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A Message from the Publisher

A Message from the Publisher

Welcome to the Spring 2017 issue of Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer, a semiannual publication devoted to the purchase of new, used, and restored acoustic pianos and digital pianos. Published since 2009, Piano Buyer is the successor to the well-known reference The Piano Book, and its Annual Supplement, which from 1987 to 2009 were the principal consumer guides to buying a piano in the U.S. and Canada. Partially supported by advertising, Piano Buyer is available free online at www.pianobuyer.com. It can also be purchased in print from the website and in bookstores.


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Spring 2017 Featured Articles

How to Sell Your Piano

How to Sell Your Piano

Selling a used piano can be a challenge: Since the Recession, used pianos at all price levels have plummeted in value. Used pianos for sale far outnumber shoppers to buy them, making it a buyer’s market. Several conditions—some inherent to used-piano sales and some specific to current times—have tended to increase supply and/or drive down the prices of used pianos. In his article, Cohen, with the help of other Piano Buyer staff, advises how to make the most of a difficult market.


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Review: Steingraeber & Söhne

Review: Steingraeber & Söhne The Quiet Innovations of an Iconic Piano Maker

It’s refreshing to see that the spirit of innovation is still alive and well within the piano industry. Although Steingraeber & Söhne’s sordino pedal and Mozart Rail are essentially refinements of mechanisms that have long been used in upright pianos, it’s a pleasure to have additional expressive options available in a large concert grand. It’s also gratifying to see technical innovation in the direction of softer sonorities, rather than always toward the louder and more powerful.


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Review: Roland FP-90

Review: Roland FP-90

Given the FP-90’s powerful built-in speaker system and minimalist user interface, it’s clear that Roland is aiming their latest FP model at musicians who’d prefer that any gee-whiz technologies get out of their way and let them play. However, far from being a Luddite design, the FP-90 also uses Bluetooth to stream audio and connect to useful mobile apps.


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Regular / Recurring Articles

 
The Prodigious Power of Piano Playing

The Prodigious Power of Piano Playing

The author, a top executive of a major piano manufacturer, discards the old adage “practice makes perfect” in favor of an updated version: “practice makes prosperous.” He boldly declares that those who play the piano are far more likely to flourish, thrive, and experience success in life than those who do not.


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Acoustic or Digital:

Acoustic or Digital: What’s Best for Me?

Should you buy an acoustic (traditional) piano or a digital (electronic) piano? For many, there will be no easy answer to this question. Many factors play into this seemingly simple decision, some practical, some not. Ideally, perhaps, the answer should be “Both”. But assuming that, for a variety of reasons, “Both” isn’t an option, careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of each will probably quickly reveal which will be best for you.


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Piano Buying Basics

Piano Buying Basics

The purpose of this article is modest: to provide an overview of the piano-buying process, with an emphasis on the decisions you’ll have to make along the way, and on the factors that will affect any acoustic piano purchase. References are given to other articles in this publication, or to The Piano Book, for further information on selected topics.


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The New-Piano Market Today

The New-Piano Market Today

This article summarizes the history of U.S. piano sales, manufacturing, and imports over the last 50 years, and describes today’s global piano industry, including which brands are made where and by whom, and the effect of globalization on quality and selection.


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The New-Piano Market Today: A Map of the Market For New Pianos ('Ratings')

The New-Piano Market Today: A Map of the Market For New Pianos ('Ratings')

The chart and commentary that follow are intended to provide the newcomer to the piano market with a simple summary of how this market is organized. Although summarizing the market requires making a certain number of subjective judgments, this summary is intended less as a ranking of quality than as a description of how manufacturers and dealers position their products in the marketplace. That is, if a dealer carried every brand, how would he or she position those brands, in terms of relative quality, when presenting them to prospective purchasers?


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The New-Piano Market Today: Staff Picks (Recommendations)

The New-Piano Market Today: Staff Picks (Recommendations)

We feel we owe some specific recommendations to the many readers who have requested them, in part to simplify the buying process for shoppers who lack the time, ability, or interest to make their own discoveries. To emphasize the subjective nature of these recommendations, we provide them in this list rather than through the Map.


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Buying a Used or Restored Piano: What to Buy

Buying a Used or Restored Piano: What to Buy

Though in each decade both good and bad pianos have been produced, and each piano must be judged on its own merits, this brief historical overview may give you some idea of what to expect to see as you shop for a used piano.
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Buying a Used or Restored Piano: How to Find a Used Piano

Buying a Used or Restored Piano: How to Find a Used Piano

Finding a used piano essentially involves networking, a concept very much in vogue these days. Some networking can be done by computer, and some with old-fashioned phone calls and shoe leather. Here are some of your options — you may be able to think of others.


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Buying a Used or Restored Piano: Buying a Restored Piano

Buying a Used or Restored Piano: Buying a Restored Piano

Three terms are often used in discussions of piano restoration work: repair, reconditioning, and rebuilding. There are no precise definitions of these terms, and any particular job may contain elements of more than one of them. It’s therefore very important, when having restoration work done on your piano or when buying a piano on which such work has been done, to find out exactly what jobs have been, or will be, carried out. “This piano has been reconditioned” or “I’ll rebuild this piano” are not sufficient answers. One technician’s rebuilding may be another’s reconditioning.


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Buying a Used or Restored Piano: How Much Is It Worth?

Buying a Used or Restored Piano: How Much Is It Worth?

The valuation of used pianos is difficult. Prices of used pianos vary wildly, depending on local economies, supply and demand, and the cosmetics and playing condition of the instrument at hand, including the amount and quality of any restoration work done. As if this weren’t enough, it’s almost a certainty that no two piano technicians or piano salespeople would return exactly the same verdict on any given piano’s value. Art being what it is, beauty is in the eye and ear of the potential purchaser, and values are very much subjective. In this article, I’ve tried to assemble some information and tools to help buyers and sellers understand the appraisal process and determine the value of a piano within a reasonable range.


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Advice About Used Pianos

Advice About Used Pianos For Parents of Young Beginning Piano Students

There are many common misconceptions about buying pianos for young students, and one of them is that a suitable piano can be had for only a few hundred dollars. The truth is that, to progress, young students need better pianos, not worse.


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The Uncompromising World of High-End Pianos

The Uncompromising World of High-End Pianos

Those who’ve found themselves in a showroom full of beautifully crafted, prestige and high-performance pianos know that the experience can be both impressive and unnerving — impressive for obvious reasons, unnerving because of the extraordinary prices these instruments command — from $50,000 to $150,000 or more. Sometimes, novice buyers question whether the prices are justified — or are just the result of the clever marketing of well-known brand names. In this article, I explain what sets high-end pianos apart from less costly ones that might, at least superficially, look the same, and why the higher price can be justified.


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Buying A High-End Piano

Buying A High-End Piano The Best Piano: A Story

Often, piano buyers form an idea of what they want and how much to spend, and consider only a few brands, without ever sufficiently researching the differences in manufacturers’ philosophies and how these might affect the tone, touch, musicality, and price of the instrument. However, such information can help the consumer clarify his or her true needs and preferences. Many shopping for a piano all but ignore higher-end models, considering them beyond their needs or means. But for more than a few of these buyers, a better-quality piano may prove the better fit and value.


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Buying Pianos For an Institution

Buying Pianos For an Institution

Institutions vary so widely in size, makeup, and needs that it is impossible to cover in a single article all the variables that might apply. However, regardless of whether you’re purchasing a piano for a church, school, performance space, or another institutional location, you need to start with some basic questions that will help identify the piano (or pianos) that are appropriate for your situation.


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Piano Maintenance in Institutions

Piano Maintenance in Institutions

The maintenance of pianos in institutional settings differs from the typical service needs of the home environment in two major ways. Pianos in schools, churches, and colleges are, first of all, usually subjected to heavy use, and second, are very often situated in difficult climatic environments. These pianos will require more frequent service by technicians with special skills, and greater attention to climate control.


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Caring For Your Piano

Caring For Your Piano

A piano may look large and imposing, but there is a great deal inside it that is delicate, and sensitive to use and changes in environmental conditions. You have made a considerable investment in the instrument; now you should protect that investment, and maximize your enjoyment of it, by properly caring for it. This article describes the major types of regular servicing that pianos require: tuning, regulating, voicing, cleaning and polishing, and humidity control.


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Benches, Lamps, Accessories & Problem Solvers

Benches, Lamps, Accessories & Problem Solvers

This article describes the different types of benches, lamps, and other accessories available for pianos, as well as devices for solving problems with heavy touch.


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Ten Ways to Voice a Room

Ten Ways to Voice a Room

Have you noticed that your newly purchased piano doesn't sound quite the same as when you tried it in the showroom? Not all problems with piano tone are best solved by voicing the instrument—it may be your room that needs voicing. Some of the factors that can significantly affect the sound of your piano room are: the size of the room, including ceiling height; the sound-absorbing and -reflecting materials in the room, which give it its reverberant character; and the number and orientation of objects in the room, which affect how sound is scattered or diffused.


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Sales Talk

Sales Talk

CERTAIN TECHNICAL FEATURES of pianos are frequently the subject of sales talk, either to persuade you to buy a particular piano, to upgrade to a more costly model, or to not buy a competitor's piano. Untangling the truth from the salesmanship can be difficult, sometimes even for professionals in the business.


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Buying a Digital Piano

Buying a Digital Piano An Introduction

If, after reading “Acoustic or Digital: What’s Best for Me?,” you’ve decided on a digital piano, the next step is to shop for and select the right model for your needs. There are currently some 200 models of digital piano on the market. Narrowing the field requires exploring some basic issues.


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Digital Piano Basics, Part 1

Digital Piano Basics, Part 1 Imitating the Acoustic Piano

In Part 1 of this article, we describe how a digital piano performs its most basic function — imitating the acoustic piano. We begin with tone production, then move on to controls — the keyboard and pedals — and conclude with the instrument’s audio system. In Part 2, we explore all the ways that digital pianos can go beyond simply duplicating the functions of the acoustic piano.


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Digital Piano Basics, Part 2

Digital Piano Basics, Part 2 Beyond the Acoustic Piano

In Part 1 of this article, we describe how a digital piano performs its most basic function — imitating the acoustic piano. We begin with tone production, then move on to controls — the keyboard and pedals — and conclude with the instrument’s audio system. In Part 2, we explore all the ways that digital pianos can go beyond simply duplicating the functions of the acoustic piano.


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My Other Piano Is a Computer

My Other Piano Is a Computer Introduction to Software Pianos

IF THE DIGITAL PIANO is thought of as a complete instrument that's ready to play right out of the box, piano software can be thought of as part of a "piano kit." If you have a digital piano (or an acoustic piano with hybrid features) and a personal computer (Mac or Windows), you already have most of the ingredients of a software-based piano.


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Hybrid Pianos

Hybrid Pianos

A hybrid piano combines electronic, mechanical, and/or acoustical aspects of both acoustic and digital pianos, in order to improve or expand the capabilities of the instrument. While applying the term hybrid to piano designs is a recent development, the practice of combining elements from acoustic and digital pianos is more than 25 years old.


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Buying An Electronic Player-Piano System

Buying An Electronic Player-Piano System

As with so many other devices, technology has revolutionized the player piano, replacing the pneumatic pressure and rolls of punched paper with electronics, smartphones, iPads, and MP3 files. Today, nearly one out of every four new grand pianos is sold with an electronic player-piano system installed.


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Acoustic Pianos: Introduction to Brand Profiles, Models & Prices

Acoustic Pianos: Introduction to Brand Profiles, Models & Prices

This section contains brief descriptions, or profiles, of most piano brands distributed nationwide in the United States and Canada. Some brands that are associated with a single dealer, or otherwise have marginal distribution, are omitted. Following each profile is a list of that brand’s models and prices. Prices are in U.S. dollars and are subject to change. Prices include an allowance for the approximate cost of freight from the U.S. warehouse to the dealer, and for a minimal amount of make-ready by the dealer.


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Digital Pianos: Key to Specifications & Prices

Digital Pianos: Key to Specifications & Prices

This section contains brief descriptions, or profiles, of most brands of digital piano distributed nationwide in the United States and Canada. You can look up each brand in the Brand Index. Following each profile is a list of that brand’s models, along with their prices and some of their more important specifications.


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Piano Tuning: An Introduction

Piano Tuning: An Introduction

To the uninitiated, tuning a piano may seem a simple, straightforward procedure, but it isn’t. The process is complicated by the sheer number of strings and tuning pins, by the high tension under which the strings are stretched, by the tightness with which the tuning pins are anchored in the pinblock, and by the friction points over which the taut strings must slide as they’re being tuned. All of these factors are obstacles not only to tuning, but also to creating a tuning that will be stable for a reasonable length of time, given the piano’s use and environment.


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