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Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? #2776252 10/28/18 05:14 PM
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pianoloverus Online Content OP
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I'm just curious about people's opinions on this topic which I think is rarely discussed at PW. Feel free to discuss any or all of the following: satin ebony, gloss ebony, satin non ebony, gloss non ebony, any special wood finishes(i.e. other than mahogany, walnut).

If you can explain why a particular maker's finish looks better or what they do to make it look better, or post a picture then that would be even more interesting.

It would be hard for me to answer my own question as I cannot see that much difference between different makers. I do remember thinking the Bosendorfer gloss ebony finishes seemed particularly beautiful even though gloss ebony is not a favorite of mine. For gloss ebony I prefer lacquer to poly.

My general impression is that the most expensive pianos(Tier 1 in Fine's listing) produce finishes of all types that are somewhat better than most of the other makers although I guess that would be expected. I wonder if it's mostly a question of just spending more time and attention to detail or if they actually have a significantly different process.



Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/28/18 05:15 PM.
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Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776304 10/28/18 07:52 PM
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My pet peeve is polyurethane. You know, the clear-coated look, as if a layer of plastic 5mm deep were sprayed on the instrument.

Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776306 10/28/18 08:08 PM
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Hamburg made Steinway Crown Jewels collection, and Fazioli. They're top of the top!


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Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776320 10/28/18 09:02 PM
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This is one of my favorites!

Crotch cut, sometimes called "flame" mahogany!

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Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776330 10/28/18 09:31 PM
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Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776333 10/28/18 09:47 PM
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Bluthner's special order ones.


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776373 10/29/18 05:35 AM
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My old Steinway has a french-polished Brazilian Rio rosewood finish but I don’t think it’s an available option on any new pianos unfortunately. The veneer is highly figured but it’s the finish which really sets it off as it really does look like the wood has been polished rather than just having a clear coat layered on top of it. To me, modern high gloss finishes are perfect for black pianos (or any solid colours) but some pianos with a high gloss wood finish can look as though they’ve been dipped in resin. If I wasn’t able to have a french-polished finish for a wood veneer, I’d probably go for a natural wax or oil finish.

Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776383 10/29/18 07:09 AM
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Oil or oil varnish is difficult to beat, something to do with the index of refraction of both wood and oil. I've never been a fan of the black high gloss finish on pianos whether shellac or any modern 'resin'. Might be useful for finding Pluto though. In fact I find it just about the most boring finish known to man, made worse by the large flat surfaces found on pianos. Matte black I can live with. I'm not a fan of fancy burl or highly figured veneers either (too much happening for me) although I think they are more suited to much smaller instruments. Just a fairly plain looking walnut or mahogany with a simple oil finish suits my taste more. No doubt I'm in a minority though.
So who makes the most beautiful finish? It's very much in the eye of the beholder.

Last edited by Michael P Walsh; 10/29/18 07:14 AM.
Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776392 10/29/18 07:49 AM
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Many manufacturers offer special wood finishes, but few, if any, dealers stock them. They're typically custom-ordered. Thus, you're committing to a yet-to-be-made instrument, based on having played another of the same model which the custom-made instrument may or may not match in tone and feel.

Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776484 10/29/18 01:38 PM
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Some of the nicest cabinet I have seen have come from the European manufactures.
Fazioli ,Bluthner, Bosendorfer etc.
I have this Bechstein in birds eye maple. Gold leaf accents and the plate is gold leaf not painted.
Pretty striking when seen in person. One of two manufactured for the world.


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Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776499 10/29/18 02:04 PM
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I love Collard & Collard pianos from the 19th Century.


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Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776501 10/29/18 02:14 PM
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If we start talking about vintage cabinets, there are many. Here is a 1890 Bechstein with an original finish. This pianos has not been restored yet. The finish is incredible.

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Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: Rod Verhnjak] #2776583 10/29/18 05:59 PM
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I'm fairly certain that is the most beautiful piano in the world. whistle

When the aliens come to take you back to your home planet, please leave it to me!

edit: that gold leaf Bechstein. Holy moly!

Last edited by Tararex; 10/29/18 06:00 PM.

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Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: Tararex] #2776599 10/29/18 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Tararex
I'm fairly certain that is the most beautiful piano in the world. whistle

When the aliens come to take you back to your home planet, please leave it to me!

edit: that gold leaf Bechstein. Holy moly!



https://www.bechstein.com/en/upright-grand-pianos/c-bechstein-birds-eye-maple-grand-piano/


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Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: edferris] #2776782 10/30/18 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by edferris
My pet peeve is polyurethane. You know, the clear-coated look, as if a layer of plastic 5mm deep were sprayed on the instrument.


I think you mean polyester. Polyurethane varnishes do not create an unnatural look.

Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2776797 10/30/18 12:43 PM
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Stuart and Sons has done some pretty unique finishes and designs using rare woods. In fact, do they even have a "standard" finish?


What do snowflakes and Chickerings have in common? There are no two exactly alike!
Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: guyl] #2776977 10/31/18 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by guyl
Stuart and Sons has done some pretty unique finishes and designs using rare woods. In fact, do they even have a "standard" finish?

Not really. They don’t do black. Major veneers are red cedar, Tasmanian black heart sassafras and Tasmanian huon pine.

Regards
Chris


Stuart & Sons 2.2 metre #25
Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2777041 10/31/18 11:03 AM
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There’s several sides to this question. For the true pianist in all of us, you want the biggest, most expressive piano you can possibly afford. The additional funds required for exotic wood finishes are just wasted money. The other side of that argument is, if I have the money to buy a Tier1 concert grand, the huge piano should reflect my refined taste instead of being a gigantic black glossy ugly thing taking up a huge amount of floorspace in my entertainment area.
I myself have limited funds so I pick whatever finish is no additional cost. BTW I can’t even justify spending the money for a Tier 1 grand.


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Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: j&j] #2777078 10/31/18 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by j&j
There’s several sides to this question. For the true pianist in all of us, you want the biggest, most expressive piano you can possibly afford. The additional funds required for exotic wood finishes are just wasted money.
I strongly disagree. I think someone who loves the piano and piano music can also love the aesthetic or furniture aspect of a piano. I think it's arrogant to say that if one values the look a of piano one is not a "true pianist". Unless someone has 100K+ to spend on a piano, the purchase is always going to have some compromises, and I think a piano's tone, touch, and appearance are all valid considerations.

Re: Which makers produce the most beautiful finishes? [Re: pianoloverus] #2777079 10/31/18 02:23 PM
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I'm hoping to hear more in this thread perhaps mostly from dealers/rebuilders/ techs about why particular makers have more beautiful finishes. For example, is it:
1. Greater care(more time) in the finishing process
2. Greater skill of those doing the finishing
3. Better materials used in the finish(specificallly what?)
4. (For wood finishes) better selection and matching of the veneer
5. A better/different finishing process(specifically what?)

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