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The Definitive Piano Buying Guide for
including Gerhard Heintzman
Pianos made by: Heintzman Piano Company, Ltd., Beijing, China
Heintzman & Co. Ltd. was founded by Theodore August Heintzman in Toronto in 1866. By 1900, Heintzman was one of Toronto's larger manufacturing concerns, building 3,000 pianos per year and selling them throughout Canada and abroad through a network of company stores and other distributors. The pianos received high praise and won prizes at exhibitions. Even today, technicians frequently encounter old Heintzman pianos built in the early part of the 20th century and consider them to be of high quality. In the latter decades of the century, Heintzman, like other North American brands, struggled to compete with cheaper foreign imports. The factory finally closed its doors in 1986 and relocated to China. (For a few years thereafter, some pianos continued to be sold in Canada under the Heintzman and Gerhard Heintzman names.) At first the company was a joint venture with the Beijing Hsinghai Piano Group (see Beijing Hsinghai), but when the Chinese government began allowing foreign ownership of manufacturing concerns, the Canadian partner bought back majority ownership and took control.
The new company, known as Heintzman Piano Company, Ltd., is Canadian owned and managed and has a private, independent factory dedicated to producing Heintzman-brand pianos. Heintzman makes pianos to the original Canadian Heintzman designs and scales using some of the equipment from Canada. James Moffat, plant manager of the Canadian Heintzman factory for 40 years, has been retained as a consultant and visits the factory in China several times a year. The company even uses some components from Canada, such as Bolduc soundboards, in grands and larger verticals. The factory makes about 5,000 pianos per year.
The smallest vertical made under the Heintzman name is 43½" tall, but pianos for export to North America typically start at 48" and contain a mixture of Chinese and imported parts, such as pinblocks and treble strings from Germany and Mapes bass strings from the U.S. Verticals 48½" and taller use Renner Blue or Abel Blue hammers, and the largest two sizes have Canadian Bolduc soundboards of solid Eastern white spruce. All verticals 50" and taller have a middle pedal that operates a bass-sustain mechanism, as well as a Silent Switch that operates a mute bar for silent practice.
The grands — 5', 5' 6", 6' 1", 6' 8", and 9' long — also use German pinblocks and strings, Mapes bass strings, Renner Blue or Abel Blue hammers, and Canadian Bolduc or German Strunz soundboards of solid spruce.. The 9' concert grand comes with a full Renner action and Kluge keys from Germany. A Renner action is a higher-priced option on the other models. All grands come with a sostenuto pedal. A 6' 1" model patterned on the old Heintzman model D was introduced in 2007.
New in 2013, and aimed at a slightly more upscale audience, is the Royal series of verticals and grands, with two-tone cabinet trim and inlays on the inside of the lid, as well as a Bolduc or Strunz soundboard, Abel or Renner Blue hammers, and Mapes bass strings.
Heintzman Piano Company also makes the slightly less expensive Gerhard Heintzman brand. This line uses less expensive materials and components, such as Japanese hammers and a veneer-laminated spruce soundboard in the verticals (a Bolduc soundboard in some of the grands). The polished ebony grands have a silver plate and trim.
Warranty: Heintzman and Gerhard Heintzman — 10 years, parts and labor, from the factory, transferable to future owners within the warranty period.
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