C. Bechstein v. Steinway

Posted by: Inchoate

C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/25/12 06:40 AM

I am considering a mid-90s Steinway L and a late 90s C. Bechstein M-180. Both are in very good condition and sound fabulous, but different. I'm wondering if any readers have observations about these pianos, particularly the technical reputation of the Bechstein? Thank you.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/25/12 03:16 PM

Bechstein should need no introduction. It is a world-class piano, and all other things being equal, a better instrument than what Steinway was building in the '90s.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 05:33 AM

Steinway has an American tone, while Bechstein has an European sound, which may be too "light" for the american taste.

Both are world-class pianos.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 11:42 AM

Originally Posted By: Gadzar
Steinway has an American tone, while Bechstein has an European sound, which may be too "light" for the american taste.

Both are world-class pianos.



That's an incredibly simplistic view, and an inaccurate one, as well, IMO.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 01:44 PM

beethoven986:

Of course it is a simplistic view, it takes only two lines of text.

But to be more accurate and elaborate a little on what I mean I will quote Mr. Larry Fine, author of the well known and very high reputed "The Piano Book". In page 85 of the third edition one can read:

The tone of Bechstein grands is what one might call "classically European". It is very clean and thin in the treble and emphasizes the fundamental rather than harmonics in the bass. Those of us who grew up on the sound of American pianos may find the Bechstein sound somewhat alien, though interesting. I personally find it to be quite lovely at low volumes, the clearly articulated attack giving it a delicate character, but sometimes find it too bright for my taste at higher volumes. I also prefer a more pronounced singing quality and a heavier action than the Bechstein provides. These are, of course, a matter of personal preference; many pianists revere the Bechstein, and it is considered to be one of the world's pre-eminent pianos.

IMO, this "thinness" in the treble is what characterizes the "European tone". One can find the same kind of thinness in the Bösendorfers and Petrofs.

I agree with you that Bechstein is a world-class piano, but IMO it is not better than Steinway.

There are several great brands of pianos: Bechstein, Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Falcone, Fazioli, August Förster, Grotrian, Mason & Hamlin, Steinway.

Which is better?

For me it is a matter of personal preference, as says Mr. Fine. When speaking of pianos, nothing is written in stone. Two identical pianos, same brand, same model, same year of manufacture, will sound different and will play (feel) different.



Posted by: lluiscl

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 02:09 PM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Gadzar
Steinway has an American tone, while Bechstein has an European sound, which may be too "light" for the american taste.

Both are world-class pianos.



That's an incredibly simplistic view, and an inaccurate one, as well, IMO.


I agree.
The newest concert series D-280 from Bechstein are simply incredible. All less light.
Probably Mr. Fine needs an updated...
Posted by: BDB

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 02:11 PM

I just think they sound different. Deciding between them is a matter of taste.
Posted by: Dave B

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 06:17 PM

Bechstein.... what is there to discuss?
Posted by: rysowers

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 08:01 PM

The Steinway will have better resale value.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 09:34 PM

I've not found a good example in Youtube of a C. Bechstein, but
listen to that thin (light) treble of the "European Tone":

Victor Borge playing Debussy's Clair de Lune on a Bösendorfer.

Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_evCoEVaTQE


Definitely, I prefer the more robust and deeper sound of Steinways.

Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 09:58 PM

Originally Posted By: lluiscl

I agree.
The newest concert series D-280 from Bechstein are simply incredible. All less light.
Probably Mr. Fine needs an updated...


Here is the update:

C. Bechstein grands are impeccably made in Europe with the customary brighter tone that Europeans prefer, and may need considerable voicing to suit the American musical taste. (However, several of my colleagues had high praise for the wide dynamic range, tonal color, and responsive action of the recently redesigned 7' 8" model C grand.) The company maintains that since voicing is a matter of overall piano design, their pianos are voiced at the factory to their tonal standard and should not be altered. Some customers may still prefer the slightly warmer sound of the Academy grands, which are also about half the price.

Extracted from the Fine's web site, fall 2012.

You can read it complete here:

http://www.pianobuyer.com/fall12/154.html




Posted by: beethoven986

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 11:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Gadzar
Originally Posted By: lluiscl

I agree.
The newest concert series D-280 from Bechstein are simply incredible. All less light.
Probably Mr. Fine needs an updated...


Here is the update:

C. Bechstein grands are impeccably made in Europe with the customary brighter tone that Europeans prefer, and may need considerable voicing to suit the American musical taste. (However, several of my colleagues had high praise for the wide dynamic range, tonal color, and responsive action of the recently redesigned 7' 8" model C grand.) The company maintains that since voicing is a matter of overall piano design, their pianos are voiced at the factory to their tonal standard and should not be altered. Some customers may still prefer the slightly warmer sound of the Academy grands, which are also about half the price.

Extracted from the Fine's web site, fall 2012.

You can read it complete here:

http://www.pianobuyer.com/fall12/154.html



No offense to Mr. Fine, but I wouldn't take that too literally.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/26/12 11:53 PM

You are entitled to your own preferences. If you like C. Bechstein over other pianos there is no offense to anyone.

That said, there is a notorious difference in tone between C. Bechstein and Steinway.

So, to answer the OP's question: I think both are superb pianos, none is better than the other IMO, it is a matter of personal taste.

Steinway favors harmonics in the bass, while Bechstein favors fundamentals. In the treble Bechstein is brighter than Steinway. Bechstein have lighter actions than Steinway. These are objective (measurable) differences in touch and tone. They exist for real and are not subject to personal interpretations.

The point is knowing what the differences are to decide which piano you prefer.

Posted by: Olek

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 06:39 AM

I would not say that Bechteins of the 90 are lighter than Steinway Raphaël, nor that they are known for their bright treble, that sounds to be quite the opposite in my opinion (sorry)

Treble of the Bechstein may sound a little weak (for the models with agrafes all along the top) while the treble of Steiwnay (Hamburg) is well reputed as the better part of the scale.

The Steinway action can be made light or no (again, Hamburg, I dont know really for the NY one , the ones I have seen have more lead in the keys than the German ones, possibly my answer is not taking that in account then)


best regards
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 08:12 AM

Originally Posted By: Gadzar
The tone of Bechstein grands is what one might call "classically European". It is very clean and thin in the treble and emphasizes the fundamental rather than harmonics in the bass. Those of us who grew up on the sound of American pianos may find the Bechstein sound somewhat alien, though interesting. I personally find it to be quite lovely at low volumes, the clearly articulated attack giving it a delicate character, but sometimes find it too bright for my taste at higher volumes. I also prefer a more pronounced singing quality and a heavier action than the Bechstein provides. These are, of course, a matter of personal preference; many pianists revere the Bechstein, and it is considered to be one of the world's pre-eminent pianos.
Extracted from the Fine's web site, fall 2012.
The Bechsteins I played at the NYC Bechstein Center(now closed) fit this description quite well.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 10:21 AM

Originally Posted By: Kamin
I would not say that Bechteins of the 90 are lighter than Steinway Raphaël, nor that they are known for their bright treble, that sounds to be quite the opposite in my opinion (sorry)

Treble of the Bechstein may sound a little weak (for the models with agrafes all along the top) while the treble of Steiwnay (Hamburg) is well reputed as the better part of the scale.

...

...

best regards



???

I don't know if I understand what you mean. You say that treble of Bechsteins is a litle weak and that in the Steinways this is the better part of the scale.

That is in accordance with what I say. Apparently we all have the same impression of the treble of Bechsteins: I used the word "light treble", you say "weak treble", Larry Fine says "thin treble". I think we are saying the same with different words.

About Steinways, I said "more robust" opposed to "light", you say "the better part of the scale" opposed to "weak", Larry Fine says "more pronounced singing quality" opposed to "thin".

I guess the three of us are talking the same, using our own different words.
Posted by: rxd

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 10:53 AM

I don't know much about the smaller pianos but both of the recent (2-3yrs old) 9' Bechsteins I have serviced have been found capable of a big round treble without a lot of work. The rest of the piano matched beautifully.

I don't know if current pianos are made the same as they were in the '90's but that's been my albeit limited experience of current Bechsteins. The much older, smaller Bechsteins are also capable of fuller trebles than the way they are generally presented.

Same goes for Blüthner.

Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 11:12 AM

Originally Posted By: rxd
... Bechsteins I have serviced have been found capable of a big round treble without a lot of work...


Found capable ... without a lot of work!

Mr. Fine says that you must voice the Bechsteins to meet the "American" taste.

Come on guys! I can not believe it!

I am really surprised that every one is trying to negate what surprised me the first time I played a concert grand Bechstein:

It has a tiny, thin, light, weak, bright, you name it, treble!!!
Posted by: Olek

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 11:13 AM

sorry Raphael, my limited vocabulary.

The all agrafes Bechstein can have a nice round treble but limited in dynamics.

The Bluethner of that era have the larger dynamics and power I ever gind on a small piano.. you simply cannot have them saturate, and the tone is bright and full, all that I like.

Bechstein tend to "crash" sooner due to their large iH and spectral differences within the unissons... that gives them a very pleasing tone at softer levels.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 11:28 AM

But let the OP tell us what is his experience,

Have you played both pianos?

What are your thoughts about their tone and feeling (touch)?

Which one do you prefer?
Posted by: lluiscl

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 12:29 PM

Kamin: the recent Bechstein's don't have agraffes in the treble: they use capo bar and look (and sound) like an Hamburg (in my taste the D280 better). They change everything respect the old ones (which had too short scales and high iH).
Rafael, amigo: listen it with a good earphones and tell me if it has tiny sound...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyFDzw0ENqo
Posted by: rxd

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 12:31 PM

Sorry, I only know what I know. Both Bechsteins 9' grands i worked on were of current manufacture. They were well played in and ready for tone regulation. On both occasions I was asked by a prominent concert pianist to service these instruments. In my pitiful innocence regarding what Mr Fine says, I tailored the pianos to what I knew the pianists wanted. I was able to make them both very full at all dynamic ranges.

While I must admit the instruments I saw at the Berlin showroom were somewhat thin sounding, this was due to the treatment they were getting there, I knew from my factory tour that there had to be more there.

The ones I worked on (in rooms of approx 800-1000 seats) came up beautifully.

Sorry to be such a disappointment and please give my apologies to Mr. Fine, he seems to be very Important.

Hey, what is the American taste in piano tone, anyways? And where does anybody get off trying to be the arbiter of this? I was there for 30-odd years. All I know is that when given the option of thin and weak or full and strong, 'they' always chose full and strong like their coffee. Maybe it's just down to the sort of American I chose to associate with.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 12:52 PM

Now you will say that all pianos around the world sound the same.

That there is no difference between asian, european and american pianos.

That voicing a piano can satisfy any pianist's taste, and so on...

I'm sorry, but that's not true. There are indeed different and characteristic tones. Chinesse pianos would never sound as German pianos, no matter how you voice and how you regulate them.

As I said before touch and tone are actual facts, measurable with instruments and not personal subjective interpretations.

Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 01:23 PM

Originally Posted By: lluiscl
...


Rafael, amigo: listen it with a good earphones and tell me if it has tiny sound...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyFDzw0ENqo


It sounds great. I've never said it doesn't. I've said it's a superb instrument.

Unfortunately, this piece is full of chords in the bass and tenor, so it's not a good example to try to analyse the treble's tone.

But I've worked on many S&S and not so many C. Bechsteins and I know for sure how they sound like. They're indeed different, in sound and touch, and all I am trying to do is to describe what I've heard.

I have no other intention than trying to translate into words what I hear.

To my personal taste, yes I prefer Steinway, but I know there are many that prefer C. Bechstein and I respect them.

Can you tell me what differences if any do you find between Steinway and C. Bechstein?

Posted by: rxd

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 02:11 PM

Sorry, Raphael, we seem to be touching a nerve.

You did not read exactly what I wrote and now you are attempting a 'reductio ad absurdam'.

It makes everything you wrote after you wrote "next you will be saying....." seem a trifle silly when it is understood that you are employing this cheap arguing technique.

Please make your point another way and I will be happy to listen.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 02:23 PM

I don´t matter care what makes you happy at all.

If you're happy better for you, if not then I'm sorry.

Can you tell please what differences you find between Bechstein and Steinway?

Have you any experience with Steinway?

You have said nothing about it!

Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 02:42 PM

Originally Posted By: rxd
...

Sorry to be such a disappointment and please give my apologies to Mr. Fine, he seems to be very Important.

Hey, what is the American taste in piano tone, anyways? And where does anybody get off trying to be the arbiter of this? I was there for 30-odd years...



Another question:

Must I understand that you've worked on pianos for 30 years and in all that time you have not read the Larry Fine's "The piano Book"?
Posted by: rxd

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 03:35 PM

Raphael,

Apart from a misunderstanding of my context, which may be a cultural thing, picking on just one word and taking it out of context is also a cheap arguing trick.

Approx 90% of my work is currently with Hamburg Steinways. I am 10 years out of touch with NY Steinways.

As I have worked at some time or other for many of the manufacturers and still do, I prefer not to be drawn into making direct comparisons between them. strange, I know, particularly since it puts me in an ideal position to make comparisons, but I'm sure you can understand. I work best with whatever happens to be in front of me with little regard for who made it.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 04:06 PM

I understand,

But you spontaneously did say that you voiced out the two Bechsteins to a big round treble.

What about Steinways you work on?

How do you describe their treble's tone?


PS: Have you read "The Piano Book"?
Posted by: rxd

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 04:29 PM

Sorry, Raphael, I missed your interim post. Yes, I read the original Larry Fine epistle as many of us did and remember it clearly. I still thumb throgh a copy occasionally when I'm in a piano store. They give it away in piano stores here. If I want to know about a certain piano I can go look for myself.

My colleagues in the Conservatories are deeply interested in how pianos hold up when tested to destruction by 14 hours a day of abuse by students who haven't yet mastered the art of tone production but still sometimes hammer away at huge two fisted piano concertos in small rooms with the lid down.

This is a whole different ball game.

I am fortunate enought to have not seen a Chinese or Korean piano for many years but am interested in how they might hold up in extremis. Larry doesn't help me here and nor is it his intention. Is there yet a chapter on this?
Posted by: rxd

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 04:36 PM

Gosh, Raphael, you're like a dog with a bone. I just got through telling you. Read me again with particular attention to the exact words I use.
Posted by: Dave B

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 08:38 PM

Here is a nice example of a Bosendorfer with orchestra. I'm looking for an example with orchestra in full tutti.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=IvhxfXeGees
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 09:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Gadzar
I understand,

But you spontaneously did say that you voiced out the two Bechsteins to a big round treble.

What about Steinways you work on?

How do you describe their treble's tone?


PS: Have you read "The Piano Book"?


The Piano Book is a valuable tool, but I'm sure Mr. Fine himself would agree that he's not God. Regardless, it's silly to make generalizations about the products of two piano companies that have been in business since the 1850s.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 09:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave B
Here is a nice example of a Bosendorfer with orchestra. I'm looking for an example with orchestra in full tutti.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=IvhxfXeGees


This is a good example of that thin treble I am speaking about.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 09:30 PM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
... it's silly to make generalizations about the products of two piano companies that have been in business since the 1850s.


???

What is the subject of this thread?


And, if my memory doesn't fail, C. Bechstein has been rescued more than once in it's history. Otherwise it has been broken long ago. The same happened to Bösendorfer.

I guess you think C. Bechstein is the best piano in the world and you are not going to accept arguments against that.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/27/12 11:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Gadzar

???

What is the subject of this thread?


You fail to understand my point, which is, one cannot generalize a piano company's product in this way. Touch and tone are going to vary from one piano to the next within the same manufacturer, especially as they are voiced to suit the demands of whoever owns the piano. At the factory level, this will also vary, especially over a period of decades due to different musical tastes.


Originally Posted By: Gadzar
And, if my memory doesn't fail, C. Bechstein has been rescued more than once in it's history. Otherwise it has been broken long ago. The same happened to Bösendorfer.


See above.


Originally Posted By: Gadzar
I guess you think C. Bechstein is the best piano in the world and you are not going to accept arguments against that.


If I thought that, it wouldn't be an unreasonable opinion. I respect Bechstein, but I wouldn't call it my favorite. Furthermore, I suggest you refrain from jumping to conclusions... it makes you look a tad ridiculous.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/28/12 12:46 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986

You fail to understand my point, which is, one cannot generalize a piano company's product in this way. Touch and tone are going to vary from one piano to the next within the same manufacturer, especially as they are voiced to suit the demands of whoever owns the piano.


Voicing can modify piano's tone only to a certain point, but there is a limit in what voicing can do. There are many other factors that characterize the tone of a piano, in particular: design, material and crown of the soundboard, scale's design, bridges, etc.

The same happens with touch, it is the design of the keyboard and action that gives a piano it's characteristic touch, you can modify it to a certain point but there's a limit.

So, yes, one can indeed make generalizations about a company's product in the way I do.

Each brand is different in design and materials and has particularities that define its own and unique character.
Posted by: BDB

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/28/12 01:01 AM

For all that, it boils down to what I said earlier. It is a matter of taste.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/28/12 01:46 AM

Between Steinway & Bechstein, yes it is a matter of taste.

But my point is that each brand has its own characteristic tone and touch.

One can not take a chinese grand and make it sound and feel like a Steinway just by voicing and regulation!
Posted by: BDB

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/28/12 02:21 AM

Sometimes you can. More often, you can take a Steinway grand sound and feel like a Chinese grand just by voicing and regulation!

(That is a joke, actually. There are Chinese grands that I think can be made to sound better than what might be called top-tier grands with decent regulation and voicing, particularly among the smaller sizes.)
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/28/12 02:24 AM

Originally Posted By: Gadzar

Voicing can modify piano's tone only to a certain point, but there is a limit in what voicing can do. There are many other factors that characterize the tone of a piano, in particular: design, material and crown of the soundboard, scale's design, bridges, etc.


Obviously, but the extent to which a piano can be modified within the confines of concert or home prep is quite great. Greater than you seem to want to admit.

Originally Posted By: Gadzar
The same happens with touch, it is the design of the keyboard and action that gives a piano it's characteristic touch, you can modify it to a certain point but there's a limit.


Again, the room for modification is quite large. Modify the strike weight by a few grams and/or action ratio (say, move the capstans a few millimeters) and you've got something completely different.

Originally Posted By: Gadzar
So, yes, one can indeed make generalizations about a company's product in the way I do.


I disagree, but whatever. I've got better things to do than argue.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/28/12 02:25 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Sometimes you can. More often, you can take a Steinway grand sound and feel like a Chinese grand just by voicing and regulation!

(That is a joke, actually. There are Chinese grands that I think can be made to sound better than what might be called top-tier grands with decent regulation and voicing, particularly among the smaller sizes.)


Agreed. Fandrich & Sons is proof of this concept.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/28/12 03:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Inchoate
I am considering a mid-90s Steinway L and a late 90s C. Bechstein M-180. Both are in very good condition and sound fabulous, but different. I'm wondering if any readers have observations about these pianos, particularly the technical reputation of the Bechstein? Thank you.

Inchoate,

What are your criteria for choosing a piano?

Taking a somewhat stretched analogy, would you choose between a Mercedes and a BMW on the basis of technical reputation, the types of journey you want to make, or driving experience? Would you take them on extended test drives and look at other makes and models to confirm your decision?

PS You could ask the OP of this thread for his views on Steinway and Bechstein: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...your%20pia.html
Posted by: Inchoate

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/28/12 10:29 PM

First of all, I really appreciate those of you who have weighed in on this question. I did not mean to provoke an argument, but the discussion is interesting and lively.

I want, of course, a piano not only that sounds great, but that is really well made, that will last the rest of my life and that I can pass on to one of my children. I know that Steinway has a great reputation, but I also have come to believe that S&S has perhaps taken their reputation for granted in recent years and that their products have become a bit less reliable. So I was hoping to gain some insight into what the experts think of vintage 90s Steinways vis-a-vis another world-class piano, namely a C. Bechstein.

I have my eye on a C. Bechstein that is for sale, in addition to one or more Steinways, including a mid-90s and some much older, refurbished models. I wanted to get a feel for whether the Bechstein, structurally, is comparable to a Steinway.

By the way, how much would you say a late 90s Bechstein M-180 in very good condition, should sell for?

Thank you all again so much for taking time to educate me.
Posted by: rysowers

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/28/12 11:34 PM

Quote:
but I also have come to believe that S&S has perhaps taken their reputation for granted in recent years and that their products have become a bit less reliable.


I must respectfully disagree with this. I think Steinway has improved substantially over the past 10 years or so, and that they are putting out the best piano in decades. There is more and more collaboration with the Hamburg factory.

Owning a Steinway also gives you a wonderful sense of being part of a great
American legacy. Bechstein's legacy was to be important supporters and financiers for Adolf Hitler & the Nazis.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/29/12 05:37 AM

Originally Posted By: rysowers
I think Steinway has improved substantially over the past 10 years or so, and that they are putting out the best piano in decades. There is more and more collaboration with the Hamburg factory.

Owning a Steinway also gives you a wonderful sense of being part of a great American legacy.

Thinking of a NY Steinway as a piece of American heritage to hand on to the next generation is a good reason to buy one, but some people prefer Hamburg Steinways, at least they do in the UK.

As it happens I was in Germany last week and, without mentioning pianos at all, I asked the lady beside me at dinner how she would rate products from Berlin, Leipzig, Braunschweig, Wuppertal and Stuttgart. I was thinking of Bechstein, Bluthner, Grotrian and Schimmel, Ibach, and Schiedmayer and Pfeiffer, respectively.

In her opinion Berliners tend to promise more than they deliver, Leipzigers try harder, Braunschweigers are reliable, Wuppertal is dull and she wouldn't go there, and she didn't like Swabians who are different even if they are obsessive about the quality of their materials and products.

On this reckoning, you could consider Hamburg Steinways, Bluthners, Grotrians, Schimmels and even a Pfeiffer (shipped from Stuttgart) as well as Bechsteins.
Posted by: Del

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/29/12 12:38 PM

Originally Posted By: rysowers
Quote:
but I also have come to believe that S&S has perhaps taken their reputation for granted in recent years and that their products have become a bit less reliable.


I must respectfully disagree with this. I think Steinway has improved substantially over the past 10 years or so, and that they are putting out the best piano in decades. There is more and more collaboration with the Hamburg factory.

I agree with Ryan -- to a point; Steinway build quality has been steadily improving since the bad old days of the 1960s and 1970s. From what I've seen the build quality of NY Steinway-built pianos is probably better today than it has ever been.

But the OP was asking about pianos built during the 1990s not the 2010s. And back then the company still had some work to do before reality matched rhetoric. Overall build quality and performance was better than it had been twenty years before that period but was still not all that great when compared with the best of European production.

As may be, we are not now considering new pianos but used pianos with a couple of decades of time and use. And when looking at used pianos -- even high-end pianos of only twenty years back -- the question becomes one of care and condition as much or more than one of initial build quality. If the twenty year old Bechstein has been largely neglected and the twenty year old Steinway has been lovingly cared for the question of manufacturing precision becomes academic.

One last thought; even though the initial build quality of a 1990s Steinway was not as precise and beautifully detailed as that of the Bechstein it is highly unlikely there is anything about the Steinway's structure that would be problematic. Even during the 19960s and 1970s that part of the piano was being done quite well. The problems would be mostly cosmetic, tonal (soundboard and hammers) and tactile (action and hammers). If the piano has been serviced well over the past twenty years it is likely that those will have been worked out years ago. If not, they can be be seen heard and felt. As with all used piano purchases the prospective buyer should play the piano, listen to it, get a feel for the action and have it inspected by a qualified piano technician.

I'd suggest the OP, Inchoate, not worry overly much about how the pianos were built twenty years ago and concentrate on how they play and sound today.

ddf
Posted by: Inchoate

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/29/12 12:44 PM

Mr. Fandrich: This advice is most helpful. In fact, you have encapsulated the exact information I was looking for in this post (not that the other discussion was not also helpful !).

Thank you very much.
Posted by: Serge Marinkovic

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/29/12 01:06 PM

Having oned a NY Steinway M (1972) and B (1985). I feel their build quality was good not great. The sound and action the same. My Hamburg D (2003) is without question the greatest instrument I have heard for the Romantic repetoire that I love so much. Its action swift and accurate. The sound is amazing clear with a character I love so much. My second favorite are the Bosendofer. I played the Fazioli and liked the action and cosmetics but did not like the sound. Its character is bright but not full enough for me like the Hamburg Steinway. I have not played the Bechstein since I lived next to a dealer in Detroit in the early 90's. At that time I loved it more than the NY Steinway but its been 20 years and I dont retrospectively think that it matches or surpasses the Hamburg although a wonderful piano in all respective in 1991.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: C. Bechstein v. Steinway - 11/29/12 08:21 PM

I can't speak about 1990's pianos, but my daughter had her circa 2003 Steinway L here since buying it new and I played it daily. Very fine. When shopping for my own piano after she moved away with her Steinway, I played all of the top European pianos and liked the C. Bechstein best. It was a big one (about 7.5 feet I think) and it was incredible, but about $85,000 on sale. Out of my league! Next best was a Schimmel K230. Very rich sound but over $55,000 on sale. Still out of my league. I didn't like the small Bosendoerfer, the Bluthner, or any of the other pianos as much. If price were not a problem, I would have bought the large C. Bechstein. In another venue I tried a Steinway B and a D and liked the D a lot. The B not so much. Perhaps the store had not prepped it to my taste. Anyway, after trying dozens of pianos, I bought a Mason-Hamlin BB in polished ebony circa 2004. Wonderful tone and touch and in my price range. I think a C. Bechstein, a Steinway or any top piano might appeal. They are all different, however. It comes down to personal taste. Now the real issue is the age and condition of the pianos you are considering. I would be sure to have a tech check them out after deciding which one you like best. No one here can decide for you. Best of luck. I hope you get a great piano when you choose! Happy holidays.