Reminiscent of some piano designs attempted 200 years ago, Chernobieff's Mammoth is one of the most unusual pianos being built today. Dubbed a Vertical Concert Grand, Mammoth's model VCG stands 7' 2" tall, weighs 1,200 pounds, and has the scale design and sound of a 9' concert grand.
The piano's immense structure includes six laminated wooden back posts and a welded steel frame, yet despite its bulk, the instrument appears quite attractive in its custom-made cabinet of Brazilian cherry. The soundboard and ribs are of Sitka spruce. The action, invented specifically for this piano, appears superficially to be like that of a vertical, but actually contains the double-escapement feature of a grand piano action.
Inventor-builder Chris Chernobieff got his start assembling dulcimer and harpsichord kits, and branched out into piano service and rebuilding about 15 years ago. Inspired by other technicians who built their own pianos, Chernobieff asked, "Why not me?" Having spent the last several years designing and building the Mammoth, he now has plans for a 6' vertical and some innovative grand models.
Mammoth model VCG retails for $98,000.
Jordan Kitt's Music
12303 Twinbrook Parkway
Rockville, Maryland 20852
Pianos made by: Guangzhou Pearl River Piano Group Ltd., Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
Originally issued under the name Opus II, the Cristofori and Lyrica brands are a joint undertaking by Jordan Kitt's Music, which owns and operates four piano dealerships in the D.C. and Atlanta markets; and Schmitt Music, which has more than a dozen locations throughout the Midwest and in Denver. Nearly ten years ago, wanting to improve their entry-level product offerings, the two companies combined forces to negotiate upgrades of product features and quality control directly with the factory. Today, although the brands are identical, Cristofori is sold only in Jordan Kitt's stores, Lyrica in Schmitt Music stores. Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731) was, of course, the inventor of the piano.
The Cristofori and Lyrica lines are manufactured by China's largest piano manufacturer, Guangzhou Pearl River Piano Group. The uprights come in numerous sizes, styles, and finishes, including 42½" continental consoles and 43" decorator consoles in traditional and French cherry cabinets. The 48" professional upright, appropriate for home or institutional use, has front legs with toe blocks for strength, a large soundboard and long strings for bigger sound, and — new in 2012 — a slow-close fallboard. Grands come in lengths of 4' 10", 5' 3", 5' 7", and 6' 2". The 5' 3" and 5' 7" sizes are wide-tail designs, which gives these mid-sized grands a larger soundboard area and, thus, a bigger sound.
The Cristofori and Lyrica pianos are differentiated from Pearl River's own line of pianos by upgraded specifications such as the use of highest-quality Mapes strings from the U.S.; all-spruce veneered soundboards of premium Siberian spruce; a different selection of cabinet styles; and a full, transferable warranty. U.S. technicians inspect every Cristofori and Lyrica piano at the Pearl River factory prior to crating and shipping.
Warranty: 12 years, parts and labor, transferable to future owners within the warranty period.
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