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Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
jc201306 #2147474 09/10/13 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by jc201306
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I doubt Fine wrote this single sentence without some other related statements before or after it. By quoting just one line much of the meaning of that line can be lost.


Let me clarify that my original posting was NOT an attempt to criticize Larry Fine. As I mentioned in the posting, Larry simply wrote a comment that has been repeated by other people many times before and since. However, my posting WAS to criticize the statement itself, as it has been used so often to prematurely end the valid debates on technology or sound/tone quality.

Here is what Larry wrote in the latest edition of <<Piano Buyer>> before and after the statement: "First, it must be said about this and any other tone-related technical issue that if the piano sounds good, you needn't question why---just enjoy it. However, since the technical issue may be raised by the sales person (usually in the context of steering you toward or away from a piano with a laminated soundboard), you may want to know more.
"

So, even in Larry's case, his statement gives readers the impression that technical issues raised during buying process are mostly marketing tactics or salesmanship, and therefore have little merit in themselves.
If you read the entire paragraph from the PB(some of which I quoted in my last post but you again omitted), then I think it's clear that your original post and also your more recent post are leaving out critical information and do NOT really represent what Fine said.

Fine does NOT say that technical aspects are not important. He says only that it's not necessary to get overly involved with them when buying a new piano. He says "Although some technical information can be useful and interesting, extensive familiarity with technical issues usually isn't necessary to a successful piano shopping experience, especially for a new piano". He does say that some of the technical information one is likely to hear from a dealer(handmade, extra wide tail, extra thick rims, etc....(my examples)may be mostly marketing tools and not particularly relevant information when buying a piano.

I don't think many PW posters have said all the technical information about a piano is irrelevant either. They may have said a particular technical aspect is not important or that the buyer's personal judgement of tone and touch is the most important consideration. But I think those statements are quite different from saying no technical information is important. In fact, I'd guess that there is more discussion about technical issues of pianos at PW than anywhere on the internet.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/10/13 10:59 AM.
Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
jc201306 #2147531 09/10/13 11:49 AM
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Good sound and good touch is the sum of everything going on in a piano. It's no different from what's happening with "good food"

In many cases, it also has to do with the set up, preparation and condition of instrument. [or food... wink ]

Without being attracted to sound, it's same like eating food without taste. It doesn't get better by simply chewing on it.

Or trying to analyse every bit of it.

To me the question is the other way around: why do so many pianos sound so average or even below that DESPITE allegedly being of high quality?

The only possible answer: Store doesn't care, i.e piano has been neglected or quality is simply not there.
Classic "Emperor without clothes" type situation.

In no industry is this a more more misunderstood concept than in ours.

People forget that "built quality" is different from designing sound. Simply by making things out of concrete, perhaps to last for 1000 years, it doesn't "sound" necessarily better.

So what's quality anyways? Ever noticed when manufacturers fall silent, not wishing to reveal the inner-most secrets of their products? As supposed to those constantly harping about certain "features" - but bringing nothing to table?

Every guitar made in the back streets of Madrid or Paracho sounding more typical Flamenco than those coming from world's most fancy factories. And they sure have tried...

One day when we have overcome brand prejudices, start to really listen to "sound" and replaced "reality is reality" - instead the old "perception is reality" - there will be lot's of bewilderment out there.

The "will it last" question is the typical last card being played by those morbidly afraid about these changes [already] happening.

Trying to sell a piano twice the price and replacing it with one half that?

Already starting to happen out there.

Sometimes including our own brands.

Dr. Tan, Angela Cheng - are you there?

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 09/10/13 01:01 PM.

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Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
jc201306 #2147699 09/10/13 03:59 PM
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An interesting question!

While out shopping for a grand, we were delighted by all the different sounds of different brands and models within each brand; a combination of new and used. To read about such differences is one thing, to play them and then hear such differences is something else.

Then there is the touch. The singular word, "touch", cannot do justice to the amount of feelings our fingers can convey in combination with our hearing. Even the models within the same brand can feel different.

The most important lesson was imparted by a well used Yamaha concert grand (8-ft? 9-ft? huge thing) at a local University music festival.

It was well prepared and tuned and touch and tone were very nice at the start of the day. After five hours of playing by different performers, that same identical piano had then lost its feel and sound. The feel was sluggish, inconsistent and the lower notes were becoming mush for the second half of the day. It was on the same stage inside a theater, under nearly identical environmental condition. We could feel and hear the deterioration. As we were leaving, the scuttle-bug was that a tuner was en route thumb.

That was the first important "Piano Education" for me and my children. What sounded "great" at t=0 hour may not be so grand at t=x hours, where x>0; and all within a span of less than six hours.

The second important lesson was new versus used. We had an opportunity to play two near-identical pianos from the same maker side by side. The used one was 5 inches smaller. While the touch on both were well prepped and near identical, the sound was totally different! The smaller used one was "big", clear, airy, and engrossing. The new and larger one was deep, solid but a bit recessed, almost shy. We could hear the same characteristics in both but the new one had less of everything while hinted at the potential.

Without them side by side, we would not have experienced first-hand the contrast between new and old.

Given these two experiences, regardless of how one interprets Fine's writing, if we were to purchase based on sound alone, then the well-prepped used one "in the morning" would almost always "win" our ears cry.

So we have learned to treat new-sound and used-sound differently. Used is used and it is what it is at the time we play it, and it requires a careful technician's inspection.

New is more complicated and best complement by either an identical used one or a close used sibling. Then we can better understand how its sound will "open" in a couple of years. Barring that, we will have to use our imagination and what we hear now is not all of what it will become.



Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
Norbert #2147825 09/10/13 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Norbert
The "will it last" question is the typical last card being played by those morbidly afraid about these changes [already] happening.


From the perspective of a conscious buyer who does not have lots of money to throw out of the window this question is not the last but one of the first. Do I want good sound and touch? Of course. Do I want my hard earned money to buy me an instrument that will last a lifetime or longer? Of course, if I can. Do I want a piano that I need to replace in, say, 10 years? Well, no...

To me, it rather seems that the sentence quoted above is the typical last card of someone hoping to sell pianos whose longevity is, let's say, not proven.

Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
patH #2147846 09/10/13 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by patH
A new and freshly prepped piano will always sound and feel at its best. But if after a few weeks, the action becomes mushy and the sound out-of-tune faster than you can say: "Peter plays the piano perfectly with plenty of pedal", then you have bought a lemon.
I'd be surprised if this is true even for the "worst" entry level pianos available today.
What do you base this statement on?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/10/13 07:31 PM.
Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
peekay #2148257 09/11/13 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by peekay
I don't know him, but I'll ask him the question on his YouTube & Facebook...

Edit: message sent; hope he replies.


Have you got any reply?

Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
jc201306 #2148338 09/11/13 04:43 PM
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I did not read all the posts but Burton's piano really sounds like a DP to me. He's playing nice but the DP sound spoils it a bit for me...


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Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
pianoloverus #2148341 09/11/13 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by patH
A new and freshly prepped piano will always sound and feel at its best. But if after a few weeks, the action becomes mushy and the sound out-of-tune faster than you can say: "Peter plays the piano perfectly with plenty of pedal", then you have bought a lemon.
I'd be surprised if this is true even for the "worst" entry level pianos available today.
What do you base this statement on?

I'm basing this on my experience with school pianos at the university where I studied music.
My favorite piano was a Sauter upright. Sounded crisp and had a very precise and agreeable action on the first day I tried it, and throughout my stay at the university.
During my studies, the university acquired a few new Schimmel pianos. One of them was put in the same room as the Sauter.
In the first weeks, it played and sounded nice. But after a few weeks, the action started to feel unpleasant. Imprecise, mushy.
After giving this Schimmel a few tries I went back to the Sauter for practice.

So what I learned then was: Used Sauter > Used Schimmel when it comes to quality.
I know that Schimmel has since then being restructured; maybe their new pianos are better.


My grand piano is a Yamaha C2 SG.
My other Yamaha is an XMAX 300.
Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
jc201306 #2148343 09/11/13 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by jc201306
"If the piano sounds good to you, you needn't question why — just buy the piano and enjoy it!" Yes, this is almost a direct quote of Larry Fine. And yes, comments similar to this one are repeated on this forum and piano showrooms every single day. It is very much politically correct.

But, is it CORRECT?


It actually is a number of statements:

1 If the piano sounds good to you, you needn't question why

2 If the piano sounds good to you, just buy the piano

3 If the piano sounds good to you, enjoy it

@1. Of course you can question why. It may help you find other pianos that also sound good.

@2. Well, there is more to consider than how it sounds. How is the action? How does it sound to others? How old is it? How much maintenance does it need? How does it look? How expensive is it? ...

@3. Even if it sounds good, you may not enjoy it. See also @2.

Originally Posted by jc201306

If indeed it is, then:

There is no point discussing anything technical. Are the dense and stiff wood rims better than the soft wood ones? Are the wet-sand-casting plates better than the V-Pro ones? Are the wood actions better than the composite ones? Are the solid spruce soundboards better than the laminated ones? Why bother? As long as it sounds good to you, you should not care even if the sound board is made of cardboard, right? grin


See @2. Even if cardboard pianos would sound great, there may be other considerations determining whether I would buy it.

Originally Posted by jc201306

Furthermore, there is no point arguing the sound quality either. There is no better or worse sound. ....


If you belief so, good for you, get the cheapest piano you can find ;-) However, if you have such bad ears, you might have some problems learning to play the piano. Wrong or right keys, wrong or right rythm, whatever.. you may think there is no better or worse sound, but that won't make you a very good pianist.



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Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
patH #2148392 09/11/13 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by patH
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by patH
A new and freshly prepped piano will always sound and feel at its best. But if after a few weeks, the action becomes mushy and the sound out-of-tune faster than you can say: "Peter plays the piano perfectly with plenty of pedal", then you have bought a lemon.
I'd be surprised if this is true even for the "worst" entry level pianos available today.
What do you base this statement on?

I'm basing this on my experience with school pianos at the university where I studied music.
My favorite piano was a Sauter upright. Sounded crisp and had a very precise and agreeable action on the first day I tried it, and throughout my stay at the university.
During my studies, the university acquired a few new Schimmel pianos. One of them was put in the same room as the Sauter.
In the first weeks, it played and sounded nice. But after a few weeks, the action started to feel unpleasant. Imprecise, mushy.
After giving this Schimmel a few tries I went back to the Sauter for practice.

So what I learned then was: Used Sauter > Used Schimmel when it comes to quality.
I know that Schimmel has since then being restructured; maybe their new pianos are better.
I think trying to generalize based on a sample size of one piano is unreliable.

If any brand of piano, even the lowest level, significantly deteriorated in a few weeks with regularity the maker would probably not be in business very long and their warranty problems would cause a disaster.

Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
pianoloverus #2148588 09/12/13 03:57 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think trying to generalize based on a sample size of one piano is unreliable.

If any brand of piano, even the lowest level, significantly deteriorated in a few weeks with regularity the maker would probably not be in business very long and their warranty problems would cause a disaster.

It wasn't a sample size of one piano. The university got a whole bunch of new Schimmels; and IMO all of them showed signs of fatigue after a few weeks or months; unlike the Sauters. There were two Sauter pianos at the university; I mostly used one.

And Schimmel almost did go out of business in 2007. Then they restructured and supposedly focused on quality.


My grand piano is a Yamaha C2 SG.
My other Yamaha is an XMAX 300.
Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
jc201306 #2148648 09/12/13 08:29 AM
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At major concert halls it's standard practice to tune the piano once before rehearsal, then tune the piano once again before the concert. Since there is often just one rehearsal, basically the piano gets re-tuned before each performance.

I think at large recording studios, the pianos are also re-tuned before each recording.

And obviously we're talking about the finest pianos in the world here, so it doesn't matter which brand/model.

All pianos basically go out of tune fairly quickly (some faster than others). How quickly we re-tune will be based on our own tolerances. Most people only tune their home pianos once or twice a year. However, I would guess a typical good quality piano played regularly in a home setting will actually go out of tune within a month.


Working on RCM Grade 8
Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
peekay #2148655 09/12/13 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by peekay
At major concert halls it's standard practice to tune the piano once before rehearsal, then tune the piano once again before the concert. Since there is often just one rehearsal, basically the piano gets re-tuned before each performance.

I think at large recording studios, the pianos are also re-tuned before each recording.

And obviously we're talking about the finest pianos in the world here, so it doesn't matter which brand/model.

All pianos basically go out of tune fairly quickly (some faster than others). How quickly we re-tune will be based on our own tolerances. Most people only tune their home pianos once or twice a year. However, I would guess a typical good quality piano played regularly in a home setting will actually go out of tune within a month.


It is not uncommon for the piano to be checked by the tuner and re-tuned if necessary during the interval in preparation for the second part of the concert.
Nearly two years ago I was fortunate to have won two tickets to Pierre-Laurent Aimard's recital in the International Piano Series at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. At the interval the Steinway Concert Grand was not checked/re-tuned but was removed and replaced by an identical Steinway Concert Grand for the second part of the Concert!
Aimard then performed Liszt's Piano Sonata in b minor.
That concert was a memorable occasion!
However, the frequent tunings required for concert pianos are not necessary for pianos in less demanding circumstances.
As a piano teacher and for my own practice I have my pianos tuned twice a year. They do keep in tune very well.
Nevertheless, the late Vladimir Horowitz answering a question in interview commented once that he had his piano tuned and voiced each month whether he was at home playing it or away!

rk


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Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
jc201306 #2148669 09/12/13 09:48 AM
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Since the thread has turned to tuning --

In common parlance, one needs to differentiate between a 'recital' and a 'concert.' Concert would imply a concerto performance. In a recital, unless it is a major event by a major artist, a piano would only be tuned before the performance and it would be uncommon for a tuner to be in attendance. The same would be true for a concerto performance.

In the recent Cliburn Competition, the contestants had the choice from four instruments. If two different pianists chose the same piano, and if their performances were sequential, the tuning was 'touched up,' on stage and visible to the audience. Though the pianos were constantly being attended to, on occasion you could hear a unison that had drifted.

In the reference to the recital at Queen Elizabeth Hall, I wonder if the change of piano was dictated by the need of a different tonal palette for the Liszt, rather than a need of tuning. When a pianist has the luxury of having a selection of pianos, it is not uncommon to change pianos at intermission so that the instrument fits the repertoire.


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Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
jc201306 #2148677 09/12/13 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Derek Hartwell

Nevertheless, the late Vladimir Horowitz answering a question in interview commented once that he had his piano tuned and voiced each month whether he was at home playing it or away!
rk


25 years after his death, Mr. Horowitz's Steinway is still being tuned regularly with the action adjusted exactly to the way he liked to play it.


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Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
peekay #2148681 09/12/13 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by peekay
25 years after his death, Mr. Horowitz's Steinway is still being tuned regularly with the action adjusted exactly to the way he liked to play it.

So true.

Though, there is such a great debate on the action of the piano that it has entered the realm of urban myth!


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
Minnesota Marty #2148701 09/12/13 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty

In the reference to the recital at Queen Elizabeth Hall, I wonder if the change of piano was dictated by the need of a different tonal palette for the Liszt, rather than a need of tuning. When a pianist has the luxury of having a selection of pianos, it is not uncommon to change pianos at intermission so that the instrument fits the repertoire.


The recitals in the International Series at the Queen Elizabeth Hall are of full concert length. It was not for a different tonal palette that the change of piano was made. The first part of the concert included Liszt(late) plus composers he influenced Wagner,Schoenberg, Berg, Messiaen. My belief is that the piano was changed on account of the 'weight' of the concert programme and the excessive demands made on the piano. The Liszt Sonata needed a freshly-tuned piano!

Regards.
rk


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Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
jc201306 #2148707 09/12/13 10:51 AM
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rk,

As I mentioned, I was only speculating or "wondering" about the reason for the change. I had no clue of the first half program. Tuning may have been, in fact, the reason.

Concerning "concert length." That is also a common use term, but it differs from "in concert" which implies more than one musician. A concerto is performed "in concert" while a solo piano recital is not.

This passed spring, I performed a recital where the first half of the program was played on a Petrof and the second half was on a Steingraeber. The choice was made purely on the appropriateness of the piano for the repertoire performed.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: If the piano sounds good, you needn't question why. Correct?
jc201306 #2148724 09/12/13 11:21 AM
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Aimard is very finicky about the sound palette he wants for certain music (see the film "Pianomania"). So it well might be that he wanted a certain different voicing or tonal range for the Liszt sonata that was different from what he wanted for the other pieces.

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