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#1990596 - 11/25/12 06:40 AM C. Bechstein v. Steinway
Inchoate Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/15/12
Posts: 4
Loc: USA
I am considering a mid-90s Steinway L and a late 90s C. Bechstein M-180. Both are in very good condition and sound fabulous, but different. I'm wondering if any readers have observations about these pianos, particularly the technical reputation of the Bechstein? Thank you.

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#1990736 - 11/25/12 03:16 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
Bechstein should need no introduction. It is a world-class piano, and all other things being equal, a better instrument than what Steinway was building in the '90s.
_________________________
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#1990944 - 11/26/12 05:33 AM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
Steinway has an American tone, while Bechstein has an European sound, which may be too "light" for the american taste.

Both are world-class pianos.
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Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991048 - 11/26/12 11:42 AM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Gadzar]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
Originally Posted By: Gadzar
Steinway has an American tone, while Bechstein has an European sound, which may be too "light" for the american taste.

Both are world-class pianos.



That's an incredibly simplistic view, and an inaccurate one, as well, IMO.
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#1991101 - 11/26/12 01:44 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
beethoven986:

Of course it is a simplistic view, it takes only two lines of text.

But to be more accurate and elaborate a little on what I mean I will quote Mr. Larry Fine, author of the well known and very high reputed "The Piano Book". In page 85 of the third edition one can read:

The tone of Bechstein grands is what one might call "classically European". It is very clean and thin in the treble and emphasizes the fundamental rather than harmonics in the bass. Those of us who grew up on the sound of American pianos may find the Bechstein sound somewhat alien, though interesting. I personally find it to be quite lovely at low volumes, the clearly articulated attack giving it a delicate character, but sometimes find it too bright for my taste at higher volumes. I also prefer a more pronounced singing quality and a heavier action than the Bechstein provides. These are, of course, a matter of personal preference; many pianists revere the Bechstein, and it is considered to be one of the world's pre-eminent pianos.

IMO, this "thinness" in the treble is what characterizes the "European tone". One can find the same kind of thinness in the Bösendorfers and Petrofs.

I agree with you that Bechstein is a world-class piano, but IMO it is not better than Steinway.

There are several great brands of pianos: Bechstein, Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Falcone, Fazioli, August Förster, Grotrian, Mason & Hamlin, Steinway.

Which is better?

For me it is a matter of personal preference, as says Mr. Fine. When speaking of pianos, nothing is written in stone. Two identical pianos, same brand, same model, same year of manufacture, will sound different and will play (feel) different.





Edited by Gadzar (11/26/12 01:56 PM)
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#1991112 - 11/26/12 02:09 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: beethoven986]
lluiscl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/10/06
Posts: 145
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Gadzar
Steinway has an American tone, while Bechstein has an European sound, which may be too "light" for the american taste.

Both are world-class pianos.



That's an incredibly simplistic view, and an inaccurate one, as well, IMO.


I agree.
The newest concert series D-280 from Bechstein are simply incredible. All less light.
Probably Mr. Fine needs an updated...

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#1991114 - 11/26/12 02:11 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21296
Loc: Oakland
I just think they sound different. Deciding between them is a matter of taste.
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Semipro Tech

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#1991203 - 11/26/12 06:17 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Dave B Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1906
Loc: Philadelphia area
Bechstein.... what is there to discuss?

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#1991236 - 11/26/12 08:01 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2401
Loc: Olympia, WA
The Steinway will have better resale value.
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#1991257 - 11/26/12 09:34 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
I've not found a good example in Youtube of a C. Bechstein, but
listen to that thin (light) treble of the "European Tone":

Victor Borge playing Debussy's Clair de Lune on a Bösendorfer.

Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_evCoEVaTQE


Definitely, I prefer the more robust and deeper sound of Steinways.



Edited by Gadzar (11/26/12 10:06 PM)
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#1991261 - 11/26/12 09:58 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: lluiscl]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: lluiscl

I agree.
The newest concert series D-280 from Bechstein are simply incredible. All less light.
Probably Mr. Fine needs an updated...


Here is the update:

C. Bechstein grands are impeccably made in Europe with the customary brighter tone that Europeans prefer, and may need considerable voicing to suit the American musical taste. (However, several of my colleagues had high praise for the wide dynamic range, tonal color, and responsive action of the recently redesigned 7' 8" model C grand.) The company maintains that since voicing is a matter of overall piano design, their pianos are voiced at the factory to their tonal standard and should not be altered. Some customers may still prefer the slightly warmer sound of the Academy grands, which are also about half the price.

Extracted from the Fine's web site, fall 2012.

You can read it complete here:

http://www.pianobuyer.com/fall12/154.html






Edited by Gadzar (11/26/12 10:03 PM)
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Rafael Melo
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rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991278 - 11/26/12 11:30 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Gadzar]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
Originally Posted By: Gadzar
Originally Posted By: lluiscl

I agree.
The newest concert series D-280 from Bechstein are simply incredible. All less light.
Probably Mr. Fine needs an updated...


Here is the update:

C. Bechstein grands are impeccably made in Europe with the customary brighter tone that Europeans prefer, and may need considerable voicing to suit the American musical taste. (However, several of my colleagues had high praise for the wide dynamic range, tonal color, and responsive action of the recently redesigned 7' 8" model C grand.) The company maintains that since voicing is a matter of overall piano design, their pianos are voiced at the factory to their tonal standard and should not be altered. Some customers may still prefer the slightly warmer sound of the Academy grands, which are also about half the price.

Extracted from the Fine's web site, fall 2012.

You can read it complete here:

http://www.pianobuyer.com/fall12/154.html



No offense to Mr. Fine, but I wouldn't take that too literally.
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
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#1991284 - 11/26/12 11:53 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
You are entitled to your own preferences. If you like C. Bechstein over other pianos there is no offense to anyone.

That said, there is a notorious difference in tone between C. Bechstein and Steinway.

So, to answer the OP's question: I think both are superb pianos, none is better than the other IMO, it is a matter of personal taste.

Steinway favors harmonics in the bass, while Bechstein favors fundamentals. In the treble Bechstein is brighter than Steinway. Bechstein have lighter actions than Steinway. These are objective (measurable) differences in touch and tone. They exist for real and are not subject to personal interpretations.

The point is knowing what the differences are to decide which piano you prefer.



Edited by Gadzar (11/27/12 02:57 AM)
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991349 - 11/27/12 06:39 AM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7247
Loc: France
I would not say that Bechteins of the 90 are lighter than Steinway Raphaël, nor that they are known for their bright treble, that sounds to be quite the opposite in my opinion (sorry)

Treble of the Bechstein may sound a little weak (for the models with agrafes all along the top) while the treble of Steiwnay (Hamburg) is well reputed as the better part of the scale.

The Steinway action can be made light or no (again, Hamburg, I dont know really for the NY one , the ones I have seen have more lead in the keys than the German ones, possibly my answer is not taking that in account then)


best regards
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#1991367 - 11/27/12 08:12 AM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Gadzar]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Gadzar
The tone of Bechstein grands is what one might call "classically European". It is very clean and thin in the treble and emphasizes the fundamental rather than harmonics in the bass. Those of us who grew up on the sound of American pianos may find the Bechstein sound somewhat alien, though interesting. I personally find it to be quite lovely at low volumes, the clearly articulated attack giving it a delicate character, but sometimes find it too bright for my taste at higher volumes. I also prefer a more pronounced singing quality and a heavier action than the Bechstein provides. These are, of course, a matter of personal preference; many pianists revere the Bechstein, and it is considered to be one of the world's pre-eminent pianos.
Extracted from the Fine's web site, fall 2012.
The Bechsteins I played at the NYC Bechstein Center(now closed) fit this description quite well.


Edited by pianoloverus (11/27/12 08:16 AM)

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#1991418 - 11/27/12 10:21 AM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Olek]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: Kamin
I would not say that Bechteins of the 90 are lighter than Steinway Raphaël, nor that they are known for their bright treble, that sounds to be quite the opposite in my opinion (sorry)

Treble of the Bechstein may sound a little weak (for the models with agrafes all along the top) while the treble of Steiwnay (Hamburg) is well reputed as the better part of the scale.

...

...

best regards



???

I don't know if I understand what you mean. You say that treble of Bechsteins is a litle weak and that in the Steinways this is the better part of the scale.

That is in accordance with what I say. Apparently we all have the same impression of the treble of Bechsteins: I used the word "light treble", you say "weak treble", Larry Fine says "thin treble". I think we are saying the same with different words.

About Steinways, I said "more robust" opposed to "light", you say "the better part of the scale" opposed to "weak", Larry Fine says "more pronounced singing quality" opposed to "thin".

I guess the three of us are talking the same, using our own different words.
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991430 - 11/27/12 10:53 AM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1703
Loc: London, England
I don't know much about the smaller pianos but both of the recent (2-3yrs old) 9' Bechsteins I have serviced have been found capable of a big round treble without a lot of work. The rest of the piano matched beautifully.

I don't know if current pianos are made the same as they were in the '90's but that's been my albeit limited experience of current Bechsteins. The much older, smaller Bechsteins are also capable of fuller trebles than the way they are generally presented.

Same goes for Blüthner.



Edited by rxd (11/27/12 11:01 AM)
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#1991437 - 11/27/12 11:12 AM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: rxd]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: rxd
... Bechsteins I have serviced have been found capable of a big round treble without a lot of work...


Found capable ... without a lot of work!

Mr. Fine says that you must voice the Bechsteins to meet the "American" taste.

Come on guys! I can not believe it!

I am really surprised that every one is trying to negate what surprised me the first time I played a concert grand Bechstein:

It has a tiny, thin, light, weak, bright, you name it, treble!!!
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991438 - 11/27/12 11:13 AM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7247
Loc: France
sorry Raphael, my limited vocabulary.

The all agrafes Bechstein can have a nice round treble but limited in dynamics.

The Bluethner of that era have the larger dynamics and power I ever gind on a small piano.. you simply cannot have them saturate, and the tone is bright and full, all that I like.

Bechstein tend to "crash" sooner due to their large iH and spectral differences within the unissons... that gives them a very pleasing tone at softer levels.
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#1991443 - 11/27/12 11:28 AM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
But let the OP tell us what is his experience,

Have you played both pianos?

What are your thoughts about their tone and feeling (touch)?

Which one do you prefer?
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991475 - 11/27/12 12:29 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
lluiscl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/10/06
Posts: 145
Kamin: the recent Bechstein's don't have agraffes in the treble: they use capo bar and look (and sound) like an Hamburg (in my taste the D280 better). They change everything respect the old ones (which had too short scales and high iH).
Rafael, amigo: listen it with a good earphones and tell me if it has tiny sound...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyFDzw0ENqo

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#1991478 - 11/27/12 12:31 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1703
Loc: London, England
Sorry, I only know what I know. Both Bechsteins 9' grands i worked on were of current manufacture. They were well played in and ready for tone regulation. On both occasions I was asked by a prominent concert pianist to service these instruments. In my pitiful innocence regarding what Mr Fine says, I tailored the pianos to what I knew the pianists wanted. I was able to make them both very full at all dynamic ranges.

While I must admit the instruments I saw at the Berlin showroom were somewhat thin sounding, this was due to the treatment they were getting there, I knew from my factory tour that there had to be more there.

The ones I worked on (in rooms of approx 800-1000 seats) came up beautifully.

Sorry to be such a disappointment and please give my apologies to Mr. Fine, he seems to be very Important.

Hey, what is the American taste in piano tone, anyways? And where does anybody get off trying to be the arbiter of this? I was there for 30-odd years. All I know is that when given the option of thin and weak or full and strong, 'they' always chose full and strong like their coffee. Maybe it's just down to the sort of American I chose to associate with.
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#1991485 - 11/27/12 12:52 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
Now you will say that all pianos around the world sound the same.

That there is no difference between asian, european and american pianos.

That voicing a piano can satisfy any pianist's taste, and so on...

I'm sorry, but that's not true. There are indeed different and characteristic tones. Chinesse pianos would never sound as German pianos, no matter how you voice and how you regulate them.

As I said before touch and tone are actual facts, measurable with instruments and not personal subjective interpretations.



Edited by Gadzar (11/27/12 12:53 PM)
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991500 - 11/27/12 01:23 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: lluiscl]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: lluiscl
...


Rafael, amigo: listen it with a good earphones and tell me if it has tiny sound...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyFDzw0ENqo


It sounds great. I've never said it doesn't. I've said it's a superb instrument.

Unfortunately, this piece is full of chords in the bass and tenor, so it's not a good example to try to analyse the treble's tone.

But I've worked on many S&S and not so many C. Bechsteins and I know for sure how they sound like. They're indeed different, in sound and touch, and all I am trying to do is to describe what I've heard.

I have no other intention than trying to translate into words what I hear.

To my personal taste, yes I prefer Steinway, but I know there are many that prefer C. Bechstein and I respect them.

Can you tell me what differences if any do you find between Steinway and C. Bechstein?



Edited by Gadzar (11/27/12 01:23 PM)
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991522 - 11/27/12 02:11 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1703
Loc: London, England
Sorry, Raphael, we seem to be touching a nerve.

You did not read exactly what I wrote and now you are attempting a 'reductio ad absurdam'.

It makes everything you wrote after you wrote "next you will be saying....." seem a trifle silly when it is understood that you are employing this cheap arguing technique.

Please make your point another way and I will be happy to listen.
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#1991529 - 11/27/12 02:23 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
I don´t matter care what makes you happy at all.

If you're happy better for you, if not then I'm sorry.

Can you tell please what differences you find between Bechstein and Steinway?

Have you any experience with Steinway?

You have said nothing about it!



Edited by Gadzar (11/27/12 02:29 PM)
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991542 - 11/27/12 02:42 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: rxd]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: rxd
...

Sorry to be such a disappointment and please give my apologies to Mr. Fine, he seems to be very Important.

Hey, what is the American taste in piano tone, anyways? And where does anybody get off trying to be the arbiter of this? I was there for 30-odd years...



Another question:

Must I understand that you've worked on pianos for 30 years and in all that time you have not read the Larry Fine's "The piano Book"?
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991563 - 11/27/12 03:35 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1703
Loc: London, England
Raphael,

Apart from a misunderstanding of my context, which may be a cultural thing, picking on just one word and taking it out of context is also a cheap arguing trick.

Approx 90% of my work is currently with Hamburg Steinways. I am 10 years out of touch with NY Steinways.

As I have worked at some time or other for many of the manufacturers and still do, I prefer not to be drawn into making direct comparisons between them. strange, I know, particularly since it puts me in an ideal position to make comparisons, but I'm sure you can understand. I work best with whatever happens to be in front of me with little regard for who made it.
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#1991578 - 11/27/12 04:06 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1603
Loc: Mexico City
I understand,

But you spontaneously did say that you voiced out the two Bechsteins to a big round treble.

What about Steinways you work on?

How do you describe their treble's tone?


PS: Have you read "The Piano Book"?
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1991591 - 11/27/12 04:29 PM Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway [Re: Inchoate]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1703
Loc: London, England
Sorry, Raphael, I missed your interim post. Yes, I read the original Larry Fine epistle as many of us did and remember it clearly. I still thumb throgh a copy occasionally when I'm in a piano store. They give it away in piano stores here. If I want to know about a certain piano I can go look for myself.

My colleagues in the Conservatories are deeply interested in how pianos hold up when tested to destruction by 14 hours a day of abuse by students who haven't yet mastered the art of tone production but still sometimes hammer away at huge two fisted piano concertos in small rooms with the lid down.

This is a whole different ball game.

I am fortunate enought to have not seen a Chinese or Korean piano for many years but am interested in how they might hold up in extremis. Larry doesn't help me here and nor is it his intention. Is there yet a chapter on this?
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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