Perzina pianos have a rich and storied history in Germany, at one time being the largest producer of pianos in that country. They began in 1871, and had a significant level of success leading up to the partition of Germany following WWII. Their prominence fell in the west after the ‘wall’ went up, with much more limited markets to sell pianos to, and contending with price controls and restrictions on materials to choose from. Despite the fact that Perzina had developed some of the most innovative scale designs in the entire piano world (floating soundboard, reverse-crown soundboard, super-stretched bass bridge), they were unable to bring their instruments to market, and the company had all but faded from relevance leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
After reunification, a well-known businessman based in Amsterdam Netherlands, Ronald Bol, saw an opportunity to revive the brand and its iconic designs. He purchased the company “lock, stock, and barrel”, and restarted production at Perzina’s Lenzin Germany facility. Early successes led Mr. Bol to consider an expansion of production, and a broadened product line. Options for expanding the German facility were limited by space and economics, and so he became one of the early innovators behind the European-Hybrid class of piano – essentially, a true blending of the best of European and Chinese manufacturing. The results were swiftly commended, making Larry Fine’s highly competitive rank of ‘3A’ (and remaining there) from 2006 onwards – the same rank as Yamaha’s U1 and Kawai’s K3.
Most customers of pianos learn quickly about the massive state-owned/partially owned factories in China that churn out dozens of brands, at a rate of 100,000’s a year. Their quality control is inconsistent, they don’t have a particularly good sound, and perhaps most confusing is that there are few variations in design, despite all of the brands. They are also quite inexpensive and make up nearly the whole entry-level segment of the piano market. One of the most critical things to understand when looking at a European-Hybrid piano is how substantially different they are from these entry level pianos.
EUROPEAN HYBRID PIANOS
Perzina instruments are very much a European-designed and made piano, while utilizing China’s world-leading command of packing and shipping, polyester, and assembly. Every Perzina piano uses exactly the same moulds, presses, wood designations, and scale innovations as they always have. The hornbeam, soundboard material, maple, spruce, mahogany is all European cut, dried, and harvested. Actions, hammers, strings, and most strung-back components are entirely European. In fact, the piano has enough content to actually meet the ESQ standard “European Made” label.
Anyone who has shopped for 100% German hand-made pianos will know that starting prices for such instruments is around $15,000 and up. Perzina’s entire strategy was to compete with and for Kawai and Yamaha’s customers in the $5000 – 10,000 for uprights, and $12,000 – 25,000 for grands. By shifting all polyester work, all shipping and logistics, and a portion of the assembly to a new, entirely purpose-built facility in Yantai China, Perzina was able to trim their costs enough to begin shipping their professional series (the Tradition and Masters Series) to Canadian, European, and select American dealers.
To learn more about European Hybrid pianos, read this article.
perzina UPRIGHT PIANO MODELS
|MANUFACTURER||UPRIGHT PIANO MODEL||LENGTH||WIDTH||HEIGHT||WEIGHT||MSRP (USD)|
|23" (58 cm)||58" (144 cm)||45" (113 cm)||456 lbs (207 kg)||$11,850||$10,000|
|23" (58 cm)||59" (150 cm)||49" (124 cm)||483 lbs (219 kg)||$14,653||$11,453|
|59" (150 cm)||49" (124 cm)||483 lbs (219 kg)||$17,750||$13,750|
|25" (63.5 cm)||60" (152 cm)||51" (129.5 cm)||544 lbs (247 kg)||$16,320||$12,960|
|24" (61 cm)||59" (150 cm)||52" (131 cm)||553 lbs (251 kg)||$19,780||$14,600|
perzina GRAND PIANO MODELS
|MANUFACTURER||GRAND PIANO MODEL||LENGTH||WIDTH||HEIGHT||WEIGHT||MSRP (USD)|
|5'1" (156 cm)||60" (151 cm)||44" (112 cm)||637 lbs (289 kg)||$30,000||$20,500|
|5'3 (161 cm)||61" (151 cm)||40" (102 cm)||675 lbs (306 kg)||$39,147||$23,587|
|5'3 (161 cm)||61" (151 cm)||40" (102 cm)||675 lbs (306 kg)||$50,100||$30,500|
|5'9 (175 cm)||60" (151 cm)||40" (102 cm)||694 lbs (315 kg)||$42,587||$24,853|
|6'2" (187 cm)||60" (152 cm)||44" (112 cm)||710 lbs (322 kg)||$47,600||$26,000|
|5'1" (156 cm)||60" (151 cm)||44" (112 cm)||637 lbs (289 kg)||$25,960||$19,613|
The Perzina Sound
Perzina Pianos are known by several tonal characteristics. Generally they are a deep, complex sound that provides an excellent alternative to Kawai and Yamaha. They are probably best known for their bass tone, and are generally well-regarded as being responsive and easy to play.
- Deep, very resonant bass
- Clear bell-like treble
- Complex and dynamic mid-range
Floating Soundboard Design
This specific design feature results in one of the most dramatic bass tones ever achieved on an upright piano. The principle behind the floating soundboard design is that the more surface area you can allow to be active, the greater the residents you will achieve for that surface area. On most soundboards, the iron frame of the piano attaches to the soundboard on all four sides. The soundboard is therefore like a stretched membrane across a square drum. What the floating soundboard design allows for is one entire length of the soundboard to be completely free to resonate.
This allows several things to occur: for one, the height of the active soundboard in relation to the height of the piano becomes substantially greater. The soundboard is able to travel all the way down to the floor unimpeded by the frame of the piano. Two, the bridges can be relocated on the soundboard, opening up the possibility of several more workable scale designs.
If you ever have an opportunity to hear a Perzina piano’s (the uprights especially) bass tone, as played next to any other upright, you will instantly hear an increase in resonance and depth due to this design feature.
The reverse crown soundboard feature on the Perzina upright piano tackles in age old problem with an interesting solution. All soundboards, traditionally, will lose their original curve because the strings are designed to push down against that curve over time. This slight curvature, Often called the crown, is necessary for soundboards to operate as intended. Without crown, cantos are very difficult to keep into, they lose a substantial amount of projection, and also suffer from many unwanted overtones. Several piano companies, such as the Mason and Hamlin piano company, have tackled this issue by creating ultra-rigid structures around the soundboard so that it is literally impossible for the soundboard to relax and lose it’s crown.
The reverse-crown eliminates this issue by having the strings apply pressure in to the curve, rather than against it. This tension is off-set by the rib system on the back, to prevent the curve from increasing too much. The other by-product of this reversing of the curve is that rather than projecting the majority of its tone out the back of the piano, Perzina upright pianos direct a greater percentage of their sound towards the player.
Austrian White Spruce Soundboards
There are several types of spruce that the piano building industry uses to manufacture soundboards. The most common is Sitka spruce, with the least common being Red spruce. However, Alpine White Spruce from central Europe (Austria/Bavaria/North Italy) is the preferred material in most high-end pianos. Manufacturers like Bosendorfer, Bechstein, Grotrian and Steinway (Hamburg) all use this variety of spruce. What is unusual about Perzina is not that they do as well – its that they do so at such a low price point.
There are many opinions on the merits of the various types of wood used for soundboards, or instrument making in general. And there are even more attempts to describe those reasons in language that is accessible to the average shopper. In simple terms, white spruce is known for a long singing sustain, with very clear harmonics/overtones. It isn’t known as being as warm a sound as sitka, but it is a more consistent material and can produce hauntingly beautiful bell-tones.