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Why no cheap Chinese hammers? #2812700
02/09/19 01:24 PM
02/09/19 01:24 PM
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edferris Offline OP
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A friend brought this up when I complained about the cost of putting new hammers in a piano of very little market value. Surely all those Chinese instruments have made-in-China hammers. Why can't we buy those hammers from piano supply houses? Closest I've found is Ishikawa, which is not appreciably cheaper.

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Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2812744
02/09/19 03:15 PM
02/09/19 03:15 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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My guess is China makes too few hammers to allow for export. Many Chinese makers use imported hammers from Japan and Europe.


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Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2812837
02/09/19 08:04 PM
02/09/19 08:04 PM
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P W Grey Offline
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How cheap does one want them?

Pwg


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Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2812910
02/09/19 11:08 PM
02/09/19 11:08 PM
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edferris Offline OP
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More like $200 than $500 for a set. Yes, I know $6 each is pretty cheap already, but it seems somebody who owns the machine could undercut the current prices. Wonder what happened to the Starr tooling?

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Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2812917
02/09/19 11:36 PM
02/09/19 11:36 PM
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jsilva Offline
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If you’re a technician you can easily get even better than ‘cheap Chinese hammers’ for around $200.

Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2812928
02/10/19 12:09 AM
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P W Grey Offline
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Me thinks most of the money is in properly preparing the felt. I suppose one could just build the press and set up to make them at home. How hard could it be?

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2812960
02/10/19 02:16 AM
02/10/19 02:16 AM
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johnstaf Offline
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Maybe hammers are cheaper in Europe. My last set of Abel Natural Felt hammers was a little over €200. I remember the Renner option I was looking at cost around the same.

Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: johnstaf] #2813038
02/10/19 10:37 AM
02/10/19 10:37 AM
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edferris Offline OP
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So my problem is that Vanda and Howard are marking them up 100%. And I thought I could trust them ...
If there's a link to where I can get pro prices, let me know.
Thanks

Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2813066
02/10/19 11:46 AM
02/10/19 11:46 AM
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David Boyce Online content
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edferris, I don't think it's fair to imply that VandaKing and Howard Piano Industries are untrustworthy.

They have to make a profit on items they well. They are not wholesale supply houses for the piano trade, but offer items largely, I expect, to interested do-it-yourselfers. They won't be selling in high volume, and won't have special manufacturer deals enabling them to obtain bulk supplies at low cost.

Piano Supply houses (of which there are fewer than formerly) vary in their approach. Some are strictly "trade only", and some will supply direct to the public, perhaps having two price lists, one Trade and one Public. That is really only fair, since reputable trade people are trying to make an honest living employing their considerable skills. The ability of tradespeople to obtain tools and supplies at 'trade price' from specialist suppliers for any trade, is as old as trade skills themselves.

Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: David Boyce] #2813071
02/10/19 12:04 PM
02/10/19 12:04 PM
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terminaldegree Offline
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Originally Posted by David Boyce
edferris, I don't think it's fair to imply that VandaKing and Howard Piano Industries are untrustworthy.

They have to make a profit on items they well. They are not wholesale supply houses for the piano trade, but offer items largely, I expect, to interested do-it-yourselfers. They won't be selling in high volume, and won't have special manufacturer deals enabling them to obtain bulk supplies at low cost.

Piano Supply houses (of which there are fewer than formerly) vary in their approach. Some are strictly "trade only", and some will supply direct to the public, perhaps having two price lists, one Trade and one Public. The ability of tradespeople to obtain tools and supplies at 'trade price' from specialist suppliers for any trade, is as old as trade skills themselves.


I've ordered from both of the retail stores listed above and had fast service and straightforward pricing (in addition to the webstore associated with this forum, pianosupplies.com).

Of late, I've had comparatively slower service from the biggest of the "trade only" supply houses in the US, who continually charge me exorbitant amounts of money for shipping, don't communicate as well, and don't give me a final price for my purchase until I've received my order. I've found for many of the things I wish to buy as a small-time operator, I may do the same or better by going to the retail stores instead of "the house dedicated to service"...


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Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2813074
02/10/19 12:13 PM
02/10/19 12:13 PM
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That's a fair point, Terminaldegree! I'm sure many of us have discovered cheaper ways to obtain some of the materials we use in piano work. You can get a huge length of braided fishing line to use as Loop Cord, for example, from sellers on Amazon or Ebay or a local fishing tackle store, at much less than the supply houses sell 'Loop Cord' for. And many of the tools we use, of course, are not specific to pianos and can be obtained more cheaply than from piano supply houses.

Here in the UK there are two piano supply houses; Fletcher & Newman and Heckscher. Fletcher & Newman are strictly 'trade only', and Heckscher will supply to the public but at prices that are higher than their 'trade price'.

Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2813108
02/10/19 02:43 PM
02/10/19 02:43 PM
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P W Grey Offline
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If you are in fact a pro, you can get pro prices. You simply need to present reasonable proof to the suppliers that you are in fact earning your living in this way and start an account.

Try buying a set of Steinway hammers. They discount to NO ONE! And they have some of the highest prices on the planet for their parts. We pay the same as you or anyone else.

Just sayin...

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2813160
02/10/19 05:06 PM
02/10/19 05:06 PM
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Michigan
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kpembrook Offline
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Originally Posted by edferris
So my problem is that Vanda and Howard are marking them up 100%. And I thought I could trust them ...
If there's a link to where I can get pro prices, let me know.
Thanks

Huh? Trust them?? Those two, plus stevespianoservice.com are oriented to serving the DIY market. We all get our products from the suppliers like Schaff and resell them at retail. A 50% gross margin is not unreasonable. Did you expect to buy at the same cost that we pay?

If you are a pro, you can sign up with Schaff or one of the other pro suppliers. But you can't sign up with them just because you want lower prices. They don't want to do handholding of end users like the retailers offer (stevespianoservice.com in particular but Howard is also a piano technician. Vanda is a singer based in Canada and doesn't actually stock product.)




Last edited by kpembrook; 02/10/19 05:07 PM.

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Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2813172
02/10/19 05:35 PM
02/10/19 05:35 PM
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daniokeeper Offline
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Piano parts suppliers are not running charities, whether wholesale or retail. It costs money to run a business.

There are costs of acquisition of parts, time spent researching which deserves to be recompensed, money invested in the business that could be invested elsewhere for profit, salaries, medical insurance, warehousing, data systems and their maintenance, liability insurance, taxes and FICA, and I'm sure many other costs I haven't even thought of.


The owners and employees deserve to earn a decent living for themselves and their families. If they don't, why should they bother to operate at all?


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
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Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2813177
02/10/19 05:46 PM
02/10/19 05:46 PM
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David Boyce Online content
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Hear Hear, Joe!

Piano Supply houses are struggling too in the UK and I guess the USA, with the demise of piano manufacturing, and extensive rebuilding workshops.

Three or four years ago, Heckschers, one of the two UK supply houses, moved out of their London premises where they'd been for well over a century, and the business drastically downsized.

Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2813224
02/10/19 07:38 PM
02/10/19 07:38 PM
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daniokeeper Offline
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Thank you, David.

Another point is (as someone else used to say) that pianos are luxuries. They are also symbols of success and status.

Edit:. If low prices are the top priority. then low quality, and a reputation for low quality, will result. Imo.

Last edited by daniokeeper; 02/10/19 07:47 PM.

Joe Gumbosky
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www.morethanpianos.com
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Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2813452
02/11/19 09:37 AM
02/11/19 09:37 AM
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GC13 Offline
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I'm just a consumer here. I know parts (i.e. hammers) can be expensive. And I'm not trying to slam piano technicians at all or the fees they charge. Everyone has to make a living, but I think the challenge is the labor costs involved. A task like hanging hammers is such a time-consuming process for it to be done right, even on an inexpensive piano. Mounting, replacing shanks and flanges, weighting, string alignment and leveling, voicing -- on and on. I have an NY S&B so I didn't want to shortcut anything. The parts for WNG action and Ronsen Weickert hammers was minimal compared to the labor costs involved.

I'd like to finishing part 2 of my rebuild -- restringing, damper action, refinish the soundboard, etc. The parts are well within my budget, but the labor costs are what's preventing me from doing it. And believe me when I say, my technician is well worth every penny. When I see how hard he works and his attention to detail, I think he works pretty cheap.

Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2813514
02/11/19 11:50 AM
02/11/19 11:50 AM
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edferris Offline OP
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Thanks for the comments.
The "jobbing" practice of putting two or three middlemen between the manufacturer and the consumer is obsolete, as is the "mystery of the craft" approach to repair. A middleman can earn an honest markup by providing (on a website) the necessary information to get the right part. But a 100% or 150% markup is not honest. Especially when a drop shipper doesn't even keep inventory.
True, replacing hammers and regulating an action is detailed and tedious. That's why I'm doing it myself; the piano isn't worth the three to seven thousand dollars I've been quoted by techs. It makes sense to get the best quality parts. It does not make sense to throw money away just because the labor is expensive.

Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: edferris] #2813600
02/11/19 03:01 PM
02/11/19 03:01 PM
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daniokeeper Offline
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They're not all dropshippers. The dropshippers dropship from supply houses with their own inventory.

Many manufacturers don't deal directly with the public. Note Dampp-Chaser Piano Lifesaver humidifier pads, specialty tool manufacturers, specialty parts manufacturers, and so on.

If you check the archives here at PWTF, you'll find that many technicians are reporting that the more expensive hammers tend to require less work, esp.voicing. The cheaper hammers will require greater expertise to get the most out of them. Since you are saving on installation costs, you might be further ahead to purchase a better set of hammers.


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
Re: Why no cheap Chinese hammers? [Re: daniokeeper] #2813614
02/11/19 03:47 PM
02/11/19 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by daniokeeper
If you check the archives here at PWTF, you'll find that many technicians are reporting that the more expensive hammers tend to require less work, esp.voicing. The cheaper hammers will require greater expertise to get the most out of them. Since you are saving on installation costs, you might be further ahead to purchase a better set of hammers.


+3 daniokeeper

Not to mention that cheaper hammers may then wear poorly over time and have to be replaced more often.

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