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

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

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

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

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Page 1 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 >
Topic Options
#174765 - 09/28/06 02:50 AM Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
Some comments that were made on another thread about “resale value” of pianos, and Steinway resale value in particular. These comments prompted me to post this.
One poster’s opinion, which I believe has no support in reality, was posted in the guise of an “article” and its summery read something like this:

 Quote:
So here comes one of my core believes when purchasing a piano in America based on my resale philosophy. I have identify only 5 brands I would advice one to buy in America that can be easily sold in the used market with a decent resale value. Steinway. Bosendorfer. Yamaha. Kawai, and "may be" a Young Chang (at least all the Asians know about Young Chang). Any other brands, even the Mason & Hamlin and Baldwin, you will most likely struggle at some degree.

[/b]
And:

 Quote:
You can say whatever you want about a New York Steinway (and I have, see my piano buying guide in my website), but a Steinway will always be a Steinway and people in America in general will always want to buy a Steinway if they can afford it. That's why they tend to do well with resale value and it is much easier to find a buyer.

[/b]
Well, I believe that the author of that post have little idea how clueless he really is about piano sales and “resale value”, so I’ll try to explain here why I hold a different opinion.
I have heard the “resale value” story, in regards to Steinway all too many times, and I think that its time someone will point out why this marketing story, that may seem reasonable enough at first glance, crashes in the face of reality.

I don’t just pull my opinion about the matter out of a hat, but base it upon extensive experience in buying and selling many mid range and higher end pianos, including many, many Steinways.
I also base my opinion upon many conversations I have, practically on a daily basis, with people who want to sell their pianos (either privately or to a dealer), and have personally heard from buyers and sellers about THEIR own experiences involving the selling and buying of hundreds of different instruments privately or through dealers.
In addition, I base my opinion on talking to other dealers with similar experiences, as well as their willingness, and mine, to “put the money where the opinion is”.

You see, for me it isn’t just an abstract opinion. I deal with buying and selling instruments on a daily basis. If I didn’t have a firm idea over true values of instruments in this market, I probably wouldn’t do in this in this business as well as I do.

I would like to explain right now, that whether resale value is important to some and unimportant to others isn’t the issue. That poster’s “article” was obviously aimed for people who DO care about resale value of an instrument…so I’ll relate to the subject.

Also, my comments are not meant for the entire world. Things that are true in NYC are not necessarily valid in Idaho, and definitely not in Bangkok.
I write this with knowledge and expertise in regards to the particular area of the USA I’m located in, the greater NYC area and the North Eastern US.

Please remember that these are only the basics of the subject. To write all I know about it and bring real life examples will take a whole book, and I’m not willing to write one at this point.

In any case…
The first and foremost important rule about “resale value” of a piano is that the “resale” depends upon the initial cost of the piano.
HOW MUCH DID IT COST TO BEGIN WITH… is a very important question. I would assume it may be valid in regards to other items too…but since we are discussing here about pianos, I’ll stick to that.
Well, in order to understand how important is this question, I’ll have to back track a little and give readers some background and a basic idea about piano pricing and they way the industry works.

Once upon a time, the piano business was a very good and viable business.
Piano dealers were able to prosper and grow, just like other merchants do today in different fields. At the time, came also to be the concept of MSRP…or the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price.
The MSRP was based on a certain formula between the wholesale cost of the instrument and the retail cost, and was meant to cover the expenses/overhead a piano retailer have such as: salaries, rent, financing, advertising, electricity etc. The formula also allowed for a margin large enough so that the instruments will be prepared right, presented right and serviced right…including after the sale.
Finally, it allowed the dealer also a margin high enough so that he could feed his family and actually stay in business to service his customers.

As times changed, cultural shifts dictated that a smaller portion of the population was interested in quality pianos, and since we live now in a price oriented world, changes had to occur.
Dealers most often have to choose between providing a better price, or better service. Some found ways to be more efficient in an effort to provide better price and maintain a high level of service…but unique approaches had to be developed and these too may have drawbacks from the dealer’s point of view.
However, there is a common thread between all of these approaches.
ALL dealers discount from the MSRP substantially, everyone…except new Steinway dealers.

Regardless of whether Steinways are worth the price as instruments or not, or whether they are worth that high initial price tag because of their name recognition…it is the RELATION BETWEEN THE WHOLESALE AND RETAIL COST of the new instrument that plays a huge role when if the time comes and the instrument is going to be resold.

Now, before I’m going to explain here the “formula” and the relation between the MSRP and wholesale cost of an instrument, let me tell you that it is very hard to compare today MSRP’s.
All too often, the MSRP number is grossly inflated and bears no relation to the wholesale cost. Sometimes, two instruments that have an identical wholesale cost, have a difference of 25% or more in their MSRP’s.

In his price supplement, Larry Fine, the author of the piano book, TRIES to apply the same formula for all manufacturers, but his success is also limited.
Some companies offer volume discounts (especially by companies who need to “move” a lot of product), cash discount, show “special” discounts as well as other creative discounts...while other companies offer little in the way of discounts or no discounts at all. This dictates that even Larry Fine’s own calculated retail prices are not entirely accurate, and although his price guide is a valuable tool, any buyer should be aware that calculating “discounts” of these prices isn’t a good way to determine if one instrument is a better “value” then another, or if one dealer is giving a bigger discount based on the cost of the instrument.

The fact remains that some new pianos, costing at the wholesale level 10%-20% more than NY Steinways are often sold at prices that are lower than new Steinways, essentially leaving Steinway dealers with better margins.
Whether Steinway dealers are entiteled to better margins, or provide better service in the form of preparation, presentation and the service of their instruments in some parts of the country I do not know. I would wager, however, any amount that the pianos at Steinway hall in NYC are not better prepared, presented and serviced than the instruments on our showroom floor…still, their margins are much higher for new instruments.

So maybe the marketing machine works so well that Steinways are being able to be sold at or near their MSRP’s the first time…but can that marketing machine work TWICE?
Can it really hold a value at resale in relation to the initial cost?

Unfortunately reality, based on my experience, dictates that the answer to this is NO.

The formula Mr. Fine is basing his retail price calculation is simple, and have been discussed here before (so please dealers, I’m not revealing any guarded secrets).
He’s retail prices are double the wholesale cost.

So keeping this in mind, what happens to “resale value” in reality?
Let’s take an extreme case at first and assume that Mrs Jones bought a new Steinway model “L” mahogany a few months ago, and now changed her mind and wanted to sell it.
This way we can eliminate for now the “time and inflation factor”, but I’ll be back to this one too later on.

So, how good really IS going to be Mrs. Jones’s Steinway’s resale value.
Well, the MSRP of a model “L” in Mahogany by Larry Fine is $59,000…this means that the wholesale cost is about $29,500.
Let’s assume that Mrs Jones bought this piano at one of the special “sales” run by Steinway and got a “discount” of 5% off the retail price (this seems to be the average discount on Steinway pianos in this areas, if any discount is given at all).

So Mrs. Jones paid $59,000 - 5% = $56,050. However, when Mrs. Jones would like to sell her few months old instrument the first thing she’d do is to call the dealer who sold it to her.
Well, the Steinway dealer can buy this piano back from her, but unless he is obligated to do so under contract or store’s policy, he won’t be able to offer her anything that would leave her smiling.
Since the Steinway dealer can buy a NEW instrument for $29,500, he wouldn’t pay the same for a used one, since he can’t resell it as new.
He could probably sell this piano for around 50K, and since the Steinway dealer is used to work on a nice margin with the new instruments, he’d like to get about the same for this few months old piano…so $25,000 would sound like a price that the dealer may be willing to pay.

Well, just like that, Mrs. Jones lost $56,000 - $25,000 = $31,000.

$31,000 lost in a few months…and there goes the concept about great “resale value”.
But wait…Mrs. Jones didn’t exhaust her options. After all, why offer this piano to the Steinway dealer, she can call other dealers too. They can’t buy new Steinways, so maybe they’d be willing to pay more?
Well, not really. First, they too can’t sell it as new, and while Steinway can get margins like this because they are an authorized Steinway dealer, and have the clientele looking for one coming through their door every day, most other dealers have to settle for lower selling prices.

So the Non Steinway dealer knows that if Steinway is selling a NEW instrument for 56K, he should be looking to get 20% less then that for the used one…or somewhere around $45,000.

Now, average margins for dealers have also been discussed on this forum at length before. In order to cover overhead like sales commissions, moving, advertising, rent, etc, and still stay in business, dealers have to maintain an average margin, and the industry average as published is 43%.

So let’s even assume this dealer is willing to work on only a 35% margin for new instruments. And lets even assume that Mrs. Jones’s piano is in perfect showroom condition and needs no furniture or mechanical work due to a stellar prep it got at Steinway hall before it was sold, and an avid maintenance program Mrs. Jones followed dedicatedly (yea right)…still, what the dealer can pay for it is only $29,000. But since he is not backed by the company as a Non Steinway dealer, and since he can’t get the same kind of flooring plan and financing, and since some work is ALWAYS needed, he will probably won’t go as high as that, maybe, $26,000 if the piano is really, really nice.

So still, Mrs. Jones is out 30K in just a few months.
I hate to tell you that, but there are a lot of instruments out there that are available for real selling prices of around 30K that personally I would take as instruments any time over a Steinway “L”…so I’d rather get any of these just for the money I’d lose over the “L” in a few months, regardless of these instruments “resale value”.

Goinmg back and taking Mrs Jones’s experience into account…Let’s see what happened to Mrs. Smith, that on the same day Mrs. Jones bought her piano, got a fine quality European spitzenbacher from the Non Steinway dealer.
Mrs. Smith too have changed her mind and wanted to sell her piano.
Now, the wholesale cost of that same piano was the exactly the same as the cost of the Steinway “L” Mahogany that Mrs. Jones bought…$29,500.

However, as mentioned before, the Spitzenbacher dealer is willing to work on a 35% margin. So initially, Mrs. Smith bought her Spitzenbacher for only about $46,000.
Now, she want to sell it back to the dealer, and the dealer knows that he can resell it used for about $41,000.
Since the Spitzenbacher dealer is also used to work on a smaller margin, he’d be willing to pay for this instrument about $28,000.
So while Mrs. Jones lost 30K+ on her highly recognized brand name piano, Mrs. Smith did 12K better then her on an instrument with no name recognition at all (who did hear about the Spitzenbacher at all?).

So much for “resale value”…but wait, why are we limiting ourselves to a discussion about what DEALERS will pay? What about private consumers? Maybe they will pay more for the Steinway?

Well, they probably pay more for both these instruments, but lets first take the case of the Steinway.
Mrs. Jones was now offered 26K by a dealer, for a Steinway she paid 56K only a few months ago.
It is understandable that she is less then happy about this turn of events. After all, part of the reason she bought her piano in the first place was because she was assured that it had an excellent “resale value”. Facing now the facts, and understanding how “excellent” this resale value really is, she is fuming and determined to get more money from a private seller.
Adding an insult to injury is that the highest offer she got didn’t even come from the Steinway dealer…but from the Spitzenbacher dealer down the road. Furthering her rage is her understanding that her friend, Mrs. Smith who purchased her Spitzenbacher on that very same day, and paid $10,000 less then her, is now offered by that same dealer MORE money for her Spitzenbacher, who had never been marketed as an “investment”, or hailed by “experts” as having a unique resale value, than she, Mrs. Jones, was offered for her Steinway.
The last thing that kept Mrs. Jones rage inflamed was the knowledge that she bought her piano at a special Steinway “sale”…and what a “sale” it was, she thought.

Well, what could I get for my Steinway privately she puzzled?
The Steinway dealer would mark it at 50K, and my best offer is 26K from another dealer…hmmmm…my piano’s value for an informed customer should be somewhere in the middle, and at about 38K!
Right? … Wrong! And this is because Mrs Jones forgot that Mr Bliss, her neighbor, also bought the same model of Steinway in that same very “sale” she attended.
Mr. Bliss encountered some misfortune and had to sell his Steinway fast. He sold it to the Spitzenbacher dealer, who gave him the best offer. Now, the Spitzenbacher dealer had also a Steinway like hers on the floor, to be sold at $45,000.
This piano is now in perfect showroom condition. The furniture has been gone over, the action regulated, the tone voiced and it comes with a warranty, and a complimentary tuning. These expenses are equal to about $3,000 if someone had bought the piano from her. Mrs Jones is soon to realize that at 38K + 3K = $41,000, people who are bargain hunters won’t see it as a bargain, and would rather go to a dealer, and pay a little more for an instrument that comes with assurance and warranty, as well as the ease of finding it and comparing it to other pianos.

It also doesn’t help that down the street, at another dealer, there is a five-year-old identical Steinway for 36K at another dealer…again, in perfect condition and everything included. No, Mrs. Jones fair market value for her piano is no more then 35K for a private buyer, and even at this price she’d be having problems selling it, unless she herself is a “pianist” or a teacher that can find someone who bought into the notion that buying a “pianist’s piano” must be a good thing.
Having a large amount of similar instruments for sale available for the buyers, such as other Steinways is not contributing to “resale value” at all. Quite the contrary…it makes it a buyers market (and this by the way is true also in regards to other easy to find instruments such as Yamaha and Kawai. The excessive availability brings the price of used pianos like these down).
At 35K it is a fair market value for an educated buyer, and while some may get from an uninformed buyer more, there have been some people who actually thought that they bought the Brooklyn Bridge too…

In any case, Mrs Jones would still lose on a fair market private sale about $21,000 on her Steinway, and more then Mrs. Smith would lose when selling her piano trouble free and fast to the dealer. Of course, Mrs. Smith is free to sell her Spitzenbacher piano privately too, and if she’d only get 5K more than what the dealer would pay her, a “bargain” for the buyer…she’d do much, much better then Mrs. Jones did with her Steinway.

So in all, now you can see how much truth is in the spiel about the “resale value”. If one overpays for an instrument at t he initial sale, it will affect the true resale value as well.

Now, all this may seem far-fetched to some, how often is it that buyers get an instrument and replace it after a few months? The answer is that it doesn’t matter. I do calculations like this almost on a daily basis, and readers would be surprised how often the Mrs. Jonses of this world sell their pianos to me because I have the highest offer, and because it is easy and I have the money to buy them right now and without financing.

The average Mrs Jones finds it much harder to sell her piano privately then most readers may realize.
This doesn’t apply only to a few months old instruments, but to instruments of all ages.
With older instruments of course, the state of the instrument, and the cost of the needed work is the major factor, and all too often the vast majority of the value of older instrument after restoration, is within the work that was done rather than the carcass of the piano.

Now I’m sure that someone would like to point out at this moment that Steinways are “special” because they “appreciate” over time. Well, this is nonsense too.
All quality instrument raise their prices over time, and although Steinway likes to quote an Article from 1973(!), if I recall correctly, showing that historically their prices went up and reaching the inevitable conclusion that these are great “investments” the price increases are not limited to Steinway.
Estonia, for example, has appreciated in price over the last few years at more then a double pace then Steinway…still, it doesn’t make them an “investment”.
Other pianos went up in price too.
Also, while cheaper instruments don’t even justify the cost of reconditioning (a limited amount of work usually done after 35 - 40 years), Steinways (and Mason & Hamlins) justify in the American market the necessary and much more costly full restoration (usually needed and done after about 60- 70 years).

However, the piano market is changing rapidly, and we now start to face in our restoration business an interesting situation. We get instruments that are from the 60’s, 70’s, and even later, and that we feel the best recourse for these is to take them apart and completely restore them. Once done, although these pianos are fully restored in the same manner that our vintage Steinways are, and although we use the same parts and workmanship, people are never enthusiastic about these, and don’t buy them nearly as fast since “these are from the 60’s”…

There is no way for anyone to predict the future, but I would venture to guess that 50 years from now, no one would restore Steinway pianos from this era unless it is for sentimental, personal reasons.
I feel that a shift in Steinway’s position as “immortal” has already begun, and it is happening faster then most people think.
Prophecy is for the fools, it is said, but I believe that in the course of the next 10 years we’ll be seeing a serious decline in NY Steinway sales (if these would be separated from the Boston and Essex sales and Hamburg Steinway sales).
I also think that we’ll be seeing the traditional structure of selling Steinways at MSRP or near it finally broken, And ACTUAL selling prices starting to fall to a more reasonable level and close to the overall margins in the industry.

In any case, the “resale value”, “appreciation” and “investment” balloons may have slightly been deflated now.
The other advice given by that particular poster on the other thread in that matter was equally bad, for different reasons, but I don’t feel like writing chapter two of this book yet.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
(ads 568) Hailun Pianos

 

#174766 - 09/28/06 03:22 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
MrsSV Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/06
Posts: 519
Thank-you so much Ori for taking the time to post. I was looking forward to what you had to say. I am so glad I was not pulled into the marketing (sales pitch)- "they" really push it and I think it takes a good bit of level headed thinking and research to conclude that the "investment" angle is just really really good marketing. Persuasive too.

I am glad looking back that I could not afford the Steinway I liked. If I could have afforded it I still would have shopped harder before making the purchase, but the "investment" angle the salespeople push might have tipped me over the edge. The investment presentation is just so sensible- and it's hard to sift through it and realize it's just not logical.

It was the fact that I couldn't afford the price tag that caused me to look harder, think harder and become more level headed.

In the end I spent far less money and am happier than imaginable with the what I bought- our Estonia 190 is just so lovely.

Top
#174767 - 09/28/06 03:35 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
A much appreciated look at your knowledge of the the resale market. Your point about the duration of a private sale vs. being able to sell to a dealer for cash is well taken.

If anyone takes issue with you, I hope that it will be done in the same spirit with which your post is written.

Top
#174768 - 09/28/06 03:39 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
pianistical Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/04
Posts: 1377
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Ori,

Wouldn´t that make a used Steinway an excellent deal?
_________________________
“There are only two important things which I took with me on my way to America, It´s been my wife Natalja and my precious Blüthner.” – Sergei Rachmaninov

1913 Blüthner model 6
1929 Blüthner model 9.
1955 Steingraeber upright.

Top
#174769 - 09/28/06 05:41 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
bkkmd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/06
Posts: 304
Loc: Bangkok, Thailand
Ori, excellent reading. From average consumer's perspective, I don't think it is all that different between NY area and Bangkok except for the hugely inflated price over here (especially for Steinway) and less choices. I think a very educated consumer would likely see it your way however, not every consumer is very educated about the subtleties in the Piano market nor do they really know the whole story. There are a lot of people who buy Steinway in parts to impress their neighbors. Also not every consumer is an educated consumer, when they want to buy piano, watch, car, it is very easy for them, go for Steinway, Rolex and Mercedes, very simple. Unfortunately I think they are a very significant part of these luxury/premium items.

So one thing that was left out of your formula,I think, is the average amount of time you need in order to sell the piano.
I am not a piano dealer so I have absolutely no idea about this but my guess based on my consumer's perception is that you should be able to sell a used Steinway faster than a used Spitzenbacher. So I think a dealer has to take the margin they are willing to take for the piano times the amount of time to sell it.
More margin but less amount of time for Steinway.

Same go for private sale, if you want to sell Spitzenbacher relatively quickly, you will have to lower your price significantly as the buyer's pool is likely to be smaller.
I realize that Steinway's buyer pool is larger, but so is the seller's pool. So from your experience, is it a myth that you can sell Steinway faster than other premium brand piano? I am very curious.

I guess an important factor is: which one has a greater influence on the price, the relatively scarcity of other used premium brands so less competition for the buyer to choose from, or the larger pool of buyers for used Steinway making used Steinway a more desirable commodity?

Top
#174770 - 09/28/06 06:54 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Kenny Blankenship Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/05
Posts: 659
Loc: Northeast
G_D Ori, if you worked your business as much as you work this site, you'd be a much richer person. Excellent post, also, piantastical, anything used is only excellent for the mechanics or techs getting rich servicing it...
_________________________
Kenny Blankenship
Selling anything anyone will buy as the "Walmartizisation of the industry continues. (Still making a fair living and still having clients like me)

Top
#174771 - 09/28/06 07:40 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ivorytreasures.com Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/12/06
Posts: 25
Loc: Orange County, CA
Ori,

Thank you for writing such an insightful article. I carefully read your "article" with an open mind and there were lots of good point for the consumers and I must admit that factually everything you said made sense to me, really. In fact, I am with you 100%, believe it or not. I also learned a few new things as well, and for that I thank you. I particularly hope that what you said about the future of the NY Steinway is true, that would mean the end of an golden era - in LA, I don't see that happening yet though. May be where you are is different. In fact, whatever I can do to help with this "revolution" please let me know. You know I don't like those new pianos from Queens.

I know why now you were upset by my opinion piece. I think you and I have a little misunderstanding, and I think some other people might too. So let me explain why I wrote what I wrote and why I think it is valid based on this clearing up of "misunderstanding" - which is based on a something very important that I forgot to mention before writing this opinion piece.

I cannot believe this, and it must be late at night every time I write on this forum. It just darn on me that I "forgot" to mention one of my very important philosophy about piano buying before I put out my opinion piece about ease of resale. It is something I have been doing and helping other people do for so long that I take for it granted and forgot to mention it anywhere in this forum .... so foolish of me, it really is. You won't like this either as a dealer, but that is, NEVER EVER BUY A PIANO BRAND NEW - Rather, "GET THE BEST PIANO YOU CAN FIND" at a given price point in the "USED MARKET". In that case, I would be the person answering Mrs. Jones private party ad for $38,000. Based on your article, That is my "starting price". After studying the price situation, I would also explain to her that it will be extremely difficult for you to sell this piano at $38,000 (I am with Ori here, which is very true also) and point out any "imperfections" that I can find and offer her only $30,000. She say no at first. I said let's wait a few weeks and if you change your mind let me know since I am not in a hurry and there are a few other pianos I am seriously considering also. Few weeks later, unable to sell it privately and since the dealer will only offer her $25,000, Mrs. Jones called me back and said she will take my offer and I just bought a few mouths old Steinway for $30,000 that is exactly like a new one. Now $30,000 is my starting price. "NOT" $56,000.

Ladies and Gentlemen - this is how I bought every instrument I ever own and this is how I helped my friends and family to buy their pianos. Example: An 8 year old Yamaha S4 for $15000. An 8 year old Hamburg Steinway B for $50,000 (resold two years later for $55,000). Another Yamaha S4 for $18,000 for my aunt. A 5 year old Yamaha C5 for ........... get this ..... you wouldn't believe it ....... $ 7500.00!!! That's right! (The list goes on and on!) For the exact reasons you mentioned (huge depreciation), I personally would never buy a new piano and I personally get so much fun out of finding these instruments for friends and family! And I always tell them if they ever want to "unload" the instruments, these brands are the easiest to unload, especially in southern California, where I live - Steinway, Yamaha, Kawia, Bosendorfer. That's why I always stick with these brands and advise others to stick with these brands. I can assure you that It is easier to unload a Steinway in LA than a Spitzenbacher (I have never heard of such a piano, by the way). And my point is, the more unfamiliar the piano is to the general public, the more you have to lower your price to get it sold, where a Steinway or Yamaha you at least will get more phone calls and interests and therefore, more offers - this is just a "fact" that can't be argue.

So yes, I am well aware that you will loss lots of $$$ buying a New Steinway..... come on, did you really think I am that stupid???

Now, since I bought Mrs. Jones Steinway for $30,000 and a few years later if I want to unload it, I will have a good chance selling it privately for close to the same price I paid for it if not even a little more because I had excellent negotiation skill when I bought it and I will make sure the piano looks "brand New" and "Well Prepped" when Mr. Lee comes look at it from my ad. This is how I made $5000 when I resold the Hamburg B. When I first bought the piano, the guy wanted $58,000 first before I talk him down to $50,000 - I guess that's the Chinese in me:)

I know you guys (the dealers) probably don't like me very much here, and that's OK, but at least I hope we understand each other better now after this huge misunderstanding.
_________________________
www.Ivorytreasures.com
The "itunes" for pop piano music lovers

Top
#174772 - 09/28/06 08:26 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianistical:
Ori,

Wouldn´t that make a used Steinway an excellent deal. [/b]
No, it wouldn't necessarily.
It would only make a used one less expensive then a new one. New Steinways seem to be overpriced at least because of the higher margins that Steinway dealerships get.
If one day, however, the margins of these dealerships will be more in line with average margins at most other dealerships, it would be easier for consumers to decide if they are overpriced also in comparison to what they are as instruments.

In other words, if a new Steinway "L" like Mrs Jonse's would be sold new for "only" 45K (instead of 56K), would it be the best piano out there for the money?

In my previous post above I wrote that:
There are a lot of instruments out there that are available for real selling prices of around 30K that personally I would take as instruments any time over a Steinway “L”…

So you can see what my opinion is.
At 45K actual selling price I'd add many other instruments to the list of those that I'd personally prefer over a new "L".

Please bear in mind that I don't own or sell regularly many of these instruments, but always work with a lot of Steinways.
I'm also aware that many of the used Steinways are over priced in comparison to other instruments and in perspective to their actual performance, yet the Steinway marketing machine is doing wonders for dealers and rebuilders, like me, essentially making the cost of high end restoration for resale feasible.

I’m aware that if new Steinway dealer margins become smaller, and prices decline, it may hurt our business too. However, I’m comforted by the thought that there may be justification for the continued high quality rebuilding of “golden era” Steinways even if new instrument price will decline, as I suspect.
For a long time people who are buying our restored Steinways are not doing so because they are all that much less expansive than new NY Steinway. They buy these because they feel that these are better performing instruments.
After all, many of the Steinways we sell are going to people whom a description like: ”they can afford anything they like” is somewhat of an understatement.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
#174773 - 09/28/06 09:59 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
 Quote:
Originally posted by Ivorytreasures.com:
Ori,

Thank you for writing such an insightful article. I carefully read your "article" with an open mind and there were lots of good point for the consumers and I must admit that factually everything you said made sense to me, really. In fact, I am with you 100%, believe it or not. I also learned a few new things as well, and for that I thank you. I particularly hope that what you said about the future of the NY Steinway is true, that would mean the end of an golden era - in LA, I don't see that happening yet though. May be where you are is different. In fact, whatever I can do to help with this "revolution" please let me know. You know I don't like those new pianos from Queens.

I know why now you were upset by my opinion piece. I think you and I have a little misunderstanding, and I think some other people might too. So let me explain why I wrote what I wrote and why I think it is valid based on this clearing up of "misunderstanding" - which is based on a something very important that I forgot to mention before writing this opinion piece.

I cannot believe this, and it must be late at night every time I write on this forum. It just darn on me that I "forgot" to mention one of my very important philosophy about piano buying before I put out my opinion piece about ease of resale. It is something I have been doing and helping other people do for so long that I take for it granted and forgot to mention it anywhere in this forum .... so foolish of me, it really is. You won't like this either as a dealer, but that is, NEVER EVER BUY A PIANO BRAND NEW - Rather, "GET THE BEST PIANO YOU CAN FIND" at a given price point in the "USED MARKET". In that case, I would be the person answering Mrs. Jones private party ad for $38,000. Based on your article, That is my "starting price". After studying the price situation, I would also explain to her that it will be extremely difficult for you to sell this piano at $38,000 (I am with Ori here, which is very true also) and point out any "imperfections" that I can find and offer her only $30,000. She say no at first. I said let's wait a few weeks and if you change your mind let me know since I am not in a hurry and there are a few other pianos I am seriously considering also. Few weeks later, unable to sell it privately and since the dealer will only offer her $25,000, Mrs. Jones called me back and said she will take my offer and I just bought a few mouths old Steinway for $30,000 that is exactly like a new one. Now $30,000 is my starting price. "NOT" $56,000.

Ladies and Gentlemen - this is how I bought every instrument I ever own and this is how I helped my friends and family to buy their pianos. Example: An 8 year old Yamaha S4 for $15000. An 8 year old Hamburg Steinway B for $50,000 (resold two years later for $55,000). Another Yamaha S4 for $18,000 for my aunt. A 5 year old Yamaha C5 for ........... get this ..... you wouldn't believe it ....... $ 7500.00!!! That's right! (The list goes on and on!) For the exact reasons you mentioned (huge depreciation), I personally would never buy a new piano and I personally get so much fun out of finding these instruments for friends and family! And I always tell them if they ever want to "unload" the instruments, these brands are the easiest to unload, especially in southern California, where I live - Steinway, Yamaha, Kawia, Bosendorfer. That's why I always stick with these brands and advise others to stick with these brands. I can assure you that It is easier to unload a Steinway in LA than a Spitzenbacher (I have never heard of such a piano, by the way). And my point is, the more unfamiliar the piano is to the general public, the more you have to lower your price to get it sold, where a Steinway or Yamaha you at least will get more phone calls and interests and therefore, more offers - this is just a "fact" that can't be argue.

So yes, I am well aware that you will loss lots of $$$ buying a New Steinway..... come on, did you really think I am that stupid???

Now, since I bought Mrs. Jones Steinway for $30,000 and a few years later if I want to unload it, I will have a good chance selling it privately for close to the same price I paid for it if not even a little more because I had excellent negotiation skill when I bought it and I will make sure the piano looks "brand New" and "Well Prepped" when Mr. Lee comes look at it from my ad. This is how I made $5000 when I resold the Hamburg B. When I first bought the piano, the guy wanted $58,000 first before I talk him down to $50,000 - I guess that's the Chinese in me:)

I know you guys (the dealers) probably don't like me very much here, and that's OK, but at least I hope we understand each other better now after this huge misunderstanding. [/b]
Ivorytreasurs,
There is nothing personal about this and it isn't that I don't personally like you.
It is that although you may be able to play the piano, you still have little understanding of the business and how it works, yet are bent on offering advice, which is potentially damaging to consumers.
Both consumers and dealers can benefit from good information, and both can be hurt by bad info.
I believe that an educated customer, presented with the facts is the best customer. I also believe that all people have a right to their opinion, but when you initially wrote yours as an “article”, it was clear to me that it not only contained misinformation and bad advice which is potentially harmful to consumers, but it wasn’t based on any research or was based in reality.

I still advise you to correct the title of your original thread and replace the word “article” with he word “opinion”.

In any case, by your last comments it appears that you still miss the point and contradicting yourself completely from the first “article” you wrote.
There, you praised Yamaha too as having a good resale value, and here you’re telling us that you bought a few year old Yamaha C-5 for $7,500.
This makes for a rather large drop, both in dollars and percentage points, from whatever the original buyer paid for the instrument, and theoretically portray Yamaha as having a really a miserable resale value.
However, in all fairness to Yamaha, this is a too low price to pay. Many dealers, including me, would pay more for that 5 year old C-5. So while it is unclear why a potential seller didn’t bother picking up the phone and offering it to a dealer, it only reinforces my point.

You are basing your “conclusions”, time and time again, on very insufficient information, and assume that anecdotal sales/purchases you are aware of or made can be applied to the entire market. This, however, isn’t the case, and it is further bewildering that you’re conclusions (like with Yamaha’s resale value) are often contradicting logically your own very unique experiences…

Now, buying new VS used is a whole different book, and I’m not about to waste time here whenever you come with another wired and illogical interpretation of reality and the business, to explain in detail why you’re wrong.
But speaking generally, there is certain equilibrium between people buying new and people buying used that won’t be changing easily.
You attribute to your cultural heritage (“the Chinese in you”) your ability/will to bargain. However, apparently this isn’t limited to your culture alone. In Yiddish (I’m Jewish), there is a perfect word for someone acting the way that you did with that Steinway “B” It is called a “macher”…when one sees an opportunity and buy’s here and there something, selling it later for a little more. “Macher” isn’t a negative term necessarily, and the “macher’s” are often very proud, just as you at their ability to make a little money on the occasional opportunity.
I’d venture to guess that you didn’t lose any money on buying these other three Yamahas you described you bought upon selling them too…

It seems, however, that in this particular case of that “B”, you overpaid for the instrument the first time, and the guy you sold it to…WAY overpaid for it when he bought it from you.
The fact that you don’t know it, and think that you “help” consumers, demonstrate perfectly the point that you’re in no position to advise anyone about pricing or resale values, but rather HURT those that you’re claiming you’re trying to “help”.

Now, since it is rather clear to me that it’s only a matter of time before your main occupation will not be piano playing anymore, but rather concentrating most of your time on piano sales, if you’re not doing it already, I can give you a few advices that may remain with you for the rest of your career.

First, you must understand that the vast majority of buyers out there are not like you.
They don’t have your playing ability, connections in the music field, and general urge to pick through a virtual garbage can of used instruments in various ages and conditions to find that one “gem”.
They may not necessarily feel comfortable evaluating an instrument based on its sound and feel by themselves (still, a far better option, in my opinion, than putting their trust in someone like you that has strong opinions not based in reality and won’t hesitate to sell them his own piano for an overpriced inflated price of 55K privately to make a quick buck). They may not have the time to go look for an instrument privately…especially considering that they want an instrument…after all, when shoppers here go to a dealership, do they always like and buy the FIRST piano they see/hear?
The likelihood is that buyers seeking private instruments will have to look at many homes and many instruments before they find one that they like. And if we hear complaints sometimes from consumers about the state of preparation of instruments at dealers…then its only because they don’t know how MOST of these instruments offered for sale privately are kept.
A lot of people also don’t feel comfortable entering other people private homes without knowing who and what hey are. Other’s may lack the confidence to evaluate the piano technically, and would rather pay more for buying from an established dealer with assurances and warranty.
There are many other reasons why people would avoid looking for piano privately, or avoid paying a uided “macher” to advise them to get a piano “he knows of”…
But in all, convenience, selection and confidence are the most important reasons.

Having said all that, I believe that if someone is either lucky, or willing to spend the time and effort to look for a private instrument, and if one has the ability and knowledge to asses what they want or the general condition of the instrument good deals can be had as long as some basic rules are kept (for once, I’d stay away buying privately from anything older then 20 years of age, as things can get very complicated and values are determined mainly by the instruments condition).
Granted, people who are willing to spend all that time an effort for the CHANCE of maybe getting a better deal (and more often then not it doesn’t happen as they just tend to overpay for something in the end such as your “B”), then these people usually put less value over their time.
The reality is that someone making $1,000 a day is less likely to spend 30 work days searching privately across a large geographical area and viewing many instruments for the chance of “saving” $3,000, $5,000, or even $10,000.

But in any case, all this is taking to account, and the market have ALREADY REACHED an equilibrium where both dealers and private sellers have a fair market range. This is usually dictated, as I mentioned n my first post by the price of new instruments.
So, if many more buyers will look privately, used private prices will go up and be closer to new prices…until the point that enough people won’t be looking.
This point have already been reached, and this is how a professional can put a value on instruments and know what their real $$ value, or resale value is.
Taking advice from a “macher” who seem to be able to buy instruments for less then wholesale, yet sell instruments “privately” for more then they’re worth is not helping consumers.

Now, you have not shown in any of your posts about this matter any real understanding of the market and how it works, nor being able to present any logical connection to support your weird assertions…but rather contradicted these yourself.
I think it’s time you’d start doing some reading rather then writing, and try to gain knowledge instead of spreading misinformation.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
#174774 - 09/28/06 06:01 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
 Quote:
Originally posted by bkkmd:
Ori, excellent reading. From average consumer's perspective, I don't think it is all that different between NY area and Bangkok except for the hugely inflated price over here (especially for Steinway) and less choices. I think a very educated consumer would likely see it your way however, not every consumer is very educated about the subtleties in the Piano market nor do they really know the whole story. There are a lot of people who buy Steinway in parts to impress their neighbors. Also not every consumer is an educated consumer, when they want to buy piano, watch, car, it is very easy for them, go for Steinway, Rolex and Mercedes, very simple. Unfortunately I think they are a very significant part of these luxury/premium items.

So one thing that was left out of your formula,I think, is the average amount of time you need in order to sell the piano.
I am not a piano dealer so I have absolutely no idea about this but my guess based on my consumer's perception is that you should be able to sell a used Steinway faster than a used Spitzenbacher. So I think a dealer has to take the margin they are willing to take for the piano times the amount of time to sell it.
More margin but less amount of time for Steinway.

Same go for private sale, if you want to sell Spitzenbacher relatively quickly, you will have to lower your price significantly as the buyer's pool is likely to be smaller.
I realize that Steinway's buyer pool is larger, but so is the seller's pool. So from your experience, is it a myth that you can sell Steinway faster than other premium brand piano? I am very curious.

I guess an important factor is: which one has a greater influence on the price, the relatively scarcity of other used premium brands so less competition for the buyer to choose from, or the larger pool of buyers for used Steinway making used Steinway a more desirable commodity? [/b]
Bgkk,
I’ll try to answer your questions by pointing a few things.

1.The time (and hassle) it takes to sell an instrument to a dealer is much smaller then trying to sell anything privately.
Don’t underestimate the value of this convenience too.
In this particular example, even if the Spitzenbacher would have been sold to a dealer, the resale value will be better then on the Steinway in a fair private sale.
The Spitzenbacher buyer spent less money initially, lost less money at resale, and sold when decided to sell…the instrument was sold faster and hassle free.
Anyway you look at it, the spitzenbacher buyer did much better then the Steinway buyer at resale.

2. Often, more rare pianos are sought after by people who are specifically looking for them.
As I said early in my first post, what is true in NYC may not be true in Idaho and definitely not in Bangkok.
Over here, however, there are not only more people who are looking to buy Steinways…but also a lot of people who are looking to sell them.
All too often, the uninformed buyers are looking for a brand name. They don’t want to pay the price of a new instrument, and often don’t want to pay the price of a used one too. Ivorytreasures, who hold himself knowledgeable in the field of negotiations, have commented earlier in this thread about how HE gets the owners to sell the pianos for dirt-cheap. Well, take it from me, I have seen all too many people that after a few visits from people like Ivorytreasurs into their homes, and having to go through the negotiations and insecurity of IF they’ll sell it at all, and in WHAT period of time…they often go back to the dealer and sell the piano to him.
On the other hand, buyers looking for unique instruments are likely to be a bit more sophisticated about pianos. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t even know that a brand like the Spitzenbacher even exists.
There are also very few instruments like this available, so supply is very tight.
The private buyer of a Spitzenbacher is more likely to be willing to travel and see the instrument, and also, once there, to buy it if he likes it.
So the difference between selling an instrument such as this privately or a Steinway privately in terms of time may not be as significant as some think.

Having said this, when we talk about older Steinways, compare to other instrument (with the only exception of maybe Mason & Hamlin), it is easy and fast to sell these, because dealers are willing to pay for them real money even before the restoration.
The amounts paid for these pianos though pre – restoration are very small in comparison to their post restoration price. A similar mahogany “L” from the 20’s, MAY have a value of up to $7,500 to dealers, depending on a few factors and assuming that no specialty work is needed that may render it worthless. The cost and level of restoration vary so greatly, so that the term “rebuilt” or “restored” means very little.
One can take this $7,500 piano, and spend $8-12K for a patch up job he’d call “restoration”. The result is usually a less then a satisfactory musical instrument which is sold by the rebuilder for around 20K- 25K.

A true high-end restoration job may also be performed on this instrument, with a total cost nearing 30K. The rebuilders will later sell these instruments for over 40K.
Of course, anything in between is also available.

In any case, the value of the instrument pre restoration is relatively small, while other makers like Chickering, Knabe, Baldwin etc, have very little value to dealers once in need of restoration, and they’d usually pay only few hundred dollars for these, if anything at all.

In any case, I have advised and will advise again to all readers…Do NOT attempt to buy any instrument older then 20 years of age privately. Although some have done OK with purchases of older instruments, for each and every person that did OK, I see at least 10 others that got burned really badly.
If one is looking into the older pianos market, and the rebuilt market in particular, make sure you choose your dealer very, very carefully.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
#174775 - 09/28/06 08:48 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Ori, [/b] Re my original post in this thread, I do believe that you're rendering a great service by pointing out the time value of a private transaction and - in your most recent post - the likely result of having to contend with people who use IvoryTreasure's negotiating strategy. Still, I'm glad that he posted his experiences. Your experience is much broader and should benefit more people, but there is a niche for "machers," and Ivory has given them usable advice.

Top
#174776 - 09/28/06 09:10 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
Fogvillad,
I actually agree with the essence of your remarks.
There IS a place for "machers", and I have met quite a few fo these in this business.
Some however, are knowledgeable and professional, and as a result can actually help their customers. Others however, seem to be bent on spreading "wisdom" they really don't have and damaging their customers.

My issue with Ivorytreasurs remark was because he had taken the bad advice approach two step further.
One, he came here, presuming to have knowledge about the subject, and was spreading misinformation to the masses. Because he claims that he is a performing "pianist", novices may relate weight to his bad advice, and this potentially can hurt them, and anyone else that comes in contact with them later and is exposed to the malignant virus he infected them with...the belief that they actually KNOW something when in reality what they learned from him is utter nonsense.

The second thing that prompted me to write this post was that he prompted his misinformation as an "article". Well, articles imply that some thought, knowledge and research went into the piece, and it was obvious that little knowledge or research, if any at all, was in it.

I think that people like Ivorytreasurs should be more careful when they try to export their knowledge. I believe that he is definitely in the stage of asking questions rather then giving answers, and if he chooses to broadcast his opinion, as ridiculous as it may be, he shouldn't do it attribute to it the weight of an "article", but rather state that its just his opinion.


By the way, Fogvillad, I always appreciate the kind, polite and understated manner in which you voice your opinions.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
#174777 - 09/28/06 09:32 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
bkkmd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/06
Posts: 304
Loc: Bangkok, Thailand
Ori, thanks for the clarification. I wish the situation is similar in Bangkok, it would make my life so much easier \:\)
Hopefully when the buying power over here is better, people will look at piano a bit more differently and are willing to look at other things rather than Yamaha and Steinway. In the mean time, the price of some other brands look very very attractive when quality vs price is taken into consideration. I just won't be able to impress my neighbor very much with my equavalent Spitzenbacher \:\) An Ebony finished Hamburg Steinway B overhere is retailed at around $US110,000 before haggling. I guess I won't be going to look at a Steinway anytime soon anyhow. Other brands, the price seems to be within 10-20% of the suggested retail price in Fine's book with bit of room for negotiation.

Top
#174778 - 09/28/06 10:18 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
Bkkmd,
I wish you luck and success in finding a great piano. The "Steinway affect" on the fallboard definitely have a value too, often, a greater value to buyers than they are willing to admit.
The Steinways being sold in Bangkok though, are the Hamburg Steinway rather then the American pianos. Many feel that although these are more expensive then NY Steinways, the German pianos are superior and represent better value. Others feel differently.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
#174779 - 09/28/06 10:37 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
schoy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 15
Loc: San Diego
Ori,
I do not disagree with respect to any OBJECTIVE portions of your posts (probably because I myself do not have sufficient knowledge of the resale market of pianos). While I am not overtly defending Ivorytreasures, what I do object with, Ori, is the following implication of your post: That non-experts should never give advice ("It is that although you may be able to play the piano, you still have little understanding of the business and how it works, yet are bent on offering advice, which is potentially damaging to consumers").

A person's advice, almost by definition, is subjective, in that it is based solely on the experience and knowledge of that particular person. Does anyone have perfect information about any field, even they are considered "experts"? No. Do you have perfect information about the piano resale market? No. You even admitted that you only have "knowledge and expertise in regards to the particular area of the USA [that you're] located in, the greater NYC area and the North Eastern US". But then, in apparent hypocrisy, you state that "The likelihood is that buyers seeking private instruments ...", AS IF your advice represent the majority of buyers ("likelihood" being defined as "more often than not" or more than 50% of the time).

Thus, to me, your post, while illuminating, also smacks of being "Illuminati", even bordering on arrogance. Just because someone has less experience or knowledge than you doesn't (nor should it mean) that that person should "start doing some reading rather then writing, and try to gain knowledge instead of spreading misinformation". To me, that's being a little unfair. I mean, I could make the same response to you: Because you don't have 100% accurate knowledge and experience in the field, perhaps YOU should spend more time reading rather than giving advice -- I'm sure there are many theses and articles that you haven't read on the piano resale market, nor have you performed the full worldwide statistic analysis required to give perfectly informed advice. Now I know that you're not asking Ivorytreasures to achieve 100% information (because you don't have 100% information), you are asking him to have the same information and experience as you. And that, to me, is simply arrogant.

Ivorytreasures serves a valuable resource for those close to him. He is a professional pianist, and thus plays more pianos, more often, than most buyers will in their lifetimes. So people will naturally come to him to obtain advice. And so he dispenses it. And then he comes to this forum and reports his (admittedly, very few) findings. If you disagree with his conclusion, fine, give us the arguments. But then to interject with a statement that Ivorytreaures stop dispensing "misinformation" ... well, that's just rude.

Top
#174780 - 09/28/06 11:10 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
Schoy,
I'm sorry that you took my remarks this way, but please read carfully these comments I have posted before on this thread again.
I write here nothing new, it has all already been said.

"I’ll try to explain here why I hold a different opinion.
I have heard the “resale value” story, in regards to Steinway all too many times, and I think that its time someone will point out why this marketing story, that may seem reasonable enough at first glance, crashes in the face of reality.

I don’t just pull my opinion about the matter out of a hat, but base it upon extensive experience in buying and selling many mid range and higher end pianos, including many, many Steinways.
I also base my opinion upon many conversations I have, practically on a daily basis, with people who want to sell their pianos (either privately or to a dealer), and have personally heard from buyers and sellers about THEIR own experiences involving the selling and buying of hundreds of different instruments, privately or through dealers.
In addition, I base my opinion on talking to other dealers with similar experiences, as well as their willingness, and mine, to “put the money where the opinion is”.

You see, for me it isn’t just an abstract opinion. I deal with buying and selling instruments on a daily basis. If I didn’t have a firm idea over true values of instruments in this market, I probably wouldn’t do in this in this business as well as I do."


Both consumers and dealers can benefit from good information, and both can be hurt by bad info.
I believe that an educated customer, presented with the facts is the best customer. I also believe that all people have a right to their opinion, but when you initially wrote yours as an “article”, it was clear to me that it not only contained misinformation and bad advice which is potentially harmful to consumers, but it wasn’t based on any research or was based in reality.


...he prompted his misinformation as an "article". Well, articles imply that some thought, knowledge and research went into the piece, and it was obvious that little knowledge or research, if any at all, was in it.


[/b] I believe that these comments already answered much of your remarks, before they were even written. I apologize that these were drowned in all my long posts.
I could add to this though, that the piano business is my business, and my expertise.
And although some of it is subjective, a lot is not a matter of opinion, but rather of facts and reality. A lot more actually then most people think.

In any case, when I go to a Doctor to seek medical advice I ask a lot of questions and listen to the answers carefully.
I rely on his advice to make the decisions that fit me the best.
When I'm involved in a real estate transaction and seek legal advice, I ask a lot of questions and listen carefully to my lawyer. I rely on his advice to make the decisions that fit me the best.

When both the Doctor and lawyer are coming to me in their piano search, they relay their needs, and listen carefully to my expert advice.
They rely on my advice and let me help them find the instrument that is right for them based on what is important to them.

I feel no shame taking the advice of experts in their field.
They feel no shame taking advice from me, in my field of expertise.

My advice to anyone who read these unfortunate comments made by Ivorytreausers is to disregard them completely since they don’t pass the test of logic and reality.
In my opinion, at this stage, his advice has the same value in this field as mine would have in the medical field after reading some superficial medical Journals and advertisements.

You can form your own opinion by yourself.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
#174781 - 09/29/06 01:23 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
 Quote:
It was the fact that I couldn't afford the [Steinway] price tag that caused me to look harder, think harder and become more level headed.

In the end I spent far less money and am happier than imaginable with the what I bought- our Estonia 190 is just so lovely.
End of confusion city.

And *appreciation* hokus pokus.... \:D

Norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

Top
#174782 - 09/30/06 01:30 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
LJC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 1516
Loc: New York
Of course you realize if Mrs. Jones wanted to trade her Model L up to a B they would allow the retail she paid to Steinway for the L as a trade in. This is another example of Steinway's marketing machine. I have no idea if any other manufacturers do that. BTW Steinway gave me the same deal with my previously owned Steinway, probably correctly calculating that I was unlikely to ever trade for anything.

Top
#174783 - 09/30/06 10:38 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
LJC,
An interesting point, however, there isn't always an advantage there for Steinway.
In my business, for example, we offer the same trade up policy as Steinway. Also, we have fixed, non-negotiable prices with considerable discounts from MSRP’s, that our customers pay when they buy the pianos, so this upgrade is very real.

My understanding of Steinway’s upgrade policy is that if Mrs. Jones wanted to upgrade her Mahogany "L" for a Mahogany "B", she'd be required to add $18,500. ($74,500 - $65,000 = $18,500)
She'd still have now $74,500 in her new "B", and still face a very grim situation in terms of "resale value" of it.
So affectively, after she paid close to full MSRP on her first purchase, she'll now be paying MSRP on the new instrument.

For comparison (and since I can speak only for my business I'll use some real life examples from it), if Mrs. Jones had bought an Estonia 5'6 from our company, she'd be paying for her upgrade less then $5,000...
Granted, the wholesale price of the Estonia 5'6 and 6'3 is less than that of a Steinway "L" and Steinway "B", however, if Mrs. Jones bought a Bluthner from our company, and instrument which cost substantially more at the wholesale level then NY Steinway, and then upgraded it within the equivalent size range she'd STILL be paying for her upgrade considerably less than she would for the Steinway upgrade.

Of course, I know that fixed, non negotiable prices is not exactly the standard in the piano industry, and that almost always the "upgrading policies" given by dealers are worthless because now they can squeeze the consumer to pay prices that are much closer to MSRP then they would if they wanted to buy the piano without their trade in (and by the way this is true also for regular traded in pianos bought elsewhere).
I am also well aware that the system of fixed, non-negotiable prices has many drawbacks from a dealer's point of view, unless ALL the area dealers of that brand (such as in Steinway's case) have the same policy.
However, I chose to work this way because it has advantages too, and I believe that it is helping consumers be comfortable with their purchases. It also allows us to offer a REAL upgrading policy. The difference is, that unlike Steinway, they don't have to pay MSRP the first time they buy their pianos, nor the second time.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
#174784 - 09/30/06 10:48 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
pianistical Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/04
Posts: 1377
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Ori,

Would you say that Blüthners are more expensive to make than NY Steinways? The wholesale prices seem to indicate that.
_________________________
“There are only two important things which I took with me on my way to America, It´s been my wife Natalja and my precious Blüthner.” – Sergei Rachmaninov

1913 Blüthner model 6
1929 Blüthner model 9.
1955 Steingraeber upright.

Top
#174785 - 09/30/06 11:35 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
Reading and responding to LJC’s interesting point also led me to another issue that is related to the initial pricing and eventually the resale value too.
This is the cost that Steinway is charging for their wood finishes.
My opinion is that who ever is setting the prices at Steinway feels they get remarkable prices for wood finish upgrades, far beyond what most of the industry is charging.

For example (and using the 2006 -2007 Larry Fine price supplement).
A NY Steinway “A” Ebony at 6’2 has an MSRP of $59,400.
The same instrument with a “Bubinga” finish is $74,700.

So now, since Steinways are being sold at list or close to it, the affective cost for the wood finish is about $15,000 ($74,700 – 59,400 = $15,300).
Let’s take now a 6’3 Estonia in Ebony, with an MSRP of $34,650.
The same Estonia in Bubinga has an MSRP of $40,320.
So, $40,320 - $34,650 = $5670, but since Estonias, like most other pianos are not being sold for full MSRP, lets take the average discount Fine is talking about in his supplement for these pianos (20%), and apply it to the price difference between the Ebony and Bubinga finishes. $5,670 – 20% = $4,536.

Hmmm…so let’s see. For the same size instrument it seems that one would have to pay more $15,000 to get a Bubinga finish upgrade, while less only about $4,500 for the Estonia. More then three times the difference.
Further more, I would put the quality of the veneer work done at the Estonia factory any day of the week for comparison with that of the NY Steinway, and it is my personal opinion at least, is that the Estonia’s finish work have a definite advantage over that of the NY Steinway.

OK, I can see though that some would say this isn’t a fair comparison, Estonia enjoys a considerable advantage in work rate over a Steinway, allowing them to spend many hours and “fuss” over their pianos and finish work at a much smaller cost.

So let’s take another example, again, using Fine’s newest supplement.
A 6’10 Steinway “B” in Ebony is priced at $66,300. The SAME piano in Ebony Macassar is…$102,500.
So $102,500 - $66,300 = $36,200.

It seems that if these instruments are indeed sold at or near list prices, Steinway is charging about $36,000 for this wood finish upgrade.
This is $36,000 for the VENEER work…

Now lets look at Bluthner in Macassar, at 6’10, Bluthner has an MSRP of about $91,600..
The same piano in Macassar finish has an MSRP of about $102,250.
The price difference between the finishes is $10650. But wait, let’s apply the expected discount of 20%, since no educated consumer would even dream of paying MSRP or close to it on any other instrument except Steinway in our market, and the veneer upgrade charge is smaller. $10,650 – 20% = $8520.
So for Maccasar finish it is reasonable to expect that a Bluthner dealer may charge about $8,500, and a Steinway dealer may charge $36,000…four times more.
Again, I’ll put the finish work at the Bluthner factory against that of the Steinway any day of the week, and twice on Sunday…and the German worker is probably not getting paid less than at the NY Steinway factory either.


But I guess that if Steinway can charge, and get these prices for their wood finishes then all the power to them, they know their customers the best and know how much they are willing to pay for the wood veneer upgrades in order for these to fit their décor.

To be fair to Steinway, I must point the Macassar finish is exceptionally expensive in their price list. However, if we made the same calculation and comparison to the Bubinga or Rosewood finishes, for example, still one would have to pay 2 and a half to three and a half times more for the veneer work at NY Steinway than at the Bluthner factory in Germany.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
#174786 - 09/30/06 11:46 AM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
chopin952 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/06
Posts: 492
Loc: North Carolina
Great post Ori (for dealers).
Great post IvoryTreasures (for consumers).

Ori, it seems you are in disagreement because IvoryTreasures is advising consumers to buy brands you do not sell? Are you really concerned about us consumers obtaining misinformation or are you only worried about your business thriving with your particular brands? Would you be playing a different tune if you were a new S&S dealer? I know you restore S&S, but I presume it's not your main focus. Isn't it beneficial to you for IvoryTreasures to claim those brands are more resalable, so that you can buy a Steinway L from Mrs. Jones for $26K and sell it for $45K?

As schoy said, not everyone is perfectly knowledgeable and informed, and it seems rather unfair to claim that one is qualified to give advice about buying pianos only if they have decades of experience in the business. I came to this forum to read advice from anyone and everyone. I also look to consumer advice before dealer advice. Consumers without ties to the business of selling pianos I believe have an agenda: buying a quality instrument for the best price. I believe dealers also have an agenda: buying low, selling high, and maintaining good reputation in any public forum. We are both also in the business of feeding our families and keeping a good roof over our heads, not just dealers.

I bought a used Steinway because of the sound, and because new ones are overpriced. I hate that about new S&S, and I hope your prediction of them going to ACTUAL selling prices comes true. I would have bought an Estonia if they made a 7' model. I didn't get a chance to try out Bluthner, Steingraeber, or Hamburg Steinways, but I hear they are all more expensive. I found no other piano attractive in tone, touch, and look in the size I wanted after a 3 month search.

Ori, I have a lot of respect for you. Thank you for the wealth of knowledge you can provide us all, but I don't think you have to try to silence anyone. If you think any "advice" threatens your business, simply request people add disclaimers to their posts: "All brands suck except Spitzenbacher. My advice is subjective. Please visit your nearest dealers, try out all brands, and come to your own conclusions."

IvoryTreasures, thank you for the posts, but you need to make sure you add proper disclaimers that your articles are actually opinions, so that you don't tick off any dealers \:\)
_________________________
-chopin952 (NY S&S B) (On YouTube)

Top
#174787 - 09/30/06 12:31 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
Chopin952,
It isn't about me or just my business being threatened by misinformation .
I have plenty of Steinways in my inventory, from all vintages, and I can always decide on what part of my business to "focus". Since you yourself, however, suggest that new Steinways are overpriced you can understand why I like to present other options to my customers too.

However, I think that the advice that Ivorytreasurs gave CONSUMERS was very, very bad.
I think that had consumers acted on his advice and bought new Steinways for "resale value" they'd be very disappointed when the time to sell arrived.
I also can understand that Ivory, which after my initial post in this thread corrected himself, and pointed out that he only meant to say that USED Steinway's have good resale values, but to me it only looked like an indirect way of admitting his mistake (after all, he mentioned young Chang too as a good "resale value").

Now, i don't try to silence anyone and have explained it before with details. But I won't stand by when someone is spreading very bad advice as an "article" rather then his own opinion, which by his own admission is based on a very, very limited experience.

Now, you also however, are trying to enter my brain and "analyze the reasons for which I post what I post.
I think that this is a very dangerous road to take, and one that routinely degenerates threads.
Please, your opinion is valuable as anyone else’s, but I would ask you to relate to the facts or opinions I'm presenting, rather then to what you believe is my motivation.

And just to make it very clear once more.
I'm always in favor of the consumer to know as much as possible. Anyone who searches and reads my posts, whether now or in the past finds a lot of information their, often information that dealers don't want out.
The more consumers know, the better it is for my business. This is my philosophy, so I find the "idea" of being either pro consumer or pro dealer, baseless.
I found myself often, correcting misinformation and providing information on this forum that made a lot of people in the industry, including many dealers very upset.

My name is always attached to the bottom of my posts, and I’m always willing to be accountable for what I say, and therefore take the time to go to details in my posts so that no reasonable people could misinterpret them and could understand what is my opinion and what is fact.

If you don't agree with my opinion, please say so and explain why.
If you don't agree with the factual numbers I present, please state so and hopefully provide some factual basis to your claims.

However, please don't analyze my motivations or try to pick my brain.
All I will tell you about it is that your guesses about what goes in my brain are wrong, so please move on to discuss the facts or explain why you hold YOUR opinions.

I thank you for your other comments though, and think taht your advice to Ivory and others about the disclaimer is a good one, I just ask you to please not open the door for derailing threads to personal levels. \:\)
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
#174788 - 09/30/06 12:40 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
My biggest problem with Ivorytreasures (sorry, Ivorytreasures.com[/b]) is his statement that "Americans are most of the time clueless about quality".

Yet he markets himself in the US! :rolleyes:
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

Top
#174789 - 09/30/06 12:57 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3316
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by whippen boy:
My biggest problem with Ivorytreasures (sorry, Ivorytreasures.com[/b]) is his statement that "Americans are most of the time clueless about quality".

Yet he markets himself in the US! :rolleyes: [/b]
My American clients are incredibly insightful and perceptive when it comes to quality. Or, perhaps, I am the clueless one. I'd post more, but I have to wipe the drool off of my chin.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

Top
#174790 - 09/30/06 01:16 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10471
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Ori, this is a very good thread. You initial post and follow-ups are excellent and on point.

Thank you for taking the time to detail the myth.
And, for providing the logic that shoppers can use to accuartely sift through the "investment" issues.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

Top
#174791 - 09/30/06 02:29 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Ori, this is a good thread. It would be helpful I think to very briefly bullet point your salient remarks if you have time, and then we can ask the moderators to post that as a FAQ answer. There is such a lot here that it really needs summarising.

Incidentally I completely agree that Steinway special finishes are ludicrously expensive. I have always been amazed by this but from what I see in showrooms the vast, vast majority of new pianos in the A, B, D range (C's are rare) in Europe are in gloss black.

Used pianos seem to have either zero or minimal extra value for being in a special veneer, so this apparently makes the depreciation worse.

I also consider that S&S is overpriced (in Europe), but I also see and hear signs of much greater discounting willingness than there apparently used to be.

In any event from a consumer perspective it is a bit crazy to buy a new Tier 1 piano as opposed to a newish used one (if one can be found) as the price differentials are substantial. Of course, finding a lightly used D that is just a few years old (or a Fazioli or Bosie etc for that matter) is easier said than done. Quite easy to locate ex rental Yamaha CFIIIS though (probably in need of cosmetic work) at amazing prices. This can be a cheap route to a pro quailty concert grand in the Steinway D mould?

Anyway, good post.

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


Top
#174792 - 09/30/06 04:07 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
chopin952 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/06
Posts: 492
Loc: North Carolina
 Quote:
Originally posted by Ori:
Now, you also however, are trying to enter my brain and "analyze the reasons for which I post what I post.[/b]
Ori, I apologize if I sounded too personal and I'm glad disclosure on this forum prevents people from anonymously misleading others with damaging advice. I definitely keep proportionate quantities of salt handy as I read advice from dealers, consumers, or self-promoted know-it-alls. I'll try to keep my thoughts on poster's intentions to myself.

Back to the topic.

Do you believe all piano brands have equal resalability if they were bought at a fair price? Given that there is always another person with similar tastes and would buy your brand of piano. If S&S comes down from the clouds and you could buy a new NY B for, say, $45K instead of $68K. Would you say that a Spitzenbacher (or any other brand) bought at $45K is just as easily resold? If other brands could hype their instruments over 150 years as much as the "immortal" Steinway, the ubiquitous Yamaha, or the reliable Kawai, would people's top 5 resalable pianos simply be a different list?
_________________________
-chopin952 (NY S&S B) (On YouTube)

Top
#174793 - 09/30/06 06:43 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
#174794 - 09/30/06 06:54 PM Re: Piano pricing, resale value and Steinway in particular
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
 Quote:
Originally posted by chopin952:
[QUOTE]

Do you believe all piano brands have equal resalability if they were bought at a fair price? Given that there is always another person with similar tastes and would buy your brand of piano. If S&S comes down from the clouds and you could buy a new NY B for, say, $45K instead of $68K. Would you say that a Spitzenbacher (or any other brand) bought at $45K is just as easily resold? If other brands could hype their instruments over 150 years as much as the "immortal" Steinway, the ubiquitous Yamaha, or the reliable Kawai, would people's top 5 resalable pianos simply be a different list? [/b]
Chopin952,
No, I don't believe that all pianos have equal resale values, if bought at the same relation to the wholesale cost.
Some would hold better value then others, and for different reasons.

I would not like to go here into details about what instruments I believe have better resale value then others, but generally speaking, I'm not a great fan of the low end market, in any shape or form.
When we talk about % drop in value, this is a market where the drop is the most significant.
My opinion is that no matter how many times one multiply zero...it is still a zero, and enough said.
On the other hand, this is the market that in $ terms, there is relatively little to lose.
20% out of $50,000 is more in dollars than 80% out of $10,000.

The second and more important issue however, is that speaking generally, I believe that there is a shift in recent years in the receptiveness of the public to different brands, and this can, and already is, in my opinion, changing the market dramatically, and also in terms of resale value.

I believe that name recognition was much more important only a few years ago then it is now, and that it will diminish in importance over the next years too. I say this in regards to new AND used instruments.

I will explain my thoughts.
Speaking very generally, one can divide the market to two major groups (of course there are many other ways to divide it, but I'm talking in this specific sense).
One group is investing an enormous amount of money into building themselves a name recognition.
These manufacturers (directly or through their network of dealers) may sponsor hundreds, if not thousands of artists. Providing them with support and free instruments wherever they play.
They may sell instrument at wholesale rates to institutions (essentially making them "sub dealers" since these often sell their pianos a few years down the road), or even supply pianos free of charge on a "loan" basis, and replacing them afterwards. They may also spend the money on advertising and marketing, pointing out that all these institutions and artists "chose" to play their pianos.
These manufacturers will lend pianos free to festivals, TV shows, films, or other public venues with high visibility...sometimes maybe even paying for positioning their instruments in front of the public.
These makers spend enormous amount of money on marketing...but in the end, who do you think is paying the bill for these marketing programs? You guessed it, the consumer.

The other group of manufacturers is much more modest about spending their marketing dollars.
The budgets they work with are far, far smaller.
Instead, they try to invest that money into their pianos, making it what they believe is a better product for the money, or a better value.

Through history, it seemed that the companies with big advertising budgets did better in the sense of making more money.
But something happened in the recent decade that may have changed the picture.
The Internet.
It isn’t a matter of just this site, or other sites, but it is much broader then that.
Only ten years ago, most people knew of only few companies when they started shopping for pianos.
Topping the list in terms of name recognition were Steinway and Yamaha.

Today also, people recognize the same few brands more than others. However, their search habits have changed. Once they decide to look for a piano, many seem to make more research, which is tremendously easier to perform these days on the web.
I think that the average consumers today are A LOT more educated in comparison to those shopping for a piano a decade ago.
Once they do some research, they find out that Chocolate and vanilla are not the only flavors for ice-cream.
Consumers today learn much faster that there are also chocolate chip, pecan and cherry ice-cream flavors, in addition to many others.

These consumers are setting out to taste the different flavors and then decide where to spend their money. This is a major change from not too long time ago, when people set out from the beginning of the search to buy a Chocolate ice cream, and if they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) afford it, “settle” for vanilla…
More and more consumers for pianos don’t just spend their dollars anymore on “selecting” the features of their chocolate ice-cream. Whether it is in Ebony or Mahogany, or whether it is 5’11 or 6’11…
They want to get a good PIANO.

Personally, within MY business I feel an amazing shift, and this trend is growing every year.
Only a few years ago the majority of the customers coming here said that they always “wanted” a Steinway.
They weren’t necessarily willing to pay the price…but they said that they always “had the dream” of owning a Steinway. A very large portion of our customers came in ONLY in order to play our Steinways and in order to “select” one from the many we have available.
They wanted to try nothing else.

Now, however, things are very different.
Many people who come here state right of the bat that they are NOT interested in a Steinway, and feel that they are overpriced and have better options out there.
Also, while still a large portion of our customers are coming to us to try Steinway pianos, more and more of them are receptive to trying different instruments too, and ending choosing instruments other then Steinway even if their initial intentions were to “select” one.
I also see a very different pattern between the consumers who I feel have made their research, and others who still go by the old pattern of “chocolate and Vanilla” flavors.

Now, make no mistake, Steinways can be great pianos too, and there are those who prefer chocolate ice-cream over any other flavor…but then again, I see the general picture changing rapidly, and faster than most people imagine, with the result of many more people choosing different flavors over chocolate, regardless of price, and sometimes paying more for their ice cream of their choice then for the chocolate flavor they thought until recentely was "the standard taste".

So this brings me to Chopin952’s question.

If S&S comes down from the clouds and you could buy a new NY B for, say, $45K instead of $68K. Would you say that a Spitzenbacher (or any other brand) bought at $45K is just as easily resold?

[/b]

Well, the answer really depends on what level of instruments are available in comparison, and if the trend that has developed, and in my opinion is growing every year will continue.
The real question that needs to be asked is if at 45K a Steinway “B” is a good instrument at all in comparison to instruments that are available near that same price range, or if there is a clear preference for it as an instrument over other pianos offered for less (or if it is less favored clearly in regards to other instruments for more).

Mind you, for this general price range of around 45K for a piano in the 7’ range, one could most likely get a lot of interesting pianos such as Mason & Hamlin, August Forster or Grotrian…all “certified” tier one pianos by Fine (rated by him higher then Steinway if it matters to anyone), or for a considerable amount less one could have the slightly smaller 6’3 Estonia as well as other instruments like Sauter, Haessler, Seiler or Schimmel.

One should ask if they prefer the “B” over all these instruments in this price range before they buy, rather than be blinded by a sudden “price drop” in Steinway prices if (or when as I predict that NY Steinways won’t be able to be sold for much longer at these prices with no significant changes and that their actual selling prices will gradually fall) it happens.

One should compare these Steinways to instruments that cost similarly in the wholesale level, and see if they’d actually prefer it, rather then think that if they get one for 20% off list…it’s a great “deal”.
If you like the Steinway better then good, but if you like something else better in the 45K range or less (or like something else for less), than one shouldn’t care too much if the price dropped from 68K to 45K.

I’m sure, however, that a price drop such as this, had occurred, WOULD increase Steinway sales dramatically, at least in the short term. Not just because more people who like them could buy them, and not just because people who preferred other instruments that used to be price at Steinway current levels more will find the difference too great…but because a lot of people will initially think that at 45K, a "B" is a “deal” not to be past on.
However, after a few years the market will get used to these prices and the old higher prices will mean little…of course, unless you bought one at the high prices and wanted to sell it after the price drop, which will make for a very poor “resale value” indeed.

If the trend of looking into other instruments while searching for pianos continues (as I believe it will), it may very well be that the legend of Steinway will run out of air, and that the bubble, like any other bubble will burst.
Personally, I think that this time is closer then most people think.
But these are just my thoughts..
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

Top
Page 1 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 >

Moderator:  Ken Knapp, Piano World, Rickster 
What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
-------------------
PIANO BOOKS
Interesting books about the piano, pianists, piano history, biographies, memoirs and more!
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
144 registered (ajames, accordeur, Allard, amin, 42 invisible), 1421 Guests and 22 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
76042 Members
42 Forums
157233 Topics
2309352 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Player Piano Bellows Question
by UnrightTooner
09/02/14 09:40 AM
do you memorize a piece when you learn to play it?
by Peter071
09/02/14 06:13 AM
Which classical (piano) music may I like?
by Stefo
09/02/14 05:50 AM
When to compose?
by noobpianist90
09/02/14 04:16 AM
First Recordings on the New Steinway!
by Markarian
09/02/14 04:11 AM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

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


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