Making Music

Some Parting Comments

It's fair to say that, in the United States, the New York Steinway sound is what the trained ear most often hears when listening to "serious" music. It follows that most in the piano industry — indeed, people in general — subconsciously, if not consciously, compare all piano sound to that of a performance-ready New York Steinway. This is not to suggest that this sound is good, bad, or indifferent, but rather that it is a "familiar sound" at some level. Because most U.S. piano technicians, though well intentioned, lack extensive experience with high-end pianos other than the New York Steinway, they may be inclined to use that "familiar sound" as a reference while working on and voicing other brands. As a result, those other brands typically end up sounding something like a New York Steinway, but usually with a sound that's rather small for their size, and without the characteristic tone and carrying power the manufacturer intended, and which could have been achieved had the technician had the requisite knowledge and experience.

Ed Whitting, RPT

Stephen Barker was born in Leicester, England. He has resided in Hannover, Germany since 1989, where he has worked as a piano technician for the past 15 years, currently at the Hannover University of Music and Drama. He can be reached at

Greg Boyd, RPT, has been servicing pianos for both private clients and concert artists in the Detroit area for more than 25 years, including eight years at Orchestra Hall.

Steve Brady, RPT, has 37 years' experience as a piano technician for private individuals, concert venues, piano dealerships, and universities. His latest book is Under the Lid: The Art and Craft of the Concert Piano Technician (Byzantium Books, 2008). He resides and works in Seattle, Washington. Visit his website at