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Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer Spring 2017

A Message from the Publisher


Welcome to the Spring 2017 issue of Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer, a semiannual publication devoted to the purchase of new, used, and restored acoustic pianos and digital pianos. Published since 2009, Piano Buyer is the successor to the well-known reference The Piano Book, and its Annual Supplement, which from 1987 to 2009 were the principal consumer guides 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 Reprints & 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. Although this publication is called Piano Buyer, many of the people who come to our website aren’t interested in buying a piano but are trying — sometimes desperately — to sell one. As contributing editor and lifelong piano dealer Steve Cohen writes in “How to Sell Your Piano,” “Selling a used piano can be a challenge: Since the Recession, used pianos at all price levels have plummeted in value. Used pianos for sale far outnumber shoppers to buy them, making it a buyer’s market.” In his article, Cohen, with the help of other Piano Buyer staff, advises how to make the most of a difficult market ("How to Sell Your Piano" p.70).

Just about everyone reading this has at some point needed to have a piano tuned — or will in the near future (unless, of course, your instrument of choice is a digital). But how much do you really know about this activity — so commonplace and, at the same time, so obscure and esoteric? “To the uninitiated, tuning a piano may seem a simple, straightforward procedure, but it isn’t,” offers Sally Phillips in “Piano Tuning: An Introduction.” “The process is complicated by many factors — obstacles not only to tuning, but also to creating a tuning that will be stable for a reasonable length of time, given the piano’s use and environment.” All you ever wanted to know about piano tuning begins on ("Piano Tuning - An Introduction" p.100)

How can a concert piano be powerful enough to be heard above an orchestra and delicate enough for playing chamber music? Steingraeber & Söhne, a 165-year-old German piano maker still owned and managed by descendants of its founder, has recycled some 200-year-old technology to make this happen. In his review, “The Quiet Innovations of an Iconic Piano Maker,” pianist Hugh Sung reflects, “It’s gratifying to see technical innovation in the direction of softer sonorities, rather than always toward the louder and more powerful. The further exploration of quiet spaces made possible by such innovations may itself be a wonderful artistic antidote to the noise and bustle of our modern lives” ("Review: Steingraeber & Söhne" p.89).

Calling the Roland FP-90 digital piano “two-thirds home piano and one-third stage piano,” reviewer Stephen Fortner finds that the new instrument’s modest profile and price belie its versatility and excellent sound quality: “Given the FP-90’s powerful built-in speaker system and minimalist user interface, it’s clear that Roland is aiming their latest FP model at musicians who’d prefer that any gee-whiz technologies get out of their way and let them play. However, far from being a Luddite design, the FP-90 also uses Bluetooth to stream audio and connect to useful mobile apps” ("Review - Roland FP-90" p.119).

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 than 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 the time, interest, and/or ability to make theirown 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 ("Staff Picks" p.43).


Don’t forget to explore the rest of our website. If you’re shopping for a new piano, our 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 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 for how we can do that better, please e-mail me at [email protected].

— Larry Fine, Publisher



Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer


Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer is published semiannually, in March and September, by:

Brookside Press, P.O. Box 601041, San Diego, CA 92160 USA

619.738.4155, 619.810.0425 (fax)

[email protected], www.pianobuyer.com

Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Copyright 2017 by Brookside Press LLC. All rights reserved.

"The Piano Book" is a Registered Trademark of Lawrence Fine

"Piano Buyer" is a Registered Trademark of Brookside Press LLC

ISBN 978-192914544-7

Distributed to the book trade by Independent Publishers Group

814 North Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610

(800) 888-4741 or (312) 337-0747

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without prior written permission of the publisher, except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles and book reviews.

Reasonable efforts have been made to secure accurate information for this publication. Due in part to the fact that manufacturers and distributors will not always willingly make this information available, however, some indirect sources have been relied on.

Neither the editors nor publisher make any guarantees with respect to the accuracy of the information contained herein, and will not be liable for damages – incidental, consequential, or otherwise – resulting from the use of the information.


Publisher and Editor, Advertising Director: Larry Fine, [email protected]

Piano Review Editor: Dr. Owen Lovell, [email protected]

Contributing Editor and Piano Industry Consultant: Steve Cohen, [email protected]

Design and Production: Julie Gallagher, Harry St. Ours

Acoustic Piano Technical Consultants: Sally Phillips, Del Fandrich

Digital Piano Technical Consultants: Alden Skinner, Stephen Fortner

Copyeditor: Richard Lehnert

Contributors to this issue: Ori Bukai, Brian Chung, Steve Cohen, Stephen Fortner, George Litterst, Sally Phillips, Alden Skinner, Chris Solliday, Christopher Storch, Hugh Sung

See www.pianobuyer.com for more information.



Photo Credits


Cover: Grand, Fazioli 278; Vertical, Seiler 126 Attraction; Digital, Dynatone SLP-250H; Page 5: www.baileyworld.com; Page 6: Mark Duffy; Page 12: Samick Music Corp.; Page 16: Douglas Gilbert; Page 33: www.nasa.gov; Page 51: header, Young Chang; Cristofori, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Sq. Grand, www.liveauctioneers.com; Page 67: © Schnapps2012, iStock; Page 71: © fotografixx, iStock; Page 77: © Keith Tsuji, iStock; Page 83: Faust Harrison Pianos; Page 92: © Galina Stepanova; Page 101: © myrrha, iStock; Page 105: header, © Tatiana Popova; Regulating, © Brent Bossom; Page 109: © Ryan Lane; Page 113: Yamaha; Page 124: Roland; Page 130: Yamaha; Page 140: Yamaha; Page 145: PianoDisc; Page 146: © Martina Nehls-Sahabandu


Roland FP-30


Piano Buyer


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