Topic: Buying or Selling
Now, you are in a piano store shopping for a new or nearly new piano. Your piano teacher suggests "Brand X" because thats what she has and "It's a good one." You remember grandma had a great old "Brand Y." You don't realize it, but your piano teacher's piano is from the 1960's and grandma's was built in 1922. As you look around the piano store you see these names and others; some familiar, others not. The styles, sizes, and prices vary widely as does the quality. One may be made in Indonesia, another in Japan, and yet another name is owned by a Korean company, but produced in their Chinese factory. The solution, you conclude, is to go home and Google the name of the piano you are interested in. what you find is a long "romantic" history of a U.S. company that employed only the best craftsmen, used the best materials, and only operated to the highest standards to produce an instrument of unparalleled quality. . . blah, blah, blah. Guess what? They all say that. They tend to minimize or neglect altogether the fact that the name is now owned by a Chinese company that produces very low quality instruments, often prone to a host of problems. Stay tuned for the solution in part 4.
By the middle of the 1900s, American manufacturers were reduced to perhaps a few dozen larger companies, each owning the rights to several piano names of the past. Balwin, for example, produced pianos with names such as Hamilton, Howard, Monarch, and Ellington. Ampico, (American Piano Company) and Aedian were big conglomerates created through mergers and acquisitions. By the 1970s, Asian manufacturers were exporting pianos in a big way, resulting in more American companies closing. By the 1980s, only a handful of U.S. Piano manufacturers remained, yet the rights to these old names have been sold and are used by a variety of companies.
SHAKESPEARE ONCE SAID, "What's in a name?" When piano making was in it's hey day in the early 1900's in the U.S. there were hundreds of different name brands (manufacturers) of pianos. Think about it, in 1910 there were no computers, no video games, no television, and radio was still a decade away. A home entertainment center consisted of a big upright piano, some sheet music and parlor games. Over the years, piano companies went the way of the railroads with smaller companies getting bought out by larger ones, many firms were merging into large conglomerates, and less profitable ones simply going out of business. By the end of the 1930s, the lion's share of piano names existed only on paper. The pianos of this era, however, tended to be made with very good materials by top-notch craftsmen, and it is amazing how many 80 - 100 year-old pianos are still in use today.
As you get ready to sell your piano, you probably have several thoughts going through your mind. What is it worth? How do I go about selling it? First, have it tuned. "What?" you're thinking, "I just want to sell it, not spend more money on it!" If your piano has just been tuned, it will sound better than the hundreds of out of tune pianos for sale out there, and show buyers that it has been cared for. When I do a presale tuning I can give you an idea of what it is worth, condition, tips on marketing and give an expert opinion to potential buyers.
Fall, my favorite time of year, is now in full swing. After a summer full of storms, the weather now has been just glorious, the leaves are turning, and the nights now have a bit of chill. Fall is also a great time if you are planning on selling your piano. School has started, piano lessons are beginning for the year, and the holidays are not far off. Many people at this time of year are looking for a good, used piano to get a child started in lessons, and churches looking to upgrade are now seeing that need.
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