The Charles R. Walter line consists of 43" and 45" studio pianos in various decorator and institutional styles, and 5' 9" and 6' 4" grands. Note that both vertical models have full-size actions and therefore are studio pianos, not consoles, as I define those terms. In fact, they are identical pianos inside different cabinets. Walter calls the 43" model a console because of its furniture styling, but due to its larger action, it will outplay most real consoles on the market.
Although Mr. Walter is not oblivious to marketing concerns, his vertical piano bears the mark of being designed by an engineer who understands pianos and strives for quality. The pianos are built in a traditional manner, with heavy-duty, full-length spruce backposts; a solid spruce soundboard; and Delignit pinblock. Exceptionally long, thick keys that are individually lead-weighted provide a very even feel across the keyboard. The scale design is well thought out and the bass sounds good most of the way to the bottom. The cabinetry is substantial, contains no particleboard, and is beautifully finished. Some of the fancy consoles in particular, such as the Queen Anne models, are strikingly beautiful. The pianos are well prepared at the factory and so need minimal preparation by the dealer.
The vertical pianos now use Renner actions, but a Chinese-made action is available as a lower-cost option, reducing the price of the piano by about $1,000 (list). The Chinese parts are virtually indistinguishable from the Renner parts, but they make the action feel just slightly lighter due to differing spring tensions.
The Walter 5' 9" and 6' 4" grands were designed by Del Fandrich, one of the nation's most respected piano-design engineers. Both models have high-quality features such as a maple rim, Renner action, Kluge keys, Delignit pinblock, tapered solid spruce soundboard, and Abel hammers (Ronsen hammers in the 5' 9" model). The 5' 9" grand also has a number of innovative features: A portion of the inner rim and soundboard at the bass end of the piano are separated from the rest of the rim and allowed to "float." Less restricted in its movement, the soundboard can reproduce the fundamental frequencies of the lower bass notes more as a larger piano does. A special extension of the tenor bridge creates a smoother transition from bass to treble. Eight plate nosebolts increase plate stability, helping to reduce energy loss to the plate and thus increase sustain. Inverted half-agraffes embedded in the capo bar maintain string alignment and reduce unwanted string noise. The Walter grands are competently built and play very well.
Warranty: 12 years, parts and labor, transferable to future owners within the warranty period.
WEINBACH — See Petrof.
WENDL & LUNG — See Feurich.
Wyman Piano Company
P.O. Box 506
Colusa, California 95932
Pianos made by: Beijing Hsinghai Piano Group, Ltd., Beijing, China
Wyman Piano Company was created by experienced former Baldwin executives with more than 60 years of combined piano industry experience. Although a relatively new company, Wyman distribution has grown to include the U.K., Germany, and Japan, as well as the U.S.
The regular Wyman line consists of six vertical piano sizes and four grand models in a variety of cabinet styles and finishes. All are based on German scale designs and are manufactured in China by the Beijing Hsinghai Piano Group (see Beijing Hsinghai) at that company's new 1.2-million-square-foot factory.
Wyman offers the model CD2 player-piano system by Pianoforce, a new entrant in the field of player-piano systems (see Pianoforce in the article on electronic player-piano systems). The optional CD system features a unique stamped rail designed specifically for these pianos that, according to the company, allows a much lower profile than other player systems that use universal rails to fit any piano. These are installed at the Beijing factory.
Wyman says that its executives make frequent trips to the factory in Beijing to monitor manufacturing and inspect finished instruments.
Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, transferable to future owners within the warranty period. Lifetime warranty on the soundboard.