An Instrument Comes to Life

Wood Storage

The quality of the wood is decisive in creating the finest instruments. That’s why at AUGUST FÖRSTER, all our wood has been carefully selected. For the all-important soundboard, for example, we use mountain spruce. Trees grow more slowly at high altitudes – the dense growth rings improve the resonance of the wood, producing a more expansive sound and perfectly amplifying the strings. The same principle applies to the bridges, which transport the vibrations of the strings to the soundboard – this needs to occur with as little loss as possible, and sycamore maple is the perfect material for that purpose.

We purchase our wood from local distributors. The wood is initially kiln-dried, then put into storage for one year per centimeter of thickness. We also intersperse further periods of seasoning throughout the process of constructing the instrument. As a result, the wood in the finished instrument contracts and expands very little, so our upright pianos and grand pianos hold their tuning for a very long time. A plank of wood delivered to our workshop remains with us for about four years before it leaves again in the form of a finished instrument.

The Rim

The string tension comprises a great deal of the load borne by the back frame - the rim. Once the strings are fitted to the instrument, the rim and cast-iron plate are subjected to between 16 and 20 metric tons of tensile load, depending on the model of instrument. Combinations of hard and soft wood are used in the construction of the rim to lend it the extremely high rigidity it needs to withstand this load. It also has to support the other components of the instrument: the soundboard, the cast-iron plate, parts of the case.

Months of wood seasoning are built into the process of constructing a rim, in order to prevent the wood from warping at a later point in time. The beechwood frame alone is stored for nine months before it is combined with the pine bracing. Once the rim is complete, it returns to storage; another six months will pass before the rim becomes part of the instrument. Very few modern piano-makers still give their materials this much time to mature. At AUGUST FÖRSTER, we make a conscious choice to do so.

The Gluing Star

For visitors, the gluing star is the highlight of our machine shop. It also happens to be a highly practical invention: It allows strips of wood to be glued together into one solid piece – efficiently and in a compact space. It continues to render loyal service today. The panels produced on the gluing star can later be found in fall boards, piano tops, music desks, and other components of the pianos.

Generally speaking, we produce all the wooden parts needed for a piano in our machine shop. The back frames, lids, legs, bridges: from A to Z, our instruments are built from solid wood – yet another trait that is unusual in modern piano-making, but one that we hold close to our hearts here in Löbau. We do not use particleboard or fiberboard. The veneer also lends our instruments a unique touch. We are happy to tailor our veneers to customer requests – whether that means a Rococo grand piano, a ruby-red upright, or an instrument with a cherry, walnut, or oak finish.

The Cast-Iron Plate

The cast-iron plate is a vital component of every AUGUST FÖRSTER piano. Gray iron is liquefied and superheated, then cast in a sand mold. Today, this process takes place in Bielefeld and Offenbach, not at our Löbau workshop, but we remain faithful to the “Made in Germany” principle. More than 500 holes have to be drilled in a cast-iron plate for the pins needed to fit and guide the strings. After drilling, sanding, and deburring, the plate is refined by hand – our team eliminates any irregularities to create completely smooth surfaces. Finally, each plate is given its shimmering golden coating. For grand pianos, in particular, a flawless visual appearance is a necessary element of the high standards to which we hold our instruments.

The cast-iron plates in the upright and grand pianos from AUGUST FÖRSTER were developed in-house and are intentionally designed with dimensions to ensure stability – guaranteeing that the instruments are built to last. Incidentally, AUGUST FÖRSTER isn’t the only place in Löbau where cast iron has a history. Our little city in the Upper Lusatia region of Germany is known for having what is likely the world’s only cast-iron observation tower. It attracts thousands of tourists every year – and has done so since 1854, just five years before our piano workshop was founded. The 28-meter-tall King Friedrich-August Tower is a unique masterpiece – just like each and every one of our instruments.

The Soundboard

The soundboard multiplies the surface of the individual strings, causes the air to vibrate, and, consequently, creates either a loud, radiant sound or a soft, delicate sound. Compared to instruments made by other manufacturers, the soundboard in an AUGUST FÖRSTER piano is relatively large. This allows us to achieve a clarity of tone in all registers, particularly in the lower range, that never fails to inspire pianists and sets our instruments apart from the crowd.

The soundboard consists of a sheet of spruce just a few millimeters thick; the wood is harvested especially for AUGUST FÖRSTER instruments from the Val di Fiemme valley in the Italian Dolomites. This valley produces very special woods: Centuries ago, trees were felled there to harvest wood for the famous Stradivarius violins. A specialized company produces the soundboards for us on location in Italy according to our specifications. Once the wood arrives in Löbau, it is stored to season for two years (for upright pianos) to four years (for grand pianos) before it becomes part of an instrument. This tradition of craftsmanship has stood the test of time, and maintaining the tradition is part of our legacy.

The Strings

A piano requires about 230 strings for its sound to fully bloom. The steel for our strings is produced in the Fichtel Mountains of Bavaria. Additionally, up to 55 strings on each instrument are wound with ultra-pure copper. We wind them by hand in our workshop; this copper winding helps amplify the volume of the bass strings. The shortest string on a piano is just a few centimeters long; the longest measures in at nearly 130 centimeters. At the same time, the strings get thicker as the tone gets deeper: They range from 0.875 millimeters to 7 full millimeters in thickness, increasing by hundredths of a millimeter for each lower tone. “The skill of winding a string is absolutely fundamental in piano-making,” says our master piano-maker of many years, Olaf Mehlich. “You have to be able to bring the sound of each string into harmony with all the others. That demands experience.”

Once all the strings have been fitted, the instrument is tuned for the first time. An upright piano or grand piano will be tuned six more times before it leaves our workshop. Once the piano is tuned, the cast-iron plate, back frame, strings, and similar components bear the full load of the tension for the first time. Before work on the instrument can continue, it now has to rest for about four weeks. Only after that period can the assembly process resume.

Gluing and Veneering

The gluing and veneering process is the first point during construction that the look of the finished instrument begins to take shape. The case is built around the back frame and cast-iron plate. Around a dozen individual components are assembled during this process – and some of them are glued together permanently. Permanent bonds are vital, because shifts of even a few millimeters can compromise the instrument’s playability. The case also plays its part in amplifying the volume of the piano.

We primarily use cold glue in our workshop. For certain edge veneers, however, our colleagues will also prepare a batch of animal glue. This is another aspect in which AUGUST FÖRSTER holds firm to traditional piano-making techniques. Precision is key when joining components such as the sides, fall board, and console. Even the most minuscule distance between components must be precisely measured. We work on multiple instruments simultaneously, as the glue needs time to set. The gluing and veneering we do in our workshop is traditional carpentry work. Alongside piano-makers, trained carpenters are the primary employees of AUGUST FÖRSTER. We also train the next generation of craftsmen and -women: New apprentices join our team every summer.

Rim Bending

The technique for bending the outer rim of the piano is similar to the process of manufacturing the inner rim. The individual layers are glued, pressed together, and shaped around a mold. After that, we just have to be patient. The outer rim has to dry for 48 hours under pressure. We subsequently wait another four weeks before working with it again – it takes that long for the glue to fully dry. The length of the outer rim is also impressive: The outer rim of even our smallest grand piano measures in at 4.80 meters, and our large 275 Concert Grand has an outer rim of a whopping 6.60 meters. Consequently, not only do the veneers need to be glued on top of one another; they also need to be glued end to end. This requires the old craftsman’s technique of scarfing.

The exterior of the grand piano’s outer rim is usually painted black and polished to a high gloss. The inner rim of a grand piano features bird’s eye maple veneer, which lends the instruments a particular elegance and highlights the glow of the gold-lacquered cast-iron plate.

The Finish

The secret to perfect piano lacquer lies in the number of coats. Creating the finish on a piano involves applying five to nine coats to the wood, until the layer of lacquer is about a millimeter thick. Then, the lacquer needs plenty of time to dry.

Once the drying process is complete, the name of the game is sanding, sanding, sanding. Finer and finer sandpaper is used for each successive round of sanding. These many hours of work are necessary to create the deep, mirrored black finish for which piano lacquer is famous. Depending on the size of the instrument, our colleagues can spend up to two days just working on the lid of a grand piano to achieve the desired gloss.

Black is still the most commonly ordered color of upright and grand pianos. However, AUGUST FÖRSTER also makes pianos in ruby red, steel blue, or bordeaux violet if customers request it; white is another frequently requested color, and naturally, many veneers are also popular, including cherry, walnut, beech, oak, mahogany, and more. If customers come to us with an idea of what they want, we are happy to make their dreams come true.


The experts at our workshop complete a highly complex series of steps to attune the keyboard and the action of the piano to one another. AUGUST FÖRSTER purchases both of these intricate components from specialized German companies: Kluge manufactures the keyboards, and we source our actions from Renner. These companies are known for their premium products. We install these top-quality components in all of our instruments, including our beginner models.

In order for the keyboard and action to work flawlessly, the lever ratios must be perfectly attuned to one another, the positions of the hammers precisely adjusted, the dampers positioned, and much more. This requires an exceptionally deft hand, a wealth of experience, and a great deal of precise, focused work.

Our colleagues who specialize in this area usually work on an upright piano for about two days; a grand piano can easily take five days. Their work lays the foundation for ensuring that the finished instrument will play beautifully. Additionally, this is the first point at which the piano can be played normally. The assembly process is a typical aspect of a piano-maker’s job; learning these skills is an important part of our apprentices’ education at AUGUST FÖRSTER.


When it comes down to the finishing touches of creating an instrument, one goal begins to supersede all others: “The pianist needs to be able to influence each note as long and as precisely as possible,” explains master piano-maker Olaf Mehlich. This is the high standard expected of every instrument that leaves our workshop in Löbau. Highly experienced employees are responsible for optimizing the movements of the instrument’s mechanics.

For each of the 88 notes on a piano, there are about 11 criteria that must be evaluated and for which specific adjustments need to be made. For grand pianos, there are even more. These criteria include aligning the keys and setting the touch weight and depth, for example. If the customer has individual requests regarding how the instrument should play, we are happy to accommodate them.


A piano can produce the softest, gentlest notes one moment – and the next, it can dominate the room with its power and volume. Producing such a diverse range of different sounds requires a great deal of preparatory work. And while the assembly specialists at AUGUST FÖRSTER lay the groundwork for the flawless sound of our instruments, our voicing experts here in Löbau are the ones primarily responsible for honing that sound to perfection. The sound of an instrument is more than just the tone of the strings; it is also the noise of the keystrokes and the hammer shanks. That’s why the hammer shanks are precisely sorted before installation. This is the how the process of shaping the notes begins – and the final result is the powerful, warm, and brilliant AUGUST FÖRSTER sound.

Voicing experts have specialized knowledge that allows them to form the hammer heads into the perfect shape. They use tiny needles to puncture specific areas of the hammer head felt, changing small but important aspects of the sound. It takes a true professional to voice an instrument so that each individual note sounds balanced and beautiful. They listen intently and make adjustments based on what they hear. They make sure that each note builds properly before fading away, and that a thick, copper-wound bass string harmonizes beautifully with a much thinner, shorter treble string. A piano can convey so many emotions: At AUGUST FÖRSTER, we make sure our instruments always convey the right ones.

Our Experts

Division of labor is a guiding principle at our piano workshop. The employees of AUGUST FÖRSTER focus on their craft: making premium-quality instruments. Our upright pianos and grand pianos are also sold by specialists: music shops and piano dealers throughout Germany, Europe, and the rest of the world. However, our other primary focus at AUGUST FÖRSTER is our customers. We receive questions from people interested in our instruments every single day. Not only do we provide them with expert answers; we also give them the opportunity to visit our workshop here in Löbau. Buyers of a new instrument can come to our production facilities and experience first-hand the amount of skilled craftsmanship and passion that goes into each piano.

Dealers visit us regularly to select instruments for their customers – and sometimes, they even accompany their customers to help them choose the perfect piano. We provide a range of different instruments for testing. Potential buyers can try them out at their leisure, without interruptions, and find the piano with exactly the features they want. However, music stores are still vital to our workshop. Not only do they provide professional purchasing advice in locations that are easy for customers to access; they also remain the primary point of contact for after-sales service. An instrument requires regular maintenance the same way a car does – regular tuning ensures that a piano will hold its value and continue to play beautifully for years to come.

Academies of Music

AUGUST FÖRSTER instruments are beloved by a myriad of people: families who buy an AUGUST FÖRSTER piano to play music at home, music teachers who are familiar with many different types of instruments and appreciate the typical Förster sound – and institutions that make the conscious choice to furnish their spaces with upright pianos and grand pianos made with traditional craftsmanship. Among these institutions is the Landesmusikakademie Sachsen (State Music Academy of Saxony) in Colditz, which exclusively uses pianos made in Löbau, as well as the Kreismusikschule Dreiländereck (Tri-Border Region County Music School) in the county of Görlitz, which maintains a close partnership with AUGUST FÖRSTER. Many other schools in Saxony also use our instruments, as do schools in more distant places like Switzerland, Russia, and beyond.

AUGUST FÖRSTER pianos can be found in theaters and conservatories of music as well as in music stores that organize public events. Customers of our workshop include churches in Norway, opera houses in Scotland and Russia, and conservatories of music in Germany and Switzerland; these and many other institutions choose instruments from AUGUST FÖRSTER. We provide them with premium pianos for their concerts, and they, in turn, share our name and our 160-year-old piano-making tradition with the world.
Privacy settings
This website uses cookies. Some of them are necessary, while others help us to improve this website and your experience.
I agree and can revoke or change my consent at any time with effect for the future.