Little has changed in how Steinway makes its high-quality instruments. Its pianos are still made in only two places: Astoria, N.Y. and Hamburg, Germany. The company still uses many of its patented methods that are over 100 years old.
“We have found that certain things are simply better when done by skilled craftspeople than by a machine. For that reason, many parts of the process in building a Steinway have remained essentially unchanged for generations,” Steinway shared on YouTube.
Steinway starts by choosing wood that’s been dried over two years. By evaporating the water naturally, the wood’s optimum acoustic quality is maintained.
Next, the rim is made, which gives shape and form to the entire piano case. The process was patented in 1880 by C.F. Theodore Steinway. A large slab of maple and mahogany is bent into an “unbroken curve from base to treble ” in the method.
The case must dry for months before it’s taken to the cutting shop where it’s trimmed and finished. Then, the bridge, which transfers energy from the piano strings to the soundboard, is installed. Hundreds of coded pins are nailed into the bridge by craftspeople to precisely guide the strings.
To make sure the piano keys work perfectly, Steinway technicians check the weight and balance of each one. The piano makes a sound when a hammer strikes a key, so each key must be perfectly counter-weighted.
“The strings in the low range are heavier and the weight of the corresponding action is also heavier. Therefore, if there is no corresponding counterweight or balance detection, the pianist’s playing experience will be compromised,” Steinway explained.
Once the piano is assembled it is transported into the soundproof “Pounding Room” where a machine plays each key up to 3,200 times. Each Steinway piano is then continuously fine-tuned until it is perfect.
Finally, the piano is given six coats of paint, sanded and polished.
“The culture of the Steinway factory is not a race against time,” the company stated. “Steinway is committed not to efficient mass production for higher profits, but to a slow and steady pace in the pursuit of highest quality.”
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