After their strategic acquisition of the PianoEurope factory in Poland in the early 2000s, Schimmel began producing pianos there under the ‘Vogel’ moniker to offer consumers an option that while still a European hand-made instrument, would cost much less than a German piano.
The ‘Vogel’ brand has been retired in recent years, since replaced by the newly designed ‘Wilhelm Schimmel’ lineup of uprights and grands. Much like what C. Bechstein has done with W. Hoffmann in the Czech Republic, Schimmel takes advantage of the lower Eastern Europe production costs without sacrificing quality or musical potential, resulting in a series of instruments that will outplay a Japanese instrument for only slightly higher cost.
The Wilhelm Schimmel W123 is the tallest upright out of the three upright models they produce at 49” in height, and offers a truly European piano experience for those not willing to settle for anything less.
Bavarian solid white Spruce soundboards, Schimmel designed action built in Europe and handmade in Poland with final refinements and finishing touches completed in Germany, the W123 is about as close as you can get to a 49” German upright without the debilitating price tag.
The W123 features an action designed by Schimmel’s German R&D department, and assembled entirely in Poland.
Using the Schimmel Standard keyboard length, this is an action that offers remarkable control, along with great repetition speed and even weighting. The keytops feature a synthetic PVC material to simulate the feel of ivory.
Using Schimmel’s ‘Sectional Scaling’ approach to scale design, the W123 offers a plethora of harmonics across the entire range of the instrument, regardless of volume level.
The tone is classically European with a clarity you simply won’t find in Japanese uprights. The sustain is great, and the power is what you would expect out of a handcrafted instrument.
One of the highlights of the W123 is the hammers – double felted and with a beech core, these are virtually the exact same hammers used in the Schimmel Classic series of uprights made in Germany, but the equivalent Schimmel Classic model costs approximately 30% more.
This is the one main area where the stellar value of the W123 really shines through.
Schimmel carefully selected A Grade Bavarian White Spruce for the soundboards in the W123. This is one of the critical areas where the W123 differs from a Japanese upright, all of which use Sitka spruce. White spruce facilitates a brighter tonal profile and excellent tonal projection.
The W123 is easy on the eyes, to say the least, embodying the regal upright piano aesthetic people have enjoyed for decades.