2017 was our 20th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
39 members (barbaram, Bentsch, Boboulus, clothearednincompo, CyberGene, Cushite, Animisha, David Boyce, 10 invisible), 476 guests, and 500 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 11 1 2 3 10 11
Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
#2978106 05/12/20 12:43 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 782
500 Post Club Member
OP Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 782
Note: the last thread about Chinese pianos turned into a political debate, which is fine with me, but I'd like to stick to the quality of Chinese-made pianos in this thread if possible.

As far as I understand it, the many stencil brands now made in China are manufactured there but made to the design specs of these once great brands. Yet if the designs are the same, what makes the Chinese piano inferior? I know the stigma of “piano made in China” makes it worth less, but stigma aside, is the piano really of inferior quality and manufacture? For example, I’ve read that Baldwins were great pianos, but during the 80s when their actions were made in Mexico, they had some quality control issues. The designs, however, were never the problem. With the advent of computer-aided modeling, new materials, and better precision in manufacturing today, I’d expect Baldwins manufactured today could actually be superior to those from their heyday. What if China started manufacturing Baldwin Ls using the same designs as the original? Any reason they wouldn’t be just as good?

Perhaps Rich Galassini would have the most expertise in this, as he has direct experience with his company’s designs being built in China. Any quality issues with China, Rich? Would a Matchless Cunningham piano turn out better if it were built at the Yamaha factory instead of Hailun? If the answer is “no,” then I wonder if the future (or present) of great pianos at an affordable price now lies in China. Given their manufacturing prowess, their thriving domestic piano market, and all the intellectual property that has been shipped over there by the world’s great stencil brands, are Chinese pianos still inferior?

Last edited by Emery Wang; 05/12/20 12:48 AM.

Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
First crush: Kawai GL10
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978114 05/12/20 01:52 AM
Joined: Mar 2020
Posts: 106
I
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
I
Joined: Mar 2020
Posts: 106
As general rule, China can make whatever quality you want. Fact the we know them mainly from producing cheap junk is derivd from:

1. Local businesmess were importing cheap stuff from there
2. They had no experience in making hi-end expensive goods.

Apart from design, the only chinese piano with the sound I like is Brodmann and sometimes Ritmuller. In those two I do not hear typical "chinese sound", but in al other piansos - regadrless whether they have been designed by uber designer from Europe or Chinese one, they have it. Maybe it is also due to the fact that they are selling massive amounts inside China, and their people just prefer that kind of sound.

In Poland I still hear from even the top technicians, that I should not buy Chinese piano. And I have biggest piano salon in Europe 30 min by car from me, selling also few chinese brands. Noone know how they will stand for many next years, and there was one thread here where professional pianist was not happy after years from Brodmann, and had to sell it eventually.

I also think that my local technicias are some years behind, as they always tell you that digital has crappy always crappy (and I prefer Kawai GFII/III to any new acoustic piano available in similar price range), but its their business for consumers to purchase acoustical wink

I do think though, that for some usage they are absolutely fine, as long as we like the sound and action.

Bad thing is all have the same sound signature.

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978118 05/12/20 02:21 AM
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 349
Ubu Offline
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 349
I think where chinesse pianos mostly fall behind is in final voicing. But that's normal. Chinesse pianos are expected to be cheap. Put on them the same amount of tweaking and voicing by master technician as top brands have and you'll get any sound you want. But then prices will go up. Is it people ready for paying big money on a Chinese piano? I don't think so.

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
impossiblejj #2978129 05/12/20 03:50 AM
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 300
K
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
K
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 300
If you look at the mobile phone business then you will know that it doesn't NEED to be that way.

There is currently no tradition of high quality piano manufacturing in China. Some 100 years ago there wasn't one in Japan. Now there's the Yamaha CFX and the Shigeru Kawai series where it is more a matter of taste than of quality when it comes to competing with the Steinways, etc. of this world.

If Chinese manufacturers want in, they need to obtain the know how and reputation - both of which they can simply get by buying european brands...

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978130 05/12/20 04:04 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 1,029
G
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
G
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 1,029
There is more to it than that. If what you say is true there wouldn't be any point in choosing one piano over another, we could buy anything and have it voiced and fettled to the same end result.

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978133 05/12/20 04:19 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 7,283
Silver Subscriber
7000 Post Club Member
Offline
Silver Subscriber
7000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 7,283
Are Chinese pianos inferior? Inferior to what? A $50,000, $150,000 piano? Most piano buyers have a budget, at whatever level, and strive to find the best piano available in their price limit.

Maybe, to be useful, don’t lump all pianos made in China in the same bucket, but discuss those that are recommended at their price point.


"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
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978140 05/12/20 04:59 AM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,135
E
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
E
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,135
In general I would say pound-for-pound (dollar-for-dollar etc) I think the Chinese make pianos that are entirely competitive with anything else. Better in fact at the lower price range because they have a virtual monopoly at the entry level.

But at the high levels there are no Chinese pianos to compare with the best European/American/Japanese pianos. Like Korean cars: at the price they are as good as anything but they don't make anything comparable to a Rolls Royce or Mercedes Benz.

To answer a specific question like this:

Would a Matchless Cunningham piano turn out better if it were built at the Yamaha factory instead of Hailun?

My instinct says the Yamaha made piano would be superior. Significantly so. A hundred years of a corporate culture of consistent quality would tell in the end. But of course the Yamaha made Cunningham would inevitably be more expensive. Significantly so.


C. Bechstein Model B | Roland RD-1000 |
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978149 05/12/20 05:33 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 4,782
H
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
H
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 4,782
Yes they are, IMO.

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978163 05/12/20 06:03 AM
Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 6,217
L
6000 Post Club Member
Offline
6000 Post Club Member
L
Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 6,217
I always worry about the wood in Chinese pianos, how it's been treated, cared for , compared to those manufacturers of well established reputation. Also the assembly of the piano. Are unskilled workers just given instructions like, "put this there" etc,etc.

Even when action parts and hammers are the best. Are these checked and returned if they are not up to standard .
I realise this all sounds VERY negative.But is this not what we all worry about with these pianos?
(it is not intended to be negative)

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978164 05/12/20 06:06 AM
Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 6,217
L
6000 Post Club Member
Offline
6000 Post Club Member
L
Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 6,217
As far as Cunningham pianos I do not think they would accept any piano in thier store which is not
well made and is a good instrument.(from what I hear )

Last edited by Lady Bird; 05/12/20 06:07 AM. Reason: Spelling
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
EssBrace #2978170 05/12/20 07:06 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 7,283
Silver Subscriber
7000 Post Club Member
Offline
Silver Subscriber
7000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 7,283
Originally Posted by EssBrace
In general I would say pound-for-pound (dollar-for-dollar etc) I think the Chinese make pianos that are entirely competitive with anything else. Better in fact at the lower price range because they have a virtual monopoly at the entry level.

But at the high levels there are no Chinese pianos to compare with the best European/American/Japanese pianos. Like Korean cars: at the price they are as good as anything but they don't make anything comparable to a Rolls Royce or Mercedes Benz.

To answer a specific question like this:

Would a Matchless Cunningham piano turn out better if it were built at the Yamaha factory instead of Hailun?

My instinct says the Yamaha made piano would be superior. Significantly so. A hundred years of a corporate culture of consistent quality would tell in the end. But of course the Yamaha made Cunningham would inevitably be more expensive. Significantly so.

Your instinct tells you? Have you played them, examined the build quality or materials?


"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
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978174 05/12/20 07:30 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 12,323
Platinum Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Platinum Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 12,323
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Perhaps Rich Galassini would have the most expertise in this, as he has direct experience with his company’s designs being built in China. Any quality issues with China, Rich? Would a Matchless Cunningham piano turn out better if it were built at the Yamaha factory instead of Hailun? If the answer is “no,” then I wonder if the future (or present) of great pianos at an affordable price now lies in China. Given their manufacturing prowess, their thriving domestic piano market, and all the intellectual property that has been shipped over there by the world’s great stencil brands, are Chinese pianos still inferior?

I am happy to comment on this Emery.

First, let me give a little history. We first wanted to bring back the Matchless Cunningham piano by setting up manufacturing in our present site in Philadelphia. That meant hand building a piano. The idea was euphoric. We all loved it. However, after doing tons of research, from setting up (or reproducing) original designs, to sourcing all of the components needed, to the additional (very skilled) labor we would need, the machinery, the extra space, and the fact that we would have to charge Bösendorfer prices - or at least Mason & Hamlin prices, we decided that this could be a great thing for our egos, but we would likely sell few of these pianos in this price range.

Given additional input from trusted piano professionals and technicians alike, we arrived at the conclusion that price was hindering the industry. Pianists wanted pianos that had an artistic performance but without an artistic price tag. We set out to do that.

Since at the time Del Fandrich was occupied with Young Chang (he was my first choice because I knew his work well) we chose Frank Emerson, a scale designer with lots of creds. Frank had worked in design with Baldwin, Mason & Hamlin, and AFAIK is still currently with S&S.

Anyway, there are lots of things to take into account when contracting a new design. Of course, manufacturing abilities, but openness, ease of communication, dependability to deliver what is promised, sources for components and willingness to work with outside vendors... all these things are equally important to developing a product like a piano and supporting it going forward. In the end, we chose Hailun AND Chen Hailun (the totally private owner) chose us. I say that because Chen Hailun does not need us. He has his hands full in supplying Hailun pianos to domestic China and in supporting other manufacturers in China and worldwide with components, which were his main business before 2005 or so. We are more of a pain to him than anything else. We only order a few hundred pianos each year, they have different plates, different soundboards and bridges, different hammers, etc.

He only works with us because he likes us. We like working with him because he still has a passion like us for pianos. He could easily close down our project and never feel it financially. This relationship works because we both enjoy working together.

So, on to your question. Because we are essentially communicating with one person (through his translator) we are able to convey our enthusiasm when something goes exceedingly well and our disappointment when it does not. Thankfully, whenever an issue is brought up it has disappeared from the next shipment. When we visit the factory (I have never visited the factory, but my business partner, Tim Oliver, goes regularly) we are able to observe, teach, and yes, learn. We still do lots of prep. on these pianos before we sell them but when we ask for a reasonable change, we get it. When we rescaled our parlour grand a few years ago, it cost us $$$, but there was never a hesitancy from Chen Hailun to make it work on his end.

This is a far cry from the year 2003 or 2004 when a Chinese manufacturer asked if their engineers could spend time in our restoration facility because these men and women had never seen an old piano!

I hope that helps. Did I actually answer your question?


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila., Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Visit our Online Store
The Science Channel documents our piano restoration
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978177 05/12/20 08:07 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 782
500 Post Club Member
OP Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 782
Thanks Rich. So the techs and rebuilders in your shop would be in a good position to compare, since they work on some of the best brands out there, as well as the Cunninghams coming out of China. Do any of them feel the quality of the Chinese pianos are somehow lacking, or that the Chinese are still on a learning curve compared to the established brands?

Also, perhaps I could refine my question to everyone: at the same price point, are Chinese pianos inferior? Perhaps a good hypothetical would be this: for $15-20k you could buy a new Hailun-made piano in the 6 foot range, or a used 6 footer from an established brand that's 10 years old like a Yamaha C3 or a Kawai RX3. Any reason the Chinese piano would be a worse choice, quality-wise, than the Yamaha or the Kawai?

Last edited by Emery Wang; 05/12/20 08:10 AM.

Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
First crush: Kawai GL10
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978179 05/12/20 08:14 AM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 66
C
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
C
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 66
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Also, perhaps I could refine my question to everyone: at the same price point, are Chinese pianos inferior? Perhaps a good hypothetical would be this: for $15-20k you could buy a new Hailun-made piano in the 6 foot range, or a used 6 footer from an established brand that's 10 years old like a Yamaha C3 or a Kawai RX3. Any reason the Chinese piano would be a worse choice, quality-wise, than the Yamaha or the Kawai?

If you re comparing used vs new, this is already biased and not objective in any way.
Compare apples to apples rather than switching things to suit your way.

Last edited by CosminX; 05/12/20 08:19 AM.

Kawai ES110

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
dogperson #2978185 05/12/20 08:27 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 28,887
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 28,887
Originally Posted by dogperson
Are Chinese pianos inferior? Inferior to what? A $50,000, $150,000 piano? Most piano buyers have a budget, at whatever level, and strive to find the best piano available in their price limit.

Maybe, to be useful, don’t lump all pianos made in China in the same bucket, but discuss those that are recommended at their price point.
Exactly, I think the whole premise of the OP's question is outrageously false and unclear.

There are many Chinese made pianos Cunningham, Hailun, Ritmuller, and MANY others that have gotten excellent reviews in the Piano Buyer and on Piano World. And one can listen to many examples online and draw similar conclusions.

Doesn't it go without saying that a Chinese made piano will not be the equivalent of a similar sized piano costing two, three. or four times as much?

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978187 05/12/20 08:34 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,041
j&j Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,041
Pianos everywhere are made and spec’d to a certain price point. The final factory voicing, regulation and tuning is expensive and for pianos destined for the lowest price point, there’s gonna be minimal factory prep and minimal dealer prep. Less expensive wood, felt, steel and iron will be used and the fastest production methods will be employed. I’m sure China is certainly capable of making high quality pianos and some companies like Pearl River and Hailun are indeed producing pianos for Cunningham and Mason & Hamlin. I think China produces pianos that cover a wide range of quality and workmanship. It just all depends on the price point on which that piano will be sold.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
My piano’s voice is beautiful!
[Linked Image]
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978191 05/12/20 08:46 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 28,887
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 28,887
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Thanks Rich. So the techs and rebuilders in your shop would be in a good position to compare, since they work on some of the best brands out there, as well as the Cunninghams coming out of China. Do any of them feel the quality of the Chinese pianos are somehow lacking, or that the Chinese are still on a learning curve compared to the established brands?
"Lacking" compared to what? The most prestigious pianos of the same size? The obvious answer to that question is yes, but IMO it's not at all relevant. That would be a unreasonable comparison.

"On a learning curve"? I don't know the answer, but the relevant part depends where one is on the learning curve. At one point(20-30 years ago?), Chinese manufacturing was either low on the learning curve or maybe Chinese manufacturers just weren't trying to produce good quality pianos. That was a long time ago but Fine has stated over and over that this was a thing of the past. My guess only is that the Chinese manufacturers aren't as adept as those at Bosendorfer, Hamburg Steinway, Fazioli, etc. but again I don't think that's relevant.

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
CosminX #2978194 05/12/20 08:50 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 28,887
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 28,887
Originally Posted by CosminX
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Also, perhaps I could refine my question to everyone: at the same price point, are Chinese pianos inferior? Perhaps a good hypothetical would be this: for $15-20k you could buy a new Hailun-made piano in the 6 foot range, or a used 6 footer from an established brand that's 10 years old like a Yamaha C3 or a Kawai RX3. Any reason the Chinese piano would be a worse choice, quality-wise, than the Yamaha or the Kawai?

If you re comparing used vs new, this is already biased and not objective in any way.
Compare apples to apples rather than switching things to suit your way.
Yes, a much better comparison is for a budget of x dollars how do the better new Chinese pianos compare to other new pianos from non-Chinese makers? Even that question is hard to answer because one would probably be able to buy a larger Chinese piano for the x dollars so it's not exactly apples to apples.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/12/20 08:52 AM.
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978200 05/12/20 09:07 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 7,283
Silver Subscriber
7000 Post Club Member
Offline
Silver Subscriber
7000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 7,283
What a negative, disheartening thread to buyers looking for an affordable acoustic or are Forum members who are happy with the China built acoustic piano they own. It reads like we are a bunch of elitists judging the Lamborghini we own and comparing it to a Hyundai🙄


"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
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2978205 05/12/20 09:14 AM
Joined: May 2020
Posts: 1,106
J
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
J
Joined: May 2020
Posts: 1,106
China sends their best university entrants straight to rocket science, and other neo-cold-war techs.

Piano just isn't a priority. It's also not very high tech. If there was adequate demand and pricing, their technical capacity can easily match the quality of builders elsewhere.

Think about it, kawai produce alot of their uprights in indonesia. Many other manufacturers make parts in less advanced countries with FAR lower machining prowess.

Any country that can land on the moon can make a good piano (if there was a reason to). WHY, because rockets is a benchmark for Machining precision. As for the Artistry of sound engineering, this is the easiest part, you wouldn't believe how simple it is to poach the secondary CTOs from large companies.

Last edited by jeffcat; 05/12/20 09:20 AM.
Page 1 of 11 1 2 3 10 11

Moderated by  Ken Knapp, Piano World 

Link Copied to Clipboard
What's Hot!!
News from the Piano World
100,000!
---------------------
NEW! Sell Your Piano on our world famous Piano Forums!
---------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Bach chorales for piano
by marklings - 01/19/21 04:32 AM
Introductions to the great composers
by Animisha - 01/19/21 02:43 AM
NAMM 2021 Keyboards & Digital Pianos
by Osho - 01/18/21 08:57 PM
Advice on Grey Market Yamahas - Melbourne, Vic
by Tim_Au - 01/18/21 08:08 PM
Faulty Anytime in Kawai GE-30 AT
by Lempriere - 01/18/21 07:39 PM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums42
Topics204,374
Posts3,048,787
Members100,115
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers


Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter |


© copyright 1997 - 2021 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.4