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Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer Fall 2017

A Message from the Publisher


Welcome to the Fall 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.

Piano Soloists Choose the Steinway Piano

In this issue we offer several new articles for your reading pleasure. At only 40 years old, the Italian piano maker Fazioli is by far the youngest of the world’s makers of high-end concert instruments. Yet, as pianist Alex McDonald remarks in his review of the company’s larger grands, “Few piano makers generate more buzz among pianists and piano enthusiasts. . . . In a profession dominated by established composers, teachers, performers, styles, and instrument makers, many now consider Fazioli to be firmly established as a premium piano maker, in the same echelon as Steinway and Bösendorfer.” Read McDonald’s thoughts about the Faziolis, and how their tone and touch compare to those of Steinway instruments ("Review: Fazioli" p. 80).

Dealers in new pianos sometimes report customers requesting an instrument right out of the box or crate, rather than the demonstrator model on the sales floor that has been played by other prospective buyers. But in “Dealer Preparation of New Pianos: Should I Buy a Piano ‘Out of the Crate’?,” Piano Buyer’s Contributing Editor and Piano Industry Consultant Steve Cohen — a piano dealer himself — states that “the jostling and environmental changes that occur during the shipping of the instrument from the factory would ensure that it would arrive at the dealer in less than optimal condition. Bringing the instrument back to the level of musicality intended by the manufacturer is the responsibility of the dealer. . . . Why pay for a fine instrument and settle for anything less?” ("Dealer Preparation of New Pianos: Should I Buy a Piano “Out of the Crate”?" p. 47).

Piano Buyer’s Piano Review Editor, Owen Lovell, admits that he has never owned a software piano — piano sounds that reside on your computer and are played via your digital piano’s keyboard — and, until recently, had always viewed them as a somewhat nutty fringe phenomenon. Noting, however, software pianos’ growing prevalence and diversity in the global market, he reviews several of them in “Six Software Pianos Under $150: A Sampling.” His conclusion? Lovell finds that, though a bit cumbersome to install, and sensitive to your computer’s processing power, software pianos are a great way to “own” instruments one could never hope to afford. In addition, he writes, “Software pianos are a means of breathing new life into older gear for an affordable price, and they sound better and more realistic than almost every hardware-based digital piano I’ve played” ("Six Software Pianos under $150: A Sampling" p. 122).

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 ("The New-Piano Market Today: Staff Picks (Recommendations)" p. 41).

Sauter 275 Concert

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


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 © 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 978-192914566-9

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, George Litterst, Owen Lovell, Alex McDonald, Sally Phillips, Alden Skinner, Chris Solliday, Christopher Storch



Photo Credits

Cover: Grand, Shigeru Kawai SK-5; Vertical, Ritmuller UH121R; Digital, Samick Ebony NEO; Page 5: www.baileyworld.com; Page 6: Mark Duffy; Page 12: Samick Music Corp.; Page 16: Douglas Gilbert; Page 31: www.nasa.gov; Page 51: header, Young Chang; Cristofori, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Sq. Grand, www.liveauctioneers.com; Page 68: © Schnapps2012, iStock; Page 73: © Keith Tsuji, iStock; Page 83: Faust Harrison Pianos; Page 89: © Galina Stepanova; Page 97: header, © Tatiana Popova; Regulating, © Brent Bossom; Page 102: © Ryan Lane; Page 111: Yamaha; Page 120: © Carl Keyes; Page 128: Yamaha; Page 133: PianoDisc; Page 134: © Martina Nehls-Sahabandu

Piano Buyer Fall 2017

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