Spring 2014    Page 175

The Definitive Piano Buying Guide

Acoustic Pianos

Brand and Company Profiles

While modern manufacturing methods are fully utilized, the factory also uses a large amount of skilled manual labor. Chen seeks out the best workers by paying considerably higher wages than other piano makers in China, he says, and provides an in-depth training program for his workers, conducted by piano builders and technicians from the U.S. and Europe. He also assists in the training of future piano technicians through an association with a local university. His greatest aspiration, Chen says, is to make the best piano in Asia.

Over the years, much of Chen's technical efforts have gone into maximizing the precision and stability of the pianos and parts his company makes. This is evidenced by the substantial investment in computer-controlled machinery used for precision cutting; the design of keys, keybeds, and other parts to resist warping; and the fact that grand piano actions are actually interchangeable between instruments of the same model (this requires an unusually high level of precision). The pianos themselves exhibit good quality control and intelligence in design. In terms of materials, the company uses maple in grand piano rims, a feature indicative of higher quality and arguably necessary for the best sound. In 2011, the company began sourcing its own supply of the highest-quality Austrian spruce, and plans to make its own soundboards with this spruce for select piano models. Piano Buyer's reviewers have tried out several Hailun grands (see reviews in the Fall 2009, Fall 2010, and Fall 2011 issues) and have been impressed with their musicality.

To help it reach the highest quality standards, Hailun has also hired an impressive group of experts from Japan (Ema Shigeru), Europe (Stephen Paulello, Claire Trichet, Sibin Zlatkovic, Peter Veletzky), and the U.S. (Frank Emerson). In 2009, to oversee and assist with quality control, Hailun hired Rolf Ibach, owner of Rud. Ibach Sohn, one of the oldest and most reputable European piano companies, which closed its doors in 2008 after more than 200 years in business.

Hailun USA has initiated several support programs designed to increase the speed at which service requests are handled, and to measure customer satisfaction. It has also introduced the Hailun Dream Assurance Program, in which the company guarantees, subject to certain limitations, that the sound of any purchased Hailun piano will be to the customer's liking or, within 90 days of purchase, the company will exchange the piano for another of the same model. Under the company's Gold Service Program, Hailun dealers are obligated to provide each customer with one free service call between 60 and 180 days after purchase of a piano.

Hailun America is reintroducing the Cline brand to the U.S. market in the form of entry-level models made by Hailun. Chester L. Cline began selling pianos in Tacoma, Washington, in the 1880s, and produced pianos under his own name beginning in 1889. He eventually expanded his retail chain throughout the Northwest and, in the 1920s, into California, becoming one of the largest piano dealers in the West. In the 1980s and '90s, pianos bearing the Cline name were made by several manufacturers of entry-level pianos.

Today, Cline makes 46½" and 48" verticals and a 4' 11" grand. The grand comes with the HLPS lid-support system. Both the 48" vertical and the grand are optionally available with the MG Silent System, which can turn the acoustic piano into a digital one that can be played with headphones at any time of day or night. It also features a metronome, and allows performances to be recorded and exported in MIDI format to share with others. (See the chapter on Hybrid Pianos for more information about silent systems.) Owners of Cline pianos in North America are entitled to receive a trade-in credit of the full amount paid for the instrument toward the purchase of a new grand made by Hailun, Emerson, Petrof, or Sauter (all of whom share a common distributor).

Warranty: Hailun — 15 years, parts and labor, to the original owner, transferable to the second owner within the warranty period. Cline — 10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser. Emerson — 5 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser. Electronics — 1 year, parts and labor, to original purchaser. See also the Dream Assurance Program, described above.

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Spring 2014    Page 175

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