Steinway & Sons
July 19, 2013 4:20 PM   Subscribe

The making of a Steinway piano in 1929 and nearly 80 years later. via Kottke.

In the second link the audio comes from a tour recorded by John Steinway in the 1980s and the video comes from Note by Note (previously).
posted by nadawi (16 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

Piano porn! (From the perspective of a man who could only afford a Yamaha.)
posted by kozad at 4:29 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wonderful, I wish I could afford one. Playing on a well-cared-for Steinway is one of the most pleasurable experiences.
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:29 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love silent-era documentaries.
posted by immlass at 4:40 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I loved this.

So there's a very gruff Eastern European piano tuner who does a lot of work around a certain great American city. I've seen him in all sorts of venues and studios. I've never seen him smile. He knows me well enough, and was friendly with a co-worker of mine. She was very cute and so got some very quiet limited small talk out of him on occasion, but all I ever heard was "terrible" in answer to any sort of "how are you today?" or "good morning, how's it going?" Every day, no matter where or what time, "terrible." Never a smile, never a wave. Just a grimace, and "terrible."

One day he was in the studio at a morning show. There was a dead key on the piano he was working on, and we helped him slowly and methodically disassemble the front of the piano, getting down to the guts in a way I've never seen before. He replaced a variety of parts and about an hour and a half later had everything back together and was tuning it by ear. As he was finishing up, one of my crew mates said across the piano "You know, you can tune a piano but you can't tuna fish."

This man, from whom I had never seen a smile or ever heard much other than "terrible" in answer to just about any other question for years, put his head down on the keyboard of the piano and started laughing louder than I've heard anyone laugh in a long time. When he raised his head a moment later, he had tears streaming down his face. I absolutely couldn't believe it. He was hysterical and I was stunned.

Ever since then, I've had great affection for pianos.
posted by nevercalm at 4:45 PM on July 19, 2013 [24 favorites]

Awww... giving up 57th st... sad. Steinway never really recovered from the teflon fiasco of the 70's, not so bright idea after CBS took over. Hope this new deal works out for the company.

I managed to get a B from 1917, in the late 70's.. needed a rebuild, but it was cheap. I loooove my Steinway...
posted by snaparapans at 4:47 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

*pets lid of Bl├╝thner protectively* shhhh, it's okay, it's okay
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:17 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Any mention of Steinway reminds me of Glenn Gould's beloved CD318, seen here in 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould.
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:43 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I managed to get a B from 1917

*nipples getting hard* -- *starts to tear up*
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 6:44 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I move pianos. Funny how the story of the entire process of building to playing the piano leaves out the hardest part, my job.

Yesterday my crew and I took a 1913 Steinway up a flight with a 180-degree turn. Nobody has fun on the job like I do.
posted by Repack Rider at 7:57 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yes, Repack, I have moved pianos too... was a tuning/rebuilding apprentice when I was a teen..

worst case for me was moving an A on a fire escape.. yikes.. that was scary. Upright grands were the worst..
posted by snaparapans at 8:03 PM on July 19, 2013

I want to know who was the genius at Steinway who decided that the bottoms of uprights didn't need to be flat. You put an old Steinway upright on the dolly, and if you let go of it you hear the sound of -- money, when it lands on the keyboard.
posted by Repack Rider at 8:19 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I own a 1926. It was my grandfather's. Given how long it takes to make one, and how long it might have taken to make the 1929 film, I wonder if mine was in the footage.
posted by tomierna at 8:56 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh hey, a thread where I can link to the story about how a submarine captain had a Steinway smuggled aboard his boat during construction, where it then remained until the boat's decommissioning 22 years later.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:46 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I recommend the documentary Note By Note for a closer look at the production of a Steinway piano.
posted by maximum sensing at 8:14 AM on July 20, 2013

yeah - the video footage of the current tour link actually comes from note by note - there's a link to their website in the post.
posted by nadawi at 9:23 AM on July 20, 2013

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