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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 9:25 pm
by Cutie6_6
Dr. Bill Leland wrote:Hello Cutie 6, and welcome to you.

Yes, strings can break sometimes, even when they're not rusty. But you should not have rust on strings. Do you know if the rust was there already when you bought the piano, or did it come later? Maybe you live in a very damp climate--are you in Taiwan, or perhaps Korea?

The Sojin piano was made by Daewoo of South Korea, but it is no longer being made. What kind of warranty did you get with the piano? Did you buy from a dealer, or from a private individual? It would be a good idea to have a good piano technician come at look at the strings, and also the rest of the piano.

Are you just a student or do you also teach? Please post again and tell us how you are doing.

Dr. Bill Leland, Editor at Large
The Piano Education Page

Hi, Dr. Bill,
I come from Malaysia...I am Malaysian borned chinese. My piano - SOJIN is bought from 10 - 15 years ago... Coz i was in Australia and no time to call the piano tuner to tune the piano since i left to australia. Its about 3-4 years never tune the piano. The piano is in my hometown at the moment. I bought it from a dealer in malaysia 10 years ago. It is a new one. The rust just found recently. Because i saw the piano tuner spray some kind of liquid when they tune my piano, so i am thinking maybe that kind of liquid i can buy and spray the string to prevent for rusty.

Currently, i work as a piano teacher and also continuing to study my Licientiate diploma. I had about 5 years teaching experience now. But, i still very ' young' for piano teaching. Hope to get more guideline and suggestion from you. Thank you in advance.


PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 8:36 pm
by Dr. Bill Leland
Dear Vanessa:

It's hard to know what to say about your Sojin piano. First, if it hasn't been tuned in four years it will probably need extra work to get back to its proper pitch and stay in tune; I'm afraid you will have to expect this. One tuning now will not be enough, especially if the piano has dropped down in pitch.

Second, I never heard of spraying piano strings with anything. It's possible that he just sprayed along the pressure bar in the treble section (where the strings come underneath and then wrap around the tuning pin) so that the strings would slide easier when being tuned. Rust can get in there and make them stick.

Please don't spray anything into your piano! It would get on the soundboard, in the action, and mess up the felt dampers and hammers.

Now, I'm not sure just where you are located. Are you in Australia now, to finish your studies? And the piano is in Malasia? Maybe someday you might be able to sell it and get a good Kawai or Yamaha, or even a Young Chang. The important thing is to find a dealer with a good reputation, whom you can trust. But maybe right now it would be best to finish your degree. Where are you studying? Tell me where you are located, please, and if the Sojin is with you.

Best wishes,

Dr. Bill.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:22 pm
by Glissando88keys
Stretto wrote:I always felt I couldn't play well on it just because primarly the keys seemed so different. What I mean by different is the keys seemed "old" of course :laugh: , the keys seemed narrower, there seemed to be more space between the keys, the action of each key seemed not quite the same as the one next to it. Now, whether the keys were actually narrower and whether the keys had more space between each one may have merely been visual. But even visual appearance can "throw" a person off.

I've always noticed the difference in keyboards, but it seems that it was a well kept secret until now. I thought that I was the only one who felt that difference.

The extra space between the keys actually works better for me, because of my big long fingers. Pianos that have closer keys seem claustrophobic to my hand. Whether visual, or not, (and I don't think its only visual, but actual, although I've never asked an "expert") I feel the difference affects the way I approach the instrument. Yes, it throws me off too, but I focus on ways to quickly adapt. We can't always have the good fortune to be able to play on Bosendorfers.

I also notice not only the spacing of the keys, but the finish- how the key edges of some brands are more rounded. and how some seem squarer, even the shape and feel seem different on various pianos. I don't know if it's my imagination or not, but I even think that the length of some keys are longer on some brands than others. Call me hyper-sensitive, but all these variances are noticeable, to me at least. All these noticeable details and I haven't yet touched the topic of which "action" I prefer. Does anyone else notice all this as acutely as I do????

The difference in action from one key to another on the piano you mention is another story entirely, and I'll bet that piano wasn't maintained properly.

I had the dubious fortune of working as a music counselor in a summer camp, dubious because the condition of the piano up in those humid, remote mountains was horrendous. The piano had not been tuned for millenia, and a large number of keys were missing their surfaces. Several of the keys didn't work at all, and some stuck, so that in addition to hitting the keys, I had to raise the key to its original position while I was playing a passage. :(

If the weather was rainy, almost all the notes stuck, and the only way to get the keys to work was to use my hairdryer inside the piano for about 20 mins. before playing it! :angry:

This piano really "stuck" out in my mind as kind of my favorite because of the pleasure it brought to the kids in that camp! It may sound weird, but after the first day I hardly noticed the condition of the piano. We composed, arranged, and improvised original musicals and adaptations of all kinds of music. We had tons of musical fun without worry. That piano was so far gone that almost nothing we could do to it would damage it any further. :D

Edited By Glissando88keys on 1153094445

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:44 am
by Stretto
I must say on the Steinway I mentioned before, it must have not been maintained for a while at that time. That was in the summer and right after a months worth of a student Piano Festival where the hall was used from 8 am to 10 pm. every day for that month. Do you suppose the piano was in a little poorer shape after all that? I don't know. However, I did try it out again the next year a couple of weeks right before the college student recitals, juries in the spring, etc. and it was 100% better.

Edited By Stretto on 1152798416

PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 6:47 pm
by Glissando88keys
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:It's interesting that nobody so far as mentioned a Steinway as their favorite piano. Is that lack of experience with Steinways or does it reflect a real difference in the pianos? :)

The only choice for me was the Steinway Professional Studio Upright model. I visited Baldwin and Yamaha showrooms, and considered each as I took a test run. I decided to go with Steinway. I spent a full day "shopping" for my piano at the Steinway showroom in NYC, trying almost every piano on the floor: spinets, uprights, professional uprights, baby grands, and 9 ft. concert grands. I felt like a kid in a candy store. The actions of the pianos I tried varied considerably. I found considerable differences among pianos that are otherwise identical models. Each piano has its unique personality.

The Steinway showroom reminded me of a huge warehouse. I was concerned about acoustic distortion affecting my choice. Environmental differences, like room size, furniture, rugs and draperies either bounce, echo or absorb sound. I wondered if anything would get lost in the translation when my piano was moved into my own home. I wanted the piano to fit the room and neither echo like someone playing a concert grand in a bathroom, nor muffle like Schroeder's toy piano in a pillow factory. I finally managed to narrow the field down to two choices. I remember wishing I could bring them both home so that I could try them on for size. :;):

The final choice, between a walnut or mahogany Studio Upright, was a matter of aesthetics. I preferred the walnut, because of my love for the color and characteristically dense grain of the wood, but decided to go with the mahogany because of its warm yet distinctly rich, mellow tone.

Stradivarius crafted violins from a particularly dense variety of wood. A severe climatic cold spell produced denser growth rings in the trees of that region. Speculation about the tonal superiority of a Strad points to this fact to account for its unique vitality. I would imagine differences in wood quality, grain, texture and variety would also affect a piano's tone. (The wood chuck would chuck all the wood if the wood chuck only could. Sorry, folks! ) It's also interesting that the process of aging wood by the manufacturer has a measurable effect on the sound quality of pianos.

I've heard mention of a decline in quality of Steinways since I bought mine, and disturbing rumors which tarnish the sterling reputation of Steinway & Sons. The "buzz" alerted pianists to steer clear of instruments produced between a certain time frame, beginning after the ownership of Steinway reportedly changed hands. One story I heard speaks of a corporate merger between CBS and Steinway. Another indicated a corporate buy-out of the Steinway Co. by CBS, whose contract stipulated marketing rights, in order to capitalize on the Steinway name. Evidently, according to both versions, the quality standards reportedly plummetted, yielding an inferior tonal quality. The pianos crafted during that time frame are referred to as "Pre-CBS," implying instruments that don't quite live up to Steinway's former standards before the merger, or whatever. Rumors circulated regarding hasty production methods, the use of improperly aged wood, even the insufficient drying time for the glue in between components before shipment.

Does this ring a bell, Joan, Dr. Zeigler, Dr. Bill, Cy? Anyone?

The length, width and distance between the keys of a Steinway are always perfect for the size and shape of my hands and the lengths of my fingers. (I have found that both white and black keys of certain pianos seem almost imperceptibly longer and wider than others. I don't know if it is a matter of my perception, or whether there is indeed a quantifiable difference.) Any experts out there? ??? ???

I also noticed that the beveling around the edge of the black keys of various pianos are slightly different. The height of the keys seems somehow different on different pianos. The shape of the edges of the white keys seem different too. I wonder if anyone else has noticed this difference. ???

Edited By Glissando88keys on 1153094788

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:12 am
by Chilly
My father-in-law has a pianola which he restored himself. Has a really bluesy sound to it, and the notes are nice to play. It hasnt been tuned for yonks, and it's been moved from South Africa to England! It most definately needs a good tuning, but as he doesn't play, he hasn't really bothered.

In South Africa, i had my grandmothers piano - don't remember what make it was, but it wasn't a 'brand name' as such. Very much bottom of the range, but it was a nice piano to play. Enjoyed tinkering on it throughout my childhood. We unfortunately had to sell it when we moved to the UK. I would have loved to have kept it and have it restored, though we were advised from a friend who restores piano's that it really wouldn't be worth it.

Since then, I've invested in a Yamaha Clavinova CLP270. It's a great piano - it's digital, so doesn't need to be tuned and it can be used with headphones so you can play late into the night without keeping the family and neighbors up too. It also has weighted keys, so it almost feels like you're playing a eal piano. I don't think that one could ever mimic a real instrument digitally perfecly. though they have come close

What i like most about it though is that you can coltrol how bright or mellow you want it to sound, and you can record your own compositions. - can even connect it straight to your pc and with the right programming, can have the score of your piece done automatically.

If i did have the opportunity to buy another piano, it would be a tough descision. though i wouldn't mind having a normal / grand piano as well. Not sure that that's viable though - 2 piano's in one house?? ???

Do you think that the kind of piano you buy depends greatly on the kind of music you intend to play?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:42 am
by Cy Shuster
There has been a lot of mythology about Steinways over the years, and there are several good books about their history. Yes, CBS bought the company in 1972 and instituted some design changes in an attempt to improve quality (notably to the action), not all of which were well-received.

However, they rescued the company and kept it from bankruptcy. It's pretty amazing to go to New York, and just outside La Guardia Airport, visit the factory that's been in the same spot (on Steinway Place at the East River) since 1880 or so. They used to float the logs right to the factory's door. CBS sold it to Selmer, the instrument company, in 1995.

Gliss, I'm not sure exactly what questions you have, but of course wood selection and proper seasoning are vital to a piano's quality. The people who do this now at Steinway have been there for many years. There's a reference chart on the wall in the soundboard area with good and bad samples, and one of the disqualifiers is bear claw marks! There are pictures here:

Going back to the original topic, I think that not many people mention Steinways as a favorite simply because they're not as widespread in homes. Yet most of the piano recordings we hear and prefer were probably recorded on them.

As far as keys, there's a whole range of variety. The black keys on Baldwins are slightly taller than others (by maybe a millimeter); Mason & Hamlin's are slightly shorter. The length of the keys extending out from under the fallboard varies, typically longer with bigger pianos. Some white keys don't have a projecting lip at all ("waterfall" style). And on almost all keyboards, the space between C# and D# is wider than between the three sharps (F#, G#, A#), because of all that space taken up by B & C and E & F!


Edited By Cy Shuster on 1153144565

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:04 am
by Cy Shuster

You can never have too many pianos! :-) There is unfortunately less range in sound than there used to be, but certainly you can use different instruments for different music. At the Museum of Modern Art in Boston, I heard a Bach prelude played on a clavichord: a tiny, light sound (with vibrato!), and heard Beethoven on a fortepiano. They've put some of these recordings on their site:

One way of emphasizing those differences is to actually tune the pianos in a different way for different music, using so-called "historic temperaments". The ones I like are "circulating", namely as you go around the circle of fifths, a major triad has more and more tension in it until you get to F#, and then harmony is gradually restored as you get back to C.

These tunings aren't the best match for, say, Chopin and more recent composers, but can reveal some interesting color into earlier works. Stuart Isacoff's book "Temperament" covers this well. Ed Foote has a good page on it:


PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:27 am
by Dr. Bill Leland
I'll have to let you all in on a little personal history: I went to San Diego last April and bought a Steinway Model B (just under 7 feet). I've owned a Lester spinet (as a kid--my mom didn't know any better), a couple of nameless uprights, a Baldwin grand, and two Yamaha C7s, which are still here (I now have 21'7" of piano in the house).

Never owned a Steinway before. Much of my university career came during the years when Steinway was going through major crises and quality went way down. But this one was built in 1990 and is a beauty. I don't think it was ever used very hard, because it's in practically showroom condition inside and out. The action feels almost alive--it really wants to help you!--and the dealer had it impeccably regulated. It has the rich, complex Steinway sound; I've tuned it twice and done some spot voicing, and it responds very well. I had started a home recording project, and I think this instrument will be ideal.

Dr. Bill.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:29 am
by Dr. Bill Leland
I forgot to mention--how could I?--the 9-foot Bosendorfer grand we owned for ten years and then sold to a college in northern New Mexico. Beautiful instrument.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:50 am
by Stretto
Dr. Bill Leland wrote:I'll have to let you all in on a little personal history: I went to San Diego last April and bought a Steinway Model B (just under 7 feet). I've owned a Lester spinet (as a kid--my mom didn't know any better), a couple of nameless uprights, a Baldwin grand, and two Yamaha C7s, which are still here (I now have 21'7" of piano in the house).

Never owned a Steinway before. Much of my university career came during the years when Steinway was going through major crises and quality went way down. But this one was built in 1990 and is a beauty. I don't think it was ever used very hard, because it's in practically showroom condition inside and out. The action feels almost alive--it really wants to help you . . .

That's cheating you know! :p Just kidding!

Cy S. mentioned the Mason and Hamlin name. I've heard people bragging up their Mason and Hamlin's. So what do people typically like about that particular brand?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:32 am
by Cy Shuster
Mason & Hamlin is another company that has been rescued, really a labor of love from this new management. They make only about 300 grands a year, compared to 3,000 or so for Steinway NY, and use Renner action parts. Their parent company is Piano Disc.

Speaking from the technical side, they have a design like Steinway's, with a hardwood rim to reflect sound back into the soundboard. Their famous "centripetal tension resonator" (or "spider") is six or eight metal rods underneath that add to the beam structure. The full perimeter plate (it goes all the way around the rim) also adds strength (and weight!). Solid construction is a hallmark of theirs.

In the last several years, they've made changes to the action so that it's maybe 10% lighter than Steinway standards. The sound is quite similar to the rich Steinway sound.

I was very impressed with the attention to detail given to all aspects of construction in the factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The soundboards and backpost assembly for uprights are made there; uprights are assembled in Sacramento.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 12:03 pm
by Dr. Bill Leland
The traditional hallmark of the great years of Mason and Hamlin was a beautiful singing tone. They were marvelous for accompanying and chamber ensemble.

I played a few at the Haverhill, MA, factory that were very nice, but that was some years ago when they were still Falcone and had just begun resurrecting them. They showed me all the original M. & H. factory equipment downstairs, though, that they had acquired, and said they were making them to original specs.


PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 11:57 pm
by Glissando88keys
Cy Shuster wrote:I was very impressed with the attention to detail given to all aspects of construction in the factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The soundboards and backpost assembly for uprights are made there; uprights are assembled in Sacramento.


Thanks for the link to Steinway & Sons. How fascinating!
Now, I'm considering calling the Mason & Hamling plant to find out if they are open to the public for tours. I would love to vist and observe the assmbly process. I think it would be an interesting way to spend the day Thanks, too for confirming my suspicions about key length, height, shape, etc. I feel a sense of closure to a question that was in the back of my mind for years.

Congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter. I'm also a new grandma of a beautiful baby girl. Isn't grandparenthood wonderful? :D

Edited By Glissando88keys on 1153288778

PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 11:51 am
by musicman12583

This is my first post. I've read a lot of the things people have written and feel out of my league. But as far as my favorite pianos go, I have no "brand".
I have played several pianos (school, recitals and competitions, etc.) and find that it is not the name on the faceplate, but the way the piano responds to the person playing it. Some pianos seem to have a mind of their own and no matter what you do to draw a civilized tone from its wide open mouth, it does what it wants to. My favorites are the ones that work with me. It is something that is hard to put into words. It is like talking with an old friend about favorite memories.
Two pianos come to mind. One was a white ~7 ft. Yamaha that was in the choir room at school. I don't know if it was because it had been played so much or just some fluke on the Yamaha assembly line, but it had the richest tone of any Yamaha I've ever played. Usually, they are pretty bright. Not this one.
The other piano was actually a Baldwin Grand at the same school. It would probably be better suited more for jazz though.
Anyway, I don't put much stock in a name. Just let me feel each one. Then I'll know.