Technicians Speak About the High-End Brands They Service

Technicians Speak About the High-End Brands
They Service

Part 1

In order to give prospective buyers of high-end pianos a better sense of the individual personalities of these brands, we will occasionally provide selected dealers, technicians, and pianists the opportunity to describe the musical and other qualities of the high-end brands they represent, service, or play. As you'll see over time, although different writers often describe the same brands in very different ways, certain common themes are evident.

PIANO TECHNICIANS who eventually drift toward the high-end market are usually people who appreciate quality, strive for excellence, and can even be called connoisseurs. Their mission is to provide the pianist with a sublime, inspiring, creative, and enjoyable experience every time he or she plays the instrument. It's a paradox, but their goal is achieved when the pianist forgets about the piano and is able to focus exclusively on the music being played.

In the last issue of Piano Buyer, we focused on the viewpoints of dealers who sell high-end pianos. In the short pieces below, you'll hear from the people who service these instruments—some of the most respected piano technicians in the country. Each technician has extensive hands-on experience with the specific brand(s) he writes about. All of them strive for quality and perfection, and have intimate relationships with the pianos, inside and out. Although you'll recognize common ground in these technicians' opinions, there are also differences, and each speaks only for himself.

Selecting a piano can be compared to selecting a fine bottle of wine, perfume, or cologne. There are many flavors and essences, and there can come a point at which the dominant factor in the selection process is personal preference. The pianos discussed below are all considered among the finest made today. All have been designed with certain qualities, sound, and touch in mind, and each instrument has been made with great care. Our goal in this article is to inform the reader of the special quirks, qualities, limitations, and characteristics of the brands the writers most admire and are most familiar with. We believe the viewpoint of the technician is a unique and valuable one that adds a measure of "inside" information that can help the prospective purchaser.

Due to the large number of brands in the high-end market, we have divided this article into two parts. Part 1, in this issue, will cover C. Bechstein, Blüthner, Bösendorfer, Estonia, Fazioli, Feurich, Shigeru Kawai, and Mason & Hamlin. Part 2, in the next issue, will cover the rest.


C. Bechstein

C. Bechstein

Of the many fine high-end pianos made in Europe today, C. Bechstein is one of the finest. Managed and run by highly trained piano technicians, C. Bechstein is exacting in its commitment to using only the finest materials from around the world and to maintaining the highest standards of workmanship. C. Bechstein stands out because the company has developed a remarkable synergy between modern manufacturing techniques and hand craftsmanship. Precise machining saves time, allowing for more handwork construction, and this translates into very high levels of quality and precision. This precision also makes the C. Bechstein a painless piano to work on. On delivery direct from the factory in Germany, the piano needs little if any servicing other than normal tuning: the technician need only "tweak" the instrument with some small adjustments.

Unlike the vintage Bechstein, the modern C. Bechstein has a clear, powerful, transparent tone that develops a rich color palette over the entire dynamic range. The company has worked diligently to transform the instrument from its past as one with a more intimate tonal output into an instrument capable of considerably greater power and projection. As with many European pianos, the touch of a C. Bechstein seems light and very responsive. The instrument requires little effort to produce a great tone, which can throw off players unaccustomed to it. It is also very evenly weighted, with no apparent variation from key to key. The vertical pianos are also fine instruments, and made to the same standards as the grands.

— Joe Vitti


SPRING 2010 -- page 79

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