The Academy-series grands have an untapered soundboard, solid beech bridge with beech cap, maple hammer shanks, expansion-type keybed, and hammers with mahogany moldings and AA felt. The same quality wood and strings are used in both. The rim parts are joined, and the soundboard and ribs installed, in a more efficient, less time-consuming manner than with the C. Bechstein. C. Bechstein keys still use leather key bushings, whereas the Academy-series keys use the more conventional cloth bushings. Bone keytops are an option on the C. Bechstein pianos, and genuine ebony sharps are used on both series.

Bechstein uses its own Silver Line action in the Academy series and, in the C. Bechstein series, its Gold Line action, which has slightly stricter tolerances. As part of its global strategy, the company uses multiple suppliers for nearly all parts; parts for the Gold Line action come from Renner in Germany, while Silver Line parts come from China. Bechstein says that whatever the origin, all parts are inspected and reworked as necessary to conform to the company's rigid standards. Both actions appear to be well made, and both are of the Renner design, with the smooth, responsive touch characteristic of that design. Of course, the parts from Renner are more time-tested than the others.

The C. Bechstein cabinetry is much sleeker and more sophisticated than the plain Academy series, though both cabinets are finished to the same standards. The C. Bechstein plates receive the royal hand-rubbed finish; the Academy-series plates are just spray-finished in the conventional manner.

C. Bechstein grands are impeccably made in Europe with the customary brighter tone that Europeans prefer, and may need considerable voicing to suit the American musical taste. (However, several of my colleagues had high praise for the wide dynamic range, tonal color, and responsive action of the recently redesigned 7' 8" model C grand.) The company maintains that since voicing is a matter of overall piano design, their pianos are voiced at the factory to their tonal standard and should not be altered. Some customers may still prefer the slightly warmer sound of the Academy grands, which are also about half the price.

Bechstein engineers oversee production of the Bechstein-designed W. Hoffmann line of pianos in the company's Czech facility. This is a mid-priced line intended to compete with other mid-priced pianos from Eastern Europe. Currently it consists of five grand and four vertical models in two series. The Tradition series is completely made in the Czech Republic. The Vision series is assembled in the Czech Republic, but the strung back (structural and acoustical elements) is imported from China.

Warranty: 5 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.

BEIJING HSINGHAI

Beijing Hsinghai Piano Group, Ltd., part of the Beijing Hsinghai Musical Instruments Co., has been producing pianos in Beijing, China, since 1949. It manufactures more than 50,000 vertical and grand pianos annually, mostly for domestic Chinese consumption. In 2005 the company consolidated its three older plants into a new facility of 1.2 million square feet. The pianos are available throughout the world under the Otto Meister and Hsinghai (or Xinghai) labels, as well as under various other labels as joint ventures with other manufacturers and distributors, including Wyman and Altenburg. Kawai also has a joint venture with Beijing, though the pianos (formerly under the name Linden) are distributed only in Canada and Europe.

BERGMANN -- See Young Chang.

BLÜTHNER

including Haessler. See also Irmler.

Blüthner USA LLC
5660 W. Grand River
Lansing, Michigan 48906
517-886-6000
800-954-3200
info@bluthnerpiano.com
www.bluthnerpiano.com

In Canada, contact Blüthner Agency, Canada, at 416-236-8870
www.bluethner.ca

Pianos made by: Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik GmbH, Leipzig, Germany

Blüthner has been making pianos of the highest quality in Leipzig, in the eastern part of Germany, since 1853, and though nationalized in 1972, always remained under the management of the Blüthner family. Until 1900, Blüthner was Europe's largest piano factory. During World War II, the factory was bombed, but after the war the East German government allowed the Blüthner family and workers to rebuild it because the Blüthner piano was considered a national treasure (and because the Soviet Union needed quality pianos). With the liberation of Eastern Europe, Blüthner is again privately owned by the Blüthner family.

 

FALL 2009 -- page 148

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