Piano today

Regulation and intonation for concert pianos

The practical seminar offers valuable tips and tricks for the work with concert grand pianos.

This seminar shows a selection of regulating and voicing techniques, which are used in C. Bechstein Pianoforte Manufacture and concert service.

Paula Kiechle and Elia Ramm are both piano makers working at C. Bechstein Pianoforte Manufacture in Seifhennersdorf, Germany. After completing their apprenticeships, they have gained specific experience across various stages of making grand pianos. They also are working in concert service.

Paula has spent time working in C. Bechstein Center Berlin and Nuremberg. At the moment she is currently completing the training for master piano maker in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Elia´s main duty nowadays is final voicing and tuning of grand pianos and completing the final check before the instruments leave the Seifhennersdorf manufacture.

Event partner

Seminar: 3 September (Saturday), 2.45 pm, room Universe 1

Pitch raising, Myths and Facts

PITCH RAISING, Myths and Facts. A round table discussion on pitch raising, what works, what won’t, and some of the untruths about massive pitch changes. Included will be a discussion of pitch raising techniques.

Wim Blees

Wim Bless started working on pianos in his dad’s shop when he was 12 years old. After he graduated from college and taught band and chorus for six years, he started his full time piano service business in 1977 in St. Louis, Missouri. Then from 2001 – 2007 he was the piano technician for the University of Alabama. In 2007 he and his wife moved to Hawaii, and in 2021 he retired from full time piano work and moved to Florida.

Wim has given lectures at over 55 PTG seminars and conventions on a wide variety of subjects including tuning, repairing, rebuilding and business. He has served on the PTG Board of Directors as the Central West Vice President and was a CTE for many years. In addition to writing numerous articles for the Piano Technicians Journal, he is the author of: the business of piano tuning: a guide to marketing, managing, promoting, buying and selling a piano service business. In 2021 he was awarded Member of Note at the convention in Orlando.

Event organised by the Association of Polish Piano Tuners

Seminar: 3 September (Saturday), 4.30 pm, Room Universe 1

How to design a new upright piano

Development never stops. Is there anything we can improve?

Tadeáš Doskočil was born in 1990 in Hradec Králové. After his unsuccessful studies in grammar school, he found his feet in the Secondary Arts School of musical instruments and furniture. He graduated as a piano technician in 2011. After graduation, he decided to expand his knowledge at Mendel University in Brno, where he finished the Wood processing technology and management study program. During his master’s studies, he worked in PETROF as a junior Technologist and got a few internships in different piano workshops. After his master’s studies, he decided to improve his language skills in the United Kingdom. When he returned from the UK, he worked for the PETROF piano company in the Department of Research and Development. Since he started his career there, he took part in all of the new pianos produced in PETROF, and he is slowly learning to be a piano designer.​

Event partner

Lecture: 4 September (Sunday), 10.45 am, room Universe 1

Piano scale, string calculations and acoustical quantities from a piano technician’s perspective

Jarkko Björknäs

Jarkko Björknäs was born in Kaustinen, Finland 1967. He graduated as piano technician in 1991. He started to work as piano technician and also studied educational science in the university of Helsinki and graduated in 1996. He started as a teacher of piano technology in 1997. Subsequent studies he has done in Bösendorfer piano factory in 2001 and in Kawai piano laboratory from where he graduated as Master Piano Artisan 2005. Nowadays he works as a teacher of piano technology in the Helsinki conservatory of music and as a piano technician in the capitol area in Finland.

Event organised by the Association of Polish Piano Tuners

Lecture: 4 September (Sunday), 11.30 am, room Universe 1

Historical features of piano touch and sound should be included in modern piano construction – a plea for a reinvantion of lost registers and sounds

Six pedals were available to pianists from Beethoven to Chopin – some (e.g. Beethoven) switched between different pianos because of different key depths . . . the goal of piano design should be to allow performers the maximum expressive possibilities in artistic interpretation. Do we piano builders in the 21st century really contribute enough to the maximum richness of variations? Or were our colleagues of the 19th century superior to us?

Udo Steingraeber is the 6th generation to head up Bayreuth’s piano manufacturer, Steingraeber & Söhne, where he also learned piano building. He studied law and theatre at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Eduard Steingraeber the founder of the company in Bayreuth was his great-great-great uncle. Between 1980 and 2009, Udo Steingraeber and the Steingraeber design team developed three new concert grands, various chamber and salon grands, and concert pianos. Most were for his own firm, but some, such as the new Pleyel grand piano 280, were commissions from colleagues in the piano industry. Since 1988, Steingraeber & Sons’ innovations have continuously won prizes at every Paris piano test of the top-flight instruments. Some were awarded independently, some jointly with the five, top-quality colleagues that comprise the small group of the world’s A-1 best manufacturers, as they are designated in the US rankings.

Steingraeber & Söhne abides by his credo, “The technical development of the piano is never completed as the musical development goes on as well”. The Steingraeber construction design team has created a whole series of innovative products that complement Steingraeber & Söhne classic pianos, which are built along extremely traditional lines. These innovations include e.g. carbon fibre soundboards, SFM actions for upright pianos, Sordino and Mozart rail for grand pianos, magnet-controlled pedals for wheelchair users and recently the Transducer piano.  

As the longtime Chairman of the Federation of German Piano Technicians (BDK) and Vice President of the EUROPIANO Association, Udo Steingraeber is particularly dedicated to the improvement of education and training for European piano builders. He has also been the guiding force behind the development of the European Piano Technician Degree from 2003 to 2006.  

Historic Steingraeber Haus in Bayreuth, a 1754 Rococo palace, is his favourite pastime. Its strictly historic restoration continues year after year, along with the promotion of modern art, piano museum with a large Franz Liszt exhibition and a cultural program of moren than a hundred events per year, for which the Steingraeber Haus Bayreuth is open to the wider public. For all of these reasons, as well as his patronage and sponsorship of social and cultural institutions, Udo Steingraeber has been awarded two cultural prizes.

In 2023 he plans to pass over the leadership of the company to his children Alban and Fanny Steingraeber.

Event partner

Seminar: 4 September (Sunday), 2.45 pm, Room Universe 1

The Stanwood New Action Protocol for Grand Pianos

A Simple Approach for Matching Hammer Weight and Action Ratio in the Grand Piano to Control Inertial Playing Quality – By David Stanwood

Our piano industry holds the belief that a high, medium, or low Down Weight is associated with a heavy, medium, or light action. Experience teaches that the association is unreliable. A well voiced and regulated piano with a medium Down Weight can sometimes feel heavy or light. The underlying and overriding factor is the “Inertia” of the leveraged hammer weights. The normal range of Leverage Ratio and Hammer Weight levels in grand pianos varies widely and finding the correct match is key to producing a desired playing quality. When Ratio and Hammer Weight levels are paired for specified Inertial types, the amount of weight needed to balance the keys to a specified Down and Up Weight is always similar. This leads to a simple, practical, and calculation free approach. A handful of “Marker” keysticks are tipped onto a digital scale and the weights set on top to mock up a normalized Front Weight associated with the desired inertia according to reference tables. The mocked up keysticks are installed and the weight of each hammer on the marker notes is adjusted to produce the specified Touch Weight. Once the correct Hammer Weight scale is established and the action balanced with key weights, the desired quality of Inertia will result.

David Stanwood

David Stanwood discovered the Equation of Balance and pioneered the field of Touch Weight Metrology. He is the inventor of his trademark product – Precision Touch Design.  For 3 decades he has practiced and taught his methods for scaling Hammer Strike Weights and Key Front Weights.  His work produces the intended Inertial Playing Quality with the smoothest possible touch response from key to key.  David was inducted into the Piano Technicians Guild Hall of Fame 2019. The Precision Touch Design Academy Europe was founded on his method in 2008.  He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the North Bennet Street School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA 2007.  He lives and works on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard off the North East coast of the United States.

Event partner

Seminar: 4 September (Sunday), 3.30 pm, Room Pine

Valuable tips and tricks for grand piano regulation

The seminar is about grasping and understanding the connections and processes in the GP mechanics in order to become safe and effective in the regulation.

Joachim Leonardy: In his professional life, Joachim is accompanied by pianos of all kinds and by his seminar participants because of his high level of knowledge called “the Swiss army knife of piano making”.

More quotes from his students:
“He is always able to explain down to the last detail the physical principles underlying grand piano regulation and which the piano maker can consciously apply at his discretion”.
“There is no question that Mr. Leonardy doesn’t know the answer, so we call him “the encyclopedia”.
“All in all, this grand piano mechanics seminar was very helpful for piano builders who have only worked on pianos up to now, or for whom the topic of grand piano mechanics has simply been neglected up to now. But it was also very good and comprehensive for those who waachim has been successfully contributing his experience to JAHN Pianoteile since 2008. He is also active in the field of consulting for well-known German piano manufacturers in the grand piano and upright piano service”.

Event partner

Seminar: 4 September (Sunday), 4.30 pm, Room Hazel

Development of Bösendorfer Vienna Concert instruments

Joining Bösendorfer in 1978 Ferdinand Bräu has been working more than 40 years for the company in various leading positions. Starting from scratch with a pianomaker apprenticeship he could achieve extensive experience as a piano technician, working for the most renowned artists in Vienna as well as around the world preparing Bösendorfer instruments for concerts and recordings. The education and training of colleagues and external technicians has been another focus during his early career. Over the years he was taking responsibility for numerous other areas within the Bösendorfer company such as head of product development, sales and marketing manager, director of production, head of artist relations and head of Bösendorfer Salon in Vienna.
Ferdinand Bräu has completed a professional education of a master piano maker and concert technician as well as a business program for export and international management in Vienna.
His high interest and passion is music also playing piano actively as well as art in general and architecture and design in particular.

Event partner

Seminar: 4 September (Sunday), 4.30 p.m., room Sequoia

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