Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The changing face of the Piano Trade

It is lamentable that the Piano Manufacturing Industry in England - once so enviable and influential, has all but disappeared without trace. Back in the 1970s, noticing the first few imported pianos from unfamiliar makers, one could sense that change was in the air. Complacency in any industry is a bad policy. Once decline sets in and the momentum gathers pace, the outcome is depressing.

Seeing a Yamaha piano for the first time was like seeing a 'cloud the size of a man's hand' - a cloud that in no time at all, filled the heavens and brought a great deluge of rain! The first batches of Yamaha pianos delivered to the local piano shop created astonishment. It was clear the Japanese piano was going to be a threat to the market dominance enjoyed for so long by the English piano. How was it that a piano made in Japan could be sold for just a little more than a piano made in the UK? 

The best British pianos seemed to be rather average compared to the imported pianos that soon dominated that new-piano-market. One by one, the English manufacturers ceased production so that in a few decades, we saw the total loss of an industry. Alas for the English Piano!

The more recent economic downturn has added further woes and bad news to Piano shops up and down the country. Pianos are regarded as a luxury item - and are one of the first items of expenditure to be delayed or postponed entirely. 

Where will all this take us? Only the 'fittest' of piano shops will survive, and it will take a few years of successful trading to put a smile back on the face of the piano trade. 

Buying and selling pianos on eBay may turn out to be the method of choice for bargain hunters  - but there are plenty of dangers to be met with here. Off-loading an awful piano is quite easy if you can produce a few good photos! Auction Houses have, for a very long time, been selling what other people no longer want. Maybe, ebay will be able to preserve a strong, residual demand for the good old-fashoned, traditional piano! However, buying online is quite a gamble when there can be no substitute for sitting at the piano itself - to hear it, feel it and to try to answer the question: Do I like this piano enough to buy it?

Tuner's Journal