Tag Archives: Louisville

The Perfect Church Piano

A Church PianoIf you’ve been following our blog, you’ve probably noticed that this topic comes up from time to time.  …and while I’ve tried to recommend a number of digital instruments over the years, some of you have brought it to my attention that I’ve never discussed an ideal acoustic piano for your church.  As usual, different folks have different opinions, but I’ve been a worship leader for almost 15 years and I’ve been in the piano business for even longer than that.  Hopefully, my combined experience will help you cut through the sales hype and find the perfect worship piano for your church.

As always, please feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts or questions.  I take the time to respond to everyone.

God bless!

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The Ultimate Worship Keyboard or Digital Piano

worship keyboard

In January of 2011, I wrote a blog called “Finding the Ultimate Worship Keyboard” hoping that my experience as both a worship leader and a professional piano consultant would help other Music Ministers better navigate the confusing waters of piano (and keyboard) retail.  To my surprise, that blog quickly exploded into the most read – and one of the most commented upon – blogs in Gist history.  Now, over six years later, new technologies and considerations have given me reason to revisit this topic and (perhaps) expand upon it.  As always, it is my sincere hope that my experiences will help you find the worship tool that best fits your needs and those of your ministry.  I am sure some folks will disagree with my conclusions, but (God willing) the meat of these discussions will nourish all of us!  Thank you for reading and God bless!

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Jazz Up Your Derby Party with Gist!

The flowers are blooming; the leaves are poking out and everywhere the sounds of unlucky allergy sufferers sniffling and sneezing their way around town fill the air.  That’s right, Kentuckiana, Spring is here and it’s time to start getting ready for Derby!

What are you doing for your Derby party this year?

Why not karaoke?  Did you know that our QRS PNO3 System is full of fun sing-a-long music designed to make your party the talk of the town?  Gather around your tablet and sing along as the words appear on your screen.  The piano will provide all the background music – including drums!  Make your party SWING with a player piano from Gist!  Right now, we have player piano specials starting at $15,000 and we can guarantee pre-Derby delivery… but act NOW!  Time is running out!

Already have a piano?  Contact us today and we’ll ADD player technology to your existing instrument!  We can bring your piano in, clean it, tune it and install the system just in time for the festivities!  Contact us today for custom options and our 2017 Derby Discount!

Maybe you plan to have a live piano player at your party?  If so, make sure you’re piano’s in tune and ready for the big event.  Contact our Service Department and request a Priority Pre-Derby Tuning Appointment now.   …but hurry!  We’re filling up fast!

Need to move your piano into another room or enclosure for your Derby party?  Contact us now and we’ll not only agree to move your piano, we’ll offer you a special Derby Discount (good between now and Oaks).  Don’t wait!  Get on the schedule today!

The sounds of Thunder will soon fill the air and everybody will be celebrating!  Let us help you make YOUR Derby party stand out this year!  Lead the pack with sensational musical experience from Gist!

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Introducing Seiler

Gist Piano Center and the SMC Corporation, US are proud to announce a new partnership between Gist and the Seiler Piano Company.  This partnership gives Louisville and surrounding area residents their first-ever access to the legendary line of Seiler pianos.

factorySince 1849, the Seiler family has been handcrafting World-class pianos in Kitzingen Germany.  Considered by many to the be finest pianos made in the World, these limited-production instruments have (until recently) only been available to the European Piano Market.  However, in 2008, the SMC Corporation purchased the Seiler company, the factory and even the forest from which Seiler pianos get much of their wood.  Now, not only are Seiler pianos coming to America in a big way, but they are also taking the Internet by storm.

Here are just a few examples:

These igeschichte_teaser_01_5cb538452bncredible instruments now come in three distinct lines.  The handcrafted German Seiler models remain at the very height of piano building.  For the most discerning pianists, these instruments offer unparalleled performance and beauty.  For serious players, teachers and universities, the Edward Seiler line is derived from the most popular German models and handcrafted in Indonesia – bringing the World-class quality of Seiler pianos to an entirely new (and more budget-conscious) clientele.  Johannes Seiler pianos also feature World-class German engineering at an attractive price for all budget ranges.

johannesTogether, the three lines of Seiler pianos give Louisville-area residents their first taste of German engineering at its best with a European tonal flair.  They are a definite delight to the senses – as well as an affordable option for any home.

Come in and explore the all-new Seiler pianos at Gist Piano Center and join us in wishing Seiler a warm “willkommen” to Louisville!

…and, for more information on Seiler pianos, watch this fantastic video!

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Ask James – Which Pianos are the Best?

One of the great joys of working in The Piano Business is meeting people around the World who share your love of music.  Invariably, when I travel, I encounter at least a few people who ask me what I do.  When I tell them I work in The Piano Business, they light up – full of personal stories that either make them glad they play or wish they did.  The second inevitable question they ask me is really The Great Question of our Business:  Which Pianos are the Best?  I usually try to deflect the question – citing personal presence, differing student needs and budgetary limitations… but every once in awhile, I encounter someone who really wants to know how I determine which pianos to represent and what criteria drive my interest in new brands.  Obviously, that question requires a more detailed answer… so I thought I would make it the topic of my next blog.

Growing Up Steinway

Every piano store has a “headline” brand (a company they promote heavily due to a number of factors, including quality, value, reputation and performance).   My company is no different.  In fact, Gist Piano Center began their relationship with Steinway & Sons in 1975 – a year before I was even born.  You can read more about how that relationship formed here.  For almost 39 years, Gist Piano Center promoted Steinway as “The World’s Finest Piano” due to its handcrafted quality, vast history and brand name recognition.  The truth is, however, there are many other pianos who could claim to be “The World’s Finest Piano,” including such illustrious brands as Bosendorfer, Fazioli, Grotrian and more.  Gist selected Steinway & Sons because they were made in America and because they were far less expensive than their European competition.  This is what made Steinway & Sons a fantastic “headline brand” during those years.

steinway pianoI worked part-time in the piano business during the mid-90s, but I joined The Piano Business as a career officially in 2001.  I started at a small piano store in Illinois that also used Steinway & Sons as their headline piano brand.  They also carried the Steinway-designed Boston piano, Essex, Kohler & Campbell pianos, Knabe and Roland Digital Pianos.  It was a great mix.  I grew up in The Piano Business fully immersed in Steinway product (as well as a few others).  I even went through five years of Steinway training and to graduate from “William Steinway University” (a marketing initiative designed to help piano retailers learn the Steinway system of brand promotion).    Thus, when I decided to move out of my small town and into a larger community, Gist was a natural fit – considering that they carried all the same brands I did in my small town piano store.

The Changing Face of Retail

When I first came to Gist, I was surprised at how comparable most things were to my experiences in Illinois.  Granted, folks in Kentucky preferred mahogany woods over walnut, but things were otherwise very similar.  The winds of change were blowing, however, and I eventually began to see problems with our piano selection.

First of all, The Great Recession of 2008 made it very difficult to sell high-priced, handmade pianos in Kentucky.  There just wasn’t much market for a piano that retails for over $50,000.  We had no problem selling used ones (a practice we have continued to this day), but selling NEW American pianos became increasingly difficult.piano prices

Secondly, despite a total lack of inflation, these high-priced pianos continued to increase in cost annually.  Having just seen this phenomenon in the housing industry, we realized that carrying new, high-cost pianos with inflated price tags would only push clients to shop for used or rebuilt pianos.  It was a bad decision for our clients and for us.

Around this same time, we began to see how mobile devices were changing the face of piano education.  More and more students were purchasing digital copies of print music and using play-a-long material in their daily practice.  In order to stay relevant in to today’s piano students, we needed to partner with a company who understood the future of the piano industry.

It was time for us to make a change.

Finding New Brands

Immediately after cancelling our relationship with the American piano brand, we decided to take on a famous Japanese brand.  …and, at first, we were pleased with the decision.  They we were well-respected, they had a ton of great resources and they had a strong focus on technology.  Unfortunately, we discovered that they had their own set of problems.

First, their technology was pretty expensive.  Most of the technology they offered put their pianos out of reach for beginners with a limited budget.  Instead of buying a piano with factory-installed headphones system, our clients would purchase a “silent” system and have it installed yamaha clavinovaon one of our other piano brands – for a lot less money.

Secondly, the acoustic piano market was flooded with used pianos shipped in from Japan and China (with just a little cabinet polish and hammer filing).  In many cases, these used pianos were better deals than the new ones – and the “Grey Market” argument we were given to disavow them was so shaky even my factory rep had a hard time believing it.  Again, selling used pianos was easy.  Selling new ones… not so much.

Finally, after only two years, we made arrangements to go our separate ways.

A Way Forward

During this low point, I began to look back over our brand history and I noted that Gist has carried over 35 different piano brands throughout its 45-year history.  Famous brands like Petrof (1996-2003), Estonia (2009-2011), Kawai (1998-2005), Kimball (1988-1996), Story & Clark (1979-1981), Wurlitzer (1975-1981) and Pearl River (2004-2005) had all been a part of our past.  We sold a TON of them even though they weren’t our “headline brand.”  …and that made me question whether or not we needed a “headline brand.”

With all this in mind, I went to the big music trade show in Anaheim – a showcase for piano brands from all over the World.  I spent four days playing everything – from starter-level pianos to high-end designer grands.  I even played a $450,000 piano that looked like a peacock!  Phew.
My goal was to find The Best Piano for my store.  It had to have a familiar name, a solid reputation, top-notch construction, great warranty support, a magnificent sound and touch and the ability to interface with modern technology.  It also had to be affordable for more of the people in my community… and I’ll admit that I was not optimistic that I would find a brand that fits this tall order.piano trade show

Luckily, The Piano Business is going through a strange metamorphosis right now.  Over the past several years, economic factors have caused brands like Baldwin, Wurlitzer, Chickering, Ellington, and Story & Clark to go out of business – selling their brand names to larger companies who have consolidated their own offerings down to just a handful of pianos.  The Business has shrunk so much that we’re actually starting to see NEW brand names (like Kingsburg, Brodmann, Geyer and more) emerging from the ashes.  Thankfully, I was able to find the perfect solution for our company.

Introducing Brodmann

Finally, after months of research, teacher trials, performance testing and brand vetting, I am proud to say that we have found THE Best Piano… for now:  Brodmann.  …and that is really how it works.  Because brands in The Piano Business come and go so rapidly, it’s really impossible to shop by brand anymore.  THE Best Pianos are the ones who give the best performance and longevity for the best possible price… and that is an equation that can change overnight. 

Brodmann PianosThankfully, our staff of highly-trained technicians, piano historians and business leaders are constantly evaluating our inventory – making sure that our clients get THE Best Piano for THE Best Price.  …and while I’m sure everyone says that about their pianos, I can offer you something they can’t:  proof.  That’s right.  After 45+ years and over 35 different brands, we at Gist can tell you not only which brands are wonderful today… but we can tell you which ones will hold up well over their 40-year lifespan.  …and we can take pianos apart and show you what makes ours better than anyone else’s in town.

Like Gist Piano Center, I am far less impressed by a fancy logo or a high price tag.  I have seen how brand names can lead folks astray time and time again.  Instead, I am much more interested in the quality of a piano’s construction – much more concerned about the instrument’s design than its marketing… and I’m much more attracted to its performance than to its luxury price tag.  THAT is what makes Gist different.  We are working hard with our community partners to build a new generation of piano players and we are dedicated to making sure we outfit those players with THE best instruments their money can buy.  Which piano is best?  Once you take the time to get to know us, I can say this with confidence.  The best piano is the one we recommend just for you.  Come in today and see what’s new!  Better yet – ask us why we picked it!  You’ll quickly see why an investment at Gist is truly a “sound” one.

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