Tag Archives: Piano Move

Piano Care Top Tips

Over the years we have gleaned loads of piano care top tips and advice from pianists, manufacturers, tuners and shop owners. So here is the best piano care top tips from the piano industry to help keep your pride and joy in brilliant health.

Piano Care Top Tips #1 – Location

Try and position your piano on an internal wall away from direct sunlight. External walls vary more in temperature than internal walls. If you can keep pianos away from windows as UV light can bleach the piano casing. Also try and keep your piano away from any sources of direct heat or cold e.g. a radiator or air conditioning unit. If you need to place you piano next to a radiator consider turning it off or at least turning it down. We will happily move your piano to any location in your home so think about the best place for your piano to enjoy it, play it and keep it in the best condition.

Piano Care Top TipsPiano Care Top Tips # 2- Humidity

A piano is made of natural materials such as wood, felt, cloth and leather. As such it expands and contracts with variations in temperature and more importantly humidity. The natural materials will swell or shrink as the relative humidity goes up or down and this can affect the sound of the piano.  For instance, felt will absorb water if the humidity increases which can dull the action, piano strings can rust and keys can expand and become sticky. In the worst case large and regular humidity changes can cause cracks in the sound board or loosen the tuning pins.

A piano does not like being in an overly damp or an excessively dry environment, therefore it is helpful if you can keep your piano in a room that holds a fairly constant humidity. For instance, try and avoid placing your piano near an external door. To help maintain the humidity you may also wish to consider buying a piano humidifier or a cheaper option is to keep a small jar of water underneath or inside the piano. Just remember to move the water jar before the piano movers arrive!

Piano Care Top TipsPiano Care Top Tips #3 – Cleaning

Dust can dull the hammer action and affect the sound of the piano. Most experts recommend you dust your piano every other week using a feather duster or soft cloth. Never use chemical cleaners or alcohol to clean the piano. If you need to clean the piano use only mild soap and water and use a well wrung out damp cloth. Avoid using any water on the internal parts of the piano.

Piano Care Top Tips #4 – Vases and Displays

We would recommend you avoid placing items on the top of the piano. These can cause poor tone or vibrations whilst you are playing. Heavy items placed on the lid may mark the piano case. Vases filled with water could obviously spill, causing water damage to the case, strings, hammer or action.

Protecting-Beethovens-PianoPiano Care Top Tips #5 – Piano Storage

If you need to store your piano, for instance if you are temporarily emigrating or down sizing whilst you decorate, you should look for a professional piano mover and storage expert to take care of you instrument. Just like in your home your piano will need to be protected from UV, temperature and humidity changes to keep it in the best of condition. Any professional piano mover will be able to offer you a range of piano storage services to meet your needs and budget. From standard storage to climate-controlled storage, where the temperature and humidity are maintained at optimum conditions, there are many storage options. In addition, if you are storing a grand piano you should consider storing the piano on its legs, this is how the piano was designed to be kept. However, storing a grand piano in this way does cost more, as it takes up more space, so most professional piano movers offer an option to store your grand piano on its side. This is perfectly safe and may be a better value for money option for you.

Piano Care Top Tips #6 – Piano Tuning

Your piano is a living instrument and as such it needs a check-up every so often. The piano will slowly go out of tune over time, whether it is used or not. As such it is recommended that you get your piano tuned every 6 months. If you have a brand new piano this increases to 4 times in the first year, as the new strings stretch more in the first 12 months as they bed in. Leaving a piano out of tune for a prolonged period of time can permanently alter the pitch of the piano or require major re-tuning to bring it back to concert pitch. To avoid this expense and stress for the piano go for regular tuning. You should also consider getting you piano tuned when it is stored, the effects of time on the pitch and tune apply to pianos in store as well as time at home. To find a reputable piano tuner in Kent, Sussex or London check out – piano-tuners.org.

Piano Care Top Tips - Piano Tuning

Pianos are such special and beautiful instruments. To keep them in the best of condition they need to be looked after and cared for. A small amount of preparation will help you choose and maintain the best environment for the piano. Regular, careful cleaning will help keep the look and tone while professional tuning will keep the pith perfect throughout its life. If you look after your piano it will provide many years of joy for you and your family. By applying these piano care top tips you will keep your beautiful instrument sounding and looking great.

Piano Moving Training

Piano MovingPiano Moving Training

Piano Removals are not easy and are not for the feint hearted, this is why piano removal moving is essential for safety and efficiency. Moving an £80 000 instrument that weighs 350kg takes strength, skill and brains, especially when you’re taking it up a flight of stairs or using a crane to put it through a third-story window. It is also not for the uninitiated or untrained and that is why all of our team at Colin Batt Removals get extensive and regular piano moving training.

Piano Moving Training Equipment

We have our own training pianos which we use to demonstrate and practice the techniques and skills required to safely and efficiently carry out a piano removal. We continually refresh the basics so that the whole team have a strong foundation of understanding; such as how to wrap a grand piano, where the balance points are on an upright and how to handle a harpsichord. We then cover more complex and specific items so that all our staff have an unrivalled knowledge of everything to do with piano removals.

Piano MovingTeamwork

Moving a piano takes teamwork, you can’t move a 9’ concert grand on your own. Piano removals also require trust, good communication and understanding, which our monthly piano moving training days are designed to develop and nurture. On every piano moving training day we recap on real world examples of difficult piano removals. For instance, how to take a piano up a spiral staircase or remove an antique piano’s weak legs. We even cover how to remove windows, build a piano crate for shipping and how to construct scaffolding to allow our teams to get your piano to wherever it needs to go.

Piano Moving Excellence

Our motto is ‘Where Service is Key’ and we pride ourselves on delivering bespoke piano removals. This is the reason we dedicate so much time to piano moving training and developing our skills. We believe this is why so many piano dealers, musicians and manufacturers ask us to move their instruments across the UK and the world. Call us to discuss your piano moving needs:

Ashford 01233 740395
Canterbury 01227 752901
Maidstone 01622 235630

Top 10 Best Piano Makers

Who are the Best Piano Makers in the World?

We move thousands of pianos each year and often get asked who are the best piano makers. There are hundreds of piano makers in the world but only a few have the quality and history to stand out and be claimed as the world’s best piano makers.

There is no scientific metric that can be used to measure the true quality and value of these beautiful instruments. It is a combination of the tone, sound, action, history and passion that imbues each instrument. The best piano makers build timeless instruments that produce unrivalled sound, be that power, tone or range. As such choosing the best piano makers is a subjective assessment but over the years we have listened to the views of pianists, tuners, players and sellers and compiled this combined wisdom into our list of the world’s best piano makers.

In no particular order, here are our Top 10 Piano Makers:

Bösendorfer

Best Piano MakersBösendorfer is one of the oldest luxury piano makers in the world, having started in Vienna, Austria in 1828. Ignaz Bösendorfer founded the company and was endowed with the honour of “official piano maker” to the Emperor of Austria in 1830. Bösendorfer is famous for inventing the extension to the 88-key keyboard with the Imperial Grand that boasts a 97-key keyboard, giving 8 octaves. This extra range made the Imperial Grand one of the most loved concert grands in the world, which continues to this day. The extra keys were so popular that Bösendorfer have extended the keyboard on many of their range.

“We are world famous for our quality, our outstanding richness of tone colour and our typical pure and inspiring sound. Acquiring a Bösendorfer is a lifetime dream for many people. For them, we build something very special, with devotion and professionalism: the Bösendorfer among the grands”

Bösendorfer offer luxury and exclusive pianos, they make only a few hundred pianos a year and each piano is handmade.  Their pianos are known for a darker or richer sound than the purer but less full-bodied sound of other pianos.

www.boesendorfer.com

Blüthner

Best Piano MakersAnother great piano manufacturer from Germany, this time Leipzig. In 1853 Julius Blüthner started the company that is still run and managed by the Blüthner family. Forty-seven years later Blüthner had become the largest piano maker in Germany, producing over 5000 instruments a year. Blüthners are still renowned for their quality and a clear tone.  Wilhem Kempff, the acclaimed pianist, praised their pianos as ‘precise’ and having ‘unrivalled beauty’.

A Blüthner grand was the first piano to be used in an airborne recital, the company had built a piano for the famous airship Hindenburg which crossed the atlantic with the piano. World War Two impacted the piano maker quite heavily and their factory was destroyed by an air raid in 1943, fortunately it was rebuilt in 1945.

Over the years and to this day Blüthner has built and maintained a reputation of outstanding quality. Blüthner pianos have been purchased and played by Queen Victoria, Listz, Brahms, Tsar Nicholas II, Rachmaninov, and Tschaikovsky.

Blüthner have been awarded no less than 5 gold medals by the Leipzig Fair for their handcrafted and stunning pianos. If you can’t afford one of their premium instruments Blüthner also offer two other ranges, the Heassler and Irmler ranges.

www.bluthner.co.uk

Steinway & Sons

Best Piano MakersSteinway & Sons are possibly the most well known and revered piano manufacturer in the world. Every Steinway & Sons piano takes over a year to be built by their master craftsman and each piano is made of more than 12,000 parts. Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg began making pianos in his kitchen in Sessen, Germany at the ripe old age of 20. Twenty-five years after building his “kitchen” piano and 482 instruments later Heinrich decided to move to America. In New York, the now Henry E Steinway founded possibly the most famous of our piano makers, Steinway & Sons with his family in 1853.

Steinway & Sons are considered the founders of the modern piano and have127 patents to their name to date.1700 professional pianists swear by their Steinway & Sons piano and many other musical institutions use them. Steinway & Sons still build pianos in New York and also have a factory in Hamburg. The company produce grand and Upright pianos and also have two bespoke lines called Crown jewels and Custom for the customer who wants a real statement piece.

“Each Steinway grand piano a unique masterpiece produced by the hands of craftsmen. We take our time in production – everything is done quietly and with care.”

Steinways & Sons have received awards from New York, Paris and many organisations for the quality of their pianos.  This does mean that their pianos are not cheap but the good news is that if you can’t afford a Steinway & Sons then the company also produce two more affordable brands, Essex and Boston. Essex is Steinway’s entry-level brand and Boston is aimed at the mid-level market.

http://www.steinway.co.uk

Bechstein

Best Piano MakersBechstein are celebrated for producing pianos with great tone and beauty. As with all the elite piano makers listed here, Bechstein handcraft each of their instruments. Remarkably Bechstein is another German piano manufacturer that was formed in 1853, this time in Berlin. Carl Bechstein built his first piano for the vigorous and energetic player as well as the subtle and delicate pianist.

In 1885 Bechstein had grown and opened a store in London and the allure of the manufacturer was massively enhanced when Queen Victoria bought a gilded Beckstein grand. The London store grew to be the largest showroom in Europe and the company went on to build the Bechstein Hall, what we now call the Wigmore Hall. Many other stars and artists have been supporters of the brand including the Beatles, Elton John and Freddy Mercury.

Claude Debussey said “One should only write piano music for Bechstein”.

In 1992 Beckstein moved from Berlin to their current location in Seifhennersdorf. Since then Bechstein have invested over £18million on new technology and design to keep Bechstein at the forefront of piano design. The passion and dedication to perfection are second to none within the Bechstein family. The Technical Director has his staff individually select each hammer shank for the treble, middle or bass areas dependant on the shank’s natural pitch.

Beyond the tonal qualities of their pianos, Bechstein have become known as the creators of the one-of-a-kind art case piano. This is where craftsman individually embellish and decorate the piano cases to make individual and unique piano cases. So you not only get a great sounding instrument, it is also a piece of art in its own right. In fact some of Bechstein’s art case pianos are museum pieces.

www.bechstein.co.uk

Fazioli

Best Piano MaketsAlthough the company only began in 1981, Paulo Fazioli has created one of the best piano makers in the world. As a concert pianist and the son of a famous cabinet maker Paulo Fazioli had the perfect background to create a unique piano. He went well beyond this with a passion to create an instrument with unrivalled touch and tone and without compromise. Simply put Paulo Fazioli wanted to make the best piano money could buy.

“To produce grand and concert grand pianos exclusively, aiming for the highest quality with no concern for large production”

Built in Italy these pianos don’t come cheap, their price tag ranges from $100,00 to as much as $300,000. That is a lot of money but the company only produce between 120 and 130 pianos a year, they even make a 24-carat gold leaf piano. However, Fazioli only make grands or concert grand pianos, they do not build upright pianos. Also, don’t try and move their largest concert grand piano on your own, the beautiful F308 weighs a massive 570kg and measures over 10 feet in length.

This young piano maker has really made a mark producing exquisite instruments with an unrivalled reputation and respect. If you can afford it a Fazoili is a really beautiful instrument and, given the low production numbers, has a real potential to be a great investment.

www.fazioli.com/en

Shigeru Kawai

Best Piano MakersShigeru Kawai is a bespoke brand that span out of the Kawai Piano stable. Kawai pianos was founded in 1927 by Koichi Kawai, his son Shigeru took on the company and built on his father’s dream of building the world’s finest piano. Nothing but the finest quality pianos come out of this premier Japanese piano maker.

“The passion, the honour, the soul.”

Shigeru Kawai pianos are a blend of traditional craftsmanship, technical innovations and state-of-the-art materials. The soundboards are built using 10-year aged wood from the rare Ezo Spruce that is found in snow-shrouded mountains of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. This is combined with a piano action, the Millennium III, which is made from modern composite. This action has received many plaudits, with some saying the Millennium III is the most significant development for the piano in our generation – some accolade.

All Shigeru pianos have a supremely rich tonal depth and fewer than 250 pianos are produced each year which bear the name Shigeru Kawai. Every piano is a personal legacy of the Kawai family, you will see not just the labour and love but part of Shigeru Kawai’s life, one of the truly great piano makers.

www.shigerukawai.com

Mason and Hamlin

Best Piano Makers - Mason and HamlinIn 1854 two Massachusetts gentlemen, Henry Mason a classical pianist and Emmons Hamlin a great inventor, formed the Mason and Hamlin Company to manufacturer a new type of instrument that they called the Organ Harmonium. Their attention to detail, passion and limited production volumes proved immediately popular. From these early beginnings the team went on to win first prize for their American Cabinet Organ in the 1867 Paris Exhibition but it wasn’t until 1881 that the company turned their attention to pianos. At that time Mason and Hamiln’s pianos were the most costly to produce but widely considered the best in the world.

“Mason & Hamlin pianos have a mystique about them.”

Mason and Hamlin slowly lost their way after the Second World War but since they were bought by PianoDisc in 1996 they have regained there former glory as a leader in the world of piano makers. They are still the costliest pianos to build but once again they adorn many concert halls and musical institutes. With a focus on quality not quantity the 70 skilled craftsman produce 50 uprights and 300 grands a year. Each one is inspected no less than 12 times during its birth.

www.masonhamlin.com

Stuart and Sons 

Best Piano MakersThe youngest of the piano makers on our list, Stuart and Sons started life in 1990 and herald from New South Wales, Australia. What they may lack in years they certainly make up with in home-grown passion and awards. What they are not is mass produced, according to their website to date Stuart & Sons have only built 55 pianos.

Stuart and Sons produce two grands, a studio grand and a concert grand (measuring 7.2’ and 9.5’ respectively) but these two models are made with various beautiful and rare natural timbers. You can get your grand piano made in Red Cedar, Tasmanian Sassafras or Tasmanian Huon Pine and they all look exquisite.

“A rare and beautiful instrument that respects tradition while embracing innovation.”

The Stuart and Sons pianos not only look good they really perform, the range of their instruments is immense with each piano having 97 or 102 keys. They claim that no other piano makers reaches as high pitch as can be reached on their instruments.

www.stuartandsons.com

Schimmel

Best Piano MakersThe Schimmel brand began life in Leipzig in 1885 and will soon celebrate 130 years of piano production.  Wilhelm Schimmel was the founder of this stellar piano manufacturer, famed for the quality of the actions and tone of their pianos.  The Konzert range is the pinnacle of the pride and innovation that resides at the heart of every Schimmel instrument. Their Konzert upright model highlights this, Schimmel have produced an upright to emulate the tonal and performance qualities of a grand piano.

Schimmel produce their pianos using traditional techniques and their proprietary CAPE system (Computer Assisted Piano Engineering). The pursuit of perfection combined with a national heritage of 300 years building pianos allow Schimmel to proudly stand as one of the best piano makers in the world. In fact, Schimmel are now the largest and most awarded piano manufacturer in Germany.

In 1927 the company moved from Leipzig to what remains their home Braunschweig. Now with a fourth generation Schimmel at the helm, the legacy of artistry, passion and craftsmanship continue with this great piano manufacturer. Schimmel are renowned for timeless and tasteful piano casework designs. This combined with beautiful sound and touch endears them to their fans. Their glass grand piano was unveiled in 1951 and has since become a cult classic.

www.schimmel-pianos.de/home.html?L=1

Grotrian Steinweg

Best Piano MakersGortrian Steinweg can trace its roots all the way back to 1835 when Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg  began building pianos. Theodor Steinweg was the son and heir to Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg who founded Steinway & Sons in America. Theodor Steinweg was joined by Friedrich Grotrian in 1853 after Friedrich returned from his music business in Moscow. This duo then went on to create another amazing piano maker from Germany.

“Build good pianos and the rest will take care of itself”

The company builds the astonishing Gotrian Duo. This is two grand pianos joined together so that they can be played as “one” instrument. Fortunately for us, you can split the piano into two to move it. This piano is a reflection of the philosophy which is at the heart of the company – A unique tone and love for music. Other Gotrian Steinweg innovations include the star-shaped back frame and a unique string scale that allows the hammers strike the strings at the optimal spot.

Gotrian Steiweg have been family piano makers for 157 years and the 6th generation of the family is still running the business. The longevity of this business can be traced back to the founding philosophy of uncompromised quality. The company now produce about 500 uprights and 100 grands a year.

www.grotrian.de/en/index_menu.html

Piano Tuning – How Often Should You Tune Your Piano?

Piano Tuning – How Often Should You Tune Your Piano?

Tensioning Piano strings

Tightening the piano strings

When we are delivering pianos, our customers often ask us when is the right time for piano tuning. People feel that moving a piano will have affected the piano pitch and that they might need to get it tuned. This is not usually the case and changes in tune are normally down to humidity, but we will get to that later. First let us look at why pianos need to be tuned.

Pianos need to be tuned as the metal piano strings stretch over time, the high tension that piano strings are under cause them to slowly lengthen as they age, this happens whether you play the piano or not. It is a myth that you won’t need to tune your piano if you don’t play it, the piano will go flat if you don’t tinkle those ivories.

Did you know that each piano string is under about 170 pounds of tension? Each piano has 231 strings and this means that when you add up all that tension the piano frame is resisting 19 tons of pressure! Now that is a lot of strain and is the main reason a piano is so heavy, it has a strong metal frame to take the tension. This is also why it is not a good idea to move a piano by yourself, the metal frame in the pianos make them very heavy and cumbersome and it is very easy to either damage the piano or yourself when moving it.

If you have bought a brand new piano, first of all congratulations, second you should look to have your piano tuned every 3 months for the first year. That means you need to get it tuned four times in the first year to, as it were, break the piano in. New pianos need more regularly piano tuning because the steel strings in a new piano have never had any tension put on them before and therefore initially stretch faster than older strings, this causes a new piano to lose its tune faster than an older one.

For pianos older than one year we recommend getting it tuned every 6 months. It is not recommended to tune less frequently than this as the piano can not only lose tune but lose pitch. If the piano is left too flat for too long, the piano tuner may not be able to bring the pitch of the piano back up to what is called standard pitch (i.e. each piano at standard pitch should sound the same). Old pianos that have not been tuned for a long time may not be able to take the strain of raising the pitch back to standard, this could cause strings to break or worse damage the frame or pin block. See what some of the best piano manufacturers say about piano tuning at the end of this article.

Adjusting the Piano Hammers

Servicing your Piano

If you find your piano is losing tune between the usual 6-month piano tuning cycle, the most likely culprit it humidity. A piano is normally about 85% wood and as such changes in humidity cause the wood to expand or contract which affects the piano tune. If you find your piano is losing its tune rapidly it may be a good idea to invest in a humidifier or dehumidifier. Your local piano tuner will be able to help you here, see the links below for more.

So we come back to the question of does moving a piano cause it to lose its tune. The answer is no, moving a piano does not generally cause the piano to go out of tune. Each piano is carefully wrapped and protected to safeguard it against temperature and humidity changes during the move. It is the humidity, temperature or physical changes from one location to another that alter the tune. For instance unevenness of the floor or differing levels between the old and new location may effect the tune of upright pianos. This means that your piano may sound good on delivery but lose it tune of a few days or maybe weeks as it adjusts to its new home.

We therefore don’t recommend that you get your piano tuned as soon as it is delivered to your new location. The piano move shouldn’t have affected the piano tune but the new environment will over time. So it is always best to leave it a couple of weeks after moving before you get your piano tuned.

This is what some of the top piano manufacturers say about the piano tuning:

Steinway & Sons

“We usually recommend our customers at least 2 or 3 tunings per year for a piano getting average use in the home.” 

Bosendorfer Pianos

“To insure the quality of your grand piano we recommend to let it be tuned two times a year (before and after the heating season) or even more regularly by an experienced concert technician.”

Yamaha Pianos

To keep your piano in the best possible condition, we recommend a regular tuning appointment every six months.” 

Kawai Pianos

In general, Kawai recommends 2 to 4 tunings per year. However, your piano technician can best recommend the appropriate interval for your specific environmental conditions and use.”

 

These two links are a good place to start to find your nearest piano tuning expert:

www.pianotuner.org.uk

www.piano-tuners.org/index.html