Its wood and all the costs of the materials to make it. As noted previously, a piano made from 100% ebony is going to cost a lot to make.
In the case of instruments made from wood, the most costly part is often the wood itself and the labor required to make it. Most of the cost of making a piano is borne by the manufacturer who typically pay a manufacturer like Yamaha to cut, shape, load and ship the wood to the store. This is usually in order to satisfy the needs of certain consumers (like the folks who don’t like cherry or walnut, and want a piano that sounds like a viola), and in order to take advantage of the increased shipping costs. I’ve been lucky enough to work at a store that had a full-time piano shop at their store, where they shipped the wood to the store, cut and cut again until they had what they needed. If you’re like me, you want a piano that sounds like a viola. It doesn’t matter how good your hands are or how long you’ve owned your instrument. It all comes down to your ability to build a product that is well received, and in this case, you’re looking at $500 to $600 (and more) for a piano that is made from 100% ebony (which is much more expensive than the white ivory or rosewood options).
What makes an instrument expensive? The labor to make it.
It may be hard to believe or even see, but making a decent piece from a piece of wood is only about 3 times as expensive as making it from a piece of paper. You can make a guitar out of paper for less money (the body and most of the parts being cardboard, it’s really cheap if you only make your own guitars). I’d guess that if you spent $4 on paper and wanted to make a good guitar out of them, you’d spend about $4.50 on a pair of keys and some string, for a starting price of $200. The same can be said for a guitar that is made out of wood. Even if it took 1/2 the time of paper’s work, you’d only need about $5 of wood to make one guitar of any type. That’s a hell of a lot of time for a few dollars. It’s also worth noting that you can make decent strings out of paper for $0.10 per string (if you’re using the old common-practice method of cutting strings out of the
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