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Opinion on Baldwin pianos? #1306024
11/15/09 12:23 PM
11/15/09 12:23 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 6
Houston, TX
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zilrac1 Offline OP
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Does anyone have information on Baldwin? I've heard various things about the company going out of business and being picked up by Gibson Guitar and that they recently moved their piano plant to China. One store has some but another store says they can't get any pianos out of the new plant yet. Baldwin also seems to be missing from Larry Fine's piano buyer guide's rating table? Bottom line, I'm trying to figure out how these new Chinese made Baldwins compare to Kawai, Essex, Brodmann etc.?

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Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: zilrac1] #1306030
11/15/09 12:31 PM
11/15/09 12:31 PM
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Posts: 11,131
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline
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I recently questioned Larry about this subject. His answer was that he was not sure what Baldwin would be doing with their models at the time that the rating for the latest Piano Buyer were finalized.

Rather than create confusion or worse, mislead consumers on the quality of product put out by Baldwin, he elected to leave them off of his comparisons.

If you can find any artist series Baldwin pianos that are still in dealer inventory, they might be a really good buy. Note that the last pianos that came out of the American plant needed lots of remedial prep. before they could perform to their potential.

Good luck - I hope that helps a bit,




Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
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Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: Rich Galassini] #1306142
11/15/09 03:31 PM
11/15/09 03:31 PM
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Piano Peddler Offline
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The reports you have heard about Baldwin are basically true, albeit old news. Baldwin filed bankruptcy in May 2001 and the remaining assets (including factories, equipment and inventory) were purchased by Gibson in November 2001. Since then, consolidation of all US piano manufacturing was limited to the Baldwin factory in Trumann, AR, which ceased production last December. Gibson had also purchased the Dongbei Piano factory in China a couple years ago, so now have been building Baldwin pianos for the world market in China. Rich is correct that there are still a good supply of US-built Artist series Baldwin grands at dealers around the country, but all of the new shipments of vertical and grand pianos are coming from Baldwin China. The way you can differentiate a Chinese-built Baldwin from a US-built piano is the small case "c" above the "i" (in place of the dot that the original Baldwin logo is missing) on the fallboard decal.

As for Larry Fine skipping an evaluation of Baldwin for the current supplement of Piano Buyer, one can refer to the previous editions and reference his review of Hamilton pianos made in the Dongbei factory, or even Nordiska, Story & Clark, Hallet & Davis and other stencil brands that were built in that factory. There were reports of backorders this year of new Baldwin shipments, but that situation should be resolved by now.


Craig Smith
aka "Piano Peddler"
Veteran industry professional
and keyboard musician
Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: Piano Peddler] #1306224
11/15/09 06:38 PM
11/15/09 06:38 PM
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Carmel, Indiana
Larry Larson Offline
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The "artist" grands the previous posters have mentioned are models "M" ,"R" and "L". The larger concert grands are the SF 10 and the SD 10. These are all considered to be very good pianos, and I think the used ones are underpriced in the market right now, and you can probably also find some good deals on used ones.


1995 Baldwin L grand
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Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: zilrac1] #1306342
11/15/09 10:35 PM
11/15/09 10:35 PM
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The current online version of pianobuyer.com says that a "small crew" at the Arkansas plant is still available to custom build the Artist grands as needed. It also says that the (Baldwin) grands currently made at the Dongbei Factory are similar to the pianos they make for other manufacturers... "It is not yet known if Baldwin will re-create its Artist grands in China."

Personally, I think Gibson's actions with this company were incredibly reckless and criminal; it would have been best if they let Baldwin die with whatever dignity it had left in 2000 instead of parading that name around on offensive looking Hummer-themed art cases. In addition, putting the "c" over the "i" is about the sleaziest, most dishonest thing they could have done. I hope it lands them in court.

That said, I played an SF-10 over the summer that was "new", and it was still a world-class piano. Comforting, yes, but I don't know how many hours of prep work went into it... the price was discounted to the mid-30s.

Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: beethoven986] #1306351
11/15/09 10:52 PM
11/15/09 10:52 PM
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Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
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sotto voce Offline
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
[P]utting the "c" over the "i" is about the sleaziest, most dishonest thing they could have done. I hope it lands them in court.

Could you elaborate about why you feel that way? I don't understand what's considered deceptive about modifying the Baldwin logo to distinguish the Chinese-made pianos, or how it could be problematic legally.

Steven

Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: sotto voce] #1306392
11/16/09 12:43 AM
11/16/09 12:43 AM
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beethoven986 Offline
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In theory, you are absolutely right. However, customers are not always able to differentiate product lines. For example, I always hear about how some people are convinced that Bostons are made by Steinway even though Steinway named those products Boston to differentiate them. What Baldwin is doing is a very lame attempt (if you can call it that) to differentiate the old from the new... it's deceptive. I hope this clarifies things.


Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: sotto voce] #1306393
11/16/09 12:44 AM
11/16/09 12:44 AM
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Dallas, TX
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Gary at Encore Offline
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Zilrac1,
You have received good info from Rich and Piano Pedler. They are correct. The new Chinese Baldwins are good and they also have another factory in China making the famous Baldwin Hamilton vertical piano designs. These pianos are shipping to the US but the recent orders have gotten ahead of the supply. Baldwin says that all dealer orders will be filled by Jan or Feb.

So while many piano companies are not selling much, Hailun and Baldwin are selling a lot of pianos. Gipson has made a lot of mistakes selling Baldwin pianos over the last few years, but they are correcting the mistakes. Our store has recently made orders for Baldwin pianos and we are told to expect them in Jan or Feb. So of course my comments are from that perspective.


Bluthner, Steingraeber, Pleyel, Hailun, Kemble, Baldwin, Story and Clark, Pearl River, Ritmuller and others (store owner)www.encore-pianos.com
Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: Gary at Encore] #1306400
11/16/09 01:22 AM
11/16/09 01:22 AM
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charleslang Offline
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I didn't know about the little 'c' until reading this thread. Then I checked their web site to see it. Since I had thought they were using the original logo on the Chinese pianos, it's a pleasant surprise to discover that they've kept the brand intact for those who care about where the piano is made.

I think this is similar to what C. Bechtein did by removing the 'C.' from the academy line of pianos.

Interesting is that the 'Baldwin' logo on the top left of the web pages is missing the dot on the 'i' altogether! I guess they wanted to keep it neutral between the American and Chinese pianos.

I felt the Hamiltons made in the US in the '70s and '80s weren't all that great. I look forward to seeing what comes out of the Chinese factories. Likely it is as good or better, who knows.

It's surprising to me that the MSRP for the Chinese-built 247 is 7,185. Seems high for a Chinese piano, no?

Last edited by charleslang; 11/16/09 01:24 AM.

charlessamuellang.com
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Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: charleslang] #1306453
11/16/09 07:39 AM
11/16/09 07:39 AM
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Posts: 350
Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Louis H. Bousquet Offline
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Over rated


Louis Bousquet
Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: beethoven986] #1306457
11/16/09 07:58 AM
11/16/09 07:58 AM
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Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
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sotto voce Offline
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
In theory, you are absolutely right. However, customers are not always able to differentiate product lines. For example, I always hear about how some people are convinced that Bostons are made by Steinway even though Steinway named those products Boston to differentiate them. What Baldwin is doing is a very lame attempt (if you can call it that) to differentiate the old from the new... it's deceptive. I hope this clarifies things.

Well, not really. smile

I just don't agree that it's either lame or deceptive, and still don't understand the basis for potential legal action.

Steven

Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: beethoven986] #1306462
11/16/09 08:10 AM
11/16/09 08:10 AM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 992
Carmel, Indiana
Larry Larson Offline
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Originally Posted by beethoven986


Personally, I think Gibson's actions with this company were incredibly reckless and criminal; it would have been best if they let Baldwin die with whatever dignity it had left in 2000 instead of parading that name around on offensive looking Hummer-themed art cases. In addition, putting the "c" over the "i" is about the sleaziest, most dishonest thing they could have done. I hope it lands them in court.


Yeah, I share sotto voce's bewilderment on this one. I think that Baldwin putting the "c" over the "i" is one of the few things they've done to bring some clarity to what has been an unfortunate muddle of confusing branding strategies.

The Chinese Hamilton grands before this latest shift of production were typical of a mediocre batch of Chinese pianos. But an early report on the recent Chinese Baldwin uprights that are based on the old U.S. designs, (like the 243) are that they are at least as good as the ones made in the U.S. for many years.

Like other manufacturers, if Baldwin is going to be competitive with Chinese made pianos, they'd better be at least as good as the new Hailuns and Brodmann's. Some of the older Chinese Hamilton grands were essentially the same pianos as Nordiska, and they were OK, but not exceptional.


1995 Baldwin L grand
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www.larrylarsonpiano.com
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Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: Larry Larson] #1306471
11/16/09 08:42 AM
11/16/09 08:42 AM
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Carmel, Indiana
Larry Larson Offline
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I wanted to add that I do think it was borderline shady how Baldwin used the Hamilton name on so many mediocre pianos. If you looked at the website descriptions at the time, it was pretty clear that these pianos had no physical lineage connection with the older "Baldwin Hamiltons", but I think there's little doubt the bean counters were hoping that Hamilton name would have some cache with folks who associated that word with good quality. And of course some unscrupulous dealers exploited the ambiguity.

This is one of the reasons I respect brands like Hailun, who are confident enough that they don't need need to tap into some American or European name to evoke images of high quality.


1995 Baldwin L grand
2001 Baldwin Hamilton upright
Yamaha S90 synthesizer
www.larrylarsonpiano.com
YouTubeChannel www.youtube.com/LarryLarsonPiano
Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: Gary at Encore] #1306650
11/16/09 02:13 PM
11/16/09 02:13 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 6
Houston, TX
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zilrac1 Offline OP
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Houston, TX
Thanks for everyone's feedback. So, do you think the Chinese Baldwins are closer in quality to the entry level brands like Pearl River and Young Chang vs. a middle range like Essex or Cable-Nelson? I wish I could see the Hailun since I seem to read a lot of positive about them but haven't found one in Houston yet.

Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: zilrac1] #1306739
11/16/09 04:30 PM
11/16/09 04:30 PM
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Carmel, Indiana
Larry Larson Offline
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Originally Posted by zilrac1
Thanks for everyone's feedback. So, do you think the Chinese Baldwins are closer in quality to the entry level brands like Pearl River and Young Chang vs. a middle range like Essex or Cable-Nelson? I wish I could see the Hailun since I seem to read a lot of positive about them but haven't found one in Houston yet.


No, I didn't mean to say that. What I heard from an honest dealer very familiar with Baldwin, is that his store tech said the Chinese made upright that was what used to be called the "Baldwin Hamilton" model 243, was as well made, and better prepped from the factory than the ones they had been getting from Arkansas. It's basically a direct copy of the 243, using the same design and materials, just manufactured in a Chinese factory. I have not heard any reports about the latest batch of Baldwin grands to come from China, so I wouldn't assume anything about their quality until somebody checks them out and gives a report.


1995 Baldwin L grand
2001 Baldwin Hamilton upright
Yamaha S90 synthesizer
www.larrylarsonpiano.com
YouTubeChannel www.youtube.com/LarryLarsonPiano
Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: zilrac1] #1306782
11/16/09 05:37 PM
11/16/09 05:37 PM
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Maine, U.S.
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RachFan Offline
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When it comes to Baldwin consumer-grade grands made in Donghei (BH series), those instruments will likely satisfy mostly casual pianists. Plus they are more affordable. More discerning pianists with higher expectations will usually look to the Baldwin Artist Grands. As long as that series continues to be made to order by the "small crew at the Truman plant", then I would bet that they will continue to be high-quality performance pianos as in the past. Sadly, Gibson hasn't made any commitment on that. If manufacture of those pianos should move to China as well, then, the jury would be out until there is enough known to render a clear verdict on quality.

If Gibson supposedly managed Baldwin well over the past nine years, I should hate to see how mismanagement would have affected the company!

Last edited by RachFan; 11/16/09 05:38 PM.
Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: RachFan] #1307006
11/17/09 03:28 AM
11/17/09 03:28 AM
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beethoven986 Offline
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Originally Posted by RachFan
If manufacture of those pianos should move to China as well, then, the jury would be out until there is enough known to render a clear verdict on quality.


Pianos from this factory (the ones I've seen) aren't half bad. I've played a few grands right out of the box and they were in tune and playable. Action had a lot of friction, though.

Originally Posted by RachFan
If Gibson supposedly managed Baldwin well over the past nine years, I should hate to see how mismanagement would have affected the company!


Seriously, you're so right! *Shudders at the thought*

Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: Larry Larson] #1307007
11/17/09 03:31 AM
11/17/09 03:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Larry Larson


Yeah, I share sotto voce's bewilderment on this one. I think that Baldwin putting the "c" over the "i" is one of the few things they've done to bring some clarity to what has been an unfortunate muddle of confusing branding strategies.


Yeah... maybe for us. But think of the people who don't spend hours a week on this forum.

Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: beethoven986] #1307054
11/17/09 08:06 AM
11/17/09 08:06 AM
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sotto voce Offline
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
Originally Posted by Larry Larson
Yeah, I share sotto voce's bewilderment on this one. I think that Baldwin putting the "c" over the "i" is one of the few things they've done to bring some clarity to what has been an unfortunate muddle of confusing branding strategies.

Yeah... maybe for us. But think of the people who don't spend hours a week on this forum.

What are the consumer's responsibilities to be informed concerning a decision that involves many thousands of dollars? I doubt that anyone buying a car is unaware whether the brand is domestic or foreign (even if its component parts come from around the world).

Consider how many Asian piano makers have adopted venerable names from the "golden era" or have fabricated European names solely for the cachet that they confer. In other areas of manufacturing and marketing, too, names (like "Packard Bell," for instance) get bought and sold. It seems like there's a lot of potential for deception there, and yet a Baldwin is still a Baldwin whether made in Cincinnati, Trumann or Dongbei.

I think Baldwin's decision to incorporate the letter C into the logo of the Chinese pianos is clever, and it serves the purpose of differentiation well. Opinions about that detail may vary, but I'm genuinely at a loss to understand such an extreme description as "the sleaziest, most dishonest thing they could have done. I hope it lands them in court."

I still want to know how this action—which seems intended specifically to eliminate confusion and even the appearance of deception—suggests vulnerability to legal claims.

Steven

Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: beethoven986] #1307099
11/17/09 09:42 AM
11/17/09 09:42 AM
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Larry Larson Offline
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
Originally Posted by Larry Larson


Yeah, I share sotto voce's bewilderment on this one. I think that Baldwin putting the "c" over the "i" is one of the few things they've done to bring some clarity to what has been an unfortunate muddle of confusing branding strategies.


Yeah... maybe for us. But think of the people who don't spend hours a week on this forum.


I think you're probably right; I guess sometimes I forget not all piano buyers are as obsessive as I am. I'm especially obsessive about Baldwin, and even I get confused by their branding strategies, and surprised at their inept marketing over the years.


1995 Baldwin L grand
2001 Baldwin Hamilton upright
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Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: Larry Larson] #1307431
11/17/09 08:09 PM
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I saw my first Chinese Baldwin grand last week. Priced at $9999. It seemed like a good value for the money and can compete with the Pearl River/ Cable, K&C, Falcone, etc. I imagine it might sell for around $8500. A few pianos down one could find an art case M priced at $89k.

If I were Gibson, I would have made the artist grands per spec in China right after the takeover. Instead, they screwed up the brand recognition with poor build quality and increased prices. Now they are going cheap with the brand, which may hurt the value of the American Baldwins already in the market.

Why not make a Chinese Artist grand, with Artist specs, and sell it for 15K (size M) The Chinese are capable of making a great piano now - Let the Chinese make a great Baldwin Artist Piano.




Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: Bob] #1307609
11/18/09 04:59 AM
11/18/09 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob
Now they are going cheap with the brand, which may hurt the value of the American Baldwins already in the market.

IMO there will be some very good buys on older Baldwins for precisely that reason.

Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: FogVilleLad] #1307668
11/18/09 09:33 AM
11/18/09 09:33 AM
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i like the midsize, artist grands.. (the R's and L's)absolutely love them. I lust after the SF1. However, I haven't played a new one, and just might stop by the dealership today out of curiousity.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: apple*] #1307907
11/18/09 04:50 PM
11/18/09 04:50 PM
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I understand that Baldwin stopped making pianos during WWII in order to help the war effort. It was suggested that working with plywood for airplanes aided in the development of Baldwin's 41-ply maple pinblock design.

Can anyone give an informed opinion on the grands produced immediately after WWII? Are they good candidates for rebuilding?

I have my eye on a concert grand from that era. Thanks to anyone who can provide some info.


There are only two endeavors that use the word "play", one is Sports and the other is Music; if the enjoyable essence of "play" is absent from either, you have missed the point entirely.
Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: louisrichards] #1308135
11/18/09 10:37 PM
11/18/09 10:37 PM
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Yes, but if you buy it, you'll be stuck with it. Even the smaller Baldwins are tough to get rid of. I'm trying to sell my 6'3" and that's proving to be a challenge.

Is the piano already rebuilt or is it in need of a restoration?

Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: sotto voce] #1308167
11/18/09 11:23 PM
11/18/09 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by sotto voce

What are the consumer's responsibilities to be informed concerning a decision that involves many thousands of dollars? I doubt that anyone buying a car is unaware whether the brand is domestic or foreign (even if its component parts come from around the world).


What are the consumer's responsibilities? Well, they should do their homework; I assume we agree on that. Do they? Probably not. Also, it doesn't matter if a car brand is domestic or foreign... for example, Chrysler has (had?) plants in Mexico and Canada.

Originally Posted by sotto voce

Consider how many Asian piano makers have adopted venerable names from the "golden era" or have fabricated European names solely for the cachet that they confer. In other areas of manufacturing and marketing, too, names (like "Packard Bell," for instance) get bought and sold. It seems like there's a lot of potential for deception there, and yet a Baldwin is still a Baldwin whether made in Cincinnati, Trumann or Dongbei. [quote]

Yeah, I'm not really a fan of stencil pianos because of that potential. And, no, a Baldwin is not a Baldwin if they just slap the name on a Chinese piano! I suspect that the Baldwin BH185, for example, is nearly identical to the Hallett & Davis 185 made in the same factory. If that's the case, then it's a piano of German design... not Baldwin.


[quote=sotto voce] I think Baldwin's decision to incorporate the letter C into the logo of the Chinese pianos is clever, and it serves the purpose of differentiation well. Opinions about that detail may vary, but I'm genuinely at a loss to understand such an extreme description as "the sleaziest, most dishonest thing they could have done. I hope it lands them in court."


Sure, it's clever. But, most people wouldn't notice because it's such a small detail. Do you really think that the average customer is going to see that "c" and be like, "Oh, that means it's made in China and has no connection to the American Baldwins"? This is especially true since Baldwin still calls itself "America's favorite piano" and describes these pianos as having "classic Baldwin sound", or something like that.

Originally Posted by sotto voce
I still want to know how this action—which seems intended specifically to eliminate confusion and even the appearance of deception—suggests vulnerability to legal claims.


IMO, there is a very, very fine line between a half-ass attempt at product differentiation and defrauding consumers, who probably still don't know that they essentially stopped making pianos here. One would probably have to prove that Baldwin was intentionally trying to mislead customers... but in America, you can sue for just about anything.


Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: beethoven986] #1308585
11/19/09 03:13 PM
11/19/09 03:13 PM
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musa Offline
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Hello - I am in search of a piano for my 5 children (age 6-14). I don't know anything about pianos, but would like them to have the opportunity to learn. I have been told that the piano is the best place to start and from there they can learn other instruments. I’m going to look at a Baldwin style 603 tonight. Please help! Any information would be greatly appreciated! ~Musa

Re: Opinion on Baldwin pianos? [Re: musa] #1308607
11/19/09 03:58 PM
11/19/09 03:58 PM
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Posts: 2,187
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charleslang Offline
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charleslang  Offline
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musa, welcome to the Piano Forums!

You might want to start a new thread about your search for a piano.

Until recently, all Baldwins were made in the US (but not all their sub-brands like Hamilton were). If you're looking at a used Baldwin it was likely made int the US and they are generally very good pianos; above average quality. You never know how a used piano has been treated over the years, so you should have a technician take a look at it before buying one.


charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California

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