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Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 3,517
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Originally Posted by Chopin Competition
The most popular instruments among the participants of the 18th Chopin Competition are those produced by Steinway – they were selected by as many as 64 pianists (so around 75% of participants). 9 people selected a Yamaha piano and 8 a Fazioli piano. The least frequently played will be a Kawai piano, which will be used only 6 times in the first stage.

Listening to a couple of the recordings, I thought the Chopin Competition offers as good a chance as any to compare pianos as well as pianists. Here are links to five competitors playing various pieces on the five pianos:

1. Leonora Armellini, Fazioli 308
2. Alexander Gadjiev, Shigeru Kawai
3. Georgijs Osokins, Yamaha
4. Yasuko Furumi, Steinway 611479
5. Talon Smith, Steinway 612300

My first effort was to describe them as rich, bright, sonorous, clear and colored. Instead, the idea here is to focus on specific aspects of tone and timbre such as attack, overtones. resonances, and clarity (separation between notes).

The quiz is to compare pairs of pianos on specific aspects. You can focus on as many or as few aspects as you wish, make as many or as few comparisons as you like, and feel free to choose you favourite pianist.

The possible comparisons are all interesting for various reasons:
A. Fazioli v Shigeru
B. Shigeru v Yamaha
C. Yamaha v Fazioli
D. Steinway 611479 v 612300
E. Steinway v Fazioli
F. Steinway v Shigeru
G. Steinway v Yamaha

Pianoloverus may introduce some Snakes & Ladders in his comments but I hope he will participate too.

Davdoc sort of put me up to this. His point about the piano's potential for the pianist to bring out a range of tones is certaintly one to consider. I'd say focusing on a specific aspect of the sound is one way to cut through the limitations of recordings.

Originally Posted by Davdoc
I sort of look at the question at the opposite angle: that is, the pianists make the most difference in tones, especially true since I am listening through a recording and these pianists are at the highest level of competency. I do agree that this is probably as close as possible to the most optimal tonal comparison among pianos, despite the limit of listening through recordings instead of in person, since these pianists are top-notch, many repertoires are repeated, and the pianos are likely prepped to the highest level too.


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
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Thanks for creating this convenient comparison. I would assume the two Steinways are Hamburg rather than New York?

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Originally Posted by Withindale
Davdoc sort of put me up to this. His point about the piano's potential for the pianist to bring out a range of tones is certaintly one to consider. I'd say focusing on a specific aspect of the sound is one way to cut through the limitations of recordings.

I really cannot take any credit from your original and excellent idea. Thanks for having a nice list of pianists using different pianos.

I do not trust my own ears, listening through recordings, to truly differentiate tones of different pianos generated by these highly skilled pianists. Nor do I trust my own choice of adjectives being shared in the perceptually identical way with other people.

(With the above said, when my wife played Gadjiev's performance of the Sonata through our cheap Bluetooth speaker, without me knowing which pianist was on it, after the first bass notes I was actually able to tell it was not a Steinway!)


1969 Hamburg Steinway B, rebuilt by PianoCraft in 2017
2013 New York Steinway A
Kawai MP11

Previously: 2005 Yamaha GB1, 1992 Yamaha C5
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The Steinways certainly have that growl in the bass. Not sure I'm sold on how they work here, but the pianists likely have something to do with that.

Interesting to hear the Fazioli. I'm not normally in love with those, but this one is pretty good!

Joined: Feb 2020
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If you want to compare different pianos over the same piece here there are some pianists that play op.48.1 on first round:
Hyuk Lee sk
Andrei Zenin sk
L. Armellini f308
Jinhyung Park cfx
A. Sham ss300
Talon Smith ss300
Miyu Shindo ss479
Yutong Sung ss479

Joined: May 2001
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Actually the Fazioli is a model F278. The 308 has four pedals.

In early stages they displayed the model as 308 by mistake and then corrected it to F278.

Joined: Apr 2021
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Great adverts for S&S here! If the competitors do not choose S&S and choose Yamaha CFX or Shigeru they are likely to be musically defective in some way.How nice? 😉


My piano's voice is my voice to the great unknown, out there..in other words a hymn.That is all but that is enough.

Just sold my old C2 and am thinking of replacing it with a CBechstein124, Schimmel K132 or a YUS5.

Moderated by  Ken Knapp, Piano World 

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