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Many piano makers brag about how long it takes to build their pianos, but my impression is that at least some, and perhaps a lot, of the time in their calculation is passive. By this I mean things like drying the wood both outside and inside, letting the rims sit for some time after they are bent, letting the case finishing coats dry in between successive applications, and other things I'm not aware of.

So how long does it really take to build a piano? Your answer can talk about building it a lot by hand or building it in a factory like Yamaha or Hailun. Or, if you prefer, give us your estimate of what percentage of the time is really what I called passive time.

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Didn't Steinway put out a video a number of years ago demonstrating that it took a full year to build a concert grand? That's assuming that the wood and soundboard had already been appropriately "seasoned". The actual hands-on work, if I remember correctly, ran to about one year.

Notes to the YT video:
The making of a Steinway piano is a time-honored process involving the hands of many skilled craftspeople over the course of almost a full year. Steinway & Sons pianos are built in just two factories worldwide - one in Astoria, NY and one in Hamburg, Germany.

Anyone else recall that video?

Building a Steinway

Regards,


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Originally Posted by BruceD
Didn't Steinway put out a video a number of years ago demonstrating that it took a full year to build a concert grand? That's assuming that the wood and soundboard had already been appropriately "seasoned". The actual hands-on work, if I remember correctly, ran to about one year.

Notes to the YT video:
The making of a Steinway piano is a time-honored process involving the hands of many skilled craftspeople over the course of almost a full year. Steinway & Sons pianos are built in just two factories worldwide - one in Astoria, NY and one in Hamburg, Germany.

Anyone else recall that video?

Building a Steinway

Regards,
If that's all that was said about build time, it sounds to me like they included a lot of passive time.

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I think you’re right, that the amount of active processing is relatively low.


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For what its worth I ordered a Yamaha GB1K in February and from what I understand it is still being produced. So even a simplified cabinetry design from Yamaha takes like half a year. Probably compounded by covid as well

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Bechstein gives numbers for at least some of their pianos, e.g. for a A124 they say 120 work hours over 7 months:

https://www.bechstein.com/en/uprigh...a-124-imposant/schwarz-mit-messing-1743/


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Maybe the production time naturally adjusts to demand, considering pianos are supposed to last even longer than cars, maybe one, two lifetimes. If demand is brisk (there are upwards 40 million piano students in China alone) I'm sure they can churn them out, too.

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Originally Posted by Gretel
Bechstein gives numbers for at least some of their pianos, e.g. for a A124 they say 120 work hours over 7 months:

https://www.bechstein.com/en/uprigh...a-124-imposant/schwarz-mit-messing-1743/
Thanks for that interesting link.

The C. Bechstein 212 lists 420-500 work hours(depending on "model", which I assume must be the outer veneer choice or case style) over 15 months. So it appears that the actual work time is a small fraction. (less than 1/5) of the time from start to finish. For a 40 hour work week, the work hours translate to around 10.5 6o 12.5 weeks of work time.

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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
Maybe the production time naturally adjusts to demand, considering pianos are supposed to last even longer than cars, maybe one, two lifetimes. If demand is brisk (there are upwards 40 million piano students in China alone) I'm sure they can churn them out, too.
What you call production time doesn't seem to be the same as work time(the total number of man hours to build the piano) which I think would remain constant.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
What you call production time doesn't seem to be the same as work time(the total number of man hours to build the piano) which I think would remain constant.
Not even if you have the line supervisor yelling on the megaphone ? (Faster! Cheaper! Faster!)

grin


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In the late 1990s Joe Pramberger went to the Young Chang factory in S. Korea to design what would become the Pramberger Platinum Series. To accommodate him, if he submitted his changes by 4pm, a prototype would be ready by 8am the next morning!

For example, he eliminated one or two ribs from the U131 upright and redistributed the remaining ribs across the board. The prototype was ready the next morning.

This is not to say that pianos take less than a day to produce, but to give you an idea that it doesn't take as long as you might think.


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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
This is not to say that pianos take less than a day to produce, but to give you an idea that it doesn't take as long as you might think.
At large scale I'd imagine they could churn out pianos as fast as they can acquire and cure the wood for the cabinet.

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When you make a grand with a continuous laminated rim, the wood laminations must be "wet" to be bent around the form without cracking. Most factories use microwaves to cure the glue, but the cured rim still contains too much moisture. Cured rims sit for a couple of months before you can make them into a piano.

Last edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT; 08/15/21 10:16 AM. Reason: typo

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When Pramberger was Steinway VP of Manufacturing; I doubt his staff could make changes like that in a month.


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Production planning is actually a very sophisticated process, scheduling inputs, processes, labor, etc, to provide finished products.

Interesting 5 minute overview here:



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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Production planning is actually a very sophisticated process, scheduling inputs, processes, labor, etc, to provide finished products.
Interesting 5 minute overview here.

... and that's just for the hammers !!!


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Originally Posted by Withindale
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Production planning is actually a very sophisticated process, scheduling inputs, processes, labor, etc, to provide finished products.
Interesting 5 minute overview here.

... and that's just for the hammers !!!


grin

It'd be cool to see the complete Bill of Materials for a piano! thumb


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Maybe this is somewhat related. I am rebuilding 5 pianos a year by myself. I work from 9:00 am to midnight 6 days a week. There is a lot of overlap, for example, when parts are curing, i usually shift over to rebuilding the actions during that time. And I sub-contract sometimes to meet schedules, and I use a refinsher who is superb (better than me anyways). So i do get pianos out within a year. I usually spend the evenings making videos lately, which has been a fun diversion. Sometimes i even get to drag the wife into the process.
-chris

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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Maybe this is somewhat related. I am rebuilding 5 pianos a year by myself. I work from 9:00 am to midnight 6 days a week. There is a lot of overlap, for example, when parts are curing, i usually shift over to rebuilding the actions during that time. And I sub-contract sometimes to meet schedules, and I use a refinsher who is superb (better than me anyways). So i do get pianos out within a year. I usually spend the evenings making videos lately, which has been a fun diversion. Sometimes i even get to drag the wife into the process.
-chris
You manage to retain a wife, working 15 hour days, 6 days a week? Geez, you must be brilliant on day 7! grin

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"One instrument takes one month to make." Fascinating video:


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