Robert Estrin - piano expert

NAMM 2014 - Interview with Michael Spreeman from Ravenscroft Pianos

Learn more about the history behind Ravenscroft Pianos

In this video, Robert interviews Michael Spreeman, founder of Ravenscroft Pianos. Watch this video to learn more about this unique piano maker.

Released on February 5, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi I'm Robert Estrin here at and and I have the pleasure of presenting Ravenscroft Pianos and the founder Michael Spreeman is here to talk about it. Now, you actually were the founder of these pianos and you know I had the pleasure of performing on one of the concert grand Ravenscrofts a few years ago.

Michael Spreeman: You didn't.

Robert: Yes at a piano technician's guild.

Michael: Wow who would have thought?

Robert: And I remember what a great instrument it is and I don't really know much about the company. How many of these pianos are out there first of all and how far back do they go?

Michael: Well we started in 2004 so we're celebrating our tenth year this year at NAM and we're up to 10 pianos. We've been averaging a whopping 10... you know what, one piano per year.


Robert: Fantastic!

Michael: We're actually set up to do four or five a year, but with the economy and everything, it's...

Robert: Sure.

Michael: It's where things are.

Robert: And are they all concert grands or do you have different size instruments?

Michael: No we actually do two different models. We do a 220 which is a seven foot three.

Robert: Right.

Michael: 220 centimeters. And then we do the 275 which is...

Robert: Mhmm.

Michael:...the big boy.

Robert: Yeah.

Michael: We've got the 275, then we've got the baby Ravey. So.

Robert: And these are it Arizona, or where?

Michael: Sunny Scottsdale, Arizona.

Robert: There you go.

Michael: Yeah.

Robert: So, are there plans, what sort of future do you see? Is this kind of a niche...just focusing on these top tier limited production instruments? Because this goes against the whole trend...


Robert: ...of the industry of mass production mostly in Asia as you well know?

Michael: We definitely like to swim upstream.

Robert: [laughter]

Michael: We like to do things a little bit differently. Obviously as demand increases, we're going to up our game to stay up with it within certain parameters. As long as I can...I and we and my team continue to maintain the quality.

Robert: Mhmm.

Michael: That's number one for us.

Robert: Absolutely.

Michael: I can envision doing 10 or 20 a year or something like that.

Robert: Um Hum.

Michael: But no we're never going to be a major production...

Robert: Right.

Michael: ...facility per say. There is always going to be a major focus on hand-crafted, hand-designed, individual, one-off.

Robert: What I can tell you from the experience performing on this instrument, it is an absolutely no compromise, extraordinarily refined instrument in the traditions of the greatest American and European pianos. And I thank you for your work with this. And one last thing before you go. This digital replication of the Ravenscroft piano is very impressive and you might tell people where they can get that because anyone out there who is using in the digital world and wants something that maybe is a different flavor, a lot of clarity and focus. Tell me about that project.

Michael: Okay, well we were approached last year after the show by three or four different companies who wanted to do a sampling of this particular piano, the 275. And you know, I'm an old technician, acoustic guy and I've always been pretty much anti-digital...

Robert: Mhmm.

Michael: a lot of the acoustic guys are. But it's like you need to have a look around. The digital age isn't coming. The digital age is here. And we're in a declining market.

Robert: Mhmm.

Michael: The acoustic piano industry is a declining market. So I started thinking, what can we do? What can I as a little, teeny manufacturer...can I have anything to do with making a change in this direction? So I thought, well, what if it were at all possible to do a voice that actually sounded like a piano with some kind of a controller that was close? I're never going to duplicate the experience. I like to say it's like you have an F-16 simulator...

Robert: Right.

Michael: your house, right? And it's really, really good. I mean you've got all the bells and whistles. You sit and the cockpit moves around and you get out of it and you feel like you just flew an F-16, until you sit down in an F-16.

Robert: There you go.

Michael: And that's kind of what the voice is.

Robert: Mhmm.

Michael: But if nothing else, I challenge you...we've gone on to iTunes and YouTube and you try and find solo acoustic piano performances. There's obviously a lot of possible stuff which is fantastic.

Robert: Right.

Michael: But for the younger generations it's not happening.

Robert: Mhmm.

Michael: So one of my passions is not just with the quality of the piano but to somehow generate some interest back into the acoustic pianos. We really think that this is going to help because...

Robert: Yeah.

Michael: ...not everyone can afford a $300,000 piano.

Robert: Sure.

Michael: But people can afford a $300 voice.

Robert: There you go.

Michael: And if we can get something out there again that is quality, that can generate some interest in younger generations, older generations, I don't care.

Robert: Yes.

Michael: Just in the acoustic piano. That's my passion.

Robert: Well I think you're doing a great job with that. And for those of you who haven't yet experienced it, it is a beautiful sound. Very clear. It's a new voice in the piano world. And I thank you so much.

Michael: And where can you get that voice?


Robert: Yes.

Michael: I'm so glad you asked.


Robert: Yeah.

Michael: We researched several companies after we were approached and the company that we chose is called V.I. Labs. They have a website, it's The voice is going to be officially for sale next month. I think on February seventh and we're just debuting it here at the NAM show.

Robert: It's very impressive technology. I want to thank you again.

Michael: My pleasure.

Robert: And here at Ravenscroft Piano at the NAM Show. I'm Robert Estrin at and See you next time.
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