Should I buy a grand or a vertical piano?
A fine quality grand piano should certainly be considered if space and budget permit.
Because of the design, a grand piano has certain inherent advantages over the vertical configuration. The gravity-type action of a fine grand allows for faster repetition of notes and for better, more subtle control of expression and tone than that of a vertical action piano. The horizontal construction and the shape of the soundboard allow the tone to develop in an open manner. Musically, a fine grand is superior to a vertical piano. Aesthetically, it can be an elegant and dramatic addition to your home decor.
However, space and budget are often major considerations, and not all grands are created equal. A first class vertical piano is an excellent musical instrument, and will outperform and outlast a poorly made, inexpensive, small grand. Vertical pianos come in a variety of furniture styles and finishes that can enhance your home’s decor, and will take a fraction of the space of even a small grand.
Why are some pianos more expensive than others?
The simple answer is because high quality pianos are more expensive to manufacture than lesser quality instruments.
Selection of Materials. The finest materials – top grade spruce, wool felt, expensive hard rock maple veneers, and all the other components that go into the making of the piano – will affect the end result. The makers of more expensive instruments take great care in selecting and handling their materials consistent with the quality of that instrument.
Preparation of Materials. Proper seasoning of woods is time-consuming and costly. First, the wood must be air-dried for a period of time, and then placed in kilns to stabilize it to specific moisture contents. Through this process, better instrument manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure the quality and long life of their pianos.
Workmanship. There is no substitute for quality of workmanship. The more skilled the workers are, the better the piano. Mass produced pianos are less expensive than ‘hand-crafted’ instruments. For example, it takes approximately one year to create each Steinway & Sons grand piano.
Scale Design. A beautifully balanced scale is the result of the work of a master scale designer. Scales tend to evolve and be refined over a period of time. Manufacturers of the finest pianos constantly strive to find ways to make their scales’ designs even better.
What does it mean to “tune” a piano?
“Tuning” is the process of adjusting the tension at which the strings are stretched, using a wrench called a “tuning hammer,” so that all the strings vibrate in pleasing harmony with one another in accordance with certain acoustical laws and aesthetic and musical customs. Although the tuner may also perform other adjustments to the piano at the same visit, strictly speaking, only the above process constitutes “tuning.” Larry Fine
How often should I tune and service my piano?
It depends on how sensitive you are to out-of-tuneness, how sensitive your piano is to the humidity changes that cause a piano to go out of tune, the climate you live in, how much you play, and your budget. For most people, one to three times per year is about right. Professional musicians and teachers may require more frequent service. Concert pianos are generally tuned (or the tuning touched up) before every performance.
What is DAMPP-CHASER system ?
Dampp-Chaser is an corporation manufactures and supports products which provide humidity control for small enclosed spaces. Their Piano Life Saver is a piano humidity control system. It permits tunings to hold better and longer and prevents damage to piano parts from humidity changes in the environment.
Why is humidity so important to pianos?
The problem is that all wood shrinks and swells with humidity changes, and piano is primarily made of wood.
Under moist conditions, the strings of piano are held tight by the pins in the pinblock. As the pinblock absorbs moisture in periods of high humidity, it swells, crushing the wood fibers against pin.
Under dry conditions, the wood shrinks away from the pin loosening it and causing the string to sag. When this cycle is repeated time after time, the wood fibers surrounding the pin are destroyed and lose their resilience.
How does DAMPP-CHASER SYSTEM (Piano Life Saver System) work ?
If the piano is "off-pitch" due to humidity fluctuations, the tunner will need to adjust the string tension to achieve proper pitch before he/she can even begin to do a fine tuning. Pitch adjustments are time-consuming and you will pay twice as much to have the piano tuned when its off-pitch. The piano life life saver system is made up of three basic components ( Humidifier, Dehumidifier and humidistat) which work together to control the humidity levels within piano, maintaining consistent relative humidity, no matter what the external conditions are.
The system prevents shrinking and swelling of the soundboard, thus stabilizing the pitch.
The minimizes tuning-pin movement, which also helps stabilize pitch.
The system improves keyboard control noticeably.
It also works automatically and silently inside the piano.
I have had the pleasure of playing many exceptional pianos in my life. Fine pianos come in many shapes and sizes, from different manufacturers around the world. A fine piano belongs in a fine living room. For making a recording, I needed more than just a fine piano. I needed an instrument that could tell my story to the world.
The problem with many fine pianos is that they are made according to some kind of ideal about what perfection should be. Perfectly clear, singing treble. Perfectly rich, deep bass. People who understand Steinways understand that perfection comes from the artist and the artist alone. The piano is just a tool. A means to an end. There are no perfect tools; only tools of different designs, with varying levels of power and effectiveness.
When I play the piano, I don't think of just one sound, or one single instrument. When I play, I become the conductor of the orchestra and all of the players. I need more than just the huge dynamic range. I need the actual timbre itself. I need the velvet sweetness of the strings, the dark, piercing tone of the woodwinds, and the fearsome shriek of the brass. Alone, the instrument is silent. When I sit in front of it, I am the orchestra.
Needless to say, very few pianos are able to go so far above and beyond the call of duty! Many pianos simply wish to remain fine pianos, rather than being pushed and pulled to the utter limits of musical tone. I invite you to experience our full line of rebuilt Steinways. They are not just fine pianos. They are incredible pianos!
Why I chose to record on a rebuilt Steinway piano
by Carlisle Beresford