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My Schimmel Piano

Updated on March 24, 2013

Bosendorfer or Schimmel?.....hmmmmm.....

As a pianist I always thought it would be nice to own a concert grand piano. In 2000 I lost my wife of 34 years to a disease called "Crest Syndrome", I went a little crazy and went shopping for a piano. I went to a piano store in Van Nuys, California called Keyboard Concepts. They had a huge showroom/warehouse and carried any and every brand. Bosendorfer was one that I had always heard was the best and Kawai was my second choice, so I proceeded to try them all out.

The Bosendorfer concert grand was known for it's action (key/hammer/mechanism) which was made by Renner. The salesman said: "The Renner action incorporates over 6,000 individual components using natural materials like wood, leather, and felt, which are handcrafted to the highest precision and all work together to transmit the energy and musical expression of the player through the rest of the instrument". Bosendorfer has four extra keys at the lower end of the keyboard and are known for their rich, warm tonality. Some composers that have sworn by Bosendorfer are Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Antonin Dvorák, Leonard Bernstein and many more, and the greatest artists such as André Previn, András Schiff, Garrick Ohlsson, Oscar Peterson or Tori Amos also prefer these very special pianos.

So, there was this 7 foot 10 inch Bosendorfer sitting there and I sat down to play it and it was wonderful. I asked the salesman how much and he replied "$120,000 dollars. Sitting next to the Bose was a 7 foot 10 inch Schimmel concert grand piano (see picture). I had never heard of "Schimmel", but the sales guy assured me that they were a lesser known, but equally good manufacturer of beautifully built hand crafted pianos."And", he added "it has the same Renner action as the Bosendorfer". I had always wanted a shiny black concert grand and this one was, well (see picture again), shiny and brown. "How much is the Schimmel", I asked. The very gifted salesman replied: "$40,000". Sold!!!. I bought it and took it home (well, actually I had it delivered: 5 guys, 1000 pounds, without the legs or lid.

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Founder Wilhelm Schimmel produced his first piano at the beginning of 1885. His instruments were impressive for their advanced technique, excellent tone and contemporary form. Both he and his slogan "Quality will prevail" were proved right by his success. In 1927, his son Wilhelm Arno Schimmel took over the management of the company and relocated the site to Braunschweig (Brunswick) where he developed one of the major innovations of the 1930s: a small piano without back posts with a newly designed action and a unique tonal character. The family firm continued to flourish: by the end of the 1950s, Schimmel instruments were the most frequently purchased pianos produced in Germany - and were sent all round the world.

In 1961, Nikolaus Wilhelm Schimmel became head of the company and focused on the continuity of the firm's expansion in the third generation. Increasing sales volumes necessitated the construction of a new company site in which special areas such as research and development were extended and intensified. Alongside the Schimmel Classic Serie, the company developed the Schimmel Konzert Serie over a period of approximately 20 years, thereby consolidating the company's leading position in the market. In 2003, Nikolaus Wilhelm Schimmel passed on the management of the company to Hannes Schimmel-Vogel.

In adherence to the founding slogan "Quality will prevail", he completed the product spectrum with additional models in the Konzert Series and the conceptual design of a wide-ranging, extended Schimmel brand family. This courage in innovation and the passion for piano manufacture will also characterise the future development of the family run company.

The Materials That Make A Fine Piano........

It's All About Quality
Schimmel uses 300 year-old mountain spruce from premium mountainous areas for their soundboards. The hammer-head felts are manufactured from the wool of specially reared merino sheep. Quality at Schimmel is very important. A prime example is the cast-iron frame which undertakes the Herculean task of withstanding the enormous tension of over 200 resonating strings with a tension of 80 to 130 kg per string, amounting to a total of 21 tons. For this reason, cast-iron technology and metal alloys must be perfect, as each gram has its own individual purpose. Identical standards also apply to the piano varnish which is applied in a total of 13 work steps and subsequently given a high gloss finish. All this is necessary to permit the full character of the instruments to develop.

This is one of the reasons why Schimmel attaches such great importance to the careful selection and expert processing of wood. This affects not only the aesthetics, but also the tone and durability of the instruments: and these do not tolerate any compromises. These fine woods are dried slowly and carefully, preserving the appropriate moisture content to enable them to retain their lasting value. The acoustic elements of the instruments which are periodically left to rest between the individual work phases. This allows the materials to become acquainted gradually with the enormous tension ratios of the instrument in order to develop a stable equilibrium.

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    • jnstewart profile imageAUTHOR

      John Norman Stewart 

      5 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      @SusanSuggests: Hi Susan: That's a great experience (your playing at Lincoln Center). It probably was a 9 footer too. I played one of those once. Thanks for participating on the lens. I really appreciate it. :)

    • jnstewart profile imageAUTHOR

      John Norman Stewart 

      5 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      @anonymous: Hello Butterbrickle: You are very welcome. Thanks for visiting the lens.

    • jnstewart profile imageAUTHOR

      John Norman Stewart 

      5 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      @Leon Franks: Thanks, and, yes, it did. Appreciate your comment. :)

    • SusanSuggests profile image


      5 years ago

      What a great, informative lens! I didn't know that Schimmel pianos have the same action as Bosendorfer.

      I dream of owning a Steinway or a Bosendorfer. (For now, I own a Yamaha console. I did once have the pleasure of playing a Steinway at Lincoln Center, which was amazing!)

      Thanks for sharing your story and knowledge!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you for adding Steinway to the voting list. Owning one was always my dream.

    • Leon Franks profile image

      Leon Franks 

      6 years ago

      I like the organic look of the natural wood of the Schimmel. The extra green of 80 grand in your pocket probably has a pretty good look, too!

    • jnstewart profile imageAUTHOR

      John Norman Stewart 

      6 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      @PianoStreet LM: Hi PianoStreet: Thanks for coming by.....I just added Steinway to the poll so that you can vote. :)

    • PianoStreet LM profile image

      PianoStreet LM 

      6 years ago

      Extremely nice lens and lovely pictures - but I missed Steinway in the poll, so couldn't vote I'm afraid....

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I just love piano music, but never learned to play. Thank you for sharing your lens.

    • jnstewart profile imageAUTHOR

      John Norman Stewart 

      7 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      @Doctone: Thanks Doctone: Appreciate your leaving the first comment on this lens. Thanks for the heads up on the book. My wife brakes for Starbucks and I brake for piano stores.....:)

    • Doctone profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice to see people writing about real specialist topics - this was a joy to read. Have you ever tried a Fazioli - I had the good fortune at the Frankfurt Musikmesse. Also, if you like pianos check out the book The Piano Shop On The Left Bank by THE Carhart - a real gem.


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