Archive for January, 2014

The Piano Makers Most Suited To You!

It can be hard to move away from the makes of piano you became comfortable with in school or college. Most people’s ready available advice is habitually based on what they have used when studying, or second hand advice from another party.

That is not to say that such advice should be disregarded, quite the opposite in fact. However if someone’s advice is based upon there knowledge of playing 4 – 5 different makes of piano then it could be suggested that it is a fairly limited guidance!

Did you play a certain make when you were studying, and still feel like you are drawn back to that make because it is what you know?

Practically every concert venue, school, sixth form, college and recording studio purchase either a Steinway & Sons, Yamaha or Kawai piano. All superb instruments but not necessarily the makes most suited to you….

Don’t feel pressured into living with one of the popular makes you see everywhere. Popular does not always mean they are they best for your needs or the best generally!


The reasons behind establishments choosing to use certain brands of piano has little to do with your individual needs, financial plan, likes or dislikes.  More often that not a institution will be awash with one or two particular makers,this is because they signed on the dotted line to take part in some type of ‘free loan piano education’ package.  What that means is the institution can use many new pianos that it would not otherwise of been able to afford in a single purchase.

Such contracts are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to the manufacturers, and in turn gives the brand great exposure. Its well understood by the manufactures that such exposure through very appealing contracts develops a natural amount of loyalty from the people playing the pianos.

When institutions & concert venues make such purchases it is usually the ‘best deal’ at the time that wins.

It would be interesting to work out how many makes of piano you know, and what makes in that list you have actually played?  Also what makes of piano do you have an opinion about but have never played?

In most peoples opinion Steinway & Sons are the Rolls Royce of the piano world, however why did one of the greatest acclaimed jazz pianist of all time choose to play Bosendorfer pianos?


Oscar Peterson was a Bosendorfer artist

Elton John since the early 1970’s has been one of the most influential pop pianists of our time. An accomplished pianist who studied at the Royal College of Music, he plays Yamaha pianos.


Elton John plays Yamaha

Richard Wagner was a gifted pianist and composer, he was obsessed with the service his Erard piano constantly gave to him throughout his life. I’m surprised he didn’t write an opera named after the maker!


Richard Wagners Erard grand piano

The above is an example of individual taste, and individual requirements, not all of us feel comfortable playing what others consider the ‘Rolls Royce’ or ‘BMW Sport’ of their piano world

With some practical research and opportunity’s we can discover what our perfect instrument is, and what suits and compliments our playing style the best.

In our last auction we had over 80% of the respected makers of piano in the auction room. Our next auction is on April 5th 2014  in Manchester and we hope to have the same & more! It is a great opportunity for you to come and play many different makes of piano and create your own opinions and enhance your knowledge of the leading makers in the piano world. You never know what you might find!


A Grand Sight
A picture taken before viewing hours at the December 2013 auction

Don’t forget there are always bargains to be had at our auctions!

So remember that the institutions have very different needs than you do, so become well acquainted with the other makers of piano!

Ferrari & Bentley to name but a few would never of stood the test of time if with blinkers we all bought Rolls Royce cars. Not only would this of been a great shame but it would of  deprived many a good motorist of a most agreeable ride!

Next auction: Saturday 5th April 2014 in Manchester

0161 977 0075


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Why The Touch Of Grand Pianos Are Better

Why The Touch Of Grand Pianos Are Better…


Two of the grand pianos in our April 2014 auction that are at bargain prices

It is a common enough question and is often the subject of many pianists conversations:

“What type of piano has the superior touch… The upright or the grand?”

Let us explain…

The upright piano houses it strings in a design that makes them vertical to the ground. Because of this the action sits in front of the strings and the hammers sit at an approximate 45-degree angle to the floor. In a grand piano the strings are housed parallel with the ground and the action sits underneath the strings. The hammers rest at a 45-degree angle below that of the ground. This basic 90-degree variation of the positioning is significant in the response and consistency Between the two pianos.

The hammer in a grand piano is controlled by gravity, whereas the hammer in an upright piano is controlled by springs and levers. These differences in design mean that the grand piano key has two major triumphs of the upright piano key, these triumphs are that the grand piano key can be played faster & more sensitively.


The inside of a 2002 Boston designed by Steinway grand piano. This grand piano featured in our December auction and sold for £4,700.00


Upright instruments will always rely on the ‘spring and lever’ action. Springs can wear out and alter the playability & worth of the instrument, however the grand piano is designed in such a way that it employs the use of gravity, which is an unrestricted and perpetual power and simply can’t wear out!

This in return demonstrates that grand pianos have a repetition and sensitivity advantage over uprights.



The ‘spring and leaver’ action can be seen here on this Steinway piano that was pictured for an earlier BPA auction package.

Be in no doubt however that the design of the upright action is excellent in todays instruments. Nonetheless when a player is ready to master the more serious works of the repertoires its mechanism will offer a noticeable limitation on a players ability to perform.

Most students of the piano begin by learning on an upright instrument, there is a reason why the music colleges have uprights in almost every practice room!

Not everyone plays to the most advanced of standards. However it can not be denied that there is a ‘progress advantage’ to practicing each day on a grand piano.

0161 977 0075


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Do you know what a ‘stencil piano’ is?

This week at Britannia Piano Auctions the topic of ‘stencil pianos’ came up fairly often in various conversations, we wondered how many of our auction goers and followers know what a stencil piano is ? And if they truly understand what it is all about.

Well if you didn’t you will after reading this!

For decades many piano manufactures have designed and made pianos that are of inferior quality. These instruments were designed to be sold to traders and retailers and would have a variety of names ‘stencilled’ on the front of the piano.

A typical example of this is the ‘Archer family’ who own a local piano shop. They would purchase a number of stencil pianos for their showroom floor that would display ‘Archer‘  on the fall board as the name of the instrument. The word ‘Archer’ thus being the stencil.

Another classic example of stencil pianos is when manufactures produce a cheap end piano that has a German sounding name, or a name that sounds like one of the top established makers, for instance;

Steinwell        (sounds like Steinway)

Bachstein       ( sounds like Bechstein)

Arard               ( sounds like Erard )

Schiedmayar ( sounds like Schiedmayer & Soehne)


Examples of Stencils that could be purchased in many different fonts and presentations


Similarly the use of German sounding words, for example the blatant use of famous composers names, and even stencils that sounded like the names of famous composers have all been well-known styles of stenciling.

In some cases the names derived from obsolete piano companies of yesteryear that still ‘grab the attention’ and interest of the buying marketplace.

Interestingly many stencil pianos are made in Indonesia or Mainland China. And many buyers are deceived into believing that these pianos are produced in famous geographical location that are recognized for their production of quality instruments, most notably Germany.

It does have to be pointed out that stencil pianos are not always poor in their quality, but they are generally made of cheaper material and are less impressive that the pianos that bear the true factory name.


0161 977 0075

The UK’s Central Piano Auction House

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