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Posted By: Norbert Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/12/13 08:30 PM
While the discussion about "Chinese pianos" seems to be going on in North America, the Chinese themselves seem less confused by it.

At next NAMM show in January, one of the top Chinese makers plans to unveil a new 6'grand earmarked at $40,000 wholesale.

Associating themselves increasingly with the finer things in life, Chinese manufacturers no longer seem content identifying themselves simply with the "cheap and decent". For some merely alternative to the Japanese...

So did we underestimate all along what's going on or is this just another "pipe dream" by one of world's largest piano makers?

How would you react [emotionally] if and when Chinese made super pianos should enter the market - in earnest?

[Linked Image]


Norbert
Posted By: Bob Newbie Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/12/13 08:36 PM
I remember when people used that expression" I can get it for you wholesale" all the time!
ah those were the days... smile
Posted By: Gatsbee13 Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/12/13 09:25 PM
Kayserburg special edition grand?
Ellenberg
Posted By: Caowner2013 Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/12/13 09:37 PM
It is inevitable that the Chinese will take the mid to high-end route.

The days of barely surviving on cheap-labor contract-manufacturing are fast waning. While there will always be a few Asian companies who must start in that mold, the longer established ones are looking for new sustainable long term growth. To do that, they have to innovate and produce unique offerings, not just relying on old economics. Once they have the know-how, the money and the production capabilities, nothing can stop them.

Emotionally, I would be sad if the European and American piano makers (Walter?) remain oblivious to such threats from determined, aggressive and highly competent competitor; either due to ignorance or arrogance or both, and promptly lose the game. On the other hand, I would be happy to have more high quality but reasonable affordable choices. Suppose the Chinese can produce something as good as a Bosendorfer Imperial at 75% of the price? 50%? Steinway Model-B at similar discounts? Why not? The Japanese did it with their cars.

Posted By: BornInTheUSA Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/12/13 11:09 PM
I would only consider it it it came in pink and if they put the pianos next to a pink mini-Cooper instead of that tacky red Ferrari.
Posted By: Norbert Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming?? - 11/13/13 01:12 AM
Quote
Emotionally, I would be sad if the European and American piano makers (Walter?) remain oblivious to such threats from determined, aggressive and highly competent competitor; either due to ignorance or arrogance or both, and promptly lose the game.


Well taken.

Watch the new Baldwin grands coming on market as we speak.
They're already taken off where others would love to be *at*.

P.S. Fine pianos: who can blame these guys?

Norbert
Posted By: Swarth Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming?? - 11/13/13 05:37 AM
To be honest a piano, especially a higher end grand piano is much more than a musical instrument. It can be furniture, but most importantly it's a status symbol. In this realm it matters not how good the piano really is, and to be fair, at this level they should all be pretty close. I would imagine that the market for such products is "mature" with sales rather flat. Lets face it the world is mostly moving away from acoustic pianos for making music in households and most public places. The only really growth market for a new high end "status" piano would be....mmm let me think a second, CHINA! Status symbols are a big deal in China or at least to those I've met. I doubt if other high end makers are paying too much attention to this other than from the "how can we use this to sell more pianos in China?" standpoint.
Posted By: Jolly Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming?? - 11/13/13 10:22 AM
Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
Emotionally, I would be sad if the European and American piano makers (Walter?) remain oblivious to such threats from determined, aggressive and highly competent competitor; either due to ignorance or arrogance or both, and promptly lose the game.


Well taken.

Watch the new Baldwin grands coming on market as we speak.
They're already taken off where others would love to be *at*.

P.S. Fine pianos: who can blame these guys?

Norbert


It's just a shame they don't sound like the old Baldwins. Certainly in the ballpark, certainly "Baldwinesque", but not quite Baldwin.

I will say this...their build quality is very good, much better than the first Chinese Baldwins.

If you look at their price points, though, it appears to me they are placing themselves in competition with Hailun/Brodmann/Ritmuller, not with Yamaha's C series or the new Kawai grands.

OTOH, I think Yamaha and Kawai are pricing themselves out of a good deal of their former market.
Posted By: Gregor Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/13/13 10:27 AM
Originally Posted by Caowner2013
the longer established ones are looking for new sustainable long term growth. To do that, they have to innovate and produce unique offerings, not just relying on old economics. Once they have the know-how, the money and the production capabilities, nothing can stop them.


One drawback of all these Chinese companies is the know how of their workers. Better said: the lack of know how. They obviously have a high fluctuation of their staff and the workers know only little about what they are doing. They just work on one part of the piano without knowing the context. If they had started a good training 10 years ago, they would have well trained workers on master level now . But please don´t tell them cool
Posted By: bkw58 Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/13/13 01:28 PM
Originally Posted by Caowner2013
It is inevitable that the Chinese will take the mid to high-end route.

The days of barely surviving on cheap-labor contract-manufacturing are fast waning. While there will always be a few Asian companies who must start in that mold, the longer established ones are looking for new sustainable long term growth. To do that, they have to innovate and produce unique offerings, not just relying on old economics. Once they have the know-how, the money and the production capabilities, nothing can stop them.

Emotionally, I would be sad if the European and American piano makers (Walter?) remain oblivious to such threats from determined, aggressive and highly competent competitor; either due to ignorance or arrogance or both, and promptly lose the game. On the other hand, I would be happy to have more high quality but reasonable affordable choices. Suppose the Chinese can produce something as good as a Bosendorfer Imperial at 75% of the price? 50%? Steinway Model-B at similar discounts? Why not? The Japanese did it with their cars.



There is no doubt that with time and proper training, the requisite quality of workmanship has the potential equal the best. The problem for Pacific Rim piano makers is the increased costs they incur by moving into the requisite quality in materials. Price points increase significantly. Still, even with this, if labor costs can be managed, they can maintain an advantage.

It has already been demonstrated that American piano makers* cannot bring costs down while maintaining quality of material and workmanship. Several years ago, Baldwin had a great engineer design a grand piano - one that, if successful, would compete with lower cost Asian instruments. Other than MDF in the lid, the quality of material seemed okay. It was certainly no artist series grand, but I do not believe it was intended to be.

Though a very few of these managed to arrive at the showroom in good shape, most did not. Corporate rationale must have been to keep the cost down by fast-tracking the manufacturing process. (And, I understand, monkeying with the original engineering.) What else could explain the slipshod workmanship?

So, for the moment, time may indeed be on the side of Chinese piano makers. Where they go from here, time will answer.


[*That is, made in America]
Posted By: Caowner2013 Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/13/13 07:43 PM
Originally Posted by Gregor

One drawback of all these Chinese companies is the know how of their workers. Better said: the lack of know how. ... If they had started a good training 10 years ago, they would have well trained workers on master level now . But please don´t tell them cool


Ja! Ich sagt nichts! smile
I will say nothing!

Posted By: Caowner2013 Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/13/13 07:49 PM
Originally Posted by michaelh
I would only consider it it it came in pink and if they put the pianos next to a pink mini-Cooper instead of that tacky red Ferrari.


Pink Mini-cooper surrounded by tasteful presentation of wine choices? smile
Posted By: Norbert Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/13/13 08:46 PM
How would you deal with a German trained Chinese master craftsman who comes with highest credentials?

Several, including a number of Koreans, have already graduated with the coveted "Meister" title from a number of German companies including Hamburg Steinway.

Those who have, have received highest marks in final exams.

Ludwigsburg, Germany's most respected college for intrument making with graduating degree of "Meister" has several Chinese students and had already some graduates.

Also with high graduating marks. With several having returned to China.

http://www.ows-lb.de/index.php/berufsschule/musikinstrumentenbau

How many have we enrolled there ourselves? Or anywhere else?

Ask yourself...

Norbert
Posted By: Supply Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/13/13 10:31 PM
Originally Posted by Gregor
One drawback of all these Chinese companies is the know how of their workers. Better said: the lack of know how. They obviously have a high fluctuation of their staff and the workers know only little about what they are doing. They just work on one part of the piano without knowing the context. If they had started a good training 10 years ago, they would have well trained workers on master level now . But please don´t tell them cool

Too late.
Every year (for a well over a decade now) there are more and more Asians training in Germany, becoming piano makers and Master Craftsmen. The Chinese companies are hiring all kinds of top consultants from North America and Europe for piano design, manufacture, and also technical finishing (regulation, prep, voicing). They are learning all the tricks of the trade to build good pianos, and at a much faster pace than the Japanese did a number of decades ago.

As much as I admire the German piano industry, I think there is a lot of inherent hubris which could lead to a few painful and nasty surprises. Actually, it will simply be a continuation of the trend - Germany has already lost over half of its brands in the last few decades. Give the Asians another ten years....
Posted By: patH Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/13/13 10:46 PM
I have yet to encounter a Pearl River/Ritmüller/Kayserburg which I like to play. Spongy action, nondescript sound... with Hailun being only slightly better. China has a long way to go before reaching Japanese, European or American quality level. But with support from Europe, they will get there. Steinberg P: Best Chinese piano I played so far.

But it will take time. And I believe that it's too early for them to start selling pianos in the tier 1 or tier 2 range.
When it happens, hopefully Africa will be ready to play the part China plays today. Pianos with real ebony and ivory...
Posted By: Norbert Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/13/13 10:58 PM
Quote
I have yet to encounter a Pearl River/Ritmüller/Kayserburg which I like to play.


Guarantee you don't play the current models being UH uprights and GH grands. You most likely also didn't play the awesome new 7' semi-concert, personaly designed by Lothar Thomma.

The pianos are so good [sorry..] that Udo Steingraeber once asked me during my last visit to Bayreuth "why do we even bother building pianos in Germany?"

Outside German top grands, he seemed to concede fate is sealed.

Almost...

Norbert
Posted By: patH Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/13/13 11:20 PM
Originally Posted by Norbert
Guarantee you don't play the current models being UH uprights and GH grands. You most likely also didn't play the awesome new 7' semi-concert, personaly designed by Lothar Thomma.

I played the pianos on the picture, which looks like the Pearl River stand from the Musikmesse in Frankfurt. And the pianos there made me want to change Trabbi jokes to Pearl River jokes (Trabbi = car built in GDR; probably the worst German car ever built)

Why don't Pearl River pianos come in grey?
Because they would be confused with dustbins.

How can you double the value of a Pearl River?
Put a beer crate on it.

A piano delivery person parks in front of a Trabbi and unloads a Pearl River.
The Trabbi asks the Pearl River: "What the heck are you?"
The Pearl River replies: "A piano."
The Trabbi laughs: "If you are a piano then I am a car!"

(Note to those who don't know: The original joke goes like this.
A Trabbi drives into a ditch and lands next to a cow dropping.
The cow dropping asks: "What are you?"
The Trabbi replies: "A car".
The cow dropping laughs: "If you are a car then I am a pizza!")

NOTE: Pearl Rivers are not that bad. But I still don't consider them great. And the city that used to built Trabbis now builds Volkswagens. So: There's hope for Pearl River.
Posted By: Norbert Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/14/13 12:34 AM
patH:

If, as by your reasoning, Pearl River makes Trabbi-like pianos but is importing more German parts and components for their top line pianos than is used by all German makers combined, there must be some pretty lousy stuff coming from Germany parts makers indeed.

You still haven't answered if you actually know the UH uprights or GH grands I'm talking about.

Wouldn't be surprised theses pianos are not even available in Germany, not very interesting market for piano manufacturers these days..

Norbert

Posted By: Caowner2013 Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/14/13 02:31 AM
In many ways, the piano business has many similarities to high-tech business.

We have an army of Chinese students attending our Universities and at last look, Asian receiving advanced technical degrees (Master, Ph.D.) numbered more than native-born Americans. While young Americans are more interested in making a fast buck with little deep knowledge, the Asians are creating an "Army Corp" of advanced technical personnel.

Where I work, we have a group of very competent, very well-trained and very motivate engineers from Asia doing advanced work. These are graduates of Carneige-Melon, USC, UCB, Stanford, etc. Some are H-1's and plan to return to their home countries. We all know what that means.

While Asian piano Master Craftsmen are still few today, it is inevitable a number will return to become "Chief Designer" in one capacity or another and over time, in the next 5 to 10 years, they will create a corp of indigenous "Klavier Meister", so to speak, and begin to turn out fine instruments. As others are pointing out, that change is already happening.

As someone posted earlier, the only obstacles will be whether there is a large enough market to sustain this many brands.

As a total piano novice, I cannot begin to guess what will happen to Grotrian, Boesendorfer, C. Bechstein, Steingraeber, Seilers, Schimmel, Steinway, Mason & Hamlin and Charles Walter and some other brands that I cannot recall. Will they be relegated to the Museums of Germany and Austria and the US?

Time will tell.

On a ligher note, this brings back memories of a movie: "The Chinese (Russians) are Coming, The Chinese (Russians) are Coming".
Relative prosperity in the piano industry has always been linked to a growing middle class. The inexorable march of robotic work that is ever increasing and eliminating middle class jobs-is shifting markets everywhere. When our technology reaches the point where economy of scale is so reduced from the previous two centuries that new products can be made more or less custom for price-insensitive consumers-the middle class will be dead. When wealth creation is no longer dependent on making things for the middle class-the middle class is dead.

Discussing the future of the piano market without understanding the implications of robotic custom production and wealth aggregation is incomplete. All nations will be affected deeply.
Posted By: Plowboy Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/14/13 03:01 AM
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT

Discussing the future of the piano market without understanding the implications of robotic custom production and wealth aggregation is incomplete. All nations will be affected deeply.


Sooner or later the capitalists will realize they can only sell so much stuff to each other.
The small percentage of the worlds population that owns most of the capital will soon no longer need to sell things to the middle and lower classes to support the expansion of technology. Couple that with robotic defense and you can begin to glimpse a brave new world where the 200 million or so wealthiest people on the planet could see a much better future for humanity minus the lives of 4 billion poorer people.

Look at how the robots are now the majority of stock trades. How does an algorithm gain new information about market conditions? They are not self-learning yet that I am aware of- and if the do become that way they will bid up asset values in a way that allows the debt linked expansion of the money supply to fuel the bubble endlessly. The wealthy will be printing money for themselves that almost never trickles down to the rest of us.
Perhaps you should revise your sig...
Well, I don't need a signature line since I post under my real name. Are you suggesting I revise my tag line to "infinitely pessimistic"? Is that my "Terminal Degree"?
Posted By: Norbert Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/14/13 05:59 AM
Quote
As someone posted earlier, the only obstacles will be whether there is a large enough market to sustain this many brands.



Yes, in China itself.

Quote
I cannot begin to guess what will happen to Grotrian, Boesendorfer, C. Bechstein, Steingraeber, Seilers, Schimmel, Steinway, Mason & Hamlin and Charles Walter and some other brands that I cannot recall. Will they be relegated to the Museums of Germany and Austria and the US?



Not if they've taken the Chinese market seriously enough from the beginning. Ironically it's exactly makes like Steingraeber, Sauter, Grotrian and Foerster who decided to stay 100% German that are doing well today - with full order books.

To a large extent 'because' of China.

AS a German would perhaps say: "Others may hate you"

"But we can't afford to"

Norbert
Posted By: BornInTheUSA Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/14/13 06:57 AM
Re: Middle-class Robots.. laugh

The middle class is alive and well in the US, it just looks a bit different than the ones our grandparents saw. Instead of working at the GM factory they work at Google. It's really no different. I run a tech company and I think Americans need to change their mindset. Computer Science, sure it's not as easy as getting a psychology or business degree, but it isn't that hard. Americans just lack self-confidence in these subjects and some of us are a bit lazy. They think they can talk their way out of everything. Check out this article:
http://qz.com/139453/theres-one-key-difference-between-kids-who-excel-at-math-and-those-who-dont/ - it's all attitude and self-confidence.

Re automated hedge funds. A good friend of mine runs one. They don't base their trades on fundamentals, news, politics, wars, etc... Most of it's statistical arbitrage and when they have a good or bad month, they can't tell you why. So now you can sleep well tonight knowing a huge chunk of the world's money is managed this way smile

Oh yeah, re Chinese pianos. I might be due for a new piano in about 20 years so we'll see where they are then. If they can stay away from bad PR and clean up their image a bit, they might get their toe into the higher tier markets, and of course build nice pianos. I know some don't think that matters, but they're a minority. People definitely value good corporate citizens. And maybe a good first step is to stop hiring dealers to spam forums with their ads. Notice the other tier 2 & up guys don't do that.





Posted By: patH Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/14/13 09:05 AM
Originally Posted by Norbert
If, as by your reasoning, Pearl River makes Trabbi-like pianos but is importing more German parts and components for their top line pianos than is used by all German makers combined, there must be some pretty lousy stuff coming from Germany parts makers indeed.

Well, the Trabbi was made in Eastern Germany, so there...
But I believe that as cars, Trabbis were worse than Pearl Rivers as pianos. The "jokes" are just hyperboles. Not even that funny. I'm not a comedian. wink

Originally Posted by Norbert
You still haven't answered if you actually know the UH uprights or GH grands I'm talking about.

I don't know. I played a few notes on a Ritmuller 160, a Kayserburg upright, and various Pearl River models. The ones exhibited on the Frankfurt Musikmesse. And I don't know why a Ferrari was at the Pearl River stand.
Posted By: Del Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/14/13 04:37 PM
Originally Posted by patH
Well, the Trabbi was made in Eastern Germany, so there...
But I believe that as cars, Trabbis were worse than Pearl Rivers as pianos....

I'm not so sure about that. The early PR pianos were at least as close to the bottom of the barrel (as pianos go) and the Trabbi was (as cars go -- or not go, as the case may be).

The difference is that PR learned rapidly from their early mistakes and has been steadily improving.

ddf
Posted By: Norbert Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/14/13 05:17 PM
Quote
The difference is that PR learned rapidly from their early mistakes and has been steadily improving.



This is often pointed out but it says little about where we will be going. It reminds me a bit of where "Auto-Union" was at one time and where Audi is today..

If the rapid improvement by these makers is any indication, it is totally possible that the future will point to some pretty exceptional pianos.

Which would require some adjustment of thinking where we're really at today.

Let's wait to next Jan 2014 Anaheim show and see what a $ 40,000 Chinese 6' grand will look like. [wholsale!!]

Chances are, a lot of of people will stop by to have a peek.

Something tells me somehow that a lot will be at stake....

Norbert
Posted By: John Pels Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 12:33 PM
Norbert, I don't know exactly where you were going with the "Auto Union" thing. I know at one time they had quite a fantastic reputation competing with Benz in the pre-war years and having a fantastic racing team as well. I bought a bunch of Audis 100LS's and other upscale models through the mid 90's and all I could conclude was that they were in a perpetual slide since acquisition by VW. I got rid of my German cars and also got rid of my towing policies and never looked back. Even my British cars have proven more reliable, moreso than my wife's SLK Benz, so where exactly were you going with this train of thought?? In order for Chinese products to command princely sums, there must be a public perception of Chinese goods in general of having high quality. The Japanese have done a fabulous job of cultivating this as a cultural phenomenon. Whether the Chinese decide to do this is another matter entirely. Until they do, that $40K 6 footer will become the "nail down" in the showroom.
Posted By: jim ialeggio Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 02:44 PM
Originally Posted by Norbert

If the rapid improvement by these makers is any indication, it is totally possible that the future will point to some pretty exceptional pianos.

Which would require some adjustment of thinking where we're really at today.


I'm not sure where you are going with this thread...

From a rebuilder's perspective, seeing Chinese pianos appear in the $40K department is great news. Not only can the best of us (rebuilders) compete with this, we can turn out instruments that are actually made of wood (instead of MDF/coated with plastic), that are incredible custom instruments, for a bit less than 40K. We can do it locally, with materials grown and produced in this country. We can do this by offering clients a way around the hype of the showroom floor. We can do this competing, at this price on price alone. But once we are on a level playing field we offer way more than price comparison...we offer the necessary long term relationship with the artisan/designer who created the instrument, and we offer a real connection to both the client relationship and the piano...one can't ship this in a container from the East.

Higher priced Chinese products mean that the only advantage that anything coming from China has, which is price point, has been voluntarily relinquished...bad idea China...at least outside of China.

None of my clients who own Chinese instruments have any personal or emotional or financial commitment to these instruments...they just buy them because they are cheap. If anything they are a stepping stone to an instrument they can imagine having some personal connection to. Though, to a person, they are frustrated with their Chinese pianos, they resolutely cannot imagine actually spending money on them to finish building them, and or correct gross fabrication blow-outs, because why would you put any more money into something that has no value.

If the Chinese get to a point where they are producing good instruments at prices competitive with the larger market place, it means the skewed playing field has been leveled. This is great news for all of us in the developed world.

Further, you look at current demographic and monetary conditions within China and project those conditions as if they will remain constant in the next ten years...ha...good luck...thank goodness for the internet. Educated and internet savvy young will not put up with what their parents put up with, much like the children of immigrant parents in this country.

Look at the Chinese demographics and current societal trends. The young are not, to their elder's dismay, following in the workaholic-for-the-fatherland mind set...thank goodness...and are just as interested in having an enjoyable, fun, non-indentured servant life as the rest of the developed world's young.

Bring on the higher priced, better products China...it is good for the whole developed world.

Jim Ialeggio
Posted By: Plowboy Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 03:59 PM
Originally Posted by John Pels
I got rid of my German cars and also got rid of my towing policies and never looked back. Even my British cars have proven more reliable...


Ouch! That hurts!
Posted By: Jolly Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 04:28 PM
Quote
None of my clients who own Chinese instruments have any personal or emotional or financial commitment to these instruments...they just buy them because they are cheap. If anything they are a stepping stone to an instrument they can imagine having some personal connection to. Though, to a person, they are frustrated with their Chinese pianos, they resolutely cannot imagine actually spending money on them to finish building them, and or correct gross fabrication blow-outs, because why would you put any more money into something that has no value.


Gee, the folks that played my little Chinese grand either didn't know what they were doing or just weren't very good pianists. Most thought it was a pretty decent little piano, especially when I told them what it cost.

OTOH, we don't play much classical, so I guess none of us would qualify as pianists. Piano players, probably. Pianists? Nah.

See, I think reasonable folks buy what they can afford. Sure, most of them would like a new Steinway, but they just don't have the fare. Therefore, they buy what they can buy, for the money they have.

In the past, a lot of Chinese pianos weren't very good, but some were OK. Now, most are OK, and some are pretty good.

In a contracting and possibly dying business (acoustic piano), I think we need all the players we can get...Even if they did learn, and God forbid form an emotional attachment, to their Chinese piano.
Posted By: Norbert Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 05:27 PM
There seems to be a widely shared underlying theme that we just don't feel comfortable with the Chinese forging into so much of our economic life.

I personally share this sentiment.

By same token it doesn't help when looking at the reality of things out there. Not my invention..

Anybody tossing out their I-phones or computers because of it?

Or "not" perhaps considering a piano with great American heritage like Baldwin?

A piano with great "brand equity" as Steve Cohen recently put it?

100% made in China.

We are where we are and the march seems to be going on.

Show me a viable alternative - without willing to pay the price - and I will start believing.

P.S. Also thinking the 40,000 Chinese "super-grand" will be nailed on floor - for a while..

Norbert
Posted By: Mark VC Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 05:58 PM
Does anyone know what percentage of Pearl River's pianos are sold in China? Because part of this story is surely the huge popularity of the piano as an instrument there.
Posted By: BornInTheUSA Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 06:24 PM
Originally Posted by Norbert
There seems to be a widely shared underlying theme that we just don't feel comfortable with the Chinese forging into so much of our economic life.

I personally share this sentiment.


You should be very comfortable with this as it's paying your bills smile Heck, if I were you, I'd be spamming forums with adverts. Oh wait, you're already doing that.

I don't agree with everything you said, but I do agree that Chinese pianos are probably a good solution for a the entry-mid level market, probably the most important part of the market. And I think it's generally a good thing to have as much quality at prices where more people can afford.

Here's where we differ. It sounds like the new Baldwin's are pretty nice, but I don't think they'll fool anyone into thinking they have much to do with the original Baldwin's. Even the Chinese Yamaha's had problems here and that's why they're discontinuing them. And I'm not even sure Baldwin such a hot brand anyway. If you're under 40, you probably grew up with some pretty bad Baldwin's which Yamaha & Kawai took advantage of. That was also the era where America in general was making garbage, and appealing to people too much older than that isn't going to help their business.

And stop comparing iPod's to pianos. They're nothing alike and the work that's being done in China is also totally different. A more fair comparison to a Chinese piano might be the Diamond Rio MP3 player.

But anyway, I think for people who just need a decent piano, possibly good pianos now but I haven't played one yet, for the kids to learn, can't spend tens of thousands, and don't really care about where it's made, status, etc...then the Chinese pianos should be good for them.

Posted By: jim ialeggio Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 06:50 PM
Originally Posted by Norbert
There seems to be a widely shared underlying theme that we just don't feel comfortable with the Chinese forging into so much of our economic life.


yeah...but you just morphed your question about a 40k Chinese piano into your usual generic chinese piano thread. ... lost focus?...looks like...

To repeat, my take is I welcome the Chinese as equals playing according to the same rules, and actually paying their employees something that resembles a developed world living wage. Until then, they are gutting the market with the express intent of putting the competition out of business.

Show me a 40K Chinese grand and I will welcome all that that means. But, owing to the name they have made for themselves, I too would expect it to provide fine ballast for a while.

Jim Ialeggio

Jim Ialeggio
Posted By: Grandman Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 09:34 PM
"I don't agree with everything you said, but I do agree that Chinese pianos are probably a good solution for a the entry-mid level market, probably the most important part of the market. And I think it's generally a good thing to have as much quality at prices where more people can afford."

I think the big mistake here is in lumping all Chinese pianos into a single category. Among makes, there are differences in quality and sound. And no, I don't agree that certain Chinese pianos are only appropriate for entry level players. Here is a guy who owns 2 Perzina grands and he is not what I would call an entry level player:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1zjhBSdie4&list=UUxgsLw65rrsHZoswN6TAAnw

And I disagree with Jim's post that one does not become emotionally attached to a piano made in China. Like Jolly, I love my piano. I chose to buy my piano over a Yamaha C and Kawai RX because of the difference I heard in the tone and saw in the build quality and attention to detail which I was able to judge without letting any preconceived biases get in the way. I believe I bought a better made and better sounding piano.
Posted By: patH Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 09:57 PM
Another thing about expensive pianos, that may have been mentioned already on this thread: They are not just music instruments but also status symbols. And I don't believe Chinese instruments are (yet).

In fact, three days ago was "Bad Pun Day", so I'll just say: If you believe Chinese instruments are status symbols, you are a high loon. wink

If we draw the parallel to cars: The Volkswagen Phaeton was probably not worse as a car than the Mercedes S class or the BMW 7, or the Audi A8. And yet, as I heard a reporter put so eloquently: Does anybody want to spend 100.000 $ on a Volkswagen? Not really.

In China, people may not be so brand focused; the Phaeton is doing well there. The question is: Will Chinese buy their pianos?
I don't know; but the piano market will be interesting to observe.
Posted By: schwammerl Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 10:06 PM
Quote
Does anyone know what percentage of Pearl River's pianos are sold in China?


"Pearl River .... It is the first Chinese piano manufacturer whose annual output and sales volume exceed 100,000, and its domestic market share remains at 20% or more. In 2014, when the investment project of the company is finished, its piano output and sales volume will climb to 160,000 units/year.."

In general...."In 2012, China’s piano output reached 379,746 units, accounting for 76.9% of the global piano output; in 2010-2012, the piano import volume surpassed the export volume in China, helping China be a leading piano importer in the world."

Global and China Piano Industry 2012-2013

schwammerl.
Posted By: BornInTheUSA Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/15/13 10:34 PM
Originally Posted by Grandman

I think the big mistake here is in lumping all Chinese pianos into a single category. Among makes, there are differences in quality and sound. And no, I don't agree that certain Chinese pianos are only appropriate for entry level players.


Of course, I'm generalizing. I'm referring to the majority of Chinese pianos that they're producing now and have been for years/decades. It's a slow turn-over industry so it takes a while for the older/entry level pianos to make their way out of the system.

I'd like to try some of these, but there isn't an approachable dealer in the SF/Oakland area. There are some in San Jose which I'll try to check out when I'm down there.


Originally Posted by jim ialeggio


To repeat, my take is I welcome the Chinese as equals playing according to the same rules, and actually paying their employees something that resembles a developed world living wage. Until then, they are gutting the market with the express intent of putting the competition out of business.

Jim Ialeggio


You mean like what we did in North America from say about 1800 until the 1920's in order to build the manufacturing empire that dominated the world for a while? With people/kids working in sweat shops for 18 hours per day without benefits or safety enforcement?

We cannot throw stones at others just because we did it first and "progressed" past that point.

Jonathan
Always amuses me when America complains about theft of intellectual property. Go back a bit in history and they paid no royalties on the likes of Gilbert & Sullivan.
Posted By: Supply Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 03:38 AM
Originally Posted by Grandman
Here is a guy who owns 2 Perzina grands and he is not what I would call an entry level player:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1zjhBSdie4&list=UUxgsLw65rrsHZoswN6TAAnw
The video, uploaded by "Feeburg Pianos" states: "Perzina grand pianos provided by Freeburg Pianos - Exclusive Perzina Dealer".
This is a promotional video by a dealer for his product. Most likely, the bank owns these pianos... wink

So what is your point?

PS: I would not judge a tone by the audio in a youtube video, and these pianos are no exception - the sound is strange. I would have to hear them in person or in a high quality recording.
Posted By: Supply Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 03:43 AM
Originally Posted by Jonathan Alford
We cannot throw stones at others just because we did it first and "progressed" past that point.Jonathan
By that logic we should not oppose oppression of women and minorities, slavery, genocide and many other very evil things anywhere in the world.
So we should applaud the Chinese for repeating the injustices in western history?
If a Chinese piano maker, (or any other maker for that matter), would set up independent testing of comparative durability, publish the results, and establish that their new $40K piano will outwear any other made-then they will be competitive.

No one has done comparative testing of piano durability.

I do know from my experience servicing pianos for over 40 years that the methods and materials I use in my rebuilds-make more durable and easier to maintain pianos than any maker of new pianos in the world.
Posted By: Grandman Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 04:23 AM
Originally Posted by Supply
Originally Posted by Grandman
Here is a guy who owns 2 Perzina grands and he is not what I would call an entry level player:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1zjhBSdie4&list=UUxgsLw65rrsHZoswN6TAAnw
The video, uploaded by "Feeburg Pianos" states: "Perzina grand pianos provided by Freeburg Pianos - Exclusive Perzina Dealer".
This is a promotional video by a dealer for his product. Most likely, the bank owns these pianos... wink

So what is your point?

PS: I would not judge a tone by the audio in a youtube video, and these pianos are no exception - the sound is strange. I would have to hear them in person or in a high quality recording.


Christopher Tavernier owns two Perzina grand pianos:

http://www.freeburgpianos.com/who-is-our-favorite-piano-prodigy/

If you read my response closely, my point is that certain Chinese made pianos are not "only appropriate" for entry level players. There seems to be an implication that every advanced player owns a so called tier 1 piano, which just isn't so. Moreover, there are differences among makes of Chinese pianos like any other country producing pianos.

Further, I know what a Perzina sounds like because I happen to own one. I chose to purchase it not because it was all I could afford, but because I was really impressed by it. It's funny how if a "non-tier 1" piano sounds great on youtube, somehow something must be flawed (the speakers, recording equipment, etc.) Yet others on these forums have posted video and recordings of artists playing tier 1 pianos as examples of their sound quality. Right now, its the best I can do for you. I can list a number of things about the Perzina build quality and sound that make it an impressive piano but that's the topic of another thread. And yes, some of us do love our Chinese made pianos. Nothing wrong with that. I don't feel like I've settled for anything. And oh, I don't work for Freeburg nor am I a dealer. I'm just a piano lover in Southern California, much too far away from them.
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 04:33 AM
Originally Posted by michaelh
I'd like to try some of these, but there isn't an approachable dealer in the SF/Oakland area. There are some in San Jose which I'll try to check out when I'm down there.

How about the shop that treated Steve Jobs fairly! wink
Posted By: Grandman Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 04:42 AM
Originally Posted by Supply
Originally Posted by Jonathan Alford
We cannot throw stones at others just because we did it first and "progressed" past that point.Jonathan
By that logic we should not oppose oppression of women and minorities, slavery, genocide and many other very evil things anywhere in the world.


Based on these series of videos, I don't see a stereotypical sweatshop. I see a modern facility using high tech equipment to produce their pianos in a humane manner.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dipxeDV2VW8&feature=c4-overview&list=UUAyApMsH3DslDtxdZrgnQng
Posted By: Supply Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 04:55 AM
I was not commenting on how brand X pianos are manufactured. I was commenting on the ridiculous sweeping statement made. Or maybe I should call it a dangerous and irresponsible attitude....
Posted By: BornInTheUSA Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 05:54 AM
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Originally Posted by michaelh
I'd like to try some of these, but there isn't an approachable dealer in the SF/Oakland area. There are some in San Jose which I'll try to check out when I'm down there.

How about the shop that treated Steve Jobs fairly! wink


Yep, like I said, "approachable." That shop doesn't exist to me.
Posted By: Eddyaknow Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 12:07 PM
Originally Posted by Supply
By that logic we should not oppose oppression of women and minorities, slavery, genocide and many other very evil things anywhere in the world.


Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
So we should applaud the Chinese for repeating the injustices in western history?


Yea easy to say from your high horse, how else do you want them to compete ? With the "fair and nice" rules you set up ? fairness is a privilege that comes with wealth and capitalism is evil in itself. The only reason you see what china does as injustice is because it is hurting and threatening you financially.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 12:16 PM
Originally Posted by Grandman
Originally Posted by Supply
Originally Posted by Grandman
Here is a guy who owns 2 Perzina grands and he is not what I would call an entry level player:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1zjhBSdie4&list=UUxgsLw65rrsHZoswN6TAAnw
The video, uploaded by "Feeburg Pianos" states: "Perzina grand pianos provided by Freeburg Pianos - Exclusive Perzina Dealer".
This is a promotional video by a dealer for his product. Most likely, the bank owns these pianos... wink

So what is your point?

PS: I would not judge a tone by the audio in a youtube video, and these pianos are no exception - the sound is strange. I would have to hear them in person or in a high quality recording.


Christopher Tavernier owns two Perzina grand pianos:

http://www.freeburgpianos.com/who-is-our-favorite-piano-prodigy/

If you read my response closely, my point is that certain Chinese made pianos are not "only appropriate" for entry level players. There seems to be an implication that every advanced player owns a so called tier 1 piano, which just isn't so. Moreover, there are differences among makes of Chinese pianos like any other country producing pianos.

Further, I know what a Perzina sounds like because I happen to own one. I chose to purchase it not because it was all I could afford, but because I was really impressed by it. It's funny how if a "non-tier 1" piano sounds great on youtube, somehow something must be flawed (the speakers, recording equipment, etc.) Yet others on these forums have posted video and recordings of artists playing tier 1 pianos as examples of their sound quality. Right now, its the best I can do for you. I can list a number of things about the Perzina build quality and sound that make it an impressive piano but that's the topic of another thread. And yes, some of us do love our Chinese made pianos. Nothing wrong with that. I don't feel like I've settled for anything. And oh, I don't work for Freeburg nor am I a dealer. I'm just a piano lover in Southern California, much too far away from them.


Predicting the future is always difficult and I'll leave that to others. Instead, I just wanted to mention that about 1 1/2 years ago I was in a neighbor's house and noticed a grand piano in his living room. It turned out to be a Perzina of about the size of a C3. I asked if I could play it for a few minutes and was more than astonished at how good it sounded. The action was a bit heavy, but the sound was simply amazing--better than most pianos of its size--even in comparison to some of the high-priced brands. I immediately tried to find a dealer in the greater Boston area, and was disappointed when I found none.
Posted By: Rickster Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 03:52 PM
Okay, folks, I'll admit that I've enjoyed reading this thread myself, though I don't have anything to add

Except... it seems to be heading into the realm of politics and ideology that does not best serve the forum. I hope this message serves as an appropriate warning. If not, well, you all know what happens next...

Rick
Posted By: BB Player Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 03:55 PM
Originally Posted by Eddyakmow
Originally Posted by Supply
By that logic we should not oppose oppression of women and minorities, slavery, genocide and many other very evil things anywhere in the world.


Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
So we should applaud the Chinese for repeating the injustices in western history?


Yea easy to say from your high horse, how else do you want them to compete ? With the "fair and nice" rules you set up ? fairness is a privilege that comes with wealth and capitalism is evil in itself. The only reason you see what china does as injustice is because it is hurting and threatening you financially.


How about if we leave the political aspects out of the discussion and restrict ourselves to discussing the pianos coming from China?
Posted By: Emissary52 Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 09:32 PM
I suspect that $40,000 Chinese pianos (or whatever their inflation-adjusted cost would be at that point) will be taken a lot more seriously, when China's GDP exceeds that of the US and we're relegated to being "Number 2" in the world.

Chinese pianos continue to improve year to year, and will continue to cannibalize sales at the lower end of the piano market, utilizing their increasing quality. At some point, the Chinese will be able to produce pianos that may rival or exceed the quality and sound - that those pricey German piano brands now possess. When that time arrives ...and if this forum is still around, I imagine there will be several threads lamenting the "demise" of these noble brands.

Chinese pianos sell well to those of us that might want a new instrument, but are simply not able to afford that new Steinway or many of the excellent Japanese or European brands. Not all of us can go schlepping endlessly around the country or world in search of that perfect "previously owned", "dream piano" at an affordable price. These pianos represent an acceptable compromise to many middle-class folks who would otherwise end up with a digital piano in its place.

I know there are many people on the forum that look askance at those of us who end up purchasing these pianos. But, in my case, I played (badly at the time!grin ) enough high-end instruments to get a feel for what I might be missing. Did the Steinway M that I played, sound better than my Ritmuller GH-170R? It sure did! But, to me, given my economic circumstances, it wasn't $55,000 better!

The Chinese piano brands supply a certain market segment just as the Japanese once did, and if they continue to go upscale, they will find resistance points that will begin to decrease as their "perceived quality" rises. I guess "Ming Vases" might have been relatively inexpensive at some point too! grin
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/16/13 11:59 PM
Originally Posted by michaelh
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Originally Posted by michaelh
I'd like to try some of these, but there isn't an approachable dealer in the SF/Oakland area. There are some in San Jose which I'll try to check out when I'm down there.

How about the shop that treated Steve Jobs fairly! wink


Yep, like I said, "approachable." That shop doesn't exist to me.

I have my doubts too. Not that the shop exists, but that Steve Jobs ever set foot in it… wink
Posted By: Norbert Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/17/13 12:54 AM
Quote

How about if we leave the political aspects out of the discussion and restrict ourselves to discussing the pianos coming from China?


That's what [most] customers are doing more and more every day.

Just sold 2 uprights that competed head-on with pianos twice, even three times the price.

Price was not the issue.

Norbert



Posted By: phacke Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/17/13 03:06 AM
Originally Posted by michaelh
I would only consider it it it came in pink and if they put the pianos next to a pink mini-Cooper instead of that tacky red Ferrari.


Agreed, 100%.

Does anybody else need any free marketing survey input around here?
Well, at $40,000 wholesale, that is going to bump it into some heavy duty competition.

I guess it's put up or shut up time for the Chinese builders. It's an attempted drop kick into 'artist level.'

As to who is building it - My guess would be Hailun.
Posted By: Norbert Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/17/13 03:56 AM
Quote
As to who is building it - My guess would be Hailun.


Guess again...

Norbert wink
Aha! The Chinese Industrial Complex!
A good piano at the appropriate price will sell no matter where it's made. I've played some pretty decent Chinese pianos and pretty rubbish ones, but I still don't fall in love with the tone of any of them. That might change though, when I hear what they sound like.

The piano actions are good but often the soundboard is mounted incorrectly and certain things are pushed along to look right or sound almost right, and things suffer five years down the line. For me, the great European and American pianos have still not been surpassed in terms of sound - not even by the excellent Shigeru Kawai or Yamaha CF- wonderful pianos but not quite there yet for my ears- although I accept, many disagree.

For me, it's a bit like hearing a wonderful conservatory graduate playing- it can be very beautiful and certainly accomplished, and you feel it lacks nothing. Then you hear Vladimir Horowitz shape a phrase and you feel exhilarated.
Posted By: sophial Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/21/13 06:56 PM
Well-stated, joe80!
Posted By: Newbie123 Re: Chinese pianos: next chapter coming - 11/21/13 08:11 PM
Originally Posted by Mark VC
Does anyone know what percentage of Pearl River's pianos are sold in China? Because part of this story is surely the huge popularity of the piano as an instrument there.

Total production by all piano makers in China was 380,000 in 2012, estimated to be 77% of the world's total output. Pearl River accounted for 129,000 of the total. Hailun has been anywhere from No. 5 to No. 7 over the last few years in terms of output, just north of 20,000 in 2012 - some of it was actually oursourced to other companies, as its production capacity was well below 20,000/year - 30% of its output was exported. Hailun just moved into a new factory last spring, once everything is up and running it is expected to reach a production capacity of 40,000/year.

Contrary to the misconception that pianos made in China are flooding the world market, the number of pianos exported reached its peak in 2005 and has been declining ever since. In 2005, 120,000 pianos were exported; in 2012, only 50,000 were shipped overseas (43,000 uprights and 7,000 grands), while 106,800 pianos were imported. For the first six months of 2013, total number of pianos exported declined further to 18,372 (15,323 uprights, 3,049 grands), the decline is particularly sharp for uprights (nearly 30% compared to the first six months of 2012).

The reality is that China is not only the largest market for new pianos today, but quite possibly the only growing one as well. It's a net importer, and buys up most pianos produced by the rest of the world.
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