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Difference between Hamburg and New York Steinways? (Read 17365 times)

Offline robX

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Difference between Hamburg and New York Steinways?
« on: February 11, 2002, 01:44:06 AM »
What is the difference between Hamburg and New York Steinways?

I I have been wondering about this for a while but the discussion in the "7 foot grand" topic here reminded me about it again.
I remember an interview from somewhere with Keith Jarret where he said something like "The difference between a Hamburg and a New York Steinway is that you can't play the blues on the Hamburg one".

That's of course a rather subjective opinion and it is surely not just a joke.
Does anyone have experience from playing several Hamburg's and New York's and can tell if there is a difference in sound or action?
Are there anything in the construction that differs and if so, what?

Offline Ckarrlozs

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Re: Difference between Hamburg and New York Steinw
«Reply #1 on: February 12, 2002, 02:59:47 AM »
In theory NY and Hamburg instruments should be quite identical as they are based of course on the same design.

At first sight, you'll identify a NY Steinway by its somewhat different casing shape at some places. For instance the sides of the keyboard are sort of more "square" on an american instrument. The keyboard lid folds on a NY stweinway while it doesn't on a Hamburg model. I'm talking of course about the regular black concert finish. Also instruments of Hamburg production have a shiny polyester lacquer finish.
A few models are only produced in Hamburg: The A, C and the O for example.

I live in Sweden, Europe but last year I spent three months at the Banff Centre in Canada. That gave me the long awaited oportunity to compare apples... as I haven't come across an american Steinway in Europe... yet!

The NY instruments I could try and compare where a concert D, two B's, and a few S's. I found the B's had quite a poor sound compared to the B's I've played on in Europe.
The D was superb but not so different. I found the bass more clear and metallic somehow. Less round than what I'm used to. But I don't think that can be justified by the fact that it comes from the NY production line. Each Hamburg instrument is also different.
Incidentally, the NY keys had a slightly different shape.
Having talked to one of the piano technician, I learned that they use woods from different parts of the world in Hamburg and in NY, which is quite understandable.

I found the action different too, but it is very difficult to describe how, and again, I think that a skilled piano tuner could make a Hamburg action feel like a NY one and vice-versa. They are also, of course, build after the same design.

To really compare apples to apples you should go to a reseller, try and compare a new Hamburg D to a new NY D.
The instruments I tried in Canada had of course some parts replaced (like hammers) and had been fine tuned (the action), which is a normal part of a piano's life!

I hope I wasn't too vague!

Offline rich_galassini

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Re: Difference between Hamburg and New York Steinw
«Reply #2 on: April 21, 2002, 07:39:00 PM »
Even if the specifications are identical on the New York and Hamburg models are identical (which they aren't) the final instrument has as much to do with materials and execution as with design.

Here the pianos clearly differ. The NY built pianos need a whole lot of loving attention from a qualified technician to even approach their potential but the Hamburg models I have seen (with no particular prep work) were close to "concert ready".

Whether this is indicative of differing standards of quality, or a deliberate decision by S&S, I can't tell. Anyone have any other insight in this area to share?

Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Company
Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 991-0834
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Philadelphia, Pa.
215 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com

Offline yiannis.gr

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Re: Difference between Hamburg ad New York Steinwa
«Reply #3 on: May 23, 2002, 11:56:22 PM »
hi  :)
yes there is difference between Hamburg and N.Y  Steinways..
Hamburg  pianos are less brilliand in sound and have Renner  action .
N.Y pianos have the steinway action which is made in N.Y. ,also have very loud bass strings and very brilliand last octave.
I think Hamburg pianos are easier to  command but
I suppose  there are many more  technical differences between them.

Offline ClassicalPiano2002

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Re: Difference between Hamburg and New York Steinw
«Reply #4 on: May 28, 2002, 10:08:40 PM »
i think the difference is in look and sound.  From what ive heard music on a NY Steinway is less "rich" than on Hamburg...but everyone's ears do differ :)

Offline Brian Lawson, RPT

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Re: Difference between Hamburg and New York Steinw
«Reply #5 on: June 14, 2002, 10:53:41 PM »
The main difference between them is that the NY S&S has cold pressed hammers which have to be fortified with acetone/lacquer solution to build up the tone, whereas when the Hamburg hammers are made they are a hard as they will be and have to be toned down with neeeding, only about 200 times per hammer - easy job :-/
Brian Lawson, RPT
South Africa
http://www.lawsonic.co.za
Piano Tuning and Restorations - world wide

Offline STS

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Re: Difference between Hamburg and New York Steinw
«Reply #6 on: June 27, 2002, 06:18:22 PM »
The people who posted their opinions on the difference between the New York and Hamburg Steinways had good insights.  The rim is an important part of tonal transmission in a piano.  The Hamburg uses mahogany and red beech in the piano rims, while the New York uses the much denser rock maple.  Thus the New York has greater carrying power, while the Hamburg, has a cleaner sound.  

The Hamburg uses a Renner action made to Steinway specs using much denser hammers than the New York.  The New York hammers are lacquered to achieve concert sound in the piano.  Since New York Steinways generally do not come lacquered or finely regulated, there is a lot of dealer or technician prep required to bring those pianos to sound glorious.   One person who listed here, mentioned how the New York requires more attention by the technician.  Actually, its more of the new piano prepping that the Hamburgs don't need due to the Harder hammers.  But the downside of harder hammers are, that they need some notorious voicing down(which is not easy to do!) year after year.  


Offline Dmitri_Shteinberg

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Re: Difference between Hamburg and New York Steinw
«Reply #7 on: July 18, 2002, 01:09:58 AM »
It is not easy to add an opinion after the professionals have done it. But I'll try.
The German Steinway was established in 1880 after the freat success of the firm at the world exibitions. It was cheapr than to bring pianos to Europe from NY. That is, for 123 years the firms co-exit. American and European piano playing traditions have been developing throughout this time up to this day, according to the aestetics and the industry of each continent; the pianos had to accomodate the pianists and to match the audiences taste. In addition, the pianos had to match the sound  of other instruments, which, as any wind player will tell you, are quite different here and there. As a result we have two absolutely independant Steinways - don to forget that two instruments from the same house may also sound very different. To stay politically correct, I may not go into description of the touch and the sound here...