A Message from the Publisher
Welcome to the Fall 2011 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 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. Few readers may have the luxury of needing to purchase a concert grand, but those who do — mostly for institutions — often find it a daunting task. How do you select the best example from among a number of such glorious instruments? Industry veteran and piano technician Sally Phillips shows us how, with advice that is also, to some extent, applicable to the purchase of smaller performance-grade pianos (p. 81).
The piano industry tends to be very conservative. Relatively little has changed in the instrument's technical design over the past 125 years, in large part because manufacturers are afraid of getting beaten up in the marketplace if their pianos are seen as being "experimental." But, as piano technician Steve Brady shows, much of what we take for granted in the modern piano was once considered "experimental," and some very interesting and innovative work being done by a number of makers today may be considered "traditional" tomorrow (p. 68).
With new pianos from China getting better and better, at some point it's only natural to wonder if they might be good enough for even the most accomplished pianists — with a possible savings in cost of 80 percent or more. In this issue, concert pianist Judith Cohen reviews five of the best Chinese-made pianos between 6' and 6' 6" long, and comments on the tradeoffs between price and performance (p. 49).
Don't forget to explore the rest of our website. If you're shopping for a new piano, the searchable online database of 3,000 models will help you home in quickly on the instruments that match your requirements for size, furniture style, and budget. Two new searchable databases debut with this issue: Digital Piano Prices and Features, which allows searching on price and eleven different popular digital-piano features and specifications; and the Piano Technicians and Rebuilders Directory, through which you can find a qualified person in your community to tune, service, appraise, or restore your piano.
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 as to how we can do that better, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Larry Fine, Publisher