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Another Happy Estonia Piano Owner!
By Sam Bennett
6/18/2013 1:10:00 PM  
Piano shopping can be a real task or a truly wonderful experience.  We work hard to make it both educational and fun.  We are always delighted to get customer feedback on our business.  Of course, it helps when you get to represent great piano makers like Estonia!
Dozier Letter - Estonia Pianos
Thank you Linda for giving us the opportunity to earn your business.

-The PianoWorks Staff

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Tags: Estonia Piano
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Customer Letter after 5 months with Estonia Grand Piano
By Sam Bennett
4/24/2013 5:19:00 PM  
Dear Don and Sam,

I want to thank you for the excellent service I received at PianoWorks. I am thrilled with the Estonia Hidden Beauty I purchased in your shop. It is everything I could want in a piano. The tone is beautiful and captivating in all registers and the action is wonderfully responsive. The Estonia brand was not on my radar when I was considering trading in my Steinway M so I consider myself fortunate that you introduced me to this wonderful piano. It will enrich my days for the rest of my life.
 
Also, I was quite pleased with the way you handled the consignment of my Steinway M. I know that your first rate restoration was the reason that the Steinway sold quickly and at a good price.

We are very lucky to have a piano dealership and restoration facility such as yours right in our own back yard.  Thanks again.

Sincerely,
Richard R.

Estonia L190 "Hidden Beauty" Grand Piano

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Tags: Estonia, Steinway
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NAMM 2012: Hanging out in Estonia Piano Booth
By Sam Bennett
2/7/2012 1:03:00 PM  
NAMM is the biggest music industry trade show in the world.  Held annually in January, NAMM will attract 100,000 manufacturers, dealers and musicians for every music category.  From accordians to zithers, microphones to stage lighting and, of course Pianos, NAMM is where new products are demonstrated and the business of music gets done.  For several years now, my favorite booth has been the Estonia Piano booth where Dr. Indrek Laul has created an oasis of relaxing chairs and relaxed smiles that make business a pleasure and attract scores of great musicians to stop by and just play.

This year, Dr. Laul brought his family, making it the first NAMM for his two young boys.  NAMM is also just down the street from Disneyland, so no convincing was required.  This delightful family of musicians has successfully made it their business also.Indrek Laul with his boys
Indrek with his boys
Triin-Maret Laul on Estonia L225
I coaxed Indrek's wife, Triin-Maret Laul, into playing for us.
Rob Mullins, Frank Baxter, Indrek Laul
Indrek with new friend Rob Mullins and old friend Frank Baxter.
Indrek and Rebecca play a duet.
Indrek and Rebecca prepared some duets.
Estonia L190 in Pyramid Mahogany
Estonia L190 Grand Piano in Pyramid Mahogany finish.

I captured this video while at the booth of just a few of the musical guests and also Indrek, his wife Triin-Maret and later a duet with his son, Bruno.



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Tags: Estonia, Indrek Laul
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Winter NAMM 2010: wrap up
By Sam Bennett
1/18/2010 9:29:00 PM  
Saturday night I caught the redeye flight out of LAX and meandered my way back to Atlanta.  Low on sleep, my father and I prepared our showroom for a visit by an area church considering a new instrument for their sanctuary.  No rest for the weary traveler, but then NAMM was worth it.  I even have a few pictures to share.

Between my laptop, camera, video camera and cellphone, I found it difficult to weild the right media weapon.  No, I don't have a smartphone yet, but perhaps next year.  The bigger picture is that what I really needed was my own crew of photographers and cameramen, because everywhere I looked was something I wanted to share later.  I don't know what notions you may have about the music industry, but the NAMM Show encourages all kinds, all ages.

Mixed among the Suits (I wore a sportscoat) are crowds of blue jeans, leather and even some spandex.  I admit that some outfits really got my attention, but I loved that people could relax or dress for full effect.  This young lady dressed for full effect.
NAMM costume
And I continue to walk around the main floor of the showroom and I look to my right and see "Weird" Al Yankovic and think to myself, "No, she was weirder."
Weird Al Yankovic signing autographs
Okay, so besides the people watching, there was some great music.  I spent a few hours at the Estonia Piano booth to conduct business as well as help develop content for their new YouTube Channel.  Dr. Indrek Laul is both the owner and a very accomplished pianist.
Dr. Indrek Laul at Estonia Concert Grand Piano
Some other great musicians stopped by, so check the Estonia Piano Channel for videos to come.

There is also a stage in the lobby near the main entrance, and throughout the day, performers rev up the crowd.  NAMM organizers do a great job of inviting a good variety of performers.  PRS Guitars presented Orianthi and I snapped a few pictures.
Orianthi onstage at NAMM 2010
Orianthi onstage at NAMM 2010, closer
On another day, Wicked Tinkers started our day.  They brought their kilts and drums and put on a great show.
Wicked Tinkers on stage, NAMM 2010
Wicked Tinkers off stage, NAMM 2010
NAMM attracts musicians at every turn who just enjoy performing like these two guys who brought a battery-powered setup to play on the sidewalk outside the Anaheim Convention Center.
Street performers outside NAMM
You can also checkout PianoWorks Channel on YouTube for related videos.

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Going To Anaheim: NAMM 2010
By Sam Bennett
1/9/2010 9:57:00 PM  
Next Thursday, my father and I will forgo necessary sleep and catch a painfully early flight out of Atlanta for a good cause, Winter NAMM 2010.  I feel it is for a good cause, though not charitable in the usual sense.  NAMM is a music trade show, THE music trade show, the biggest in the world.  But this trade show has a musical soul.

Okay, so NAMM is actually a fantastic organization with cool members and a social conscience; NAMM works year-round (over 100 years worth of work) to bring together the world's music makers, innovators and business leaders.  NAMM, the organization, hosts Winter NAMM 2010, the event that I'm giving up so many precious Zzzz's for.

I've been a few times now, but it is hardly routine.  We hustle across the huge grounds with more distractions than the Las Vegas Strip to make our appointments.  Imagine all instrument manufacturers, from trombones to drums to drum machines to sitars to synthesizers...and pianos in one place.  They can fit a ton of guitars in a booth but pianos are big!  Let's talk pianos:  Bosendorfer and Bechstein and Estonia and Mason & Hamlin and Schimmel, Sauter, Seiler, Steingraeber, Samick, Sohmer, (maybe I'll just hang out in the letter "S" pianos?) Story & Clark, Steinway is nearby....  Now multiply that by every other instrument.  Oh, and don't forget all the sheet music publishers, the stage lighting and effects, recording studio outfitters, software, and anything else you might need a treble clef for.  Take a breath and then fill those booths, hallways and hotels with passionate musicians of all levels. 

Nearly everyone there plays...so jam sessions spontaneously erupt all around you.  The famous and the rest of us get together, and we believe in music.

On a previous trip, I spent an hour shuttle ride from the airport getting to know the drummer from Matisyahu.  I enjoyed that.  At the same show, I went back to Bosendorfer's booth at the end of the day to find a bench and rest my feet.  Valentina Lisitsa stopped by, we closed the doors and enjoyed a private concert for about 15 of us.  She played for over 20 minutes, so cautious and curious passersby were drawn to her, and the crowd slowly grew.  That was special for us.

There is much trade at the trade show, but a bigger accomplishment for the industry is how NAMM serves to energize our people.  NAMM focuses the passion that brought us to the business of helping others make music.  That is special for us.

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Tags: NAMM, Bosendorfer, Estonia, Schimmel, Steinway, Story & Clark
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Customer Makes The Uncommon Selection: Estonia
By Sam Bennett
11/14/2009 6:30:00 PM  
A nice gentleman came by last week searching for a grand piano for his oldest daughter.  He was referred to our store by several close friends and colleagues.  She has been studying piano for several years, and she is at the level where a grand piano will help her proficiency and prepare her for more challenging and competitive playing.  She also really loves piano, and Papa wants to support her passion and hard work.  Also, his younger daughter is nearly ready to begin playing.  Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone else?

His family's first piano was a Yamaha console.  He bought it gently used from his local dealer and it served the family well.  His friends, many of them musicians, safely suggested that a Yamaha grand piano would be the logical next step.  His pursuit for a good deal on a gently used Yamaha grand (as well as the personal referral of those same friends) led him to visit with us one week ago.  He spoke with my father and we had two good choices in range of his budget.  I greeted him in our showroom.

While welcoming our new customer, we walked through our showroom discussing pianos and learning his needs.  He stopped curiously to ask about a piano that caught his eye.  He thought the piano was beautiful, but it was the name that puzzled him.  He'd never seen an Estonia piano before.  I spent a minute introducing the piano, but we continued on to the Yamaha grands.  We had two Yamaha grands, a 5'3" GC-1 and a 5'8" C-2, both well-prepped and in the very best condition.  After comparing, he saw the value in investing a little more for the larger C-2.  The decision was basically made, but he was going to share with his family and let me know.  Our visit ran into his next appointment, but his curiosity about the Estonia pianos caused him to spend a few more minutes with them and take a brochure.  I think at that point he was as interested in Estonia, the company and the country, as he was in the piano that caught his eye.  The brochure, while lovely, tells only part of Estonia's story, so I put together a few extras from the world around to send to him after he left.

We continued to communicate over the next few days, still satisfied with his choice of the Yamaha, but asking questions about the Estonia.  I'm going to share some of my substantive e-mails to him:

Hello ******,

First, I will make the arrangements to have the Yamaha and Estonia on our showroom floor for side by side comparison.  I can make that happen by Wednesday afternoon.  I will convey to our staff this is will remain a surprise.

I feel the side by side comparison truly is the best way because selecting a piano is less about "the better brand" and more about subjective preferences.  My advice to customers becomes simplified, look among pianos/brands whose quality you are comfortable with and then select the one you like playing/listening to the best.  If your committee prefers the Yamaha, then wonderful, but if the conclusion is the Estonia, then I hope you will accept what so many of my other customers have come to learn about this relatively hidden gem.  Yamaha is a big, successful brand and I've sold more Yamaha pianos than Estonias over the years, but the only times I've ever had a Yamaha selected over an Estonia is because of budget.

I'm going to answer your question as best as I can.  I have nothing bad to say about the Yamaha C-series piano, but I do want to shed some perspective.  Billy Joel, in an 2007 interview in Keyboard Magazine said "I've noticed with Yamaha, you'll always get a good piano.  I don't think there's such a thing as a bad Yamaha.  But I don't think Yamahas are exceptionally brilliant pianos.  They're always consistently good."  He goes on to talk about Steinways as either "flawed or absolutely brilliant" and "most Bosendorfers aren't good - they're really good.  They're always top-notch pianos."  This is the perspective that I consistantly see.  When an artist or performer is traveling to different venues, their fear of a bad instrument outweighs their desire for a wonderful one.  This is Yamaha's strength, consistancy, predictability, utility.  Beyond that, people, artists and the rest of us, will desire more for our personal choice.

Yamaha's best known artist, Elton John, plays a custom built instrument that is nearly as much electronics as acoustics that allow him to create a unique stage show.  The size and scope of Yamaha's artist program is a wonderful thing that their success has afforded them. 

If you ever watch the TV show House, in early seasons, Dr. House plays on an older Knabe piano, but with the success of the show, Yamaha saw an opportunity to fit in a product endorsement and put a huge logo on all sides of the now new piano.

Estonia pianos are a remarkable story.  I love the Austin, Texas' Steinway dealer's comment from the AJC article. "We may only get 10 a year because they don't make that many and they really are pieces of art," showroom manager Matthew Bird said. "The technicians that tuned the ones we just got in already have been raving about their sound and quality."  That article ran in over 75 papers nationwide.

Barker Hickox, well-known music and arts philanthopist, became fascinated by Estonia pianos and helped put them on stage for Jazz festivals around the country.  His love of the pianos led to friendship with Dr. Laul who was one of his pall-bearers when Mr. Hickox recently passed.

"WRTI, Philadelphia's only classical music station, had a new studio built including a "state of the art" recording space that can also be used for live performance and masterclasses. The piano in the space is an Estonia 190.  There have been numerous recordings made with this piano, particularly chamber music, as this space has become a preferred place for many Philly Orchestra members." - Rich Gallassini, Piano Forum.  Marc-André Hamelin recently recorded an album there.

http://bit.ly/1iLpSm is a link to Rachmoninov plays Rachmoninov (Amazon.com).  The historical Ampico player recordings were reproduced and recorded on an Estonia Concert Grand.  Great care went into this project, and Estonia was selected for the task.

In the last few months, one of Canada's most prolific Jazz recording studios in Calgary run by Aaron Young has selected an Estonia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5wVWWvFiNs keyboardist from the rock band, Smashing Pumpkins, gave a great video review of Estonia pianos.

Stories like these keep piling on top of each other. 

An artist program is very expensive to develop, and even Steinway could not afford to start one today.  They can largely rely on the existing instruments in various venues.  For most companies, to support an artist, they have to truck the piano around with them.  Very few artists can support this expense (by generating extra sales).

I know of several local teachers who have selected Estonia pianos from us in the past several years.  I am reaching out to them to see if they are available for you to speak with.

Estonia is a brand that has, in the past, survived because of great value and is now thriving because of great quality.

Mostly, let's see how your daughter likes it.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

She visited, she selected the Estonia as her favorite, and her godmother (a very good player and member of the "piano selection committee") was equally impressed.  In that moment, the decision to upgrade the family piano changed.  It went from "the right time to get a grand" to a genuine opportunity to add to the family.  He saw the legacy being built, this piano inspired feelings about music, his relationship with music, music and his daughters.  This was worth the cost; this is what we in the piano industry would prefer to refer to as an "investment."  He invested in the time spent and values of his family.

We delivered his new Estonia piano yesterday.  Both the family and friends were gathered at their home as we pulled up with the piano.  We had both trucks running around town, so Yes, I was back on the delivery crew.  It was an exciting afternoon, and I think everyone was taking lots of pictures.  Mom and Dad were pleased, daughter was playing and hugging the piano, it looks beautiful, and that is only the beginning of this piano's story.

We deeply appreciate our customers' trust and continued support.

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Tags: how to buy a piano, Estonia, Yamaha, music educators
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