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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
I believe they patented the overstrung bass (in the US), and if anything, duplexes are in greater use (not lesser) in modern piano designs, though some are tuned or placed differently.

Their grands are (for me), by and large rather nice to tune.
Over the course of my playing years, I can think of many “oh wow” moments when I’ve been really impressed by a piano. Probably 40% of that list were Steinways. Granted a portion of that subset were from Hamburg, or rebuilt.

They patented overstrung bass, sure, but it was in fact invented many years prior by a small maker of upright pianos by the name of Pape, if I remember correctly. Same with the cast iron frame - Steinway was not the first to invent it, but was quick to take the idea and claim it as their own before anyone else could.

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Originally Posted by oldMH
The only really special thing about them is that some of them are truly fabulous instruments.

This can be said about literally any high-end piano maker.

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Originally Posted by littlefinger
They patented overstrung bass, sure, but it was in fact invented many years prior by a small maker of upright pianos by the name of Pape, if I remember correctly. Same with the cast iron frame - Steinway was not the first to invent it, but was quick to take the idea and claim it as their own before anyone else could.

Gross. Sheesh the title of this thread is taking on a new meaning I didn’t anticipate — what makes them special is that they’re vile??


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Originally Posted by charleslang
That’s not special, because some of other brands are truly fabulous instruments.
I'm curious, what brand are these fabulous instruments?

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To join the discussion, I think many pianists would be able to tell pianos apart by their sound quality. Piano quality also varies drastically. I think people have grown used to the Steinway sound. Personally, it sounds very vanilla to me, inoffensive. The comment about it being the Apple of pianos is apt, given their monopolizing business tactics.

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Originally Posted by littlefinger
They patented overstrung bass, sure, but it was in fact invented many years prior by a small maker of upright pianos by the name of Pape, if I remember correctly. Same with the cast iron frame - Steinway was not the first to invent it...

Yes, I am well aware of this. I did indicate that patenting something isn't the same as inventing it. Both terms were used by the OP.


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Originally Posted by littlefinger
Originally Posted by oldMH
The only really special thing about them is that some of them are truly fabulous instruments.

This can be said about literally any high-end piano maker.

I think those truly fabulous instruments were played by truly great pianists, in acoustically wonderful concert halls.

The well used Steinway grands I had the opportunity to try, just didn’t really impress me but I’m also sure none of them had proper maintenance and tuning schedules. The Bosendorfer 214VC I tried was brand new and had the best spot in the showroom. Hardly a fair comparison. If I ever got the chance to play a concert hall ready Steinway D or even a well prepped B, my opinion would be much different.


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Originally Posted by j&j
Originally Posted by littlefinger
Originally Posted by oldMH
The only really special thing about them is that some of them are truly fabulous instruments.

This can be said about literally any high-end piano maker.

I think those truly fabulous instruments were played by truly great pianists, in acoustically wonderful concert halls.

The well used Steinway grands I had the opportunity to try, just didn’t really impress me but I’m also sure none of them had proper maintenance and tuning schedules. The Bosendorfer 214VC I tried was brand new and had the best spot in the showroom. Hardly a fair comparison. If I ever got the chance to play a concert hall ready Steinway D or even a well prepped B, my opinion would be much different.

This is true. One reason so many have disdain for Steinway is because the very best Steinways go to the concert halls to be played by the great masters, while the average and sub-par pianos are often sold to the consumer. This is not to say, however, that great Steinways cannot be purchased. With the great diversity in quality these pianos have, it means that the cream of the crop of Steinway, the very best instruments that deserve the praise showered upon Steinway are not played by your average Joe at the local Steinway store.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The whole premise of this thread makes little sense to me. Why would someone judge a piano based on the patents the maker has? The OP says someone told him Steinway has lots of patents and since he doesn't feel that's true or the important features of piano are among Steinway patents, this is used as a basis for criticizing Steinway?

OP can speak for himself but on the surface when one hears that a process has been patented one might automatically think that there's a protected innovation at play which puts that patent holder at an advantage. Therefore one can make the assumption that if Steinway holds a bunch of patents that they're not only leaders of innovation but also that these are yielding advantages competitors don't have and can't (legally) replicate. In practice these patents are often of trivial practical relevance and where there's a real breakthrouogh the competitors will come up with a similar process that is just different enough to keep them out of the courtroom.

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Also by this time, most of Steinway's patents have expired, and they can and have been copied.


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Originally Posted by ikkiyikki
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The whole premise of this thread makes little sense to me. Why would someone judge a piano based on the patents the maker has? The OP says someone told him Steinway has lots of patents and since he doesn't feel that's true or the important features of piano are among Steinway patents, this is used as a basis for criticizing Steinway?

OP can speak for himself but on the surface when one hears that a process has been patented one might automatically think that there's a protected innovation at play which puts that patent holder at an advantage. Therefore one can make the assumption that if Steinway holds a bunch of patents that they're not only leaders of innovation but also that these are yielding advantages competitors don't have and can't (legally) replicate. In practice these patents are often of trivial practical relevance and where there's a real breakthrouogh the competitors will come up with a similar process that is just different enough to keep them out of the courtroom.
As far as I know most of Steinway's significant patents(overstrung scale, iron frame, tapered soundboard) have expired and generally used by most top manufacturers. Additionally, although Steinway did make or at least popularize many
innovations early in its history, I don't think this has been the case in recent decades.

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When I go to piano recitals the instrument is usually a Steinway - I often tend to find that the bass is rather "fuzzy", it lacks clarity, it is difficult to make out the bass lines. This does make me wonder if overstringing is really such a good idea.

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Originally Posted by David-G
When I go to piano recitals the instrument is usually a Steinway - I often tend to find that the bass is rather "fuzzy", it lacks clarity, it is difficult to make out the bass lines. This does make me wonder if overstringing is really such a good idea.
I think many great pianos, all of which are overstrung, have a clearer bass than a Steinway. So my guess is that overstringing is not a big factor in determining how clear the bass is.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by David-G
When I go to piano recitals the instrument is usually a Steinway - I often tend to find that the bass is rather "fuzzy", it lacks clarity, it is difficult to make out the bass lines. This does make me wonder if overstringing is really such a good idea.
I think many great pianos, all of which are overstrung, have a clearer bass than a Steinway. So my guess is that overstringing is not a big factor in determining how clear the bass is.

Interesting observation. My thoughts on this are probably coloured by my own piano, where the bass is not overstrung and has particular clarity.

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The answer (yes) is quite simple:
https://www.steinway.com/music-and-artists

Well, this plus tens of thousands of classical recordings all using Steinways.

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Originally Posted by George Smith
The answer (yes) is quite simple:
https://www.steinway.com/music-and-artists

Well, this plus tens of thousands of classical recordings all using Steinways.


Not to diminish the Steinway brand, but I don’t find the artists in their roster to be relevant, as Steinway offers incentives to pianists to sign-on as a Steinway artist. Those incentives include having a Steinway piano available, at no charge, from a local dealer for concerts where a grand piano is needed. It was a brilliant marketing plan, which continues.


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Originally Posted by littlefinger
With the great diversity in quality these pianos have, it means that the cream of the crop of Steinway, the very best instruments that deserve the praise showered upon Steinway are not played by your average Joe at the local Steinway store.

So, what does an average Joe like me have to do to get access to the 'very best instruments'? Improving my skill to a concert quality pianist is not an option smile.

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Originally Posted by Osho
Originally Posted by littlefinger
With the great diversity in quality these pianos have, it means that the cream of the crop of Steinway, the very best instruments that deserve the praise showered upon Steinway are not played by your average Joe at the local Steinway store.

So, what does an average Joe like me have to do to get access to the 'very best instruments'? Improving my skill to a concert quality pianist is not an option smile.

Osho

Make a lot of money! Of course, that is not the only way. Finding a very good technician who will work with a good make of piano that you find used can help, both in getting access to a fine instrument, and in keeping it that way.


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Originally Posted by Osho
Originally Posted by littlefinger
With the great diversity in quality these pianos have, it means that the cream of the crop of Steinway, the very best instruments that deserve the praise showered upon Steinway are not played by your average Joe at the local Steinway store.

So, what does an average Joe like me have to do to get access to the 'very best instruments'? Improving my skill to a concert quality pianist is not an option smile.

Osho

I’d say, get a vertical piano in the 50” range, pay a good technician to put it in absolute concert condition, learn to do touch up tunings so that you don’t have noisy unisons ruining things a week after you pay your tuner, and play it with the front panels removed. Modern pianos are all the ‘very best instruments’ in the bigger historical picture. I’ve owned two grands and played many but my favorite playing experience lately has become a vertical piano with big enough bass to have an orchestral score capacity, but not so big it’s bigger than my personal space and was meant to be performative or institutional.


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Originally Posted by charleslang
I’ve owned two grands and played many but my favorite playing experience lately has become a vertical piano with big enough bass to have an orchestral score capacity, but not so big it’s bigger than my personal space and was meant to be performative or institutional.

The action of an upright is so different from the one in a grand piano that it has never been an option, let alone an alternative to me and many, many other pianists, amateurs and professionals alike. I'd rather play and practice on a small no-name grand with a decent action than on one of best uprights, no matter how prestigious the brand.

My personal grand fits well into a rental apartment and it actually is very much part of my personal space in that room anyway.

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