SEJUNG

including Falcone, Hobart M. Cable, Geo. Steck

America Sejung Corporation
5300 East Ontario Mills Parkway,
Suite 100
Ontario, California 91764
909-484-7498
866-473-5864
sales@sejungusa.com
www.sejungusa.com

Pianos made by: Sejung Corporation, Qingdao, Shandong Province, China

Sejung is a Korean-based company established in 1974. The musical instrument division of the business began production in 2001 with the creation of a partnership with Qingdao Sejung Musical Instruments in China. They began by building a 700,000-square-foot factory in Qingdao, a port city on the eastern coast with a temperate climate; hired dozens of managers who had once worked for Young Chang and Samick; and staffed the factory with some 2,000 workers. In order to attract skilled labor and reduce turnover, the company built dormitories to house and feed this labor force. The company has invested substantially in automated production equipment to achieve high quality standards, and produces just about every piano component in its own factories.

Sejung currently manufactures the Falcone, George Steck, and Hobart M. Cable brand names. These lines are technically similar and are differentiated mostly by their cabinet styles. Most of the models have a solid spruce soundboard, slow-close fallboard, cast pedals, and maple trapwork. In addition, an upscale Falcone Georgian (FG) series includes such features as Abel hammers on grands 5' 4" and larger, upgraded soundboard material, bubinga veneer on the inside of the grand rim, real ebony sharps, and gold-plated hardware.

The first pianos from Sejung were sold in the U.S. in fall 2002, less than one year after production began. A number of their first offerings were examined by technicians, and although still a little rough, they were definitely satisfactory, and remarkably good for such a new company. Since then, the factory has grown to become one of China's largest exporters of musical instruments, production has been refined, and quality has improved. After proper regulation and tuning, the pianos offer good value in an entry-level instrument. The 4' 8" grand and the continental console are most appropriate for those buyers whose primary considerations are price or appearance.

For model and price information, see under Sejung in the "Model & Pricing Guide." During the current recession, dealers report buying Sejung product at enormous discounts, presumably while the company clears out excess inventory. Because this can't go on indefinitely, it seemed more prudent for me to list the normal prices from last year. However, while supplies last, it may be possible to purchase a Sejung-made piano for a fraction of the listed price.

Warranty: 12 years on parts, 10 years on labor, to original purchaser.

SOHMER (& CO.)

Founded by German immigrant Hugo Sohmer in 1872, Sohmer & Co. was owned and managed by the Sohmer family in New York City for 110 years. Having no descendants to take over the business, the founder's grandsons sold the company in 1982. As the company changed hands several times over the following decade, limited production of Sohmer pianos took place in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, finally ceasing in 1994 (see the Sohmer entry in The Piano Book for a more detailed recent history).

Pianos are again being made under this venerable name, once considered among the finest of American-built instruments. However, there appears to be a dispute over the ownership of the Sohmer trademark, with pianos bearing this name being manufactured and distributed by two different companies.

SMC, North American distributor of Samick pianos, says it holds a license from the Burgett brothers, owners of PianoDisc, to use the Sohmer name. The Burgetts acquired the Sohmer trademark registrations when they purchased the assets of Mason & Hamlin out of bankruptcy in 1996. A distributor doing business under the name Persis International, Inc., who applied for the Sohmer trademark in 2001, claims that the registrations acquired by the Burgetts are expired and have been legally abandoned, not having been used since the 1994 closing of the Sohmer factory in Pennsylvania. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office confirms that the government considers all past registrations of the Sohmer trademark to be expired or canceled and that the Burgetts' new application was refused. Further action on Persis's application has been temporarily suspended pending the Burgetts' appeal. At press time, the application process was still ongoing, and it may be some time before the issue is settled for good. In the meantime, piano shoppers may find two "Sohmer" pianos in the marketplace. (Note: Persis's pianos are labeled "Sohmer," and SMC's are labeled "Sohmer & Co.") Both companies submitted product information, including model and price data, for this Supplement.

 

FALL 2009 -- page 176

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