Without a doubt, mahogany is the most difficult finish of piano bench to purchase. There is an endless number of mahogany finish pianos on the color spectrum, ranging from light to dark brown, and with different hints of red and purple highlighting the color. Keep in mind that unless you purchase the bench unfinished and have it professionally finished to match your piano–any bench your order is not going to exactly match. The key is to get one that blends, and is closest to the shade of your piano. Here are some helpful hints to help you decide on the right bench for you.
1). Determining the finish: Red Mahogany vs Purple Mahogany/American vs. Chinese Imports
When deciding on a bench, you should first decide which area your mahogany piano falls into. To over simplify and generalize, mahogany will have to a varying degree, amounts or red and/or purple in the finish (which is what separates it from walnut, which is just a flat brown). Most mahogany pianos have a hint of red in them (think of a mahogany desk), though some pianos also have purple with that red, giving it a much darker color (often called dark mahogany). To get an idea of the difference, take a look at the 3 images below. The first image is brown, with hints of red (it may be hard to notice the red within the color, but think of a flat, plain brown color as an alternative). The second piano has much more red in it, with a hint of purple. The final picture is of a dark mahogany piano–you will notice the very strong purple tones in it.
Mahogany piano example
Dark Mahogany Piano
Note on red mahogany piano benches: Some companies do offer a red mahogany piano bench, but if you have a piano with just a slight hint of red it in, you do not want a red mahogany piano bench. A red mahogany bench is VERY VERY VERY red, and has a strong purple tone to it. It’s not a brown with hints of a red/purple. Red mahogany pianos do exist, but they are not very common–and if you had one, you’d probably know.
Red Mahogany Piano Bench-- Very Red and Purple
2). Choosing your mahogany piano bench: the difference in finish between American and Chinese manufactured piano benches.
With an idea of which shade your piano is, the next consideration is where to get your bench from (take in mind this article is only discussing finish–not the quality of the bench). There is a BIG difference in shades depending on where the bench is manufactured. Benches made in the USA are much more like the first picture above–they are dominantly brown, with a hint of red. If you have what you would consider a brown, or near walnut piano, you want an American made bench. The Chinese on the other hand, produce a mahogany that is near the third picture–Asian mahogany imported piano benches are very purple (we of course have not reviewed every single Asian bench ever imported, but we’ve seen the product of 6 different Chinese manufacturing companies, and their mahogany is all the same–a dark purple mahogany). Therefore, if you have a dark mahogany piano, a Chinese import will work well for you. Again, here are some examples:
Chinese Made Mahogany Piano Bench
American Mahogany Piano Bench
With these color differences in mind, if you determine you need a finish more like the American shade of mahogany, then the bench manufacturer you will want is Jansen. Jansen is the last US manufacturer of piano benches. They are more expensive than the imported benches, but they are better quality (Jansen is world renown as the top piano bench manufacturer). If you want a more purple Chinese style of mahogany, then you will have a wide range of imports to choose from.
3). Choose between a wood top and upholstered top piano bench:
As mentioned before, the only way to get an exact match in mahogany to your piano is to order a bench unfinished, and pay someone locally to professionally match it to your piano. Any finished bench you buy online will not match exactly. With that in mind, you need to consider how much the bench you purchase online, will blend or class with your piano. If you are worried there is going to be a stark contrast between wood finishes, the way around it is to get an upholstered top piano bench (either standard bench with an upholstered top, or an adjustable piano bench). The upholstered top will help blend the difference between your piano and the bench, whereas if you get a piano bench with a wood top, the eye will be drawn to the wood top and the difference between the two pieces.
4). Final Thoughts:
Choosing the right mahogany piano bench can be difficult. Hopefully this article shed some light on the differences in shade. If you are still unsure as which bench to get, or want some additional advice, feel free to send us an email. If you have access to a camera, send a picture of your piano, and we will help determine the shade and recommend which bench would go best with your instrument. To view our wide range of mahogany piano benches, visit our website: www.grandpianobench.com