Since its inception in 1956, the Pearl River Piano Group located in Guangzhou, China has become the largest and best-selling piano manufacturer in the world. The factory is an impressive 1.2 million square feet in size, employs over 4,000 workers, and puts out roughly 150,000 pianos per year. The factory makes a few lines of pianos, of which the ‘Pearl River’ branded ones are the most affordable.
Pearl River has recently emerged as a reliable and permanent member of the grand piano manufacturing community, following years of steady growth and improvements. They have built a brand around low-cost pianos that defy some of the traditional ‘Chinese piano stereotypes’ that gave the country’s offering such a poor reputation early on: unreliable, musically poor, and aesthetically inferior.
Today’s Pearl River offerings are none of those things. Steady innovation and collaborations with the likes of Schimmel and Steinway have improved the musical designs of the grand pianos substantially. The quality control and craftsmanship have improved but still require a capable dealership to ensure a good long-term experience. And the aesthetics have been brought to an equal level with that of mid-range Indonesian pianos.
The Ritmuller line of pianos, featuring enhanced scale designs and some component quality improvements, has also been received positively in the market. The company makes a wide assortment of grand pianos across both brands, including baby grands all the way up to concert grand pianos.
All this to say, spending ‘x’ amount in the 2020s on a Pearl River will give you a considerably better piano than spending the same amount on a Chinese piano in the 2010’s would have.
And for that precise reason, Merriam Pianos is proud to offer Pearl Rivers to our customers for those interested in affordable, elegant instruments for light-to-medium level home use; of the more than 10+ options in the marketplace that have similarly-priced offerings, none deliver the piece of mind that these instruments do.
Pearl River has taken its actions entirely ‘in-house’, and adopted several best practices from other manufacturers. These include slow-fall fallboard systems, hornbeam action components for added stability, aluminum action rails, and improved hammer quality. They also feature spruce keys for better geometry.
For additional satisfaction, Pearl River GP170’s benefit from additional preparation activities by dealers able to offer it, including string lubrication, additional string stretching and pin setting, and action regulation.
The GP170 presents a balanced and even tone across its range, with a robust dynamic output. The Roslau strings contribute to improved harmonics, and high-quality bridges ensure a good connection between string and soundboard.
The Roslau strings are wrapped around cut-thread tuning pins, which sit in a high-quality pinblock. Pearl River also takes the unusual step of using sand cast plates (something of debatable value) but nonetheless evidence of a high-quality production process.
Pearl River is actually one of the few piano companies left which continue to make their own hammers; others on this list include Yamaha, Kawai, C. Bechstein, and Steinway. This has allowed them to manage costs and quality at a higher level than other Chinese manufacturers, who are either forced to use low-cost domestic 3rd party options, or import more costly German hammers from Abel or Renner.
The Gp170 uses an all-spruce laminated soundboard. Historically a sign of inferior musical performance, a greater degree of research and development has produced many laminated soundboard designs that greatly enhance tuning stability with few musical drawbacks.
The GP170 is available in a wide variety of finishes, such as polished ebony/ebony polish (shiny black), mahogany polish, walnut polish, and ebony satin. Custom finishes are not available due to the factory nature of production.
- Solid Brass Hardware
- German Röslau Strings
- Pearl River Hammers with imported German Reinforced White Felt, Mahogany Hammer Core
- Pearl River Action
- All Spruce Tapered Soundboard
- Multiple Ply Beech Pin Block
- Slow Close Fallboard
- Grained Mahogany Polish
- Mahogany Polish
- Walnut Polish
- Ebony Polish
- Ebony Satin