The Definitive Piano Buying Guide
Handcrafted in Scottsdale, Arizona by piano builder Michael Spreeman, the Ravenscroft piano entered the market for high-end performance pianos in 2006. Two models are available, the 7' 3" model 220 and the 9' model 275. The 220 made its debut in 2007 in the Manufacturers' Showcase of the 50th Annual Convention of the Piano Technicians Guild. A custom-built model 275 is currently the official piano at the Tempe Center for the Arts.
While the general trend in the industry seems to be toward outsourcing to less expensive suppliers, Spreeman says his concept is the exact opposite. Appealing to the niche market of high-end consumers, Spreeman's approach is more along the lines of the early European small-shop builders, with an emphasis on quality and exclusivity.
The case and iron frame of the Ravenscroft piano are constructed in Germany by Sauter to Ravenscroft specifications and shipped to the Arizona facility. The Renner action and Kluge keys of each piano are computer-designed to optimize performance. The rib scale, soundboard, bridges, and string scale are designed by Spreeman, who meticulously hand-builds each instrument with his three-person team.
Currently, only four to six pianos are produced yearly, with pricing beginning at $230,000 for a model 220, and up to $550,000 for a model 275 with "all the extras," including titanium string terminations, exotic veneers, intarsia, artwork, and inlays of precious stones. Most instruments are custom ordered and can take up to a year to complete.
Pianos made by: Samick Musical Instrument Mfg. Co. Ltd., Inchon, South Korea; and Bogor, West Java, Indonesia
Samick was founded by Hyo Ick Lee in 1958 as a Baldwin distributor in South Korea. Facing an immense challenge in an impoverished and war-torn country, in the early 1960s Lee began to build and sell a very limited quantity of vertical pianos using largely imported parts. As the economy improved, Lee expanded his operation, and in 1964 began exporting to other parts of the world, eventually becoming one of the world's largest piano manufacturers, now making most parts in-house. Over the next several decades, Samick expanded into manufacturing guitars and other instruments and opened factories in China and Indonesia, where it shifted much of its production as Korean wages rose. The Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s forced Samick into bankruptcy, but the company emerged from bankruptcy in 2002 and is now on a sound financial footing.
The company says that "Samick" means "three benefits" in Korean, symbolizing the wish that the activities of the company benefit not only the company itself, but also the customers and the Korean economy.
Samick Music Corporation (SMC), the North American sales and marketing arm of the Korean company, distributes Samick, Kohler & Campbell, Pramberger, Wm. Knabe, and Seiler pianos in North America (see separate listings for Wm. Knabe, Pramberger, and Seiler). Samick no longer distributes pianos under the Bernhard Steiner, Conover Cable, Hazelton Bros., Remington, and Sohmer & Co. names. SMC has a manufacturing, warehousing, and office facility in Tennessee, at which it uncrates, inspects, tunes, regulates, and voices its upper-level Wm. Knabe, J.P. Pramberger, and Kohler & Campbell Millennium-series pianos before shipping them to dealers. While Samick says it will continue to make some pianos in Korea, it is gradually moving most of its production to Indonesia.
Until just a few years ago, Samick primarily made pianos under the Samick and Kohler & Campbell brand names. (For historical information about the original Kohler & Campbell piano company, see The Piano Book.) In the 1980s Klaus Fenner, a German piano designer, was hired to revise the Samick scale designs and make them more "European." Most of the Samick and Kohler & Campbell pianos now being made are based on these designs.
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