Genealogy of the Steinway grand pianos

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This page provides an overview of the genealogy of Steinway - wing .


For the first three years from 1853 onwards, Steinway & Sons exclusively manufactured table pianos . These were in use much longer in the USA than in Europe, where they gradually disappeared from 1855 and were replaced by the uprights. The table pianos also reached sizes in the USA with the triple-stringed and cross-stringed versions that had never been made in Europe, and did not die out in the USA until around 1900 - Steinway manufactured the last table pianos (some also call them "transverse grand pianos") in 1888.

The first grand pianos from 1856 were initially the size of a concert grand (above 2.40 m, here the first about 2.48 m long). At first they were just strung, i. H. not yet crossed in the bass. They were derived from the design of the Erard company , Paris, which was recognized as a world leader at the time - the concert grand piano with which Franz Liszt toured Europe, for example .

The grand pianos were improved in a short time through intensive work, primarily by the two "Henrys", father Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg and his technically extremely talented third son Henry Jr., and developed from the origins of the Erard copies in quick succession. Henry Steinway Jr. is considered the father of the modern grand piano, despite his untimely death at the age of only 35 in 1865.

From 1859, Henry Jr. and his father also built grand pianos below the concert size - the so-called Parlor Grands, salon grand pianos for the bourgeois upper class. They had a length of approx. 220 cm and were the forerunners of the wings classified with the letter "C" from 1878 onwards. The concert grand pianos were later identified with the letter D. Early identifications were called “styles” and were a mix of size classes and housing designs.

The main development of Henry's eldest brother Theodor Steinweg , who had to come to New York from Germany after Henry's death in 1865, was the work of the so-called "full armor", the covering of the sensitive sound post with the full cast plate, then the improvement of the game mechanics, and the duplex scale developed together with Hermann von Helmholtz . The last changes were the Sostenuto pedal, which was post-patented in the USA in 1874 for Albert Steinway, the youngest brother, and the pilot screws introduced by Theodor in March 1875, which made it easier to dismantle the mechanism frame above the keys. These developments resulted in the “Centennial D” concert grand piano, completed shortly before Christmas 1875 , which then won prizes in the piano builder competition at the “Centennial” World Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 to celebrate the centenary of the US Constitution.

In 1878 two smaller wing types were put on the same technical basis, "Vollpanzer", i.e. H. the sound post is covered under the cast plate, duplex scale, the improved game mechanics and the sostenuto. These wing types were called "B" (approx. 210 cm) and "A" (approx. 182 cm).

This was accompanied by the gradual replacement of the “segmented” wooden plank housing; Theodor had adapted the case production already known in furniture construction in glued thick layers , thick veneers , so that from 1878 the grand piano cases were also manufactured in this way. This saved considerable costs and avoided rejects. The conversion of the larger wings C and D from the constructed case (assembled case) to the so-called rim took place in 1880.

But the C-wings were still an old construction of the two "Henrys" - Theodor Steinway, the technician responsible for the further development after Henry Jr., did not like these wings at all. They were made far too lavishly for him. Even before 1865, in correspondence with his father and brothers from Germany, Theodor had always endeavored to ensure that Steinway started manufacturing high pianos and offered cheaper pianos and grand pianos. When he then had to come to his family to New York in 1865, Theo brought along both prepared piano constructions and several employees from his Braunschweig workshop.

With the permission of William, his younger brother, main shareholder and boss of the company, Theo set about redesigning the entire wing production in his own way. The old designs of father Heinrich and brother Henry should disappear. Theo converted the C-wing onto the rim and donated a full plate with a soundpost cover, lengthening it by two centimeters. But the saloon grand still only had 85 keys.

One of the changes that can be traced back to Theo Steinway's influence at a very early stage was the optional delivery of simply designed, black satin-finish lacquered wings without rosewood veneer, without the carved decorations and borders that were previously intended for private customers - the design plain , i.e. simple and smooth. Previously, without exception, all grand pianos (and the table pianos) were veneered in brown wood, mostly "Rosewood" (rosewood), and equipped with extensive carved borders and artistically designed, carved legs in S-shape ("lion paws"). The new "smooth" design was available from around 1866 at least for the salon grand pianos. The semi-gloss finish was applied in several brushes, at least seven layers, each of which took three to four days to dry. The last two coats were only applied by the most experienced painters, shortly before delivery. At any given time, about 500 to 600 grand pianos and upright pianos were stored to dry alone in the finishing department at Steinway until the change to nitro lacquer.

Theo Steinway worked the centennial grand into a considerably lighter instrument, which offers advantages in stage handling. He changed the old, symmetrical layout of the five string fields from 17-18-18-18-17 notes per string field to 20 bass notes. Centennial-D are clearly recognizable by the copper-wound, crossed first six tenor tones, which the modern D-grand piano no longer has. Theo also made the eminently strong cast plate of the Centennial wing much easier. His D-grand piano, which appeared in 1884, was then almost 200 kilograms lighter than the winner's grand piano at the world exhibition - while maintaining the sound quality achieved with the Centennial D. You can see the difference in the side view from the fact that the housings of the early concert grand pianos, including the Centennial D, have a lower edge on the same level, while the newer Steinway D-274 is stepped backwards, the housing is slimmer behind the playing mechanism, the lower edge upwards offset. The D-wing type from 1884 is still today - almost unchanged, only small detail modifications - the flagship of the company.

The last development work by Theodor Steinway was the C-227 grand piano, which came out two years later for the first time with the full 88 keys, which replaced the previous "Parlor Grand" 220 cm, which had also been called "C" since 1878. With the new C-227 grand piano, Theo considered his work for New York to be over, he retired to Braunschweig and died there three years later.

From the years 1878 to approx. 1930 there are a majority of mainly A-variants with a sound system that differs in detail. The variant A-3 with a 194 cm case length achieved the greatest appreciation among all A's, although it obviously cannibalized the more expensive B-211 size too much in sales and was therefore taken out of the range.

Theo Steinway's nephew Henry Ziegler, son of his sister Dorothea (Doretta), had been Theo's confidante and right-hand man for many years. The first independent work of the new head of development, Ziegler, after Theo's death in 1889 was the expansion of the "small" grand piano sizes A and B from 85 keys to 88, which took place in 1892/93. Since then, the world of Steinway buyers has cared about whether a grand piano has the full 88 keys or just the previous 85.

Subsequently, Henry Ziegler developed an even smaller grand piano, which came out in 1900 under the deviating letter "O". Ziegler called this development "Miniature Design". Further shortenings were later derived from the O design, but the division of the string fields was identical to that of the O wing. With the sizes M-170 (1911) and then S-155 (1935), the lower limit was reached, which are considered "real Steinway grand pianos" - in contrast to today's Boston and Essex grand pianos, which are cheaper here in this listing of the genealogy of the Steinway grand pianos does not matter.

There is thus initially a temporal development from large to smaller wings. At first there was only one size, the concert grand. Then there were two sizes, the concert grand and the salon grand, then the smaller A and B sizes, all works that were completed by 1886. Then, after 1900, there were also the three types of even smaller grand pianos O, M and S of the "Miniature Design". The O-type was alternately added to the type L, which is a version of the O with a wider wing tip and better sound properties and was only manufactured in phases in New York. In contrast, today's C-227 is a grand piano that has only been manufactured in Hamburg for a long time.

These are essentially three classes of Steinway grand pianos, which differ in the characteristics of their keyboard layout and division of the string fields, and which use the same playing mechanics and keyboards within their classes.

Type size String fields Bass notes keyboard
D. 274 5 20th CD
C. 227
B. 211 4th 20th FROM
A. 188
O / L 180 4th 26th OMS
M. 170
S. 155

From the types M and O, grand pianos were then prefabricated in cooperation with the suppliers of player roll pianos at Steinway & Sons, which essentially consisted of the sound system of the M and the slightly longer housing of the O to give space for the Installation of the pneumatic play unit between the keyboard and sound system. The game mechanics were given significantly longer keys the length of a concert grand, but disadvantageously a control of the catchers, which worsen the playing characteristics when playing by yourself without pneumatics.

The following list of the development of the wings over the years is roughly arranged according to the eras of the respective company presidents and owners.

Wing changes after years


  • A, B, C, D are wing sizes, corresponding to approx. 188, 211, 227, 274 cm in length.
  • Grand piano are at Steinway grand piano with a length of about 248-274 cm in series production. Parlor Grands are approx. 220 cm long.
  • Production in Hamburg differs from production in New York with some minor deviations.
  • SN # = serial number from the number book , the continuous recording of the number allocation during final production shortly before delivery. The numbers given in the tables were reached at some point during the respective calendar year.

Overview: milestones

year Sizes Responsible developer Event, innovation
1856 D. Henry E. Steinway, Henry Steinway Jr. Concert grand approx. 248 cm
1858 D. Henry Steinway Jr. Bass crossover
1859 C. Henry Steinway Jr. Semi-concert grand "Parlor Grand" approx. 220 cm
1863 D. Henry Steinway Jr. 88 keys
1863 CD Henry Steinway Jr. Elimination of straight strings
1865 D. Henry Steinway Jr. No 85 keys
1870 B. Theodore Steinway New size "Monitor Grand" approx. 210 cm
1872 CD Theodore Steinway Metal tubes for mechanical frame
1875 D. Theodore Steinway Covered sound post, duplex, pilot screws, sostenuto
1876 D. Theodore Steinway Centennial competition
1878 FROM Theodore Steinway Rim wings made of glued thicknesses, new size A, initially approx. 182 cm
1879 C. Theodore Steinway Covered sound post
1880 CD Theodore Steinway Rim from thick
1881 CD Theodore Steinway Elimination of all "built" housings
1884 D. Theodore Steinway Modern D-274
1886 C. Theodore Steinway,
Henry Ziegler
Modern C-227
1892/93 FROM Henry Ziegler 88 keys
1900 O Henry Ziegler New size O-180
1911 M. Henry Ziegler New size M-170
1935 S. Paul Bilhuber New size S-155

1853–1871: Heinrich Engelhard Steinway era

SN #
Changes, innovations
# 483
March company foundation

In the years up to 1860 there were several workshops and a lumber yard in south Manhattan. The exact number of workshops used is no longer traceable.

# 1000
First pair of straight (concert) grand pianos, 85 keys # 791 and 792.

Concert grand pianos often have “pair numbers” of consecutive production, if they were not only produced in parallel, but also entered one after the other in the number book and then leave the company.

# 2000
First bass-crossed grand piano # 2207. The bass crossover is considered to be the great feature of Henry Steinway Jr.'s grand piano construction. A year later he received the patent for it. They existed before with table pianos, but only the advancing production technology as well as Henry's contacts in the New York foundries and his insistence solved this problem. With the bass crossover, the bridge to stimulate the soundboard can move into the middle at the back of the grand piano and thus vibrate more freely.
# 3000
First Parlor Grand # 2485 (salon grand, smaller than a concert grand, in the size class 220 cm). Salons, equipped with a grand piano, the Parlor Grand, were very popular among the emerging upper middle class as the center of social and family life. After 1860, concert grand pianos had outgrown most households in size.
# 5000
The new factory opened in what was then north Manhattan, 52nd Street south of Central Park on 5th Avenue. It is sold in 1909 after the Dittmars Plant opened.
# 7000
First concert grand with 88 keys # 7894
# 9000
Last stringed grand piano # 9214
# 11,000
Last concert grand with 85 keys. All Steinway grand pianos from the years up to 1886 that have a full 88 keys must therefore be concert grand pianos with lengths of 248 to 274 cm. From 1886 the C-grand pianos also have 88 keys, from 1893 all New York grand pianos, and from 1906 all Steinway grand pianos, including those made in Hamburg.
# 17,000
First Parlor Grand # 19.434 with covered sound post, experimental version.

December Patent application for the mechanical metal frame with soldered brass tubes and wooden dowels

# 21,000
"Monitor Grand" # 25.006, the first "Cupola" record with a covered sound post, experimental forerunner of the B-grand piano, seven copies are known. The soundpost cover is the distinctive feature of those grand pianos that were improved or redesigned by Theo Steinway.

"Monitor Grand" was subsequently an advertised sales name, but until 1878 these grand pianos (approx. 210 cm) were equipped with a conventional, open sound post (which was shorter than the salon grand).

1871–1896: William Steinway Era

SN #
Changes, innovations
# 25,000
First grand piano with compression bar , an adjustable pressure bar in the bass section of the soundboard. This change to make the arched soundboard adjustable lengthways and crossways with a bar with pressure screws was short-lived. After the introduction of the Centennial type in 1875/76, problems arose that the ever higher string tensions caused the soundboard to collapse. You can recognize sunken soundboards by the insufficient bridge pressure , the pushing up of the strings on the bridge. There is an exchange of letters between Theo and William in which the older brother warns the younger that this could result in complaints. In 1878 this detail therefore disappeared again.

Steinway grand pianos are built for tension. This and the use of wood as a natural material is the reason for the wide range of different sound properties of new grand pianos.

# 27,000
March: Start of operations at the Rikers foundry, Queens, as one of the first Astoria operations. Initially, the keyboards and the cast come from the Rikers Plant. Theo Steinway had tried out a special mixture of the otherwise simple gray cast iron, which was distinguished by twice the strength. He achieves this by adding sulfur and manganese. Having your own foundry proves extremely useful for the further development of several wing models.

The Rikers Plant is still the manufacturing site in New York City today. However, the foundry was closed in 1940 after silicosis was recognized as an occupational disease in foundries in general (not the Steinway foundry) and the New York authorities cracked down on foundries.

# 31,000
Sostenuto (US) patent. The sostenuto (tone holding pedal, without influencing the notes played afterwards) was a French invention by Boisselot & Fils , Marseille. The youngest brother Albert Steinway improved it and had it patented in New York.

Until 1875, the decorative wings on the pilaster strips show the vertical notches, as is characteristic of the wings by Erard. The design of the pilaster strips, and in earlier decades also the appearance of the front edge of the keys, was a closely guarded authenticity feature in old European guild times. Every piano maker had his own signature in these jewelry details.

Steinway was far enough away from the French so they didn't have to fear being prosecuted for copies of European wing details. The pilaster strips a la Erard can also be seen as a bow of the Steinway brothers to the art of Erard, whose wings served as a template for the first Steinway grand piano in 1856. Exactly the same pilaster strip can also be seen on the wings of the Braunschweig production facility by Grotrian- Helfferich-Schulz, Th. Steinweg Nachf., Until around 1875. Theo Steinweg's contracts for the sale of his Braunschweiger shares stipulated that his successors should have access to the New York designs and also the right to use the successor Th. Steinweg for ten years (1865–1875) for commercial purposes - contract passages that for decades for litigation between Steinway & Sons and Grotrian-Steinweg. There are even some grand pianos from Braunschweig from the time the contract expired, which have the daring designation on their key flaps: "Steinway & Sons, New York, Braunschweig" - where the wish to belong to Steinway & Sons, the father of Thought was.

It was a wild time. Patents were ignored or circumvented (Sostenuto), patents were defended, and neither the Steinway brothers nor some of their competitors were particularly hesitant in this regard. Vice versa one saw that those sent from New York to Hamburg or the grand pianos built in Hamburg from 1880 for the German or French market had only two instead of three pedals; the sostenuto was omitted. It was feared that the French company Boisselot & Fils , which invented the sostenuto, or its dealers would cause trouble. So, as a precaution, the sostenuto pedal was left aside. Deliveries to England certainly had it.

The fighter on Steinway & Sons' side was William. He was the one in charge of marketing, company name protection, technical developments and benefits for the company. His brother Theo, on the other hand, had a relaxed relationship with his late ex-partner ( Grotrian's ) son throughout his life . One was in the same hiking and museum club with "the honest clothing sellers of Braunschweig" , among the dignitaries of the Lion City.

First wing with pilot screws # 32.227, from # 33.219 all wings with pilot

First two Centennial D # 33.449 and # 33.610 (W. Steinway diary, December 25, 1875)

The birth of the modern concert grand.

The first Centennial D was later delivered to Hamburg in 1896 and got lost there. The second Centennial exists and is ready to play at San José State University in California , but was equipped with a new soundboard around 2012. The original soundboard was kept - it consists of a durable and valuable tonewood that is no longer available today, the Appalachian white spruce.

# 35,000
First Parlor Grand (C-predecessor) with Cupola (sound post cover) # 35.340
# 40,000
Beginning of using letters A – D for wing sizes.

First wing sizes A and B # 37.879 and # 37.905 already with cupola, duplex and sostenuto, but still with assembled (sectional) housing, no rim.

Last smaller concert grand piano 257 cm (without Capo d'Astro, open sound post) # 38.186.

The years 1876 to 1878 were the only time in the company's history when there were two grand pianos to choose from. The simpler concert grand piano had the old design with an open sound post, no duplex scale, and cost 1,500 US dollars. (Such a specimen from 1878 with rosewood decoration is - still incorrectly dated to 1869 in 2012 - in the Wilhelmsbau of the Technik Museum Speyer ).

The large concert grand, the Centennial (-D), on the other hand, cost 1,800 US dollars.

After the disappearance of the simpler concert grand piano, only the salon grand pianos were briefly built with an open sound post.

First C (Parlor Grand) with Capo d'Astro (instead of agraffes ) # 38.675, still with sectional housing

Last Monitor Grand (B-forerunner) # 38,890

November: first B with rim (case made of glued thicknesses) # 39.692 and # 39.775

1879 Last Parlor Grand C with open sound post # 38.532 and # 38.554

After that, all Steinway grand pianos had the covered sound post.

Last B-wings with sectional housings # 38.987 and # 39.003. Sectional housings can be recognized by the corner strips on the back of the bass and treble walls. The rim wings are more gently rounded at these points without a cornice. (The word rim is catchy, as other English-speaking piano makers refer to any case as a rim, regardless of the manufacturing technique used. It is more precise to speak of the contiguous rim, the continuously curved, corner-rounded case wall.)

After September all grand pianos have adjusting screws on the Unachorda keyboard shift.

1880 First Centennial D with rim # 43,644

First C-wing with rim # 43.791
October: Opening of the factory in Hamburg-Altona, Schanzenstrasse (hereinafter referred to as "Hamburg"). The owners were initially Theo and William Steinway, later the Hamburg shares were brought into the New York company and merged.

First B-wing (as a kit) sent to Hamburg # 42.877

Design change of the Victorian fancy grands (decorative wings): The cabriole legs (lion's paw legs ) disappeared. The new design was the hydrant post legs (hydrant legs design) with turned legs plus longitudinal grooves.

# 45,000
Continuous date records of the foundry . The beginning of initially discontinuous casting data was in 1876.

Last C-wings with sectional housing # 42.741 and # 42.755

Last Centennial D with sectional housing # 43.351 and # 43.372.

Since then, the housings of all Steinway grand pianos have been made of glued thicknesses, recognizable by the curves at the rear end of the bass and treble wall without offset corner strips, see above 1879.

# 50,000
C with new plate # 47.631

A with new plate # 49.461

B with new plate # 49.262

First C-wing with a length of 222 cm # 49.053 and # 49.054 - still 85 keys

Last Centennial D # 50.735 and # 50.961

First D-wing according to the current design # 51.257.

This means that the D-grand piano, top model from Steinway, has been "high-tech" in musical instruments for over 130 years. Only the Cremonese violins have been built and used technically unchanged for a longer time now.

First B with Double Cupola # 52.807

Introduction of the metallic lyre footplate (antifriction trapwork) .

A striking visual feature; A grand piano with a brass plate on the lyre must therefore be younger than 1884, or it has been changed afterwards.

# 55,000
Last C-grand piano of the "Henry" design origin from 1862 with 85 keys # 54.358 and # 56.306

First C-227 current design with 88 keys, 20 bass tones # 58.952 (as a kit to Hamburg)

Shortened D-design, last technical development work by Theodor Steinweg, who then retired to Braunschweig for private life and died there in 1889.

The C is also known among connoisseurs as the most gay Steinway (the "gayest" or the happiest of all Steinway grand pianos) - because it does not have the carrying to cutting sound of the D, but a softer tone. The clear advantage of the C is that it has the same keyboard, mechanism and hammer weights as the D, making it the ideal training machine for all professional pianists who cannot or do not want to pay for a D-274. Concert pianists will find the same playing conditions on the C as on the D. Like the D, its plate is segmented five times on strings, in contrast to the smaller grand pianos with only four strings, which some professionals discredit as a "toy". The correct name for the C-227 is "semi-concert grand". A C-227 is extremely rare to find, partly because it is significantly more expensive than a B-211. The "dream grand piano" of all private piano enthusiasts is obviously the B-211. Its used prices are clearly the highest, well ahead of concert grand pianos.

# 60,000
Production of the last square pianos Steinway started with in 1853, # 61.612 and # 62.872.

In 1888 they disappeared from the Steinway catalog.

# 65,000
Rosewood ( rosewood ) is no longer the standard version, since then it has cost a surcharge.
Mahogany , American walnut , American oak and English oak as execution classifications for fancy grands (pianos with a special, carved and decorated case) are assessed in terms of costs by Frederic Steinway, who later became president.

Last delivery of five square pianos from stock.

There was an annual meeting of US piano manufacturers at the beginning of the 20th century. The official end of the table pianos should be celebrated with a celebration. The manufacturers were invited to bring one or more of the table pianos, which had meanwhile become almost unsaleable, with them. They were piled up in a pile over twelve meters high - and then ceremonially burned.

# 70,000
After the concert operations in Steinway Hall were closed (due to the new Carnegie Hall): final production of grand pianos (polishing, adjusting, voicing) now in Steinway Hall 14th Street (instead of the factory on 52th Street)

First B with 88 keys # 73.212 and # 73.226

Last D with Capo d'Astro for notes 36–53 # 69.930

First D with agraffes for notes 36–53 # 69.932

First A with 88 keys # 74.766

Last B with 85 keys # 75.473 and # 75.527

Last grand piano with the 1860 design of the openwork music stand # 77.871

# 75,000
Last A with 85 keys # 76.040 and # 76.043
# 85,000
First A-2 (approx. 188 cm) with a wide end analogous to B-wing # 85.985

1896–1919: Charles H. Steinway Era

SN #
Changes, innovations
Last A-1 according to the old layout # 88.159 and # 88.163, as well as the Art-Case wings # 88.836 and # 88.837

Art cases ("art cases ") were again much more elaborate than the earlier Victorian cases. Some of the wings were intricately carved in the Steinway works by the employees of the Ayuso family, father and two sons. In some cases, external artists and designers were commissioned to decorate finished grand pianos, or they were given empty housings to convert, into which Steinway then subsequently built the sound systems. The Art Case pianos were often three to ten times more expensive than a normal grand piano. There were certain times of the oil barons ( Rockefeller ) and railroad barons ( Andrew Carnegie ) as well as the bankers ( Chase Manhattan ), whose houses on Long Island were not considered fully furnished unless a specially ornate Steinway grand piano was in the living room and lounge.

# 95,000
First O-wing # 96.766

Appearance of the " Sheraton design" of the pilaster strips , previously on some art cases .

# 105,000
The Ditmars factory opens on a hill about three kilometers south of the Rikers Plant, away from the damp down on the East River. After the purchase of Ditmars Plant, the Manhattan factory from 1860 on 5th Avenue and 52nd Street was dispensable and sold at a high profit. The Ditmars Plant was increased by several floors in the following years, but sold again in 1958.

D-wing with Art Case for the White House # 100,000

# 110,000
Last O with straight bass bridge (up to approx. # 108,000?)
# 115,000
Last A with long scale up to approx. # 117,000?

First A with short scale from around # 117,000?

Long scale and short scale are terms used to design the sound system and to compare improved grand piano types.

# 120,000
The production in Hamburg is now self-sufficient, no longer dependent on supplies from New York.
# 125,000
Other legs (design no.14 ) and lyre for A and B
# 130,000
Contract with M. Welte & Sons for player-roll instruments, initially pianos
# 135,000
Contract with Aeolian for player roll instruments, initially pianos:
  • Steinway does not manufacture player instruments itself, but supplies Aeolian with prepared instruments for player equipment
  • Contract duration 25 years
# 140,000
Sheraton Design Sketch # 380 becomes the regular design of New York instruments.

The O-grand pianos have had the design, recognizable by the angular key flap, since the beginning of 1900. Since then, the New York instruments have been distinguished from the Hamburg instruments primarily by the angular key flap, although the other design is also available on request. This especially plays a role in the significantly higher esteem that Hamburg instruments with their rounded key flaps had at certain times compared to New York products.

First A with Sheraton # 142.062

First B with Sheraton # 143.258

First O for Aeolian # 141.041

# 145,000
# 150,000
First A-2 to Aeolian # 145.653

First M wing, shortened O layout # 150.293

# 160,000
First A-3 (approx. 194 cm) # 161.865 and # 163.422
# 165,000
First M for Aeolian # 168.454 and # 169.538
# 180,000
Last A-2 for Aeolian # 185.531
# 190,000
First A-3 for Aeolian # 191.001

1919–1927: Frederick T. Steinway era

SN #
Changes, innovations
# 200,000
Key flaps at D with "hinged front flap"

First D to Aeolian # 196.923

B in Chippendale design # 200,000

# 215,000
# 220,000
Change to the Sheraton design:

Now no more “niche” on the pilaster strips, but a continuous curve at A and B; the niche remains on the C and D wings for the time being.

First L-wing for Aeolian # 217.991 (L replaces O)

Last O-wing for Aeolian 220.723

# 225,000
M-pilaster strips in a curve without a niche

Name XR at Aeolian, no longer MR

Last normal O-wing # 227.471

Last Art-Case-O # 251.019

O with the curved bass bridge still in Hamburg

From 2005 O-wings in New York production again

# 230,000
End of the old painting technique with approx. # 232.400
# 240,000
Hammer cores in the middle made of mahogany, in the treble walnut

Changed game depth from 0.375 '' to 0.390 ''

First M in Hamburg, # 238.685 and # 243.015

1927–1957: Theodore E. Steinway era

SN #
Changes, innovations
# 250,000
# 255,000
There is no veneer between the key wood and the celluloid front

New sash support with fold-out "coat hook" (small cover support)

Conversion of nickel-plated parts to brass

# 260,000
Changes to the design of the plates and clasps, new ones are marked with *
# 271,000
Start of development for the S-wing

Last wings to Aeolian

# 273,000
# 274,000
First case for S-155

First wing with Accelerated Action # 274.919

# 275,000
Contract with Aeolian ended

August: New York factories reopen after the Great Depression

# 278,000
Change of lyre

Prototype S-155 # 289.977

# 279,000
Rim height of the A and B wings reduced to the size of the O wing

First wings of type S-155 # 280.900 and 280.968

S and M without locks

# 281,000
# 284,000
Patents for "Accelerated Action" and for the "Diaphragmatic Soundboard"

The accelerated action (accelerated / faster mechanics) goes back to a suggestion of the pianist Józef Hofmann , who was also the inventor. The decisive point in the implementation, which was patented for the chief technician Paul Billhuber, was the rounding of the front balance arm around which the wing key rotates. By means of this change, it should be possible to strike up to 14% faster with fast repetitions or tone repetitions. This change only found its way into the New York wings.

The “diaphragmatic soundboard”, the soundboard with thinner ground in the corners and edges, allows the soundboard to vibrate a little more freely - with the risk that the weaker support of the soundboard can lead to a somewhat earlier fatigue. This design of the spherically raised soundboard is - despite its ingenious, highly competent interpretation by the young Henry Steinway around 1860 - a fundamental point of great concern in grand piano design. This is where the typical balancing act takes place, a border crossing - in order to maintain an advantage you have to be prepared to give up security with other parameters. One can avoid the weakening either by not building the cant, or by making the soundboard thicker - which prevents it from swinging freely. If there is no camber, you need a different connection between the strings and the bridge. And the focus, the long carrying of the grand piano sound, suffers without the "projection" that a well-curved soundboard has in connection with the highest possible string tension.

August: Pilot screws again vertically in the key (instead of below 68 degrees).

Note: a date is missing from when the inclination of the pilot's screws had previously been changed to 68 degrees.

Last New York C-wing # 285.748

# 289,000
Elimination of all locks, unless in special order

Reduced height of the lid support to 27.5 inches, concert version of the B remains at 30 inches, D at 33 inches

White ivory keys with no overhanging leading edge

# 290,000
Lowering of the rim height at S and M

September: Second Art Case D Wing # 300,000 as a gift to the American people for the White House

# 294,000
Changes to the wing legs with the exception of the D. Old: Design- # 9, new: L-legs

First Louis XV grand piano design No. 1056, pp. # 296.915 and # 298.503

# 300,000
Change of music stands for S, L and M according to design no. 320

At the end of the year, key making and foundry operations in the Rikers-Plant come to an end.

# 319,000
Production resumed after the World War

First "Georgian" B # 319.831 and # 322.899 (case style)

Before that, piano styles were named in the production statistics, names "Chippendale", "Queen Anne", "Regency", "Victory", "Hepplewhite", "Federal", of which it is unclear whether and from when grand pianos will be made with them were.

# 324,000
The lettering "NA" on the keyboard frame, which previously identified the New York keyboards, has been omitted. NA = new action, new game mechanics, accelerated action.

New York itself builds keyboards to a greater extent than Hamburg. Hamburg has keyboards supplied by Kluge Keys , Remscheid, some of the individual parts of which come from Louis Renner , Gärtringen. For a long time New York manufactured the parts of the keyboard itself, then bought the keys from Pratt, later also from Kluge, and still manufactures the hammer handles and hammers itself. The repetitions, the connecting links, were manufactured by New York for a very long time, but they have long been sourced from Renner - not according to the Renner design, but still according to the design that Henry and Theo Steinweg specified in the period 1860 to 1875 , with a single tiny change in about the 1910s - to make the hammer ram stop in the repeater leg adjustable by means of a screw, a change by Henry Ziegler.

The lettering “Ivory”, which was useful to distinguish it from celluloid, is omitted .

# 328,000
Appearance changes for the B, concert polish, mahogany, walnut
# 331,000
Changes to the writing ("Decalcomania"), also when renovating wings
# 340,000
100th anniversary

May: Zinc- plated tuning nails
book “People and Pianos” by Theodore E. Steinway on the occasion of the company's centenary

# 346.500
From June: tuning nails nickel- plated

Panels with shrink varnish

1957–1972: The Henry Z. Steinway era

SN #
Changes, innovations
1956 Ivory stopped, replaced by “composition key covering”, a mixture of softer plastic with harder particles embedded in it to generate comparable friction.

This change was promoted by the last family president, Henry Z. Steinway, but the concert grand pianos were initially excluded. The international CITES organization based in Paris monitors the restrictions on the trade in ivory . Replacement materials in piano construction were pieces of bones, partly also mammoth ivory from Russian sources, and many different surfaces made of plastic materials. Some pianists can easily cope with plastic, others sweat a lot on their fingers and want a material that can absorb sweat. Ivory is ideal for this, to this day nothing better is known in this regard. Ivory editions from the natural demise of known elephant populations with CITES certificate are now available on special request - but at very high prices.

# 362,000
Shrink-coated panels end. Now again as before "smooth finish"

July: Damper lever with nuts, experimental, in production from December

October: new font on the D and the concerts of the B

# 370,000
December: Decision to use Teflon sockets in the grand piano mechanism (New York only). See the explanations under 1982, the year of the discontinuation.
# 375,000
March: Teflon installation begins
# 380,000
March: Hexagrip Patent ( soundpost )

No stamp [EBONIZED] on the plates of "ebonized" (black lacquered) wings

# 385,000
January: last wing not fully equipped with Teflon bushings
# 400,000
Hamburg: D-wing # 400,000

1972–1985: CBS era

SN #
Changes, innovations
# 450,000
Plate changes to the support for L, S and M ("plate wedge", based on a patent from May 1872 (sic))
# 455.300
Oval medallion on the plates
# 478.500
Grand Permafree Bushings II, replacement of the Teflon bushings

The technicians fought over the Teflon bushings for twenty years. Steinway New York wanted to introduce it as modern and also force Hamburg to do so, but the Hamburg technicians were not convinced. It turned out that the non-absorption of moisture in the Teflon with the changing seasons could create a noise problem because the surrounding wood grew and shrank, but Teflon did not: this was noticeable with soft clicking noises - a phenomenon that too experienced piano tuners and technicians could not get away. The last family management team under Henry Z. Steinway ignored this insight.

Only the change of ownership to CBS led to a radical change. They returned to the felt-lined bearings, but the felt was impregnated with a liquid in which finely ground Teflon particles were dissolved in order to save face. The bearings have been called "permafree bushings" ever since, and upon request you will be informed that they "naturally" contain modern Teflon, so no step backwards.

For precise identification, read the three essential components of the grand piano mechanics: 1- the key, which is felt-mounted on a balance pin and a guide pin, 2- the hammer with handle and joint, the so-called "nut", which has two tiny wire pins Felt tube is articulated, 3- the connecting link between the button below and the hammer above, the so-called repetition - a triangular wooden frame of extremely clever construction based on a concept by Sébastien Érard from 1821, the "double English" repetition, in which three of these tiny wires do service in their felt camps. The individual parts of all this, every piece of wood, every piece of wire and metal, every piece of felt counted individually, make up about 90% of the approx. 12,000 individual parts of the grand piano.

# 488,000
Game mechanics change, New Yorker wheels 1 mm further away from the axis, like Hamburg (16 => 17 mm)
# 493,000
Change of supplier for keys, from Pratt Read (sugar pine) to Kluge (Bavarian Fichte)

1985-1995: Birmingham Era

SN #
Changes, innovations
# 507.700
D-wing # 500,000
# 523.500
B-wing, curve of the "V-bar" (plate support that runs left from the serial number to the rear right to the attachment pins) modified

June: Patent on hammer reinforcement ("Acrylic Copolymer", impregnation of the hammer handles with a hardening plastic solution)

# 527,000
Crown Jewel Collection
# 533.500
"Instruments of the Immortals", jewelery pianos with reference to the advertising campaign of the 20s, "Instruments of the Immortals (Pianists)", with case style copies of the 1880s for B and L pianos

1995–2013: Kirkland-Messina era

SN #
Changes, innovations
# 537.200
Changeover of the mechanical parts in New York from Herrburger Brooks to Renner
# 540,000
100 L and 100 B wings on the occasion of 200 years of HE Steinway, replicas of the J. B. Tiffany cases
# 549.500
Tricentennial grand piano designed by Dakota Jackson on the occasion of the invention of the piano by Bartolomeo Cristofori in the Uffizi in Florence around 1700
Changes to the B-wings with other clasps 12-36, first project of the "Continuous Improvements" as in Hamburg with # 568.816
# 574.500
Expansion of the book “People and Pianos” with additional chapters by Henry Z. Steinway

Resumption of the A-II design, which had been discontinued in New York in 1914, # 568.679
June: second CI project, all A and B are since then with a new plate configuration, key frame, mechanical frame, different duplex sala, housing changes (“new case and top configuration ").

# 578.500
Last L-wings # 574.161 and 574.676

May: Synthetic leather (Escain) for catchers, rolls and balancers
November: "Henry Ziegler Steinway Collection" Art-Case-Grand piano, 91x O, 91x B, 2x D in East India rosewood

# 582.500
June: Revised new edition of the "Worldwide Technical Reference Guide", the technical instructions or regulation for service work on Steinway grand pianos

July: birch instead of walnut for supports to adjust the mechanism height above the keyboard frame

# 584.600
February: William Steinway Collection Art Cases; 115x A and B, 2x D, cabriole legs (lion's paw legs ) and openwork music stands in the style of the Victorian ornamental wings before 1880

July: Application of the serial number by transfer printing from # 581.877

# 587.500
All D with short New York legs and Hamburg concert grand piano rolls from # 584.808
# 589.500
All grand pianos with closer set hammer nuts of notes 69–88

"John Lennon Imagine" -O-grand piano in white polyester, limited series from # 587.743
October: change of music stand, from # 588.688

2018 Special edition Elbphilharmonie , B-211 and O-180


  • Susan Goldenberg: Steinway: From glory to controversy; the family, the business, the piano . Mosaic Press, Oakville (Ontario) 1996, ISBN 978-0-88962-607-2 .
  • Roy F. Kehl, David R. Kirkland: The Official Guide to Steinway Pianos . Amadeus Press, Montclair (New Jersey) 2011, ISBN 978-1-57467-198-8 .
  • Richard K. Lieberman: Steinway & Sons: A Family History of Power and Music . Kindler, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-463-40288-2 .
  • Ronald V. Ratcliffe: Steinway . Chronicle Books, San Francisco (California) 1989, ISBN 0-87701-592-9 .