The August Förster factory was founded by Friedrich August Förster in 1859 in Löbau, Germany. .
The pianos are very well built structurally, and the cabinets are elegant. Rims and pinblocks are of beech, soundboards of solid mountain-grown spruce, and bridges are of hardrock maple. Each string is individually terminated (single-strung). The actions are made by Renner with Renner hammers. A sostenuto pedal is standard on all grand models. .
The tone of August Förster grands is unique, with a remarkable bass. As delivered from the factory, the treble is often quite bright, and for some tastes might be considered a bit thin.
Most of the comments regarding the quality of materials and workmanship of the Förster grands also apply to the verticals. The cabinet of the vertical is of exceptional width, with extra-thick side panels of solid-core stock. The verticals have a full set of agraffes, and all the hardware and handmade wood parts are of elegant quality. The verticals possess the same warm, rich, deep bass tone as the grands.
Italy has a long history of piano manufacture, as the first one was invented by Bartolemo Cristopheri in 1907 in the city of Padoua, Italy.
Today, pianos produced under the brand of Albinoni are of Italian design and very strict quality control and their parts are manufactured by reputable companies. The end product is of top quality and outstanding resilience.
These pianos with strings made by Roslau Germany, Pinblocks made by Germany's Dehonit, as well as hammers made by Abel Germany or FFW Germany, along with an action that is 100% Natural Wood, are standard pianos.
Pianos made by: L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH, Vienna, Austria.
Bösendorfer was founded in 1828 in Vienna, Austria, by Ignaz Bösendorfer. Ignaz died in 1858 and the company was taken over by his son, Ludwig. Ludwig, having no direct descendants, sold the firm to a friend, Carl Hutterstrasser, in 1909.
Carl’s sons, Wolfgang and Alexander, became partners in 1931. Bösendorfer was sold to Kimball International, a U.S. manufacturer of low- and medium-priced pianos, in 1966. In 2002 Kimball, having left the piano business, sold Bösendorfer to BAWAG Bank, Austria’s third largest financial institution. The bank encountered financial troubles unrelated to Bösendorfer and sold the piano company to Yamaha in 2008. Yamaha says it will not be making any changes to Bösendorfer’s location or methods of production, and that its sales network will continue to be separate from Yamaha’s.
The rim of the Bösendorfer grand is built quite differently from those of all other grands. Instead of veneers bent around a form, the inner rim is made in solid sections of spruce and beech that are joined together. The outer rim has a solid core of quartersawn spruce that is grooved by Bösendorfer craftsmen so that it can be bent around the inner rim; after bending, the grooved sections are filled with spruce inserts. Because spruce is better at transmitting than reflecting sound, the extensive use of spruce in the rim has the effect of making the rim an acoustical extension of the soundboard, causing the entire body of the piano to resonate.
In 2009 Bösendorfer produced a model commissioned and designed by Audi on the occasion of that automaker’s 100th anniversary.
Pianos made by: Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik GmbH, Leipzig, Germany
Blüthner has been making pianos of the highest quality in Leipzig, in the eastern part of Germany, since 1853.
Until 1900, Blüthner was Europe’s largest piano factory. During World War II, the factory was bombed, but after the war the East German government allowed the Blüthner family and workers to rebuild it.
Blüthner pianos have beech rims (grands), solid spruce soundboards, Delignit pinblocks, Renner actions, Abel hammers, and polyester finishes.
Blüthner pianos incorporate several unique technical features. With aliquot stringing, the notes in the highest treble section (about the top two octaves) have four strings each instead of three. The effect, heard mainly in medium to forte playing. Another feature concerns the angled hammers. The company says that the effect is to more evenly distribute the force of the blow across both the strings and the hammers, and to make a firmer connection with the backchecks, which are also positioned in a straight line.
Blüthner has designed and built a piano for left-handed pianists. With voicing, Blüthner pianos have a very full sound. The action is a little light, but responsive. The pianos are built of superb materials.
Pianos made by: C. Bechstein Pianoforte Fabrik GmbH, Berlin and Seifhennersdorf, Germany; and C. Bechstein Europe Ltd. (former Bohemia Piano Ltd.), Hradec Králové, Czech Republic
Bechstein was founded in 1853 by Carl Bechstein in German. Through fine workmanship and the endorsement of famous pianists, Bechstein soon became one of the leading piano makers in Europe. The two World Wars and the Depression virtually destroyed the company, but it was successfully rebuilt.
In 1963 it was acquired by Baldwin, and in 1986 Baldwin sold it to Karl Schulze, a leading West German piano retailer and master piano technician. In the early 1990s, Bechstein acquired the names and factories of Euterpe, W. Hoffmann, and Zimmermann. Pianos with these names are currently being sold in Europe, but only W. Hoffmann is sold in North America. In 2006 Bechstein purchased a controlling interest in the Czech piano maker Bohemia, and integrated it into a new entity called C. Bechstein Europe Ltd.
Bechstein now manufactures its own hammers for use in all C. Bechstein. Other features of C. Bechstein-branded pianos include solid European spruce soundboards, beech or beech and mahogany for grand rims and some structural parts, and maple pinblocks. Three pedals are standard on all pianos.
C. Bechstein grands are impeccably made in Europe and are “orchestrally” voiced, a concept that the company says is related to the change of timbre at different velocities of touch. 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 significantly altered.
Place of production: Sacile (Pn), Italy
In 1978, musician and engineer Paolo Fazioli of Rome, Italy, began designing and building pianos, with the object of making the finest-quality instruments possible.
The company's products are purely grand pianos, and some of the grand pianos have 4 pedals and the quality of this piano is az high as its price.
All Fazioli pianos have inner and outer rims of maple, and seven-ply maple pinblocks from Bolduc, in Canada. The pianos have Renner actions and hammers and Kluge keyboards. The bronze capo d’astro bar is adjustable in the factory for setting the strike point and treble string length for best high-treble tone quality, and is removable for servicing if necessary; and the front and rear duplex scales can be tuned to maximize tonal color. A newly patented action rail structure is more resistant to moisture, and provides a more uniform touch across the keyboard. Also newly patented are double- and triple-layer, moisture-resistant soundboards, available by special order for pianos that will be used in extreme climates.
The company says that a critical factor in the sound of its pianos is the scientific selection of its woods, such as the “resonant spruce ” obtained from the Val di Fiemme, where Stradivari reportedly sought woods for his violins.
Pianos made by: Grotrian Piano Company GmbH, Braunschweig, Germany; and Parsons Music, Hong Kong
Friedrich Grotrian was born in 1803 in Schöningen, Germanyand he business and was associated with piano manufacturing in Moscow. Each successive generation of the Grotrian family maintained the company’s high standards and furthered the technical development of the instrument.
Grotrian says that all pianos bearing its name will continue to be made in Braunschweig, Germany.
Grotrian grands have beech rims, solid spruce soundboards, laminated beech pinblocks, Renner actions, and are single-strung.
The vertical pianos have a unique star-shaped wooden back structure and a full-perimeter plate to ensure the instrument’s structural and tonal stability over time.
The treble of Grotrian pianos has extraordinary sustaining characteristics. It also has a pronounced sound of attack, subtle and delicate.
Grotrian studio have scratch-resistant cabinet finishes, wider music desks, and more impervious soundboard finishes.
Pianos made by: production partners in Poland and Indonesia and China
The main pieces on the Harrodsar piano include pinblock made by Germany's Dehonit, German Roslou wires, German FFW hammers, and also the German Strunz Sandboard. This piano is assembled in Indonesia and those who buy it no longer need to replace or upgrade it because it is one of the most affordable and high quality pianos on the market.
At the completion of the manufacturing process, the Harrodser pianos are tested by a highly sophisticated robot that fires approximately 1,000 beats on the collars. Then the interval when each hammer hits the wire.
They are measured with a computer so that all the hammers hit the wires at the same time so that the performer does not have problems with the high-speed technical components.
The minimum life of the piano is 100 years.
Pianos made by: Kawai Musical Instrument Mfg. Co., Ltd.; Hamamatsu, Japan, and Karawan, Indonesia
Kawai was founded in 1927 by Koichi Kawai, While Kawai is second in size to Yamaha among Japanese piano manufacturers, it has a well-deserved reputation all its own for quality and innovation.
Nearly all Kawai grands and taller uprights are made in Japan; most consoles and studios are made in Indonesia. One of Kawai’s most important innovations is the use of ABS Styran plastic in the manufacture of action parts.
ABS does not swell and shrink with changes in humidity, so actions made with it are likely to maintain proper regulation better than wood actions.
Kawai’s vertical piano offerings change frequently and are sometimes confusing. The action in this series is slightly smaller than a full-size action, so it will be slightly less responsive.
Kawai makes two series of grand pianos: GX and GL.
The GX line is the most expensive and has the best features. It is designed for the best performance, whereas the GL series is designed more for efficiency in manufacturing, with fewer refinements.
Kawai’s quality control is excellent, especially in its Japanese-made pianos. The tone of most Kawai pianos is not as ideal for classical music as some more expensive instruments, but when expertly voiced, it is not far off, and in any case is quite versatile musically.
Pianos made by: Guangzhou Pearl River Piano Group Co., Ltd., 38, Xiang Shan Avenue, Yong Ning Road, Zengcheng, Guangzhou, China
Other brand made by company: Ritmüller and Kayserburg
Established in 1956, Pearl River. Pearl River is the best-selling piano brand in China. After a successful IPO in 2012, the formerly government-owned company began construction of a new, state-of-the-art, 3.5 million sq. ft. factory, to which it will complete a transition in 2018. The factory combines traditional craftsmanship with advanced CNC digital machinery, and complies with European high-level technology and process standards. Pearl River has been operating a European company headquarters in Germany since 1995.
In recent years, Pearl River has revised and streamlined its lineup of models with the assistance of European and American piano-design consultants. Many new models have been introduced, while older models have been reviewed and modified.
In 2013, Pearl River brought to North America the upper-level Kayserburg Artists series. These instruments are handmade by a team of Pearl River’s most experienced craftsmen, personally managed by European piano experts.
The Kayserburg Artists craftsmen have all completed a rigorous training that includes studying the world’s finest pianos and working side by side with visiting European craftsmen. The Kayserburg Artists pianos contain such high-end features as soundboards of tight-grained, solid European spruce, Renner hammers, Laoureux (French) damper felt, German Röslau strings, vertically laminated beech bridges with wood cores and solid beech caps, German natural keytops, and genuine ebony sharps.
Pianos made by: Petrof, spol. s.r.o., Hradec Králové, Czech Republic
The Petrof piano factory was founded in 1864 by Antonin Petrof in Hradec Králové. Petrof has also invented and patented a version of its new grand action that uses tiny opposing magnets on the wippens and wippen rail. These magnets allow for the removal of the usual lead counterweights in the keys and, according to the company, significantly alter the action’s dynamic properties.
The new action also furthers the European Union’s stated environmental goal of phasing out the use of lead in pianos. The action is adjusted in the factory for a standard touchweight and is serviced in exactly the same way as a standard action. The Magnetic Accelerated Action, as it is known, is a special-order option on the grands. Petrof also offers as an option the Magnetic Balanced Action, which allows the player to quickly and easily change the touchweight in the range of ±4–5 grams simply by turning a knob.
Petrofs are known for their warm, rich, singing tone, full of color. The pianos are solidly built and workmanship is good. After careful preparation, the pianos can sound and feel quite beautiful and hold their own against other European brands.
Place of production: Italy
Schulze PollmannIt is the most famous piano in the world and belongs to Italy. The Schulze Pollmann piano is completely handmade.
Applying the skills of artists, experienced masters of the industry and advanced computer machines has made all stages of production run smoothly and accurately, making Schulze Pollmann one of the first renowned European factories in decades.
In this example of pianos, using different woods with different designs, they have created amazing examples.The action and keyboard in this example of the piano are fitted and adjusted with the full balance of the levers. In the final stages of production, they spend most of their talent on sound quality settings, giving the piano the vitality of music.
In 2005, Italian auto manufacturer Ferrari Motor Car selected Schulze Pollmann as a partner in the launch of its new Ferrari 612 Scaglietti series of automobiles. For the occasion, Schulze Pollmann crafted a limited-edition version of its 6′ 7″ model 197/G5 grand piano, still available, with a case that sports Ferrari’s racing red and a cast-iron plate in Ferrari gray carbon, the same color as the Scaglietti’s engine. The car and the piano have been exhibited together in cities around the world.
Pianos made by: Samick Musical Instrument Mfg. Co. Ltd., Inchon, South Korea; and Bogor, West Java, Indonesia
In 1958, in South Korea, Hyo Ick Lee founded Samick as a Baldwin distributor. Facing an immense challenge in an impoverished and war-torn country, in the early 1960s, using largely imported parts, Lee began to build and sell a very limited quantity of vertical pianos. As South Korea’s economy improved, Lee expanded his operation, and in 1964 began exporting to other parts of the world.
The Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s forced Samick into bankruptcy, from which the company emerged in 2002, it is now on a sound financial footing.
Quality control in Samick’s South Korean and Indonesian factories has steadily improved over the years, and the Indonesian product is said to be almost as good as the Korean. The company says that new CNC machinery installed in 2007 has revolutionized the consistency and accuracy of its manufacturing. Climate control in the tropically situated Indonesian factory, and issues of action geometry, are also among the areas that have seen improvement. Many of Samick’s Indonesian pianos are priced similarly to low-cost pianos from China. The musical design and performance of Samick’s upper-level pianos — J.P. Pramberger, Wm. Knabe, and Seiler — have met with very positive response.
Sauter Piano Factory: Carl Sauter Pianofortemanufaktur GmbH & Co. KG
The Sauter piano firm was founded in 1819 by Johann. The factory produces about 500 vertical and grand pianos a year in its factory in the extreme south of Germany, at the foot of the Alps. Structural and acoustical parts are made of high-quality woods, including solid Bavarian spruce soundboards and beech pinblocks. Actions are made by Renner.
The keybed is reinforced with steel to prevent warping, and all pianos are fully tropicalized for humid climates. The larger verticals use an action, designed and patented by Sauter, that contains an auxiliary jack spring to aid in faster repetition.
It is common to find such rare woods as yew, burl walnut, pyramid mahogany, and genuine ebony in the cabinets of Sauter pianos, as well as special engravings, which can be customized to any customer’s desires.
Steinway & Sons Piano Factory: Germany and America
Heinrich Engelhardt Steinweg a germany piano maker, established Steinway & Sons in 1853. Within a relatively short time, the Steinways were granted patents that revolutionized the piano. Many of these patents concerned the quest for a stronger frame, a richer, more powerful sound, and a more sensitive action. By the 1880s, the Steinway piano was in most ways the modern piano we have today. The fourth generation of Steinways in 1972 sold their company to CBS. CBS left the musical instrument business in 1985, selling Steinway to an investment group.
In 1995 the company was sold again, this time to Conn-Selmer, Inc., a major manufacturer of brass and woodwind instruments, and the combined company. Technicians have always liked the performance of Steinway verticals, but used to complain that the studio models in particular were among the most difficult pianos to tune and would unexpectedly jump out of tune.
Steinway pianos at their best have the quintessential American piano sound: a powerful bass, a resonant midrange, and a singing treble with plenty of tonal color.
Steinway pianos require more preparation by the dealer than most pianos in their class.
The company was founded in 1852 by Eduard Steingraeber. Eduard was an innovative piano designer, exhibiting his first full-size cast-iron frame at the world exhibition in Paris in 1867. From 1872 on, Steingraeber was associated with, and built pianos for, Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, and in 1873 opened its first concert hall in Bayreuth.
The Steingraeber engineering department offers consulting services on the technical development of pianos. This service was created in 1991, after reunification, to assist piano manufacturers of the former East Germany, and has designed and manufactured prototypes of new piano models for a number of European piano manufacturers. These designs are different from Steingraeber’s own current models.
An interesting option on the vertical models is their “twist and change” panels: two-sided top and bottom panels, one side finished in polished ebony, the other in a two-toned combination of a wood veneer and ebony. The panels can be reversed as desired by the piano owner to match room décor, or just for a change of scenery.
An interesting option on the grand models a drilled capo bar for more sustain in the treble, unusually shaped rim bracing, and a smaller soundboard resonating area in the treble to better match string length.
In 2014, Steingraeber introduced the world’s lightest grand piano lid, made of modern aircraft material with a honeycomb interior, which makes the lid nearly 50% lighter than conventional lids.
In addition to its regular line of pianos, Steingraeber makes a piano that can be used by physically handicapped players who lack the use of their legs for pedaling.
Pianos made by: Wilhelm Schimmel Pianofortefabrik GmbH, Braunschweig in Germany .
Wilhelm Schimmel began making pianos in Leipzig in 1885. The two World Wars and the Depression disrupted production several times, but the company has gradually rebuilt itself over the past 70 years while earning a strong reputation for quality.
Among European piano manufacturers, Schimmel has been a pioneer in the use of computer-aided design and manufacturing. The company has used its Computer Assisted Piano Engineering (CAPE) software to research, design, and implement virtually every aspect of making a piano, from keyboard layout and action geometry to soundboard acoustics and scale design. According to Schimmel, the combination of CNC machinery and handcraftsmanship leads to better results than handwork alone. Schimmel also believes that precision is aided by controlling as much of the production process as possible. For that reason, Schimmel produces its own piano-cabinet components and its own keyboards, which it also supplies to other German piano makers.
The May Berlin line, made for Schimmel in China, has been discontinued. The Fridolin Schimmel line is named for Wilhelm Schimmel’s younger brother, who emigrated to America in 1890, and in 1893 established his own piano-manufacturing business, in Faribault, Minnesota. Fridolin Schimmel instruments feature scales, actions, and cabinets designed by Schimmel in Germany, and are made to high quality standards by Pearl River in China.
Pianos made by: Ed. Seiler Pianofortefabrik, Kitzingen, Germany; with Samick Musical Instrument Mfg. Co. Ltd., Bogor, West Java, Indonesia
Eduard Seiler, the company’s founder, began making pianos in 1849, in Liegnitz, Silesia. In 1945 and after World War II and the Seiler family left their native homeland. In 1954, Steffan Seiler reestablished the company in Copenhagen under the fourth generation of family ownership, and began making pianos again.
In 1962 he moved the company to Kitzingen, in Bavaria, Germany. Steffan Seiler died in 199. The company was managed by his widow, Ursula, until its sale to Samick in 2008.
Seiler uses a combination of traditional methods and modern technology.
The grands have wide tails, for greater soundboard area and string length. The German Seiler pianos feature Bavarian spruce soundboards, multi-laminated Delignit pinblocks, quartersawn beech bridges, full Renner actions, and slow-close fallboards.
Beginning in 2010, Samick expanded the Seiler line to cover several additional price points.
At both the German and Indonesian factories, strung backs are inspected and cabinet parts carefully fitted to ensure that all specifications have been met to precise tolerances. Soundboard mass distribution and rib positioning are under strict quality control, to achieve consistency in the soundboard’s acoustical properties.Pre-stretching of the strings is done several times, followed by multiple tunings, to ensure maximum stability. Hammer alignment, voicing, and key weighting and balancing are all carefully performed by experienced Seiler technicians, both at the factory and at the company’s Tennessee distribution facility, before shipment to dealers.
Pianos made by: Young Chang Co., Ltd., Incheon, South Korea; and Tianjin, China
In 1956, three brothers — Jai-Young, Jai-Chang, and Jai-Sup Kim — founded Young Chang and began selling Yamaha pianos in Korea under an agreement with that Japanese firm. In 1962 the brothers incorporated as Young Chang Akki Co., Ltd.
Young Chang also made pianos for a time for Baldwin under the Wurlitzer name, for Samsung under the Weber name, and private-label names for large dealer chains and distributors worldwide.
Weber & Co. was established in 1852 by Albert Weber, a German immigrant. Weber became part of the Aeolian family of brands. Following Aeolian’s demise in 1985, Young Chang acquired the Weber name.
Hyundai Development Company, a Korean civil-engineering and construction firm, acquired Young Chang in 2006.
In 2008 Young Chang hired noted American piano designer Delwin D. Fandrich to undertake a redesign of the entire Young Chang and Weber piano line.
Highlights include extensively redesigned cast-iron plates, new string scales, and new rib designs. New directly-coupled bass bridges, along with unique “floating soundboard” configurations, improve soundboard mobility around the bass bridge for better bass tonal response. At the same time, a revised hammer-making process, in which the hammers are cold-pressed with less felt compression, provides for greater hammer resilience and improved tone, with less voicing required.
Along with being redesigned by Delwin Fandrich, former multiple piano lines were consolidated into just three lines: the Young Chang (Y) and Weber (W) series are entry- and mid-level instruments made in China, and the Albert Weber (AW) line comprises upper-level models made in Korea. The W grands have lauan rims and Young Chang actions.
The Weber models have a low-tension scale and softer, cold-pressed hammers, and the greater warmth and romantic tonal characteristics that often accompany that type of scale. The Weber line, also known as the Premium Edition, also has agraffes in the bass section of the verticals, and beveled lids on the grands.
Pianos made by:
The city of Hamamatsu in Japan.
Hangzhou city in China. (Serial number with prefix H)
Jakarta city in Indonesia (Serial number with prefix J)
Taoyuan City in Taiwan. (Serial number with YT prefix)
South Haven, Michigan. (Serial number with prefix U)
Thomaston, Georgia. (Serial number with prefix T)
Torakusu Yamaha, a watchmaker, founded Yamaha Reed Organ Manufacturing in 1887. In 1899, Yamaha visited the U.S. to learn how to build pianos. Within a couple of years he began making grand and vertical pianos under the name Nippon Gakki, Ltd.
Export of pianos to the U.S. began in earnest about 1960. In 1973, Yamaha acquired the Everett Piano Co., in South Haven, Michigan, and made both Yamaha and Everett pianos there until 1986. In that year, the company moved its piano manufacturing to a plant in Thomaston, Georgia, where it made Yamaha consoles, studios, and some grands until 2007, when a depressed piano market and foreign competition forced it to close its doors. Since then, the company has introduced new models, made in other Yamaha factories, to replace those formerly made in Thomaston.
In addition to its factories in Japan, Yamaha has plants in Mexico, China, and Indonesia. In 2009, Yamaha closed its factories in England (with Kemble) and Taiwan. Models formerly made in those factories are now being produced in Yamaha’s other Asian plants. Yamaha also owns the renowned Austrian piano maker, Bösendorfer.
Yamaha’s console line have a compressed action typical, which means that the action will not be quite as responsive as in larger models.
All studio models are internally similar, with a full-size action. The Yamaha Studio Piano series has a more formal look and the front legs are attached to the body. That's why it has become a popular piano in music education institutions and schools.
Yamaha verticals are very well made for mass-produced pianos. The taller uprights in particular are considered a “dream” to service by technicians, and are very much enjoyed by musicians. Sometimes the pianos can sound quite bright, though much less so now than in previous years.
Yamaha grands come in several levels of sophistication and size. Grand Yamaha pianos are of great quality despite their mass production.
Both Yamaha’s quality control and its warranty and technical service are legendary in the piano business. They are the standard against which every other company is measured. For general home and school use, piano technicians probably recommend Yamaha pianos more often than any other brand. Their precision, reliability, and performance make them a very good value for a consumer product.