The answer is many things – except the overall quality control and attention to detail which is a constant throughout the factory.
The pianos marked ‘C.Bechstein’ mark the highest possible standards of tonal and playing excellence, where no compromises are made in the manufacturing process. The very best frames from the best German founders, the very best German strings, the best available action parts and timbers are selected. The manufacturing techniques – even the methods used in the various stages of construction – such as the fitting of the soundboard – are all quite different, and considerably more time-consuming.
The construction of the wrest-plank (the block into which the tuning pins are sunk) is quite different. The construction of the soundboard is different, with a sophisticated tapered sound-board – again a much more time-consuming process.
The Bechstein model Concert 8 upright piano is the only one of the upright pianos to have the same design standard as the top concert grands. Once again its construction is very different and very much more time-consuming then the other upright models – and this is why it has earned its widely-held tag of ‘the world’s best upright piano’. All the other C.Bechstein uprights use the same top quality components.
The Bechstein Academy series takes advantage of some of the time-saving developments in manufacture that are widespread in other factories. A massive investment in technology has allowed Bechstein to speed up some of the purely mechanical areas of piano-making, so as to allow the same amount of care and attention in those areas of the process where only the human hand and ear can really give a piano its true voice. These pianos, in the quality of their components and in the methods of their construction, are more comparable to other top-quality German pianos – except that they too receive the incomparable finishing and voicing of C.Bechstein’s finest technicians, making them an obvious, and surprisingly affordable choice amongst pianos in this class.
Zimmermann pianos are Bechstein designed and manufactured. Like the Academy series, they take advantage of all Bechstein’s technical innovation to make savings in manufacturing time without compromising the hand assembly and hand finishing aspects of each piano. Sourcing materials more widely allows for savings in manufacturing costs which find their way through to a ticket price that is extraordinarily low for a product with this pedigree. Just try the Z1 model to see what I mean – this is one of the best pianos we have ever sold!
All in all, Bechstein are rapidly entering another golden era in the company’s history. Where other piano makers are content to stand still, Bechstein are investing everything they can into making the pianos better and better – to making the best pianos in the world. Even in today's difficult market, the Bechstein factory is working round the clock to meet demand, which says much for the enduring popularity of this marque.