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The Piano Book: Buying & Owning a New or Used Piano [Hardcover]

Larry Fine , Douglas R. Gilbert
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover --  
Hardcover, February 1995 --  
Paperback CDN $16.89  
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Book Description

February 1995
This bible of the piano marketplace is indispensable to buyers and owners of pianos, amateur and professional players alike. Hundreds of thousands of pianos are bought and sold each year, yet most people buy a piano with only the vaguest idea of what to look for as they make this major purchase. The Piano Book evaluates and compares every brand and style of piano sold in the United States. There is information on piano moving and storage, inspecting individual new and used pianos, the special market for Steinways, and sales gimmicks to watch out for. An annual supplement, sold separately, lists current prices for more than 2,500 new piano models.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

This comprehensive volume contains valuable information for the consumer; following a technical but lucid description of the mechanics of a piano's action, it discusses all aspects of purchasing and maintaining an instrument. Numerous illustrations and charts enhance the text, which is clearly and directly written, and buying tips accompany the guides to purchasing both new and used instruments. But most valuable for a prospective buyer are the numerical ratings of virtually all models of pianos currently available, both foreign and domestic, based on the experiences of technicians around the country. An excellent source book. Susan Kagan, Hunter Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“If there is to be a piano in your future, the single indispensable reference is The Piano Book by Larry Fine.”  —Noah Adams, host of NPR's All Things Considered

The Piano Book is a must-have resource, no matter what kind of music you play, or what kind of piano you own or intend to buy.”  —Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog Synthesizer

“It is a book that I never thought I would see in print and a book that will be of great service to the piano world.”  —Robert Silverman, former editor of The Piano Quarterly

“Clearly and directly written. . . . An excellent source book.”  —Library Journal --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars research power Oct. 27 2002
The salesperson in the piano store assured me that NONE of the pianos in their store were shipped with parts and actions that the Piano Book warned against. So I had them remove the wooden cover plate of a beautiful floor model piano to prove it. And there was the name of the "less confidence" action I had been warned by the Piano Book to avoid. The salespeople were shocked. Another piano of the same brand in the same store had the "higher confidence" brand name parts/action I had been told by the Piano Book to look for. I bought that piano, which was at a lower price than the first one (less fancy cabinet). The salespeople had assumed they were otherwise the same! They were not the same...on the inside. Thank you Larry Fine!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Differences between editions... May 24 2004
I own the first edition of this book and it has some advantages over the subsequent editions. In particular, he gives specific ratings for each brand of piano. As I understand it, some piano makers who felt offended by this (i.e. their piano's didn't rate as well as they wished) threatened to sue Mr. Fine, so the ratings were removed from subsequent editions.
Ideally, if you really want the best reference, get the latest edition and supplement, but augment it with the first edition if you can find a copy (yellow cover).
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5.0 out of 5 stars influences salespeople Jan. 10 2004
There's not much to add to the superlatives written about this book except to note that simply having it in your possession can influence salespeople!
I took this book with me in Sept. 2003 to buy a "nearly new" piano at the annual sale of the prestigious Peabody Institute in Baltimore. The salewoman noticed it and said, "I see you have Larry Fine's book. I bet you'll leave here with a good piano at a great price."
Throughout our tour of the many pianos on sale, I felt as though she was being more factual because I had the book! And, because I had read parts of it, I was able to ask more questions about the types of materials used in construction of the various parts.
I bought a 2 month old Kawai GM-10 for about 2/3 list price! Not only did the book give me independent in-depth information on the Kawai, but several paragraphs (p.118) to read comparing it to other brands in terms of sound, feel, durability, warranty, etc.
Now, every time I sit at my piano, I feel an added confidence that I'm playing the finest instrument I could afford.
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If you are buying either a new or used piano "with strings" (as opposed to a purely digital [no strings] piano), you MUST buy this book.
If you are buying a NEW piano, you also need to buy the yearly "Supplement" book (Current version is "2001-2002 Annual Supplement to The Piano Book", also by Larry Fine).
Together, these two books do not cost much. You WILL save hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars.
Here is what is covered in each book:
THIS BOOK - "The Piano Book". This book has chapters on How a Piano Works, Buying a New Piano, Buying a Used Piano, Piano Moving, Piano Care, and a special chapter entitled "A Consumer Guide to New and Recently Made Pianos", which includes brand by brand listings and rankings in a number of categories. This book DOES NOT include price information. This book has 234 pages of content!!
THE SUPPLEMENT - "2001-2002 Annual Supplement to The Piano Book". This book provides "suggested" list prices for almost every manufacturer and model, AND discusses % discounts you can expect. For example, did you know, that the average discount off of list price is between 15-25%?
This book is published every year in August, based on data from that Spring. For example, this "2001-2002" was published in August 2001, based on data from June 2001. This means that the "2002-2003" version should be available in August 2002. This book has 98 pages of discount and list price information!!
The author has his own website (pianobook.com) which is also listed in the book, and even offers private phone consulatations (for a fee, given your specific needs).
BOTTOM LINE: Buy both of these books. Trust me, you will NOT be disappointed!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best protection against the Sales department! Oct. 12 2001
By A Customer
This is the best protection for the buyer against sweet-talking salespeople! Great breakdowns of piano design and history as well as detailed description and general recommendations to match you up with your perfect piano. This book has saved my home from being filled and my pocketbook from being emptied by an inappropriate purchase, providing sufficient background to allow me to make informed decisions.
I disagree with the reviewer warning against the price lists. The efficacy of haggling over the price will vary from location to location and dealer to dealer, especially when you are buying used, but it is always useful to know the *range* so you don't start at an immediate disadvantage.
The book is dense with information, but it's worth spending the time reading it through and gaining a better understanding of the instrument in which you're interested. The diagrams are clear and instructive, and the history behind piano design is fascinating. (Terry Pratchett fans will immediately recognize the history of "B.S. Johnson" creations!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Piano Book June 5 2001
By A Customer
Never wrote a review before, but this book was so helpful that I felt compelled to let others know. I didn't know the first thing about pianos, but our family wanted to get one for our young children - oldest soon to be 5 years old. This book saved the day. Some stores are honest - we had good luck with Yamaha and Kawai dealerships - but others play the price game by increasing the MSRP to unrealistic levels - The Piano Book changes the game and puts you in control - make sure you buy the supplement as well - that is where the prices are - and yes you can get to 20% to 30% off the standard prices listed in the supplement - as The Piano Book says. There is no way to figure out the leading brand names from the also rans or wanna bees if you are new to pianos without The Piano Book. With The Piano Book it is easy - see a brand in the store - and take the book with you - look it up and you will know if it is made in Germany - some great pianos, US, Japan - great quality control from Yamaha and Kawai, Korea - up and coming brands like Samick, or China and Indonesia (be careful). We ended up buying a 4-year old used piano that a neighbor found in the local newspaper - and yes we followed the The Piano Book's guidance and had the piano inspected by a qualified piano technician and moved by a specialized piano mover. Buy The Piano Book and the Supplement - with delivery the two books - money incredibly well spent. Good luck.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars For JapanChina only; Not helpful for quality European pianos
I purchased this book based on the glowing reviews on Amazon as well as on other piano related sites. Read more
Published on July 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful!
After a hiatus of almost 20 years, I decided that the time was right to buy a piano for myself and my young son. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2003 by C. M. Cha
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun as well as useful
I agree with everything said above about how useful this book is--it was my bible when I bought my piano. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for piano customers and dealers
I own a music store and have used this book a lot when researching piano brands as well as what to look for in a used piano. Read more
Published on July 5 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Biased
After studying the piano market for the past six years, I have found it continuosly changing and evolving. Read more
Published on June 28 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This book has everything you need to know about how to buy and maintain a piano plus a lot of entertaining information about piano industry and piano mechanics.
Published on April 25 2003 by Slava K.
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible!
Well worth it! If you are even considering buying a piano, buy this book first.
Get the supplement too -- it has excellent price guidelines. Read more
Published on June 30 2002 by "wbuddha"
5.0 out of 5 stars One book recommended by both NOVICES & EXPERTS!!
How can you go wrong? I am so impressed with this book. It was recommended to me by a Registered Piano Technician who saved me from spending too much money without being educated. Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2001 by Kelly Seymour
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