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View Full Version : What is causing the decline of acoustic pianos in the USA?



william9636
02-02-2008, 05:47 AM
Greetings Piano Forum folks. :p

Just some food for thought.

What caused the Accordion decline in the US?
What caused the Home Organ decline in the US?
What is causing the Acoustic Piano decline in the US?

Does it have anything to do with the manufacturers or the dealers or is it a decline in popularity of those products in the US?

Is it a lack of family commitment and discipline to learn to play Acoustic Pianos?
Is it parents that are afraid that their children will drop out of learning to play the piano and therefore won't buy one.
Is it that some piano teachers teach boring music to their students?
Is it a lacking of instant gratification by having to study the Acoustic Piano?
Is it the fact that many US schools have very small budgets or no budget at all for Acoustic Pianos in the classrooms?

Has anybody considered that Acoustic Piano "affectionados" are less in number than the regular folks that just want to noodle around with something easier to play than an acoustic, just for the fun of it?

What caused the Digital Piano increase in the US?
Was it the manufacturers or the dealers or an increase in desire by some folks to have some easy fun with bells and whistles while playing a keyboard instrument?

Does the Computer, as a leisure time product, provide more interesting things to do as opposed to buying and learning to play the piano?

Are computer games, X-Box, Nintendo, etc,. taking away from children having the desire to study the piano?

Will diehard pianists continue to debate which piano is the best in the world and why it is?
Then, where will piano "affectionados" go to audition the pianos of their choice if the Brick and Mortar dealers go bust?

Folks, I don't know the answers. I just ask the questions. :)

Cordially,

Bear

Obivion
02-02-2008, 12:48 PM
First off, I don't live in the US and I'm not a piano player, but I'd guess it's because of the following reasons:

a) Pianos are very expensive compared to keyboards, guitars and other instruments (my friend was looking at around 10,000 for a new grand piano, that's around $20,000).

b) Pianos are not portable, you can't put them in a case like a guitar or keyboard.

c) The sad fact of the matter is, you can get nearly as good a sound (to the laymans ear) out of a keyboard and no one really notices. Keyboards and synths also offer a greater variety of sounds.

d) Because of the cost to use ratio, a lot of modern music doesn't use pianos, for example in Rock they are there occasionally (or an organist), in metal there's usually a keyboard player instead and in RnB, they are rarely there. This means kids aren't as interested anymore.

However, you can be glad as there will always be some people out there who play piano.

Danster
02-02-2008, 01:02 PM
Greetings Piano Forum folks. :p

Greetings william, and welcome to iBM! :)



What is causing the Acoustic Piano decline in the US?

Do you mean decline in sales, decline in players, or both? I've never really thought about whether there was a decline in sales or players, although neither would surprise me. I would imagine a number of factors would contribute, including:

- the price of an acoustic piano, ~$3000 for a new lower end model
- lack of "features" compared to electronic keyboards
- its a big freakin' piece of furniture
- lack of "coolness factor" for acoustic pianos
- at least for a beginner, I would imagine an acoustic piano would offer no perceived advantage in terms of tone nor feel (action) over a good keyboard

I reckon its not just pianos though, I suspect your average kid these days would prefer playing the video game "Guitar Hero" over picking up an actual guitar, acoustic or electric. Guitars do have an advantage though in that they are so dang inexpensive these days.

Malcolm
02-02-2008, 03:05 PM
All of the answers so far have been right on. Size and price are right at the top of this list. That big chunk of furniture is a real commitment.

Technology is making the acoustic piano obsolete. My Yamaha PSR-E403 cost less than $300 sits right by my computer, takes up very little room and can produce more music than I will ever need. That's a long way from the price and size of a "starter" acoustic piano.

I've read that the reason you see so many guitars is because it is a quick, and inexpensive venture into music. The digital keyboard now answers that same need.

Technology is the reason, IMHO

Teletubby
02-02-2008, 06:51 PM
the truth is...if I had the money...there would be a baby grand piano sitting in my living room this very day.

I took piano lessons for about 7 years or so...did mainly classical stuff but eventually dropped out and took guitar mainly. I used mainly digital pianos because they are portable and cheap.

anyway...I still remember the first time I got to play a really nice acoustic grand piano...It was this one:
http://steinway.com/steinway/artcase_collection/rhapsody.shtml

:o

anyways...man...no digital piano I have played has come close to sounding as good as a real acoustic grand piano...I have tried kurzweil, roland, yamaha, etc. but yeah...none sound just like the real thing...


I guess its like trying to make an electric guitar sound like an acoustic...doesn't work too well.

leegordo
02-03-2008, 12:01 PM
Greetings Piano Forum folks. :p

Just some food for thought.

What caused the Accordion decline in the US?
What caused the Home Organ decline in the US?
What is causing the Acoustic Piano decline in the US?

Does it have anything to do with the manufacturers or the dealers or is it a decline in popularity of those products in the US?

Is it a lack of family commitment and discipline to learn to play Acoustic Pianos?
Is it parents that are afraid that their children will drop out of learning to play the piano and therefore won't buy one.
Is it that some piano teachers teach boring music to their students?
Is it a lacking of instant gratification by having to study the Acoustic Piano?
Is it the fact that many US schools have very small budgets or no budget at all for Acoustic Pianos in the classrooms?

Has anybody considered that Acoustic Piano "affectionados" are less in number than the regular folks that just want to noodle around with something easier to play than an acoustic, just for the fun of it?

What caused the Digital Piano increase in the US?
Was it the manufacturers or the dealers or an increase in desire by some folks to have some easy fun with bells and whistles while playing a keyboard instrument?

Does the Computer, as a leisure time product, provide more interesting things to do as opposed to buying and learning to play the piano?

Are computer games, X-Box, Nintendo, etc,. taking away from children having the desire to study the piano?

Will diehard pianists continue to debate which piano is the best in the world and why it is?
Then, where will piano "affectionados" go to audition the pianos of their choice if the Brick and Mortar dealers go bust?

Folks, I don't know the answers. I just ask the questions. :)

Cordially,

Bear
Hi william9636 leegordo here , imho the piano and accordion became so expensive to make and buy that young people were discouraged from taking them up, not when the electric guitar appeared on the scene at a fraction of the cost, and easily carried. Two other important factors have to be taken into consideration and they are--No1, The guitar is a difficult instrument to learn all the chords required to write any sophisticated kind of music for, so, there's your romantic ballads out right away I mean ,what bunch of teenage guys is going to write mushy love songs?-especially using lots of difficult chords(for guitar) when 5 or 6 chords will do it? Then it followed that the ballroom dancing industry quickly took a nosedive into near oblivion because the groups could hardly play any ballroom dance stuff at all. Now we come to the most significant of reasons for the decline in dance type music. a certain bunch of would-be entrepreneurs were enviously eyeing up the big record companies' monopoly of signing up all the big stars to THEIR record labels. They also now wanted to get a share of the big moneys to be made out of the'pop' industry , so they had to 'manufacture' their own 'Stars 'out of the ranks of the amateur groups , who -remember -could hardly play any sophisticated dance stuff at all!Asthey say,"I rest my case"................go on, prove me wrong!

Teletubby
02-03-2008, 09:57 PM
you're wrong (proven)

ok there...

actually...Pianos are just too easy to smash...and you know how us guitarists love to smash our instruments on stage...


You can't really smash a piano...image townshend smashing a piano...if he could even lift teh thing...w00t w00t

graypianoflying
02-03-2008, 10:21 PM
You can't really smash a piano...image townshend smashing a piano...if he could even lift teh thing...w00t w00t
You clearly haven't heard of Keith Emerson :D .

Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTrbIvKdKo0

(you might want to skip to about 2:00 in--I can't stand to listen to him butcher Blue Rondo)

Teletubby
02-03-2008, 11:47 PM
oh my...thats ...something...else...wow

lindsay.m
02-28-2008, 09:44 PM
William

I think I know where your coming from and the answer to your question is Television.

I grew up in a remote Scotish community that only had conversation ( We called it 'crack' ), musical instruments and if we were lucky a thermonic 'valve wirless set' wich could receive medium wave transmissions from the B.B.C and Luxembourg. We also had short wave shipping radios that could pick up American Jazz.

The piano was king!

The human ear identifies pitch by harmonics and no other instrument produces such a fruitcake of harmonic than the piano. We can't even hear the bottom c' fundamental !

Regards

Lindsay

leegordo
02-29-2008, 03:12 PM
William

I think I know where your coming from and the answer to your question is Television.

I grew up in a remote Scotish community that only had conversation ( We called it 'crack' ), musical instruments and if we were lucky a thermonic 'valve wirless set' wich could receive medium wave transmissions from the B.B.C and Luxembourg. We also had short wave shipping radios that could pick up American Jazz.

The piano was king!

The human ear identifies pitch by harmonics and no other instrument produces such a fruitcake of harmonic than the piano. We can't even hear the bottom c' fundamental !

Regards

Lindsay
Hi linsay leegordo here, Hey! where did you spring from?.Funny you should have the same ideas as I do, because I was born and still live in Fife!. I have been creating Hell on this Site because I really set the cat among the pidgeons when I stated that "The decline of the piano was-apart from the obvious two reasons of price and portability-- the advent of the electric guitar" I also stated that " The guitar is not as good an instrument as the piano "For studying the theory of music on! Especially harmony and chords . I even dared to say that some chords are unavailable on standard tuned guitar , whereas, one can play any chord that was ever thought up-on piano, only limited by one's ability and knowledge! I will still maintain that opinion regardless. You would have thought that I had pesonally insulted the entire guitar playing playing population of the English speaking world-especially in the U.S. the amount of abuse I recieved was unbelievable, but not one of those people could prove that I was wrong, because they themselves didn't know enough about practical music making to construct a valid musical argument to counter my claims.They assumed that the guitar was the ultimate musical instrument, and accepted that it was superior to any other --No question Hence their rage. sincerely
leegordo

lindsay.m
02-29-2008, 10:37 PM
Hi Leegardo

I was a guitar player until I discovered there was an instrument with 1700mm high tensile steel strings, so heavy they were tensioned with 80 kg.

When you play them they resonate a fundamental and then acusticly swell into rotational 5ths and 3rds. Whats more, it spans from tones you can't hear to sounds that would loosen your fillings.

Bartolomeo Cristofori I salute you.

Regards

Lindsay

Spino
03-01-2008, 10:45 AM
Yeah ! Cool but how long does it take for a string change ?

lindsay.m
03-01-2008, 02:13 PM
I just completed a full restoration of a German overstrung upright wich was manufactured in Berlin in 1938.

It still has the original strings which sound as sweet after 70 years as they did when it was 'chip tuned'.

To answer your question, About 40 hrs.

Regards

Lindsay

Spino
03-01-2008, 06:15 PM
I was'nt actually serious but thanks anyway .
I bought a turn of the century Ibach baby grand for 20 quid a few years ago in London and after a couple of years of use resold it on to a restorer . It now resides proudly ,in some Welsh University. Nice Piano, huge resonant tone needed some work tho the casing was walnut I think .Hey Lindsay you don't happen to know Mark & Carol from Bailey Guitars down in Kirkmichael do ya ? Cool job! Restoring Pianos! ;)

leegordo
03-02-2008, 12:29 PM
I just completed a full restoration of a German overstrung upright wich was manufactured in Berlin in 1938.

It still has the original strings which sound as sweet after 70 years as they did when it was 'chip tuned'.

To answer your question, About 40 hrs.

Regards

Lindsay
Good for you Lindsay,.leegordo here, It is so good to meet someone who knows their way round pianos, and, what's more actually re-cond's them, are you a pianist? What is your opinion of the piano being more suitable to study music- especially chords and harmony on- than any other Instrument?............
leegordo

jade_bodhi
03-03-2008, 10:33 PM
Boys, boys...

It's silly to compare pianos and guitars. I play both and love them both, like children, for the different qualities they have. Neither is better than the other.

As to the original question about the decline of the piano: I think a lot of responses are part of the whole truth. There are many reasons, which the original poster assumed. Where I live, in the southern U.S., cultural circumstances have caused the decline of piano. The ubiquitiousness of available recorded music with effects have made, in the eyes of general population, the pure elegance of the piano somewhat quaint. It no longer has the allure for the average person it once had. Those that believe that have never been to a rollicking night at my Uncle John's in the country where he plays his old piano to great effect.

Yes, the guitar has assumed poularity for cultural and practical reasons. It's a wonder the guitar wasn't more popular for the very same practical reasons a hundred years ago, but that must have been due to the slow construction methods.

Now that the digital piano has become as portable as the acoustic guitar, I've noticed something interesting: it's quite acceptable for someone to tote an acoustic guitar to a party or a cafe, and average talent is all that's expected, but if somebody totes in a keyboard (especially a full 88-keyboard) there is some kind of greater expectation. You rarely see in these parts a hack piano player toting his or her keyboard around like the guitar pickers do in these parts. That too might be a cultural custom. String pickers are as common as dogwood trees.

You all had a lot of interesting ideas on the "decline" of the piano.

By the way, do you remember in the movie The Piano that the pioneers in New Zealand put great faith in the the importation of a piano to their rough corner of the world, believing its presence would civilize them? Just a random thought. Y'all are wonderful.

Jade