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More? Or less? #2646543 05/23/17 08:10 PM
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Jolly Offline OP
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Most folks consider 1920 to be within the Golden Age of piano manufacturing.

$10,000 dollars today, was worth about $780 in 1920 (or, about the price of a Steinway M). An average wage in 1920 would be around $100/month. A Model T would have been about $300.

Are pianos more, or less affordable today?


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646552 05/23/17 08:48 PM
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Jolly, if I read your post correctly, meaning the cost of a new Steinway M back in 1920 was around $780, which, according to your info, was equivalent to $10,000 today, then, yes, the Steinway M today is waaaaaaaaaay more than $10,000.

So, according to your logic, the answer is yes, pianos cost much more today than in 1920. Are pianos more affordable today than back in 1920? I'm not sure.

But, again, you would have to compare the average income of the piano buying public back in 1920 to the piano buying public in 2017. Or something like that. smile

Interesting subject, by-the-way.

Rick


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646560 05/23/17 09:19 PM
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It's Interesting that cars and pianos have stayed fairly close. In 1920 a Steinway M was 2.6x a common car. SMP for a new Steinway M is $69,700. Divide that by 2.6 and you get $26,807. Although there are cars available cheaper than 26k, it pretty much hits right in the middle of an average new car. A Steinway M is still 2.6 x an average car.

As far as wages, the Steinway was 7.8 months earnings. So today that would require an $8,935 monthly wage.

I guess the answer to your question depends on what "average" wage in 1920 meant. The wage that many folks were earning (the working class wage), or a mathmatical average?


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646594 05/24/17 01:12 AM
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It depends what you take for comparison. Average wages might be suitable as a comparison, or how many ounces of gold of gold. It is quite unusual to have a product like a piano which is really, basically the smae product now as was being produced a century ago.


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646608 05/24/17 03:02 AM
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living standards and access to credit have changed since 1920, to put it mildly. the comparison with a car does not work for me, because the big cost leap for a car also includes huge improvements in almost every aspect of the machine, in contrast to what sagacious Philip in Bulgaria noted. owning a nice small grand piano is within reach of more people now than it was in 1920, but of course now it has to compete with totally different and more numerous high end consumer goods, including cathode ray tube and semiconductor descendants like the idiot box and computer, and a huge variety of motor vehicles beyond the personal auto. overall, a small grand piano, if we're thinking in terms of the affluent society that produced steinway pianos and ford autos, is not as esteemed as a luxury possession now as it was in 1920, my guess.

Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646622 05/24/17 05:41 AM
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Sagacious? Me? That will be the day.


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: huaidongxi] #2646626 05/24/17 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by huaidongxi
if we're thinking in terms of the affluent society that produced steinway pianos and ford autos, is not as esteemed as a luxury possession now as it was in 1920, my guess.
The least expensive Steinway is around 60K with most selling for more. How can that not be considered luxurious?

Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646651 05/24/17 08:35 AM
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Jolly Offline OP
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The average salary in the U.S. today is around $50,000. In 1920 a Steinway M could be had for less than the annual salary. Today, it cannot. And many pianos, probably just as good as the Steinway M, can be had for less money.

Hmmm...


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646662 05/24/17 09:25 AM
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As others have mentioned, the entire dynamic of demand for acoustic pianos has changed since the 1920s. In the 1920s, the piano was still one of the most popular and sought after luxuries to have in ones home; it was not only a matter of musical enjoyment, but prestige as well. As you mentioned in your thread, Jolly, it was the "Golden Age" of acoustic pianos.

Things have changed a great deal nowadays. Also the advent of the digital piano has definitely affected the acoustic piano market to a great extent. These factors may not be a part of your initial equation directly, but have to be considered to a certain extent indirectly. Back in the 1920s, only the most affluent and financially well off buyers could afford a Steinway M. Nowadays, only the most affluent and financially well off buyers can afford a Steinway M.

And, for the record, in my neck of the woods, if you make as much as $50,000 a year, you are an educated professional, or highly skilled craftsman/technician of some sort. Hence, in my neck of the woods, $50,000 would be an above average annual wage for a single wage earner in the home; that might change if you considered two wage earners under the same roof.

Also, FWIW, I think more people could probably afford a Steinway M today than in 1920, but the Steinway M is not even on their list of toys they want.

Just my .02.

Rick


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646686 05/24/17 10:56 AM
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Showing my ignorance....Was Steinway THE piano in the U.S. in 1920, as it is today?


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646819 05/24/17 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Jolly
Showing my ignorance....Was Steinway THE piano in the U.S. in 1920, as it is today?


No, not at all. Baldwin, Chickering, Knabe, Mason & Hamlin - they all had marketing share. They competed for artists and they competed for prestige.


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646821 05/24/17 08:10 PM
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at one time Samick had plans for building Knabe and Pramberger pianos in Tennessee. where are those brands being made at present ?

steinway is 'THE piano' in the u.s. today by numbers produced and marketing clout. doubtful though if most consumers looking at upper tier pianos in the u.s. have preferences based on 'domestically built.'

Re: More? Or less? [Re: huaidongxi] #2646844 05/24/17 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by huaidongxi
steinway is 'THE piano' in the u.s. today by numbers produced and marketing clout. doubtful though if most consumers looking at upper tier pianos in the u.s. have preferences based on 'domestically built.'
I don't have any numbers or statistics to draw any sweeping conclusions about preferences in the whole USA piano market.
However many people I talk to would prefer their piano be "Made In America" (I'm sure many folks remember the nationwide "Made In America" campaign.)

People often associate three places with top quality manufacturing: USA, Germany, and Japan. Of course I know the world isn't actually that simple.


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: Rich Galassini] #2646858 05/24/17 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
Originally Posted by Jolly
Showing my ignorance....Was Steinway THE piano in the U.S. in 1920, as it is today?


No, not at all. Baldwin, Chickering, Knabe, Mason & Hamlin - they all had marketing share. They competed for artists and they competed for prestige.


It depends on when in the 1920s. At the beginning, there was more competition. By the end, Chickering, Knabe, and Mason & Hamlin were all consolidated under the American Piano banner, and they established an order among them, just as the earlier agreement between Steinway and Aeolian placed Steinway above the Aeolian brands.


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Re: More? Or less? [Re: Jolly] #2646941 05/25/17 12:30 PM
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The big difference between the 1920's and 2010's is economy of scale. Per capita piano production was far higher then, the fixed costs spread over far more instruments sold. That's why pianos are more expensive now.


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