Question about Grotrian

Posted by: TigerRad

Question about Grotrian - 01/03/13 11:57 AM

Nearing the end of a long and wide ranging grand search, I thought I knew what I wanted...I consistently love the Bosendorfer sound and have an opportunity for a used 225. Also was still considering the smaller 200 and 214.

Then a few weeks ago I finally got a chance to play a Grotrian - the 6'4" Cabinet at Sam Bennett's showroom in Atlanta. In the 3 upper octaves, I think I had that magical special moment that all piano shoppers hope for. It was a unique shimmering crystalline perfection I had never heard before.

Alas, the longer bass strings of the 225 still appeal to me greatly. The solution is obviously to try a Grotrian of similar size. There are none near me, but I am planning a trip to see 2 Charis models.

So my question for Grotrian owners (and experienced players):

Can I expect that same magical treble from the other Grotrian models that I heard in the Cabinet? What other differences have you appreciated in the larger models?
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/03/13 12:01 PM

I found that as with all brands, the Grotrians that I played varied. What I was noticing most of all was that some were a little too stiff for me.

The one that lives in my heart though was a Charis that was at Cathy Harl's place (after I had already made my MH purchase). Not that I could have afforded it, but still, I drooled.

Posted by: terrell

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/03/13 01:19 PM

I also thought that a Bosendorfer was the piano that I most wanted. I played a Grotrian Charis and fell in love. It was not a star struck sort of thing. The beauty of the Grotrian sound kept haunting me and I knew that it was the one. I love the sound more as time goes on . For me , it is the middle register that is so soul touching. You are right in that the upper octaves are crystalline . I think it is the most balanced piano I have ever played and the perfect piano for me.
I do know how lucky I am to have such a wonderful piano.

Posted by: wouter79

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/03/13 03:03 PM

>Can I expect that same magical treble from the other Grotrian models that I heard in the Cabinet?

I think yes. I hear the Grotrian sound in most Grotrians. But of course, it's hard to tell what exactly you mean with 'magical treble'. Maybe you can play a few more Grotrians to learn their particular sound before making a long trip to a large model.

Larger models usually seem to play 'lighter', I suspect this is because you get more volume with the same amount of effort from a larger model.
Posted by: musicpassion

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/03/13 04:41 PM

I haven't played a lot of Grotrians, but the ones I have played did have a consistant tonal character.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/03/13 08:49 PM

I haven't inspected a new Grotrian for a couple of years. There is one thing about them that has always bothered me and that is the bridges split where the string length increase reaches the point in the compass where the speaking length (front) bridge pins are next to the hitching length (back) pins of the next note above. They use large diameter pins and even though the bridge is a dense horizontal wood laminate, it splits. These notes are faulty sounding. Also you do not want to let the hammers remain in a flattened condition much as this kills the sparkle.
Posted by: backto_study_piano

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/04/13 02:07 AM


I'm probably too new to mine to comment, as she hasn't been voiced yet - happening in a few weeks time.

But I would say that at this stage, the treble is different from nearly anything else I played - bell like when played softly, very clear and crisp at higher volumes.

Her bass on the other hand isn't overpowering - reminds me a bit of a Hamburg Steinway, and clearer and more "gentle" than say a BB Mason. The bass is no louder than my 6' Schimmel, but easier to control and at fff is still clear, whereas the Schimmel would get a bit muddy.

With "heaviness" or "stiffness" - when I ordered mine, I requested that she be set-up with as light a touch as possible, and as a performance piano. I was warned that as a performance piano, her tolerances would be closer, and to expect maybe more maintenance, but to date, she's had no problems - but I've only had her for almost 6 months.
Posted by: Cornelius

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/04/13 06:15 PM

I'm an absolutely happy owner of a Grotrian 225 Concert. I startet my "piano career" 45 years ago with a small Grotrian upright (about 44 inches) which now is delighting my nieces. Later on I upgraded from a small used "Schiedmayer Söhne" grand to a Grotrian Cabinet and since May 2010 to the Concert.
Maybe I'm wrong but to me it seems that the three Grotrians I own(ed) - and all the others I had the pleasure to play - have a similar tonal character. They reveal that they stem from the same family. Otherwise I have the imagination that the Concert plays in an other league than the Cabinet and even the Charis -a more sonorous and "refined" sound. To cut a long story short: if you love the sound of the Cabinet and the Charis you will be overwhelmed by the Concert.
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/04/13 08:21 PM

A useful addendum to your question is that within the limits of variability of these highly consistent instruments, we know how to extract and keep that particular tone from their treble. We've had more Cabinet and Concert models than Charis and we've never had any issues ordering a size based upon a larger or smaller example. Our Grotrian customers are easily among our happiest and most satisfied even though half placed an order based upon trying another size, finish or one we had previously sold. The rarity of the piano here makes it more of the norm.
Posted by: TigerRad

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/04/13 09:03 PM


How much of what I heard there was factory prep vs anything you do to the piano?

I am open to the idea that they have a consistent character, but is that because you are "extracting" the sound the same way?

Nevertheless, I really want to play one before committing to a purchase of this size.
Posted by: backto_study_piano

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/04/13 11:02 PM

That's the key with any piano - factories deliver in various states. My Grotrian was very playable straight off the plane. The dealer says that's quite normal for them.

I played a Hamburg Steinway a few years back which they told me had only been tuned a couple of times - it was quite unimpressive - tuning was OK, but voicing wasn't, nor a consistent touch. But, when I played the same piano a month later, it was delightful (just too expensive for me). I've played Yamahas which were near as good as they'll get direct from the factory - though I'm told they're not all like that, whereas Petrof - forget even trying to play it till it's been worked on.

"Extracting the sound" - will depend mostly on the actual piano design and materials, so should be fairly consistent between identical pianos. The dealer also has a Charis - and to play it, there is very little difference - except his is on timber, and mine is on carpet.

You'll not get a Grotrian sound from a Mason or Kawai, though you might be able to make them sound more like the other with extreme voicing. However, a piano should retain it's basic sound quality (or lack thereof!!) during it's life.
Posted by: Strings & Wood

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/05/13 10:02 AM

Originally Posted By: TigerRad

How much of what I heard there was factory prep vs anything you do to the piano?

I am open to the idea that they have a consistent character, but is that because you are "extracting" the sound the same way?

Nevertheless, I really want to play one before committing to a purchase of this size.

FWIW, my opinion:

Pianos change, period. A piano you love in this moment, won't be the same piano once it is moved and played for a year.

A good tech will be able to "stoke the fire", maintaining the love affair at an acceptable, or elevated level. Your dealer should be able to help you with this, if you do not have one.

It is important to buy the best piano you can afford.

It is important to find and play a piano that you like.

It is important, to buy from a dealer, that will be there for you, when pimples start to show ... and they always do.

One of my all time favorite pianos, was a Grotrian Concert. I wonder who is playing that piano?
Posted by: terrell

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/05/13 03:14 PM

A piano will sound different from the store to your home. Mine sounds better at home than in the store. It has always had the distinct Grotrian sound but more intimate at home.
Every time the piano is tuned there is a bit of work done to the hammers to keep them in tip top shape. It keeps its tune very well as I keep the humidity at 50%. In the Grotrian brochure it says that up to 60% is acceptable. I am running a whole house humidifier and a smaller one in the room next to the music room.
I have peacocks and I gather their feathers when they moult in the summer and store them under the piano to give to the students in the school where I teach for Christmas gifts. Children love peacock feathers. After I have taken them out from under the piano I notice a change of sound. Not better not worse ,just different. My point being , where the piano is located and things around it make a big difference ,but one is still aware that it is a Grotrian.
I think the Charis is the same size as a Steinway B ,1" difference and I find for space that the piano is in, 760 sq feet with 16 foot ceilings, there is plenty of sound. It would be nice to have a Concert , but I am completely happy with my piano.
I see you are from South Carolina, I live on the other side of Georgia from you but if you would like to take a trip to God's country and play my piano,please feel welcome.

Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/07/13 11:45 AM

What I meant by extracting that sound is that we have a very clear picture in our mind of the target. That clear picture makes it easier to nudge the voicing as needed in the direction of the picture. Grotrian's factory prep is excellent but with thousands of moving parts, there are always some things to do.

Without a clear picture, it's common & natural to think of other fine pianos and use them as your picture ... and nudge it in a different direction.

For a maker with a more consistent tonal character and a reputation for excellence at the highest levels, you can be confident in what you are getting.

We see pianos all the time that have been out in the real world for years, coming from all different environments and levels of use and we bring them back to where they need to be. THAT is variability; that should be a greater challenge, and we do it all the time. Making a customer happy with a new Grotrian? That is easy. If you knew what I know, it would be as easy to accept as the idea that the steaming coffee is hot.
Posted by: TigerRad

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/08/13 11:29 AM

Well, it sounds like I should expect to fall in love the larger Grotrians. No surprise there. Thanks for the replies.

Still, it is worth a trip for me to play these two Charis before I make any final decisions. I will be visiting the wife's family in the area anyway, so a couple of side trips arent too inconvenient.

Plus I just found out that the day I am in Chicago, Burkhard Stein himself will be visiting! Pretty exciting!

Still pretty captivated by the idea of the Bosie too, though........
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Question about Grotrian - 01/08/13 02:20 PM

In every model I have played, at various stores and at the Grotrian factory, I have noticed several things. First, the treble is powerful compared to many other brands. Some love this, and can control it, some don't. That's taste. But it's a consistent feature, not a creation of a particular dealer's prep. Secondly, I have always heard a certain woodsy tone in the second octave of the bass. That appeals to me. Third, I have always found the breaks to be very consistent. In some brands, the bass break is very audible. Not so in the Grotrian. To some extent, a bass break can be covered with expert prep. In the Grotrian, that kind of masking is not necessary.

I have the 192 and I'm satisfied with its bass. If you can spring for the Charis or Concert, you will naturally get the extra advantage of longer strings and longer keys.

Say hello to Burkhard!