Archive of Past Articles

How to Use This Archive

All of the feature articles published in Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer since its first issue in Fall 2009, and several excerpts from The Piano Book, are available below for viewing in HTML format. The articles are organized in six categories: General Piano Information, Used & Restored Pianos, High-End & Institutional Pianos, Piano Care, Moving & Accessories, Reviews—Acoustic Pianos, and Reviews—Digital Pianos.

Below the title of each article is an excerpt or summary to give you a sense of what that article is about. To view the full article, click on the title. For feature articles, the issue in which the article appeared is noted after the author’s name.

Reprints

These and all other Piano Buyer articles are also available as reprints, and can be ordered in quantity—convenient for distribution to customers, clients, students, and others by piano manufacturers, dealers, technicians, and teachers. The reprints are printed in full color on 8½" x 11", 100-lb. glossy paper. To make the reprints suitable for retail environments, third-party ads have been removed, and a retail price has been printed on each one so that they can be resold—or so that a value can be assigned when given away for free. Where space permits, they also have a place on the back where a professional can attach a business card or label. The cost of reprints varies according to the number of pages in the article and the quantity ordered—please inquire as to price and availability.

The Piano Book   Piano Buyer, Spring 2017   Piano Buyer, Fall 2017

General Piano Information

Piano Parts and Sizes

Piano Parts and Sizes

Five illustrations from The Piano Book, showing a piano’s major internal and cabinet parts, how to measure a piano, and the different types and sizes of piano.
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Piano Furniture Styles and Finishes

Piano Furniture Styles and Finishes

This excerpt from the “Piano Buying Basics” article describes and illustrates the furniture styles and finishes most commonly found on today’s pianos.
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The Benefits of Laminated Soundboards

The Benefits of Laminated Soundboards

The soundboard remains one of the least-understood components of the modern piano. All sorts of claims—some of them bordering on the magical—are made for how the soundboard is made and for the wood traditionally used for its construction. While many of these claims make excellent advertising copy, they have little to do with how a piano actually works. This lack of understanding has impeded the acceptance of a beneficial advance in piano design: the laminated soundboard.
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Piano Marvel:

Piano Marvel: Teaching the Video-Game Generation to Play

Certain aspects of playing an acoustic piano are much more satisfying than playing a digital. Often, however, one would still like to access different sounds, connect to a computer, or turn off the sound entirely for late-night practice. The ability to connect a piano to a computer has expanded the possibilities of educational software. One such program is Piano Marvel—an interactive subscription software for learning to play.


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The Technology-Equipped Piano Goes to School: Not Your Grandmother's Piano

The Technology-Equipped Piano Goes to School: Not Your Grandmother's Piano The Yamaha Disklavier, Long-Distance Learning, and More

Not long ago, I addressed—from my home in Massachusetts—an audience of Colorado piano teachers who had gathered at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. After greeting them, I sat down at the piano and performed Chopin’s Étude in E Major, Op.10, No.3. During my performance, I actually played two pianos simultaneously: my own Disklavier grand piano, which is located in my home studio, and a similar piano in Denver. This long-distance performance was made possible by the video-conferencing technology of Skype and the record, playback, and MIDI features of the Yamaha Disklavier.
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Nontraditional Materials and the Piano

Nontraditional Materials and the Piano

In existence for over 300 years, the piano is considered as "traditional" a musical instrument as the violin or guitar. From its beginnings as a mere subspecies of harpsichord, the gravicembalo col piano e forte has evolved into the modern grand piano, and in the process has changed dramatically in size, weight, sound, and the materials of its construction. Indeed, many of the materials used in pianos today were, at one time or another, considered "nontraditional," even experimental.
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Used & Restored Pianos

How to Inspect a Used Piano Before Buying

How to Inspect a Used Piano Before Buying

Unless you’re very rich and can afford to keep a piano technician on retainer full time, chances are that at some point in your searching for a used piano, you’re going to have to go it alone. Knowing that you’d rather not stare dumbly at the piano, I’ve prepared a little inspection routine for you. A thorough inspection of a piano must really be a joint effort with a technician. This inspection, however, will teach you a lot about the piano, enable you to talk intelligently with your technician, and make you feel a useful and involved participant instead of a passive bystander.


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How to Locate the Serial Number of a Piano <i>and</i> Checklist For Inspecting a Used Piano Before Buying

How to Locate the Serial Number of a Piano and Checklist For Inspecting a Used Piano Before Buying

Two handy reference aids from The Piano Book.
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Buying a Used Steinway

Buying a Used Steinway

As an aid to those buying a used Steinway, I have listed all models of Steinway pianos made in New York City since the firm’s inception in 1853. This reprint also includes the list “Ages of Steinway Pianos,” from which one can look up the year of manufacture of any Steinway piano by its serial number; and discussions of Teflon bushings and verdigris, two issues that frequently arise in connection with used Steinways.


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Gray-Market Pianos <i>and</i> Cracked Soundboards:

Gray-Market Pianos and Cracked Soundboards: Myth and Reality

These excerpts from the article “Buying a Used or Restored Piano” cover two of the most controversial and commonly misunderstood issues in the piano business.


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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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Should I Have My Piano Rebuilt?

Should I Have My Piano Rebuilt?

It turns out that, except for premium-quality instruments, most pianos are not worth a private owner’s investment in their rebuilding. Putting thousands of dollars into a low-quality instrument won’t increase its value by much, and there’s no guarantee that any of the cost of rebuilding can be recouped in resale.


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Rebuilding the New York Way

Rebuilding the New York Way

From 1789 to the present, over 100 different companies, most of them now long gone, have manufactured pianos in New York City. This extensive piano-manufacturing presence made New York the ultimate piano town. While many of those older pianos are still in use, many others have or soon will have reached the end of their useful life, and will need rebuilding if their owners—families, churches, schools, museums, universities—want to continue to use them as musical instruments. To serve that need, the piano-building tradition of a century ago lingers on in the many fine rebuilding shops of present-day New York.


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Donating, Converting, or Recycling Your Piano

Donating, Converting, or Recycling Your Piano

In my 31 years of experience as a piano appraiser and broker, and as a partner in a piano- rebuilding business, I have daily encountered people who are considering donating or otherwise disposing of their pianos. In this article I outline some of the options available to those who have a piano they don’t want to keep or sell, but who would like to see it go somewhere other than the dump or local landfill.


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Taking a Tax Deduction When Donating a Piano

Taking a Tax Deduction When Donating a Piano

There was once a time when, for tax-deduction purposes, if you needed to know the value of a piano you were donating to an institution or charity, you would just contact your piano technician or dealer. He or she would search memory for a recent transaction involving a similar instrument, and would settle on a figure that “felt” right. You would enter that figure on your tax return, and you could be more or less assured that this “expert” opinion would not be challenged by the Internal Revenue Service. While such a process is still acceptable for some kinds of transactions, it can no longer be used to value noncash, tax-deductible contributions when the value claimed is over $5,000.


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Piano Purgatory:

Piano Purgatory: The Donated Piano

Piano technicians will tell you that the worst pianos they are asked to service are usually found in houses of worship and other institutions that accept pianos as donations. How do such institutions become populated with so many inappropriate instruments? This article helps institutions develop a plan for fulfilling their piano-related needs, including valuable guidelines for the donation of used pianos, so they will not be sitting ducks for well-intended but inappropriate donations.


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Upright Cabinet Styles in American Piano Manufacturing, 1880–1930

Upright Cabinet Styles in American Piano Manufacturing, 1880–1930

From about 1880 to 1930, when piano manufacturing was one of the nation’s most important industries, pianos were produced in a staggering array of cabinet styles, many of them highly intricate, embellished, and decorated, others dull and pedestrian. The cabinet styles were closely related to the social and economic climates of the period—to changes in values in an emerging consumer culture, and to economic cycles that affected the quantity, styles, and quality of the pianos made during that time. This article is an overview of the styles of the upright pianos of the period, and their historical context.
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Rebuilder Spotlight: Cunningham Piano Company

Rebuilder Spotlight: Cunningham Piano Company

Cunningham Piano Company began manufacturing pianos in 1891 and, in its time, was one of the largest piano makers in Philadelphia. In Pianos and Their Makers, by Alfred Dolge, Patrick Cunningham's business is described as having been "as true to the traditions of honest values in pianos as any the old Quaker City has ever produced." Composer Vincent Persichetti is quoted as having said, "In the beginning, God created a Cunningham player piano," and the Charleston Museum in South Carolina houses the Cunningham piano on which George Gershwin composed Porgy and Bess.


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Three Approaches to Piano Restoration

Three Approaches to Piano Restoration

When rebuilding a piano, the restorer is presented at every turn with questions concerning the extent to which the piano's original design, parts, and materials should be preserved or, conversely, altered or replaced. The philosophies that guide these decisions fall, roughly, into three camps, which might be called, respectively, Conservative, Modern, and Innovative. In this article, several well-respected piano restorers, each approximately representing one of the above positions, explain their approaches to restoration in general and, specifically, how they might be applied to various eras of Steinway grands.
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Rebuilding Spotlight:

Rebuilding Spotlight: Everything Old is New Again

Is older better? Archeologists, antique dealers, and even aging writers will tell you so. And many pianists agree, especially when one finds a certain special instrument with which he or she can form the musical partnership of a lifetime. But even legendary wines can turn to vinegar. So when dealing with the acquisition—or restoration—of a vintage piano, it's important to get the advice of experts.
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Rebuilder spotlight:

Rebuilder spotlight: David Andersen: A Reliable Catalyst

In every field of endeavor are those who become prominent by virtue of their excellent work. Others stand out because of their passion for what they do and their ability to inspire those around them. And the very best are both excellent and inspirational. Los Angeles piano rebuilder David Andersen is equal parts passion and excellence, and his personal story is as inspirational as they come.
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High-End & Institutional Pianos

German Piano Makers Face the Music of Globalization

German Piano Makers Face the Music of Globalization

Each Spring, Frankfurt, Germany, hosts Musikmesse, one of the world's largest gatherings for the international music industry. European piano makers convene there every other year. Our correspondent attended the 2016 gathering, at a time of great change for the German piano industry.
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Are

Are "Hand-Built" Pianos Becoming Obsolete?

Piano Buyer asked veteran piano designer George F. Emerson—whose 48-year piano-industry career has included employment with Baldwin, Mason & Hamlin, and, most recently, Hailun—to comment on how globalization and the computerization of manufacturing have affected the piano industry, and whether there is still a place for expensive, "hand-built" instruments. Following Emerson's remarks are responses from representatives of several companies that manufacture "hand-built" pianos. Finally, Emerson has the last word.
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The All-Steinway Program vs. The Diverse-Inventory Approach to Buying Pianos For an Institution

The All-Steinway Program vs. The Diverse-Inventory Approach to Buying Pianos For an Institution

When an institution is ready to purchase a large number of new pianos, one of the major decisions to be made is whether to buy all from a single manufacturer, or to maintain a diverse inventory of instruments of many brands. The decision has artistic, technical, financial, institutional, and, often, political dimensions. On the single-brand side, probably best known is the All-Steinway School program, in which more than 150 institutions participate. The College of Music at Florida State University is one of the largest music schools in the country to maintain a diverse inventory of many brands. In this article, proponents of the two schools of thought put their best feet forward to explain the reasons behind their respective choices.


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Regulation & Voicing:

Regulation & Voicing: What Buyers of Performance-Quality Pianos Should Know

Many pianists believe a piano’s action or tone can’t be changed, or that the performance quality of a piano or action is determined solely by its brand. But any piano’s action can go out of regulation, become dirty and worn, suffer from neglect, or merely vary within a normal range—top-rated brands are no exceptions. Many wonderful instruments, new and used, are rejected by buyers because a lack of recent or competent service—or both—is disguising their true potential. Many a hidden gem is available to the buyer who asks the right questions, and can find the right technician to solve an instrument’s problems.


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One by One:

One by One: Boutique Piano Builders in the 21st Century

For several decades in the 20th century, most of the larger piano makers cast their own plates, bent their own rims, glued up their own soundboards and pinblocks, and manufactured their own action parts. Some makers took such vertical integration to the point of owning their own forests and sawmills. Now, however, in the 21st century, specialization has once again become commonplace. Along with this specialization, a remarkable breed of craftsperson has begun to build high-quality grand pianos in a workshop setting, defying the conventional wisdom that pianos must be made in large quantities by large corporations.


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Selecting a Performance Piano For Concert Hall or Home

Selecting a Performance Piano For Concert Hall or Home

The selection of a concert grand usually falls to piano faculty at a university, the music director at a church, or pianists hired to choose an instrument for an orchestra. Occasionally these pianos are selected for homes. This article, which attempts to define and shorten the selection process, assumes that you have chosen a brand and model, and are now about to select a specific instrument from among several examples.


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"Fit and Finish" Improvements at Steinway & Sons: A Photo Essay

Due to its position for more than a century and a half as maker of America's preeminent concert piano, Steinway & Sons has often been a lightning rod for controversy and criticism, some of which have been played out in an unusually public way. It seems only right, therefore, that Steinway’s improvements should also be given prompt coverage. In that spirit, the following photo essay, with photos supplied by Steinway & Sons, describe some of the recent changes and improvements I saw at the Steinway factory.
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Technicians Speak About the High-End Pianos They Service, Parts 1 and 2

Technicians Speak About the High-End Pianos They Service, Parts 1 and 2

Piano technicians who eventually drift toward the high-end market are usually people who appreciate quality, strive for excellence, and can even be called connoisseurs. Their mission is to provide the pianist with a sublime, inspiring, creative, and enjoyable experience every time he or she plays the instrument. Each technician in this article has extensive hands-on experience with the specific brand(s) he writes about. All of them strive for quality and perfection, and have intimate relationships with the pianos, inside and out. Although you'll recognize common ground in these technicians' opinions, there are also differences, and each speaks only for himself.


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Dealers Speak About Their High-End Brands

Dealers Speak About Their High-End Brands

In order to give prospective buyers of high-end pianos a better sense of the individual personalities of these brands, we will occasionally provide selected dealers, technicians, and pianists the opportunity to describe the musical and other qualities of the high-end brands they represent, service, or play. The brands presented will vary from issue to issue. As you'll see, although different writers often describe the same brands in very different ways, over time certain common themes emerge.


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Piano Care, Moving & Accessories

Piano Moving & Storage

Piano Moving & Storage

Why Not to Move a Piano Yourself. Movers like to tell stories like this one: A young woman asked her father to help her move a piano from one place to another in her house. Her father got a couple of his friends to come along and they brought a dolly. While they were lifting the piano — a full-size vertical — it tipped back too far and got away from them. While it was falling, its upper corner dug down through the wall. The trench it made was deep enough to sever an electric conduit, which shorted and began to burn. The "movers" were unable to stop the fire, which also spread to the floor below, another person's apartment. After the fire department was done, there was little left of the two apartments and the piano.
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How To Make a Piano Room Sound Grand

How To Make a Piano Room Sound Grand

This article goes into some detail about the various factors that affect room acoustics for pianos, including room size, ceiling height, placement of the piano in the room, floor coverings, and reflection, diffusion, and absorption of sound.
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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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Review: Magic Lid Slow-Close Lid for Grand Pianos

Review: Magic Lid Slow-Close Lid for Grand Pianos

Magic Lid is a pneumatic device that aids in lifting and slowly closing a grand-piano lid—and promises to make this precarious, heavy part of the piano both safer and easier to use for people of all ages, heights, and degrees of physical strength. My own story illustrates its usefulness.


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Voicing and Tone:

Voicing and Tone: What Piano Buyers and Owners Should Know

To most piano buyers and owners, a piano's tone is probably its most important aspect, but also the most difficult to quantify or describe. Likewise, the shaping of the tone by the technician through the procedure known as voicing involves unfamiliar terminology, and techniques that are difficult for technicians to communicate to the customer. The purpose of this article is to provide information about tone and voicing, and to define some commonly used terms so that piano owners and technicians can better communicate with each other, and piano shoppers can make more informed buying decisions.


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Moving the Family Piano

Moving the Family Piano

Most of us have seen or heard a humorous story of ordinary people attempting to move the heaviest thing ever made: a piano. Just thinking about it can give otherwise macho adults lower-back pain. While pianos are abnormally heavy, their thousands of moving parts make them fragile as well. Additionally, many pianos have fine finishes that are sensitive to extremes of temperature and humidity. Then, to make things even more interesting, there are obstacles to maneuver, such as steps, turns, overhangs, hills, culs-de-sac, wet grass, and long gravel driveways. So, as someone who needs a piano moved, what are your options?


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Acoustic Piano Reviews

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: Three Kingsburg Piano Models

Review: Three Kingsburg Piano Models

AT A TIME when the price of a new, quality grand piano is often beyond the means of the typical family, a primary focus for me in my work as a piano teacher is to find pianos that are suitable for students looking to upgrade from entry-level uprights, used pianos, or digital keyboards to higher-quality instruments. It was particularly interesting, therefore, to be asked to write this review of lower-cost models from Kingsburg, a brand that I hadn't played before, made in Yantai, China.


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Review:  August Förster

Review: August Förster

When I was asked to review some new instruments from the German piano maker August Förster, I recalled my last encounter with this brand. Several years ago, I made two trips to Tajikistan, a country that had been, since the breakup of the Soviet Union, riven by low-grade civil conflict, and from which many of the Russians who had supported musical culture had fled. Along with a number of concert instruments by Blüthner, August Förster had been one of the main suppliers of better-quality instruments to the farther reaches of the Soviet Union.
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Review:  Grotrian Pianos

Review: Grotrian Pianos

As an improvising musician, I consider a good piano to produce a moderate range of tonal colors, with consistent action and sound across the keyboard. Grotrian achieves a higher standard. All three instruments were pleasing to play and produced a variety of colors, but beyond that, they pushed me to reach for new ideas and to be a more diverse improviser.
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Review:  Perzina Pianos

Review: Perzina Pianos

. . . Today, more than ever, a pianist is expected to be proficient in a wide variety of styles, from Bach preludes to Prokofiev sonatas. I have often felt that to give these works their due, and to fulfill the demands of each style, would require two or more pianos. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover that pianos from Perzina, a brand previously unknown to me, display the versatility I've been looking for in a single instrument.
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Review:  Petrof Grands

Review: Petrof Grands

All three instruments produced a distinct, remarkably warm, rich sound, with considerable sustain in every register. The round tone rang with a bell-like quality, rendering percussive sounds difficult to create. They also possessed tremendous dynamic breadth for their size, easily generating the entire range between pianissimo and fortissimo. Each piano had lively middle and upper registers, and a lower register that was less immediately present.
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Review:  Yamaha CX: Evolutionary or Revolutionary?

Review: Yamaha CX: Evolutionary or Revolutionary?

As my time in the Piano Salon drew to a close, I reflected in a more general way on the changes Yamaha has incorporated into its CX series. The C7X has acquired many of the positive attributes usually associated with more expensive American and European pianos. Elements of the tone have certainly undergone a transformation and matured, while the exterior design of the piano shows a subtle inventiveness. Instantly audible in a side-by-side comparison of the C7X with its predecessor model, these timbral changes could be considered a revolutionary departure from the brand's historical norms.
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Review:  Kawai GX: Evolutionary or Revolutionary?

Review: Kawai GX: Evolutionary or Revolutionary?

FOR A GENERATION of pianists, piano buyers, technicians, and retailers, the mid-level grand pianos made by Kawai have achieved benchmark status among mass-produced instruments. These pianos have historically offered levels of quality, performance, and value that less well-established or cheaper brands have aspired to match, and are often purchased as less-expensive substitutes for instruments costing twice as much.
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Review:  Four Baldwin Models

Review: Four Baldwin Models

All in all, my trip to Hollywood Piano Company encouraged me as to the evolution of the Baldwin brand. My experiences with Baldwin two decades ago were that the company produced pianos musically inferior to those from Boston, Kawai, and Yamaha; this latest experience demonstrated that Baldwin instruments currently compare very favorably to those brands.
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Review:  Schimmel's Updated Konzert Series Grand Pianos

Review: Schimmel's Updated Konzert Series Grand Pianos

GERMAN PIANO MAKER Schimmel has recently revised the specifications, brands, and sizes of instruments they offer. The most notable change has been to their top-line Konzert series of grand pianos. Readers familiar with Schimmel's earlier models will recall their Trilogy concept, in which three sizes of grand piano models shared the same action design (e.g., K169/189/213 and K230/256/280). The new models (K175/195/219/230/256/280) comprise reengineerings to accommodate a concert grand action in all Konzert models, regardless of size. The sizes and shapes of these instruments have been changed from the earlier, smaller models to accommodate the larger actions.


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Review:  Seiler Model 186

Review: Seiler Model 186

Seiler pianos appear to be headed to American showrooms in growing numbers, and there is much in them to praise. In particular, the touch control in the ED and ES models will be appreciated by serious students and teachers, and the pianos are adequate for most repertoire taught and performed today.
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Review:  The New Feurich Pianos

Review: The New Feurich Pianos

Priced near the higher-rated Chinese brands and less than Japanese-made Yamaha, Kawai, and Boston pianos of the same size, these new Feurich models are solid entries with real visual appeal in a growing segment of the market: pianos made in China with upgraded features and design elements.
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Review: The Best Chinese Professional-Size Grands

Review: The Best Chinese Professional-Size Grands

I think the main quality I missed in all five pianos was tonal color and complexity. I am used to working with a whole world of tonal color that I just did not experience with these instruments, or did not experience as fully throughout the entire keyboard as I do with more expensive pianos. To me, this is what separates pianos that are simply very good — which these are — from those that are superb. That said, for those whose needs are not at the concert level, these professional-size pianos from China offer tremendous value for the money, and can take a pianist very far in his or her musical training.
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Review: Inexpensive, Entry-Level Vertical Pianos

Review: Inexpensive, Entry-Level Vertical Pianos

NEW, ENTRY-LEVEL CONSOLE PIANOS provide a reasonable option for consumers who wish to spend the least amount of money for an instrument. Advantages of purchasing such a piano over a used one include a factory warranty, knowing that the instrument is starting life in your home in new condition, and perhaps more easily finding a cabinet style that matches the furniture in your home. Though certainly built to a "price point," and with other limitations that accompany a small size, an entry-level console is a practical starter piano for the price-conscious beginner or casual hobbyist.


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Review:  Buying a Grand Piano Less Than Five Feet Long

Review: Buying a Grand Piano Less Than Five Feet Long

THERE WAS A TIME when, as they say, I wouldn't have wrapped fish in a grand piano under five feet long. The short cases of these pianos place severe constraints on string length and soundboard design, and often result in instruments with poor tone. . . . Times have changed. While much of the above is still true to some extent, great strides have been made in the intelligent design and construction of small pianos.


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Guest Review: Performance-Grade 'Value Pianos'

Guest Review: Performance-Grade 'Value Pianos'

With such a wide array of distinctly different pianos on the world market today, there are many possibilities for every type of taste and budget. As a pianist, I'm always excited to play an instrument I've never tried before. Each piano, with its own unique personality, beckons the player to look for that place within that resonates with that particular instrument. When all is said and done, it just might be that the piano also "plays" its player. That's what makes the connection between pianist and piano such a wondrous thing.
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Guest Review:  Chinese-Made Grands

Guest Review: Chinese-Made Grands An Attractive, Affordable Option

SEVERAL WELL-MADE small and medium-sized grand pianos are now available from Chinese manufacturers at a considerable savings to consumers over their American and European counterparts, and even over most other Asian models. Piano Buyer decided to take advantage of the large number of piano manufacturers exhibiting at this year's Winter NAMM, the music-industry trade show in Anaheim, California, by having me test-drive some of the reputedly better Chinese brands. I concentrated on the most popular sizes suitable for the home.
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Digital Piano Reviews

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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Review: Yamaha Clavinova Ensemble CVP-700 Series

Review: Yamaha Clavinova Ensemble CVP-700 Series

if you need one instrument that provides both the pianistic excellence that will please traditionally inclined performers, students, educators, and parents, as well as enough electronic coaching and downright fun factor to keep beginners and casual players interested, the Clavinova Ensemble CVP-700 family simply has no peer.
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Review:  Casio CGP-700 and Privia PX-560

Review: Casio CGP-700 and Privia PX-560

For those who haven't been paying attention, over the last decade Casio has won the lion's share of the market in inexpensive, portable digital pianos. A new release this year, their CGP-700 Compact Grand Piano, shows how much Casio can pack into a digital piano for a very affordable street price of $799. In January, I tried the CGP-700 and Casio's Privia PX-560 ($1,199 street price) at the notoriously noisy National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in Anaheim, California. Casio also provided me with samples of these models to play at home over several days.


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Review: Roland FP-30

Review: Roland FP-30 Raising the Bar for Affordable Keyboard Sound Quality

Those shopping for a budget-friendly first piano, owners of older digital pianos looking for a modern upgrade, or seasoned players wanting to augment their fleets with a low-cost portable would do well to consider the Roland FP-30. Its combination of superior sound quality, quiet action, portability, Bluetooth page-turning feature, and low price make it a new standout in its class.


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Review:  Kawai Digital Pianos CN25, CA97, and CP2

Review: Kawai Digital Pianos CN25, CA97, and CP2

INEVITABLY, one of the most controversial topics of conversation among piano teachers, and one about which we're frequently queried, is the role that digital pianos should play in our students' musical lives, and in ours. In what situations are they a good choice? Is there a suggested minimum budget for buying a digital piano (or, for that matter, an acoustic)? Are the actions and sounds of digital pianos realistic enough? At what level of study should a student use one? Because we've been asked these questions so many times, most teachers now have strong opinions about them, ones they can easily articulate.
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Review:  Yamaha Clavinova Models CLP-535 and CLP-575

Review: Yamaha Clavinova Models CLP-535 and CLP-575

For a family with a young piano student, or a pro who doesn 't have space in a home studio for a grand, or an adult amateur who just loves playing the piano, the advantages of Yamaha's Clavinova CLP-500 models are jaw-dropping. The prices can't be beat, you never need to have them tuned, they're more portable than an acoustic piano, and you get the sound of a grand from a spinet-sized cabinet suitable for a small apartment — not to mention headphone jacks for practicing, a built-in recorder, and a variety of other sounds.
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Review: Physis Piano H1

Review: Physis Piano H1

IT'S NOT EVERY DAY that there's a new digital piano manufacturer competing with the many high-quality and well-established brands already in the marketplace. So I was excited to travel to Kraft Music, in Franklin, Wisconsin, to try out Physis Piano's H1, a stage piano (slab) model, to see how it compared to other digitals on the market.
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Review:  Blüthner e-Klavier

Review: Blüthner e-Klavier

IN JUNE 2014 I had the pleasure of visiting Reeder Pianos, the showroom and rebuilding shop of James Reeder, a Blüthner dealer in Lansing, Michigan. I have several times performed on Blüthner concert grands furnished by Mr. Reeder, and have always appreciated their clear, elegant, even well-behaved tone and responsive action. With these positive experiences in mind, I looked forward to playing three models of Blüthner's new e-Klavier line of digital pianos.


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Yamaha's NU1 Hybrid

Yamaha's NU1 Hybrid

Since its introduction to the American piano market 50 years ago, Yamaha's 48" U1 upright has been a perennial favorite in both the new and used piano markets, and its consistency and reliability have given it pride of place in institutional and home settings. Yamaha's newest hybrid piano, the NU1, is a version of the U1 that blends acoustic and digital technologies.
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Vienna Symphonic Library's Vienna Imperial

Vienna Symphonic Library's Vienna Imperial

The story of Vienna Imperial is actually several stories: Bösendorfer, its CEUS electronic player-piano system, and Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL). VSL's "library" consists of digital samples of instruments ranging from finger cymbals to this article's subject, the Bösendorfer model 290 Imperial Concert Grand. Their 80 software packages cover solo instruments — 2,496 samples of a piccolo, for example — and ensembles of every description.
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What Can I Buy For $1,995?

What Can I Buy For $1,995?

So, the seemingly simple question of which digital pianos can be purchased for $1,995 has produced more than a dozen options, spread over three different approaches: console pianos, slab or stage pianos with outboard sound systems, and software pianos. I'm betting your piano — the one that meets your musical needs, suits your preference in visual appearance, and whets your appetite for adventure — is in there somewhere.


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At Home On Stage:

At Home On Stage: Professional Stage Pianos Come Home

Here we'll look at the stage piano as an option for home use. Stage pianos have tremendous capabilities — far more than the average home user would need, and far more than can be described here. So in this article, we'll look specifically at those few functions in which a home user might be most interested: piano tone, tone control, settings memory, and action.
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