The first piano was invented in Florence, Italy in 1700 by Bartolomeo Cristofori. Since then pianos have evolved many times over the decades in shape, size, features, and functions. Some of these changes have increased the quality of sound, and many have made owning a piano more affordable. With over 3,000 years after the first piano was invented, classical musicians and music enthusiasts can still enjoy advances and improvements in the piano industry.
Quality is Key - Over the last decade the manufacturing process has been perfected and all of the pianos must be crafted with expert craftsmanship and care. China became one of the most in-demand places to manufacture European pianos.
After the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show, here are piano brands represented at the NAMM which I visited and due to globalization productions that piano buyers even more confusing in the piano market. So I've simplified the brands as Asian, American, and European design and where was built in an outline.
Yamaha- Japanese design produced in Japan and Indonesia.
Kawai and Shigeru- Japanese design produced in Indonesia and Japan.
Young Chang: Korean - German design produced in Indonesia
Samick: Korean - German design produced in Indonesia
Pearl River, Kayserburg: China- Largest piano builder in the world, German design produced in China
Essex - American design produced by Pearl River in China
Hailun - American design produced in China
Steinway & Son- Built in New York both production and concert Grands some now feature their new “Spirio” Player System.
Mason and Hamlin- Built in Haverhill, MA. - High-end grands and uprights with the option of their Piano Disc Player System.
Ravenscroft- Built in Scottsdale, AZ. - Custom designed performance pianos very popular among Jazz artists, high-end instruments.
Charles Walter - Built in Elkhart, IN. - Handcrafted high-end piano.
Boston - American design produced by Kawai in Japan and Indonesia
Baldwin, Hallet Davis, Hardman - American design produced in China
Kohler Campbell & Wm Knabe - made by Samick in Indonesia
Fazioli- Based in Sacile, Italy, north of Venice, high-end performance grand pianos
Schulze Pollmann - Italian made piano in San Marino north of Italy
Schimmel- Pearl River Group holds 90% shares in 2016, German produced higher-end performance upright and grand pianos
Grotrian- High- end upright and grand pianos, German made, featured at NAMM their new hardwood finish.
Sauter - Performance upright and grand pianos, German made
Bechstein - High-end upright and grand pianos made in Berlin Germany
Bluthner - Performance upright and grand pianos made in Wiesbaden, Germany.
Bosendorfer - Yamaha owned in 2008, Austrian Performance grand pianos
Petrof - Performance upright and grand pianos made in Czech Republic
Perzina- German origin, upright and grand pianos built with European parts and craftmanship in China and now with Bechstein hammers.
Brodmann- Vienna origin, upright and grand pianos built with European parts and craftmanship in China
Ritmuller - German origin, upright and grand pianos owned by Pearl River in China
A. Geyer - German origin, upright and grand pianos built in China
Weber - Made by Young Chang in Indonesia
Seiler & Pramberger - Made by Samick in Indonesia
Restored European & American Steinways and Bosendorfer - These pianos are meticulously restored in Poland with original German parts and can be shipped worldwide.
Digital Pianos—while classic concert grand are the preferred tool for many musicians, digital pianos are affordable—and offer greater versatility for aspiring musicians
Increased Quality—Electronic keyboards have long been used as practice pianos for students who do not have a traditional piano at home, but most do not produce the sound quality needed to fully challenge students. However, today’s electronic keyboards and digital pianos of the day deliver superior quality and sound.
The take away for the 2018 NAMM Show is the world of music continues to excite the senses. There is a continued sense of pride and passion with the builders of these beautiful instruments who respect both their heritage and tradition.
I was particularly impressed with the innovations such as the addition of Bechstein hammers to some of the pianos and new technologies with the manufacturing of the soundboards. Pianos will always be a very personal choice and I am happy to report those choices are very much alive and well!
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