Ritmuller, a German badge now entirely a Pearl River entity, has come to represent the factory’s best in-house efforts to produce credible mid-range product in the marketplace, with sights clearly set on Yamaha and Kawai’s dominance of the space.
Pearl River as a manufacturer claims to be the world’s best-selling by unit – a believable claim given that they produce over 150,000 pianos per year.
The R9, slightly more expensive than its sister model the GP160, is certainly a step up and offers customers one of China’s best answers to market leaders like the Seiler GS160 (Indonesia) or the ever-popular Kawai GL20 (Japan).
Ritmuller builds its own actions (more or less improved assembly and regulation at the factory of the Pearl River standard action), and is based on existing designs from Yamaha and Schimmel. The actions feature hornbeam construction and aluminum action rails, slow-fall fallboards, and standard if not optimized geometry. They also use spruce keys for a light stroke and improved flexibility in the setup.
Unlike the Pearl River GP150’s, the Ritmuller R9 generally does not require as much dealer prep to achieve an acceptable performance level.
The R9 builds upon the R8’s improved complexity and breadth of tone with longer sustain and a singing bell tone in the upper mid register. As a lower-cost alternative to the likes of Yamaha’s GC1, a well-prepped R9 could easily win a blind taste-test with many customers. It’s a wider tail than its Japanese alternatives though not as wide as Seiler’s Johannes Seiler line. The german röslau wire helps to deliver a clear treble with pleasing harmonics, and high-quality maple-cap bridges ensure a good connection between string and soundboard.
It also features cut-thread tuning pins, and traditional sand casted plates for the piano. It’s less standard than the V-Pro plate types found on most European and Japanese instruments, and for some in the industry gives the piano an esoteric mark of uniqueness.
The R9 also uses a higher quality bass string which has improved the uncontrolled harmonics that can plague lower tones in inexpensive short pianos.
Ritmuller uses Japanese felt (and likely design as well) for its hammers – undoubtedly Yamaha or Kawai. It also uses a mahogany hammer core which makes the hammer lighter and less likely to distort when pushed to its limits.
The R9 uses solid spruce for its soundboard material – a tonal upgrade over the Pearl River’s laminated designs in most players eyes – for improved sustain and projection. Although this can increase the need for strict environmental controls around the piano, many pianists prefer this configuration for musical reasons.
The R9 is available in a wide variety of finishes, such as Ebony Polish, Mahogany Polish, and White Polish.
- Brass Hardware
- German Röslau wire, Copper Wound Bass Strings
- All Spruce Tapered Soundboard
- Pearl River Hammers with Mahogany Core, Imported Japanese Reinforced White Felt
- Ebony Sharps
- Slow Fallboard
- Pearl River Action
- Also available with Silver Plate and Hardware (R9SP)
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