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After almost a year on this thread, I don't dare say is this piano better than this piano! LOL

Go WITH ME ON THIS ONE - Hypothetical:

I have 3 Steinway Model B Pianos:

#1 Is from the 1900's - Black Ebony Matte Finish
Completely rebuilt - everything, soundboard (solid spruce), action (Renner), hammers, everything but the harp and that is refinished/repainted.

#2 is a Model B from 1950's - 1960's - Black Ebony Matte Finish
Completely rebuilt by the SAME TECHICIAN ABOVE - everything rebuilt

#3 is a Model B 2000's - Black Ebony Matte Finish
Ditto - by same technician - but maybe no new soundboard


Will one sound better than the other?

Has this ever been done to compare Steinway's?

Just a thought?

brdwyguy

I know, I know - I have too much time on my hands, the luxury of retirement! LOL

Last edited by brdwyguy; 08/07/21 07:26 AM.

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The proof is in the performance. It’s not possible to assess a rebuild from a parts list. And, like primarily hand-made pianos, and arguably more so with a rebuilt piano, there is some degree of variability in the outcome, even with the same person/people doing the work on all 3.


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For a fair comparison the strings must be the same.

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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
The proof is in the performance. It’s not possible to assess a rebuild from a parts list. And, like primarily hand-made pianos, and arguably more so with a rebuilt piano, there is some degree of variability in the outcome, even with the same person/people doing the work on all 3.


+1

The short answer to your question is "yes, one will sound better than the others." But it won't always be the same year if you take multiple specimens from each year, and it probably won't even be the same one of any group of three to different people! And at the opposite end, some people won't hear any differences at all!!

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After almost a year on this thread, I don't dare say is this piano better than this piano! LOL

You definitely know how this works! wink

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Things like this happen more often than you might realise. I've seen Steinway Bs from the late 19th and mid 20th Century fully rebuilt by the same company, and I've seen ones from the early 2000s or late 1990s that have had a new action, pin block, and strings installed. They all sounded good, and it's not possible to say which sounds "better" in this respect since it would be subjective. You'd have to just use your ears and decide for yourself which you preferred.


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Joseph - just curious — if you were blindfolded, would you have been able to identify these pianos correctly as late 19th c vs mid 20th c vs late 20th c? Do the individual differences in the pianos outweigh the particular characteristics of a given era of piano making, particularly if the piano has been fully rebuilt?

Last edited by Sgisela; 08/07/21 01:04 PM. Reason: Typo!
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Spot on comments already.

A good way to think about it is that each piano has three important elements in construction: the design, the chosen materials, and the execution of that design using the chosen materials. In a hand built piano, all three of these elements will have variances.

For instance, it is common to have small variances in the soundboard, bridges, and rib dimensions, particularly earlier when all of this work was performed by hand (execution). The raw material (wood) will also have variances (material). The same can be said of the wool used in each set of hammers, etc., etc.

Bottom line - play the pianos. Compare them and choose what you love. If another pianist is there, regardless of skill level, they might come to a different conclusion, and that is ok.

Thanks for posting brdwyguy. Cheers (and enjoy your piano).


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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
Spot on comments already.

A good way to think about it is that each piano has three important elements in construction: the design, the chosen materials, and the execution of that design using the chosen materials. In a hand built piano, all three of these elements will have variances.

For instance, it is common to have small variances in the soundboard, bridges, and rib dimensions, particularly earlier when all of this work was performed by hand (execution). The raw material (wood) will also have variances (material). The same can be said of the wool used in each set of hammers, etc., etc.

Bottom line - play the pianos. Compare them and choose what you love. If another pianist is there, regardless of skill level, they might come to a different conclusion, and that is ok.

Thanks for posting brdwyguy. Cheers (and enjoy your piano).

Exactly. Plus with wood,wool felt, and leather as natural materials there will always be variables.

I’d have to play them myself to decide, especially since none of the pianos is new.


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Since these are hypothetical instruments, I am not sure what the speculation in this thread says except: it depends.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by Sgisela
Joseph - just curious — if you were blindfolded, would you have been able to identify these pianos correctly as late 19th c vs mid 20th c vs late 20th c? Do the individual differences in the pianos outweigh the particular characteristics of a given era of piano making, particularly if the piano has been fully rebuilt?

I'd have probably managed to single out the newest one but maybe not. Who knows? I didn't try! I can still tell between a New York and a Hamburg though, but let's not get into that whole debacle here!


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I guess now that I think about it. . . . yes. . . something similar is done like this. . . .

Every time an artist goes into the Steinway Factory to try a room full of Steinway D's?

Where there are 7 or 8 identical pianos lined up, made by the same people and same materials, etc etc etc

Yet each sounds/feels slightly different.

thanks for all the input tho - interesting thought!

brdwyguy


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I think an important point that has not yet been discussed is if there are significant differences in the bones of the pianos(parts retained in a complete rebuilt like the plate and case) from the three different eras and what, if any, differences in tone and touch these differences in the bones might cause. If there are no differences in the bones or only differences that would not affect touch and tone, then the pianos should sound similar except for any random differences resulting from factors mentioned in earlier posts.

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And depending on the company, those random differences may be trivial or significant.

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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
And depending on the company, those random differences may be trivial or significant.
Better for who? Even in high end pianos we are told to try the pianos out.This is what I was told by a professional and l would stick to that. There may be something the buyer just does not like.

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Well, yes. But you may find a line of pianos where all of the same vintage vary a lot, and another where quality control keeps the range more narrow.

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Let me see if I have interpreted these answers correctly. You take a 100 year old piano, a 50 year old piano, and a new piano. Rebuild the two older ones to correct for the passage of time and usage. Then compare them. And the answer is that none of them is automatically preferred by most pianists. It will just be a matter of personal taste.

Wow! This is a tough business to be in. Steinway builds and refines their design for a century, and their customers can't even say they have noticed an improvement.


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I believe you have misinterpreted the original premise.


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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
Well, yes. But you may find a line of pianos where all of the same vintage vary a lot, and another where quality control keeps the range more narrow.
The best lines of the really good brands I agree are more likely to be very similar..However even if you do not end up with the lemon you may still end up with one which was meant for another person.There may be a perfect one for you.
Not even Steingraeber130, Bechstein Concert 8, Schimmel Konzert, Grotrian Concertino would sound and respond exactly like every other piano within those models and brands.No there are some differences in every individual Bechstein Concert 8. Otherwise the pianos would be so standardized they would not be excellent pianos.There is always 1,2,or perhaps 3 out of 6 or 8 pianos that would stand out for a buyer.If you are going to pay those kind of prices, 😉 I would choose the one I most like.
I was mentioning European pianos Maestro, because I know your interests.All hypothetical of course because no buyer is going to find 6 or 8 of these brands/models in one place.(probably not even in the factory)

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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
After almost a year on this thread, I don't dare say is this piano better than this piano! LOL

Go WITH ME ON THIS ONE - Hypothetical:

I have 3 Steinway Model B Pianos:

#1 Is from the 1900's - Black Ebony Matte Finish
Completely rebuilt - everything, soundboard (solid spruce), action (Renner), hammers, everything but the harp and that is refinished/repainted.

#2 is a Model B from 1950's - 1960's - Black Ebony Matte Finish
Completely rebuilt by the SAME TECHICIAN ABOVE - everything rebuilt

#3 is a Model B 2000's - Black Ebony Matte Finish
Ditto - by same technician - but maybe no new soundboard


Will one sound better than the other?

Has this ever been done to compare Steinway's?

Let's assume all three are excellent candidates for full rebuilds meaning that what you are keeping is sound.

If all three are rebuilt to the highest standard by the same team using a modern factory hybrid approach ( meaning essentially disregarding the authenticity of the original instrument and installing materials and parts and design like a current Steinway ), and assuming modifications are being made to the original piano to accommodate this hybrid approach, the three instruments will all sound and perform like the very best new/newer Steinway Bs. There will be subtle differences and with this approach, my guess would be that the 1950s/1960s would be the best but any of the three could be a bit better, and honestly until all three were done, prepped, and matured through playing in and further refinement, it would be hard to be sure which would be "the best".

If all three are rebuilt to the highest standard by the same team trying to be as authentic as possible ( using materials and parts and design authentic to each era would mean for instance different soundboard woods, different action design, different hammer weights, different hammer materials, different approach to voicing ) the newer Steinway would be the loudest and most percussive, the vintage Steinway would have a lighter lower inertia action and a more "singing" tone with a less percussive attack and a mellower voice and the 50s/60s Steinway would be not surprisingly somewhere in between in terms of power and feel. The 50s/60s authentic Steinway B would have the most color and color variety, followed by the early 1900s and the most modern Steinway would have the least color to its sound. Again, this is assuming an approach with authenticity as the priority. These three pianos would sound and feel quite different and probably shine in different repertoire and each could be preferred by different pianists depending on their level, what they are used to and what they are asking of the piano.

If all three are rebuilt to the highest standard by the same team with the idea of ultimate performance in each piano, using whatever design and customization and parts choices and materials that brought each piano to its highest level of performance, all three could be maxed out in this regard and again, until all three were done, prepped, and matured through playing in and further refinement, it would be hard to be sure which would be "the best".

Of course, there could also be approaches that are more authentic in some areas while custom in others and more hybrid in other areas. We have done all of these approaches at PianoCraft on Bs and Ds from these three eras and more, and have experimented with just about every valid and interesting approach available. Unfortunately, it is very expensive and impractical for us to rebuild large Steinways and keep them on the floor unsold for the purpose of this kind of comparison although every now and then we have two Bs or two Ds from different eras with full rebuilds of one type or another that overlap in their stay at PianoCraft so they can be compared at least for a short time. We also will sometimes have a recent factory Steinway that was traded in to compare side by side for a short time with one of our rebuilds.

IMO, what is even more interesting is to compare superb rebuilt Steinways with New or Newer Steinways as well as comparing them with Estonias and Grotrians and Faziolis and Yamahas and Bosendorfers and Steingraebers and all the high quality brands available.


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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
Will one sound better than the other?

Yes, but you'll have to play them to find out.

One of them will feel better too. You'll find that out at the same time, but the one that feels better might not be the one that sounds better. And one of them might be cheaper. You'll have to choose.

Has this ever been done to compare Steinways? Yes. Every time I go into the Steinway dealer.

Larry.

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