A Message from the Publisher
Welcome to the Fall 2012 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 the Fall 2012 issue we offer several new articles for your reading pleasure. For the first 150 years of the piano’s existence, most instruments were made in relatively small quantities by small workshops. Then, with the advent of the industrial age and mass production, large companies increasingly made all of their own parts, and workshop-based firms, unable to make or obtain parts at reasonable cost, virtually disappeared. Now, everything has come full circle. Many companies specialize in making parts for piano makers large and small, and, along with this specialization, a remarkable breed of craftsperson has again begun to build high-quality grand pianos in workshop settings, defying the conventional wisdom that pianos must be made in large quantities by large corporations. In "One by One: Boutique Piano Builders in the 21st Century," Steve Brady profiles six of these "boutique" piano makers (p. 81).
For teachers, performers, and advanced amateurs seeking a high-quality performance piano, finding the instrument that feels and sounds just right can be a long and frustrating experience. But, as Sally Phillips explains, if the piano’s basic tone-producing capacity is good, almost every other aspect of tone and touch can be adjusted to the buyer’s satisfaction. This means that a purchaser with a basic understanding of regulation and voicing issues, and accompanied by a good piano technician, can uncover hidden gems that others might pass over. Phillips applies these principles to the servicing of three German Steinways in "Regulation & Voicing: What Buyers of Performance-Quality Pianos Should Know" (p. 67).
Korean-based piano maker Samick, which makes most of its pianos in Indonesia, also owns the high-end German maker Seiler — a description that reflects the direction in which the piano industry is heading. Samick makes three nearly identical versions of several Seiler models: one in Indonesia, one in Germany, and one begun in Indonesia and finished in Germany. This gives us something of a laboratory in which to discover what difference a piano’s factory of origin makes. To find out, Dr. Kristian Klefstad reviews the three grand models 186 (6' 1" or 6' 2"; see p. 49).
Speaking of reviews, with this issue we welcome as Piano Review Editor Dr. Owen Lovell, Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. Dr. Lovell’s many contacts in academe and the performance world will ensure a steady supply of piano reviews for issues to come.
Don’t forget to explore the rest of our website. If you’re shopping for a new piano, 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, a feature jointly developed with PianoMart.com, the premier website for classified piano ads. Using PianoMart’s 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, which debuts online with this issue. And when you’re ready to take a break, treat yourself to some comic relief with our latest 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 as to how we can do that better, please e-mail me a firstname.lastname@example.org.
Larry Fine, Publisher