Changes in a Bay Area Piano Company bring changes to all. When you make a big life change, it’s easy to be anxious. Tim and I made the decision to give up our secure positions managing one of the largest multi-location piano companies in the world. In August 2019, we purchased a small shop, in Berkeley CA named R. Kassman Piano. We came to the Bay Area with little knowledge of the area. We found a warm welcome from the piano community and the community overall. Suddenly we became comfortable in the Bay Area Piano’s vibrant music scene. Just when we thought the learning curve was close to being behind us: COVID and a new set of challenges showed up. We reinvented what it meant to “show” a piano, and we had to restrict showroom visits to one masked customer at a time.
Finally, we remain committed to representing only the finest quality pianos, with an emphasis on Fine European Pianos. Supply chain issues make it difficult to always provide a vast selection at the best possible price. Thanks to our loyal clientele, dedicated suppliers, and God’s grace, we have been able to maintain the 40-year reputation of R. Kassman. I thought I would share some of the highlights of the roller-coaster ride we were on with you:
One of our most dedicated manufacturing partners has been the legendary Steingraeber PianoFactory. Steingraeber is the paradigm of all piano manufacturers. Located in Bayreuth, Germany, Udo Steingraeber is the seventh generation at the helm of the company. He has been steadfast in making sure our needs were met. Our sales of Steingraeber instruments exceeded our expectations. Steingraeber crafts only 97 pianos each year but, the factory saw to it that our showroom was never empty. They have flown pianos to us to ensure a good selection at all times.
Consequently, The unique sound and incredible construction of Steingraeber instruments placed them in top demand during the pandemic. Each Steingraeber is crafted uniquely, so they are truly a work of art and a one-of-a-kind item. They have proven to appeal to Bay Area Piano consumers. We appreciate the support of the entire Steingraeber team.
Another legendary German company proved to be invaluable during the pandemic. Grotrian(Steinweg) has been represented by R.KASSMAN for decades. Only during the challenges presented recently did their loyalty to us come shining thru. Our inventory of the affordable Grotrian line, Wilhelm Grotrian, was nearly immediately sold out at the beginning of the pandemic. Not long after that our stock of German Grotrian (Steinweg) pianos dwindled. Charles Wegner, the international sales manager in Braunschweig (at the factory) learned of our plight and immediately set about correcting the problem.
Therefore, we just received a beautiful Grotrian GS165 (5’5) grand piano directly from the factory. Additionally, we received a GS132 (52”), their concert upright. The 132 is our best-selling fine upright. Now, if I can only get them to “shake loose” of a GS192 (6’3)! Are you listening, Charles?
Among the European grand pianos that we represent, Estonia is our best-selling brand. Normally, we have 6 to 9 Estonia grands on hand, which we normally sell within a year. In the past twelve months, we have sold thru our entire inventory TWICE. Presently, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of new 168 (5’7), 190 (6’2), and 210 (7’) models.
Obviously, the reason these pianos are so popular is that they have a typical European sweet and clean sound and lightning-fast RENNER action. Still, they are priced comparably to pianos from Japan and the USA. Additionally, they are stunningly beautiful to look at.
It’s hard to find quality products that are moderately priced that adhere to a European or American standard of quality, sound, and performance. Fortunately for us, we represent both Baldwin and Ritmuller, two companies that achieve impeccable performance at an affordable price point.
As an American company (GIBSON) Baldwin has remained committed to providing a truly American sound. Baldwin continues to have that typical tone and performance long referred to as “the Baldwin sound.” Using the best materials from around the world, along with patented American designs, Baldwin still produces the best products they have built-in decades. They still remain affordable and within the reach of most American households.
Ritmuller, which has its heritage in Europe, maintains its position as the most affordable European-sounding piano. They adhere to the strict design and materials designated by their Swiss designer. The world’s largest piano manufacturer, Pearl River, crafts these pianos side-by-side to the pianos it builds for Steinway under the Essex label. However, Ritmuller products have a European scale design and hammer construction that sounds and performs significantly “above its paygrade.”
So, while 2020 and 2021 have had their challenges, the adage “when life deals you a lemon, make lemonade” certainly applies to us during this period. We are growing beyond our wildest dreams, and I will have more exciting news to report to you in the very near future.
As always, if I can be of service, please, feel free to email, or give me a call.
843 Gilman St
Berkeley, CA 94710