Viewing the Latest Entries From Ric's Blog

IF YOU CARE – NAMM 2019

Posted January 16th, 2019 by Ric Overton | Comments Off on IF YOU CARE – NAMM 2019

There will be over 24 important piano related vendors at this years show. You can find the directory here

Practically anyone can attend as long as you go through the proper steps. I would suggest becoming a member to everyone. NAMM is an important part of the music industry. Each year NAMM will bring together the right blend of people that shapes the music industry as we know it. For more information on becoming a member click here.

LEARNING CENTER

This is a time that education becomes vitally important. NAMM will present an entire wing again this year which will focus on education. If you want to hear about new teaching techniques or partner with another teacher on the other side of the globe, NAMM 2019 will be the time to make that happen. More information about the learning center is here.

PIANOS PIANOS PIANOS

Friday night and Saturday night at 5:30 feel free to join us for a ROOMFUL OF PIANOS on the 3rd floor. I was there last year and it was quite exciting. Some very talented musicians gather there to play all of the pianos and it was very entertaining.

LOTS OF FUN

Don’t miss this years NAMM show. It promises to be a very special event.

NAMM 2019 Is Coming

Posted January 10th, 2019 by Ric Overton | Comments Off on NAMM 2019 Is Coming

HAPPY HOLIDAYS !!!

I have said many times that the holiday season for me starts in October with Halloween, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, of course, New Years and finally NAMM. This year is no exception. I am always very excited when NAMM arrives.

For some people NAMM is a drudgery of 2 days of set up, 4 days of standing and hard work. For me it has always been fun to show our latest projects, see what other people are doing and having the opportunity to build relationships.

Lots of great opportunities await us each year as NAMM opens. NAMM has been in the business of team building and relationship among people for many years and is still going strong.

WHAT ABOUT PIANOS?

The piano world has suffered some set backs in the past and continues to have its challenges. However, all in all the piano business seems to be holding its own and the dealers that have embrace the internet are being successful.

Each year in January NAMM has four unbelievable days that allow the most popular manufacturers, distributors and music companies to show their wares. This is our chance to see and sample different products.

Most every piano company, keyboard company, organ company in the world will attend on some level.

WHATS THE BIG DEAL?

People from all over the world will gather for 4 days where we have the opportunity to do business or simply develop a relationship. this is the reason for NAMM.

In my next article I am going to discuss who will be there and what you can expect if you are attending.

Ric

New PianoSD Vision

Posted July 7th, 2018 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

PianoSD.com is starting a new chapter.  We are embarking on a new direction to promote every aspect of keyboard instruments.  Today you will hear the opening podcast that is the first of several to come.  These podcasts are designed to help increase interest in keyboards.

Through cooperation with Troy Rawlings and the team that make up LA Radio Now we going to promote the keyboard instrument industry.  Whether its the piano, digital piano, harpsichord or the mighty pipe organ we will be introducing manufacturers, performers, teachers, technicians and all aspects of our industry.

In the coming months you will learn some amazing things about our industry that possibly you never knew.  We are a globally intertwined industry today.  I believe it will  be very interesting how each and every part of our business from top to bottom is related to each other.

The piano business has had its challenges over the past few years, the organ business has been decimated and so many various parts of our industry have faltered.  There are more bright lights and opportunities out there now there than ever before and many more bright lights in our future.

New Tools

There are many new tools available  today and we are going to implement as many promotional opportunities as possible.  The podcast is just the beginning.  In the coming weeks and months you will see more podcasts.  Additionally, you will see streaming video soon and the implementation of live events.

Globally there are many exciting events.  In Europe there are classical concerts the are not only rare but also the instruments that are used haven’t been heard for hundreds of years.  In Korea there is KPOP which utilizes digital pianos, in Italy there are pipe organ concerts and the list goes on.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that PianoSD.com is going to become your “go to” site for everything keyboard related.

I hope you enjoy the new site and that you will come back often to see what is new  AND invite your friends.

Piano Trends in Crystal Lake, IL Shares Part Two

Posted May 8th, 2016 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

As we learned in the last post by Tim Paul of Piano Trends in Crystal Lake, IL, Tim has built a business that gets the word out and brands his business by careful use of Social Media.  In Part Two we will see some examples of his success and learn more about how he is successfully using all of the tools he has at hand AND able to do that in just a few minutes of his time for FREE:

 

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Recently, one of our Facebook followers who has posted comments and likes on our page contacted me through Facebook messenger. It started out with just general questions. We found out that he was the keyboard man for a world famous rock and roll band that is playing small concerts from time to time. After some conversations back and forth he wound up buying a grand piano from us. He said he was thrilled with the value and was happy because he felt like he was supporting someone he had known for a long time. Now we service the piano for him and our follow through with the things that we have promised him over the Facebook posts he had become familiar with. I’m sure you can understand what I mean by earning trust.

 

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Never second guess the need for Social Media to your small business and especially with regards to your music business. Be ready to take advantage of new technology and realize that the “old fashioned way” is not necessarily the best way to promote your business.

I would be more than happy to discuss or help you develop a strategy to brand your business regardless of you position. If you are a musician, teacher, salesman or some other part of the music business, the same ideas work and you can become proficient enough to take the next step in a very easy and concise way. Over 40 years in the music business has helped me understand how to adapt and continue in business. If you keep your customers as the center and always know how to understand their needs you are on the right track.

Please feel free to email me at Tim@PianoTrends.com anytime or visit our consulting site at www.OldDogsConsulting.com

I look forward to hearing from you.

Tim Paul
President, Piano Trends

35 Berkshire Dr, 
Crystal Lake, IL. 60014
(815) 564-2773

Thank you, Tim for your contribution.  Coming soon we will read a great article by another friend of mine that has gained much success in the music business and an explanation of what Music has meant in his life.

 

Piano Trends in Crystal Lake, IL Shares

Posted April 30th, 2016 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

Tim Paul, the President of Piano Trends Music and Band, shares some successes of his business in this two part article.  Although Tim wrote this article in one edition, I am breaking it into two shorter posts because the value of the information requires it.  I hope you enjoy.  Most importantly, I hope there is some information here that will help you with your business and marketing.

The Music Business That Makes Social Media Work For Them

 

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Tim Paul, Owner Piano Trends Music and President of Old Dogs Consulting

Every aspect of the music business requires a close eye on staying relevant and up-to-date. You have to know your customer and what their needs are. It doesn’t matter if you are in the musical instrument side, teaching or have a tuning business, relevance is the key. You may even have a full line music store that has a multi use service business and studios like Piano Trends Music and Band.

Many years ago newspaper advertising was the only way to realize any kind of growth for your venture. Then, as now, word of mouth was really still the key. When happy customers are talking about you nothing is better. Today customers are using Social Media to discuss good experiences or perhaps bad. When your customers are talking to each other, very simply put, you need to be right in the middle of their conversation. Where possible, pictures and videos so people begin to get comfortable with you and recognize you. It doesn’t really matter if your customers find you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other venues. You need to be there. It literally only takes a few minutes a day to post and keep people aware of your presence. The music business is the only business in the world that will constantly change and events that are interesting to others. Hard selling and pushy salesmen have to realize that Social Media is not the place. Have a good time. In time you will see peoples confidence in you and your opinion and you will see an increase in your business because people feel comfortable with you. It only takes a moment to realize why this is so important when you see the parents of those kids come in and buy that first clarinet or saxophone for school band. Your plan should be to see little Steve or little Carol become a musician and not revel in another sale.

Social media allows us the chance to explain how much we care and how dedicated we are to our customers. The beautiful thing about Social Media is that it takes very little money out of pocket to actually communicate with your customers .   It takes effort but it costs you none to little money out of pocket to be engaged with your customers. Up until now it took the use of flyers, and a lot of effort making phone calls, touch base on a personal basis and a lot of personal time and effort. Now you can make friends that you never had before. The great thing about this level of communication means that you actually get to know your customers better, understand their needs more and can detect trends quicker. One fringe benefit is your repeat business will grow as a result of people getting to know you better. They will begin to treat you like one of the family and you will be their confidant in the music business. When you are reaching out through Social Media it is important to stay consistent with your message and frequently posting the same pictures. This is an excellent way to brand yourself AND you business. Repetition becomes the key. For example our blue piano is our constant message of who we are and helps get attention all over the area.

 

 

Part 2 will come in the next few days.  Feel free to comment

A Look At Pianos In The Chicago Area

Posted April 16th, 2016 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

Crystal Lake, IL. is the home of our good friend Tim Paul at Piano Trends Music and Band.  Just a couple hours drive outside of Chicago is the place to be when it comes to pianos, band and other musical instruments.

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Several years when I first became acquainted with Piano Trends I was pleasantly surprised by how well prepared and organized these guys were.  They have been the leaders in Social Media with the ability to reach out to their customer base and keeping people engaged in music.

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Tim’s Blue Baldwin piano has become a mainstay in the areas in and around Crystal Lake.  I always smile to see just how many places this famous piano has gotten.  On stages and venues everywhere in the Chicago and Crystal Lake area, I believe people actually look for it now.  blue piano

Tims work on Facebook has drawn the attention of many customers for Piano Trends.  A few days ago I asked Tim if he would be willing to write an article about the affect Facebook has had on his business.  I appreciate him taking the time to indulge me with an interesting article regarding Social Media, it’s place in the music industry and the effect it has had on his business.

Coming up next…………

China

Posted April 8th, 2016 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

The first pianos coming out of China were…..well in a word……rough. The interesting thing is that the Chinese invasion was only a few years ago.

In a very short time, China has managed to dominate the piano industry because the product they are turning out is extremely well done.  They are using quality parts, quality manufacturing and done with quality workmanship.

Some people get very caught up where a product comes from.  In what country  was the piano made? Are any of the parts from China?  What part of the piano was made where, etc.  We tend to think that China makes everything substandard.  We expect any product that comes out of China to be sub-standard.  The truth is that China has surpassed all of the expectations in manufacturing.  Their workmanship is generally very good.

You can find all types of products in every category.  Pianos will range in price from very inexpensive to very expensive.  They go from mass produced to handmade.  It’s actually quite interesting to take a look at the evolution of the Chinese pianos and how they have arrived at their present day status as quickly as they have.  Not to mention that they are building piano parts in varying degrees for many (if not most) of the pianos on the market today.

What is the difference?  There are quite a few differences.  One thing is that the machinery and technology they are using is brand new and is state of the art in every way. The same tools that are historically used to make pianos are being utilized with some small changes.  The tools are brand new.  For example: at one well known mfg. they pride themselves because their rim presses are 40 years old, while, the Chinese mfg are using brand new technology with the latest in tools and technology.

Who cares? Well, actually, you should.  Here’s why.  The latest information regarding Asian manufacturing.

China as well as Korea and Japan use the very latest in technology.  They do not wait until the future has passed, they reach out to modern technology as soon as it is certain to be reliable and useful.  The ease of integration of new technology is very similar to updating your computer.  Pass on all of those updates and when your computer doesn’t work any longer it takes FOREVER to update and sometimes it’s impossible to do so.

Are these pianos as good or reliable as European or American pianos?  Well, that could be debated.  However, they are not in the category that so many people try to place them.  The new pianos that arriving from China are good, solid, reliable pianos.  They are work horses with very, very few issues.  The service is impeccable and is getting better.

Today the most important thing in piano buying is to fall in love with the instrument.  For me personally it is all about what I hear and what I experience when playing.  For the next person, its all in the look.  It all depends on what you are looking for in your next piano purchase, but, as a general rule I tell people to fall in love with the instrument and if you aren’t happy – don’t buy it.

Ric Overton

What’s With The Whole Asian Thing?

Posted August 6th, 2015 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

I have to tell you that I have been in the piano industry on some level for over 30 years.  Having said that you will have to also realize I have seen the coming and going of a lot of piano companies and manufacturing facilities.  I have seen them go out of business in the U.S. only to  reappear in China.  I have seen them rise to the top and then be mismanaged right back down again.

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In the 70’s and into the 80’s a piano company named Yamaha came into most of the United States without a great deal of fanfare.  They created a great brand name and then supported their emerging company with enough information about their company to get attention.  Naturally, at that time there was some significant push back from some people because they were not from the U.S.

From the 70’s and 80’s they began to emerge as a company that was obviously going to demand some attention.  At that point they were creating decent pianos.  Yes, there was some important changes that were going to need to be made in order to turn these Japanese pianos into “World Class Pianos”.

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Apparently, Yamaha along with Kawai, were up to the challenge.  In the 90’s they began producing better and better pianos.  Being satisfied with their position in the marketplace they were also challenged to bring their company into the forefront of the American Piano market.

Leaving almost 30 years of experience, some successes, some failures but armed with the knowledge they had garnered after their years in the business, they became the “Elephant in the Room” that had to be acknowledged and dealt with.

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Thier powerful marketing machine along with many other financial influences left many American companies wondering what to do next.  They tried to manufacture in the U.S. but economic situations made them turn that American manufacturing back to Asia where it still is to this day.  Exiting the U.S. manufacturing also left a gaping hole in the U.S. for many manufacturers.  The business models of that era were beginning to weaken and by 2005 many, many manufacturers were left in shambles.

This has been the case with many other types of manufacturing that have exited the U.S. market.  Companies want to continue to grow financially while expenses are going up and profits are dwindling they find themselves looking for alternatives.  Yamaha and Kawai have for many years filled that niche’.

It is a fair to say that many people feel as if Japan is superior in manufacturing than any of the other Asian countries. However, It took Yamaha and Kawai many years to garner not only a good reputation but being able to create a piano that was worth what they have turned them into today.

While most of those pianos are not to be compared with fine American manufacturing such as Mason and Hamlin and Steinway or European manufacturing, these Japanese pianos are considered to be very well made.  Of course, like anything in you need to play these pianos for yourself.

Then came China.

 

 

Mason and Hamlin BB – A Joke?

Posted July 25th, 2015 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

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I think NOT!!!

Quite an interesting thing about the Mason and Hamlin BB.  I am simply in love.  I would like to express something more astounding, earth shattering or eye opening, but the simple truth is……I’m in love.

For many years I have carried the torch for a different brand 7 footer but there is a new love in my life.  I am asked frequently, “If I would buy you any piano in the world, what would it be?” I have played many, many pianos in my career, reviewed quite a few and have listened to more than I care to estimate.  From a personal experience with my very best critical ear, I have never played a finer instrument that allows me the ability to express emotions like the Mason and Hamlin BB.

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Here’s a special key to me.  Most any piano will sound big when you play loudly.  It will project and generally sound like a piano.  However, the real test to me is when I am playing at ppp with the shift (soft) pedal engaged.  I love the sound the piano makes at it’s very softest.

The sound of most pianos will not fall apart when played at their loudest.  The sound of most pianos  will not speak when played at their softest.  The Mason and Hamlin BB is an exception to the rule.  When played at it’s softest the BB will respond with a very clear and round tone. When banged on with a heavy hand the luscious tones still deliver.

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There has to be a downside, I mean, there is always a downside.  If I had to think of one criticism I would most likely have to say that 7 footers (besides being big) tend to have an overpowering bass register.  While the Mason BB is not really considered an exception, the tone does feel as if it may be a little easier to manage than in some 7 foot models I have played.

When I play I tend to want an evenly balanced tone that delivers all the way across the keyboard with little exception. Often when “critically” playing you have to learn control.  Steinway B has the opposite problem from the Mason BB.  The Mason BB bass is almost too big while the Steinway B feels to small.

Recently, I spoke with Tom Lagomarsino, Vice President at Mason and Hamlin, about the BB and this is what Tom had to say –  “The reputation of the BB comes from it’s unusual power and projection, delicate control of the action, and distinctive well-balanced Mason & Hamlin sound. This combination allows professional and enthusiast alike to create beautiful music of many genres”.

A customer recently asked me if I would or could compare Mason BB with a Steinway B or a Yamaha C7.  My response was that, as far as I am concerned the Mason and Hamlin delivers a more balanced, even tone from the lowest bass note to the highest treble note and simply put the Mason would be my personal choice – period.  If price is a consideration I would rather have the B model (5’4″) than any Steinway that Steinway has ever produced. To end the equation on her question I explained that in my opinion, I would rather have a big screen T.V.

Simply put, if you are looking for a dynamic piano that will deliver exactly what you are trying to express you will find it in the Mason and Hamlin.  The BB 7’0″ is by far the VERY best 7 footer on the market in my humble opinion.

Well, enough for now.  I am off to a new subject which I will be covering in my next Blog.

Ric Overton of Burbank, CA

 

 

Mason and Hamlin Grands – Who Do They Think They Are?

Posted May 13th, 2015 by Ric Overton | 1 Comment »

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As you may have gathered from my other posts regarding Mason and Hamlin, I AM A HUGE FAN!!!  I decided to review a couple of grand models that are my favorites. Having these pianos around me everyday leaves me “like a kid…….” nevermind, you get the picture.

The model B is one of my favorites because of its size.  The model B Mason and Hamlin measures 5′ 4″.  If you wanted to compare this piano to some other popular models you would either have to go to Yamaha C1X 5’3″ grand which, of course, Yamaha “claims”  is all Japanese made, or you would compare the Steinway S 5’1″ grand.

Mason and Hamlin B is 1 inch larger than the Yamaha C1X and 3 inches larger than the Steinway S model but would still be comparable as far as the price, length of strings are close as well as the soundboard.  Some of you may wonder if 3 inches make a big difference and the answer would be YES, YES, YES. But. the HUGE difference is a properly built instrument.  Mason and Hamlin knows how to properly build an instrument.

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The scale design of the B appears to be the same as their larger models with the exception that it is considerably smaller than it’s  closest model (the model A ).  It features their globally famous WNG action, solid spruce soundboard, amazingly perfectly weighted hammers (that are properly voiced), properly placed bridges and the same musically precise strings that are used in their larger models.

What this all means to you is that this small grand piano delivers the musicality and tone that you are expecting from a world class piano but is packed in a very small body.  You will be able to play Chopin or easily move into an Ellington improv, play a moving gospel tune or cry to the blues without that sinking feeling that something is missing.

Steinway, undoubtedly, has a great name and has historically built a great piano.  Steinway’s “S” model is no exception.  It has a great name on the fallboard and is solidly built.  That’s it! The sound tends to be very dark and getting any power or expression is pretty much out of the question.  Of course, Steinway also has Kawai’s made Boston and Pearl River’s made Essex if you are looking for an Asian-made product that is “linked” to the Steinway name.  Either of these two products will give you a product with more musical attributes than their domestic made product.  However, you have to understand that Boston or Essex are NOT in the same category as Mason and Hamlin.

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Yamaha’s C1X, they claim is 100% Japanese is quite the piano  as well.  It has many of the same features as Mason and Hamlin.  It has a solid spruce soundboard and does have well made Asian strings.  If you are looking for a piano that will play those bright tones, typical of a gospel piano or perhaps a great blues sound then this may be the perfect instrument for you.  It DOES NOT compare with the Mason in its ability to create tone, color and clarity, but it does have that thin, bright tone that you would expect from an Asian piano.

Here’s the intriguing thing about the Mason and Hamlin B model.  Most pianos in this size are not able to competently deliver the proper tone, touch and clarity of sound that is found in this 5’4″ model.  How they are able to produce a piano in this size with this powerful sound is nothing short of amazing.  It has everything to do with their scale design and the superior components used in the manufacturing process that really sets them apart.  Below is my Pastor’s nephew at a NAMM show playing the Mason and Hamlin.  Enjoy!!!

In a way of full disclosure, the information above is entirely my opinion.  The way that I formed my opinion is from hours of playing different pianos, listening to their characteristics, understanding their abilities and defining their shortcomings.  Don’t take my word for it however, find a company in your area that has Mason and Hamlin pianos and test drive it yourself.  If you find another piano that you like better then, you should buy it. However, before you make any decisions, try Mason and Hamlin.

LASTLY AND MAYBE MOST IMPORTANTLY, SEE BELOW:

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Ric Overton in Burbank, CA.

 

 

 

 

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