The W. Hoffmann Professional series grand pianos are built in the Czech Republic by C. Bechstein Europe (a wholly-owned subsidiary of C. Bechstein Germany), based on many of the same designs and parts that are used in the Bechstein Academy series as well as the Tradition Series. They are built to satisfy professional pianists, discerning hobbyists, and institutional buyers alike. They are a hand-made instrument with excellent precision of the touch, clear and well-separated tone, and excellent sustain and projection for their price and size.
They are available with Bechstein Vario systems, and in this particular video and article review, we’ll be looking at the W.Hoffmann 188 Professional model. We hope you enjoy the material and find it helpful!
W. Hoffmann Professional P188 Grand Piano Review Video Transcription
Hi, everybody, I’m Stu Harrison and we’re here at Merriam Pianos with another piano review. Today, we’re looking at and listening to the W.Hoffmann 188 Professional 6-foot-3 grand piano.
The P188 is a dark horse in almost every sense of the word. And it comes from a line of pianos which I have already had a lot of very good things to say about. The professional series of grand pianos under the W. Hoffmann brand designed and built by C. Bechstein in Europe. And for people who shop for pianos based on max value, in other words, high quality and the best performance for the best price, there are only two other pianos on the planet that I’d put in the same category of absolutely insane performance for the dollars, which means there are about 50 that I wouldn’t. So let’s get into its pedigree. The P188 shares considerable lineage from the C. Bechstein Academy B190 piano (which you can also buy from Bechstein’s German factory where they’re built along with the C. Bechstein Concert series), a scant two-hour drive up the road from the Czech factory that this beauty actually comes from.
But there’s a critical difference here. Yes, you save on the Czech labor and you don’t get the Bechstein badge. But that Czech Republic factory is actually the old Bohemia plant, which was probably the most highly respected group of piano builders in Eastern Europe in the 1980s and ’90s. Now, it’s been injected with 50 million euro shot in the arm in the form of new equipment, new training, and essentially a full-plant rebuild. It’s also a big brother to the P162 Hoffmann. Just playing these instruments, you can also taste the pride and excitement that exists at that factory being squeezed into every one of these grand pianos.
So what about the piano, specifically to me, makes this such an extraordinary value amongst new pianos? Well, for starters, the tone. It’s actually unique. It doesn’t sound like every other piano in the range. And it’s right in the middle of a Yamaha and a Steinway in terms of bright and dark attack.
The instrument projects a significant mid and treble without feeling empty on the bass. It’s well-balanced, maybe a slight bias towards the higher end, which makes this ideal for early and mid-classical repertoire, jazz players, and probably a decent amount of pop as well. In that regard, parts of the tone reminded me of a lot of the mid-sized Bösendorfer conservatory series, except this is half the price.
That tone is coming from a unique bridge design that actually compresses the energy slightly, and a true Austrian white spruce soundboard with a tight grain. And C. Bechstein’s trademark scissor joint soundboard planking, which actually increases the surface area between the planks. In addition, Bechstein makes their own hammerheads for all of their series, and the Professional W. Hoffmann series is no exception. High-quality double-felted hammers with mahogany cores make for excellent attack and bloom to the note.
Action & Touch
Second, the action assembly deserves some serious mention. While the design isn’t anything special on paper, the level of factory prep that they’re putting out is impressive. You get an acoustic piano which is effortless to play. And for people accustomed to slightly lighter touches, you will love playing this instrument. For people used to digging in on something a little meatier like a Shigeru Kawai or a Steinway, this is gonna take a bit of adjustment but nothing dramatic, maybe just, I don’t know, lay off the spinach for a couple of weeks. Third, the finish and the cabinet quality are top-notch. Once you stare at pianos all day long like I do, you start to realize that a $20,000 shiny black piano does not have the same finish quality that a $100,000 piano has.
Perhaps most obviously, all Professional Series are done in a special design which gives the piano an overall “chrome look” to the piano. This comes from chrome fittings instead of brass, as well as a plate sprayed with silver. Generally speaking, the fit and finish is executed at a very high level, which is the type of piano-making that we’ve all come to expect from the Hradec Kralove facility.
So if you’re a player who doesn’t mind getting a little off the beaten path in terms of the piano you buy, the W. Hoffmann P188 is going to deliver a massive wallop in the price range normally dominated by Yamaha CX and S series or the Kawai SK series, and actually delivers intensely satisfying sound that gets a lot closer to the type of bell-like clarity you’re normally gonna get out of top-level European pianos for two or three times its price. It’s great for schools, it’s great for churches, smaller project studios, or home enthusiasts, high-level students as well. I really, really love this piano. Thank you so much for taking a few minutes of your time to learn a bit more about it. Again, I’m Stu Harrison. And we’re here at Merriam Pianos.