Thanks to my AES membership I’ve had the chance to take a tour of the factory that produces one of the most beautiful instruments around. Seeing how 12’000 parts come together over the course of 9 months to create a single grand piano was definitely a treat and was worth getting up at 7am and taking 4 trains. It was fascinating and amazing to see it all happen in real life and equally interesting were other facts, such as that the original founder created the US-based company at age 50 as a European immigrant; that he was illiterate and yet his son created one of the largest libraries in the US; that his grandson helped design the NYC subway system to help the workers get to the factory (now remotely located near La Guardia airport, but once spread around in Manhattan).
During the tour I was able to observe all the stages of the making of a piano, including the wood carving by Santos and the final inspection by Willy Boot (picture), who’ve been with the company for 31 and 48 years respectively.
The artistry and craftsmanship that goes in a Steinway piano are incredible and truly make it a work of art, which is why by the end of the tour it was pretty clear why at Steinway they refer to the mass-produced instruments of the competition as “piano shaped objects” ;-)
I strongly recommend taking a tour of the facilities when you get a chance. I believe the tours are free and take place once or twice a week.
Even if you are not the lucky owner of such a gorgeous instrument you are sure to appreciate the process.