Secondhand Piano Shop

Chinese Pianos


Released: 11/10/2009 12:44:42 PM    Source: Singapore Piano Shop

On of the most recent developments in the international piano scene is the emergence of China as a contender for the world piano market. Factories in this nation now produce, or have in the past few years, produced instruments of such diverse names as Saganhaft, Brentwood, Pearl River, Strauss, Steigerman, Maddison, Taishan and Niemeyer. Even established manufacturers such as Baldwin (Kranich and Bach), Young Chang, Story & Clark, George Steck, and Fandrich are starting to have some of their "economy" or "price leader" pianos made in China. Young Chang recently built a huge new plant in Tianjin. China is presently at the place where Korea used to be in the world piano market (sort of low man on the totem pole), but also seems to be climbing fast. Usually people buy a Chinese piano as a less expensive alternative to a Korean instrument. That, however, may change, depending on how well the Chinese learn to build pianos.
The first pianos that came out of China several years ago were pretty rough, and were consequently priced pretty low. For a while they sort of ran neck and neck in quality (or lack thereof) with the pianos from the new Eastern European nations, many of which were also pretty rough and which required extensive servicing and dealer prep before they could be termed "playable." Most of the Chinese-made instruments exported to the U.S. at that time consisted of shorter, inexpensive verticals between about 41 and 44". In the last few years however, Chinese pianos have improved somewhat in quality, due to substantial interest and investments from overseas piano manufacturers, and from the Chinese government, and also due to a motivated, eager labor force, willing to work hard for very modest wages. There are several piano producing plants now in China, their names generally corresponding with their geographic locations. There is Shanghai, the oldest, in Shanghai, China; Guangzhou, in Guangzhou, (makers of the famous "Pearl River" piano, one of the first we saw here in the U.S.); Yantai Longfeng in Yantai; Beijing; and Dongbei. In addition there is the new Young Chang factory in Tianjin. (Even Young Chang, it seems, is finding it more advantageous to have some of their pianos made in China) Chinese pianos are available now in the U.S. under many different labels and in sizes ranging from 42" to 52" in the verticals, and even offering now a 5' 3" grand. (Update/2001: Pearl River is now offering 4'7", 5'3", 6', 7' and even 9' grands, and has entered into a joint venture with Yamaha.) There is still considerable debate as to the durability of these instruments, and whether they can be expected to hold up as well as ones of more established make and reputation.