"WHAT'S IN A NAME "

A century ago the United States was by far the world's largest producer of pianos. With a large growing middle class and increasing wealth the entertainment device of the day was a piano. Hundreds of piano makers flourished and grew to fill the demand with several thousand brand names. Piano companies were, in general, named after the founder or his family and that was the brand name associated with the product;  Knabe, Sohmer, Steinway, Everett,  Chickering, A.B. Chase, Mathushek, Weber and at least 4000 others. 

The names of pianos in the past could ascertain the character and reliability of any instrument. The names of most great pianos were familiar to the public. Piano companies named after the founder or his family and that was the brand name associated with the product. To inherit a good or noble name might seem to be an advantage, but history disproves this theory, for the temptation to bask in the glory of someone else's labor is too strong for many. You can't buy or inherit neither goodness nor greatness. You may be exposed to their beneficent influence, but you must achieve them for yourself. 

"What's in a name? Everything its possessor has been and done goes into whatever evaluation others may place upon his name. At birth, a name may be no more than an identification tag, or it may be something to live up to or live down, but that is not important. What matters is that each of us is given a name, in trust, for a lifetimeóto pass on to the future, embellished, or tarnished, or unchanged. 

Choosing a brand name is, to a degree, the same as choosing a price range. Price is often the key to quality in pianos. But some factors do affect the price without affecting the quality. Find out where the piano was made. The cost of rent, labor, and taxes varies in different parts of the country. Transportation expenses may also increase the cost to you if the piano comes from a distant part of the country. In some cases prices vary greatly.

In 2008, there were about 65 brand names on the new piano market! There were also thousands of discontinued brand names on the used piano market! To add to the confusion, many brand names from the past have changed hands. A manufacturer may purchase the name, and then produce a piano which is of lower or higher quality than that which the brand name originally implied. This is not the exception to the rule, it is the rule. Wise up! You should investigate the history of the brand name to learn of such changes. 

At least a dozen manufacturers make professional quality pianos, having the finest mechanism inside a limited selection of the finest furniture. Other manufacturers may stress external appearance at the expense of mechanical quality by offering a larger selection of fancy furniture styles. No matter what any book or so called "Rating System" says. The public, by its purchases, decided what  types are the best and most desirable. The best service that any book can render to you is, not just to impart the truth, but to help you think it out for yourself.

Life is so short and its memories too precious to let them fade and forever be lost to future generations. We must take a stand to stop the fading of memories over time by preserving the past. Taking another persons name brand name or credit for their accomplishments is a form of identity theft. Placing a great piano name on a generic inexpensive stencil brand of piano is identity theft. You can buy a name, but the reputation has to be earned. No more can you take another persons artistic creation of a painting, a manuscript, or music and make claim to those creations as your own. This is identity theft as much as acquiring someone else's name and social security number and applying for credit in that name.

Universal values create overlapping culture and community that transcend fences and boundaries. In the purchase of an article of any great value, such as a piano, the responsibility of the manufacturer takes first place because the maker determines both quality and price, and it is upon his integrity that the investor has to finally rely for future service. It is not what you pay - it is what you get for what you pay that determines whether you have made a wise investment. An article made up of several thousand parts should be very carefully selected. It is not necessary  to pay a high price for a good piano. But it can no longer be bought by name alone.

A fine piano with character cannot be produced from blueprints alone. The personal skill and experience of the workmen largely determine the real quality of the instrument, assuming that good materials are used. Factories of long experience in building pianos can usually be relied upon because they do not have to guess-they work with full knowledge and sure results. Time and Experience are the chief designers of a piano.

"A piano that has no character is like a person without character," said a famous pianist who was addressing a meeting of piano technicians. Character in a piano is determined by its tone, and a perfectly balanced scale throughout. You donít buy a piano because the price is low; a piano is bought to use. There are degrees of pleasure, satisfaction and service different makes of pianos will give. Quality is not about price. The reputation of the manufacturer is important because it indicates the attitude that will be taken on questions of service, etc. A guarantee, written or verbal, is worth no more than the willingness and desire, as well as the ability, of the factory to make it good. At the time of your purchase, ascertain if you can, something of the regard the maker has held for his own product as this will assist in determining to what extent the manufacturer is interested in pianos bearing his name and reputation, wherever they may be. 

You can't buy a reputation, you earn it. It is wise to consider the name on the piano you purchase. After you have satisfied yourself as to quality and other essential points it is time to consider the price. The importance of this is illustrated by the fact that over 400 piano factories have gone out of business. A piano of any age is worth one-half less if the manufacturer is out of business. Many things are learned only by experience.

There cannot be many products as ill suited to modern assembly-line manufacturing techniques as the piano. Each piece of Adirondack spruce for the soundboard, each batch of rock Maple that becomes the pin block (or wrest plank) that holds the tuning pins in place, each set of hammers, all are marginally different from one another, and the vagaries, of each of a pianoís 10,000 components have to be accommodated and aligned by a succession Of watchful, sensitive human beings. Of course, it is this very quality of individuality, of each instrument possessing a personality, that makes the piano business more satisfying than, say, the semi-conductor business.  

With a large growing middle class and increasing wealth the entertainment device of the day was a piano. Literally thousands of piano makers flourished and grew to fill the demand. Most pianos built at the time were high quality and anything poorly built would be rejected by the market place since general knowledge of piano quality was quite high among the general public, unlike today.

It is better to buy a good piano at a moderate price than a poor one at a low price. Tone is important because it is the foundation of the piano its personality. A violin can be purchased for $500, yet another one the same size and the same in appearance costs $5,000. The difference is tone. A good tone in a piano is not an accident; it is' the result of skill and experience in construction. A piano with a good tone costs more to build than one with a poor tone. You will soon tire of a piano that does not possess a good tone and you will apologize for it every time a real musician plays it. There is nothing more important than tone quality in the selection of a piano. It is easy to produce a good tone in certain parts of a piano scale and very difficult in other parts. Test the entire scale every note each one is important.

In Japan,  a family name is revered and honored. The two major producers in Japan, Yamaha and Kawai, used similar approaches to enter the U.S. market in 1960. But each of them offered pianos bearing their own names when they came into the U.S. market overcoming whatever prejudice lingered against products from Japan after the war .  Both of these are very honorable  companies are held in high esteem by everyone in and out of the music industry today. Their name on a piano is a certain guaranty of the quality contained inside all by itself. Their products are compared favorably everyday with the best in the world.  And the name on the Piano says it all. 

Great American brand names are being used  as a marketing tool. It's easy to be fooled when shopping for a piano and thinking that the name on the fallboard is really an original American company.  Most of these instruments are acceptable for what they are, inexpensive entry level pianos. They are not products of the Great American Piano builders, and there should be a declaration on each of these  instruments by honest piano merchants - beware of the salesman who claims to have a genuine brand new well known great American piano at a bargain price,  it can't be done. Most of those companies are gone today and there are only two companies in the U. S. building pianos under their own names and both are pretty proud of what they are doing. The brand names, however, live on long after the original company's demise and have been sold to other conglomerates (mainly Asian) as a marketing tool. Than place a famous name on a generic brand of imported pianos. Some of the early piano makers, proud, and in many cases non-ego-challenged, would roll over in their graves if they could see what was being produced in their names today. You can't go out and buy a new Packard, De Soto, Hudson, Studebaker or Oldsmobile. These were all great American names of automobiles. The public knows these cars are no longer made. So why deceive the American Piano Buyer with famous brand name piano of lesser quality that no longer exists, at least not with the same materials, methods of manufacture, craftsmanship and experience and know how of the original. Remember, the seller sells the future, the buyer buys the past in pianos.

TO BEGIN | BUY NEW  

PIANO AGE | ARCHIVES | APPRAISALS | PIANO TYPES | BLUEBOOK VALUE  | SELL A PIANO


Page 3