FAQ's: things you always wanted to know about pianos ...

Why is a grand piano that shape?

The primary reason is of course the length of the strings. High notes have short strings. The deeper the note, the longer the string gets. This gives a grand piano its shape.

Why are the bass strings wrapped in copper?

The deeper the note, the longer the string. But of course, there’s a limit to how long a grand piano can be. So the string is wrapped in copper to make it heavier. The heavier a string, the deeper the note.

What wood is used?

The wood used is chosen according to what is needed. Elements that carry sound are made of hard wood (beech, maple, hornbeam). Elements that produce sound are made of soft wood. The appearance depends on what the client wants – and does not affect sound.

What affects how an instrument sounds?

The sound depends on the strings’ gauge, length and tension. It also depends equally on the design of the acoustic assembly (rib size, soundboard dimensions and web design) and on the quality of the hammer heads and voicing.

How long does it take to build a vertical piano and a grand?

A vertical takes about 150 to 170 hours, a grand piano takes 250. The body’s surface finish is handled externally as we do not yet have suitable paint booths.

Where does production take place and where do you source the various materials?

We produce only at our Niendorf manufactory in Luckenwalde near Berlin, Germany. All bespoke instrument components come from experienced suppliers in Germany. For example, the action comes from Renner, the hammer heads from Abel, the soundboards from Strunz, the bass strings from Heller and the steel strings from Röslau. We get all the other materials from suppliers in the region.

Can I configure my own piano?

Yes, we produce custom pieces accommodating your special wishes. We can customise certain components, modify designs and apply desired colour schemes to taste.

How do I become a piano maker? What requirements are there?

To become a piano maker, you will need to train as an apprentice for three-and-a-half years. The apprenticeship includes woodworking and painting, working on actions and training your hearing to learn how to tune and voice by ear. You will need to have some crafting talent, should enjoy working with wood, be committed and have musical hearing.

Why are you not supposed to touch the strings?

The strings are made of uncoated steel, which makes them susceptible to rust. The bass strings are wrapped in copper, which develops verdigris when it gets damp. Verdigris is poisonous! Always wash your hands thoroughly after touching any.

How often do I need to tune my instrument?

This depends on your own sense of hearing and also on the general humidity, which affects tuning, too. We recommend having the instrument tuned at least once a year.

Can I come by any time to have a look at your products?

As we’re here at the manufactory every workday from 7am till 4pm, why not arrange to visit? In urgent cases, we’ll also be able to find time at short notice.

Do you offer factory tours I can sign up for?

Yes, we do. For a fee of €5 per person, you can take part in an in-depth factory tour that takes around one hour. We also offer group discounts.

What is the difference between the German and the Chinese pianos?

Finishing quality, sound, playability, modulation of the notes.

Why do you supply so many vertical and grand piano variants?

The instrument’s size needs to be made to match the space in which it will be played. A vertical piano or small grand will not be heard very well at a concert with an audience of 2000 people because the instrument is simply not loud enough. In the same way, a large concert grand will be too loud when played in a small room, preventing full use of its musical potential.

Has Niendorf always been in Luckenwalde?

Yes, and we’re very proud of it! The company has been around since 1896, with production located here in Luckenwalde since 1900.

Does a grand piano always have to be black with a shining finish? Could you use unpainted wood instead?

In principle, any variation is possible. Black, however, will most easily match any surroundings. Ultimately, of course, it’s a question of personal preference.

Do you build instruments for the German market only, or are they available internationally? If so, where do you deliver to?

We supply both national and international markets. Besides Germany, we also deliver to England, the Netherlands, Spain and China. One by one, we are adding more countries.

Do all piano models come with the same number of keys?

Yes, all vertical and grand pianos always have a total of eighty-eight keys (white and black).

How many people do you employ at Niendorf?

At present, we employ a total of twenty-three people, apprentices included.

How many pianos do you make a year?

At the moment, we produce between fifty and sixty instruments a year.

Is the company still growing?

We started in April 2015 with six people. Now, three years later, there are already twenty-three of us. We plan to employ more staff and increase production further.