The Sydney Morning Herald - Entertainment - Jan 24, 2002

Piano-maker Ron Overs shows one of only
a few pianos with a new light-touch key system.

Photo: Ben Rushton

By Alexa Moses

Sixteen years ago, piano technician Ron Overs was called to a Sydney music competition to fix an instrument that had lost its tinkle.

"This grand piano was brand new and everyone wondered what was wrong. I looked at it and said, 'If the capo bar was shaped properly then we'd get some tone out of this thing.' It was sloppy workmanship from a famous piano manufacturer that's been going for generations. I suddenly realised I could do better."

On Sunday the idea that germinated for 16 years was realised, when the No 003 grand piano by Overs got an airing at the Angel Exchange concert series, as part of the Sydney Festival. Overs Pianos follows the other new Australian piano company, Stuart & Sons, into a market dominated by Steinway and Yamaha.

Pianist David Bollard, who performed Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time with the Sydney Soloists, elected to play the Overs grand piano rather than the Stuart because, he says, the Overs suited Messiaen's work.

"The most distinguishing feature in the Overs is the tone," Bollard says. "It's a highly coloured, round, mellow sort of tone. Some pianos sound silvery to me, but this is a golden, burnished sound right through the register from the extreme bass to the treble. Whereas Stuart's piano is very clear and clean. And that suits certain passage work, but not all styles."

The Overs grand piano also sports a new action. Sydney-based Overs says he developed the action - the mechanism in which hammers strike the piano strings - in 1999 after finding another design flaw in a concert pianist's instrument. He developed the new action on computer. "On my computer screen I had a hammer that strikes the string, and a key. 'Now,' I thought, 'I'm going to draw the intermediate lever. I'm not even going to consider what's been done before. I'm going to reposition the levers so that we reduce energy loss.'"

Bollard says Overs's action makes the piano more sensitive to touch. "When you go to strike a key there's no resistance."

Overs argues there is room for two Australian manufacturers. "It's about taste. Think of us like luxury cars. You can buy a Ferrari; you can buy a Rolls-Royce. They're both fine cars, but they're totally different in concept.''

Originally published on the Sydney Morning Herald website at;
SMH Entertainment Section Jan 24, 2002, Aussie Piano Hits Right Note

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald, January 24, 2002
First published on Overs Pianos website, January 26, 2002