Jun 14

New Shipment Good Pianos, Fair prices

 

New  shipment of good pianos at fair prices has arrived.

Steinway, Knabe, Kawai, Petrof, Hentzman, Petrof and more.

All have proper warranty and are set up and tuned before delivery.

Good pianos, fair prices, honest service.

Viewing by appointment.

 

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Restored Knabe & Co. Grand

Restored Knabe & Co. Grand

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Sep 04

Art Deco Steinway Upright

This handsome Steinway, (c) 1970, is a studio sized professional piano. The classic Art Deco styling and ebony finish will look elegant in any home.

This Art Deco Steinway upright is a one family piano.

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Mar 11

Piano Workshop And Showroom Have Moved

Our service business remains the same. Just call.

Pianos are available by special order, whether it’s a vintage

StevejacksonlogoSteinway, Bosendorfer, Knabe or you are looking for the best deal on a new piano. Our industry connections allow us to locate a new piano for you, and negotiate the best price possible. We do not collect commissions, but charge a fee for our service based on our time, typically $150 and up. We can usually save you hundreds on new uprights, or thousands on new grands.

Our piano and repair service, climate control system installation, LX player systems, refinishing, tuning, regulation, voicing and full or partial restorations continue to be offered at International Competition specs, as always.

Call anytime!

 

 

Dec 10

Vintage Steinway M Art Case Grand Piano

The Steinway M is one of the most popular living room Steinways.

In the vintage era of the 1920’s, considered by many to be the pinnacle for many brands, this vintage Steinway M art case grand piano was crafted.

The art work was applied over the finish.

This piano belonged to a piano teacher who had another Steinway and a Mason and Hamlin.

Previously reconditioned, this piano is offered at a reasonable price.

Nov 16

One Owner 1959 Heintzman Baby Grand Piano.

This Heintzman baby grand piano was ordered new directly from the factory. One of the last pianos made that had the optional real ivory keytops.

It was a white with gold trim French Provincial when we got it. Demand for this style is very low, so we refinished it on brownish red mahogany (although the veneer appears to be cherry.

This piano has seen very limited use and is almost as it came from the factory.

Pricing is comparable to a 48″ Japanese upright, or less than a 4’11” entry level Chinese made grand piano.

You would have to look at new pianos in the $30,000 + range to come close to this quality, and they would not have ivory keys are real wood veneered case.

Touch, tone, beauty and quality. Needless to sat, it is built for the “Toronto” climate and is made from indigenous woods found locally.

 

Sep 05

Vintage Steinway A 6’2″

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The Steinway A is the most copied piano in existence.

In 1878, the first model A, known as the A I was introduced.

It was the first modern Steinway, and led to a disruption in the whole industry.

The hard maple bent rim added more power and “grunt” to the piano, was more stable and looked elegant. It was also much cheaper and faster to produce than the jointed rims, as seen on a modern Bosendorfer. Differing tonal pallet and philosophy.

This is the foundation that all Steinways have. They make it in a unique way out of the best maple.

Today, there are generally 3 kinds of 6′ class pianos (Bosendorfer and a few others being an exception).

There’s the Steinway A

There’s all the other pianos copying the A for less or much less money that is claimed to be as good as the Steinway. Starting from the foundation, they can never be close.

Then there are the “boutique” pianos, the finest of the finest. Fazioli, Ravenscroft, Stewart and Sons and others. These are also copies of the Steinway A. However, these are promoted as being “better”. They are certainly more exotic, but where it counts, tome, colorization, dynamics and musicality, there is only Steinway.

By copy, I mean they use the Steinway continuous bent rim, vertically laminated bridges, some with exotic woods, duplex scale and so on. These pianos have special alterations and innovations to differentiate them and are all great pianos.

Around 1915, Steinway introduced the model A III, This piano, at 6’4 was produced for almost 30 years.

At the Hamburg factory, the A II, introduced in the late 1990’s, continued to be made. They are now also made at the New York factory.

This example we have is a Steinway A II, the modern version, (c) 1900.

It was previously rebuilt with authentic Steinway parts.

It was seized an a bankruptcy, and we have it on behalf of the trustee.

It is selling for the average wholesale price of a Steinway A to dealers and rebuilders, as is, where is.

It needs the keys recovered as some of the ivories were damaged. The action also needs maintenance work and a high level regulation and balancing.

It has a new pinblock and strings. Higher quality strings would be icing on the cake.

The case needs polishing and detailing having been refinished.

A real bargain for a high level performance piano. Think used Yamaha for pricing.

 

 

 

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Sep 03

Vintage Bosendorfer Grand Piano

DSC_0911DSC_0913For those who prefer the sweeter singing Viennese sound and
light, easy touch, here is a beautiful vintage Bosendorfer.

Fairly priced. Bring home a classic

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Aug 05

J. Staub Award Winning French Upright

 

With the highest quality European workmanship, beautiful veneer work, perfect original ivories, the finest Schwander action, this award winning French upright piano sounds and plays as good as it looks.

It is missing the brass candle holders, but still has the brass flanges that they attach to, as well as brass handles on the side.

At 51″ tall, and its narrow profile, this piano can fit in to modern or antique decor. The matching elm veneers form an appealing pattern.

Whether for a beginner or an advanced player, this J. Staub piano will satisfy

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Jul 27

Concert Pianos for Musicians

 

Here are two Victorian era 7′ and greater high-performance concert pianos, for musicians’ home, studio or recording.

 

The 7’6″ Hardman, was made in New York in 1885. It features extravagant Brazilian Rosewood, new soundboard, bridges, pinblock and more. A custom made set of A. Isaac Hammers have been installed. Priced less than a 5′ class Japanese made piano.

 

The 7′ Heintzmna, was made in Toronto in 1903. It features authentic Honduras Mahogany,  a brand new Wessel Nickle and Gross high-performance composite action, Renner blue hammers, new pinblock and restored soundboard and bridges. Priced right.

 

Jun 23

The Legendary German Made Ibach 6’1″ Grand Piano

German made Ibach pianos was the oldest continually family run piano builder in the world until 2007. They made some of the greatest pianos of all time. Always small production and uncompromising quality, right to the end. They never sold out by selling their name for cheaper Asian pianos, using parts and materials from around the world, making a cheaper line as every other manufacturer has had to do.

 

This piano was made in 1989 and was used for a few years until the owner passed away. It was kept for sentimental reasons and we have just acquired it for a good price. Priced the same as new Chinese pianos of this class, or 30 year old Yamaha pianos, this is a rare opportunity to own a tier 1 piano at tier 4 prices.

Reconditioned, regulated, voiced and guaranteed.

 

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Feb 24

Can an Upright be Better Than a Grand?

Over the last decade or so, the piano business has changed greatly. Houses are bigger, and Chinese grand pianos are now credit card items. As such, quality uprights have had very little demand.

This is a shame, and I will tell you why.

The popular shiny black small grand pianos do indeed look beautiful, and when brand new are not unpleasant to play. What they cannot do, and this applies to almost all new pianos under $50,000 today, is play pianissimo, or allow the colouring of tone. They play loud, louder and loudest and the more they are played, the harsher they get. Many of these pianos in the entry level area have actions that may be fine for beginners, but many of them lose their evenness over a short time.

A quality upright, however, is made to the highest standards, and as such are usually at least $35,000 new and some models much more. Many of them have a repeating spring in the action allowing a touch similar to a grand and can repeat faster than entry level pianos. They also can allow tone colouring and a great dynamic range.

In the past, many great uprights were produced. One of the best being the Heintzman from Toronto.

Perhaps the best one ever made, in many piano technicians’ opinion, is the Bechstein Model 6. This piano is almost 5′ tall and can compare to many 7′ grand pianos in tone and dynamic range and in fact, is better than many grand pianos at any price range. Along with high quality components, superb design and scaling and the absolute best workmanship, they also have the repeating action.

We are fortunate to have just had one arrive in our shop. It is a Germanized Ebony, a process similar to French polishing. These finishes last longer than others and are easier to restore.

Our model 6 is in the evaluation stage and we will have a report on the work to be done and its cost, but I know it will be in line with the entry level small grand pianos, but it is not made of MDF chipboard. There really is no comparison for a piano student or professional looking for a good piano at a good price.

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Jan 14

Pianos for Professionals on a Budget

We have a selection of very affordable pianos for professional or discerning players on a tight budget. These range in size from 6’2″, 6″5″ and 7’4″ and are priced like
small Chinese made pianos. All are suitable for advanced players, recording studios, composers or enthusiasts.

Dec 20

What’s Old is New. Sohmer 5’4″ Cupid Baby Grand

If you are looking at spending $150,000.00 for a new piano, such as the Steingraeber Phoenix, or Stuart and Sons, they both have ‘new’ patented technology. Namely, bridge agraffes. Strings are terminated on the bridge in order to couple the string energy to the soundboard, which acts as a ‘trasducer’ in order to hear the sound. These strings weave through steel pins and exert down pressure on the soundboard, which becomes a load bearing surface. The bridge agraffes allow the strings to not exert downward pressure on the soundboard, thus the soundboard does not need to support that load. It allows cleaner termination and better sustain. The thing is, the Sohmer company patented this over a century ago, and the strings do not have downward pressure. You may also see on some exotic pianos, and on our recent rebuild of the Haines Bros. upright, an ‘impedance’ bar underneath the strings. Simply put, impedance is the force that ‘impedes’ the movement of the soundboard. Too little and the sound is weak, too much and the sustain is short. It is costly to build as it must fit behind the ribs and entails extra material and exacting fitting. Sohmer also used this in Victorian times. The very first ‘Baby Grand’ piano was designed by Sohmer, called the Cupid. Unlike modern ‘Baby Grands’ which piano technicians refer to as ‘PSO”, or ‘Piano Shaped Objects’, the Cupid spared no expense in its construction. Also, as can be seen, it is much narrower than modern pianos, thus having a smaller footprint in the room. The sound, however is not compromised. In modern ‘PSO’, the marketing literature brags about the length of the longest string. Thus, marketing triumphs engineering. With the strings so long for the purpose of the brochure, the ‘back scale’ or length of string behind the bridge is much too short, decreasing the ability of the string to resonate and produce the fundamental tone. The solution for better tone is moving the bridge closer to the soundboard and increasing the back scale length. You will find this on the Cupid. Great piano, beautiful in any room. Up for restoration in our shop.

Stuart and Sons Bridge Agraffe System

 

Nov 11

Tale of Two Steinways

Last week, we obtained two Steinway upright pianos, both mid 1880’s. One, a 54″ upright is almost 100% original. Although needing restoration, it plays and sounds good and is remarkable for its age. The original ivory is almost intact. A full and proper restoration will be a pleasure.

 

The other, a 48″ Ebonized model that was ‘refinished’ is another story. It had been ‘rebuilt’ previously and represents what we see in the majority of such ‘rebuilt’ pianos. A horrible restringing job with cheap tuning pins and inappropriate wire, modern hard pressed Japanese piano hammers, action held together with numerous bandaids, terrible key recovering which makes the sharp keys dip below the white keys enough to cut little fingers, and to top it off, the ‘Butchering of the Soundboard’ with poor gluing, numerous screws and bolts and careless work. This piano will be off to the dump.

Aug 18

Remanufacturing of Vintage Victorian Upright

Remanufacturing of Vintage Victorian Upright by Haines Bros.

 

This rosewood beauty is a long held family piano. It has a nice low friction action, that like a grand piano, slides out with the keys for easy servicing.

We are crafting a new soundboard with a few modifications over the original design in order to boost the treble sustain.  These photos show some of the ongoing processes being undertaken

 

Jun 05

Rare 6’2″ Rosewood Heintzman Grand

I believe this rare rosewood Heintzman grand piano was a special order. I have never seen or heard of another Heintzman like this. Many Heintzman grands mirrored their Steinway equivalents, with Heintzman modifications. Steinway made 3 models of the model A. An 85 note 6′ piano with 3 bridges, the A II 88 note 6’2″ model with 2 bridges which is in current production, and the A III 6’4″ model. The 6’2″ Heintzmans I have seen have all been similar to the A II. This one, however seems to be based on the A I. However, it is longer and has 88 notes and was made decades after the Steinway A I was discontinued. Unfortunately, this piano was poorly rebuilt and the soundboard is beyond repair. We will need to craft a new replacement of this board and re-engineer the action. We expect this to take 6 months at least.

Apr 23

Victorian Sohmer 6’6″ Grand Powerhouse

This 1895 Victorian Sohmer grand powerhouse piano just came in. I had never before seen or heard of a 6’6″ Sohmer, yet last week I saw two for sale. This one, and one from the later 1920’s.

Sohmer had a symbiotic relationship with Steinway. Sohmer uprights were often sold at Steinway dealers due to their high quality and complementary sound palette.

Today’s luxury boutique pianos, such as Steingraeber and Stuart and Sons offer special bridge agraffes. Steingraeber makes a lighter soundingboard with less string down bearing. These are great innovations, which one would expect on a 5’7″ piano costing $140,000.00. However, Sohmer had these innovations 125 years ago. This model does not have the bridge agraffes, but the other one I saw did. It does, as most Sohmers, have a light board with little crown and downbearing of the strings. They accomplished this by placing a second bridge on the bottom of the soundboard to hold its shape. The result is gobs of power, and control for pianissimo.

If you look at piano brochures, one of the ‘features’ is how long the bass strings are. Both Chickering and Sohmer did not follow that, as too with many German pianos. Instead, they have shorter speaking lengths, but much longer lengths behind the bridge. This allows the bridge to be placed on a more resonant point of the soundboard, and also allows less ‘choking’ of the bridge, thus superior bass with a strong clear fundamental. You would have to hear it to believe that this piano has better bass than many new 7’4″ instruments. These innovations and more make this a must see.

Long back scale of the Sohmer grand

Long back scale of the Sohmer grand

Feb 28

Pianos for Musicians

 

Pianos for a musician is often a problem. In the piano business, it is well known that those who can play, can’t pay. Yet, they require better instruments than most. Many of the beautiful vintage pianos are now at an age where they need a full re manufacturing. This is very costly to do right. We have a selection of these pianos. However, most pianists who need these cannot afford them.

We offer a solution. Some of these vintage pianos do not need a new soundboard or bridges, and the actions still can be mostly used. Although when done, they play as well as the fully restored instruments, they cost half as much, or even less in many cases.  Some of the things we do to control the costs without effecting quality are:

We clean and polish the cast iron plate. They look like new but save a lot of labour.

Soundboards are restored, but careful and meticulous shimming of the cracks are avoided. These serve only a cosmetic purpose and do not affect the tone or sustain. Proper shimming is very labour intensive.

We restore most of the action with new cloths, felts and leathers and replace the high impact and friction wearing parts. Although the labour costs exceed the new parts cost, the very labour intensive rebalancing and setup of the action with new parts are avoided, as we can reuse the factory setup.

These, and a few other decisions, save about 150 hours of labour, and the resulting piano is at 100% potential.

Currently, we have in this category: A Heintzman upright, a Mason and Hamlin grand, a Chickering concert grand, and a small Mason and Risch grand. These range in price from the cost of a used Chinese upright to the cost of a median sized Korean grand piano.

 

 

Feb 05

Vintage Steinway Upright, 1891 Near Completion

Just think: For about the same price as a new Korean made upright, this Steinway has been restored (not rebuilt) to allow yet another generation enjoy its charms.

Scroll further down this blog to see this piano before we started the work.

As can be seen in the fourth photo below, Steinway made a perimeter around the soundboard the same way they do in their grand pianos. It’s a bent laminated rim. Heintzman also did this, thus their term “Grand Piano in Vertical Form”. The difference is that the Steinway here has this grand rim the same thickness as their grand pianos. It’s massive.

In the second photo, you can see the high quality tuning pins and period style piano hammers.

This piano also has an elegant sostenuto system for the middle pedal.

 

Jan 17

Original Vintage Steinway O

We just received one of the very first original vintage Steinway O grand piano. The 1st model O was made on July 30, 1900 and this model was made in October 1900. This is slightly different than the later 2 models of O.
This one has the duplex scale cast into the plate instead of the later adjustable ones. This required extra care and time to ensure that the bridges and the cast iron plate were perfect, or else they would not work. Later they switched to the movable duplex bars and eliminated this problem. This is the forst, and probably only one of a few, that used wound strings on the bottom of the tenor bridge. I have only ever seem them with regular wire. In the classic rebuilder’s book “A Guide To Restringing” by Johm W. Travis, this scale is not listed. Many rebuilders add the wound strings there to improve the scale. Amazingly, Steinway did too originally. This piano has the Steinway ‘Magic’ and has its original intact ivory keyboard.

Jan 09

Knabe Art-Deco Tiger Mahogany Mid-Century Beauty

Here is an example of one of the best post-war console pianos.
This Knabe has been restrung, new dampers and the keyboard and bushing rebuilt. Having 6 backposts, this is a strong structure.

However, the cabinet veneer and design set this apart. It has a grand lyre system modeled after the Knabe grand lyre. The bookended matched tiger mahogany veneer is if a quality not available today from old growth forests. There is a high quality hand rubbed finish. Compare to a new piano made from particle board and styrofoam, if you can.

Jan 03

Tuning the Aliquot Duplex Scale

In a very few new pianos in the high end (such as Fazioli) and in some vintage pianos, tunable aliquots were installed in the duplex scale. The tuning of these is tedious. Here are some photos of aliquot tuning on our Mason and Hamlin model B.

Dec 26

Safely Buying a Piano on the Internet

How to Safely Buy a Piano on the Internet

If you only read the next sentence, you will eliminate fraud and deceptive practices 100%

Always under every circumstance, hire a non-affiliated (to the seller) piano technician to inspect the piano before ANY purchase.

Here are some red flags:

Price is too good to be true.

Piano is claimed to be ‘rebuilt’ ( an honest rebuild on a 100 year old piano is usually at least $20,000.00 and often much more).

Piano seller does not endorse an inspection and tries to prevent it.

 

Cracked pinblock

A typical pinblock after the cast iron plate has been removed. This will not hold the piano in tune

Often, beautiful looking pianos will have been infested with mice, moths, or have had serious structural glue failures or cracks which cannot be seen. Some of these problems may render the piano useless, others mean a possible expensive repair. If you cannot recognize the signs of these problems, get someone who can.

Other issues are with private sellers. Most private sellers are well meaning. However, after thousands of inspections, I have learned that the piano is usually 2 to 3 times older than they think, and has not been serviced. They are usually described as being in ‘mint’ condition or ‘beautiful’. This usually refers to the cabinet only. Unfortunately, a piano is a beautiful piece of furniture, but its main function is of a complex musical instrument made of thousands of parts. These parts wear and fail over time, wood dries and cracks, felt gets damaged by pests.

 

A new pinblock

A new pinblock under construction

Here are some things you can check out on your own before calling in an inspection:

1) Look at the keys. They should look even across the keyboard.

2) Press a black key. If it goes below or level with the white key, this is a red flag for sloppy work.

3) Get a simple guitar tuning app for your phone. Play middle C. It should come very close to middle C. If not, the piano needs extra work and has not been serviced for decades.

4) Play each note, black and white softly. They should all play. A little sluggishness may be OK.

5) If an upright, look at the back of the piano, if it is a grand, look underneath. The big wooden panel is the soundboard. Cracks are usually not a problem. Look for cracks that have become unglued, or a lot of screws put there. This may indicate more serious problems.

6) Try to play some simple songs. If it is badly, or wildly out of tune, the piano may have serious structural problems.

 

Here are some good online resources to checkout before you purchase

http://thestar.blogs.com/soundmind/2010/10/crooked-instrument-merchants-mean-you-can-never-let-down-your-guard.html

http://ptg.org

http://pianobuyer.com

http://pianoworld.com

 

Dec 26

Mason and Hamlin A

This is the most popular Mason and Hamlin model. This one is from 1918, and has received a new custom crafted soundboard, pinblock, bridges and action. It has just returned from the finisher and is being prepared for final regulation and tone building. The soundboard was crafted at our shop from red Norwegian spruce, obtained from Italy. Bridges are crafred from rift sawn hard Canadian maple. Perfect piano for advanced student, professional, venue or recording studio.

Dec 26

Vintage Historic Steinway Upright Restoration

A customer has sent this very interesting 1891 Steinway for restoration work. It is almost 100% original, as no parts have been replaced or modifications made. 1891 was a transition time for Steinway uprights, with the Victorian models updated, and the more modern uprights just beginning. Since 1890, they stopped using Rosewood veneer as the default, and this one has high quality mahogany. It also has a proper working sostenuto pedal. Our goal is to leave it as original as possible with no changes to the factory workmanship or design.

Nov 23

Teardown of Mason and Hamlin B

After extensive analysis and measurements, the teardown of this Mason has begun. Our goal on this Mason is to keep its tone and character, improve the structural integrity, and keep the piano affordable. We are confident we will achieve our goal. Seen below, we are measuring all the string lengths to verify the stringing scale and make alterations if required.

Oct 15

Do the Little Things Count?


What makes a vintage piano great?

In Toronto, some shops send the pianos to China for rebuilding, some to Poland, some to Mexico. Some do it in-house and assign fixed times for each job. Others send it out to small independent shops with a fixed price for the work. Often, we hear “Renner Parts” “Roslau Wire” “Mapes Strings” German this, German that. If only quality came down to a marketing checklist of features, any old job will do.

Tuning of Aliquotes

Careful and tedious tuning of the individual aliquots of a Mason and Hamlin.

My experience is different. To achieve the maximum from a piano, takes a long time and from the outset, the focus on the outcome, not the cost of the work. Roslau wire may be good for new pianos, but it does not match the designs of many older piano’s wire and design parameters, and thus the stringing scale, and therefore the tone and sustain may be compromised. Wire makers who design wire to match different periods of piano making charge more than Roslau. In a results oriented shop like ours, we make our wire choices based on what works for a given piano, and that sometimes means Roslau.

Cut thread tuning pins are another example. In our shop experiments and research, we discovered that after repeated tunings, they harm the pinblock and accelerate its failure. Machined tuning pins cost 300% more, but after our research, they are all we use.

High quality tuning pins, for better accuracy of tuning and longer pinblock life

High quality tuning pins, for better accuracy of tuning and longer pinblock life

Action parts must match the design and balance of the action, or the action geometry needs to be reengineered. So many rebuilt pianos will be found to have poor pianissimo control, uneveness, heavy touch, or fatiguing to play. The difference between a properly designed and executed action restoration and one with new parts with no regards to geometry and tone production is massive, as in 400-500% more time needed. To the untrained eye, they look the same, but playing one next to the other shows the difference. We pride ourselves on our action engineering and the time spent to get the full range of expression and control.

Careful hand lettering

Careful hand lettering

Most new piano hammers are made in a process designed to speed up the manufacturing. Hard felt is moistened and then pressed under high-pressure with heat to get them in and out of the hammer press quickly. The end results mean a technician can install them and do next to nothing for the finished job. The down side, is lack of pianissimo, tone colouring and future strident and ear hurting tone. Traditionally made hammers need skilled technicians and the patience to build the tone. Each set of hammers must match the soundboard and rib design of the piano, and correspond to the geometry of the action. These are big decisions and must be carefully considered before the work begins.

High quality hand crafted piano hammers

High quality hand crafted piano hammers

So, do the little things count? We think so.

Oct 11

Tweaking a Knabe Grand


In the never ending quest for perfection, we always fall short. Every piano is a compromise. Yet, we never stop trying. With 500 hours logged on this piano, and praised by all who play it, we are striving for more perfection, more evenness, more tone, faster touch.

Oct 05

Mid Century Pianos

There are many, some would say too many, mid-century pianos out there. I remember them when they were new. A lot of them are high quality, but many of them suffered from post-war manufacturing degradation, ie: accountants took preference to engineers. At this time, there was still a lot of experienced piano builders around. These pianos are usually nice wood cabinets and have a warmer sound than new pianos. A better brand, in good condition is a viable alternative for a decent piano at a good price. They must always be inspected by an experienced technician, and expect about $500 to $1000.00 worth of expenses getting it into shape.

We have a selection of good quality mid-century pianos in good condition at fair prices

Sep 16

Is this the best small grand piano ever made?

The Mason and Hamlin model B, the original one, not the newly designed one, is a great piano. Anyone would agree to that. The question is, is there a better small piano (this one is 5’4″) that has been made.

 

Personally, I don’t know of any. The closest may be the original Knabe 5’4″. If you are looking for a great small grand piano, come check this out. We will be restoring it soon.