Pro’s and Con’s of Pre-Owned Pianos

FEATURED PIANIST: Daniil Trifonov – 22 year old sensation

Pro’s and Con’s of Pre-Owned Pianos

First in a series of articles with helpful information on buying a piano

For most households the purchase of an acoustic piano represents one of the largest investments one will ever make for the home. Because of the variety of options available it is difficult and confusing to determine what is best for each individual buyer.

Some of the common questions are …
Should the piano be new or is a pre-owned piano okay?
Should I buy a digital or acoustic piano?
How much should I spend?
What are the best brands?
What brands hold their value the best?
What size piano?
What are the maintenance costs?

These are just a few examples of what needs to be considered prior to the purchase. The buyer first has to clarify the reason for the purchase.

 Common reasons for purchasing …
A child has been taking lessons and has an ongoing interest in continuing to learn
It is a nice piece of furniture
Someone in the home plays wants to use it for their enjoyment or entertainment
It is a status symbol of success

This article is specifically about the benefits and considerations when buying a used, pre-owned or second-hand piano. We have prepared a number of articles to assist you in better understanding the world of available pianos and what to consider before purchasing. We hope this will help you in making your decision as you try to resolve the issues that are most on your mind in preparing to purchase your instrument.

COST IS THE BIGGEST BENEFIT
First and foremost, a pre-owned piano has already been subject to depreciation since it is no longer new. Saying that, some of the most prestigious piano makers – Steinway & Sons and Bosendorfer, for example – can actually appreciate over time … but these would be the most exclusive pianos with almost unlimited price tags. For the average buyer there is great value in well-maintained pre-owned pianos and pre-owned pianos are roughly half the cost of new pianos of the same make and model. This applies to top of the line and less expensive models from grand pianos to uprights.

CHECKIST OF CONSIDERATIONS
Serial Number
Each piano has a unique serial number. Locate the number and ask your dealer who can tell you when and where the piano was made as well as whether or not replacement parts are available.

Year of Manufacturing
It is rare to find a piano built before 1900 that is practical as a functioning instrument. Buyer beware! Pianos built during the war years may have suffered from cut corners in construction because of the short supply of quality parts.

Hammers and Strings
Each treble key should cause a hammer to hit three strings simultaneously. The bass should have two strings for each key and the low base just one string per key.

Rust
Check for rust on the tuning pins. This will affect how well the instrument holds its tuning.

Dampers and Keys
Play each key individually. On release, the damper should fall back on the strings and stop them from sounding. The keys should not stick.

Tuning
Beware of pianos that are badly out of tune. Restoring them may be problematic.

Pedals
Press down the right hand damper pedal. This should raise all the dampers at once. It should not stick. Press down the left hand soft pedal. It should not stick or rattle. On most grand pianos, this should move the keyboard sideways, so that each hammer strikes only two strings instead of three. On uprights, it will move the hammers closer to the strings so that the striking force is lessened.

Soundboard Cracks
Minor cracks in the soundboard will not affect tonal quality. A crack in the metal plate should be avoided unless meticulously repaired.

Grand Pianos vs. Uprights
Most grand pianos are often in better shape than uprights. They’re made better to start with and treated better in general.

Whose piano was it?
Was is a serious student? Church? School? Tavern? A little-used showpiece? Over-used teaching tool? You can tell a lot about a piano by knowing its history.

How does it sound and play?
Play it. Listen to it. In the end, nothing can compare to the connection you make with the instrument that responds best to your touch.

Every type of piano is represented in the pre-owned piano market. Take your time and look around for the one that best suits you. Most piano owners are piano lovers of one kind or another … whether the instrument was played or a piece of furniture. The benefit to buyers is that the pianos have been care for … and, in most cases, reputable dealers have trained staff who work to re-condition pianos that require new parts, tuning, refinishing, etc.

Please let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to help.

thepianooutletco.com

 

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A Few Good Pianos … Part 1

ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Joel Fan – pianist/composer, joelfanmusic.com/

THE PIANO OUTLET DEAL OF THE WEEK: Steinway Rosewood Model A
1902  S/N 105619  $35,000

Contact Terry, pianos390@yahoo.com or 805-340-0608

*  *  *

Note: Consider this a consolidated overview of the past and present American piano manufacturers … a two-part series.

I. A Few Good Pianos …
II. Pro’s and Con’s of Pre-Owned Pianos

I. A FEW GOOD PIANOS …

SHORT HISTORY
About 125 years ago 25,000 pianos were being built each year in the United States. The end of the Civil War marked the beginning of the boom in piano manufacturing. The public loved their piano music. By the late 1800’s, Chickering estimated that their pianos were being played in nearly 80,000 homes throughout the country. They were just one piano manufacturer amongst hundreds that were to come and go in the 100 years or so between the mid 19th and 20th centuries.

Although some famous brands still exist today they are mostly produced overseas (China, Taiwan and Indonesia) where manufacturing costs are cheaper.

About 50 years ago American consumers were overwhelmed with all of the products being imported into the US with a large amount coming from Japan who was perceived much the same as China is today. “Made in Japan” was kind of a domestic joke and in the early days, whether it was true or not, it was synonymous with ‘cheap’ and ‘poorly made’.  The first Japanese car produced by Toyota was imported in 1957. Datsun (later Nissan) followed a year later. Although the Japanese had been manufacturing automobiles since Mitsubishi introduced their Model A in 1917 most Americans were skeptical of the quality of anything Japanese. It took many years to establish trust in the Japanese brands and today Toy0ta sells more cars than any US manufacturer.

Unfortunately, in the latter half of the 20th Centuray, the piano business went the way of many other American manufacturers … higher labor and material costs, competition from radio, phonograph records and television forced many owners to sell to international companies that could exploit the quality brand names regardless of whether or not the  same level of craftsmanship and components was maintained. To be fair, some overseas manufacturers – Kawai and Yamaha for example, have developed hard-earned respect for the high standard of their premium pianos and are, in fact, competitive with most traditional quality manufacturers.

The question for those who may be new piano enthusiasts as listeners, players or consumers, is what pianos are still American made and are they any good? Here are a few reliable companies that fit the bill. There are a handful of smaller quality manufacturers but, for the moment, here is a short list of major American piano makers:

 Steinway Ebony Satin REDUCED
STEINWAY & SONS

We have to start here since this is the standard by which most other pianos are judged. Heinrich Englehard Steinweg started making pianos in Germany in 1825 under his company name, Steinweg Pianos. He and his family emigrated to the US in 1850 where he continued as a piano maker and eventually, in 1853, changed the name of the company to Steinway & Sons. Since his time nearly every major pianist worldwide has performed on a Steinway piano in almost everyimportant venue. The Steinway family no longer owns the company which has changed hands several times. Samick Musical Instruments (SMC) is a large shareholder but there are several private equity firms vying for ownership and to take the company private. Steinway pianos are manufactured in the US and Germany. It is a proud heritage and they are recognized internationally for their high quality. More than almost all other brands, a Steinway will hold or increase in value over time because the standard of components and craftsmanship is that good!

mason and hamlin black baby grand
MASON & HAMLIN

In 1854. Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin joined forces to manufacture their new instrument called an organ harmonium. Mason’s family was well-established in the US. His father and brother were both recognized in their time as composers and pianists. Henry also played. Hamlin, on the other hand, was not a musician He was a mechanic and inventor who had discovered a way to make organ reeds sound like the violin, clarinet and other classical music instruments. They had no money when they started and their new organ (and other iterations of it) didn’t really work out, but in 1881 they started making pianos and never looked back. Another quality brand that has gone through some ownership changes over the years but is still made in the USA and has been since the foundation of the company.


Charles Walters piano
WALTER PIANO COMPANY

A relative newcomer to the industry, Mr. Charles Walter is an Illinois native with a background in engineering. He developed a keen interest in pianos – with a specific focus on the demands for acoustical design. After working for another firm for a number of years in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, Charles introduced his first piano, a 43″ upright. If ever there was a family-owned and operated company, this is it. And after 40 years of producing consistently high quality pianos, no one can argue with their success.

These are the Big Three. I noted earlier that there are a handful of other smaller manufacturers. Let me know if you’re interested in information about them and I’ll include it in another blog.

If there is any other information you need please feel free to send a comment and I’ll get back to you.

… next week we’ll talk about the Pro’s and Con’s of Pre-Owned Pianos …
Until then … make sure and play or listen to some new music this week!!!!

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2013 Labor Day Sale Going on Now!

August 31st through September 1st. Come in now and save.

Laborday

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Great Masters at the Keyboard: Beethoven

Beethoven for PT 8-2012

This article is reprinted from our publication “The Piano Times,” in honor of Beethoven, who died on March 26, 1827.

Are musical audiences more exacting today than they used to be?  In some respects, it would seem that the answer is in the affirmative.  At all events, the master pianists of today who make the grand tour are so worn out with the sheer physical stress of travel at the end of the season that they are obliged to spend the greater part of their summer vacation in recuperating.  Nevertheless, we do not today expect pianists to improvise on a given theme, as both Beethoven and Mozart were expected to do; in fact, we do not expect modern pianists to shine as composers, nor composers to be brilliant pianists.  The following account of how Beethoven played is extracted from an article by Henri Kling in Le Guide Musical, an excellent musical journal published in the early part of the twentieth century in Belgium.

From his adolescence, Beethoven possessed a virtuosity of the first order.  During the first years he was in Vienna from 1795 to 1814, Beethoven often had occasion to display his talents.  It was thus that on the 29th of March, 1795, Beethoven lent his assistance to the Society of Musical Artists, and played for the first time his Concerto in C Major, Op. 15.  A Viennese critic characterized the playing of Beethoven in the following terms: “His playing is bold, brilliant, full of impetuosity that at times compromised his clearness.  He shone above all in his improvisations, in which he excelled admirably.  Since the death of Mozart, who, for me, remains the non plus ultra, I have not experienced artistic delight comparable to that which Beethoven has given me.”

On the 22nd of December, 1808, Beethoven gave a recital at the Theater an der Wien, in which he interpreted for the first time his Concerto in E-flat Major, Op. 73.  An amusing incident recorded by Spohr in his Memories marks this memorable performance.  “Beethoven,” he says, “played a new concerto of his own, but after the first Initi, forgot that he was the soloist; he raised his hands and commenced to conduct with them.  At the first sforzando, he threw his arms so violently to the right and left that he knocked down the two candlesticks placed on the piano.  The audience laughed, and this put Beethoven in such a temper that he stopped the orchestra and made it begin over again.  Fearing that the same accident might happen a second time, Seyfried, the conductor, had two small boys stand on each side of Beethoven, each holding a candlestick.  One of these youngsters approached the master in good faith, his eyes following the music.  When the fatal sforzando was again reached, however, he received from Beethoven’s right hand such a resounding blow that he was terrified, and the poor boy allowed the candlestick to fall.  The other boy, with greater wisdom, had anxiously followed the movements of the master, and by dodging quickly had luckily managed to avoid the blow.  If the audience had laughed at the previous mishap, it fairly exploded at this one.  Beethoven became so furious that on the first chord at which the solo again entered, he broke half a dozen piano strings!  All the attempts on the part of music lovers in the hall to obtain silence were in vain.  Thus the first allegro of the concerto was entirely lost upon the audience.”

After the fashion of Mozart, Beethoven played only his own works in public; he composed five concertos for piano and orchestra which are admirable masterpieces in this style of composition.  One should also mention the Fantasia in C Minor for piano, chorus, and orchestra.

Thank you for visiting us at http://www.thePianoOutletCo.com, your source for new and good used acoustic pianos and new digital pianos for sale in Southern California and the Central Coast, and throughout San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and beyond!

 

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Kawai Spring Instant Rebate

Each spring, Kawai offers instant rebates of up to $1,000, on selected models of new acoustic or digital pianos, so now is a good time to buy a Kawai. This rebate program runs through March 31st. Come in now and see why Kawai is the choice of so many musicians and instrumental artists around the world.

Kawai SPRING_promo2013

Thank you for visiting us at http://www.thePianoOutletCo.com, your source for Kawai and other new and good used acoustic pianos and new digital pianos for sale in Southern California and the Central Coast, and throughout San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and beyond!

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NAMM Show 2013 Reflections

Held January 24-27 this year, the annual NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants) is a huge (90,000+) gathering of music retail and manufacturing representatives at the Anaheim Convention Center. These four days are a whirlwind and cacophonous mix of business deals, educational seminars and sessions, music performances, and well-known music celebrities.

The mission of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is “to strengthen the music products industry and promote the pleasures and benefits of making music.” NAMM’s vision, articulated on their website – www.namm.org – is that “We envision a world in which the joy of making music is a precious element of daily living for everyone; a world in which every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught; and in which every adult is a passionate champion and defender of that right.”  We certainly support that vision.

In addition to the Anaheim trade show (and a smaller Summer NAMM show in Nashville), where music retailers can find out about the latest and greatest products available, NAMM is a big supporter of music education. Part of their objectives are to “promote music education as a right for all children” and “create, fund and market programs, initiatives and public relations campaigns designed to encourage people of all ages to make music.” Worthy objectives indeed!

Thank you for visiting us at http://www.thePianoOutletCo.com, your source for new and good used acoustic pianos and digital pianos and keyboards for sale in Southern California and the Central Coast, and throughout San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and beyond!

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Yamaha P105 Digital Piano In Stock

Yamaha is known the world over for quality and reliability.  We just received a new Yamaha digital piano model – the P105.  Yamaha’s popular “P” Series digital pianos feature the “dynamic, high-quality sound and natural piano touch response” expected from Yamaha, as well as a “high-quality, built-in stereo speaker system” in a slim, lightweight package.

Some of the outstanding features of the P-105 digital piano are that it’s a

  • compact digital piano with Yamaha’s outstanding acoustic piano touch and tone;

  • portable, easy-to-use, and versatile for everyone from beginner to pro.

It’s available in both black and white finishes, either with or without an optional stand.

The specifications on this instrument include:

  • “Pianist Styles” to make “simple chords into exciting accompaniments, to fit your performance and help you sound great!”

  • Rhythm Features, “with basic drum patterns to put ‘fun’ back into practicing, or as a practical alternative to a metronome. “

  • “Piano Sounds,” using “Yamaha’s ‘Pure CF sound engine,’ a first for the P-series, with a piano sound that was recorded from Yamaha’s renowned CFIIIS concert grand piano, heard on stages all over the world.”

  • The P-105’s speakers are “built-in, true-circle speakers,” made to “vibrate naturally with good balance for full, rich, low frequencies,” as well as “newly added tweeters for a clear and brilliant sound. Together, they provide and excellent balance of power and clarity.”

  • The “Weighted Keyboard,” using Yamaha’s “Graded Hammer” technology, provides an “authentic touch,” so that, as on a traditional acoustic piano, has a “heavier touch on the keys of the lower notes, while the higher ones are more responsive to lighter playing. The keyboard’s sensitivity can even be adjusted to match your playing style.

  • With the P-105’s “Connectivity,” you can use “USB TO HOST to connect directly to your computer,” or an “AUX LINE OUT to hook up to a computer sound card, mixing console or powered speakers – great for recording or performing live. “

With its portability, great features, and terrific sounds, why wouldn’t you get this Yamaha P-105 digital piano, for a very affordable price?  Come in and see for yourself!

Thank you for visiting us at http://www.thePianoOutletCo.com, your source for Yamaha digital pianos and keyboards and new and good used acoustic pianos for sale in Southern California and the Central Coast, and throughout San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and beyond!

 

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Pearl River IPO Raises $100 Million

The Pearl River company, which makes Pearl River and Ritmüller pianos, announced the news that they have become a publicly traded company.  Here’s the press release:

PEARL RIVER PIANO GROUP Co., Ltd., China’s largest manufacturer of acoustic pianos, has completed an IPO on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, selling 48 million shares and raising $102,149,913. The share offering marks  the successful transition for Pearl River from a state-owned enterprise to a publicly owned stock company. Shares are now traded daily under the symbol 002678. Pearl River’s finances reveal a well-run, highly profitable organization that is benefiting from a surging domestic Chinese piano market.

For the most recent fiscal year, Pearl River sales advanced 19.4% to $185.2 million, which followed a 16% gain the previous year. The company’s gross profit has trended up over the last three years, indicating strong pricing power and factories operating at capacity. Gross profit in 2011 was $56.1 million, compared with $50.4 million in 2010, and $41 million in 2009. Profits for the calendar year ending December 31, 2011 were up 25% to $27.3 million.

Company president Shi Shao Bin and his executive team have run Pearl River with little outside financing. According to its latest reports, Pearl River has little long-term debt, and short-term liabilities stand at just $55.6 million. This conservative approach has allowed the company to build a substantial base of shareholder equity, which now stands at $145 million. Mr. Shi was recently named to the top post at the company following the retirement of Mr. Wang Run Pei.

Pearl River began more than 50 years ago, producing a mere four upright pianos a month. Since then it has become not only China’s best-known domestic brand, but also a top-seller throughout the world, accounting for 30% of the Chinese market, 18% of the American market, and 15% of the European market. Production has grown to more than 100,000 pianos each year in a factory covers three million square feet including a main building that’s seven stories tall and a quarter mile long. More than 2,000 skilled workers occupy a network of factories, foundries, lumberyards, and sawmills. The complex also includes a 90,000-square-foot testing and engineering lab with 200 technicians, most of whom have advanced degrees in areas such as adhesives, metallurgy, and chemistry.

The Piano Outlet is a Pearl River and Ritmüller dealer.

Thank you for visiting us at http://www.thePianoOutletCo.com, your source for Pearl River, Ritmüller, and other fine new and used acoustic pianos and new digital keyboards for sale in Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Nipomo, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Southern California and the Central Coast, and throughout San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and beyond!

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Yamaha New Portable Digital Piano Model Available at The Piano Outlet

Yamaha is known the world over for quality and reliability.  With their well-deserved reputation, it’s no wonder that Yamaha is the world’s largest manufacturer of a full line of musical instruments, and one in four musical instruments built has the Yamaha name on it.  Yamaha is seven times larger than its next closest competitor (currently Roland).

In addition to the other Yamaha keyboards and digital pianos we carry, we now have the new Yamaha DGX-640 portable digital piano in stock.

Here’s some basic information about this Yamaha model:

The DGX-640 is Yamaha’s most piano-like ever, with weighted graded hammer actions, ultra-real feel and more. All the best sounds are available at the push of button and recording virtuoso performances is simple with built-in recorder. The Yamaha Education Suite and USB connectivity add functionality.

It features Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard, including a matte finish on the black keys for a better appearance.  The GHS touch means that:

Like a traditional acoustic piano, the keys of the lower notes have a heavier touch, while the higher ones are more responsive to lighter playing. The keyboard’s sensitivity can even be adjusted to match your playing style. This Graded Hammer technology also enables the instrument to provide authentic touch in a lightweight instrument.

You can also purchase accessories for the DGX-640 portable keyboards, including a “Survival Kit” (worth hundreds of dollars for a nominal cost) which contains a felt Grand Piano key cover, stereo headphones, three educational DVDs including a full-length “Watch and Learn” DVD,  a two-year extended warranty and over $200 of rebate coupons on great Yamaha instruments and accessories.  Another accessory is a three-pedal piano-style unit that offers the same kind of functional sustain, sostenuto, and soft control found on grand pianos with half-damper effect.

You can see that, with its great features and Yamaha sounds, it’s easy to enjoy the DGX-640 portable digital grand piano in your living room, with the sound of a 9-foot Yamaha concert grand for a fraction of the cost!  Come in and see for yourself!

Thank you for visiting us at http://www.thePianoOutletCo.com, your source for Yamaha digital pianos and keyboards and new and good used acoustic pianos for sale in Southern California and the Central Coast, and throughout San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and beyond!

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A Philosophy of Music

From Guest Blogger Lucas Denzer:

An amazingly talented professional piano player once told me, “There is no such thing as wrong notes, only notes that sound wrong.” At the heart of what he is saying, I believe he understands something about the true purpose and essence of music. Though music contains many similarities to mathematics, and many like to make the obvious comparisons, music serves a much more eloquent purpose. Music is arguably the deepest language we have, for it can communicate with great feeling, emotion, depth, and fervor where words can too often fail. It does not have to have a right or wrong answer.

Music to me will always be a time-based art; it is fleeting by nature. It is something that is experienced over time, and ever-changing, which makes it more powerful and more precious. Perhaps the most important aspect of music is that it does not mean the same thing to everyone. People have differing opinions about it, everyone is affected by it differently, and most importantly, justifiably so. Music is so big, that it can accommodate the whims and desires of the most deserving as well as the most careless, and yet retains an inexhaustible source of influence in almost any capacity imaginable.

As Stravinsky once said:

 “I know that the twelve notes in each octave and the variety of rhythm offer me opportunities that all of human genius will never exhaust.”

The Piano Outlet thanks today’s blog contributor Lucas Denzer, a pianist, educator, and composer with 17 years of experience in teaching, performing, and composing music. He has a degree in Music Technology from the University of Oregon, and his talents and style are a welcome addition to the Central Coast region.

Thank you for visiting us at http://www.thePianoOutletCo.com, your source for music with good new and used acoustic pianos and new digital keyboards for sale in Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Nipomo, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Southern California and the Central Coast, and throughout San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and beyond!


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