SkyMuse Featured Grand Piano
Most sessions involve the use of our Grand Piano. We where pleasently surprised after we moved to the Northwest that we located close to world-class experts in piano building, maintainence and tuning. When we picked out our grand piano from the Fandrich and Sons piano center I was amazed at the clarity of sound and the ease of the piano action. We wrote a check within a few short minutes. We asked Derrell Fandrich, the owner and guiding force behind these wonderful instruments to share some background on what makes our Fandrich piano sound and play like it does and why those factors make such a huge difference to our piano sound at SkyMuse.
Derrell, can you tell us about what goes into your art and craft of making your pianos?
There is indeed a list of special features that enable F&S pianos to perform far above their price class. And the items on the list are quite different from other maker's lists, sufficiently so that the elephant in the room metaphor applies.
All piano maker's special features lists are pretty much the same. There are usually two lists. The first includes construction items like "solid spruce sounding-wood soundboard", "multi-ply pinblock", "sand-cast plate" and "solid brass hardware". The second lists the name-brand parts, like "Abel hammers","Roslau wire" and "Renner action."
I'm now in my 61st year of working with pianos. Somewhere around half-way through those years, it dawned on me that my experience was shouting at me that the good sound and fine touch were far more the result of competent service and prep work than mysterious qualities of "special" parts and construction techniques.
I decided to check this idea out with visits to several German piano makers. Conclusions: 1) Yes, the "special feature" items contribute to potential, but not nearly as much as sales-hype would have it. 2) In the factory, it is obvious that every German maker depends most on exceedingly well worked out performance prep procedures and exceptionally highly skilled technicians. 3) The Japanese have copied most— but not all—of these prep procedures, and have improved the efficiency of applying many of them.
When Heather and I opened our store in Seattle, I decided that for our grand pianos I would copy as best I could the essence of the German and Japanese prep procedures and apply them to some of the inexpensive, and amazingly well constructed Asian pianos with a surprisingly high performance potential due in large part to the fact they're all copies of fine European designs.
So, for F&S pianos, the "special features" list is comprised of performance preparation procedures that transform relatively inexpensive Asian pianos into fine performance i nstruments that are the musical equal of pianos selling for roughly 2 to 4 times as much.
Here's an outline of our performance prep procedures from a convention class outline.
TTDF stands for A Tone and Touch to Die For. Elements essential to the fine touch of the world’s most highly regarded high-end instruments:
A reasonably well-designed scale A reasonably high level of craftsmanship and materials quality—nothing exotic or outside tradition A reasonably well-stabilized string/soundboard assembly A reasonably well-prepared action With a properly weighted key set with a proper amount of inertia A reasonably high level of tuning and hammer voicing
The average work-time for these procedures varies with piano size, ranging from roughly 25 hours for uprights to 80 hours for grands.
I believe we are the only piano dealer that actually performs such a lengthy and comprehensive collection of procedures for each piano we sell.
Thanks Darrell for telling us the vital reasons our Fandrich and Son’s Grand Piano sounds and plays so well. It is a wonderful instrument that really adds something fantastic to our studio and the recordings made at SkyMuse. We are happy you are near by and our friends