What does quality mean?

Quality is a term that is passed about with great ease in the piano industry. The term itself has a rather benign meaning; “high grade, superiority, excellence”. But what does that mean in the piano world and is there any reason the term high quality should be limited to certain makers?

If you’ve been exposed […]

Visit to Steingraeber

Steingraeber is found in the bustling city of Bayreuth, which wears its illustrious musical heritage (both Wagner and Liszt are buried there) lightly..

Unlike some European makers, it’s hard to miss Steingraeber, being just off Steingraeber Passage.





Let’s see, isn’t there a piano company around here someplace?




My street cred must be higher, and my timing was […]

Factory visit: Feurich pianos

Feurich is located in the charming lake town of Gunzenhausen. We in the states think things are old if George Washington visited. However both Martin Luther and Goethe visited Gunzenhausen. In fact, my hotel (same name, same site, different building) was established in 1364!!

The few Feurich pianos I have seen have always impressed me. They have a strikingly unique sound, but well within the norms of German makers. The recent history of Feurich has confused even some in the German piano industry, leading to me hearing all sorts of stories about their current production. However I was met by a very cordial Julius Feurich (IV, I think) and his son Julius (V, if I’m correct about the previous). Founded in Leipzig, the Feurich family included a number of piano builders, even competing among themselves for a while.


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


Factory visits

To recap my philosophy, I do not see the worlds true high end makers as competitors. With the idea of “tonal diversity” firmly in mind, I think these makers support each other in trying to reach prospects who might otherwise have, from pure marketing exposure, a narrow idea of what represents true quality in […]