Commissioned by Charlottesville Piano Company on
the advent of our 100th Anniversary (1907 – 2007) with the
case designed by Mark Perry of Perry’s Pianos, this instrument was
inspired by the vintage pianos of the turn of the Twentieth Century.
The piano is raised on three carved cabriole supports magnificently
carved of solid Honduran mahogany terminating in scrolled feet supported
by hand-wrought brass casters imported from England . The case features
mahogany veneer and solid mahogany lyre, music rack and ornamentation.
The piano has been autographed by Charles R. Walter, first of three
generations of the Walter family manufacturing hand-crafted pianos
of the highest quality. This particular instrument is the prototype Heritage model;
the first of its kind.
bass string speaking length of 49¼ inches
Soundboard area of 1,854 square inches
mahogany finish with matching artist’s bench
Year after year, our valued clients have entered our
piano shop to browse our new and restored instruments.
While many come to acquire a new or late model
pre-owned grand piano, they invariably gush over
the restored grand pianos, especially those with vintage case designs,
well-turned legs and classic carvings. Our customers almost always
have the same comment, “No matter what piano store we visit,
all the pianos seem to look the same” adding various observations
about how most pianos are black and shiny, or even if finished in mahogany
or walnut, are basically the same square-legged design.
There were two such grand pianos in our shop that gained exceptional
accolades on their architecture. Both were early 1900s grand pianos
finished in mahogany with cabriole legs and intricately carved lyres.
We could have sold dozens of these vintage instruments if only we had
the inventory. We decided to address our customers’ needs for
a historically fashioned grand piano and commissioned the accomplished
piano designer Mark Perry to create this instrument. Mr. Perry patterned
the legs, lyre, and music rack after these turn-of-the-century piano
cases and then hand-carved them from solid wood!
Finding the right manufacturer to create this piano was easy. We required
a hand-crafted instrument with the highest level of engineering and
of course, beautiful hand-rubbed case finishes. We needed the correct
size grand piano to harmonize the length of the piano with the carved
case parts. Most importantly, we wanted to have a piano that was as
lovely a musical instrument as it was a piece of furniture. So we chose
the Walter Piano Company.
Our Story about Walter Pianos
Walter Piano Company has their own story to tell, but we have a better
Walter story, one they won’t tell because they are simply too
modest. The three generations of the Charles R. Walter family have
perfected the art of piano making. They are in 2007, after 32 years
of building pianos, in the same place where Steinway & Sons were
in 1885: one of the best piano manufacturers in the world. Like Steinway
in 1885, Walter has three generations of the same family working at
their plant. Like Steinway in 1885, Walter is still lovingly handcrafting
each of their instruments; not allowing a single one to be shipped
before it is ready. They are, in fact, like Steinway & Sons during
the vintage years when Steinway was still controlled by the Steinway
It is our humble opinion, after 100 years and 3 generations in our own
family playing, tuning, repairing and restoring vintage Steinway
grand pianos, that Charles R Walter, his children and grandchildren,
are currently fashioning some of the finest pianos built in America,
certainly equal to Steinway & Sons!
Learn more about the Walter Piano Company.
More about The Heritage Grand
This piano is the Charles R. Walter W175 grand piano. It has been
manufactured using Renner Action parts, Abel hammers, and the Soundboard
is manufactured from Sitka spruce from Washington state. There are
a couple of new technological advances that make this piano superior
to other pianos of similar size.
The Floating Bass
When a soundboard is installed into the piano, it is attached to the
inner rim all the way around the edge of the soundboard. The Walter
Piano Company discovered a unique method of installing the soundboard
so that the bass section of the soundboard “floats”, as
it is unattached to the inner rim of the piano. This allows the soundboard
to resonate more freely at the bass section enhancing those rich lower
tones. In this way, the 5’ 9” Walter grand piano has the
depth and volume of a piano much larger in size; the rule being, “the
bigger the piano, the bigger the bass.”
Individually Shaped Ribs
A soundboard is not flat, although it certainly looks like it is.
Actually, a soundboard is manufactured using a soundboard press which
results in the soundboard having a convex or contact-lens shape called crown.
This shape causes the board to have a drum-like resonance when struck.
A flat board has little or no resonant quality.
The soundboard is attached to the wooden ribs (which actually look
like ribs when observed from the bottom of the piano). These ribs are
shaped to accommodate the convex shape of the soundboard, and in most
pianos the curved shape of the attachment side of the ribs is the same
for each rib. But on the Walter grand piano, each rib is individually
shaped, and those ribs at the treble section of the piano (the higher
notes) are carved in such a manner as to increase the crown of the
soundboard in that area, thus enhancing the treble notes of the piano.
Hearing Is Believing
Our shop is a magnet for piano enthusiasts and professional musicians. They
come to see what we have in stock on a regular basis; to play a newly
restored concert grand, or to see what unique piano has come our way
this week. The inspiring comment we hear consistently though is, “This
piano is so much better than a Steinway M” meaning the 5’ 7” Model
M. And it should be. It is two inches longer, has the floating bass
and increased crown in the treble section, and quality construction
and engineering throughout, creating a bigger sound, richer bass, and
a sense of depth and warmth not found in pianos of similar size.
The good news is that this piano is priced $15,000 below the mahogany
Steinway M, and $20,000 less than the Steinway M with the comparable
Louis XV case design. We invite you to come play, hear, and see the
Charles R. Walter Heritage Grand Piano.