This basically new piano is built on the shell of a 1925 Steinway & Sons model B in the Louis XVI style. The only parts that remain from 1925 are, literally, the shell of the piano, the rim and the superstructure underneath, and the cast iron plate that sits astride the soundboard and holds the 20 tons of tension that the piano strings generate at pitch.
Everything else is new, and either what we think are the best retrofit parts available in the world, or custom-made by one of our rebuilding partners. The soundboard is made from raw, 800 – year – old Sitka spruce from the wilds of British Columbia by Erwin’s Soundboards By Design in Modesto, California. I have used over a dozen of these boards in DAP’s custom pianos, and every single one I’ve used has been deep, powerful, singing, and resonant. Their unique hybrid construction makes for super-stability tuning-wise.
The new action uses new keys and a rebuilt, reconfigured balance rail from the Roseland Piano Company; the action stack is new from Steinway, in most cases. If not, the stack is rebuilt with new maple inserts by John Dewey Enterprises. The whippens, shanks, and hammers are from Louis Renner and Company, the world’s oldest and arguably best parts maker. The back action, or damper action, and the new damper felt is usually by Tokiwa, an up-and-coming, very, very high – grade Japanese manufacturer.
The action is built by my partner and renowned action designer Stephen Bellieu. He uses the non-proprietary Stanwood protocols to balance the action, along with his own proprietary methods developed over the last 20 years. His actions have been judged to be among the best in the world by some of the greatest artists and piano technicians practicing today. Each action is custom-made to function according to its own unique parameters, and this is where our expertise in making dozens of these actions over the past two decades comes to the fore: we really do know how to make them feel good.
The plain wire strings are the Mapes Gold premium brand; the bass strings are custom, usually madeby one of the small, custom makers: GC Strings, J.D. Grandt, or HellerBass.
The exterior finish is done by my long-time collaborator, Classic Woods by Phenoyd. The finish is true lacquer, hand-rubbed, with many coats of sealer, then many coats of lacquer, and the hardware is either polished or plated to the customer’s preference.
My job, at the end of this process, is to take all these disparate parts and, through many rounds of regulation and voicing, make them work together, in consonance, in harmony.
My job is to make the pianos sing, with precise, intuitive regulation, voicing, and tuning. When all these elements are brought together in the manufacturing and refining process, the result is stunning.
My fond hope is to have a Salon in my home sometime in the early fall to showcase this amazing piano. Those of you who live in or near Los Angeles are welcome to comment on this blog and send me your contact details so I can invite you if and when the salon becomes a reality… I will certainly keep you all posted.