March 27, 1991

  • Wall Street Journal publishes an article by Judith Valente, about recent Steinway & Sons challenges: “Sour Notes. In Clash Between Art and Efficiency, Did Steinway Pianos Lose? New Business-Minded Owners Modernized Production, Forced Out Old Managers. Firm Calls Criticism “Hokum”. This article, published in a periodical with millions of readers, most of whom belong to the same social class as a typical Steinway & Sons buyer, is probably the most harmful to the company’s marketing all through its history.
  • In the article, Judith Valente writes: “In early 1989, problems began cropping up in the soundboards of the Steinway pianos at a store at Waterford, Connecticut. Michael J. Yaeger, the store’s owner, began finding cracks in soundboards. In all, Mr. Yaeger and his customers reported 112 cracked soundboards. The Birminghams say there isn’t any evidence of a widespread soundboard problem. They point out that Mr. Yaeger was in a contract dispute with Steinways at a time.”
  • In the interview, given for the article. John P. Birmingham tries to defend Steinway & Sons, mentioning millions of dollars invested in quality improvement, as well as computer databases of engineering drawings and the automated inventory system.