Posts Tagged ‘Steinway Piano’

What’s With The Whole Asian Thing?

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I have to tell you that I have been in the piano industry on some level for over 30 years.  Having said that you will have to also realize I have seen the coming and going of a lot of piano companies and manufacturing facilities.  I have seen them go out of business in the U.S. only to  reappear in China.  I have seen them rise to the top and then be mismanaged right back down again.

The-1970s

In the 70’s and into the 80’s a piano company named Yamaha came into most of the United States without a great deal of fanfare.  They created a great brand name and then supported their emerging company with enough information about their company to get attention.  Naturally, at that time there was some significant push back from some people because they were not from the U.S.

From the 70’s and 80’s they began to emerge as a company that was obviously going to demand some attention.  At that point they were creating decent pianos.  Yes, there was some important changes that were going to need to be made in order to turn these Japanese pianos into “World Class Pianos”.

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Apparently, Yamaha along with Kawai, were up to the challenge.  In the 90’s they began producing better and better pianos.  Being satisfied with their position in the marketplace they were also challenged to bring their company into the forefront of the American Piano market.

Leaving almost 30 years of experience, some successes, some failures but armed with the knowledge they had garnered after their years in the business, they became the “Elephant in the Room” that had to be acknowledged and dealt with.

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Thier powerful marketing machine along with many other financial influences left many American companies wondering what to do next.  They tried to manufacture in the U.S. but economic situations made them turn that American manufacturing back to Asia where it still is to this day.  Exiting the U.S. manufacturing also left a gaping hole in the U.S. for many manufacturers.  The business models of that era were beginning to weaken and by 2005 many, many manufacturers were left in shambles.

This has been the case with many other types of manufacturing that have exited the U.S. market.  Companies want to continue to grow financially while expenses are going up and profits are dwindling they find themselves looking for alternatives.  Yamaha and Kawai have for many years filled that niche’.

It is a fair to say that many people feel as if Japan is superior in manufacturing than any of the other Asian countries. However, It took Yamaha and Kawai many years to garner not only a good reputation but being able to create a piano that was worth what they have turned them into today.

While most of those pianos are not to be compared with fine American manufacturing such as Mason and Hamlin and Steinway or European manufacturing, these Japanese pianos are considered to be very well made.  Of course, like anything in you need to play these pianos for yourself.

Then came China.

 

 

Mason and Hamlin BB – A Joke?

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

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I think NOT!!!

Quite an interesting thing about the Mason and Hamlin BB.  I am simply in love.  I would like to express something more astounding, earth shattering or eye opening, but the simple truth is……I’m in love.

For many years I have carried the torch for a different brand 7 footer but there is a new love in my life.  I am asked frequently, “If I would buy you any piano in the world, what would it be?” I have played many, many pianos in my career, reviewed quite a few and have listened to more than I care to estimate.  From a personal experience with my very best critical ear, I have never played a finer instrument that allows me the ability to express emotions like the Mason and Hamlin BB.

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Here’s a special key to me.  Most any piano will sound big when you play loudly.  It will project and generally sound like a piano.  However, the real test to me is when I am playing at ppp with the shift (soft) pedal engaged.  I love the sound the piano makes at it’s very softest.

The sound of most pianos will not fall apart when played at their loudest.  The sound of most pianos  will not speak when played at their softest.  The Mason and Hamlin BB is an exception to the rule.  When played at it’s softest the BB will respond with a very clear and round tone. When banged on with a heavy hand the luscious tones still deliver.

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There has to be a downside, I mean, there is always a downside.  If I had to think of one criticism I would most likely have to say that 7 footers (besides being big) tend to have an overpowering bass register.  While the Mason BB is not really considered an exception, the tone does feel as if it may be a little easier to manage than in some 7 foot models I have played.

When I play I tend to want an evenly balanced tone that delivers all the way across the keyboard with little exception. Often when “critically” playing you have to learn control.  Steinway B has the opposite problem from the Mason BB.  The Mason BB bass is almost too big while the Steinway B feels to small.

Recently, I spoke with Tom Lagomarsino, Vice President at Mason and Hamlin, about the BB and this is what Tom had to say –  “The reputation of the BB comes from it’s unusual power and projection, delicate control of the action, and distinctive well-balanced Mason & Hamlin sound. This combination allows professional and enthusiast alike to create beautiful music of many genres”.

A customer recently asked me if I would or could compare Mason BB with a Steinway B or a Yamaha C7.  My response was that, as far as I am concerned the Mason and Hamlin delivers a more balanced, even tone from the lowest bass note to the highest treble note and simply put the Mason would be my personal choice – period.  If price is a consideration I would rather have the B model (5’4″) than any Steinway that Steinway has ever produced. To end the equation on her question I explained that in my opinion, I would rather have a big screen T.V.

Simply put, if you are looking for a dynamic piano that will deliver exactly what you are trying to express you will find it in the Mason and Hamlin.  The BB 7’0″ is by far the VERY best 7 footer on the market in my humble opinion.

Well, enough for now.  I am off to a new subject which I will be covering in my next Blog.

Ric Overton of Burbank, CA

 

 

People You Meet

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

It’s seldom that you have the opportunity to meet and become friends with someone that you consider a “star”.  I have known a few celebrities in my life, the occasional chance meeting of someone that you see on T.V. or read about in the newspapers, etc.   With that being said, I just want you to know that I am completely aware of the fact that I am weird and a little twisted when it comes to the piano business and piano people.

It has been my delight over the years to meet what I consider Continue reading “People You Meet” »

Sauter Pianos

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

I have begun a study of the history of some of our famous piano makers over the centuries.

There have been some absolutely captivating builders.  Among them of course was Sebastien Erard, Jonas Chickering, Theodore Steinway, Johan Ibach, Ignaz Bosendorfer and of course Joseph Brodmann along with one of my favorites; Carl Sauter.

Little is known of some of these guys in the U.S. because the importing of pianos at that time but, Europe has a totally different idea of music, music making and the building of fine instruments than in other parts of the world. But I am very captivated by Mr. Sauter.

Here is the story.  Johann Streicher owned a piano company called Streicher pianos.  Streicher had risen to fame because Ludwig van Beethoven had purchased several instruments from them and the Streicher was his personal favorite, in fact he often requested that  a Streicher piano be provided for his concerts.  The company had attracted  much attention and got the attention of a young man named Johann Grimm.

Some time after Johann had joined Streicher Pianos, Mr. Streicher passed away and left his company to his daughter Nannette, a freind of Beethoven and extremely close to another composer and artist of this era named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  They actually performed together on Streicher pianos on several occasions.

After several years of service to Streicher, Mr. Grimm decided to branch out on his own.  He created what was to become the Sauter Piano Company in 1813.  To date this piano company is the oldest family owned piano manufacturer and the oldest continuous running piano maker in the world.  The company has always been controlled, owned and operated by a Sauter.

Today, Urlich Sauter is in charge and continues to make pianos in his factory in Spaichingen, Germany at the foothills of the infamous Black Forest.  They continue to manufacture pianos with the concept that Johann Grimm used in 1813 but have integrated  modern day technologies. Today the factory is a state-of-the-art factory that is quite impressive and builds approximately 450 pianos a year.  In Europe, Sauter is highly regarded as one of the finest instruments available.  In the U.S. there are only a few dealers that carry the instrument.

Once you have the opportunity to experience the Sauter piano I am sure you will agree that this instrument is one that quietly grabs your attention and seems to say “is that all you got, come on get with it”.

More on some of the other famous manufacturers coming soon

Until then-

Ric Overton

posted by Ric Overton of http://PianoSD.com via  http://MaxMorganDesign.com

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