Pearl River is now the world’s largest piano manufacturer. Building 143,000 pianos in 2019 makes Pearl River’s size larger than the next several largest piano brands combined!
Steinway was so impressed with Pearl River’s quality of construction and access to a vast network of affordable, skilled hand labor, Steinway & Sons’ of New York chose Pearl River to build their Essex line of pianos!
The 48” Yamaha U1 and Kawai K300 is an easy choice for a pianist with $12,000 to spare. Unfortunately, most pianists cannot afford a new Kawai K300 or a Yamaha U1 and venture into the used market.
China steals intellectual property. This is well documented in the US tech sector and countless other American and European industries, within The People’s Republic. In 2007, PR partnered with Lothar Thomma, formerly of Bechstein. Thomma traveled to Guangzhou and began the redesign of Ritmuller; a brand acquired by Pearl River a few years prior originally out of Göttingen, Germany since 1795.
Shortly after Thomma agreed to partner with Pearl River, it is reported by persons knowledgeable on this matter that Thomma allegedly discovered his designs on other pianos, bearing a different brand in the factory. This was apparently not part of their working agreement. Was that other brand Thomma discovered Pearl River? This is unclear.
What is clear, are the shocking similarities in design in several Pearl River and Ritmuller pianos. Looking at the 48” EU-122 Pearl River and the Ritmuller 48” UHX-121 it can be seen in the use of sand cast plates, the exact dimension and spacing of the back post system, steel reinforcement bar on the top panel, hydraulic fallboard, just to name a few. This apparently enraged Thomma and the partnership quickly dissolved.
Thomma’s designs help to propel the Pearl River EU-122 to international notoriety. In fact, even the respected author Larry Fine of The Piano Book selects the EU-122 as a “Good Value” as seen in the “staff pics” section of Fine’s book. Click the link below to view Fine’s chart.
Make no mistake, at $6990 a new EU-122 is a remarkable value, especially when compared to a decades-old preowned Yamaha U1 or Kawai K300. Affordable Chinese labor slashes the retail price by 40% of a Yamaha U1, while simultaneously offering high-quality materials end European design. It is simply compelling.
Since 2012 the EU-122 Pearl River has been one of the most popular-selling upright pianos at Dave’s Piano Showroom of Tampa Bay.
Vast numbers of piano shoppers in Tampa, Clearwater, St. Pete, Lutz, Palm Harbor, Orlando, Sarasota, Parrish, and elsewhere have decided that despite not being in love with the idea of a piano made in China and their clear bias towards Japanese made products; they chose Pearl River over Yamaha because Piano similarly priced like the Yamaha B1, Yamaha B2 and Yamaha B3 are NOT made in Yamaha Japanese factories. They are made in Yamaha’s Indonesian factories.
Obviously, China has a competitive advantage over Indonesia, as China has been the workshop of the world for the last 30 years, and they have gotten pretty darn good at it.