Spring 2014    Page 193

The Definitive Piano Buying Guide

Acoustic Pianos

Brand and Company Profiles

The grands have wide tails, for greater soundboard area and string length. The German Seiler pianos feature Bavarian spruce soundboards, multi-laminated Delignit pinblocks, quartersawn beech bridges, full Renner actions, and slow-close fallboards. A few years ago, the grands were redesigned with a duplex scale for greater treble tonal color, and with longer keys and a lighter touch. Musically, these redesigns were very successful; they retained the typical Seiler clarity, but had longer sustain and a more even-feeling touch.

In 2010, Samick expanded the Seiler line to cover three price points. The top-level, SE-series instruments continue to be handcrafted at the Seiler factory in Kitzingen, Germany, just as they have been for many years. These come in two styles, Classic and Trend. The construction and specifications of the two styles are the same, but the Trends look a bit more modern, and sport a silver-colored plate and chrome hardware, whereas the Classics have the traditional gold- or bronze-colored plate and brass hardware. Both are available in dozens of special furniture styles with beautiful, exotic woods and inlays.

The mid-level Seiler pianos, the ED models, are also known as the Eduard Seiler line. The pianos are manufactured entirely at Samick's Indonesian factory, using German CNC machinery, to the exact scales and specifications of the hand-built German models. The actions include Renner wippen assemblies and an action rail of Delignit or hornbeam, with keys made by Samick.

Still found in some dealer inventories, the recently discontinued ES models use the same strung backs and cabinets as the ED series. These components were then shipped to Kitzingen, where assembly was completed, full Renner actions and German hammers installed, and the final musical finishing of the instruments performed.

In July 2013, the new Johannes Seiler line was introduced. Though it features cabinetry as beautiful as that of its more expensive brethren, this lower-cost line has its own scale design not shared by other Samick-owned brands, and is produced entirely in the company's Indonesian facility, using Samick's premium action and hammers from Abel. These three grand and three vertical models can be identified by the "Johannes Seiler" label on the fallboard.

At both the German and Indonesian factories, strung backs are inspected and cabinet parts carefully fitted to ensure that all specifications have been met to precise tolerances. Soundboard mass distribution and rib positioning are under strict quality control, to achieve consistency in the soundboard's acoustical properties. Pre-stretching of the strings is done several times, followed by multiple tunings, to ensure maximum stability. Hammer alignment, voicing, and key weighting and balancing are all carefully performed by experienced Seiler technicians, both at the factory and at the company's Tennessee distribution facility, before shipment to dealers.

Seiler's 52" upright is available by special order with the optional Super Magnet Repetition (SMR) action, a patented feature that uses magnets to increase repetition speed. During play, tiny magnets attached to certain action parts of each note repel each other, forcing the parts to return to their rest position faster, ready for the next keystroke.

Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.

Sejung — See Welkin Sound.

SOHMER

Persis International, Inc.
2647 N. Western Ave. #8030
Chicago, Illinois 60647
773-342-4212
www.sohmerpianos.com

Sohmer prices

Founded by German immigrant Hugo Sohmer in 1872, Sohmer & Co. was owned and managed by the Sohmer family in New York City for 110 years. Having no descendants to take over the business, the founder's grandsons sold the company in 1982. As the company changed hands several times over the following decade, limited production of Sohmer pianos took place in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, finally ceasing in 1994 (see the Sohmer entry in The Piano Book for a more detailed recent history).

Pianos are once again being made under this venerable name, once considered among the finest of American-built instruments. Sohmer pianos from Persis International are manufactured by Royale, a Korean firm descended from a former joint venture between the German manufacturer Ibach and the Korean manufacturer Daewoo, neither of which any longer makes pianos. During the German-Korean joint venture, the string scales, bridges, soundboards, rib dimensions, actions, keys, and hammers were redesigned by Ibach to German standards. Models include a 50" vertical and 5' 3", 5' 10", and 7' 2" grands. The pianos have high-quality European components, such as Renner actions, Abel hammers, Delignit pinblocks, Röslau strings, and Ciresa solid spruce soundboards.

In the past, there was a legal dispute over the ownership of the Sohmer trademark, and for a short time, Sohmer-branded pianos were distributed by both Persis International and Samick Music Corporation (SMC). That dispute was settled in favor of Persis, and SMC stopped selling Sohmer pianos in 2010, relinquishing all rights to the Sohmer brand. (Note: Persis's pianos are labeled "Sohmer," and SMC's were labeled "Sohmer & Co.")

Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.

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