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Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer Fall 2017

A Message from the Publisher


Welcome to the Spring 2018 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.

Piano Soloists Choose the Steinway Piano

In this issue we offer several new articles for your reading pleasure. With grand pianos from China so inexpensive, and digital pianos sounding so realistic (through headphones, at least), why would anyone still want to buy an acoustic vertical? Well, says Owen Lovell, Piano Buyer’s Piano Review Editor, in “The Vertical Piano Is Not Dead”, if you love “the resonant, visceral, decidedly analog experience” of playing a good acoustic piano but don’t have space for a grand, you might want to try a Seiler vertical equipped with a Super Magnet Repetition (SMR) action.

It’s easy to forget that the Internet as we know it is barely 20 years old, and that, until fairly recently, the process of advertising a piano for sale primarily consisted of placing a print ad in your local PennySaver. But with the Internet’s benefits have come some headaches. “My biggest challenge has been trying to stay one step ahead of the scammers,” says Joe Ross, owner of the classified-ad site PianoMart.com, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary online. In our interview with Ross, he also gives advice on how to detect and avoid the scammers.

Every now and then, a piano is sold at a charity auction for millions of dollars because a celebrity once owned, played, endorsed, or signed it — or all of the above. But, says Karen E. Lile, an appraiser who specializes in celebrity pianos, “it’s more common for a celebrity or a celebrity’s heirs to part with a piano in a private transaction than to direct public attention toward their personal property.” Read about this fascinating but little-known part of the piano world in Lile’s “The Private and Public Sides of Celebrity Pianos”.

How do you get rid of the fingerprints on a hand-rubbed satin finish? Why does the high-gloss finish on my piano look so bad after I’ve applied furniture wax? In “Cleaning and Polishing a Piano’s Finish”, Dave Swartz, a piano technician and owner of Cory Products, tells us all we need to know about how to properly care for satin, high-gloss, and open-pore piano finishes.

The nuances and refinements in the tone and touch of a digital piano that are required to re-create the experience of playing an acoustic piano — and earn it the designation hybrid piano — are many, and not always what you might expect. Piano Review Editor Owen Lovell discovers a new and important one in his review of the Kawai Novus NV10 Hybrid.

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 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.

Sauter Ambiente

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


Elegance with the Roland GP606 Digital Grand Piano


Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer


The Definitive Guide to Buying New, Used, and Restored Pianos


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

Brookside Press LLC
P.O. Box 601041
San Diego, CA 92160 USA
619.810.0425 (fax)
[email protected]

Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer copyright © 2018 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 978-192914567-6

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, Karen E. Lile, George Litterst, Owen Lovell, Sally Phillips, Alden Skinner, Chris Solliday, Christopher Storch, Dave Swartz



Photo Credits


Cover: Grand, Wilh. Grotrian WG-211; Vertical, Steinway K-52; Digital, Korg G1 Air; Page 5: www.baileyworld.com; Page 6: Mark Duffy; Page 12: Samick Music Corp.; Page 16: Douglas Gilbert; Page 31: www.nasa.gov; Page 53: header, Young Chang;; Cristofori, Metropolitan; Museum of Art; Sq. Grand,; www.liveauctioneers.com; Page 68: © Schnapps2012, iStock; Page 75: © Keith Tsuji, iStock; Page 82: Faust Harrison Pianos; Page 93: © Galina Stepanova; Page 97: header, © Tatiana Popova;; Tuning, © Brent Bossom;; Regulating, © Brent Bossom; Page 105: © Ryan Lane; Page 115: Yamaha; Page 128: © Carl Keyes; Page 130: Yamaha; Page 135: PianoDisc; Page 136: © Martina Nehls-Sahabandu


Piano Buyer Spring 2018


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