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What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? #2831197
03/25/19 11:37 AM
03/25/19 11:37 AM
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D959 Offline OP
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I was at the nearest steinway dealer in my state and was super excited to play a brand new model M. However, when I played it I noticed that the lower register sounded exceedingly muddy and unclear--almost like some sort of swirling echo chamber. There was also a lightly used Schimmel there and the lower register was crystal clear and sharp. Anyone else having this experience with Steinway? I really hope the company hasn't gone bad..

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Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831200
03/25/19 11:52 AM
03/25/19 11:52 AM
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Posts: 3,105
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joe80 Offline
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I'll hold my hands up and say that Steinways have never been my favourite piano anyway.... although what you describe is something I've never heard.

It sounds like the soft pedal was jammed, or the hammers weren't quite aligned, or perhaps it's just the way that piano was voiced. Was it a hamburg or new york steinway? usually Steinways are very clear and projecting, and not muddy at all. The model M isn't their strongest but it's still good.

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: joe80] #2831210
03/25/19 12:32 PM
03/25/19 12:32 PM
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D959 Offline OP
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Well it was brand new so it shouldn't have had anything to do with a jammed pedal or misaligned hammers, right? And it was a New York Steinway made toward the end of last year..my past experiences with Steinway model Ms have all been great so I'm not sure what to make of this.

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831214
03/25/19 12:42 PM
03/25/19 12:42 PM
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Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
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Keith D Kerman Offline
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Originally Posted by D959
I was at the nearest steinway dealer in my state and was super excited to play a brand new model M. However, when I played it I noticed that the lower register sounded exceedingly muddy and unclear--almost like some sort of swirling echo chamber. There was also a lightly used Schimmel there and the lower register was crystal clear and sharp. Anyone else having this experience with Steinway? I really hope the company hasn't gone bad..


What model was the Schimmel? Schimmels use harder hammers than NY Steinways and that would add to more clarity in the bass especially if the Schimmel was a larger instrument.
The Schimmel might also have had a lighter action or been better regulated both of which would make the clarity in the bass more accessible.

Schimmel bass strings are more clear sounding than NY Steinway ( Mapes ) bass strings.
Also, a brand new Steinway needs lots of prep especially to bring out tone and power in the bass. Maybe the dealer uncrated this M and it hadn't yet been prepped. 2 or 3 days of correct work on it would likely have completely changed your perception of that piano.

It would be interesting to find out if both pianos were prepared to the same standard which would have been your preference.

Finally, it might also be that the Steinway doesn't suit your approach as well as the Schimmel.


Keith D Kerman
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Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831216
03/25/19 12:46 PM
03/25/19 12:46 PM
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redfish1901 Offline
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With hand made pianos, every one is different. That means sometimes they make duds. And pianos are not always bought for their musicality. This is more true for home grands than concert grands. And famous makers know this.

Some piano makers have the "courage" to not let a bad piano leave the factory. Others know that people will buy it no matter how bad it is because of the label.

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831257
03/25/19 02:33 PM
03/25/19 02:33 PM
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joe80 Offline
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true that New York Steinways start off sounding very mushy and need prepped. I was really very shocked by the New York Steinways the first time I played new factory examples this year. Previously the only NY Steinways I'd played had been fitted out with Hamburg actions or rebuilt in the UK.

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831262
03/25/19 02:43 PM
03/25/19 02:43 PM
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The Heart of Screenland
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KurtZ Offline
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Unless they were right next to each other, don't discount the affect of room acoustics. It's one of a plethora of variables. One example of an M doesn't represent the whole line.

Kurt


**********************************************************************************************************
Co-owner (by marriage) and part time customer service rep at an electronic musical equipment repair shop.
Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831301
03/25/19 04:25 PM
03/25/19 04:25 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,133
Southwest
j&j Offline
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D959 - did you ask the dealer about the muddy sounding M? Whenever I’ve ever tried pianos, I was nearly always asked what I thought about the sound and action. There could be many reasons that piano didn’t sound as you expected but the only sure answer would come from the dealer.


J & J
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Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: joe80] #2831339
03/25/19 05:56 PM
03/25/19 05:56 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
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Reseda, California
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JohnSprung Offline
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Originally Posted by joe80
true that New York Steinways start off sounding very mushy and need prepped. .


True -- Their policy has been to do minimal factory prep, and leave most of that to the dealers. That makes some business sense, as much of the factory prep would have to be tweaked again in the environment of the destination city. But it does lead to uneven prep quality from dealer to dealer.


-- J.S.

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Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831350
03/25/19 06:12 PM
03/25/19 06:12 PM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 241
North Tx
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dhull100 Offline
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North Tx
Got a new NY B a couple years ago. It DID take a year or so to really get the characteristic sound. Playing and coaxing by a good tech. Eventually slightly changed the strike point (might have been better to do that earlier on!), and that really did it. Still has it's same tone, but more clarity in treble--bass was never a problem. It was good initially. Now it's great, recognizing that Steinway isn't everyone's cup of tea. Schimmel isn't my preference, but there can be no doubt that it's an awfully fine piano (my first adult piano was Schimmel).

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831380
03/25/19 07:32 PM
03/25/19 07:32 PM
Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 278
Paris, France
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Paris, France
It's normal for a NY Steinway. Why??? All owners of a Hamburg Steinway know why...


Hamburg Steinway & Sons C-227
Yamaha Stagea Electone ELS-02C
Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: dhull100] #2831393
03/25/19 08:40 PM
03/25/19 08:40 PM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,103
Glendale, Ca.
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Dave Ferris Offline
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Originally Posted by dhull100
Got a new NY B a couple years ago. It DID take a year or so to really get the characteristic sound. Playing and coaxing by a good tech. Eventually slightly changed the strike point (might have been better to do that earlier on!), and that really did it. Still has it's same tone, but more clarity in treble--bass was never a problem. It was good initially. Now it's great, recognizing that Steinway isn't everyone's cup of tea. Schimmel isn't my preference, but there can be no doubt that it's an awfully fine piano (my first adult piano was Schimmel).


Mine took a solid 1.5 to 2 years to blossom after buying at 9 months old. This was after multiple voicings, tunings and regulation by two of LA's finest techs. I actually felt huge buyer's remorse during this time. I was longing for my Yamaha S6 I sold. Then one day it just magically opened up

Agree on the Schimmel. High quality piano but not my tonal preference.

The NY Bs I played about 7-8 months ago, out of maybe ten I played, there were a good half dozen that I would've gladly taken home based on first impression at the Beverly Hills store.


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Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831415
03/25/19 09:53 PM
03/25/19 09:53 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 5,200
Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Seattle, WA USA
The stock wound string scale on all models of steinway grands leaves the bottom two notes ranging from somewhat muddy on a D to absolutely useless on M's and S's. The core wires are too thick and the wraps too little.

Plus now with the advent of all the wire types from Stephen Paulello offering choices of "hardness", one can modify the stock Steinway stringing scale to retain the lovely warmth and bite, and add clarity and volume.

Independent techncians are the only way to get a Steinway fitted with a (what we in the trade are calling;) Hybrid Wire Scale.

Just another example of how Steinway has not kept up with technological developments in recent decades.


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: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831443
03/26/19 01:21 AM
03/26/19 01:21 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 27,497
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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There have been a number of technological developments that have come into fashion and gone away in recent years, without being adopted by any manufacturers. Somehow it only seems to matter if Steinway fails to adopt it.


Semipro Tech
Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831481
03/26/19 05:41 AM
03/26/19 05:41 AM
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Posts: 656
New Hampshire
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WilliamTruitt Offline
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New Hampshire
It has long been my experience that Mapes bass strings are not the best choice for a Steinway. Firstly, they are not as well made as the offerings from several other domestic suppliers, and audibly so. That hasn't changed, and some of the Steinways I service have absolutely wildly beating overtones through most of the monochords. Secondly, reducing the core wire size in the monochords substantially will result in greater clarity and focus even with Mapes or Roslau wire.
Thirdly, the use of Paulello hybrid wire will result in further improvement still (Type O for the lower monochords or all of them, Type M from there). Whether or not this technological development is in fashion or has not been adopted by a maker has no bearing on the tone.

As a piano dealer in the 90's I remember many Steinway buyers coming into my store to look at rebuilt Steinways I had to sell. It wax a common complaint that many of the new Steinways sounded like they were "underwater". My rebuilds were fully prepped and voiced to a point where the buyer had a clear sense of what the character of that individual piano was, and they could make a judgment as to whether or not that was to their taste. I think I made a lot of sales that could have gone to the Steinway dealer had they made the effort to bring the piano to better voice.

I used to spend two to three days voicing and regulating the Baldwin grands that I sold because they would be difficult to sell otherwise. Why should Baldwin or Steinway pay factory personnel to do this work, when they can get the dealer to do it for "free"? I can assure you that the dealer knows the cost of doing this work.
There is a certain irony when people blame the dealer for not doing the prep, when those pianos should have come from the factory in far better condition than they do. There is no rational reason why this cannot be so. Is there some congenital reason that a Steinway or Baldwin cannot come from the factory prepped as well as a Yamaha or Kawai? I don't believe the factory is incapable of doing good work.

Dhull100 reports that it took his skilled technician a year to bring his new B up to speed. That means the factory passed the buck to the dealer, and the dealer passed the buck to the buyer. The buyer pays full boat for the piano, and then assumes to cost of properly prepping the piano. Nice....


fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner
Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: KurtZ] #2831503
03/26/19 07:50 AM
03/26/19 07:50 AM
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Posts: 34
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D959 Offline OP
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D959  Offline OP
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Originally Posted by KurtZ
Unless they were right next to each other, don't discount the affect of room acoustics. It's one of a plethora of variables. One example of an M doesn't represent the whole line.

Kurt

This is true, but I also played an O and an A and they had the same poor tone in the bass. Not to mention Steinway is widely known to have some variance between models, as is common with hand made instruments.

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: WilliamTruitt] #2831592
03/26/19 12:24 PM
03/26/19 12:24 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,722
Danville, California
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Furtwangler Offline
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Danville, California
Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
It has long been my experience that Mapes bass strings are not the best choice for a Steinway. Firstly, they are not as well made as the offerings from several other domestic suppliers, and audibly so. That hasn't changed, and some of the Steinways I service have absolutely wildly beating overtones through most of the monochords. Secondly, reducing the core wire size in the monochords substantially will result in greater clarity and focus even with Mapes or Roslau wire.
Thirdly, the use of Paulello hybrid wire will result in further improvement still (Type O for the lower monochords or all of them, Type M from there). Whether or not this technological development is in fashion or has not been adopted by a maker has no bearing on the tone.

As a piano dealer in the 90's I remember many Steinway buyers coming into my store to look at rebuilt Steinways I had to sell. It wax a common complaint that many of the new Steinways sounded like they were "underwater". My rebuilds were fully prepped and voiced to a point where the buyer had a clear sense of what the character of that individual piano was, and they could make a judgment as to whether or not that was to their taste. I think I made a lot of sales that could have gone to the Steinway dealer had they made the effort to bring the piano to better voice.

I used to spend two to three days voicing and regulating the Baldwin grands that I sold because they would be difficult to sell otherwise. Why should Baldwin or Steinway pay factory personnel to do this work, when they can get the dealer to do it for "free"? I can assure you that the dealer knows the cost of doing this work.
There is a certain irony when people blame the dealer for not doing the prep, when those pianos should have come from the factory in far better condition than they do. There is no rational reason why this cannot be so. Is there some congenital reason that a Steinway or Baldwin cannot come from the factory prepped as well as a Yamaha or Kawai? I don't believe the factory is incapable of doing good work.

Dhull100 reports that it took his skilled technician a year to bring his new B up to speed. That means the factory passed the buck to the dealer, and the dealer passed the buck to the buyer. The buyer pays full boat for the piano, and then assumes to cost of properly prepping the piano. Nice....



Of course. This is quite common, I can assure you.

But hey, whattya want for $112k+??


Amateur Pianist and raconteur.
Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831608
03/26/19 01:09 PM
03/26/19 01:09 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,133
Southwest
j&j Offline
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Just a question that doesn’t take this too OT. Could the reason that the the Steinway model sounded off to the OP be that it takes a much longer time for new Steinways to really settle in even with adequate prep? I’ve never owned or even had the opportunity to own a Steinway new or used. It’s just hard to imagine a factory and a dealer would really expect to sell a 6 figure piano that doesn’t sound wonderful. If I was trying to sell a Porsche, I’d at least clean the bird poop off the car and windshield.


J & J
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Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831610
03/26/19 01:15 PM
03/26/19 01:15 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,133
Southwest
j&j Offline
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And yes I know dealer prep and factory prep are all over the place. It’s just really hard to square in my mind how any dealer of musical instruments can expect to sell out of tune, poorly prepped instruments and stay in business.


J & J
Yamaha C3 PE
Casio Privia PX-330
Pianos - the reason God made trees!
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Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? [Re: D959] #2831691
03/26/19 05:15 PM
03/26/19 05:15 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 156
Essex, UK
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williambonard Offline
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The OP's original point almost doesn't surprise me... it's been about a year since I was last in a Steinway showroom playing brand new Steinways (Steinway Hall in London). I distinctly remember being totally underwhelmed for what is considered to be some of the finest pianos in the world that money can buy. I tried several Ds the hour I was in the store along with a Model B and a Model A.

It wasn't until I finally sat down at the Model A last that I actually found one that I enjoyed playing... even then, the tone of the A was still all over the place. The voicing of the bass did not match the voicing of the treble. Whether this is down to a lack of dealer prep or otherwise is beyond me but going back to my earlier point: for what is considered to be some of the finest pianos in the world that money can buy, the pianos at the dealer need to impress far more than they did.

On a slightly unrelated note, I visited the Yamaha Music London store after Steinway Hall and was totally blown away by the Yamaha CF6 - now THAT is some serious piano. The dealer/factory there is obviously doing the necessary prep work on the pianos...


Yamaha AvantGrand NU1X
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