The T186 is the largest offering in W. Hoffmann’s ‘Tradition’ Grand Piano series. It was designed by the legendary German piano manufacturer C. Bechstein and is built by hand in the Czech Republic from very fine European materials. The T186 is 186 cm long (or 6’1”), which officially makes it the most affordable full 6 foot piano that C. Bechstein Europe makes.
The T186 model, along with the rest of the W. Hoffmann pianos, is hand-crafted in small batches by highly skilled craftspeople in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, and is specifically designed and manufactured to follow in the traditions of the German piano craft; a history which C. Bechstein played an integral role in writing in the first place since 1856.
The Traditional Hoffmann Series – to which the T186 belongs – is the second ‘tier’ of the 3 Hoffmann lines. The Tradition Series is very similar in quality to the Professional Series Hoffmanns, however, the two lines feature very different sounds and tonal philosophies. The Tradition Series Hoffmanns are known for their warmer tone and rounder attack. The T186 has beautiful tonal clarity through the whole range of the instrument, which is accentuated by its remarkably responsive and lively soundboard.
The W. Hoffmann T186 grand piano includes some very premium features such as full range agraffes, Solid White Spruce soundboards, and the classic/German-made C. Bechstein double felted hammers.
The T186 from W. Hoffmann has a beautiful warm, singing tone, with tons of clarity, projection, and sustain; its action is incredibly regulated and ultra-precise. If you’re looking for a European 6 footer on a budget, it’s impossible not to strongly consider the W. Hoffmann T186 Grand Piano.
The action which the W. Hoffmann T186 grand receives is a Bechstein-made and designed action which they label their ‘Silver Action’. This is the same action that is used in the rest of the W. Hoffmann pianos as well as in the German-made Bechstein Academy instruments.
Bechstein also makes a ‘Gold Action’ which is reserved for their Concert level instruments, as well as a ‘Bronze Action’ which is manufactured by Hailun for their Zimmermann pianos.
For those familiar with Renner Actions, the Bechstein Silver Action is similar in feel, although does have the sense of a deeper key bed (though less deep than Japanese pianos), and seems to be designed and regulated to provide better control in lower dynamic ranges. This is likely also enhanced by the extended key-stick lengths. The repetition speed of this action is fantastic.
The T186’s action gets regulated extensively – to the same tolerances as the Professional W. Hoffmanns and to similar tolerances as the Bechstein Academy line. The touch on the piano is beautifully balanced ‘out-of-the-box’ and is distinctly European in feel.
The W. Hoffmann T186 Grand Piano is a wonderfully colourful piano with a very traditional European tone. It’s actually quite interesting how different the tonal characteristics are between the T and P Series Hoffmanns even though they’re made in the same factory.
The treble of the T186 is strong but not bright, which is of course a very tricky balance to strike for any piano. The mid-range of the piano is simply stunning – great sustain, nice separation, and the bass are super clear and structured (controlled) sounding.
The soundboards in the T and P series Hoffmann pianos are strikingly good for the instrument class. One of the first things anyone comments on after playing one of these instruments is just how full and resonant a tone comes out of the piano.
The T186 may just offer the best tone for the dollar in the entire mid-range European six-foot market.
C. Bechstein Europe uses only German bass strings of 99% copper purity in the W. Hoffmann t186 as well as full range agraffes, which although aren’t inexpensive to achieve, drastically improve the piano’s tonal clarity.
There are only three piano manufacturers remaining today, who continue to make their own piano hammers: Kawai, Yamaha, and C. Bechstein.
Bechstein designs and manufactures every hammer found in their W. Hoffmann and Bechstein branded pianos in Europe with the finest quality felts and woods available to maintain complete control over the quality of these integral components.
It’s also interesting to note that Bechstein has a specific sized/scaled hammer set for each individual model they make (not just for the different lines) to get as much tonal efficiency out of each instrument.
All Bechstein hammers are made in Germany.
The W. Hoffmann T186 receives mahogany-core, double-felted hammers (English felt) which are carefully selected and hand-voiced by the voicing experts at C. Bechstein Europe
The soundboard in the W. Hoffmann T186 is made of extremely high quality, white spruce grown in the Alps, and provides the instrument with a beautiful sense of tonal clarity, richness, and colour, and retains. The soundboards are carefully cured by the wood specialists at C. Bechstein Europe for optimal tonal production.
There is a substantial and noticeable increase in soundboard quality between the W. Hoffmann Vision and Traditional series, and the quality of soundboard in the Tradition Series Hoffmann’s is equal to that in the Professional Series.
W. Hoffmann Tradition grand pianos are built on very thick hard-wood rims, made of maple and beech. These rims are specifically designed to reflect as much tone as possible for optimal projection and power, as well as to just make the T186 an extremely durable piano.
Being a fully European piano, the W. Hoffmann T186’s cabinetry is also distinctly European. W. Hoffmann cabinets are finished to a noticeably higher standard than is usually seen in their instrument class and feature among other things: classic cuts/lines, spade legs, European-style double caster wheels as well as a soft-close lid.