PianoBuyer

BECHSTEIN, C.

Including W. Hoffmann and Zimmermann

C. Bechstein Pianoforte AG
Kantstrasse 17
Berlin, 10623
Germany
[email protected]
www.bechstein.de
Contact: Mr. Ralf Dewor CSO
+49 159 0454 8356

Pianos made by: C. Bechstein Pianoforte AG, Berlin, Germany.

Factories: C. Bechstein Pianoforte Manufaktur GmbH, Seifhennersdorf, Germany (C. Bechstein);
C. Bechstein Europe s.r.o. (former Bohemia Piano Ltd.), Hradec Králové, Czech Republic (W. Hoffmann);
Zimmermann instruments are designed by C. Bechstein and built by selected partners in China under the supervision and guidance of C. Bechstein.

Bechstein was founded in 1853 by Carl Bechstein, a young German piano maker. In the exploding world of piano technology of his day, Bechstein had visions of building an instrument that the tradition-bound piano-making shops of Berlin were not interested in. Through fine workmanship and the endorsement of famous pianists, C. Bechstein soon became one of the leading piano makers in Europe, producing over 5,000 pianos annually by 1900. The two World Wars and the Depression virtually destroyed the company, but it was successfully rebuilt. In 1963 it was acquired by Baldwin, and in 1986 Baldwin sold it to Karl Schulze, a leading West German piano retailer and master piano technician, who undertook a complete technical and financial reorganization of the company. In the early 1990s, C. Bechstein acquired the names and factories of Euterpe, W. Hoffmann, and Zimmermann. Currently, pianos of the brands C. Bechstein, W. Hoffmann, and Zimmermann are being sold worldwide, while the brand Euterpe, while still owned by C. Bechstein, is inactive. In 2006 C. Bechstein purchased a controlling interest in the Czech piano maker, Bohemia, and integrated it into a new entity called C. Bechstein Europe Ltd.

Bechstein says that all C. Bechstein-branded pianos are manufactured in Seifhennersdorf, Germany. The company has developed “centers of competence” among its factories in Germany and the Czech Republic, each specializing in some part of the manufacturing process. For that reason, as well as for cost-effectiveness, some components of C. Bechstein-branded pianos may originate in the Czech Republic. W. Hoffmann pianos are made in the Czech Republic, with components sourced with premium suppliers worldwide. The company states that, whatever the origin, all parts are inspected and made to conform to its rigid standards, and that it has invested great effort in research and development and quality control for its materials and parts, including long-term testing in varying climates. In our experience, all models, including the less expensive ones, continue to receive praise for their high quality.

Bechstein now manufactures its own hammers for use in all C. Bechstein and W. Hoffmann pianos. Other features of C. Bechstein-branded pianos include solid European spruce soundboards; beech, or beech and mahogany, for grand rims and some structural parts; and maple pinblocks. Three pedals are standard on all pianos, the grands with sostenuto and the verticals with practice pedal (sostenuto optional). Over the past decade, all C. Bechstein grands have been redesigned with a capo bar (eliminating the agraffes in the treble), higher tension scale, and front and rear duplex scales for better tonal projection and tonal color. Also, unlike older C. Bechsteins, which had an open pinblock design, in the redesigned grands the plate covers the pinblock area. For better tuning control, the higher-level pianos are without tuning-pin bushings.

Bechstein pianos are available in two levels of quality. The regular verticals and partially redesigned versions of the old grand models now comprise a lower-priced Academy (A) series. They were previously branded Bechstein (B), instead of C. Bechstein, a distinction that has been eliminated. The 51½” Concert 8 (one of our all-time favorite verticals), several smaller verticals, and the fully redesigned grands (models D, C, B, A, and L), comprise the higher-priced line. The higher-priced line is further subdivided into “Concert” and “Residence,” the former intended primarily for professional use, the latter styled and voiced for home use.

The differences between the Academy series and the Concert and Residence series appear primarily in tonal philosophy and cabinetry. The Concert-series grands were designed with a higher tension scale for better projection, and with various components that the company believed would result in the greatest usable palette of tonal color: tapered soundboard, vertically laminated bridges, hornbeam hammer shanks, solid keybed, thicker rim, and hammers with walnut moldings and AAA felt. Installation of the grand soundboard occurs after the inner and outer rims are joined. The ribs are tapered after being glued to the soundboard, and the heavy-duty rim posts are dovetailed and embedded in the rim.

The less-expensive, more traditional, Academy-series grands have an untapered soundboard, solid beech bridge with beech cap, maple hammer shanks, expansion-type keybed, and hammers with mahogany moldings and AAA felt. The same quality wood and strings are used in both. The rim parts are joined, and the soundboard and ribs installed, in a more efficient, less time-consuming manner than with the higher-priced models. The keys of the higher-priced line still use leather key bushings, whereas the A-series keys use the more conventional cloth bushings. Bone keytops are an option on the regular models, and both series feature genuine ebony sharps.

The cabinetry of the C. Bechstein Concert and Residence models is much sleeker and more sophisticated than the plainer Academy series, though both cabinets are finished to the same standard.

In our experience, when the two lines are compared side by side, there are differences in their finished quality and performance level. Although the Academy series pianos are, generally speaking, very fine instruments with a slightly warmer default tone quality, the higher-priced models clearly outperform this less expensive line. It seems to us that the Academy series instruments are not prepped at the factory to quite the same standard as the higher-priced pianos. However, it’s possible that the differences between the two lines could be reduced by further technical work.

Bechstein Concert series grands are impeccably made in Germany and “orchestrally” voiced, a concept that the company says is related to the change of timbre at different velocities of touch. According to Bechstein, customers who do not explore this feature of tonal design often prematurely assume that the piano is voiced too bright for the American musical taste. (However, several of our colleagues had high praise for the wide dynamic range, tonal color, and responsive action of the redesigned 7′ 8″ model C grand.) The company maintains that since voicing is a matter of overall piano design, their pianos are voiced at the factory to their tonal standard and should not be significantly altered. Some customers may still prefer the slightly warmer sound of the Academy series grands, which are also about half the price of the C. Bechstein Concert series models.

Bechstein engineers oversee production of the C. Bechstein-designed W. Hoffmann line of pianos in the company’s Czech facility. The mid-priced W. Hoffmann line is intended to compete with other mid-priced pianos from Eastern Europe and Japan. Currently, it consists of grands and verticals in three series. The Tradition- and Professional-series instruments are entirely made in the Czech Republic. The Professional series has a higher level of design and components, and more customized musical preparation by the company’s most experienced craftspeople. The Vision-series pianos are assembled in the Czech Republic, but their strung backs (the instruments’ structural and acoustical parts) are imported from Asia.

Bechstein also sells the Zimmermann brand, designed by C. Bechstein engineers to incorporate European quality standards, and manufactured by selected partners in China. Quality control and technical training are performed there by C. Bechstein technicians from the factory in Germany. The vertical and grand models are intended to offer reliable quality at very affordable prices.

C. Bechstein has a new silent-piano option, called Vario, that can be built into any of its instruments, as well as into pianos of other brands. This option allows you to mute the acoustic piano and turn on an extensively sampled sound of a C. Bechstein concert grand, which can be listened to through headphones for silent play. Optical key and pedal sensors transmit MIDI information for the control of music software. The Vario system adds about $6,000 to the price of a vertical piano, and about $11,000 to the price of a grand.

Warranty: 5 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.

Acoustic Piano: Model & Pricing Guide

* See the Introduction for an explanation of pricing.

For Vario silent system, add $6,000 (SMP) (verticals) or $11,000 (SMP) (grands).

Model Feet Inches Description MSRP* SMP*
Bechstein, C. Concert Series Verticals
Concert 8 51.5 Polished Ebony 72,000 72,000
Concert 8 51.5 Polished White 75,000 75,000
Concert 8 51.5 Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany 78,000 78,000
Concert 8 51.5 Satin and Polished Burl Walnut/Vavona 81,000 81,000
Bechstein, C. Residence Series Verticals
R116 Millenium 46 Polished Ebony 34,900 34,900
R116 Millenium 46 Polished White 37,000 37,000
R118 Classic 46.5 Polished Ebony 36,000 36,000
R118 Classic 46.5 Polished White 39,000 39,000
R118 Classic 46.5 Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany 41,000 41,000
R118 Contur 46.5 Polished Ebony 38,000 38,000
R118 Contur 46.5 Polished White 42,000 42,000
R118 Contur 46.5 Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany 44,000 44,000
R124 Classic 49 Polished Ebony 43,000 43,000
R124 Classic 49 Polished White 47,000 47,000
R124 Classic 49 Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany 49,000 49,000
R124 Elegance 49 Polished Ebony 45,000 45,000
R124 Elegance 49 Polished White 48,000 48,000
R124 Elegance 49 Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany 50,000 50,000
Bechstein, C. Academy Series Verticals
A114 Chrome Art 45 Polished Ebony 31,900 31,900
A114 Chrome Art 45 Polished White 33,900 33,900
A2 / A114 Modern 45 Polished Ebony 29,900 29,900
A2 / A114 Modern 45 Polished White 32,900 32,900
A4 47.5 Polished Ebony 31,900 31,900
A4 47.5 Polished White 34,900 34,900
A124 Imposant 49 Polished Ebony 33,900 33,900
A124 Imposant 49 Polished White 36,900 36,900
A124 Style 49.5 Polished Ebony 35,900 35,900
A124 Style 49.5 Polished White 38,900 38,900
A124 Style 49.5 Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut 40,900 40,900
Hoffmann, W. Professional Series Verticals
P114 45 Polished Ebony w/Chrome Hardware 19,900 19,900
P114 45 Polished White w/Chrome Hardware 21,900 21,900
P120 47.5 Polished Ebony w/Chrome Hardware 20,900 20,900
P120 47.5 Polished White w/Chrome Hardware 22,900 22,900
P126 49.6 Polished Ebony w/Chrome Hardware 22,900 22,900
Hoffmann, W. Tradition Series Verticals
T122 48 Polished Ebony 18,900 18,900
T122 48 Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut 22,900 22,900
T122 48 Polished White 20,900 20,900
T128 50.4 Polished Ebony 19,900 19,900
T128 50.4 Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut 23,900 23,900
T128 50.4 Polished White 21,900 21,900
Hoffmann, W. Vision Series Verticals
V2 45 Polished Ebony 14,900 14,900
V120 47.5 Polished Ebony 15,900 15,900
V120 47.6 Polished Mahogany/Walnut 16,500 16,044
V126 49.6 Polished Ebony 16,900 16,900
V131 51.5 Polished Ebony 18,900 18,900
Zimmermann Verticals
Studio S 2 45 Polished Ebony 7,490 7,490
Studio S 4 47.5 Polished Ebony 8,490 8,490
Studio S 6 49.6 Polished Ebony 9,490 9,490
Studio S 8 51.5 Polished Ebony 11,490 11,490
Bechstein, C. Concert Series Grands
L-167 5 6 Polished Ebony 135,000 135,000
L-167 5 6 Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry 150,000 150,000
L-167 5 6 Polished White 145,000 145,000
A-192 6 4 Polished Ebony 155,000 155,000
A-192 6 4 Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry 170,000 170,000
A-192 6 4 Polished White 165,000 165,000
B-212 6 11 Polished Ebony 180,000 180,000
B-212 6 11 Polished White 190,000 190,000
C-234 7 8 Polished Ebony 215,000 215,000
C-234 7 8 Polished White 230,000 230,000
D-282 9 3 Polished Ebony 275,000 275,000
D-282 9 3 Polished White 285,000 285,000
Bechstein, C. Academy Series Grands
A160 5 3 Polished Ebony 73,900 73,900
A160 5 3 Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut 85,900 85,900
A160 5 3 Polished White 78,900 78,900
A175 5 9 Polished Ebony 77,900 77,900
A175 5 9 Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany 89,900 89,900
A175 5 9 Polished White 83,900 83,900
A190 6 3 Polished Ebony 83,900 83,900
A190 6 3 Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut 95,900 95,900
A190 6 3 Polished White 89,900 89,900
A208 6 8 Polished Ebony 89,900 89,900
A208 6 8 Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut 106,900 106,900
A208 6 8 Polished White 95,900 95,900
A228 7 5 Polished Ebony 102,900 102,900
A228 7 5 Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut 120,900 120,900
A228 7 5 Polished White 108,900 108,900
Hoffmann, W. Professional Series Grands
P162 5 4 Polished Ebony w/Chrome Hardware 56,900 56,900
P188 6 2 Polished Ebony w/Chrome Hardware 61,900 61,900
P206 6 9 Polished Ebony w/Chrome Hardware 69,900 69,900
Hoffmann, W. Tradition Series Grands
T161 5 3 Polished Ebony 46,900 46,900
T161 5 3 Polished Mahogany/Walnut 52,900 52,900
T161 5 3 Polished White 50,900 50,900
T177 5 10 Polished Ebony 50,900 50,900
T177 5 10 Polished Mahogany/Walnut 57,900 57,900
T177 5 10 Polished White 55,900 55,900
T186 6 1 Polished Ebony 57,900 57,900
T186 6 1 Polished Mahogany/Walnut 64,900 64,900
T186 6 1 Polished White 62,900 62,900
Hoffmann, W. Vision Series Grands
V158 5 2 Polished Ebony 33,900 33,900
V158 5 2 Polished Mahogany/Walnut 38,900 38,900
V158 5 2 Polished White 36,900 36,900
V175 5 9 Polished Ebony 37,900 37,900
V175 5 9 Polished Walnut/Mahogany 43,900 43,900
V175 5 9 Polished White 41,900 41,900
V183 6 0 Polished Ebony 40,900 40,900
V183 6 0 Polished Walnut/Mahogany 46,900 46,900
V183 9 0 Polished White 44,900 44,900
Zimmermann Grands
Studio S 150 4 11 Polished Ebony 18,900 18,900
Studio S 160 5 3 Polished Ebony 20,900 20,900
Standard Z 175 5 9 Polished Ebony 22,900 22,900
Standard Z 185 6 1 Polished Ebony 24,900 24,900

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