The market place is crowded with pianos from all over the world. The standards such as Steinway & Sons (NY) & Mason & Hamlin (MA) from the US are now being challenged by
Bechstein, Bluthner, Fazioli, Steingraber & Sohne and other fine instruments from Europe and Asia.
In the past 5 years, as of 2008, a huge influx of Chinese instruments have flooded the American market. Relatively new to the piano manufacturing arena, the Chinese and their world partners have to contend with poor construction materials, an under educated workforce, and the results are pianos that are attractive but lacking in tone and longevity. These pianos are not recommended for institutional use and only serve as a price point product for the intro consumer market. (Update 2020, The Chinese piano manufacturing arena is improving rapidly. Hailun Pianos from Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, are the best available with a 15 year warranty; this warranty is the first of its kind in the piano industry. Hailun pianos are available in the US market.)
The Japanese have served the American market since the 1960s, with Yamaha and Kawai being viewed as the best made on the Pacific Rim. For the price point, the Japanese instruments are best seen as a 25 year investment due to construction practices. These pianos may not be in the best interests of institutions looking for a long-term solution to their musical tastes and needs.
With an overall understanding of the piano market and the experience of rebuilding fine pianos, Starr Taylor offers your organization peace of mind when selecting the perfect instrument that meets your needs. Whether it is working with a committee to purchase a piano that fits the church sanctuary, the university hall , or maybe that special instrument for the studio in a teachers home, Starr Taylor lends 30+ years of experience with listening and technical expertise to your purchase.
When choosing the ideal instrument, there are four important factors to consider before you begin your purchasing process:
1) The Room
It's crucial that your new concert grand fits with your room or auditorium. Sometimes, the room is very alive and the sound bounces off every surface, or the opposite occurs, and the room is acoustically flat with no life at all. Part of my evaluation is an assessment of your facility to determine the best type of instrument to meet your needs.
2) The Pianist
A piano that doesn't fit the pianist is a poor investment for everyone involved. Blending the room and pianist's needs is the second part of my evaluation. In order for the pianist to reach his or her audience, they have to be able to connect with the instrument first...Then, they can connect with their audience. A one-on-one with the musician is the second part of my evaluation to find the piano that meets the needs of your institution.
3) The Selection
Piano dealers in your area do sometimes have amazing instruments for selection. But in my experience, the instruments with greatest sound are always in the selection room at the piano factory. The third part of the evaluation process is a symbiotic blend of the pianist to the piano, the piano technician's overview of the instrument's playability and power, and the director and/or committee chair's approval of the process.
4) The Purchase
Since concert grands and semi-concert grands are selling for between $115,000 and $225,000 US, it's imperative to purchase the best instrument available. The fourth part of the of the evaluation is the balancing of your budget with the available pianos in the marketplace.