Piano-making is a performance at Steinway & Sons Factory

A wood saw is an instrument. Although unconventional and messy, the wood saw makes sounds when used like any other tool.

At Steinway and Sons, world-renowned piano company, the wood saw is just one instrument among many that is used to create a piano. The sounds of cutting wood and pounding metal accompany the sporadic notes of a piano being tested. These sounds, when played together, create a beautiful composition: a Steinway piano.

Similar to any concert, the work done at Steinway & Sons factory in Queens, New York is the result of a precise collaboration between a worker and a tool. Each machine and each worker are an integral part in the final product.

The first stage in creating a Steinway piano is picking the wood. All Steinway pianos are made with maple, due to it’s flexible and sturdy properties. Quarter-inch thick slabs of wood run through a glue machine. Workers then pile the slabs in layers. Before the glue has time to harden, the team of four workers bend the long band of wood onto specific rim models. The Steinway of New York contains a total of nine molds: six models for grand pianos and three models for upright pianos. Once the rim sets, it moves to the conditioning room. Conditioning the wood is a process necessary to acquire the correct Equilibrium Moisture Composition, EMC. Rims can remain in the conditioning room for lengths of up to 3 months.

From the conditioning rooms, the piano rim travels through the rest of the Steinway & Sons factory to acquire all of it’s 450 essential components. Assemble includes everything from cast-iron soundboard and bridge to steel strings and ivory keys. One Steinway piano can take up to a year total to reach completion. 2,500 Steinway pianos are built in the New York factory every year.

At this concert hall-like factory, Wally Boot, Steinway employee for 48 years, is the conductor. His office is barely big enough for him and a fresh made piano. Since the age of 18, Wally has worked at Steinway and Sons, pounding away at keys, tuning strings, and perfecting every individual note.

“I get paid to practice everyday,” Wally said.

Wally, one of many workers at Steinway, is proof that a little dedication and a lot of practice is the reason a Steinway and sons piano is one of the finest on the market.


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