Thinking About My Ideal Piano
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Thinking About My Ideal Piano
By Sam Bennett
11/10/2009 1:12:00 AM
I've faced many challenging requests from customers.  I know that everyone would like pianos to be cheaper.  So would I.  There are so many elements to a piano, shape, size, sound and fun features.  It's fun to think about the ideal instrument.  I'll start with mine.

I have to set out my restrictions.  I will obey the laws of physics and keep the piano conventionally the same, not a new instrument.  I don't live in a palace with a ballroom for my Bosendorfer Imperial, but I'd give up my dining room table to have a medium-sized grand piano.  My May Berlin upright is great, but let's see what I can come up with.

First, I'll start with aesthetics.  I love polished nickel hardware, so that is easy.  My May Berlin already has nickel/chrome hardware, which is also nice.  I also love wood finishes.  It's very hard to decide which type of wood, but I also like the somewhat rare, open-pore satin finish.  I love rosewood and teak.  There are many beautiful woods, but I saw this piano in person and fell in love.  The finish is called Aruba.


I know this will not be everyone's favorite look, but that's the point.  My dream piano has nothing to do with anyone else's choice.  I'll have my favorite piano for the rest of my life, so I can stop concerning myself with resale value or how popular the brand is.  It becomes a pure selection.

To be honest with myself, I do love a piano's decal.  I like Bosendorfer's early logo, Steinway's vintage soundboard decal, Fazioli's modern logo, Estonia's little leaves, Schimmel's crown, but rather than a name, I might just use Yamaha's crossed tuning forks emblem.  Undecided.


Now I must reveal my most difficult choices relating to the sound.  Do I pick a speific model of piano or imagine a hybrid?  Here is where I would have to have two pianos (at least!), one to play and one to listen to.  The position of the pianist is too close to get the fully developed sound, but I want it to sound good while I play.  While there are shared elements among my favorites, I have pianos I prefer when playing and pianos I prefer when listening.  

I'll start with my favorite to play.  Among smaller grands under 6' I love the scale of vintage Mason & Hamlin model A and Estonia model 168.  If I move up in size, I love  the Grotrian 192 and Steinway's former "long-scale A" and at 7', I love Schimmel's K213 and Mason & Hamlin "BB" new or pre-Great Depression.  I couldn't fit anything bigger, so I can stop.

Which pianos are my favorite to listen to...is an easier question, Bosendorfer.  I love sitting in the room with different players playing different styles, and I always love the sound of Bosendorfer.  I don't subscribe to the idea that certain pianos are only suitable for certain types of music.  A happy musician will pull the music out of the piano.

I will have to have friends to share my piano with friends, musicians and everyone who is a better player than I am.  Even though I will never be a great player or even a skilled player (having started so late), I do enjoy fine pianos and find it worthwhile to aspire to such an instrument.  I can be a happy piano player.

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