“I spent hours at the store deliberating between a few pianos and, after much deliberation, chose a rebuilt 1926 Mason & Hamlin.”
Chupp’s Piano Service of New Paris, Indiana recently had the pleasure of working with Lorraine S. of Central Indiana. She was kind enough to provide the following testimonial regarding the restored Mason & Hamlin Model AA Grand Piano she purchased and her experience working with us.
I recently inquired about a used piano that I saw on Chupp’s Pianos website. Dennis promptly replied and invited me to visit the showroom. I mentioned that I would be traveling near their showroom over a holiday weekend so he and his son, Tim, were kind enough to open the store on the holiday to accommodate my schedule (now that is customer service!).
Tim was extremely patient as I spent hours at the store deliberating between a few pianos and, after much deliberation, chose a rebuilt 1926 Mason & Hamlin. Tim also gave me a tour of the piano restoration workshop, which I really enjoyed.
As a former piano major, piano teacher, and church musician, I had not owned a piano for over five years since moving into my new home. Buying a grand piano is a major investment, so I had plenty of trepidation as to the cost, new versus used, and the brand after having searched online over a period of time. Overzealous salespeople are a real distraction to me, so I liked that Tim did not pressure me into buying anything, but instead let me browse and discuss at my leisure.
The Steinway & Sons Model B – The World’s “Perfect” Piano
For over 160 years, the name “Steinway” has represented the finest quality in the piano industry. Founded by Henry E. Steinway, the company quickly became a leader in both craftsmanship and innovation. One of the company’s most legendary pianos is the ‘seven-foot’ Steinway Model B. This model of musical instrument is found in homes, institutions and performance venues around the world. View the infographic below to learn a bit more about this legendary piano. [Click the infographic to expand.]
Chupp’s Piano Service of New Paris, Indiana recently had the pleasure of working with Timothy Clifford of Illinois. He was kind enough to provide the following testimonial regarding the Steinway & Sons Model L Grand Piano he purchased and his experience working with us.
“Dennis was very knowledgeable and generous. He was able to find me an instrument that fit my needs and budget. No other dealer or private seller had anywhere near the same offer in terms of quality and price. I have a graduate degree in piano performance and so I am picky about what I want in a piano. Chupp’s provided me with an excellent option.
This was the first time I shopped with Chupp’s but the third piano I’ve purchased. I doubt I will ever buy an instrument from anyone else ever again. Buying a piano can sometimes feel like buying a new car. Dealers can sometimes be dishonest and there’s always the feeling of settling. This was NOT the case while I was working with Dennis.
The Greatest Showman – The Piano Connection
The Greatest Showman hit theaters recently and with its solid box office numbers showed that the revival of the film musical is truly in force. Starring Hugh Jackman, this fictionalized musical focuses on the life of showman P.T. Barnum. The film is a great callback to classical films while still feeling current and ‘hip’. The film features a scene that although brief, has an interesting connection to the history of the piano industry.
P.T. Barnum & Jenny Lind – An Overview
In 1850, P.T. Barnum arranged for Swedish singer Jenny Lind to tour the United States. A desire to appeal to a more highbrow audience and help ‘class up’ his reputation was key in his drive for his latest production. His reputation up to that point had been as someone who promoted more ‘low brow’ entertainment. Initially agreeing to $1,000.00 for each performance (plus expenses), Barnum also agreed to pay Lind up front for the tour. This was entirely based on her reputation in Europe, as he had never heard her sing. Lind later negotiated a high compensation package after discovering the immense scale and popularity of the cross-country tour.
One of the greatest marketers and promoters of his day, Barnum made Jenny Lind into a household name before she ever arrived in North America. In fact, most Americans had no idea who she was prior to the start of his breathtakingly huge marketing campaign. When she arrived in New York, tens of thousands of spectators gathered at the port to greet her. Although Barnum and Lind amicably parted ways part way through the scheduled tour, it ended up being a great financial success for all involved. Lind was able to raise copious amounts of money for her various charities and she continued to tour North America under who own management. She would later marry her pianist, Otto Goldschmidt.
“How Does a Moment Last Forever” Cover on Steinway B #231416
Piano Technician/Pianist Philip Balke performs ‘How Does a Moment Last Forever’ from the live action Disney film, ‘Beauty & The Beast’. Written by Tim Rice and Alan Menken. Performed on restored Steinway & Sons Model B Grand Piano #231416. This piano originally built in 1925 during the height of the piano industry’s golden age. Recorded at the Chupp’s Piano Showroom in Goshen, Indiana, video production by Benjamin Rogers.
What is a ‘Boston’ Piano? – Designed by Steinway?
Question: I’ve been looking at purchasing a new piano. What is the deal with Boston pianos? I was told they were Steinway pianos, but I also heard they are built in Japan. It is getting a bit confusing!
It is first good to know a bit of the back story behind the Boston piano brand. In the early-1990s, Steinway & Sons decided that they wanted to have their dealers offer what they considered to be a full line of pianos. This would range from the highest tier Steinway & Sons, down to entry-level uprights. The introduction of the Boston pianos in 1992 was the first salvo in their battle for a wider range of the piano market. Steinway & Sons contracted with Kawai Musical Instruments in Japan to build pianos under the Boston name. Kawai had, and continues to be a strong competitor to Steinway around the world. Kawai builds the Boston piano for Steinway in Japan, without many of the innovations and improvements that are standard in Kawai instruments. (Including the Millennium III ABS-Carbon Action, keybed reinforcement, etc.)
Boston pianos were ‘designed’ by a group from Steinway that had little experience in actual piano manufacturing. A few little things were changed such as string size, case design, etc. Today, as it was then, Boston pianos have much more in common with real Kawai instruments than Steinway & Sons pianos. As they are built by Kawai, Boston pianos are of solid, good quality – there is no debate on that.
“I would like to emphasize that this is not a Steinway & Sons project.” – Bob Dove, Boston Piano General Manager, 1992
Rare Grand Pianos Restored by Chupp’s Piano Service for Carolyn Ripp
Chupp’s Piano Service recently fully rebuilt two rare grand pianos for Carolyn Ripp, a pianist here in Indiana. The first piano we rebuilt for her was a stunning Steinway & Sons Model AR grand piano in an African Flame Mahogany cabinet. This piano was originally a player instrument, built around the legendary Steinway A-3 scale design. The second was a powerful Everett 9′ Concert Grand Piano. An incredibly rare instrument, this 9′ concert grand boasts an incredible quality of tone and touch. Built during the company’s early days in Boston, this is one of only a handful of these pianos still in existence. Carolyn was kind enough to send in the following letter of recommendation regarding our piano restoration work.
Dear Dennis and the Entire Chupp’s Team,
I am seriously failing for words to describe the beauty of the two pianos you restored for me. The Steinway came first and its remarkable restoration was breathtaking. Then the unusual Everett came and we could hardly believe the volume of sound that it produces. Now I am enjoying picking the piano that will render the music at it’s finest. Every key plays perfectly, every sound is rich.
Now that both are together again, I appreciate these instruments more than ever before. I always knew they were both special, but to play them now, it is just a decadent experience. Even my tuner said that when he presses a key to tune, that it is so beautiful, he feels like he is “playing” these pianos and enjoys every sound! It really shows how much your staff really appreciates and cares for the pianos that come their way. Every step of the process of achieving this remarkable result has only added to the whole, wonderful experience. BRAVO!! I have played many fine instruments of rare value, but I couldn’t want anything more. This IS the most exciting time of my life. Thank you!
“Wicked” Piano Cover on Steinway M #227953
Piano Technician/Pianist Philip Balke performs ‘I’m Not That Girl’ from the beloved Broadway musical, ‘Wicked’. Written by Stephen Schwartz, originally recorded by Idina Menzel (original song) and Kristin Chenoweth (reprise). Performed on restored Steinway & Sons Model M Grand Piano #227953. Recorded at the Chupp’s Piano Showroom in Goshen, Indiana, video production by Benjamin Rogers.
Question: My child is starting piano lessons. What kind of piano should I get for them? I found a free one on Craigslist and most of the keys still work. Could I start them on this piano until they get good enough to deserve a better one?
The selection of an instrument for your budding student is an important one. Students of the piano will spend many an hour practicing scales and building up to ever increasingly difficult pieces. A link should build between the artist and their instrument. This is why it is critical to select a piano that encourages them to sit down and play.
Imagine someone beginning to learn a sport, say, baseball. One wouldn’t give the budding player a stick broken off from a nearby tree and tell them; ‘learn with this, and when you get really good we’ll give you a real bat!’ It is obvious that this would not be conducive to enjoyable learning and would impede progress. One would be tempted to simply quit when placed under this handicap.
Unfortunately, we see this far too often in the world of pianos. The difference between a fully functional, professional grade piano and the ‘Craigslist deals’ and cheap keyboards one often sees in us for practice is like day and night. Even budding pianists can tell the difference, even if they cannot express what exactly they are feeling.
Young students are much more perceptive to tonal quality and touch than many parents think. Many of the ‘free deals’ that can be found on Craigslist (and yes, even at some piano dealers) can be much more trouble than they are worth. A badly built and maintained piano may require much more repair and restoration work than is initially noticeable when examining the exterior. It is always recommended that you contact a qualified piano technician prior to considering the purchase of one of these used pianos.
It can be incredibly frustrating to sit down at a barely functioning piano that has been badly maintained and attempt to bring some kind of discernable melody out of it. It is maddening for the professional; just imagine how frustrating it is for a beginning student. Sadly, we see this so often. It is no wonder that many students fail to stick with piano lessons.
In terms of monetary value, a durable, high-performance instrument can and will help you and your student get the very most out of piano/music lessons. A well-built, properly maintained instrument will stay in regulation and in tune saving you money in service calls. Many music teachers also have minimum requirements for the student’s practice instrument – and with good reason!
Teflon Bushings in Steinway Pianos– The Failed Experiment
If there was one quality that marked the early days of Steinway & Sons, it was the family company’s inherent desire to invent, tweak and improve the quality of their pianos. This led to famous innovations and improvements to grand piano design that continues to be standard a century later. Almost all of the company’s patents were filed during these first years. The study of the lineage of the modern grand piano is a fascinating one, filled with stories of both success and failure. The ‘Teflon Era’ will forever remain an infamous time for Steinway & Sons, but one that forced the industry to adapt around new ideas and parts.
Increased Competition – Attempted Innovation
During the early 1960s, work began on another project that company leadership hoped would again boost the company’s reputation as a world leading instrument. Continued pressure from less expensive yet high-quality pianos from Japanese makers like Yamaha and Kawai began to push Steinway from their position as the North American piano king. (This battle between the ‘east and the west’ wages on even today. ) A number of their major American competitors were either long gone or in decline. A document provided to Chupp’s Piano Service proves interesting. In a letter dated April 6th, 1979 to the late Ed Hendricks, a former Vice President of Marketing and owner of Hendricks’ Pianos in Chicago,….
Over the years, countless musicians have made the piano their primary musical instrument. Companies have fought tooth and nail to win the hearts (and wallets) of artists around the world. Today’s big players in the concert market include Steinway & Sons, Kawai, Yamaha and Fazioli continues to make inroads. Over the years, there have been many other companies who have made fine concert instruments that continue to be cherished by pianists. Click to view an infographic highlighting just a few of the artists who continue to make the piano come alive and learn what pianos they prefer to use on the concert stage.
Chupp’s Pianos Exhibits at the 60th Annual PTG Convention & Technical Institute
If you were staying at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel this past week, you may have seen a few pianos around. The 60th Annual PTG Convention & Technical Institute was held in St. Louis and Chupp’s Piano Service served as one of the ‘Key Sponsors’ and manned a booth in the exhibit hall. Dennis, Tim and Ben alternated between manning the booth and classes, while Philip attended a number of classes over the course of the convention.
The piano we exhibited was Steinway Model A-3 Grand Piano #188826. Built in 1918, this nearly 100-year-old piano is quite rare due to its quarter sawn oak cabinet. This wood was used very rarely on Steinway pianos and very few of them were ever built. (More info on this piano can be found here.) Piano makers represented included Yamaha, Bosendorfer, Kawai, Mason & Hamlin, Schimmel, Pearl River, Hailun and Blutner. (New Steinway & Sons was not present in the hall.)
Music Inc. Magazine Interview With The President of Kawai
Kawai Musical Instruments president Hirotaka Kawai sat down with Frank Alyker of Music Inc. Magazine to discuss Kawai’s 90th anniversary and the growth and philosophy of the Kawai company. Founded by Koichi Kawai in 1927, Kawai has grown to become one of the leading piano makers in the world. Over the years they have also manufactured organs, synthesizers, and guitars.
Through all of this, however, they have remained focused on their primary goal – the perfection of the piano. Chupp’s Piano Service is proud to be the authorized Kawai dealer for the Michiana region.
The Sounds of History
A fully restored, vintage Steinway & Sons, Mason & Hamlin or other fine make of grand piano offers a great value. Although the lower price tag, when compared to a brand new, one is a component of that, this value goes far deeper.
During the height of the piano industry, craftsmanship in North American piano factories was at its peak. Hundreds of companies, thousands of pianos and countless man hours resulted in the refinement of the piano as a musical instrument. As the premier entertainment and luxury item available at that time, everyone just had to own a piano! Advancements in plate design, action geometry, rim pressing and more changes piled on top of each other. Out of the intensity of the ‘golden age’ of piano making came some of the finest instruments ever built.
Vintage Art Case Grand Pianos – Video Demos
The piano has long been a striking combination between its function as a musical instrument and as a piece of visual art. This was especially true during the early ‘golden era’ of the piano manufacturing industry. Steinway & Sons was among the many companies battling for supremacy during these competitive years. Experienced craftsmen combined with easy access to the finest woods and other materials resulted in some of the finest playing – and looking pianos ever crafted. Although today’s new Steinways are rarely seen outside of their ‘traditional’ more modern design, expert restoration work allows musicians and appreciators of fine art the chance to experience the characteristics that have made vintage art case pianos so treasured. Below are several videos we have produced highlighting the work of the craftsmen and technicians here at Chupp’s Piano Service, Inc.
Steinway & Sons Model A-3 Grand Piano #188826 – Quarter Sawn Oak, Sketch 380 Cabinet.
Covered in a beautiful Quarter Sawn Oak veneer, this rare Steinway was built in 1917. Fully rebuilt by us this piano features a new solid spruce soundboard, new hard rock maple pinblock, a fully rebuilt action and much more. Quarter Sawn Oak was rarely utilized on Steinway grand pianos. This instrument is currently featured at our Goshen, IN. Piano Showroom alongside a number of other ‘Crown Jewel’ style grand pianos.