Walter Piano Company, Inc.
25416 CR 6
Elkhart, Indiana 46514

Charles Walter, an engineer, was head of Piano Design and Developmental Engineering at C.G. Conn in the 1960s, when Conn was doing important research in musical acoustics. In 1969 Walter bought the Janssen piano name from Conn, and continued to make Janssen pianos until 1981. In 1975 he brought out the Charles R. Walter line of consoles and studios, based on his continuing research in piano design. Walter began making grands in 1997.

The Walter Piano Company is fairly unique among U.S. piano manufacturers in that it is a family business, staffed by Charles and his wife, several of their grownup children, and various in-laws, in addition to unrelated production employees. The Walters say that each piano is inspected and signed by a member of their family before being shipped. Dealers and technicians report that doing business with the Walters is a pleasure in itself.

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 $1,500. 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.

Acoustic Piano: Model & Pricing Guide

* See the Introduction for an explanation of pricing.

Verticals, for Renner (German) action, add $1,500.

Model Feet Inches Description MSRP* SMP*
Walter, Charles R. Verticals
1520 43 Satin and Polished Walnut   20,150
1520 43 Satin and Polished Cherry   20,088
1520 43 Satin and Polished Oak   19,442
1520 43 Satin and Polished Mahogany   20,502
1520 43 Italian Provincial Satin and Polished Walnut   20,388
1520 43 Italian Provincial Satin and Polished Mahogany   20,542
1520 43 Italian Provincial Satin and Polished Oak   19,884
1520 43 Country Classic Satin and Polished Cherry   19,914
1520 43 Country Classic Satin and Polished Oak   19,576
1520 43 French Provincial Satin and Polished Oak   20,188
1520 43 French Provincial Satin and Polished Cherry/Walnut/Mahogany   20,776
1520 43 Riviera Satin and Polished Oak   19,588
1520 43 Queen Anne Satin and Polished Oak   20,348
1520 43 Queen Anne Satin and Polished Mahogany/Cherry   20,776
1500 45 Satin Ebony   18,778
1500 45 Semi-Gloss Ebony   19,130
1500 45 Polished Ebony (Lacquer)   19,342
1500 45 Polished Ebony (Polyester)   19,736
1500 45 Satin and Polished Oak   18,390
1500 45 Satin and Polished Walnut   18,976
1500 45 Satin and Polished Mahogany   19,248
1500 45 Satin and Polished Gothic Oak   18,996
1500 45 Satin and Polished Cherry   19,388
Walter, Charles R. Grands
W-175 5 9 Satin Ebony   82,758
W-175 5 9 Semi-Polished Ebony   84,622
W-175 5 9 Polished Ebony (Lacquer)   86,622
W-175 5 9 Polished Ebony (Polyester)   80,863
W-175 5 9 Satin Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry   89,400
W-175 5 9 Semi-Polished Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry   90,600
W-175 5 9 Polished Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry   91,000
W-175 5 9 Open-Pore Walnut   87,400
W-175 5 9 Satin Oak   79,940
W-175 5 9 Chippendale Satin Mahogany/Cherry   93,400
W-175 5 9 Chippendale Semi-Polished Mahogany/Cherry   93,800
W-175 5 9 Chippendale Polished Mahogany/Cherry   94,200
W-190 6 4 Satin Ebony   87,000
W-190 6 4 Semi-Polished Ebony   88,000
W-190 6 4 Polished Ebony (Lacquer)   90,000
W-190 6 4 Polished Ebony (Polyester)   92,000
W-190 6 4 Satin Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry   92,800
W-190 6 4 Semi-Polished Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry   94,000
W-190 6 4 Polished Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry   94,400
W-190 6 4 Open-Pore Walnut   90,800
W-190 6 4 Satin Oak   84,940
W-190 6 4 Chippendale Satin Mahogany/Cherry   97,400
W-190 6 4 Chippendale Semi-Polished Mahogany/Cherry   97,800
W-190 6 4 Chippendale Polished Mahogany/Cherry   98,200

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