First, I'd also like to thank fingers for pulling this tour together for us, well done.
It was great meeting members I've not met before. I figure I've only got about 23,300 to go :-o
I can tell you the young ladies from Duo ScarbÃ³ are as lovely in person as they appear from their pictures and posts.
Toward the end of the tour we went by a room where customers/artist can try out a number of finished pianos. I was hoping we would get to go in, planning on talking Elena & Laura into playing :-) Unfortunately the room was in use at the time.
But I digress.
We started the tour in the office area. My two passengers (CTpianotech and billz) and I arrived about 15 minutes late, not bad for having left at 5:30 a.m.
When we walked into the room, our tour guide for the day was wrapping up his briefing.
Keith Keeler is a sales representative at Steinway Hall in NY. He's obviously very knowledgeable about Steinway pianos, and proud of the company he works for. If you're ever in the area, do yourself a favor and visit Steinway Hall, and while you're there, say hi to Keith.
The tour was fascinating although it was nearly impossible to hear Keith over the noise of a very busy factory. A small suggestion to Steinway: Consider investing in a wireless headphone setup for conducting the tours (like some other factory tours use).
When we started the tour, we walked past the lumber yard. It looked like they had enough wood to build an entire town. As Keith explained it, the wood is all carefully selected by (forgot his name) from various places around the world, and shipped to NY.
Next we walked past the "old" Steinway factory, built in the 1800's. You could almost feel the history emanating from the building.
They now use this building for the restoration of vintage Steinways.
Then, it was on into the factory itself.
My first impression? ... Big!
And the more we walked, the more my impression was reinforced. It seems to go on forever.
Lots of machinery, some looking very old, and many looking very modern. And lots of people busy making Steinway pianos.
Unfortunately, they don't allow a lot of picture taking so it is hard to recreate the actual experience we had on the tour.
However you can get a taste of what we saw by checking out the factory tour on the Steinway web site ... http://www.steinway.com/factory/tour.shtml
A few things that did stick out in my mind:
Steinway likes to have full control over every facet of the process.
~ They make their own (spruce) soundboards, and in fact have workers who spend their days picking out matched pieces of spruce to be made into soundboards.
~ They also make all their own action parts, an interesting part of the tour (and the only place I saw huge signs saying "No Cameras Allowed".
~ They have a lot of specialized machinery, including one that is the size of a house trailer that does nothing but glue veneer to the wood.
~ The hammer rail has a solid maple dowel inserted so the mounting screws have something solid and stable to bite into.
~ There are a LOT of pianos in various stages of production at any given time. I mean a lot!
~ For the few parts Steinway isn't making themselves, they bought the company that is (which I guess means they are making the parts:-). I believe the plates are one example (again, someone correct me if I'm wrong).
~ If I remember correctly, production runs at an average of 10 finished pianos a day (50 per week), with the factory running 48 weeks a year (someone feel free to correct me if I got that wrong).
Ok, enough for now. Hopefully some of the other attendees will post their thoughts and pictures. My pictures are still inside a cheap disposable camera, I'll have them up in a couple of days.
My thanks to Bruce Stevens, President & CEO of Steinway Pianos for taking the time to do a meet and greet with us. As I understand it, Bruce is not typically in the factory, but made it a point to be there to meet the Piano World forums folks, and he hung around while we took pictures (at our insistence).
He even tried to help with the food setup (stick to making pianos Bruce).
And finally, thank you to everyone at Steinway for inviting us into your home and making us feel welcomed.
I hope we get the opportunity to take other members on the tour soon.
- Frank Baxter