The Konzert grands consist of two model groups. In the first, Schimmel has created a "trilogy" of grands by marrying the front end (keyboard) of its 7' grand to two new models: 5' 7" and 6' 3". The new models all have the same treble scale, keyboard, and action as the 7' grand, and so all three have a similar sound and touch. The case sides are angled slightly to obtain a larger soundboard, a technique now applied to all the grand models. The pianos also have triplex scaling (front and rear duplexes) for greater tonal color. The second group, also a "trilogy," consists of the 7' 5", 8' 4", and 9' 2" semi-concert and concert grand models. In this group, all three models have the same keyboard and action as the concert grand. These models also have tunable front and rear duplex scales, reinforced keys for optimal energy transmission, and mineral keytops to mimic the feel of ivory, among other advanced features.
The 6' 3" model K189 and 7' model K213 are currently available in a Nikolaus W. Schimmel (NWS) model. Built to commemorate the retirement of the elder Nikolaus Schimmel, this model has many small technical and cosmetic refinements, uses top-quality soundboard material, and receives greater final preparation at the factory to create a really superior instrument. In 2010, to commemorate the company's 125th anniversary, Schimmel issued special anniversary editions of some of its more popular vertical and grand models.
Schimmel grand pianos have historically had a tone that was very bright and clear, but a bit thin and lacking in color in the treble. The grands were redesigned, in part, to add additional color to the tone, and the result is definitely more interesting than before. Sustain is also very good. The pianos are being delivered to U.S. dealers voiced less bright than previously, as this is what the American ear tends to prefer. As for the verticals, the smaller ones tend to have a very big bass for their size, with a tone that emphasizes the fundamental, giving the bass a warmer character. The 51" model K132, which features a grand-shaped soundboard, has a very big sound; listening to it, one might think one was in the presence of a grand.
In 2002, Schimmel acquired the PianoEurope factory in Kalisz, Poland, a piano restoration and manufacturing facility. Schimmel is using this factory to manufacture its Vogel brand, a moderately priced line named after the company's president. Schimmel says that although the skill level of the employees is high, lower wages and other lower costs result in a piano approximately 30 percent less costly than the Schimmel. Vogel grand pianos feature full Renner actions, with other parts mainly made by Schimmel in Braunschweig or by the Kalisz factory. The Vogel pianos, though designed by Schimmel, don't have all the refinements and advanced features of the latest Schimmel models. Nevertheless, the Vogels have received praise from many quarters for their high-quality workmanship and sound.
Schimmel now imports an entry-level series of pianos from China under the name May Berlin, a name long owned by Schimmel but not used for a number of years. The pianos are made by several selected suppliers. The company says it sends soundboard wood and hammer felt for grand pianos to the factory in China. When completed, the pianos are first shipped to the Schimmel factory in Germany for inspection. Those that don't conform to Schimmel's standards are returned to China; the rest are further prepared before being sent on to dealers around the world.
Warranty: Schimmel, Vogel, May Berlin — 10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.
Pianos made by: Schulze Pollmann s.r.l., Borgo Maggiore, San Marino
Schulze Pollmann was formed in 1928 by the merger of two German piano builders who had moved to Italy. Paul Pollmann had worked first with Ibach, then with Steinway & Sons (Hamburg), before opening his own piano factory in Germany. He later moved to Italy, where he met up with Albert Schulze, another relocated German piano builder. Pollmann managed the combined firm until 1942, and was followed by his son Hans, who had managed the piano-maker Schimmel before returning to his father's firm. Recently the company relocated a short distance to San Marino, a tiny city-state completely surrounded by Italy.
Schulze Pollmann uses both sophisticated technology and handwork in its manufacturing. The pianos contain Delignit pinblocks, solid European spruce soundboards, and Renner actions and hammers. Interesting features include a one-piece solid lock (laminated) back made of beech on the verticals, agraffes on the larger vertical, and finger-jointed construction of all soundboards to prevent cracking. Many of the cabinets have beautiful designs and inlays.
The uprights are well built and have a sound that is warm and colorful with a good amount of sustain. The treble is not nearly as brittle sounding as in some of the other European uprights. Schulze Pollmann grands are likewise very nicely crafted and arrive at the dealer in good condition. However, they need solid preparation by the dealer to sound their best.
In 2005, Italian auto manufacturer Ferrari Motor Car selected Schulze Pollmann as a partner in the launch of its new Ferrari 612 Scaglietti series of automobiles. For the occasion, Schulze Pollmann crafted a limited-edition version of its 6' 7" model 197/G5 grand piano, still available, with a case that sports the Ferrari racing red and a cast-iron plate in Ferrari gray carbon, the same color as the engine of the Scaglietti. The car and the piano have been exhibited together in cities around the world.
Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, transferable to future owners within the warranty period.