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on October 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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on 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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on July 5, 2003
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. There is a lot of valuable information contained in this book. For consumers, this will give a wonderful overview of the things to look for when purchasing a used piano. Highly recommended.
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on January 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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on May 1, 2002
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 ( 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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on October 12, 2001
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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on June 5, 2001
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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on February 8, 2001
I've read the third edition twice all the way through and have referred to it often since. Not only is it, as advertised, the indispensable guide or buying a piano, it contains well-written sections and diagrams on how a piano works, how to care for and maintain a piano and how to evaluate used pianos. I also recommend buying the supplement; it contains actual "street" prices for every make and model. Through this book I've learned such arcane facts as where to get optical midi readers for acoustic keyboards, where to get humidity controllers for the piano, the history and ups and downs of manufacturers through the decades, and how sound boards, stringing and parts of the action all affect the tone. I've played the piano my whole life and I considered myself a real piano snob, but this book educated me more about the instrument than my thirty years of experience. If you love the piano as much as I do but are slightly unsure of how all the parts work, or if you want to know exactly who all those bizarre manufacturers are you've never heard of before, or if you can't understand why Yamahas are everywhere when they sound so bad, then this book will explain it all to you. The book is obsessive, and it has a following (it also has a great web site). It's one long love-letter to the king of instruments, and I can't wait to read the fourth edition.
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on February 6, 2001
The new fourth edition of Larry Fine's Piano Book is the most informative one yet. I have enjoyed the three preceding editions immensely, but the fourth surpasses them all.
To me, the most valuable part of Larry Fine's book is the information on new pianos (although he supplies lavish information on piano mechanics,used pianos, piano care, and piano shopping as well as the information on new pianos). His book is unique in its effort to describe and explain the different brands and what sets them apart from each other. While the first three editions were all packed with useful information, the fourth edition adds an informal (but enlightening) rating system that ranks the new piano brands. This new rating system represents an extraordinary effort at an unbiased review of the different new brands, and it provides an extremely useful comparison among brands.
The rating system breaks new pianos down into general categories, providing a basis for the reader to use in comparing pianos within categories as well as between categories. Within each broad category, the rating system ranks the various brands. While many of the brands end up with similar ratings, this highly useful fact in itself provides the reader with enough knowledge for an educated evaluation of claims made by dealers in rival brands. The dealers should note: as Larry Fine points out, it is poor selling technique to try to sell pianos by criticizing the competition! Larry Fine's rating system highlights the unwisdom of this critical approach.
Educated by Larry Fine, a piano shopper will have a much more enjoyable experience than he or she might otherwise have had. You may agree with what he says, or disagree with it. You may find an individual piano that transcends the category into which the average piano of that brand seems to fall, or one which does the opposite. But at least you will be in a position of greater knowledge when you shop. Moreover, the book is well written and fun to read. A truly remarkable collection of attributes!
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on September 13, 2001
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. Buying a new or used piano is something that requires alot of patience, preparation, and education. This book is the perfect investment. Larry Fine begins by the basics of how a piano works and goes on to explain in detail why never to move a piano yourself, to provide a checklist for examining a used piano prior to purchase, to elaborate on room acoustics, and to discuss and evaluate the different brands and their strengths and weakensses. If you need to sell, buy, tune, shop, measure, hear, appraise, evaluate, or clean a piano, Mr. Fine is the BEST place to begin. These FEW things are just the beginning of what this book has to offer. If you are serious about buying or selling a new or used piano, this is your first stop!
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