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My Steingraeber Phoenix 205 after 3 months
#2195293 12/09/13 08:46 PM
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It's been a little more than 3 months since my Steingraeber Phoenix 205 arrived from Hurstwood Farm Pianos.

I've composed a blog post (the 5th in a series) about what I've learned from it over these last several months.

http://www.polishookstudio.com/2013/12/on-picking-piano-part-5.html

There are links at the end of the post for time travel back through parts 4, 3, 2, 1.

Last edited by Mark Polishook; 12/09/13 08:49 PM.
Re: My Steingraeber Phoenix 205 after 3 months
Mark Polishook #2195392 12/10/13 01:58 AM
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Interesting article Mark.
I also prefer a more mellow voicing.

Re: My Steingraeber Phoenix 205 after 3 months
Mark Polishook #2195539 12/10/13 12:35 PM
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A very informative blog indeed Mark. I have myself been amazed at how badly some piano stores here in the UK present their instruments, about suitable for room furniture but not much else. When in the US recently even new Steinways were in a very rough state in the dealer showroom. In contrast to this I found a rebuilt US D which was absolutely superb - all credit to the technician who had obviously spend an enormous amount of time and effort getting it as a Steinway should be. Trouble is very few people will pay for the detailed attention that makes all the difference - they do not understand the piano at all, their only experience is with mass produced items. Very glad to hear your piano has progressed so well. Perhaps music teachers should educate their pupils (and their parents) in the nature and needs of the piano as an instrument as well as how to play?.


Steingraeber E-272 and Walcker pipe organ
Re: My Steingraeber Phoenix 205 after 3 months
kalee21 #2195549 12/10/13 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by kalee21
Perhaps music teachers should educate their pupils (and their parents) in the nature and needs of the piano as an instrument as well as how to play?.

Is this standard fare in music schools today? I recall Alfred Brendel writing, some time ago, that it should be.

I'll start on your 205 jazz lessons later this evening, Mark.

A tip I learnt last week, keep the strings in showroom condition. I hear a very light touch with a chammy leather on the steels and a feather duster on the wound strings can work wonders.

Last edited by Withindale; 12/10/13 01:49 PM.

Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Re: My Steingraeber Phoenix 205 after 3 months
Mark Polishook #2195660 12/10/13 05:09 PM
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"...Pushed down half way the half blow reaches its una corda extreme. All the way down and the distance hammers travel to the strings has been shortened. So the 205 can be soft. Really soft..."

What a wonderful and brilliant idea--- a true innovation, which is actually useful without adding yet another scary pedal to the collection. In the old days they were not shy about adding extra pedals, but I think those days are over with; after all, we have the DP, whose keystrokes can make any sound under the sun. I wonder if such a thing as this new extended functionality could---or would--- take hold. Back in the old days, it would just have been copied by every other maker, and the originator could like it or lump it. Today it would not be so easy... but, on the other hand, there's China, where neither code nor copyright is honored. I wonder if this new function would work if the pedal could be locked in place at the bottom of its throw, to allow for a quiet practice mode.

As for your device of time-traveling backward through the blogs. It's true that they were more interesting than is common (especially the link to Alfred Brendel's essay). It would have been a slight convenience if each, at the end of the text, could have had a link to the next page--- in fact, they could have been on a single page, needing no links or backtracking. Since I didn't read them backward, maybe there is some utility which has gone over my head.

Thanks for sharing your very interesting observations. It's a fact that I think many don't appreciate, that a piano should definitely be voiced in stages over time, and in its new environment. I have played a piano or two that sounded like a facelift gone south. As your seller said, you can voice a piano down to excess, but it's not so easy to undo this work--- some plastic surgeons should take a clue. It's a dilemma when you're trying to make a decision about which piano is right for you, yet having to guess at what they might sound like in the home music room, and properly voiced. I think there's some minimum which could be expected from dealers, but still, if they can't do this work (or don't see the value), it's better if they keep their paws off.

I enjoyed the story about the seller who told you, "Oh no, sir, you don't want what you want... you want what we have on the floor here." A young saleslady actually said this very thing to me when I was shopping for double-paned windows. I'm afraid I was somewhat rude, but I couldn't stop laughing. She was serious; she didn't think it was funny. But, as a rule, I think it's better to laugh than to scream. No, I did not buy windows from that place.

Murray Perahia is on the stereo, playing Bach's Partita No. 3--- a good reminder: less writing, more practicing.


Clef

Re: My Steingraeber Phoenix 205 after 3 months
Mark Polishook #2195670 12/10/13 05:22 PM
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Kalee - thanks for reading that post. I agree with you about about the state of many piano shops. But as we both know there are the exceptions ... smile ... That's a good point you raise about taking care of pianos and the role of that in education. To Withindale's question, to my knowledge it's not standard in the education process - certainly not in higher education. It's a really interesting topic. Because it's mostly unexplored territory. It's out there waiting for someone to claim it and really do something with it.

And Kalee, how's your piano doing?

Withandale - if you have questions about those videos don't hesitate to ask. Will be posting more .. And thanks for mentioning about the chammy and feather duster. I'm all ears about *anything* having to do with taking care of pianos!





Re: My Steingraeber Phoenix 205 after 3 months
Mark Polishook #2195889 12/11/13 05:52 AM
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Mark,
I am really just starting to know the E-272 now. As Jeff mentioned above, voicing will be gradual as I discover more about the piano. Fortunately its two actions readily show different aspects of its character, both spectacularly good. I believe Norbert once commented on the flexibility of how these piano's can be prepared. This will take some time - I just keep learning more and more and my love and respect for the piano just keeps growing. The control these action designs offer is simply an eye opener, they are a complete joy to play. So intuitive, I never find I am struggling to get what I want. Having excellent technical backup locally from Hurstwood Farm of course means I do not have to rush things. My advise for any piano owner : find a great technician to keep the instrument on the top line and budget for this.
The idea of the chammy leather from Withindale is interesting, cannot see how it can possibly hurt trying this, just keep any contamination off the leather.


Steingraeber E-272 and Walcker pipe organ
Re: My Steingraeber Phoenix 205 after 3 months
kalee21 #2195891 12/11/13 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by kalee21
My advise for any piano owner : find a great technician to keep the instrument on the top line and budget for this.
The idea of the chammy leather from Withindale is interesting, cannot see how it can possibly hurt trying this, just keep any contamination off the leather.

Great advice. Today's plastic equivalents of feather dusters could be best for quick once overs between technician's visits. What do Hurstwood suggest?


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Re: My Steingraeber Phoenix 205 after 3 months
kalee21 #2195917 12/11/13 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by kalee21
Perhaps music teachers should educate their pupils (and their parents) in the nature and needs of the piano as an instrument as well as how to play?.


Yes and as a piano teacher, I can say that many do not know as much as they should about their instrument!

I used to take one of those lessons when a student had been sick during the week or too busy too practice, to explain the insides of the piano, but didn't really know the workings/voicing necessary until I was shopping a few years ago.

And reading here on PIANO WORLD is very informative.

As well as a teacher, the STORE and SALESPEOPLE really should educate the buyer about care of their piano beyond tuning. You are selling pianos...we are teaching music! (said with a smile)

Then there's the tech. More than a tuner, the tech can teach so much about the care of the instrument. Of course they might seem self serving to some who just grew up thinking all that was needed was a tuning once a year, but to the pianist who cares, WHAT THEY CAN DO REALLY MATTERS!!!

Great blog Mark. Glad that you are enjoying the Steingraeber. Fantastic instruments.

One question. Is what you call a half blow pedal, what I call a soft pedal? Never noticed that there was yet another pedal on the Steingraeber. Have noticed though that your explanation of D to T is fantastic on them.


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: My Steingraeber Phoenix 205 after 3 months
Mark Polishook #2195956 12/11/13 08:52 AM
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Jeff Clef. As per your suggestion I've put links at the bottom of each the "picking-a-piano" posts to all of the other posts I've written. My observation about the web is it's such an interesting medium to write on. I like to embed links in the text as a way to expand the narrative at that point. But I hear what you're saying too. Is something to think about. Getting the balance right between linear and non-linear probably isn't the right approach! Letting the reader choose which one they prefer probably is better! I wasn't rude to the "you don't want THAT piano - you want THIS piano!" only because I felt sorry for him. That was the first thing he said to me when I walked and I new instantly that there was no way I could even think about buying a piano from him.

LilyLady - you're experience is really exactly as mine was .. I knew NOTHING about pianos until I decided to buy one! About the half-blow pedal. It's an una corda pedal as you depress it from its start point until halfway down. At that point the una corda transition is complete. From halfway until the bottom of where the pedal can be depressed it brings the hammers closer to the strings. So there's less travel and less time to build up velocity. Which makes the piano softer. I'm told that some prefer the mechanism to work the other way - first bring the hammers closer to the strings and then let the una corda kick on.

Withandale - about stuff Hurstwood Farm recommends - pretty much they've said to me about all "inside the piano" maintenance questions that that part of it "don't try this at home on your own!" They're overcautious about it, I think, because they really really do everything possible to get everything as perfect as can be. So for me the inside of the piano is forbidden to everyone except for the two wonderful technicians who are maintaing the piano. But at the same time I am really interested in all advice how to take care of the insides ...

Kalee - I'm really really looking forward to hearing more (and then more smile about your experience with your 272.

One thing maybe to mention about Hurstwood Farm for anyone who's in the area is it's true they sell some very high end pianos. BUT. My observation is they have a very wide range in terms of what they stock, including some excellent instruments at prices they characterise as "modest." I'd recommend anyone to them in a heartbeat. Geoff Sapsford, as their technician is a major plus.




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