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Bluthner c.1890 to present #2257097
04/05/14 08:46 AM
04/05/14 08:46 AM
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joe80 Offline OP
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Since someone had commented on the differences between new Bluthners and the pre WW1 Bluthners, I thought it might be nice to start a new thread on the subject.

Bluthner have gone through more changes than Steinway, but fewer than Bechstein (the other two famous companies founded in the same year - which is quite synchronistic!).

OK I'll kick it off with talking about the model line up:

The concert grand was the model 11, 9'2
The semi concert was the model 10, 7'8
The seven footer was the style 9. It actually ranged from 6'8 to 7'

There were TWO 6'3 grands - the style 7 and the style 8. The 7 didn't have aliquot, the 8 did

There were two 5'8 grands - the style 5 and the style 6. The 5 didn't have aliquot, the 6 did.

All of these models up to the 10 were available with the Bluthner Patent Action, or a roller action. The concert grand, as far as we know, only had a roller action. We know of at least one model 10 that had a patent action, (belonging to Michal Hambourg), but there must have been more. To be honest, it wasn't all that common for the larger grands to have the patent action.

The patent action was phased out from 1915 onwards, although it was fitted even up until the late 1920s.

In the 1920s/early 30s, there were two changes to the lineup:

The Style 4 and 4a were introduced. The 4' was 4'11, and did not have aliquot. The 4a was 5'6 and did. The 4 was loop strung.

The styles 7 and 8 were replaced by the style 12, which was loop strung instead of individually hitched, and had aliquot.

After WW2, when the company had to rebuild their factory, the model line up changed.

The concert grand became the model 1,
The 7'8 became the model 2
The 7' became the model 4

The 6'3 became the model 6 - in the communist years from c.1950 to 1995 ish (I know 1995 is post communist but they still had the frames...), the 6'3 used the same scale design as the old style 8 rather than the style 12.

The 5'8 was discontinued
The 5'6 became the model 10
The 4'11 was extended to 5'1 and became the 11. It still doesn't feature aliquot to this day.

This numbering system is the one that is still used today.

In the latest pianos (from c.1996 to the present day) there were some quite significant changes like:

The use of the cylindrical crowned soundboard giving more projection

The aliquot bridge was removed, and the aliquot was incorporated into only the highest section of the piano, using the same bridge as the speaking strings. This was done because it was noticed that the aliquot bridge puts extra down bearing on the board and the firm feel it can vibrate more freely without it.

The outer rims are much thicker and finished with a fancy veneer like birdseye maple on the inside

The scale designs have changed slightly (not beyond recognition, they share much with the old models), the actions are different - the hammers are mounted differently in the treble (I can't remember EXACTLY what is done).

The damper system is more modern now. The damper heads are rounded, and the dampers work straight away. In the older Bluthner, the dampers actually allowed the sound to ring on a little bit, and while this allowed the tone to have a glow about it, it's seen as less desirable in the modern era.

There is actually much in common between the two pianos - in fact you can set them up to be pretty similar and it works well - particularly if you are going for the mellow voicing on the new pianos.

The new pianos are built for projection more than the old ones, that much is true. The sound is a little more focused in some ways, and they are more stable - except a rebuilt one is actually just as stable because they replace the pinblock of course, with a new one.

All new Bluthners have a sostenuto.

The tone of the new Bluthners is bigger. Personally I don't need a concert sound where I practise anyway.

I love both pianos dearly, I'm a huge fan of the new Bluthner and think that the quality of the latest instruments in particular is exemplary. The actions are incredibly responsive. The models 1 and 2 stand out as two of the best modern concert pianos available from ANY maker.

Do I prefer one over the other? Well, this is quite difficult. If you were to hand me a blank cheque and tell me I could have one or the other, with a technician of my choice to set it up in the way I wanted, I would have to really think about this, but I would probably go for new. I think that the new pianos do have the edge over the old ones in terms of tonal purity, but the rebuilds are still very much top tier instruments.

Now, that's in practical terms, but also I'm an absloute sucker for pianos that are little different, that offer a different tonal range, and that have character, and I am also a sucker for a beautiful case. When I play a rebuilt Bluthner, and I have this with Bechsteins as well - it's like I play and something inside me almost 'remembers' the piano, like I remember that's how pianos used to sound (I'm only in my 30s so that might sound a like a lack of logic). I know academically that the new piano is better, but I feel such a connection with the rebuilt instruments, and it's almost primal.

However, don't get me wrong, I've heard pianists become completely unstuck on historical/rebuilt pianos because they don't feel the same. If a pianist's favourite piano is a Kawai or a Steinway, there's probably little point in giving them a rebuilt Bechstein or Bluthner from 1890-1920 and expecting them to feel at home on it.

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Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257098
04/05/14 08:47 AM
04/05/14 08:47 AM
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joe80 Offline OP
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- If there's anything I've got wrong in there, chip in!

Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257102
04/05/14 09:05 AM
04/05/14 09:05 AM
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A tangent;
"If a pianist's favourite piano is a Kawai or a Steinway, there's probably little point in giving them a rebuilt Bechstein or Bluthner from 1890-1920 and expecting them to feel at home on it."

One could say that about pretty much any instrument pair.

Heck, just to abstract it from PIE_ANNAs;
Someone accustomed to playing a Fender Strat wouldn't necessarily feel "at home" on a fine Ramirez laugh
Les Paul or telecaster - VERY different instruments, though both valid.

My case rests (comfortably and well).

Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257136
04/05/14 10:47 AM
04/05/14 10:47 AM
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Joe

Bluthner's numbering gets confusing when you search for recordings. FWIW Marcus Roberts gives some slightly different datea:

New Styles From 1926
Style Comments
4 4ft 11in; popular small grand piano with a rich silky tone.
4a 5ft 5in; less common, the styling is the same as the style 4
12 6ft 3in. Replaced style 7 and 8 from about 1925 to 1945. The numbering is reversed from about 1945. Very few in the UK
11 Becomes model 1 Length: 9’2″ (280 cm)
10 Becomes model 2 Length: 7’8″ (238 cm)
9 Becomes model 4 Length: 6’10 ” (210 cm)
8 Becomes model 6 Length: 6’3″ (191 cm)
4a Becomes model 10 Length: 5’5 ” (166 cm)
4 Becomes model 11 Length: 5’1″ (154cm)


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257138
04/05/14 10:49 AM
04/05/14 10:49 AM
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I have a client that has a 15 year old 5'1" Bluthner that has the modern aliquot system.

It is a wonderful piano with clear, rich, full tone in the bass and middle and has never had any service issues at all.

I do think the modern aliquot is vastly better than the original. Still I would not do it on any piano I was building myself. It simply adds too much mass to the bridge and this hurts the warmth and power of the treble. Although I will admit the treble on the 5'1" is quite good.

The workmanship required to fit and drill the bridges for the extra string is very high. Modern Bluthner does that exceptionally well.

The sweep angle cut hammers are also an amazing bit of workmanship.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257149
04/05/14 11:17 AM
04/05/14 11:17 AM
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I have a model 10. 7' 8" without the aliquot systems and single strung. Roller action. Spectacular piano. Manufactured in 1913. Right now it is all torn down and being rebuilt.

My client is having me install fancy legs, lyre and music desk.


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Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257151
04/05/14 11:18 AM
04/05/14 11:18 AM
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Richmond, Virginia
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Almaviva Offline
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Thank you, Joe. This was very informative.

In my on-again, off-again search for a piano for my own use (long story!), I have heard and read some very nice things about Bluthner pianos. However, I have not been able to play one because of the scarcity of Bluthner dealers in the U.S. I have contacted a few retailers that I thought were Bluthner dealers, only to discover that they no longer carry the line. These dealers unanimously praised the design, craftsmanship, quality of materials, variety of finishes, ease of servicing, etc. of Bluthner pianos. Nevertheless, they dropped the line for the following reasons:

1) the ongoing "Great Recession" has forced them to reduce the number of high-end piano lines that they carry;
2) the Bluthner name is not well-known to American piano consumers; and
3) those customers who liked the Bluthner touch and tone liked it a lot, but most of their customers preferred the touch and tone of other brands.

Hearing this discouraged me somewhat from trying to find a Bluthner that I could play, i.e. it wasn't worth the bother. However, I have heard some recordings and live concerts that used Bluthner grands, and I was impressed. Those recordings and concerts, combined with what has been stated in your thread, have encouraged me to be patient, and to find and audition a Bluthner piano before I make my final decision.

Thank you again.

Last edited by Almaviva; 04/05/14 12:57 PM. Reason: grammar, concision
Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257172
04/05/14 11:55 AM
04/05/14 11:55 AM
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joe80 Offline OP
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Hi everyone,

Ian, that's slightly different to what I originally wrote but it's largely similar. He's more precise with his dates.

Rod, it's news to me that there even was a style 10 without Aliquot. Also, I didn't realise they used the block lettering typeface on the fallboard as early as 1913, or made the piano with the square holes on the frame. Are you sure it's 1913 and not later than that? I'm not saying they didn't do it, it's just that I thought the squared holed on the frame were introduced in the very late 1920s.

I know that Petronel Malan has a Model 2 (same size) without aliquot, and it's a fairly recent model - perhaps 2000 she told me.

Ed, lots of people say that about the aliquot system, but then say that actually the tone is excellent. I'm not sure just how much the aliquot system adds, other than to say that I've heard several turn of the century style 7s, and several turn of the century style 8s, and in every case I've preferred the style 8. Whether that's to do with the aliquot or just the way the piano turned out after reconditioning is something I'll never know.

Almaviva, if you want a Bluthner perhaps you're best to try and find one over here. However, you need a technician that understands Bluthner, and even here that can be very difficult. There are some excellent technicians of course, but many seem to try and make the Bluthner sound like any other piano - and really that doesn't work for the Bluthner. They try to make it overly bright or tune it with stretched tuning like on a Steinway (which really doesn't fit the Bluthner sound at all). If I was you, I'd contact the technicians closest to you that have experience with Bluthner pianos. The chances are that they'll have some on their tuning rounds and if that's the case, they may know of some that come up for sale.

R_B - yeah I know. That's kinda what I meant.

Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257194
04/05/14 12:30 PM
04/05/14 12:30 PM
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Thanks joe! What is the difference between a patent action and a roller action ?

Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2257198
04/05/14 12:51 PM
04/05/14 12:51 PM
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Richmond, Virginia
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Ed, are you sure that your 15-year-old Bluthner is only 5'1" long? In Bluthner's current model line, the Model 11 is 5'1" long but it doesn't have the aliquot strings. The smallest model with aliquot is the Model 10, but it is 5'5" long.

Last edited by Almaviva; 04/05/14 12:58 PM. Reason: punctuation
Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: Rod Verhnjak] #2257200
04/05/14 12:56 PM
04/05/14 12:56 PM
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Rod: your Blüthner, according the plate and logo, is sure newer than 1913 (about '30 and later).

Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257203
04/05/14 01:11 PM
04/05/14 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by joe80
In the latest pianos (from c.1996 to the present day) there were some quite significant changes like:

The use of the cylindrical crowned soundboard giving more projection

The aliquot bridge was removed, and the aliquot was incorporated into only the highest section of the piano, using the same bridge as the speaking strings. This was done because it was noticed that the aliquot bridge puts extra down bearing on the board and the firm feel it can vibrate more freely without it.


I was told (or was what I understood) by Ingbert Blüthner-Haessler that cylindrical crowned SB was an original design from the beginning.
I restored one model VIII from 1921 and conclude than the aliquot bridge weren't put extra down bearing because it was designed without it. Particularly it doesn't sound "better" in the contralto section...
The mellow tone of these old pianos (I liked also its Patent action) are very unique...

Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257289
04/05/14 04:17 PM
04/05/14 04:17 PM
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I like the patent action too, but I need a piano with a modern action. So I've got one of each. Both are aliquot made in 1894 and 1912 respectively, they are identical except for the legs, desk and plate decoration. The 1894 originally had a patent action but we swapped it out.

Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: lluiscl] #2257322
04/05/14 05:44 PM
04/05/14 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by lluiscl
Rod: your Blüthner, according the plate and logo, is sure newer than 1913 (about '30 and later).


You are correct it is not a 1913 it is a 1929. I forgot to correct my web site and when I used the photos off it this morning I repeated my mistake that is on my web site.
I have far too many dates in my head!!!!

According to the serial number, The Pierce Piano Atlas and Bluthners web site it is a 1929. And in my contract to my client it also states 1929.

blush


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Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2257523
04/06/14 06:57 AM
04/06/14 06:57 AM
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joe80 Offline OP
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I thought it was later smile I would love to hear this when it's finished. What are you doing to it?

Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2258263
04/07/14 03:14 PM
04/07/14 03:14 PM
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Rod Verhnjak Offline
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Originally Posted by joe80
I thought it was later smile I would love to hear this when it's finished. What are you doing to it?


Refinishing it in satin ebony with new round turned legs and lyre. Installing a fancy new music desk and matching bench.
The soundboard is in great condition so it will be refinished with a new decal. The bridges will be resurfaced, notched & repined. We will refinish the plate and re & re the agraffes.
The pinblock had tuning pins smaller than #0 pins the pinblock will be retained. It had never been restrung.

We are installing a new keyboard as this one had the keytops replaced long ago and the job was done poorly and with that the keys also have major side erosion for being played alot over its years. Look at the front of the fallboard.

Changing the keys gives us a chance to improve on the geometry and balance the keys with new lead to perfection.

All the action parts will be replaced with Renner parts and the hammer of choice will be Ronsen.

These are the cabinet parts we will be using plus I will be using some very expensive casters that I do not have a picture of.

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Last edited by Rod Verhnjak; 04/07/14 03:29 PM.

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Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2608291
01/25/17 09:44 AM
01/25/17 09:44 AM
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Style XI Concert grand actual length 9ft (275.5cm)

Last edited by Miguel Rey; 01/25/17 10:37 AM.



Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2608331
01/25/17 11:13 AM
01/25/17 11:13 AM
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Wasn't there also a 270cm?




Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2608499
01/25/17 09:46 PM
01/25/17 09:46 PM
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Thanks so much Miguel for reactivating this thread, which I somehow missed when it was new. I presume that Bluthner thought of the dimensions in centimetres. The 6'3 styles 7 and 8 were 190 cm. The 5'8 styles 5 and 6 were 175 cm.

But there was also a 180 cm model, and I am hoping that someone can tell me where this fits into the categorisation. The most obvious feature of this model was the holes in the plate, which were shaped rather like a four-leafed clover. It never had aliquot. The serial number was not located by the decal on the soundboard, as was usual for Bluthner, but instead was to be found on the plate, in the gap between the treble and the bass tuning pins. The words BLUTHNER LEIPZIG were cast in the plate between a pair of the clover leaves.

This model was long-lived, lasting at least from serial 10459 to serial 102395 (about 1876 to 1921). But it had rather an antique look, due to the clover-leaf holes.

What was this style? It does not seem to fit any of the categories on Joe's list. It seems a distinctive design, and there must have been a reason for its existence. But what reason?

Re: Bluthner c.1890 to present [Re: joe80] #2608564
01/26/17 03:42 AM
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I am confused.

Mine is serial number 116730, it measures 2.775, (9'1"). Is it a model 1 or a model 11?


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