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Of course I'm not an expert and not even really that experienced compared to some people, but...my general thoughts are that tonal quality (like on a 1-10 scale of "performance") of a piano, given a decent tier in terms of brand, size, etc., is more likely to be the result of condition, prepping, etc., and that all else being equal, you really can get a nice tone on a good instrument in the mentioned ways (provided that you know how to play).

A given piano's tone may not be your absolute favorite, if you're someone who likes things a certain way or has particular taste, but a good musician can definitely make pleasing sounds to him/her relatively speaking come from even a fair instrument. Sometimes I think the marketing of pianos almost suggests that the pianos play themselves. Well, isn't this what they would like? It's just like the tennis-racquet companies or ski companies...

Even a top-class instrument really needs to be played well (furthermore, especially so). Generally speaking, the absolute best pianos are harder to play and "work", but if you are the artist and you're skilled, they pay back to you in spades for that consciousness. This is one reason why so many artists do kind of...partner-up or pick a favorite with their brand of choice and become specialized. That being said, some pianos are too hard to work for what they offer, and give diminishing returns. It's about the sweet spot there, that leads to the best piano for the performer.

They learn about its nuances and it's a matter of figuring out the ceiling of an instrument for your skillset, your particular needs and abilities, and to some degree also your audience...yeah it's all pretty subjective in the end. I hope this comes across the way I intended and isn't confusing our misleading somehow. Again, this is just my personal opinion.

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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
I have been having lots and lots of thoughts going thru my mind about this particular post.

HYPOTHETICAL - which has been done before I'm sure.
Let's take MONEY out of the Mix in choosing a piano.
So we have all hit the lottery and won Half a Billion Dollars.
Ok - NOW I'm going to go searching for my perfect piano.

My thought would be - not sure it would turn out to be a Steinway!
I would not buy the most expensive piano but I would want to search the following:

A FAZIOLI 7'(New)
A BOSENDORFER 220 or 228 (New and Restored New from a good year)
A Hamburg STEINWAY B - Spirio R compared to a NY STEINWAY B - Spirio R
A C. BECHSTEIN (also New & Expertly Restored)
A NY STEINWAY B (Expertly Restored from the Golden Era 1925 - 1940)
A MASON & HAMLIN BB (Expertly Restored from 1910 - 1929 period)
A SHIGARO KAWAI SK7 (New)
A FALCONE 7' (made in 1985 - 1988 & restored expertly)

this would be my list, how about yours?

brdwyguy

Hypothetically speaking...I'd want to try all NEW pianos from the top-priced brands. Fazioli, Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steinway, etc. I'd do a thorough demo of these pianos just to see how they play. I think it wouldn't be too hard for me to narrow down from there (the same way I did with previous buying scenarios given respective budget parameters).

Then I'd go look for highly-priced instruments in the secondhand market. I'd try to find gems and weigh which ones I liked best. Presumably I'd be looking at a lot of restorations anyway. I'd also work with techs to modify the instruments to my liking if necessary. My process would basically be the same as what I've gone through in the past...

I wouldn't expect to find exactly what I was looking for in some prestigious brands, like a new Shigeru Kawaii or a Yamaha CF, but I'd look anyway. I would expect to find it in a place like Bechstein or Bosendorfer, given my experience. Regardless, I'd expect to have somewhat different mileage with a much higher budget, so I'd conduct a completely new search altogether and wouldn't leave out any contenders.

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Originally Posted by tre corda
Just a note to add I am only talking about marketing and perception, not about the quantity of Yamaha and Bosendorfer pianos which remain high in Yamaha and very high in Bosendorfer.In fact Bosendorfer are often still regarded here as some of the best quality pianos around.
I mean't "quality" not quantity of course.

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I think we would need to go to NYC to be able to play all the high-end pianos
Faust-Harrison has Bosies, Bechsteins, Fazioli's & Rebuilt Steinways - that would be great to
be able to play them all in the same room! LOL
Then hit a half dozen Broadway shows and restaurants.
The Met and a few Museums and of course see what's at Carnegie Hall!

Take a trip up to Boston and hit the M&H Factory!

Then I would head down to Philadelphia and reconnect with my old/good friend Rich G at Cunningham
and see what they have in stock and being rebuilt!

WOW How fun that would be!

brdwyguy


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by tre corda
So perhaps Bosendorfer's greatest gift to Yamaha is in marketing Yamaha.

I'm sure this halo effect was entirely part of the calculus in Yamaha's decision to buy Bosendorfer. It's probably why they are being very diligent not to tarnish the brand, and being very diligent to allow Bosendorfer to continue to operate as they traditionally have.

I have always thought that Yamaha could do more to differentiate their higher end offerings, which are amazing pianos. Yamaha has over a dozen models, and they all look and are branded the same. If you don't know the specific design details, there's nothing that tells a CFX from a GB1K apart while sitting at the fallboard. It's all just a simple "Yamaha," same font, same everything. So in that sense, the vast majority of their grands, presumably good quality, including well regarded C2-C3X pianos, just overshadow the SX/CF lineup, which to me end up being "sleepers" - fantastic quality but not really prominent. And if you see a Yamaha grand in a home or venue, there's no easy way to tell high end from low end.

Contrast this with Steinway, which has separate sub-brands in Essex and Boston, or Kawai, with their Shigeru Kawai lineup. See one of those, and you know it's Kawai's top end hand-built models.


I think Yamaha does well in staying away from that kind of superficial branding snobbery. They are only concerned about the performance of their products. They make the best of the best in numerous markets, be it engines, motorcycles, all kinds of musical instruments, hifi equipment, you name it!

They also make things which are accessible. They're kind of like the peoples champion in that regard. Why would you try to make your richest customers feel better about themselves with a different name on the fallboard, if that means making your lower cost products seem live vastly inferior and not worthy of the name?

This practice makes sense for Steinway, but not for Yamaha, and I would hate for them to change their ways.

If you're worried about the name on the fallboard, then I guess don't buy a Yamaha, unless you're like me and think the Yamaha name is a source of pride.

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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
I Visited 4 Showrooms and Numerous Web Pages - There were NO Mason & Hamlin's to be looked at. The only place was Freeburg Pianos because they were a M&H dealer and they only had New M&H Pianos.
I would have had to travel close to 1000 miles to try out a restored one.

brdwyguy

M&H built less than 100,000 pianos in almost 140 years, of which only around 10,000 were built before 1931 (during the golder age), and they build around 200-300 pianos/year now. Obviously, its used market presence is very limited.

S&S currently builds around 2,600 pianos/year (more than 600,000 total). I'd assume that while in the past grand piano was a usual item in a US middle class living room (and in most cases this was either S&S, or Baldwin), most of these pianos were gotten rid of during the last 40 years because of general piano popularity decline, or ended in dealer/restorer showrooms.

Speaking about Yamaha - there were years when they sold more than 200,000 pianos/year. They built 1 mln pianos before 1970. in 1991 they built their 5 millionth piano. So you can imagine how many used Yamahas are around.

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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
chromatic
I think we would need to go to NYC to be able to play all the high-end pianos
Faust-Harrison has Bosies, Bechsteins, Fazioli's & Rebuilt Steinways - that would be great to
be able to play them all in the same room! LOL
Then hit a half dozen Broadway shows and restaurants.
The Met and a few Museums and of course see what's at Carnegie Hall!

Take a trip up to Boston and hit the M&H Factory!

Then I would head down to Philadelphia and reconnect with my old/good friend Rich G at Cunningham
and see what they have in stock and being rebuilt!

WOW How fun that would be!

brdwyguy

Totally agree. Sounds like an awesome trip, we can keep it in the file folder of great ideas. I also think it would be fascinating to compare notes between pianists on such impressions. Like one pianist A rates Piano X as 8/10 on tone whereas Pianist B rates Piano X as 10/10...and then gives a little mini-lesson/example on teasing this 10/10 tone out of that instrument...Pianist A receives new information and "aha" moments of (now I see, yes, this is a beautiful tone indeed...or maybe just "I like it but I still keep it at an 8, maybe a 9 at best")...etc. There might even be a way to come to a consensus on which is the best piano in the whole lineup. That would be pretty neat!

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Originally Posted by Yojimbo
I think Yamaha does well in staying away from that kind of superficial branding snobbery. They are only concerned about the performance of their products. They make the best of the best in numerous markets, be it engines, motorcycles, all kinds of musical instruments, hifi equipment, you name it!

They also make things which are accessible. They're kind of like the peoples champion in that regard. Why would you try to make your richest customers feel better about themselves with a different name on the fallboard, if that means making your lower cost products seem live vastly inferior and not worthy of the name?

This practice makes sense for Steinway, but not for Yamaha, and I would hate for them to change their ways.

If you're worried about the name on the fallboard, then I guess don't buy a Yamaha, unless you're like me and think the Yamaha name is a source of pride.


I love this take, it's clearly the other side of the coin, and equally valid. I still think it's not market nor advantageous for them to have near zero product differentiation across such broad audiences that they serve, but that's just an opinion.


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Originally Posted by Yojimbo
Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by tre corda
So perhaps Bosendorfer's greatest gift to Yamaha is in marketing Yamaha.

I'm sure this halo effect was entirely part of the calculus in Yamaha's decision to buy Bosendorfer. It's probably why they are being very diligent not to tarnish the brand, and being very diligent to allow Bosendorfer to continue to operate as they traditionally have.

I have always thought that Yamaha could do more to differentiate their higher end offerings, which are amazing pianos. Yamaha has over a dozen models, and they all look and are branded the same. If you don't know the specific design details, there's nothing that tells a CFX from a GB1K apart while sitting at the fallboard. It's all just a simple "Yamaha," same font, same everything. So in that sense, the vast majority of their grands, presumably good quality, including well regarded C2-C3X pianos, just overshadow the SX/CF lineup, which to me end up being "sleepers" - fantastic quality but not really prominent. And if you see a Yamaha grand in a home or venue, there's no easy way to tell high end from low end.

Contrast this with Steinway, which has separate sub-brands in Essex and Boston, or Kawai, with their Shigeru Kawai lineup. See one of those, and you know it's Kawai's top end hand-built models.


I think Yamaha does well in staying away from that kind of superficial branding snobbery. They are only concerned about the performance of their products. They make the best of the best in numerous markets, be it engines, motorcycles, all kinds of musical instruments, hifi equipment, you name it!

They also make things which are accessible. They're kind of like the peoples champion in that regard. Why would you try to make your richest customers feel better about themselves with a different name on the fallboard, if that means making your lower cost products seem live vastly inferior and not worthy of the name?

This practice makes sense for Steinway, but not for Yamaha, and I would hate for them to change their ways.

If you're worried about the name on the fallboard, then I guess don't buy a Yamaha, unless you're like me and think the Yamaha name is a source of pride.

I see. This is a good point. I've wanted to put this into words as well. Yamaha are going to run into branding issues, due to a "jack of all trades but master of none" dynamic. But honestly, when it comes to actually selling their products, take a look at what the dealers do.

My previous experience with the guy at the Yamaha dealer was to pass CX's off as "high-end" (which is somewhat relative...they're not the absolute highest end, but they're still really nice pianos). I told him I was looking for high-end pianos when I walked in the door (told him my budget of $50-60K), and the first thing he recommended was for me to buy a new C5X or a C7X that was lightly played (for $50K+). It took quite a bit of time to get him out of that rut and get me to talk about something else.

I'm sure many salespeople selling Yamaha pianos would be happy to do this (though I can't speak for all of them). If you can convince the buyer they're getting a top-of-the-line piano at a good price. And the funny thing is, they were priced quite highly--in order to create this notion of competitiveness with other brands ("well if it's as expensive as a Steinway, it must be as good as one, right?").

He kept pointing out that this instrument will last me *a lifetime*. Lifetime guarantees, being a solid instrument, having a full lifetime warranty, a trade-up policy, all of this...as a kind of overcompensation for the fact that this wasn't actually what I wanted to buy, and we hadn't really found it yet (because I hadn't been given enough time to try things out). Well, that's kind of how I see it anyway.

I liked the guy and he's a professional so all of that's fine. I didn't think he was doing anything unethical per se, he was definitely trying to help me as best he could (at least in some sense, according to his MO), and we gradually made our way around the store and I got to the bottom of whether or not there was anything I would buy in there for the prices offered (this was where I almost made the silly decision of buying an overpriced 1987 Bechstein B...which I loved, but was overpriced). Fwiw the only SX in the store was an S3X and it was "on sale" for $62K (he might've been able to come down a bit but I doubt it would've been much).

There are a number of strategies and techniques salespeople will use, but what they care about most at the end of the day is (arguably) sales, and some people could sell ice to eskimos (that's why they're in the profession). So do look out for this kind of thing. I personally think the best sales strategy is the "soft sell" where they point you to the piano, you play the piano, that's really it. Maybe they say a thing or two about the piano but it isn't trying to walk you through this etc.

Then again, different customers have different needs. For the person who can already play, just let them play, and decide from there.

Just by going into three different piano shops, I felt almost like I was going into a different country in each one. There was that big of a difference in the ecosystem.

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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
Another Question:
You walk into most any Piano Store or Website and most likely in the Rebuilt/Pre-owned section
there will be 'MULTIPLE' Yamaha's & Steinway's! This really stuck out to me when I was searching.
I kept thinking, 'ok one of 2 things'

Either they are extremely popular and everyone winds up choosing Yamaha's or Steinway's
OR
They are horrible piano's and everyone keeps trading them in?

Granted every store/web page/etc have many other brands of pianos as well.
But NOT the amount of Y's & S's.

Has anyone else noticed this or is it just me?
What are your thoughts on that as well?

I Visited 4 Showrooms and Numerous Web Pages - There were NO Mason & Hamlin's to be looked at. The only place was Freeburg Pianos because they were a M&H dealer and they only had New M&H Pianos.
I would have had to travel close to 1000 miles to try out a restored one.

brdwyguy
1. Some/many piano stores have no new Yamahas and/or no new Steinways. Because these pianos are so popular and well known it's not surprising many stores have some used models from these makers for sale.
2. It's hard to find rebuilt Masons because a lot fewer of them were ever made compared to Steinway and they can't sell for as much as rebuilt Steinways so rebuilders aren't as anxious to rebuild them.
3. Obviously Steinways and Yamahas are not "extremely horrible". Not all the pianos in the used piano section of a dealer are trade ins. Some are on consignment or some were just purchased by the dealer.
4. The number of Steinway pianos sold each year is minuscule compared to the number of Yamahas.

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Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by Yojimbo
I think Yamaha does well in staying away from that kind of superficial branding snobbery. They are only concerned about the performance of their products. They make the best of the best in numerous markets, be it engines, motorcycles, all kinds of musical instruments, hifi equipment, you name it!

They also make things which are accessible. They're kind of like the peoples champion in that regard. Why would you try to make your richest customers feel better about themselves with a different name on the fallboard, if that means making your lower cost products seem live vastly inferior and not worthy of the name?

This practice makes sense for Steinway, but not for Yamaha, and I would hate for them to change their ways.

If you're worried about the name on the fallboard, then I guess don't buy a Yamaha, unless you're like me and think the Yamaha name is a source of pride.


I love this take, it's clearly the other side of the coin, and equally valid. I still think it's not market nor advantageous for them to have near zero product differentiation across such broad audiences that they serve, but that's just an opinion.

I think this is one of those things where you either love it or hate it. I do in fact understand why many would find it strange having the name Yamaha on their high end grand piano when that same name can be found on 50CC mopeds. I guess it can take away some of the magic of owning an expensive piano. For me, Yamaha has always been a musical instrument company first and foremost, and one that I think captures the spirit of japanese craftsmanship.

I do think that Yamaha would be wise to market their high end pianos in the same vein as Kawai does. Would I like that decision? No, definitely not, but I do agree that it's probably advantageous.

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To myself I do not think that seeing a Yamaha motorcycle, does any favours to Yamaha as a piano manufacturer, I do not think at this point it causes much damage to thier prestige though.I know they make other musical instruments and some are excellent for students.When I owned a Yamaha piano I was proud it, if you asked me if I was ashamed of it because of the name on the fallboard I would have thought you were crazy.Of course PW can be rather snobbish at times so some may feel that negative emotion.(unnecessary though)
Yamaha and Kawai are regarded as really nice instruments.Having played numerous pianos of both I think they are excellent mid range instruments.I am thinking specifically of the GX Kawai and the C or the CX Yamaha.Of course there are quite a few different models now, so saying you have a Yamaha piano is a little vague.

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Originally Posted by tre corda
To myself I do not think that seeing a Yamaha motorcycle, does any favours to Yamaha as a piano manufacturer

To be clear, I wasn't suggesting that Yamaha create a "Wolfgang von German, by Yamaha" sub-brand laugh Really just thinking about more individualized branding rather than than condensed sans serif all caps Y A M A H A that goes on everything from a digital keyboard to a B series upright to an SX to a CFX. Maybe even a different font? Point being, you see a Steinway grand, there are only so many things it could be, but it's a Steinway. I feel with Yamaha, it could be budget, midrange, high end, professional, who knows.... With that said, I really like the scalloped rim design on the CFX, very striking. I see that design language start to work its way down their lineup, too.

Originally Posted by tre corda
Of course there are quite a few different models now, so saying you have a Yamaha piano is a little vague.

This is kind of what I was thinking is a bit of a wasted opportunity.


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Well Kawai used "Shigeru".Yamaha certainly advertises German specifications, so perhaps a "Wolfgang von German" may work or even, "Amadeus von Vienna" may work better.😀

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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
chromatic
I think we would need to go to NYC to be able to play all the high-end pianos
Faust-Harrison has Bosies, Bechsteins, Fazioli's & Rebuilt Steinways - that would be great to
be able to play them all in the same room! LOL
Then hit a half dozen Broadway shows and restaurants.
The Met and a few Museums and of course see what's at Carnegie Hall!

Take a trip up to Boston and hit the M&H Factory!

Then I would head down to Philadelphia and reconnect with my old/good friend Rich G at Cunningham
and see what they have in stock and being rebuilt!

WOW How fun that would be!

brdwyguy

A dream vacation.

But will have to add Steinway Hall to the trip.


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thank you
I should have made that correction! laugh ha

I guess a trip to Astoria would have been a given!

brdwyguy
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1969-1992: Westbrook Spinet
1991-2021: Schomacker Model A (1912) "Schoowie"
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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
A FAZIOLI 7'(New)
A BOSENDORFER 220 or 228 (New and Restored New from a good year)
A Hamburg STEINWAY B - Spirio R compared to a NY STEINWAY B - Spirio R
A C. BECHSTEIN (also New & Expertly Restored)
A NY STEINWAY B (Expertly Restored from the Golden Era 1925 - 1940)
A MASON & HAMLIN BB (Expertly Restored from 1910 - 1929 period)
A SHIGARO KAWAI SK7 (New)
A FALCONE 7' (made in 1985 - 1988 & restored expertly)

My list would be yours (I had never heard of the Falcone; will look into it), plus:
Yamaha CF6
Estonia 210
Steingraeber & Söhne C212
Blüthner 4


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Talao:

http://www.concertpitchpiano.com/Falcone-Piano-Prices.html

https://www.pianoemporium.com/the-fabulous-falcone/

but the piano MUST be from the time that Falcone, personally built the piano 1982 - 1992 I believe?

brdwyguy


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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
A FAZIOLI 7'(New)
A BOSENDORFER 220 or 228 (New and Restored New from a good year)
A Hamburg STEINWAY B - Spirio R compared to a NY STEINWAY B - Spirio R
A C. BECHSTEIN (also New & Expertly Restored)
A NY STEINWAY B (Expertly Restored from the Golden Era 1925 - 1940)
A MASON & HAMLIN BB (Expertly Restored from 1910 - 1929 period)
A SHIGARO KAWAI SK7 (New)
A FALCONE 7' (made in 1985 - 1988 & restored expertly)

What a great list. I'm about halfway through mine (6-7' is my range)

Played:
Shigeru Kawai SK3
Shigeru Kawai SK5
Yamaha C5X
C. Bechstein M/P 192
Bosendorfer 200 Enspire Pro
Bosendorfer 214VC Enspire Pro
Bosendorfer 220VC

To try:
Yamaha CF4
Schimmel K195
Steingraeber 192
Sauter Delta 185
Bluthner Model 6
Fazioli 212

The remaining ones are further afield/harder to find locally. I'm going to give myself 3-4 months to hit these, hopefully by the beginning of summer.


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I love the fact that Yamaha doesn't create a "premium" brand. The quality of the piano is the only thing that differentiates the various instruments.

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