Boston grand piano, Essex Piano, piano, piano blog, piano showroom, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Steinway B, Steinway Piano Gallery, Walnut Creek

My Piano Assessment adventure at Walnut Creek’s Steinway Piano Gallery

Steinway Piano Gallery

Piano Teachers and performing pianists in the Bay area were tapped to evaluate the tone/touch dimension of Steinway, Boston and Essex pianos so I was pleased to be on the invite list–contacted by Justin Levitt, Manager at Steinway’s showroom in Walnut Creek, CA. It was a reflection of good will spread far and wide by the new Steinway owners who are reaching out to a community that is helping the piano survive amidst crushing digital piano sales.

On a different note, this opportunity was particularly relevant to my own piano’s rocky journey in the regulation realm. My dissatisfaction with technicians had built to crescendo levels, and I had at one point considered putting my M to pasture. I’d replace it with a healthy, well-maintained NEW grand, but before I acted on impulse, I would grab the chance to personally explore a brand new Steinway ‘B’ as a model of relative perfection–affording a smooth, un-blubbered journey in half-steps across the 88’s.

While my tour de force interest was scoping out a Steinway autographed grand at the Gallery, I agreed to assess a Boston grand piano (GP-178-EP) and an Essex EUP-123E Classic studio upright (48″) as part of the total survey project.

As it turned out, the afternoon proved to be very rewarding. Decked out with an iPhone, camcorder and tripod, I managed to film my piano sprint among three instruments, enjoying a compelling interview interlude with store Manager, Justin Levitt.

Naturally, as the historian I’ve become in these regular JOURNAL postings, I was predisposed to record and share my latest piano adventure.

A big Thank You goes to Justin for a very warm welcome and well-informed interview.

And by the way, this very knowledgeable store manager happens to be a pianist and composer, having just released his second music book, By My Side.!product/prd13/2675637191/within-music-book-and-cd

Steinway Piano Gallery Walnut Creek is located at:
1605 Bonanza Street Walnut Creek, CA 94596 (925) 932-0100.

LINKS: (*Note the upcoming piano sale in the East Bay at Zellerbach Concert Hall: by appointment only)


10 thoughts on “My Piano Assessment adventure at Walnut Creek’s Steinway Piano Gallery”

  1. Good report Shirley! How does your older Steinway measure up now that you have played some new ones? How did you like the Boston piano? I also took the same evaluation test over a year ago…played three pianos and gave a written evaluation at the local Steinway Dealer here. If my memory serves me well I played a Boston Grand, an Essex Upright and a Steinway Upright. The last one was outstanding and was superior to the others by a long stretch with a more responsive action and a warm rich tone in loud passages as well as soft passages. I was pleasantly surprised. However the ticket price on the Steinway Upright was through the roof, about $30K.

    I did not like the other two at all. In fact one of my students has a Boston Grand that has a decent tone…(although I have only heard it on recordings that Mom did of her playing and sent me clips and a Skype lesson that was a disaster due to their poor wifi)….however this student has trouble playing the new Kawaii Baby Grand I just purchased because she says her action is lighter and it is easy to play. And so she has to adjust each lesson. I find the Kawaii action more responsive than the Boston pianos on average and I have played several of both brands.


  2. So I’m back home.. I would say hands down (no pun intended) that the B I sampled was very well regulated, and by comparison to my M, fleshed out the latter as a battle scarred key-scape. I knew going into it that my dearly beloved M (1917) would pale beside a new, well-defined, voiced, and regulated B. So it goes. The Boston grand surprised me as having personality and dimension. I do believe it’s a piano to piano situation. One Boston or any other can be a treasure or not depending on many factors. I have played poor Kawai grands and outstanding ones. My GE-20 was a gem re: tone and touch. Had to sell when I relocated.. Would have meant having three pianos in a tiny space.. not to mention my Arius YDP 141. Pianos can come and go, but the “army” of techs around the country needs to be kept in step to preserve our fine pianos. That’s worth too many blogs.. and I’m blogged out on that one. Thanks for sharing, Fran. I always look forward to your feedback.


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