Cooper MusicGroup 3: Good Quality

The brands in Group 3, though very good, are considered to have considerably less finesse or renown than those in Groups 1 and 2. Some are lesser product lines of the brands listed above. However, most of these models are also considerably less expensive than the ones above, and may be a better value for the money where the highest quality is not needed. Again, for the purpose of simplicity, this group represents a somewhat wide range of qualities.

Consumer-Grade Pianos

The chart for consumer-grade pianos is organized differently from that for performance-grade pianos. The Korean-based companies Samick and Young Chang each has its own column listing all the brand names each makes for the U.S. market, including brands made under contract for other distributors; the Japanese-based companies Yamaha and Kawai share a column for their brands, including those made under contract; and there is a column for all brands made in China not already included in the other columns.

Within the Samick, Young Chang, and Yamaha/Kawai columns, the various brand names or model groupings are organized approximately as the respective companies themselves position them in the marketplace by price and features. Some small adjustments have been made for subjective reasons. The brands within the Chinese column are organized by approximate overall recommendability, which also tends to fall along lines of price and features, though not uniformly so.

The tricky part of organizing this chart was figuring out how to align each column with the others to indicate the relative recommendability of the brands. As you can see, the brands and models in the Yamaha/Kawai column are concentrated toward the top of the chart, whereas those in the Chinese column are skewed slightly downward. This reflects, in large part, the differences in these brands' track records for durability, reliability, and warranty service. It must be noted that many dealers and others compare pianos only on the basis of their musical performance qualities when new, but a true comparison must also include their track records for these other factors. How much each factor is to be valued is a highly subjective matter, thus reasonable people will disagree as to how these columns should be aligned.

As can be expected, the upper-level consumer grade pianos generally have premium components and better performance and quality control than the lower-level instruments. The entry-level models are basic, no-frills pianos suitable for beginners and casual users, but which a conscientious student may outgrow in a few years. The mid-range pianos usually have better design, performance, quality control, track record, and/or components than the entry-level ones, but not as good as the upper-level ones. As piano quality in general improves, the distinction between levels becomes more subtle and difficult to discern.


SPRING 2010 -- page 50

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