PIANO REVIEW NEWS - Acoustic Grand Pianos

UPDATE: July 1, 2011 - Did you know there are about 50 different acoustic & digital piano brands these days (give or take a few)? That's not really a lot because there were literally hundreds in years gone by. Many of the older brands have gone out of business or simply stopped selling in America altogether.  I've talked about this before, but when it comes to most OFF-brand pianos, the advice I give is to "stay away" There are many reasons for this, but the 5 biggest reasons are:

1. The key action plays bad and doesn't respond to velocity changes well
2. The reproduction of the piano sound is bad (ie: tinny, shrill, thin, inconsistent, etc)
3. Some brands use old, antiquated piano technology because it's cheaper
4. Parts and repair service are hard to get and some brands simply are unreliable
5. Resale value is bad

This would be true for both acoustic & digital brands. Many brands are made in China (a good place to make pianos as long as there is good oversight and quality control), Italy, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Germany, Russia, Sweden, France, U.S., the Czech Republic, Austria, Canada, and other countries. And one thing is for sure...the good acoustic pianos keep going up in price and the good digital pianos are improving in quality while costing less. Some pianos are priced really cheap and they show it. You generally get what you pay for, but price isn't everything.

My 4 favorite digital piano brands are Kawai, Casio, Yamaha, and Roland (with some made in Japan, China, & Italy). There are a few others behind those that I like which I call the 2 K's (Kurzweil and Korg in that order), but the first 4 brands cover it very well and have superior product.

My favorite acoustic piano brands these days (in different price ranges) are Steinway, Mason Hamlin,Yamaha, Kawai, Petrof, Young Chang, Samick, and Wyman. There are other good pianos out there as well, but in their price categories, I like these best. Many of the new Yamaha & Kawai pianos as well as the Steinway Essex (from the Pearl River company) are now made in China, when they all used to be made exclusively in Japan or Korea. Even the Japanese have some of their models made in China now...so it can't be all bad can it?:)... although I have played some newer, lower priced Kawai Baby Grands that didn't sound good or play well (in my opinion - and we were surprised by that) and even had reports of cracking soundboards in the past from some local dealers. That simply means that it's not the country but the quality of the builder. Domestic Steinway's are still individually hand-built in New York. Each Steinway is slightly different than the next which is typical of hand-built custom pianos. So when you purchase one, you must be careful because of those differences, unlike production line pianos which tend to be more consistent (which is not a bad thing).

I put Wyman piano company on the list because when it comes to lower priced acoustic grand pianos, they are very nice in my opinion as compared to other brands. The Wyman's are produced in China in a very large and experienced piano factory with years of  piano building.

In other piano news, Baldwin was purchased awhile ago by the Gibson guitar company (you know the Les Paul's, etc) and Gibson shut down all U.S. production and is making all pianos now in China as far as I know. The "new" Baldwin's including their other brand called Howard, don't come close to the quality of the older U.S. made models and are (in my opinion) just adequate as far as Chinese built pianos. So much for American built pianos anymore. There are just a few now and they cost big bucks.

Stay tuned for more news and contact me at tim@azpianowholesale.com.

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