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Home of the one and only Fandrich Vertical Action that plays like a grand.
Does the Fandrich Vertical Action require regulation like a traditional action upright?

The Fandrich Vertical Action does occasionally require regulation, but not as often as either the traditional upright action or the grand action. In the early 1990's Darrell and Steve Brady, technician at the University of Washington in Seattle, conducted what we call the "Torture Test". They built a playing-in machine and played a brand new Yamaha upright action model, a brand new Yamaha grand model and a Fandrich Vertical Action model, 4 blows per second, 24 hours a day for two and a half months, 25 million blows. Judging by the condition of the models, they decided this represented somewhere between 100 and 200 years of playing. The keytops were worn through on all three models, the action centers were totally worn out and loose, the key bushings (felt to keep the keys quiet) were completely worn out and the Yamaha models would not play. The Fandrich Vertical Action model was still playing, with only a moderate amount of wear on the leather "knuckle" that rides on the jack, and both of the springs intact.

Can any technician service the Fandrich Vertical Action?

Darrell designed the Fandrich Vertical Action to be both manufacturer friendly, and technician friendly. The regulation process is a combination of steps that technicians are familiar with from both grands and uprights. The process takes half the time it takes to regulate a grand. We have a written checklist and four tools that we've developed that we offer to technicians for our piano customers for $80.

Many technicians around the country have attended classes on the Fandrich Vertical Action at Piano Technician Guild conventions since it was first introduced in 1989, and we are always available for telephone or email consultation.

Due to new developments with the Fandrich Vertical Action TM as of spring 2012, we will not be publishing technicial information for the general public.

How would you describe the tone of your pianos?

Darrell has a great deal of experience rebuilding both Steinway and Mason & Hamlin grand pianos and likens the tone of our pianos to a cross between them. They have much of the power of Steinway and much of the singing quality of a Mason & Hamlin. Mason & Hamlin pianos have always been noted for their sweet tone and singing quality, but are generally considered to be somewhat weak in terms of power. Steinway pianos have great power but lack a singing quality that is particularly desirable for a piano in the home. An audience listening some distance from the concert stage can hear the sustain in a Steinway, but the pianist at the keyboard and the nearby listener hear a more explosive tone. Our pianos are a very pleasant "happy medium" of power and singing qualities.

How would you compare your grands to other brands in a similar price range, or is there some other criteria that you suggest?

Comparing our grand pianos to other brands can be confusing because our pianos do not conform to the usual piano marketing tradition. Usually pianos in a certain price range compare fairly equally with each other in terms of musical quality, with the poorest musical quality found in the least expensive, and the highest musical quality in the most expensive. Our pianos, while priced comparably to those made in Asia, actually compare musically with the finest and most expensive American and European pianos.

Lots of manufacturers use many of the same terms we do to describe their pianos as part of their marketing campaigns: "high quality", "hand craftsmanship", "world class performance", "outstanding playability", etc. The difference is that when we say our pianos compare musically with the best, our claim is backed up by the reality of many customers, performers and technicians playing them and describing their own musical perceptions. All three sizes of our grands are consistently regarded as equal to or better than the best American and German brands. We regularly have customers who could buy Steinways or Schimmels or Bluthners (just as examples) choose ours instead. Frequently they comment that they appreciate our craftsmanship and our obvious love of instruments.

How often should I have my piano tuned?

"Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt tune thy piano with each change of season, or a loathsome cacophony shall befall thee and degrade the musical sensibilities of thyself and thy children and thy children's children".

--Darrell Fandrich, A.D. 2001

Piano dealers have told us that pianos built in China will "fall apart in 30 years". Should we be concerned about the longevity of pianos built in China?

Yes, longevity is a concern but not for lack of it. Modern glues, wood processing methods, and factory climate control have almost completely eliminated the "falling apart" problems of years ago for all pianos no matter where they are made. The concern should be about the general lack of musicality of most Asian pianos as they come from the factory, that will be passed on through several generations because of their excellent longevity.

"When I started looking for a vertical piano I set out to get a good one. First, I read Larry Fine's book cover to cover. Then I went to 15 piano shops in the San Francisco Bay Area and played about 50 pianos from 14 different piano manufacturers. I also used the Internet to ask questions of registered piano technicians on their opinions of the tuning stability, manufacturing quality, serviceability and general opinions of the pianos I had played. Finally, I retained a consultant, the president of the local piano technician's guild, to supplement my musician's-ear approach to evaluating pianos. He told me not to make a decision before going to see Darrell Fandrich's pianos. By far the single most important factor, however, was my own ears. I played many vertical pianos that were over $20,000 that were uneven across the scale. I played many others that, despite the illustrious name on the fallboard, had part but not all of the tonal qualities I was seeking. Basically, at a premium price I could find brightness and tonal clarity or I could find warmth and richness. But I couldn't find both these qualities in one instrument. Until I visited Darrell Fandrich. I chose the 49" Wilhelm Steinberg vertical piano outfitted with the Fandrich & Sons action. I found this piano to have a superb action, very smooth scale and a sound that integrated the best of the European clarity and American warmth that I had been seeking. I didn't make this decision on price, but I was pleased that the piano that really made my heart sing was less than half the price of what the instruments I was comparing it to sell for. I was also very impressed with the 6'11" Fandrich & Sons grand. I have played many, many Steinway B series grands over the years. (In fact, it has also been 20+ years since I played a really good New York Steinway.) But the Fandrich & Sons grand had it. It had the same kind of singing lyricism as a really good New York Steinway prepped right. I was thrilled. And to think that this piano sells for $26,000! If I had the room in my house for a grand I would have taken the piano home with me right then. My advice to other piano shoppers is that Fandrich & Sons pianos are targeted at a particular segment of piano buying population; Those that:

1. Have good enough ears to recognize a really good instrument when they see it
2. Are driven more by musical considerations than those of status aka 'fallboard fixation'
3. Are not sufficiently wealthy to eliminate price from being an issue to which they pay attention

If you find yourself in the same category as I then you owe it to yourself to try out Fandrich & Sons pianos and let your ears be the judge. I flew all the way from San Francisco and am delighted I did."

-- Terry Tippie
Contact information available upon request.