Piano Brands Of The World:
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
C. Bechstein has been producing pianos of legendary quality for over 150 years. Bechstein’s story begins In 1853 when German native Carl Bechstein began bespoke production of what would ultimately prove to be some of the world’s finest pianos in an effort to satiate the most demanding pianists of the day. To satisfy demand, what began as low volume bespoke production eventually expanded into a large-scale operation, with Bechstein producing several thousand pianos annually by the turn of the century. At the height of Bechstein’s popularity, and as the preferred choice of European aristocracy, the onset and aftermath of two world wars came precariously close to critically wounding the company, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Bechstein was successfully rejuvenated.
With stable and competent ownership since the late 1980s, Bechstein is once again among the leaders in high-end piano manufacturing. More recently, in the late 2000s, Bechstein purchased the pre-existing Bohemia piano factory in the Czech Republic where they began producing pianos under the resurrected W. Hoffmann brand as a high-value European alternative to professional Japanese pianos.
The manufacturing time for the Academy series is roughly half the time spent on the Concert series.
Certain specific design differences include non-tapered soundboards in the Academy series vs tapered soundboards in the Concert series (industry-accepted best practice), a thicker full hardwood rim with more laminations in the Concert series, and solid beech bridges in the Academy series, versus laminated bridges (industry-accepted best practice) in the Concert series.
While it’s clear that both the Academy series and Concert series pianos are premium instruments, it’s undoubtedly that the musical potential is superior in the Concert series. These instruments should be carefully considered by anyone seeking the best in European piano craftsmanship.
*Please note that while C. Bechstein has declined an application for The Bundesverband Klavier (BVK) made in Germany distinction, some clarity regarding the BVK is needed.
Using the finest quality European components, Bechstein produces upright and grand pianos in two levels of quality; the lower-priced Academy series line (on par quality-wise with the best hand-made Japanese pianos, and select German brands) and the higher-priced Concert series line (among the highest quality pianos produced in the world today.) With extensive recent re-designs throughout the entire C. Bechstein Academy and Concert series line-ups, the current C. Bechstein pianos are noticeably superior to what the company was producing even 10 years ago. Today, each line produces 4 sizes of uprights, and 5 sizes of grand pianos, available in a variety of finishes and cabinet designs.
While the Academy and Concert series lines share many similarities, the differences can be summed up quite simply; The concert series line instruments use slightly better materials, undergo a lengthier manufacturing process, and utilize almost every best piano building practice known today.
Some of the specific material differences include AAA Austrian white spruce in the Academy series vs much more expensive Val di Fiemme spruce, i.e. Stradivarius, in the Concert series, Mahogany hammer mouldings in the Academy line versus stronger and lighter Walnut hammer mouldings in the Concert line, and Bechstein’s “Silver Line” action in the Academy series versus the “Gold Line” action featured in the Concert series (built to stricter tolerances.)
The Bundesverband Klavier (BVK) certificate is a private organization in Germany made up of the smallest producers (in total less than 25% of the premium market) which is not certified by any laws, and to become a member, only requires the following:
- gluing the soundboard to the back frame or rim
- fitting and installing the cast-iron plate
- stringing the instrument
- gluing the cabinet around the instrument
- installing and regulating the keyboard and action
- tuning, and voicing
It does not require that ANY parts actually come from Germany to meet this certification. Not only is this fact, but even pianobuyer.com has published these details without protest or dispute from Bundesverband Klavier (BKV).
There are all sorts of inconsistencies as well; the world’s most respected concert grand piano, the Hamburg Steinway D, also is not on this list. Fazioli is a member…even though they are Italian. Petrof is a member, even though they are Czech, and Steinway & Bechstein both publicly declared why they were not joining – they already meet and exceed a much stricter government-issued regulation which actually requires Germany parts AND labor to get certified, which is the EUR-1 standard.
C. BECHSTEIN PIANOS
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TOP BRANDS OF THE WORLD
|Tier 1||C. Bechstein||Bosendorfer||Fazioli||Hamburg Steinway|
|Upright Models <120cm||Millennium 116K, Classic/Contour 118||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Upright Models > 120cm||Classic/Elegance 124, Concert 8||Model 130||N/A||N/A|
|Grand Models < 180cm||L167||Model 155, Model 170VC||F156||S-155, M-170, O-180|
|Grand Models > 180cm||A192, B212, C234, D282||Model 185VC, Model 200, Model 200CS, Model 214VC, Model 214VC CS, Model 225, Model 280VC, Model 290,||F183, F212, F228, F278, F308||A-188, B-211, C-227, D-274|
|Rim Construction||Mahogany and Red Beech||Spruce and Red Beech||Maple and Mahogany||Maple and Beech|
|Soundboard Material||Italian Red Spruce from the Val Di’ Fiemme||Austrian White Spruce||Italian Red Spruce from the Val Di’ Fiemme||Solid White Spruce|
|Soundboard Elevation||Minimum 1,000 Meters||High-Altitude (Specific Height Undisclosed)||Minimum 1,000 Meters||?|
|Tonal Characteristics||Extremely Dynamic, Colourful and Clear||Delicate yet Highly Rich||Powerful, Colourful||Powerful, Clean and Crisp|
|Action||Bechstein ‘Gold Line’ Action||Action Made by Bosendorfer||Renner||Renner|
|Hammers||Dark Walnut – Made by Bechstein||Renner Underfelted ‘Orange’ Hammers||Renner||Renner High-Compression Weikert Felt|
|Warranty||5 Years Parts & Labour||10 Year Parts & Labour||10 Year Parts & Labour||10 Year Parts & Labour|
|Backpost / Beam Construction||Reinforced Spruce Radial Frame with Dove-tailed Joints||Not Available||Radial Spruce Beam Frame with Triple Joinery||?|
|Rim Construction (Grands Only)||Mahogany and Red Beech||Spruce and Red Beech||Maple and Mahogany||Maple and Beech|
|Duplex Scaling (Grands Only)||Front & Rear Duplex||?||Double Duplex Scale||Duplex Scale|
|Average Hrs Production (Grands)||420-550 Hours||~500 Hrs||500+ Hrs||Not Available|
|Average Hrs Production (Uprights)||180 Hours||Not Available||N/A||Not Available|
|Tier 2||August Forster||Bluthner||Estonia||Shigeru Kawai||Yamaha CF||NY Steinway|
|Upright Models <120cm||116||D, C||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Upright Models > 120cm||125, 134||A, B, S||N/A||N/A||N/A||K52|
|Grand Models < 180cm||170||11, 10||L168||N/A||N/A||S, M, O|
|Grand Models > 180cm||190, 215, 275||6, 4, 2, 1||L190, L210, L225, L274||SK2, SK3, SK5, SK6, SK7, SKEX||CF4, CF6, CFX||A, B, D|
|Rim Construction||Beech||Beech||Laminated Birch||Mahogany and Hard Rock Maple||Maple & Mahogany||Hard Rock Maple|
|Soundboard Material||Solid Mountain Spruce||Solid Spruce||German Solid Spruce||Solid Sitka Spruce, Ezo Spruce (larger models)||Solid European Spruce||Solid Sitka Spruce|
|Tonal Characteristics||Deep, Dark & Clear with a Powerfull Bass||Dark, Warm and Lyrical||Warm, Sonorous and Dynamic||Very Dynamic, Colourful, Dark and Warm||Bright, Clear with Sustain||Resonant, Powerful Bass, Colourful|
|Action||Renner||Renner||Renner||Millennium III Carbon Fiber||Yamaha Balanced Action||Steinway Accelerated Action|
|Hammers||Premium Renner||Abel Angled Hammers||Renner Blue||Mahogany, Made by Kawai||Premium Balanced Hammers||Hard Rock Maple|
|Warranty||5 Years Parts & Labour||10 Years Parts & Labour||10 Years Parts & Labour||10 Years Parts & Labour||10 Years Parts & Labour||5 Years Parts & Labour|
|Backpost / Beam Construction||Spruce||Spruce||Spruce, Focused Beam Construction||Spruce||Dovetailed Spruce||Spruce|
|Rim Construction (Grands Only)||Beech||Beech||Laminated Birch||Maple and Mahogany||Maple & Mahogany||Hard Rock Maple|
|Duplex Scaling (Grands Only)||?||Aliquot Stringing||Front & Rear Duplex||Full Length Duplex||Duplex Scaling||Full Dup,ex|
|Average Hrs Production (Grands)||?||?||?||?||?||?|
|Average Hrs Production (Uprights)||?||?||?||N/A||?||?|
C. BECHSTEIN MODELS & PRICE
|C. BECHSTEIN CONCERT UPRIGHTS|
|Millenium 116k||46″||Polished Ebony||$30,120|
|Classic 118||46.5″||Polished Ebony||$32,060|
|Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany/Cherry||$35,960|
|Contour 118||46.5″||Polished Ebony||$32,060|
|Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany/Cherry||$35,960|
|Classic 124||49″||Polished Ebony||$39,840|
|Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany/Cherry||$43,720|
|Elegance 124||49″||Polished Ebony||$39,840|
|Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany/Cherry||$43,720|
|Concert 8||51.5″||Polished Ebony||$68,980|
|Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany/Cherry||N/A|
|Polished Burl Walnut||N/A|
|Polished Cherry with Inlays||N/A|
|C. BECHSTEIN ACADEMY UPRIGHTS|
|A112 Modern||44″||Polished White||$26,220|
|A112 Chrome Art||44″||Polished White||$28,180|
|A114 Modern||44.8″||Polished Ebony||$24,280|
|A114 Chrome Art||44.8″||Polished Ebony||$26,220|
|A114 Compact||44.8″||Polished Ebony||$26,220|
|A116 Compact||45.5″||Polished White||$28,180|
|Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany/Cherry||$29,140|
|A124 Imposant||48.8″||Polished Ebony||$28,180|
|A124 Style||48.8″||Polished Ebony||$28,180|
|Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany/Cherry||$32,060|
|C. BECHSTEIN CONCERT GRANDS|
|Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry||$144,920|
|Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut/Cherry||$167,580|
|C. BECHSTEIN ACADEMY GRANDS|
|Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut||$79,240|
|Satin and Polished Walnut/Mahogany||$83,120|
|Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut||$87,020|
|Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut||$104,520|
|Satin and Polished Mahogany/Walnut||$118,120|
C. BECHSTEIN PIANO SERIAL NUMBERS
|DATE OF MANUFACTURE||SERIAL NUMBER|
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