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Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
#2384213 02/09/15 12:32 PM
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A typical premium piano takes about 250 man hours to produce. Well, what do you get when you have a piano that's the result of 1000 man hours? The Ravenscroft Piano, custom built by Michael Spreeman, and displayed at the 2015 NAMM Show. We interview Michael for the story behind the Ravenscroft piano, and sample some of its unique sounds.
[video:youtube]tMHJTy3wlVg[/video]
What do you think of this piano? We'd love to get your thoughts and comments on this rare instrument!

Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Hugh Sung #2384227 02/09/15 01:10 PM
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That is one beautiful sounding piano!!

Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Hugh Sung #2384234 02/09/15 01:42 PM
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Wonderful! Thanks. thumb


Dave Koenig
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Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Hugh Sung #2384366 02/09/15 07:10 PM
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Hugh,

It was loads of fun to meet you at NAMM and make these recordings. Stay tuned for more everyone! (Including an interview with the one and only Frank Baxter!).



Rich Galassini
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Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Hugh Sung #2384388 02/09/15 08:04 PM
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I call Mr. Michael Spreeman, "Michelangelo". No one does better workmanship than him.


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Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Rich Galassini #2384567 02/10/15 11:04 AM
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Rich,

I enjoyed this video very much.

I noted in your interview of Mr. Spreeman that he uses rims and plates manufactured by Sauter. As Sauter have 220-cm and 275-cm grands in their own product line, are these standard Sauter rims and plates that go into a Ravenscroft piano, or are they custom-made to Ravenscroft's unique specifications? I am also curious as to why Sauter was chosen as the rim and plate supplier.

Can you answer these questions?

Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Almaviva #2384588 02/10/15 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Almaviva
As Sauter have 220-cm and 275-cm grands in their own product line, are these standard Sauter rims and plates that go into a Ravenscroft piano, or are they custom-made to Ravenscroft's unique specifications?


Mr Spreeman mentioned in the video that Sauter makes them to his own specifications. Whether they still bear some resemblance to equivalently sized Sauters is hard to say.

But wow, what an instrument.

Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Hugh Sung #2384652 02/10/15 03:13 PM
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I would love to be able to spend a couple of hours with that b
beautiful sounding instrument!!
Thank you Mr.Spreeman, Hugh, and Rich!!


A441
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Steinway "O" 1917

Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
A441 #2384662 02/10/15 04:02 PM
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I would love it if Michael Spreeman himself logged on here to discuss his pianos. At his pianos' price point (if you can call $200,000+ a "price point"!) I have to assume that there has been comparatively little cost/benefit analysis going into his design and component selections. I get the impression that he has gone with what he thinks best, with the cost of that choice being a secondary consideration at best. Thus I would love to hear his thoughts comparing and contrasting his design and component choices with those of his Tier 1 and boutique competitors (European and non-European).

Larry.

Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Hugh Sung #2384671 02/10/15 04:19 PM
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There is some commentary from Mr. Spreeman in a 2012 article we published about "boutique" piano builders here:

http://www.pianobuyer.com/PDFarchive/2012_BoutiquePianoBuilders.pdf

and a very brief brand profile here:

http://www.pianobuyer.com/fall14/186.html



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Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Hugh Sung #2385039 02/11/15 04:55 PM
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A tip of the hat to Rich Galassini And Hugh Sung for directing attention to a piano that is like no other. Limitations on the mic position (positions?) aside as well as the super-obvious observation that NAMM is not the ideal setting for harvesting the best sound, I can't find a damned thing to complain about, and that's irritating. smile

The expressions on Hugh's face tell the tale. This is a piano that you can't hide anything from. You can't bury anything under an inflated bass. Whatever you do in any register, brilliant or otherwise, will be heard clearly, so you'd better be good or else.

Someone mentioned hearing more about Mr. Spreeman's thinking. I'd suggest his posts on the Nice Piano thread which can be linked individually here on his post page. My recommendation is to read only his posts and not the entire thread since much of the thread is devoted to sillness. His posts are listed in reverse order with the first on the bottom line.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/userposts/id/23840.html

Suggestion to Rich and Hugh for next road trip

New South Wales to interview a Stuart.


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Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
turandot #2385049 02/11/15 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by turandot
A tip of the hat to Rich Galassini And Hugh Sung for directing attention to a piano that is like no other. Limitations on the mic position (positions?)


Turandot,

We used a very cool mic. system that is put out by Earthworks Audio < -- click there


Originally Posted by turandot
I can't find a damned thing to complain about, and that's irritating. smile


Now that cannot possibly be true.

Originally Posted by turandot
The expressions on Hugh's face tell the tale. This is a piano that you can't hide anything from. You can't bury anything under an inflated bass. Whatever you do in any register, brilliant or otherwise, will be heard clearly, so you'd better be good or else.

Suggestion to Rich and Hugh for next road trip

New South Wales to interview a Stuart.


I think that is a splendid idea, turandot. I don't know if it will happen, but it is a SPLENDID idea.

Cheers,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila., Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
ando #2385499 02/12/15 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ando

Mr Spreeman mentioned in the video that Sauter makes them to his own specifications. Whether they still bear some resemblance to equivalently sized Sauters is hard to say.

But wow, what an instrument.


Michael answered the question by email so I will just copy his words here:

" I chose Sauter for several reasons. Primarily because of the unique design and construction of the rims and plates in their 220 and 275. One very important build parameter for our pianos is structural integrity which contributes to tuning and action regulation stability as well as helping with overall longevity. The primary wooden bracing for both models is a box type support system made with massive 3ply solid beech beams. Unlike a “collector” style beam system where 3 beams meet and come together at one spot at the break area on the belly rail, the beams in the box style spread across and attach to the belly rail at individual points from low bass to high treble providing superior support to this typically weak link in the perimeter structure of the rim (that being the low to mid treble section area of the belly rail, which is the area of the “killer octave” ). Additionally the sand cast iron frames are also quite massive compared to many other designs. The combination of these two distinct elements make these rim plate assemblies incredibly strong. To seal the deal, as it were, I’ve had the fortunate privilege of being friends with Ulrich Sauter for many years. Because of this relationship, Mr. Sauter was willing to make an unprecedented decision to not only support my cause with being willing to supply our cases and iron frames, but was also willing to implement some design changes for us. We receive the iron frames from the factory with a polyester primer coat with basic boring for tuning pins, agraffes, plate bolts, etc. We then modify the plates here in our Scottsdale facility by removing the “V-bar” area and installing our own treble termination system. With the rims, Sauter provides us with a different lamination schedule than theirs (Sauter uses all Mahogany and we cross laminate with Beech and African Mahogany). The Ravenscroft rims are also thicker (they have more laminations in the outer rim) and we use a horizontally laminated belly rail (Sauter’s is solid maple). These changes help to provide the solid foundation we desire for our unique sound profile and also provides the structural integrity necessary to allow as long a lifetime as possible for the pianos."


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila., Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Rich Galassini #2385804 02/13/15 04:59 PM
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That's a pretty amazing piano, Rich. Thanks for doing the "tasting"!

Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
RealPlayer #2385816 02/13/15 05:37 PM
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Yeah, of all the pianos I played at NAMM, the Ravenscroft was probably the most remarkable. The refined sound and touch was a whole other level of quality. Really enjoyed playing it.


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Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Hugh Sung #2385871 02/13/15 09:14 PM
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At around, 13:00 Mr. Sung says when playing load, the bass remained clear true, centered, focussed, without muddying anything else…never lost character.

It seems to me you might not always want that. There are times when playing loudly, you might want a change in character, even distortion in the sound, more overtones/harmonics, like an electric guitar.

kind regards-


phacke

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Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
phacke #2387076 02/16/15 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by phacke
At around, 13:00 Mr. Sung says when playing load, the bass remained clear true, centered, focussed, without muddying anything else…never lost character.

It seems to me you might not always want that. There are times when playing loudly, you might want a change in character, even distortion in the sound, more overtones/harmonics, like an electric guitar.

kind regards-

Hello Phacke
I'm trying to think of a situation where I would purposefully want a "distorted" sound in the bass, but to be honest, I'm drawing a blank. A muddy bass is frustratingly common and something that I've struggled to overcome to maintain musical clarity throughout my career. To come across fine pianos like the Ravenscroft (and they're not the only pianos that manage to overcome this limitation, by the way) is a musical breath of fresh air!

Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Hugh Sung #2387117 02/16/15 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Hugh Sung
Originally Posted by phacke
At around, 13:00 Mr. Sung says when playing load, the bass remained clear true, centered, focussed, without muddying anything else…never lost character.

It seems to me you might not always want that. There are times when playing loudly, you might want a change in character, even distortion in the sound, more overtones/harmonics, like an electric guitar.

kind regards-

Hello Phacke
I'm trying to think of a situation where I would purposefully want a "distorted" sound in the bass, but to be honest, I'm drawing a blank. A muddy bass is frustratingly common and something that I've struggled to overcome to maintain musical clarity throughout my career. To come across fine pianos like the Ravenscroft (and they're not the only pianos that manage to overcome this limitation, by the way) is a musical breath of fresh air!

Greetings Hugh,

It isn't for me to say, as it wasn't my post, yet maybe "distorted" doesn't quite represent the intended idea. An Imperial Bösendorfer is very refined sounding throughout its compass of pitch and dynamics. A Steinway D with the American hammers and a more complex tone can produce a sense of almost overwhelming power in fortissimo - some like it, some do not, and in the Hofmannesque extreme what each of the exact notes are almost doesn't matter. I think the latter piano is what phacke may be referring to, or maybe the profundo bass of some American Baldwins in days gone by. Maybe phacke is thinking of some C. Bechsteins.

A muddy sounding bass, of course, is to be despised!

Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
Hugh Sung #2387217 02/16/15 11:55 PM
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Greetings, Mr Sung-

I love your videos. Great on-screen presence, I think.

If you found what you are liking in the Ravenscroft, great. No argument. You are a skilled pro, you have played enough pianos to know what you want, for sure.

As for what I mean, it parallels pretty closely with what Mr Sayers wrote regarding his impression of the New York S&S D.

My analogy with the electric guitar is admittedly extreme, but keep in mind, electric guitar players spend much money and then time selecting and then optimizing various fuzz (signal processing) boxes for their desired sound distortion when called for.

In the case of the piano, one might want that crashing and distortion sound at certain times to achieve a desired expression. Technically speaking, I suppose it is the more complex harmonics that interact on the bridge and board.

Maybe it is a matter of how we assign words to describe the sound:

Sure, muddy is a derogatory term. I hate when mud sticks to my boots and weighs them down.

>>Transcribing roughly for the video: "playing load, the bass remained clear true, centered, focussed, without muddying anything else…never lost character"

When I heard these above quoted words, I though digital piano circa 1976--that is to say, you press the key harder, you get a louder sound, which is just an amplification of the sound that you got when you press the key softer, and the character does not change.

I am sure the Ravenscroft does not sound like a DP from 1976, I am just using this to illustrate the point.

Best wishes-


phacke

Steinway YM (1933)
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J. S. Bach, Toccata (G minor) BWV 915
(and trying not to forget the other stuff I know)
Re: Piano Tastings Ep. 7: The Ravenscroft Piano at NAMM
phacke #2387236 02/17/15 02:28 AM
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Hi phacke,

I can hear what Hugh is saying about the Ravenscroft. Particularly in the bass, increasing the level of the dynamics seems very much like just turning up a volume knob - the timbre remains quite unimpaired - and there is a very pellucid quality that doesn't disintegrate with the increased dynamics. It does seem to be a very special and well made piano, and if it were mine I would have been keeping an eagle eye on it while so many visitors had the opportunity to play it!

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