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#3152564 09/02/21 07:04 PM
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Would anyone who has owned, played. Listened to a live playing of both Steinway models C & D please offer a comparison regarding sound quality and dynamic range— and any other noticeable topics describing how you could compare these two models.
As I’ve been searching primarily for a Steinway model D, recently I’ve also seen model C offered both from New York and hamburg.
Thanks so much for offering any impressions of these two models.

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Have never seen a Hamburg C. The NY ones are going to be so old that they’re likely to be clapped-out if original, or some sort of rebuilt, if not. In which case the skill and execution of the rebuilder takes on more importance than the brand name or model.

Some of our European or Asian posters who get to see more recent versions of both will hopefully see this and chime in. Sally Phillips has a NY model C in her home that she rebuilt, and works on new and older model D pianos all the time. Maybe she or one of the other rebuilders will comment.


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The C and D share the same action and hammers, so they can feel quite similar. I really cannot speak much to the sound, as even the same model varies from sample to sample. The feel can vary as well.


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I've played one Hamburg C (1985, new Renner action and restrung) and it was simply magnificent. Hard to compare to Hamburg D (or B) because all of the one I've played were in different acoustics and were lot newer. Model C bass is very close to D and clear step ahead of smaller Steinways. Hamburg D's I have played required strength to project to bigger space, but then again they have capacity to do it (I have not played C in concert hall). If you don't need to fill 2000-seat auditorium, C vs. D preference is matter of taste and qualities of the individual piano. I would rate a good Hamburg C as close to perfect home piano as one can find.

Note that I have only played Hamburg S&S instruments.

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The late Minnesota Marty had a fine Steinway C and posted extensively about its virtues in this forum.

Another way to explore your options would be to fly to New York (Steinway, Yamaha, Shigeru) and then to Gatwick (Phoenix Steingraeber), Hamburg, Berlin (Bechstein), Bayreuth (Steingraeber), Vienna (Bosendorfer) and Milan (Fazioli).


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I've had the great fortune of having played a new Hamburg Steinway Model C and Model D in the same space several times when I worked for the Australian Steinway & Sons agents in Melbourne. The Model C felt more "controllable" for me compared to a Model D - similar to a Model B but with more depth and clarity, particularly in the tenor & bass regions.

The Model C is rarely seen, but a few venues in Melbourne have them, one being the Melbourne Recital Centre, and the other being the state of the art performance/recording space at the Monash University David Li Sound Gallery. This stunning album by Paul Kelly & Paul Grabowsky was recorded there last year:


Last edited by Craig Richards; 09/03/21 05:55 AM.

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As terminaldegree said, for NY C's it's going to depend entirely on the quality of the restoration work. Otherwise the dozen or so C's that I've played over the years have mostly been closer to B's than D's in terms of sustain and sonority, although the low bass will likely have significantly more than a B. D's typically have more of everything, sometimes too much, especially in a smaller space. They also have wound trichords in the upper bass that have their own particular tonal characteristics. They have longer keys than C's which can introduce some additional flex in some of the older pianos. Ultimately it depends on the condition and level of prep of the particular instrument at hand.


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Thanks for everyone’s comments so far they’ve been really helpful… they’ve kind of confirmed my instinctive expectations comparing 7 1/2 feet to 9 feet of Steinway piano. Two offerings are currently on craigslist including a fully restored 1889 New York model C at Knauer. Piano in SoCAL (Knauer Family business originated in hamburg). And A 1917 New York model C Steinway in Phoenix offered by my perfect piano. Sometime ago I started a thread titled “ owners of Steinway model C, why do you like your piano?” It had a warm response!

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Originally Posted by nhpianos
D's typically have more of everything, sometimes too much, especially in a smaller space. They also have wound trichords in the upper bass that have their own particular tonal characteristics. They have longer keys than C's which can introduce some additional flex in some of the older pianos. Ultimately it depends on the condition and level of prep of the particular instrument at hand.

Mark,

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I've played quite a few Steinway Cs and they can be really beautiful pianos. They seem to be better balanced than the B, although they require careful voicing because they can seem to be a bit lacking in the killer octave, but I think that happens more because some people go crazy with the bass on them, rather than the piano having an actual flaw.

The model B in comparison feels like a smaller piano trying to be large, whereas the C feels like a large piano in a more manageable cabinet. I prefer the C to the B by a country mile. The C actually might be better in recital halls than either the B or the D. Even in teaching rooms, the C isn't that much bigger than the B, so I'm still not quite sure why the B became Steinway America's favourite piano.

Remember that Yamaha's most recorded model is the C7, and that's at least the same or extremely close to the length of a Model C.


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I love the vintage NY Steinway Cs. They are trickier to rebuild since they are always older pianos and very infrequently seen so we all have much less experience with them. When they are done right, they are maybe my favorite Steinway. We have restored, sold, and worked on several Hamburg Cs made after the 1950s and they don't have a lot in common with the older NY ones IMO. I do consider them to be their own special instrument with less in common with a D or B in terms of sound than the D and B have with each other.
In speaking with some top European piano technicians I have found that the Hamburg C has a very mixed reputation. I was surprised to learn from several top European techs that they were underwhelmed with the C and preferred both the B and the D by quite a bit and then others love the C.

Anyways, here is a C we rebuilt a couple of years ago of which I am quite fond.


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There is a new-ish Hamburg C in Holywell Hall at Oxford. If I were to do any chamber music there, I'd want to sniff around and see if anyone had done voicing or regulating at all recently. It has a really harsh, metallic sound that doesn't work well with this tiny concert hall. But given how universities sometime spend money (unwisely), it's not out of the question that it could be made to be much more effective.

Still thinking of what I'd prefer to have in there. Steingraeber, with its Mozart rail is an option. And I am becoming increasingly fond of Bluthners, which seem to demand the outlook of a string player in making them work well. Bosendorfer is another obvious candidate, of course. Hall capacity is somewhere around 200.

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Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
I love the vintage NY Steinway Cs. They are trickier to rebuild since they are always older pianos and very infrequently seen so we all have much less experience with them. When they are done right, they are maybe my favorite Steinway. We have restored, sold, and worked on several Hamburg Cs made after the 1950s and they don't have a lot in common with the older NY ones IMO. I do consider them to be their own special instrument with less in common with a D or B in terms of sound than the D and B have with each other.
In speaking with some top European piano technicians I have found that the Hamburg C has a very mixed reputation. I was surprised to learn from several top European techs that they were underwhelmed with the C and preferred both the B and the D by quite a bit and then others love the C.

Anyways, here is a C we rebuilt a couple of years ago of which I am quite fond.

A spectacularly beautiful instrument. Thanks for posting this.

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Originally Posted by RPA88
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
I love the vintage NY Steinway Cs. They are trickier to rebuild since they are always older pianos and very infrequently seen so we all have much less experience with them. When they are done right, they are maybe my favorite Steinway. We have restored, sold, and worked on several Hamburg Cs made after the 1950s and they don't have a lot in common with the older NY ones IMO. I do consider them to be their own special instrument with less in common with a D or B in terms of sound than the D and B have with each other.
In speaking with some top European piano technicians I have found that the Hamburg C has a very mixed reputation. I was surprised to learn from several top European techs that they were underwhelmed with the C and preferred both the B and the D by quite a bit and then others love the C.

Anyways, here is a C we rebuilt a couple of years ago of which I am quite fond.

A spectacularly beautiful instrument. Thanks for posting this.

Ditto that. The hushed, somewhat fuzzy soft tones in the accompaniment are particularly beautiful, and perhaps less commonly found on many modern instruments, which (from my experience) emphasise clarity even in the softest passages or with the una corda pedal. Playing aside, wonder how much of that fuzzy soft tone was a function of voicing and choice of hammers (Ronsen I believe?) as opposed to more "structural" elements such as the soundboard, rim or plate (which might or might not differ from modern Steinways).


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Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
I was surprised to learn from several top European techs that they were underwhelmed with the C and preferred both the B and the D by quite a bit and then others love the C.

Thats very interesting! Why would they be underwhelmed, any details?

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Originally Posted by kre
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
I was surprised to learn from several top European techs that they were underwhelmed with the C and preferred both the B and the D by quite a bit and then others love the C.

Thats very interesting! Why would they be underwhelmed, any details?

Mainly the ones that didn't think so highly of the Hamburg Cs liked the Ds and Bs more. I didn't really grill them on it. It has just stuck in my mind over the years since I didn't expect that opinion. These are mainly German and English concert techs that work on Hamburg Steinways primarily. I have definitely heard the opposite opinion from their peers as well. The reason it is interesting to me is I like Hamburg Cs and my experience has been that high level European technicians universally like and think highly of Hamburg Ds and Bs. Sorry I can't get more detailed about it.
I don't think my little anecdote here should influence one way or the other regarding Hamburg Cs. It is just something I have found surprising over the years that I thought I'd share in passing. It is not from a very large sample size, maybe just from 6 or 7 highly regarded European concert techs.


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Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Originally Posted by kre
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
I was surprised to learn from several top European techs that they were underwhelmed with the C and preferred both the B and the D by quite a bit and then others love the C.

Thats very interesting! Why would they be underwhelmed, any details?

Mainly the ones that didn't think so highly of the Hamburg Cs liked the Ds and Bs more. I didn't really grill them on it. It has just stuck in my mind over the years since I didn't expect that opinion. These are mainly German and English concert techs that work on Hamburg Steinways primarily. I have definitely heard the opposite opinion from their peers as well. The reason it is interesting to me is I like Hamburg Cs and my experience has been that high level European technicians universally like and think highly of Hamburg Ds and Bs. Sorry I can't get more detailed about it.
I don't think my little anecdote here should influence one way or the other regarding Hamburg Cs. It is just something I have found surprising over the years that I thought I'd share in passing. It is not from a very large sample size, maybe just from 6 or 7 highly regarded European concert techs.

Thanks! Reason I asked is that Hamburg C appears to be quite rare in Europe, compared to B or even D, so there is not much information online. Mostly in this forum.

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The "C" at 227 cm is a "smaller" concert piano, at least in Europe where the largest grand you will ever see in a home is 210 cm or 7 ft, that is the "B" size. Considering that most concert artists are used to playing the D, it is a very small market.

But I must mention that in small venues, and even at the Wigmore and Théâtre des Champs Elysées, I have heard some lovely recitals performed on the "C", and that must have been a specific choice on the part of the pianist. Everytime I see a "smaller" piano on stage, I nudge my wife : Ah, a "C".


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Originally Posted by kre
Mostly in this forum.

Also some postings on the clavio.de forum.


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Originally Posted by Vikendios
The "C" at 227 cm is a "smaller" concert piano, at least in Europe where the largest grand you will ever see in a home is 210 cm or 7 ft, that is the "B" size. Considering that most concert artists are used to playing the D, it is a very small market.

It would be interesting to see how many 6 vs. 7-size instruments Yamaha and Kawai sell (Yamaha S6X/Kawai SK6 vs. S7X/SK-7, for example). My feeling is that 7-size is more popular, but I would like to hear if someone has any data on this? Some dealer perhaps?

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