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I would say it is not a new idea. Mozart wrote about how Johann Andreas Stein would put his soundboards out in the weather after he had assembled them, so that he could repair any cracks or other defects that showed up in them before he put them in his pianos.


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I don't think Kimball ever claimed that stress tests were either a new idea or that they were the first to implement them. But the name, "Mezo Thermo Stabilization" (or whatever), was new and it was marketable.

Often the name given to an idea, material, process or technique has more market valuable than the idea, material, process or technique itself.

ddf


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Originally Posted by Del
I don't think Kimball ever claimed that stress tests were either a new idea or that they were the first to implement them. But the name, "Mezo Thermo Stabilization" (or whatever), was new and it was marketable.

Often the name given to an idea, material, process or technique has more market valuable than the idea, material, process or technique itself.

ddf


A phenomenon that I have written about not too long ago!


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Del, you seriously must be a piano master. You know so much all of these things!
I'm guessing Wurlitzer Probably had fancy names for their otherwise basic piano designs too, eh? 'Pentagonal Soundboard.' Golly, let's buy that, folks!
I'm not really sure what that was supposed to even do. Sound cool and new, most likely.


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Originally Posted by WurliFan
I'm guessing Wurlitzer Probably had fancy names for their otherwise basic piano designs too, eh? 'Pentagonal Soundboard.' Golly, let's buy that, folks!
I'm not really sure what that was supposed to even do. Sound cool and new, most likely.

They did...and therein lies another tale.

Away back in the dark ages of the piano business it was thought that, by definition, larger soundboards were always superior to smaller soundboards. Wurlitzer had figured out a way to increase the overall size of the soundboard by extending roughly the left-hand (as facing the piano) half of the soundboard up into some of the area normally occupied by the pinblock. (It’s easier to sketch than to describe.) This gave the soundboard panel five straight sides; hence, “pentagonal.”

Sometime during the late 1960s or early 1970s Wurlitzer hired my old friend, Lew Herwig. Lew started his career as a piano rebuilder and had learned a thing or two about soundboard systems. He thought the idea of both the “pentagonal soundboard” and the claim to “largest soundboard of any piano in its class” were both pure poppycock. So he designed a new soundboard system that used a significant cutoff bar. He made this cutoff bar straight so the company could still legitimately call it “pentagonal”—it still had five straight sides—but it would no longer be the largest soundboard in its class.

As I heard the tale a relatively large sample run—six or twelve pianos—was built using the new soundboard design. All had the same cabinet style and finish. They were placed in a room along with an equal number of similar pianos using the original soundboard design. The results were conclusive; the pianos with the new soundboard design definitely sounded better. That they were also less expensive and provided better tuning stability were side benefits. But the company declined to make the switch; they had too much of their marketing credibility invested in the “largest soundboard of any piano in its class” idea.

Ultimately they did make some changes to the soundboard designs in their pianos but it was never to the design they had proven to themselves produced the best performance.

ddf


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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Introducing The New & Improved Sonoriaganza by Heaven Harp, Inc.

Don't let the 4'-3" diminutive size fool you. With the addition of our Miraculous Divination Enhancer (patent pending), you shall experience the Voice of God as if spoken through a 9' Concert Piano.

Matching fainting couch, and smelling salts available through your local dealer.


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Here's another one rolling on the floor.


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Somewhere I read about the accelerated aging of wood with RF.
A long time ago, it might have been for piano sound boards, or violin plates, perhaps guitar tops.
I honestly am not remembering if it was part of an ad campaign or not, but I seem to remember that it was supposed to produce tone wood that was "indistinguishable" from that found in instruments from 18th and 17th centuries - according to the exposure.


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The Dirty tricks of piano sales people is almost worse than the typical used cars salemen! There is NOTHING they won't say and no lie they won't tell to sell a stupid piano! It's ashame.


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I have been tuning a very long time(over 30 years). I wish I had a nickle for every time some customer told me that the sales person who sold them the piano told them their piano was designed or made by Steinway!


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Originally Posted by Gary Fowler
The Dirty tricks of piano sales people is almost worse than the typical used cars salemen! There is NOTHING they won't say and no lie they won't tell to sell a stupid piano! It's ashame.

While in some cases I agree with you it is not always the dealer or the salesperson at fault.

Many years ago in a galaxy far away when our girls were considerably younger than they are now, my wife and I were looking for a piano teacher for them. Through an acquaintance we learned of one teacher who lived and worked nearby. We made an appointment to see her and try to determine if she and our girls would be compatible. I also wanted to see what condition her piano was in -- I've always thought that was a good first clue. I didn't care so much what kind of piano it was but I wanted to know it was being cared for.

The piano, as it turned out, was a roughly five year old Yamaha studio of some kind. It was one of the most hideous sounding pianos I've ever encountered in a teacher's studio. On questioning she rather smugly informed me that, "It is a Yamaha, they never need tuning." She insisted that the salesperson had told her that and she believed it even though the pitch was at least a half-step flat and was so badly out of tune with itself that it was painful to listen to.

Now, I knew the dealer who sold the piano. And I knew that he would never tell a customer anything like that. I also knew that if he caught any salesperson ever telling a potential customer anything like that they'd be fired on the spot.

I followed up by asking him about the situation the next time I was in that store (the local PTG chapter periodically held its monthly meetings in their shop) and he checked the store's records, found the salesperson involved and tried to figure out what had happened. The salesperson was an honest person; and aggressive salesperson to be sure, but honest. I later learned that the salesperson called the teacher and tried to figure out where she got that notion that Yamaha's never needed tuning but I don't know that it was ever resolved. For all I know the piano still hasn't been tuned. Needless to say our girls took lessons elsewhere.

ddf


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One salesman told a shopper his previous salesman had died, trying to poach the sale. Imagine the shopper's surprise when his previous salesman walked in, a few minutes later, returning from lunch!



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Del, your story about the piano teacher reminded me of a few years ago when I was looking at various Hamiltons around town.
I saw one advertised on Craigslist northeast of me (between Lakeside and Alpine) for somewhere around free to $100.
I found the piano to be playable, but didn't quite have that sound I was looking for that a lot of Hamiltons have. Also there was a pretty big gouge out of one corner of it, too.
They told me the wife was a piano teacher, and they were getting rid of the Baldwin to replace it with another piano they had.
So, they took me to see it -- and there, out in the yard under a tarp, was a barely-playable and hideously out-of-tune Story & Clark spinet! shocked
Not to mention, the house was a disaster zone of an obstacle course.
Needless to say, I didn't buy the piano. In hindsight I probably should have told them to keep the Hamilton and scrap the Story & Clark.

I did subsequently get a 1956 Hamilton from another teacher, though, and I believe this piano was very well cared for. smile (It's more mellow than I would have preferred, although it seems to suit some music I play well enough, and I thought it was pretty decent anyway.) Here are a couple youtube videos I've posted with it...
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pz9S_wiGGQ8
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qI9yK_lS4-0
Is anyone still around who worked for Baldwin in th 1950s and 60s? (I've heard that Jim Coleman Sr. may have.) I'm wondering what their Hamiltons (and Acrosonics) from that era were like when they were new.


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As Del pointed out, people often hear what they want to hear.

It doesn't seem to be rare at all when a statement like "This is a well built piano and is know for its tuning stability" is heard as "This piano never needs to be tuned."

Sad, but true.


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Originally Posted by Del
While in some cases I agree with you it is not always the dealer or the salesperson at fault.


I interviewed with a regional Steinway dealership when I graduated from college, to work as a salesperson. They had, and still have, some great people working for them, both techs and (some of) the sales people. Naturally, they have great pianos. The CEO told me in the interview that sometimes you have to tell the customer a "story" about a piano in order to sell it. Since we knew the pianos were of high quality and the customer would always be happy with their instrument, some divergence from the truth in telling a "story" was acceptable, because we knew the customer would be happy with their purchase, and as such, the end justifies the means.

I am not comfortable with that, and needless to say, I am not in piano sales. I know not all companies are like that, but at least in the larger dealerships, it seems to be the modus operandi. The problem comes when customers latch onto a specific statement or "story" told by a sales person.

I'm not really complaining or castigating anyone, just observing. It is the way it is, and it's probably not going to change. It is certainly not unique to the piano industry, as many have already observed. The responsibility is ultimately on the customer to research the information and claims made by any sales department.

Last edited by BenP; 01/09/14 11:30 AM.

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Very interesting anecdote Del. The most worrying and disgraceful aspect of course, is that this purported teacher could not TELL for herself that the piano needed tuning. Some preceptress, some shaper of young minds.....

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Originally Posted by David Boyce
Very interesting anecdote Del. The most worrying and disgraceful aspect of course, is that this purported teacher could not TELL for herself that the piano needed tuning. Some preceptress, some shaper of young minds.....

...and that was why our girls ended up elsewhere. She really couldn't tell. I remember thinking at the time, " Would this woman entrust her daughter to a driving instructor who couldn't tell that the right front tire was blown?"

ddf


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Unfortunately, this is the standard of teaching in this country. A while ago, I tuned a Bösendorfer for a Juilliard piano graduate, which sounded awful. It needed to be voiced, but she had never been taught anything about the maintenance of her instrument. I cannot imagine that string or wind players would know as little about their instruments as is taught piano students at one of the most prestigious schools in the country.


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BDB, this is why so many classical enthusiasts believe things like Bach composed his "keyboard works" for the (modern) piano.


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I think that is a different issue altogether. A flutist may not know that in Bach's day, a flute would have been made of wood, but is still more likely to know the maintenance that is required for a modern flute.


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One thing that bothers me about the piano industry is the buying and selling of piano brand names. It seems it's gotten to the point that there are certain brands that it's very hard to actually determine who made the piano. For instance I service a Wurlitzer Baby Grand at a church which was made by Baldwin. I had a friend that was wanting to get a Chickering, but the one she was looking was made by Baldwin. There are Whitney's that were made by Kimball and I don't even know how many different names the Samick Coporation now sells. Then even when they use the same name brand but maybe made somewhere else. Take the new Yamaha in one of the churches I service... It was made in Indonesia.

Madness I say... madness! LOL


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