In 2001, the Baldwin Piano Company filed for bankruptcy. That same year, the Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corporation purchased Baldwin’s assets and began a major restructuring plan. Their strategy was to reposition Baldwin from the shrinking luxury piano market (where it competed with companies like Steinway and Mason & Hamlin – who were also undergoing major restructuring around this time) to the broader mid-priced piano market (where it would compete with companies like Yamaha and Kawai). Gibson moved Baldwin’s headquarters to Nashville and began promoting Baldwin pianos at their 18 offices around the world. In 2006, Gibson opened a new Baldwin factory in China and, finally, in 2021, Gibson introduced the world to its new, state-of-the-art piano factory in Zhongshan, China (where all Baldwin models will be produced for global distribution). As you might imagine, such a significant restructuring of a beloved American brand created quite a stir. Unfortunately, it also created a storm of misinformation. Baldwin’s competitors used this opportunity to denigrate the brand. Technicians who loved working on a handcrafted American piano panned the decision to modernize the instruments. Americans mourned the loss of yet another American product… and the internet did what it does.
Today, it’s actually quite difficult to find truthful information about Baldwin pianos… so that’s exactly what I am here to do. As a Baldwin piano expert and a piano industry veteran of over 30 years, I’m here to help you learn the truth about today’s Baldwin pianos.
The piano manufacturing industry has long been challenged with producing pianos that will hold up well under institutional usage. Unlike the average home piano owner, K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and houses of worship use their pianos many hours daily. They also move their pianos often and subject them to temperature and humidity changes that are rare in the home. In short, they put even the best-made pianos to the test. The challenge, then, is maintaining excellent tuning stability and sound despite these rigors. The pianos placed in these institutions are used in a variety of ways, including on the concert stages (or orchestra pits) for performances, in rehearsal rooms for solo work and with ensembles (such as choirs, bands and orchestras), in practice rooms, and – of course – in teaching studios. Unfortunately, due to limited maintenance budgets, aging inventory and the aforementioned rigors of institutional use, most musicians are forced to use inadequate (and often horrible) instruments in these settings – a problem that frequently interferes with a performance, lesson or practice session. …so what’s the solution?
After four years of music ministry training in college and over a decade leading children, youth, and adults in worship at a variety of different churches, I have seen just about every worship keyboard out there. …and, in all honesty, I haven’t liked any of them.
The commentaries were no help either. Beyond “do your research, itemize your needs, and use a well-known local music store,” most articles I read had little meaningful advice. In fact, I was shocked to discover that there really weren’t any good sources of information specifically geared towards worship leaders. I had to learn “the hard way.”
Now, as a former music minister and current professional piano consultant, I’m happy to share my experiences (and some of my God-given geekery) with you. I hope the following information blesses you and helps your ministry grow.
Yamaha has always been known for high quality mass-produced pianos. Indeed, their Conservatory Series (or CX-Series) pianos are the most sought-after pianos for recording studios, universities, schools and churches the world over! Solidly built and consistently reliable, the Conservatory Series grand pianos have long been the “go-to” pianos for many decades.
However, in recent years, Yamaha has put a greater emphasis on building highly expressive and nuanced premium pianos that offer a performance level previously only found in the venerable handcrafted brands of Europe. Created with time-honored methods passed down from generations of master builders, these stunning instruments are often chosen over the CX-Series for their more refined tone, even projection, longer sustain and rugged craftsmanship. The Yamaha SX-Series Pianos are selected by universities, music conservatories, K-12 schools, churches, and discerning retail customers who simply refuse to compromise on quality and tone. As a result, Yamaha has developed a new series of pianos for clients with a discriminating sense of tone and touch – developed to stand “toe to toe” with the iconic European brands – but at a far more accessible price. This is the Yamaha SX-Series of premium grand pianos.
Before we can understand how a digital piano (a piano that uses electricity) gets its sound, we have to first understand how an “acoustic piano” (a traditional piano that does NOT use electricity) produces sound. The rich sound of a traditional grand piano is created by many physical interactions; the keys are pressed, the hammers strike, strings resonate, and sound radiates through the piano’s wood cabinet. This traditional way of producing piano music is immensely complicated, but satisfying to the player’s ear. The goal, then, with any digital piano is to recreate this experience using technology. …and there are two “schools of thought” in how this should be accomplished. The oldest (and most common) method is called “Representative Sampling” (or “Sampling” for short). This method uses microphones to record traditional piano sounds and computer chips to play back those recordings as a pianist plays the digital piano’s keys. The second method is far newer (and, thus, far less common). It’s called “Physical Modeling” and – instead of recording an acoustic piano – it uses a mathematical expression called an “algorithm” to describe the behavior of an acoustic piano… so the “model” can producing a living, breathing sound that can be easily customized to a pianist’s preference. Of course, there are folks on both sides who believe their method is the best way to recreate the complex interaction of sounds inside a grand piano, but what’s most important is what you think when you go out to select your digital piano. …so let’s take a look at each of these techniques and see if we can help prepare you for what you’re going to hear at the piano store.
A few weeks ago, I was visiting with a friend about playing the piano. He had started taking lessons a few months ago and was a little frustrated with what he felt was “slow progress”. He said he enjoyed learning but didn’t think he’d ever be really good at playing. He was having fun but thought he was just “bad at music”.
I thought a lot about his comment. Is it possible to be “bad at music?” Is this an issue of self-doubt or are some people just unable to benefit from making music? read more…
February 1 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year celebration and Yamaha is joining the party with a month-long rebate that will save you up to $1000 OFF your new Yamaha piano, Hybrid, Clavinova or Disklavier! Just come in to your closest Riverton Piano Company store (or contact us online), select your dream piano, and you’ll receive a rebate for up to $1000 from Yamaha!
Contact us for details on this exciting promotion. …but don’t wait. These Yamaha factory rebates end February 27. Come in today and get this rare rebate ON TOP of the Riverton Piano Company guaranteed low price. There will never be a better time to buy your new Yamaha piano, Hybrid, Clavinova or Disklavier!
A fine piano is not just a great instruments to play and enjoy, it’s also a beautiful piece of furniture – a centerpiece to any room. The final touch of a well-made piano is the finish… and – like the rest of your home furniture – that finish needs regular cleaning and maintenance. With the right tools and a little care, here’s how you can protect and enjoy your piano’s finish for years to come: read more…
Attention, Phoenix! Have you been considering a new or gently-used piano, digital piano or player piano for your special someone this Holiday Season? Well, if so, Riverton Piano Company is transforming Black Friday into Black PIANO Friday – for TWO DAYS ONLY – and you won’t want to miss these incredible deals! Our doors open at 10am on Friday, November 27 with wall-to-wall savings on every black piano in inventory! Several pianos will be one-of-a-kind deals… so come early for the best selection and some truly awe-inspiring discounts!
- NEW Pianos with 10-Year Warranty from $2999!
- NEW Digital Pianos from only $999!
- NEW Baby Grand Pianos from $7999!
- NEW YAMAHA Player Pianos starting at $16,999!
Better yet – purchase a Roland digital piano and – ON TOP of the Black Piano Friday discount – enjoy a FREE accessory package (valued at up to $700)! Purchase a Roland HP, LX or GP Series digital piano and get a FREE membership to our celebrated “Roland Owner’s Club” – which helps you get the most out of your piano with training videos, music downloads, custom setups and so much more!
Looking to finance? Check out these incredible options!
- 24 Months 0% APR* on ALL Yamaha Acoustic Pianos!
- 18 Months SAME AS CASH on ALL Acoustic Pianos!
- 12 Months SAME AS CASH on ALL Roland Digital Pianos!
- Special LOW-INTEREST APR for 60 Months on ALL Acoustic Pianos!
That special someone in your life was born with a gift. Help her unlock it with a new piano, digital piano or player piano from Riverton Piano Company this Holiday Season! …but hurry. Black Piano Friday weekend ends at 6pm on Saturday, November 28. Don’t miss your chance to SAVE before the 2020 price increases go into effect!
* APR = Annual Percentage Rate. On purchases of new and in-stock qualifying Yamaha pianos from November 27 – November 28, 2020. Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. 0% APR if paid in full within 12-, 18- or 24-month period. Interest accrues throughout the life of the loan at 13.99% APR.
A modern grand piano is made up of over 12,000 parts and each manufacturer has its own “recipe.” Piano makers build their reputations based on the designs, materials and workmanship that go into their instruments. …but would a Steinway piano be just as good if it were built in England instead of the US or Germany? Would a Yamaha be a Yamaha if it didn’t come from Japan? Are pianos built in China of lower quality? Does ‘where a piano is made’ matter?