The Definitive Piano Buying Guide
Pianos made by: Thüringer Pianoforte GmbH, Eisenberg, Germany
This company, formerly known as Wilh. Steinberg Pianofortefabrik, was formed after the reunification of Germany by the merger of several East German piano companies that collectively trace their origins back to 1877. In addition to its own pianos, Steinberg makes several other European piano brands under OEM agreements. The company also specializes in custom cabinets and finishes. Piano production is about 700 verticals and 50 grands per year.
In 2009, Steinberg introduced a new marketing concept that involves selling pianos at three levels of quality. The first level, IQ, is the traditionally crafted piano that the company has made entirely in Germany for many years. These high-quality instruments have beech rims with spruce bracing (grands), solid Bavarian spruce soundboards, maple bridges with maple caps, Renner actions and hammers, and Kluge keys. The second level, AC (Advanced Craftsmanship), uses some nonacoustical components manufactured in China, but the instruments are assembled, regulated, and voiced in Germany. The third level, P (Premium), consists of instruments entirely made in China, with only final preparation done in Germany. This level is not currently being imported into the U.S.
New in 2013 is the 5' 5" model AC 165, with a Phoenix System bass bridge using bridge agraffes, which, the manufacturer says, provides much greater resonance in the bass (see "Steingraeber Phoenix System Pianos" for more information about the Phoenix System).
In late 2013, Steinberg was sold to Parsons Music Company, a Chinese piano manufacturer. There are no changes in piano production at Eisenberg, but several new sizes of grand are being designed for future production.
Warranty: 5 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.
Bayreuth is famous the world over for its annual summer Wagner festival. But tucked away in the old part of town is a second center of Bayreuth musical excellence and one of the world's best-kept secrets: Steingraeber & Söhne. The company was founded in 1852 by Eduard Steingraeber, though its roots date back to the 1820s, when Eduard's father and uncle opened a workshop for square pianos and organs in the city of Neustadt. Eduard was an innovative piano designer, exhibiting his first full-size cast-iron frame at the world exhibition in Paris in 1867. From 1872 on, Steingraeber was associated with, and built pianos for, Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, and in 1873 opened its first concert hall in Bayreuth.
Steingraeber has worked with furniture designers since 1904, when it collaborated with Bruno Paul on his Art Nouveau furniture for the St. Louis World's Fair. More recently, the company built a piano designed by Jørn Utzon, architect of the Sydney Opera House, with features reminiscent of that building. The Steingraeber engineering department offers consulting services on the technical development of pianos. This service was created in 1991, after reunification, to assist piano manufacturers of the former East Germany, and has designed and manufactured prototypes of new piano models for a number of European piano manufacturers. These designs are different from Steingraeber's own current models. In 2012, Steingraeber entered into a cooperative agreement with Pearl River, in China, to help that company design and manufacture a new line of premium pianos.
Steingraeber is one of the smaller piano manufacturers in the world, producing fewer than 80 grands and 60 verticals per year for the top end of the market. It is owned and operated by sixth-generation family member Udo Schmidt-Steingraeber, who still makes pianos using the traditional methods of his forebears at the company's present factory, which it has occupied since 1872.
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