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Chinese pianos: next chapter coming #2181134
11/12/13 04:30 PM
11/12/13 04:30 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
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Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline OP
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While the discussion about "Chinese pianos" seems to be going on in North America, the Chinese themselves seem less confused by it.

At next NAMM show in January, one of the top Chinese makers plans to unveil a new 6'grand earmarked at $40,000 wholesale.

Associating themselves increasingly with the finer things in life, Chinese manufacturers no longer seem content identifying themselves simply with the "cheap and decent". For some merely alternative to the Japanese...

So did we underestimate all along what's going on or is this just another "pipe dream" by one of world's largest piano makers?

How would you react [emotionally] if and when Chinese made super pianos should enter the market - in earnest?

[Linked Image]


Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 11/12/13 04:38 PM.

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Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181138
11/12/13 04:36 PM
11/12/13 04:36 PM
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Posts: 1,555
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Bob Newbie Offline
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I remember when people used that expression" I can get it for you wholesale" all the time!
ah those were the days... smile

Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181164
11/12/13 05:25 PM
11/12/13 05:25 PM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 607
Los Angeles
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Los Angeles
Kayserburg special edition grand?

Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181171
11/12/13 05:31 PM
11/12/13 05:31 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
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Ellenberg


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181176
11/12/13 05:37 PM
11/12/13 05:37 PM
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Caowner2013 Offline
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It is inevitable that the Chinese will take the mid to high-end route.

The days of barely surviving on cheap-labor contract-manufacturing are fast waning. While there will always be a few Asian companies who must start in that mold, the longer established ones are looking for new sustainable long term growth. To do that, they have to innovate and produce unique offerings, not just relying on old economics. Once they have the know-how, the money and the production capabilities, nothing can stop them.

Emotionally, I would be sad if the European and American piano makers (Walter?) remain oblivious to such threats from determined, aggressive and highly competent competitor; either due to ignorance or arrogance or both, and promptly lose the game. On the other hand, I would be happy to have more high quality but reasonable affordable choices. Suppose the Chinese can produce something as good as a Bosendorfer Imperial at 75% of the price? 50%? Steinway Model-B at similar discounts? Why not? The Japanese did it with their cars.


Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181212
11/12/13 07:09 PM
11/12/13 07:09 PM
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I would only consider it it it came in pink and if they put the pianos next to a pink mini-Cooper instead of that tacky red Ferrari.

Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming?? [Re: Norbert] #2181261
11/12/13 09:12 PM
11/12/13 09:12 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,457
Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline OP
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Quote
Emotionally, I would be sad if the European and American piano makers (Walter?) remain oblivious to such threats from determined, aggressive and highly competent competitor; either due to ignorance or arrogance or both, and promptly lose the game.


Well taken.

Watch the new Baldwin grands coming on market as we speak.
They're already taken off where others would love to be *at*.

P.S. Fine pianos: who can blame these guys?

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 11/12/13 10:27 PM.

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Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming?? [Re: Norbert] #2181351
11/13/13 01:37 AM
11/13/13 01:37 AM
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Posts: 448
SF Bay Area Ca.
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To be honest a piano, especially a higher end grand piano is much more than a musical instrument. It can be furniture, but most importantly it's a status symbol. In this realm it matters not how good the piano really is, and to be fair, at this level they should all be pretty close. I would imagine that the market for such products is "mature" with sales rather flat. Lets face it the world is mostly moving away from acoustic pianos for making music in households and most public places. The only really growth market for a new high end "status" piano would be....mmm let me think a second, CHINA! Status symbols are a big deal in China or at least to those I've met. I doubt if other high end makers are paying too much attention to this other than from the "how can we use this to sell more pianos in China?" standpoint.


Quid est veritas et mendacium, cum orbis terrarum.
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming?? [Re: Norbert] #2181400
11/13/13 06:22 AM
11/13/13 06:22 AM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 14,241
Louisiana
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Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
Emotionally, I would be sad if the European and American piano makers (Walter?) remain oblivious to such threats from determined, aggressive and highly competent competitor; either due to ignorance or arrogance or both, and promptly lose the game.


Well taken.

Watch the new Baldwin grands coming on market as we speak.
They're already taken off where others would love to be *at*.

P.S. Fine pianos: who can blame these guys?

Norbert


It's just a shame they don't sound like the old Baldwins. Certainly in the ballpark, certainly "Baldwinesque", but not quite Baldwin.

I will say this...their build quality is very good, much better than the first Chinese Baldwins.

If you look at their price points, though, it appears to me they are placing themselves in competition with Hailun/Brodmann/Ritmuller, not with Yamaha's C series or the new Kawai grands.

OTOH, I think Yamaha and Kawai are pricing themselves out of a good deal of their former market.


www.coffee-room.com

Over 1.4M (and counting) posts where pianists discuss everything. And nothing.
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Caowner2013] #2181401
11/13/13 06:27 AM
11/13/13 06:27 AM
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Posts: 462
Münster, Germany
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Originally Posted by Caowner2013
the longer established ones are looking for new sustainable long term growth. To do that, they have to innovate and produce unique offerings, not just relying on old economics. Once they have the know-how, the money and the production capabilities, nothing can stop them.


One drawback of all these Chinese companies is the know how of their workers. Better said: the lack of know how. They obviously have a high fluctuation of their staff and the workers know only little about what they are doing. They just work on one part of the piano without knowing the context. If they had started a good training 10 years ago, they would have well trained workers on master level now . But please don´t tell them cool


piano tech - tuner - dealer
Münster, Germany
www.weldert.de
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Caowner2013] #2181463
11/13/13 09:28 AM
11/13/13 09:28 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,071
Conway, AR USA
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Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted by Caowner2013
It is inevitable that the Chinese will take the mid to high-end route.

The days of barely surviving on cheap-labor contract-manufacturing are fast waning. While there will always be a few Asian companies who must start in that mold, the longer established ones are looking for new sustainable long term growth. To do that, they have to innovate and produce unique offerings, not just relying on old economics. Once they have the know-how, the money and the production capabilities, nothing can stop them.

Emotionally, I would be sad if the European and American piano makers (Walter?) remain oblivious to such threats from determined, aggressive and highly competent competitor; either due to ignorance or arrogance or both, and promptly lose the game. On the other hand, I would be happy to have more high quality but reasonable affordable choices. Suppose the Chinese can produce something as good as a Bosendorfer Imperial at 75% of the price? 50%? Steinway Model-B at similar discounts? Why not? The Japanese did it with their cars.



There is no doubt that with time and proper training, the requisite quality of workmanship has the potential equal the best. The problem for Pacific Rim piano makers is the increased costs they incur by moving into the requisite quality in materials. Price points increase significantly. Still, even with this, if labor costs can be managed, they can maintain an advantage.

It has already been demonstrated that American piano makers* cannot bring costs down while maintaining quality of material and workmanship. Several years ago, Baldwin had a great engineer design a grand piano - one that, if successful, would compete with lower cost Asian instruments. Other than MDF in the lid, the quality of material seemed okay. It was certainly no artist series grand, but I do not believe it was intended to be.

Though a very few of these managed to arrive at the showroom in good shape, most did not. Corporate rationale must have been to keep the cost down by fast-tracking the manufacturing process. (And, I understand, monkeying with the original engineering.) What else could explain the slipshod workmanship?

So, for the moment, time may indeed be on the side of Chinese piano makers. Where they go from here, time will answer.


[*That is, made in America]

Last edited by bkw58; 11/13/13 10:10 AM. Reason: *

Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
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Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Gregor] #2181661
11/13/13 03:43 PM
11/13/13 03:43 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 79
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Caowner2013 Offline
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Originally Posted by Gregor

One drawback of all these Chinese companies is the know how of their workers. Better said: the lack of know how. ... If they had started a good training 10 years ago, they would have well trained workers on master level now . But please don´t tell them cool


Ja! Ich sagt nichts! smile
I will say nothing!


Last edited by Caowner2013; 11/13/13 03:43 PM.
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: BornInTheUSA] #2181666
11/13/13 03:49 PM
11/13/13 03:49 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 79
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Caowner2013 Offline
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Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 79
Originally Posted by michaelh
I would only consider it it it came in pink and if they put the pianos next to a pink mini-Cooper instead of that tacky red Ferrari.


Pink Mini-cooper surrounded by tasteful presentation of wine choices? smile

Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181713
11/13/13 04:46 PM
11/13/13 04:46 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,457
Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline OP
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How would you deal with a German trained Chinese master craftsman who comes with highest credentials?

Several, including a number of Koreans, have already graduated with the coveted "Meister" title from a number of German companies including Hamburg Steinway.

Those who have, have received highest marks in final exams.

Ludwigsburg, Germany's most respected college for intrument making with graduating degree of "Meister" has several Chinese students and had already some graduates.

Also with high graduating marks. With several having returned to China.

http://www.ows-lb.de/index.php/berufsschule/musikinstrumentenbau

How many have we enrolled there ourselves? Or anywhere else?

Ask yourself...

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 11/13/13 04:52 PM.

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Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Gregor] #2181819
11/13/13 06:31 PM
11/13/13 06:31 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,919
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Supply Offline
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Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted by Gregor
One drawback of all these Chinese companies is the know how of their workers. Better said: the lack of know how. They obviously have a high fluctuation of their staff and the workers know only little about what they are doing. They just work on one part of the piano without knowing the context. If they had started a good training 10 years ago, they would have well trained workers on master level now . But please don´t tell them cool

Too late.
Every year (for a well over a decade now) there are more and more Asians training in Germany, becoming piano makers and Master Craftsmen. The Chinese companies are hiring all kinds of top consultants from North America and Europe for piano design, manufacture, and also technical finishing (regulation, prep, voicing). They are learning all the tricks of the trade to build good pianos, and at a much faster pace than the Japanese did a number of decades ago.

As much as I admire the German piano industry, I think there is a lot of inherent hubris which could lead to a few painful and nasty surprises. Actually, it will simply be a continuation of the trend - Germany has already lost over half of its brands in the last few decades. Give the Asians another ten years....

Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181841
11/13/13 06:46 PM
11/13/13 06:46 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 946
Germany
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Germany
I have yet to encounter a Pearl River/Ritmüller/Kayserburg which I like to play. Spongy action, nondescript sound... with Hailun being only slightly better. China has a long way to go before reaching Japanese, European or American quality level. But with support from Europe, they will get there. Steinberg P: Best Chinese piano I played so far.

But it will take time. And I believe that it's too early for them to start selling pianos in the tier 1 or tier 2 range.
When it happens, hopefully Africa will be ready to play the part China plays today. Pianos with real ebony and ivory...


My grand piano is a Yamaha C2 SG.
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181851
11/13/13 06:58 PM
11/13/13 06:58 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,457
Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline OP
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Quote
I have yet to encounter a Pearl River/Ritmüller/Kayserburg which I like to play.


Guarantee you don't play the current models being UH uprights and GH grands. You most likely also didn't play the awesome new 7' semi-concert, personaly designed by Lothar Thomma.

The pianos are so good [sorry..] that Udo Steingraeber once asked me during my last visit to Bayreuth "why do we even bother building pianos in Germany?"

Outside German top grands, he seemed to concede fate is sealed.

Almost...

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 11/14/13 01:55 AM.

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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181867
11/13/13 07:20 PM
11/13/13 07:20 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
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Germany
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Germany
Originally Posted by Norbert
Guarantee you don't play the current models being UH uprights and GH grands. You most likely also didn't play the awesome new 7' semi-concert, personaly designed by Lothar Thomma.

I played the pianos on the picture, which looks like the Pearl River stand from the Musikmesse in Frankfurt. And the pianos there made me want to change Trabbi jokes to Pearl River jokes (Trabbi = car built in GDR; probably the worst German car ever built)

Why don't Pearl River pianos come in grey?
Because they would be confused with dustbins.

How can you double the value of a Pearl River?
Put a beer crate on it.

A piano delivery person parks in front of a Trabbi and unloads a Pearl River.
The Trabbi asks the Pearl River: "What the heck are you?"
The Pearl River replies: "A piano."
The Trabbi laughs: "If you are a piano then I am a car!"

(Note to those who don't know: The original joke goes like this.
A Trabbi drives into a ditch and lands next to a cow dropping.
The cow dropping asks: "What are you?"
The Trabbi replies: "A car".
The cow dropping laughs: "If you are a car then I am a pizza!")

NOTE: Pearl Rivers are not that bad. But I still don't consider them great. And the city that used to built Trabbis now builds Volkswagens. So: There's hope for Pearl River.

Last edited by patH; 11/13/13 07:23 PM.

My grand piano is a Yamaha C2 SG.
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181903
11/13/13 08:34 PM
11/13/13 08:34 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,457
Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline OP
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patH:

If, as by your reasoning, Pearl River makes Trabbi-like pianos but is importing more German parts and components for their top line pianos than is used by all German makers combined, there must be some pretty lousy stuff coming from Germany parts makers indeed.

You still haven't answered if you actually know the UH uprights or GH grands I'm talking about.

Wouldn't be surprised theses pianos are not even available in Germany, not very interesting market for piano manufacturers these days..

Norbert


Last edited by Norbert; 11/14/13 01:57 AM.

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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181937
11/13/13 10:31 PM
11/13/13 10:31 PM
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In many ways, the piano business has many similarities to high-tech business.

We have an army of Chinese students attending our Universities and at last look, Asian receiving advanced technical degrees (Master, Ph.D.) numbered more than native-born Americans. While young Americans are more interested in making a fast buck with little deep knowledge, the Asians are creating an "Army Corp" of advanced technical personnel.

Where I work, we have a group of very competent, very well-trained and very motivate engineers from Asia doing advanced work. These are graduates of Carneige-Melon, USC, UCB, Stanford, etc. Some are H-1's and plan to return to their home countries. We all know what that means.

While Asian piano Master Craftsmen are still few today, it is inevitable a number will return to become "Chief Designer" in one capacity or another and over time, in the next 5 to 10 years, they will create a corp of indigenous "Klavier Meister", so to speak, and begin to turn out fine instruments. As others are pointing out, that change is already happening.

As someone posted earlier, the only obstacles will be whether there is a large enough market to sustain this many brands.

As a total piano novice, I cannot begin to guess what will happen to Grotrian, Boesendorfer, C. Bechstein, Steingraeber, Seilers, Schimmel, Steinway, Mason & Hamlin and Charles Walter and some other brands that I cannot recall. Will they be relegated to the Museums of Germany and Austria and the US?

Time will tell.

On a ligher note, this brings back memories of a movie: "The Chinese (Russians) are Coming, The Chinese (Russians) are Coming".

Last edited by Caowner2013; 11/13/13 10:34 PM.
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