified in pushing on passed her and taking control of that situation? Don't tell me how I should have taken her aside and explained to her what she was doing. It was tried, and she would have no part of it. SHE was going to show everyone what an "expert" she was.

The switched fallboards was done to combat this kind of teacher. It was not done to make fools of every teacher who came in. I don't know how long you've been in the business, but I've been in it over 32 years, I have a master's degree in piano performance, I was a professional studio musician for many years as well, and I have worked with hundreds upon hundreds of teachers. Most are human, polite, and helpful. Most understand that budget controls what the family can buy, and they deal with what is available within the parent's budget. Most work *with* me. But some are stupid. After a while you get tired of running in circles trying to massage their enormous egos. And once you have pegged a particular teacher as a knothead, you simply figure out a way to let the parents who are putting their trust in her "expert opinion" see just what her opinion is worth. That's what I did with the fallboards. I'm sorry you feel that I was being mean to the teacher somehow, but the teacher wasn't the one spending the money. The one who needed factual data was the one who would write the check. It was no time to be concerned about the feelings of an idiot.

As for not responding to your email, I apologize. I get a ton of email, and it is quite possible I accidentally deleted it without reading it. I have no way of knowing who all the dealers are for Hallet Davis around the country. For that, you need to contact the distributor. You can find their website at http://www.namusic.com
Posted by: ejks

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/01/03 11:29 PM

Larry,
WOW!! That teacher must have been one pompous a**!! I had no idea that a person could act so[fill in the blank]. The whole thing sounded like a nightmare. I appreciate you taking the time to explain. Extreme circumstances call for extreme measures?? WOW!! Although I am not certain what I would have done I understand a little better now.

As to the Hallet & Davis request I found two dealers near Chicago and neither of them had anything. Perfection Piano[/b] in Downers Grove and Piano Trends[/b] in Crystal Lake. I'm forwarding my previous e-mail[fyi]. No need to respond.
Posted by: .rvaga*

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/02/03 12:58 AM

Well, time to come back and disagree with 'ol Larry. . .

Why not wait until you're ready to blow a gasket, and then politely say, "Lady, I've had enough. You may think you can fool people around you (including your student's parents), but you can't fool a fool, fool."

(or something like the above)

And then continue with:

 Quote:
I don't know how long you've been in the business, but I've been in it over 32 years, I have a master's degree in piano performance, I was a professional studio musician for many years as well, and I have worked with hundreds upon hundreds of teachers.[/b]
Then sit down at the piano, and demonstrate to her (and the student) what she thinks or pretends she hears, and ask if anyone else hears what she's talking about.

You get the idea, I'm sure. Frankly, I'd bet you have also tried the above over the years. . .
=================

OK. . . OK. . . OK. . . I've got it!!

Do you know where the pressure point is on the arms, located on the bone between the bicept and tricept?

What you do, is place your big paw on her arm, and squeeze with your fingertips. When she starts to change color, you look at her with a smile, and say, "doesn't the piano sound wonderful now?" and whisper -- "i know where you live..."

She'll gasp and stutter,"Y-Yes, it's per-r-fect now Larry."

Done deal, everyone's happy.

\:D
Posted by: Larry

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/02/03 01:29 AM

\:D
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/02/03 02:24 AM

I have had to deal with piano teachers that to one degree or another resembled the one Larry described, and it is exasperating when the person who is the most influential in the piano buying process creates obstacles to what might have otherwise been a successful pairing of piano and pianist. The teacher (or tech,or brother in-law, etc.)is complicating the process under the guise of protecting the purchaser from their own ignorance or inability to make an informed decision, when somebody should be protecting the purchaser from the ignorant and self important "expert". It is frustrating that much genuine effort and energy that was expended working with the client and creating trust can be shot to hell by this "expert" .
The other side of this coin is that the ignorant, self-important teacher will recommend one of your pianos over a worthy competitor's piano for reasons that have nothing to do with the merits of either piano, the student's needs etc.

The overwhelming majority of piano teachers that I work with are extremely helpful to their students in the piano buying process. Especially the teachers that play at a high level. I have had many situations in which the client wanted to buy a piano that was obviously not the best for their situation, but they wanted to have their teacher come in "just to make sure." The teacher would then come in, and because of their credibility, force their student to make a better choice.
My company has made some of its biggest growth in meeting the valid criteria of some hyper critical and difficult piano teachers who we might have initially dismissed, usually because of communication problems (on both sides).
Posted by: Nina

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/02/03 08:39 AM

Hi, Mystic:

Thx for the response about the teachers expecting kickbacks. I'd never heard of that; my teacher readily admitted that I'd be the best person to pick out my piano, since I would be the one playing it. (Great teacher, too bad she's retired!)

Perhaps they should create a new signature line: "professional teaching weasel."

Nina
Posted by: Jim Volk

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/02/03 11:48 AM

Jolly, I'd particularly like to hear Larry's and Luke's Dad's ideas on that question,
 Quote:
Do Boston pianos, specifically the grands, have more potential than the Kawai RX series?[/b]
...we have customers bring up that very question on occasion.

Nina, we do have teachers we give a commission to, and it undoubtedly encourages them to bring students to our store, rather than our competitors. But from what I've learned from them, they have other compelling reasons, too...not just because they're weasels.

For one thing, as you know, in sales we often say, A salesperson is selling...himself! (Or herself).

This should be common knowledge, but here in NE Florida we've heard amazing stories of local piano salespeople who make wild and outrageous claims, harrass customers at home, pressure them to buy with scare tactics or misinformation, or play ridiculous "discount" games; or, who demonstrate such a pompous, know-it-all, condescending attitude to the customer that they leave feeling as if they've been insulted. This behavior doen't go unnoticed by local teachers.

So I know for a fact that teachers bring students in, or simply refer them to us, because their students are trusting them to help them avoid an unpleasant experience with an aggressive or deceptive salesperson. They know we'll try to educate them, sell them what best meets their needs at a fair price, and follow up with good service down the road.

I'm not boasting by any means, just saying that this is what every salesperson should be doing-- helping customers make the right decision. As a matter of gratitude, we're happy to take a small percentage of our profit and give it to the teacher, for their part in helping make the sale.

As Larry notes, some teachers are more ignorant than others, and sometimes you just feel like popping off and disagreeing with them. But I feel it's not really a moral issue. The teacher was ASKED for her opinion and guidance (always arbitrary to some degree anyway), and she gave it. No one is forced to seek advice from only one person, and most people are not so naive as to believe that their teacher is the most, or only qualified person to do so.

And if there is any discontent with a purchase later on, we have a generous trade-in policy to help solve that problem. Again, I don't think the referral process is a moral issue, unless someone is actively misleading the customer, or misrepresenting merchandise.

-Jimbo
Posted by: Michael P.

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/03/03 05:14 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry:

I solved the problem. I fabricated a Kimball fallboard ...[/b]
Questionable tactics, yes....but BRILLIANT!!!

At some point you just have to say, "Enough! It would be better if you left and tortured someone else."

Great post.
Posted by: KawaiDon

Re: Kawai vs. Boston - 04/03/03 11:38 PM

Hey all,

I'd like to offer my response to some of these points:

 Quote:
Originally posted by Luke's Dad:

The most obvious difference is the square tail soundboard on the Boston series. I'm sure many of you have heard some salespeople go on about this ad nauseum, and while it does make for a slightly bigger soundboard; the important part about the design (according to a technician and designer I trust) is that it helps center the bridge a little more evenly.[/b]
Have you ever measured the treble bridge and checked to see if it is centered? You will find that it is way off center in the Boston pianos. In Steinway pianos the treble bridge is properly centered in the narrower case. This is true in the Kawai RX pianos as well. It is my impression that the wide Boston tails were designed for large soundboard area specifications rather than tone.

This is a complicated and not too scientific issue though. Note that the bass bridge at the upper end is farther from the rim on Boston pianos, but not at the lower end. This is true of all grand pianos to some degree, but much more so when the tail is very wide. Most piano designers would not agree with this design as being best for the tone. Some people might prefer it though.

 Quote:

Another difference is in the action. Not the ABS vs. wood debate, I think Kawai has done a great job proving the benefits of ABS; but in the design itself. The Boston action does use the same geometry as found in Steinways, this does allow for a slightly quicker repitition, and several more degrees of dynamic control.[/b]
If you actually measure the action geometry in Boston pianos, it is exactly the same as in the Kawai RX pianos. It is not the same as in Steinway pianos as far as I can tell. Key ratios, action spread, shank lengths, etc. The shape of the hammer flanges over the strange Boston action rail design is different from the Kawai, but this does not affect the geometry of the action or the performance.

 Quote:
Another difference IMO deals with the materials. Boston uses a slightly higher grade of spruce than most Kawais I've seen. Slightly closer grain pattern and slightly straighter grain. The felt seems a little more resilient as well.
[/b]
As Larry mentioned, the soundboard materials used are the same between the Bostons and the RX grands. There are some different processes used in pressing hammers and such, with the RX hammers in the US being a softer felt. In Europe and Asia the RX hammers are quite a bit harder than in North America. This might explain why you don't feel the need to voice the Kawai RX pianos in the store.

As for which need voicing more often, I have no experience with Bostons over time. Maybe some other technicians can comment on their experiences there.

I hope this helps clarify things a little! \:D

Don Mannino RPT
Kawai America