For the past several years, the Young Chang piano line has comprised three levels of quality: Platinum Edition (models beginning with YP) and Professional Artist series (PG), both made in Korea; and Traditional or Gold series (T, AF, GS, or Y), made in China, which at one time bore the name Bergmann, a name no longer used. The Platinum Edition grands have maple rims and Renner actions, and higher-quality hammer felt, soundboard material, and veneers (on wood-veneer models). The other two series have lauan rims and Young Chang actions. Platinum Edition verticals use slightly better materials than the other verticals for the cabinets, hardware, music wire, and keys, though in general the differences are smaller than with the grands. The difference between the Professional Artist and Traditional series is probably more in design sophistication than material specifications, and perhaps in the somewhat better quality control of Korean manufacturing.

In 2009 Young Chang hired noted American piano designer Del Fandrich to undertake a redesign of the entire Young Chang piano line. Prototypes of the first few models were shown in early 2010. Highlights include all-new cast-iron plate designs, string scales, and soundboard, rib, and bridge systems, with special emphasis on improving freedom of soundboard motion around the bass bridge for better bass tonal response; and a revised hammer-making process, in which the hammers are cold-pressed with less felt compression, for greater resilience and improved tone, with less voicing required. The new designs will be phased in gradually throughout 2010, starting with the Chinese-made models.

Following the demise of the Samsung-owned Weber Piano Company, Young Chang reacquired the Weber name and brought out a line of Weber pianos patterned after existing Young Chang pianos. The Weber Legend series (models beginning with WLE or WLG), now renamed Weber Traditional (W), was exactly the same as the Young Chang Traditional series. The Weber Sovereign series (WSE, WSF, WSG) was the same as the Young Chang Professional Artist series, and the Albert Weber series (AW) was the same as the Young Chang Platinum Edition. Of special note, however, is that Del Fandrich will also be redesigning the Weber piano line, and the Fandrich-redesigned Weber and Young Chang lines will distinctly differ from each other: the Weber line with a low-tension scale, and the greater warmth and romantic tonal characteristics that often accompany that type of scale; the Young Chang line with a higher-tension scale, and the greater brightness and stronger projection of a more modern sound.

Quality control in Young Chang's Korean factory has improved little by little over the years, and is now nearly as good as that in Japan. Most of the problems currently encountered are minor ones that can be cured by a good dealer make-ready and a little follow-up service, and the pianos hold up well in the field, even in institutions. At one time the tone of Young Chang pianos was bright and sterile, but Joseph Pramberger introduced some tonal color and sustain into the pianos he designed, and the prototypes by Del Fandrich suggest further advances in warmth and musicality. The Platinum Edition and Albert Weber pianos, in particular, have great musical potential and respond well to expert voicing. Pianos from the factory in China, like other pianos from that country, have been uneven in quality, but in recent years have greatly improved. Young Chang says that Hyundai Development has upgraded the factories in both countries, and that the pianos made at the Tianjin factory are now on a par with those made in Korea.

Under contract with Steinway, Young Chang also makes Essex pianos for sale by Steinway dealers. (See Essex for more information.)

Warranty: New Fandrich-designed models: All Young Chang and Weber pianos—12 years, parts and labor, transferable to future owners (full warranty). Current models: Young Chang Platinum Edition and Albert Weber—15 years, parts and labor, transferable to future owners (full warranty). Young Chang Professional Artist series and Weber Sovereign series—15 years, parts and labor, to original owner (limited warranty). Young Chang Gold/Traditional series and Weber Legend series—10 years, parts and labor, to original owner (limited warranty). Parts are further warranted for the lifetime of original owner.


SPRING 2010 -- page 212

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