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I feel privileged to play my Fandrich Piano Company U-122, though she's a bit temperamental.
I have a friend who's worked as an audio engineer and he considers it the best upright he's heard.
Since the thread is active again.... I'll add another vote for the Fandrich. The Fandrich is the best vertical piano I've ever played. I haven't played everything on the list, but I've played enough to recognize an outstanding piano.
I know forum member 'Rafterman' has the benefit of owing both the YUS5 and K8 unless he sold them already in favor of a grand.
Originally Posted by monads
Well I thought I could add something here that might address both of your questions above.
After my own lengthy search (which had its own thread) I eventually opted for a YUS5 which has now been in my home for 7 Months or so, and I've been very pleased with it.
The tone is lovely, much "richer" and "warmer" than the U3 on which it's based, and the dynamic range is huge. Going from a 40 year old U1 to this has been quite a step up, and I'm finding that the subtelty in the action means that there are things I can do that I just couldn't do with my old U1.
The action is also excellent, nicely weighted and allowing far more control that most other pianos I tried. Certainly a U3 didn't feel anywhere near as nice in terms of action as well as sound. Imho, it's a superb piano in pretty much every respect. Indeed, I would say that the gap from U3 to YUS5 in terms of rtouch and tone is about the same as from YUS5 to the hand built SU7 (and I actually preferred my YUS5 to at least one presumably less well prepped SU7 I tried elsewhere). Given the relatively small premium over the U3 (£1500-£2000) here in the UK, and the much larger price step up to the SU7 (about £5,5000)the YUS5 seems excellent value.
But it's also important not to "over egg the pudding" as it were. The YUS5 is not in the same league as the pianos that could realistically fight it out for the "best upright in the world" tag. The sustain at the upper end is a little lacking compared to the very very best, and while the tone is lovely and well balanced, it doesn't have quite the depth or clarity of the very top instruments.
But, with a YUS5 giving change from £9k, and most instruments that I would consider significantly better costing close to double that (at least), it is imho fabulous value. In the real world where the piano has to compete for spend with everything else, it was a hands down winner for me on a quality per £ basis (its only competitors on that score are imho the Kawai K8 / 800, and the Kayserburg KA series, both of which have a very different sound). But that is of course just a personal view. To someone richer or more talented, some of those very fine (and expensive!) top tier uprights are doubtless worth every penny.
Why not contact PW member "Frankni" - he's also from England, recently visited the factory in Spaichingen and has a 6' Delta grand on order. Perhaps can share some info...
Here I am. yes I am still enjoying my Sauter Delta greatly (and so does my technician). Very precise action, and the sound is overwhelming -- both refined, warm as well as powerful. Sometimes it is just a pleasure to savour individual notes and let them resonate. As for the playing -- frankly, can't keep my hands off the instrument.
If Withindale got a Delta recently, it might be the second one of its kind in the UK.
As this is an older threat we can perhaps fasterward a bit One piano that has become very successful for us in recent times is the 52" UH Ritmuller upright. I don't say this because we carry the brand and of corse could be accused of being "biased" I say it because of the ease by which this piano is chosen by our customers - consistently. Especially by those who are good or even advanced players. Of course there is also the factor of "cost" but you need to ask yourself how much sense it makes to pay twice or even jthree times that. Don't forget at price of a German upright, the market already offers fairly serious grands - by several makers. I know German dealers saying exactly same,both they and their makers are heavily overstocked on uprights, in fact some complain that these pianos are moving hardly at all. Fact is that many others have become much better in meantime as well, not just Ritmuller. Making the investment in a very expensive upright far less attractive. So, at the cost of sounding to "hype" something, perhaps try one of these models and see yourself. I love it when people disagree but they have not been many. You may wish to remember that most of our customers have played everything out and come to a conclusion of their own. Quite quickly. While I'm simply sit back and watch. And yes, there are many other good uprights out there. Grateful to have this situation.
As people know, I own a Sauter upright myself, a wonderful piano. I have also invited several of our customers to try and compare this piano with one of our 52" Ritmullers. In each case the outcome was exactly the same. All I shall say is that I will keep showing it...... Norbert
As this is an older threat we can perhaps fasterward a bit One piano that has become very successful for us in recent times is the 52" UH Ritmuller upright. I don't say this because we carry the brand and of corse could be accused of being "biased" I say it because of the ease by which this piano is chosen by our customers - consistently. Especially by those who are good or even advanced players. Of course there is also the reaso of "cost" but you need to ask yourself if and how much sense it makes to pay twice or even three times that. Don't forget at price of a German upright, the market already offers fairly serious grands. I know German dealers saying exactly same,both they and their makers are heavily overstocked on uprights, in fact some complain that these pianos are moving hardly at all. Fact is that many others have become much better in meantime as well, not just Ritmuller, Making the investment in a very expensive upright less attractive. So, at the cost of sounding to "hype" something, perhaps try one of these models and see yourself. I love it when people disagree but they have not been many. You may wish to remember that most of our customers have played everything out and come to a conclusion of their own. Quite quickly. While I'm simply sit back and watch. Grateful to have this situation.
I would broadly agree with you here, although knowing your admiration for the improved models from some of the Chinese manafacturers in recent years, you are perhaps thinking about more specific models than me. When I was looking to buy, it was very stark how once you got past a certain price point, the differences in price were massively disproportionate to the differences in touch and tone in a way that wasn't true with grands.
Best way I can illustrate it, is that when I was shopping, I paid a visit to Ben Wheeler Pianos in Hampshire (who I would highly recommend by the way), who stock Kawai and Grotrian pianos. As I was looking for an upright, I tried the Kawai K8, and some of the Grotrian uprights. Now of course, the Grotrian Conertino is superb in every way, but it didn't feel that much better than the already excellent Kawai K8 (and indeed, my wife who doesn't play struggled to hear much difference at all). Certainly nothing like £15k better imho, hence my eventually picking a piano from that kind of price / quality point.
Ben was also kind enough to invite me to try some of his grands "just for fun". The Kawai grands were very nice, and like their yamaha equivalents offered a touch and tone that was imho better than any upright. And then I tried the Grotrian Cabinet. And frankly I struggle to find words to express how good it was. It was just light years ahead of the Kawai grands in a way that wasn't the case with the respective uprights. Even my wife was blown away by it, suggesting that if we ever had a house that could fit a grand, I should buy one of those despite the £45k pricetag.
So yes, I would agree that the top uprights are (while wonderful)difficult to justify price wise, so it's no great surprise to hear your comments about some of the German makers struggling to shift uprights even while the grands are moving very well
The German uprights certainly have their place for those who want the absolute finest being at same time willing to pay for it. For some, money doesn't matter. They just don't make much sense in the average buyers world and never have - at least in mine. There may be others who have different experience. Looking right now at some reliability and car reviews for 2016 models. Strangely ignoring Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari etc: in fact there aren't any. Not sure if those makes have to rely on anybody's opinion out there. My comments needing to be seen in that sense and from that perspective only. All good..... Norbert
I've also been on the search for the ultimate vertical piano... I just don't have room for a grand, so the question becomes how far I can get with an upright. And also whether I will be able to find an "ultimate" instrument within a price range I can afford.
The main drawback of uprights for me is usually the action and the mechanism. I seldom find the same level of precision and control which can be found in excellent grands. Then there is also tone/sound, of course.
I have been lucky enough to audition several of the instruments which have been mentioned in this thread. Out of those I've auditioned, two instruments really stand out:
The Sauter 130M with RR action. Wow. Just wow. The action on the instrument I tried was unbelieably precise. Such a dynamics, such a control. And the tone... sigh. Just a wonderful rich tone throughout, with great clarity at the same tome. The keys also have a very comfortable feel. I much prefer these keytops to all other keytops I've tried, including real ivory (which I otherwise like very much).
The Steingraeber 130T with SFM action. Also wow. Fantastic fantastic instrument. Felt the same way as with the Sauter.
The Sauter and the Steingraeber I tried had many similarities: Fantastic actions which feel like grands, and a tone/voicing which is a bit to the warm side. Still, they are different. Difficult to say exactly how, but they are. I didn't try them side by side, so difficult to compare directly. Some months ago I played both of them some days apart, and that time I thought I preferred the Steingraeber. Did the same this week, and this time I think I preferred the Sauter. I know I would live happily ever after with both of these pianos.
Honorable mention: Bechstein Concert 8. Of course, this is an amazing instrument. Extremely precise and well-rounded. The action feels like an upright and not a grand, but is nevertheless excellent and very precise. Tried it side to side with the Steingraeber. I perceived the Bechstein as more surgical, and the Steingraeber as more lyrical. It's a matter of taste. I definitely preferred the Steingraeber myself, but I can clearly see why others would prefer the Bechstein.
Pianos that didn't do it for me, given their price: Steinway K-132. It's a good piano, of course. But I don't think the action is in the same league as the Sauter, the Steingraeber or the Bechstein. At least with the one instrument I tried.
The top of the line concert pianos of Schimmel, Petrof and Yamaha: Nah. Spend just a little more (comparatively speaking) and get a Sauter 130M. Not in the same ballpark.
And then it's the next pianos in line - K500 from Kawai, and other "budget" pianos. For the price, these are amazing instruments. Clearly below the quality of Sauter and Steingraeber, but arguably competitive with Schimmel, Petrof and other instruments which cost quite a bit more.
Pianos I have yet to try which I'm curious about:
The Vienna 123 from Feurich. Very interesting technology, and their KAMM action looks cool.
Pianos with the Fandrich upright action - never tried, very interested.
Pianos from Seiler with the SMR action.
August Förster pianos.
So what to choose? At the moment my budget is limited. I had ALMOST decided on a rebuilt and restored Rönisch piano, which is cheaper than the others, with a tone to die for and a fairly good and responsive action. I'm pretty sure I can live happily with this piano as well. But should I rather save up until I can afford the Sauter for example? Hm. Tough choice.
I would also say that to my ears the tallest uprights are not necessarily the best. Out of everything I have tried my favourite is the Bluthner model A which at 125cm is their mid sized upright. The larger B is nice but I just find it a bit too powerful and not quite as expressive or sweet sounding. I've noticed this with other brands too. I much prefer the Boston 126 over the 132 and have been more impressed with smaller konzert series Schimmels rather than the 132K.
As far as the ultimate upright goes you could argue that something like a Yamaha U1 fits the bill. It might not be the very best instrument but it has to be one of the best selling uprights, if not the best, of all time.
Chris, Of course you have just made my day! Not that I doubted my own opinion of my Model A. I tune and regulate it myself which gives me great satisfaction. I played other German uprights before deciding that the Blüthner's mellow tone met my requirement. Ian
As a Sauter 130 owner I think Sauter uprights incredible in both the action and the tonal response.The double repetition action is really precise and yes very similar to a grand piano. I tried quite a few uprights Bechstein Konzert 8,Yamaha YUS5, Schimmel 130,Seiler130 ,Steinways130 and I found that none of these matched the Sauter130 in the action or the tone. I used to have a very good Kawai grand which eventually had aged and I wanted a good 130 upright to replace it. I was also taken with the Seiler (especially the action)and with the C Bechstein Konzert 8 which also had an amazing tone. The Sauter130 was the one that we felt was the real winner. Enjoy your" piano search"!
The Seiler I was referring to was the 132.A friend of mine who is an advanced pianist has this piano but prefers the Sauter 130 for its action and the great tone.So a Sauter has become her dream as well
Experience and study have taught me that the "best" size range for uprights is between 44" to 49".
What has always bothered me about most uprights is the keybed is usually higher than most grands and even sitting on a taller bench still makes the playing position of ones body uncomfortable.
The "European" style vertical action is also extremely sensitive to hammer weight because of the weaker hammer return spring compared to the standard American upright action and the "negative" center-of-gravity, (by this I mean the hammer assembly without a spring to return it will actually fall back into the string plane). Many of the Euro-Asian verticals have issues with bobbling hammers in the mid-section when trying to play softly because of this. They desperately need to have lighter hammers, which will mitigate the problematic center-of-gravity issue of the hammer/butt assembly. The original "designs" of these actions had lighter hammers than what are common today, and just a little more hammer mass distributed more towards the string plane and bingo; you have bobbling issues.
Also the "slope" of the keys on many verticals is "downhill" from the players perspective and this adds to the uncomfortable Playing position.
I do like the Sauter verticals in the 130cm size I have played very much. But so much could be done to improve vertical piano design and no one is interested. The piano industry is woefully negligent in applying proper engineering.
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Experience and study have taught me that the "best" size range for uprights is between 44" to 49".
My own "experience" over the years was that after going to numerous trade shows and - VERY importantly - travel all over Germany visiting its various factories, there's no clear "winner" Least of all among American makers, sorry.. In fact,outstanding and truly "memorable" uprights have, for them most part, consistently been the top 52" models made by Steingraeber, Hamburg Steinway, Sauter and C.Bechstein. In comparison to those, I have found most others, even by same makers not anywhere near same tier. I would have loved to find 44"-49" made by others superior or even close to those. And believe me I tried... Of course there are occasionally exceptions. Like my own 49" Sauter. However, it needs to be said that I once got a very special deal as dealer when visiting the factory. Plus my wife would absolutely not have allowed a "big black box" in the house. Today, even this 49" piano would cost easily as much as someone else's 6' grand. So, the whole subject of "what's best" is not easy to answer and let's not forget, what makes sense for some, may not make same sense to others.
The action design modifications used in some Steingraeber and Sauter uprights are fascinating. I'd try these out if at all possible. Of course all the pianos mentioned in this thread are beautiful instruments.