Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS

Posted by: AJB

Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 09:02 AM

Does anyone know the practical differences between these two pianos?

I ask because an organisation with which I am peripherally involved (I have an honorary financial control role), is considering replacing an ancient worn out Bechstein concert grand, with either a new Steinway D (Hamburg) or a new Yamaha CFIIIS.

The purchasing committee is divided into two factions. The Music Director is keen in the Yamaha for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, despite asking. He is not really a serious pianist, as that duty is fulfilled by a variety of people depending upon musical need.

The Chairwoman of the Trustees is adamant that only a Steinway will do. She is an amateur pianist but probably not above a grade 5 level of playing I would guess. Her family has a small Steinway at home.

Her argument (aimed at the finance committee which has overall control) was originally based on investment grounds. However, I have already been over all the investment justification and debunked the myths. The reality is that the price differential, appropriately invested for capital growth, has a very high probability of outperforming the Steinway "investment" in real terms. This is a long term purchase so I am not overlay concerned about depreciation and residual value or resale opportunity.

A new Steinway, after the proffered discount, is at least £23,000 more expensive that the Yamaha , which is fairly heavily discounted, though the final deal may not have emerged yet.

Being specific legacy funded, price is not necessarily a decisive factor as long as the instruments are of roughly equal durability and longevity. I do not know whether that is the case and would welcome any informed views.

The Chairperson and her supporters, have shifted their position recently, and now argue that the Steinway is more likely to attract a better calibre of visiting musicians. This argument, though not decisive in terms of the majority usage of the piano, may have some merit. I don't know for sure, but my instinct is she may be right.

My understanding is that the CFIIIS is in a great many respects a copy of a Steinway D. I would like to establish, though, any factual basis for this understanding that I suppose I have gleaned from various pianists and dealers in the past. Perhaps it is just folklore that I have picked up?

Whichever instrument is eventually authorised, it will be properly maintained. For political reasons it is not worthwhile to consider other brands. They do not have a high profile among committee members and there is a disinclination for minds to be opened. It is not a battle I wish to spend time fighting. In any case I need to be impartial.

I know that members here will be inclined to say pick the piano that sounds best. The reality is that in the hall concerned, especially if the piano is being used for accompanying voices or other instruments, I rather doubt that most of the audience could tell the difference between them.

So, informed advice please. Is there a persuasive reason that I may have missed, for picking one brand over the other?

(By the way, I know that D's vary, especially NY pianos. This is a Hamburg and I am less concerned about getting a dog, though we will obviously take care if we go the S&S route. The tech we use is a good chap though and can sort most things out. He is exceptionally experienced with Steinway, having worked for them for a long time, but is not at all prejudiced against Yamaha. My hunch is that he would not choose either, but that is another story).

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: CC2 and Chopin lover

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 09:41 AM

Given all the qualifiers you've been careful to include, I would say that there are no reasons left for one to be chosen over the other, except, of course, the preference for the sound/touch of one particular piano you are considering over the other. From a build and quality standpoint, I think both companies treat the pianos they build at this level with equal care. Properly maintained, as you say they will be, they should last equally long. Don't forget, we are talking about their top of the line instruments here, so the many differences one might site between the lower level models will not hold up here as well. Personally, I would go with the Hamburg, but that holds no weight in this discussion.
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 10:01 AM

Both pianos are very well made. Both will last a long time. We have a couple Yamaha CFIIIs in our tuning clientel. Both instruments are about 10-12 years old. Upon the observations of my technicians, both pianos have underwhelming tuning stability. We have several Hamburg Ds in our tuning clientel, and these seem to have better tuning stability. In terms of other maintanance needs, I think the 2 pianos are fairly similar.

In a recent major international piano competition I attended, I was present while the contestants chose their instrument. Among the pianos available, there was a new Yamaha CFIII and a Hamburg Steinway D. The Yamaha sounded extraordinary in French music. It had beautiful, delicate colors. When one contestant was trying Ravel's Alborada del Gracioso on the Yamaha, he was able to play the repeated notes amazingly fast. He couldn't get quite the same speed on the Hamburg.
This was in a big hall ( seats about 1500+ I think, if memory serves. Give or take a few hundred ) The Hamburg Steinway sounded like a much much bigger piano than the Yamaha. It wasn't even close. Of all the pianos there, the Yamaha had the smallest sound. In a big hall, or with orchestra, IMO, this particular Yamaha wouldn't have been powerful enough. It did sound quite beautiful though, and it would have been very fine for a recital hall or for chamber music.
The action on this Yamaha felt very light. The Hamburg Steinway had more mass in the keys and felt more substantial overall. In my experience, the feel of the Hamburg Steinway is what more good pianists will gravitate towards, although all of the contestants played fine on both pianos, and in terms of consistancy and predictability, the Yamaha action is tough to beat.
If this piano is being bought to be performed on by professional classical pianists, I'd recommend finding a couple, and letting them try the various instruments and listen to their recommendations. If it will be used primarily by "level 5" pianists ( not sure what that means.....maybe they can struggle through a Bach Invention? )) then let the chairwoman make her choice.
If the piano will be played with orchestra, or in a big hall, my experience is that a Hamburg Steinway D beats a Yamaha CFIII in this type of setting. If it is for a smaller hall, it would be a closer contest.
I know several excellent pianists who really enjoy the Yamaha CFIIIs. I know several who disregard them. Just about every good pianist I know loves a good Hambug Steinway D.
Posted by: I. Bruton

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 04:58 PM

Both pianos are top of the line, hand-made instruments and should do quite well for you. I wouldn't buy into the investment grade stuff that you mentioned. I've played both models and would probably gravitate toward the Yamaha because of it's action. I've never been able to get a better pianissimo on any other instrument!

I also think that the Yamaha would cut through an orchestra and/or praise & worship team better than the comparable Steinway. That has been my experience, anyway.

If the piano is going to be used for small ensemble work (with strings, and or a bit of brass) the Steinway will work quite well.

Good luck with your choice, and let us know what is decided.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 05:05 PM

Agree with most everything said here. The Yamaha action is very light and quick. I was told that Hamburg will be using an accelerated action as per the NY action but I do not know if that is being done yet. IMO the Hamburg sounds better
w/o a doubt.
Posted by: hairline

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 06:46 PM

OT;
LJC, London steinway website says the action of Ds and Bs have "half round balance rail bearings" (if thats what you mean by saying"accelerated action") and they are hamburgs.
i noticed it months ago and started a thread but it didnt attract much attention.... \:\(
Posted by: TLuvva

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 09:13 PM

I don't have much experience with the Steinway, but I have noticed the Yamaha's touch and action on the CFIIIs. It was really something else! It was an unusual (for me) feeling of sweet light touch, yet superior control. I've played at least two of them and both times I really noticed the light but controlled feeling of the action.

It's really a top of the line piano and so it's hard to imagine that it could somehow not attract the same quality of visiting musician - it's not like you're talking about a C6 (like mine!) or something. But if you were worried about the school's credibility (or whatever institution you're discussing - it doesn't seem clear), you could argue that showing you have a top of the line Steinway might boost any concerns regarding inferiority complex.

It's like a tip jar, if you're trying to make an impression by leaving a big tip, MAKE SURE SOMEBODY SEES YOU DROP IT IN for godsakes! If that's not practical, the Yamaha certainly won't disappoint.
Posted by: Patrick Hinves

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 09:30 PM

Hi Adrian,

Ok, my observations on this particular matter:

PRICE and DEPRECIATION:

After a few years a Yamaha is worth almost nothing:

...A few yrs ago we had a 1972 Hamburg Steinway D and a 1980's Yamaha CF. Steinway sold fairly quickly at 72.500 EUR, the Yamaha took ages to sell at around 21.000 EUR (and thats with VAT and aftersales service included!). The condition of the Yamaha was actually better as it had belonged to a private customer, whilst the S & S came from a recording studio.... So you do your maths! I know many will argue that the CF is not the CFIIIS, well you can also buy a 5-10 yr CFIIIS in as-new condition VERY cheap. An older battered ex-hire Steinway, no matter how many attrocities may have occured to it, is still worth a lot more...

I know of other dealers who've had the same experience.

WHAT THE ARTISTS WANT

Well, just like in Steinway's posters.... 99% chose the Steinway. This is also absolutely true in my experience. We have several D's that are always on high demand, whilst the 9ft Yamahas are just gathering dust in the warehouse... so yes, the Steinway will DEFINITELY make performing on any venue a lot more atractive!
Bear in mind is not uncommon for venues that already own a 9ft Yamaha (or Kawai) to rent a Steinway when high caliber artists are performing or festivals taking place!!

TUNING STABILITY

Yamaha's are renown for being quite stable tuning wise, this is absolutely true, here in the south of spain, in most places, temperature changes in just a few hours are massive! so I'´ve been able to prove this fact with both hire and "domestic" pianos,

I can also tell you that that the Steinways hold in tune even BETTER!

SOUND

Well, I know it can be argued it's up to personal taste... but I think you'll be surprised about how many people in the audience, musicians or not, will pick up on the fact that there is something very special about that grand piano (Steinway) on the stage.... "of course" they'll say when they get closer to read the logo on the side of the piano "it's a Steinway" " I knew this wasn't just "any ordinary" piano when I heard it..."

Many describe the difference in sound: The Steinway is like a colour TV while the Yamaha is like a black and white TV...

But again I'd leave the sound as well as touch up to personal taste. Plus the technitian can always make some differences to the sound and touch.

You say you've heard the Yamaha is in many respects a copy of the Steinway... haha, there were many stories (I'm sure true) going around some time ago, stating that Yamaha had actually got their techs to completely strip model D's to find out what made them so speciall and of course... copy the secrets!! I've even seen the "bell" (treble resonator) installed on a Yamaha CFIII... (painted in black though, probably to disguise it!) Also, frame and stringing layout are a little too similar to the Steinway... Anyway, they've certainly wasted their time as at the end of the day they've still got an ordinary Yamaha!

OTHER "PRACTICAL" DIFFERENCES

And finally...

You mentioned the Music Director is keen on the Yamaha for reasons he won't reveal... well I obviously don't know him personally, but.... the Yamaha dealer could probably be offering a suculent comission, so maybe a straight answer will be expesive to get!!! \:D

Anyway, I'm sure the Steinway will be on the stage soon!

Happy 2008 to all!

Best regards,

Patrick
Posted by: BDB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 10:01 PM

The CFIII and the CFIIIS are very different pianos. I would not recommend a CFIII at all. The CFIIIS is much better.
Posted by: duncantwo

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 10:37 PM

since you have indicated that you are pretty much on the fence, i would suggest the yamaha. save the 23,000 pounds (in US$ that's almost 50k, i can't believe there's that much of a difference, you must be getting a deal on the CFIIIS!)

i don't want to hijack the thread, but it's my understanding that the hamburgs are getting the accelerated action. i was told by my steinway dealer when i was in the market a few months ago that this is part of the new "cooperation" between the two factories. the example we've heard the most of is the NY B's getting some hamburg scale and design features, that has been discussed on the forum many times. he was unclear as to when this was supposed to happen.

either way, there has been much discussion as to whether the "accelerated action" is in any way superior to the various renner variants that are in all the other high-end makes, with no real conclusive opinion one way or the other. i think the regulation of an action has much more to do with its performance than a half-round balance rail bearing.
Posted by: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/08/08 11:49 PM

Patrick...you are a gentleman...well said...
I, for one am truly fed up with all the musicians out there who think that a Yamaha and Steinway of any size or shape are in any way comparable....
You have summed up all the salient points and nailed it as far as I'm concerned.
Any musician with ears that work will be able to close their eyes and fully appreciate the voice of a well tuned and maintained Steinway when it is played.....Listen to the complexity...embrace it and then listen to a Yamaha....no comparison...good pianos that they are, they do not measure up in any respect.
But musicians can only make comparisons based on their personal experience...many, I'm sure, not having the access to these wonderful instruments that you and I share...
So, I appreciate your comments...and if you're ever in California.....stop by and visit.
Posted by: Mark Purney

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 12:16 AM

So many beautiful 9'instruments out there, and yet we act like there are only two valid choices. Oh, the power of marketing.

I know it's hard to go against the grain, but I hope the day will come when we can see a wider acceptance beyond just Ford and Chevy pickup trucks.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 12:20 AM

Having a lot of experience with both models, I think that the Yamaha CFIIIS is quite similar to the Steinway D, but it is the only model that is. It is built on the Steinway model, as is the Baldwin SD10 and D before it. They are all close enough that individual differences may be all that there may be to choose between them. It would be hard for me to choose between any of them, and they would all be pianos I would consider if I were looking for one of that size.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 05:28 AM

Thank you for all the comments so far (they have come in overnight for me). Keith, I found your analysis especially balanced and helpful in the context of this enquiry.

As regards some of the remarks from a Steinway dealer about depreciation and so on, I am not persuaded. It is true that a used CFIIIS will be worth somewhat less than a S&S D, but one cannot just compare residual values. You have to factor in that the discounted price of the Yamaha is a great deal less than the Steinway, hence the real depreciation for the two instruments is similar. And you have the original price differential to invest as well for capital or income yield.

Neither piano flies out of the showrooms on the used market. They are just to big for most homes in this country. I am aware of at least three used D's (in fine cosmetic condition) that have been sitting in dealers for over a year.

But this does not matter here because the intention is to buy the piano and consume it through use. It may well be required to provide three or four decades of service. Depreciation amortised over that period is insignificant.

One option I have not thrown into the mix is this. We could buy the CFIIIS for the hall, and with the money saved, which under the terms of the legacy has to be spent on musical instruments, buy another good grand piano for use by students. In effect we could create a form of musical endowment. This has not been proposed to the committee as I have not thought it through yet.

By the way, for those like Keith wondering what I meant by a grade 5 player, I was referring to the ABRSM grading system, which goes up to grade 8 before embarking on professional level diplomas and so on. A grade 8 student would be a pretty decent player, capable of some Chopin Etudes and such like. The grading system is not linear - grade 7 is a big jump from grade 6 for example, so a grade 5 player would be of intermediate standard. Not enough to really give a piano a work out, but sufficient to demonstrate a reasonable musical knowledge.

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: Patrick Hinves

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 08:12 AM

Are they only considering buying new, or would used be an option?

Because, if you are looking at value for money... a great way could be to buy one of those used D's that you've seen in good condition and the second piano, a smaller (also used) Steinway.....

But of course if they can afford the new Steinway D... you already know for most it's just the best piano out there and I totally agree with Peter's comments, there is NO comparison between the Yamaha and the Steinway!!!

 Quote:
The CFIII and the CFIIIS are very different pianos. I would not recommend a CFIII at all. The CFIIIS is much better.
:D well I'm sure the same will be said in a few years about the CFIIIS when compared to the " new CFIIIS triple "S" turbo" !!!! \:D If they got it right in the first place, there won't be any need for changing the models name every few years!

Anyway, keep us updated on the progress of the purchase!

Best regards, Patrick
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 08:54 AM

Patrick, thank you for your posts. As a Steinway dealer I do feel it would be best if you did not knock Yamaha. Please let your products speak for themselves.

The Committee prefers to buy new. There are pro's and con's to this, and certainly for a private purchase I would opt for used as I prefer someone else to take the very large initial depreciation hit. However, for long term institutional use new may well be a better option.

I do not happen to agree with your statement "you already know that for most it's just the best piano out there". My experience with musicians in Switzerland, Germany and the UK in the last few years is that there is a wide range of preferences.

Personally I have had a lot of good experiences with both Fazioli and Steingreaber. My personal view is that the Steingreaber concert grand, and especially its Phoenix variant, is a better piano in many respects than the Steinway D and significantly cheaper. However, although the Music Director has heard of Fazioli, no one but me is familiar with Steingreaber. Fazioli is I think too expensive for this application. Boesendorfer has been discounted because one of the teachers who routinely visits has a (prejudiced in my view) dislike for them and in any case there is no dealer around. Bechstein has been ruled out because the Music Director is sick of the old one going out of tune. This is again unfair really as he is comparing an 80 year old instrument with his imagined view of what a new one would be like, but as I said earlier, some political battles are not worth the effort. Among the major brands, there is nothing else readily available in the South East.

Going back the the Steinway, I have also spent I suppose a few hundred hours now playing a used Hamburg D and I like it very much. My playing is somewhat reduced at present due to a left hand tendon problem, which is a bit annoying.

A Concert Pianist acquaintance, who is now a visiting music conservatory piano lecturer in Australia, used a CFIIIS at home for several years. That piano was used for a very wide repertoire and quite frankly got hammered for several hours each day. It stood up to professional abuse pretty well and is probably the reason why we are still debating what to buy.

The Hall is not enormous. A typical seated audience would be 260. It has a very high ceiling so the room volume is quite substantial. However, I don't think that either piano would be troubled by the size of the room. The old Bechstein was easily drowned out, but that is not a fair comparison as the piano is worn out. It has been sold and is awaiting removal.

Adrian
Posted by: Numerian

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 10:13 AM

Adrian,

I wonder whether committees are really good at subjective decisions like this. Every member has their personal experiences with different makes, and these often translate into biases - like extrapolating the performance of an 80 year old Bechstein into today's instrument.

Why not narrow the question to two specific instruments? At the price you are paying new, you might be able to have a Yamaha and Steinway dealer lend you an instrument for one month. It has certainly been done over here in the States. Test each of them out in real concert conditions. Get feedback from the artists, the technician, the committee members - who knows, maybe even the audience. Listen to how they sound from different locations in the hall.

At least at the end of the experiment you will have some objective data. That seems better than having the committee arguing over dealers' selling points for these brands.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 11:10 AM

Numerian

Thanks. The trial idea is a good one and I will suggest that to the committee on Friday afternoon. The ideal would be to have the two pianos side by side - if the dealers will go for that.

I do agree that committee decisions are far from ideal. However, it is a situation that I am stuck with. A further issue is that apart from me and one young woman, every one else on the committee is well into the sixties or older. My experience is that they are very well meaning but have incredibly entrenched views. There is also a tendency to express those views as if they are established fact, when in practice they are based on nothing more than hearsay.

I cannot force a choice. Nor would I want to necessarily. All that I can do is veto a stupid choice. Hence I am trying to provide encouragement for the committee to make a decision based on the needs of the users, many of whom are a great deal younger and who have more open minds.

In an ideal world the Music Director should lead this process. However, his copy book has been blotted because he made some recommendations that appeared, shall we say, illogical. This damaged his credibility. He is also towards the end of his tenure.

I also take your point about different locations in the hall and will raise this with the facilitator. There is no reason why the moveable stage should be where it is now, other then that it is immediately opposite the main entrance.

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 11:22 AM

I agree that the pianos can speak for themselves.....
What is interesting is that you need the ears to hear them....
I guess wine is a good analogy....a $10 to $15 dollar bottle will be fine with me....until someone offers me a sip of a $50 + Pinot and then my perspective increases as the flavor and complexity develops in my mouth....
So, this is what a Pinot can taste like....and $50 isn't a lot to pay for 'good' wine...
Just open your ears and your heart and listen to the sound...
The point that just because a Yamaha/Baldwin/Whatever, is built to the Steinway pattern and shouldn't be too different is laughable...
Come on musicians...OK, size does matter...but there is so much more to it....
All the instruments referenced in this posting are decent instruments...some are amazingly good...BUT they all have entirely different sound characteristics/projection/sustain/timbre etc.....
There is no right answer to this question as to which is better...it all depends on your perspective and experience and what your individual ears hear....
Sadly there will always be those who knock Steinway and Sons pianos...many out of a sense of mean spiritedness and ignorance and maybe much to do with issues from the past 40 years or so...
I ask you to get over it and really listen....in the end it is your loss if you miss out on these fine pianos.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 11:23 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by AJB:
One option I have not thrown into the mix is this. We could buy the CFIIIS for the hall, and with the money saved, which under the terms of the legacy has to be spent on musical instruments, buy another good grand piano for use by students. In effect we could create a form of musical endowment. This has not been proposed to the committee as I have not thought it through yet.
[/b]
Adrian, if this option is feasible, and the choice between the Yamaha and Steinway as close as it appears to be, this would seem very compelling to me.
Posted by: I. Bruton

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 11:37 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by AJB:
Patrick, thank you for your posts. As a Steinway dealer I do feel it would be best if you did not knock Yamaha. Please let your products speak for themselves.
Adrian [/b]
Ditto that.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 11:42 AM

 Quote:
Sadly there will always be those who knock Steinway and Sons pianos...many out of a sense of mean spiritedness and ignorance and maybe much to do with issues from the past 40 years or so...
And there are those who knock pianos that are not Steinways for about the same reasons...
Posted by: I. Bruton

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 11:44 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Sumner- Piano Technician:

Sadly there will always be those who knock Steinway and Sons pianos...many out of a sense of mean spiritedness and ignorance and maybe much to do with issues from the past 40 years or so...
[/b]
Havn't you been doing just that? It is apparant that your bias for Steinway has clouded your judgment on the merits of its competitors. Steinway makes a wonderful concert grand, but it is not the only contender; nor is it the best (as that is a subjective term).

I have also noticed that you do not value the opinion of musicians. While I find that distasteful, there is no doubt that other technicians would disagree with you as well.

Try not to be so abrasive - we're only discussing pianos.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 12:47 PM

Monica - I agree. But the concept of a student endowment needs thinking through. I am not sure if the institution has the resources to provide the kind of access that I envisage. However, it makes a lot of sense as the building is already used for ABRSM examinations and the present student pianos (or which there are three uprights and two small grands) are all much lower level. What I am thinking is to place a new student grand in a rarely used side room and turn it into a student recital and teaching room that could also be used in the evenings for practice etc.

Gentlemen - and Mr P Sumner in particular - with the greatest respect I have not been knocking Steinway, Yamaha or anyone else. (My remarks about investment are not knocking - just wearing an accounting hat and applying the facts in a logical way). I suggest you are being a touch over sensitive.

That said, I must admit, that these days I am less and less interested in brand names. Pianos are made of wood and metal and the differences (comparing pianos of like size) are not as great as the similarities. As the committee is well aware, I did a very extensive piano shop myself and at one time was very focussed on the differences between top end instruments. It was documented here at length when I first joined, 2,500 posts ago.

I then had a number of piano changes as a result of separation, moving three times and living in three different countries. This give me a much wider acquaintance with some different pianos such as Boesendorfer Imperial, Fazioli 272 , Grotrian (6ft ish) Steinway D, Yamaha Clavinova CLP 280, Boston, 6ft Yamaha among others, and I ended up with a much more open mind. I can be pretty happy with most medium to large grands if they are well prepped. Sure I have preferences, but I do not let them override the purpose of the piano - which is to make music.

Lately I have expressed the view, that I still hold, that the quality of the pianist makes a great deal more difference than the quality of the piano. I have said as much to the committee. They are unconvinced I am sad to say! Ah, the power of marketing...

Steinway make good pianos in Germany - I totally agree - indeed I have about 300 hours or more on a D in the past year or two and I have said I really like it. But slavish adherence to the the doctrine "they are the best" is ridiculous in my opinion.

Anyway, I remain grateful for the considered input and I will put all good ideas and useful insights to the committee on Friday afternoon. Whether that will result in a decision is any-ones guess .

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: Mr. Kia

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 12:48 PM

Both pianos have proven themselves to be among the best. In the hands of capable technicians either one will satisfy most but never all. Try the loaner aproach and let majority rule. You're in a no lose situation.
Posted by: ShootCraps

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 01:32 PM

If the Yamaha is so comparable to the Steinway, why is it so heavily discounted?

Let me phrase it differently: If they were the same price, would there still be a question of which to buy?
Posted by: M&B

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 02:13 PM

AJB consider a Shigeru Kawai. It will cover all your needs at exceed your expectations.

Best Regards,
Posted by: jackg

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/09/08 03:27 PM

Jeffrey Shackell is a Steinway dealer and restorer and also sells Yamaha, near Witney. He has a very good reputation. Might be worth a call?
http://www.shackellpianos.co.uk/
Posted by: Supply

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 12:59 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Patrick Hinves:
Yamaha's are renown for being quite stable tuning wise, this is absolutely true, .... so I've been able to prove this fact with both hire and "domestic" pianos,
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:
We have a couple Yamaha CFIIIs in our tuning clientele. Both instruments are about 10-12 years old. Upon the observations of my technicians, both pianos have underwhelming tuning stability.
Although these two posts seem to contradict each other, in fact they may not. Patrick is correct that Yamahas in general have a reputation of good tuning stability. But Keith is correct that the Yamaha CFIIIS[/b] has some problems. I have personally experienced this and have talked to Yamaha service reps and Yamaha technicians about this problem.

No one is willing to go on record, but here are the goods:
The CFIII has tuning pin plate bushings. The designers decided to drop these on the CFIIIS[/b]. The sturdy Yamaha plate in the tuning pin fields means that the thin tuning pins are unsupported for maybe 12 - 14 mm between the pin block and the point where the string wire exerts tension on the pin (my estimate - I don't have piano to check right now).

Furthermore, Yamaha maintained the thin tuning pins used on the CFIII. I thought they are 7.00 mm but I was told they are even 6.90 mm. The result is a lot of "flagpoling" of the thin tuning pins. It makes it very difficult to tune, and if the tuning pin is not perfectly set (a lot less tolerance than other designs) the tuning will be instable.

S&S doesn't use plate bushings either (incentive for Yamaha?).
But the Steinway pins are thicker, stronger and less flexible, and I believe the S&S plate is thinner here so the unsupported length of the tuning pin is shorter.

I know it is “just a technical detail”, but unless the CFIIIS is serviced by a very skilled and experienced technician, this piano may end up perpetually out of tune, or close to it. And how lovely will such a piano sound?

 Quote:
Originally posted by Mark Purney:
So many beautiful 9' instruments out there, and yet we act like there are only two valid choices. Oh, the power of marketing.
I couldn’t agree more. I would try to open the field of discussion again. (Maybe Bösendorfer is not that bad, now that Yamaha owns them ;\) ) Think Sauter, Grotrian, Schimmel. You have mentioned Steingraeber. :3hearts: All amazing pianos.
There is more than just vanilla available.
Posted by: Dave Stahl

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 02:08 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Supply:

There is more than just vanilla available. [/b]
This is indeed the truth. I had the pleasure of servicing a Seiler 278 concert grand yesterday, including a fair amount of regulation. The piano is about 2 years old. A very refined yet powerful instrument indeed! This one might be worth looking at, too. Just to add to the confusion, of course.

Today I tuned a 4 year old S and S "D." Powerful, colorful, yes...refined, no. Ooodles of potential, though, and I'm looking forward to the next appointment because it really needs voicing. The bass is brassy-bright, the treble and mid-ranges were tonally very uneven. The room this is in is, shall we say, live. No furniture, 20 foot ceilings, 25 x 30 or so floor space, hardwood floors, no carpets, no pictures, no furniture, just a piano and the echos of tiny little "beats." My ears are still hurting!

Both great instruments, but without the Steinway being anywhere near its potential, it's hard to make a fair comparison.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 02:45 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Stahl:
Today I tuned a 4 year old S and S "D." .... The room this is in is, shall we say, live. No furniture, 20 foot ceilings, 25 x 30 or so floor space, hardwood floors, no carpets, no pictures, no furniture, just a piano and the echos of tiny little "beats." My ears are still hurting!
Dave, you shouldn't be punishing your body with those kind of tunings. For those situations, I use my noise cancelling tuning system. Noise Canceling Tuning System "Don't go there without it" to paraphrase a famous slogan.

But to stay on topic:
 Quote:
I had the pleasure of servicing a Seiler 278 concert grand yesterday.... A very refined yet powerful instrument indeed! This one might be worth looking at, too. Just to add to the confusion, of course.
Yes, Seiler, Blüthner..... Does Förster make a 275?

And, uhmmmmm, has anyone mentioned Steingraeber? I hear they will fly in clients to their wonderful little plant, put them up, wine and dine them.... "Kaffee mit Udo..." The perks alone are enough reason to buy. And then you get this amazing instrument on top of it all.... ;\)
Posted by: schwammerl

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 03:08 AM

By Supply:
 Quote:
There is more than just vanilla available.
So then, where are the Estonia aficionados this time?

Isn't the Estonia Concert L274 selling well as 'the Steinway of the poor' to music schools, concert event halls in the U.S.? Or are merely the 168 and 190 grands popular?

schwammerl.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 05:14 AM

OK, this is a very truncated summary of the brand considerations and lets you know why we have the Yamaha versus Steinway debate.

Estonia is not readily available in the UK. No concert grands to try. I have never seen one and I am the most committed shopper on the committee.
Concert sized Schimmels not seen. No demand apparently.
Sauter not readily available in the UK and no techs with familiarity.
Bluthner - not much liked by anyone on the committee. Perceived, rightly or wrongly, as not powerful enough. Little choice.
Bechstein - music director does not like them. And the committee wants a change
Boesendorfer - no credible UK dealership for the past two years. Imperial too big to move around and no new ones in stock anyway. Next size down is perceived as markedly inferior to Steinway D
Steingreaber - I like them a lot but I am the only one who has heard of them. Concert grands readily available from stock (including Phoenix model)
Grotrian - I have never seen a new concert grand in the UK. Not aware of a suitable dealer with stock. I like Grotrians. No one else on the committee has heard of them.
Petrof - perceived as inferior brand from long ago. Not readily available anyway.
Fazioli - too expensive. And one member says they are too flashy.
Stuart. Unknown to committee. Much too expensive. Too powerful for the venue.
Forster - unknown in the UK really
Seiler - unknown.

Steinway. Everyone knows the brand. D's readily available. Good tuners and techs readily available. Several to choose from. Low risk for committee - no one will criticise this choice. New music director (not yet appointed - Autumn 2008) unlikely to moan. Likely to be preferred by visiting artists.

Yamaha. Everyone knows the brand. Concert size readily available. Several to choose from. Quite a bit cheaper so this possibly enables another option to be pursued with the money saved.

The committee is absolutely not interested in trailing around Europe looking at pianos. There is zippo prospect therefore of anyone going to the Estonia factory or anywhere other than one of the big dealers in London or nearby to view pianos.

To be blunt most of the committee cannot tell one piano from another except by the name on the fallboard. They are torn between perceived status and the need to husband legacy money carefully.

No one on the committee is interested in taking a risk on anything except a well know brand. They want the assurance that the dealer will still be there ten years from now and if there is a problem the dealer will fix it without a lot of hassle.

Since the (out of tune) Bechstein is sold - and only remaining in the hall pending arrival of a new piano - the committee needs to get on with it now.

Hopefully some sort of decision will be made tomorrow.

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: I. Bruton

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 09:04 AM

Adrian;

I do not envy your situation. Good luck working with the committee and choose wisely!
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 10:09 AM

Thanks IB.

I forgot Kawai, which is odd as I used to have a Boston. Anyway, I have not seen a concert grand in any of the dealers we have contacted. The reasonably local dealer can get us one, but we have to buy it sight unseen, which is not clever.

A
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 10:44 AM

Adrian,

Having read the entire thread I was leaning toward the Steinway all along. Then I got to Jurgen's post that discussed the tuning pins in the CFIIIS. That sealed it for me and it sounds like the kind of information that could move a committee towards consensus. Sadly that would mean no opportunity to buy a second piano, but it would assure that tuning issues with the primary instrument would be minimized. You could always use the price quoted for the Yamaha as a bargaining chip with the Steinway dealer, the old "give me a reason to make the right decision" argument. Good luck.
Posted by: Axtremus

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 10:45 AM

Just like "no body ever got fired for buying IBM,"
"no body ever loses face for buying Steinway.[/b]" ;\)
Posted by: BDB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 11:52 AM

I have tuned a lot of CFIIISes since they were introduced and do not see the problems Jurgen has. I think Steinways may be a bit more sensitive to changes in climate than the Yamahas. I tuned a fairly new Hamburg D once that was badly out of tune, and was told that it had just been tuned, but I think that was the tuner, not the piano.

As I said before, I think that the pianos are very similar, and that sample differences may be greater than design differences. The Yamahas are very consistent, however, much more so than their other models.

I cannot speak to their longevity. After all, how do you compare a model that is less than 20 years old to one that is 125 years old? The Yamahas I see are heavily used for concerts, the Steinways less so, so while I do see that the Yamahas wear, I have seen similar wear in Steinways that get the same sort of use. There are a lot of Steinways that are wonderful pianos even when they are 50, 75 or 100 years old with nothing more than new strings and hammers. I have not played or tuned the first Yamaha that I saw (perhaps the first in the US) since it was retired, reconditioned, and installed at a local college, but it sounds nice, and someone who plays it told me she thought it was too nice a piano for that school.

For me, it would be a tough choice. I will say that there is one advantage to either of these pianos that would weigh me in their favor over other makes, and that is the reliability of the companies. You should be able to get parts and service for them for the foreseeable future.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 02:06 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
[QB] I have tuned a lot of CFIIISes since they were introduced and do not see the problems Jurgen has.
The issues can be measured - tuning pin diameter and unsupported height above the pin block. Flagpoling can also be measured. I suppose. My experiences were confirmed to me privately by Yamaha industry people and by Keith K in this thread.

As I said, it takes a special knack to get rock solid tunings on these pianos. It looks like you have that knack. Good for you.
Posted by: Craigen

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 02:39 PM

The Steinway D is widely recognized on concert stages around the world. The Yamaha CFIIIS has and is garnering more and more finalist selections in international competition.

I don't know the details of the evolution of the Yamaha concert grand regarding copying S&S. I believe all manufacturers take a good long look at what has gone before and try to build on that and improve on that.

The two pianos are two different animals, utilizing different materials and construction techniques. The are the epitome representatives of the Euro camp in touch and tone and the Asian camp.

IMO the values of each instrument at year 10, 20, and 30 will likely mirror each other proportionately. Resale markets for 9' grands are very small as has already been stated.

I like Kia's suggestion of securing a two week loan trial of both at the same time and let several folks play and vote. Either choice is a winner on several levels.
Posted by: mdsdurango

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 03:09 PM

So Adrian
- flip a coin. \:D
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 05:18 PM

I am surprised to hear the CFIII is substantially less money in the UK. Here in New York when I was shopping the Yamaha was a few thousand more than the S&S. This does not take into account that the Yamaha price probably could have been negotiated while the S&S price could not.
Posted by: I. Bruton

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 05:23 PM

I also noticed that a few years ago. I believe the CFIIIS was roughly $125K...can anyone tell us the current list price?
Posted by: Christopher P. Smith

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/10/08 05:37 PM

$149,395 for the polished ebony
$151,195 for the satin ebony
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/11/08 05:36 AM

List prices are of course irrelevant. A couple of years ago, when I first looked at CFIIIS, the UK list price was roughly about £70,000 yet the pianos were advertised by Yamaha dealers on the internet for around £40,000. I think the cheapest I saw on the internet was £37,000. Used ones less than five years old were selling in the £20k's.

Internet prices have disappeared with Yamaha's price support policy, but the discounts from these prices remain.

I would be astonished if anyone clued up paid remotely close to list for a Yamaha.

Perhaps the US position is different. The very weak dollar obviously has a major role for imports.
Posted by: Steve Ramirez

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/11/08 07:33 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by AJB:
I know that members here will be inclined to say pick the piano that sounds best. The reality is that in the hall concerned, especially if the piano is being used for accompanying voices or other instruments, I rather doubt that most of the audience could tell the difference between them. [/b]
In theory maybe. But at some point there will be actual pianos to select or reject, and those pianos may have unique characteristics that will influence the outcome of the model D vs. CFIIIs debate. Try moving this thing along to the selection process without ruling out either maker and see what happens. Othewise, you may be unhappy when the actual piano is selected.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/11/08 08:12 AM

I agree Steve, but I have to consider the practicalities of doing as you suggest. The reason I made the remark that you quoted is that usage is a factor: much of the time the piano is used as an accompanying instrument, either to voices, as part of an ensemble or both. In such cases the mix tends to obscure the sound. However, at other times it is used for solo recitals and that is more challenging.

Things have moved on slightly this morning.

The Committee meeting is at 2 pm and it is now 1 pm.

I need to get the decision made. One of my colleagues has approached dealers this week, at my behest, with a view to a side by side comparison and one of the brands has refused. Their counter offer is that if we pick their piano we can change it for another piano from the same company if voicing does not deliver what we want. I am unimpressed but we will see what other members think.

The other company has no problem with a side by side comparison. They have also said that we can take their piano on approval for a short period, allow it to settle, tune and voice it, and if we don't like it we can send it back. Our exposure is a share of the transport costs if we return it.

We have final quotes with both brands knowing that price is a factor. We also have, at the last minute, an interesting import option for a lightly used almost two year old instrument that comes recommended from someone credible.

The Chairwoman - who I though was computer illiterate (sorry Amanda) advises me that she was flattered by my assessment of her being a grade 5 player as she believes she only passed grade 2 and that was, shall we say, a while ago.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our evaluation process.

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: RachOn

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/11/08 08:42 AM

OK, I'm really curious which brand said no to the side-by-side....
Posted by: hv

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/11/08 09:09 AM

Adrian,

It sounds to me like the reluctant dealer is really objecting to any trial period absent a commitment to buy. Maybe you should try talking short-term rental with option to buy instead.

Howard
Posted by: mdsdurango

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/11/08 09:15 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by RachOn:
OK, I'm really curious which brand said no to the side-by-side.... [/b]
Likewise! As a Yamaha owner I am predisposed to believe that Yamaha was the company who would allow a side by side. Steinway being the "tow the line" sort of company with their prices leads me to believe that they are the nay sayers.

But - ???

Can't wait to hear the rest of this story.

Mike
Posted by: Numerian

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/11/08 10:22 AM

My thought on the live trial of each type of instrument was that each instrument gets a month of its own in the hall. The side by side comparison may be too difficult to arrange because to do it properly each instrument would have to take turns in the same location with the same artistic circumstances. I don't think going first or second would give an instrument any particular advantage as long as they each get a month with chamber, vocal, solo or whatever type of concerts would likely be programmed.
Posted by: Dave Ferris

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/12/08 05:04 AM

.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/12/08 08:53 AM

I have to agree Dave, I played a number of CF3's at the Yamaha artist center in NYC and while they are very nice they are not as good as a good D. I will say their actions are very good. In addition I never had any trouble at all with my C3 that I owned for over 20 years. In fact the tuner/tech who inspected for the buyer thought I never used it, it stood up so well. It was heavily used. Still its the sound of my D that keeps me at the keyboard for so many more hours.
Posted by: jazzpianist

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/12/08 01:15 PM

I agree too. I am a huge Yamaha fan - I play several C3s in various gigs, there are several Yamahas at work, and for just over a year I have owned and loved a C7 - but I have begun to think (maybe realise) that nothing beats a Steinway [Hamburg] D. IMO there is a magic which I cannot easily describe.

A few weeks ago I again played a CFIIIS in the wonderful Yamaha showroom in Chappell of Bond Street. Then within half an hour I played two or three Steinway Ds at Steinway Hall. To my mind there was really no comparison and, in fact, the CFIIIS seemed a little boring by comparison. Whether the Steinway is worth the extra money, given the start and original context of this thread, is another matter.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/13/08 10:14 AM

Apologies for absence of posts on this. In bed with flu. Not feeling internet friendly.
Posted by: mdsdurango

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/13/08 10:20 AM

Get well soon.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/13/08 01:12 PM

AJB, you're not in a particularly enviable position in this debacle! Personally, I wouldn't even try to comment or add to the question at hand.

The only thing I can say is that in my many travels to places of manufacture of fine pianos in Europe/Germany, I have had the chance to play a good number of 9' concert grands on many occasions.

Some of them have left me in sheer awe with the indelible impressions that the finest there is can often be found in places least suspected.

If these visits would have been reduced to only 2 places - so would have been my impressions and, i.e. 'choices' or 'possibilities' in a large and very interesting world out there.

Regretfully, you have to work within this rather *restricted* situation.

In a world of ever larger boundaries, widening perspectives and better understanding of the world all around us, this is particularly sad.

P.S. Hope you're feeling better soon!

Norbert \:\)
Posted by: masaki

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/13/08 10:07 PM

AJB,
 Quote:
I forgot Kawai, which is odd as I used to have a Boston. Anyway, I have not seen a concert grand in any of the dealers we have contacted. The reasonably local dealer can get us one, but we have to buy it sight unseen, which is not clever.
 FYI, Shigeru Kawai EX is listpriced JPY15,000,000, while CFIIIS is listpriced JPY11,000,000(actually retailed at under JPY10,000,000) in Japan. I guess the SK EX is sold more expencively than the S&S D in Europe.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/14/08 03:17 AM

Thank you masaki. Whilst the list prices are interesting, the cold reality in Europe is that Kawai has as much chance of selling Shigerus for more than Steinways as a snowflake has of surviving in a hot oven.

In my limited experience Japanese made pianos have to undercut the likes of Steinway (hamburg) and Fazioli very substantially in order to have a hope of selling. This probably has more to do with history, brand perception and marketing, than any objective evaluation of the instruments.

A
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/14/08 03:45 AM

This is what happened. I’m afraid it is a little bizarre.

Yamaha was ruled out. This was for reasons that I did not anticipate until the story unfolded after lunch on Friday. The legacy was from a wealthy widow of a former soldier. We learned that her husband had been imprisoned in Japan during WW2. The eldest son of the widow, who attended as a “friend” of the Committee, made a representation to members that he believed that his parents would prefer us not to purchase an instrument made in Japan. This wish has no binding effect as it was never mentioned as a restriction in the legacy, but the Committee felt unanimously that his views should be respected.

He wondered if a suitable instrument could be purchased from an English manufacturer. He was advised that the piano industry in this country is largely defunct. Leaving aside American imports of brands such as Mason & Hamlin (not available here), the best instruments came from Germany, Austria and Italy. You can see where I am going with this can’t you?

There was rather more debate about this aspect than anything to do with the pianos themselves. I am aware that the Chairwoman may well read this, but the fact is for me it was rather like spending a few hours in a parallel universe. It was all well before my time, though I respect the emotions involved.

So, to the decision. This took about 5 minutes…..

As a result of the posting on this forum, a dealer in Switzerland who is known to me (I used to live there for a while) contacted us with details of a piano from a recently deceased person. The piano is being disposed of by the executors of the estate. It is only 20 months old. No one on the committee has either seen it or played it. However, the dealer has a good reputation and is well known to a music conservatory in Switzerland that I have maintained in contact with. This Hamburg D is stated to be in excellent condition and we have no reason to disbelieve this. The Swiss tend to be very straightforward about such things.

In a short telephone call with the Executor, we agreed to buy this piano. The dealer contact will receive a small commission. It really is small and I know he is doing us a favour as a decent guy: it is in effect a charity deal. He will warrant the condition etc and we are assured the piano remains guaranteed by the Hamburg factory. He will arrange shipping at our cost. He has quoted a fixed price for this, though we have to wait a few weeks for a consolidated transport arrangement as that is much cheaper. After all this we save over £31,000 against Steinway list price in the UK and over £23,000 against the real price of a new piano. In other words it is not a million miles away from a new CFIIIS (which would still have been a bit cheaper).

The reasons that this option was chosen, despite some risk of buying a sight unseen instrument, were:

1 The Committee was very taken with the idea of using the funds saved, to buy another good piano for use in a student rehearsal and recital room. In fact a member has generously offered to pay for the room to be redecorated and another has equally generously offered to contribute some funds for tuition and maintenance.

2 The Committee believes that our ex Steinway UK technician will be able to tune and voice the piano to the satisfaction of visiting artists and the resident players. He has confirmed that he expects not to have an issue with this.

3 If the worst comes to the worst and the piano is not to our taste, then it should not be impossible to sell at close to what we paid for it. I doubt this will be the case though.

4 The father worked in the City after the war, trading stocks and shares and his son felt he would approve of this “deal” being in keeping with the spirit of the old man. I thought that was a pretty good recommendation really.

OK, I know this goes against all the usual principles of piano buying. But, I do think it will turn out to be a good outcome. After all, the instrument is not for one individual, but for many, so who is to say that the taste of one of us should prevail. And the saving plus the generous gifts is enough to buy a good quality new or newish 6ft or 7ft piano for student and intimate recital use. That was a major factor.

May I take this opportunity to thank Piano World members for their useful contribution to the lead up to this rather strange decision, and may I also apologise to those Committee members who may read this for my entirely unwarranted and unreasonably harsh descriptions of their hearing, musical perception and ability to tell one piano from another!

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: insanity

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/14/08 05:16 AM

Well I think that is quite a nice resolution. Hopefully it will hold what it promisses.

Can you tell me which dealer in Switzerland this is?
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/14/08 07:30 AM

I don't think it is appropriate for me to disclose dealer details with people I do not know personally, and especially on an open forum, as I do not want to create an issue of one person saying that a sale has been taken away from another. I do hope you understand.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/14/08 07:51 AM

The result is that you have a nice Hamburg Steinway D that has one year of breaking in already, AND another piano besides! Sounds like the group 'did good'!

Just curious, in donating $$$ did they know how much a new top concert grand would cost and they matched that amount, or was just a certain round figure given and it happen to work out?

Hope you feel better AJ.
Posted by: birchy

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/14/08 08:34 AM

There are two things in the universe which are made in very strange ways: sausages and decisions by committee...

It is a balancing act in a charitable organization to respect the closely held values of individuals and at the same time uphold the greater cause. A positive outcome always depends on a lot of goodwill all around. While the personal grievances of previous generations are hard for us to relate to, it sounds like the overall result in your case was very good indeed, and no relationships were harmed in coming to this conclusion! Congrats \:D
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/14/08 09:08 AM

Lilylady - They donated £100,000, which was also intended to provide a maintenance annuity fund and included the purchase of a few other small instruments that were needed. Since the donation, the fund has grown to £111,000 because this process has already had one false start (before my time).

Birchy - I am used to board room decisions, which is a bit like a committee of this kind I suppose, but with perhaps more commonality of view and purpose. The problem we have had in the past is that there is no CEO as such so deadlock can occur. The chairperson role carries with it no power as it moves automatically every year. This changed recently by making the Treasurer a professional appointment with a right of veto over investment and expenditure proposals. That is not ideal either as it is only negative power so instead of breaking deadlock it can perpetuate it. I have never come across that before. It was nevertheless an interesting experience.

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/14/08 09:17 AM

Yes, sounds like a very good outcome. I applaud your committee for honoring the wishes of the donor, as expressed by his family, even though you were not legally obligated to do so. To do otherwise would not only have been unfair to the family but possibly had a chilling effect on potential future bequests to the organization.
Posted by: Numerian

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/14/08 09:32 AM

Understandable decision. You will have a superb instrument that satisfies everybody on musical and other grounds. This takes nothing away from the musical merits of a modern Yamaha.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/14/08 09:38 AM

I agree Monica and Numerian.

In some ways this was a relief for the Committee as the decision could be made for pragmatic reasons not associated with anyone's personal preferences.

I have written positive things in the past about the CFIIIS and a smaller Yamaha that I played a lot at a school. I think they make some good pianos.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/15/08 05:22 PM

While I do not know the exchange rate it certainly sounds like a substantial savings. What luck to get such a deal. I cant imagine this nearly new D is anything but spectacular.
Posted by: Craigen

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/17/08 03:41 PM

Top tier world class instrument. Great resolution to the delema for all concerned. Good Steinway experienced tech on hand and an annuity in place for ongoing service. Who could ask for more.

Just one detail in your commentary that I wanted to comment on. The manufacturer's warranty on new Steinways is not transferrable. Your organization will be bare on any "warranty" issues. This likely will not be an issue, but should be noted.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/17/08 04:47 PM

We were told that S&S Hamburg warranties are transferred within a given period. However, I will check this

As regards exchange rates, the pound is a bit weaker against the Euro than it was, but it has not suffered the same weakness as the dollar. In the time-span of this transaction it is not a factor.

I have no idea whether the piano is spectacular or not, I suspect it is a typical but not stellar D. The dealers still say that although Hanburg concert grands are more consistent than the New York ones, the best ones still do not go to private buyers. I am not sure that either I or anyone involved is familiar enough or has a good enough ear or touch to tell the difference between a top class D and an OK one. I am sure it will be OK. Anyway it is over now. Such is life.
Posted by: mdsdurango

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/17/08 04:58 PM

Adrian - it's not "over" until you post pics! \:D
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/17/08 05:02 PM

Also not over till we get a report on the D when it arrives and gets played.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/17/08 06:04 PM

Fair enough. We are some weeks away from pics and a player report though. Removal, packing, shipping, customs clearance, delivery, settling in for a week or so, then first tuning and prep. I am expecting it to take six weeks before we have something that can be played.

A
Posted by: Roger Ransom

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/17/08 06:04 PM

It's interesting that they hate Japan because of activities during WWII but Germany is OK? Hmmm

I guess it was the personal nature of the experience with Japan, others might feel differently but they're financing a major purchase.

Actually I believe at the level that both of those and other concert grands are, it is strictly a matter of taste or prejudices rather than absolute characteristics of any sort.

They are both wonderful pianos.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/17/08 06:16 PM

I agree that there is a degree of illogicality in differentiating between Japan (personal incarceration) and Germany (WWII enemy). It was 63 years ago, long before I was born, and the world has moved on to a huge extent. But when people bequeath money, it is not unreasonable to respect their views as expressed by their children.

I happen to have a German girlfriend and I know Germany very well. Oddly enough, the English / British of my parents and grandparents generation are far more attuned to and tolerant of Germanic views than Japanese ones. Perhaps it is simply a European perspective and cultural similarity.

It has no real place in piano purchasing decisions.

I think it is a shame that we see so few American pianos in Europe. I have never seen a Mason & Hamlin in Europe, for example. NY Steinways are few and far between, and those we do see are usually ancient.
Posted by: Paulwbenn

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/17/08 08:35 PM

"It's interesting that they hate Japan because of activities during WWII but Germany is OK? Hmmm"

Yes, that is ironic. To read the London tabloids, you'd think the war with Germany was still on. But I guess a Steinway, even one made in Hamburg, is really an American piano. \:\)
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/18/08 03:58 AM

In fact, the London tabloids do not make anti German references very often these days, except perhaps on the rare occasions when an English team plays a German one at football (soccer). Football seems to bring out the worst in many people.

Interestingly, if you were to ask a sample of people whether Steinway is an American or a German piano, I would be willing to bet that the vast majority would say German.

There are very few NY Steinways over here. They are regarded as Hamburg, Germany instrument. Even though I am aware that there is US ownership, even I think of them as a German instrument.

In reality it does not matter at all.
Posted by: PoStTeNeBrAsLuX

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/18/08 04:29 AM

Adrian:
Even though I am aware that there is US ownership, even I think of them as a German instrument.

Lucky they didn't have to consider one of those Japanese Bösendorfers \:\)

-Michael B.
Posted by: schwammerl

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/18/08 06:33 AM

From AJB,

 Quote:
I think it is a shame that we see so few American pianos in Europe. I have never seen a Mason & Hamlin in Europe
What true American piano manufactures might we expect to see in Europe apart from Steinway NY, Baldwin and Mason and Hamlin?

If e.g. Baldwin and M&H are not export driven, who is there to blaim.

I know though of one M&H dealer in Europe (Paris, France):
http://www.magne.fr/index1.html

schwammerl.
Posted by: Paulwbenn

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/18/08 07:05 PM

"In fact, the London tabloids do not make anti German references very often these days, except perhaps on the rare occasions when an English team plays a German one at football (soccer)."

Well, the Sun did recently welcome the new German Pope with the headline "From Hitler Youth to Papa Ratzi" and the Daily Mail called him the "Panzer Cardinal."

Steinway has been an American company for over a century. It happens to make some of its pianos in Hamburg, just as BMW happens to make some of its cars in South Carolina.
Posted by: SCCDoug

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/18/08 07:23 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Paulwbenn:
"In fact, the London tabloids do not make anti German references very often these days, except perhaps on the rare occasions when an English team plays a German one at football (soccer)."

Well, the Sun did recently welcome the new German Pope with the headline "From Hitler Youth to Papa Ratzi" and the Daily Mail called him the "Panzer Cardinal."

Steinway has been an American company for over a century. It happens to make some of its pianos in Hamburg, just as BMW happens to make some of its cars in South Carolina. [/b]
Steinway has been building pianos in Germany for 127 years, and to different design specifications than those in NY. Hardly an apt comparison to todays BMW.
Posted by: Paulwbenn

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/18/08 07:56 PM

 Quote:
Steinway has been building pianos in Germany for 127 years, and to different design specifications than those in NY. Hardly an apt comparison to todays BMW.
Its true. Steinway & Sons of New York has been building pianos in Germany for over 100 years. A true American pioneer of globalization.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/18/08 08:23 PM

Steinway has been building pianos in Germany for 127 years, and to different design specifications than those in NY. Hardly an apt comparison to todays BMW.

While there are some differences they are essentially the same design.
Posted by: PoStTeNeBrAsLuX

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/18/08 08:26 PM

Paulsbenn:
Steinway & Sons of New York has been building pianos in Germany for over 100 years.[/b]

A bit longer than that considering the instruments that Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg^H^H^Henry E. Steinway made in Germany before he left for New York. So I think you'll find that Steinway and Sons of New York were a true German pioneer of globalisation \:\)

Michael B.
Posted by: Paulwbenn

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/18/08 11:53 PM

 Quote:
A bit longer than that considering the instruments that Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg^H^H^Henry E. Steinway made in Germany before he left for New York. So I think you'll find that Steinway and Sons of New York were a true German pioneer of globalisation
Excellent point. Although the pianos are now called Steinways and not Steinwegs. \:\) America was and is a country of immigrants!
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/19/08 07:06 AM

So we are agreed that Steinways are German pianos. Thank goodness for that.
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/19/08 07:08 AM

Of course, as the Chinese, with their huge economic resources, gradually take over American industry, soon all that stuff produced in America will be Chinese.

Even Texas will not be spared!
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/20/08 10:02 AM

So we are agreed that Steinways are German pianos. Thank goodness for that.

Not..The Steinway came to be what it is in New York despite its German heritage. If its not a USA development because of its heritage than nothing is American since even the Native Americans emigrated to this continent.
Posted by: PoStTeNeBrAsLuX

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/20/08 10:42 AM

LJC:
The Steinway came to be what it is in New York despite its German heritage.

Blimey, you have an odd keyboard on your computer, as it appears to have typed 'despite' when of course the appropriate phrase is 'thanks to'. Here's the thing: the chap was born in Germany, made his first pianos in Germany (15 years before leaving the country), emigrated from Germany at age of 54 due to political instability and insecurity in his homeland, changed his name to a more anglo-sounding one and founded his new piano company in New York. Of course this new company was steeped in German tradition... As for your last comment, it is sometimes said that Europeans think that two hundred miles is a long way, and Americans think that two hundred years is a long time \:\) .

Michael B.
Posted by: Paulwbenn

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/20/08 11:50 AM

 Quote:
Of course this new company was steeped in German tradition...
Of course, at that time Germany wasn't exactly the engineering and industrial powerhouse that we know today. It was hardly even a country \:\)

With all due respect to its German roots, Steinway & Sons is a thoroughly American success story. As for its pianos, they were actually shaped through early and intense competition with names like Chickering and Mason & Hamlin - not Bosendorfer or Bechstein.
Posted by: PoStTeNeBrAsLuX

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/20/08 01:51 PM

Paulwbenn:
at that time Germany wasn't exactly the engineering and industrial powerhouse that we know today. It was hardly even a country \:\)

Indeed. It was still merely a Confederation of 40 odd entities at the time old Heinrich climbed aboard the boat for the New World... though we all know the results a few generations later when it did become united and industrialised... twice in fact \:\(

Anyway, it's time to eat here in Yurrup, so I think I might tuck into a pizza... hold on, I hear that you have them over there too, so surely that's another fine traditional American product as well? I suppose especially so if the Italian who made it emigrated after the age of fifty...buon appetito! \:D

Michael B.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/20/08 08:58 PM

"changed his name to a more anglo-sounding one and founded his new piano company in New York."

Thats correct. In other words he became an American and started an American Company.
Posted by: PoStTeNeBrAsLuX

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 03:50 AM

LJC:
In other words he became an American and started an American Company.

"Despite" having been German for the previous 54 years? ;\) . I could start calling myself Michel/Mikaël, and even take the passport, but it wouldn't really make me Swiss. If I started a company e.g. blending and making tea, if that was the professional and skill I had practiced in England beforehand, it wouldn't make it a Swiss tea company either.

Of course, I am well aware that the United States (perhaps more than many other countries) is a nation of relatively recent immigrants and a that the ideal of an overarching American national identity has developed (and/or been imposed) for many socio-economic and political reasons. It is fun occasionally to tease LeftPonders about such things, though some display more (or less) of a sense of humo(u)r than others \:\)

Michael B. (also in an immigrant!)
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 05:52 AM

The English like few things better than baiting Americans about history. Disgraceful. The English sardonic or dry humour is often not grasped or appreciated by our friends across the pond. And double standards abound.

At present I am involved in a corporate transaction with some American gentlemen who are seeking to invest in a controlling share in a little business in Europe.

I had dinner with six of them just before Christmas and we were talking about ancestry. Each of the six was passionate about his European origins. Three claimed Irish ancestry. They were the ones who liked potatoes. Two claimed Italian ancestry. They were the ones who liked pasta. The sixth claimed English descent and he was the one with a sense of humour.

Had one of them had German forbears, I am sure he would have agreed with us that Steinways are in fact German pianos through and through. With maybe a few recent (i.e. 100 years ago) US touches here and there.

With kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: TLuvva

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 08:46 AM

For a complete list of things American, take a listen to the song, "America, F*** Yeah from the American movie Team America.

Included are such American staples as sushi and Taco Bell. (Steinways are not included). Check out the entire list and don't you forget it!
Posted by: Starting Over

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 10:45 AM

Steinways are American pianos.

So there!
Posted by: insanity

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 01:01 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Starting Over:
Steinways are American pianos.

So there! [/b]
Do you mean ALL Steinways or just NY Steinways?
Posted by: Starting Over

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 02:30 PM

I mean all Steinways. Steinway is an American company that builds some pianos in their factory in Germany.

I have yet to hear someone refer to a Camry as anything other than a Japanese car. This, despite the fact that every Camry you see on the road in the US and Canada is built in Kentucky.

Works both ways.

There you go. ;\)
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 02:35 PM

Sadly Starting Over you are deluding yourself.

And it is just as well for Steinway. If people in Europe thought these things were, horror of horrors, American (we in Europe know just how truly dreadful American cars are - great in a straight line, briefly, but hopeless around corners) - Steinway would be lucky to sell any pianos over here at all.

A Camry, on the other hand, is definitely American. No question about that. Honestly, how could anyone doubt it. Have you driven one?

Kind regards

Adrian
Posted by: Mr_Kitty

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 02:41 PM

Is there a problem here?
There are American Steinways, and there are German Steinways.
The original Steinweg family were Germans who moved to the States.
Hamburg Steinways and New York Steinways are very different in the ways they sound.
Posted by: Starting Over

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 03:48 PM

Well AJB, I guess it's lucky for Steinway that Europeans don't know then. \:D

Btw, I trust you know a Camry is a Toyota. Just checking. And yes, I have driven one and it's a pretty good car actually. I think it's still the best selling mid-size sedan in the US. My wife had one before trading it for her Subaru, another Japanese car. It was built in Indiana.

As for the Hamburg Steinways being so different, I think that's a bit overdone. They look like the same piano to me other than the finish and I don't hear much of a difference; they're both wonderful (yeah, I know Renner etc.). Two NY Bs can be as different from each other as from a Hamburg B.
Posted by: Barbara G

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 03:50 PM

Adrian,
I have enjoyed reading much of this. I understand that your university is going to chose between these two pianos. However you have asked for the issues that others see. As I understand it the Steinway is the design that was developed about 100 years ago. Steinway in the late 1800s collected the best ideas from around Europe and the US and came up with was was often thought to be the best designs in the world. The Steinway D was the most acclaimed piano in the world. But my understanding is that it has remained the same for the last 100 years. Meanwhile others have continued to work to improve pianos. Especially in the last few decades the modern science of piano engineering has been able to create better pianos. The reason you have been so impressed with Steingraeber and Sons, as I have, is that they have really worked with modern science and engineering to developer better pianos. In the US, Mason and Hamlin has also developed pianos which are now better than the wonderful pianos they made 100 years ago. It is also my understanding that Fazioli has also been able to develop and design better pianos now than old designs. Even Yamaha keeps working to design better pianos. Bosendorfer and Bechstein today are better sounding pianos than 40 years ago because they have worked at improving their designs while Steinway proudly keeps making the same old designs thinking that they cannot be improved upon.

Truly a big issue for your University to consider is do they want a new 100 year old designed piano or the best that modern piano designers and builders can create. Ask your committee in what areas of their lives do they prefer 100 year old designs. A piano is a very complex music machine which deserves to be the best that modern designers can create.

It is my understanding that Pleyel hired Steingraeber to design them new concert grands which they believe will be the best in the world. They displayed the prototype last spring. (I do not know the details and if they are now for sale.) However, it is exciting to realize that better pianos can be made and are being made and the world does not have to live with 100 year old designs. Steinways Ds are wonderful to play and to listen to, but they are not the end all, be all.

Of course my creations and opinions are... \:D

--
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 04:58 PM

If I started a company e.g. blending and making tea, if that was the professional and skill I had practiced in England beforehand, it wouldn't make it a Swiss tea company either.

It would if it was incorporated in there.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 05:00 PM

If I started a company e.g. blending and making tea, if that was the professional and skill I had practiced in England beforehand, it wouldn't make it a Swiss tea company either.
It would if were incorporated there despite its English heritage.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 05:13 PM

American cars are - great in a straight line, briefly, but hopeless around corners) -

I guess you never drove a Corvette. I remember people saying that if you bought a Jaguar you had to put a new room on your house for your mechanic. Fortuantely they are much improved now, except if you have to drive in the snow.

I also remember the British motorcycles like the BSA. They were alot of fun if you could get them to start. The Triumph's were better, another fun bike but they leaked oil all over the place. Plus they had the shift and the rear brake on the wrong side. The Norton was lot of fun too. You just had to let the car in front get a hundred yards ahead before starting off the light because if you didnt stand on it off the line it stalled.

BTW- I have a German heritage and Steinway is still American though the Hamburg is less so.
Posted by: Starting Over

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 05:37 PM

 Quote:
American cars are - great in a straight line, briefly, but hopeless around corners
It doesn't matter. There are no corners in North America. Our roads are all perfectly straight.
Posted by: Mr_Kitty

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 06:49 PM

hey buddy you from toronto too? lol I'm just around the "corner" ;\)

but what's this thread about? Didn't the people get the Steinway?
Posted by: Starting Over

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 07:10 PM

Good one. \:D
Yes, I am and they did buy the Steinway.

I'd have to read back through the thread to see exactly how we got this far into the weeds. I think it was something about the War, then Paulwbenn called a Steinway an American piano.

He was correct of course... :p
Posted by: Paulwbenn

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/21/08 08:26 PM

 Quote:
I'd have to read back through the thread to see exactly how we got this far into the weeds. I think it was something about the War, then Paulwbenn called a Steinway an American piano.

He was correct of course...
Oops, I think I did get this off track somehow. Glad to see that we've finally settled the Steinway issue though \:D
Posted by: PoStTeNeBrAsLuX

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/22/08 05:05 AM

LJC:
It would if were incorporated there despite its English heritage.[/b]

Aha, herein lies the problem. How would you parse the phrase "Swiss tea company?"

Is it:

(1) a Swiss-located company (owned and run by a recent immigrant of English, i.e. non-Swiss origin) that blends and sells (arguably English, given the heritage and methods of the owner) tea,

or is it:

(2) a Swiss company that makes Swiss tea[1]?

I think this could be yet another case of the British and Americans being divided by a common language ;\)

Michael B.
[1] Not that such a thing exists, obviously \:\)
Posted by: AJB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/22/08 07:22 AM

I doubt if a Swiss tea company would do very well.

In my experience, the Swiss are fond of coffee.
Posted by: insanity

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/22/08 04:58 PM

I am Swiss - and I drink tea and coffee (not simultaneously of course)
Posted by: insanity

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/22/08 05:00 PM

And just to warm up the cold coffee --> Steinways are definitely not American.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/22/08 05:45 PM

Michael B. You can parse it anyway you want if its your company.
Posted by: PoStTeNeBrAsLuX

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/22/08 06:07 PM

LJC:
You can parse it anyway you want if its your company.[/b]

Indeed. Though it wouldn't change the tea, obviously \:\) .

Anyway, methinks you doth protest too much for its American-ess, perhaps because of (or indeed 'despite') having chosen a Hamburg (and not a NY) D? ;\)

-Michael B.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 01/24/08 06:33 PM

Despite..
Posted by: phacke

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/05/13 12:52 AM

I was browsing this old thread and noticed:

Patrick Hinves wrote>:D well I'm sure the same will be said in a few years about the CFIIIS when compared to the " new CFIIIS triple "S" turbo" !!!! If they got it right in the first place, there won't be any need for changing the models name every few years!

You got that right, the CFIIIS, according to this Yamaha page accessed Feb, 2013, is stated as being discontinued.

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical-i...iis/?mode=model
Posted by: R Hufford, RPT

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/24/13 09:32 PM

I have reproduced here, with some alterations, a post put up several years ago on this subject. There are many, many other relevant details all of which militate to the conclusion that Steinway pianos of either NY or Hamburg, are, in the words of their own original builders and designers, "American" pianos. Of course, the natural pressure to make sales leads toward the creation of whatever impression may be useful. This is, in my opinion, merely marketing and does not address the actual issue.

There are, no doubt, many reasons why German products MAY be better, and, particularly, more carefully assembled than similar products from some other countries. However, with regard to grand pianos, German pianos have never been superior designs, with the exception of a few courageous experimenters of the present time, like Steingraber, etc. to those in the US.
With their cast iron plates, bent rims, felted hammers, acoustic dowels, laminated maple bridges, etc, etc, German pianos ARE American designs, as are those of virtually every other company of today. The actions of all are, in their final form, French, as is the use of agraffes as well.

Even though Germany, to a lesser degree England, and, especially Austria, were particularly the focus of piano design systems immediately after the period of Cristofori these systems are quite different than the modern piano. They were abandoned ultimately in favor of an English kind of piano with, finally, a comprehensive, innovative redesign and adaptation by Americans of the European antecedents of the time.

For a hundred and fifty years the piano industry had developed substantially in France and England. By the early 19th century more pianos were built in these two countries than the rest of the world combined. Germany was a minor, insignificant contributor of what were considered, in general, a cheap, inferior product.

Then in mid century first Chickering, and then Steinway, notwithstanding the misconceptions of some, a thoroughly American company building a thoroughly American product completely distinct from the inferior German production of the time, developed a series of innovations the collective effect of which was to transform the piano into the modern piano. This was known in Europe particularly, as is pertinent to this discussion, as the American System. With its bigger tone, superior tuning stability, long lived sound, and other virtues it presented a competitive problem to the big French and English companies and an opportunity for the backward German industry.
The Germans seized upon this system and in so doing expanded their industry tremendously. The well established French and English designs only gave ground grudgingly. They were slowly forced by competitive pressures over time to adopt various aspect of the American system, particularly overstringing and the use of continuous rims. Their industries declined to bit player status and were completely eclipsed by those of the US and Germany.

The Steinways, beginning first with their own name, relentless combated any suggestion their product was not distinctly American. The idea that their pianos were somehow of German origin and similar to the few pianos built in the kitchen of Henry Steinway which enabled a technology that they brought to the US is a misconception. The Pianofortefabrik in Hamburg began as a private operation of William and Theodore in which components were assembled locally after shipment from NY some twenty five years or so after the family had emigrated. For a generation virtually no manufacture was allowed. The Steinways made their reputation first and foremost building square grands, a type of piano only very infrequently produced in Europe. Thoughtful minds might enquire why a "German" piano, produced indeed in Germany and intended to be, and, sold in various dealers showrooms in Germany and other European companies displays, at least in earlier iterations of the plate, cast English words as part of the plate, identical to those used on similar models in N.Y. at the time. The answer is obvious: the pianos were intended to be represented as what they in fact are and which comports with the family's history, intentions and declarations - American pianos.

American cast iron techniques were superior even at the time to those of Europe. Julius Bluthner sent his son to the Chickering factory in 1853 to learn piano construction.

Even though it is, of course true that the antecents of the piano were in Europe, the fecundity of the American industry in the period from 1840 or so to 1930 far exceeded that of Europe where the standard of living was not as high and were less instruments could be sold. The result was that American instruments set the standard for innovative association into production of a slew of advancing design features, many, if not most of which, in concept had antecedents in Europe. That result was a standard, which, hopefully, can be said without accusation of jingoism, which still continues in the examples all around of high quality instruments from these periods. Their superiority of materials, execution and original amalgamation of design factors are still apparent to those that will look and listen.

Now, however, for several generations, that superiority of design execution has indeed passed to Germany, and subsequently to Japan, but there seems to me, very little that is truly original other than the use of carbon fiber in boards - not essentially a quantum leap, as occurred, for example, in the introduction of cast iron frames by Chickering, or the vertically laminated rim, overstringing in grands and the vertically laminated bridge by Steinway. The much-ballyhooed bridge agraffes of late
are neither unprecendented nor novel in design, having been employed in Europe and N. America as early as the late 19ths and early 20th century. The real problem with such things are the added costs of production viz.-a.viz. the products of the competition.
Regards, Robin Hufford, RPT
Posted by: TomazP

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/26/13 12:00 AM

There is Hamburg Steinway. Everyone else is fighting for second place!
Posted by: 1001 pianos

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/26/13 10:01 AM

For me it's the Steinway ... 1) sound quality, 2) sound variability in the time 3) depreciation/valorization
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/26/13 10:22 AM

And, the battle has been raging since 2008! The new Yamaha CFX is no longer the same instrument (CFIIIS) as it was four years ago.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/26/13 12:05 PM

The CFX is a completely different beast, with a much bigger range of color (especially when pushed hard) compared to its predecessor CF-IIIS.

Having played it quite a number of times, to me (and seemingly also quite a few professional classical pianists - including long-established Steinway Artists), it is a valid alternative to the Steinway D in the concert hall, able to project itself over big orchestras as well as in its own right in piano recitals. In comparison, the CF-IIIS sounds somewhat insipid and colorless.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/26/13 12:27 PM

For me, it remains to be seen. I have a venue which has received its D, but is waiting for its CFX. So I will get the direct comparison. There is a DC6 there, which needs some set-up, needing to be voiced down. This is the difference. Steinways need to be voiced up, while Yamahas need to be voiced down. The results depend on how that is done.
Posted by: Paul Y

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/27/13 04:01 PM

Regarding Yamaha's "discontinuation" of certain models, it is my understanding that this is NOT a bad thing. I had learned that there are/were a group of piano technicians that reported to work each day (in Hammamatsu, Japan) in search of producing a "better product". Each year at NAMM, "new" acoustic pianos were unveiled as "replacemnt models".

So, it does not surprise me in the least to hear of yet another "new" Yamaha 9' concert grand piano.

Paul
Posted by: E. Christensen

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 10/04/13 11:45 PM

"The Steinway is more likely to attract a better calibre of visiting musicians."

I think there is a lot of truth to this. While in a lot of regards the two pianos may offer a similar quality of playing experience, with some differences, at the end of the day one of them is a Steinway and one is not. It is my opinion that these are the two categories of pianos, Steinways and everything else.
Posted by: kalee21

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 10/05/13 03:01 AM

Ironically I came across a similar situation to the original post a couple of years ago. The college in question was located in South East London and the young musicians concerned reaching grades 7 and 8 (the most dedicated ones only of course) before graduating.
This college went with the Yamaha. This was an excellent piano to use for teaching : very well maintained. Acoustically it suited its recital room very well indeed. Understandably it was the only concert grand the college possessed.

The issue with the students was psychological. They simply did not equate a brand such as "Yamaha" as being in the same league as "Steinway and Sons". When shown musical challenges substantially beyond their current levels of attainment and seeing how well the Yamaha responded, questions such as "Wow : I would love to hear that on a Steinway" would be made. The more dedicated students were always hopping "over the fence" to another institution where the occasional time on smaller Steinways could be obtained. In their minds there was simply no doubt that they were returning to "second best".

Of course, the fact that this big black beast was an instrument for them to realise their music and improve technique was made, but I could see this was not really getting through.

I believe the psychology of all of this does have a very direct bearing on such situations, today of course the student is the "customer" and they must be satisfied.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 10/05/13 02:59 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB
The English like few things better than baiting Americans about history. Disgraceful. The English sardonic or dry humour is often not grasped or appreciated by our friends across the pond. And double standards abound.

At present I am involved in a corporate transaction with some American gentlemen who are seeking to invest in a controlling share in a little business in Europe.

I had dinner with six of them just before Christmas and we were talking about ancestry. Each of the six was passionate about his European origins. Three claimed Irish ancestry. They were the ones who liked potatoes. Two claimed Italian ancestry. They were the ones who liked pasta. The sixth claimed English descent and he was the one with a sense of humour.

Had one of them had German forbears, I am sure he would have agreed with us that Steinways are in fact German pianos through and through. With maybe a few recent (i.e. 100 years ago) US touches here and there.

With kind regards

Adrian


Adrian,

Did you get your questions answered sufficiently? BTW, I am very fond of a dry British wit.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 10/05/13 03:07 PM

I used to be known as a wit, but now that is only half true.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 10/05/13 05:01 PM

Quote:
Had one of them had German forbears, I am sure he would have agreed with us that Steinways are in fact German pianos through and through. With maybe a few recent (i.e. 100 years ago) US touches here and there.


Isn't same true for a good proportion of white America?

Norbert wink
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 10/05/13 05:34 PM

Huh? I know many Germans who happen to be white Americans. I happen to be one of them.
Posted by: rintincop

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/22/14 03:12 AM

Adrian,

How did it turn out with the Steinway D from Switzerland ???

!!!
Posted by: rintincop

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/22/14 03:13 AM

Has Yamaha upgraded their tuning pin design for the CFIII series ?
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/22/14 10:55 PM

Originally Posted By: rintincop

Has Yamaha upgraded their CFIIIS tuning pin design since 2008?

Don't you mean has Yamaha upgraded their tuning pin design for the CFX? wink
Posted by: rintincop

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/24/14 01:00 PM

.
Adrian, what happened in the end with the piano that everybody gave so much thought to?
It seems unfair to leave this thread without a conclusion.
Posted by: Hamburg-D

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/24/14 01:50 PM

Originally Posted By: rintincop
.
Adrian, what happened in the end with the piano that everybody gave so much thought to?
It seems unfair to leave this thread without a conclusion.


A 20 month old Hamburg D used in a home. Take a wild guess. That piano was most likely perfect.

But true, it would be nice to have OP verify the final result firsthand.
Posted by: rintincop

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/26/14 10:01 AM

The homes of the wealthy are where dealers sometimes are able place expensive flawed pianos.
Posted by: rintincop

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 02/26/14 03:11 PM

The more I think about it...
Posted by: rintincop

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 03/05/14 03:29 PM

I played a D in somebodies home last month and it was not very good, but the owner had no way of knowing. Private homes is where dealers can sell pianos that would not be suitable for a professional setting.
Posted by: iObsessed

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 03/05/14 09:04 PM

Originally Posted By: rintincop
I played a D in somebodies home last month and it was not very good, but the owner had no way of knowing. Private homes is where dealers can sell pianos that would not be suitable for a professional setting.


Tip:
That is why as a pianist shopping for a piano that is to be place in a home, that he be wary of those trying to bilk him of his money. Practice, and let your fingers tell the salesperson that you are not easily cheated.
Posted by: BerndAB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 03/06/14 12:24 PM

Is a Honda Gold Wing w. six cylinder a japanese motorcycle or an US item? (Built in the U.S.A. acc. to japanese drawings).

Is a Morgan Threewheeler (which you actually get again new) a british car, or is it a lousy mixup with american parts as the V 2 engine is an S&S one (no, not Steinway and Sons, but the Harley Davidson tuning specialist S+S). Or is it a british-american-japanese mixup, as it contains (first time in 90 years) a gearbox w. a gear to drive backwards, but done w. a Mazda MX-5 gearbox - what a shame..?..
wink

Is a Centennial D Concert Grand built in New York an american piano even if it still contains it's original soundboard, while the usual behaviour of U.S. piano restorers always goes with the advice that soundboards elder than 40 or 50 years are strong candidaties for extraction and replacement..?.. So a repaired Appalachian Spruce soundboard seems to be a somehow strongly irregular "unamerican" (..) thing (regd. normal american piano technicians P.O.V.)..?..

Hey boyz come on...

Change your weathermaker contracts, if your weather is such bad that the soundboards get wrecked too early!
wink

Get some Vee knifes w. double cutter to cut out the cracks and then glue in the V strips, grind them and get your soundboards repaired correctly, especially if they were made before 1920 and have the original old Appalachian Spruce wood which sounds a tiny bit better than Sitka...

Then again we can talk about "Buy british!", "Buy American!"; or "buy German!"

BTW A lot of piano technician friends use to drive a big BMW; a big Mercedes Benz et cetera... Are these colleagues "bad americans" as they like to drive something other than a Ford Pickup !?!?!

Hey boyz come on...
laugh
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 03/06/14 04:03 PM

Quote:
BTW A lot of piano technician friends use to drive a big BMW; a big Mercedes Benz et cetera... Are these colleagues "bad americans" as they like to drive something other than a Ford Pickup !?!?!


By same token: is Putin "un-Russian" driving a Mercedes Benz?
[as last seen in Sochi?]

At least I'm a good American myself.

My Passat TDI was made there.... ha

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Chattanooga_Assembly_Plant

Norbert
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 03/06/14 04:10 PM

Passats are made in Russia?

Norbert, you're American? Or, do you mean North American?
Posted by: BerndAB

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 03/06/14 07:38 PM

== Off Topic ==

Originally Posted By: Norbert

My Passat TDI was made there....


Yes. And the engine came from Gyry, former russian influence area ..uuhh hard to tell.. in Hungary. Ok quite near to Austria, if that may help..
wink

== On Topic ==

The Steinway family had good luck with their Alaska investment, uhm? wink Alaska was bought early enough, to heal the appalachian wood problems (over-harvesting) coming up in the 1920ies..

Think: Alaska (with their russian trees, Sitka spruce.. replacing the good U.S. trees on the Appalachian mountains.. ) was russian, until the end of the 19th century. 1867. The purchase was done when Steinway pianos (and the Chickering ones..) won the competition in pianos at the world exhibition in Paris...
wink

As the trees are normally around 200 years old: Yeah, you dear lovers of Steinway pianos (..made after 1928..): your nice piano sound is a born-russian one... laugh LOL

Nasdarowje! Drink, brrriederrchnn (little brother), drink!

== Off Topic ==

OK, I confess: 1867, Steinway & Alaska, a Conspiracy theory.

Hey Norbert, in times of "globalization" nearly everything is connected to nearly everything else.. it's high international cooperation time... we in western Europe were made to think this.

Was it a fake? An error?

= = on topic = =

Dear Uncle Vladimir (...he is our brother in piano playing...):

pls. keep the gas pipeline open. If you shut it, you might be responsible for the death of an 137 years old original soundboard. Then I would cut it out, and try to fire a fire with it- on top you and other reckless polticians who make bad politics which might damage super old pianos...

If that might help: I would invite Uncle Vladi and Uncle Barrack to play on a super old Centennial D and pick 'em up with a super old super comfortable Mercedes S class. If that may help to calm down that lousy and nearly useless (and dangerous) Krim conflict.

IMHO: it's not "U.S." or "russian". It is "mankind". Especially when both leaders hold piano music in high esteem. (BTW when I saw Vladi playing a concert grand, which brand was ist? Right. Anything with some S at the side... rounded arms... so: a german one? an american one? wink

A good piano. American drawings and patterns. German craftmanship. Born Alaska, russian trees for the soul of it.

Full Stop.
Posted by: rintincop

Re: Steinway D versus Yamaha CFIIIS - 03/07/14 11:28 AM

What are you all talking about?