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Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
#1715180 07/17/11 04:25 PM
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My old, 90 year old piano is pretty. Yeah, it has issues and I should be concerned about the instrumental stuff, which I am, but it is hard to think of sending my pretty piece of furniture away to replace it with something that is plain-looking. Why don't they add some carvings or anything to modern pianos. (The ones that cost less than a house.)


Christine *mom* to
5 daughters, 2 sons
*1912 Lindman Player-Piano*
1906 Chickering Quarter Grand
Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715188 07/17/11 04:38 PM
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Hi Christina:

Actually, several manufacturers do build very nice and ornate instruments, but the honest truth is that these are relatively slow moving inventory for a dealer so most won't stock these. You can try the same models in a contemporary furniture design to get a feel for the sound and touch, and then order the cabinetry that is to your liking.

So, what I would suggest is that you decide what style you want, say French Provincial or Victorian, and then let us know and we can make suggestions about models and manufacturers that might make what you are looking for. Sound like a plan?

Last edited by master88er; 07/17/11 04:39 PM.

Russell I. Kassman

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Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715189 07/17/11 04:38 PM
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The market isn't there. Most shoppers would rather get a better piano than spend on an ornate case.

There are a few moderately priced artcase pianos. Story & Clark makes some very interesting artcases and most manufactures make french Provincial models in cherry.


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Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715208 07/17/11 05:07 PM
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My thoughts,

Steve has a point. Consumers can put all of their ollars into more piano, but there are consumers who are already purchasing one of the finest pianos in the world and don't mind a relitively small increase in the price to get the look that they love as well.

Also, a properly rebuilt piano can represent a tremendous instrument and also have a cabinet that is unusual and beautiful.


Rich Galassini
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Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715227 07/17/11 05:37 PM
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Because of the same reason as most of "modern" furnitures , and houses doesn't have got ornates. Minimizing the costs and increasing the producion in the less time as possible to increase the income. The result; pianos that looks like coffins.


1942 Challen Baby Grand Piano

1855 Pleyel Pianino (Restoring -> www.pleyelrestoration.blogspot.com )
Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715248 07/17/11 06:17 PM
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Most coffins are far more ornate, don't you think?

It's all about the bottom line. Except, of course, for the high end makers who sell to a different market. That being said, there is no reason to increase the cost of a piano by 20-30% because it has prettier veneer and machine carved and cut legs and music desk. Even inlay and marquetry shouldn't add that much to the cost, but it often does. Maybe in the case of hand carved custom work it could be justified.



Dale Fox
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Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715251 07/17/11 06:23 PM
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I have played on a rebuilt Steinway model C from 1891. Although I'm sure it had very ornate carvings all over it when it was built, whoever rebuilt it decided to shave all of the carvings off to "modernize" it. This was probably done a long time ago, when it was standard to modernize pianos like this. Now, if a rebuilder gets their hands on an intricately carved piano like this, they will go to extreme lengths to preserve the carvings and fetch quite a price for it.


L.K.
serious piano student
1951 Steinway M (rebuilt 2011)
Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715252 07/17/11 06:24 PM
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Italian piano maker Schultze Pollmann is known for their lovely veneer and inlay finishes, though their cases are not ornate in the way I think you mean it. http://www.schulzepollmann.com/productsMain.asp

Estonia's 'Hidden Beauty' is a rather lovely and unusual finish--- black polish outside and a wood veneer which is visible when the piano is open--- though again the case is not ornate. http://www.estoniapiano.com/index.php?page=97&

Steinway specializes in very fancy cases for some pianos--- nothing I would have in my home, but there's evidently a market out there.

I would have liked to get a wood veneer case, rather than ebony polish, but preferred to spend the money on a better piano instead. In the end, the piano itself is enough of a 'look'; probably most homes could not support a highly ornate furnishing when nothing else these days is like that.


Clef

Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715292 07/17/11 08:03 PM
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Black with no particular furniture style can go into any piano buyer's home and all the money is spent on the piano as an instrument. This is why the other finishes and styles are harder to find. Since it is a very large expensive purchase for most of us and you will be looking at it everyday, it might be worth spending the additional money to get the finish and style you want.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
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Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715318 07/17/11 08:52 PM
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I love old pianos for the way they look (I'm not entirely into over ornate designs though). But I'd hate to see mass creation of ornate pianos in an old time style.

We are tomorrows history. We should be designing and building for our time, because in the future what we did will be looked upon perhaps in a similar way we look at pianos from 100 years a go now.

Its like in architecture. Some people are so caught up in preserving old buildings and not building newer designs. By doing that, our time will become un-identifiable and invisible.

Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715441 07/18/11 01:10 AM
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Indeed, perhaps my wife would have let me put my SF-10 in the great room where it belongs instead of hidden away in the family room if it looked like a beautiful piece of furniture (it had more to do with its hulking mass than looks but if she liked its look more who knows if she would have looked past it being a seven foot grand piano). Though I probably would not have ended up with a prettier piano since I would not be willing to pay much more for an ornate case. I care not one wit what my piano looks like. Give me touch and tone and I will hide it with curtains if I have to.

Last edited by cessnaurina; 07/18/11 01:14 AM.

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Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715474 07/18/11 03:57 AM
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Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715555 07/18/11 08:02 AM
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Bottom line is COST.

I think you are looking at uprights, correct?

I too do not like the shiny black box now offered. Back when I was teaching at Baldwin Studios they offered several options of furniture.

I heard from one company recently that they buy in their shiny black boxes and fill in their pianos.

I did like the looks of the Schultz Pollman pianos mentioned above. And although not fancy, Wilm Steinberg uprights were nice furniture too.

Some companies will be very accommodating with your desires. It just costs more money to have custom done.



"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715561 07/18/11 08:15 AM
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If interested in art cased pianos , in this webpage you can find many beautiful european pianos! www.palacepianos.com this pianos has also got an history! The current art cased pianos has nothing to do with this ones I think.

Last edited by Lluís; 07/18/11 08:17 AM.

1942 Challen Baby Grand Piano

1855 Pleyel Pianino (Restoring -> www.pleyelrestoration.blogspot.com )
Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715577 07/18/11 08:39 AM
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Maybe the manufacturers just can't be bothered to do the detail and work to do all the woodwork and carving. It's a pity, that we don't see the kinds of detailed work like on the old, art case (and not art case) pianos. They are just beautifu if done welll, and if not, they still look nice. If not that, then downright (if not down left) ugly laugh !

Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1715697 07/18/11 12:07 PM
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I think it's just a case of ornate furniture in general not being fashionable now.

My theory is that when many people had much less disposable income, those that could would buy ornate furniture to display their relative wealth. Hence ornate became desirable and fashionable. Nowadays that doesn't really apply any more, so many buy overpriced, branded clothing instead.

Just my thoughts.

Last edited by PlebiousPianist; 07/18/11 12:07 PM.
Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
PlebiousPianist #1715727 07/18/11 12:58 PM
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I think it's just the style of the time- like gargoyles, long skirts/short skirts, ties, ascots, corsets, hats, beards, etc.

Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1716131 07/19/11 01:37 AM
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not fashionable +1.
I prefer a shiny black box too smile Well some veneers are really nice too but I don't like most ornamentation, it just looks creepy to me laugh


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Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1716188 07/19/11 06:42 AM
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fashion and cost are hard to disentangle without a lot of data.

I would point out that woodworking skills of the sort required to do a decent job of carving and inlaying require years of apprenticeship and work to acquire. The product itself is extremely time-intensive and meticulous work. Products like this were always a luxury, but in an era where the cost of labor has soared relative to the cost of machinery, the price of work that cannot be mechanized rises substantially. So, in addition to any shift in fashion against Rococo stylistic conventions, the sheer cost of producing that florid and heavily-decorated style has risen dramatically in comparison to simpler furniture designs.

Re: Why aren't modern pianos ornate?
christineka #1716202 07/19/11 07:11 AM
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Interesting thread…

When I first became interested in pianos, I particularly liked the more decorative and ornate furniture style. The first upright piano I had was a Cable console from the late 1960’s with the French legs and ornate music desk. It was a nice piece of furniture as well as a decent piano.

As my interest in pianos escalated and I wanted to upgrade, I still wanted that ornate furniture style. But I soon realized that better grade pianos (as a general rule) were less ornate… more of a musical instrument than a piece of furniture; kind of like a flat-top acoustic guitar… they all pretty much look the same.

After a lot of looking and searching for what I thought I wanted, I accepted the fact that the better quality pianos readily available were less ornate. However, there are exceptions.

Rick


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