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Fitchburg State pinpoints the right Steinway for their needs

by Stephen N. Reed


Fitchburg State University’s music department wanted to be sure to pick the Steinway grand piano that was just right for their school’s diverse needs.  According to Jane Fiske, DMA, Professor of Humanities at Fitchburg and a member of Fitchburg’s Steinway Selection Committee, the school has selected Steinway pianos. for sixty years. Their last piano, a Steinway Model B, was purchased in 1996 with a Mission Fund Grant.

Having secured the funding for this important instrument through their school’s budgeting process, a three-person committee to see how their Steinway is made in a Steinway factory tour and to sample six, brand new Model D concert grands before choosing the winning piano to come to Fitchburg State.

Fitchburg committee on Steinway factory tour
Fitchburg State’s music department committee chose to have a Steinway factory tour before selecting their Model D concert grand piano.

This Steinway Selection Process was the last, important step in a long journey towards acquiring a Steinway concert grand for their university.

For many years, M. Steinert & Sons has offered this one-of-a-kind experience for interested customers: a trip to Steinway & Sons’ Astoria, New York factory to handpick their very own Steinway grand piano.  We can attest that every customer has enjoyed the experience, which can also include a guided factory tour to see up close how meticulously Steinway pianos are made.

Accompanied by your own M. Steinert piano consultant, you get to try six brand new Steinway grands, narrowing their choice down to one particular favorite.  This bonding process is the very beginning of the joy of owning a Steinway, choosing it for its tone and touch.   All Steinways meet the most exacting of standards, but because they are handcrafted, each is unique, as well.

In this article, you’ll see how Fitchburg State used this process quite effectively recently to help their school in its quest to become an All-Steinway School.

Institutional customers have different needs than individuals

Institutional customers like higher ed institutions, going through the Steinway Selection Process, frequently send a committee to Astoria. This is due to the variety of tasks the selected piano will be used to perform, as compared to the less complex purchase by individual customers who may simply want to entertain themselves and friends.

Typically, the committee will be selecting a piano that will be the focus, even the centerpiece, of their school’s concert hall.  That centerpiece piano is often the Model D, which will be played by special guest performers, faculty, and promising students.

Fitchburg State music faculty with a Steinway soundboard
From left to right, Fitchburg State’s Steinway selection committee members Amy McGlothlin, DMA, Jane Fisk, DMA, and Robin Dinda, DMA.

Such a piano might also be pulled in to help with fundraising events and university ceremonies.

“Our piano will be used for a variety of things at the school in our main auditorium, Weston. Ensemble rehearsals and performances, chamber and solo recitals, and community events,” says Amy McGlothlin, DMA and Director of Bands at Fitchburg State University.

“We wanted a piano that had the sensitivity to play music that was soft and legato as well as a piano that can have a big presence and be heard over a larger ensemble,” McGlothlin explains. “I think we found that in the piano we selected that day.”  The committee members took turns playing the six Model Ds, narrowing the field gradually until they agreed on the one they liked the most.

McGlothlin recently served on Fitchburg State’s committee that went to Astoria for their school’s Steinway Selection Day.  The others serving on their committee were fellow members of Fitchburg’s Music Department: Jane Fiske, DMA, and Robin Dinda, DMA.

Fitchburg State: On the path to becoming an All-Steinway school

For Fitchburg State, this current Model D purchase, right from the factory, is a key step in their drive to become an All-Steinway school.

“For many years our school has invested in Steinway pianos,” says McGlothlin. “We have been fortunate that our administration recognizes that the pianos built by Steinway represent the finest craftsmanship and durability.”

McGlothlin notes that reading articles about Steinway, as well as the Note by Note documentary helped to educate administrators about the value of Steinways.   “Those things have helped administration and finance to see that we are purchasing a work of art that retains value and durability and not just a mass-manufactured instrument, McGlothlin explains.

Fitchburg’s new Steinway’s Model D:  A key part of the plan

Fitchburg State, like many schools, had to develop a long-term strategy to eventually become an All-Steinway school.

Fitchburg committee looking at Steinway grand in progress
The Fitchburg State committee observed the multiple stages of building a handcrafted Steinway concert grand.

“We have been working on replacing the piano in our auditorium for quite some time. As you know, it’s a large expense,” says McGlothlin.   “The current piano in that space is a “B” model, a bit smaller, and frankly, not big enough for the space. It’s also about 60 years old, which for an academic institution is quite a long life. It’s really a tribute to how well the Steinways are constructed.”

Perseverance is a key ingredient for any school wanting to replace older pianos with new Steinways.   While private schools might have other fundraising strategies, music departments like the one at Fitchburg State typically must go through their school’s budgeting process.  That may mean multiple attempts before securing the needed funding.

“We have been requesting the Model D for at least as long as I have been here,” says McGlothlin, who has been at Fitchburg State for three and a half years. “We have an annual funding request process that our school uses,” explains McGlothlin.

“Each spring we submit our funding requests to the administration and through a series of meetings they decide which requests will receive funding,” McGlothlin notes.  “So, every year, they are seeing this request, and we just never stop asking until we get it funded, which was now.”

A pleasant surprise for the Fitchburg State faculty

Institutions are all about accountability.  Knowing that the music department’s three-person committee would be going through a Steinway Selection Process and Astoria factory tour could give assurance to university administrators this was going to be a hands-on, very knowledgable decision.

The committee inspects a sheet of Sitka Spruce, the wood used to make the patented Steinway Diaphragmatic Soundboard.

Securing the funding this year to buy the Weston Auditorium’s new Model D was a win for Fitchburg State on more than one level.  The school now has a piano that is the standard of the industry for any top piano performer that comes to Fitchburg for a concert.  97% of all performing pianists prefer Steinway.   Plus they have a piano to help with significant university celebrations and fundraising efforts.

Additionally, having a Steinway Model D, one that your school got to handpick right from the Steinway & Sons factory floor is a significant encouragement to Fitchburg State music faculty and students.  Such a purchase conveys that the school believes these musicians are worth the very best.

“The faculty were surprised to hear, this summer, that we would be getting a new Model D for that space,” says McGlothlin.

“We are pretty grateful that the administration recognizes that the piano needs to be replaced and that it should be replaced with the piano that the space needs.”

The Fitchburg State Steinway Selection team by their Steinway Model D
The Fitchburg State Steinway Selection team by their chosen, new Steinway Model D.

That piano, a Steinway Model D with a rich tone and a powerful bass, was unanimously agreed upon by Fitchburg’s three-person committee, according to Jane Fiske.  “Although each of the pianos we tried was of the highest quality, we all agreed with our final selection; it will easily project to the back our concert hall.”

Regarding the Steinway Selection process, Fiske says that it was an exceptional experience. “Our hosts at Steinway made the experience of selecting the Model D more than we could have hoped for,” says Fiske.   “It was a privilege to be a part of the university team sent to Astoria to select this once in a lifetime, one-of-a-kind piano.”

Interested in learning more about the Steinway Selection Process?

Steinway Selection Room Manager Cameron Underwood explains the exterior varnishing process to the committee.

The Fitchburg State committee learned a great deal about how their Steinway was made during their factory tour.  The Steinway Selection Process followed with the unique opportunity to handpick their favorite new Model D for their school’s main auditorium.

This was an exceptional due diligence effort by the committee to select the “just right” piano for Fitchburg State. They can now look forward to the arrival of their Steinway later this month.

Would your institution be interested in learning more about the Steinway Selection Process and how it can help you to achieve All-Steinway School status?  Contact our institutional sales department at M. Steinert & Sons, the oldest Steinway dealer in the world, helping individual and institutional customers choose the right Steinway for them since 1860.

Additionally, read these articles below for more information about the Steinway & Sons company and their world-class pianos:

 


An interview with Anna Avetisyan, 2021 Steinway & Sons Teacher Hall of Fame honoree

by Stephen N. Reed


 

Vivian Handis, Anna Avetisyan, and Ash K at the 2021 Steinway Teacher Hall of Fame in Astoria, NY
2021 Steinway Teacher of the Year inductee Anna Avetisyan, flanked by M. Steinert & Sons’ teacher-partner Vivian Handis (l) and Gavin English, President of Steinway & Sons (r), at Steinway’s recent celebration in Astoria, New York.

 

M. Steinert & Sons is proud to honor our Steinway Educational Partner Anna Avetisyan, a 2021 Steinway & Sons Teacher Hall of Fame honoree!   Only one piano teacher per region of the U.S. achieves this distinction annually.

“We are always so glad to see one of our educational partners recognized for their work with their piano students,” said Brendan Murphy, President of M. Steinert & Sons.  “Anna deserves this, and we congratulate her and her family on this rare and distinctive award from Steinway.”

Previously, Anna had won the 2018 and 2020 “Steinway & Sons Top Music Teacher Award.”

For her part, Anna notes that she is deeply humbled by this honor and just wants to use it to help her students reach new heights at the keyboard.

A family background in music

“My father is a cellist and my mother a violinist, and they both taught at the conservatory and played in the state philharmonic orchestra,” says Anna, who grew up in Armenia. “I grew up in that kind of environment. It was normal to have people come over to our home to play in a trio or quartet.”

Anna has followed in her parents’ musical footsteps. She started taking piano lessons at age nine and performing solo with an orchestra at age eleven.  Despite her exceptional progress, Anna says her parents had mixed emotions about her choosing music as a career.

“They weren’t wild about me becoming a musician,” she notes.  “Music can be very fulfilling, but they wanted me to be a breadwinner, too.”

Graduate work prepares her

Undeterred, Anna graduated from the specialized Music School in Yerevan, Armenia, two years ahead of the scheduled graduation date.

She went on to receive her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance with an emphasis in Piano Pedagogy from the Babajanyan State Music College, and her Master of Music in Piano Performance, Collaborative Piano Performance, and Piano Pedagogy from the Komitas State Conservatory.

Anna Avetisyan
Anna founded Through the Looking Glass, a chamber music series that focuses on bringing chamber music performances to communities in the Boston area.

Eventually, Anna’s career brought her to Boston, where she received a Graduate Performance Diploma in Collaborative Piano Performance from the Longy School of Music of Bard College.

Anna has appeared in concerts and festivals as a solo and collaborative pianist in the United States, Canada, Armenia, and Russia.

In 2016, Anna founded Through the Looking Glass, a chamber music series that focuses on bringing chamber music performances to communities in the Boston area.

Anna is an active performer in the Boston area and has a full-time piano studio in Burlington. She is a Steinway & Sons teacher and educational partner, and a member of MMTA, MTNA, and NEPTA, where she currently serves on the board of directors.

For nearly thirty years, Anna has enjoyed teaching the piano.  Her students have regularly participated in recitals and festivals in the Boston area and beyond, have won numerous competitions, and have performed in the prestigious Carnegie Hall.

“Music is not just what I do,” says Anna.  “It’s who I am.”

Teaching philosophy: Building confidence

Anna is truly dedicated to her piano students, as she knows what it takes to do well at the piano.

“I get completely submerged in a piece they’re playing,  and we may go overtime by twenty minutes as a result,” says Anna.  “My goal as a teacher is to provide a warm and positive learning environment encouraging the students to find their unique individual musicality.”

Building the student’s confidence is key, according to Anna.  “As they achieve confidence and technical proficiency, we are able to explore any piece with knowledge and understanding while enjoying it.”

A friend at M. Steinert & Sons

Anna credits her friend, Vivian Handis, for helping her find two exceptional pianos to use personally and for her students.  Vivian was a piano sales consultant with M. Steinert & Sons for 19-years and now serves as a teacher-partner for the company.

Anna has been teaching the piano for nearly 30 years, using Boston pianos and now a Steinway Model M.

“I went to M. Steinert in 2004, needing a special-sized piano for our home,” explains Anna. “I got a Boston 178 baby grand. I loved its warm tone–it was a high-quality instrument.  I’ve since had two Boston baby grands!  Students were pleased with them, too.  I have been friends with Vivian ever since getting my first grand piano.  I know I could trust her in every possible way.”

Now Anna has a Steinway Model M, having taken advantage of M. Steinert’s “Trade-Up” policy, where those buying a new Steinway grand piano will receive an allowance equal to the full purchase price of their trade-in piano in reasonably good condition.

Anna reflects on her nearly 20-year relationship with M. Steinert & Sons.

“I have always felt a very special warmth whenever I stepped through their doors,” says Anna. “There is always that magical atmosphere, being among the magnificent instruments. Even more so, there is almost a feeling of a sanctuary, a place where high standards and deep traditions are cherished, and where there is an almost familial feel among the staff and management.

“Everyone is caring, warm, and highly professional, and I am very grateful to have them among my colleagues and friends: Vivian Handis, Steve Hauk, Brendan Murphy, Chuck Johnson, Kayla Woodworth, Jonathan Tetzlaff, and many others.”

A place on the Steinway Teacher Hall of Fame wall

Anna (r) standing with her friend, M. Steinert teacher-partner Vivian Handis
Anna (r) standing with her friend, M. Steinert teacher-partner Vivian Handis, in front of the Steinway Teacher Hall of Fame wall which now bears her name.

Anna and her husband, Ash Khachatryan, attended the recent 2021 Steinway Teacher Hall of Fame induction at the company’s Astoria, New York factory.  She enjoyed meeting other inductees from around the country, hearing them discuss the same joys and challenges of teaching piano today.

At the awards dinner, each of the Steinway inductees received a certificate denoting their induction to Steinway’s Teacher Hall of Fame and enjoyed a performance by a Steinway Artist playing pieces by Bach and Ravel.

While in Astoria, Anna and Ash greatly enjoyed a guided tour through the factory, seeing how meticulously each Steinway piano is made.  She found the awards dinner and factory tour immensely satisfying.

Anna’s name is now on a well-presented plaque listing all of Steinway’s inductees into their Teacher Hall of Fame.  Anna’s dedication to music and her students remains the dominant theme in her approach to the piano.  As she puts it:

“The more you are given, the more you have to give back.”

 


Is the Steinway Selection Process for me?

by Stephen N. Reed


One of the most potentially helpful features of buying a Steinway & Sons piano is the “Steinway Selection Process.”  In this final stage of purchasing a Steinway, an interested customer and their M. Steinert piano consultant can come to Steinway’s Astoria, New York factory. There the customer can pick their own, particular Steinway piano, complete with its year and unique serial number.

Steinway Selection Room
The Steinway Selection Room at the company’s Astoria, NY factory is where customers can choose their own particular model.

Imagine the excitement of picking your own brand new Steinway!   When you move it into your home or concert hall, you know that’s the one you selected over all the others.  In short, it will never be just another piano.  This piano was adopted by you and is now a part of your family or school community.

In this article, you will learn how the Steinway Selection Process works.  You’ll discover why Steinway’s technical staff prepare six pianos for you to try, allowing you to pick the most perfect Steinway for you.

This is a unique opportunity offered to customers by Steinway and M. Steinert & Sons to bond with your own piano from the start, adopting it fresh from the factory floor.  For the long life of your Steinway, you’ll always know that you had a decisive role in choosing this specific Steinway.

But did you adopt it, or did it adopt you with a rich tone and feel that spoke to you? In this article, we’ll help you discover whether the Steinway Selection Process is for you.  Other Steinway customers are fully satisfied without going through the Steinway Selection Process.

But if you want to be a little more hands-on in the last stage of purchasing their piano, Steinway has developed this selection process for buyers like you.

Steinway welcomes individual and institutional clients for tours

The Steinway Selection Process is offered to both individual and institutional Steinway customers.  As we’ll soon see, Steinway makes the process simple and straightforward.  For individuals, the process is particularly easy except for the possibility of choosing between two outstanding pianos at the end of the process.

For institutions, like a school or university, the process is the same except that the different uses for the same chosen piano are uppermost in mind.   Moreover, a committee usually participates in the selection process rather than a single academic.  As a result, a consensus is part of the process for institutional customers.

An especially weighty decision for institutional clients

Steinway Model D concert grand piano
Institutional customers sometimes avail themselves of the Steinway Selection Process to decide upon their Model D concert grand.

Institutional customers going through the Steinway Selection Process are selecting a piano that will be the focus, even the centerpiece, of their concert hall.  Not only will promising students be playing this Model D Steinway but also distinguished guests and faculty.

In addition to traditional concerts, such an instrument may also be played at university ceremonies or major donor fundraising events, where the Steinway brand will be noted and appreciated.

A Model D may look like a showhorse, but the truth is, this instrument is a serious workhorse with multiple, important functions.  Selecting the best possible concert grand for one’s school is likely the most important purchase a college’s music department will make that year.

Arriving at the factory with your M. Steinert & Sons piano consultant

M. Steinert & Sons is the oldest Steinway & Sons dealer in the world, tracing our connection with Steinway back to & Sons is the oldest Steinway & Sons dealer in the world, tracing our connection with Steinway back to 1860.

We keep strong ties with Steinway and enjoy arranging, then taking, interested clients to Steinway’s Astoria, New York factory, just minutes from downtown Manhattan.

Whether you’re flying solo or part of an institutional committee, you’ve likely been interested in the Steinway Selection Process already and have a great fondness for the Steinway brand.  A Steinway grand piano often reflects your aspirations, whether as an individual or a music department, to arrive at a place where they can purchase a piano that is the standard of the industry.

Led by your experienced M. Steinert piano consultant, you’ll arrive at the Astoria factory with great anticipation.  For pianists, coming to Steinway’s factory to sample several brand new Steinways is like a dream come true.

Interested in a factory tour?

Action being tested at Steinway's Astoria factory
On a Steinway factory tour, you can see how a piano’s action is tested.

If time permits, the individual or institutional customer can take an Astoria factory tour, which takes a little over an hour.  Having the tour allows one to appreciate more fully the meticulous craftsmanship involved in the making of a handcrafted grand piano.

While all Steinway pianos meet exacting standards, no two Steinway pianos are alike.  Each has its own unique personality.  Watching how the Steinway artisans get into the details of each section of the piano-building process is both educational and inspirational.

Six Steinway grands ready to be sampled

Steinway’s technical staff has prepared for the customer’s visit by expertly tuning each of the six Steinway pianos of the same model already decided upon back in Boston.  The Steinway Selection room at the factory accommodates six concert grands, all in a row.  Each piano has been completed within the last several weeks.

A Steinway Selection staffer explains the process in an adjoining boardroom to the Steinway Selection room.  This is where school committee members meet afterward to compare notes on the different Steinways tested that day.

Narrow down your choices–but they’re all so good!

Now at last comes the time for you to engage with the six Steinway grands set before you.  The goal here is to play each piano for several minutes to get a feel for each one’s tone and action/touch, then compare them with the other five.   The fact that one is grading Steinway pianos may understandably feel a bit surreal for you.

Steinway Selection Room
“But they’re all so good!” Narrowing down six Steinway grand pianos can be a challenge–but a pleasant one.

Ultimately, this will be a process of elimination, one made challenging by the highest standards of quality achieved by the Steinway craftspeople.  “But they’re all so good!” is a common statement during the selection process.

A customer may eliminate a couple of the pianos after playing all six, allowing them to focus more on the remaining four.   After another round of playing, the individual or committee may narrow the field down further to just two.

By the time the six grand pianos have been winnowed down to two finalists, additional considerations may come into play.  For example, while one piano may have a perfect tone for one use, the other may be more versatile for the multiple uses envisioned by a college committee.

In addition to giving each piano another play, committee members may stand back and listen to the two pianos as if they were in the audience back in their college concert hall.

A highly collaborative decision

People discussing Steinway piano production at the Steinway factory
Committee members for M. Steinert’s institutional customers learn how Steinways are made during a factory tour ahead of their collaborations.

The committee members then take their notes with them and adjourn to the board room. There they hear each other’s final take on the two remaining pianos.  Frequently the winning piano is so outstanding that a consensus is already emerging before this last discussion begins.

But by the time this collaborative process is over, like a unanimous jury, the committee makes its final decision with confidence.  They have found their Steinway!  The Steinway Selection staffer confirms the selection by putting a little marker denoting that the chosen Steinway is now no longer for sale.

The same process works well for the individual customer.  While the final decision is wholly the customer’s, both individual and committee customers often draw upon their M. Steinert piano consultant and the Steinway Selection staff for information regarding the six pianos arrayed before them.

Leave Astoria confident in your selection

Front door, Steinway's Astoria, NY facility
Customers leave the Astoria, NY factory confident in their piano

Let’s face it:  purchasing a Steinway grand piano, whether for one’s home or a school’s concert hall, is an expensive proposition.  Steinway owners will tell you that their pianos are worth every dime they paid for them.

However, in the name of due diligence, many Steinway customers will feel even more comfortable with their purchase by directly taking a role in their piano’s final selection.

A college president can rest easy, knowing that the music department took the extra step of ensuring that this new Model D concert grand will perform all of the functions the college envisions for it.

An individual purchasing a Model B for their home will take pride in knowing that their selection was the one that beat out five other excellent Steinways.

We’d love to take you to Astoria

Is the Steinway Selection Process for you?  Come into one of M. Steinert’s showrooms to find out.  You may decide that your process will end at the Steinway factory in Astoria, New York to choose your own Steinway grand.  We’d love to take you there.

For more information on different Steinway models, read these articles:


What is a Steinway factory tour like?

by Stephen N. Reed


A Series of Pleasant Surprises

You’ve been impressed, even inspired by the sound of Steinway pianos at concerts or in friends’ homes over the years.  Their golden tone and stylish black glossy finish–it all speaks to you.

Front door of Steinway's Astoria, NY facility
Welcome to Steinway & Sons! The front door to the Astoria, NY facility is the gateway to a 500,000 sq. ft. piano factory.

So what is a Steinway & Sons factory tour like, you ask?

A Steinway factory tour is a series of pleasant surprises, beginning with your entrance into the factory.  Though attractive, the front door to the Astoria, NY facility is unassuming.  Upon entering, you’d never know that the building’s small foyer will be leading you into a spacious 500,000 sq. ft. facility, just minutes from downtown Manhattan.

So this is the place they build the famous Steinway pianos.

The next pleasant surprise you experience is the wide range of courteous employees at this Steinway factory. From the janitorial staff running the vacuum cleaners, administrators greeting you warmly as you await your tour, your guide, and all the Steinway craftspeople you meet on your tour–everyone is genuinely welcoming in Steinwayland.

Indeed, any notion that staff working for a world-class brand like Steinway might be aloof is immediately dashed as you go through your tour.  The craftspeople are pros and accustomed to visitors looking in on their work.  They can remain focused on their work while also engaging visitors on a tour.

“Treat every customer in a courteous and professional manner.”   These words, found in Steinway’s Standard of Excellence Customer Code, are truly embodied by Steinway staff.

By the end of this article, you will know more about the inner workings of Steinway’s Astoria, NY factory and some of the key parts of Steinway pianos that have made them the standard of the industry for many decades.

Each craftsperson leads to the next

Steinway & Sons staff member Cameron Underhill took our tour up and down the different floors of the Astoria facility, giving us an education one could only get by seeing this complex process up close.

Steinway & Sons staffer Cameron Underhill
Steinway & Sons staff member Cameron Underhill gives a great, multifaceted tour of the Astoria facility.

As we went through the hour and a half tour, the fact that a Steinway grand piano takes about a year to be completed increasingly made sense.  Each craftsperson, whether they are a woodworker, painter, or keyboard specialist is each part of a well-considered, systematic stream to assemble the next Steinway.

You feel like you’re witnessing the same process used 100 years ago to make Steinways–because you are!  Steinway still produces unique handcrafted pieces, finishing 3-5 pianos per day at the Astoria facility.

Except for some high-tech cutting machines, the entire tour is a rare and pleasant throwback to an earlier time in American manufacturing when the decisions made by highly-skilled craftspeople affected the quality of the final product.

Witnessing the Bending of the Rim

Steinway workers carrying the rim to bend into shape
Steinway staff carrying the Hard Rock Maple to bend the rim.

Our tour was fortunate in being able to see several Steinway workers bend the rim for a Model D Steinway concert grand piano.  They carefully glued several thin, 20 ft. Hard Rock Maple boards together, stacking them on top of each other.

After letting the glue settle, the Steinway workers then hoist the stacked, glued boards in the air, over their heads, looking like dockworkers as they take the rim over to the rim mold.

Seeing how the thin stacked maple boards are flexible enough to be bent around the rim mold, then clasped into place reminds us that this is the only way for Steinway to provide such a bent rim.  This couldn’t happen with a single board of wood.

But stacking thin boards of maple together does the trick, even as those boards later look like a single, beautiful, and functional rim. When we see a finished grand piano later, with just such a beautiful rim, it’s hard to believe that those bent rims needed to rest for up to 16 weeks to settle following that wood-bending process we witnessed.

Rim Bending
The Rim Bending process is unique to Steinway

So why all this fuss about Steinway’s patented one-piece rim process?  The rim plays a key role in supporting and enhancing the acoustical properties of the piano’s soundboard.  Its stability, durability, and strength together create and improve on the distinctive “Steinway sound.”

Today’s Steinway rim allows Steinway’s patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard to vibrate freely and to generate a truly golden tone.

Seeing how the Diaphragmatic Soundboard is made

Steinway's patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard
The patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard is considered the very heart of the Steinway tone, color, and richness.

As alluded to earlier, the other critical part of the Steinway grand piano’s acoustic properties is the company’s patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard, made from panels of close-grained Sitka Spruce glued together. The soundboard is thicker in the middle, tapering to its edges.

When passing through the “belly department” of the factory, we saw several light-colored wooden soundboards getting prepped for installation.  Each soundboard must be perfected before installation since the soundboard and bridge must be able to manage 20,000 pounds of string pressure while also producing a range of sounds, piano and fortissimo.

Steinway’s soundboard is known for its ability to respond to a pianist’s subtle playing to bring out their emotion. The soundboard is considered the very heart of the Steinway tone, color, and richness.

Checking out where the action is

The action in a Steinway piano responds to the touch instead of being forced into action.

The “action” of the piano is self-defining: without the action, there would be no sound produced.  The action in a Steinway piano responds to the touch instead of being forced into action.

A piano’s action refers to the slender, wooden hammers, covered in special wool felt.  These hammers are what strike the strings when keys are played.  Each piece of this mechanical part of the piano has to be tested by several different people to guarantee rapid, sensitive movement in the coming years.

These little hammers are the reason why grand pianos must have sturdy, huge rims and soundboards. Just as an automobile engine has a heavy case around little pistons firing hard, so must a Steinway grand piano rim and soundboard absorb and contain the sound the hammers create.

Tone regulation:  Sensitive ears needed

A Steinway tone regulator testing a keyboard.
Steinway tone regulators make sure that each key is properly weighted.

Tone regulation.  Here then was another fascinating stop on our tour–and one so different from any other facet of the operations.  The sensitivity involved in getting each key’s tone pitch perfect reminds one of the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.”

Tone regulators note minute differences in weight with great skill, adding small weights to any key that needs it to have the right tone.  Tone regulators can spend up to 60 hours per piano, helping it to become a beautiful musical instrument.

If you can recall doing a delicate titration exercise in your high school chemistry lab, measuring tiny amounts precisely, that is similar to the tone regulators’ work.

Some tone regulators have such keen hearing that, attending a concert, they can recognize the tone of a Steinway piano that they adjusted years before.

Handcrafting skills learned in-house at the Astoria factory

I asked our tour guide, Cameron Underhill, about the training involved with all of these specialty craftspeople.

“While a background in furniture making can be a good background for us, most of the skills are taught here in-house,” says Cameron.  He notes that some of the work at their factory is very specialized.

Many of the craftspeople spend their whole career with Steinway.  Some are multi-generational craftspeople, who had a parent and grandparent working at the Astoria facility.  Pride in their product and the Steinway brand is an obvious aspect of their long tenures in Astoria.

M. Steinert customers welcome to take a tour

A row of finished Steinway grand pianos at the Astoria, NY facility.
The finished product: Handcrafted Steinway pianos have long been considered the standard of the industry.

While Steinway has suspended public tours of the Astoria, NY factory during the pandemic, M. Steinert & Sons customers can accompany our piano consultant to New York to see how Steinways are made.

Moreover, our individual or institutional customers can engage in the Steinway Selection process, whereby M. Steinert customers select their actual grand piano.  You try out six different newly-built Steinway pianos of the model you have chosen, then decide on the one you want to have at home or in your school’s concert hall.

Choosing one’s own, individual Steinway is an empowering moment for any M. Steinert customer, and we are happy to set up the tour and the Steinway Selection process for you.

Come to one of our showrooms to start the process of deciding which Steinway model is best for you.  In the meantime, read these articles to learn more about Steinway & Sons and their world-famous pianos:

 


What do I do with my old piano?

by Stephen N. Reed


Ask M. Steinert & Son’s Marketing Director Chuck Johnson what he thinks about the number of old pianos out there that have lost their value.  Go on.  I dare you.

An aging piano keyboard
An old piano that has lost its musical value can be demoralizing to a piano student.

“They just need to go,” says Chuck.  “They have a way of diminishing a young person’s enthusiasm for playing the piano, because they tend to feel and sound terrible.  Who wants to practice hard on a musical instrument that can’t even hold its tune?  Sometimes they just need to get recycled and not destroy anybody else’s interest in the piano.  Chances are, it’s been around far beyond its life expectancy anyway.”

“So what do I do with my old piano?” the customer asks.

This is one of the most common questions we have heard at M. Steinert & Sons over the decades.  Every generation has an enormous number of old pianos which, after many years of use, have finally lost their musical value.  At M. Steinert, we’ve been successfully helping our customers solve this sometimes knotty dilemma.

Sometimes, an older piano’s terminus can be forestalled, as some older pianos can be rebuilt.  However, the cost of restoring a piano can oftentimes be more expensive than buying a new piano, one with its full life ahead of it.

If a piano still has good tone but is merely being replaced by a newer, better model, then it may still have some trade-in value.  But for the large, wooden hulk sitting idly in a corner in your home, disposing or repurposing it is the only way to go.

But how?  This article will explore a variety of solutions to getting an old piano out of your home and out of your hair.   By the end of this article, you will have a much better idea of your options when disposing of an old piano.

Parting ways: How to dispose of an old piano

Don’t expect much from a sale

Keyboard with chipped wood
Don’t expect to get much from the sale of an old piano that is losing its value.

If your piano is still in basic working condition and can still hold a tune, you may be able to get something out of it.  However, unless grandmother willed you a recent vintage Steinway (less than 30 years old), don’t expect much from a sale of an old piano.  The market is flooded with them.

On average, you may be looking at somewhere between $50–$100 on eBay or Craig’s List. Perhaps a local piano company like M. Steinert will give you something for it as part of a trade-in but just remember: some pianos aren’t worth anyone taking.

Donating to charity

Some older pianos might be without value to a serious musician. Yet, when a piano is beyond its prime, but still has an acceptable tone and touch, a donation can be a win-win.  Students, looking for their first trial piano, often look for a serviceable piano at a charity-sponsored Thrift shop.  Such shops may pick up the piano for you for free–a serious bonus.

You might get a tax deduction and the satisfaction of knowing that your piano is still being put to good use. Plus, the beginning student has an instrument that can at least help them learn the basics of piano playing.  However, before donating we recommend you (and your donee) read our article Four questions to ask before accepting a free piano.

Repurposing the case

Piano Bar
An example of a piano bar for sale at etsy.com

When a musical instrument is no longer able to create music would seem to have lost its reason for being.  However, clever interior designers have found other uses for piano cases, whether from grands or uprights.

A quick search of craft website Etsy shows a number of creative solutions to repurposing part or all of a piano.

Another example is this video of how to make a piano bar out of a vertical piano.

One popular repurposing is to make the old piano case into a curvy bookshelf.  Others use the same idea to hold objets d’art.  Certainly, such a new use for an old piano can give one an instant conversation piece when visitors come to your home.

We really like the ideas in 12 Creative Ways to Repurpose Piano Parts.

Leave it at the landfill

A beaten up piano keyboard with missing ivories.
A piano that has not been well-maintained over the years should be sent to a landfill.

While the landfill may seem like the last resort for disposing of your old piano, it is the likely and the rightful final place of rest for most old pianos.  One disadvantage is that this option may cost you a few hundred dollars, especially if you pay the landfill authority or a third party to come and retrieve it from you.

Dispose of your old piano…properly

Steinert & Sons President Emeritus Paul Murphy recounts one incident involving an old piano that was not laid to rest properly.

“In the Mid-Eighties, there was a popular restaurant/bar on our block on Boylston called Remington’s,“ notes Paul. “The sous chef was originally from Queens, NY, where earlier he worked in another restaurant. He owned a high-speed motorboat that he used to take out on Long Island Sound after his day shift.

“One evening he hit something that threw him from the boat and knocked him cold. Fortunately, he was wearing a life jacket which saved his unconscious self. It was determined that the object he hit was a piano.  Today we are far more aware of the possibility of polluting the planet.”

Out with the old, in with the new!

Steinway Model B grand piano
M. Steinert & Sons has been helping people enjoy the music of a new piano for over 160 years.

So whatever you decide, give your old piano a proper burial.  Then celebrate the new piano you’re bringing home, with decades of life yet to be lived!

Steinert & Sons has been helping people enjoy the difference between their old piano and a new one for 160 years.   We enjoy helping our customers bring good music into their homes for years to come.

Come into M. Steinert & Sons to see some of those new pianos.  Meantime, read some of our articles about buying a new piano:


The Top Six most popular Steinway grand pianos (according to our customers)

by Stephen N. Reed


Most Popular Steinway GrandsYou’re ready to start shopping seriously for a Steinway piano, but you want to take your time, do it right.  After all, who wants to make this size of an investment, only to find that it doesn’t quite suit your needs in your home?

Steinway logo painted inside grand piano case
M. Steinert’s customers have had six most popular Steinway grand models over the years.

The piano consultants at M. Steinert are very experienced at helping customers with a wide variety of considerations, both in terms of their level of playing and the size of the space where the piano will be placed.

Since 1860, M. Steinert & Sons has gone the extra mile to ensure that each customer will have long-term satisfaction with their new Steinway piano.  We enjoy seeing people bringing the Steinway sound to their home or performing venue.

Towards that end, for your consideration, we offer you a look at the most popular Steinway models at M. Steinert.   You may find others’ preferences mirror some of your own.

By reviewing the Steinway models that have proven so popular with our customers over the years, you can start to narrow down your options as you move towards a final selection that is best for you.

The Top Six most popular Steinway pianos (according to our customers)

Steinway's Model B grand piano
The Model B is the most popular among M. Steinert customers. One factor in this is that the B is often chosen by Steinway Spirio player piano customers.

#1.  Steinway Model B

In a close race, the famed 7’ Steinway Model B edges out the 5’7” Model M as the most popular Steinway grand among M. Steinert & Sons’ customers.

The Model B is the choice of 28.46% of M. Steinert’s customers.  M. Steinert piano consultant Patrick Elisha notes that a major reason for the popularity of both the B and the M is that they are the models used for Steinway’s Spirio player pianos.

The 7’ Model B is Steinway’s best-selling model and has been acclaimed for having the top Steinway sound and touch outside of the concert grand models. The Model B is well-known for its constantly refined tone, touch sensitivity, broader dynamic range, longer sustain, and nuanced color.

Most Steinway Artists own Model Bs or Model Ds–or both. The Model B is not too large for many living rooms yet is also large enough to be appropriate for a smaller concert hall or a church sanctuary.

It is the most versatile of the Steinway grands. It is often the choice of serious amateurs or professional pianists who do not have the budget or the room for a 9’ concert grand Model D.

To learn more, read our Review of the Model B.

Model B specifications

#2.  Steinway Model M

Steinway craftsman with soundboard
Steinway’s patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard insures that the Model M grand has a rich, full sound without being overwhelming.

Introduced in 1911, the Steinway Model M occupies a cherished place for many in the Steinway spectrum of grand pianos.  At 5’7”, the Model M is situated between the smaller (5’1”) Model S and the larger (5’10”) Model O.

Steinway has called the M their “Studio Grand.”  It is the choice of 27.07% of M. Steinert customers.

Though smaller than other models like the O and the A, the Model M still retains a sound that richly fills a home or small venue without being overwhelming.  This is due to its Steinway soundboard.  Its responsive action produces a touch that can engage any style of music.

Because of its more compact size as Steinway’s “Studio Grand,” the Model M has proven itself as a consistent favorite for those needing a somewhat smaller grand piano for the home or small venue.

To learn more, read our Review of the Steinway Model M.

Model M specifications

#3.  Steinway Model L and O

Steinway Grands L and O combined
This chart shows popularity of grands with sales of the Model O and the Model L combined as one bar.

While Steinway’s Model L comes in next as the choice of 16.76% of M. Steinert’s customers, the L has been replaced in recent years with the Model O, which has been the selection of 7.91% for a total of 24.67% for both of these 6’ grands.

The Steinway Model O, referred to as the “Living Room Grand,” is the largest of the smaller Steinway grand pianos with a length of nearly 5’11”.

Patrick Elisha notes that the Model O’s size begins to usher in the full, rich sound of the larger Steinway grand piano experience.

The Model O offers a full, resonant sound of exceptional warmth and depth.  Often used for homes and teaching, the Model O has a rich bass register that is bolstered by the ample string length and the patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard.

The Astoria, New York Steinway factory had historically produced the Model L, while Steinway’s Hamburg, Germany plant made the Model O.  Over time, a consensus emerged between these two Steinway divisions that the scale design of the O was preferred.

As a result, the decision was made to select just one nearly 6 foot piano to bear the Steinway name. The O had won on its merits.

To learn more, read our Review of the Steinway Model O

Model O specifications

#4. Steinway Model A: The game changer

Steinway Model A grand piano
The Model A is a close cousin to the Model B, but at 6’2″ its smaller size allows it to fit in smaller spaces.

For many, Steinway’s Model A, known as the “Parlor Grand,” is the perfect piano. It is a close cousin to the better-known Model B,  known as the “Living Room Grand.” 7.91% of M. Steinert customers chose the Model A.

The two pianos have a similar scale and the same width at 4’10”, though today’s Model A, with a length of 6’ 2”, is 9 inches shorter than the Model B with a length of 6’ 11”.

This difference in length makes the Model A an easier fit in many homes than the Model B.  However, the Model A is still long enough to accommodate those looking for a full Steinway grand that provides a concert-quality Steinway sound despite the smaller size.

The early Model A featured some of C.F. Theodore Steinway’s innovations, secured by several patents. As a result, the Model A is seen as Steinway’s game changer.

For example, the Model A featured the new, continuous bent rim case, which gave both a stronger cabinet and excellent soundboard vibrations. Theodore Steinway’s bent rim innovation is still used on Steinway grands today.

To learn more, read our Review of the Steinway Model A

Model A specifications

#5.  Steinway Model S

The Steinway Model S is a well-conceived piano that conveys the famous Steinway sound despite its small scale design.  At 5’1” (155 cm), the Model S is the smallest of the Steinway grands. The first ones were made in mahogany.

6.96% of M. Steinert’s customers chose the Steinway Model S, the company’s famous baby grand.

Steinway's Model S, the baby grand
Steinway’s Model S, gives a warm, rich tone in a small, 5’1″ baby grand piano.

According to M. Steinert & Sons President Emeritus Paul Murphy, to compete with smaller and less expensive pianos built by Steinway’s competition, the S was introduced in 1936 at $885.

Steinway’s Model S is not for everyone.  A professional concert pianist will want to have a Model B or D, which will allow them a wider dynamic range due to their larger size.

However, if you want the Steinway sound but have real space considerations, the Model S can be the perfect fit for their home or small venue.  The S is a special order piano from Steinway, only a little smaller than the Model M.

For more information, read our Review of Steinway’s Model S

Model S specifications

#6. Steinway Model D

Usually used only by professional pianists or concert venues, Steinway’s Model D is one of the most recognized grand piano in the world.  5.82% of M. Steinert’s customers selected the D, with many of them going to performance facilities or institutions of higher education.

Yuja Wang performing on a Steinway Model D concert grand piano.
Steinway Artist Yuja Wang performing on a Steinway Model D concert grand piano.

Over the years, the nearly 9’ Model D and other Steinway grands have possessed a strong bass to go along with their broad tone and a timbre some have called “spine-tingling.”  The sheer power in a Model D allows it to project to the back of any concert hall.

This sophisticated action is the reason so many professional pianists prefer the Model D: they feel at one with the instrument and believe that its range of tone and color brings out their musical best.

A quite popular model for institutions of higher education and symphonies, the Model D is the official piano of hundreds of musical venues, including the Boston Symphony OrchestraJuilliard, and the New England Conservatory.

Over 200 colleges and universities are officially designated as All-Steinway Schools, with the Model D taking center stage on their campus’s performing arts centers and music departments.

Finally, if you’ve listened to a classical or jazz piano recording lately, chances are that you were listening to a Steinway Model D.

To learn more, read our Review of Steinway’s Model D.

Model D specifications

How Much Do Steinway Pianos Cost?

These new Steinway grand pianos range between $75,000 and over $300,000, depending upon style and finish.  M. Steinert & Sons piano consultants can keep you updated on the current price for each model.

Whichever model you choose, it’s a Steinway

Whatever your final choice of a Steinway grand, the good news is: it’s a Steinway.  The legendary quality, craftsmanship, tone, and longevity that has made Steinway famous is in each of their grand piano models.

Come visit one of our two showrooms in Boston and Newton to begin the pleasant process of trying out these Steinway models yourself.

Our experienced piano consultants enjoy learning about your needs and aspirations when it comes to having a piano in your home. They can serve as your guide through the interesting process of choosing a Steinway.

Meantime, continue reading about Steinway’s uniquely handcrafted pianos below:


A review of 6 Steinway piano models: Which is the best grand for me?

by Stephen N. Reed


Steinway Model O in modern living room
Choosing the right Steinway grand piano can be both exciting and perplexing.  How to choose?

Pursuing the purchase of a Steinway & Sons piano can be both exciting and perplexing.  After all, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime investment, so you want to get it right.

You’ve heard about Steinway’s different-sized grand piano models and how size correlates to the prices across the spectrum of Steinway grands.  Is a bigger model worth the added cost?

At M. Steinert & Sons, helping people make the right Steinway choice is our bread and butter. We have been selling the different Steinway models for over 160 years and pride ourselves on customer service and satisfaction.

In this article, we will take a brief look at the main Steinway grand piano models, with links to a further description of each model.  That way, if you see one you want to investigate further before coming into one of our showrooms, you can access that information directly through this article.

An array of Steinways

Steinway Model D:  The concert grand

Over the years, the nearly 9’ Model D and other Steinway grands have possessed a strong bass to go along with their broad tone and a timbre some have called “spine-tingling.”  The sheer power in a Model D allows it to project to the back of any concert hall.

Steinway Artist Yuja Wang playing a Model D concert grand
Steinway Artist Yuja Wang playing a Model D concert grand.

This sophisticated action is the reason so many professional pianists prefer the Model D: they feel at one with the instrument and believe that its range of tone and color brings out their musical best.

A quite popular model for institutions of higher education and symphonies, the Model D is the official piano of hundreds of musical venues, including the Boston Symphony OrchestraJuilliard, and the New England Conservatory.

Over 200 colleges and universities are officially designated as All-Steinway Schools, with the Model D taking center stage on their campus’s performing arts centers and music departments.

Moreover, if you’ve listened to a classical or jazz piano recording lately, chances are that you were listening to a Steinway Model D.

To learn more, read our Steinway’s Model D: The iconic concert grand piano of choice.

Model D specifications

Steinway Model B:  Steinway’s best-seller

Steinway's Model B grand piano
The Model B is Steinway’s most popular grand piano. It is an exceptional fit for the professional pianist or serious amateur.

The 7’ Model B is Steinway’s best-selling model and has been acclaimed for having the top Steinway sound and touch outside of the concert grand models. The Model B is well-known for its constantly refined tone, touch sensitivity, broader dynamic range, longer sustain, and nuanced color.

Most Steinway Artists own Model Bs or Model Ds–or both. The Model B is not too large for many living rooms yet is also large enough to be appropriate for a smaller concert hall or a church sanctuary.

It is the most versatile of the 5 smaller grands by Steinway. It is often the choice of serious amateurs or professional pianists who do not have the budget or the room for a 9’ concert grand Model D.

To learn more, read our Steinway Model B: Is the B the perfect piano?

Model B specifications

Steinway Model A: The game changer

Steinway's Model A grand piano
Steinway’s Model A provides the Steinway sound but in a smaller form than the Model B.

For many, Steinway’s Model A, known as the “Parlor Grand,” is the perfect piano. It is a close cousin to the better-known Model B,  known as the “Living Room Grand.”

The two pianos have a similar scale and the same width at 4’10”, though today’s Model A, with a length of 6’ 2”, is 9 inches shorter than the Model B with a length of 6’ 11”.

This difference in length makes the Model A an easier fit in many homes than the Model B.  However, the Model A is still long enough to accommodate those looking for a full Steinway grand that provides a concert-quality Steinway sound despite the smaller size.

The early Model A featured some of C.F. Theodore Steinway’s innovations, secured by several patents. As a result, the Model A is seen as Steinway’s game changer.

For example, the Model A featured the new, continuous bent rim case, which gave both a stronger cabinet and excellent soundboard vibrations. Theodore Steinway’s bent rim innovation is still used on Steinway grands today.

To learn more, read our A review of the Steinway Model A: The game changer

Model A specifications

Steinway Model O: The small grand with the full grand sound

Steinway's Model O grand piano
The largest of the Steinway small grands, the Model O ushers in the fullness of the larger Steinway grand but is still under 6′.

Close to six feet in length, the Steinway Model O, referred to as the “Living Room Grand,” is the largest of the smaller Steinway grand pianos with a length of nearly 5’11”.

Patrick Elisha of M. Steinert & Sons’ educational division notes that the Model O’s size begins to usher in the full, rich sound of the larger Steinway grand piano experience.

The Model O offers a full, resonant sound of exceptional warmth and depth.  Often used for homes and teaching, the Model O has a rich bass register that is bolstered by the ample string length and the patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard.

The Astoria, New York Steinway factory had historically produced the Model L, while Steinway’s Hamburg, Germany plant made the Model O.  Over time, a consensus emerged between these two Steinway divisions that the scale design of the O was preferred.

As a result, the decision was made to select just one nearly 6 foot piano to bear the Steinway name. The O had won on its merits.

To learn more, read our Review of the Steinway Model O: Is it the right piano for me?

Model O specifications

Steinway Model M:  In the middle of the Steinway grand spectrum

Steinway's Model M grand piano
Steinway’s Model M has proven itself as a consistent favorite for those needing a somewhat smaller grand piano for the home or small venues.

Introduced in 1911, the Steinway Model M occupies a cherished place for many in the Steinway spectrum of grand pianos.  At 5’7”, the Model M is situated between the smaller (5’1”) Model S and the larger (5’10”) Model O.

Steinway has called the M their “Studio Grand.”

Though smaller than other models like the O and the A, the Model M still retains a sound that richly fills a home or small venue without being overwhelming.  This is due to its Steinway soundboard.  Its responsive action produces a touch that can engage any style of music.

Because of its more compact size as Steinway’s “Studio Grand,” the Model M has proven itself as a consistent favorite for those needing a somewhat smaller grand piano for the home or small venue.

To learn more, read our A review of the Steinway Model M: Is the M the right piano for me?

Model M specifications

Steinway Model S: the baby grand

Steinway's Model S grand piano
The Model S is their baby grand, the smallest of the Steinway grand pianos.

The Steinway Model S is a well-conceived piano that conveys the famous Steinway sound despite its small scale design.  At 5’1” (155 cm), the Model S is the smallest of the Steinway grands. The first ones were made in mahogany.

According to M. Steinert & Sons President Emeritus Paul Murphy, to compete with smaller and less expensive pianos built by Steinway’s competition, the S was introduced in 1936 at $885.

Steinway’s Model S is not for everyone.  A professional concert pianist will want to have a Model B or D, which will allow them a wider dynamic range due to their larger size.

However, if you want the Steinway sound but have real space considerations, the Model S can be the perfect fit for their home or small venue.  The S is a special order piano from Steinway, only a little smaller than the Model M.

For more information, read our A review of Steinway’s Model S: the baby grand.

Model S specifications

Cost

These new Steinway grand pianos range between $75,000 and over $300,000, depending upon style and finish.  M. Steinert & Sons piano consultants can keep you updated on the current price for each model. 

The good news: It’s a Steinway

Five Steinway grand piano models
Whichever Steinway model is best for you, you can rest in the knowledge that Steinway’s craftspeople have worked hard to create an exceptional musical instrument.

As mentioned earlier, a purchase as important as a grand piano can feel daunting.  The differences between two or three Steinway models can be either subtle or significant.

The good news is: it’s a Steinway.  The legendary quality, craftsmanship, tone, and longevity that has made Steinway famous is in each of their grand piano models.

Come visit one of our two showrooms in Boston and Newton to begin the pleasant process of trying out these Steinway models yourself.

Our experienced piano consultants enjoy learning about your needs and aspirations when it comes to having a piano in your home. They can serve as your guide through the interesting process of choosing a Steinway.

Meantime, continue reading about Steinway’s uniquely handcrafted pianos below:


A review of Steinway’s Model S:  The baby grand

By Stephen N. Reed


So you’d like to experience the “Steinway sound” but don’t think you have an adequate space for a grand piano in your home.  What to do?  You could compromise and get a nice upright instead, but what if you feel unfulfilled–and after spending thousands of dollars?

Young Girl at Model S
Steinway Model S grand pianos are beloved for their unique capacity to bring the essential grand piano experience into smaller spaces.

Baby grands may not have the full power of a full grand piano.  However, they are beloved for their unique capacity to bring the essential experience of a grand piano into much smaller spaces in a home or small venue.

The Steinway Model S is a well-conceived piano that conveys the famous Steinway sound despite its small scale design.  At 5’1” (155 cm), the Model S is the smallest of the Steinway grands. The first ones were made in mahogany.

Depression-era rollout

According to M. Steinert & Sons President Emeritus Paul Murphy, to compete with smaller and less expensive pianos built by Steinway’s competition, the S was introduced in 1936 at $885.

Steinway newspaper advertisement during the Great Depression
Steinway’s Model S was part of Steinway’s Depression-era strategy to offer reasonably-priced grand pianos.
We’ll take a look in this article at the Model S’s history, scale design, soundboard, and action, demonstrating why it can be the perfect fit for a buyer who wants the Steinway experience in a smaller package.

Murphy notes that this amount was lower than Steinway’s Model M at the time, which was priced at about $1,250.

During the difficult days of the Great Depression, some believe the less expensive Model S was key to keeping Steinway & Sons afloat.

Small scale design

To accommodate a significant section of the piano market requiring either a smaller piano in terms of size, price, or both, piano engineers at Steinway & Sons had to tackle the issue of small scale design.

Low bass register issues in baby grands

Strings in the low bass register are among the longest in a piano.  In light of the lost length due to the smaller piano size, bass strings are wrapped in copper and made thicker.

This additional density makes the bass strings stiffer, which can lead to “inharmonicity.” That is when a string’s harmonics deviate from their natural frequencies.   The challenge for piano engineers is to avoid having the ear hear an indistinct pitch.

In addition, bass register strings must have soundboard flexibility.  Otherwise, the bass tone in baby grand pianos can sound dull with limited sustain.

In six years, the Model S’s scale comes a long way

According to Paul Murphy, Steinway took about six years to develop what is now the Model S scale. In the late 1930s, most scale designs had to be built into pianos to prove themselves.

The Model S’s scale had to wait six years because Steinway & Sons insisted that it have the “Steinway sound” like the other, larger Steinway grands.

Today, piano scales can be designed with computers, which is how the Boston and Essex scales have been designed. This modern technology allowed Steinway to design a full line of pianos before they built the first one.

Steinway craftsman working on a grand piano soundboard.
The first Steinway Model S grands featured the company’s newly-patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard.

The Model S’s Diaphragmatic Soundboard–the best ever made

Steinway’s enormous amount of work in building the Diaphragmatic Soundboard–seen as the best soundboard ever made–helps to avoid such bass register problems.  This patented soundboard was one of the distinctive features of the Model S.

This new soundboard was tapered around the edges where it meets the rim by about the thickness of a kitchen match.

This allowed the board to vibrate more freely and project sound longer than the uniform thickness board which was the prior design. In fact, the Model S, with the new soundboard, projected tone better than the Model M (5’7”).

The Diaphragmatic Soundboard was so successful that it was ultimately used in all Steinway models as it is today.

The action of the baby grand

True, in shorter grand pianos, there is a discernible difference in touch weight when playing at the front of the key, as well as the place immediately next to the fallboard.  As a result, the keyboard may not respond as well to sensitive touch as with longer pianos.

However, Steinway managed to install the same key length in its grands all the way up to the Model A at 6’2” feet in length.  This gives the Model S a distinct advantage over many of its competitors.

The Model S shares the same exact materials and handcrafted workmanship as the Steinway flagship concert grand, the Model D.  The only difference is size.

Model S’s action’s touch response is excellent, with a skilled pianist having no problem with techniques like legato and staccato. For a smaller piano, the Model S’s range of volume is impressive, as well.

The Steinway Model S’s ideal owner

Steinway’s Model S is not for everyone.  A professional concert pianist will want to have a Model B or D, which will allow them a wider dynamic range due to their larger size.

However, if you want the Steinway sound but have real space considerations, the Model S can be the perfect fit for their home or small venue.  The S is a special order piano from Steinway, only a little smaller than the Model M.

Cost of the Steinway Model S

The least expensive of the Steinway grand pianos, the Model S’s price is $75,500 with an ebony finish.

The Steinway Model S has always had devoted fans

Steinway logo on cast iron plate
The Model S has allowed many people to enjoy the Steinway sound despite their more modest home size or lower budget.

Despite the Model S’s small size, from its beginnings the S has had its backers.  When the Model S pianos were rolled out in 1936, no less a performer than Steinway Immortal Josef Hoffman went public with his appreciation for this new baby grand.

Hoffman was so impressed by the Model S that he bought 50 of them for the Curtis Institute.

Today, you’ll hear Model S owners coo over their “little Steinway.”  The reason is clear: the Model S has allowed them to enjoy the Steinway sound despite their more modest home size or lower budget.  Without the S, they simply would not have that daily experience in their home.

Come in and learn more about the Model S from one of M. Steinert & Son’s professional piano consultants.  Meantime, read more about Steinway grands from these articles:


Review of the Steinway Model O: Is it the right piano for me?

By Stephen N. Reed


You’re ready to buy your first Steinway, and you want the full grand piano experience.  However, you wonder if that’s possible, as your home has no room large enough for the larger grands, like the Model A (6’2”) or Model B (6’10.5”)

Steinway's Model O grand piano.
Close to six feet in length, the Steinway Model O, referred to as the “Living Room Grand,”

Considering the outlay of funds required, you want a Steinway grand that will fit in your home while giving you that full Steinway grand piano experience.  What to do?

Steinway has your answer.  Close to six feet in length, the Steinway Model O, referred to as the “Living Room Grand,” is the largest of the smaller Steinway grand pianos with a length of nearly 5’11”.

Patrick Elisha of M. Steinert & Sons’ educational division notes that the Model O’s size begins to usher in the full, rich sound of the larger Steinway grand piano experience.

The Model O offers a full, resonant sound of exceptional warmth and depth.  Often used for homes and teaching, the Model O has a rich bass register that is bolstered by the ample string length and the patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of the Model O, its place among Steinway’s “Miniature” grands, and its triumphant return as Steinway’s only grand piano of nearly 6 feet in length.

History of the Model O

A long and winding road to prominence for the Model O

The Model O was first produced in 1900, then was replaced in the New York factory by the slightly shorter Model L in 1924. The Model O looked like a permanently retired model.  Then, more than 80 years later, Steinway & Sons brought it back in 2006, ironically replacing the Model L, which had first replaced it.  But why this second switch?

Steinway’s Hamburg, Germany plant continued to make the Model O after it was discontinued in 1924 by Steinway’s New York factory, which made the Model L instead.

The Astoria, New York Steinway factory had historically produced the Model L, while Steinway’s Hamburg, Germany plant made the Model O.  Over time, a consensus emerged between these two Steinway divisions that the scale design of the O was preferred.

As a result, the decision was made to select just one nearly 6 foot piano to bear the Steinway name. The O had won on its merits.

Henry Ziegler and the “Miniature” Steinway grands

The O was the first of the “Miniature” grands designed in the first half of the 20th Century by Henry Ziegler, who was the son of Doretta Steinway Ziegler, the daughter of Steinway & Sons’ founder, Henry Steinway.

Ziegler proved to be a design genius, creating smaller grand pianos with great power and a rich tone.  In addition to the O, Ziegler designed the M (5’7”) and the L (5’10.5”).

By the time of the 2006 re-release, many technical improvements had been added to the Model O, including the Hexagrip Wrestplank, Steinway’s patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard, and Accelerated Action.

The Model O is also a pacesetter for style: its leg bottoms are squared.  The O was the first with this feature, which has now become standard on all Steinway grands.

The reintroduction of the round tail Model O in 2006 has delighted pianists with its balanced tone, rich bass and an ultra-responsive action.  The effect is to give the owner of the Model O as close to the experience of playing Model D concert grand as possible, packaged in the size of a Steinway miniature grand.

Steinway's Model O grand piano in a modern living room
The Model O is perfect for most small spaces.

Built with smaller spaces in mind

As compared to the Model M or Model S, the Model O has a fuller Steinway sound.  The Model O’s rich tone features a balance between a powerful bass register and clear treble keys.

Steinway wanted to maintain the Steinway sound and action in Model O pianos, while designing them with smaller spaces in mind.  Hence its nickname, “the Living Room Piano.”

Summary: The perfect home piano for the Steinway grand experience

Due to a well-engineered scale design, these pianos feature a rich sound and nuanced touch that surprises for a piano that is under six feet.

Those who have enough space in their living room or another accommodating room can’t go wrong with the Model O.  Imagine a Model D, scaled down from nine feet to nearly six, with a full Steinway sound that still doesn’t overpower you.

That’s the beauty and balance of a Steinway Model O.  Because of its design and the innovations that go into all of today’s Steinway grands, the O delivers the full Steinway grand experience to its amateur or professional player.

This is the piano for the person who wants a smaller grand that gives the impression of a larger Steinway in terms of projection and power.

Dimensions and Specs of the Model O

Click here for the complete dimensions and specs list of the Steinway Model O.

Cost of today’s Model O

Today’s Steinway Model O has a price of $90,300 in an Ebony Satin finish.

Come experience the Model O for yourself

Steinway & Sons lyre symbol
Steinway & Sons piano dealer, M. Steinert’s & Sons, has been serving Greater Boston since 1860.

Choosing a Steinway grand piano is a significant investment.  You’ll want to try several Steinways, including the Model O, in order to understand the different Steinway models.

Make an appointment with one of M. Steinert’s piano consultants today.  On a daily basis, they help people find the Steinway piano that is the perfect fit for their needs.

If you want a rich Steinway sound in an instrument that can fit in most homes or small venues, then the Model O may be the perfect Steinway grand for you.

Please continue to read more about some other Steinway models, also available at M. Steinert’s, serving Greater Boston since 1860.


A review of the Steinway Model M: Is the M the right piano for me?

by Stephen N. Reed


You’re ready to buy a great grand piano, but you wonder about the issue of size and cost.  You’ve been thinking about checking out Steinways, but which model is the right one for you?  After all, the alternative to choosing the best piano for you is longterm dissatisfaction with a costly purchase–and who wants that?

Photo of Steinway's Model M grand piano
Steinway has called the M their “Studio Grand.” Though smaller than other models like the O and the A, the Model M still retains a rich sound that fills a room without being overwhelming.

Introduced in 1911, the Steinway Model M occupies a cherished place for many in the Steinway spectrum of grand pianos.  At 5’7”, the Model M is situated between the smaller (5’1”) Model S and the larger (5’10”) Model O.

Steinway has called the M their “Studio Grand.”

Though smaller than other models like the O and the A, the Model M still retains a sound that richly fills a home or small venue without being overwhelming.  This is due to its Steinway soundboard.  Its responsive action produces a touch that can engage any style of music.

Because of its more compact size as Steinway’s “Studio Grand,” the Model M has proven itself as a consistent favorite for those needing a somewhat smaller grand piano for the home or small venue.

Choosing the right size of a piano is critical for long term satisfaction with an investment of this significance.  M. Steinert & Sons has been helping satisfied customers in New England for over 160 years decide upon the very best choice of a piano for their needs.

Model M parts and design

The trademark Steinway tone and touch found in the Model M starts with key aspects of their design.

Dimensions

  • Length: 5’7” (170 cm)
  • Width: 4’8”   (147 cm)
  • Net Weight:  560 lbs (275 kg)
Steinway & Sons craftsman working on grand piano's rim
The Model M’s Hard Rock Maple rim provides for the beauty, stability, and quality of the piano.

Rim

The Model M has a continuous bent rim, made of 2 ¼” thick Hard Rock Maple.  The rim provides for the beauty, stability, and quality of the piano and allows the Model M to endure for many decades.

Soundboard

To meet the highest quality standards, only superior Sitka spruce with a regular grain is used.  Steinway’s patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard achieves optimum performance in a dynamic range and maximum sustain.

The Model M’s soundboard is gradually tapered from the center to the edges, creating a sound of exceptional richness, sonority, and sustain.

Bridges and Pinblock

Steinway’s soundboard bridges are constructed only from vertically laminated hardwood with a horizontal grain, capped with solid maple.

The Steinway craftsman known as the "bellyman" with a soundboard
The Steinway & Sons craftsman known as the “bellyman” with a patented grand piano soundboard.

Each bridge is notched by hand for precise, individual string bearing.  This design enables optimal sound transmission from the strings to the soundboard, resulting in a sustained, resonant tone that creates the famous Steinway sound.

In 1963, Steinway introduced their Hexagrip Pinblock, which is designed to allow the Steinway pianos to hold their tuning longer and with great precision.

Cast Iron Plate

Up to 20 tons of string tension is exerted on the Model M at all times.  The M’s cast iron plate provides strength and stability throughout the piano’s life.

The Model M’s cast iron plate has Steinway’s “bell quality” and is used to support the string tension and reduce vibrations, thereby enhancing the overall sound.

The Model M’s touch and tone

The Model M’s touch:  Neither heavy nor light

Steinway grand pianos are prized by performing pianists for their exceptional touch, allowing the pianist to bring out their musical best rather than finding the keyboard to be a hindrance to them.

One of the main reasons why 95% of the pianists performing with orchestras today prefer to play Steinways is this reliable action and touch.

The touch of the Model M is neither heavy nor light but well-balanced, with just enough resistance for softer play, while quick for those pieces that are faster.

Though the Model M is considerably smaller than a concert grand like the Model D, it retains a significant amount of its Steinway design, while in a package more suited for the home or smaller venues.

The Model M’s tone:  Expressive yet balanced

Like other Steinway models, the Model M strikes a balance again, this time in the overall tone of the instrument.

While the bass is rich, due to the shorter length of the piano, the last few bass notes are not as clear as the rest of the bass register.

Unlike other brands, Steinway models, including the M, do not have a “tinny” sound in the treble register.  While the treble keys can sparkle depending on how the pianist plays them, they remain well within the overall even tone that is Steinway’s trademark.

A Steinway craftsperson puts the final touches on the cast iron plate.
The Model M’s cast iron plate has Steinway’s “bell quality” and is used to support the string tension and reduce vibrations, thereby enhancing the overall sound.

This overall balance of a wide range of tones that are supported by the Model M’s Hard Rock Maple rim and the cast iron plate is the fruit of generations of innovative Steinway engineers and designers.

This balance allows the pianist to emotionally express a wide range of soft and loud notes.  Many have compared this Steinway range of expression to a 64 color Crayola Crayon box rather more basic 8 color crayon box.

This wide range of expressions is what Bartolomeo Cristofori had in mind when creating the first piano, the “gravicembalo col piano e forte,”  or “the harpsichord that plays soft and loud.”

The Model M’s cost: More affordable than other Steinways

Compared to the larger Steinway grands, the Model M is more affordable.  The Model M is priced at $81,300 with the standard ebony polish.  This pricing has been another key reason for the Model M’s popularity over the years.

Summary: The Model M delivers a powerful Steinway in a manageable size

A few inches can make a big difference to a Steinway customer, especially one who has a perfect room for a new grand piano but who must bow to the existing dimensions of that room.

The Model M gives such an individual or small venue a powerful Steinway grand in a smaller 5’7” instrument.  This Studio Grand is perfect for the serious musician or the earnest beginner.  The Model M will fill a home with the Steinway sound without the full power of a Model D concert piano.

One of the Steinway’s most popular grand pianos, the reasons are easy to understand: the Model M gives its owner all of the essentials expected in a Steinway grand with the practical considerations of size included.

We encourage you to come into one of M. Steinert’s two showrooms to play the Model M or any of the other Steinway models to determine for yourself which Steinway should become part of your home or small venue.

Meantime, read further about Steinway grands in these articles from our “Expert Advice” section of our website:


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