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#292169 - 08/22/04 09:27 AM Fandrich grands
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 981
Loc: Oregon
I've posted to the Technician's forum as well.......and I've done me "search".......

I'm working on my grand piano-shopping adventure and have decided to visit Fandrich this week, in addition to showrooms in the general Seattle area.

I'm curious as to recent opinions on the Fandrich & Sons pianos and how well they hold up over time. Has anyone been to their showroom recently, and are there any Fandrich owners, or shoppers who have tried them?

Thanks! \:\) \:\)
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#292170 - 08/22/04 07:19 PM Re: Fandrich grands
Mark Davidson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/04
Posts: 116
Loc: NC
I visited there in February. I was very impressed. First off, they are very nice people, and were more than happy to take an hour out of their day to show me not only the showroom, but also their workshop, which had one grand and several other things in progress.

Their basic business model seems to be this: start with an inexpensive grand made in China, of good basic scale design (he said they were basically copies of older German designs). Then tear it apart and redo lots of stuff, including new bass strings (Arledge), new hammers (Ronsen/ Renner), soundboard modifications (a little thinning here, some weight added there), additional short ribs under the bridge added for improved sustain, refitting the pinblock using an epoxy filler for a perfect fit (better tuning stability), rebalance the keys, then put it all back together and regulate/voice the heck out of it. And make no mistake, they know what they're doing.

The end result is a very nice piano with excellent touch, sustain, and tone. I only played the small one and the large one, they were very apolegetic for not having the middle sized one available, as it was on loan to a local church. He said he strives for a tone somewhere between S&S and M&H and I think that is a good description. I would love to try the middle sized grand with Ronsen hammers. I'm sure it's great.

A couple of interesting comments he made were that he used to have to replace the wippens (action parts) but the quality is now good enough he does not feel the need to. Also, the thinning around the edge of the soundboard was already present on the piano he had in his shop, so apparently the basic piano he starts with is steadily improving.

There is a great deal of value in having an expert technician spending all those extra hours on an instrument, a lesson that anyone shopping for any piano might want to keep in mind. There is a big difference between the typical salesfloor prep of most dealers and concert level prep, which this is closer to.

In addition, I tried the upright with his action in it. I would say it's everything he claims. The action feels like a grand action, with as good or better repetition. My only concern there would be finding the right person to maintain it since its not a standard/common design. Again, the extra work to the piano results in a very nice sounding/playing instrument.

So I guess in sum, I went there intrigued, not knowing what to expect, and came home very impressed. I already have a piano, so wasn't really shopping, and went more out of curiosity.

How well it would hold up over time I couldn't say, but with proper maintenance I don't really see why there would be any issues.

Oh yeah, it's not the easiest place to find. Just keep going.....

-Mark

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#292171 - 08/22/04 07:39 PM Re: Fandrich grands
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6150
 Quote:
Their basic business model seems to be this: start with an inexpensive grand made in China, of good basic scale design (he said they were basically copies of older German designs). Then tear it apart and redo lots of stuff, including new bass strings (Arledge), new hammers (Ronsen/ Renner), soundboard modifications (a little thinning here, some weight added there), additional short ribs under the bridge added for improved sustain, refitting the pinblock using an epoxy filler for a perfect fit (better tuning stability), rebalance the keys, then put it all back together and regulate/voice the heck out of it. And make no mistake, they know what they're doing.
And now we have Chinese grand pianos that are actually WORTH REBUILDING !!![/b] \:D
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#292172 - 08/22/04 08:10 PM Re: Fandrich grands
JD Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/03
Posts: 83
Loc: SF Bay Area
I am a very satisfied Fandrich & Sons upright owner.

I too made the trip to Darrell & Heather's studio in Stanwood Washington as part of my search. I have to echo everything Mark said their grands. It is pretty impressive to see and hear what Darrell can do with a Dong Bei

My upright was delivered last December. It is the Klima piano with Darrell's action. I couldn't be more pleased with the piano. As Mark said, the action is superb, and must be played to be believed. The sound and tone of the upright is pretty exceptional as well.

On both his uprights and his grands Darrell and his team do an extensive amount of prep before a piano is delivered. Mine arrived sounding pretty terrific right off the truck and that's after travelling from Seattle to LA -- in storage for a while and then to the Bay Area.

Darrell came by my home on his way back from the NAMM show in January to do a tuning and some voicing. (I've got some pictures of Darrell working on my piano that I should post someday.)

In April I had a highly recommended technician in the area come by for a tuning with some additional voicing. Naturally, it keeps sounding better and better as the months go by.

As far as difficulty finding someone to maintain it, I don't think that is going to be a problem. I believe Darrell says he has a video and a few speciality tools for working on his upright action that can be purchased reasonably.

A number of knowledgable folks on this forum have been saying for years that a quality 50+" upright can sound better than many smaller grands. The Fandrich & Sons (Klima) upright is one of those pianos with the added benefit of an action that is, in my experience, every bit as responsive as a good grand action.

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#292173 - 08/22/04 08:56 PM Re: Fandrich grands
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 981
Loc: Oregon
Thanks for the replies so far. I appreciate any information before I head up to the showroom. So far, I've heard nothing but good things and am anxious to try them out!
_________________________
"Cats make purrfect friends"

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#292174 - 08/23/04 09:58 PM Re: Fandrich grands
Chopstix Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/03
Posts: 75
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
Sleepingcats, please give us a full report when you get back from the Fandrich & Sons store.

I too am very interested in F&S pianos, especially the grands. But I don't recall anyone on the forum who actually owns one. Would love to get opinions about those pianos, especially compared with others in their price range (roughly mid-teens to low-20K), like the Estonia, Petrof, Kawai, and Yamaha.
_________________________
keep two fingers on the keyboard at all times

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#292175 - 08/24/04 05:12 AM Re: Fandrich grands
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Pictures, we need pictures.
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#292176 - 08/24/04 06:48 AM Re: Fandrich grands
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
i haven't played darrell's newest grands, but my tech did at the last northwest ptg meeting and raved about it. he said it was the best grand piano he has ever played, and this tech works on faziolis, boesendorfers, and is himself a mason fanatic.

i have spent some time with heather and darrell and i can tell you that if you buy one of his pianos, i am certain you would get the very best of care and service. for darrell, pianos are a calling, and he would never let a piano of his go without good service after it has gone to its new home. it's not his business policy so much as it is that he really cares about the piano and the customer.

as far as darrell's abilities as a tech and a voicer, he is a true artist, a real rarity. this was my experience with him working on my piano (he travels through my town once a year), and it was confirmed to me by others whose pianos he has regulated and voiced. you would be very lucky to have him as your dealer.

having said that, the pianos have to be to your taste. play everything you can get your hands on, in every store in the seattle area, and let your own ear and touch be your guide. get out the yellow pages and try every single store.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


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#292177 - 08/24/04 11:12 AM Re: Fandrich grands
JD Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/03
Posts: 83
Loc: SF Bay Area
Echoing pique's comments. When I visited Darrell and Heather's studio I had the opportunity to not only play the Fandrich and Sons grands but I also had the opportunity to watch Darrell and his crew prepping several piano's. It would be an understatement to say that Darrell is meticulous.

Also, when Darrell came by my home to "tune" my Fandrich & Sons upright he spent an additional 2 hours carefully voicing. And this was in addition to the 8 hours or so he had put in voicing the piano before shipping it to me.

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#292178 - 08/25/04 04:48 PM Re: Fandrich grands
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 981
Loc: Oregon
I ORDERED MY FANDRICH & SONS GRAND! It will be a 6'1" satin ebony, and will be delivered the first week of November.

I visited Heather & Darrell Fandrich north of Seattle yesterday in the beautiful countryside. I am so glad that I decided to visit their showroom before making my decision because in my opinion, theirs was the sweetest - smooth, "like butter", as I've heard others say. I loved how easy it was to play, and that it was not overly bright or dull - just right! They had many beautiful grands and uprights.

The Fandrichs were very patient and kind, and took time to explain their process and showed me their workshop. I spent over 2 hours there! I naturally have a light touch, and when I think about playing the piano as I get older, my hands will thank me for not having a heavy action piano.

I also spoke to a couple of RPTs who have a F&S piano or the action installed in another brand, and they had nothing but praise for Darrell's work.

By the way, I did visit Alex at Classical Grands in Seattle, and he is truly a kind and low-pressure person. Anyone looking for a piano should definitely meet him. Thanks Alex for being so patient! I liked the Boesendorfer, Schimmel and Estonia, but not so much the feel of the AF or M&H,

While I was up in Seattle, I also tried the Shigeru Kawai (and the RX-series). They were nice, but still had the heavier touch than I like. I tried 2 used Grotrians but the keys felt "springy". The Yamaha S4 was one that I originally thought I'd like, but after playing two of them at different stores, I decided it was too heavy and dark. I almost had decided on getting a Yamaha C3 or C6 and having it voiced down, but the F&S felt right, just the way it was.

Of course, I visited all the Portland showrooms, but deciided to visit Seattle for some of the makes not found in my area. It was very educational and fun to shop, but I'm glad I found the piano for me and can stop looking. For such a wonderful piano that gets personal attention by a respected technician/rebuilder, I found the absolute best value and feel very lucky. I don't need the high-end name brand, I need a piano I'll enjoy playing and love the sound of. Now, I must just wait patiently and will post pictures at that time - if I can figure out how to do that! \:D \:D

As everyone here on the forum says for anyone shopping for a piano, "Play as many pianos as you can!" \:\)
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#292179 - 08/25/04 05:00 PM Re: Fandrich grands
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6150
Congratulations on the new piano![/b]
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#292180 - 08/25/04 05:05 PM Re: Fandrich grands
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1964
Hey, I know you! \:D

I wish you many years of happiness with your new piano.

It was a real pleasure to meet and spend some time with you.


Alex
_________________________


Blüthner USA, LLC

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#292181 - 08/25/04 08:21 PM Re: Fandrich grands
JD Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/03
Posts: 83
Loc: SF Bay Area
Welcome to the Fandrich & Sons owners family!

Congratulations on your new grand. Hopefully, you will enjoy your F&S grand as much as I enjoy my upright.

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#292182 - 08/26/04 02:28 PM Re: Fandrich grands
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 981
Loc: Oregon
Thanks to all for your input and congrats!

I forgot to mention that my piano will have the Ronson hammers. I had a chance to feel and see the difference between the Renner and Ronson.

Also, I did try other brands during my search other than the makes I mentioned in an earlier post - Schulze Pollman, Petrof, Bechstein, Bluthner, Charles Walter, Baldwin, Pleyel, Boston, and Nordiska. They all definitely had their own personality.

Darrell's verticals were absolutely wonderful as well! I'd be happy with one of those because of the grand piano feel, but since I want to get an actual grand and have the room for it, I went for it. I already have a Yamaha U1 upright anyway and haven't decided what to do with it yet... Keep it for piano parties, take it to my Mom's house, or save it for my grandkids when my grandson stops demolishing everything in his sight! \:\) It's a very wonderful upright, I'd hate to get rid of it!
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"Cats make purrfect friends"

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#292183 - 08/26/04 07:58 PM Re: Fandrich grands
Chopstix Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/03
Posts: 75
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
sleepingcats,

Congratulations on your new piano. Please keep us posted when it arrives.

Did you get a chance to see the various steps that F&S does to transform an Asian grand (Dongbei from China?) into an F&S grand? And did you get to compare the "before" piano with the "after" piano?

Again, please keep the information, pictures, and comments coming. There aren't many Fandrich & Sons owners on the forum.
_________________________
keep two fingers on the keyboard at all times

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#292184 - 08/27/04 11:02 AM Re: Fandrich grands
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 981
Loc: Oregon
Hi Chopstix,

 Quote:
Did you get a chance to see the various steps that F&S does to transform an Asian grand (Dongbei from China?) into an F&S grand?
Yes, I was shown so much in their workshop, I can't remember everything! I saw their keyweighting procedure, their paint booth, saw a whole plate outside the piano, upside down so they could fill in gaps between the pinblock and the plate flange, etc (as they mention on their website). There was another 6'1" polished ebony grand that was undergoing transformation for a customer who ordered one sight-unseen. I was explained about changing the strings, adding of the riblets, shown the difference between the different types of hammers. I'm not terribly technical so you'll have to excuse me \:\) , but I'm sure you've already checked their website and read their information.

I will keep the forum posted!
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"Cats make purrfect friends"

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