A Message from the Publisher
Welcome to the Fall 2013 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. Have you ever noticed that pianos in schools and houses of worship are so often in poor condition and/or inappropriate for their intended use? You might think it's just a matter of lack of funds, but as piano technician Sally Phillips explains in "Piano Purgatory: The Donated Piano," the cause is more likely that these institutions, unwilling to offend donors, feel compelled to accept any donated piano that comes their way. Phillips shows how institutions can avoid this trap by setting sensible guidelines for the acceptance of both new and used donated instruments (p. 82).
Of course, not every piano is a good candidate for institutional use; some are just too old, worn out, small, or inadequate. In "Donating, Converting, or Recycling Your Piano," Karen Lile, of the piano-rebuilding firm Piano Finders, in the San Francisco area, advises potential donors how to place an unwanted piano with an appropriate recipient. In some cases, this might require having the instrument rebuilt; in others, the piano may need to be disposed of by being turned into furniture or art, or by recycling its parts so they can become part of other useful items (p. 84).
If you're donating a valuable instrument to an institution, you should be aware of the current rules regarding tax deductions for noncash charitable contributions. It's not enough anymore to get just a ballpark estimate of the piano's value from a technician or dealer. You must support your claim with a qualified appraisal from a qualified appraiser. In "Taking a Tax Deduction When Donating a Piano," I give a summary of just what these terms mean (p. 88).
Finally, in this issue's piano review, we take a look at Schimmel's updated Konzert-series grand pianos. Schimmel has applied its Trilogy concept, in which three sizes of grand piano share the same action, to all six of its Konzert models, each of which now contains a concert grand action. Pianist Kiyoshi Tamagawa puts three of the new models through their paces and finds much to admire (p. 50).
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, and more 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 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 (p. 45).
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; 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 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, coffeetable 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