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#1683651 05/24/11 10:19 AM
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I've often read how different pianos of the same brand and model can be. This is a really important thing to know since I expect they can range from as much as 5-10 on a 1-10 scale. 7-10 may be more accurate.

But, there's also the problem of musically talented people hearing differently and what one likes the other doesn't.

I know, and piano companies admit it, brand new pianos of the same brand and model can vary considerably. Some really "have it" while many are just mediocre. It's really a mystery as to why this is so.

On a scale of 1-10 how much variation have some of you found in the quality of sound of pianos of the same brand and model?

Bech





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1-10........ smile


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Originally Posted by Bech

I know, and piano companies admit it, brand new pianos of the same brand and model can vary considerably. Some really "have it" while many are just mediocre. It's really a mystery as to why this is so.
Bech


I don't think it's true that piano makers would admit such a thing. It is true that if you go to a high-end piano factory they may well have two of the same that they have voiced differently, juut as back in the day where dealers could sell pianos easily, the larger dealers might have two of the same on the floor with different voicing. No maker, however, wants variation in its dynamic range, expressive range, or especially its action consistency. Some makers achieve it with regularity, but they don't want to.

A lot of this stuff about the uniqueness of each piano is sales lore...
find it!....love it!...BUY IT NOW!!!

Some of it is the the very personal romantic infatuation some people want to have with pianos......it sang to me....It blew me completely way.....It spoke to me like no other.....I was blown off the bench (but I've since recovered)....It called me....I didn't choose it. It chose me......It wasn't a purchase; it was a search, a quest, a hunt, a pilgrimage, an epiphany, a crusade, an epic journey (oops..that's a bad word now!).... I've decided it's a (fe)male...... I've given it a name.


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I would generally have to agree with Turandot, especially when it comes to the high end instruments.

Having sold consumer grade pianos and high end instruments, I would say that a quality all strive for is consistency. Arguably, Yamaha and Kawai are masters at making cookie-cutter instruments and this has been, perhaps, their greatest virtue as well as their Achilles heel because if there is a weak spot, it is weak in every piano of that model they produce (best not to name models for my health). Lately, many Chinese manufacturers have become successful in replicating their Japanese brand competitors in consistency, which was not their strongest attribute in years past.

On the high-end, it is very much as Turandot expressed in that pianos may be voiced differently but are very consistent in quality. I can't imagine any top tier manufacturer letting a piano out of the factory that wasn't up to their standard.

That being said, I posted a thread earlier this month about going to Bayreuth to select a concert grand at Steingraeber to replace the one we recently sold to composer Gordon Getty. I had my choice of three concert grands and there were differences between them. Although each was superb, I selected the one I felt would best suit our needs, keeping in mind the concert venues it is likely to visit and the upcoming Artists that will use it. In this case, I would say it was more of a 9.5 to a 9.9 when comparing them. +

BUT, if you read my thread, you will note that I happened upon a D-232 (8') that was an absolute 10 in my book, which I promptly bought. Not that other 232's I have played weren't excellent, there was just something about this one! I guess you could say "It spoke to me like no other ... It chose me ... I had an epiphany," and I have the melted credit card to prove it! grin


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Originally Posted by turandot

A lot of this stuff about the uniqueness of each piano is sales lore...
find it!....love it!...BUY IT NOW!!!

Some of it is the the very personal romantic infatuation some people want to have with pianos......it sang to me....It blew me completely way.....It spoke to me like no other.....I was blown off the bench (but I've since recovered)....It called me....I didn't choose it. It chose me......It wasn't a purchase; it was a search, a quest, a hunt, a pilgrimage, an epiphany, a crusade, an epic journey (oops..that's a bad word now!).... I've decided it's a (fe)male...... I've given it a name.


Turandot,

On a scale of 1-10, your posts are often a 10, sometimes even a 10+. You also have an astute understanding of the human psyche. So, I'm a bit surprised by your cold dismissal of the romantics among us, some of whom have truly deep and important feelings about their pianos. I’m not one of them, but I’ve known many who are.

Sara had a Steinway D once that she loved dearly. She spent many hours with it every day. She caressed it, nurtured it, fought with it, and always responded in a deeply emotional way to the sound of its voice. The day that it left her (we needed the money to help us make the down-payment on our house), she was all tears and remained so for several days. Twenty-eight years later, she still remembers everything about that piano. Its tone is still in her mind.

Attachment to inanimate objects is common in people and in at least some animals. My younger brother was once so attached to a ratty, smelly stuffed chair in our home that he frantically begged my mother to keep it even after she brought home a terrific replacement. And that chair didn’t even have a voice. The human voice, especially certain human voices, can have profound emotional effects on at least some of us who hear it. Was there never another person in your life whose voice affected you in a profound emotional way?

Pianos are very special inanimate objects that have beautiful, emotionally meaningful voices. Part of the fascination that we have with them lies in their ability to touch our souls with their voices. Combine the tendency to attachment with inanimate objects with the tendency to respond emotionally to the sound of certain human-like voices and you have a pretty good explanation as to why many of us are inclined to become romantically attached to a piano. It may seem quaint or silly but it’s nevertheless very real. To some people, it’s profoundly real. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t had the experience myself, but I truly respect it and, in some ways, I envy those who’ve had it or continue to have it. I would never dismiss it.


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Originally Posted by irving
I'm a bit surprised by your cold dismissal of the romantics among us, some of whom have truly deep and important feelings about their pianos. I’m not one of them, but I’ve known many who are.


It's a question of polarity. I was poking fun at the extremes of piano fixation by jumping to the opposite pole. Somewhere in the middle there's a balance of the cerebral and the emotive. Of course there's room for worn-out teddy-bears and a whole host of inanimate objects. (Smelly chairs would depend on the particular smell. No need to go there! grin)

To answer your question...Yes, there are human voices that have that effect on me: some are of people I know and love and some, like Renata Tebaldi and Dario Volonté that I've never met. Pianos though, I don't know. I'm a fickle sort of person. I'd have a different piano monthly if it was feasible. I've never met the one that was really the One, and change has always prodded what little creativity I have.

What seems to me a common thread with musicians I know who are attached to a particular instrument?

1) security and confidence

2) the instrument expresses best what I want to express, and therefore....

3) it makes me feel good about my musicianship

Now a good part of being fickle is to realize that there is no one perfect all-purpose piano that suits best the whole spectrum of what is played, or even what I personally want to play and to express. So the deep attachment over many years would be impossible for me. It would also (I think) limit my musical thinking.

So let's meet in the middle on this. I'll certainly concede that a certain piano is a great fit for a certain player to the extent that an attachment can form and be nurtured, as you wrote so eloquently. But I won't concede that there is a special magic in the instrument itself that exists independently of the player, only that the particular instrument is such a tight fit (or has become over time and circumstance such a tight fit) that the musical output matches the creative input and playing skills pretty closely and inspires great confidence and a sense of security.

I don't know if that makes any sense, but I appreciate your response.


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Pardon me folks, a little humour here:

master88er Re: “consumer grade pianos” These are pianos one buys to “use up” like food in your refrigerator. If you're not a “consumer” of pianos, what might you be? Best plan on getting something better in a few years as yours will be all used up by then.

“high-end pianos” are for those with high ends, not many of them but you should play them for an education anyway, even if your end isn't yet high enough. Maybe it will be some day. One can always hope. The goal in a pianist's life should be to grow a higher and higher end, that's for sure.

You used to hear more about “artist grands,” intended for artists. If you are one, you'll know. The status of artists changes from era to era, some eras they are looked upon as divine geniuses, at other times as fools or bums. Find some dingy old grand with over the top carving and inlaid woodwork, assuming it's still all there, and you could have stumbled upon an “artist” grand. Nowadays we call these “art case” pianos. Yeah well I've known a few “art cases” in my life too. That's an artist who pays regular visits to a psycho, er a psychiatrist. If being an artist doesn't show any class any more, you can always seek the sympathy of others as an “art case.”

“Over the top” is a version of the former when the casework is so gaudy that no one would think you had the slightest good taste in possessing one. Over the top people are those who use these pianos for, oh well never mind.

Then there were the “parlour grands.” This was back in the days when people had parlours. These days we have “living rooms,” which is sort of weird because these places usually see very little living except maybe house plants. There were “family rooms” too which were where the family lived while the living entertained other livings in the living room away from the family. Nobody to my knowledge ever tried selling a “living room grand.”

The “studio grand” was a bit of a leap since it wasn't a horizontal piano like all true grand pianos, but a vertical piano, what one usually calls an “upright piano.” Terms like “upright grand” were also occasionally used. You basically buy one of these if your practice room is the size of a large closet.

A “baby grand” is not a grand piano for babies. It's the shortest possible horizontal piano, the baby of the lot. Most are under 5'5” long. People usually buy these when their living room is too small to be properly called a parlour, but larger than a closet, or when they want to convince themselves (and others) that they were able to buy a grand as a status symbol instead of just a common vertical piano.

An “upright” piano is a vertical piano, a grand up on its end. It's a piano for sensible upright people who intend on not taking up a lot of parlour space for themselves or their piano (so more people can dance). You'd rather dance in your parlour / living room than in your family room, surely.

The “spinet” is something quite small, probably intended to be almost portable so minstrels can cart it around in the streets to earn spare change for their minute performances.

A “butterfly grand” was made with a top that opened in two parts like wings in hopes that it and the person playing it might take flight and be carried away.

A “square grand” is an obsolete design intended these days only for the most obtuse squares.

Further, only in English speaking nations are horizontal pianos called grand where I guess the verticals are … just not grand enough or something, while other nationalities sell horizontal pianos based on different criteria, the Germans by the wing, the French by the tail.

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Originally Posted by irving
Pianos are very special inanimate objects that have beautiful, emotionally meaningful voices. Part of the fascination that we have with them lies in their ability to touch our souls with their voices. Combine the tendency to attachment with inanimate objects with the tendency to respond emotionally to the sound of certain human-like voices and you have a pretty good explanation as to why many of us are inclined to become romantically attached to a piano. It may seem quaint or silly but it’s nevertheless very real. To some people, it’s profoundly real. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t had the experience myself, but I truly respect it and, in some ways, I envy those who’ve had it or continue to have it. I would never dismiss it.


Yes, Irving, exactly so. A tremendous post!

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Originally Posted by master88er

Having sold consumer grade pianos and high end instruments, I would say that a quality all strive for is consistency. Arguably, Yamaha and Kawai are masters at making cookie-cutter instruments and this has been, perhaps, their greatest virtue as well as their Achilles heel because if there is a weak spot, it is weak in every piano of that model they produce (best not to name models for my health).


If a Yamaha has everything you want, odds are that its stablemates still in crates and still in production will have it too, or at least the potential to have it without a lot of fuss. I'd avoid the cookie-cutter image because to me it has an unnecessary pejorative tone.If your thing is a big kit of tonal color, you may say there's an Achille heel. If you're fine with what's available in that department and you like how that action commands that clean lively sound. you'll obviously give the piano higher marks, but since the OP's question is consistency among samples of the same model, and not subjective evaluation of the basic character (it is what it is), I'd make Yamaha exhibit #1 of that consistency that all makers strive toward.

I didn't use to feel the same about Kawai, but the Millenium III action and Kawai's attentiveness to improving its products has made me rethink that opinion.

Quote
That being said, I posted a thread earlier this month about going to Bayreuth to select a concert grand at Steingraeber to replace the one we recently sold to composer Gordon Getty. I had my choice of three concert grands and there were differences between them. Although each was superb, I selected the one I felt would best suit our needs, keeping in mind the concert venues it is likely to visit and the upcoming Artists that will use it. In this case, I would say it was more of a 9.5 to a 9.9 when comparing them.

BUT, if you read my thread, you will note that I happened upon a D-232 (8') that was an absolute 10 in my book


I've played one Steingraeber piano in my life, so I could say that among all I've played, there was a great consistency. The ratings range you've assigned is pretty tight. I've no reason to doubt it. Whether the range i from 9.5 to 10 or 7.5 to 8 would of course depend on your taste and experience, but in either case the range would be really tight.

I don't want to do your advertising for you, but I do have some experience with your other high end brand. I've played verticals from the Scout up to the Master Class and grands from the Alpha to the Omega. While it would be foolish for me to own one due to financial necessities and priorities, I can certainly notice and admire the consistency of playing quality both in two samples of the same model and across the whole range of models. On the 1 to 10 scale I'd be pushing against the top, but that would be facotring in my personal preference in musical input/instrument output, so I'll just say that I've found the same unique character in everything I've tried.

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I guess ...there was just something about this one! You could say "It spoke to me like no other ... It chose me ... I had an epiphany,...


That's pretty funny coming from you! It must be absolutely heartbreaking to keep selling "The One" over and over. grin





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Originally Posted by turandot
[quote=master88er]

That's pretty funny coming from you! It must be absolutely heartbreaking to keep selling "The One" over and over. grin





LOL, Alas - you have hit the heart breaking reality that those of us who sacrifice for the greater good of the Piano World have to bare! I would have said "we all have our cross to bare" but coming from a Jewish guy, what credibility would that statement have?! shocked

If only I were as eloquent as Irving cool


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There are technicians who can take a 10 and turn it into a 1. So all pianos can be rated 1 to 10.


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I played a bunch of Grotrians before I pulled the trigger. With one exception, they were startlingly similar. That's one reason I liked the brand. I could tell that there actually was a baseline sound and touch coming from the factory. Coming off the factory floor, they were very consistent.

The one exception was a model that had been deliberately voiced mellow at the dealership to satisfy a potential customer (who then disappeared, I think).

Other brands were not so consistent, in my experience. This is not a condemnation of those brands.

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Once well prepped, I generally find the variation in tonality and touch to be rather slight.


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With regards to a particular piano of same brand and model being superior. I have read that this can be and is sometimes true. Is it not?

With regards to companies admitting this is true: To be honest, don't they have to? The fit-up and quality of wood in each piano must vary, at least to a degree.

There is also the matter of some people being able to hear the difference while others cannot. Is this not true? Yet, even top pianists can differ about the tonal qualities they like in a piano so labeling a piano as superior can be difficult.

If you demonstrated 3 pianos to 3 top concert pianists would they usually agree on the one that is best? If one of the 3 pianos was truly exceptional I believe they would.

Bech


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Originally Posted by Bech
With regards to a particular piano of same brand and model being superior. I have read that this can be and is sometimes true. Is it not?


This depends on the method of manufacturing, the quality, the workmanship, individual variation of every instrument, and the amount and quality of prep work.

Originally Posted by Bech
With regards to companies admitting this is true: To be honest, don't they have to? The fit-up and quality of wood in each piano must vary, at least to a degree.


yes, but it depends on the workmanship, the quality of materials used. probably varies a bit anyway, more or less.

Originally Posted by Bech
If you demonstrated 3 pianos to 3 top concert pianists would they usually agree on the one that is best? If one of the 3 pianos was truly exceptional I believe they would.


this would differ from each pianist as a matter of personal taste. One person may hate one, another may love the same one. This is a bit extreme, though.

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The single largest variable is the hammer voicing. So it is "adjustable" in the field, not dependant on design, materials or other fixed elements.


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Originally Posted by Bech

If you demonstrated 3 pianos to 3 top concert pianists would they usually agree on the one that is best? If one of the 3 pianos was truly exceptional I believe they would.


If a top concert pianist (or any decent player) were to make a useful judgment, he would certainly want to play the pianos himself. Witnessing a demo would only reveal the tone, which as Steve and others have indicated, is a variable that can be intentional and not an indication of inconsistency or relative poorer quality.

Bech,

Your last post is pretty much the same as your first post. It would be more interesting to read what specific personal experiences with specific brands and models have led to your beliefs.

Personally, I can relate to what you're saying, but more in the area of the action than the tone.


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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
The single largest variable is the hammer voicing. So it is "adjustable" in the field, not dependant on design, materials or other fixed elements.


Steve,

Sure, hammer voicing is a major variable, but there are other major variables as well. Action regulation and touch weight are equally important and they too are adjustable. Should the new Stanwood adjustable touch (or something like it) become an integral part of pianos, touch weight would be even easier to adjust in the field than hammer voicing.

And, of course, we're only talking here about new pianos. Variation in touch and tone in rebuilt pianos, even in pianos from the same rebuilder, can be substantial. At Faust Harrison Pianos, much of the variation is intentional. We don’t have one sound and touch to which we strive; we have many. We let each piano guide us towards the sound and touch that suits it best. So some turn out to be brilliant and sparkling showoffs with fast, fluid actions while others have tones that are deep, rich, and introspective and actions that require the player to play deeply into the keys. And, of course, we see every possible combination in between. This is one of the reasons that beautifully restored vintage pianos will never be displaced by even the best of the best new pianos.

Here’s an analogy: I want to know that any specific car that I buy is virtually identical to the model in which I took a test drive. But it would be greatly disappointing to know that once I’d heard a composition by Rachmaninoff or seen a masterpiece by Rembrandt that all the others would be the same. We enjoy bringing out the special character that resides within each piano that we restore; our customers love exploring the wide range of possibilities that we present.

Vive la difference.


Irving
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Originally Posted by irving
Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
The single largest variable is the hammer voicing. So it is "adjustable" in the field, not dependant on design, materials or other fixed elements.


Steve,

Sure, hammer voicing is a major variable, but there are other major variables as well. Action regulation and touch weight are equally important and they too are adjustable. Should the new Stanwood adjustable touch (or something like it) become an integral part of pianos, touch weight would be even easier to adjust in the field than hammer voicing.

And, of course, we're only talking here about new pianos. Variation in touch and tone in rebuilt pianos, even in pianos from the same rebuilder, can be substantial. At Faust Harrison Pianos, much of the variation is intentional. We don’t have one sound and touch to which we strive; we have many. We let each piano guide us towards the sound and touch that suits it best. So some turn out to be brilliant and sparkling showoffs with fast, fluid actions while others have tones that are deep, rich, and introspective and actions that require the player to play deeply into the keys. And, of course, we see every possible combination in between. This is one of the reasons that beautifully restored vintage pianos will never be displaced by even the best of the best new pianos.

Here’s an analogy: I want to know that any specific car that I buy is virtually identical to the model in which I took a test drive. But it would be greatly disappointing to know that once I’d heard a composition by Rachmaninoff or seen a masterpiece by Rembrandt that all the others would be the same. We enjoy bringing out the special character that resides within each piano that we restore; our customers love exploring the wide range of possibilities that we present.

Vive la difference.


I agree completely.


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Originally Posted by irving
[
Steve,

At Faust Harrison Pianos, much of the variation is intentional. We don’t have one sound and touch to which we strive; we have many. We let each piano guide us towards the sound and touch that suits it best. So some turn out to be brilliant and sparkling showoffs with fast, fluid actions while others have tones that are deep, rich, and introspective and actions that require the player to play deeply into the keys. And, of course, we see every possible combination in between. This is one of the reasons that beautifully restored vintage pianos will never be displaced by even the best of the best new pianos.....

it would be greatly disappointing to know that once I’d heard a composition by Rachmaninoff or seen a masterpiece by Rembrandt that all the others would be the same. We enjoy bringing out the special character that resides within each piano that we restore; our customers love exploring the wide range of possibilities that we present.

Vive la difference.


f Puleez!

I hope the site collected a fee for this self-testimonial.


BTW, the issue throughout this thread has been manufacurers of new pianos charged with lack of consistency. The factors in play are selection and grading of materials, skills of the labor force, machinery in use, adherence to tight tolerances in manufacture, ruthles QC, and post-assembly factory prep. The factors not in play are Rembrandt and Rachmaninoff.

Maybe Steve can't agree with you more, but I couldn't agree with you anyless. Executing a very intricate and complex design again and again is a bit different from letting your imagination bring a blank canvas or manuscript to life.


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Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
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Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
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