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Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274137
11/12/07 08:38 PM
11/12/07 08:38 PM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 4,678
Georgia, USA
terminaldegree Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Prospero:
Count yourself lucky. Since you don't hear the difference, you have no reason to shell out the bucks for Steinway prices.
A patient, determined music teacher could probably help you identify the "colors" you are hearing.

But we can say something more: first we can point to the scale designs. Through trial and error, luck, inspiration, and probably plenty of skill, Steinway happened to hit upon some fabulous scale designs that are great for producing the color that many classical musicians value deeply.
You could also point to the extremely heavy-duty construction materials and methods that produce the conditions necessary for the Steinway scale designs to produce such great color.
You could also start talking about special craftsmanship, developed again largely through trial-and-error, that teach Steinway builders which particular twists and turns and details produce better results.

I have discussed piano color literally with people from across the globe. We seem to understand each other extremely well.
Okay, I believe in and even teach how to make different tone colors on the piano, but must admit that your response comes across more than a slight bit on the pompous side. Of course there is a scientific explanation, but the manner of producing such colors can be taught and explained in less-than-scientific ways.

Although the strong suit of a NY Steinway is its' ability to produce a wide variety of sounds [when set up correctly], the notion that no other piano is capable of this smacks of complete ignorance or a lack of technical ability on your part. The basic tonal characteristics of the other fine European and American brands are all unique and distinct. Some of these pianos are capable of making a quality of sound a Steinway cannot. To be honest, I prefer the action of many of these pianos to the Steinway as well [particularly in the non-concert grand sizes].

Vive diversity!

A fun little tangent, just in case you didn't read it 3 years ago:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpa...&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print


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Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274138
11/12/07 08:55 PM
11/12/07 08:55 PM
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Williamsburg, VA
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Quote
but must admit that your response comes across more than a slight bit on the pompous side
Ya think! laugh


Prospero,

That has to be one of the most patronizing answers I have seen in a long time. You assert all this magical color in Steinway that supposedly is unavailable in other brands, and offer no evidence other than your superior understanding of the ineffable quality of Steinway. Thanks. I have played this instrument for many years. I am perfectly capable of parsing what i hear and what i like. I like Steinway just fine. In fact, I think they hold up very well to lots of institutional use ...better than Kawai, for instance. But there is no magic in their color that a pianist can harness that makes them inherently superior to the different color that can be harnessed in, say a Bosendorfer or Fazioli, or any other top brand out there. There may be qualities that individuals may prefer, but that is an opinion, as you say.

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274139
11/12/07 09:35 PM
11/12/07 09:35 PM
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Quote: "the notion that no other piano is capable of this smacks of complete ignorance or a lack of technical ability on your part."

I have re-read my post. I never said that no other piano is capable of producing many different colors. I have never believed that, either.

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274140
11/12/07 09:57 PM
11/12/07 09:57 PM
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Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274141
11/12/07 09:57 PM
11/12/07 09:57 PM
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Piano dad writes: "You assert all this magical color in Steinway that supposedly is unavailable in other brands..."

I asserted no such thing: I never said that other pianos cannot produce many different colors, including plenty of magical ones.

I love lots of pianos besides Steinway. One reason includes all the colors they produce. In fact just today on this website I congratulated someone for purchasing an Estonia and told them I think it is definitely in a league with Steinway and Mason. You can bet I would never have said that if I did not think Estonia is capable of producing many great colors.

As for finding me patronizing, well, that reaction certainly surprised me. I examined some of your posts, and directly as a result of being impressed with your remarks, I paid you special respect when I said that someone like you probably hears differences in piano color already.

Furthermore, I paid you more respect when I said that you would probably laugh at the kind of subtle differences that mean a lot to me--and just in case it was not absolutely crystal-clear that this remark did not imply any belligerence, I added one of those smiley faces next to it.

If that were not enough, I also used the self-mocking expression "a fool like me" in the sentence. It is tough to imagine a poorer choice of words for someone who is trying to be patronizing. It is amazing that anyone could interpret such a phrase as patronizing.

One reason why I am surprised at your reaction is that I interpreted your original statement to mean that you did not see differences in color between different pianos. I did not think you seriously believed that I was saying originally that Steinways (AND ONLY Steinways) produce many colors. I was saying that Steinways (like many other high-quality pianos) produce many colors.

Actually I suspect you are more angry about my remarks about scientific explanations. As for that, I do not know what to say. I have re-read my post, and I still do not read it in a patronizing way, probably because I did not intend it in a patronizing way.

Obviously you read it differently. To each his own. I am certainly not going to apologize for writing it. Nor am I going to apologize for whatever emotional reaction you had to it. I stand behind what I said one hundred per cent. I am satisfied that it is just fine the way it is.

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274142
11/12/07 10:01 PM
11/12/07 10:01 PM
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After a quick search of Piano World, I think I see what happened: some people on this site really have argued that Steinway and only Steinway produces great color. I had no idea there were people who believed that. Anyway, that may explain why some were quick to lump me in with them. Well, that is not me.

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274143
11/12/07 10:37 PM
11/12/07 10:37 PM
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Posts: 141
Kansas City, MO
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Hi, Prospero.

Please don't think that's "the way it is" around here. My husband loved the Schimmel Konzert series, I thought it a bit bright. That being said, I only found 3 Steinways out of 24 that I liked and they were about $77k (B sized), one of which was rebuilt with only 85 keys. Those three, however, I liked better than the Schimmel, which still sounded good and felt good to play. It's up to your ear and your wallet. Is the difference worth the price difference? To me, it would not be.

I wish you the best and I hope you are happy, which ever decision you make.

Amy

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274144
11/12/07 10:56 PM
11/12/07 10:56 PM
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Prospero, I think the other thing you should check out is the long and sometimes heated debates that have been held on this forum over the mechanics of a piano and how touch effects tone. There are some who believe that the way you touch a key can change the way the hammer strikes the string. I believe that is just silly - the only thing you can change is the velocity. Which is not to say that doesn't have an impact on tone, as does the miriad of other things the pianist has control over. But at its most basic there is nothing mechanically different from a Suzuki to a Steinway that would make the S&S any more able to break the laws of physics.


Doug

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss
Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274145
11/12/07 11:13 PM
11/12/07 11:13 PM
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Thanks for the heads up, SCCDoug. I am still relatively new to piano world.

I am relieved that nobody accused me of trying to break the laws of physics.

Again, thanks for the help.

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274146
11/12/07 11:48 PM
11/12/07 11:48 PM
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Greater Miami
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Dallas Dilemma said...

Quote
What I believe this forum will provide is unbiased opinions; opinions that I may not receive from commissioned sales people.


Aha!!! Were it only true. As you now know there are a few Steinway supporters and many more who seem to enjoy taking potshots when the thread presents itself.

Probably the major difference here is no on one this site will gain (financially) from your decision.

Since we aren't you and we have not played the pianos you are considering, only you with the courage of your convictions can make the optimal choice.

I've played only one Schimmel and it didn't move me. However, it's clear from the various responses that the Schimmel is a very decent instrument.

Believe Prospero and a few others said it best, it you don't discern a major difference, why would you purchase the more expensive piano? Further, since you intend to install a player, one might assume you or a family member may not play the piano that much -- so again the less expensive choice seems like the correct one for you.

Also as stated, it's not a lifetime decision. Should you get the bug and significantly improve your skills, perhaps then you might perceive an advantage with a different instrument.

Happy plunking.


2005 Steinway B
Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274147
11/13/07 12:44 AM
11/13/07 12:44 AM
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Piano*Dad,

I've never heard a Steinway, so I don't have any opinion on which sounds better, but here's a little science for you.

Sound is caused vibration of air. When you play a note on a piano, you're setting up a vibration in the string, which will vibrate the air at a frequency based on the length of the string, how heavy it is, the tension in the string, etc. For instance, a concert A is a vibration of 440 cycles per second (or 440 Hertz, or Hz). A pure tone of 440 Hz will look like a perfect sine wave. But there are all sorts of sympathetic vibrations going on--in the string itself, in the body of the piano, in all the bits and pieces that make up the instrument. Those vibrations can occur at different frequencies than 440 Hz. Each vibrating component will have a different "natural frequency" or "resonance" based on what it's made of, its shape, how it's fastened to the piano, etc. All those vibrating pieces move the air--and create sound. Then all this sound will be bouncing around inside the body of the piano--some of the energy will be sucked back up, or damped, by the parts of the piano, but some of the energy will modify the way the air vibrates. If you measure the sound, you won't get a pure sine wave any more--you'll get a squiggly line that basically follows the shape of the sign wave, where the squiggles are the result of all the sound generated by all the small vibrations within the piano. All those additional vibrations have "colored" the sound--you'll still hear an "A", but it will be a more complex sound.

The geometry of the piano, the characteristics of the wood used, and how everything is put together will all impact how things are vibrating, and will determine the "color" of the sound generated.

We generally hear sounds with a lot of high frequency vibrations added in as "bright". Hitting an object with something hard will generate more high frequencies, and you'll have a brighter sound (think of hitting a ball with an aluminum baseball bat.) If you hit the same object with something softer, you'll get more low frequencies in the mix, and get a "warmer" sound (think of hitting the same ball with a wood baseball bat.) This is why voicing can alter the sound of your piano--you're changing the hardness of the hammers. But the sound will still be modified by the dynamics of the piano, so piano of Brand X won't sound exactly like piano of Brand Y, because the geometry and materials are different, and all those little secondary vibrations that color the sound will be different.

When you smack the string with the hammer, you're putting energy into the piano. The hardness of the hammer, the length of time it's in contact with the string, and how hard it strikes the string will determine the frequency content of the energy. A piano that is more sensitive to the frequency content of the energy input from the hammers will generate a broader range of "colors" in its sound.

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274148
11/13/07 01:50 AM
11/13/07 01:50 AM
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Seattle, Washington
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As an art historian by training, I would say that one underlying difference between a Rembrandt and a kindergarten painting is INTENT.

Now, as to the use of a visual term to describe an aural phenomenon, I find y'all going back and forth about "color" which term I associate with the Horowitz playing his personal Steinway piano and using a sensitive combination of touch along with the soft and sustain pedals. So, this word has come to be used for lack of a better way to describe these nuances of sound. I have played maybe 30 Steinways from M to BB in the last month in my search for a piano, but none of them sound to me like Horowitz's Steinway (or I would have taken out my credit card/checkpad whatever immediately and insisted on keeping it in sight until it reached my house and then because it doesn't fit next to my pillow like Andre Rieu's Stradivarius, I would move my bed into the living room next to my Steinway). Now, it is also known that Horowitz's Steinway has accompanied Steinway shows and the ones of us pianistically lesser mortals who have played it (myself not included) have said that they could not detect a so special quality in that instrument. So where is the disconnect???

Was it Horowitz's playing that made that Steinway so special (along with the voicing that he personally insisted on--which who knows what that was)? Was it the Steinway? (probably not, from what people who have played it say). So, are all Steinways capable of doing what Horowitz's now-not-so-special Steinway did when he played it?

My guess is that since he was playing a D, you might be able do more with that than with the smaller size instruments. That is not to say that talking about "color" in the smaller instruments is not worthwhile. However, my understanding from my piano lessons, was that I was the one who was supposed to learn how to make color happen when playing, by listening, trying to make each note as beautiful (strong, dainty, quick, sad, quirky, etc. whatever but something please) as it could possibly be, by becoming aware of touch, relaxation, dabs soft pedal and sustain pedal--i.e., the sounds you create are like the paint brush applying strokes, dabs of paint. In the end, you aim for the Rembrandt.

I suspect that no matter what piano Horowitz played, it would sound like Horowitz. I sound like me (unfortunately sometimes), no matter which piano I play. But I do have preferences for which piano's sound I prefer, just like Mr. Horowitz did. All that aside, you could still argue that Mr. Horowitz preferred his Steinway because he thought that only on that instrument could he elicit the sounds he wanted to produce. And if that were the case, then, the fact that each Steinway is unique would not lend itself to the argument that Steinway generally is capable of producing color.

So, to summarize, I would say the pianist creates the color (no pianist, no music); concert grands may be in a class by themselves; and I wish I could play just a little like Horowitz!


Baldwin SF-10 320152, Marshall & Wendell, Steinway B
Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274149
11/13/07 01:57 AM
11/13/07 01:57 AM
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Mesa, AZ
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Personal taste is varied and everyone is different. There's no right or wrong. I like both pianos, but I happen to like Schimmels much more (sound, action, finish, hammers, etc.). Even if they both had equal cost, I'd still buy the Schimmel.

I grew up playing and performing on Steinways, and I was always told they were the best, so I believed it for a long time. I have a different perspective now.

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274150
11/13/07 05:20 AM
11/13/07 05:20 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Prospero:
[QB]
Through trial and error, luck, inspiration, and probably plenty of skill, Steinway happened to hit upon some fabulous scale designs that are great for producing the color that many classical musicians value deeply. The scale designs are patented and cannot be duplicated by other piano makers at any price.
Vive la illusion!

Just my opinion.

The NY Steinway scales are so fabulous that they are being abandoned by Steinway in favor of the European Hamburg scale designs...

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/topic/1/18504/2.html

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274151
11/13/07 09:03 AM
11/13/07 09:03 AM
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Williamsburg, VA
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Prospero,

My intention was not to pick a fight with you, and I'm certainly happy to bury the emerging hatchet, so to speak. I think you are beginning to understand where I was coming from. The line of yours quoted by theJourney above is a good example of why your initial post came across as though you were part of the Steinway snob club. By that, I mean the group whose posting history can be caricatured by fake lines like, "Well, as we all know, Steinway designers have SO much experience. No REAL artist would perform on any other instrument. After all a Steinway has such cachet. Everyone who sees the name will just KNOW you have such good taste" .....all said with just that slight upturn to the nose, a wink, and a husky tone on the word REAL.

And pardon me, but when you said I should count myself lucky that I couldn't tell the difference, I did not immediately count that as a compliment. :p

Many a patronizing episode involves pats on the head and other forms of fainting with damn praise ...or do I have that backward. laugh

These attitudes are occasionally heard here, and they drive many good Steinway owners out of their proverbial tree. Just ask Sophial and fathertopianist among others.

I shopped for a wide variety of top shelf pianos. I could hear lots of differences. I paid decent money for a new piano that I preferred to Steinway, though Steinway cost more. I didn't VALUE the Steinway the way you do, and that's fine. That's what makes a market.


Lucretia,

Thanks for the primer on wave form analysis. wink

I really do understand this. My point was that there is no objective basis for any claims that Steinway's particular 'color' is somehow better than what other great makers achieve with their scale designs, construction methods, and materials. Prospero suggests that this was not his intention, and I accept that. But there is nothing in the history of Steinway that suggests that their experience in any way trumps the experience of designers and builders at other top makers over the same long expanse of time.

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274152
11/13/07 11:34 AM
11/13/07 11:34 AM
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El Cajon, California
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Quote
Originally posted by Secondo:

I suspect that no matter what piano Horowitz played, it would sound like Horowitz.
My teacher is a great admirer of Horowitz. He told me that the most remarkable thing about his technique was his ability to appply differing force with each finger of each hand as required by the voices in the scores and the textures he wanted to achieve. He said Horowitz could play a five note chord in one hand with each note at a different volume. That kind of control will get a lot of color out of any decent piano.

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274153
11/13/07 11:43 AM
11/13/07 11:43 AM
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thanks for the kind words, P*D-- although some might say that I'm out of my proverbial tree for owning a Steinway! laugh - but that's a different discussion.

Indeed, differences in sound qualities do not necessarily imply better or worse. I think we often overlook the importance of matching the instrument and the performer. Horowitz had the ability to do extraordinary things on a piano, and was quite particular about how he wanted his piano prepped to give him the maximum flexibility and control to do what he wanted. But that very light action and bright voicing could have sounded awful in the hands of someone less skilled and less able to control it. Having played the Horowitz piano, I think it is a beautiful instrument with an amazing sing to it, but it is now older (I doubt they will ever rebuild it), has had some prep changes since Horowitz played it, and heaven knows, I don't have the skills to make it sound like Horowitz did.

Yes, a great player can make a poor piano sound better than it has any right to, and a poor player can make a great piano sound ordinary or at least less than wonderful. The magic is putting a great player whose touch and style marries well with the instrument with an extraordinary instrument.

Sophia

Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274154
11/13/07 12:00 PM
11/13/07 12:00 PM
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I agree. Also, when searching for a piano, giving yourself lots of time to acquaint yourself with the instruments can make a big difference. I would play the Schimmels and Steinways, if those were my only choices, at length and with all kinds of different music. I almost bought a piano (everything sounded fab) until I tried Chopin Mazurka No. 10--then all of a sudden everthing went into gray (when you mix all the colors that's what you get). I think if you spend enough time playing your two choices, you will see that they are very different and that you do have a preference for one over the other.


Baldwin SF-10 320152, Marshall & Wendell, Steinway B
Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274155
11/13/07 12:08 PM
11/13/07 12:08 PM
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PS, If I couldn't decide whether to marry Mary or Stephanie (or George or Bill), maybe neither one is the right choice for me (marriage should last a long time).


Baldwin SF-10 320152, Marshall & Wendell, Steinway B
Re: Schimmel Grand vs. Steinway Grand #274156
11/13/07 12:59 PM
11/13/07 12:59 PM
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Secondo,... Prospero,.... Lucretia.........?

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