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A reputation for outstanding tone and action response.
 
 
Heller Bass Strings (E model)

Go to www.hellerbass.de for information about these strings.

We choose our grands for their tone design, a large part of which is determined by string lengths that are part of the basic construction. Wire diameters, however, are equal factors in determining tone quality. We have studied the string scale design of hundreds of the world's best sounding pianos, now a thirty-five year obsession, and found our own variable which we call QN (Quantum of Nastiness) that enables minimizing tone changes between discontinuities such as the break between bass and tenor and between plain wire and wrapped strings.

 
Lyre (all models)

The best compliment you can give a pedal system is that it is unnoticeable during play. Pedals should never rattle, squeak, crunch and be neither too heavy nor too light. They just work all the time, unobtrusively. We spend about 6 hours building our pedal system, working from a checklist derived from many years of fixing things that go wrong.

 
Fandrich & Sons Micro-balancing Keyweighting

Our touch weight consistency is perhaps the best in the industry. Traditionally, touch-weight is measured by the amount of weight required to just start a key moving, not play. Small lead weights are installed in the keys until they all start to move under the influence of a standard "touch-weight". This measure, however, does not take into account inertia (resistance of a body to any change in its state of motion due to its mass). Inertia causes touch weight to increase as a key is played faster, e.g. 2 oz. will usually start a key moving, but 4 oz. are needed to get a key to sound and several pounds for a loud sound. So, uniform inertia is actually more important then touch-weight for an even touch. We weigh each key on a balanace machine of our own design that is accurate to one-tenth gram, and then apply a formula to determine the exact amount of weight required by each key for an even touch-weight. Our proprietary process also determines the amount of inertia so that the touch is just right, not too heavy nor too light, and uniform while playing at all volume levels, not just pianissimo.

 
Forty hour Regulation/Voicing/Tuning Procedure

This is a complex procedure outlined in a three page single spaced check list consisting of tasks, many of which are repeated eighty-eight times, three times in a row-following the old piano builders' maxim that for accuracy and stability everything must be done three times.

 
Tuning Stability

While the cast iron plate-strings-pinblock assembly is out of the piano, we turn it upside down, apply a release agent, and fill the gap between the pinblock and plate flange with epoxy resin. This prevents pinblock flex during tuning, a problem that is aggravating because it makes accurate and stable tuning difficult if not impossible. Only European, American and Japanese piano manufacturers seem to consistently get the pinblock solidly fitted. For a fine tuning to last beyond the next change in the weather, humidity must be controlled-between 30 percent and 40 percent is the sweet spot here in the Pacific Northwest. Our humidity indoors seldom drops below 30 percent, and humidity over 40 percent is easily controlled with the passive Dampp-chaser dehumidifier system, which we install in every Fandrich & Sons piano. Of course, if you live in Arizona or similar dry areas, dryness is your problem and you will need a home humidifier.

 
Maintenance

A Fandrich & Sons grand piano is the musical equal of any similarly sized piano built by the world's best makers. It is also superior or equal to any other piano in terms of the stability of its tuning, touch and tone. But without adequate maintenance, the day-to-day musicality will gradually deteriorate in a few years to hardly being better than a low priced "botton-feeder" piano. This is true for the world's finest "trophy" pianos, too. Therefore, we recommend the following service routine:

Tuning: Find the best tuner-technician you can, usually an RPT member of the Piano Technicians Guild. Follow the technician's instructions regarding humidity control (if none is recommended-change technician!). If the piano is new, plan on four tunings during the first year, three the second year and twice a year thereafter-more often for high-use pianos with over an hour a day average play. (Waiting to tune until a piano sounds out of tune is too long-like waiting for engine noise before changing the oil in a car). Good pianos will drop significantly in pitch before sounding unmusical, and to correct the pitch and regain stability requires a double, sometimes triple tuning.

Touch: Depending on how you count, there are thirty to forty adjustments for each key machanism. Because these mechanisms' parts are made of relatively soft and/or unstable materials (wood, felt, leather), settling takes place with play over time, and periodic re-adjustment (regulation) is required to maintain a quality touch. Trust and follow your technician's advice, which most often will include a day of additional service work every few years, even an occasional visit to the shop.

Tone: Without maintenance, the tone of any piano also gradually deteriorates, becoming unpleasantly harsh and strident. Hammers need regular voicing and shaping to keep the tone round and even. We prefer to do some voicing and shaping along with every tuning, with a service day for more extensive work every few years-more for high use pianos played for more than an average of an hour per day. We prefer traditional voicing methods-needling and shaping-over currently popular "quick fix" methods using chemicals and steam.

"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.