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I copied this from another thread. This thread is about Renner and actions, so if you want to continue discussing Bechstein or something not related to this thread, please do so elsewhere.
Thanks.

-------

I must confess that I'm having a few difficulties understanding what makes a Renner action so special.

Let's assume Bösendorfer has developed a new grand and buys its action from Renner and a company from China.

Shouldn't the Renner action and the Chinese one be identical as they are both built to Bösendorfer's specs?
If not, what would be the difference between those actions?

Ori answered this:

Quote
This is an excellent question.
There is a short and a long answer to this one.
The long answer would be describing Renner's commitment to quality from the selection of the woods used and their drying process to the production methods, expertise and quality control.
This would be too long for now.
The short answer is that the action can be used as an example for the entire piano.

Why stop at the action?
What if Bosendorfer will "design" a whole new piano and have it built to their specs in China?
Would you be willing to trade an Austrian Bosendorfer for a Chinese built to "Bosendorfer specs"?

There is no reason in fact to relate to any hypothetical situation...
Would you trade a Steinway for a Chinese built "designed by Steinway" Essex?
Would you trade a Bluthner for a Chinese built "Briteman"?

I don’t think that I would.
I'll relate to the rest of your comments a bit later when I have more time.
Does Renner hold certain patents?

How can you recognize a Renner, apart from the name and the serial number?

What's the difference between a Blüthner and an Estonia Renner action. What is common?

Does Renner produce different qualities?


I know these are quite a few qestions but since we have already started this topic, I would greatly appreciate if you could shed some light on these points.

Kind regards

Tim


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Tim, this is an interesting question. It is quite fascinating that Renner has achieved such dominance in providing actions for so many top pianos, including most of the mainland European Tier 1 pianos.

I suppose they have consistency and longevity on their side, and a reputation perhaps similar to S&S.

I do think other people also make some really good actions though. For example:

The Stuart action, which is made in Japan and enhanced by Stuart, feels brilliant and looks very well made (I posted detailed photos a while ago).

The Fazioli take on Renner, with its adjustable magnetic system is in my view excellent. Possibly the best action I have ever played. Super responsive.

The Kawai action with carbon fibre parts seems like an excellent idea (although I believe they use wood on the Shigeru line for some reason - edit: this may well be wrong. See post below and current Shigeru website. Duff notes on my part I think). The carbon fibre idea seems very logical to me - high tech materials providing immunity from most humidity issues, the potential for long life and so on. I am surprised that more manufacturers have not adopted it.

I would be very interested to discover what the top of the line Chinese actions are like.

Kind regards

Adrian


Currently playing 2017 C212 with carbon fibre soundboard, WNG action, customised, frequently tuned and regulated. Dedicated music studio. Teaching and working on advanced Beethoven, Rach, Chopin. Somewhat parked Bach and Grieg. Plus anything students want to study and pay me to help with!
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Thanks for your response so far.

So if I understand you correctly, Renner's main advantage is their commitment to quality(wood selection, drying process etc.), their expertise (staff) and their long-established renown for delivering outstanding products.

However, there's nothing in the design of a Renner which makes it inherently superior to any other action. (?)
It's simply the materials and the execution that are absolutely flawless.

Now what if a Chinese manufacturer were to adopt their quality policy and train its staff accordingly. Would there be a difference between the Chinese and the Renner action?
As I understand it there would be no objective difference, but a subjective one. Namely that the Chinese action lacks the tradition and fame of the Renner one.

---------

Now, let's regard the piano in general.

If Bösendorfer were to manufacture a grand for Blüthner using Blüthner's specs (basic design) and Blüthner's quality policy (materials to be used...), would you buy it? It would be identical to the Blüthner manufactured in Leipzig, apart from the fact that it was manufactured by Bösendorfer staff.

The question this all boils down to I believe is what makes a Blüthner a Blüthner? Is it its design and quality or is it its country of origin.
In other words, is a Blüthner manufactured by Bösendorfer still a Blüthner?
------------

Tim


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Quote
Originally posted by Hannibal:
Let's assume Bösendorfer has developed a new grand and buys its action from Renner and a company from China.

Shouldn't the Renner action and the Chinese one be identical as they are both built to Bösendorfer's specs?
If not, what would be the difference between those actions?
Products built to the same specs by different manufacturers should be functionally the same given adequate quality control systems. The principles of quality control are widely understood and Chinese manufacturers can employ these principles as needed to compete with other manufacturers.

Are they doing their best work yet? I don't think so.

Are they likely to do it in the future? Sure, why not? Since they can't take over an entire industry all at once it makes sense to build the high volume products now and leave the niche products for later.

Years ago Bridgestone Japan was known as a maker of inexpensive tires that could be used as low cost replacements for OEM tires. Last week I was shopping for tires for my car and found that Discount Tire doesn't sell Bridgestone anymore because they are too darn expensive. I decided to order the OEM Bridgestones that were designed for my car from Tire Rack rather than settle for crummy Michelins at Costco.

Things change.

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Tim, I am just a very interested piano buyer. I cannot answer questions about Renner bits and pieces.

However, I would not disagree that if a Chinese factory (or one anywhere for that matter) were to make a similar action using similar quality materials and similar craft skills then the action should logically be just as good.

The second question has been addressed before and the usual comparison is with the automobile industry where cars of a particular brand are manufactured under license (or whatever) all over the place - but still sold as brand X. The reasoning seems to be that it is the design and specification that makes X, X. Quality control ensures that there is no significant deviation from the requirements of the brand owner, whoever is doing the actual manufacturing work.

I think it depends on your attitude. Pianos are maybe a bit more emotive, perhaps because they are sometimes largely hand made and because they are used by us delicate souls for artistic purposes. For example, a significant distinction is often drawn between Hamburg and New York Steinways, with Hamburg usually commanding a premium.

In the end does it not come down to personal preference? We research pianos to the depth and extent that suits us. Some care who makes the action, strings, hammers and whatnot, some don't. Each to his or her own. All that people really seem to want is honest information from the manufacturers or dealers.

Kind regards

Adrian


Currently playing 2017 C212 with carbon fibre soundboard, WNG action, customised, frequently tuned and regulated. Dedicated music studio. Teaching and working on advanced Beethoven, Rach, Chopin. Somewhat parked Bach and Grieg. Plus anything students want to study and pay me to help with!
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What appears as the main idea here is that similar (or same) materials plus same design/specification plus same quality control yields same product does NOT guarantee that the product is the same. Anyone in manufacturing knows this, UNLESS, the entire process is automated via robots or other computer guided processes.

Manufacturing is complex and the one ingredient that has been left out is the human factor. Quality systems do not account for every iota of the finished product. Specifications call out tolerances.

Ask a simple question. Why can't we seem to all agree on the best piano even if we all want the best action, tone, sustain, etc? Simple, because we are NOT machines.


"The creative mind plays with the object it loves." -- Carl Jung

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AJB:

Sorry, my questions were directed ar Ori.

But I agree with your assessment. The acquisition of a piano often is not a rational decision. And I must confess that an all German piano manufactured by teutonic and idiosyncratic piano magicians is a romantic notion that I find appealing.

However, this is not reality. The rest of the world is catching up quickly and I daresay that Renner could get into trouble if they don't keep an edge over their competition. Pricewise they won't be able to compete.

Tim


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Toyota is celebrating the 15 millionth North American-made
vehicle.

Is a Toyota still a Toyota?

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Renner makes action or action parts according to the piano builders' design. The quality of the parts might be good, but the Renner action is often used as sign of a piano's general quality, and there I disagree.

I once asked the Renner factory about damper springs (for uprights): They said factory X and factory Y get the same springs, but what they do with those springs is their own business.

So Renner can not be held responsible for the final result. Nor can they guarantee the perfect touch.

My Bechstein grand from 1907 has a Schwander action with light hammers. It is still in good conditon and better to play on than my brand new upright with a slightly sticky and heavier Renner action (Shall be fixed soon by my tech).

Some of the worst (toughest and heaviest) actions I have met have been Renner actions, one on a Grotrian upright and another on a Rippen upright. But the cause can be a) incorrect regulation or b) bad construction. I would not blame Renner, but the piano builder.

In small Hellas uprights there have been eihter Renner or a japanese actions. For some reason the pianos with japanese action are considered nicer to play on. Based on comparison test I made, the japanese action felt more sensitive. Less friction?

So I must admit, I trust in Renner generally as many piano builders with good reputation do, but I am no blind Renner fan.

Too much emphasis is put on the name of the supplier of parts.

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AJB: "The Kawai action with carbon fibre parts seems like an excellent idea (although I believe they use wood on the Shigeru line for some reason)."

Is this true? I would think that they would use their much promoted plastic action on their top-of-the-line pianos. High-grade plastic would seem to have some advantages over wood in terms of humidity, consistency, etc. If the top-of-the-line Shigeru does, in fact, use the traditional wood action, it would be interesting to know why. Can KawaiDon or anyone else comment on this?

I do not say this to denigrate the Kawai action. Plastic does seem, at least in principle, to offer manufacturing advantages over the traditional wood. If it is not used in the Shigeru, then it would be interesting to know why.

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Jeffrey

I said "believe" about Shigeru because I was not 100% certain and it did seem odd. I played some Shigerus late last year as part of my grand search, and the scribbled notes I made say wooden Kawai action and the photo I took from the tail end seems to show wood.

However, I have just had a look at their web site and it shows the special carbon action and hammers apparently with wooden shanks. I expect I got it wrong. Apologies.

I was impressed with the Carbon concept that Kawai seem to have pioneered. Seemed like a good idea to me.

Adrian


Currently playing 2017 C212 with carbon fibre soundboard, WNG action, customised, frequently tuned and regulated. Dedicated music studio. Teaching and working on advanced Beethoven, Rach, Chopin. Somewhat parked Bach and Grieg. Plus anything students want to study and pay me to help with!
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EJ Sauter mentioned the human factor. I agree with that completely.

I suggest something even more esoteric.

AJB said
Quote
Pianos are maybe a bit more emotive, perhaps because they are sometimes largely hand made and because they are used by us delicate souls for artistic purposes
Speaking of souls, do inanimate objects possess a "soul"? Especially something like a piano with so many thousands of finely crafted parts? Something with such a long history of craftsmanship and tradition?

A German piano with significant portions manufactured in another country would feel different to me.

If I knew that.

If I didn't know, I probably would not notice.

I would definitely not like it if I found out after spending my $$$.

If I buy any piano, part of me buys it because of what I think I know about the company, the owning family, the country of origin, etc. Even stuff like the "Swedish-ness" of the steel, the "Italian-ness" or "Austrian-ness" of the wood are interesting to me. Besides touch & tone, this background info is part of the whole mystique of a high calibre piano. If not a "soul", then maybe I'd call it a "personality".

Some people will most certainly say this is silly. They are probably right, but it does mean something to me. That's why AJB's quote spoke to me.

One Tier 1 German piano manufactured by another Tier 1 German company, would be weird to me. No matter how accurately built, that piano would be missing something intangible.

But only if I knew about the switch.

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I have also got the impression that Kawai introduced the carbon hammer shanks in their uprights, but do not use carbon shanks in their grands.

Perhaps they just want to stick to traditions in the case of concert intstruments and calculate that a concert grand is not held under such severe conditions as a upright in a home and that the service is more frequent.

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All Kawai verticals and grands use wood hammer shanks.


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ABJ said --

Quote
"It is quite fascinating that Renner has achieved such dominance in providing actions for so many top pianos, including most of the mainland European Tier 1 pianos.

I suppose they have consistency and longevity on their side, and a reputation perhaps similar to S&S."
I agree, part of it is the company's reputation as a good action manufacturer.

But part of it has to do with the Renner being located in same country where most the top tier European pianos are built. Transportation costs and risk of damage to the action during shipment are factors. Plus Renner and German/Austrian piano makers speak the same language -- literally -- a real advantage too. Another factor is the natural tendency for Germans to buy German products. As you well know, they have a long and proud tradition of manufacturing excellence --to them saying "Made in Germany" means well built or built to the highest standard.

Have you ever wondered why NY Steinway builds their own action and Hamburg Steinway uses a Renner? It would seem like economy of scale and the desire for commonality/consistency in actions would drive Steinway to use one action or the other. I'm guessing those advantages are more than offset by the shipping costs and these other considerations. Both factories must feel the quality difference between Renner & Steinway actions is insufficient to warrant the additional transportation expense of going exclusively with the Renner or the Steinway.

JP


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I find Whippen Boy's thoughts very rational. Together with the object(piano) you buy feelings, history, experiences, not to speak about status. It is simply so for most people.

My Förster upright is 100 % german made in a more than 100 year old factory in the centre of Löbau /Saxony by a family owned company using many traditonal methods and german materials and components.

But the soul of a piano lies in the design, the soundboard, assembling works and preparation. If some mechanical secondary components are machined in a factory outside Germany - say the castors wheels come from Slovakia - it does not affect me very much.

What I really dislike is Asian pianos with brand names like Ritmüller or Nordiska - names sold to Chinese companies or invented by the marketing department.

But if Mr. Edward Lüneberg settles in Korea and puts up a piano factory there - his name on the fallbord is no falsification, althoug it might mislead some piano buyers.

Why not put the town or village of the factory on the fallboard, as the praxis was earlier? C. Bechstein - Berlin, V. Chavanne - Toulouse (actually this you read on their pianos), August Förster - Löbau, Steinway & Sons - N.Y, E. Lüneberg - Saigon, etc.?

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My Petrof studio has DeToa action. Trills and technical playing are not a problem for it. I don't think it gives away anything to Renner action

The new Kawai RX-2 I have purchased and hope to get delivered soon has the new carbon action. It is superb and should raise the ranking of Kawai's grand.

The carbon action is also in the Shigeru Kawai's where it has been worked to a point of perfection. Try it.

The Kawai Millenium carbon action has not made it into the uprights yet.

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For what it's worth ....

I examined two vertical piano actions a couple of months back. One made by Renner and the other by a Chinese company. They were virtually indistinguishable. When I was asked to pick the action made by Renner I pointed out the action I thought showed a bit better attention to detail — it turned out to be the Chinese action.

Del


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Quote
Originally posted by Del:
For what it's worth ....

I examined two vertical piano actions a couple of months back. One made by Renner and the other by a Chinese company. They were virtually indistinguishable. When I was asked to pick the action made by Renner I pointed out the action I thought showed a bit better attention to detail — it turned out to be the Chinese action.

Del
Now THAT is interesting.


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I agree with Del, the Chinese actions are nice. The only issues I see is lack of adequate regulation from the maker, and some piano models need key easing more than others. The Chinese actions beat the old Korean actions for quality.

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