Secondhand Piano Shop

Piano makers moving up in the world


Released: 11/10/2009 12:42:35 PM    Source: Singapore Piano Shop

A couple of general principals are worth noting here in relation to the Korean pianos, and pianos in general. A manufacturer such as Young Chang, Samick, (or even Yamaha or Kawai, for that matter) may have begun their business careers making lower quality/lower price instruments for the masses, or built up their reputation providing "stencil" pianos for more well-known makers. Over time, however, as they gain large portions of market share with the less expensive instruments, they often attain the means and market to begin to expand upward into the manufacture of higher quality pianos. This is actually what happened with the Japanese manufacturers, who each now have, for example, lines of concerts grands selling at a retail price in excess of $100,000. In time the Korean manufacturers may also arrive at this quality level, as they seem to be making genuine efforts in that direction.

Although the making of high quality or concert instruments is normally a very small portion of a manufacturer's total output, it has many benefits (artist endorsement, prestige, visibility in the concert arena). Automakers often participate in racing (referred to by some as "destructive" or "military" testing) to improve the durability and performance of their cars, and also to advertise or showcase their products in a high-visibility arena. Producing concert grands and making them available to concert artists and orchestras all over the world serves the same purposes. Through concert appearances, an association is created in the public mind linking that particular brand of piano with a famous concert artist or artists. In addition, hopefully, the manufacturer gains valuable insight into how the pianos hold up under extreme conditions, and artists who use the pianos often give valuable feedback on how the instruments can be improved, which the piano maker then implements in subsequent models (although in the experience of many artists, these revisions or improvements often seem to take forever). Lessons learned in the building of instruments for concert artists often are used to improve the quality of the lesser pianos in a manufacturer's line-up as well. A favorite marketing device employed by piano companies is to claim that their smaller, less expensive models now have some, or several of, the same design features as their concert grands.

Along these lines, another pattern worth noting is the incorporation of concert grand or high quality piano features into the smaller or lesser quality instruments in a manufacturer's offerings. We have mentioned that the Japanese, for example, have recently been introducing certain refinements into their grand lines that are more representative of the features and construction found on higher quality American and German grands, and the Koreans have been going in this direction as well, although perhaps not to the extent yet that the Japanese have. The idea is that the public, or at least the artists, piano technicians and piano teachers that influence the public, have certain ideas about what key features constitute a higher quality piano; and offering those features, or, at the least, a portion of those features, on a lesser or medium quality piano may sway the potential buyer or their advisor towards purchase. Whether or not the quality of the piano is improved by these additions depends on a number of factors, including overall design, workmanship, and quality of related or connected parts. Sometimes the quality of the instrument actually is improved, but other times the "upgrades" are little more than marketing devices.