Top things to learn at The C. Bechstein Technician's Academy in Germany
I attended the C. Bechstein Technician’s Academy this year at the Piano Factory located in Seifhennersdorf, Germany.
The 3-day C. Bechstein weekend begins on a Friday morning to Sunday afternoon all while working with brand new pianos.
There were 7 classes led by C. Bechstein Technicians that are listed below during the time I attended.
What Technical Training is offered at The Bechstein Technicians Academy?
Tuning and voicing
Touch of grand pianos and upright pianos
Tonal performance of grand pianos and upright pianos
Grand piano dampers and sostenuto
Inside the Vario System (installation and service of electronic components)
Lacquer finishes (repair & care)
I chose to attend the “Grand Piano Dampers and Sostenuto” class while my colleague chose to attend “Tonal Performance of Grand Pianos and Upright Pianos.”
The Piano Factory Tour was where we witnessed the craftsmanship of the acoustic pianos up close.
The Berlin showroom visit was where I was able to compare and contrast the largest amount of high-end Bechstein pianos that I’ve ever witnessed in one piano showroom.
Concert Instruments - Highest Quality Pianos
6 Concert D, 5 Concert C, and 4 Concert A Bechstein Pianos were some of the fine instruments prepared in rows.
I gladly compared these models side by side, a rare opportunity even for professional pianists.
Although, the biggest highlight was comparing these pianos between each other, there were other significant highlights visiting this showroom.
What are the highlights of the Bechstein Showroom in Berlin?
Compare rows of top-of-the-line concert grand pianos of the exact same model
Play vintage models that demonstrate Bechstein’s blend of tradition and innovation
Individual tour with Torben Garlin, a Lead Technician with technical expertise
In-depth answers differentiating upright pianos across C. Bechstein pianos and W. Hoffmann pianos designed by Bechstein
Learned about Zimmerman pianos; also designed by Bechstein specifically for a broader market
Torben was able to explain new design elements in particular about my favorite upright piano, the A2 Academy series.
I treasured visiting the Bechstein showroom in Berlin, where The C. Bechstein Piano Company was founded by Carl Bechstein in 1853.
The Bechstein Piano Factory Tour
My favorite part about my visit was the Tour of the Piano Factory in Seifhennersdorf, which is a 3 hour drive east of Berlin near the Czech Republic.
Learning the philosophy of the piano makers was the most valuable takeaway during the tour.
What is the philosophy at the C. Bechstein Factory?
Transparency: Display all piano craftsmanship and action parts in plain view (nothing to hide)
Innovation: A traditional value of C. Bechstein when founded in 1853
Practicality: Vertical integration where possible, sourcing of materials when it’s the best option
It was incredible to see the piano building process on clear display, along with all of the materials required to make higher-level pianos.
Emphasis on vertical integration has been instrumental in utilizing a mix of innovative and traditional applications for building C. Bechstein pianos especially in the 21st century.
What is taught in the Grand Piano Dampers and Sostenuto Class?
“Just winging” my damper work was how I felt before I attended this class.
I now know the fundamentals of how each bend and turn will affect the damper, as well as where best to apply force.
The Grand Piano Damper Regulating Class, as mundane as it may sound, at the Bechstein Technician’s Academy was a great choice for my development as a piano technician.
Fortunately, I was the only student in this 3-day long class.
I asked all of my questions and captured photos of each technique while installing a whole new set of Grand Piano Dampers in a new C. Bechstein Grand Piano.
This class combined basic principles of “Damper Hanging” and “Damper Lift.” Broader topics like damper guide rail placement and sostenuto installation were included as well.
I compiled 25 of the essential tips upon completing the class for how to do Grand Damper Regulating.
In 2012, Bechstein began production of their own hammerheads after a large investment was made in the R&D department at Bechstein.
With greater control over consistency and production times, Bechstein boasts of producing their own hammers, which is extraordinarily rare in the Piano industry.
While proprietary information about Bechstein Hammerhead production remains a trade secret, a display case I photographed captures key steps in piano hammer production.
Learning about the Mahogany, Walnut, and Maple wooden cores along with the different felts sourced from the Wurzen factory in Germany, makes this one of the most photogenic articles I’ve ever written.
Bechstein Action Parts
Every last screw, bolt, string, felt, pin, solid beech bridge, and wooden board is on proud display for the production of their acoustic pianos, demonstrating Bechstein’s transparency.
Internal discussion at Bechstein continually deliberate whether or not to vertically integrate a given material or determine that it is better to source the part, so long as the end result is the best option.
While many of the piano parts are rather ordinary, it sends a strong message that Bechstein has nothing to hide.
From craftsmanship, structural parts, to each individual component, everything at Bechstein is out in the open.
The many photos in the above article provides a glance at every last piece of the puzzle (piano) that goes inside of a C. Bechstein piano.
Tonal Voicing Grand Pianos Class Notes
Danny Lootens, my colleague, wrote this article to sum up what he learned while attending the class on Tonal Voicing of Grand Piano.
It reminds a piano technician like myself of the structural elements of hammer felt as far as tension, elasticity, and support is concerned.
In this 10 step overview, Danny outlines the entire process of Bechstein voicing practices from string leveling, tuning at A445, chalk use, needling, hammer mating, juicing, filing, and ironing etc.
The illustrations outline the structural integrity of the hammer along with specific details of the placement of each needle.
Whether in final prep or concert voicing, this article conveys the voicing philosophy practiced at Bechstein.
What’s the cost and time associated with attending the Bechstein Technician’s Academy?
For a reasonable price of less than $1,000, technicians can attend the 3-day long class.
Bechstein also offers classes for up to 12 weeks and a combination of lengths in between.
It is necessary to plan ahead by at least a half year as slots get filled very quickly and there is a limit to the amount of students.
Find more information on Bechstein’s website on The C. Bechstein Technician’s Academy page.