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#2670950 - 08/27/17 09:25 PM Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany  
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pianonewbie87 Offline
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Hello,
I am trying to decide on a finish for a new hoffmann upright piano i am purchasing. It is about 2,000 less expensive to buy the black... I really like the mahogany but 2k seems a little steep for just a finish.. Is the mahogany actually real mahogany wood or is it a stain? The black is polyester... I can see the extra cost if they are using wood instead of polyester but I don't want to pay that much more just for a stain. Thank you so much for your feedback.

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#2670956 - 08/27/17 10:22 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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It is more expensive for a factory to produce natural finishes. The veneers must match and some species of wood are expensive. It takes more skill to color match everything and deal with filling grain, plus there is less demand.

I much prefer wood finishes. The shiny black looks like plastic. Have you tried to negotiate a better deal? Is the piano in stock?


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#2670959 - 08/27/17 10:58 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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Hello, Thank you very much for your reply. Both pianos are in stock. It seems I am getting a good deal on both but the 2,000.00 difference is definitely weighing heavily in my decision.... I agree that the black looks like plastic and I much rather have the mahogany but I'm not sure i am willing to spend that much extra for it...

#2670961 - 08/27/17 11:17 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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I prefer the wood finish, too, but you have to decide. I have heard that wood finish pianos are hard to resell. Of course with an instrument like that you probably are intending to keep it long term.


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#2670962 - 08/27/17 11:23 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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Philip in China- Thank you for your reply. I was surprised to read that wood finishes would be harder to sell.. Do you know why this may be the case? I would have thought the opposite, being that they would look warmer and more furniture like in most homes... I do intend for this to be my forever piano so resale isn't a major concern but I would still be interested in hearing your thoughts on why wood finishes would be harder for resale. Thanks again for your input.

#2671076 - 08/28/17 11:20 AM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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Originally Posted by pianonewbie87
Philip in China- Thank you for your reply. I was surprised to read that wood finishes would be harder to sell.. Do you know why this may be the case? I would have thought the opposite, being that they would look warmer and more furniture like in most homes... I do intend for this to be my forever piano so resale isn't a major concern but I would still be interested in hearing your thoughts on why wood finishes would be harder for resale. Thanks again for your input.
I'm not sure wood finishes are harder to resell. Ebony is more popular by quite bit, but there is a smaller supply of used wood finish pianos so my guess is that those factors would cancel out mostly.

#2671081 - 08/28/17 11:54 AM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by pianonewbie87
Philip in China- Thank you for your reply. I was surprised to read that wood finishes would be harder to sell.. Do you know why this may be the case? I would have thought the opposite, being that they would look warmer and more furniture like in most homes... I do intend for this to be my forever piano so resale isn't a major concern but I would still be interested in hearing your thoughts on why wood finishes would be harder for resale. Thanks again for your input.
I'm not sure wood finishes are harder to resell. Ebony is more popular by quite bit, but there is a smaller supply of used wood finish pianos so my guess is that those factors would cancel out mostly.


Is ebony really more popular? or is it that ebony is more readily available?
In my case, I would MUCH prefer my grand to be in a wood finish, but alas, ebony it is

#2671083 - 08/28/17 12:10 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: dogperson]  
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Originally Posted by dogperson
[...]

Is ebony really more popular? or is it that ebony is more readily available?
In my case, I would MUCH prefer my grand to be in a wood finish, but alas, ebony it is


It's all subjective, isn't it? I've always (foolishly and irrationally!) felt that an ebony finish is more professional, and I would always want my grand to be in an ebony finish.

Regards,


BruceD
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#2671095 - 08/28/17 01:09 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: dogperson]  
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Is ebony really more popular? or is it that ebony is more readily available?
In my case, I would MUCH prefer my grand to be in a wood finish, but alas, ebony it is
If you visit any piano store I think you'll see the very strong preference for ebony in their selection. And I think that polished ebony has become much more popular than it once was vs. satin ebony and may very well be the more popular of the two ebony finishes right now. I hope some industry pros can way in on this with percentages of sales of grands/verticals in ebony vs. wood finishes and polished ebony vs. satin ebony.

I like both ebony and wood but finally chose ebony mostly because I had at that point quadrupled my original budget and the wood finish in the piano I wanted cost more.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/28/17 01:12 PM.
#2671100 - 08/28/17 01:27 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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For the sake of interior decor, black works with just about everything. However, I prefer wood veneer finishes on many vertical and smaller grand pianos (once you get to a certain level of finish quality)... The wood finishes can clash if there's a lot of other wood in the room that is of a different color.


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#2671152 - 08/28/17 06:08 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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I have had both; actually, I still do have both (my old upright is ebony, the
grand that replaced it is mahogany).

I think a wood finish greatly enhances the appearance of your piano room.
It's warmer, and it's beauty is a showpiece for your home.

That being said, since you are speaking of an upright, I probably would
go with ebony. An upright just doesn't show off the natural finish's grain
and color, since most of the grain you'd see is in a vertical orientation. You
didn't mention how tall your pending new piano is, and that makes a difference,
too. A shorter upright is even worse at showing off that grain that you are
paying extra for.

You might get a grand piano someday. Save your shekels for a mahogany
finish on that baby. Your eyes will feast on its wide expanse of beautiful
wood grain.

John


1922 Steinway Model O
#2671655 - 08/30/17 09:54 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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I had an upright Kawai that had the polyester finish, though it was white. I didn't mind the color but the poly finish had some crazy thing where it would squeak. I could never locate the problem, but my RPT said it was not unusual for that sort of finish to do that. I guess it has some tiny movement in the cabinet sometimes.

Of course, mine was a low end model, and your selection is probably a better instrument all around. Even so, I'm personally not fond of the poly finishes. My present instrument is black satin lacquer. (It makes bad sounds, too, but they're all related to my playing.)


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#2671879 - 08/31/17 05:10 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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Black goes with everything. Wood finish does not. That deals with popularity. If you don't plan to sell it, then it is just a value judgement for you.


Currently playing 2017 C212 with carbon fibre soundboard, WNG action. Working on Bach, Beethoven, Grieg mainly.
#2671892 - 08/31/17 06:18 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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I also prefer natural wood finishes if additional amount wasn't a factor. That being said I settled for black poly on my Kawai as I like to think I spend more time playing it than looking at it!

#2673838 - 09/08/17 04:21 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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I think black is more popular and more easily resold because it is cheaper. You have to dust black every day. frown I'd pay the $2,000 to get wood finish.


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#2673936 - 09/09/17 06:36 AM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Rich Galassini Online content
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
It is more expensive for a factory to produce natural finishes. The veneers must match and some species of wood are expensive. It takes more skill to color match everything and deal with filling grain, plus there is less demand.


Ed already said this well. There is simply more labor in building a wood finish piano. When we are talking about a fine, figured wood veneer, matching alone wastes material and takes time to get a beautiful final product. This is much less of a factor when a manufacturer uses a rotary cut or plain sawn veneer. These veneers have much less unusual grain. Since there is little to stand out, they are easy to match.

As far as satin vs. polished finishes, I think this statistic is all about availability. Making a fine satin finish is a different skill than making a fine polished finish. When polished finishes are more available to the dealer (as they are for many of the Asian manufacturers) that is generally what the dealer will stock. When this is what the consumer sees, they will generally choose from what they see. The end result is that more polished finishes sell today, but given the choice, would some consumers make a different decision?

As a rebuilder, my company offers custom finishing and can offer a wide breadth of options for both contract rebuilding and when a client is considering purchasing a rebuilt piano from us. Satin finishes are much more popular when our clients are able to choose from many options. I feel a satin finish will set off a beautiful veneer better than a polished finish and older pianos frequently have more interesting veneers to highlight.

My 2 cents,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
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#2673955 - 09/09/17 09:27 AM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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ando Online content
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I agree Rich - and with older pianos there is also a certain historical correctness that matches finishes with case style and veneer type. My mother has a 1926 Steinway Vertegrand which was given a cosmetic touch up prior to her buying it. They decided to apply a modern glossy finish to the mahogany case, and whilst it isn't offensive, having seen pianos of this era before, and none of them being glossy, it's does strike me as a bit odd and unauthentic when I look at it. I think anyone who appreciates older designs and antiques understands why satin finishes work better with some woods.

#2674005 - 09/09/17 01:03 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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Well, since most people look at their piano more than they play it, it is nice to have a finish that you like to look at and is aesthetically pleasing.

I suppose I have the best of both worlds in that I have 4 acoustic pianos, 3 grands and an upright. All of them are older models, but not too old to be nice musical instruments. My Yamaha C7 from 1978 is satin ebony, and I like it, more than high-polish glossy. But I think the finish on the C7 is secondary to the quality of the tone and touch, as it is more of a performance piano.

My Baldwin R from 1999 has the satin cherry finish, but it is not real red; it's a mild redish finish and perhaps more mahogany than cherry? I'm not sure. Anyway, I like it too, and being the Queen-Ann style it has a very ornate music desk and the curved French legs. So, it looks good and is a nice musical instrument as well. My older Howard 550 (Kawai KG2) from 1969 is satin walnut. It is among my favorite of finishes on a piano. My Kawai K48A upright, also from 1969, has the same satin walnut finish as the Howard.

Ebony is by far the most common that you see. I've owned an ebony polish grand and it got used to it and liked it.

As far as the finish being worth $2000 more dollars, it depends on your likes, wants, wishes, and depth of your pocket-book. But the finish is something you would want to be content with and be proud of...

Good luck!

Rick


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#2674011 - 09/09/17 02:07 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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One more thing to add...

A polished finish can often make a mediocre or downright ugly veneer look better. That might be a reason it has become more popular on new pianos.

My additional 2 cents,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
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Check out the Science Channel's "How Its Made" featuring our piano restoration:
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#2674017 - 09/09/17 03:15 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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For my refurb I was offered satin or polyester finish with a choice of veneer for the rim and under lid for the same cost and only marginally more veneer of my choice for the entire piano. I was seriously considering going with an exotic veneer like Tigerwood or Macassar but ended up with the classic black with white maple lid/rim in polyester. The exotic wood pianos look gorgeous on their own but really need to have the room decor to match, which isn't that easy. Black is timeless and the brass accents really add the finishing touch. I will say had the cost been considerably more I wouldn't have even considered it anything but satin black, but it sure was nice to have the choice.




#2674039 - 09/09/17 05:43 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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I refinished hundreds of pianos if not a thousand or more in the 60s and 70s,grands,uprights and spinets.Never did we have an ebony finish come thru the shop.Nor was an ebony finish ever requested.And to the best of my knowledge no new pianos were sold thru the music store with an ebony finish,even when the customer had a choice of finish..tastes in piano finishes may have changed since then.And as a wood finisher of some 50 years I can tell you that a glossy finish is much harder to apply.I don't like a glossy finish on wood myself.

#2674056 - 09/09/17 07:35 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: Rich Galassini]  
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
I feel a satin finish will set off a beautiful veneer better than a polished finish and older pianos frequently have more interesting veneers to highlight.

Rich, when you talk of a polished finish on a beautiful veneer, are you thinking of polyurethane, or something like a french polish such as antique furniture would have? The latter would be my preference.

#2674416 - 09/11/17 08:15 AM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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Classic black (satin or polished) can go with most decorating color palettes. Trends in wood finishes cycle every few years -- lighter, darker, reds, mochas, browns, etc. You can't just paint over a piano on the weekend. Well, I guess one could, but... Refinishing a piano is a costly and time-consuming process. All of the other wood finishes in a home can be changed pretty quickly and with lower costs, especially for the DIY'er.

If you go with Mahogany, just make sure you can live with that as a primary, influencing finish in your decor for many, many years to come. And what if you move for some reason, and the new house is all light oak? One water heater mishap a couple of years ago, and every wood finish in our entire house has been changed since except for the kitchen cabinets. Re-doing one room leads to another and another -- especially with a modern, open floor plan.

My 2 cents from the practical side...

Last edited by GC13; 09/11/17 08:17 AM.
#2674636 - 09/12/17 03:58 AM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: David-G]  
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Originally Posted by oth47
I refinished hundreds of pianos if not a thousand or more in the 60s and 70s,grands,uprights and spinets.Never did we have an ebony finish come thru the shop.Nor was an ebony finish ever requested.And to the best of my knowledge no new pianos were sold thru the music store with an ebony finish,even when the customer had a choice of finish..tastes in piano finishes may have changed since then.And as a wood finisher of some 50 years I can tell you that a glossy finish is much harder to apply.I don't like a glossy finish on wood myself.


Glossy finish CAN be harder to apply, but when polyester is applied in a controlled area in a factory set up to do it on a large scale, ebony polish becomes an easier finish than just about anything else.

Originally Posted by David-G

Rich, when you talk of a polished finish on a beautiful veneer, are you thinking of polyurethane, or something like a french polish such as antique furniture would have? The latter would be my preference.


I wasn't actually referring to a particular process in that quote, David. Any of the above can be beautiful, but I still usually prefer a hand rubbed satin finish. That's just me.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Check out the Science Channel's "How Its Made" featuring our piano restoration:
http://www.cunninghampiano.com/how-its-made/
#2679975 - 10/05/17 07:02 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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The glossy ebony finish is like a young woman's little black dress; it is always in style. And it is much easier to fix (i.e., the finish that is).

#2680000 - 10/05/17 10:59 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: swampwiz]  
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Originally Posted by swampwiz
The glossy ebony finish is like a young woman's little black dress; it is always in style. And it is much easier to fix (i.e., the finish that is).

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#2680020 - 10/06/17 01:39 AM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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It would be a veneer. There isn't anything wrong with veneer, it is used on the best pianos in the world. The outside of my piano is a beautiful black high gloss finish and the inside has beautiful mahogany veneer.

Best of luck with your decision.

Steve


Bösendorfer 170
#2680730 - 10/09/17 03:07 AM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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I'm in the group that does not prefer glossy or black.


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#2680731 - 10/09/17 03:10 AM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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I don't know about Hoffmann, but I've heard it said that some "veneers" aren't much more than "grain" printed on paper and covered over with the thick, glossy plastic .


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#2680836 - 10/09/17 01:02 PM Re: Piano finishes... black Polyester vs Mahogany [Re: pianonewbie87]  
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I think that many of us have become accustomed to associating the ebony, glossy finish with the beautiful concert grands we see in concert halls. There is also an aesthetically pleasing combination of the shiny black finish and the black and white keyboard.

I also love the natural wood finishes on pianos and many of them feature rare and spectacular woods. These finishes can cost significantly more, especially when buying a new piano.
We live in the market driven age of functionality. It is wonderful to see a piano in a resplendent natural wood finish.

Kind regards,
Robert.

Last edited by Robert 45; 10/09/17 01:16 PM.
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