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#2101642 - 06/12/13 06:45 PM Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos !
AZ_Astro Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 428
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Yesterday my son and I took a trip up to North Scottsdale to visit the Yamaha piano dealer showroom and, as a bonus, I set up an appointment to stop by and see Ravenscroft Pianos, a builder of world-class custom pianos. I want to report on the very special visit we had at Ravenscroft.

We first spent several hours at the Yamaha Dealer playing new Yamahas, vintage rebuilt Steinways, and a new Bosendorfer, then zipped on over to Ravenscroft Pianos, not knowing at all what to expect. There we met Michael Spreeman, long-standing registered piano technician and now President of Ravenscroft Pianos, which opened for business in 2004. He introduced us to his son, Andrew, who works alongside in this family-owned business.

As background on Ravenscroft Pianos, I would direct you to their website which is informative and highly professional. See: http://www.ravenscroftpianos.com/

Now – before you go any further with this -- take a listen to one of the audio recordings from the Ravenscroft website. I enjoyed the piece: “Some Other Time” by Bob Ravenscroft. Then come back and continue! You can find the audio recordings at: http://www.ravenscroftpianos.com/audio.php

Are you with me now?! I find the tonality of these pianos to be quite expressive.

My son and I have been learning piano for less than two years so we are in our infancy when it comes to our knowledge of pianos, piano playing, and the piano manufacturing industry. I fully admit that my ear is just developing but I am able to detect some differences between brands of pianos. And our playing was certainly not up to the level of someone who could really appreciate the pianos that we were given the opportunity to play. That said, we were nonetheless thrilled with the opportunity to play these gems.

Ravenscroft has two models of grands: the 220 and the 275. The rim and case is made by Sauter in Germany and the two model numbers derive from the Sauter models with the same model numbers. I took a photo of a rim+case that had recently arrived from Germany and on which work had begun. See Photo.



We played both the 220 and the 275. I was particularly struck by how quietly I was able to play while the piano maintained rich voicing. Mr. Spreeman described that as a design feature that he works hard to implement.

Mr. Spreeman had some interesting comments about his custom pianos which I happened to record and can pass along here. Each piano that is produced is custom made to bring about the tonal qualities in the various registers that the customer desires.

***

“My specialty has to do with the soundboard design, the bridge design, the scale design, and the rib-to-scale design. And all of those have to do with producing a particular kind of sound. “

“If I’m building a piano for you, we’ll find out what you like…”

“An easy way to go is for you to tell me: ‘Gee, I really like a Hamburg Steinway Bass, and I really like a Yamaha treble, and the best tenor I’ve ever heard was the Bosendorfer.’ ”

“We obsess with the action because it is interconnected with the psychomechanical aspects of playing. Mechanics affect sound, and sound quality affects mechanics and it’s often difficult to tell them apart. “ [I paraphrased this comment.]

“Piano artists will say they want a velvety richness when they play softly and a really powerful articulate sound as you come up through the higher volume ranges.”

“The tolerance from key to key is usually plus or minus 3 grams of resistance, controllable by positioning lead weights in the keys. Our tolerances are 1/10 of a gram.”

***

Mr. Spreeman demonstrated duplex scaling for me, which I was unaware of. I actually made a video of that and could try to post that at some point after editing.

There is more, but I think this is enough! Pics attached and -- hey -- I got a Piano Hat out of it! Bonus Time!

The visit was delightful and illuminating and we really enjoyed meeting Mr. Spreeman and his son.

My son Ryan plays the 220. You can see part of the shop in the back.


Michael and Andrew Spreeman:


The Ravenscroft 220: Wow.


Out front of their shop. What a couple of good lookin' old guys. Heh heh. Check out the HAT!




Edited by AZ_Astro (06/12/13 07:15 PM)
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2101648 - 06/12/13 06:52 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: AZ_Astro]
dynamobt Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 644
Loc: NH
Your attachments don't work. All fixed!!


Edited by dynamobt (06/12/13 07:23 PM)
_________________________
1918 Mason & Hamlin BB





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#2101649 - 06/12/13 06:54 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: dynamobt]
AZ_Astro Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 428
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
All fixed.


Edited by AZ_Astro (06/12/13 07:22 PM)
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2101651 - 06/12/13 06:57 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: AZ_Astro]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7204
Loc: Rochester MN
Check your email, at the address you used when you uploaded the photos. The address of the uploaded image will be there and then you can embed it in your posting in the Full Reply Screen mode. It is one of the little buttons on the top of the reply field.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2101661 - 06/12/13 07:21 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: Minnesota Marty]
AZ_Astro Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 428
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Check your email, at the address you used when you uploaded the photos. The address of the uploaded image will be there and then you can embed it in your posting in the Full Reply Screen mode. It is one of the little buttons on the top of the reply field.


Thank you. This helped and it's all fixed.
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2101748 - 06/12/13 10:13 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: AZ_Astro]
Almaviva Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 583
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Sounds like a fun trip, Astro. One minor point - Sauter provides the plates for the Ravenscroft grands as well as the cases and rims.


Edited by Almaviva (06/12/13 10:14 PM)

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#2101750 - 06/12/13 10:16 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: AZ_Astro]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7204
Loc: Rochester MN
That sounds like a great trip. Thanks for sharing it with us!

I'm curious about the plates, too.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2101759 - 06/12/13 10:37 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: AZ_Astro]
AZ_Astro Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 428
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
In another thread, Michael Spreeman wrote:

"The plates are Sauter based and then modified here in our Scottsdale facility."

I looked at the website and found this:

http://www.ravenscroftpianos.com/275-features.php

"Sand Cast Plates

Only the highest grade gray iron combined with the best workmanship can accomplish create our cast iron frames or “"plates". The cast iron plate must withstand over 20 tons of string tension without any distortion and sand cast plates are the least prone to vibrating, thereby preventing unwelcome interference and sympathetic frequencies."
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2101865 - 06/13/13 08:49 AM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: AZ_Astro]
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2623
Loc: western Wisconsin
Having played a 275 this winter, I can safely say the Ravenscroft would be a serious step up from the pianos in your profile - perhaps you can see what he'll give you in trade toward that 220!

Seriously, in addition to the fine performance of his 275 at the NAMM show, I appreciated the "vibe" of being at their booth and speaking with Mr. Spreeman and his son. When you meet the founder, CEO, marketing executive, chief technician, etc. of a respected piano company, sometimes there's a rather haughty "air" with which they carry themselves (particularly if you're not there to place an order immediately). In the case of Ravenscroft, the opposite seemed to be true-- I was encouraged to play the piano as hard and as long as I wanted, crawl all over the instrument, and ask any question, no matter how inane.
_________________________
Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Casio px-200, Bechstein A190 #192939 @ home
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Schimmel 130T #339100, on loan

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#2101886 - 06/13/13 09:44 AM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: AZ_Astro]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10444
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
I've been lucky enough to have had a few meals and some in-depth discussions with Michael about his work.

The Ravenscroft, particularly when custom-built for a serious player, may well be THE ultimate piano to own.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#2102021 - 06/13/13 02:35 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: terminaldegree]
AZ_Astro Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 428
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Originally Posted By: terminaldegree
Having played a 275 this winter, I can safely say the Ravenscroft would be a serious step up from the pianos in your profile - perhaps you can see what he'll give you in trade toward that 220!


Ha ha! My son and I found (and purchased) a pretty nice used Kawai grand two weeks ago but we're still looking at pianos left and right! It has been a great experience to go out and try many different instruments.


Edited by AZ_Astro (06/13/13 02:35 PM)
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2102024 - 06/13/13 02:43 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: Steve Cohen]
AZ_Astro Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 428
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
The Ravenscroft, particularly when custom-built for a serious player, may well be THE ultimate piano to own.


I think there is a market for custom pianos of the highest quality and I, for one, really appreciate the work that has gone into making these fine instruments.
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2102031 - 06/13/13 03:15 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: AZ_Astro]
PaintedPostDave Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/09/10
Posts: 518
Loc: Upstate New York
While looking at the pictures in the Ravenscroft web site I see that there is a Bob Ravenscroft who donated a piano to the TCA but he is not the owner of Ravenscroft Pianos. Could you tell us about the relationship of Bob Ravenscroft to Ravenscroft Pianos?

BTW, thanks for posting your experiences. smile
_________________________
Dave Koenig
Yamaha M1A console
1927 Knabe 7' 8" grand
https://sites.google.com/site/analysisofsoundsandvibrations/

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#2102116 - 06/13/13 05:54 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: AZ_Astro]
AZ_Astro Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 428
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Bob Ravenscroft was on the faculty at Arizona State University when Michael Spreeman was lead technician. He was the inspiration for the first Ravenscroft piano. I do not know if there is an ongoing business arrangement at present but three of the sound clips of the Ravenscroft pianos were played by Mr. Ravenscroft.

Mr. Spreeman posted the following in another thread.

"The Ravenscroft name is because of Bob Ravenscroft, but not in the sense you are assuming. I began working with Mr. Ravenscroft when I was head piano technician at ASU back in the ‘80’s. He is a “free jazz” player and was attempting to do things that his piano couldn’t (whispery soft passages, fast repetition, very broad dynamics, etc. Yes yes, I know, these are things any good piano should be able to do, right? Well, hold that thought and then multiply by 2 or 3). I finally went to him and said that he had a choice: either purchase a new piano, or “what if”? I offered to find a 9’ rim and plate and rebuild the piano to cater to his needs. This is what we did, and somehow the piano actually turned out alright. I’ve chosen to name my pianos in honor of that first commission (and I think Ravenscroft looks better on the fallboard than Spreeman smile )."

Here is the thread.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1747884/2.html

***


Edited by AZ_Astro (06/13/13 06:02 PM)
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2103306 - 06/16/13 12:33 PM Re: Trip Report to Ravenscroft Pianos ! [Re: AZ_Astro]
AZ_Astro Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 428
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
The Ravenscroft 220 was on display at the NAMM 2012.

There is a YouTube video of Stevie Wonder playing it. It seemed too noisy of an environment for him to be able to make anything of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEYP5l9nI-8
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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