Posts Tagged ‘Chinese pianos’

China

Friday, April 8th, 2016

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

American Pianos

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

I was devastated to learn about the tornado in Joplin, Mo. this morning.  Very tragic news indeed and our hearts and prayers go out to the fine folks of Missouri this morning.

As promised I wanted to continue my discussion on the difference in pianos.  On the last blog we talked about China and the other Asian pianos.  While I did not go into depth on the post about these pianos I spoke directly to tone characteristics.  I wanted to explain a few thoughts.

Pianos coming from Asia are often somewhat brighter and more dynamic in sound presentation which is fine.  I find it akin to taking the stereo and pulling the bass out and turning the treble all the way up leaving the sound to be somewhat “thin” and not full bodied.  Many piano manufacturers have addressed this problem.  Pearl River for one has hired Lothar Tomar of Bechstein Pianos to redesign thier pianos and what has happened as a result is that the Pearl River pianos of today tend to have a more full bodied tone and more identifiable sound characteristic than before.  Brodmann for another has also accomplished this.  Delivering a brighter tone but with more depth and character than most of its counterparts.

As we move to the United States we have to take a step back and look at the tragic history of piano building and where we are today.  The Pierce Piano Atlas is filled with manufacturers from the U.S. who are no longer in business or are 100% built in China, Indonesia or Japan.  I find this tragic, not from the stand point that the Asian influence is inferior, but, from the aspect that the employees no longer have jobs and their knowledge has left our industry.

We only have three piano manufacturers left in the United States that are recognizable.  The first and most obvious, of course, is Steinway.  While Steinway and Sons continues to be built in New York, as always, they also produce two other piano lines.  Those lines are Boston from Japan and Essex from China.  While they say that they are built to their own specifications, this writer has some doubts to that claim.

Mason and Hamlin is another piano company that is a very celebrated piano among pianist.  Mason and Hamlin has a somewhat more bright and clearer tone than its counterparts and is a fine instrument.  There is some debate as to how much of the piano is actually built in the United States and how much comes from “world sources” they do continue to build very fine pianos right here in the U.S.

Lastly, I have to mention Charles Walter.  This is a very classy act.  although they are not as celbrated or as heralded as its two competitors, it is still a very nice piano.  Somewhat more mellow in tone and never really known for their grand pianos although they do have a couple in their offerings.

As you look at the line up it is very sad to see that in a country as large and as musically influential as the United States we are unable to support more than three piano companies.

I believe its time for a change and that we, as a music community, should put our heads together and find a way to compete internationally with other piano manufacturers.

I will continue this discussion on tone  character in US pianos soon.

Thanks again

Ric

posted by Ric Overton of www.PianoSD.com via www.MaxMorganDesign.com

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