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#1168787 - 03/25/09 06:14 PM Hamburg vs. New York Steinway
DrJ Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/23/09
Posts: 5
Loc: Seattle, WA
I am new to Piano World discussions, so this topic may have already been discussed. I did some searching, but this is a very large forum, so I may have missed prior postings.

I was wondering if someone can tell me briefly what the differences are between a Hamburg Steinway (which many pianists seem to prefer) and a New York built piano? Aren't the basic scale designs and action the same? Is it the wood? The quality control and craftsmanship? What?

I recently purchased a magnificent art case Steinway "B" in polished rosewood designed by J.B. Tiffany and signed on the plate by Henry Z. Steinway. It is about 10 years old, built in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Steinway. Only a few of these limited edition pianos were made. This instrument definitely sounds and responds more like the Hamburg models I've played and I'm not sure why. I assume it was manufactured in New York. I am a pianist, not a technician, so any help or insights would be appreciated. Thanks!

Wayne Johnson, Seattle

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#1168820 - 03/25/09 07:45 PM Re: Hamburg vs. New York Steinway [Re: DrJ]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3886
Hamburg - hammers are hard to start and are voiced down

NY - Hammers are soft to start and voiced up

Hamburg - has adjustable music rack angle

NY - Non-adjustable music rack (this peeves some artists BTW)

Hamburg - Renner action parts and hammers

NY - Steinway action parts and hammers

Hamburg - curved fall board front and matching cabinet (curved)

NY - Hinged fallboard front and matching cabinet (square angle)


Both are high quality instruments.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#1168916 - 03/25/09 11:30 PM Re: Hamburg vs. New York Steinway [Re: Bob]
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1912
Loc: El Cajon, CA
I generally haven't liked most of the new (NY) Steinways I've played. Maybe I just need to play some Hamburgs before I write S&S off completely.
_________________________
Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.

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#1168923 - 03/25/09 11:44 PM Re: Hamburg vs. New York Steinway [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: 88Key_PianoPlayer
I generally haven't liked most of the new (NY) Steinways I've played. Maybe I just need to play some Hamburgs before I write S&S off completely.


No, you need to find some NY's that have been prepped. smile
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1168990 - 03/26/09 04:30 AM Re: Hamburg vs. New York Steinway [Re: Horowitzian]
Gregor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 436
Loc: Münster, Germany
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian

No, you need to find some NY's that have been prepped. smile


This could be a difference, too. It´s hard to imagine that a Steinway in a German piano store is poorly prepped. This could be due to two reasons: either the pianos leave the Hamburg factory in a better state than the NY factory or German dealers put more effort in it than USA dealers.

I don´t know the policy of NY Steinway, but here in Germany it´s not so easy to become a Steinway dealer. Usualy they choose big stores with some tradition in piano business and with own workshops including masters and apprentices. That means that the dealer is not only a salesman but also a technician. When I read the postings in this forum it seems to me that many dealers in the USA (in general, not Steinway) are just salesmen but no technicians. This is not very common here in Germany.

Gregor
_________________________
piano tech - tuner - dealer
Münster, Germany
www.weldert.de

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#1169006 - 03/26/09 06:06 AM Re: Hamburg vs. New York Steinway [Re: Gregor]
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1912
Loc: El Cajon, CA
That's what I was thinking... most of the NY pianos I've played haven't been prepped. I've listened to some good quality recordings of professionally-produced CDs, and the NY Ds I've played sound NOTHING like them. I've even played 7-foot pianos from lesser quality brands that sounded noticeably better in the bass! What gives? (FYI I like a powerful tone rich in upper harmonics. For example, briefly switching to uprights, my favorite studio uprights are the 1950s Baldwin Hamiltons.) I've heard recordings of grands that had a similar tone that had abuntant upper harmonics - almost like a crashing fortissimo if you want to call it that. All the Steinways I've played by comparison sounded like there was a moving blanket between the hammers and strings, and the bass sounded rather thin, with not as much audible fundamental like a Bosendorfer would have. Have I just been going to all the wrong Steinway dealers?
_________________________
Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.

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#1169126 - 03/26/09 10:33 AM Re: Hamburg vs. New York Steinway [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
First, a piano has to be played for the hammers to develop. Then you do the voicing when it gets to it's home. Sure you can voice it for the showroom floor but can you reverse it if the venue requires it? The way NY hammers are voiced (and made, they are not Renners) is not the same as Hamburg.

Plucking the strings reveals what is really there. A guitar pick and tell the dealer what you want to do. Be sure to check sustain around C6.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#1169200 - 03/26/09 12:03 PM Re: Hamburg vs. New York Steinway [Re: Keith Roberts]
DrJ Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/23/09
Posts: 5
Loc: Seattle, WA
Thanks, everyone, for your comments and opinions on Hamburg vs. Steinway pianos. Most interesting! It is becoming increasingly obvious to me that in the years before I acquired it, my New York Steinway must have had a lots of TLC in terms of prepping and regular mainteinance. I never seem to fall in love with new Steinways although someday I'd love to go to Germany and try some new Hamburgs. At any rate, it seems to me that a slightly older piano can actually be better than new since it takes time for hammers to develop and for a potentially great instrument to find its unique voice and identity--sort of like coming out of adolescence.

W. Johnson, Seattle

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#1169241 - 03/26/09 01:09 PM Re: Hamburg vs. New York Steinway [Re: Keith Roberts]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: Keith Roberts
First, a piano has to be played for the hammers to develop. Then you do the voicing when it gets to it's home. Sure you can voice it for the showroom floor but can you reverse it if the venue requires it? The way NY hammers are voiced (and made, they are not Renners) is not the same as Hamburg.

Plucking the strings reveals what is really there. A guitar pick and tell the dealer what you want to do. Be sure to check sustain around C6.


Funny you mention the guitar pick--I did just that on the NY Steinways at the store during my search. And what you say is about the hammers developing is absolutely true. My B received some voicing in the upper register to combat the soft, muffled sound, but otherwise it was left alone. I play daily, and it sounds better every time. cool
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1169527 - 03/27/09 12:20 AM Re: Hamburg vs. New York Steinway [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]
Benita Rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 31
Loc: Mansfield
I have a 1935 Steinway M which I love. I went to a Steinway showroom today and didn't like anything!

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