New York Times Article on Deep-Sixing Pianos

Here’s an interesting article from the New York Times about how many used pianos are actually hitting the dumpster these days.  No surprise over here. I’d say that a quarter of the used pianos that people are trying to SELL privately unfortunately belong in a dumpster.  I’d like to add two comments to this article:

1) I don’t think the article did a good job indicating that many used pianos ARE worth restoring and that the used piano industry is exponentially bigger than the new piano industry so buying a restored used piano is definitely a viable option for many piano buyers.

2) Stories like this can easily lead one to believe that if used pianos are getting thrown away, then a functioning one might only cost a few hundred dollars.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  Pianos are a lot like cars in the sense that cars often times go to the junkyard and get crushed, but it doesn’t mean that a good used car can be purchased for a few hundred dollars.  Heck, even a good used piano bench often fetches $200-300 at flea markets.  Moving a piano usually costs upwards of $300 and tuning is at least $100.  We’re up to $600 and we haven’t even mentioned a piano yet.  Add that to the countless hours of work that most of these pianos need ($75-100/hr. in-home service rates) plus replacement parts to take on new students and may have yourself a money pit.  Don’t get us wrong, we’re in the piano restoration business and love all that hourly labor work — but we also sell new & used pianos and offer sound advice to people who are wrestling with restoring a piano or buying a different one from us.

New York Times Article on Deep-Sixing Old Pianos

New York Times Article on Deep-Sixing Old Pianos

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/arts/music/for-more-pianos-last-note-is-thud-in-the-dump.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2

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So long Bohemia pianos — we will miss you.

The Bohemia Piano company is the latest victim in the piano industry of the challenging global economy.  You can read more about the history of Bohemia pianos here.  This blog however, is to inform you that we recently received word from the factory representative that Bohemia pianos will no longer be produced.  This is quite a blow to an already shrinking, yet important segment of the piano industry — the handmade European piano market.

Most piano manufacturers — Bohemia included — made drastic changes in order to survive the recession, with various levels of success.  Some chose to shed inventory, facilities and/or employees…some chose to source materials or production in China…others gave themselves up to the highest bidder.  Even the prestigious Bosendorfer piano company in Vienna was recently sold to Yamaha in an effort to remain stable and continue their legacy.

Bohemia was sold several years ago to the Bechstein piano company — a move that we dealers were excited about since it stood to improve the quality level of the product even more.  And it did.  However, the economic presses and rising costs continued to demand price increases that have recently proven to be much more than the market can bear.

An ultimatum of sorts was recently imposed whereby if the US distributor wasn’t willing to purchase a very large order of Bohemia pianos at the new, higher prices, the brand would unfortunately cease to exist.  This isn’t intended to sound like a strong-arm tactic by Bohemia’s parent company, Bechstein.  It’s simply the cruel reality of what it takes to continue to operate in these times.  Without such a commitment from their US distributor, Bechstein is better off focusing on their remaining lines of pianos.  It is also understandable that Bohemia’s US distributor would be reluctant to place such a large order in these continued uncertain times — especially at new, unprecedented prices — when Bohemia pianos had already been met with much resistance in the market at the older prices.

As a Bohemia piano dealer for over a decade, we have seen the tremendous value of the Bohemia piano line and the important gap that they filled for us.  After the exit of Kemble piano company from London in 2009, Bohemia represented the last bastion of mid-priced, handmade pianos from Europe.  They, like Kemble, were the only companies to offer an interesting, higher-performance alternative to Yamaha and Kawai, without doubling or tripling the price to get to Steinway or other, even more desirable premium European brands.  They also offered unique styling, finishes and veneer options that  Yamaha and Kawai don’t offer.

So in the wake of Bohemia pianos, there will indeed be a void in the industry that won’t likely be filled for quite some time.  At the time of this writing, the only Bohemia pianos that have not completely sold out are the studio models 114 & 121 and the 160 grand model. We have sold out of all other models and they are no longer available.  Bechstein will honor full warranties on any remaining pianos.  If you have any interest in a Bohemia piano, please contact us soon because when they are gone, they.  are.  gone.  😦

Pictured here is a Bohemia 121 Rhapsody in polished walnut that is currently available for sale.  One of the unique features of Bohemia that will be most missed is their careful selection of veneers for their cabinets.  This piano’s walnut veneers have beautiful grain that Bohemia meticulously bookmatched on the sides and on the front panels.  Such detail is rarely taken into consideration in today’s pianos.