Posts

Genuine Steinway Parts

If you’ve glanced through my website, you will know that I am a big fan of Steinway pianos. They comprise a significant percentage of my personal tuning and maintenance clients, and an overwhelming majority of my restoration clients. 75% of the pianos I sell are used Steinways.

There are two reasons for this: first, Steinway did an insanely great job branding their name on the global consciousness as THE piano in the world and THE piano to have. Second, for almost all of their history, both Steinway factories – one in New York City, begun in 1854, and one in Hamburg, Germany, begun in 1880 – have been making, according to most artists, the finest pianos in the world.A

Here is the surprising fact:  320 million people in the world—the United States—know a Steinway piano that comes from the New York factory. The entire rest of the globe—some 7 billion people—know a Steinway piano that comes from the Hamburg factory.

Every single one of those German Steinways have action parts made by the oldest and most illustrious action parts maker in the world, Louis Renner. In essence, those parts made by Renner are genuine Steinway parts…for the 7 billion of us that don’t live in the United States.

Other than certain short periods in the 70’s and 80’s, every American Steinway piano used action parts that were either made by or subcontracted for Steinway to Steinway’s exact specifications.

Artisan rebuilders all over the world have a few brands of world-class after-market action parts to choose from when they restore a Steinway piano, or any piano, to its “as new” glory: Steinway & Sons, Renner, Abel, Tokiwa, Ronsen, Wessel, Nickel, & Gross, Isaacs, Yamaha…a long list.

If you restore a 1932 Ford coupe to its original glory, and you use a transmission built by a small, artisan, aftermarket company, is it still a Ford? Absolutely.

If you restore a Steinway grand piano, and use artisan aftermarket parts made by another company, is it still a Steinway?

Absolutely. Reputable rebuilders, using a wide array of parts from different manufacturers, restore Steinways to an incredibly high and excellent standard. Rest assured that when you fall in love with a piano like this, and buy it, you are buying a Steinway in all its glory. 

WHAT EXACTLY IS A “GRAY-MARKET” YAMAHA?

There have been thousands of words written, on various piano forums, about the pianos that are made in Japan—in the same factory, and with the exact same production line as pianos that are exported—and sold to Japanese buyers domestically. They are disparagingly called “gray-market” pianos, and they are not supported or recommended by the Yamaha […]

The Power of Tuning, Voicing, & Regulation…

…is massive. It is both physical, tangible, and psycho-acoustic illusion: your brain likes the radical improvement so much it sounds better than better—it sounds MAGIC.

As I’ve said so may times before, finding a piano technician with the skills to both diagnose and execute this work at a high level is rare. If you find one, hold onto her ferociously. Refer her to other people who will treat her with the respect and honor she deserves.

It comes down to this: high-end piano work, acquiring and perfecting the skills to make a piano sing, is hard. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and focus. Only a relatively small percentage of piano techs will make the sacrifice to actually get there.

When you find one that does—and you just have to look sensibly—hold onto them, my friends.

The Truth About Pressure Ridges

I have maintained literally hundreds of pianos over the last four decades whose soundboards have had little pooched-up lines along some of the glue joints. Many piano owners see these little pushed-up places, and they become very concerned; they think the piano is ruined, that it’s a lemon, that the warranty should declare the board […]

What is True Custom Steinway Restoration?

Well, I’ll give you an example. We built a whole new action and back action, or damper action, for the Steinway “D” concert grand that has been living on the Clint Eastwood Scoring Stage, at Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank, since 1928. It was sent back to the factory for a full restoration—new action, new keys, […]

Our Next Custom-Made Piano…

… Will be ready by the time I get back from teaching at the National Piano Technicians Guild Conference in Denver this next week – – – we’re just doing the final finish and action tweaks, and I will do my final days of work in the last days of July. This basically new piano is built […]

Weird Magic: How the room affects piano sound and feel

I just had another stark “experience replaces belief” thing happen. Last week I sat down and played a 1993 Steinway “L,” really listened to it, felt it, “grokked” it, as I’ve learned to do so quickly after 40 years. Normal living room, carpet underneath, nice spacious house, nice mix of hard and soft surfaces. The piano sounded […]