I was asked to tune a piano recently that i had restored about 10 years ago.  What struck me as i sat there tuning was the quality of this instrument from yesteryear.  More than that, from turn of the century… ok i guess we need to qualify that right? hahaaa… from the turn of the 20th century, great piano design was well under way.  In fact, some of these piano designs are still revered and respected and are from a time known to many as the ‘golden era’.  Although i agree with many that there are SOME pianos from 100 years ago that were brilliant, there were many many more that were just coming of age.  The highest level of pianos however – the Bechsteins, the Bluthners, the Steinways, Bosendorfers… the list goes on where pianos were made to such a high degree of craftsmanship that they became manufacturers by royal appointment…  I find those pianos are very musical indeed.

The problem i have though is that many say “Oh nothing beats my grandmother’s old piano”… did they just refer to this old beat up, worn out piano as the apex, the very pinnacle of piano design? I must go on record by relating a saying that a wise old piano technician once told me when i first entered the business.  He said:

“Glen, there are two myths in the piano world: Older is good. And newer is better”.  Sounds paradoxical but it’s true… i’ve played old pianos most of which are just mediocre.  I’ve also played brand new pianos that you would think are brilliant and are sub-standard.  The moral of the story: quality in manufacturing and design still create beautiful music but you need to wade through the myriads of pianos to search for the gems.  If you had the chance to play this old C. Bechstein, it would without a doubt confirm that some will remain memorable.