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Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
j&j #2981149 05/19/20 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by j&j
let’s say a renowned concert artist insisted on only playing a Sauter concert grand for her performances. She’d have to ship her own piano to every concert hall on the tour and have a trained concert tech traveling with a crew of piano movers - concert roadies so to speak. smile

It sounds you are unintentionally describing a performer like Angela Hewitt, whose commitment to Faziolis is well known, and especially to her own piano, which she used to transport wherever she was going to play, if I am not mistaken, and which ended sadly in that wrecked accident, few months ago...

I wonder if in a near future big companies like Yamaha will go or not the same way Steinway has been walking for decades, that is, building up a world structure for letting their concert grands at hand for artists. For, in general terms and money, Yamaha has a much heavier structure all over the world. It looks it is just a matter of priority of brand strategy. Anyway, the company already has competing concert grands, say CFX and Bösendorfer Imperial and 280 VC, doesn't it? Or perhaps Yamaha is more concerned with pop music arenas and artists.


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Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Lady Bird #2981151 05/19/20 01:11 PM
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It’s kinda fun to fantasize about concert grand pianos so at least I know we were just joking. The fantasy kinda loses it’s appeal the instant I think about dragging my preferred concert grand cross country and then a tech getting it ready for performance just sends a long cold shiver down my back.


J & J
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Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Fluxo #2981157 05/19/20 01:17 PM
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My Yamaha dealer does stock a few rental concert grands for visiting artists. So big piano makers can more easily support touring artists.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2981182 05/19/20 02:26 PM
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Are Bösendorfer and Bechstein pianos often used for concerts on the continent ? Perhaps only Hamburg's are used there ?

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Lady Bird #2981187 05/19/20 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Are Bösendorfer and Bechstein pianos often used for concerts on the continent ? Perhaps only Hamburg's are used there ?
I can’t be sure but I don’t think Bösendorfer makes enough pianos a year to support much of touring artist program too far beyond the European continent. I’d be curious to know if I’m wrong.


J & J
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I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2981200 05/19/20 03:18 PM
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In Continental Europe you mean? Yes but it's still mostly Steinway and Yamaha. Apart from anything else, Steinway and Yamaha are the only two companies who have enough concert grands to go round. You'll find the odd other make here and there of course. Like I said I've even come across an August Förster in Vienna which is a great piano if a little bright for my taste - could probably be voiced down though. Also in continental Europe and for that matter the UK there are more small venues where some quite high-end artists will play, and in these venues you won't always find a concert grand. You may find that some of these venues have a small grand, for instance I think that the Mozart Haus in Vienna has a model 200 Bösendorfer. I've seen Blüthner Model 6's on stages, Steinway As and Bs, C. Bechsteins of various sizes, all chosen because of how they react with that particular venue. A Steinway D from either factory - or any concert grand for that matter - would be too much in many a small venue, or at least that's the kind of European sensibility. Let's not forget that a lot of these smaller performing venues are in really old buildings with an elevator that can't take a concert grand and a narrow staircase.

I think these days there is - or at least there was - a certain expectation that a concert grand had to be a Steinway and anything other than a Steinway is less than a piano. This view is kind of propagated amongst promoters and hall managers as well, so whenever funds are raised to buy a piano for a major venue, it's usually a Steinway. Steinway of course, make an exceptionally good concert grand piano and so do the others but the others don't have the fame that Steinway has, for various reasons, although amongst aficionados that's changing.

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
CyberGene #2981362 05/19/20 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
(BTW, I actually went to check this piano, it was put on its side and surrounded by trash, so couldn't see if it's any good, besides having Viennese action, so after the lockdown I intend working with a technician to see if we can restore it)

Ah, I've had the misfortune of playing a Viennese action before, IMO it belongs in the trash...:/ WNG action retrofit?

@Hakki I would argue that regardless of how much Mr. Chen has to do with the process vs. his hired expertise, Hailun is incredibly innovative and deserves more name recognition than Estonia (since you mention Laul). The actions are supposed to be extremely consistent, and they've tried a lot of features that Yamaha and Kawai are too conservative to consider. I've personally gone too deep into the piano rabbit hole so I would never intend to keep a low end piano (unless someday I'm rich enough to have so many properties I can't justify putting nice pianos in every one), but if I were not allowed to resell a piano and had to keep it under 40k, I think I would actually go for Hailun over vanilla Yamaha. The 178 I played in a store totally blew me away. I think with some custom work it could be competitive with real high end stuff at a low price.

I'm really glad there are people buying their pianos despite there being such an oversupply of used pianos and their prices not being so compelling anymore. Hopefully they can improve to the point where they can break the Yamaha/Kawai duopoly.

Last edited by trigalg693; 05/19/20 09:37 PM.
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2981375 05/19/20 10:36 PM
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Well Hailun ,Estonia and Sauter are all in the same box where name recognition goes.
Still if I had money growing in my garden (which I do not ) I would rather choose an Estonia, Sauter ,or a Shigeru grand.( based on reputation ) A GX is a nice one too ,but then I do like Vanilla. (If that's the reason )

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2981388 05/19/20 11:26 PM
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Will we see Steinways built in China in our lifetime?



Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see
~Mark Twain
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Retsacnal #2981398 05/20/20 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Will we see Steinways built in China in our lifetime?

Well the way things are going, piano ownership in Asia is going to be quickly saturated, and it's in decline in the West. Maybe there will be demand from Africa and India in time, but I think it's more likely that gray market imports take over since there's so many pianos out there. Europe has a huge surplus of vintage pianos, which are good rebuild candidates for customers looking for something higher end. That's unfortunately the price point that new Hailuns find themselves at, and they don't have the resale liquidity of a Yamaha.

What's more likely is consolidation, I would guess that Hailun and Pearl River can survive, Yamaha + Kawai, NY Steinway since there's so much inertia behind the brand, and maybe a small handful more specialty brands like Fazioli. Total production volume is probably going to decrease rather than increase, and in small quantities it would make more sense to just produce in the NY plant.

There is a benefit to buying new, which is that you know the strings and action don't need replacement and will be in good condition for a number of decades, whereas a used piano's cost would quickly skyrocket if you were to refurbish a significant number of parts. I think a used Hailun at ~30% off new prices falls into that sweet spot where you can't find a used higher end brand without wear and tear, but there are not a lot of used Hailuns floating around. Unfortunately for the new Hailuns, 20k buys a lot of refurbished piano.

Last edited by trigalg693; 05/20/20 12:16 AM.
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2981422 05/20/20 02:00 AM
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It would probably make more sense for Steinway to close NY if they ever consolidate. The Hamburg has more snob appeal, and it's also the standard Steinway in most parts of the world.

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
johnstaf #2981443 05/20/20 04:31 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
It would probably make more sense for Steinway to close NY if they ever consolidate. The Hamburg has more snob appeal, and it's also the standard Steinway in most parts of the world.

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Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Retsacnal #2981480 05/20/20 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Will we see Steinways built in China in our lifetime?
We are trying to achieve it

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
chen #2981489 05/20/20 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by chen
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Will we see Steinways built in China in our lifetime?
We are trying to achieve it
Why ?

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
chen #2981493 05/20/20 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by chen
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Will we see Steinways built in China in our lifetime?
We are trying to achieve it

What do you mean by this? Do you mean you are trying to build a piano of similar quality? Or do you are trying to purchase the Steinway company and move production to China? Or is there some other meaning. Accurate communication is key here. You could start a world-wide news story by your comments. There are very powerful people in the music industry who "ghost" here on PianoWorld. They might not log in, and they may never actually write a post, but they keep up with PianoWorld threads on a daily basis. wink eek

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
trigalg693 #2981499 05/20/20 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693
Originally Posted by CyberGene
(BTW, I actually went to check this piano, it was put on its side and surrounded by trash, so couldn't see if it's any good, besides having Viennese action, so after the lockdown I intend working with a technician to see if we can restore it)

Ah, I've had the misfortune of playing a Viennese action before, IMO it belongs in the trash...:/ WNG action retrofit?

@Hakki I would argue that regardless of how much Mr. Chen has to do with the process vs. his hired expertise, Hailun is incredibly innovative and deserves more name recognition than Estonia (since you mention Laul). The actions are supposed to be extremely consistent, and they've tried a lot of features that Yamaha and Kawai are too conservative to consider. I've personally gone too deep into the piano rabbit hole so I would never intend to keep a low end piano (unless someday I'm rich enough to have so many properties I can't justify putting nice pianos in every one), but if I were not allowed to resell a piano and had to keep it under 40k, I think I would actually go for Hailun over vanilla Yamaha. The 178 I played in a store totally blew me away. I think with some custom work it could be competitive with real high end stuff at a low price.

I'm really glad there are people buying their pianos despite there being such an oversupply of used pianos and their prices not being so compelling anymore. Hopefully they can improve to the point where they can break the Yamaha/Kawai duopoly.

Why would you say Hailun is more innovative than Estonia? Just my humble opinion but Estonia builds professional grade high quality pianos with Alpine spruce, Renner action, Kluge keyboards, hand wound bass strings, red beech bridges, and thick Baltic wood rim. My L190 punches way above its weight class in its sound and action. Estonia keeps its pricing very competitive. They are more expensive than Hailun but you can find the L190 hovering below your 40k limit and worth every single penny.

Last edited by j&j; 05/20/20 08:48 AM.

J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
GC13 #2981502 05/20/20 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by GC13
Originally Posted by chen
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Will we see Steinways built in China in our lifetime?
We are trying to achieve it

What do you mean by this? Do you mean you are trying to build a piano of similar quality? Or do you are trying to purchase the Steinway company and move production to China? Or is there some other meaning. Accurate communication is key here. You could start a world-wide news story by your comments. There are very powerful people in the music industry who "ghost" here on PianoWorld. They might not log in, and they may never actually write a post, but they keep up with PianoWorld threads on a daily basis. wink eek

Why try to read stuff like buying Steinway into a simple comment? Steinway already outsource build of their Essex and Boston lines, why would it be unreasonable to just try to get some of that type of business?

Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2981508 05/20/20 09:16 AM
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Piano pricing relies on cost of materials used, wages and benefits offered to skilled craftspeople, costs of exporting, and cost of capital infrastructure. Many industries, including piano makers, find great incentives to move their production to China as we’ve seen and know from the pharmaceutical industry. It is difficult to maintain production in a country with expensive labor costs, tight environmental regulation, and high taxes. As long as China remains an attractive place to manufacture goods, moving production plants to China will remain a viable option. There are somewhat hidden costs to doing this and only time can tell if this trend continues.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2981520 05/20/20 09:41 AM
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I certainly hope that the costs to which j&j refers don't stay hidden! Unfortunately, in the name of paying less for something, consumers here in the USA are willing (even eager) to buy products that are made in a nation where people do not get fair wages, where environmental costs are unregulated and/or irrelevant, and where government benefits are ruled by fiat. The human and environmental costs of moving industry to Asia are enormous, but western consumers and manufacturers don't care as long as they don't have to pay them (although the environmental costs are rapidly coming due).

Is this political? Absolutely. Is it relevant to piano manufacturing? Absolutely. This thread has danced around the political implications of the consumer quest to pay less and the corresponding manufacturer quest to produce cheaply, but the entire reason for the thread lies here, because there would be no occasion to compare Chinese (or all Asian) pianos to pianos made in the USA (or Europe) if the industry hadn't migrated. The problem with keeping politics out of a thread like this is that they are so inherently part of it.

One could, of course, just stick to examining the end result of the migration and skip why it happened and whether there may be a remedy. This is, I think, what the posters here have been trying to do. But as the proud owner of Mason & Hamlin grand, I would prefer to figure out how to save the remnants of the once-proud American piano industry. This may not be possible, but in order to try, we need to start with how we got here in the first place.

Last edited by Rank Piano Amateur; 05/20/20 09:47 AM.
Re: Are Chinese pianos really inferior?
Emery Wang #2981526 05/20/20 09:53 AM
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The hidden costs are if a country moves critical manufacturing to another country, what happens in a trade war? Or in a full blown military war? By exporting manufacturing to a country with minimal labor and environmental regulations young people will be forced to work long hours in less than ideal conditions and the air, water, and soil will be polluted. We’re just pushing the problems of big factories to another country.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
I don’t play well but I play far better than I sing.
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