21/04/2024

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If It Doesn’t Have 12,116 Genuine Steinway Parts, It Isn’t a Steinway, Really?

If It Doesn’t Have 12,116 Genuine Steinway Parts, It Isn’t a Steinway, Really?

Steinway as a business realized that the restoration part of the piano business is big business, and they wanted a part of it. It turns out that the biggest competitor of Steinway is the restoration of used Steinways.

So let’s put this ‘genuine parts’ thing under the microscope so that you, the Steinway piano owner, can make a better decision when it comes to the restoration of your heirloom piano.

NO LONGER THE OWNERS

If missing a single part means it’s no longer a Steinway, then neither is a Steinway. The Steinway family sold the business in 1963 to CBS. After that, the lines of distinction are blurred as to family participation.

The last recorded family member to work at Steinway was Henry Z. Steinway. He is recorded as the last President up to 1977 (remember it’s owned by CBS).

It is also said that he worked at the factory(signing custom limited editions) until his death in 2008 at the age of 93. This struck me as odd. How many 93 year old multi-millionaires do you know that work at a factory?

Regardless, even 2008 represents 7 years without a Steinway family member. That’s a big part missing. The company is currently owned by Paulsen and Co., an Investment Management Company.

NOT EVERY SINGLE PART IS MADE AT THE FACTORY, BUT IS OUTSOURCED.

· Steinway does not make their Bass Strings, they are made by Mapes in Tennessee.

· Steinway does not make their finishes, they are made by Wurdack Industrial Finishes from St Louis MO.

· Steinway hammers are not voiced with Steinway lacquer, but are voiced with Wurdack Lacquer.

· Steinway does not own a forest, but they buy their wood from Fred Tebb and Sons in Tacoma Washington. Ask for their Steinway Grade Sitka Spruce, as anyone can buy it, but it will be expensive.

I found other companies that sell the same grade of Sitka Spruce, that comes from the same forest, at a much lower cost.

OTHER OUTSOURCING COMPANIES THAT WERE PURCHASED BY STEINWAY

· The Cast-Iron plates have been made by the O.S. Kelley Foundry since 1938. Recently Purchased.

· The Kluge Company makes action parts such as tuning pins, felts, whole actions. Recently purchased.

THE QUALITY OF PARTS

It’s easy to assume that when a part comes in a box that says Steinway Genuine Parts, that it’s the highest quality. But this isn’t necessarily so. Other action parts companies make Steinway duplicate parts, often of better quality. Tokiwa and Renner now have a long history of making action parts that are reliable and more affordable and do not take away the performance quality of the Steinway.

I once held all of the different parts side by side, and there was no special quality of the Steinway parts to distinguish it from the others.

THE HEART OF STEINWAY

The soundboard is made by an outlined process called a ‘recipe’. This recipe is basically a Sitka Spruce panel glued with straight ribs of sugar pine that is dried to 4-5% EMC. When it is glued into the piano it grows and crowns. That’s it! Any experienced soundboard ‘bellyman’ can duplicate it.

CONCLUSION

As an illustration on how silly this whole parts thing is:

If I replaced one part in your Steinway with a Tokiwa part, and asked you to sit down and play the piano. Would you be able to tell me which note had the Tokiwa part?

I don’t think so.

If you get anything out of this article I hope it is this: You can have your Steinway restored at the same high level, and at an affordable price, by shopping around, asking questions, and taking your time making a decision.