The P188 could be very much considered the dark-knight cousin of the Bechstein Premium A190. Although not identical, they’re so close in materials, design, and construction, that without the distinctive silver plate of the Hoffmann, they’d be difficult to tell apart. A perfect size for a serious player with a typically-sized room, the P188 gives you everything you want in a piano: breathtaking sustain, exacting precision, and a wide tonal palette with which to work.
The W. Hoffmann Professional Series is one of the best kept secrets of the piano world. In an industry that seems positioned between enormously expensive high-quality pianos, and hard-to-research lower quality pianos from Asia, the Professional series might be entirely unique. Designed entirely by C. Bechstein’s famous R&D team in Berlin, the Professional series shares many of the same materials and designs as the Bechstein Academy line of the same size. And the pianos are hand-made entirely in the Czech Republic, all at a fraction of the price of what you normally pay for European built and designed pianos.
The W.Hoffmann Professional P188 Grand Piano is a professional-grade instrument, 6’3” in length, and built-in the Czech Republic by C. Bechstein Europe . It’s a limited-production piano that features silver plates and nickel hardware (instead of the traditional brass colour), and has many common design and construction elements to the Bechstein Academy series.
The P188 is an extraordinary well-finished piano which needs virtually no work post-sale to perform at the top of its potential. It’s a far more affordable way to access a specific type of Europea Piano Tone also found on pianos like Grotrian, Sauter, or August Forster. And if you’re the type of piano buyer that also really wants a different look other than the ordinary brass plating and hardware, this is a great way to get something that looks like an expensive custom finish – the chrome and silver accents really do look slick.
The W. Hoffmann P188 uses Bechstein’s Silver Action – essentially a less-refined version of their top Gold Action. The geometry is the same, but the precision of the wood processing, cutting, and the regulating and voicing processes overall are at a lower level. Given how fanatic Bechstein is with the voicing of their top-tier, the Silver action shouldn’t be any cause for concern…it still outplays the majority of mid-range European pianos without ANY post-factory work whatsoever.
The action has a slightly shallow feel, very fluid, and effortless in the lower and mid ranges. It’s not set up for enormous amounts of power, but the energy of the piano’s structure itself makes up for it.
One of the most interesting aspects of the W.Hoffmann 188 Professional is just how different its tone and overall character is from its cousin, the W. Hoffmann T186 grand piano of approximately the same length, and assembled in the same factory. Where the P188 has a bell-like attack and a slight bias towards a more treble sound, the T186 is clear, slightly warm, and almost Steinway-like in its character. I would also include a Mason & Hamlin B or A model as a close comparator.
The treble on the T188 forward and precise, while avoiding any strident or brassiness…a tricky balance to strike for any piano of this type of character. Whether it is a result of scale design, or hammer selection, or voicing, or some combination of all three, these pianos are the brightest of any I’ve encountered from the Bechstein family of pianos. It’s not unlike a Yamaha in its tonal profile, although the sustain is improved and the attack is totally different (owing to the rather drastic difference in hammer config).
The midsection and of the P188 is very colourful, and while there is a slight sacrifice of clarity in exchange for this luscious palette, it remains a lovely instrument for Classical-era repertoire or something pop.
The bass is tight, with a sharp attack, but still managing a warmth to round the instrument out.
C. Bechstein’s commitment to ensuring as much control over the entire manufacturing process is like few others in the industry, and really shines through when it comes to the hammers. Bechstein is the only European manufacturer who produces their own hammerheads. Not only do they produce their own hammerheads, but every instrument throughout their lineup features a set of hammers custom tailored to that specific instrument. To do this, Bechstein built their own hammerhead production facility from the ground up located in Germany, which is of course highly unusual in a globalized world culture.
The P188 features hammers of a mahogany core, with lacquered shanks and heads covered with high quality felt.
The Professional series grands are built with very nice soundboards, The P188 features a Tapered Alpine-White solid-spruce soundboard. These soundboards are carefully processed to optimise sound diffusion, and the ribs of the soundboard are further extended to the bass register and feature a resonance bar.
The P188 features a noticeably thick, hardwood rim of Beech. These rims are built for long term durability and overall structural integrity, and the Beech itself is carefully selected to ensure that the case remains highly stable, and perfectly frames the soundboard. The rim construction and materials also contribute to the excellent sustain and overall tonal profile of the piano.
|Size||Length||6’2” (188 cm)|
|Width||5’ (153 cm)|
|Height||3'4" (102 cm)|
|Weight||688 lbs. (312 kg)|
|Finishes||Polished Ebony with Chrome Hardware|
|Warranty||5 Year Parts & Labour Manufacturer’s Warranty|