The top 5 piano brands

When tuning or repairing a piano I often get asked who are the best piano makers. Well, since Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the modern piano there have been hundreds of piano makers in the world but only a few have the quality and history to stand out.

In essence you can recongnise the best piano makers by their timeless instruments that produce unrivalled sound, power, tone and range.

Andy tuning a piano

So what is the best piano brand? That’s very subjective, however below there is a list of the 5 most recognised leading piano brands in the world.

STEINWAY & SONS

American product. Right now undoubtedly this is the leading brand and the most preferred choice of the performing artists.

MASON AND HAMLIN

American product. With a focus solely on quality and not quantity they produce only 50 upright and 300 grand pianos a year.

YAMAHA

Japanese product. One of the most consistent brands that has been recognised for their longevity and quality that lasts years .

BÖSENDORFER

Austrian product. They make only a few hundred pianos a year and each one of them is handmade. The grand pianos are specifically remarkable.

BALDWIN

American product. Famous for its rich sound and dynamic range.

Over the years each brand name has created a reputation for themselves and you can definitely trust them. Nevertheless it is always good considering something different as there is a variety of brands that may suit your need better and more affordable. I sincerely hope this list will help you find the right instrument for you.

Source:

http://pianobrands.info

History of piano – interesting facts

Let’s have a look at the history of the piano as the popularity of the piano throughout history has lead to many taking piano classes to learn this historical art.

The modern piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731) of Padua. Cristofori’s new instrument was known first as the pianoforte because it allowed players to produce notes at different dynamic levels by controlling the inertia with which the hammers hit the strings.

The word pianoforte, shortened later to piano, appeared only in 1732.

the piano underwent tremendous  inventions and  improvements in its construction throughout the years.

Later it was the Americans who brought the once expensive piano to the homes of middle-class families. The cost of pianos was significantly reduced, thanks to new assembly-line techniques and standardized piano parts. By the end of the 19th century, the instrument was a must-have for every household. It was very easy to store the piano at home, as a result of the functional upright design.

The piano than became very popular among women, who were encouraged to learn to play the piano. A woman who could play the piano was perceived as a refined woman and would find marriage in a flash. It was also a great way for women to earn money through piano lessons.

In modern times the digital piano sells more than the grand piano by far. Several factors contribute to this including the higher cost of grand pianos, the portability of digital pianos, and the presence of so many voices and features in digital pianos. However, one thing is for sure and it’s that piano playing and piano music is not going away. The piano is one of the most popular instruments today along with the guitar.

Please browse the website to see the full range of services AMH Pianos can provide. As a company we additionally cover all aspects of piano services ranging from piano tuning to piano repairs and removals. Additional helpful advice is also available on our FAQs page. If you have any specific piano related queries and would like to talk to me personally please make contact using the details found on the website.

Sources:

https://www.piano-tuners.org/

http://www.piano-keyboard-guide.com/piano-history.html

Street Pianos in London

When I travel around the city I enjoy coming across interesting things, whilst Tuning a Piano in Herne Hill, I came across a Street Piano at the Herne Hill Station.

I got interested in the concept, finding out there are lots of Pianos still across the city. 

Originally Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram, which has been touring internationally since 2008.  More than 1500 pianos have now been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from New York to London bearing the simple invitation Play Me, I’m Yours.  



In 2012 the City of London Festival celebrated its golden anniversary on a grand scale, presenting Play Me, I’m Yours with 50 golden street pianos spread across London landmarks and beauty spots. 


In cities like London, hundreds of perfectly good, working, second-hand pianos get thrown away each year. Luke Jerram transports dozens of these pianos annually, to countries where the instrument is rare and more valued, for the public to enjoy.


Most of these pianos were donated to good causes at the end of the presentation, but some of them are still available to play including three at St Pancras International Station, two at Canary Wharf and one at Herne Hill Railway Station.  


The piano I came across is located in the underpass next to Herne Hill Railway Station just off Railton Road. It is currently being looked after by local residents.  The piano is locked at night so is only playable during the daytime.

What customers say about AMH Pianos

As a qualified piano tuner I look after pianos for pianists at all levels, from beginners to seasoned musicians on a daily bases. I also tune for recording studios and theatrical music companies, music teachers, professional artists and basically going anywhere the music takes me.

During my work I ensure that I provide professional and excellent customer service so that my clients receive the utmost satisfaction for any individually tailored job. Nevertheless I am always proud when receiving positive feedback from happy and satisfied customers.

Below you will find what our customers say about AMH Pianos:

“Andy is a very friendly guy and is Very Prompt. Excellent service at competitive rates.” Gerry Flynn


“Punctual & Professional service. I was very happy with the work carried out on my old piano at what I would consider at a very reasonable price. Andy was such a pleasure to do business with and comes highly recommended. 5 stars.” George Ramos


Great, Very friendly service. Has breathed new life into my old piano, wish I hadn’t waited so long. Recommend highly!” Derrick Baker


“On behalf of my wife Joan and myself I wish to thank you for carrying out today’s piano tuning at our home in such a friendly and professional manner. It was a real pleasure to meet you and we shall certainly forward your details to our friends.” Malcolm


“Many thanks Andy. Much appreciate you doing this at short notice. It was used this afternoon and the pianist remarked on how well it had been tuned. As you kindly helped us at the eleventh hour, we will continue to use your services.” Gary


“Friendly and professional, very good job done at short notice. The piano sounds wonderful, many thanks Andy, will certainly call on you again.” Jonathan Wheatley


Please browse the website to see the full range of services AMH Pianos can provide.As a company we additionally cover all aspects of piano services ranging from piano tuning to piano repairs and removals. Additional helpful advice is also available on our FAQs page. If you have any specific piano related queries and would like to talk to me personally please make contact using the details found on the website.

Things to consider when buying a second–hand Piano

Whether you are looking for an upright or a grand piano the basic rules remain the same when choosing a Piano. One must consider, both the size and the cost of the instrument to fit ones budget and the room where you wish to house the Piano.

Generally, a larger piano with longer strings will create a much better depth of sound. Smaller instruments both Grand & upright Pianos will produce a lesser quality of sound, due to the speaking length of the strings.

When considering a modern instrument, they are constructed with the bass strings overstrung  which means that the bass strings run diagonally across the piano crossing over the treble string,  this enables the Bass strings to be longer thus giving a longer speaking lent and better quality of sound.

Andy tuning a piano
Buying a second hand piano

 

An older instrument may not have this stringing arrangement, and are generally known as straightstrung Bass section, which means that the strings run parallel to each other which lesser the length of the Bass strings offering a far less quality and depth of sound. Modern upright pianos are underdamped which means that the dampers are located beneath the hammer head, this setup is much more effective than overdamped Pianos.

If you look in the top of a upright piano in an overdamper action, the hammers are below. The dampers, thus giving rise to the name overdamped.

Generally, this kind of piano should be avoided, due to it’s age and performance – response when playing, they could also be very tough to tune or keep their tuning.

On the other hand, a very good quality overdamped upright piano could make a wonderful addition to your home, but I would suggest to get it assessed by an expert first before buying.

If you find an instrument that you like, we suggest that you look over the piano externally, play it and then look inside. The following points should help you decide whether an instrument is worth buying.

  • Check the casework and appearance of the piano for damage, dose the colour of the piano suits your home.
  • Check each key to see if they are level and evenly spaced?
  • Play each key rapidly, to see if they are responding well and not sticking.
  • Check to see if the sound of the piano is Similar across the whole keyboard? Did any notes stand out louder/softer than others.
  • Check the piano for any buzzing, squeaks, of knocking sounds.
  • Check each peddle to see if they are working, without making unwanted noises
  • Always make sure to look inside the piano:
  • Check to see if the action looks intact without missing parts.
  • Check for any damage to both the action and strings, look along the line of strings to see if there are any missing or broken.
  • When considering buying a piano, please make sure you check the instrument, or even better take a qualified piano tuner with you.

The map shows the areas we support throughout London.

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How to make music special again

Dark Spotify Logo
Spotify Logo

Back in the day music was something special, something you looked forward to listening to. Long before the days of TV, the internet and non-stop music in supermarkets, travelling minstrels toured the country going from town to village to manor house. In the absence of any other entertainment the event gave people occasional and much appreciated relief from their otherwise difficult and hard lives. Now that we have music on tap, at the touch of a screen or button, has music lost its special place in our hearts?

The Lute: A Medieval Guitar-Like Instrument played by a troubadour
A Troubadour playing a Lute

At AMH Pianos we are all about the music, and respect for the craft is what made me get interested to do what I do best! This is why it sometimes saddens me to see many a talented musician struggle to make ends meet. We have a lot of music that feels rather ubiquitous wherever we go. And yet, people complain about the quality of the music, the variety and genres of music on offer, and even the price of music. With a rise in music streaming services, we do not even care to own our favourite tunes anymore. Somehow, in an era where musicians have so many avenues to contact the fans and reach out to us of their own accord, it feels like something, or someone, is taking over our music, putting musicians out of business, and even adversely affecting the craftsmen who look after the musicians.

Travelling Minstrels
Travelling Minstrels

As we stand here in 2016, it is absolutely vital to take evasive action now, to prevent a decline in the importance of music in the post iPod age. For starters, we could do more to encourage our children to take up music and musical instruments at a young age. We could better educate our music teachers at PGCE level, to help them train the next Mozart, Beethovan or Elgar. We could encourage the streaming companies to give back more fairly and generously to the musicians that we love, rather than just the big names. We could provide a more technical and well-rounded level of education to breed the next generation of men and women who dedicate their lives servicing, repairing and even transporting the large aray of instruments between venues. We could make the top rated arts and music more affordable and easily accessible to the people from non-traditional backgrounds, especially outside London’s M25 boundaries. We could refuse to support piracy. And finally, we could encourage our elected leaders to encourage greater investment into the creative arts, to ensure that we have a brighter, ney, a better sounding future!!

A Spanish Musical Quartet
Cuarta de Musica

A Summer of Seismic Changes

Formar Home Secretary Theresa May becomes UK PM
Theresa May UK Prime Minister

Over the past month events in the UK and around the World have been a bit of a game changer, causing uncertainty, intreague and plenty of heated discussion across London. From Whitehall to Hackney, Golders Green to Bexley Heath, the conversation seems to have moved on to what the latest events in Westminster might entail for the country as a whole rather than the latest gossip around Big Brother and the X Factor. In many ways, whilst I carry out piano tuning, I seem to notice myself surrounded by highly opinionated conversations concerning Brexit, a new Prime Minister and potential predictions about the future.

Map of the European Union as of Oct. 2013
Map of the 28 EU states

Throughout London we have experienced ample sunshine and much higher temperatures that somehow seem to be keeping pace with the heated political climate. Things however, appear much more civilised around the UK compared to the unfortunate attacks in mainland Europe, such as the attempted coup in Turkey, the death of 84 people in Nice and the more recent spate of bizarre attacks across Germany. Incidents like these appeal to my British sense of being and I sometimes wonder whether or not we really can resolve arguments and problems just by enjoying a nice cup of tea.

A Perfectly brewed Cup of Tea
A Perfect Cup of Tea

 

I feel fortunate to be in a profession that brings the gift of music to people from all backgrounds and walks of life, bringing them together through music. Time spent servicing or transporting a piano, for me personally, equates to bringing the gifts of creativity, harmony and the celebration of life. The brilliant sunny weather during these uncertain times symbolises the hope that we as a nation will have a bright future no matter what it brings. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with AMH Pianos to find out for yourself the magic of great sound and excellent customer service.

Stretching The Human Tuned Notes

We have just celebrated Father’s Day, and are about to experience the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Since we have had a reasonably bright summer, with long sunny spells, hot temperatures and humid days, before the dreaded rain made its all too inevitable return, a strange thought has plagued my mind: are human limits and limitations, irreversible unlike any other inanimate object in our universe? Furthermore, do the change in our surroundings, conditions and moods depend on our exposure to whatever takes place around us? I ask this since we had been longing for good weather across London and just as soon as the Mercury climbed a bit, we decided to complain about the weather again, rather than trying to enjoy ourselves over in St James‘s Park or Greenwich. Does this culturally induced modus operandi also tell us that we are accustomed to long for the dreadful cold weather in spite of our protests?

AFamilyWalkingOnTheMillenniumBridgeInLondonOnFathersDay

It is no surprise to admit that we all need and deserve a little bit of a change sometime. That is exactly why we all have holidays, vacations and the occasional fun night out, a human tune-up if you will. Yet while objects have an instantaneous tendency to reset following servicing, you often hear people talk about not winding down till the end of their holidays, or needing a vacation away from a vacation. We often talk about getting that same level of restoration as, say a piano, and yet the temptation to share pictures of one’s lunch or drinks on Facebook or the next random memory on Twitter is often too hard to resist when there is no reason whatsoever to repeatedly stab our phones during our time off. Using the concept of cadence, could it be that modern humans are just not designed to attain satisfaction at either ends of the note that is our existence without an expert psychologist involved? And does this less than 100% human harmonic rhythm reflect anything on the order that we crave out of our own energetic chaos?

Metronome

There is ample semblance in the human body: the beating of the heart, the flow of blood, the way our lungs operate, and even the seven year cycle that our skin follows to replace each and every cell with a brand new one. We put routines in the way we work, sleep and adhere to conventions, laws and the year round calendar. So perhaps, it might be time that to perform like clockwork, we have to allow ourselves to be more observant of our own beings, and schedule time with our own thoughts and serendipity with some regularity. Even if we as humans, are unable to reach our theoretical limits, we can at least try to be the best at what we do best.

CalendarWithAScheduleOfEvents

What do you think about the concept of a fully reversible human experience? Can we modulate our own frequencies? And does our energy have any connection with the seasons and the calendar of holidays and important dates? Please feel free to get in touch.

Virtual Sociability and the Tunes of the Summer

At AMH Pianos, I strongly believe that whatever we do, we can do better. The philosophy that there is always room for improvement, rings so loudly to me that in spite of getting excellent reviews from so many of you, I continuously strive to give you more for your money and interaction with my company. As the official summer has just kicked in according to the Met Office, we have been blessed with incredible weather, warm days and long hours of sunshine through out the land. So whether you are on a boat ride from the Tower Hill pier, or shopping or eating out near Bayswater, there is a chance that you would not have forgotten your mobile phone, which would probably be sitting snugly in your pockets or handbags. That is exactly why when I first started, I thought why not put technology to some good use for both work and play?

Facebook Heart

Many people, to this day, probably still do not rely on a mobile phone, let alone a tablet or a computer. This is to say that perhaps the concept of social media has not quite sunk in with so many out there. There is a chance that whether it’s a student roaming around High Street Kensington, a tourist wandering near the Baker Street attractions, or even that student’s mother or grandma living in one of the outer boroughs of Bromley or Bexley checking up on them or their friends or family, someone you know might probably be only a few clicks away on Facebook. Love it or loathe it, this platform has become a 1 Billion strong global community, which now has started offering even greater accessibility for blind and partially sighted users like myself by offering audio descriptions of photographs and videos. Then there is Twitter. I love the world’s first truly mobile network, which has been the place for breaking news stories, and from Ealing to Plaistow, it has won me many amazing friends and got me in touch with so many vital contacts at the same time. I would be the first to put my hand up and admit that I am not a techy computer super-geek – no indeed! My interests are everything to do with piano tuning and looking after pianos Still, I am amazed at just how many of my fellow colleagues, to this day, continue to miss out on such a large network of opportunities, which are easily available, increasingly accessible, and best of all, FREE!!

Whilst the days are longer, the summer is in full flow, and there is a general buzz around London, why would someone not choose to be Linked In to what the city has to offer. Why would someone, who wants to grow their business, not take advantage of Google Plus, where results influence your search ranks? Most of all, what amount of social interactions, are my fellow colleagues missing out on, which could improve their quality of life? I feel fortunate enough to have the opportunity to truly enjoy what the Capital has to offer both physically and digitally, and I also get to learn about new stuff on a daily basis in a form most convenient to me. Please come along, and offer your friendship to me, and I will offer you my life long friendship and service in return, both throughout the summer and beyond!

Pinterest MortarBoard

May’s Daze

It’s the beginning of what we may regard as the only summer we are going to probably get in the Capital, possibly in the UK. We have been blessed with exceptional weather as of late, which means that it is time to go have a picnic in Hyde Park, chill out at lunch at St. James’s Park, or do a bit of Window shopping around Oxford Street. On a good day at the weekend, one may even fancy a boat ride, departing from Embankment, Westminster or Tower Hill piers. It is also the final stretch for the universities, after which hard working students will get a break for summer. All this amounts to tourists, bustling activity or nights out near near Soho, or a gig or two at the O2 Arena near North Greenwich. Music, Wimbledon and longer hours of daylight are what we have to look forward to in our fine city. Life is good for everyone, just like it always has been since the dawn of time, right? :D

Wimbledon Ticket Queue

May 1st is the Maypole, or Maple Day. Across Europe, the day is marked with celebrations of Pagan and Christian traditional festivals. May 1st is the official mark of the Pagan Spring, and marks roughly the mid-point between the Vernal Equinox (March 21st) and Summer Solstice (June 21st). This means there are plenty of reasons for you to have your piano tuned, and AMH Pianos is here to help with anything and everything relating to pianos. Over time, the Roman Republic has celebrated Floralia, the festival of flora, whilst Christian Europe has celebrated Beltane, the festival of fertility, and the Walpurgis Night, the Christian Reformation of the Germanic region to coincide on the day.

MaypoleDayFestival ChildrenDancingWithInstructor

In cosmopolitan London, we had bonfires, Maypole Dancing and even some spectacular flower displays. I even learnt that in Northern Europe, it is a day when women would leave a rose on their admirer’s doorstep, where they may/may not reveal their own identity to the object of their affections.

May day Demonstration

Over time though, this day has become more synonymous with the labour movement, and symbolises the struggle for many workers to have better working conditions, fair pay, reasonable working hours and a two day weekend. We should not forget the fact that many people lost their lives and suffered wrongful imprisonment or unfair treatment for the struggle for human rights and a consequent increase in life expectancy. I am personally thankful to those improvements, which have allowed me to set up my business, get assistance with difficult tasks, and therefore expand my services to include piano removals, repairs and servicing. We should never forget the need for a fairer world.

FridayThe13thHorrorQuotes

Whilst in the month of May, we also encountered Friday the 13th last week. The concept of bad luck originated with the French Army, whose troops marched over a hanging bridge in unison, causing the bridge to collapse at resonant frequency. However, we have now attributed the day to all things bad luck, scary or even intensely creepy. Whilst luck is important, my final thoughts in this piece are that it takes a lot more than luck to succeed in life, or at whatever you do. Hard work, resilliance, honesty, a positive and friendly attitude, and a commitment to improvement, are all qualities more akin to Maypole day than Friday the 13th.

KeepCalm&GoodLuck

Have you got any of your own stories from the bank holiday? Did you face any bad luck, or even good luck, contrary to the expected trends of Friday the 13th? Do you have any favourite melodies for the month of May? Please feel free to discuss in the comments. And from AMH Pianos, I wish you lots of good luck!