|Reflections on the pianos in my life...||October 8th, 2012|
Every June for the past 7 or 8 years we've exhibited pianos at the Washington State Music Teachers Conference. My favorite part of this experience is attending the recitals by the students from around the state who have won the honor of performing at the convention. I participated in those adjudications as a student in my youth for a while, always got points taken off for not memorizing--I didn't practice enough! I eventually quit lessons after 8 years, having begged and begged to be allowed to start them at age 5. At age 40 I met Darrell and played his prototype with the Fandrich Vertical Action. I got goosebumps like never before, and began to realize that my loss of interest in lessons wasn't because I wasn't as good as I hoped I'd be--it had something to do with the instrument as well. His was the first really good sound and responding piano I'd ever encountered, but what did I know,or my well meaning parents who bought the new upright with the mahogany soundboard guaranteed not to crack for 50 years but no dynamic range? They didn't play the piano, had no idea what to buy and trusted the salesman.
I am very pleased to be able to say that EVERY year at those recitals, there are students and or teachers who own our pianos, or have Darrell as their technician so their pianos are in top notch playing condition. This despite that fact that we are just now approaching the 300 mark for pianos bearing the Fandrich & Sons name and many of those are in other states. I sit and listen and feel privileged that we played at least some small part in these kids' success and dedication to their music, and I wish, wish, wish I'd had a piano like one of ours to learn on as a kid! I would have been far more likely to practice. I just never knew what it was like to play on an inspiring instrument, never having met one till I was 40 years old. Now I'm finding out that I do have good dynamic control, like the adjudicator's comments that I recently found in my old piano bench said. They were always frustrated that I didn't go further--now I understand why. Heather F.
|Steingraeber Model 192 Grand Makes its US Debut Here||April 17th, 2012|
Steingraeber & Sohne's new Model 192 (6'3") grand piano will make its US debut at our Fandrich & Sons studio in mid-June. We will have the honor of having it through mid-August. During that time it will be on exhibit at the Washington State Music Teachers Association Conference at WWU in Bellingham June 18-22, and at the National Piano Technician Guild Convention at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue July 11-14. If you aren't able to get to our studio we can arrange for you to visit the exhibit hall at either of these events.
This piano is the design descendant of the Steingraeber & Sohne grand built for Franz Liszt. The Steingraeber factory is located in Bayreuth, Germany and has been the official piano for the Wagner festival since the 1870's.
For more information see www.steingraeber.de
|10 Year Grand Action Inertia Project Completed||April 11th, 2012|
Over the past 10 years, Darrell and fellow Registered Piano Technician/mechanical engineer/pianist John Rhodes of Vancouver,WA have been deeply involved in a research project to reverse engineer the elusive essential elements of the responsive touch common to only a few high-end pianos (mostly German)for well over a century. They refer to this quality of touch as a touch to die for (TTDF). They will present the results of their recently completed research in a class at the July 2012 National Piano Technician Guild Convention in Bellevue, WA, and also in a series of 5 articles which will be published in the Piano Technician Journal.
The first result of this project was the Fandrich-Rhodes Weightbench System, which consists of three parts, 1) a set of "mushroom" style test weights that enable a quantum improvement in the speed and efficiency of measuring touch weight, 2) software that graphs downweight, upweight and friction for each key, and produces an immediate diagnostic of key weight corrections, and 3) a precision scale and balance for determining exact key weight locations.
In the course of developing Weightbench, Darrell and John discovered that even when friction, downweight and upweight are all correct, many actions still have a touch problem, most often too heavy, but sometimes too light and flyaway. The culprit is inertia. Since nothing has been written about how to identify, quantify, and correct inertia problems in the grand piano action, this is groundbreaking work.
Darrell and John have now developed an inertia/action ratio calculator that is about to be included in our Weightbench software. The calculator enables a technician-rebuilder (or manufacturer) to accurately determine the inertial touch force (ITF) for a given action and hammer weight combination, and to compair this ITF with a list of ITF values of the world's finest pianos. For the first time the guesswork of touch development is eliminated.
The Fandrich-Rhodes Weightbench system with the ITF/AR Calculator will be available beginning the summer of 2012 for a cost of $650. The system contains a weighing table and scale, a set of "mushroom" style test weights for measuring up and downweights, and the software.
Contact us to learn more and to purchase.
|Hear Our Pianos on the Net||April 3rd, 2012|
We continue to receive links from customers to folks performing on our pianos, sometimes original compositions. Be sure to check them out on our links page. We've refrained in the past from putting recordings on the site because of concern over the sound quality, but these are all very well done and representative of the musical quality of our instruments. Enjoy!
|Fandrich & Sons Pianos Available in Montreal||April 2nd, 2012|
We are really pleased to have established a relationship with Oliver Esmonde-White, owner of Esmonde-White Pianos, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. We found in Oliver our piano soul mate, on the opposite side of the continent. Like Darrell Oliver has a background as a musician/performer turned piano technician. His 30+ years as a technician have evolved into his becoming one of the top concert technicians in Montreal, and like Darrell he has been on a quest for really musical instruments available for reasonsable prices. He carries our full line of Fandrich & Sons grands and the upright with the Fandrich Vertical Action (TM). He adds his expertise to ours in the instruments he offers in Montreal and we truly enjoy our professional and musical relationship with him and his wife and partner Lorraine. Oliver can be reached at email@example.com or 514-594-1492. His website, www.pianosesmondewhite.ca, is under construction.
|Steingraeber & Sohne Modell A-170 Phoenix||January 25th, 2010|
We are SO excited to be able announce that we have purchased a new Steingraeber & Sohne 5'7" Phoenix grand with the newly introduced bridge agraffe system! We played this piano at a private showing last February and Darrell has been lusting for it ever since. He says it's the best piano he's ever encountered. The bridge agraffe system allows the soundboard to function at its full potential with such a rich and yet clear tone, as we've never heard before. It makes me picture an exquisite, highly colorful, beautifully executed stained glass window. Please come by and try it when you are in the area.
|2009 Review||December 16th, 2009|
As we're all well aware, 2009 has been a tough year for the world's economy. The piano industry has been struggling, with sales down at all levels. The European manufacturers in particular have been hit hard by the high euro/dollar relationship, making exports difficult.
Here at Fandrich & Sons we've been fortunate. A fortuitously timed article in the Seattle Times (see link on the home page) brought us a lot of service work during the first part of the year when sales were nearly at zero. Later in the spring sales began picking up again, for which we of course are grateful.
In January we did our annual several day service visit to the Icicle Creek Music Center in Leavenworth to service their eight pianos for their piano festival. The temperature ranged from about 0 to 15 degrees and a foot of new snow was added to the two or three feet already there during our visit. We put on our long underwear and -20 degree boots and a great time was had by all. Of course, the infamous "Pineapple Express" weather came in from Hawaii the afternoon we left, raising the temperature (and thus humidity) 20 degrees, ruining all of our fine work. This sparked Darrell and our technician friend John Rhodes to start on the design of a new completely enclosed easy to maintain humidity control system for their concert grand piano.
In February we attended the California state Piano Technician Guild convention in Burbank, CA. With John Rhodes, RPT, we taught classes on the Fandrich Weightbench keyweighting method that we developed for our grand pianos, and a class we called "Mythbusters" about what's real and what's not in piano technology, both of which were very well received. We also were privileged to get a sneak peak at the new Steingraeber & Sohne "Phoenix" grand piano with its new bridge pin system. Darrell says it is without a doubt the best grand piano he's ever encountered, in every way. On the way home we stopped and serviced some of our "babies" in California and Oregon.
In June we attended the Washington State Music Teachers Association convention in Yakima, WA where our 5'5" grand piano was the featured piano in the main classroom. We met a lot of dedicated, inspiring teachers and thoroughly enjoyed all the concerts by the students (and teachers). From there we drove to Walla Walla to visit our grand in the Backstage Bistro restaurant, which features live classical and jazz piano, and wonderful food also.
In July we did our annual summer trip to Icicle Creek to prepare the pianos for the 3 week long chamber music festival. What a change in the weather--hot and sunny most of the time. Leavenworth truly has four seasons. While we were there we installed the prototype humidity control system in the concert grand and have been monitoring it on our monthly tuning visits.
In September we were invited to teach an all day seminar on the Weightbench system for the Spokane Chapter of the PTG, at Eastern Washington State University in Cheney. We enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones there. We went on to visit a couple of customers in the Spokane area and then on our annual road trip to visit family and friends in North Dakota and Minnesota. We also visited four piano customers in Minneapolis. It's always fun to meet the customers who ordered sight unseen, and also to see the pianos in their homes, and to see how much they are appreciated by their families.
Over the course of the year our technical staff has continued to increase their knowledge of piano insides and refine their skills. Our youngest son Steffen has joined Nate in the regulation and servicing of the pianos as well as continuing their refinishing projects. And I (Heather) decided in June to learn to tune pianos, which i am enjoying immensely. Of course it helps to have one of the best tuners in the universe as my teacher....
Thus Fandrich & Sons continues to thrive, even in this economic downturn. We attribute this to our niche in the piano market. We seem to attract those who are looking for the musical quality of their instruments and aren't so concerned about brand name familiarity or getting a great "discount". They realize that our pianos are a great bargain, as Darrell says, the musical bargain of the century, because of our combination of the musicality of the most expensive pianos with prices in the low end of the moderate price range, and the service we provide.
We thank you all for sticking with us and we look forward to being around for a long time to come!
|Introducing Our New Grand Model||December 16th, 2009|
We are really pleased to have discovered the Weickert felt hammers recently re-introduced to the piano world after a long absence. Weickert felt is produced in Germany and was the felt used on Steinway hammers (both New York and Hamburg) in what's often referred to as the "Golden Era" of Steinway, pre World War II. The factory was bombed in the war and the felt has only recently become available again. The Ronsen Company in New York is now producing hammers using the Weickert felt. After trying a set on one of our 185 grands, we were so thrilled with the tone and the voiceability of the hammers that a new Fandrich & Sons grand model has been born!
From now on (December 2009) the S model will continue to have all of the original parts from the Dongbei factory.
The HGS model will have all original parts except the hammers will be the Ronsen Weickert felt hammers.
The HGS-A model will have Renner hammer shanks, Weickert felt hammers and Arledge bass strings.
We'll look forward to receiving your feedback about these new hammers!
|Fandrich & Sons pianos around the US and elsewhere||August 1st, 2008|
There are Fandrich & Sons piano owners in California (Bay Area, LA-Palm Springs), Washington, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico, Illinois (Chicago/Evanston), Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (Minneapolis), New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Alaska, Tennesee, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and Wisconsin, many of whom have volunteered to let people come to their homes and try their pianos. Contact us for details.
We also have a Fandrich & Sons grand in France, several in Canada, some uprights in Thailand, and a Fandrich action upright in Mexico. And the Beatles George Harrison's son continues to play daily on the Fandrich upright his father bought from Darrell's brother Del's Fandrich Piano Company in the early 1990's when they were building the first upright using the Fandrich Vertical Action.
|Feurich 123V update||July 31st, 2008|
The first Feurich Model 123 48" upright with the Fandrich Vertical Action made its debut at the 50th International Piano Technician Guild Convention in Kansas City, MO June 20-24, 2007 and was promptly purchased by the first prospective customer who played it. Built in Gunzenhausen, Germany by the Feurich Piano Company (now in its fifth generation of Feurich family ownership) with the Fandrich Vertical Action built by Renner, the piano was quickly nicknamed the "Feurich Fandrich Ferrari". All who played it agreed that the combination of the Fandrich Action and the Feurich musical design results in the best upright available today, and perhaps the best upright ever. Julius Feurich spent an intensive week at our shop in June, 2008 and production of the first Feurich 123V's to be completed entirely at the Feurich factory in Gunzenhausen is now underway. These pianos will be available from the Fandrichs and also other Feurich dealers in the US and Germany.
|Jazz Pianist Records a CD on a Fandrich & Sons Model 185||September 4th, 2005|
Jim Martinez, www.jimmartinez.com, performed a gospel jazz concert on our 6'1" grand at the California State Piano Technicians Guild convention in Sacramento. He liked it so much he used it for a CD recording session the following week - the CD will soon be available. One of his numerous comments praising the piano, "This piano is fantastic, it's like an extension of my brain."
|Larry Fuller||March 13th, 2005|
Performed on the Fandrich & Sons Model 215 at the Pacific Northwest Piano Technician Guild banquet on March 12, 2005 in Renton, WA. Larry's comment during the concert: "This is the fourth time I've played on this Fandrich & Sons piano. I recorded a CD on it at the Seattle Art Museum in January. It's a great pleasure to play on these pianos - They are wonderful!" Watch for the release of this new CD at www.larryfullerjazz.com