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#1392227 - 03/09/10 01:57 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Del]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19284
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Del


We are accustomed to comparing the size of grands strictly on the measure of their length. But this is only part of the story. Pianos also have width and aesthetic bulk. When I laid out the scales and drew the rims on both of these pianos I wanted them to be a compact as possible given their length and their acoustical requirements. Consequently they are narrower than average by several inches. Their “waists” tuck in rather sooner than most; that is, the treble curve is set closer to the front of the piano so the length of the straight treble arm is shorter....

The Steinway B is a good example of what I’m talking about. Even though it was designed during an era when competitive pianos were getting wider and bulkier the B is relatively narrow both across the keyboard and the tail. And, while other pianos have at least equaled the performance—many are arguably superior—the B has remained a long-term favorite among both pianists and decorators. I am convinced that its svelte aesthetic has played a significant role in its popularity over the years. (Incidentally, all of the shorter Steinway models share this trait. They are all some on the narrow side.)
I have certainly noticed the Steinway "svelte shape" especially compared with my Mason BB. I always thought Masons looked very fat from the side(not talking about the front keyboard view which is I think definitely a few inches wider than most becasue of rim thickness). I used to think the rim was longer vertically from top to bottom, but if I remember correctly(not really sure?), I brought this up on another thread and it wasn't longer vertically. So I'm beginning to wonder if the Mason looks pleasnatly plump because the waist tucks in later than a Steinway B. Or is it the wide tail on the Mason or both or...?

Are there any special piano diets available?

Are there any other makers whose aesthetic is particularly svelte like Steinway or Walter?


Edited by pianoloverus (03/09/10 02:09 PM)

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#1392455 - 03/09/10 08:12 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: pianoloverus]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

Are there any other makers whose aesthetic is particularly svelte like Steinway or Walter?


I can't think of any myself.

It is obvious how some pianos of the same size look bulky when sitting beside a Walter.

I was in the Seattle area on the weekend at a Piano Technicians Guild Conference.
I saw a 5'7" / 170cm grand that was so wide it appeared to be no more than 5'1"
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#1392463 - 03/09/10 08:36 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5253
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

Are there any other makers whose aesthetic is particularly svelte like Steinway or Walter?


I can't think of any myself.

It is obvious how some pianos of the same size look bulky when sitting beside a Walter.

I was in the Seattle area on the weekend at a Piano Technicians Guild Conference.
I saw a 5'7" / 170cm grand that was so wide it appeared to be no more than 5'1"

Well, an enlarged 5' 1" grand. So I wasn't the only one who noticed the proportions of that piano.

And, speaking of really short pianos, I have measured a few early 4' 10" to 5' grands that are as wide as they are long. To my eye these grands look squat and fat. Especially when compared to some of the lovely Knabe, Chickering, Everett, etc., short grands of the same era that were only 53" to 54" wide. I'd much rather build a piano that is 5' 3" long and 54" wide that actually takes up less floor space and has a longer, cleaner sounding bass.

ddf


Edited by Del (03/09/10 08:41 PM)
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#1392466 - 03/09/10 08:47 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Del]
zxcjason Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 166
Loc: Vancouver, BC
I'm just curious why some piano manufacturers make piano wider than others. Is it simply easier to design (perhaps it's less cramped?), or is it actually could be a feature that provides something musically?

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#1392477 - 03/09/10 09:06 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: zxcjason]
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2079
Originally Posted By: zxcjason
I'm just curious why some piano manufacturers make piano wider than others. Is it simply easier to design (perhaps it's less cramped?), or is it actually could be a feature that provides something musically?


Me, too. I had understood that in many cases it is the desire for longer bass strings that drives extra width, for the following reason. One way to get longer bass strings in a piano of limited length is to angle the bass strings more. But to do this, in order to keep the strike point in the sweet spot, the portion of the string that is in front of the hammer of the #1 string has to jut out beyond the left end of the keyboard.

Maybe this can still be accomplished by moving the #1 hammer inward from (to the right of) the #1 key. This would be achieved by having the lowest keys kick to the right as they go over the balance rail.

Of course the other reason might be just to have more soundboard surface. But I don't think quantity over quality is the right idea here. From what I understand, uprights have large soundboards, relatively speaking, and this is part of the reason the treble often sounds inferior to grands.
_________________________
Charles Lang
Working on: A Night in Tunisia; Memories of Tomorrow (Keith Jarrett).
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Baldwin Model R (1974), Hardman 5'9" grand (1915), Rieger-Kloss 42.5" vertical

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#1392488 - 03/09/10 09:22 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Del]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted By: Del
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

Are there any other makers whose aesthetic is particularly svelte like Steinway or Walter?


I can't think of any myself.

It is obvious how some pianos of the same size look bulky when sitting beside a Walter.

I was in the Seattle area on the weekend at a Piano Technicians Guild Conference.
I saw a 5'7" / 170cm grand that was so wide it appeared to be no more than 5'1"

Well, an enlarged 5' 1" grand. So I wasn't the only one who noticed the proportions of that piano.

ddf


I actually said "That must be the most expensive 5 footer I have ever seen". Only to find out it was 5'7"
My opinion was based on first glance.
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#1393084 - 03/10/10 05:38 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
Kevin_dup1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/02
Posts: 335
Loc: Illinois
You can't go wrong with either model -- pick the one you like based on your preferences for tone and touch. I can say that the 175 we have at church is an excellent piano that's held up well in our sanctuary. The piano sounds like a larger instrument, particularly the bass, which is deep and clear. I do like the way the Walter grands look; they do take up comparatively less space. The 175, which is similar in size to my Steinberg IQ77 at home, looks like a longer piano than the IQ77; the Steinberg looks "stubby" in comparison (but I do love the tone!).

Kevin

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#1393266 - 03/10/10 10:18 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Kevin_dup1]
Uncle George Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/08/10
Posts: 101
Loc: FL, USA
I agree with Del regarding the aesthetics of the Steinway B. I think it probably is the most beautifully proportioned of pianos. In a previous post I believe I compared them to beauty of line of a race horse.

The opinion of Russ Ruberts' wife validates my worry with the skinny legs of Baldwin L.
For years it bothered me that the nice line of the instrument was totally ruined by the legs which looked out of proportion. I no longer own the Baldwin and my present instrument, though "fat" or better "pleasantly plump" has really thick legs. (Pianoloverus: I am borrowing your most appropriate expression, hope you don't mind )

I have never seen a Walter piano, but I can easily imagine it must look superb.




Uncle Geoge

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#1393324 - 03/11/10 12:19 AM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: zxcjason]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5253
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: zxcjason
I'm just curious why some piano manufacturers make piano wider than others. Is it simply easier to design (perhaps it's less cramped?), or is it actually could be a feature that provides something musically?

Back in the old days of hand drafting full size piano plan drawing, yes, drawing a nice, tight design was more difficult. Accuracy was both important and difficult to achieve. It was time consuming. As well, if you spend much time examining plates made before the advent of NC controlled machines you'll see just how inaccurate the spacing of components such as agraffes and hitchpins can be.

Computerized drawing and drafting programs, along with NC controlled machines, has improved both drafting accuracy and drilling accuracy making it much easier both to design and build pianos with tighter component spacing.

I cannot think of any acoustical advantage to making pianos wider than necessary for adequate hammer and action parts spacing, agraffe spacing, etc.



Originally Posted By: charleslang
Me, too. I had understood that in many cases it is the desire for longer bass strings that drives extra width, for the following reason. One way to get longer bass strings in a piano of limited length is to angle the bass strings more. But to do this, in order to keep the strike point in the sweet spot, the portion of the string that is in front of the hammer of the #1 string has to jut out beyond the left end of the keyboard.

In theory this is true. But until you get up to the string angles used in vertical pianos—typically upwards of 30°—the increased length potential is not really all that great. Using string angles of this magnitude in a grand presents several problems not the least of which is the wide stereo effect caused by the widely separated bass and low tenor bridges. And, as you point out, excessive width of the piano.



Quote:
Maybe this can still be accomplished by moving the #1 hammer inward from (to the right of) the #1 key. This would be achieved by having the lowest keys kick to the right as they go over the balance rail.

It’s always a balancing act. Increasing string angles also dictates wider spacing at the bass/tenor break (for damper placement), increased action center spacing at the strike line (to keep the hammers from striking adjacent strings) and, ultimately, wider key flare which places an increasing load on the balance rail bushings (which then wear prematurely).



Quote:
Of course the other reason might be just to have more soundboard surface. But I don't think quantity over quality is the right idea here. From what I understand, uprights have large soundboards, relatively speaking, and this is part of the reason the treble often sounds inferior to grands.

In general piano soundboards are larger than required for best acoustic performance. Making them smaller through the tenor and treble areas actually improves performance.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1396342 - 03/15/10 02:02 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Del]
Always Wanted to Play Piano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 674
Loc: Chicago
Thanks everyone for this thread. I have enjoyed it and learned quite a bit.
_________________________

Casio Ap-200
Almost midway thru Alfred's All-In-One Book Two
Blogging my family's piano learning experiences: http://aw2pp.blogspot.com/

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#1396671 - 03/15/10 11:05 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Del]
Bach13 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 10
Now you've made me really curious. I have been trying to find a Charles Walter grand piano, but have only found uprights. Would you know any dealers in the New York metropolitan area (+/- 100 miles radius) who carry CW grands?

Thanks!
Bach13

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#1396691 - 03/15/10 11:37 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Bach13]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Whether or not you find one in the NY area, I think you should really hold out buying a piano until you tried one of the CW 190s. Of all the pianos I played in that size range, one particular CW still haunts me with it's beautiful sound. To be fair, I've only ever played one CW 190, but if it was representative of what the others could/should sound and play like, then I think they probably deserve to be compared to the 'best' pianos in the world. I ended up buying another piano that I love just as much, but sometimes my thoughts drift back to that piano. I think it's sound is what a great piano is supposed to sound like.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1396692 - 03/15/10 11:39 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Bach13]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5253
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Bach13
Now you've made me really curious. I have been trying to find a Charles Walter grand piano, but have only found uprights. Would you know any dealers in the New York metropolitan area (+/- 100 miles radius) who carry CW grands?

Thanks!
Bach13

No, sorry, I don't. You might call the factory and ask them. I'm not in a location just now where I can easily locate their factory phone numbers but you might check with the online version of the Piano Buyer. You can find an add for the Piano Buyer somewhere on the Piano Forum website.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#2103052 - 06/15/13 09:03 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Del]
tdv Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/13
Posts: 69
Loc: MI
I know that this is an old thread, but I recently got the chance to play both sizes of the Walter grand pianos side by side. I appreciated many of the comments on this thread. From my perspective, while I am NOT an expert, to my ears that Walter 175 was the more balanced piano - smooth throughout the whole range of notes. Nice tone, clarity, fullness, and yet gentleness. The 190 had more power in the bass (which I liked) but to my tastes a little too bright (harsh?) in some areas the treble (notably the lower treble). Of course I am sure that some hammer work could have adjusted those hammers to my particular tastes. But I was very impressed with the 175 as it stood and would have loved to have taken it home if I could have.
_________________________
1978 Charles Walter piano
1915 5"1' Weber
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#2103102 - 06/15/13 11:11 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: BeeKay]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2003
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
It is a shame that the almost all of the contemporary European and Asian grand piano designs have un-needed bulk in the rim and plate. They look so heavy, bulky and inelegant. Also they are designed with an overly wide strike line that bulks up the key-set which adds mass and slows down the touch. These makers are wasting money and resources that do nothing to improve the sound and feel of the piano. They seem intent on using rims with nearly the thickness of a concert grand on a 5' grand. The industry needs a wholesale adjustment to the scaling principles of the rim, plate and scale stick width.

I am glad Del has been able to influence some of this in the industry.
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2103118 - 06/15/13 11:50 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: BeeKay]
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Ed:

I noticed that you have made repeated representations here how much better you can do in regards to piano's overall function, action performance, enhanced tonality, balance etc

Here's a list of German/Italian manufacturers:

http://www.pianos.de/en/members/index.php?id=3

Why not contact them one by one making them aware of your expertise and the many improvements in design for their world products?

Trust me, most of these guys would be VERY interested to hear from you as product research and R&D is a strong part of their day-by-day operation.

Thinking that the Japanese and Chinese would be equally interested to hear from you.

Don't forget that other folks like Lothar Thomma, Stephan Mohler, Frank Emerson etc have long taken advantage of this[ highly paid...] job opportunity...

Serious.

Norbert thumb


Edited by Norbert (06/16/13 12:48 AM)
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#2103204 - 06/16/13 07:53 AM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: BeeKay]
Jolly Offline
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Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14051
Loc: Louisiana
I'd give my left..er..leg to own a CW190 and then I'd have to hang the piano from the ceiling due to space restrictions.

Alas, the price has gone up quite a bit and as I get closer to retirement, I'm loath to part with the cash.

But make no mistake, at the six-footish mark, it'll hold its own with with any competing marque. If I was a dealer, I'd get a nice, late model Steinway of the same size and display the two pianos side-by-side, prepped equally well.

And just let the people play...
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#2103299 - 06/16/13 12:08 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: BeeKay]
PattyP Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/07/04
Posts: 612
Loc: Texas
I had the opportunity to try a CW grand several years ago. I don't remember what size it was but in recollection I would put on the same plane as (current) Estonia. It was a very nice piano indeed.
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Patty

A tired dog is a good dog.

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#2103492 - 06/16/13 07:59 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: PattyP]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted By: PattyP
I had the opportunity to try a CW grand several years ago. I don't remember what size it was but in recollection I would put on the same plane as (current) Estonia. It was a very nice piano indeed.


Many would do the same even though the PianoBuyer does not. Larry Fine has said to me many times, part of the ratings are influenced by public perception. Sometimes I feel like that should be forum perception smile With Walter being off the radar it affects what people know about the instrument. With the low production numbers it Is difficult to break into the market and get the "word" out.
If the ratings were only influence by how a piano sounds, feels and the quality of materials, workmanship & design, the ratings would be changed on many makes.

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#2104034 - 06/17/13 08:14 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: BeeKay]
Theodore Slutz Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 07/03/10
Posts: 329
Loc: California
I can vouch for the Charles Walter. Being a new owner and a long time admirer, at least to me its a definite leap forward in comparison to my late Vogel. I'm only an occasional player that has a great desire to play more often if time permitted and I'm not that great, but when I sit down at the keyboard to unwind and escape into the world of music it does what I want it to without having to force it to. There's only a few pianos in my short playing life that have spoken to me like that and the Walter is one of them.

I agree with the lack of marketing affecting people's decisions on ALL products, pianos included... and Walters at that. I guess sometimes smaller companies may feel like going up against the substantially more funded companies like Steinway, who for years was backed - profitable or not - by the giant "CBS" and then later a banking consortium, is like throwing a glass of water into a towering inferno. However you have to do it and I don't know why they don't do more. Heck they don't even return emails, for both myself as well the dealership that i bought it from.

Its just too bad but it doesn't change my love of the piano, the company and the designer and builders. Amazing Piano.
_________________________
Charles Walter Model W (190)


“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” J.S. Bach


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#2104978 - 06/19/13 05:39 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: BeeKay]
PaintedPostDave Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/09/10
Posts: 540
Loc: Upstate New York
I always wondered what an "American" piano would sound like. Would an old Knabe qualify...how about a NY Steinway...or a Mason Hamlin...or a 1998 Baldwin? Those were or are made in America. What characterizes an "American" piano? confused
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#2104983 - 06/19/13 05:57 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: BeeKay]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7316
Loc: Rochester MN
It is not an "American" piano, it is an 'American Sound.'

Yes, it is a nebulous concept, but one which is readily identifiable. It developed in the United States during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century in the large transition period of piano building. The sound that developed was very different than the European counterparts. It was then that the term began to be used, based on very identifiable characteristics.

This dichotomy still exists. Find recordings of a S&S-Hamburg-D and an American-D and the difference in tonal structure becomes apparent. The pianos you mention all are closer in sound to a NY-Steinway than they are to a Bosendorfer, Sauter, Petrof, or Steingraeber.

It just takes some listening, and critical analysis, and the differences start to become apparent.

I hope this gives you some insight into the basic difference between the "American Sound" and the "European Sound."
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2104988 - 06/19/13 06:13 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: Minnesota Marty]
PaintedPostDave Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/09/10
Posts: 540
Loc: Upstate New York
Thanks, Marty. Your description is interesting and well put. thumb

My question was somewhat tongue-in-cheek because I have posted a couple of times on trying to quantify the comparison of American and European pianos using cumulative line spectrum maps and/or the spectral centroid.
_________________________
Dave Koenig
Yamaha M1A console
1927 Knabe 7' 8" grand
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#2104989 - 06/19/13 06:17 PM Re: Charles Walter grand piano opinions [Re: BeeKay]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7316
Loc: Rochester MN
It's just like learning to hear the difference between Brahms and Debussy. Tough to describe, but easy to hear!
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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