🎹C Bechstein Concert 8 Upright Piano Review and Demo - C. Bechstein Concert Series🎹

C Bechstein has been making high-end upright pianos longer than almost anyone else in the industry. Given their pedigree, it’s not a huge surprise that today they’re known for producing some of the finest hand-made upright pianos money can buy.

In this article and companion video, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at their ultra upright piano – the crown jewel of their entire upright piano lineup with the legendary C Bechstein Concert 8 Upright Piano.

The World’s Finest Upright Piano?

Whether it’s respected industry critics, elite pianists, aficionados or simply connoisseurs, there’s a veritable legion of people who think that the Concert 8 is the best upright piano on the planet. There’s a litany of upright and grand piano best-practice piano manufacturing techniques and materials employed on the Concert 8 that support this opinion, such as the extremely rare tapered Val Di’ Fiemme red spruce sourced for the soundboard, or an action so extensively regulated that it outplays most grand pianos.

We’re to cover a lot of ground as to what makes this piano so special, and why many of the 20th century’s greatest artists, such as Simon & Garfunkel, Sir Simon Rattle and even the Beatles relegated their Steinways to compose on a Concert 8.

Let’s get into it.

C Bechstein Concert 8 – Background Information

 

C Bechstein Concert 8 Upright Piano
C Bechstein Concert 8 Upright Piano

Let’s start with a bit of background about this instrument. As we stated in the intro, the C Bechstein Concert 8 Upright Piano has a reputation going back many decades as being the finest upright piano in the world.

Now, this is not something that we would throw out there lightly or as a Bechstein dealer trying to sell their products. To prove our point, if you refer to the Larry Fine “Piano Book”, the current Piano Buyer edition states in writing that the Concert 8 is consistently held as one of the finest upright pianos ever made. Larry Fine is considered one of if not the foremost critic in the piano industry as a whole.

Country of Origin

The Concert 8 is made entirely in Germany, and it’s handcrafted with fanatical attention to detail. It is the only upright piano that Bechstein label’s as being part of their Concert piano series, alongside the C. Bechstein grands, at least partially because it’s more than capable of the sophisticated dynamics typically only found on German grands.

Compared to their other top-level uprights, the Concert 8 has a thicker pin block, and longer tuning pins, giving better hold and control of the pins, resulting in a more stable tuning and consistent pitch.

Recent Redesign

The Concert 8 has been a staple C. Bechstein instrument for most of Bechstein’s existence, but it received a fresh design upgrade in recent years that brought it more in line with a grand piano and to an even higher overall level.

Who Should Consider a Concert 8?

If you’re in the market for a premium quality acoustic piano and you’ve got the budget, even if you haven’t previously considered an upright piano, you simply can’t avoid a Concert 8 if your list were to include the absolute best of the best.

Quite frankly, even if you even were in the market for a grand piano, in the 5 to 5.5-foot range with a budget of $70,000 – $80,000 USD, such as a larger W. Hoffmann Professional or smaller Bechstein Academy, there’s a good chance you’ll get a higher level musical experience out of the Concert 8. There’s no question it dramatically outplays many run-of-the-mill grands on the market.

With some background information out of the way, let’s move on to a discussion of the action.

Piano Action

C Bechstein Hammers
C Bechstein Hammers

Bechstein’s ‘Gold Line Action’

Bechstein’s upright actions have always been part of their overall appeal, and this is especially true of their top ‘Gold Line Action’ because they spend an inordinate amount of time regulating and prepping them – the same amount of time you can expect on grands that cost $100,000, which is extremely unusual for an upright piano.

The Concert 8 has over 170 measurable man-hours of manufacturing time at the factory applied to it. A good amount of that time is specifically devoted to regulating and weighting the acoustic assembly of the C Bechstein Concert 8, and the result is an incredibly responsive action that’s also super fluid, and with the large 52″ frame, you can match the sound volume of grand pianos with little effort.

Action Materials

In terms of the materials, this action is getting the same highest quality wood and hammers as their Masterpiece Class grands, even the concert grands, which is a dark burl walnut crown hammer and burl Vavona. Every C. Bechstein piano also gets its own custom-made hammers, including the Concert 8, which is again, very rare in the industry.

Action Weighting

The weight of the action is also worth noting. If somebody is used to an upright piano being a little bit lighter than a grand, you’re not going to get that on the Concert 8. The Concert 8 is instead weighted much closer to a grand piano. We should emphasize that we’re not saying the piano is heavy or arduous, but rather that they’ve weighted it to create an authentic grand piano experience.

Upright Piano Sound – Timbre and Construction Materials

Color

Let’s move on to sound. If we could describe the sound profile of the C. Bechstein Concert 8 in a single word, it would be color. The tone of the C Bechstein Concert 8 is complex and sustaining, with a very clear fundamental tone. Each note produces a vast array of well-balanced harmonics, and the soundboard is responsive enough to maintain the clarity of every tone even when pushed with thick chords at high volumes.

The treble is strong with a beautiful singing attack with very low hammer noise, and the mid-range is lush with plenty of tonal palette to play with. The bass is warm without being overly resonant, and the transition to the bass from the tenor is barely detectable, like a fantastic 6’ grand.

Soundboard: Val Di’ Fiemme Red Spruce

At the heart of this magical tone and distinctive timbre is of course the Italian Red Spruce soundboard, from the famed Val Di’ Fiemme. The very same source of spruce that Stradivarius used for his violins.

If every piano could have an optimized sound development or a unique sound like this, I’m sure every manufacturer would love for that to be the case. But this is cold, hard science and engineering with an untenable price tag for most manufacturers that actually gives us the tone that we are hearing.

Other Notable Design Features

C Bechstein Concert 8 Design Features
C Bechstein Concert 8 Design Features

The Concert 8 has agraffes from top to bottom, a “double duplex” stringing technique, and a fully integrated frame and plate structure for maximum sympathetic resonance.

The entire frame of the instrument is designed to amplify the tone, much in the way a grand is, while deadening the less ‘attractive’ resonating components within the instrument. This same philosophy is also applied to every C. Bechstein grand piano

Cabinetry

We also need to talk about the cabinetry. By cabinetry, we’re not referring to the exterior appearance, but rather the actual substructure of wood that holds this instrument together.

At the back of the piano, there are six full-size back posts, all of them being solid hardwood. These back posts are mounted directly to the frame along with inner rim-type material to help activate some of the less naturally responsive parts of the soundboard.

In terms of aesthetics, on the top left at the back is a beautifully milled-in Bechstein logo that’s just an extra nice little touch of elegance and precision on the instrument.

Optional Sostenuto & Vario System Upgrades

C Bechstein Concert 8 Vario System
C Bechstein Concert 8 Vario System

It’s also worth mentioning that the Concert 8 is available with an optional sostenuto pedal, and recently, it’s also available with Bechstein’s Vario System add-on, which allows for silent practice with headphones.

Conclusions

As much as one must marvel at the high price tag for this instrument at over $80,000, the inevitable question gets asked: even in a grand piano, could you purchase an instrument with a finer tone for less money?

The answer of course is no. We have the occasional Shigeru Kawai in our showroom that may come very close, but by and large, most customers would, on average, need to spend $100,000+ to achieve this level of finish and detail in a piano.

The Concert 8 is as deserving of the claim “Finest Upright In The World” in 2022 as it was 50 or 100 years ago, and every bit worth a try if you can find one.