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I saw this somewhere, maybe even on a discussion thread here. Someone said the piano is dying-out.

I'm not sure I can agree with this statement, as I love the instrument.
Perhaps with new technologies for making music, the musical palate has just been expanded.

Sure it's not the heyday of hundreds of various brands, makes, and models made in America, but pianos are still everywhere.
The big companies sure seem to sell a bunch, and then there's the small premium brands. They all seem to find a place to sell their product.

Churches, schools, concert halls, cruise ships, hotels, restaurants, even airports....they're everywhere.

What do you fine folks think? Is the piano an outdated instrument?


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My business as a piano tech is booming, with new customers calling daily. So in that sense, I wouldn't say it's "dying instrument." Although I must say that I wouldn't mind shooting some of those pianos myself...

I'm not sure what you mean by "outdated." If you mean compared to newer electronic instruments, all I can say is that electronic instruments tend to go obsolete pretty quickly while their acoustic relatives just keep on going.
The piano is a very versatile instrument with a huge repertoire. Don't count it out yet.

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The piano is not outdated. But the industry is.

All significant advances in pianos have been materials driven. By this I mean that certain musical and structural weaknesses have been solved by incorporating new materials or new advances in the quality of materials.

But since just after the end of WW2 the rate of new developments has almost ceased. And many details of newly produced pianos are often experienced by pianists as substandard to older pianos.

W,N&G actions are the most significant effort to incorporate new materials we have and they seem to be inspiring other efforts in the industry. So that is a plus.

One problem is the "standard" piano "thinking" or "modeling" is not robust. By this I mean if you expand the analogies and go further down the path they indicate, you will soon find out you are going the wrong direction.

Things like agraffe bridges, hard string terminations, and straight strung scales are examples of "wrong" direction.

The market for fine pianos in developed economies is becoming dominated by rebuilt grands.

The design aesthetic and specifications of most new pianos are now derivatives of German piano scale precepts. The design advances of American pianos have been ignored and or forgotten. Indeed many Asian pianists actually think Steinway is a German company now. The German design tends to be heavier and thicker than are the American or French design elements.

Indeed many pianists consider the ideal piano to be a perfectly rebuilt older one. The market equivalency to preferring a model T for a daily driver to a Tesla.

Indeed I see contemporary piano makers operating with almost a death wish.

The lack of piano engineering that is linked to a definition of how a piano should present itself to a player and/or listener is a major weakness. Most piano engineering is focused on production not function.

My little shop has been able to delve into many aspects of solving these issues that belies the notion that these are insoluble problems. The result being pianos that are far more comfortable to play and listen to, that are far more resistant to wear, and that require much less servicing to keep them that way.


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It pains me to say this but I am starting to feel that the conventional acoustic piano is looking like a bit of a dodo. Digital pianos have made such astonishing progress over the last twenty years or so that the day is going to come - and probably within the next decade - when the choice between a digital and an accoustic will be a no-brainer, and it won't be the acoustic piano which wins.

Digital actions are improving all the time and one day soon, it will be impossible for a blindfold pianist to tell if he is playing one or the other. Likewise with sound. What is more, digitals will one day offer a choice of touch and sound within a single instrument that is quite impossible with a conventional piano. Digitals, even the best of them, are not yet at this point but in my view, it's just a matter of time.

What is more, digitals require no tuning and very little maintenance and can be sold at a fraction of the cost of an acoustic piano.

By way of comparison, have a look at the market for classical organs, where digitals have pretty much kicked the market for conventional pipe organs into touch. What makes you think that pianos are any different?


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Jean Claude
Yes, digital pianos have made huge leaps in technology, which is great. However, for me, they are not organic but rather a highly advanced piece of equipment which does not come close to the organic acoustic. If you look at the digital piano forum here, you will see many posts with the same theme: how can I get my excellent digital to sound, and feel, more like the flawed acoustic. I find it doubtful that I would ever find a digital that would ever really be the same to me. We are all different but I suspect there are others here that feel the same.

I’m glad the digital has become very advanced and that it meets the desires of many. It is not very likely to ever meet mine.


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Originally Posted by Jean Claude
It pains me to say this but I am starting to feel that the conventional acoustic piano is looking like a bit of a dodo. Digital pianos have made such astonishing progress over the last twenty years or so that the day is going to come - and probably within the next decade - when the choice between a digital and an accoustic will be a no-brainer, and it won't be the acoustic piano which wins.

Note that the dodo was never replaced by a 'better' species, it was simply eradicated and that was it frown

About the dying out of acoustic pianos: I hope not. I don't think further digital improvements are going to lure many people interested in an acoustic away. Most people in general already choose for a digital because of its convenience and price, despite the sound quality being less, sometimes a lot less. People who currently buy an acoustic probably have an intrinsic interest in playing an acoustic.

There are lots of people, also young people, buying record players simply because they think it is more fun than spotify.

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My spin on the question: why don't we hear people arguing if Brother or Olympia makes the best typewriter?


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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
My spin on the question: why don't we hear people arguing if Brother or Olympia makes the best typewriter?

Because we are pianists, not writers!

Top 10 Typewriters for Writers


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When I first played an electronic instrument way back in 1961, an organ at the inauguration of it at my local church, I swore I would never play one again. Fast forward 40 years and my old Rogers was failing and I liked the sound of the digital piano I heard whilst passing through Watford shopping centre and wanted to get back into playing. So I got a digital and 15 years later replaced it with one which had a better action. And that was replaced by yet another a couple of years later. But the more I played them and many other digitals, the more I realised their limitations and last May I got an acoustic. I still have the digital which I play in the evenings with headphones. And even though my 1987 Yamaha U1 is not the best acoustic by far, I now still prefer it to any digital that I have played.

So I'm going the other way, having previously posted about digitals being the future of the piano. Maybe when concert halls start using digitals then I will change my mind again.


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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Indeed many pianists consider the ideal piano to be a perfectly rebuilt older one. The market equivalency to preferring a model T for a daily driver to a Tesla.

I hesitate to call myself a pianist but give me a modern acoustic rather than rebuilt piano any day. Agree digitals are vastly improved but they are still short of character.
The biggest threat I see to acoustic pianos is the retirement of established tuners and reduction in the number of people being trained to replace them.

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Originally Posted by Jean Claude
It pains me to say this but I am starting to feel that the conventional acoustic piano is looking like a bit of a dodo. Digital pianos have made such astonishing progress over the last twenty years or so that the day is going to come - and probably within the next decade - when the choice between a digital and an acoustic will be a no-brainer, and it won't be the acoustic piano which wins.

Digital actions are improving all the time and one day soon, it will be impossible for a blindfold pianist to tell if he is playing one or the other. Likewise with sound. What is more, digitals will one day offer a choice of touch and sound within a single instrument that is quite impossible with a conventional piano. Digitals, even the best of them, are not yet at this point but in my view, it's just a matter of time.

What is more, digitals require no tuning and very little maintenance and can be sold at a fraction of the cost of an acoustic piano.

By way of comparison, have a look at the market for classical organs, where digitals have pretty much kicked the market for conventional pipe organs into touch. What makes you think that pianos are any different?

I couldn't disagree more. Let me be qualitative here, just an opinion: with an acoustic instruments you develop an extremely highly refined relationship that I have never been able to come even close with a digital and I have played all the top of the line.

Another opinion of mine is that no reproduced sound will ever be a match for the sound of a natural acoustic instrument.

Those are just opinions. What is NOT an opinion is the maintenance issue you mention. An acoustic piano lasts 50 years, even 100 if good quality and well maintained. You cannot possibly hope a digital product will last as much. How long does your PC function properly ? When something breaks down on a 10 years old machine can you find parts, even basic parts like RAM or MoBo ? Did you ever need to read a 20 years old floppy disk ? That digital would be easier / less costly to maintain than analog is a total misconception. In the end with digital your only option will be replacing, not repairing.

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Originally Posted by marklings
What is NOT an opinion is the maintenance issue you mention. An acoustic piano lasts 50 years, even 100 if good quality and well maintained.

Yes, if good quality and well maintained. However, most acoustic pianos are neither, and there are a lot of people who are willing to give their old piano for free to anybody who is willing to transport it.


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Sorry in advance if my words are gross.

But assuming that digital technology will outdate acoustic pianos seems to me like assuming that the zillion of porn sites all over the internet will replace real sex.

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Since neither the OP or the unknown source he mentioned gives any reasons for claiming the piano is outdated(meaning what?), I don't understand the idea behind this thread. Does the thread refer to acoustic pianos only? While less students in the U.S.(but more in China) are taking piano lessons than 50 years ago, to me that doesn't imply the piano is outdated but only that other hobbies have taken over some of people's time. Certainly sales of acoustic pianos are less than in the 1950s but I wonder how the sales of digital plus acoustic pianos compares with previous times.

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Originally Posted by Ubu
Sorry in advance if my words are gross.

But assuming that digital technology will outdate acoustic pianos seems to me like assuming that the zillion of porn sites all over the internet will replace real sex.

Well said!

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Music is never outdated. It is eternal. That's like thinking violins are outdated, LOL. Why is this even a question?

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Originally Posted by Ubu
But assuming that digital technology will outdate acoustic pianos seems to me like assuming that the zillion of porn sites all over the internet will replace real sex.

I have such a good answer on this one, but I don't want to get banned. So let me just say that it involves a certain artificial thing that in many ways is better than the real thing. cool


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Originally Posted by marklings
That digital would be easier / less costly to maintain than analog is a total misconception. In the end with digital your only option will be replacing, not repairing.

True! The second half anyway. With the money you save on not having to tune your piano, you can afford to buy a new digital piano. smile


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Originally Posted by Animisha
True! The second half anyway. With the money you save on not having to tune your piano, you can afford to buy a new digital piano. smile
The break even point for the digital piano of my choice would be after 18.8 years.

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Originally Posted by keff
Originally Posted by Animisha
True! The second half anyway. With the money you save on not having to tune your piano, you can afford to buy a new digital piano. smile
The break even point for the digital piano of my choice would be after 18.8 years.

For about ten tunings, I can buy my lovely VPC-1 once again. Plus two more tunings for a brand new Pianoteq. cool


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