Good word to say about Weinbachs?

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Milton
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Good word to say about Weinbachs?

Post by Milton » 04 Jun 2007, 22:08

Hello, I almost hestitate to ask having seen previous comments.....

Have narrowed my piano choice down to a Kemble or a Weinbach. Was veering towards the Weinbach until I read this site.

Have fed the general tone of your comments back to my supplier who confesses that he can't understand it; he wonders if the detractors are secretly other suppliers, who have a commercial reason for this apparently unwarranted attack on the Weinbach. He feels I'd be much better off with the Weinbach than the Kemble (both £4k).

So, what's the real story? Anyone got anything good to say about Weinbachs? Or shall I play it safe and sensible and get a Kemble?

I'd appreciate your views!

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 04 Jun 2007, 23:30

All depends if you intend to upgrade later on the Kemble will hold its value better as it is better known

The action is better in the Kemble but at the end of the day if you like the sound and touch of the Weinbach go for it


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Post by Openwood » 05 Jun 2007, 00:46

I appear to be the only person on God's wide earth who doesn't like Kembles; anything I have to say about them is therefore completely irrelevant.

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Re: Good word to say about Weinbachs?

Post by PianoGuy » 05 Jun 2007, 00:47

Milton wrote: Have fed the general tone of your comments back to my supplier who confesses that he can't understand it; he wonders if the detractors are secretly other suppliers, who have a commercial reason for this apparently unwarranted attack on the Weinbach. He feels I'd be much better off with the Weinbach than the Kemble (both £4k).
Right: Firstly, let me declare that I have absolutely no commercial interest or bias in what you buy. I am not a dealer.

My attack on Weinbach is based on personal experience, since I am one of the poor bu**ers who has occasionally to tune them. You have now doubt read my thoughts (and it appears a fair few others) since they apply equally to Weinbach and their Petrof stablemates. Weinbach uprights are less unsuccessful than their grands, but are still largely based on nasty old Communist-era designs and crap Detoa actions. If perfectly set-up by a very competent dealer/technician, they can sometimes sound half decent, but it will often take him a long time to prepare one of these pianos since the 'out of the box' quality is highly variable. The last Weinbach dealer I used to tune for often had to recentre entire actions before sale, and if not under warranty. Residual values stink. If anybody has tried to sell one of these please post here and let us all know how badly it fared (Dealer "Trade-In" prices notwithstanding because they can be distorted)

Maybe your dealer makes more money on a Weinbach? For 4K I'd expect a Petrof assembled Renner action rather than the Detoa, which is noticeably better, but still not as good as a Renner fitted to an upmarket make. This is worth checking out.

Milton wrote:So, what's the real story? Anyone got anything good to say about Weinbachs? Or shall I play it safe and sensible and get a Kemble?
You have the real story. Admittedly only one tuner's opinion of it, but very real indeed from his experience.

Buy a Kemble.

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Post by Gill the Piano » 05 Jun 2007, 16:11

I don't like the quality or the tone of Weinbach and would certainly never choose one over a Kemble. They're horrible to tune, too, but that needn't worry you, only the poor bloody infantry!

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Re: Good word to say about Weinbachs?

Post by PianoGuy » 05 Jun 2007, 20:12

Milton wrote: he wonders if the detractors are secretly other suppliers, who have a commercial reason for this apparently unwarranted attack on the Weinbach.
...I'll give him "unwarranted". :twisted:

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Post by Jazzer » 05 Jun 2007, 22:35

Today I played a very nice Kemble upright - looked like a Yamaha P121 - which had a genuinely warm tone and yet also some Yamaha-like sparkle when I needed it. Sorry about that Openwood!

I have yet to play a Weinbach which I enjoyed in the same way....

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Re: Good word to say about Weinbachs?

Post by PianoGuy » 09 Jun 2007, 19:21

Milton wrote: Anyone got anything good to say about Weinbachs?
To return to this post's roots, yes, I tuned a Weinbach upright today and it was actually really quite good....... Until I reached the treble section, and the usual problems of hammers not quite being wide enough to strike all three strings of the trichord (agraffe scale too) became all too evident. This, and the odd hammer shank made of rubbery wood aside, it actually sounded nice and played quite well. It was an older one (circa 2000) with a Tofa Albrechtice action, the predecessor to the Detoa. The piano in question had been totally recentred by the suppyling dealer.

Very much a flawed gem amongst coal dust I feel, but there are obviously a few nice ones out there. Without the work of the dealer however, this too would have been a duffer.

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Thanks for your advice!

Post by Milton » 17 Jun 2007, 20:51

You'll be pleased to hear that I went for a kemble. When I went back to play them again, the action on the Weinbach was still troubling me. This, coupled with your wise comments helped me in my choice.

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. Really useful. Can't wait for my kemble to arrive!!

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Post by rsfk79 » 10 Nov 2008, 15:00

This is obviously far too late to be useful, but I thought I should write something in defence of Weinbach!

I purchased a brand new Weinbach baby grand in 2003, it was sold to me by Peter Salisbury, who is one of the foremost piano technicians in the country (he used to regularly tune pianos at the RFH I believe, and is credited as the piano technician on many excellent Hyperion discs from the late 90s and early part of this decade. Hyperion no longer list their piano technicians on more recent discs).

Prior to my purchase I was required to play for Peter on various pianos for the better part of an hour, after which he recommended a few instruments in the showroom (of various brands). The Weinbach impressed me with its neutral tone and fine action, and Peter mentioned that its slightly deeper key action (only marginally) meant that it was harder to play in a flashy way, but ultimately would result in a stronger and more secure technique through continued practice.

In the more than five years that I've owned the piano it has enjoyed good use, and I can honestly say that it plays very well indeed. It can be hard to hear objectively when playing oneself, but whenever I hear someone else play my piano I can't help but think that it really does have a beautiful sound.

Obviously it can't compare to a Steinway model B, but at 10 grand I wouldn't expect it to. I should mention that I've played quite a few Steinways at their NY showroom, and only found very few of them to be truly pleasing in their tone quality (there were rarely complaints about the action). As a child I always found Yamaha to be good value for money, and their more expensive pianos sound great (check out Freddy Kempf's earliest discs of Schumann and Rachmaninoff on BIS for evidence of Yamaha piano sound).

I believe it's crucially important to use top quality technicians to ensure that the most is made of the piano's natural characteristics. Even Steinway and Sons do not charge excessively for tuning I have found, they are approximately 65 pounds a tuning at the time of writing, which is really not a whole not more than what any tuner would charge.

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Post by sussexpianos » 10 Nov 2008, 18:22

The actions( keys and action) are from Petrof, made by Detoa which are getting better but not as good as the Renner actions. Its interesting to know that by some, the Weinbach is classed as a medium quality piano ( about average) but not higher than say Kawai grand pianos, but at the end of the day, if you like it, who cares :)

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Post by PianoGuy » 10 Nov 2008, 21:10

rsfk79 wrote:This is obviously far too late to be useful, but I thought I should write something in defence of Weinbach!

I purchased a brand new Weinbach baby grand in 2003, it was sold to me by Peter Salisbury, who is one of the foremost piano technicians in the country (he used to regularly tune pianos at the RFH I believe, and is credited as the piano technician on many excellent Hyperion discs from the late 90s and early part of this decade.
Never too late to be helpful to somebody!

I think that basically what you've bought is not so much a Weinbach as a Peter Salisbury. Peter's work is of course excellent, and I shudder to think how many hours he must have spent regulating, fettling and re-jigging the indifferently thrown together components of your piano to create something decent. It must have cost him thousands at his labour rates. Perhaps this is why his superb piano showroom in Henley is no longer extant and why some of those that survive belong to lesser dealers with more mouth than expertise.

There are certainly good Weinbachs out there. I can think of a few whose foul Detoa actions have been reworked to acceptability, and a few Renner equipped ones which have been reassembled correctly by parties somewhat more skilled than the (once-forced !) original workforce have managed, and a tiny, tiny few which appeared fine to start with, but these really are in the minority. This is why I cannot recommend them. The build quality and quality control aren't so much as poor, but simply too variable.

There were a few decent Austin Allegros too I believe.

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Post by vernon » 11 Nov 2008, 00:22

rsfk implies that Steinways only charge a few bob more than " ordinary tuners."
I am sure that Gill the Piano et al equal any Steinway tuner so I hope she charges the same. They have no magic ingredient except the Name.
I had an old lady who always gave me an extra fiver as I was " Bechstein Trained"

I have neither had , nor claimed, any connection with that Company but she mistakenly persisted-God bless her!

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Post by Brumtuner » 11 Nov 2008, 22:44

I tuned a Weinbach today.

Thank goodness it's 6 months 'til I tune it again.

Nuff said.

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Post by PianoGuy » 11 Nov 2008, 22:53

Know how you feel!

And to think that chuffing awful Grauniad/Observer pull-out thingy by "Piano Expert, Tim Stein" (who he? ) recommended them to buy as a good midrange piano. Thank Christmas it was so London-centric and biased towards Marksons that not too many good citizens will take much notice. Of course the poor tuners who work around London (Thank goodness I escaped to the other side of the M25!) will now have more of the things to sort out.

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Post by Brumtuner » 11 Nov 2008, 22:57

If they're a 'midrange piano', I don't fancy full-mooning a lower end range piano.

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Post by PianoGuy » 11 Nov 2008, 22:59

Brumtuner wrote:If they're a 'midrange piano', I don't fancy full-mooning a lower end range piano.
Forget the rhyming slang. Full-mooning is about all they're worth.

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Post by rsfk79 » 17 Nov 2008, 16:02

I agree that I probably was buying a Peter Salisbury to some extent. Still, no objections to that!

So what pianos would people recommend to someone looking for a small grand (say 5'8 to 6'2 ish) in the 12 grand price area? Can be second hand. Are Yamahas generally considered to be good, or not so good?

I guess there may be other forums on this website which are better suited for this subject (I haven't looked around enough to know), so please point me in the right direction if this is not the place to discuss.

I'm a bit disappointed that vernon chose to interpret my comments negatively. Surely the wording of my sentence suggests that I was pleasantly surprised that Steinway were * not * a rip-off (rather than any observation on non-affiliated tuners).

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Post by vernon » 17 Nov 2008, 17:13

It was not my intention to be negative.
I just wonder what you get extra from a Steinway tuner that you don't get from a competent trained experienced tuner? Apart from a higher charge.

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Post by rsfk79 » 17 Nov 2008, 17:33

It's a good question. I don't think I expected anything extra from Steinway. I went to them for convenience, and perhaps because I assumed it would guarantee a certain level of service (presumptious of me, I know)? I don't deny that there are many competent, trained, experienced tuners around, but without recommendations it's hard to know what to go on. In any case, judging by the comments in this forum I'm sure Mr Steinway tuner must have been mortified upon discovering the Weinbach residing in my living room!

I have a question for piano guy actually. How long before the Peter Salisbury effect wears off and I am left with a more typical ie less good specimen? I have no ties with my piano, if at some point it starts revealing weaknesses that cannot be readily overcome by a technician, then I'll happily switch it to something that's better made and better sounding.

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Post by PianoGuy » 17 Nov 2008, 21:42

rsfk79 wrote:It's a good question. I don't think I expected anything extra from Steinway. I went to them for convenience, and perhaps because I assumed it would guarantee a certain level of service (presumptious of me, I know)?
Generally a good ploy, although you could probably find better cheaper. I can think of only one Steinway tuner whose tuning methods appeared to me to be so far removed from what I was taught that I might venture to say his methods were dubious, but I think he left their employ years ago. In general though, it's a bit like getting your hair chopped at a top chain like Toni & Guy. All employees are at least to a standard and you pays your money and get the appropriate level of expertise. I think their rank and file tuners provide a decent level of service that is at least no better and no worse than industry norm, and you have the additional security of being able to complain to a higher authority if the job's not done right. Sixty quid is actually not what it seems. 17.5% of that is VAT, and I'd guess that 50% is S&S profit, so the poor tuner's probably only getting about 25 quid in his pocket. At the top of the Steinway Tree are the concert technicians for whom you'll be shelling out a shedload more than sixty sheets for, and they are obviously very good. They need to be.
rsfk79 wrote:I have a question for piano guy actually. How long before the Peter Salisbury effect wears off and I am left with a more typical ie less good specimen? I have no ties with my piano, if at some point it starts revealing weaknesses that cannot be readily overcome by a technician, then I'll happily switch it to something that's better made and better sounding.
A goodly proportion of it will be more or less permanent. Many problems inherent in these Eastern European pianos if fixed will be fixed permanently. These include bad action centres, poor geometry and set up of strike line and hammers striking fewer than three strings in a trichord. I don't see why these faults should recur, although the basic design of the pianos could certainly be improved upon since they appear to be astonishingly similar to those of thirty odd years ago.

As for better made, any Yamaha will pulverise it, but whether you like the sound is down to personal taste.

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