New 2.8 Header History of the Piano Action

History of the Piano Action

Renner Found in All Top Quality Pianos

Renner is the largest independent action manufacturer for upright and grand pianos in the world. The company’s success is due to their unsurpassed quality, and ability to produce custom made actions for the individual customer. Europe’s largest manufacturer of upright and grand pianos, Wilhelm Schimmel Pianofortefabrik in Braunschweig, is Renner’s biggest customer. Press the "play" button below to watch a video of Hannes Vogel-Schimmel talking about the Renner action, and their important relationship.

Invention of the Piano Action

Renner is a typical example of the German precision industry as it is acknowledged throughout the world.
The development of the pianoforte to its present form has been decisively related to the development of the hammer mechanism, invented in 1709 by Italian Harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori. The new action made it possible for the instrument to play both soft and loud (in Italian "piano" means "soft" and "forte" means "strong"), hence the name pianoforte. While improvements were always being made to the action mechanism, a half century passed before the pianoforte was able to overcome the initial objections of such influential figures as Johann Sebastian Bach, and prevail over the harpsichord and clavichord.

Action production in Germany

The rise of Germany to an industrial power at the end of the 19th century brought its piano-makers to a new level of status and importance. The progressive companies achieved great advances. Firms such as Ibach, Bosendorfer, Schiedmayer, and lrmler, or "newcomers" such as Bechstein and Blüthner exploited the advantages of technological developments.
The end-user, like the German piano industry itself, should also pay attention to the mechanism when buying a piano… The loveliest sound cannot be achieved if the mechanism is not working with the utmost precision.

Louis Renner began on a very modest level with the production of the piano mechanism in October of 1882. Hand-crafted production was at the heart of the company’s beginnings. The history of Renner is closely related to that of the German piano industry and their increasing demands for more specialized industrial production methods.

When the Renner company moved into a new factory building in 1902 there were 35 employees. By 1911 there were 100 employees and a new wing had to be added to the factory. Gradually, more and more machines found their way into the production process. Skilled craftsmanship was reserved for the important production stages, especially the comprehensive quality controls without which a superior product cannot be produced. The number of aemployees rose to 175 by the First World War. More labor-saving methods were developed as new machinery was introduced. Upright and grand piano mechanism manufacturing were now brought together under one roof.

Labor-intensive Manufacture

The production of a piano mechanism is intrinsically complicated. 8,800 sections, small parts, springs and strips have to be put together for one single action. It is scarcely possible to enumerate the number of motions and factory stages that lead to the end-product. Renner is a typical example of the German precision industry as it is acknowledged throughout the world. The most modern machinery ensures the highest possible standard of precision and reliability.

Renner Expands

After the war, manufacturers abroad were again relying on Renner products. In 1952, Renner extended its product offering to include repairs and the supply of spare parts and accessories. The existing components section was expanded and a large-scale warehouse was installed. Today Renner uses the most advanced machinery with electronically controlled automatic operations. Since it was founded in 1882, Renner has produced in excess of three million mechanisms.

Most of these machines were specially developed for manufacturing the action parts, and the majority have been designed and constructed in the company’s own research department. Since it was founded in 1882, Renner has produced in excess of three million mechanisms. More expansion was necessary in 1960 and in 1974 a new factory was opened in Odenheim. Here the entire processing of raw wood, the hammer glue-works and other pre-assembly sections are now located. In 199l Renner opened a third plant in Zeitz near Leipzig where their upright action production is located today.

Renner mechanisms are used exclusively all over the world by these reputable companies:

America
Fritz Dobbert
Mason & Hamlin
Baldwin
Steinway & Sons New York
Charles Walter

Asia
Hailun
Pearl River
Samick
Yantai
Young Chang

Europe
Bechstein
Blüthner
Bösendorfer *
Estonia
Fazioli *
Förster *
Grotrian-Steinweg
Leipziger Pianofortefabrik
Petrof
Pfeiffer
Pleyel
Sauter

Schimmel Pianos *
Seiler
W. Steinberg *
Steingräber & Söhne*
Steinway & Sons Hamburg *
  • These firms have the distinction of using only actions and hammerheads produced exclusively by Renner on every single piano.

Electronically Controlled Production

Renner is the only supplier on the European continent to have stood up to the stiff selection process of the pianoforte industry. All other competitors have had to give up. They could not conform to the constantly increasing demands for quality, reliability, precision and durability. The end-user, like the German piano industry itself, should also pay attention to the mechanism when buying a piano. It is of central importance for the way in which the instrument plays. The loveliest sound cannot be achieved if the mechanism is not working with the utmost precision.

Summary

Specialization is finally established in the world of piano-making. This is particularly apparent in the department of action manufacturing. Renner has prevailed over stiff competition by making use of the latest know-how in the application of computers and electronic controls to produce a superior quality product. As expressed by the former premier of Baden-Württemberg, Dr. Lothar Späth, "Quality is honesty in action" or as one Swabian put it: "Quality, that’s a matter of decency."