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Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323627 09/26/01 06:29 PM
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I'm a little puzzled. The original poster wants to know if Kawai's plastic action parts are a negative, and is clearly told they are not. Yet in spite of being told these parts do not represent a problem, she makes the decision to rule out Kawai anyway. Then those who tell her not to worry about plastic action parts find themselves on the defensive from someone who thinks they have said negative things about plastic action parts. What did I miss??

I want to comment as a technician and a rebuilder, and as a dealer who has sold just about every worthwhile brand known to man at one time or another over the last 30 years. First, there is no disadvantage to today's plastic action parts. But there is no advantage to them either. The point has been made that the parts are cheaper to make. I don't know that they are, or they're not. I don't think anyone can show a cost analysis between wood parts and plastic parts to prove this point. So it is merely sales spin. But then, so is the hype about the superiority of plastic action parts that surrounds them, as someone pointed out in a quote from Larry Fine. His comments about their "superior strength" were straight Kawai marketing language.

True story: About 6 years ago I watched as a Kawai factory rep did a sales presentation on a 6' Kawai. He had the piano sold, but instead of shutting up and writing the sale, he continued to "drive the nail" (does everyone understand the folly of continuing a sales pitch after the customers says "I'll take it"??) and pulled the action out of the piano and showed the man the "superior plastic action". The customer immediately changed his mind. In an effort to undo the mess of his own making, he pulled a plastic carbon jack out of his pocket and handed it to the man and made this statement:"Our plastic parts are 100 times stronger than wood. If you can break this jack, I'll *give* you the piano!"

The customer took the jack, and proceeded to snap it in two like a twig. The customer said "OK, now that it's free, I'll take it. To get out of his mess, the sales rep explained that he had been carrying that jack in his pocket for a year or so, and it must have deteriorated. He lost the sale, by the way. But he removed all doubt in my mind about the "superiority" of plastic parts over wood.

I have so many points I want to make that I think it will be quicker if I just list them:

1. There is no disadvantage to today's plastic action parts. But they offer no advantage, either.
2. Today's plastic action parts will weaken and deteriorate over time, just as wood will. Just like anything else in this world, these parts have not been blessed with Eternal Life.
3. Do not choose a piano based on whether there is plastic in the action or not. Wood or plastic is just fine. Either one will outlive you most likely.
4. The issue of whether or not plastic action parts are cheaper to make is a nonproven argument, one way or the other.
5. Taken as a whole, the discussion of plastic vs. wood is a nonissue. Each one has its strong points and weak points. Pick other things about pianos to worry over when choosing one.
6. Larry Fine is just another technician like me and thousands of other technicians. He has no special place when it comes to knowledge about pianos. He simply had the good sense to write a book. There is plenty to be found in his book that is inaccurate, just not enough to justify someone else running out and writing another book, which would again surely contain its own set of inaccurate points. Do not read the book like it was a Bible. Especially the red backed fourth edition, which in my opinion he has gotten a little full of himself in. It's just one man's opinion.
7. While there may be thousands of Kawais out there, if the company were to go out of business and you found yourself needing plastic replacement parts, you aren't going to get them out of other people's pianos. And you aren't going to find anyone making plastic replacement parts. You *would* find parts suppliers step up to fill the void with duplicates made of wood, however. So while the availability of plastic parts depends on the company staying in business, there would never be a problem getting wooden replacements later on.

To boil it all down, plastic or wood is fine. And Fine didn't write the Holy Grail. Get opinions from others as well, to balance out your information. Both Fine, and plastic action parts, are getting way too much attention.

Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323628 09/26/01 08:45 PM
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Larry.....you always have a way to nail it!!
[ahem...hopefully not into "plastic"......]

I guess what comes out of all of this, is simply that companies or individuals in this business should try to avoid the old oversell

Each time somebody claims to be the No1 piano
maker in the world or for that matter,having
invented a new wheel that runs twice as fast
as anything before, he'll be challenged on that by some "infidels" out there.

Because, if he should actually be right.....
he better get ready to fight off the copying
hordes from around the world in patent court!

At the risk that the judges there would be
perhaps...............quite bored themselves!


www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642
Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323629 09/27/01 08:22 AM
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Well, I can't resist one more volley. As the owner of a Kawaii grand piano, I have to say I really love them and would happily buy another if I was in the market. Mine is older and has no plastic parts, but I wouldn't be deterred from a new one on that basis. On the other hand, Cable Nelson pianos, IMHO, are total junk - plastic or not. So, I wouldn't take that on a silver platter.


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Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323630 09/27/01 11:40 AM
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Larry, thanks for your in depth reply. I too first thought that this was just "bunk" as said in Pianoworld's reply. Later, the image of black plastic parts all over the action stuck to my mind, so I asked for advice.
However the discussion turned out to be that,there could well be reasons to use wood instead of plastic, but vice-versa wasn't necessarily adventageous. As a result I decided to stay away from plastic and don't think that I misinterpreted some replys, did I?
If plastic didn't have any ADVANTAGE, although it didn't have any DISADVANTAGE, why Kawai risked itself by using plastic? And this was why I felt "sorry" for Kawai. At least some of the posters should have said that Kawai's plastic parts were superior to wood parts and this brought some ADVANTAGE to them.
Hakki.

(BTW, I am a "he")

Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323631 09/27/01 12:47 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by David Burton:
Some makers, Weber and others in Asia, have used a compressed fiberboard that is in fact not like any fiberboard usually seen in cheap furniture but a substance that is so hard and strong that it takes a special carbide tipped saw just to cut through it. I see little wrong with using such a substance for a rim except that it makes the piano even heavier than it is anyway.



I just caught this and had to correct it. At no time has Weber or any other manufacturer, Asia or not, used anything in their rims except laminates of wood. There are no rims made of fiberboard, nor has there ever been.

Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323632 09/27/01 04:03 PM
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Correction of the correction:

Weber and everyone else who makes a grand piano uses a laminate. However in Weber's case and perhaps others, the layers of laminate are not made of solid wood but of a synthesized wood pulp product that has in other places been vilified as not as good as solid wood in a rim, which are laminated anyway. All I was saying is that this "plastic" substance, used in this way was in no fundamental way detrimental to the quality of the piano, except to make it much heavier. If anyone out there got the idea that I was suggesting that Weber or anyone else were making their rims out of SOLID compressed fiberboard, then consider this a correction. Weber and everone else makes their rims out of LAMINATE, but whether the layers of that laminate are solid wood or not varies. If you think it matters, and I maintain that it really does not, then be willing to pay the difference as the solid wood layers do cost more.

Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323633 09/27/01 05:24 PM
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I appreciate your attempt to clarify the point David, but you are still incorrect. The rim on a Weber is the exact same rim that's used in all the other Young Chang pianos. It is made of solid strips of luan mahogany, of the same quality as that used in a Yamaha or a Kawai.

I have had the task of cutting into some Weber rims in the past, and I assure you there is nothing in the rim except solid strips of wood. No fiber-anything.

Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323634 09/29/01 12:20 AM
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I appreciate your attempt to clarify the point David, but you are still incorrect. The rim on a Weber is the exact same rim that's used in all the other Young Chang pianos. It is made of solid strips of luan mahogany, of the same quality as that used in a Yamaha or a Kawai.

I have had the task of cutting into some Weber rims in the past, and I assure you there is nothing in the rim except solid strips of wood. No fiber-anything.
[/QUOTE]

If true then I have been blatantly lied to by a salesman, a national company representative and a large dealer. Is it possible that some Webers used to use the composite material while the latest ones use solid wood?

Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323635 09/29/01 07:11 AM
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No, it isn't possible. But given the nature of the BS you were fed, I feel certain I can guess what company this factory rep worked for. Weber rims are the exact same rims used on all pianos built by Young Chang. While I have had to repair damaged rims and as a result have firsthand experience with the material in the rim, all anyone has to do is take the lid off of the piano and remove the hinge from the rim. You can see the rim material under the hinge. It's all mahogany.

There's an old joke in this business David. It goes "What's the difference in a used car salesman and a piano salesman? The used car salesman *knows* when he's lying." This joke used to be funny when it was true. Nowadays, used car salesmen can't hold a candle to the blatant lies piano salesmen, manufacturer's reps, and dealers will tell as they try to minimize the competition in an effort to make their product appear superior.

Certain brands of pianos seem to have more lies told about them because the corporate attitude is open to this method of sales tactics. Many mfgs are not open to lying about the competition. Once you know which companies are willing to lie and which ones aren't, your whole view of pianos will shift a little.

Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323636 10/01/01 01:21 PM
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i am very familiar with the rim construction of both Weber grands (made by Young Chang) and Young Chang Grands. The rims in these pianos are the same, just as Larry has stated.


Piano Industry Consultant

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Family Owned and Operated Since 1937.

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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323637 03/05/08 04:55 PM
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Here are the facts. The plastic parts are superior to wood in every way. The plastic parts are 50% stronger than wooden parts. The ABS resists moisture and swelling 30 times better than wood. The ABS is lighter than wood giving you a faster action. In tests a 25 year old USED jack is stronger than a BRAND NEW wooden part. Now you may say that this is all coming from Kawai, it is not. This is in the Piano technicians Journal in February of 93. I read the post about a customer breaking the black jack. That is absolutely ridiculous. I would give someone a new Kawai if they could break one. We have been in business for nearly 80 years. We have been Kawai dealers for almost 30. In that time we have NEVER had a problem with any Kawai action, and we sell hundreds of them a year. It's just logical. Why do they make golf clubs, tennis rackets, hockey sticks, EVERYTHING out of plastic? There is a stronger more reliable material out there. Kawai uses the plastic parts in all of their pianos including the high end Shigeru Kawais. The ABS parts actually cost MORE than wood. Yamaha pianos has started using the ABS parts, but ONLY in their high end pianos! Back in the 50's many piano companies experimented with plastic parts. As they got older they began to crumble. That is very true. However, the material used in the Kawai is NOT the same plastic that was used in these pianos. Larry Fine in the piano book does say that they are better. "plastic parts have a number of advantagesover wooden ones. They can be made more uniform in shape and weight, are indifferent to temperature and humidity changes, and have no glue joints to come apart." It's a stronger material, it is not affected by humidity and climate changes, it weighs less and gives you a faster action, and does NOT weaken significantly with age. The Kawai action is hands down the best there is. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either misinformed or lying.


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Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323638 03/05/08 07:49 PM
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I see this is your first post. Welcome to the Forum Worldpiano.

Are you aware that you have responded to a thread that is almost 7 years old?


Buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it.
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Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323639 03/06/08 02:56 AM
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Is he also aware that Kawai action is hands down far from the best there is?
Nothing against Kawais whatsoever, but their action isn't exactly the best there is...
whats up Starting Over-I'm from Tdot too.

Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323640 03/06/08 05:19 AM
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Quote

If plastic didn't have any ADVANTAGE, although it didn't have any DISADVANTAGE, why Kawai risked itself by using plastic?
It possibly had a production advantage (consistency) which isn't so much an advantage in your context. A production line catering to over thousands of pianos that can represent a positive outcome.

I'm fairly sure plastic will offer consistency which is something you mightn't achieve with piano as wood is usually not uniform throughout.


I have a Kawai RX-5G... it sounds like a coffee maker.
Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323641 03/06/08 05:25 AM
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We write now the year 2008 and I am now extremely curious to know if and what has changed in the industry in this 6 1/2 years.

For example, have the top marques like boesendorfer, bluethern, steingraeber, steinway etc. started to use plastic parts themselves and if not, why?


"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

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Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323642 03/06/08 06:12 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Mr_Kitty:
Is he also aware that Kawai action is hands down far from the best there is?
Nothing against Kawais whatsoever, but their action isn't exactly the best there is...
whats up Starting Over-I'm from Tdot too.
-----------------------------
Hey Mr_Kitty,

No disrespect meant to you, but I beg to differ.

Regarding Kawai's action being hands down far from the best there is, says who? You?
I suppose that's your opinion and you certainly are entitled to it. However, your opinion is far from the opinion of many other folks including very well respected independent RPT/PTG members, teachers, tuners, musicians, performers, owners, honest competitive dealers, competitive manufacturers, honest "in the know" competitive salespeople, and so on.

Therefore, I totally disagree with you. This 7 year old resurrected thread was part of bashing Kawai's innovative ABS action by those that had a self serving ax to grind to further their own agenda 7 or so years ago. I believe many of these same folks would alter their opinions and applaud Kawai's ability to build excellent actions today.

Kawai's ABS Carbon Millennium III action is proprietary to Kawai pianos, patented and not available to other manufacturers at this time. The cost of research. developing, engineering, buying machinery, etc. is very costly these days. Also, many manufactures want to build their pianos the traditional way and not have to deal with ruffling the feathers of their dealer, and customer base. I think it would be difficult for some manufacturers to admit that maybe Kawai is right and ABS is the way to go for reliability.
The Millennium III action is used in all RX grands, all brand new EX concert grands, and all Shigeru Kawai grands. The Millennium III Professional Upright Action is well thought of also and it is installed in all Kawai professional uprights.

For those interested in more info, click on: www.kawaius.com

Kawai's website regarding ABS action, materials, speed of repetition, and reliability facts have been tested by and proven to be superior by independent laboratories, as well as Kawai's R&D engineers. There is no jargon here, only proven facts.

The word "best" is subjective.
Different might be more appropriate

Many folks appreciate and like the Kawai action. Some don't.
The "proverbial" touch and tone. Let the consumer decide what's best for their particular wants and needs. To each his own.

So, I guess that we can agree to disagree. smile

And yes, we all know the stories about the Renner actions and the controversy surrounding their licensing policies these days.

And the beat goes on. Buy whatever blows your skirt up! smile

Now it's time for me to go get my rubber ducky and splash around in the bathtub before I go nighty night.

Cordially,

Bear


Barry J "Bear" Arnaut ♫
46 Years in the Piano Industry
Retired Kawai/Shigeru Kawai Regional Manager
(My posts and threads are my opinions only)
Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323643 03/06/08 03:11 PM
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Bear
Incidentally Kawai is by far my favourite Asian piano. I absolutely love Shigerus.
The Kawai action is very reliable and I don't mean to put it down. I really do appreciate and like the Kawai action. As far as the whole plastic parts thing goes, I think this thread has succesfully debunked any myths surrounding the use of ABS parts. They seem to be as good if not better than their equivalents made of wood.
I would not be surprised one bit to find Renner using plastics in their action in the next decade.

The Kawai action is superb. Kawai pianos are superb.
It simply cannot compare in terms of feel and responsiveness to the action on the best of the European pianos.

Have you played a Bosendorfer Imperial?
After playing an Imperial can you actually say that Kawai's action is superior?
Step back for a moment from your former position of Kawai Regional Manager.
Kawai's action is superb.
Best in the world?
Methinks not.

Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323644 03/06/08 08:44 PM
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Norbert said, "The simple fact is that plastic PARTS used in actions offer NO ADVANTAGES over the more traditional wood used by the premiere piano builders of today. Companies which make claims to the contrary contradict themselves with their own HIGH END models: their own top uprights, 7' or 9' grands all DO USE traditional wood parts as do ALL the world's top manufacturers, still today!"

It is my understanding that all Kawai acoustic pianos feature ABS and or ABS/carbon fiber action parts, including their 9' EX and Shigeru series pianos. They have not equivocated, as you suggest, in their embrace of new materials. They have spent bundles of money perfecting the materials and the designs. It is not a cost saving move.

Every working technician knows about the cooperative nature of Kawai Serivce Department. I have never been disapointed regarding parts supply.


Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.
Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323645 03/06/08 09:22 PM
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I believe the high end EX and Shigeru models did use all wood actions at the time Norbert wrote those words in 2001. Much has changed since then including the Kawai actions themselves. Millenium III actions now use carbon fiber parts as well as ABS.


Buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it.
Will Rogers

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Re: Plastic parts in pianos
#323646 03/06/08 10:31 PM
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OMG I completely spaced on the dating of this thread. How in the world did this get resurected from 2001?


Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.
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