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Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11431
12/09/03 10:37 AM
12/09/03 10:37 AM
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I am assuming almost all would agree that these are three of the best pianos in the world. But since, except for Bechstein, I have so little experience playing them(even in NYC they are rare), I am curious about how others might contrast/compare their touch and tone and anything else. I have not seen a single Bluthner in NYC! I also wonder how Europeans few these three pianos.

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Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11432
12/09/03 11:10 AM
12/09/03 11:10 AM
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PA - USA
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Not sure about the immediate NYC area, but if you are willing to travel a bit, I can suggest dealers where you can sample some delicious Boesendorfers and Bluthners.

For Boesendorfers, I suggest contacting Rich Galassini at Cunningham Piano in Philadelphia. The tone of these beauties simply melts me. I'm partial to the 225s - and I understand that Rich recently added one or two of these to his inventory. Knowing Rich, they have been tuned, regulated, and otherwise prepped to very high standards. Certainly worth the short trip from NYC.

For Bluthners, I suggest contacting Keith Kerman at PianoCraft in Gaithersburg, MD. It's a bit further away, but these babies have some of the smoothest actions you will find anywhere. Keith applies his research into action geometry to his Bluthners, resulting in a touch that leaves you feeling as though your fingers are one with the keys. Again, worth the trip since you won't find this level of action prep on other new Bluthners.

I've not played any Bechsteins that I liked nearly as well as either the Boesendorfers or the Bluthners, but that's just my personal preference.

I don't post many recommendations because I'm a relatively inexperienced amateur, but I think even the pros would agree that the Cunningham Boesendorfers and PianoCraft Bluthners are pretty fantastic instruments - from highly reputable dealers.

Good luck with you search! . . . Linda

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11433
12/09/03 11:28 AM
12/09/03 11:28 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
I have not seen a single Bluthner in NYC!
Have seen used, small, old Bluthners in Beethoven Piano as well as Klavierhaus back in October.

Quote
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
I am curious about how others might contrast/compare their touch and tone and anything else.
Bosendorfer's tone is among the most distinctive ("special") to me among pianos. I respect the Bechstein's tone but don't find it "special" at a personal level. Very limited experience with Bluthner to form any firm opinion, but find the "fourth string" very, very interesting anyway. Figure I'd just reference old "compare and contrast" stuff I wrote on these instead of writing new paragraphs (all subjective, of course):

August Foerster compared to Bosendorfer.
Bosendorfer and a few others.
Casting a wide net over many pianos.

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11434
12/09/03 11:51 AM
12/09/03 11:51 AM
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These are not as similar as one might think -- or so is my (limited) experience. The Boesie is "elegant", "plain-speaking", and (at least the ones I've heard), rather smallish in volume. They resembled the one Fazioli I've heard.

The Bluthners (or at least the extraordinary ones at Classical Grands in Seattle) throw lasers. The treble is truly bell-like, and, unlike virtually any other piano I know, maintains its dynamic range and shadings right up into the highest octave. The bass tends to be piercing rather than grounded -- works very well where the bassline of the music is the melody itself.

I'm an M&H fan (and owner). The Bluthner is about as far from the M&H sound as one can imagine. And yet, once one gets used to it (and overcomes one's prejudices), it is extraordinary in its own right. cool

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11435
12/09/03 12:49 PM
12/09/03 12:49 PM
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bosie: a small sound in a big piano
bluthner: sweet, bell-like, singing
bechstein: big, cold sound, lots of volume

of the three, i like the bluthner the best, though it is an acquired taste. for a big mozart and haydn pianist, it would be a great choice.

i found the bosies very disappointing. and i have yet to play a bechstein grand that i like, though i did play a wonderful vintage bechstein vertical at beethoven's.


piqué

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Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11436
12/09/03 02:12 PM
12/09/03 02:12 PM
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Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline
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In Europe people recognize much more readily the long tradition that each of these piano makers has.

In the Berlin-North-East part of Germany, Bechstein has been virtually undisputed 'King' for almost centuries.
There are people there that wouldn't even consider to let Hamburg Steinway sneak up one inch to it!!

The Berlin Philharmonic always has had at least 2 or three of them.[besides Steinway.... wink ]

Go further East and you enter "Bluethner-August Foerster-Petrof-land" - softer tones for somewhat softer music,also .....somewhat softer
[and sweeter?] people laugh
[they also love creamy cakes over there.. wink ]

Go straight North [meet those cold blue eyes..] and the clarity and stunning power of Hamburg Steinway, Grotrian and Ibach - to a somewhat lesser extent even - Schimmel!

Favourite cakes: Donought shaped objects!
[can be misused as almost lethal weapons...]

Go to the South and imagine a mix of all of the above with some of the most interesting colourations in between:

Boesendorfer,Sauter,Seiler,Feurich,Pfeiffer,etc

Hospitable,entertaining type of people serving all kind of super-duper cakes... just try the coffee house right besides Seiler factory in Kitzingen...one of the very best! wink !

P.S. How do you like your own cake?? laugh

norbert


www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11437
12/09/03 03:10 PM
12/09/03 03:10 PM
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I believe that Altenburg's in Elizabeth, NJ carries Bluthner, as well as Sauter and A. Forster pianos. A very short trip from NYC.


What we think, we become.
--Buddha
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11438
12/09/03 03:32 PM
12/09/03 03:32 PM
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Manhattan has its own Boesendorfer dealer with a showroom.
http://www.bosendorfer-ny.com/index.html


Richard
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11439
12/09/03 03:48 PM
12/09/03 03:48 PM
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Surrey, B.C.
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...except his website says:

"No pianos available at this time" :rolleyes:

norbert


www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11440
12/09/03 05:33 PM
12/09/03 05:33 PM
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Norbert,

Petrof is not in Germany as you know. Also you wouldn't want people to think that you were saying Blthner,Frster and Petrof were equals.

Slight Edit:

In the end the pianist determines the best instrument for them. I have worked on a small sampling of Petrof pianos and found them to be consistent. Among these seven or so pianos a couple have realy stood out.

But for me the Saxon makers are at a different level.




Blüthner USA, LLC
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11441
12/09/03 05:37 PM
12/09/03 05:37 PM
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Surrey, B.C.
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Absolutely not!

I was talking about the European theatre in general.

And Germans are not allowed any more to say that they are "superior".

Not even their pianos.... laugh

norbert


www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11442
12/09/03 08:10 PM
12/09/03 08:10 PM
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San Juan Capistrano, CA
Penny Offline
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Pique,
It's scary how much we agree about piano tones! All three of the Bs mentioned are European sounding to me. Yet, Bluthner does it best for me as well. Very pretty. Tinkling. Sparkling.

Bechsteins have never been my cup of tea. Too cold and sometimes thin. And Bosies have never won me over (though I did like a conservatory 6'3" I played at Keyboard Concepts in Thousand Oaks). It is amazing such a big piano could produce such a small sound.

I also agree with Shant that M&H and Bluthners are polar opposites. And yet I like them both! They're both wonderful at what they do.

But if the original poster is wondering about top European pianos, might I be as so bold to speak for both Pique and myself by answering ... Grotrian! wink

penny

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11443
12/09/03 08:30 PM
12/09/03 08:30 PM
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If anyone in the states is looking for a source of cheap bechstein grands ready for restoration, see here:

www.smart-pianos.com

That's my site. I hope I'm OK to post the URL, it seems inkeeping with the thread. Old Bechsteins are always on the horizon at good prices. Only 1 (model C) available at the moment though. They aren't as rare here as they seem to be over there.

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11444
12/09/03 11:43 PM
12/09/03 11:43 PM
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Nevada
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Wondering if you were referring to the manufacturers' Grands or Uprights? Most or all of the comments were apparently about grand piano experiences. Since these 3 make more uprights than grands, would anyone like to comment on the differences between the uprights? Danke.

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11445
12/09/03 11:52 PM
12/09/03 11:52 PM
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Arlington, VA
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Norbert -- in my piano book -- you take the cake! I love to read your posts on this forum -- are you as funny in person as you are in print?

Anyway -- if MY Petrof were a confection, it would be a creamy lemon meringue pie with a crisp rich crust, a silky smooth filling both sweet and tart, and a meringue so fresh it sparkles and shines.

Time for a midnight snack and a little Brahms.

Virginia (from Virginia)

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11446
12/10/03 05:39 AM
12/10/03 05:39 AM
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Leipzig, Germany
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pianoloverus,


my experience with Boesendorfer is limited, but I can speak for Bluethner and Bechstein. They are all arround here, I almost want to say I grew up with that sound. I owned a Bluethner Model 6 and still have two Bechstein grands, both very old. As for the sound they both can be wonderful, brilliant and warm, with the Bechstein a little more on the brighter and the Bluethner a little more on the darker side. Some describe the Bechstein as cold and the Bluethner as not very brilliant or even dull, but that only happens if these pianos are not voiced correctly. Especially with the Bluethners I sometimes hear that prejudice, that they are too dull, but the truth is that they are holding up very well over the time and there are many instruments arround that played in music schools or institutions without getting much attention (or servicing) for sometimes 100 years and therefore lost some of the sound quality whereas other instruments from the same years are already on the junk-yard.

As for the touch, usually they are both on the light side. Bluethner has used it's own "patent action" for a long time I guess up to 1910 or even a little later and when you look into old Bluethners you'd be surprised that especially the instruments with patent action hold up best over the years. This action usually has a very light and sensitive touch but it lacks the good repetition of a modern action. Bechstein has used the modern action as early as 1880 or even some years earlier in a time, when Boesendorfer for instance (among others) still used the old german (or vienesse) action. These old actions usually play very light because they used smaller hammers than today and also the action is not equipped with a capstan on the key but with a rocker that connects directly to the action, which reduces the friction between key and action a little bit.

BTW, both Bluethner and Bechstein celebrated their 150th anniversary this year and it seems they've both arrived well in the 21st century.

Best regards,
Jens

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11447
12/10/03 12:50 PM
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Some interesting replies. I think some of the answers show the difficulty/inconsistency in describing piano tone. One poster said Bluthners were "sweet, bell like and singing" and another said Bluthners and M&H were polar opposites. Yet I think " sweett, bell-like and singing" could be applied to M&H.

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11448
12/10/03 03:32 PM
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I probably would describe an M&H as "full, broad, and expressive", but I doubt I would ever use "sweet, bell-like, and singing". The "singing" one is the hardest term -- in the middle range, I like to describe the M&H as "speaking".

Words are hard -- a trip to Classical Grands allows one to hear them both, optimized to the hilt, side-by-side. (We near-Seattleans are very lucky! cool )

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11449
12/10/03 03:54 PM
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Sorry, but I have to agree with Shant here (again). Mason & Hamlins are powerful, expressive, complex, multi-layered. They can be very beautiful. But the Bluthner is pretty, delicate, lyrical.

Hope that clarifies (trying to put words to tonalities IS hard!).

penny

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11450
12/10/03 04:44 PM
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Quoth Penny: "But the Bluthner is pretty, delicate, lyrical."

And, I would add, essentially inaudible if you happen to be playing chamber music with a Bluthner.

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11451
12/10/03 05:11 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by MichaelP:
Quoth Penny: "But the Bluthner is pretty, delicate, lyrical."

And, I would add, essentially inaudible if you happen to be playing chamber music with a Bluthner.
Do you mean Bluthners are typically soft?

An observation: I thought the "used, small (5' plus), old" Bluthner I played at Beethoven Piano in NYC gave me enough volume that I reckon it sufficient for chamber music. And I did pick up the "delicate, lyrical" quality of that piano very quickly after a few notes. (Of course, there weren't string players playing with me at the time, and I don't know what work Beethoven Piano has put into that particular Bluthner.)

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11452
12/10/03 07:49 PM
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I don't know about "typically," but something a little unusual is going on when you play piano trios and piano quartets with two different, newish, large Bluthners, both with the lids fully-up, manned by assertive, good pianists, in small acoustically, live rooms, and you have to keep urging the pianists to play louder.

I mean, the old joke among string players, after all, is that there are way too few pianists and way too many fortists. But not, in my experience, when they are playing Bluthner.

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11453
12/10/03 08:08 PM
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A local recording studio here has a Bluethner 4 (GDR production) in a nearly anechoic room. I've had four three-hour recording sessions with a tenor and didn't find the piano lacking in power.

As I recall using the una corda made the tone brighter; there were also radical changes in tone color throughout the scale. Very interesting, very beautiful, but it took some real skill to play it.

We had two day sessions and the tuning was always wild by the end of the second session. I wonder what that meant.

There used to be a sample at musacom.com but I think that is gone now.

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11454
12/10/03 08:13 PM
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Alex Hernandez Offline
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MichaelP,

Can you give us a bit more detail about these pianos?

Last year I prepped two model 6 Blthner grands ( 6'3" ) for a performance of Carmina Burana in Wachenheim , Germany.

It was an outdoor concert ( 1,000 in attendance) with a 200+ voice choir, 12 voice children choir, 6 percussionist, and four soloist.

During a moment when everything was ff, a single melodic line being played mf from the last three octaves of 1 model 6 could be heard floating over the orchestra from the back row ( where the tuner gets to sit).

This experience is the total opposite of what you have described in your post.

And this is the reason the model, age and manner of prep would be of interest to me.




Blüthner USA, LLC
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11455
12/11/03 07:46 PM
12/11/03 07:46 PM
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Bechsteins from 1920's, "the golden years of German pianomaking" have this exciting sounds that are so characteristic to all that were made in 20's. It is really an "all-in one" versatile instrument. I have one and I love it. On my Bechstein, delicate and expressive pieces of like Debussey, Chopin sound very nice, and Liszt (you can make the sound so powerful like roaring lion!! to a whispering fairy) to anything you want like Bartok.

Now, new Bechsteins are I hate to say this, but it is so true... like YAMAHA. For that amount of money, you might as well get YAMAHA and save your money!!

Bluthner is a lovely instrument. I played them all over the world, literally. They are so angelic!!! Perfect for Debussey, Ravel, oh, Mozart. Certainly not for (I think) Shubert nor Liszt nor Chopin.

Bosendofers look great sounded impressive at first, but worn off after while. And I love the logo and I love the one I saw at Cunningham for 110K. But this would be my least choice of instrument of the 3 great German pianos.

Good luck finding them in th NY/NJarea properly maintained.

Cunningham in PA had some nice Bose'

Beethoven in NYC has some very nice Bechstein and Hamburg Steinway. They were tuned nicely and Karl is very helpful.

East Coast Piano advertises Bechstein, I must say on the times I went to audition, none were anywhere close to being in proper tune. Very dissapointing

There was a Piano dealer on route 17 in NJ, had Bleuthner, not tuned very well.

To hear all of these, I recommend you get yourself over to Germany and audition all of them. Not only will you have a great trip, but you will also save a bundle, more than enough to pay for your trip. This is what I did. I was very unsatisfied with the availability of the 3 makes and when I did find them for the most part they were neglected. The dealers were more interested in selling a perfectly tuned Pearl River.
good luck
BB

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11456
12/11/03 08:12 PM
12/11/03 08:12 PM
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Now, new Bechsteins are I hate to say this, but it is so true... like YAMAHA. For that amount of money, you might as well get YAMAHA and save your money


Oooooh... You obviously haven't played one properly voiced and prepped! There is *nothing* about a well prepped and voiced Bechstein that would even remotely resemble a Yamaha. It's a shame when dealers don't take the time to properly set up a piano......


Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11457
12/11/03 09:27 PM
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Hello, Larry, your books were very helpful in the process of piano purchasing. The new Bechstein Grands I played in the US showrooms were poorly prepped. It totally did not do any justice to Bechstein. They simply don't take any care of Bechstein, they are happy selling cheaper Hoffman, yet cheeper Pearl River!! Pearl Rivers were wonderfully conditioned, and made Bechstein 'look bad'.

My other encounter with the new Bechsteins was at their Berlin Showroom where they have one the Bechsteins Liszt played on displayed.
They did an older B Model (1920's)set up for a concert and invited me to play it and it was a pure delight for me. Of course, it had nice characteristic sound of 1920's Bechstein, you can just tell!! I played both the old "B" and new models in the same hall. New ones were very nice (great tuner and technicians they have), especially, compared to those found in the States, far better. Unfortunately, there was no comparison with the one from 1920's. The older B was magic. The newer model was missing for lack of a better word, "body" and excitment.
I can say that no matter where I ran into a Bechstein upright I had tears in my eyes, no better upright at any price.
Let me say that I have nothing against Yamaha pianos, especially the handmade "S" model. I think Yamaha has a terrific base, the treble I find too bright with an overall analytic sound. I would prefer this sound for Jazz. I also add this, I got a DVD made by Bechstein at the showroom in Berlin, in the Bechstein promotional DVD, a British pianist played a Debussey piece as well as a Jazz piece, so, clealy, they are trying to get into Jazz market. Lots of Jazz people like Yamaha.
I believe that the voicing of the pianos has changed over the years to reflect the genre of music that is in vogue. Music like many other things has come full circle. At first, the Asian piano manufaturers made copies of the fine European Pianos. Now the European piano makers are trying to copy he more successful Asian model, just like in cars (lexus-Benz stuff, who copied what model). That is if they aren't already owned by an asian conglomerate.

Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11458
12/11/03 09:39 PM
12/11/03 09:39 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 9,217
Deep in Cherokee Country
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member
Larry  Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 9,217
Deep in Cherokee Country
Hello, Larry, your books were very helpful in the process of piano purchasing.


As much as I'd like to sit back and bask in the glory, I have to tell you that those were written by another Larry - a "fine" fellow, by the way.......


wink laugh


Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11459
12/12/03 01:46 AM
12/12/03 01:46 AM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,010
NM, GE & Wash. DC
JPM Offline
1000 Post Club Member
JPM  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,010
NM, GE & Wash. DC
Bob,

My experience with older vs. newer Bechsteins differs somewhat from yours.

Like you I think the voice of the older pianos (1880s-1930s) is wonderful. That classic Bechstein voice found in older pianos has real character .... a distinctive & uniquely beautiful sound. However I find that the older pianos tend to lack power. They don't produce the dynamic range of more recently manufactured Bechsteins. They also seem to lack sustain in the treble compared to newer pianos. Perhaps these characteristics are inherent to the design. I'm not sure. But it could also be a reflection of their age. Their soundbody components may need to be replaced rather than renewed when they are rebuilt. I have found that most European rebuilders tend to shim the original soundboard and reuse it rather than put in a new one. I'm not sure what Bechstein factory does when they rebuild the ones it get.

I disagree that newer Bechsteins sound like Yamahas. I hear much of the same tonal qualities coming out of my newish Bechstein that I hear in recordings of older ones and in the olders ones I've had the opportunity to play. Perhaps what you're hearing is the result of inadequate voicing. I would agree that they (like any piano) can sound too bright and percussive in the treble if they are not correctly voiced and then maintained.

But if by you're comment you are refering to the latest design change ... the addition of duplex scaling ... I would tend to agree with you. My perception (having only played two of them) is that this design change makes for a louder piano and one with unusual (to me) overtones for a Bechstein. These newer instruments do not have that trademark Bechstein sound with the clarity and transparancy heard in pianos made in earlier years.


Happy playing,
JP


"Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein."
-- Claude Debussy
Re: Bechstein vs. Bluthner vs. Bosendorfer #11460
12/12/03 09:33 AM
12/12/03 09:33 AM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 1
CT
S
SMarcus Offline
Junior Member
SMarcus  Offline
Junior Member
S

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 1
CT
Hello I am new to this forum. I don't know anything about pianos and do not even play but i have a good friend in the business. He has 3 brand new Bosendorfer Concert Grands at his shop and would be more than happy to have you come up and play them. He is located in Danbury CT and his website is www.buzaidpiano.com for more info. I am sure he is going to be frequenting this site soon but he is just in the process of getting his internet stuff going. I know he has a personal aquaintance with both Beckstein and Bluthner and would be happy to share his feelings on both.

This is not meant to be spam but I just figured since you were in the NYC area you might want a chance to play some Bosendorfers.

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