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Estonia Pianos
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#1802119 12/07/11 04:27 PM
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All,
First post here. I am a 39 year-old "former" pianist who is trying to get back into playing after years and years. My 6 year-old daughter is showing the type of intensity I had when I was growing up, and that has inspired me to return to playing.

Having said that, I have the same 1977 Baldwin spinet piano that I grew up on. While somewhat nostalgic, I am looking into purchasing a new grand. I have narrowed my choices to the Petrof IV (5'8") and the Estonia "Hidden Beauty" 168. I have received quotes of just under $30k for each of them.

I'm leaning toward the Estonia, as I like the touch and tone of this piano just a bit more than the Petrof. I'd be interested in finding out if anyone thinks I can "haggle" the price down even more. In addition, would love to hear your thoughts on these piano makers. I know both of them fall into the second tier of performance pianos in Larry Fine's book, but would love to hear your personal opinions.

Thank you,
Ryan Sullivan

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They are both good, but the Estonia is the better buy on this one. Those hidden beauties are nice too.


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It sounds like you've made your choice based on touch and tone. We have been dealers for both of these brands and I have to tell you that either will perform.

Although we have not carried new Petrof for over a decade, it has been offered to us several times since we parted ways around 2000. We decided each of those times to stick with Estonia in this price point.

Your mileage may vary.

Good luck with your final decision.


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Originally Posted by Ryan Sullivan
[font:Verdana]All,
I'm leaning toward the Estonia, as I like the touch and tone of this piano just a bit more than the Petrof. I'd be interested in finding out if anyone thinks I can "haggle" the price down even more.


Let me put it this way. I have no idea how far either retailer you are dealing with will bend, but certainly if you shop far and wide you should be able to do better. Despite its huge popularity on PW, the sales market for Estonia pianos isn't that firm, and Petrof still operates at a big disadvantage in the US because of pricing itself completely out of its traditional market niche a few years ago and losing most of its retailer network in the process. If you check used prices on craigslist or pianomart.com for either of these pianos, I think that you will find that used prices are not that firm either.

I'm curious about your description of the Petrof as a P IV. These days the company has renamed that piano Petrof 173 Breeze. If that P IV is not a Breeze and is in fact old new stock, then that asking price needs a big haircut. Try to find out the date of manufacture on both of these pianos.

Quote
In addition, would love to hear your thoughts on these piano makers. I know both of them fall into the second tier of performance pianos in Larry Fine's book, but would love to hear your personal opinions.


That 'tier' is home to most pianos of Eastern European manufacture. I wouldn't get too swept up in the rankings thing. It's as much about market niches as it is about piano quality. Tone-wise these two have quite a bit in common (as I'm sure you've noticed). The Petrof has an abrupt transition to the upper treble. The Estonia is smoother. Estonia's Renner action is not the world's most responsive Renner action, but it is a Renner action and a step up from Petrof's standard action in terms of consistency from sample to sample. Personally I find the Estonia's sweetness and long sustain a bit overbearing, but maybe I'm in the minority with that opinion.

If I were in your shoes, I'd probably try to get a price quote from Jimlaabs on either of these pianos to use as leverage in bargaining. Jimlaabs is not noted for extensive prep, but they run a volume business and their approach to pricing is pretty aggressive.

If you preferred the Petrof, I'd tell you to contact Steve Cohen. I think he's got an old new P IV Chippendate in his stock collecting dust, and he could probably be persuaded to part with it at a very competitive price. However, you really shouldn't go against your own instincts in choosing between these two. As the two retailer getns who responded have indicated, they're both good enough pianos. but the one you like better is always better.


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What "Tier" do these pianos supposedly share?

The current rankings place these brands in different categories. The Estonia is considered "High Quality", while the Petrof is considered "Good Quality" - big difference:

http://www.pianobuyer.com/fall11/44.html

Having had both brands in my showroom, I think there is a substantial and noticeable difference between the two in both tone and touch, and a reason for Larry Fine's ratings.

Thanks,

Nick


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Tur:

Since you are man of deep knowledge,could indicate how you arrived at the following:

1] Despite its huge popularity on PW, the sales market for Estonia pianos isn't that firm,

2] Estonia's Renner action is not the world's most responsive Renner action,

I'm not "challenging" you here but would appreciate your advanced knowledge about this.

P.S. My advice to OP: buy the piano you like better: tone & touch, looks and 'investment'

Both very nice pianos!

Norbert smile

Last edited by Norbert; 12/08/11 01:23 AM.

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Apparently there is more opinion than knowledge going on around here!


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Gee! A post sandwich from the brotherhood of Hailun/Estonia. A little ruffled plumage from Nobert served up between two slices of Nick's standard sourdough. So this is what an 'education' from Nick and Norb is all about. grin

You guys are too obvious.

Quote
1] Despite its huge popularity on PW, the sales market for Estonia pianos isn't that firm,


That is correct. The OP can check it out and report back if he can't do better. I did not advise him to check the Surrey, B.C. prices in Canadian dollars. I don't think that would be worth his time because it's a different market. But since Nick seems to be an interested party, he could dial up Nick. No harm in trying.

The guy is interested in getting a lower price. I wouldn't expect an Estonia retailer to encourage him on the open forum to pursue that. It would be counter-productive to retailer interests in establishing a price floor. I understand that, no problem. It wouldn't surprise me if he got a PM quote from another retailer just by inquiring here though. There are precedents for that sort of thing.


Quote
2] Estonia's Renner action is not the world's most responsive Renner action,


Right. If you have a Sauter Omega in stock, check it out for yourself. If not, visit a dealer of authentic German pianos that have Renner parts that somehow work out to be more responsive to the player's intent.

Again, you guys are too much, especially as a tag team.

Quote
Both very nice pianos!


This is true, but if the OP likes the Estonia more, that's the direction he should go. Since he OP wants the best possible price, he should see what he can do for himself. It's not the consumer's job to save the piano retail industry from itself.


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Originally Posted by turandot

That 'tier' is home to most pianos of Eastern European manufacture.



Turandot,

Other dealers chimed in here too, but it was before your standard sourdough.

I simply wished to correct some wrong information in your post. The first is quoted above. And there were 2 more things I would not agree with and that are pure speculation on your part.

Estonia is listed among other high quality pianos such as Steinway NY, Mason & Hamlin, Shigeru, and several German makers, but none other from Eastern Europe as you refer.

No, Estonia has risen above that. One key reason for the distinction is the full Renner action you also demoted. As a result, the market for Estonias is not soft as you further speculated.

That being said, I am all for getting the best deal you can. But don't try to paint a picture that doesn't exist.


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The composure that people like Norbert and Nick demonstrate in the face of insults is commendable!

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I was comparing these pianos a few years ago when I was in the market. I found the Petrofs to have a nice tone and playability but the Estonias had much more power. Of course once I decided on the L168, my budget continued to creep up and I ended up with the L190!


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Go Estonia.. what a piano.. !the Petrofs are nice but are so variable.. not wishing really to say any thing negative.. The first I tried was so awesome and then the next few were pretty normal.


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Originally Posted by Nick Mauel
Originally Posted by turandot

That 'tier' is home to most pianos of Eastern European manufacture.



Turandot,

Other dealers chimed in here too, but it was before your standard sourdough.

I simply wished to correct some wrong information in your post. The first is quoted above. And there were 2 more things I would not agree with and that are pure speculation on your part.

Estonia is listed among other high quality pianos such as Steinway NY, Mason & Hamlin, Shigeru, and several German makers, but none other from Eastern Europe as you refer.

No, Estonia has risen above that. One key reason for the distinction is the full Renner action you also demoted. As a result, the market for Estonias is not soft as you further speculated.

That being said, I am all for getting the best deal you can. But don't try to paint a picture that doesn't exist.


Nick,

The sandwich reference was based on the fact that three posts from you and Norbert took issue with my post in rapid succession -- my post being one which in reality gave the edge to the brand you both represent. Regardless of what you and Norbert might feel, this forum is not Dealer World and consumers are entitled to an opinion.

My comment about "an education from Nick and Norb" referred to this statement made a couple of days ago in response to a thread which Norbert opened to congratulate himself on liking some brands other than those he represents.

Originally Posted by Nick Mauel
Excellent points!

What others have labeled as hyping I view as you educating.

I think you have made some excellent findings in the world of pianos, and are well qualified to do so. Having also examined and now representing some of the same brands as you, I find you to be correct about this industry and have appreciated your vision. There is so much to discover right now in the world of pianos.

Thank you, Norbert.


This comment made me wince. I do not feel that Norbert educates in any recognized sense of that word. My opinion is that he uses every opportunity he can find in this forum to serve his own interests, nothing more than that. That is only my opinion, but it is my honest opinion.

You are a piano technician with a lot of experience that includes concert prep. I wish you you would be your own man and speak with your own voice (as you occasionally have). You've heard that from me before so it should come as no shock.

If the OP has misunderstood Fine's categories, I respect completely your right to correct the information he presented. My own statement was that he should not get to swept up in tiers because most East European pianos find a home in the same category.

If Estonia is positioned higher at this point by Mr. Fine, (in your words --"risen above the others", then that is a sales point in its favor. Since Mr. Fine bases his opinions partly on reports of a selected group of technicians,it makes sense that Estonia should have an advantage over Petrof in that Petrof's consistency is not the greatest and action problems that beset some Petrofs are not easy to resolve. I did not "demote" the Estonia action. I wrote that it was a step up from Petrof's standard action. As player I do not feel that it performs as well as some Renner-based actions in other pianos. That is my opinion. Perhaps yours is different. If you think the Renner that is installed in Estonia is as responsive as the Renner in any other piano, you should state that.

I do have a problem with your statement that you have both of these pianos on the floor. Whereas Rich Galassini makes it very clear that he has not represented Petrof in more than a decade, the casual reader would interpret your comment to mean that you are in a position to rate each of these pianos objectively. You and I both know the extent of your experience with Petrof because of certain comments you made to me. I think in fairness you should post that while you have chosen to represent Estonia, you happen to have a used Petrof on the floor and do not have extensive experience with Petrof pianos.

A while back in commenting on a Brodmann piano that you had recorded to publicize on your website, a brand which you represented, you stated here on PW that it sounded better than a Kawai RX and a Mason and Hamlin. At that time you represented neither Kawai nor Mason and Hamlin. You had used samples of each on the floor. In my opinion, comparisons such as these are subject to dealer bias and judgments made based on a compairson of new samples of piano brands you represent against used samples of other brands you do not represent are meaningless. I would add that your web site does not madke clear at all what you represent and what brands you don't represent.

Bottom line though, you and I both posted giving the advantage to Estonia, and you and I both feel that the consumer should seek out the best deal he can get.


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Tur:

For someone allegedly not being involved in the industry, your entire presence and time spent here is a total mystery to me.

While there are many aspects by which one can admire your obvious and even extended knowledge, you have a special, almost obsessive penchant to constantly be king of the hill and win each and every every argument.

This is shown in cases where someone challenges you head on being next addressed belatedly as "Mister" or "dude"

For your information, both Dara and me for example have real names here, as opposed to yourself...

Another is to stay away from those assumptions or allegations which are factually wrong and have no base of possible personal konwlege to them. The worst among them are outright vindictive with quite obvious malicious attempt.

Quote
I did not advise him to check the Surrey, B.C. prices in Canadian dollars. I don't think that would be worth his time because it's a different market.


How do you know this? Have you recently audited our books for "how much exactly" we are selling pianos here?

Quote
If you have a Sauter Omega in stock, check it out for yourself. If not, visit a dealer of authentic German pianos that have Renner parts that somehow work out to be more responsive to the player's intent.


False again. We do have Sauters and we have an Omega. Anybody knowing anything about pianos also knows that you can't compare a 7' grand's action with that one of somebody else's 6' grand. The better comparison would be a Sauter Omega to an Estonia 225, something I doubt you have done before..

Besides Estonia has a different ideal for "touch" than Sauter.

Often one piano is preferred over the other for this reason, sometimes not. It has nothing to do with "quality"

Quote
couple of days ago in response to a thread which Norbert opened to congratulate himself on liking some brands other than those he represents.


I did not "congratulate myself" and simply pointed out that there a a good number of other pianos I admire. There is a slight difference in admiring an object and admiring "oneself"

Quote
I do not feel that Norbert educates in any recognized sense of that word. My opinion is that he uses every opportunity he can find in this forum to serve his own interests, nothing more than that. That is only my opinion, but it is my honest opinion.


It's another one of your "opinions" not based on fact. Perhaps some here can testify that the pms I'm sending them is based on trying to offer real help.

To your possible surprise this has nothing to do of buying the brands we represent. Were you to ever shop me in person you would quickly learn that there is a diffference in "selling" and helping to find the most suitable piano for someone.

Of course we are very heartened to find and then provide a piano suiting a particular buyer's needs - hoping you won't hold against us....

This piano may very well be one we don't carry ourselves and we have a good number of people who wrote us a "Thank you" card later for being gracious and complimentary to others during their time of shopping.

However, since you have never shopped me in person, not expecting to receive such card from you any time soon...

Norbert cry

Last edited by Norbert; 12/08/11 01:47 PM.

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Originally Posted by turandot
[<snip> you happen to have a used Petrof on the floor
<snip> Kawai nor Mason and Hamlin. You had used samples of each on the floor. In my opinion, comparisons such as these are subject to dealer bias and judgments made based on a compairson of new samples of piano brands you represent against used samples of other brands you do not represent are meaningless.

Turandot, I agree with your observations regarding comparisons between new and used instruments. There are many things a dealer can do to put the used instrument they don't represent in a bad light. Also, generally used instruments are sold for a reason. It's entirely possible that the reason is that it was a lemon. In such a case the used instrument is itself not representative of the best of that brand nor even what is typical.


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Ryan

Instead of haggling for a lower price, in the 30k neighborhood I’d be looking at the 6 foot range, the Estonia 190 or Petrof Storm. As for value I’d take a look at the Schimmel 182. There’s a log jam of variety at the 30k level, and, of course, used pianos. I wouldn’t pay a premium for decoration or a strip of bubinga wood.

Despite Larry Fine’s warning not to “cling” to the latest ratings he’s spun and their lack of objectivity, folks can’t seem to stop themselves from using his loose guide to mentally pigeon hole brands to suit their needs.

As has been noted, there may be more variables in Petrof’s quality control vs. Estonia’s, I don’t know, there seems to be that perception, but many of these variables can be overcome by dealer prep.

As for prestige, if that is important to you, I’d put Estonia in the medium tier along with Petrof . . .

The important thing here is that no one has any idea, without playing and inspecting, the merits of these particular pianos (especially from a personal veiwpoint), and at this level of craftsmanship variables do exist. Whether the variables can be addressed to the players satisfaction is best left to player and tech.

If you’re interested in a popularity contest, on this forum at least, Estonia would win.

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Originally Posted by Mike Carr

The important thing here is that no one has any idea, without playing and inspecting, the merits of these particular pianos (especially from a personal veiwpoint), and at this level of craftsmanship variables do exist. Whether the variables can be addressed to the players satisfaction is best left to player and tech.


Very well-said, Mike. Can't agree more.


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Originally Posted by Norbert
your entire presence and time spent here is a total mystery to me.


I imagine that life is full of mysteries for you Norbert, but the OP's request for information and advice is striaghtforward. Make your sales pitch to him. I'm not in the market for a piano or for your pitch.

I gave the Estonia the clear edge in my post to the OP. If that's not good enough for you, then tough ........!


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Thanks for all the replies, folks. Amidst the "sandwiches" of insults, I think I obtained some pretty useful information! For the record, I'm going to negotiate pretty hard on the Estonia L168 - I would imagine there's plenty of room for the dealer to come down. I really like the piano, but I also value my bank account.

Cheers,
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Go with the Estonia over the Petrov. If you want to save money, do not buy the hidden beauty. It costs more without adding anything musically. Get a traditional ebony finish.

For $30K you might be able to get an Estonia 190!


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