Logo

How do They Make Steinway Pianos?

Monday, September 24, 2018 by Mary O'Connor | piano

 

Steinway Place, Queens, New York, 11105. steinway.com or 718-721-2600.

It all begins with bare wood, rough and fragrant.

Skilled craftsmen then use muscle, fine motor skills and magic to transform simple planks into magnificent instruments. In the bridge-notching process, the " bellymen " use tools they've constructed themselves, the better to execute this highly skilled operation.

Alaskan Sitka Spruce becomes a soundboard, with ribs of Sugar Pine.

Eighty-eight keys, 88 hammers, more than 230 strings -- all are carefully created, installed and tested in every piano.

All in all, it takes about 11 months to make a Steinway grand piano.

Steinway & Sons has been located in the same spot in the Astoria section of Queens since the early 1870s. Founded in 1853 in a loft on Varick Street in Manhattan, the company’s reputation grew quickly, and the company needed space to expand their operations.

Factory tours are offered from September through the end of June. (Factory tours are not available in July and August.) Tours are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays, for a maximum of 15 people.

Needless to say, tours fill up quickly and must be booked in advance. Steinway currently has no openings for the rest of 2017 and is not yet taking reservations for 2018. Plan way ahead, and check for updates by emailing tours@steinway.com or by calling 718-721-2600.

Adapted from http://www.app.com/story/entertainment/events/2017/08/18/factory-tours-made-usa/530543001/



Mary and Michael playing in the original Steinway Hall



What Gives a Piano its Voice?

Monday, September 17, 2018 by Mary O'Connor | piano

Picture a seven-foot grand piano in a studio. The lid’s missing, so you can see all the strings. Researchers suspend a rod embedded with 32 microphones over the piano’s body.

“We played this middle C at a very soft level, a medium level, and a very loud level,” says Agnieszka Roginska, a professor in NYU's music technology program. She says using a pianist to play middle C over and over wouldn’t be scientific. So they’re using a disklavier, a fancy player piano triggered by electronics. “So we could hit the same note, with the same velocity, thousands of times,” she says.

They’d record the piano in one spot. Then move the microphones eight inches. Record the note. Move the mics again. Record the note. Over and over and over, until they reach the back of the piano. At the end, they get “what is basically a very dense acoustical scan of the radiation pattern of the grand piano,” Roginska says.

Read the entire article here: http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-08-10/science-tries-understand-what-gives-piano-its-voice

Is Your Piano in Tune?

Thursday, March 29, 2018 by Mary O'Connor | piano

piano-tuning

 

When it comes to tuning, every piano is different, even two pianos of the same style and make are different, and the humidity of the room makes a big difference, he said.

High humidity causes the sound board to swell, stretching the strings and causing the pitch to go sharp, while low humidity has the opposite effect.

In Minnesota, humidity can easily range from 80 percent in the summertime to 10-15 percent in the winter, if the home doesn’t have a humidifier. Wood-heated homes tend to be especially dry, he said.

“Pianos like it between 40 and 50 percent humidity in the house,” he said.

Even places that are supposedly “climate-controlled,” aren’t always. The heat might get turned down substantially evenings and weekends, for example.

A new piano needs a few weeks to settle into its new home before tuning, Fry said.

“If they get a new piano, generally they call us the day before it gets in the house,” he said. “It should sit in the house a couple weeks just to acclimatize it to its new surroundings … brand new pianos stretch for a while. They go out of tune quicker. The wire stretches and they settle into themselves.”

Some people think they have to let a new, or recently moved older piano, sit six months or a year before it gets tuned. That’s not true, Fry said, but it does need a few weeks.

He recommends that pianos be tuned at least once a year (he tunes his own piano once a year, even though he no longer gives lessons) and the busiest time for him is before the holidays — September through December.

“Piano-tuning is something people can put off,” he said. “We noticed a real drop in tuning when gas got over $3 a gallon. I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference, but it did.”

Fry said he is looking for some kind of work to do in the summertime when his other businesses are slow.

He doesn’t give piano or guitar lessons anymore, but does enjoy tuning all types of pianos.

“It takes me a couple of hours. I have time,” Fry said. “I’m going to do the job that I like to do, and do it right.”

Read the entire article at Keeping pianos, life in tune | Detroit Lakes Online.