Who would have thought that the first ever Steinway Grand Piano was built in a kitchen in Hamburg in 1836. Mr Steinway later moved to New York and opened the first Steinway piano factory. His son moved back to the roots and opened the second factory in Hamburg. Hence Steinway & Sons.
Have you ever wondered what’s behind the making of a Grand Piano? This week I had the amazing opportunity to visit Steinway & Sons in Hamburg.
Behind the Scenes at Steinway & Sons
Imagine a 50 year old Steinway Grand Piano will now sell for 9 x it’s original purchase price…
A 10 year old Steinway Grand Piano will sell for 75% of the current new price!
A process over years
If you ever wondered why Grand Pianos are so expensive – imagine they start by air drying the wood for 2 whole years.
After this each Grand Piano takes 1 year to make. Of course changes to the wood etc. take place over this time which is why each piano sounds a little different.
Only 40% of the wood can be used for the piano making. The other 60% is used to create heating and power. Excess power is streamlined into the Hamburg city pipes.
A tradition maintained over 100 years!
Preparing the sides of the piano ready for pressing into shape. The whole process reminded me a little of home made pasta!
Pressing the exterior form of the Grand Piano…
…using the same process as originally patented in 1880!
Every little step is done by hand.
…even the copper plating of wires.
Ebony and Ivory
Did you know the Japan was the first country to prohibit the usage of ivory for piano keys! They are now made out of a special plastic which is able to absorb moisture so they don’t become slippery when being played.
90% of all Steinway Gran Pianos are polished black. Each piano being polished by hand in several steps as seen above.
Spirio is a fabulous new technology – enables you to enjoy performances captured by great pianists. The piano appears to play by itself by simply using your ipad! more about this technology here.
Fun fact… whilst eating dinner in the factory I realised my glasses frames were exactly the same as Steinway & Sons Managing Director Manfred Sitz!
…sometimes it really is the small things that make all the difference!
Thank you again for having me it was a truly enriching experience.
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