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Chinese pianos: next chapter coming #2181134
11/12/13 04:30 PM
11/12/13 04:30 PM
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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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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
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Los Angeles
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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
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Rochester MN
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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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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
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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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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
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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.


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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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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


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Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Caowner2013] #2181463
11/13/13 09:28 AM
11/13/13 09:28 AM
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Posts: 2,058
Conway, AR USA
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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Posts: 15,384
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
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Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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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. 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
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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...


Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181851
11/13/13 06:58 PM
11/13/13 06:58 PM
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Surrey, B.C.
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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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Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181867
11/13/13 07:20 PM
11/13/13 07:20 PM
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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.

Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181903
11/13/13 08:34 PM
11/13/13 08:34 PM
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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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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.
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2181942
11/13/13 10:45 PM
11/13/13 10:45 PM
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Relative prosperity in the piano industry has always been linked to a growing middle class. The inexorable march of robotic work that is ever increasing and eliminating middle class jobs-is shifting markets everywhere. When our technology reaches the point where economy of scale is so reduced from the previous two centuries that new products can be made more or less custom for price-insensitive consumers-the middle class will be dead. When wealth creation is no longer dependent on making things for the middle class-the middle class is dead.

Discussing the future of the piano market without understanding the implications of robotic custom production and wealth aggregation is incomplete. All nations will be affected deeply.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2181949
11/13/13 11:01 PM
11/13/13 11:01 PM
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SoCal
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT

Discussing the future of the piano market without understanding the implications of robotic custom production and wealth aggregation is incomplete. All nations will be affected deeply.


Sooner or later the capitalists will realize they can only sell so much stuff to each other.


Gary
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Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Plowboy] #2181987
11/13/13 11:53 PM
11/13/13 11:53 PM
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The small percentage of the worlds population that owns most of the capital will soon no longer need to sell things to the middle and lower classes to support the expansion of technology. Couple that with robotic defense and you can begin to glimpse a brave new world where the 200 million or so wealthiest people on the planet could see a much better future for humanity minus the lives of 4 billion poorer people.

Look at how the robots are now the majority of stock trades. How does an algorithm gain new information about market conditions? They are not self-learning yet that I am aware of- and if the do become that way they will bid up asset values in a way that allows the debt linked expansion of the money supply to fuel the bubble endlessly. The wealthy will be printing money for themselves that almost never trickles down to the rest of us.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2182033
11/14/13 12:48 AM
11/14/13 12:48 AM
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Perhaps you should revise your sig...


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Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: terminaldegree] #2182036
11/14/13 12:53 AM
11/14/13 12:53 AM
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Well, I don't need a signature line since I post under my real name. Are you suggesting I revise my tag line to "infinitely pessimistic"? Is that my "Terminal Degree"?


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2182060
11/14/13 01:59 AM
11/14/13 01:59 AM
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As someone posted earlier, the only obstacles will be whether there is a large enough market to sustain this many brands.



Yes, in China itself.

Quote
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?



Not if they've taken the Chinese market seriously enough from the beginning. Ironically it's exactly makes like Steingraeber, Sauter, Grotrian and Foerster who decided to stay 100% German that are doing well today - with full order books.

To a large extent 'because' of China.

AS a German would perhaps say: "Others may hate you"

"But we can't afford to"

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 11/14/13 02:14 AM.

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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2182074
11/14/13 02:57 AM
11/14/13 02:57 AM
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BornInTheUSA Offline
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BornInTheUSA  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 1,365
Re: Middle-class Robots.. laugh

The middle class is alive and well in the US, it just looks a bit different than the ones our grandparents saw. Instead of working at the GM factory they work at Google. It's really no different. I run a tech company and I think Americans need to change their mindset. Computer Science, sure it's not as easy as getting a psychology or business degree, but it isn't that hard. Americans just lack self-confidence in these subjects and some of us are a bit lazy. They think they can talk their way out of everything. Check out this article:
http://qz.com/139453/theres-one-key-difference-between-kids-who-excel-at-math-and-those-who-dont/ - it's all attitude and self-confidence.

Re automated hedge funds. A good friend of mine runs one. They don't base their trades on fundamentals, news, politics, wars, etc... Most of it's statistical arbitrage and when they have a good or bad month, they can't tell you why. So now you can sleep well tonight knowing a huge chunk of the world's money is managed this way smile

Oh yeah, re Chinese pianos. I might be due for a new piano in about 20 years so we'll see where they are then. If they can stay away from bad PR and clean up their image a bit, they might get their toe into the higher tier markets, and of course build nice pianos. I know some don't think that matters, but they're a minority. People definitely value good corporate citizens. And maybe a good first step is to stop hiring dealers to spam forums with their ads. Notice the other tier 2 & up guys don't do that.






Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2182091
11/14/13 05:05 AM
11/14/13 05:05 AM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 846
Germany
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patH Offline
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patH  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2013
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Germany
Originally Posted by Norbert
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.

Well, the Trabbi was made in Eastern Germany, so there...
But I believe that as cars, Trabbis were worse than Pearl Rivers as pianos. The "jokes" are just hyperboles. Not even that funny. I'm not a comedian. wink

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

I don't know. I played a few notes on a Ritmuller 160, a Kayserburg upright, and various Pearl River models. The ones exhibited on the Frankfurt Musikmesse. And I don't know why a Ferrari was at the Pearl River stand.

Last edited by patH; 11/14/13 05:05 AM.

Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2182260
11/14/13 12:37 PM
11/14/13 12:37 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 5,531
Olympia, Washington
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Del Offline
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Del  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 5,531
Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted by patH
Well, the Trabbi was made in Eastern Germany, so there...
But I believe that as cars, Trabbis were worse than Pearl Rivers as pianos....

I'm not so sure about that. The early PR pianos were at least as close to the bottom of the barrel (as pianos go) and the Trabbi was (as cars go -- or not go, as the case may be).

The difference is that PR learned rapidly from their early mistakes and has been steadily improving.

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: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming [Re: Norbert] #2182279
11/14/13 01:17 PM
11/14/13 01:17 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,384
Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline OP
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Norbert  Offline OP
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Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,384
Surrey, B.C.
Quote
The difference is that PR learned rapidly from their early mistakes and has been steadily improving.



This is often pointed out but it says little about where we will be going. It reminds me a bit of where "Auto-Union" was at one time and where Audi is today..

If the rapid improvement by these makers is any indication, it is totally possible that the future will point to some pretty exceptional pianos.

Which would require some adjustment of thinking where we're really at today.

Let's wait to next Jan 2014 Anaheim show and see what a $ 40,000 Chinese 6' grand will look like. [wholsale!!]

Chances are, a lot of of people will stop by to have a peek.

Something tells me somehow that a lot will be at stake....

Norbert

Last edited by Norbert; 11/14/13 01:21 PM.

www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642
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