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.
WEBER — See Young Chang.
WEINBACH — See Petrof.
WENDL & LUNG
Pianos made by: Ningbo Hailun Musical Instruments Co. Ltd., Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China
Wendl & Lung was founded in Vienna, Austria in 1910 by Johann Wendl and Stefan Lung. Lung's daughter, Stefanie Lung Veletzky, studied piano making and became a master pianomaker, an extraordinary achievement for a woman at that time. Wendl & Lung pianos were sold primarily in Central and Eastern Europe, and the company expanded for a while after World War II before shutting down in 1956. Successive generations of Veletzkys were involved in piano making, and there were a number of attempts to revive the company over the next 45 years. In 2003, Peter Veletzky, great-grandson of the founder, began a cooperative arrangement with Chinese manufacturer Hailun to develop and build pianos for distribution under the Wendl & Lung name. Leading piano designers from around the world also contributed to these new designs (see Hailun). These models also eventually became part of the Hailun line of pianos. In 2008, the company introduced a 7' 2" model 218 grand designed by French concert pianist and technician Stephen Paulello, who is also working on a concert grand for the company. Wendl & Lung pianos use cold-pressed hammers, which, the company says, contribute to a more "Viennese" sound.
Several technical innovations are proprietary to Wendl & Lung pianos. Denis de la Rochefordiere has invented a fourth pedal, called the Harmonic Pedal, that is essentially the inverse of a sostenuto — instead of holding up the dampers of notes pressed prior to depressing the pedal, it holds up all but those notes. The effect, known as "remanence harmony," is to allow the overtones of the depressed notes to sing out in a sustained fashion. This pedal will come with all Wendl & Lung grands starting sometime in 2010. Also coming soon is a double-repetition action for an upright, enabling the upright to play like a grand.