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#232603 - 05/29/08 09:59 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
Bob, I was expecting that David would get back today, but he has not. So let me try to give my much less informed opinion. Your hand size is in the lower part of the 15/16 zone, I believe. If you were playing on it you could play another key or two in your stretch. You could play wide interval chords more comfortably. If you have small fingers you could also play the 7/8 keyboard very well and gain another key. Some people prefer the 15/16 keyboard because there is less difference from the normal size and they can switch easier between keyboards with less adjustment. SMU, etc. research shows that when people practice and learn pieces on small keyboards, and then perform on a normal keyboard, they usually do fine. The extra stress and stretching of practice is greatly reduced and people learn pieces much easier and have much more confidence.
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#232604 - 05/29/08 11:14 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
 Quote:
Jordang, thanks so much for the time and energy you spent in describing all your journey. One has the impression that you lead a happy life with, among other things, a husband that after 30 years marriage is still full of attentions and devotes a lot of energy in your common "projects". Beautiful to read and best wishes and congratulations to both of you!
You are most welcome. We are glad that you are getting good information that you're interested in from our thread. Yes, I do lead a happy life right now and am truly thankful for my husband. Relationships and marriage is not always smooth sailing, as we all know; and one has to go through that tunnel of tubulence and problems and get to the other side to find a smooth patch in the road again. But it is worth it when you get there.


 Quote:
Do you think that such a keyboard ... may be beneficial also for people with no particular hand problems? ... I have, like you, thin fingers; is it fair to assume that a 7/8 keyboard would allow me *greater speed* and *greater ease of playing* even by smaller intervals, whilst the thin fingers would avoid the problem of "overcrowding"?... So this 7/8 must fall very "naturally" under the hand of people with thin fingers, right? Or to put it in a different way: if one has thin fingers, why should the 7/8 keyboard not be beneficial to him even if his hands would allow him to use the standard keyboard?
My opinion is that the smaller keyboard would be beneficial for people with thin fingers. It should allow one to play with greater speed and comfort, if that person has the ability, technique and talent to do so. I have been playing the piano since I was about five years old and, obviously adjusted to the standard key size. Since Joseph Hoffmann had keyboards that were adjusted to the size of his hand and he was such an amazing pianist, other people would excell as he did, don't you think? I found the 7/8 keyboard easy to adjust to, as I said earlier. I don't know how difficult it would be for a person who learned on a 7/8 keyboard to adjust to the larger key size. That is a question, perhaps, David or Dr. Carol Leone could better answer for you. I would be interested in their answer. Be sure and read Dr. Leone's lecture which is referenced on Steinbuhler's web site.

I am currently a public school teacher with plans to become a private and class piano teacher again in a few years when I retire. I plan to teach young children, especially 3, 4, and 5 year olds, on my Steinbuhler keyboard. Until then I have no personal data or experience to know how easy or difficult switching to a larger keyboard size would be for children. However, the universities are reporting how very easy and helpful the switching is for older people. Dr. Leone is now trying it with children in their Piano Preparatory Department. Be sure and read the story about the young boy performing Rachmaninov at a convention.
Boy at Convention
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#232605 - 05/30/08 12:20 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1905
Loc: El Cajon, CA
This idea of a reduced-size keyboard sounds very interesting. I don't have very small hands, but then they are still probably only 3/4 the size of Rachmaninoff's. There have been times when I've wanted to play 12ths, 13ths, or even 15ths, but have been unable to. \:\(

This is my hand playing an easy 8th (octave)


Here is a 10th, the largest I play on a regular basis.

(White to white is easier than white to black, but I can do some white to black. One of the hardest for me though, of the white to black, is C# to F separated by an octave+.)

Just for fun, I took this pic of me attempting a 12th. I have to press down the one key with one finger, use a finger on my other hand to press the other key, and SSTTRREETTCCHH my thumb to grab onto the corner of the other key.


That's my old upright that has a conventional size keyboard. If it weren't for the fact that I'm looking for another upright on a less-than-$500 budget AND the fact that David Steinbuhler said in an earlier post that he doesn't retrofit into just any upright, I'd consider getting it installed into either a 1950s Baldwin Hamilton, or a 147cm/58" or taller upright.

FWIW, on the cheap 2-3 octave toy keyboards that Casio & Yamaha have made (the ones designed for kids with narrow & small keys) I can reach a 13th fairly easily, and a 14th with a bit of a stretch. I suspect I could reach a 15th with a similar stretch to what I did with the 12th on my full-size-keyboard piano.
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#232606 - 05/30/08 01:11 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
So what you need is a bunch of tuning jobs to pay for the best Charles Walters vertial console with a small keyboard. Then you could quit dreaming and play 10ths and 12ths easily. \:D And have a much better piano to boot. Even play 14ths in your edge playing way which I have used... can't do it very fast though.
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#232607 - 05/30/08 01:30 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1905
Loc: El Cajon, CA
Actually, I'd rather have it installed in a Baldwin Hamilton (one of the older ones - pre-1960).

oh well... wishful thinking...
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#232608 - 05/30/08 07:47 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
88 key..i did just what you did..I didn't consider
that an easy 10th..that's why I said a 9th comfortably.. I think our hands are of a similar size..which I believe is large for me,I'm only a 5'5 adult... \:D Bob

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#232609 - 05/30/08 05:33 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1905
Loc: El Cajon, CA
I'm about 5'11" to 6'0" or so - haven't measured recently though. :p

I guess my hands are too small to comfortably play 15ths, though. \:\(
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#232610 - 05/30/08 07:43 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1720
 Quote:
Originally posted by David Steinbuhler:
But there is no substitute for a pianist actually experiencing the keyboards. [/b]
When that means that I had to travel to David, Charles Walter, or SMU then I'm out of luck. They are all so remote, sigh...
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#232611 - 05/30/08 09:35 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
So doremi. I guess that you need to get in touch with David and see where you can find a university or individual who has it. Where do you live? David does send out full sized cardboard keyboard in the two sizes. They are fun to play with.
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#232612 - 06/01/08 09:17 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
David Steinbuhler Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 4
Loc: Titusville Pennsylvania
I never know how a pianist will react when they actually experience the different keyboard sizes. At the 2004 MTNA convention the man with the largest hand, measuring 10.2 inches, absolutely loved the 15/16 keyboard saying for the first time he felt at home at the piano. And then there was a piano teacher with an average female hand of less than 8 inches who preferred to have just a little change in keyboard size. She struggles with pain and strain and can only play for about 30 minutes on the conventional keyboard before she has to stop due to pain. She came to Titusville and played all weekend on the smaller keyboards pain free. In the end she chose the 15/16 as the jump to this size keyboard was not too great but it did relieve her pain and strain.

Generally, if pianists have hand spans of 8 inches or less they are very comfortable on the 7/8 keyboard. This includes most women. At universities around the world, 70 to 80 percent of the students studying piano are female and in my view they struggle to learn their repertoire on instruments that no not fit their hands. I believe there is a crying need for the world to adopt the 7/8 size keyboard and level the playing field and then in a perfect world there is a need for the 15/16 as well.

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#232613 - 06/01/08 02:37 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1720
 Quote:
I believe there is a crying need for the world to adopt the 7/8 size keyboard and level the playing field and then in a perfect world there is a need for the 15/16 as well. [/QB]
I have always wondered why conventional pianos have been designed with such wide keys. In the olden days of piano development, I would surmise that hand spans were even smaller than what they are today.

P.S. I don't have a big problem in this regard, but I wouldn't mind trying out a small keyboard.
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Had I progressed to playing chords,
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#232614 - 06/13/08 06:24 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
I was talking to David Steinbuhler on the telephone. He is working to make it easier for people elsewhere in the world to order a keyboard. He has been working on a way for a piano tech to do the measurements for him. He is developing a jig which is an instrument to help a tech do the measurements. Then a person who wants a new keyboard can a local tech to measure and order and install the keyboard. David then would not have to require a person to ship their old keyboard to him. So shipping would be only one way.

David is also planning to go to Australia at the end of summer to visit with some techs there and teach them how to make measurements for him. In October he is planning to again be at the World Piano Pedagogy Conference in Dallas, TX. People could play a new keyboard then.
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#232615 - 06/13/08 06:34 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1720
Can David not get the measurements he needs from the manufacturer? With final regulation by the local piano tech? I would think that at least some manufacturers would be happy to expand their user base and cooperate. Charles Walter does.
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I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#232616 - 06/13/08 06:48 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
He is installing them in older grands, mostly Steinways, but also other brands. He finds that each piano is a little different even among Steinways of the same model. So that is why the measurements.

He developed a version for Steinway D which can be adjusted by a tech to fit any D. This is how Dr. Leone takes her keyboard to where she is going to play a concert. She has a local tech adjust her keyboard to fit the local piano. So far no other brand of piano but Walters is willing to work with him. Kraig Gilliam, a M&H dealer here in North Texas, has asked M&H to sell their pianos with a Steinbuhler keyboard. They said they were selling all the pianos they could build and were not interested at this time.
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#232617 - 06/13/08 06:56 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
doremi, You asked why 19th century pianos adopted the current size keyboard. People then had smaller hands. I have wondered the same thing. Early 19th century keyboards were smaller like harpsicords. So My GUESS: Chopin was only 5'2" tall and had small hands. But piano makers were interested in getting the approval of the men virtuosos like Liszt. Men did the public performing, had the money and did the buying. So makers made one size keyboard to suit the large hands which big men had. \:\(
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Master of Music, School Teacher, Church Musician- See "Our Adventure to a New grand" thread... http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/18212.html

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#232618 - 06/14/08 12:47 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1720
 Quote:
He developed a version for Steinway D which can be adjusted by a tech to fit any D.[/b]
Looks like such an adjustable version would facilitate marketing of the small keyboards. For example, send such a version around dealerships with a week for each dealer. Or sell such an adjustable version as a 'quick install by local tech' version.
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I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#232619 - 06/14/08 04:01 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
Jordang, this is the most fascinating thread i have EVER read at Piano World. I am in awe of your household situation with two marvelous pianists so immersed in the world of music with two pianos.. one retrofitted. I am so happy that this venture worked for you. I bet you both are ecstatic.

Frank, i suggest a commemmorative forum of the best most informative threads ever... suggested by nomination.... simply for the pleasure of reading.

Many people should have the oppurtunity to read threads like these

-apple, also a church musician \:\)
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#232620 - 06/16/08 09:30 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
Thank you apple. I emailed your suggestion to Frank. He asked that we start a thread talking about your idea. Could you please start one. I really like your idea. Maybe you could start a similar thread on several forums where different people hang out.
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#232621 - 06/16/08 11:56 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Zormpas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/05
Posts: 616
Loc: Monterey, Ca
Jordang, did you ever consider a Janko keyboard? Not that anyone makes them anymore, but I'm curious as it was supposed to solve these kinds of problems. I'm not at all suggesting that it would have been better - I'm just curious.

For those who haven't heard of the Janko - it was an "abandoned" attempt (at the turn of the 20th century) at a totally different type of piano keyboard that supposedly made playing quite a bit easier. Google is your friend!
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#232622 - 06/16/08 12:32 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
I have seen pictures and read about them in some of my piano books. They look very odd to me, and they require a complete piano made just for them, I'm assuming from those pictures.
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#232623 - 06/16/08 03:07 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
miaeih Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 267
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
Just curious, is there R&D for the future? For example, going into making smaller sized keys or is there a particular reason in stopping at 7/8? I ask because I am on the low end, 6.7~7.0, depending on the hand; this is at absolute max stretch. 7/8 would still be very limiting.

Until it becomes more popular, do those who play on the smaller keyboard give up their repertoire when going to a venue without the smaller keyboards? Would one have to learn two versions of the same piece? Switching with ease I assume is only possible if what you are playing actually fits under your hands on both pianos.

BTW, thanks for the detailed report!

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#232624 - 06/18/08 11:12 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard
David Steinbuhler Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 4
Loc: Titusville Pennsylvania
miaeih, let me say more about keyboard size.

One of our initial challenges was to see how small we could build keyboards that maintain the feel and response of the conventional. The conventional keyboard measures about 48 inches overall and 7/8ths of 48 is 42 inches. Our very first customer wanted to be able to walk 10ths like Oscar Peterson and had calculated to do it she would need a 38 inch keyboard. At the time this size seemed way beyond what was possible, but after the development of our brace and a couple of other tricks, we were able to do it!

For the first time in the history of the piano, this gave us the opportunity to observe how hands of every size respond to a complete range of piano keyboard sizes. You can read about our “study” at Our Research on our website. We have concluded that there is an overwhelming need for a 7/8 keyboard. In addition, there is a desire for a 15/16 keyboard, which would also provide comfortable jumps between sizes. We have built a keyboard that is the next size smaller down from the 7/8 keyboard and think that young children might have an interest in it.

miaeih, you are welcome to come to Titusville and try this smallest keyboard. One of the biggest surprises we have found is the ease with which a pianist can go between keyboard sizes, however, you will only be able to play the repertoire that actually fits under your hands as you suggest.

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#1255609 - 08/25/09 02:53 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard [Re: Barbara G]
stevenr004 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/24/09
Posts: 2
thanks for all of this information - i'm already looking into these keyboards, and this is helpful.


steven r.
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#1255684 - 08/25/09 08:37 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard [Re: Barbara G]
SeilerFan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/27/09
Posts: 746
Originally Posted By: Barbara G
[b] David had told us the keys were made of better wood than the original Kluge keys. He uses solid hard Maple instead of the softer pine which Kluge and most other manufacturers use. Their softer pine is easier to cut and shape but has more flex. The larger the piano is the more this is an issue. ...


I don't buy this one. There is a purpose that spruce or pine are used for the keys. The slight flexibility is actually something desirable. The larger the piano, the better this flexibility. Also, I think it only comes into play when playing forte. There is not enough pressure or force to trigger the flexibility of pine when playing piano. I've been told this by a German piano technician. Maybe he is wrong, who knows. However, Steinbuehler's argument that this results in reduced control of the keyboard is speculative at best.

Also, with respect to your post on touch weight, there is no unanimous agreement that lighter is better. Some pianists prefer it this way, others like a heavy touch. Rubinstein, so I have read, loved to dig into the keys. The argument that someone made (and that you mentioned) that when training on a heavier keyboard it is easier to play on a lighter one, has been holding true for me. I have a heavy touch on my grand (55g throughout except for keys 1 to 13 which have 57g), and I love it, and it has given me some strength. I feel very, very comfortable when playing on a lighter, say 51g keyboard. Of course, if I had to play on an extremely light keyboard (usually only found in some uprights or some specially prepared grands), I might have problems.

Thanks for your enjoyable story. David Steinbuhler's work is great, no doubt.


Edited by SeilerFan (08/25/09 08:38 AM)

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#1255798 - 08/25/09 12:14 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard [Re: SeilerFan]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted By: SeilerFan
Originally Posted By: Barbara G
[b] David had told us the keys were made of better wood than the original Kluge keys. He uses solid hard Maple instead of the softer pine which Kluge and most other manufacturers use. Their softer pine is easier to cut and shape but has more flex. The larger the piano is the more this is an issue. ...


I don't buy this one. There is a purpose that spruce or pine are used for the keys. The slight flexibility is actually something desirable. The larger the piano, the better this flexibility. Also, I think it only comes into play when playing forte. There is not enough pressure or force to trigger the flexibility of pine when playing piano. I've been told this by a German piano technician. Maybe he is wrong, who knows.



I would say your German tech is incorrect.

A flexible key is not a good feature in any size of piano.
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#1255828 - 08/25/09 01:14 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
SeilerFan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/27/09
Posts: 746
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
I would say your German tech is incorrect.
A flexible key is not a good feature in any size of piano.


Rod, can you elaborate? By flexible I don't mean true flex but a slight dynamic behavior when extreme force is applied. We all know that properly cut spruce keys are incredibly strong and light when they're cut properly with the grain running in the same direction as the key. If hardwood such as maple would be an improvement over spruce, why don't all premium manufacturers use it? Maybe David Steinbuhler's choice of wood is an improvement over the standard choice. I haven't played hardwood keys yet. Just wondering if there is actual evidence that hardwood is better. Methinks, the increased sturdiness comes at the price of increased weight, or am I wrong?

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#1255996 - 08/25/09 05:06 PM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard [Re: SeilerFan]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
His keys need the added rigidity because they are smaller. The angles at the extremes are also greater. Increased weight, if that would even be a problem on normal sized keys, is offset by the fact that the keys are smaller. Anyway, I got to play both versions at a piano pedagogy conference last month... GREAT work! I was able to play a 10th!! smile
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#1566200 - 11/29/10 03:33 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard [Re: Barbara G]
MrLiszthoven Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/28/10
Posts: 63
Loc: Scotland
I think the keys of all pianos should be easier to reach.
I'm curious if piano makers even take into account the existence of 10ths and 11ths, i.e. the music of Chopin and Liszt, for example. I'd like to play a piano on which I could play an 11th.
One piece I know of that has an unbroken chord spanning 11 keys is Liszt's Sonata in B minor.
I hope that the keys' reduced size doesn't give the pianist the issue of fingers getting caught in between any keys. And I hope the custom built piano would sound and feel as great as any piano.
I wonder how I could get one of these pianos in Britain.


Edited by Peter Lockwood (11/30/10 01:58 AM)
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www.steinbuhler.com - Keyboards with narrower keys.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBfDN9DBsnk

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#1566203 - 11/29/10 04:01 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard [Re: Barbara G]
MrLiszthoven Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/28/10
Posts: 63
Loc: Scotland
I'm not sure if Chopin was 5'2. I think I've heard otherwise.


Edited by Peter Lockwood (11/29/10 05:47 AM)
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#1566232 - 11/29/10 07:43 AM Re: My New Steinbuhler small keyboard [Re: JonBrom]
MrLiszthoven Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/28/10
Posts: 63
Loc: Scotland
@JonBrom, I agree 100 percent. The product should be accustomed to the user.


Edited by MrLiszthoven (12/09/10 04:38 AM)
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