About the Steinway Model B Grand Piano
The First Model B Grands | 85 Notes
The Steinway & Sons Model B is considered by many pianists to represent a perfect balance of size and power making it a very versatile instrument. Measuring 6’11” in length, 58″ in width and weighing well over 700 pounds these pianos are much larger than a Steinway Model S, M, or L. (And a bit larger than the somewhat comparable Model A-II.) The Model B ‘Music Room Grand’ was introduced in 1878 as a replacement for the piano that Steinway called the Monitor Grand. The Monitor is considered to be the first modern piano ever built by Steinway and are seen as a transition between the old and modern style pianos. (The first several Model B pianos were built in the style of these Monitor Grands.) These early Model B Grands featured an 85 note keyboard and were offered in various art case cabinet styles. A capo d’astro bar was utilized in place of agraffes for notes 52 to 85. In 1891 #73212 the first Model B with an 88 note keyboard was introduced and in 1897 the Steinway factory located in Hamburg, Germany also began production of the Model B.
In an August 15, 1878, sales letter to piano dealers, William Steinway noted the new model’s “improved interior construction.” More recently, author and piano expert Larry Fine said; “The model B is my favorite of the New York-made Steinways, and the best choice for the serious pianist, recording or teaching studio, or small recital hall.” The late Henry Z. Steinway while writing about the Steinway Model 40 Upright, noted that in the late 19th century “…manufacturers, in applying these basic principles, also wound up with the same ‘ideal’ size for a piano – a Grand within an inch or two of seven feet long.”
The Steinway Model B is a consistent favorite of many professional musicians. The larger size allows for a beautiful range of tone, yet it doesn’t take up the room a large Model D would. This makes them very well suited for use as high-level practice instruments. A number of small and medium-sized professional venues continue to utilize Model B Grands as their primary performance pianos as well.
The Steinway Model B vs. Model A (Style III)
One interesting point is that the now discontinued 6′ 4 1/2″ Steinway Model A-III Grand Piano is considered by many to be very comparable to the Model B in terms of overall performance. Recently, we had a concert pianist visit our rebuilding facility to evaluate several of our concert level instruments and we decided to try an experiment We lined up several Model B and Model A-III grand pianos and covered the model letter and serial numbers on all of them. After playing each piano for hours, the pianist noted she would “love any one of those Steinway Model Bs.” This is an experiment we have repeated often since then. It is a very credible rumor that Steinway discontinued the less expensive and slightly smaller Model A-III due to its similarity and the competition it created for the more flagship Model B. (When reintroduced, the design put back into production was the smaller Model A-II.) This is by no means an attempt to put down the Steinway Model B, rather, it is a testament to the Model B’s ongoing dominance that almost all other pianos of somewhat comparable size continue to be judged by its standard.
Recent History | Continued Production
In 2006 the Steinway company unveiled the Henry Z. Steinway Limited Edition pianos in commemoration of Henry Z. Steinway’s 91st birthday. 91 Model O and 91 Model B Grand Pianos were built in this limited edition series to celebrate his 91 years of life. These pianos were built in a Victorian art case design. (Much like the vintage piano seen here on this page.) If you trace back its lineage, the Model B is the oldest deign currently in production by Steinway, so it makes sense that this piano would be chosen for this tribute. Henry Z. Steinway died in 2008, the last member of the Steinway family to serve as president of the company.
The Model B continues in regular production at both the New York and Hamburg Steinway factories and still are one of the ‘go to’ pianos for countless high-level artists.
Here at Chupp’s Piano Service we regularly restore vintage Steinway & Sons Model B Grands for professional musicians, families and performance settings. The Steinway Model B Grand Piano has become a favorite of many, the vehicle for countless musicians and a vital piece of piano history. Whether you think the classic Model B is the ‘perfect piano’ or not, you cannot argue that these pianos continue to represent some of the finest in musical craftsmanship.
About Us: Chupp’s Piano Service, Inc. has been serving the piano needs of the music community for over forty years. We proudly specialize in premium restored Steinway pianos and offer a wide range of piano related services. We are located in the small communities of Goshen/New Paris, Indiana. Whether you need a piano moved, tuned, repaired, restored or you are in the market for a new or restored premium piano, we are ready to assist you! Call us at 574-831-5820 or get in touch via email.