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#908637 - 04/01/03 10:24 PM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
Propianoplayer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/03
Posts: 120
Loc: Tennessee
good job! You really know how to make your points clear. I agree totally!


#908638 - 04/01/03 10:30 PM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10838
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
I have had my share of problems with "teacher and Tech bandits" but I too disagree with Larry's approach and attitude. In fact, I am reather surprised that he takes such a harsh position.
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

#908639 - 04/01/03 10:54 PM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country

First of all, I didn't use this tactic routinely. It came about after the same two or three teachers kept doing the same thing.

Let me tell you about one of these "brilliant" teachers. She had a student who was extremely talented, a girl of about 15. Her father was filty rich. He could have bought any piano he wanted to buy. But he was also a self absorbed jerk, and he refused to buy her a piano at all. All she had to practice on at home was a Casio keyboard.

In spite of it, she won competition after competition, until she had worked her way up to and won the state competition. All of a sudden her father was getting patted on the back and a lot of attention, and all of a sudden he realized *he* was looking bad for not having bought his daughter a real piano. So he decided to save face and agreed to buy her any piano the teacher said she should have.

At the time I sold Kawai. The teacher's ego began to swell over getting to "personally" pick the piano, a GS-70 Kawai (7'6"). She was known to be a pompous know-it-all old bag by every teacher in the teacher's association anyway - an organization I might add that I have been quite active in local to my business and am well respected by most of them. Also, the teacher was almost slobbering giddy over getting to "spend" all that money.

The teacher decided that just letting the guy buy the piano wasn't good enough. SHE had to have a little time in the limelight too. So she turned to him and said "it's a great piano, but it needs a little work." The father turned to me and told me to make the teacher happy, and once I had done so, he would write the check.

I showed her every respect. A total of five different techs voiced the piano for her, never pleasing her. The action was regulated 3 times by three different techs, and she was never pleased. 5 bass strings were replaced at her command, even though there was nothing wrong with them. With each voicing, I tried to tell her as politely as I could that what she was asking for would ruin the hammers. It didn't matter. SHE was the all knowing, all seeing "professional" - I was just a mechanic. She even told me that, using those words. She said in fact, "I can understand why you wouldn't know anything about the musical aspects of a piano - after all, you're just a repairman."

All through this, which covered about a 2 month period with her coming in and commanding the entire showroom's attention for 2 to 3 hours every other day, only to find one more thing that wasn't "quite right", the girl kept saying "It sounds just fine to me! Can I get it now?". Finally the father came in while she was there, and said "Is it ready yet?" I kept my mouth shut, and let her finish her own mess. She told him "No. It still has 3 notes in the treble that aren't quite right yet." The father said "If it has so many problems that it can't be fixed in two months of work, it isn't worth owning. My daughter is doing just fine on the keyboard. She can continue to use it." And he turned and walked out of the store, without buyin a piano. In truth, there had never been anything wrong with the piano. It was just fine from the start. But you see, he wasn't going to listen to me, because she had made it clear to him that SHE was the authority on pianos, and I was just a "mechanic". Today, the girl is in her late 20s, married with 2 kids of her own, and she doesn't even play the piano any more. She quit shortly after this fiasco, and never went back.

Now tell me.... at what point would I have been justified in pushing on passed her and taking control of that situation? Don't tell me how I should have taken her aside and explained to her what she was doing. It was tried, and she would have no part of it. SHE was going to show everyone what an "expert" she was.

The switched fallboards was done to combat this kind of teacher. It was not done to make fools of every teacher who came in. I don't know how long you've been in the business, but I've been in it over 32 years, I have a master's degree in piano performance, I was a professional studio musician for many years as well, and I have worked with hundreds upon hundreds of teachers. Most are human, polite, and helpful. Most understand that budget controls what the family can buy, and they deal with what is available within the parent's budget. Most work *with* me. But some are stupid. After a while you get tired of running in circles trying to massage their enormous egos. And once you have pegged a particular teacher as a knothead, you simply figure out a way to let the parents who are putting their trust in her "expert opinion" see just what her opinion is worth. That's what I did with the fallboards. I'm sorry you feel that I was being mean to the teacher somehow, but the teacher wasn't the one spending the money. The one who needed factual data was the one who would write the check. It was no time to be concerned about the feelings of an idiot.

As for not responding to your email, I apologize. I get a ton of email, and it is quite possible I accidentally deleted it without reading it. I have no way of knowing who all the dealers are for Hallet Davis around the country. For that, you need to contact the distributor. You can find their website at http://www.namusic.com
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

#908640 - 04/01/03 11:29 PM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
ejks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 175
Loc: Land of Lincoln
WOW!! That teacher must have been one pompous a**!! I had no idea that a person could act so[fill in the blank]. The whole thing sounded like a nightmare. I appreciate you taking the time to explain. Extreme circumstances call for extreme measures?? WOW!! Although I am not certain what I would have done I understand a little better now.

As to the Hallet & Davis request I found two dealers near Chicago and neither of them had anything. Perfection Piano[/b] in Downers Grove and Piano Trends[/b] in Crystal Lake. I'm forwarding my previous e-mail[fyi]. No need to respond.
People will tell you they know what they like but what they really mean is they like what they know.

#908641 - 04/02/03 12:58 AM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
.rvaga* Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 2046
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Well, time to come back and disagree with 'ol Larry. . .

Why not wait until you're ready to blow a gasket, and then politely say, "Lady, I've had enough. You may think you can fool people around you (including your student's parents), but you can't fool a fool, fool."

(or something like the above)

And then continue with:

I don't know how long you've been in the business, but I've been in it over 32 years, I have a master's degree in piano performance, I was a professional studio musician for many years as well, and I have worked with hundreds upon hundreds of teachers.[/b]
Then sit down at the piano, and demonstrate to her (and the student) what she thinks or pretends she hears, and ask if anyone else hears what she's talking about.

You get the idea, I'm sure. Frankly, I'd bet you have also tried the above over the years. . .

OK. . . OK. . . OK. . . I've got it!!

Do you know where the pressure point is on the arms, located on the bone between the bicept and tricept?

What you do, is place your big paw on her arm, and squeeze with your fingertips. When she starts to change color, you look at her with a smile, and say, "doesn't the piano sound wonderful now?" and whisper -- "i know where you live..."

She'll gasp and stutter,"Y-Yes, it's per-r-fect now Larry."

Done deal, everyone's happy.


#908642 - 04/02/03 01:29 AM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

#908643 - 04/02/03 02:24 AM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3684
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
I have had to deal with piano teachers that to one degree or another resembled the one Larry described, and it is exasperating when the person who is the most influential in the piano buying process creates obstacles to what might have otherwise been a successful pairing of piano and pianist. The teacher (or tech,or brother in-law, etc.)is complicating the process under the guise of protecting the purchaser from their own ignorance or inability to make an informed decision, when somebody should be protecting the purchaser from the ignorant and self important "expert". It is frustrating that much genuine effort and energy that was expended working with the client and creating trust can be shot to hell by this "expert" .
The other side of this coin is that the ignorant, self-important teacher will recommend one of your pianos over a worthy competitor's piano for reasons that have nothing to do with the merits of either piano, the student's needs etc.

The overwhelming majority of piano teachers that I work with are extremely helpful to their students in the piano buying process. Especially the teachers that play at a high level. I have had many situations in which the client wanted to buy a piano that was obviously not the best for their situation, but they wanted to have their teacher come in "just to make sure." The teacher would then come in, and because of their credibility, force their student to make a better choice.
My company has made some of its biggest growth in meeting the valid criteria of some hyper critical and difficult piano teachers who we might have initially dismissed, usually because of communication problems (on both sides).
Keith D Kerman
Rebuilding & Sales - vintage and used Steinway, Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin
check out www.sitkadoc.com
www.twitter.com/pianocraft https://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

#908644 - 04/02/03 08:39 AM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Hi, Mystic:

Thx for the response about the teachers expecting kickbacks. I'd never heard of that; my teacher readily admitted that I'd be the best person to pick out my piano, since I would be the one playing it. (Great teacher, too bad she's retired!)

Perhaps they should create a new signature line: "professional teaching weasel."


#908645 - 04/02/03 11:48 AM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
Jim Volk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 916
Loc: Jacksonville, Florida
Jolly, I'd particularly like to hear Larry's and Luke's Dad's ideas on that question,
Do Boston pianos, specifically the grands, have more potential than the Kawai RX series?[/b]
...we have customers bring up that very question on occasion.

Nina, we do have teachers we give a commission to, and it undoubtedly encourages them to bring students to our store, rather than our competitors. But from what I've learned from them, they have other compelling reasons, too...not just because they're weasels.

For one thing, as you know, in sales we often say, A salesperson is selling...himself! (Or herself).

This should be common knowledge, but here in NE Florida we've heard amazing stories of local piano salespeople who make wild and outrageous claims, harrass customers at home, pressure them to buy with scare tactics or misinformation, or play ridiculous "discount" games; or, who demonstrate such a pompous, know-it-all, condescending attitude to the customer that they leave feeling as if they've been insulted. This behavior doen't go unnoticed by local teachers.

So I know for a fact that teachers bring students in, or simply refer them to us, because their students are trusting them to help them avoid an unpleasant experience with an aggressive or deceptive salesperson. They know we'll try to educate them, sell them what best meets their needs at a fair price, and follow up with good service down the road.

I'm not boasting by any means, just saying that this is what every salesperson should be doing-- helping customers make the right decision. As a matter of gratitude, we're happy to take a small percentage of our profit and give it to the teacher, for their part in helping make the sale.

As Larry notes, some teachers are more ignorant than others, and sometimes you just feel like popping off and disagreeing with them. But I feel it's not really a moral issue. The teacher was ASKED for her opinion and guidance (always arbitrary to some degree anyway), and she gave it. No one is forced to seek advice from only one person, and most people are not so naive as to believe that their teacher is the most, or only qualified person to do so.

And if there is any discontent with a purchase later on, we have a generous trade-in policy to help solve that problem. Again, I don't think the referral process is a moral issue, unless someone is actively misleading the customer, or misrepresenting merchandise.

Jim Volk

#908646 - 04/03/03 05:14 PM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
Michael P. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/02
Posts: 24
Loc: Long Beach, CA
Originally posted by Larry:

I solved the problem. I fabricated a Kimball fallboard ...[/b]
Questionable tactics, yes....but BRILLIANT!!!

At some point you just have to say, "Enough! It would be better if you left and tortured someone else."

Great post.

#908647 - 04/03/03 11:38 PM Re: Kawai vs. Boston
KawaiDon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1320
Loc: Orange County, CA
Hey all,

I'd like to offer my response to some of these points:

Originally posted by Luke's Dad:

The most obvious difference is the square tail soundboard on the Boston series. I'm sure many of you have heard some salespeople go on about this ad nauseum, and while it does make for a slightly bigger soundboard; the important part about the design (according to a technician and designer I trust) is that it helps center the bridge a little more evenly.[/b]
Have you ever measured the treble bridge and checked to see if it is centered? You will find that it is way off center in the Boston pianos. In Steinway pianos the treble bridge is properly centered in the narrower case. This is true in the Kawai RX pianos as well. It is my impression that the wide Boston tails were designed for large soundboard area specifications rather than tone.

This is a complicated and not too scientific issue though. Note that the bass bridge at the upper end is farther from the rim on Boston pianos, but not at the lower end. This is true of all grand pianos to some degree, but much more so when the tail is very wide. Most piano designers would not agree with this design as being best for the tone. Some people might prefer it though.


Another difference is in the action. Not the ABS vs. wood debate, I think Kawai has done a great job proving the benefits of ABS; but in the design itself. The Boston action does use the same geometry as found in Steinways, this does allow for a slightly quicker repitition, and several more degrees of dynamic control.[/b]
If you actually measure the action geometry in Boston pianos, it is exactly the same as in the Kawai RX pianos. It is not the same as in Steinway pianos as far as I can tell. Key ratios, action spread, shank lengths, etc. The shape of the hammer flanges over the strange Boston action rail design is different from the Kawai, but this does not affect the geometry of the action or the performance.

Another difference IMO deals with the materials. Boston uses a slightly higher grade of spruce than most Kawais I've seen. Slightly closer grain pattern and slightly straighter grain. The felt seems a little more resilient as well.
As Larry mentioned, the soundboard materials used are the same between the Bostons and the RX grands. There are some different processes used in pressing hammers and such, with the RX hammers in the US being a softer felt. In Europe and Asia the RX hammers are quite a bit harder than in North America. This might explain why you don't feel the need to voice the Kawai RX pianos in the store.

As for which need voicing more often, I have no experience with Bostons over time. Maybe some other technicians can comment on their experiences there.

I hope this helps clarify things a little! \:D

Don Mannino RPT
Kawai America
Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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