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#1379792 - 02/21/10 06:16 PM German this...German that, What's all the fuss????
fingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/08/04
Posts: 799
Loc: Westchester, NY
I often hear/read that German scales, strings, hammers etc. are something special. In fact, one dealer told me that a particular non-German piano they sold was superior beacause it had a "German scale"- But, they couldn't explain exactly what was "German" about it and why it was better. What is it that makes various German piano parts so coveted?

fingers
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#1379795 - 02/21/10 06:18 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: fingers]
JDelmore Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/07
Posts: 634
"You know the Germans always make good stuff."...Vince from ShamWow...LOL!
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"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)

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#1379798 - 02/21/10 06:20 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: fingers]
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
For generations, many brands of pianos from Europe in general and Germany specifically have been coveted as top performance and quality, much like Mercedes Benz. As a result, many Asian manufacturers tout German strings, scale designs, actions, etc. to trade off the German reputation.
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#1379809 - 02/21/10 06:28 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Marty Flinn]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4380
Loc: Jersey Shore
German pianos have the historical idea of quality like the Japanese have with cars like Toyota...

Crap, never mind...:)

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#1379811 - 02/21/10 06:29 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Marty Flinn]
leomtodd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/13/08
Posts: 82
Loc: Limerick Maine
What about Grotrian-Steinweg??

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#1379818 - 02/21/10 06:35 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: leomtodd]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2735
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: leomtodd
What about Grotrian-Steinweg??


Their German and generally considered to be phenomenal. What was your question?
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PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
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#1379851 - 02/21/10 07:13 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: PianoWorksATL]
Brandon_W_T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
Everything made in Germany is amazing and perfect.

BMW cars
Mercedes (with the exception of the chrysler ownership years)
Miele vacuums
Grotrian Steinweg
Bach ha
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#1379867 - 02/21/10 07:39 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Brandon_W_T]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2735
Loc: Atlanta, GA
From speaking with German piano makers & part makers (on occasion), it starts with their cultural identity. People associated with piano manufacture, repair, even sales are expected to have a...culturally mandated high level of training and expertise.

Here, we can't even get people to agree that you shouldn't try to voice your own piano. I've seen a few people sell pianos one week and cars or refrigerators the next. Most countries have a wider level of acceptance, but I believe that the cultural standard drives German excellence in manufacturing. I think it is hard for most people to understand this unless you are in a culture with similar values. I compare it to the way most people respect their physician. Any Germans or Ex-Pats wish to comment?
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PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
Bösendorfer, Estonia, Seiler, Grotrian, Weber & Hailun
Pre-Owned: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway & other fine pianos
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www.PianoWorks.com
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#1379882 - 02/21/10 08:01 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: PianoWorksATL]
SeilerFan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/27/09
Posts: 746
Most pianos made in Germany come with a simple statement: "Made in Germany." That's all!

Most pianos that boast this and that German part a million times in their advertisements usually come from Asia.


Edited by SeilerFan (02/21/10 08:02 PM)

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#1379994 - 02/21/10 10:40 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: SeilerFan]
killerspud Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/23/10
Posts: 15

Having just bought an 80 year old Lipp upright I can say it is because of the heritage and history. If you've been making pianos for 150 years like alot of german makes then things have been perfected over time. Also alot of those makes are hand made so their is a level of workmanship and individuality to those pianos.

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#1380003 - 02/21/10 10:55 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: killerspud]
MattMontana Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/19/10
Posts: 3
Having lived in Germany for 18 years, I can tell you it is all about the culture. Germans that decide to embark on a career in manufacturing instruments (or any other trade)generally make that decision for life. They train and study for years, just to earn the basic qualifications, sometimes decades to earn the status of "Master". Their heritage and pride dictates that they produce exceptional quality products. Their political system of mild socialism allows them to focus solely on quality, not merely on profits. Workers of any guild are well taken care of and need not focus on finishing their work first; it being flawless suffices.

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#1380016 - 02/21/10 11:12 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: MattMontana]
Brandon_W_T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
I totally forgot about other german greats

There are the pipe organs of course!

Some of the worlds best and oldest organs are in germany.

Arp Schntiger
F.C. Schnitger
Gottfried Silbermann
Hinz

Oh and it goes on and on and on!

http://www.glogerfestspillene.no/images/stories/faste/orgelfasade1_3Dframe.jpg
http://www.die-orgelseite.de/pict/A_StFlorian_Stiftskirche1.jpg
http://www.die-orgelseite.de/pict/D_Berlin_Dom1.jpg


*****And perhaps the most incredible, absolute most ornate musical instrument ever built****
http://www.die-orgelseite.de/pict/D_Weingarten_Basilika.jpg

Beat that america. ha That organ was built in 1750- and is one of the largest organs in the world
_________________________
______
Home -
1905 Story and Clark Art Case smile

--NEW!--- 1964ish Conn 640 vacuum tube theatre organ! (with leslie!) smile

Grandmas- New Hyundai petite baby grand

Church (the organ I practice on)-
1998 Bedient (Built about 45 minutes from me!) 2m/pedal 24 rank Cavaille-Coll style pipe organ

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#1380017 - 02/21/10 11:14 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Brandon_W_T]
Brandon_W_T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
Did I tell you I am moving to germany as soon as I hit college!?!?! ha

I picked out my place too. In the hills of Heidelberg! I went there and fell in love with it.
_________________________
______
Home -
1905 Story and Clark Art Case smile

--NEW!--- 1964ish Conn 640 vacuum tube theatre organ! (with leslie!) smile

Grandmas- New Hyundai petite baby grand

Church (the organ I practice on)-
1998 Bedient (Built about 45 minutes from me!) 2m/pedal 24 rank Cavaille-Coll style pipe organ

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#1380028 - 02/21/10 11:31 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Brandon_W_T]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Not everything German is great. This German Behringer digital piano is inferior to Yamaha and Roland. It has the reputation of being not reliable and the keyboard action is definitely far behind Yamaha and Roland.
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#1380030 - 02/21/10 11:32 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Brandon_W_T]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1536
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Brandon_W_T
Did I tell you I am moving to germany as soon as I hit college!?!?! ha

I picked out my place too. In the hills of Heidelberg! I went there and fell in love with it.


Smart boy! You could do a lot worse!

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#1380099 - 02/22/10 01:55 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Brandon_W_T]
Eric Gray Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/10
Posts: 35
Loc: Colorado USA
Originally Posted By: Brandon_W_T
Everything made in Germany is amazing and perfect.

BMW cars
Mercedes (with the exception of the chrysler ownership years)
Miele vacuums
Grotrian Steinweg
Bach ha
These days, after owning three Mercedes (non-Chrysler years), I drive Fords.

German made, although good, isn't what it used to be. At least, with regards to Mercedes.
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#1380130 - 02/22/10 04:14 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: 4evrBeginR]
Bunneh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 399
Loc: Berlin
Originally Posted By: 4evr88
Not everything German is great. This German Behringer digital piano is inferior to Yamaha and Roland. It has the reputation of being not reliable and the keyboard action is definitely far behind Yamaha and Roland.

Everything by Behringer is inferior to almost any American-made counterparts wink

And ahh, the hills of Heidelberg, my hometown, I definitely miss them. You could do a lot worse!

Anyway, I am not really sure what it is about German pianos.
My theory would be that it's not really any magical reason.

German pianos have a stellar reputation, which makes people pay premium for them, which allows a lot of diverse German manufacturer to survive and spend money on building quality pianos.

Any one German manufacturer would never stand heads and shoulders above Shigeru Kawai pianos, especially if you do the comparison on a price parity level - there just isn't more than 3-4 other premium manufacturers in the world altogether.
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#1380147 - 02/22/10 06:49 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Bunneh]
mjs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/07
Posts: 365
Loc: MĂĽnchen, Germany
As far as I can see, Behringer Germany is only the distributor for products from Behringer Intl. Singapore. Possibly, there is still some R&D left there, but with less than 60 people in Germany, there isn't much scope for that.
Manufacturing appears to be entirely in China (including Hongkong and Macau). So hardly anything to compare with the German premium piano manufacturers.
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#1380151 - 02/22/10 07:07 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: MattMontana]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Originally Posted By: MattMontana
Having lived in Germany for 18 years, I can tell you it is all about the culture. Germans that decide to embark on a career in manufacturing instruments (or any other trade)generally make that decision for life. They train and study for years, just to earn the basic qualifications, sometimes decades to earn the status of "Master". Their heritage and pride dictates that they produce exceptional quality products. Their political system of mild socialism allows them to focus solely on quality, not merely on profits. Workers of any guild are well taken care of and need not focus on finishing their work first; it being flawless suffices.


Haha, I'm from Germany and I like this statement! It helps our economy!

BTW I have a KAWAI DP (made in Indonesia) and am very happy with it! A completely German made DP would have cost at least 5 times as much as the KAWAI, maybe better build quality, but who cares given the price tag!? Nevertheless, I own a lot of other stuff that was made in Germany, and compared to US products (I can tell since two of my brothers live there) many (not all) of them are superior build quality but of course with a superior price tag! It's (like almost always): You get what you pay for!


Edited by kawaian (02/22/10 07:09 AM)
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#1380176 - 02/22/10 08:26 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: mucci]
Steve Jackson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/07
Posts: 668
Loc: Toronto
Back to the opening poster:

The more times "German" is mentioned, the lower the quality of the piano.

Germans do make quality products, but are not the innovators.

There really is no such thing as a 'Renner' action for instance. There are Renner made copies of Steinway actions and Schwander actions, for instance. The modern piano is an American invention. The Germans execute it well. As mentioned, it is cultural too, whereas a piano builder or technician take the career seriously and study for years. There are no correspondance technicians there. On the other hand, this leads to a rigid orthodoxy and less questioning. There are no Del Fandrich's or Ari Isaac's either, to name a couple. The questioning of what we do, how we do it and the materials we use is more American (and Canadian, of course!)

Hope this helps

Steve
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#1380181 - 02/22/10 08:43 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Steve Jackson]
sandalholme Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 780
Loc: Dorset, UK
"The modern piano is an American invention. "
Interesting statement. How do you define "modern"?

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#1380186 - 02/22/10 08:48 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Steve Jackson]
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
"Germans do make quality products, but are not the innovators.

There really is no such thing as a 'Renner' action for instance. There are Renner made copies of Steinway actions and Schwander actions, for instance. The modern piano is an American invention. The Germans execute it well. As mentioned, it is cultural too, whereas a piano builder or technician take the career seriously and study for years. There are no correspondance technicians there. On the other hand, this leads to a rigid orthodoxy and less questioning. There are no Del Fandrich's or Ari Isaac's either, to name a couple. The questioning of what we do, how we do it and the materials we use is more American (and Canadian, of course!)

Hope this helps"

Rarely have I heard such utter nonsense.

Which American invented the modern piano?
If you think Germany has no innovators then you have not expanded your horizons very much. Check out what Steingraeber are doing (albeit with English input) for example.
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#1380188 - 02/22/10 08:48 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Steve Jackson]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Originally Posted By: Steve Jackson
Back to the opening poster:

The more times "German" is mentioned, the lower the quality of the piano.

Germans do make quality products, but are not the innovators.

There really is no such thing as a 'Renner' action for instance. There are Renner made copies of Steinway actions and Schwander actions, for instance. The modern piano is an American invention. The Germans execute it well. As mentioned, it is cultural too, whereas a piano builder or technician take the career seriously and study for years. There are no correspondance technicians there. On the other hand, this leads to a rigid orthodoxy and less questioning. There are no Del Fandrich's or Ari Isaac's either, to name a couple. The questioning of what we do, how we do it and the materials we use is more American (and Canadian, of course!)


Another stereotype... crazy

You should have a look at the history of piano-making, e.g. here:
http://www.pian-e-forte.de/piano/history.htm

This site is unfortunately in German, but I'm sure there are similar English sites.

BTW it is interesting to know that the piano making companies Steinway (NY), Bechstein and BlĂĽthner (Leipzig, Germany) all were founded in the same year (1853).

These were the companies (most of them are still in business) which were founded in the period 1828 to 1885, 14 out of 17 were German companies, two were US-based (of course there were more companies which are not mentioned):

1828 Bösendorfer in Wien
1834 ThĂĽrmer in MeiĂźen (heute in Bochum)
1835 Steinweg in Braunschweig (seit 1865 Grotrian-Steinweg, s.u.)
1845 Rönisch in Dresden (heute in Leipzig)
1846 Sauter in Spaichingen
1849 Seiler in Liegnitz (heute in Kitzingen)
1851 Feurich in Leipzig (heute in Gunzenhausen)
1852 Steingraeber in Bayreuth
1853 Bechstein in Berlin
1853 BlĂĽthner in Leipzig
1853 Steinway New York
1859 Förster in Löbau
1862 Pfeiffer in Stuttgart
1862 Baldwin in Cicinnati/USA
1875 Euterpe in Berlin (heute bei Bechstein)
1880 Steinway Hamburg
1885 Schimmel bei Leipzig (heute in Braunschweig)

BTW, Steinway was founded by Henry Steinway and his Son Theodor Steinway, both had originally the name Steinweg and came 1850, 3 years prior to the founding, from Baunschweig, Germany. Guess what, they owned the company Steinweg in Braunschweig and sold it to three of their employees, who changed the name later to... Grotrian-Steinweg... grin

BTW German companies are very innovative in general, also in piano building (see also the most recent years in the link above).

Hope this helps.




Edited by kawaian (02/22/10 08:50 AM)
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#1380189 - 02/22/10 08:49 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: sandalholme]
Russ Roberts Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/02/09
Posts: 242
Loc: Texas
Removed per poster's request.


Edited by Ken Knapp (02/22/10 06:21 PM)
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#1380191 - 02/22/10 08:51 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Russ Roberts]
Brandon_W_T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
Interesting comment there Russ.
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Home -
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Grandmas- New Hyundai petite baby grand

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1998 Bedient (Built about 45 minutes from me!) 2m/pedal 24 rank Cavaille-Coll style pipe organ

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#1380194 - 02/22/10 08:56 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Russ Roberts]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Are we getting out of arguments? Silly remark...
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#1380197 - 02/22/10 09:06 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: mucci]
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
"Russ Roberts: I'll put it simply: The reason God put so many trees in France was so the Germans could march in the shade.

Russ"


Russ - this is an idiotic and racist remark. The person historically famous for planting avenues of trees so that armies could march in the shade is Napoleon.

=====

Getting back to the developmental history, here are a few extracts, mostly from Wikipedia:

It is mostly, Italian, German, French and English. Minimally American.

"The modern piano (the pianoforte) was developed from the harpsichord around 1720, by Bartolomeo Cristofori of Padua, Italy.. The first upright piano was made around 1780 by Johann Schmidt of Salzburg, Austria. Thomas Loud of London developed an upright piano whose strings ran diagonally (in 1802).

in the period lasting from about 1790 to 1860, the piano underwent tremendous changes that led to the modern form of the instrument, in response to a preference by composers and pianists for a more powerful, sustained piano sound.
Early technological progress owed much to the firm of Broadwood. John Broadwood joined with another Scot, Robert Stodart, and a Dutchman, Americus Backers, to design a piano in the harpsichord case—the origin of the "grand". They achieved this in about 1777.

By the 1820s, the center of innovation had shifted to Paris, where the Pleyel firm manufactured pianos used by Frédéric Chopin and the Érard firm manufactured those used by Franz Liszt. In 1821, Sébastien Érard invented the double escapement action, which permitted a note to be repeated even if the key had not yet risen to its maximum vertical position. The double escapement action gradually became standard in grand pianos, and is still incorporated into all grand pianos currently produced.

One of the major technical innovations that helped to create the sound of the modern piano was the use of a strong iron frame. The single piece cast iron frame was patented in 1825 in Boston by Alpheus Babcock, combining the metal hitch pin plate (1821, claimed by Broadwood on behalf of Samuel Hervé) and resisting bars (Thom and Allen, 1820, but also claimed by Broadwood and Érard). Other innovations for the mechanism included the use of felt hammer coverings instead of layered leather hammers. Felt hammers, which were first introduced by Henri Pape in 1826, were a more consistent material, permitting wider dynamic ranges as hammer weights and string tension increased. The sostenuto pedal (see below), invented in 1844 by Jean Louis Boisselot and improved by the German Steinway firm in 1874, allowed a wider range of effects.

Other important technical innovations of this era included changes to the way the piano was strung, such as the use of a "choir" of three strings rather than two for all but the lower notes, and the use of different stringing methods. With the over strung scale, also called "cross-stringing", the strings are placed in a vertically overlapping slanted arrangement, with two heights of bridges on the soundboard instead of just one. This permits larger, but not necessarily longer, strings to fit within the case of the piano. Over stringing was invented by Jean-Henri Pape during the 1820s, and first patented for use in grand pianos in the United States by Henry Steinway, Jr. (of German descent) in 1859."
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#1380208 - 02/22/10 09:21 AM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: AJB]
Brandon_W_T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
Im part German. Of course I am not happy of what happened during world war 2. Should it ever happen again?... Absolutely not. Should we remember it, absolutely.

I love learning about the war, and knowing what all happened. I dont like people who make fun of it, deny it, or blame others for it.
_________________________
______
Home -
1905 Story and Clark Art Case smile

--NEW!--- 1964ish Conn 640 vacuum tube theatre organ! (with leslie!) smile

Grandmas- New Hyundai petite baby grand

Church (the organ I practice on)-
1998 Bedient (Built about 45 minutes from me!) 2m/pedal 24 rank Cavaille-Coll style pipe organ

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#1380348 - 02/22/10 01:11 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: Brandon_W_T]
James Senior Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/08
Posts: 342
Loc: England
Hear hear Brandon.

I'm half German.
What people say about German workmanship is mostly true. Apprentiships on their level don't exist in England. Regarding mass produced items, I'm afraid that they rely a lot on past reputation. Mercedes certainly are not what they were. What's more, I happen to know that parts made in england for VW are stamped made in Germany. Nothing is clear. Equally nothing is clear with who invented what. I've seen dozens of 'we invented the full cast iron frame', from Collard and Collard in England to Ibach, founded in 1794 building organs initially, in Germany.

One thing I will definitely contest is that they don't invent. Look at the high number of artists, engineers and scientists from Germany.

I think it's fair to say that the average German piano is above the average made in the world. However when it comes to 'best', they are only equal with certain american, australian, austrian, Italian, and Japanese makers (I've probably missed out some). Hopefully, with the ability of forums like these, the smaller maker will have more chance of survival. I hope someday the reformed Pleyel can be added back onto my list for example :-)

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#1380364 - 02/22/10 01:26 PM Re: German this...German that, What's all the fuss???? [Re: James Senior]
Brandon_W_T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
Well they did sure make history.

I have ridden down the road near Heidelberg, of which the very first car was driven on by Mr. Karl Benz!

Now how is that for a great invention!?! They also made excellent planes, The greatest tanks in the first 50 years. Best guns etc.

Did you know Steinway bought the Daimler motor company producing petrol engines for tramway cars, carriages, quadricycles, fire engines and boats? There is a neat fact for you.


Edited by Brandon_W_T (02/22/10 01:29 PM)
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Home -
1905 Story and Clark Art Case smile

--NEW!--- 1964ish Conn 640 vacuum tube theatre organ! (with leslie!) smile

Grandmas- New Hyundai petite baby grand

Church (the organ I practice on)-
1998 Bedient (Built about 45 minutes from me!) 2m/pedal 24 rank Cavaille-Coll style pipe organ

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