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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: CC2 and Chopin lover] #2077144
05/04/13 12:45 PM
05/04/13 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by CC2 and Chopin lover
Quote
I want to fade away and not interfere with this thread but this suggestion is so humorous, it deserves a quick response .

I guess it is rare for you to deal with people like me but we do exist. We work like mad everyday, sometimes eighteen-hour day, seven days a week, year round, through Thanksgiving and even Christmas. When our kids need something for educational purposes, we do what we can, when we must, make the best choices we can, and we move on. There is actually an army of us; at least amongst my friends and colleagues.

We have little time for bells and whistles but it does not mean we are ignorant of quality when we see it, and we are willing to pay for what is worthwhile; everything else is just noise .

We have nothing against others who value appearances and status, those are their requirements, not ours. There is no value judgement involved here, in case you misunderstood.

Now I will fade away and let you chaps talk up a storm. We have more piano research to do.


You find my reply humorous? Then you go into a tirade about the armies of hard working people, like yourself, who an elite like myself would know nothing about? What the h*** are you talking about? What has your reply have to do with anything here? You initially seemed to be asking a question about how you could be assured that a piano you purchase today that sounds and plays well, to your taste, will continue to do so years into the future. You wanted people here to answer with detailed explanations of differences in manufacturing methods and materials used, but you wanted everything to be very cut and dry, which you were told it could not be in this particular industry. That seemed to frustrate you. So I offered what I thought was a foolproof method of achieving what I thought you were after.......a piano you loved to play that was guaranteed to last......and you essentially called my response a joke and me an elitist snob!!!! Forgive me, but I think you might need more than a piano professional advising you.


Wooops! My most sincere apologies! No intention to brand you as "elitist". HOrrible mistake if the word choices came across as such.

It shows that I should never have posted.

THe part about 50-60 year old piano is "humorous" because I lived with a hand-me-down that dated back to 1940's. Navy Dad got that "cheap" from somewhere and that piano has graced us with its off-tuned sound for years.

After it came to our house, two Techs came to see that piano, shook their heads and left :); it was that old. My children started learning on that piano and managed to improve to a point where their teacher badgered us to upgrade. So in came the Walter Studio. I could not buy a 50-60 year old grand piano again even if I wanted to but that suggestion brought on fond memories and a good laugh.

As for the "hard working", that was a complete misinterpretation on my part. This is the price we paid for on-line chat versus face-to-face.

You meant nothing by it, and I stand CORRECTED!

Cheers, sorry to have caused you angst, but definitely a good reason for me to stop posting here.



Last edited by CalifPianoUser2013; 05/04/13 12:55 PM.
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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2077164
05/04/13 01:29 PM
05/04/13 01:29 PM
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CalifPianoUser2013,

If your children really have reached a point where an upright is impeding their progress (and as a professional musician for 50 years, I can attest that it does impede progress), then it is time to look for a grand. A well regulated grand, whether short, long, or in tune or not, will make it so much easier to play without stress. I point out that "well regulated" is the key here. A pianist needs to know that that a note will speak every time when the key is played, whether at pp or ff. And, if they go on to performing, they need to practice at home using the same weight and body involvement that will aid them at the performance hall. Good luck in your search.

Last edited by Mwm; 05/04/13 01:30 PM.
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Del] #2077176
05/04/13 02:11 PM
05/04/13 02:11 PM
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re wine:
It is ALL bad.
I can agree that it takes winos many years to acquire the extensive snob vocabulary with which to criticize the worst of it and to praise the least bad of it.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: R_B] #2077194
05/04/13 02:52 PM
05/04/13 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by R_B
[/quote]
I doubt there is a good step by step analysis of value add in tier one piano production, volume producers probably DO know what each stage costs.


I'm certain there is. These are, after all, modern businesses run by educated people, who are trying to maintain a presence in a global market. Their costs have been analyzed to death as the margins are pretty slim in this business, and the last 5 years have been terrible for them pretty much everywhere. So they know.

But that doesn't mean they're ever going to share that information with people like us!

Originally Posted by R_B
[/quote]
Mystique likely has the highest mark-up of all laugh


So R, this prompts a question. Do you think that "mystique" is the prime component in selling tier 1 pianos? I'm not trying to downplay the obfuscating role industry marketing hype tends to play in confusing the issue of "quality". because it does. I often think that piano sales/marketing teams are their own worst enemies when it comes to selling new pianos.

But all the hokum aside, do you think this is a case where the emperor really has no clothes?


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: R_B] #2077196
05/04/13 02:55 PM
05/04/13 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by R_B
re wine:
It is ALL bad.
I can agree that it takes winos many years to acquire the extensive snob vocabulary with which to criticize the worst of it and to praise the least bad of it.


I take that to mean that you don't like wine, then?

...and actually, it only takes about 30 minutes to acquire that thin veneer of parvenu condescension, and a recent copy of Wine Spectator.

Just curious!

Last edited by laguna_greg; 05/04/13 03:18 PM. Reason: thought of something!

Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: R_B] #2077200
05/04/13 03:08 PM
05/04/13 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by R_B

Ah, "laminated" DOES have better dimensional stability - or is more uniformly unstable (in its dimensions along/across the grain, etc). How much that matters relative to (perceived) ability to resonate differently along/across the grain is probably an issue - at least in theory ?
This is SO familiar - ask the guitarists about rosewood - ask them about sitka spruce too - expect them to change the subject if anyone says "laminated" - they turn and walk away at the mention of "plywood".


Yes, but you know why that is, don't you? It's because those plywood soundboards don't resonate like the solid wood ones, and the instruments sound concomitantly bad. I'm a (very) amateur cellist myself, and I've run across this on student-grade cellos.

Can laminated soundboards be made to sound good? I'm imagining that they can, but I have not found one in a string instrument yet that does. I can't imagine what this comparatively poor quality of laminate would sound like in a piano.

But Del is right. We've been running out of soundboard grade spruce for 50+ years now. We will have to come up with some suitable alternatives, or all get into spruce farming.

Last edited by laguna_greg; 05/04/13 03:14 PM. Reason: sp

Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: laguna_greg] #2077201
05/04/13 03:09 PM
05/04/13 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by R_B
re wine:
It is ALL bad.
I can agree that it takes winos many years to acquire the extensive snob vocabulary with which to criticize the worst of it and to praise the least bad of it.


I take that to mean that you don't like wine, then?

Just curious!


But wine can make any piano sound fabulous.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Mwm] #2077204
05/04/13 03:14 PM
05/04/13 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Mwm
Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by R_B
re wine:
It is ALL bad.
I can agree that it takes winos many years to acquire the extensive snob vocabulary with which to criticize the worst of it and to praise the least bad of it.


I take that to mean that you don't like wine, then?

Just curious!


But wine can make any piano sound fabulous.


...and for more than an hour, which is a long time when you're, well, you know...


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2077211
05/04/13 03:29 PM
05/04/13 03:29 PM
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Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by R_B
re wine:
It is ALL bad.
I can agree that it takes winos many years to acquire the extensive snob vocabulary with which to criticize the worst of it and to praise the least bad of it.

This discussion about wine reminds me of the old country song with lyrics that say “I’m gonna' hire a wine-o to decorate our home; so you’ll feel more at ease here and you won’t have to roam; we’ll take out the dinning room table and put a bar along that wall, and a neon sign to point the way to the bathroom down the hall”. smile

On the other hand, I’ve read that a little red wine is good for the blood pressure and other ailments.

Of course, I wouldn’t know. wink

How are my comments relevant to this thread? Well, they are about as relevant as some of the others comments I’ve read here…

Oh yea, one more thing to make my comments somewhat relevant… the quality of any piano is no greater than the perception of the buyer who chooses that brand. Some of the brands mentioned in this thread have done a good job over the years of building and maintaining that brand and name recognition, despite resistance and opposition from competitors in all directions.

Just my .02 smile

Rick


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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Rickster] #2077252
05/04/13 04:26 PM
05/04/13 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Rickster
Originally Posted by R_B
re wine:
It is ALL bad.
I can agree that it takes winos many years to acquire the extensive snob vocabulary with which to criticize the worst of it and to praise the least bad of it.

This discussion about wine reminds me of the old country song with lyrics that say “I’m gonna' hire a wine-o to decorate our home; so you’ll feel more at ease here and you won’t have to roam; we’ll take out the dinning room table and put a bar along that wall, and a neon sign to point the way to the bathroom down the hall”. smile

On the other hand, I’ve read that a little red wine is good for the blood pressure and other ailments.

Of course, I wouldn’t know. wink

How are my comments relevant to this thread? Well, they are about as relevant as some of the others comments I’ve read here…

Oh yea, one more thing to make my comments somewhat relevant… the quality of any piano is no greater than the perception of the buyer who chooses that brand. Some of the brands mentioned in this thread have done a good job over the years of building and maintaining that brand and name recognition, despite resistance and opposition from competitors in all directions.

Just my .02 smile

Rick


Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind....

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: laguna_greg] #2077295
05/04/13 05:47 PM
05/04/13 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by R_B

I doubt there is a good step by step analysis of value add in tier one piano production, volume producers probably DO know what each stage costs.


I'm certain there is. These are, after all, modern businesses run by educated people, who are trying to maintain a presence in a global market. Their costs have been analyzed to death as the margins are pretty slim in this business, and the last 5 years have been terrible for them pretty much everywhere. So they know.

But that doesn't mean they're ever going to share that information with people like us!

Originally Posted by R_B
[/quote]
Mystique likely has the highest mark-up of all laugh


So R, this prompts a question. Do you think that "mystique" is the prime component in selling tier 1 pianos? I'm not trying to downplay the obfuscating role industry marketing hype tends to play in confusing the issue of "quality". because it does. I often think that piano sales/marketing teams are their own worst enemies when it comes to selling new pianos.

But all the hokum aside, do you think this is a case where the emperor really has no clothes? [/quote]

If I could answer that with ANY degree of certainty I would KNOW where the knee of the value curve is.
For MYself, MY criteria, MY available funds (or MY willingness to go into debt), etc.
As it happens I seem to have tin ears, or just a lack of appreciation of FINE pianos. I can enjoy most music from most instruments, so digital instruments work adequately for me.

I believe there are claims about things that probably don't affect what most would regard as a piano's objective performance criteria (undefined), there is hokum, there is deliberate deception.
I think the Emperor is probably not totally naked, but may not be as well dressed as he has been led to believe.

Yes, mystique probably IS the prime component in SELLING tier one anything.
Marketing superlatives to describe EVERY aspect of the product and its production process, many of them irrelevant... and so on.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: R_B] #2077682
05/05/13 02:09 PM
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Hi RB,

Well if I felt that way, I'd never buy an expensive piano again! Ever!! Thank you for being so candid.

If you don't hear the difference, and I mean that quite seriously, you shouldn't spend the money. After all, there are only two criteria with which to judge the quality of any musical instrument- tone and playability (read: touch in this case). If you don't see for yourself a noticeable difference from one instrument to the next in those two areas, the more expensive one is not worth the money no matter what you've read or heard.

For myself, I can hear and feel the difference. But I've spent 35+ years learning how to tell, and had a lot of really good help along the way. To begin with, my playing is at a high level, so I can easily tell the difference in the instrument's response. I've done enough performing, and have an ear for it already, so that I know the different makers, supposedly at their best, well enough to tell them apart by sound more or less.

My next piano is going to probably be a Bosie 220 if I can find a good one, or a rebuilt pre-WWII Hamburg Steinway B from my favorite tech. Those both can be wonderful pianos, significantly better than the competition, to my taste and discernment.

If I were in your shoes though, I'd buy a good Asian piano for not too much and leave it at that. It will always sound pretty good and, if you take care of it minimally, it will outlive you and your children. You won't be unhappy

Or, you could get somebody you know and respect to teach you how to listen for the differences. This is not rocket science despite what you may have read or heard, and very few people actually have a tin ear as you put it. You are obviously an intelligent and educated person. I'm certain that you could be trained to hear more than you already do right now, and possibly enough to appreciate the differences between the better instruments.

But you'd have to be willing to be taught, and it will take some time.

Last edited by laguna_greg; 05/05/13 02:15 PM.

Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: laguna_greg] #2077690
05/05/13 02:26 PM
05/05/13 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg

If I were in your shoes though, I'd buy a good Asian piano for not too much and leave it at that. It will always sound pretty good and, if you take care of it minimally, it will outlive you and your children. You won't be unhappy


Good advice Greg.

Just read your resume. Very impressive !! I'm pleased you've decided to join us here on PW. thumb



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Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: laguna_greg] #2077692
05/05/13 02:30 PM
05/05/13 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
After all, there are only two criteria with which to judge the quality of any musical instrument- tone and playability (read: touch in this case).


I would add stability and durability.


Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Steve Cohen] #2077693
05/05/13 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
Originally Posted by laguna_greg
After all, there are only two criteria with which to judge the quality of any musical instrument- tone and playability (read: touch in this case).


I would add stability and durability.
And appearance.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2077696
05/05/13 02:40 PM
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I completely agree with Greg. If you can't hear the differences, or feel the differences, then don't spend the money.

It's true that many people can't really feel the difference in quality between a Yamaha C/Kawai RX and a tier one piano. In fact there are some cases where the Japanese piano will outperform the tier one, but that is usually to do with set up and voicing.

The differences are subtle to the untrained ear, or even the good amateur ear, or hand. The good amateur may not have the technique to draw out the best from a tier one instrument. I understand that there are some amateurs out there who are as good as some concert artists, so I'm making a generalisation.

If you're practising properly all the time, and always searching for ways to improve, a Yamaha C/Kawai RX will do most of what you need it to, but there will always be a limit to what can be done on these instruments. The makers know this, so these makers offer premium line pianos too. When you are perfecting your sound and you have a tier one handbuilt, new or expertly rebuilt like a Steinway, Fazioli, Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Bechstein, the list goes on, the piano will most probably always be better than the pianist. It will always have something to give. It will be very difficult to outgrow it.

Now, for the performing pianist, many don't need to have the best instruments in their home because they have access to concert instruments, and they know what to expect and what is possible, but I must admit it would be nice to have an instrument that always challenges, always exceeds your expectations and opens the door to new sonic possibilities. A Yamaha C3 usually isn't going to do that. It can do a lot, yes. It's an excellent piano, yes, and I'd be happy to accept one. However, for opening that door, and finding absolute responsiveness and constantly having an instrument that will make you listen and improve, give me a tier one - be it high end Japanese, or German or Austrian, Estonian or American. And a digital instrument will never give you everything you need, as a performing classical pianist. It just can't. It's far too limited. I use a digital instrument for a lot of my practice, it's good, it's convenient, it sounds decent, the key weight is good, even the pedal responds quite well, but it doesn't give me everything. It simply can't. I wouldn't be without it though.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Carey] #2077740
05/05/13 03:47 PM
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Carey,

Thanks so much for the kind words!



Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2077819
05/05/13 06:20 PM
05/05/13 06:20 PM
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Quote
I would add stability and durability.


Which most Europeans/Americans traditionally considered to be at least 80-100 years.

Not so convinced many pianos often proclaimed as "highly stable" and "durable" will measure up to that standard today.

Norbert


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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: joe80] #2077855
05/05/13 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by joe80
If you can't hear the differences, or feel the differences, then don't spend the money.
I think it's more complicated than that. Many people realize they are not very experienced listening to pianos. That's why so many ask for so much help at PW, from the dealer, from techs, and from the Piano Buyer. I think many also realize that even with help they may not be able to immediately hear differences as well as professional pianists, very experienced pianists, or techs.

Yet they want to buy a piano they will like for many years and perhaps a lifetime. So it's not unreasonable for them to buy based on someone else's recommendation even if they can't at the moment they buy a piano hear/feel the differences.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/05/13 07:37 PM.
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2077875
05/05/13 08:36 PM
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Quote
I think many also realize that even with help they may not be able to immediately hear differences as well as professional pianists, very experienced pianists, or techs.



This is not necessarily my own experience.

Hearing may be an acquired ability for some but some people have it naturally. Surprisingly, among them are often young children and people who don't even play.

Sound is something like the taste of good wine, some can tell right away and some cannot. In a recent study among professional wine experts 80% were wrong when trying to identify cheap versus expensive wines in a blind test.

However like wine, sound is something that can be explained, explored and most certainly "discussed".

Always perplexed how quick many of our visitors/ customers pick up on things once things are properly explained and demonstrated.

Even more perplexed how little disagreement there actually is - personal preferences in details aside - when it comes to the "finer things" of sound.

Often when people think of knowing "good sound", they more often than not have not explored everything that's there to explore involving 88 keys.

It is often surprising how many of the professional groups are among them.

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 05/05/13 08:41 PM.

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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2077992
05/05/13 11:50 PM
05/05/13 11:50 PM
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OHMYGOD, the Wine analogy yet again! And I thought I was the only one bandying that about. So, Chateuneuf du Pape le Vieux Telegraphe, or Chateau Pichon Lalande? You pick.

Norbert, I also believe that kind of discernment can be taught. Much depends on the innate talent a person has for that kind of listening. But having said that, absolutely anyone can improve their listening/hearing with more and greater experience, and some guidance from a more discerning ear.

"Yet they want to buy a piano they will like for many years and perhaps a lifetime."

Pianoluver, for many people, a good Asian instrument will be enough to fulfill such a goal. Besides, it leaves the door open for an upgrade once the buyer has had enough experience and training. It's a place to start, in any case. The only obstacle such a buyer has is the willingness to be both patient, and to be taught, very rare qualities these days. If they pick a decent Asian instrument (very easy to do with the right help), they won't lose any money on it unless the world economy goes south again. Quite the contrary.

I'm going to drink some (really good) champagne now!

Last edited by laguna_greg; 05/06/13 12:01 AM. Reason: sp

Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078356
05/06/13 02:33 PM
05/06/13 02:33 PM
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Not keeping up with this thread.
re Wine;
(explanation of my position/opinion)
Some 30 years ago I made wine, I guess I was an aficionado or somesuch word.
We did tastings, critiqued them by number at blind tastings, thought we knew what we were talking about, impressed each other, learned from each other, etc. It was quite a hobby for a number of years and mine would usually place quite well.
It is not at all clear that professionals make "better" wine than amateurs, the boutique wines were no better, regardless of price and quality was only loosely related to age. We would include commercial ringers, some quite expensive.
I got to some modest number of thousands of bottles in my cellar (fancy wine-o word for basement). All aging and supposedly improving.
At some point it occurred to me that I wouldn't live long enough to drink it all and I would probably die a lot earlier if I tried to.
A LOT was given away and as I withdrew from the group and stopped producing I found enormous amounts of time available for other things in my life.
Clearer mornings followed soon after that.

So yeah, it is all BAD and has wasted a lot of my time on earth.

I haven't wasted a moment to alcohol for 15 years or so.
Not an AA case, I just quit and "stayed quitted" laugh
My opinion of wine and its "following" has some basis.

re automobile manufacturing;
At one time I lived fairly close to the Rolls Royce factory in Crewe - at a time when it WAS Rolls Royce.
My comment earlier about Ford and GM not being able to "file to fit" parts is taken from an urban legend about RR.
(may or may not be true)
It was said that they bought rejected parts from other manufacturers (shock & horror) and since they processed every part they bought and hand fitted it anyway anything/everything could be filed to fit.
Ford and GM can't DO that, so they have had to improve the quality of the component parts up stream.

I think I see parallels in tier 1 piano production.
Although I don't accuse anyone of buying rejected Asian parts and re-working them by hand in order to hone them to perfection, I suspect there are opportunities for improving component quality up stream.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: R_B] #2078371
05/06/13 02:45 PM
05/06/13 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by R_B

I think I see parallels in tier 1 piano production.
Although I don't accuse anyone of buying rejected Asian parts and re-working them by hand in order to hone them to perfection, I suspect there are opportunities for improving component quality up stream.

You must have a reason for this suspicion. Which Tier 1 components could be improved: keys, actions, hammers, strings, frames, wrest planks, soundboards, bridges, rims ...?


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: R_B] #2078380
05/06/13 02:54 PM
05/06/13 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by R_B
Not keeping up with this thread.

re automobile manufacturing;
At one time I lived fairly close to the Rolls Royce factory in Crewe - at a time when it WAS Rolls Royce.
My comment earlier about Ford and GM not being able to "file to fit" parts is taken from an urban legend about RR.
(may or may not be true)
It was said that they bought rejected parts from other manufacturers (shock & horror) and since they processed every part they bought and hand fitted it anyway anything/everything could be filed to fit.
Ford and GM can't DO that, so they have had to improve the quality of the component parts up stream.

I think I see parallels in tier 1 piano production.
Although I don't accuse anyone of buying rejected Asian parts and re-working them by hand in order to hone them to perfection, I suspect there are opportunities for improving component quality up stream.


I used to fly the CEO of Magna, a major manufacturer of automotive parts for Ford, GM, Toyota, and others, in the early 1990s. I asked him why, at that time, Japanese cars were so much more reliable than American cars, even though many of the same parts were used on Ford, GM and Toyota. He said that each car maker had particular tolerances that they required of Magna, so Magna used "binning", a technique where the part, once made, was measured and placed in a bin according to where it fit in the allowable tolerances. The closest (highest and most expensive) tolerances were required by Toyota and were class A parts. The same part for a Ford was class D, much cheaper. Lower tolerances, in this case, lowered reliability.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078390
05/06/13 03:11 PM
05/06/13 03:11 PM
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PS
I could probably find this SOMEWHERE on the web, but OK I get that "plywood" isn't accepted by some, what about other materials ?,
Materials that aren't labor & skill intensive to produce in consistent quality.
Have "ceramics" been tried ?
I understand most are strong under compression, though I have no idea of how they would stand up to "bending" from the down force of a bridge, embedded fibers might help there.
Ceramic is very ringing in bells (where it is desirable), but maybe that could go away with different thicknesses ?

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078399
05/06/13 03:31 PM
05/06/13 03:31 PM
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Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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R_B,

Do some searching for carbon fiber soundboards. Check out Steingraeber and Phoenix.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2078743
05/07/13 09:53 AM
05/07/13 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
R_B,

Do some searching for carbon fiber soundboards. Check out Steingraeber and Phoenix.


Thanks, I've seen those.
I think carbon fiber is incredibly difficult to do well and to do consistently, so while it might go a long way to solving the humidity issue and natural resource shortage, it probably doesn't help with the skilled labor need and is likely to produce variable results (different sound "character" ?).
DIFFERENT skills, perhaps not congruent with other required fine woodworking skills - I think they are very different skills.

BTW, "Rain Song" had a carbon fiber guitar on the market quite a while ago, probably still around.
Controversial ? Oh Yezzzzz laugh

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078751
05/07/13 10:19 AM
05/07/13 10:19 AM
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MWM,
The US auto industry has for a long time used binning within acceptable tolerances.
Replacement shell bearings, for example, are likely to have small colored dots on them.
Simplified; They sort the largest ones to put in the biggest holes, bored holes having tolerances too.
In the electronics industry "speed binning" is common, it is a way of ensuring that "lemons" don't get built due to tolerance build up and CAN be used to produce products comprised of "all fast" parts, for a premium price.
"All slow" produces acceptable product, i.e. it will work.

I see drum stick matching as analogous, i.e. you get a very well matched pair, all pairs are different, selection is more about preference than "quality" - although one could argue that closeness of match is a measure of quality laugh
Drummers may want different weight, stiffness, balance, tone, feel, etc.
Drum sticks do have tone and as I understand it "feel" has to do with the vibrations that come back into the hands, some frequencies being good, some bad, varying by individual.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: laguna_greg] #2078823
05/07/13 01:16 PM
05/07/13 01:16 PM
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Del Offline
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by R_B

Ah, "laminated" DOES have better dimensional stability - or is more uniformly unstable (in its dimensions along/across the grain, etc). How much that matters relative to (perceived) ability to resonate differently along/across the grain is probably an issue - at least in theory ?
This is SO familiar - ask the guitarists about rosewood - ask them about sitka spruce too - expect them to change the subject if anyone says "laminated" - they turn and walk away at the mention of "plywood".


Yes, but you know why that is, don't you? It's because those plywood soundboards don't resonate like the solid wood ones, and the instruments sound concomitantly bad. I'm a (very) amateur cellist myself, and I've run across this on student-grade cellos.
Can laminated soundboards be made to sound good? I'm imagining that they can, but I have not found one in a string instrument yet that does. I can't imagine what this comparatively poor quality of laminate would sound like in a piano.

But Del is right. We've been running out of soundboard grade spruce for 50+ years now. We will have to come up with some suitable alternatives, or all get into spruce farming.

We call them “laminated” rather than “plywood” because the panels used in modern pianos have evolved considerably from the simple cross-ply “plywood” soundboard panels found in pianos like the (mostly) unlamented StoryTone soundboard of the mid-1900s. These were simple plywood panels made with the “mahogany” laminae set at 90°. They were stiff and heavy and generally unsuitable for piano soundboard use. And they soured the industry on laminated soundboard panels from then on throughout all eternity.

The argument that laminated panels “resonate differently” illustrates part of the problem. Our notions of how piano soundboards work is heavily influenced by the misguided and somewhat romantic notions of how they work that have been handed down by our ancestors. Do piano soundboards “resonate?” Yes, they do but, in general, these resonances are not good things; they are typically voicing problems to be overcome by the skilled voicer. We are not particularly interested in making the laminated soundboard panel “resonate” like a so-called solid wood soundboard panel; we are interested it making it interact in a controlled and desirable way with the vibrating strings. These are two distinctly different goals.

Modern laminated soundboard panels bear little resemblance to the “plywood” panels of 60+ years ago. A lot has been learned about how piano soundboards work since those bad old days. “Can laminated soundboards be made to sound good?” Yes, they can and they have and they are. Can pianos using laminated soundboard panels be made to sound identical to pianos of the same design but using a solid spruce soundboard panels? I don’t know yet but I do know that we can come pretty close. So close, in fact, that in one test the consensus among those playing two otherwise identical small grand pianos was that the instrument fitted with the laminated soundboard panel was clearly the better-sounding piano. Ironically—although, perhaps, predictably—there were a couple of pianists who, after learning that the piano they thought sounded best was the one with the laminated soundboard panel managed to change their minds. The situation would have been funny had it not been so pathetic.

(Incidentally, spruce farming won’t help us in the piano industry. Spruce trees certainly do grow well in plantation setting. If fact, they grow too well and too fast; the wood is generally wide-grained and rather weaker than that of the slow-growth trees coming from old-growth forests. The wood is good for pulp and pallets but not piano soundboard panels except, of course, as core stock for laminated soundboard panels.)

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Del] #2078842
05/07/13 02:04 PM
05/07/13 02:04 PM
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Maryland/DC/No. VA
Steve Cohen Online content
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Originally Posted by Del
“Can laminated soundboards be made to sound good?” Yes, they can and they have and they are. Can pianos using laminated soundboard panels be made to sound identical to pianos of the same design but using a solid spruce soundboard panels? I don’t know yet but I do know that we can come pretty close. So close, in fact, that in one test the consensus among those playing two otherwise identical small grand pianos was that the instrument fitted with the laminated soundboard panel was clearly the better-sounding piano. Ironically—although, perhaps, predictably—there were a couple of pianists who, after learning that the piano they thought sounded best was the one with the laminated soundboard panel managed to change their minds. The situation would have been funny had it not been so pathetic.
ddf



A couple of years ago at NAMM, Del had a Young Chang 5 footer with the newly designed soundboard right near a YC with the original design. Larry and I turned our backs and had someone play the same piece on both. The new design was clearly better. We were particularly impressed with the improvement in the bass and lower-mid range.

And he's made improvements since then!


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