Bösendorfer makes a unique electronic player-piano system called CEUS. See "Buying an Electronic Player-Piano System," elsewhere in this issue, for more information. The Bösendorfer model 200 is optionally available with a Yamaha Disklavier E3 installed.
Perhaps the world's most expensive piano inch for inch, Bösendorfer grands make an eloquent case for their prices. They are distinctive in both appearance and sound, and are considered to be among the finest pianos in the world.
Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, transferable to future owners within the warranty period.
Pianos made by: Kawai Musical Instrument Mfg. Co., Ltd.,
Hamamatsu, Japan and Karawan, Indonesia
In 1992 Steinway launched its Boston line of pianos, designed by Steinway & Sons and built by Kawai. Steinway’s stated purpose in creating this line was to supply Steinway dealers with a quality, midpriced piano containing some Steinwaylike design features for those customers “who were not yet ready for a Steinway.” In choosing to have a piano of its own design made in Japan, Steinway sought to take advantage of the efficient hightechnology manufacturing methods of the Japanese while utilizing its own design skills to make a more musical piano than is usually available from that part of the world. In 2009, Steinway launched the Performance Edition of the Boston piano with enhancements to the instruments’ design and specifications, including a grand inner rim of maple for increased structural integrity and improved tone, the patented Octagrip® pinblock for smoother tuning and more consistent torque, and improvements to hardware and keytop material, among other things. Performance Edition models have model numbers ending in PE. Sold only through select Steinway dealers, Boston pianos are currently available in three sizes of vertical and five sizes of grand. All are made in Japan, except the model UP118S PE, which is made in Kawai’s Indonesian factory.
Boston pianos are used by a number of prestigious music schools and festivals, including Aspen, Bowdoin, Brevard, Ravinia, and Tanglewood.
The most obvious visible feature of the Boston grand piano’s design (and one of the biggest differences from Kawai pianos) is its wide tail. Steinway says this allows the bridges to be positioned closer to the more lively central part of the soundboard, smoothing out the break between bass and treble. This, plus a thinner, tapered soundboard and other scaling differences, may give the Boston grands a longer sustain though less initial power. The widetail design may also endow some of the grands with the soundboard size normally associated with a slightly larger piano. The verticals are said to have a greater overstringing angle, for the same purpose. Over the last few years, the Boston verticals have been redesigned for greater tuning stability and musical refinement.
A number of features in the Boston piano are similar to those in the Steinway, including the abovementioned maple inner rim, vertically laminated bridges for better tonal transmission, duplex scaling for additional tonal color, rosetteshaped hammer Ԁanges to preserve hammer spacing, and radial rim bracing for greater structural stability. The Boston grand action is said to incorporate some of the latest refinements of the Steinway action. Cabinet detailing on the Boston grands is similar to that on the Steinway. Boston hammers are made differently from both Kawai and Steinway hammers, and voicers in the Kawai factory receive special instruction in voicing them. All Boston grand models come with a sostenuto pedal; all verticals have a practice (mute) pedal, except for the model UP118S PE, which has a bass sustain.
Boston grands also have certain things in common with Kawai RXseries grands: tuning pins, grand leg and lyre assemblies, radial rim bracing, sostenuto pedal, and the level of quality control in their manufacture. The same workers build the two brands in the same factories. One important way they differ is that Kawai uses carbonfiber–reinforced ABS Styran plastic for most of its action parts, whereas Boston uses only traditional wooden parts. Although similarly priced at the wholesale level, Kawai pianos tend to be a little less expensive to the retail customer than comparably sized Bostons due to the larger discounts typically given by Kawai dealers.
Steinway guarantees full tradein value for a Boston piano at any time a purchaser wishes to upgrade to a Steinway grand.
Piano technicians are favorably inclined toward Boston pianos. Some find them to have a little better sustain and more tonal color than Kawais, while being otherwise similar in quality. When comparing the two brands, I would advise making a choice based primarily on one’s own musical perceptions of tone and touch, as well as the tradeup guarantee, if applicable.
Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.