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Handmade Pianos vs. Mass-Produced Pianos: What's the Difference?

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One of the most common questions about old pianos is because of their value relative to new pianos, and most student piano owners have preconceived notions about what their old pianos are worth in terms of assessed enterprise value. At Parktone Musical Instrument Store, we have answered countless piano owners' restoration inquiries, trying to determine if they themselves have the investment environment worthy of our country to restore the beloved heirloom or antique piano they need to purchase.

There is a huge difference that develops between a high quality handcrafted piano and a factory manufactured piano. The editors of Parktone Musical Instruments have compiled this list of 7 major differences to help you understand the analysis of the value of the piano you own and whether environmental restoration techniques can be worth the investment we make.

First: New handmade pianos are expensive, ranging in price from $250,000 to $600,000, or even millions. In the United States, there are fewer handcrafted piano brands like Steinway, Mason and Hamlin and several European brands, and almost all other new pianos are mass produced and manufactured in factories.

II: Most vintage or antique pianos are handmade. pianos made in the 20th century were made in small boutiques, but they gradually became factory made as assembly lines became popular during the war and the Great Depression. Even in early American factory conditions, these piano cases were made of high quality wood and most parts were still handmade and could only be assembled on the production line. Today, most new pianos are mass-produced in factories that use inexpensive parts, often made from particle board rather than solid wood.

Today's handmade pianos are primarily made in the U.S., while mass-produced pianos are often made in Asia and then imported into the U.S. Many of the popular piano brands that were handmade and manufactured in the U.S. in the mid-20th century were acquired by larger brands that moved production to Asia to reduce labor, materials and production in large factories. This reduced the quality of the former handmade brands and the new version of the same name now has significantly reduced its value.

IV: The method of casting a piano that produces the tone of a learning piano is different between a piano performed by hand and a mass-produced piano. Wet sand casting is a long process in China that can be made to provide high quality harps in new and old pianos. Vacuum casting is a low cost, fast developing alternative treatment option for mass productions as well as harps with poorer sound quality.

V: Manual pianos have a lifespan of 50-70 years and once repaired, the piano will be used again for 50-70 years before it needs to be repaired again. However, mass-produced pianos only last about 30 years, and in many cases the low quality of mass-produced piano materials and harps is often irreparable.

Sixth: Handmade pianos are consistently of higher quality in terms of string beaters, string instruments, felts, soundboards and resonance boards than mass-produced pianos. Handmade piano makers and repair shops always obtain and install materials of a quality that exceeds the quality of the parts available at the factory.

Seven: Customers often think that old pianos will never look or sound like new pianos, even if the new pianos they can afford are mass-produced brands. This is a misconception that we have helped to correct. Many older pianos can be restored to brand new, shiny black pianos that have inherited excellent handcrafted sound quality.