Steinway & Sons New York and Hamburg | What's the Difference?
Question: “What's the difference between Steinway pianos built at the company's New York Factory and their Hamburg Factory?"
An American Company
While Charles Dicken's novel A Tale of Two Cities dealt with the cities of Paris and London, this comparison deals with New York and Hamburg. Specifically, their shared role as the home for Steinway & Sons pianos. This unusual situation has resulted in key differences between the American and European variants of these legendary musical instruments.
Contrary to the belief of some, Steinway & Sons is not a European company and have always been an American company first and foremost. Founded by German immigrant Henry E. Steinway, the New York-based company grew quickly from its modest founding in 1853 to quickly become the leading piano maker in North America. This led to increased demand for their products in both the United States and around the world. As this demand for pianos grew, the decision was made to open a factory overseas and the Steinway name returned to Germany - the City of Hamburg, to be exact.
"Beauty cannot be measured, you see. It must be perceived."The following paragraphs are taken from an article by Lili Földes entitled The Other Masters of the Keyboard. Through the experience of being married to a concert pianist (Andor Földes) and the keen eye of a journalist, Mrs. Foldes pulls back the curtain on the unsung artists of the keyboard - and the rest of the instrument we know as the piano.
"We can’t believe what a beautiful instrument it is; exactly as represented"Recommendations and reviews from our friends and clients is always a great encouragement. Read on to view two recent reviews left on our Google Business listing. Thank you to Franklin and Diana for your kind words!
"We purchased our piano from Chupps in 2003 and it has been one of the best purchases we have ever made. We really had to save to buy and restore the Steinway B, but Dennis Chupp patiently helped us to find exactly what we were looking for and he restored it to perfection. The cost was less than what others had quoted us and the quality of Chupp's work was first-class. Our piano tuner (who is quite noted herself) said it is one of the finest restorations she has seen. She loves voicing and tuning our Steinway.
Little Rock, AR Clients on their Chupp's Piano Service Vintage Steinway Grand Piano
We were recently fortunate enough to be able to provide a beautiful vintage Steinway & Sons Grand Piano to Sam & Kim Vallery of Little Rock, Arkansas. They were kind enough to send in a testimonial about the piano they purchased from us along with some beautiful photos, which we have included below.
"What a delightful experience it was to come and see your pianos. We had scoured our area (Little Rock) in search of the perfect piano for me, but were left disappointed. We then hit the road. We ended up in Elkhart IN, visited several stores, and saved the best for last. Dennis gave me free rein to play whatever piano I wanted. No pressure, no time frame.
Four Pianos, Hundreds of Years of HistoryWe recently had several pianos lined up in our Rebuilding Facility that spanned the near entirety of what is considered the golden age of Steinway & Sons Factory quality. When we saw what we had set up, we couldn't help but snap some pictures to share! For lack of a better word, this was just plain cool! From the early days of modern piano building to the style of instrument most popular today, it's all represented! Here is some detail regarding these fine grand pianos.
Steinway & Sons Model D #52626 was completed in early 1885. This means that construction of this piano began at the New York Steinway Factory in 1884. This is the first year that Steinway ever made what is now known as the king of concert grand pianos, the Model D! Veneered in a rich cut of rare Brazilian Rosewood and as one of the very first Model D Concert Grands ever built by Steinway, this piano marks the beginning of an era. It is a rare find indeed! The piano features a then typical round arm art case design with double narrow moldings around the case, a figured music desk with 'old-style' fretwork, hand-carved Victorian fluted flowerpot legs with hidden casters and a large box pedal lyre with carved pillars. This instrument was originally purchased for use at the DuPage County Library near Chicago, IL. This concert grand piano is currently located at our New Paris Rebuilding Facility and is available for selection and purchase. [Click Here to Read More About This Piano.]
The Steinway & Sons Model B - The World's "Perfect" PianoFor 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.]
The Greatest Showman – The Piano ConnectionThe 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 OverviewIn 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.
"Wicked" Piano Cover on Steinway M #227953Piano 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.
Creating FrustrationYoung 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,....
Vintage Art Case Grand Pianos - Video DemosThe 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.
Steinway Model S vs. Model M PianosAt Chupp’s Pianos, it’s our goal to help you find the piano that fits your wants in terms of tonality and resonance. We’re proud to offer a wide variety of pianos of all types, from Steinway restored pianos to pre-owned Yamaha pianos. A piano can be quite an investment so we want you to be equipped with all the information necessary for you to make an educated decision on which one is the best for you. That’s why we’ll always be here to help you make the right choice. For your convenience, we’d like to give you a quick rundown of two of our more popular pianos, the Steinway Model S and the Steinway Model M. Both are small grand pianos and are the smallest of the company's 'baby' grand pianos. Because of their manageable size, these have become the preferred Steinway models for a number of smaller venues and personal piano owners.
Steinway Model SAt 5’1” (155 cm), the Steinway Model S is the smallest of the Steinway grands. This design was introduced in the 1930s with the goal of inviting the majesty of the Steinway sound into just about any area, no matter how small. The smaller size and lower cost of this piano are considered to be the Steinway company's savior during the financial hardships of the Great Depression. It's main advantage is its small size. This model is perfect for those who want the grand feel of a Steinway piano, but don’t have the room in their house for a larger instrument. While the sound is excellent for a model of its small stature, it doesn’t quite match the tonal quality of longer pianos. Although the
Question: "It seems like I see Steinway pianos on stage all of the time. Why has Steinway & Sons dominated the concert market?"Although Steinway & Sons Concert Grand Pianos currently rule almost all of today’s concert stages throughout the world, it wasn’t always this way. Even today, competitors fight hard to place their pianos on performance stages. With over 90% of concert pianists performing today on Steinway pianos, it is easy to forget that this company was once a small upstart fighting for their position within the massive North American piano market.
The Marketing | Steinway’s ProwessSteinway & Sons has mastered the art of marketing. That is not to say they have not or do not continue to make quality products. Rather, they were the piano company who mastered both the art of piano building and the cut-throat world of advertising. During their early history, there were numerous high-end piano makers all competing for the ever growing piano market. Names such as Chickering, Knabe, Weber, Mason & Hamlin and Steinway were in an ever ongoing battle to become THE best in the industry. William Steinway, Henry E. Steinway’s son gets much of the credit for Steinway & Sons’ business and marketing prowess. Having high caliber pianists choose your piano over others was seen as being highly prestigious and influential. Thus, the Steinway Artists program was birthed coupled with the company’s bank of concert instruments.
December 2016 | Christmas Music Video HighlightsThe holiday season is here! Below are a number of videos we have produced, featuring Christmas music. Enjoy!
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" played on a vintage Steinway Model O Grand Piano by Benjamin Rogers. This classic Christmas song was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. The piano was built in 1918 at the New York Steinway Factory and features a figured African Flame Mahogany cabinet. It is currently awaiting purchase or restoration at our New Paris, IN. Rebuilding Facility.
Philip performing 'Carol of the Bells' on an Art Case 1917 Steinway & Sons Model B Grand Piano. [George Winston arrangement.] Carol of the Bells was written by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914. The piano was built during the height of the golden age of piano manufacturing and features a rich, Circassian Walnut cabinet in a Louis XV style. Art Case pianos like this represent the very finest in piano craftsmanship.