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The Definitive Piano Buying Guide for
including Johannes Seiler
Samick Music Corp. (SMC)
1329 Gateway Drive
Gallatin, Tennessee 37066
Pianos made by: Ed. Seiler Pianofortefabrik, Kitzingen, Germany; with Samick Musical Instrument Mfg. Co. Ltd., Bogor, West Java, Indonesia
Eduard Seiler, the company's founder, began making pianos in 1849, in Liegnitz, Silesia, then part of Prussia. By 1923 the company had grown to over 435 employees, was producing up to 3,000 pianos per year, and was the largest piano manufacturer in Eastern Europe. In 1945 and after World War II, when Liegnitz (now Legnica) became part of Poland, the plant was nationalized by the Polish Communist government, and the Seiler family left their native homeland with millions of other refugees. In 1954, Steffan Seiler reestablished the company in Copenhagen under the fourth generation of family ownership, and began making pianos again. In 1962 he moved the company to Kitzingen, in Bavaria, Germany, where it resides today. Steffan Seiler died in 1999; the company was managed by his widow, Ursula, until its sale to Samick in 2008. Seiler now produces about 1,000 pianos annually. Samick continues Seiler's tradition of making high-quality pianos, while diversifying the product lineup to suit a wider range of buyers.
Seiler uses a combination of traditional methods and modern technology. The scale designs are of relatively high tension, producing a balanced tone that is quite consistent from one Seiler piano to the next. Although brilliant, the tone also sings well, due to, the company says, a unique, patented soundboard feature called the Membrator system, used in Seiler's SE and ED lines: The perimeter of the soundboard is sculpted to be thicker and heavier in mass than the central portion of the board, forming an internal frame within the soundboard itself. The lighter, inner area becomes the vibrating membrane — a diaphragm on its own — unimpeded by the larger soundboard's attachment to the inner rim. Seiler says that its use of the Membrator system, as well as effective rib positioning, improves the soundboard's efficiency in radiating sound. It's easy to identify the Membrator by the tapered groove around the perimeter of the board.
The grands have wide tails, for greater soundboard area and string length. The German Seiler pianos feature Bavarian spruce soundboards, multi-laminated Delignit pinblocks, quartersawn beech bridges, full Renner actions, and slow-close fallboards. A few years ago, the grands were redesigned with a duplex scale for greater treble tonal color, and with longer keys and a lighter touch. Musically, these redesigns were very successful; they retained the typical Seiler clarity, but had longer sustain and a more even-feeling touch.
Beginning in 2010, Samick expanded the Seiler line to cover several additional price points. The top-level, SE-series instruments continue to be handcrafted at the Seiler factory in Kitzingen, Germany, just as they have been for many years. These come in two styles, Classic and Trend. The construction and specifications of the two styles are the same, but the Trends look a bit more modern, and sport a silver-colored plate and chrome hardware, whereas the Classics have the traditional gold- or bronze-colored plate and brass hardware. Both are available in dozens of special furniture styles with beautiful, exotic woods and inlays.
The mid-level Seiler pianos, the ED models, are also known as the Eduard Seiler line. The pianos are manufactured entirely at Samick's Indonesian factory, using German CNC machinery, to the exact scales and specifications of the hand-built German models. The actions include Renner wippen assemblies and an action rail of Delignit or hornbeam, with keys made by Samick.
New in 2016 is the custom model ED-186A, a specially prepared, limited-production version of the 6' 2" model ED-186, for the higher-level player who seeks a musical response greater than that generally found in regular factory-produced instruments. This model uses hand-selected Renner action parts, and higher-quality keys, keyframe, and hammers, all assembled, regulated, and voiced by Samick's Senior Technical Advisor at the company's facility in Tennessee.
In July 2013, the new Johannes Seiler line was introduced. Though it features cabinetry as beautiful as that of its more expensive brethren, this lower-cost line has its own scale design not shared by other Samick-owned brands, and is produced entirely in the company's Indonesian facility, using Samick's premium action and hammers from Abel. These three grand and three vertical models can be identified by the "Johannes Seiler" label on the fallboard.
At both the German and Indonesian factories, strung backs are inspected and cabinet parts carefully fitted to ensure that all specifications have been met to precise tolerances. Soundboard mass distribution and rib positioning are under strict quality control, to achieve consistency in the soundboard's acoustical properties. Pre-stretching of the strings is done several times, followed by multiple tunings, to ensure maximum stability. Hammer alignment, voicing, and key weighting and balancing are all carefully performed by experienced Seiler technicians, both at the factory and at the company's Tennessee distribution facility, before shipment to dealers.
Seiler's 52" upright is available by special order with the optional Super Magnet Repetition (SMR) action, a patented feature that uses magnets to increase repetition speed. During play, tiny magnets attached to certain action parts of each note repel each other, forcing the parts to return to their rest position faster, ready for the next keystroke.
Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.
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