Piano of the Month: Get to Know the Essex
The Essex piano is a relatively new member of the piano world, introduced in 2000. Yet, as a member of the Steinway family, the Essex draws on Steinway’s more than 150 years of experience. When designing the Essex, Steinway’s goal was to make the best piano available at an affordable price point. We think they succeeded. Here’s why:
It’s in the Details
In order to really understand what makes the Essex special, you’ve got to take a look inside. Steinway has always believed that details matter. And getting the details right means choosing the right materials and the right process of putting them together. It means only using high quality hardwood in the action (instead of plastic substitutes like their competition) and premium grade felt on every single hammer.
Here are just a few specific examples of what makes an Essex special:
1) The soundboard is a critical piece of any piano as it functions as a speaker, amplifying and shaping sound. This is why Essex soundboards are made from premium straight grain solid spruce that maximizes tone quality. It also allows the strings to vibrate more freely, creating a powerful, sustained tone.
2) The Essex incorporates design features to maximize the support of the soundboard, which increases the strength and stability of the piano. In their grand piano, this includes radial bracing. In the upright piano, you can see it in the massive staggered back posts. Other pianos at this price point don’t provide this same level of support.
3) The pinblock in an Essex, a part which ensures stability in the tuning pins, is made from hard maple and layered multi-directionally. This gives it an exceptionally tight fit, applying uniform pressure on the pins which helps the piano to stay in tune longer.
The result is that Essex pianos use more high-quality materials than any other entry-level piano.
A Sound to Remember
While it’s nice to know about the construction and materials of an Essex, the real question—the one most prospective piano buyers ask—is: how does it sound? How do all the carefully-chosen materials and detailed processes translate into something you can hear?
Each decision about materials and process is made with sound in mind. An Essex piano has a tonal richness and ring that is unparalleled in its price range. It also has a larger dynamic range. As with any piano, we can customize the sound to fit your ear. This large dynamic range means we have more options available. The precision in materials and manufacture process allows the pianos to offer heightened responsiveness and control to players so that anyone who sits down to play—whether they be an accomplished pianist or a new beginner—can express themselves more effectively and experience more joy while playing.
Created for Your Home
Steinway is partnering with the renowned furniture designer William Faber to design pianos with homes (not concert stages) in mind. This means that the Essex was made to look beautiful in your home. Of course, you can choose between a grand or an upright Essex—but you also have many more choices than that. The pianos come in different looks and colors so that you can find one that fits with your personal style and the look of your home. Yet no matter what exterior you select, you can rest assured that the interior remains the same quality.
All in the Steinway Family
Most people know that the Steinway brand was born in New York City and that the pianos continue to be produced there—as well as in Germany. (Read more about Steinway’s history here.) What about the Essex? Where is it made?
Essex pianos are made at the Pearl River factory in China. Sometimes people ask: if the Essex is made in a separate place, is it really part of the Steinway family or is it just another piano? To us, the family resemblance is clear. The Essex is a Steinway adapted to fit a broader budget range. It brings with it the quality of Steinway design, selectness in materials and rich sound. Just as Toyotas are made in more than one place and yet still remain Toyotas, pianos in the Steinway family made in other places still retain their Steinway connection.
One of the best parts of being part of the Steinway family is that all Essex pianos come with the Steinway promise: if you trade up from an Essex to a Steinway within ten years of your purchase, you can apply the full original price of the Essex toward your new Steinway purchase. And if you visit us at Steinway of Madison, we can extend that promise even further. Read more about that here.
We think the Essex is the best piano out there in its price range—but you don’t have to take our word for it! The best way to get to know the Essex is to come by and take a closer look. While you’re here, take a peek inside, and of course sit down and play a few notes. Who knows? This first introduction might be the beginning of a long-term relationship.
For more information about the Essex, read about it on Steinway’s page here.
Watch a You Tube video about Essex pianos by clicking here.
For information comparing Essex piano construction to other popular pianos, click here.