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#1959527 - 09/16/12 07:50 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 22163
Loc: New York City
Some dealers seem to want to have things both ways. If the PB says something good about a make they sell, the customer is the first to be told about this. But if the PB says something they don't like about one of their makes, the dealer is the first to go on the attack.

It's this kind of behavior that IMO only adds to opinion that these kind of dealers are not being objective.

Edited by pianoloverus (09/16/12 01:59 PM)

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#1959538 - 09/16/12 08:22 AM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
Jonathan Alford Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/11
Posts: 372
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Jonathan Alford
Interesting, my Ritmuller sounds and plays just as nice today as it did before the new ratings came out.

You're ignoring the fact, stated a few times on this thread, that part of the explanation for the tiny drop in Ritmuller's ranking was the introduction of a new model.

No, I am not - I was simply stating that no matter where a piano is ranked, the sound / feel does not change.

#1959627 - 09/16/12 12:10 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
PianoWorksATL Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 3324
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Larry has a lot of choices to make. As manufacturers are aware of the publication, they present information as they see fit. Some are transparent because there is nothing but good news that would affect their place in the market. Some roll out the red carpet to show the latest improvements. Some stick their head in the ground and pretend it doesn't exist. Some take an adversarial stance - that while as manufacturer's they are free to produce their product, who is this guy to judge them? And a few are clamouring to get noticed and get mentioned.

Naturally, the focus of controversy is on brands that can't be satisfyingly transparent or on those that moved somehow. To use an old rating structure, what if a tier 2 brand was revealed to be sub-assembled in SE Asia despite manufacturer's silence to the question. Would they be able to maintain their spot? Would they drop one level? two? What if major tier 3 brands revealed that many of their best-sellers have been sub-assembled elsewhere for years? Would you do what the NCAA does and erase the ratings like they are records...track records? Do you issue apologies to consumers bought based upon unknown but suspected deceptions?

Is Jonathan Alford's resale value affected because Ritmueller introduced a lower series that didn't get the same treatment as Hallet, Davis & Co. (HS vs. HD), Yamaha (C, GC, GM), Schimmel (K, C), Bechstein (C, A), Story & Clark (Sig, Her), and every Samick brand that now has 3 tiers? Did Larry run out of room on the page or ink at the printers? I don't mean to be critical, but there seems to be a solution to his stated thoughts unless he believed the Ritmueller should be demoted on the whole.

I don't envy his task or believe that he is anything other than a well-intentioned professional. He's also human and in an effort to turn The Piano Book into an income, The Piano Buyer was born. On the global scale, our industry is tiny. For 100 years, there wasn't enough interest in such a publication to make it financially worthwhile. Does anyone now think there is drive enough for 2 opposing publications to handle this task? As has been hinted, how big of a pending, lasting lawsuit would it take to erase this income?

I am grateful for the resource for tabulating models and general pricing ranges. I enjoy most of the articles - the are helpful and efforts are made to establish credibility. Time magazine, it is not. I feel the ratings drive interest and page views. Page views drive advertising sales. But at some point, it is the ratings that create consequences, and that puts Larry's baby at risk. It's my pure speculation that this catch-22 has been the source of many discussions and occasionally lost sleep over how to be fair. A more cynical view might be that the churning of the ratings categories is what keeps people tuned in, so to speak, and it is intentional.

As a dealer, I have my own models at stake. I can tell you that our job of revealing new innovative designs and high-value brands is made more complicated by the rating system. Estonia cannot buy the advertising that Steinway can and the rating system is a shortcut to establishing credibility to the uninformed. Once that hurdle is crossed, it can be more fairly evaluated. Then there is a new line like Seiler ED...which in all ways of design, materials, pricing and manufacturer's positioning is meant to establish them as above Knabe (Artist) & Pramberger (Platinum). Do you think my neighbor dealers aren't going to have a blast with this asterisked ratings edge for years? Larry can have reasons for hedging his rating, but he doesn't specify those reasons, and even if he did, it would get overlooked in favor of the chart. So be it.

Good luck, Larry. I certainly couldn't untie the knots with any simple advice. I look forward to chatting with you at NAMM next year.
Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
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#1959642 - 09/16/12 12:30 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7439
Loc: torrance, CA

While I'm sure someone here will appreciate your efforts to field questions directed to Mr. Fine, that person is not me. Mr. Fine's appearances here are rare, as I'm sure you know. On those infrequent occasions when he dips his toe in the foul waters grin , if he is gracious enough to field questions, I think he deserves the opportunity to answer them himself.

Your opinions are almost a direct opposite of mine. That makes it difficult to find common ground. Your last post is a good example. There is really nothing antagonistic about it, but the fact that you consider ratings changes insignificant because they are few and infrequent is of no interest to me. That's not because of anything personal. It's simply that I hold the opposite view. To my way of thinking, if ratings changes are few and far between, a ratings change is a significant event and the reasons behind it are of interest, whether it's a downgrade of Masons or an upgrade of Hailuns.

Mr. Fine to my perception is like a painter who returns again and again to the scene of his favorite landscape to once again interpret it on canvas, making subtle changes in the execution to depict a slightly altered perception. I can respect that, and I can certainly respect his skill as a writer and communicator. You don't tell an artist how to paint his canvas, so even though I'm personally far more cynical about European-named Eurasian sub-lines than he is and don't feel that new examples of those pianos should literally go to the head of the class ahead of Yamaha C grands and Kawai RX grands, there's no point in belaboring that difference of opinion. Mr. Fine is certainly entitled to his portrait as the artist, the author, the owner, whatever. Also, as you have often pointed out, he may have forgotten more about he inner workings of the piano industry than I will ever learn in a lifetime. grin

On the other hand, PianoBuyer is in a way a scholarly work and the ratings it presents can be held to the light for examination, even if Mr. fine describes them as a rough guide for newcomers. As he has indicated, those ratings require him to make choices, choices that he describes as difficult, choices that when made sometimes leav him feeling insecure (about the choices grin) . In this sense,I don't feel it's inappropriate or badgering to ask him directly why the structure of his charts, the explanatory paragraphs that precede them, and the ratings that are contained within them are presented in the way that they are.

Mr. Fine has stated here:

"Although the brands are ranked by price more than any other factor, I use terminology related to quality because, generally speaking, price correlates to quality, even if imperfectly (depending on one's definition of "quality" and what one is looking for), and because that is terminology the consumer expects and understands."

To me this indicates some slip-sliding between price and quality that may leave the consumer with a false impression and may seem unfair to many who sell pianos for a living. It might be true that the consumer understands "quality", but he also understands 'price', Price is not an esoteric term to anyone who works for a living. Certainly, Mr. Fine would never offer an introductory explanation to the newcomer which stated:

The ratings that follow are based on price with a few exceptions. I am describing them however in terms of quality because, unlike price, that's something that you, the newcomer, can understand. grin

Now, in terms of those ratings changes, Mr. Fine has stated that it would be cumbersome to get too involved in substantive explanations in what he intends to be a simple guide. I have the opposite opinion. If the ratings changes are infrequent, as you have claimed, then I do not understand why it would be all that cumbersome to add a note within the ratings that indicates the rationale for the change. This would work both ways, upward and downward.

In the instance I chose as an example, the downgrade of Ritmuller, it would be a service to the newcomer to indicate that the change is based on factors that have nothing to do with the quality of the Ritmuller pianos that have been on the market for a few years now and which he may well have sampled, but is based solely on prices for those pianos that are lower than those of its former peers and the maker's deicsion to brand a lower line with the same name. I believe the consumer has a right to know this information. I don't think it's something that is beyond his coprehension simply because he's a newcomer rto pianos. In fact, a certain type of consumer might well regard that information as positive if he can acquire piano quality equal to the former peer group at a lower price.

In terms of the language, I recall a post long ago on this thread where a member (I think his moniker was Melodialworks) pointed out that the meanings of "Professional" and "Intermediate" are worlds apart. I would agree. I think it's an issue that won't go away even if PianoBuyer is more of a painter's landscape than a scholarly work. I realize I've belabored the point, but I really do have problems with good, better, best as well. Maybe I'm alone in that, but if so, it's more of a problem for me. Mr. Fine has stated that he wanted to use something different for that category. While the painter could say that he went with an acrylic overlay in one area of his canvas because it added a certain something, the painter is not trying to create an understanding of a consumer product category, an understanding that may affect purchase decisions (otehr than a potential buyer for his canvas grin ). Simply put, for me those terms are loaded. Sure, good, better, best are easily understood by the consumer, but often with a simplistic black and white level of understanding that has nothing to do with asking price.

Please let Mr. Fine deal with the question if he so chooses. There's no reason he has to of course. but he has been very forthcoming in this thread and we should all appreciate that, regardless of our individual opinions.
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#1959649 - 09/16/12 12:35 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 22163
Loc: New York City
Just because a post is directed to an individual doesn't mean that only that individual can respond. Someone else responding happens all the time at PW. This has happened tens of thousands of times. I'm sure Fine will corroborate, add to, correct, or ignore my post as he see fit.

Edited by pianoloverus (09/16/12 01:04 PM)

#1959661 - 09/16/12 01:01 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: pianoloverus]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7439
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Just because a post is directed to an individual doesn't mean that only that individual can respond. Someone else responding happens all the time at PW. This has happened tens of thousands of times.

No, I didn't ask you to let Mr. Fine answer because you have to, but simply as a courtesy. I could also ask you to not wallpaper over substantive posts that attempt to deal with the questions posed here with your cranky un-substantive retorts to anytning that displeases you. But you could say that's you've done it thousands of times, co why should you stop now?

I spent a lot of time on my post, and I'm sure that Sam did as well. It would be a courtesy for you to quit bich1ng and allow others to post without your constant heel-nipping.
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

#1959744 - 09/16/12 04:03 PM Re: New Fall 2012 Edition of Piano Buyer [Re: Steve Cohen]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4756
Loc: San Jose, CA
There is an Ignore setting. I find it does wonders for my blood pressure---

Edited by Jeff Clef (09/16/12 04:22 PM)
Edit Reason: worded more sharply than necessary

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