Advice to help you choose, buy or restore a Bluthner piano (updated 2014)
Blüthner Grand Pianos
We normally stock at least three restored Blüthner grand pianos between 5ft and 6ft 3in long. If you’re thinking of buying a professionally reconditioned Blüthner grand piano then you’re getting a piano with a smooth, light touch (especially in the older “patent” actions models), warm tone and aesthetically pleasing cabinet. Blüthner was the leading manufacturer of domestic pianos from around 1885 to 1910, Blüthners having ideal acoustics for the home, being not too forceful a tone and also having a light to medium smooth touch. The information below assumes the pianos to be fully reconditioned.
Blüthner patent action. These are unique to Blüthner and date from about 1885 to 1915. The actions are very smooth, light and reliable. However the repetition is not as fast as a standard action and some restorers fit a modern action into the older pianos.
Blüthner roller-action. This is a standard piano action found in Blüthner grand pianos after about 1920, though there is a cross-over period and some patent actions appear after this date.
Blüthner Syle 8 grand piano. This and the style 7 are the most common. The one illustrated is also the most common cabinet style with well figured rosewood veneer, turned legs and a slatted desk. the slatted desk is found mostly on post 1900 grands; Earlier ones have a more ornate fretted one.
Blüthner Syle 4/4a grand piano. These two small grands, 5ft and 5ft 5in long, are extremely popular due to their rich warm silky tone and the fact that they are not too powerful, being ideal for a small domestic setting. We try to hold as many in stock as possible but due to their rarity this generally means only two at the most! This one has been fully restored and French polished
Blüthner upright piano in rosewood. Unfortunately Bluthner underdamper uprights are not that common (perhaps one in 10 Bluthner uprights); the majority are overdamped, meaning that the piano tends to ring on instead of cut off cleanly.
Blüthner patent action
Photo taken of a Blüthner style 8 grand. Blüthner patent action (See right) These are the older ones dating from about 1880 to 1924. The action is simpler in design than the normal roller action found in nearly all other pianos. It has the advantage of being smoother,usually lighter. The action doesn’t repeat as fast as the roller action, but this is not very noticeable in normal playing. The most common colours are black (40%) and rosewood (60%). They mostly have turned legs and a slatted or fretted music desk.
Standard roller action
These start from about 1914 onwards though most are from out about 1920. By far the most common is the style 4 baby grand, 4ft 11in, which is one of the best baby grands ever made. It has a smooth touch and fine “silky” tone. They are simple in style with plain music desk and square tapered legs. These cost about £3000 to £5000 (2014) unrestored and we sell them reconditioned from around £9500 to £18,500 (2014) fully restored and custom re-polished. We normally have one or two style 4 Blüthner baby grands in stock, though they are in great demand and becoming hard to find. The most common veneer and colour is mahogany.
Many Blüthner style 4 baby grands from 1920 to 1939 need to have the “action standards” replaced as they form fissures and bow outwards, making correct regulation impossible. This work and action regulation costs about £1200+VAT (2014) provided someone has not previously attempted to repair the regulation without first replacing the standards. This second scenario is often the case, so the piano needs re-regulating and the cost will then be around £2300 +VAT (2014).
Modern Blüthner grands from about 1995
There are not many of these available, but they are generally of excellent quality, perhaps more suited to smaller rooms than the equivalent Steinway.
This refers to a system whereby an extra string was added in the treble section. Most piano technicians today think this unique idea doesn’t really enhance the tone, though styles 8 and 6 fitted with this system are quite common and are excellent pianos.
Older Styles to about 1925
New Styles From 1926
If you’re searching for a restored Blüthner grand piano, bear in mind the following information about the availability. We estimate there are about 30,000 used Bluther grand pianos in the UK, in the following proportions.
|11||154cm||1,100||35% mahogany, 35% black, 20% walnut, 10% other|
|10||166cm||550||30% mahogany, 40% black, 20% walnut, 10% other|
|6||191cm||250||25% mahogany, 55% black, 10% walnut, 10% other|
|4||210cm||50||85% black, 15% other|
|2||238cm||40||90% black, 10% other|
|1||280cm||20||99% black, 1% other|
Blüthner Uprights in the UK
We normally stock one or two Bluthner upright pianos. Used underdamped Bluthner uprights are not very common in the UK; most Bluthner uprights are overdampers and we don’t normally stock these as the dampers don’t cut off too well in the upper treble (see below). Like the grand pianos, upright Bluthners have a mellow tone and smooth action. There are two main categories.
Straight strung and overstrung. These are by far the most common Blüthner uprights (95% of pre 1920 Blüthner uprights; later ones nearly all underdamped) dating mostly from 1880 to 1915. Overdamper means that the mechanism to stop the string after it’s played is above the hammer, and it is not so efficient meaning that there is an echo effect. the damping is especially poor in the upper range of damping. About 50% of these are straight strung.
straight and overstrung: These date from about 1910 onwards and have a fine rich tone and the taller ones a superb action. Mostly rosewood (60%) or black (40%). About 80% are overstrung.
Nearly all Blüthner grands and uprights are exceptionally well made and restore well.
We’ve found considerable inconsistency in the tone of Blüthner overstrung underdampers (not the straight strung ones which are usually consistent in tone). They often have areas that sound “boomy” or patchy, particularly in the mid treble. Consequently we are very careful when buying Blüthners into stock. Should you find one for sale, we recommend getting a tuner to inspect it for you.