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The Definitive Piano Buying Guide for
Welcome to the Fall 2016 issue of Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer, a semiannual publication devoted to the purchase of new, used, and restored acoustic pianos and digital pianos. Piano Buyer is the supplement and successor to the well-known reference The Piano Book, which since 1987 has been the principal consumer guide 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.
Piano Buyer is a hybrid book/magazine. The "book" part consists of a collection of how-to articles on the many aspects of buying a piano. These basic articles are repeated in every issue to serve the many new buyers continually entering the piano market. The "magazine" part consists of features that change with each issue to cover topics of more temporary or niche interest, and to provide variety. Each issue contains several of these excellent features, many of which remain relevant for years. If you missed any of them, you'll find them under the website's Reprints & Archive tab. The brand, model, and price reference material in the second half of the publication is updated, as needed, with each issue.
In this issue we offer several new articles for your reading pleasure. Los Angeles–area piano teacher Willie Chen reviews Kingsburg pianos, one of the lesser-known brands from China. Says Chen, "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." In this review, Chen finds Kingsburg pianos to be a suitable upgrade for families on a tight budget.
In the 1970s, when I attended piano-technology school, we were taught to rebuild just about any piano put in front of us for that purpose, in large part because good-quality new pianos were in short supply. But today, with high-quality pianos from Europe and Asia so readily available, and often inexpensive, that rationale no longer applies. So it's not surprising that, in "Should I Have My Piano Rebuilt?," popular writer Sally Phillips comes to the controversial conclusion that, from a financial and musical point of view, "except for premium-quality instruments, most pianos are not worth a private owner's investment in their rebuilding."
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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 Derek Scally attended the 2016 gathering, at a time of great change for the German piano industry. In "German Piano Makers Face the Music of Globalization," Scally describes the hopes, fears, and varying points of view associated with the recent acquisition of several German piano firms by Chinese investors.
In recent years, makers of pianos at all price levels have adopted as a standard or premium feature the slow-close fallboard, a mechanism to prevent fingers from being pinched by this case part. But, as Piano Buyer's Piano Review Editor, Owen Lovell, observes, "I know of far more accidents resulting in personal injury and property damage related to a grand piano's lid, lid hinges, and lid propstick than to ones involving the fallboard." Here Lovell reviews Magic Lid, "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 safer and easier to use for people of all ages, heights, and degrees of physical strength."
Following on last year's enthusiastic review by Jim Aikin of the Yamaha Clavinova CLP-500-series digital pianos, former Keyboard magazine editor Stephen Fortner here reviews Clavinova's ensemble version, the 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."
Piano Buyer's ratings of new pianos are probably the publication's most read, most misunderstood, and most controversial feature. As the quality of low-end pianos rises, and the differences between brands become increasingly subtle and subjective, our ratings have come to represent less our judgments of the instruments than our sense of how manufacturers and dealers position them in the marketplace — partly by price, but also by reputation and country of origin. But we've never been completely satisfied with this, in part because readers who lack the time, interest, and/or ability to make their own judgments frequently ask that we help them by recommending specific models. We've risen to the challenge with "Staff Picks," our unapologetically subjective assessments of the best in today's acoustic, digital, and hybrid pianos.
Don't forget to explore the rest of our website. If you're shopping for a new piano, our two searchable online databases of 3,000 acoustic and more than 200 digital models will help you quickly home in on the instruments that match your requirements for size, furniture style, budget, and features. If you're shopping for a used instrument, try our Piano Buyer Classifieds; using its powerful search engine, browse among thousands of used pianos for sale. If you're in need of piano-related services — tuning, rebuilding, sales, teaching, or moving — use our Local Services Directory. And when you're ready to take a break, treat yourself to some comic relief with our blog, Piano-Buying Stories.
Finally, if you're reading this online, consider buying a print copy of Piano Buyer. It's a handsome volume, printed in color on glossy paper, and will make a great reference, coffee-table book, or gift. You can purchase it through the website or in bookstores.
Piano Buyer exists to make shopping for a piano easier and more enjoyable. If you have a suggestion for how we can do that better, please e-mail me at [email protected].
— Larry Fine, Publisher
Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer is published semiannually, in March and September, by:
Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer
Copyright 2016 by Brookside Press LLC. All rights reserved.
"The Piano Book" is a Registered Trademark of Lawrence Fine
"Piano Buyer" is a Registered Trademark of Brookside Press LLC
Distributed to the book trade by Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610
(800) 888-4741 or (312) 337-0747
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without prior written permission of the publisher, except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles and book reviews.
Reasonable efforts have been made to secure accurate information for this publication. Due in part to the fact that manufacturers and distributors will not always willingly make this information available, however, some indirect sources have been relied on.
Neither the editors nor publisher make any guarantees with respect to the accuracy of the information contained herein, and will not be liable for damages — incidental, consequential, or otherwise — resulting from the use of the information.
Publisher and Editor, Advertising Director: Larry Fine, [email protected]
Piano Review Editor: Dr. Owen Lovell, [email protected]
Contributing Editor and Piano Industry Consultant: Steve Cohen, [email protected]
Design and Production: Julie Gallagher, Harry St. Ours
Acoustic Piano Technical Consultants: Sally Phillips, Del Fandrich
Digital Piano Technical Consultant: Alden Skinner
Copyeditor: Richard Lehnert
Contributors to this issue: Ori Bukai, Willie Chen, Brian Chung, Stephen Fortner, George Litterst, Owen Lovell, Sally Phillips, Derek Scally, Alden Skinner, Chris Solliday, Christopher Storch
See www.PianoBuyer.com for more information.
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To use this index:
|The American Organist||ad|
|Bundesverband Klavier (BVK)||ad|
|Classic Pianos of Portland||ad|
|Cunningham Piano Co.||ad||profile|
|Dampp-Chaser Piano Life Saver||ad|
|Hollywood Piano Co.||ad|
|House of Troy||ad|
|Kayserburg (Pearl River)||ad||profile|
|Mason & Hamlin||ad||profile|
|Modern Piano Moving||ad|
|North Bennet Street School||ad|
|Period Piano Center||ad|
|Piano Technicians Guild||ad|
|R. Kassman Pianos||ad|
|Randy Potter School of Piano Technology||ad|
|Rick Jones Pianos||ad|
|Ritmüller (Pearl River)||ad||profile|
|Steingraeber & Söhne||ad||profile|
|Steinway & Sons||ad||profile|
|Wessell, Nickel & Gross||ad|
|World Class Pianos||ad|
Cover: Grand, Boston PE-II; Vertical, Wilh. Steinberg Signature 130; Digital, Yamaha Clavinova CVP-709; Page 4: header, www.art-design.si; Grand, Boston GP-178 EP; Page 5: header, www.baileyworld.com; Slab, Williams Allegro 2; Page 6: Mark Duffy; Page 12: Samick Music Corp.; Page 16: Douglas Gilbert; Page 33: www.nasa.gov; Page 53: header, Young Chang; Cristofori, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Sq. Grand, www.liveauctioneers.com; Page 69: © Schnapps2012, iStock; Page 73: © kasia_ka, iStock; Page 77: © Keith Tsuji, iStock; Page 85: Faust Harrison Pianos; Page 99: © Galina Stepanova; Page 106: header, © Tatiana Popova; Tuning, © Brent Bossom; Regulating, © Brent Bossom; Page 111: © Ryan Lane; Page 119: Yamaha; Page 133: Roland; Page 139: Yamaha; Page 149: Yamaha; Page 154: PianoDisc; Page 155: © Martina Nehls-Sahabandu