Piano HQ

Glen Barkman's Muse on all things piano.

What's in a Name… the Big Mess Part 2

Posted by glenbarkman on October 10, 2009

stringsIn the blog entitled As Good As Old  I talked about the fact that restoring old pianos is becoming cost prohibitive unless you find the right instrument.  The whole piano market seems to be in a bit of a mess right now because the old pianos are really too old (without restoration) to be viable instruments and the other problem is that ‘affordable’ pianos quite often are less than desirable.  Five years ago, i never used to talk about country of origin and subsequent name brands.  Presently, this is one of the first things i address.  Why? Because many companies who manufacture are trading in their wares on the name/reputation of another piano company.  In the world today there are approximately 105 piano manufacturers alone in China.  Each of those manufacturers represent upwards of 5 names each… we’re talking mayhem!  Since Chinese names in North America quite often don’t sell well, they’re conveniently slapped a traditional name on the front of the piano.  In essence they’re hoping someone will pick up on the reputation and buy it.  Here in Canada for example, Heintzman was considered the piano supreme.  They folded the company in 1979.  It was then resold about 4 times.  Now, the name exists as a brand of Chinese pianos.  Now before you get your knickers in a knot and think i’m prejudiced, let me just state that i’ve seen substandard workmanship in pianos from around the world.  But what i can tell you is that consistency is the key.  I’ve consistently seen quality from Japan and Germany.  I’ve seen shoddy workmanship consistently from China.  I’ve seen decent work out of Korea and Indonesia.  One thing that continues to be a huge problem in pianos with substandard workmanship is that the quality of parts is poor and the wood used has not been properly kiln dried.  This poses many problems in the not too distant future.  Now before i go on too much more of a rant, i must say that the piano market is in turmoil because ‘affordable’ pianos – which are the ones most consumers are apt to buy are the ones made with substandard parts and workmanship.  Like everything else in the world, apply more technology and do it for less money.  So the good news is that prices are coming down… bad news – the pianos are hardly what i would call ‘artistic’.  So what’s the answer?  Check out the Big Mess Part 3

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