Viewing the Latest Entries From Ric's Blog

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.

The-1970s

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.

 

 

A Few of My Favorite Things……

Posted April 13th, 2015 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

Okay, so I am totally aware that was a tacky subject line but, I used it anyway……

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MY OPINION

I have been asked by several readers to review some of my favorite pianos.  After all these years of writing blogs, I have finally decided to have a real opinion about pianos and what I like or dislike about them.  In all of these articles, please remember that this is ONLY MY OPINION.  Some of this will be factual and some will be opinion.  I will do my best to separate that when writing.  Here is a small list of what I am going to cover and if you have specific questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to ask away.

There is no doubt that some are going to disagree.  There is no doubt that some will agree.

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It’s important to understand that when you are comparing pianos you MUST take everything into consideration.  One thing to consider in fairly comparing pianos is to only compare apples to apples.  For example, if you are comparing entry level pianos you have to look at entry level pianos only.  In other words, you can’t compare a finely handcrafted German/European piano with an entry-level Chinese piano.

In each category of piano there are still considerations to look at.  Not all Chinese pianos are created equal, not all European pianos are created equal, etc.  This has to be one of the key issues in comparing pianos.

With the way we manufacture pianos today I think anyone who is involved with the industry would agree that there aren’t really BAD pianos based on the dollars spent.  When someone starts to buy a new piano today they should be informed that $5,000.00 doesn’t buy a $10,000.00 piano.  Of course, there are rare opportunities but in general “you get what you pay for”.

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My intentions are to introduce several pianos to you and explain their lines.  Among my very favorite acoustic pianos are Mason and Hamlin, Brodmann, Wilhelm Steinberg and on the digital side, Dynatone.

In the following posts I will discuss each of these brands and why I have chosen them as my favorites.

I look forward to sharing with you.

From Burbank, CA – Ric Overton

 

Ann Marie Kurrasch strikes again!!!

Posted March 31st, 2015 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

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Ann Marie Kurrasch

Many of you were my readers when I did my Interview With Ann Marie Kurrasch.  Well, as fate would have it Ann Marie has done it again.

Her reissue of her last work is entitled “Let’s Play”.  It features the same songs as her last book but is now available on Amazon under the name Let’s play.  This book is a must have for the enthusiast who is looking for fun yet challenging songs to play.  The CD that can accompany it will make it easy for the student to learn to play.  It helps assist the student in learning how the music is written and makes it easier to follow along.

Ann Marie is one of the nicest and congenial ladies I have met.  Her gentile style along with her demeanor makes her an absolute jewel among teachers.  Her no-nonsense approach in writing makes her music a delight to play and this is a collection you should not be without.

To learn more about “Let’s Play!” feel free to click here to go to her website or click here to go to her Amazon offering.

Ric Overton in Beautiful Downtown Burbank, CA

Dynatone SDP 500 Digital Upright Piano

Posted March 29th, 2015 by Ric Overton | No Comments »
Dynatone SDP-500

Dynatone SDP-500

It’s unusual in the digital piano world to find two models that are exactly the same in both grand and upright models.  This is the case with the Dynatone SGP 500 and the SDP 500.  The same great features of the Dynatone SDP 500 are also found in  the SGP 500.

Some of the extra features about the SDP 500 that I find not only surprising but, extremely nice compared to other pianos in the same category are this:

Stylish Features

Rosewood Accents on each side of the piano.  What a nice feature to make your upright piano look even more realistic.

Slow Close Fall Board.  The slow close fall board is accented in Chrome to match the pedals but also to add and extra contemporary styling to the piano.

Well appointed structural accents.  On each side of this piano you find small accents that add to the style of the piano.  Of course, if you are like me, I like my piano to look as acoustic as possible.  I don’t want to appear as if I have a toy of any kind and demonstrate that I have a really nice looking piece in my living room but at the same time I would like ot have a piano that doesn’t look like a digital.

At the end of the day, I have to think about the people who live around me in my apartment.  I don’t want to interrupt thier lives but, I do want to be able to play at my whim.  This model is the answer to what I am looking for.

Look for these in institutions, schools and colleges where music is taught.  I really have no problem with you knowing that the Dynatone SGP 500 and the SDP 500 are my two favorite models of Dynatone digital pianos and of all pianos available in this price range.

 

Ric Overton from Burbank, CA.

Dynatone – SGP-500 Digital Grand Piano

Posted March 24th, 2015 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

Dynatone SGP-500

Dynatone SGP 500

Dynatone SGP 500

Okay, I admit this is my favorite piano in the line up.  Here’s the deal.  IT’S A BABY GRAND PIANO.  I think this is a really cool little piano. First of all this model SGP 500 is exceptionally priced.

The Action

One of the great features about this piano is the action.  The action of this piano is known as ARHA.  This is a newly designed action that allows the player to really feel as if they are working on an acoustic piano.  This is remarkable when you consider the price comparison to the instrument itself.  This really makes the piano head and shoulders above the closest competitor.

The sound is an incredible 50 watts per channel.  This is a GIGANTIC  sound for a piano of this size.  You don’t really expect to get this much sound out of a piano this size unless you are going to a much more expensive unit.  When you hit the bass section you definitely know the bass is coming through.  Of course, there are many other sounds to choose from but, as you know, I love piano but the strings are very lush and with the wattage of this unit it is just that much better.

Genuine Wood Soundboard

One of the coolest features about this piano is that it has a genuine soundboard.  A lot of grand pianos on digital pianos have a soundboard that are not real.  They have no character or they have a simple pressboard cheap looking soundboard.  The Dynatone SGP 500 has a real spruce soundboard.  This not only adds to the look of the piano but helps with the sound of the piano.  It gives it that realistic feel and the sound is enhanced by a tried and true method of assisting the sound.

When you look at all of the digital grand pianos on the market today and consider their functions and sound you see lots of options.  For my taste and for my needs this is one of the best options on the market.

The SDP-500 will be next.

Ric Overton in beautiful downtown Burbank, CA.

Dynatone DPR-2000

Posted March 16th, 2015 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

 

Dynatone DPR 2200

Dynatone DPR 2200

 

The new Dynatone DPR-2200H digital piano has a new sound source called the ROS V.4 which becomes obvious when you start playing the piano.  The sound is incredible and very realistic. Obviously,  this model is not in a grand cabinet like the VCP 3000 OR the GPR 2200 but it has the same great features except in an upright cabinet.

The new action called ARHA that also comes with a large LCD screen is a great new feature on the DPR-2200.  This makes the piano feel more realistic than the earlier versions of this model.  It also brings this console model in-line with the larger models available with similar features. Both the DGP-200 grand piano with ensemble and the VCP-3000 player grand model.  The problem you see sometimes in the digital piano business is that the largest model has the best action and the least expensive model has a really bad action.  This is not the case with these three models.  Dynatone has made a very consistent action in each of their ensemble pianos.

Performances like this one can not be accomplished without a great action.

Along with the great action on the DPR 2200 is also the fact that they have loaded it with 128 note polyphony and 128 individual voices.  There is plenty of room for expansion of your composition and recording.  Just record your song or performance with the piano or guitar or whatever tone you may choose.  Once you have completed your song, play it back and play your second voice on top of the recording and expand the sound to create a virtual orchestra.
Lastly, the cabinet doesn’t look or feel like one of those cabinets you buy online or one of the toy pianos you find in Walmart.  It looks and feels like an acoustic piano.

More to come…..

Ric Overton in Burbank, CA

Dynatone GRP-2200H

Posted March 11th, 2015 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

DYNATONE GRP 2200H

 

GPR-2200

Dynatone GPR 2200

 

This is a really cool piano.  It has the same great features as the Dynatone VCP 3000 but this model does not move the keys up and down like the VCP 3000 model.

The Dynatone GPR 2200 is a full-on ensemble unit which allows you to play all of the 80 different rhythms with either one finger operation for beginners or a full fingered chord system with 2 – 3 or 4 fingered chords.  There are at least 128 voices that can be incorporated in this model.  This allows the player to use as many different sounds as you may want by layering them on a recording app OR use the recording system on board along with a recording app and you have a professional recording at the tip of your fingers.

POLYPHONY

When using the recording feature the polyphony becomes very important.  The word polyphony is directly related to the number of functions the piano can perform at once.  128 note polyphony is plenty sufficient for most users to build a GIGANTIC sound.

If you are playing more secular type music you will find the Dynatone GPR 2200 to be a perfect blend of electronic sounds like Electric Piano – taking you back to the old Fender Rhodes sound or the Hammond B-3 sound.  If you are more sacred or religious minded you will find this to have more liturgical sounds like Harpsichord or Piano.  Other popular sounds are the luscious strings sounds or the blaring horn sounds.  All of these built to be compatible with each other to create a symphonic dream.

Of course, one of the things that is the most attractive about this digital grand piano is that it is very affordable.  If you are looking for a grand piano that is easy to maneuver, easy to use, has multiple capabilities and is affordable then this is the right model for you.  The Dynatone VGP 2200.

Ric Overton from Burbank, CA

Dynatone VGP-3000 Player Digital Grand Piano

Posted March 10th, 2015 by Ric Overton | No Comments »

DYNATONE VGP 3000

Dynatone VGP 3000

Dynatone VGP 3000

 

Here’s the one I wanted to tell you about the most.  Hours and hours of research and development have gone into making this particular model a reality.  The VGP-3000 is an incredible instrument on its own.  First of all (of course, the most important to me) is the fact that it sounds like a traditional piano.  Period, Period, Dot, Dot, Period.  The action of the piano feels realistic, the experience feels like an acoustic piano, sitting and playing it makes you feel as if you are playing an acoustic piano.

 

The “hook” here is this:  while it is a digital piano capable of playing up to 128 different and unique voices, it is also a full-fledged, straight on player piano.  The player works off of an SD card that holds hundreds of prerecorded songs.  These make the keys move up and down and hey, let’s face it, at the end of the day, everybody loves a player piano.

The song list is GIGANTIC and the different types of music available are incredible.

This unit will also allow for a SIM card which will utilize MIDI files and then play on the piano too.  The only differences you will see here is that the keys will not move up and down like it will in player mode.  However, with the on-board recording system, the VGP will allow you to record your music and the keys WILL move up and down.

Knowing what is on the market today, I have to say that I am most impressed with this piano because of its price relative to what you are purchasing.  This product has stood the test of time and will continue for many years to come because of the hard work and effort that has been put into creating this model.

This has been a very popular model all over the United States since being introduced and Piano Marketing Group has done a great job putting on new dealers and taking care of the marketing and sales side of the US distribution.

The GREAT news about this model is that it is affordable.  In order to get a product of this nature from another popular manufacturer could cost you many times what this one will.  This model is perfect for anyone looking for a digital piano in a grand cabinet.

See you soon – from Burbank, CA.

Ric Overton

P.S. One last video from yours truly

 

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