Modern Piano Construction
It might surprise many to learn that some of the best piano makers in the world use high-tech machinery in their piano construction process. Many seem to think that fine quality is synonymous with hand-crafted. However, most piano companies use a combination of hand crafting and automated machinery to produce their pianos. Machining has done a great deal to improve quality and consistency in the piano industry as well as enable the large production runs that many manufacturers maintain. After all, piano makers are in the business to make money and efficiency is necessary to remain competitive. None of this means that the use of machinery in piano factories is negative though. Machinery requires just as much skill and care to operate as hand tools. The best indication of a piano's quality is measured by the attention and care given to the instrument throughout the building process. This typically relies on the happiness of the employees and good company management. If a piano company makes work rewarding and pleasing to the employee while also requiring from them a complete dedication to exacting production standards, a fine quality instrument usually results.
Below are two videos showcasing how a piano is made. One is from Mason & Hamlin's production floor and the other is from the Czech maker Petrof - both make very high quality pianos. Note the skill and speed of the workers and technicians. The book and DVD selections to the right are also great introductions to the art of piano construction. Many of these are focused on world-renowned Steinway pianos, which are enshrouded in a great deal of legend and lore.