Evaluating The Performance Potential Of A Piano
Evaluating the performance potential of a piano is easy, especially when using a Gazelle Condition Report. To get started, begin your evaluation of each piano asking these two essential questions:
What level of performance was this piano designed for at the factory?
What is the current condition?
(Example of A Gazelle Condition Report)
If you answer these two questions (in this order), you will reframe the conversation from "you need to fix your piano because it is broken" to "what kind of pianist you aspire to be and I will help you get there". It has nothing to do with the name brand of the piano and everything to do with the musical potential available to the pianist playing on this piano.
Evaluating different types of pianos:
If you use this approach to make it easy for your customers to understand; then you will also make it easy for your clients to decide to invest in their piano. To make this easy on the customer simplify your evaluation down to these 3 categories:
The larger the size, the better the engineering and quality of manufacturing tends to be which generally increases the dynamic range available to the pianist from the action regulation and voicing; which increases the the performance potential of the piano. Concert instruments are at the top of this spectrum, spinets are at the bottom.
Size of Piano
The size of the piano is only one consideration when assessing an instrument's performance potential. Concert pianos (9' or larger grand pianos) are the largest and highest quality pianos ever manufactured. Professional level pianos are semi-concert grands (or very large uprights designed for people who don't have room for a large piano in their home). Advanced level pianos are the middle of the line pianos produced by manufacturers who focus on fitting a good piano into a smaller case. This includes mid-sized grand pianos and vertical pianos. Beginner Level Pianos are spinets, small vertical pianos of poor quality, and small grand pianos.
Quality of Manufacturing
All manufactures can be defined by having great, decent, or poor engineering and quality control in their factories. For example, a well engineered piano built with poor quality control means the idea of this piano will exceed the final product. To do this efficiently learn to distinguish between poor design / engineering and poor quality control at the factory. Use this as a starting point before you factor in wear and tear / age / and poor maintenance that degrades it's current condition.
Dynamic range is another word for (musical experience). This is where the piano's "current condition" becomes even more relevant to your assessment. Age & poor maintenance always shows itself in a reduced dynamic range and reduced musical experience. However, using words like 'Dynamic Range' and 'Musical Experience' is usually too vague a concept for most people to understand, so consider instead using simpler words that everyone can understand like "soft, loud, harsh, or abrasive". Saying "your piano can't play soft...", or "your piano can only play loud..." or "...this note sounds more abrasive than the others..." is a concept almost everyone can easily understand and more easily relate to.
Scoring your assessment
In each of these categories, it is best to create a simple scale that you consistently use to rate each piano: We recommend a ten point metric: Size (3), Quality Control (3), Dynamic Range (3), and an extra (1) point for the exterior condition of the case. This is less about being scientific and more about painting a picture for your customer that is easy for them to understand.
The piano in this example is an above average grand piano that has not been taken care of and is currently performing below that of an entry-level spinet. Using this approach makes it easy for the customer to see "My piano is currently performing below the musical level I need". This is a powerful and effective way to help your customers put words to the value of music in their life. As soon as they can verbalize this for themselves "My piano cannot meet my needs" they will choose to invest in more services to help them achieve a better musical experience from this piano (or start the process of trading up into a better piano).