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#1303555 - 11/11/09 07:12 PM Steinway O and L models  
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NWL Offline
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Hi all,

I just bought a 1906 Steinway O (New York factory) that was rebuilt in 2003. I absolutely love everything about it, and now I'm curious about the differences between models L and O. Near as I can tell, they are the same size, and now both New York and Hamburg factories are making Model O rather than L, which was not the case previously. Does anyone know anything else?

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#1303581 - 11/11/09 07:32 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: NWL]  
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The biggest difference is the shape of the tail. It is a wide, sweeping curve on the O, and a much tighter curve on the L. Yours is old enough that there would be other differences, like the shape of the bass bridge, but that was changed before the L was introduced.


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#1303799 - 11/12/09 02:53 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: BDB]  
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A 1906 O would be of the transition version O scale with the curved bass bridge and no duplex scale bars. It had a 26 note bass.(10 singles and 16 doubles) equaling 42 wound strings in the bass section. The earliest scale O of 1901-1902 had a straight bass bridge with no duplex bars.It had an extra 4 wound strings in the tenor(2 doubles) similar to the M scale. It transitioned to a curved bass bridge with still no duplex bars till about 1907. Finally transitioning to it's present scale. The present scale O has the curved bass bridge and duplex scale bars.
The NY O transitioned to the L in 1923. Hamburg never made an L. The different scale O(s) varied in lenght from (5'9"-5'10 3/4"). The present and latest O was 1/4" longer than the L at 5'10 1/2". The bass string scale of the modern O is the same as the L. The other differences are the bridge scale in the tenor and treble and the obvious shape of their tails. Just a basic overview of the basic differences. Ask a Steinway dealer for the other differences. grin

Last edited by pianobroker; 11/12/09 02:55 AM.

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#1303805 - 11/12/09 03:08 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: pianobroker]  
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Is there any difference one would notice in the performance of the O versus the L? Does the O have a larger soundboard area than the L on account of its wider tail?

Did Hamburg make the O before the 2006 New York change?
Is anyone aware of why the New York factory switched to the L in 1923, and what went into the decision to return to the O in 2006?

I noticed the Steingraeber 205 was recently replaced with a piano with a wider tail. I wonder if there is a trend toward this kind of design.


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#1303839 - 11/12/09 06:49 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: charleslang]  
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Originally Posted by charleslang
Is there any difference one would notice in the performance of the O versus the L? Does the O have a larger soundboard area than the L on account of its wider tail?


Just to clarify, it is the L that has the wider 'tail', due to it's more squared off shape. Overall, they are pretty similar to eachother. If you placed one of each model in front of me, I'm certain I'd notice differences between the two. Then again, if you placed 2 O's or 2 L's in front of me, I'd hear differences between them as well. This could be more a 'perception' than reality thing, but I generally felt the O's to be a little even to themselves.

Quote
Did Hamburg make the O before the 2006 New York change?
Is anyone aware of why the New York factory switched to the L in 1923, and what went into the decision to return to the O in 2006?


When New York started making the L, Hamburg continued making the O. I'm sure the New York factory was attempting to make an improvement..switching production to another model is not an inexpensive thing to do.

Steinway has been try to 'standardize' the two factories, in recent years. Consider also that Hamburg gets its plates from OS Kelley, which was purchased by Steinway a while back.. It just makes sense, to be producing one model, rather than two.

Quote
I noticed the Steingraeber 205 was recently replaced with a piano with a wider tail. I wonder if there is a trend toward this kind of design.


One can hardly pick up sales brochure today, without the manufacture touting what a wide tail their pianos have. Sometimes it's marketing, other times, it's part of well thought-out and executed design. What limited experience I have listening to Steingraeber is..very positive. smile


Rich Lindahl
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#1303851 - 11/12/09 07:50 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: CTPianotech]  
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Thanks very much for such detailed and quick responses!

#1303884 - 11/12/09 09:34 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: pianobroker]  
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Originally Posted by pianobroker
A 1906 O would be of the transition version O scale with the curved bass bridge and no duplex scale bars. It had a 26 note bass.(10 singles and 16 doubles) equaling 42 wound strings in the bass section. The earliest scale O of 1901-1902 had a straight bass bridge with no duplex bars.It had an extra 4 wound strings in the tenor(2 doubles) similar to the M scale. It transitioned to a curved bass bridge with still no duplex bars till about 1907. Finally transitioning to it's present scale. The present scale O has the curved bass bridge and duplex scale bars.
The NY O transitioned to the L in 1923. Hamburg never made an L. The different scale O(s) varied in lenght from (5'9"-5'10 3/4"). The present and latest O was 1/4" longer than the L at 5'10 1/2". The bass string scale of the modern O is the same as the L. The other differences are the bridge scale in the tenor and treble and the obvious shape of their tails. Just a basic overview of the basic differences. Ask a Steinway dealer for the other differences. grin


FWIW, my 1903 Steinway O has 42 wound strings in the bass, with a straight bass bridge and no duplex bars. The duplex is built into the plate. It does not have any wound strings in the tenor section. The piano was rebuilt by Steinway NY in 1990.

From where do you measure the piano, to determine it's overall length?

Last edited by nylawbiz; 11/12/09 09:35 AM.
#1303891 - 11/12/09 09:55 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: nylawbiz]  
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With the lid closed, measure the overall length of the piano starting from the tail back towards the keys, take the longest measurement.


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#1303968 - 11/12/09 11:45 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: Les Koltvedt]  
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To my ear, the O and L sound different.

Tune different.

Especially at the break.

Just my opinion, I find, overall, after knowing many O's and L's

The L is a more aggressive sounding piano.

We can debate the differences relating to the "technical details", though I feel we may miss an important point. The Sound and Feel.


"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
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#1303994 - 11/12/09 12:17 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: Larry Buck]  
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As I've mentioned before persons that feel the O was superior to the L happen to have played more O(s)than L(s) that they kave prefered. Restoration distorts the variable even more so. The L was of newer vintage 1923-2006 so it makes sense that the core rebuildable pianos are gonna be in better shape.No such thing as a newer NY Steinway O. Also there was only 10-12 years (1923-1936) whereas the Steinway L DID NOT have diaphramatic soundboard and accelerated action. As for the restorable core piano the L was more expensive due to it's newer vintage though with the reissue of the O,it has made the O a bit more valuble. The age gap between the O and a vintage L is narrowing. What's the difference in a unrestored 80 yr. old piano vrs. a 90 yr. old
grin


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#1304004 - 11/12/09 12:31 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: pianobroker]  
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Originally Posted by pianobroker
As I've mentioned before persons that feel the O was superior to the L happen to have played more O(s)than L(s) that they kave prefered. Restoration distorts the variable even more so. The L was of newer vintage 1923-2006 so it makes sense that the core rebuildable pianos are gonna be in better shape.No such thing as a newer NY Steinway O. Also there was only 10-12 years (1923-1936) whereas the Steinway L DID NOT have diaphramatic soundboard and accelerated action. As for the restorable core piano the L was more expensive due to it's newer vintage though with the reissue of the O,it has made the O a bit more valuble. The age gap between the O and a vintage L is narrowing. What's the difference in a unrestored 80 yr. old piano vrs. a 90 yr. old
grin


Care to comment on the two pianos designs relate to the sound?

Specifically?


"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
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#1304601 - 11/13/09 09:02 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: Larry Buck]  
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Question, if I may: When Steinway NY restored my 1903 O in 1990, did they make it more like a L? is it now a Frankenpiano?

#1304691 - 11/13/09 10:53 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: nylawbiz]  
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No. They did not change the rim.


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#1304699 - 11/13/09 11:03 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: BDB]  
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Larry~~ Here is a sample of what my 1917 O sounds like.

I play a newer L at times, but comparisons are difficult. The L does not have 92 year-old strings and it is regulated/voiced differently. The action in the L is substantially different.

A couple of clips from my old buddy.

Polkadots and Moonbeams

Nature Boy

Sailing on the Sea

Glen


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#1304710 - 11/13/09 11:24 AM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: nylawbiz]  
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To really confuse the issue,your 1903 O is actually another transition scale of the straight bass bridge O. In 1901 and 1902 the bass bridge was straight along with having 4 wound strings in the tenor(2 doubles and 46 wound strings total)Now in your year 1903 up to serial # 115000 which is 1905ish there was a straight bass bridge mdl. with no wound strings in the tenor. There is a difference again in transitioning to the modern scale O which went immediately to trichords in the tenor.

As for Larry's question Who knows!
I will tend to agree as for the vintage L being a more raw/aggressive piano though a newer L even restored with it's original soundboard to be a bit less aggresive so to speak. Too many variables as for older,newer,restored with the original board vrs. a new board,Hot pressed vrs cold pressed hammers and that hand made variable.
Now the O seems to me somewhat varied also for the same reasons as above along with all the various scale changes. I would agree that they are potentially more even,consistent, sweeter tone especially the early scale mdls. The non duplex,straight bass bridge,wound string in the tenor seemed to have this singing quality to them once they are remanufactured in that they are definitely old.Of course ,this is not conclusive. Personally,I prefer the non duplex mdls. This is just a player analysis in that I've had 100+ different vintage O(s) and L(s). As for a technical analysis aside from the obvious scale difference, I wouldn't know.

I did hear that years back,NY Steinway consulted the Hamburg factory as for changing the scale of the L to induce more sustain. next thing you know,they are discontinuing the L. We knew of it a year before it was made public. Streamlining the mdls. of the two factories makes sense. I've also heard that the two factories are gonna streamline the case designs making the NY and Hamburg pianos with the rounded arms,fallboard and ?
wink

Last edited by pianobroker; 11/13/09 11:32 AM.

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#1304747 - 11/13/09 12:07 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: pianobroker]  
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This makes one wonder - where is the 'main' decisionmaking for Steinway? From what you say 'streamlining' sounds like a matter of NY conforming to the Hamburg standards. Is there some kind of board with members from both factories?

On the other hand it would make sense to do things this way since Hamburg pianos seem to have gotten more prestige in certain ways.


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#1304917 - 11/13/09 03:55 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: charleslang]  
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Pianobroker wrote:

"To really confuse the issue,your 1903 O is actually another transition scale of the straight bass bridge O. In 1901 and 1902 the bass bridge was straight along with having 4 wound strings in the tenor(2 doubles and 46 wound strings total)Now in your year 1903 up to serial # 115000 which is 1905ish there was a straight bass bridge mdl. with no wound strings in the tenor. There is a difference again in transitioning to the modern scale O which went immediately to trichords in the tenor."

Right you are! Straight bridge, no wound strings in the tenor, and no duplex scale bars. Do you think that when Steinway NY replaced the sounboard in 1990, they replaced it with a diaphramatic soundboard? Is the anyway I can tell by looking at it? How do you rate this transitional model? Thanks for your input.

#1305406 - 11/14/09 01:05 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: nylawbiz]  
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Even back in the turn of the century, the bellymen diaphramed the soundboards in the factory.Though NY Steinway patented this procedure as in 1935-1936ish they still did it prior at the turn of the century. The reason I know this is that my bellyman David Rubenstein has to extract the original board in replacing it with the new and most of my soundboard candidate Steinways are pre 1935. The Hamburg factory is not known to diaphram their boards as compared to the NY factory. The Steinway O was originally a NY mdl from 1901-1923 though the Hamburg factory made and still manufactures this mdl. today. So the anwser to your question is I don't know! grin

Last edited by pianobroker; 11/14/09 01:07 PM.

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#1305412 - 11/14/09 01:12 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: pianobroker]  
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So, is there a way of telling, by looking at the soundboard?

#1305430 - 11/14/09 01:56 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: nylawbiz]  
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Look at the patent, and decide if you can tell from what it says.


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#1305441 - 11/14/09 02:12 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: nylawbiz]  
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If Steinway replaced the sound board upon rebuilding with a "Diaphramatic Soundboard", there will be a decal .. "Diaphramatic Soundboard" .. under the strings in the top treble section.

All the technical terms are meaningless to the player. When someone asks what the differences are, THE most important "Fact" is how it plays and sounds.

For example;
The low tenor section of the L and O are different. The "New" tail shape to the L makes room for the change in shape of the end of the tenor bride. Allows for longer plain wires, raising tension in that section. Firming up the sound and improving fundamental response.

The O attempted a firmer sound by extending the root at the low end of the tenor section towards the rim.

So, one noticeable difference between the L and the O will be at the break between the bass and tenor.

They are different.

Tapering is one "ingredient" of many well known "ingredients" in piano design.

What remains in the hands of the individuals are the proportions of these "Ingredients" and it is these proportions that are arguably the most significant aspects of the quality of sound we perceive. Perhaps more important than the differences in design we are discussing.

Last edited by Larry Buck; 11/14/09 02:16 PM.

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#1305449 - 11/14/09 02:28 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
Look at the patent, and decide if you can tell from what it says.


Patent? What do you mean?

#1305454 - 11/14/09 02:44 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: nylawbiz]  
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There are no decals on the soundboard. FWIW, I did note that stamped under the piano, below the keyboard is "E1452" in addition to the serial number of the piano. Is this the case number? What is the signifidcance, if any?

Last edited by nylawbiz; 11/14/09 02:44 PM.
#1305461 - 11/14/09 03:00 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: nylawbiz]  
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To me,it is very significant in that it signifies that all the various parts of the piano are original to that piano OR NOT.Either the serial # or the part # is present on all the various parts of the piano. To a "Steinway pureist" it makes a difference.

LB's "O" "L" technical assessment is quite thorough to say the least. Learn something new every day on PW. wink

Last edited by pianobroker; 11/14/09 03:00 PM.

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#1305467 - 11/14/09 03:12 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: pianobroker]  
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The Diaphramatic Soundboard was patented. Therefore, you can look it up on the US Patent office website and find the exact description of it. From that, you should be able to decide whether or not you can see if that is what you have.

It ranks well down on my list of the Top 500 Things That Make a Difference in a Piano's Sound. I believe that anything lower than 5 on that will not be noticeable to the average pianist or listener, or else will be overwhelmed by variations in the top 5.


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#1305468 - 11/14/09 03:12 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: pianobroker]  
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If there is no decal on the soundboard, that means that Steinway NY repalced the soundboard in 1990 with a regular (as opposed to diaphramatic) soundboard? Do they keep both on hand, or are they made specifically for each restoration job they get? An yone know?

#1305476 - 11/14/09 03:33 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: nylawbiz]  
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There may never have been a decal on the soundboard. They probably make soundboards all the same way now.


Semipro Tech
#1305480 - 11/14/09 03:53 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: BDB]  
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I can't seem to find it on the US Patent Office website

#1305488 - 11/14/09 04:21 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: nylawbiz]  
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It is Pat. No. 2,070,391


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#1305519 - 11/14/09 06:05 PM Re: Steinway O and L models [Re: BDB]  
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Thanks.

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3/4 question
by iamanders. 12/16/17 07:14 AM
A trouble spot question
by carolinakeys. 12/16/17 12:45 AM
Happy Birthday in the style of Chopin. WOW!!
by Strat. 12/15/17 11:13 PM
4Front TruePianos - 40% off
by Max_Forte. 12/15/17 06:19 PM
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