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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Buying a Piano - New Chinatown

We just finished the Grand Piano Search. My daughter has been playing for 10 years, and her piano teacher suggested it's time to upgrade the piano.

The piano industry seems to be a boom and bust industry. Right now, it's in a bust. There are also a lot of Chinese made pianos, some of them have become pretty good. The challenge is many made in China pianos have fancy European names on them. Such as Vienna. If you get serious about Pianos, the book to get is The Piano Book - Brookside Press. For finding out the age of piano, the site Bluebook of Pianos has a lot of good information. Next project is to sell our console/upright (if your in the Los Angeles area and need a good starter piano...

We visited 10+ piano stores. The Chinese focused ones were two in Arcadia focused more on Chinese, one in West Covina, and another in Rowland Heights. We had a great experience at
www.pianogallerie.com in Arcadia, the owner came across as among the most truthful of everyone we spoke to. Most experiences were not that great on going to a piano store, especially how many of them knocked the competition. Amazing the amount of people who claim how great their piano is! And why this brand is so great! If you talk to enough sales people, read The Piano Book and get the supplement, you get pretty educated. For a high end piano, the Chinese made ones are not there yet. Some of the Chinese made ones are very good, but it's hard to tell which ones are great and which ones are not. Steinway is nice, but at a price! The German made ones are amazing, but even more than Steinway. Yamaha and Kawai are good, safe piano's. We ended up with a Kawai. Our old piano is an American made Schafer and Son which is a great starter piano.

Piano Claims that are suspect:

1. Grey market Kawai and Yamaha are not made for the US market and have a problem of cracking (huge source of controversy in the industry). There was a problem with early Kawai and Yamaha's imported into the US back in the late 60's and early 70's.

2. This Chinese made piano is made to German design, which makes it excellent. Maybe... Hard to tell without a track record of a couple years.

3. This Chinese piano is better because it is all wood. Kawai's use plastic in them, so are not as good. The right type plastic in the right location is not an issue.

4. You should always buy new for Pianos (not true, if a good brand name piano it's not an issue. But it's always a good idea to pay for a Piano technician to look at it before purchase. New pianos have a 30-40% premium. Plus piano's take time to season. You can also take out the action and look at the hammers to see how heavily used the piano has been. The major worry is cracks in the soundboard (expensive to fix).

Cute book about music:
Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka
Our Price: $4.50

Nine-year-old Yang and his family have immigrated from China to Seattle and the father is a professional Violin Play. He has been giving Yang Violin lessons for years, and Yang hates the Violin. Yang discovers Baseball! A great story about fitting in and getting used to a new country and culture.

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