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I have been posting a lot recently because I have visited quite a few piano dealers and I have heard many confusing claims. The one I want to talk about here is about "German components".

I have done a lot of research on grand pianos in the U$10,000 to U$20,000 price range and one of the pianos I am interested is a Cunningham/Hailun. Cunningham is known to do a good job prepping their pianos for sale, so when I told other dealers I am interested in a Cunningham, nobody would say anything bad about Cunningham, but they had a lot to say about Hailun. One thing I have heard multiple times from multiple dealers is the quality of Hailun components. They all go like this:

Quote
The longevity of a piano depends on the quality of its components. Our pianos are made with high quality German components (Abel hammer, string,...whatever) and Cunningham/Hailun pianos are made of Chinese components. No matter how well the dealer has done in prepping the piano, eventually you have to look at quality of the components.


I don't know what you think, but from a consumer's point of view, it seems to be a reasonable conclusion. So, my question is, really, how important is German components in terms of the longevity of a piano?

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I'd say for good (classical) piano music German compo...s are quite important. wink

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Germany and China are big in my industry, and we see over and over again,

1) Germany: stubborn (by their own characterization)
2) China: hates over-designing products with extra engineering tolerances

You can pick your poison, but to your question, # 2 is a generally not consistent with longevity and durability.





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In Marketing, you take what you have. If you have one (or more) premium part(s), you advertise this premium part. See bikes and Shimano. See PC's and "Intel Inside".

If you _are_ premium, you just put your own brand label on. See Apple (even when they switched to Intel, no Intel inside stickers).

I am actually for the first cars to advertise "Bosch Inside". :-)


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German parts are not *that* important, although they are good. Many techs on this forum though, prefer Tokiwa to German Renner parts, and prefer WNG carbon-fibre parts to them all.

Regarding Cunningham, they do use Hailun parts, but there are Hailun parts in many high quality pianos, that you wouldn't necessarily think would use them. Cunningham is also sold through an excellent workshop/store and they really understand what it takes to make a good piano, so I wouldn't worry that you'll end up wearing the piano out too quickly. Ask Rich on this forum since he's the owner of Cunningham.


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The quality of the workmanship is more significant to the durability and musical quality of a piano. Renner parts can have issues too. They sometimes suffer "Mystery Sluggishness" and many grand shanks will have the center pins get loose enough in the flange to work themselves out after ten years or so of playing.

As regards hammers, I have seen better sounding hammers in a Chinese piano factory from Japan or China than what they end up with from Germany. This is probably because they don't know how to spec them.

I find this "parts from Germany" thing to be a distraction. The important thing is how well and skilled the work is in assembling them into a piano.

It would be much better if piano makers concentrated on making their tone-regulators and tuners better skilled.


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Originally Posted by Hendrik42
In Marketing, you take what you have. If you have one (or more) premium part(s), you advertise this premium part...See PC's and "Intel Inside".

That was a super-annoying, and super-effective advertising campaign. Even when Intel designs were terrible, people wanted them.


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In the high end safe manufacturing business in UK there were 2 rival companies at the top end of the market. Each made outstanding stuff but they loatehd each other with a passion. There was one gadget used by Chubb that had been used by John Tann but no longer. I mentioned this to a JT rep. He said "Yes, they are using ideas we discarded as obsolete years ago". When next I spoke to a Chubb man I mentioned this and he said "Yes, they tried it but never really got it to work".

It is all in how you spin it.

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Hailun's components are used in not only Hailun pianos, but also in an incredible number of upper level to high end pianos. Germany remains the gold standard for traditional piano parts manufacture, but many components have already proven themselves to be high quality substitutes up to the demands. This is easy to see in heavy-use institutional settings in a short amount of time...you don't have to wait decades to see what happens.


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*Self promotion removed*
Piano manufacturers would be wise to examine their specifications with an eye to durability. If they did this they could make new pianos that could be shown with independent testing to be more durable than any others. That all these changes would also make the piano have less warranty issues and more reliable uniformity is a plus too. These are a real selling points! More important than any branded parts source.

Last edited by Ken Knapp; 09/08/16 05:37 AM. Reason: Self promotion removed.

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Pneuma,

Many of the finest pianos in the world have touted their "German parts".
Many of the worst pianos in the world also touted their "German parts".

Another truism I tend to notice as I play more and more of what's in the North American market is the greater something is hyped, the greater my disappointment when stuff doesn't actually live up to the hype...



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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Compared to the standards I and a few other rebuilders employ in their work, no new piano will be as durable and retain the quality of sound and touch as well under steady use as a finely rebuilt piano (I know I haven't examined every new piano in existence so please allow some earned generalizations by me in deference to my long and thorough work in the field).


Sorry Ed, while I have no doubt your work is excellent, that's blatant self promotion. I doubt your "work" is as durable as the WNG action in a new M&H. I also doubt it's any more durable than what's in most of the top tier pianos that use similar components.

If you want us to allow you generalizations, then say something like "Most new pianos won't be as durable as [your] similarly priced rebuilds" That's a much more reasonable statement given you use high quality parts and fit them carefully, but "No new pianos".... .


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Originally Posted by Hendrik42
...
I am actually for the first cars to advertise "Bosch Inside". :-)

Or, for some real peace of mind: "Lucas Inside."

(Which may not be fair to the current Lucas company. But it could induce waves of shear terror back in the 1960s and '70s.)


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Originally Posted by Del

Or, for some real peace of mind: "Lucas Inside."

Oh, yeah, I had a '74 Triumph Bonneville. Lucas: Prince of Darkness.

The Lucas motto: "Get home before dark."

Alexander Graham Bell invented the Telephone. Thomas Edison invented the Light Bulb. Joseph Lucas invented the Short Circuit.


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Originally Posted by Plowboy

The Lucas motto: "Get home before dark."

Alexander Graham Bell invented the Telephone. Thomas Edison invented the Light Bulb. Joseph Lucas invented the Short Circuit.


Emphatic slow clap for you, sir...


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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by Plowboy

The Lucas motto: "Get home before dark."

Alexander Graham Bell invented the Telephone. Thomas Edison invented the Light Bulb. Joseph Lucas invented the Short Circuit.


Emphatic slow clap for you, sir...

+1

When I was a kid in Germany (1970's), I remember many friends whose fathers and older brothers had problematic MGs and Triumphs!


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Originally Posted by Plowboy
... Oh, yeah, I had a '74 Triumph Bonneville. Lucas: Prince of Darkness.

The Lucas motto: "Get home before dark."

Alexander Graham Bell invented the Telephone. Thomas Edison invented the Light Bulb. Joseph Lucas invented the Short Circuit.

Great! One way to insure that you got plenty of walking exercise was to purchase a car (or bike) with Lucas electrics.

ddf

Last edited by Del; 09/07/16 08:09 PM. Reason: clarity

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This has drifted rather far afield from the original question -- my bad!

To respond to the original question—I've spent quite a lot of time in China working in various piano factories. One observation I've made is that good components can be used in horrendous ways.

To comment on just one example:
One factory I’ve been in is—Was? God help us, I hope so!—installing Strunz soundboards which I have found to be of excellent quality and consistency. But these were going in at a moisture content upwards of 12%. There were no functional moisture controls in this factory. The factory personnel spoke with had no understanding of how the moisture content of wood might affect the performance of the soundboard. Sorry folks, but no matter how revered the brand name, the only thing I could guarantee about these soundboards was the absolute certainty that a good share of them will crack if the pianos are sent to areas with even remotely low humidity characteristics. The German name stamped on the panel notwithstanding.

Does it really matter whether the soundboard was made by Strunz or by Whoever? It can but certainly did not in this case.

I’ve also been to factories using soundboards of indeterminate origin that had excellent moisture content monitoring processes in place. Which do you suppose is building the best performing and longest lasting pianos?

The quality of the components going into an instrument are obviously important. But even the best materials and components can—and do—fail if adequately mistreated.

ddf


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Originally Posted by Del
Originally Posted by Plowboy
... Oh, yeah, I had a '74 Triumph Bonneville. Lucas: Prince of Darkness.

The Lucas motto: "Get home before dark."

Alexander Graham Bell invented the Telephone. Thomas Edison invented the Light Bulb. Joseph Lucas invented the Short Circuit.

Great! One way to insure that you got plenty of walking exercise was to purchase a car (or bike) with Lucas electrics.

ddf

greetings,
I have to add that my '71 Bonneville went over 75,000 miles without an electrical failure. It did shed nuts and bolts, leaked oil, vibrated, and wore out internal tensioners, but the electrics were fine. That is not true of the MGA I found in my life for a while.

In regard to German parts, I haven't seen a set of German parts that outperformed the Tokiwa I used to use. This opinion comes from watching my rebuilds in a University setting for 38 years. 70% if the Renner actions I built had to be disassembled and repinned within five years. I don't know why the the centerpins tightened up, graphite has been blamed but I am not sure that is the reason. In any event it is maddening to eat the $1,200 expense of repinning and re-regulating an otherwise finely set-action,(I warranty my work) and it is really hard to hear the customer's questions of why my work began failing. I never had that problem with Tok
Regards

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After forty years of following my work and servicing many of the new brands available, I stand by my statement. The wear rate of lighter hammers is greatly reduced as is the tone change with use. Lighter hammers allow for higher friction which reduces destructive side oscillations that rapidly increase wear. Proper functioning pivot terminations reduce the internal flexing of piano wire at the terminations which leads to significantly longer service life.

I broadcast it here so that others may benefit. That is much more than self-serving, it is professionalism.


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