2 basic concepts of fine piano tone

Let’s digress for a moment and speak in gross generalizations about concepts of piano tone.
I have come to the conclusion, specifically reinforced by Udo Steingraeber, that there are fundamentally 2 approaches to piano tone; high rim tension and low rim tension. (don’t bust my chops on theoretical details, remember this is gross generalization).
Low rim tension is characterized, IN MY OPINION, by Bosendorfer, Förster, and Blüthner, to name 3. These makers want no tension in the outer rim and to varying degrees want the rim to actually play an active role in tone production. These may be solid spruce like Bosendorfer, or layered like Bluthner, but they are not bent under great pressure when mating them with the piano. Again I’m open to correction, but Christian Blüthner himself described the layered/sectioned rim of a Blüthner as having “no tension”. […]

Frankfurt Music Show 2010

The Frankfurt Messe this year had a separate salon for piano makers, as well as the usual displays of accordion makers, brass and winds and combo gear. Overall the piano makers said business was up.

August Förster tour Part 2

I learned a couple of interesting things about Forster pianos during my visit. Click on each thumbnail to enlarge.

They have this cool slot cut in the inner rim that allows it to resonate somewhat separately. I’ve seen a number of Forster pianos over the years but had never noticed it, not that it is easy to notice on the completed piano. You’d have to look carefully at the very bass end where the soundboard meets the inner rim and ask yourself why there appears to be a very precise gap there.


Factory visit: August Förster

While August Förster pianos are not plentiful in the US, they have been sold here long enough to be known for their consistently high quality and dark, rich tone. This kind of consistent, identifiable tone does not come by chance, but rather from generations of consistent work and dedication.

I met up in Löbau Germany with Bert Neidhardt who has been the US distributor for August Förster for something like 40 years. Löbau is deep inside what had been the DDR, or East Germany and has not, at least to my eyes, thrived under the DDR or reunification. But I have always admired the Förster piano and was really looking forward to visiting. I was not disappointed.

You can find my photos of the August Förster factory here on Flickr