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More articles about the decline of the piano
#2859083 06/16/19 08:59 AM
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Piano Technician and restorer www.snowpianos.com now relocated to Burlington Vermont after 33 years as Head Piano Technician at Boston University School of Music.
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Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859094 06/16/19 10:05 AM
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"Removals"

Ouch!

They identify 1978 as the zenith of piano sales, same is in the What Happened in 1980 thread.

The picture below, from the article, is really sad (and irritating).

Anyway, interesting piece. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859097 06/16/19 10:14 AM
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frown


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859167 06/16/19 01:09 PM
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Just my thoughts here. Back in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and the 70’s, if someone in the family had any interest or if there were young kids growing up that might one day take lessons an upright in a color and uprightstyle to match the furniture was almost a necessity. There were only very limited “electric pianos” which looked and sounded pretty awful. So acoustic uprights ruled the day. They fit in traditional living rooms with traditional floor plans and did the work they were supposed to do. Now, with vast improvements in digital pianos, if someone wants a piano for their kid just starting lessons a decent weighted keyboard or small DP is inexpensive and works for awhile at least. If said kid stays with piano past a year of lessons, at some point the teacher will say that kid needs an acoustic.
So I think the small upright with different styles of walnut, mahogany and cherry days are over. The choices for pianos come with a huge array of choices. Digitals from tragically cheap to super high end. Acoustic uprights in many grades up to tall European models that exceeds the sound of many smaller grands. And then the huge number of companies that produce grands as small as 4’9” to 9 feet. Acoustic pianos have a long lifespan if their maintained. Selling acoustic pianos is not for the weak of heart these day! But there are so many used pianos out there. Many famous piano makers are competing with their own used pianos that they make silly attempts to disparage their own used instruments. Remember I didn’t mention any specific brands!
The thing that gives me hope is when I talk to people playing a digital piano somewhere is they always mention that someday they’ll have a real piano. An acoustic.
In my head, anybody who buys a Costco keyboard is a potential acoustic piano purchaser in the future. It is sad to see so many unwanted old pianos going to a landfill. I do know my piano teacher had a list of students that needed pianos and he and he took donated pianos all the time..


J & J
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Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859237 06/16/19 03:43 PM
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How very sad.


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
Retsacnal #2859270 06/16/19 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
They identify 1978 as the zenith of piano sales, same is in the What Happened in 1980 thread.


@Retsacnal, forgive me for not looking through the entirety of the "1980" discussion, but does a piano's relatively lengthy lifespan factor into what happened around 1980?

Put another way: The figures in the chart (I assume) are new piano sales, and didn't take into account used sales. Could it be that given how long an upright lasts on average, we simply had most of the uprights we needed by 1980, and secondary markets provided the supply for "new" demand? From there, other things like economy, changing tastes, etc. could probably explain away the rest of what we saw.

Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859275 06/16/19 04:58 PM
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Quote
when I talk to people playing a digital piano somewhere is they always mention that someday they’ll have a real piano. An acoustic.


I don't really talk to anyone about pianos (other than you folks here) but I can't imagine that I would ever want an acoustic piano.

My digital is always perfectly in tune and requires no maintenance. And while it's too heavy for me to carry by myself (it weighs 110 lbs and I'm a wimp) I can carry one end of it and don't need to hire any specialists to move it for me. I just had to move it out of my office to get it out of the way of some renovations and the construction guys carried it out for me when they arrived to start the work and the flooring installation guy carried one end and I carried the other to put it back in place after he had finished that section.

A while ago my wife asked me how long it would be before I want to buy a new piano to replace this one and I told her probably twenty years unless this one breaks. And I haven't found any reason to change that assessment yet.


If you're a zombie and you know it, bite your friend!
We got both kinds of music: Country and Western!
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Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859278 06/16/19 05:03 PM
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I’m on the side of wanting an acoustic piano. Every lesson on my teacher’s Steinway reminds me of what I’m missing, in terms of sound and feel. I’ll keep the digital for practice but for playing out, meaning, playing for others, I’ll get a high quality upright, as long as I can talk my wife into it. :-)


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Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859287 06/16/19 05:43 PM
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Well, you wouldn't think pianos are declining around my house. When you walk in the back door, there are two fairly nice grand pianos staring you in the face, with the look of an invite to come and play me. smile

Walk up the steps into the dining room and the living room, both one big room, and there is a nice upright that's hard to miss. You can walk out to my little piano shop and there's three more pianos, another upright and a grand, along with a digital, just wanting to be played. Of course, you'll have to turn on the switch on the digital. smile

I suppose the reality is that, as Frank Cox said, digital pianos are becoming more the norm, to an extent. But as perfectly in tune as the digitals usually are, it still can't quite match the nuance of an acoustic piano, at least in my opinion.

I just tuned my Baldwin R baby grand, and wow, does that baby sound good! smile

I recorded a new music video on my Yamaha C7 a couple of days ago and posted it to my YT channel. It's gotten over 500 views in two days. Heck, maybe I can play a piano after all (to some extent anyway)... smile

On the other hand, there probably is a glut of old pianos out there that's just in the way now and more of a liability than an asset. What a shame.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859314 06/16/19 07:03 PM
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Maybe it is just where I live, but my tech has seen no decline in work on acoustic pianos. In fact, I am concerned that there are no young techs around here... and things might get tough for acoustic owners in a few years to get piano service.

West coast of Florida, anyone?

Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859329 06/16/19 07:46 PM
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When I was a child, I well remember that I could hear at least 3 pianos being practised from our home (plus ours which, with 5 children and Mum playing went for many hours a day).

Every afternoon, ('60s) I'd be out on my bike and ride around the neighbourhood - and I'd hear pianos playing in every street.

Today - I'm retired, do a lot of walking with the dog, all times of the day and evening, I never hear a piano. Yes, it could be that homes are A/Conditioned and locked up, or that children are at child-care rather than going home to Mum? But evenings, don't hear them either.

When I was a teenager, there were 4 or 5 other teens lined up to learn and practise Church Organ - because they'd learned piano. Today, there are almost none - because they've not learned piano.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859363 06/16/19 09:41 PM
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I don't know what the demographic is for the piano buyer in the U.S. but here in Aus. most piano buyers are either ABC(Australian born Chinese) or CBA(China born Australians).Many are new arrivals to our rapidly growing cities.Thay keep our piano businesses going without a doubt.
Would be interested to here how it is elsewhere.


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Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859366 06/16/19 09:45 PM
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Hi dogperson.... well since we relocated to Burlington Vermont it is our intent to spend a good portion of the winter away from the snowstorms and head south to the Sarasota area so I would be available for piano service appointments. .....


Piano Technician and restorer www.snowpianos.com now relocated to Burlington Vermont after 33 years as Head Piano Technician at Boston University School of Music.
Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859370 06/16/19 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by MSnow
Hi dogperson.... well since we relocated to Burlington Vermont it is our intent to spend a good portion of the winter away from the snowstorms and head south to the Sarasota area so I would be available for piano service appointments. .....


You might want to join the local PTG chapter. There is work available


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859372 06/16/19 10:08 PM
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I found the article more about older piano disposal than an overall decline.

As one who has recently bought our 1st piano I can say the experience is along the lines of classic/exotic car shopping, you don't want to buy anything classic that, if money spent to rebuild it isn't worth the value of the piano you don't buy it. So, that, along with the lifespan of acoustics means that yes, nowadays many old pianos do need to put out to pasture.

The good news is, there are plenty of good lightly used pianos for us to choose instead, and if bought from a reputable dealer can last long enough to be traded in. coming from my son's recital and seeing lots of young kids playing I doubt we will see this industry disappear...

Last edited by RJ's dad; 06/16/19 10:10 PM.
Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859388 06/16/19 11:22 PM
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There are still people who desire an acoustic piano over digital. Fortunately, acoustic pianos last a long time, and there are many out there in playable condition, and prices for used acoustic pianos have never been lower! Digital pianos are the starter "spinet" pianos from back in the day. Spinet pianos that were rent to own. But one thing is concerning long term - total acoustic and digital sales have not kept up with population increases - but it could be said that many acoustic pianos are being passed around from grandma to grandchild, and sold in the used market. Pianos last for three generations.

A fair statement would be that the acoustic piano market in the USA is saturated.

A second fair statement would be that sports, social media, and difficulty in learning have cut into piano playing in the USA.

A third fair statement would be that schools cut music and arts when funds are tight, at the expense of music




Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
RJ's dad #2859416 06/17/19 01:53 AM
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Originally Posted by RJ's dad
I found the article more about older piano disposal than an overall decline.

As one who has recently bought our 1st piano I can say the experience is along the lines of classic/exotic car shopping, you don't want to buy anything classic that, if money spent to rebuild it isn't worth the value of the piano you don't buy it. So, that, along with the lifespan of acoustics means that yes, nowadays many old pianos do need to put out to pasture.

...


This seems a correct perspective to me. Aside from the environmental impact of disposing of pianos, is there really any difference between getting rid of a worn out, old, non-classic car and a worn out, old non-classic piano? There must be a lot of pianos out there that really need to be put out of their misery - or the misery that they would inflict on some poor learner.

I've been reading this forum extensively and people are understandably highly selective about their choice when buying a piano. Who *really* wants these pianos?

Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
MSnow #2859478 06/17/19 08:09 AM
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In 1985, on our first trip to London, we went to Harrod's, where I had heard had a fabulous piano department. It was true with several very long rows of grand pianos, one right next to another. Don't remember whether there were any Steinways, but there were just about every other brand name, including several Bosendorfers, of different sizes and colors. The prices were amazingly reasonable, particularly since the USDollar was at its high point in history (about $1.05 for a GBP). Since Harrod's has never been known for its low prices, it turned out that all the other piano dealers had even lower prices.

Fast forward about 30 years and we were back at Harrod's in their piano (now musical instrument) department. Just a few grand pianos, and lots of keyboards of all types. IIRC, the size of the department was a fraction of the size of the department in 1985. Don't remember exactly, but I think that much of the former space had been converted into a display of big screen televisions.

Last edited by astrotoy; 06/17/19 08:11 AM.

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Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
RJ's dad #2859485 06/17/19 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by RJ's dad
As one who has recently bought our 1st piano I can say the experience is along the lines of classic/exotic car shopping, you don't want to buy anything classic that, if money spent to rebuild it isn't worth the value of the piano you don't buy it.
Although that idea is often expressed I think it's wrong. One should compare the cost of the piano plus its rebuilding to what one can buy new for the same amount of money.

Re: More articles about the decline of the piano
pianoloverus #2859498 06/17/19 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by RJ's dad
As one who has recently bought our 1st piano I can say the experience is along the lines of classic/exotic car shopping, you don't want to buy anything classic that, if money spent to rebuild it isn't worth the value of the piano you don't buy it.
Although that idea is often expressed I think it's wrong. One should compare the cost of the piano plus its rebuilding to what one can buy new for the same amount of money.




I am a Mecum and Barrett Jackson car auction fan. I record and then enjoy the classic and muscle car auctions regularly. The fact that the viewers can’t miss is quite a few of the cars auction for considerably less than what what the owner has spent in parts and labor restoring it. The owner will put over $120,000 dollars in parts and specialist labor ( like paint and reupholstery) and the car only brings in $35,000. The rebuild is done as a labor of love.
The problem with acoustic pianos, especially small cheaply built ones is, most aren’t worth the time and labor to restore
to their former glory. Maybe someone someday can figure out how to turn old unwanted pianos into something useful again.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I save far better than I play!
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