ARCHIVE OF PAST ARTICLES

How to Use This Archive

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

Below the title of most articles 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. The issue in which each article appeared is noted after the author’s name; articles marked “recurring” appear in each issue of the magazine.

Reprints

The 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 click on the button at right to download an order form and price list in PDF format.

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GENERAL PIANO INFORMATION

The Prodigious Power of Piano Playing

by Brian Chung (recurring) • 2 pages • Item G-01

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.

Acoustic or Digital: What’s Best for Me?

by Alden Skinner and Larry Fine (recurring) • 2 pages • Item G-02

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. However, careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of each will probably reveal which will be best for you.

Piano Buying Basics

by Larry Fine (recurring) • 14 pages • Item G-03

This is Piano Buyer’s foundational article on buying an acoustic (traditional) piano. Its purpose is to provide an overview of the piano-buying process, with an emphasis on the choices to be made along the way—size, grand or vertical, new or used, budget, etc., and on the factors that will affect any acoustic-piano purchase.

Piano Furniture Styles and Finishes

by Larry Fine (recurring) • 2 pages • Item G-03A

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

The New-Piano Market Today (excerpt)

by Larry Fine (recurring) • 6 pages • Item G-04

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.

Buying Pianos for an Institution

by George Litterst

and Piano Maintenance in Institutions

by Chris Solliday

(recurring) • 7 pages • Item G-05

The purchase and maintenance of pianos for institutional use differ in important ways from those intended for the home. These two articles cover considerations in the institutional setting of size, new vs. used, acoustic vs. digital, budget, decision making, piano loan programs, servicing, climate control, and choice of technician.

Sales Talk

by Larry Fine (recurring) • 3 pages • Item G-06

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 not to buy a competitor’s piano. Untangling the truth from the salesmanship can be difficult, even for professionals in the business. Here I discuss just three examples: laminated vs. solid soundboards, wet-sand-cast vs. vacuum-cast plates, and issues related to the wood used in grand piano rims.

Buying a Digital Piano

by Alden Skinner (recurring) • 5 pages • Item G-07

There are currently over 200 models of digital piano on the market. Narrowing the field requires exploring some basic issues. This article covers, at a basic, nontechnical level, the needs of both entry-level shoppers and those interested in more sophisticated, feature-laden models. Subjects include: the “starter” digital piano, voices and expanded capabilities, keyboards, cabinet types, pricing, evaluating tone and touch, and shopping options.

Digital Piano Basics, Part 1: Imitating the Acoustic Piano

by Alden Skinner (recurring) • 7 pages • Item G-08

In 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.

Digital Piano Basics, Part 2: Beyond the Acoustic Piano

by Alden Skinner (recurring) • 10 pages • Item G-09

In this article, we explore all the ways that digital pianos can go beyond simply duplicating the functions of the acoustic piano. Subjects covered include: other instrumental voices, layering and splitting, effects such as reverb and chorus, alternate tunings, MIDI, connecting to a computer, external storage; computer software for recording, virtual instruments, music notation, and education; onboard recording, automated accompaniments, memory presets, song presets, other types of controls, vocals, moving keys, and headphones for listening.

Nontraditional Materials and the Piano

by Steve Brady (Fall 2011) • 6 pages • Item G-10

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.

The All-Steinway School Program vs. the Diverse-Inventory Approach to Buying Pianos for an Institution

by Sally Phillips and Anne Garee (Spring 2013) • 6 pages • Item G-11

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.

— The All-Steinway School Program (excerpt from above article)

by Sally Phillips (Spring 2013) • 4 pages • Item G-11A

—Strength in Numbers: Success with a Diverse Piano Inventory (excerpt from above article)

by Anne Garee (Spring 2013) • 3 pages • Item G-11B

The Technology-Equipped Piano Goes to School:
The Yamaha Disklavier, Long-Distance Learning, and More

by George Litterst (Fall 2014) • 6 pages • Item G-12

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.

Piano Marvel: Teaching the Video-Game Generation to Play

by Rebecca, Jennifer, and Theresa Wilkinson (Fall 2014) • 4 pages • Item G-13

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.

The Benefits of Laminated Soundboards

by Delwin D. Fandrich (Fall 2015) • 5 pages • Item G-14

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.

Piano Parts and Sizes

by Larry Fine (excerpt from The Piano Book) • 2 pages • Item G-15

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.

Piano Buying & Selling FAQs

by Larry Fine (from PianoBuyer.com) • 8 pages • Item G-16

Frequently Asked Questions about piano buying & selling, from the PianoBuyer.com website.

Hybrid Pianos

by Alden Skinner and Larry Fine (recurring) • 4 pages • Item G-17

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. A hybrid piano can be created from either an acoustic or a digital piano. An acoustic-based hybrid is created by adding electronic components to an acoustic piano to turn it into a MIDI controller with a sound module, and by adding a mechanical silencer to optionally mute the acoustic-piano sound. A digital-based hybrid is created by designing a digital piano’s action, speaker system, cabinet, and other components to replicate as faithfully as possible the experience of playing an acoustic piano.

Buying An Electronic Player-Piano System

by Larry Fine (recurring) • 4 pages • Item G-18

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. The capabilities of these systems range from those that simply play the piano, all the way to those that allow composers to create, play, and print entire orchestral scores without ever leaving the piano bench. The features and technological capabilities are already vast and are still evolving.

My Other Piano is a Computer: An Introduction to Software Pianos

by Alden Skinner (recurring) • 2 pages • Item G-19

A digital piano is generally sold as a complete instrument that's ready to play right out of the box. However, if viewed as separate components of a piano kit, a personal computer can take on the role of memory and processing, piano software becomes the sound source, a keyboard (very possibly your digital piano) provides control, and powered monitor speakers and/or headphones let you hear your new invention. 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.

 

USED & RESTORED PIANOS

Buying a Used or Restored Piano

by Larry Fine (recurring) • 12 pages • Item U-01

This basic article begins with an overview of the different historical eras represented in the used-piano market, followed by descriptions of the various methods of finding an appropriate used piano for sale. Piano restoration, and buying a restored piano, are also covered. The article concludes with a lengthy discussion of how to figure the value of a used piano. The valuation tables and charts in this section are widely used in the piano business as appraisal tools.

Gray-Market Pianos and Cracked Soundboards: Myth and Reality

by Larry Fine (recurring) • 2 pages • Item U-01A

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.

Advice About Used Pianos for Parents of Young, Beginning Piano Students

by Sally Phillips (recurring) • 3 pages • Item U-02

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. Although good and bad pianos have been made in every decade, and every used piano must be evaluated on its own merits, certain decades or categories of piano frequently found in today’s used-piano market should raise red flags.

David Andersen: A Reliable Catalyst

by Steve Brady (Fall 2009) • 3 pages • Item U-03

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.

Everything Old Is New Again

by Stuart Isacoff (Spring 2010) • 5 pages • Item U-04

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.

Three Approaches to Piano Restoration

by Bill Shull, David G. Hughes, and Delwin D. Fandrich (Fall 2010) • 7 pages • Item U-05

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 that can be called Conservative, Modern, and Innovative. Of course, this division is, to some degree, a generalization; a particular restorer may combine elements of more than one approach in his or her work.

Rebuilder Spotlight: Cunningham Piano Company

by Tim Oliver and Rich Galassini (Spring 2011) • 4 pages • Item U-06

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.

Upright Cabinet Styles in American Piano Manufacturing, 1880–1930

by Martha Taylor (Spring 2012) • 14 pages (including 19 photos) • Item U-07

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.

Piano Purgatory: The Donated Piano

by Sally Phillips (Fall 2013) • 6 pages • Item U-08

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.

Taking a Tax Donation When Donating a Piano

by Larry Fine (Fall 2013) • 2 pages • Item U-09

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.

Donating, Converting, or Recycling Your Piano

by Karen Lile (Fall 2013) • 3 pages • Item U-10

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.

Rebuilding the New York Way

by Sally Phillips (Spring 2015) • 8 pages (including 18 photos) • Item U-11

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.

How to Inspect a Used Piano Before Buying

by Larry Fine (excerpt from The Piano Book) • 16 pages (including 27 illustrations) • Item U-12

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.

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

by Larry Fine (excerpts from The Piano Book) • 2 pages • Item U-12A

Two handy reference aids from The Piano Book. The Checklist, also included in Item U-12, is a summary of the instructions contained in that article.

Buying a Used Steinway

by Larry Fine (excerpts from The Piano Book) • 6 pages • Item U-13

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.

Should I Have My Piano Rebuilt?

by Sally Phillips (Fall 2016) • 4 pages • Item U-14

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.

How to Sell Your Piano

by Steve Cohen and Piano Buyer Staff (Spring 2017) • 8 pages • Item U-15

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.

 

HIGH-END PIANOS

The Uncompromising World of High-End Pianos

by Sally Phillips (recurring) • 4 pages • Item H-01

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 merely 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.

The Best Piano: A Story

by Ori Bukai (recurring) • 2 pages • Item H-02

The great American pianos, having come of age during the Romantic era, tend toward the Romantic tonal tradition. The great European piano makers, however, embedded in a culture steeped in centuries of musical tradition, have long had to satisfy the conflicting tonal styles of different ages, and this has resulted in a wide variety of instruments with different musical qualities. The good news is that the best way to find the right piano for you is to play as many as you can—a simply wonderful experience! What follows is a story with a valuable perspective from a well-respected dealer of performance-quality instruments.

Dealers Speak About Their High-End Brands

by various piano dealers (Fall 2009) • 5 pages • Item H-03

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.

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

by various piano technicians (Spring and Fall 2010) • 11 pages • Item H-04

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.

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

by Larry Fine (Spring 2011) • 6 pages (including 20 photos) • Item H-05

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.

Selecting a Performance Piano for Concert Hall or Home

by Sally Phillips (Fall 2011) • 4 pages • Item H-06

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.

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

by Steve Brady (Fall 2012) • 4 pages • Item H-07

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.

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

by Sally Phillips (Fall 2012) • 5 pages • Item H-08

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.

Are "Hand-Built" Pianos Becoming Obsolete?

by George F. Emerson, with responses by Don Mannino and Udo Steingraeber (Spring 2013) • 7 pages • Item H-09

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.

German Piano Makers Face the Music of Globalization

by Derek Scally (Fall 2016) • 6 pages • Item H-10

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.

 

PIANO CARE & OWNERSHIP

Caring For Your Piano

by Larry Fine (recurring) • 3 pages • Item C-01

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.

Benches, Lamps, Accessories, and Problem Solvers

by Larry Fine (recurring) • 4 pages • Item C-02

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.

Ten Ways to Voice a Room

by Christopher Storch (recurring) • 4 pages • Item C-03

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.

How to Make a Piano Room Sound Grand

by Lewis Lipnick (various issues) • 5 pages • Item C-04

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.

Moving the Family Piano

by Russ Vitt (Spring 2012) • 3 pages • Item C-05

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?

Voicing and Tone: What Piano Buyers and Owners Should Know

by Sally Phillips (Spring 2014) • 7 pages • Item C-06

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.

Piano Moving & Storage

by Larry Fine (excerpt from The Piano Book) • 8 pages • Item C-07

Piano moving may conjure up images of men with monstrous arms and huge torsos, but actually two or three people of average build can do most piano moving jobs—even grands—if they have some brains, experience, the right equipment, and a knowledge of just when and where to apply a little force. This article, though not a do-it-yourself instruction manual, explains in general terms how pianos are moved—within a home, locally, interstate, and internationally—and how to avoid problems when hiring a piano mover or storing a piano.

Piano Maintenance FAQs

by Larry Fine (from PianoBuyer.com) • 4 pages • Item C-08

Frequently Asked Questions about piano maintenance, from the PianoBuyer.com website.

Review: Magic Lid Slow-Close Lid for Grand Pianos

by Owen Lovell (Fall 2016) • 4 pages • Item C-09

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.

Piano Tuning: An Introduction

by Sally Phillips (Spring 2017) • 4 pages • Item C-10

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 (more than 200 of each, the exact number varying with the model), 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.

 

REVIEWS — ACOUSTIC PIANOS

Chinese-made Grands: An Attractive, Affordable Option

by Mary C. Smith (Fall 2009) • 2 pages • Item A-01

Several well-made small and medium-size 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. While any of the pianos I tried would be a good choice, I did come away with favorites.

Performance-Grade 'Value' Pianos

by Dr. Owen Lovell and Adrean Farrugia (Spring 2010) • 4 pages • Item A-02

For this review, I asked two professional pianists, Dr. Owen Lovell and Adrean Farrugia, both active members of the Piano World online community, to play and write about the pianos that lie at the less costly end of the price spectrum of performance-grade instruments. The task was divided up, and the specific instruments to review were chosen, largely on the basis of which brands and models were available in each reviewer's geographic area. Permission to audition the pianos was requested from their dealers, who were also given the opportunity to prepare the pianos to show their best.

Buying a Grand Piano Less than Five Feet Long

by Larry Fine and volunteer reviewers (Fall 2010) • 6 pages • Item A-03

There was a time when, as they say, I wouldn't have wrapped fish in a grand piano less than 5' long. The short cases of these pianos place severe constraints on string length and soundboard design, and often result in instruments with poor tone. To compete at this end of the market, manufacturers have traditionally needed to make and sell such pianos as inexpensively as possible, sometimes skimping on materials until the pianos just barely hold together. 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.

Review: Inexpensive, Entry-Level Vertical Pianos

by Larry Fine and volunteer reviewers (Spring 2011) • 6 pages • Item A-04

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. Although 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.

Review: The Best Chinese Professional-Size Grands

by Judith Cohen (Fall 2011) • 4 pages • Item A-05

For this issue’s piano review, Piano Buyer asked concert pianist Judith Cohen to try out five of the highest-rated Chinese grands between 6' and 6' 6" long. This is a size range of piano commonly used by professionals—larger than the pianos in most homes, but smaller than those found on concert stages. The author concludes by commenting on the tradeoff between price and performance when considering whether to purchase a moderately priced or a high-end instrument.

Review: The New Feurich Pianos

by Dr. Owen Lovell (Spring 2012) • 2 pages • Item A-06

Review: Seiler Model 186

by Kristian Klefstad (Fall 2012) • 2 pages • Item A-07

Review: Schimmel's Updated Konzert Series Grand Pianos

by Kiyoshi Tamagawa (Fall 2013) • 2 pages • Item A-08

Review: Four Baldwin Models

by Dr. James Lent (Spring 2014) • 2 pages • Item A-09

Review: Kawai GX

by Dr. Owen Lovell (Spring 2014) • 2 pages • Item A-10

Review: Yamaha CX

by Dr. Owen Lovell (Spring 2014) • 3 pages • Item A-11

Review: Petrof Grands

by Benjamin Boren (Spring 2015) • 2 pages • Item A-12

Review: Perzina Pianos

by Brent Watkins (Fall 2015) • 3 pages • Item A-13

Review: Grotrian Pianos

by James Wrubel (Fall 2015) • 4 pages • Item A-14

Review: August Förster

by David J. Korevaar (Spring 2016) • 3 pages • Item A-15

Review: Kingsburg Pianos

by Willie Chen (Fall 2016) • 3 pages • Item A-16

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

by Hugh Sung (Spring 2017) • 4 pages • Item A-17

It’s refreshing to see that the spirit of innovation is still alive and well within the piano industry. It’s also gratifying to see technical innovation in the direction of softer sonorities, rather than always toward the louder and more powerful. The further exploration of quiet spaces made possible by such innovations may itself be a wonderful artistic antidote to the noise and bustle of our modern lives.

 

REVIEWS — DIGITAL PIANOS

At Home On Stage: Professional Stage Pianos Come Home

by Alden Skinner (Fall 2009) • 4 pages • Item D-01

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. I chose three of the top stage pianos to test and describe: the Kawai MP8II, the Roland RD-700GX, and the Yamaha CP300, samples of which their manufacturers were kind enough to lend me for this purpose.

Digital Pianos: What Can I Buy for $1,995?

by Alden Skinner (Spring 2010) • 5 pages • Item D-02

You have $2,000 to spend on a digital piano. You might be willing to stretch your budget a little if something really strikes your fancy, but not by much. You're primarily interested in the basics: good piano sound and a good action. Rhythms wouldn't necessarily disqualify a model as long as the basics aren't sacrificed. Beyond that, you're pretty open to different possibilities.

Vienna Symphonic Library’s Vienna Imperial

by Alden Skinner (Spring 2010) • 4 pages • Item D-03

The Roland V-Piano and SuperNatural Piano Sound Engine

by John Norton (Fall 2010) • 2 pages • Item D-04

Review: Yamaha NU1 Hybrid

by Alden Skinner and Rhonda Ringering (Spring 2013) • 4 pages • Item D-05

Review: Blüthner e-Klavier

by Derek Kealii Polischuk (Fall 2014) • 3 pages • Item D-06

Review: Physis Piano H1

by Sam Ecoff (Fall 2014) • 3 pages • Item D-07

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

by Jim Aikin (Spring 2015) • 6 pages • Item D-08

Review: Kawai Digital Pianos CN25, CA97, and CP2

by Dr. Owen Lovell (Fall 2015) • 4 pages • Item D-09

Review: Roland FP-30

by Dr. Owen Lovell (Spring 2016) • 3 pages • Item D-10

Review: Casio CGP-700 and Privia PX-560

by Dr. Owen Lovell (Spring 2016) • 4 pages • Item D-11

Review: Yamaha Clavinova CVP-700 Series

by Stephen Fortner (Fall 2016) • 9 pages • Item D-12

Review: Roland FP-90

by Stephen Fortner (Spring 2017) • 8 pages • Item D-13

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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