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#1125805 - 12/04/04 09:20 PM Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
jchmag Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/04
Posts: 73
Loc: Dallas, Texas
Won't name the dealer as not to raise a mess but while hanging out at a Steinway store today, I heard a salesman "selling" a rebuild job to the owner of an older Steinway.

He made a huge production about replacing the pianos soundboard as it is the heart and soul of the piano.

What I find amazing about his "pitch" is the fact that Steinway's website still has an article about why cracked soundboards didn't matter. A new piano with a cracked board is okay but a customer has to spend thousands to replace a cracked board on an older piano?

As far as I know, there is not another piano builder which claims that cracked soundboards are okay.

The more I listen and read the more my personal opinion of Steinway as a company erodes. How can they have it both ways?

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#1125806 - 12/04/04 09:45 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21583
Loc: Oakland
What you heard was a salesperson, not Steinway. Don't confuse the two. The salesperson makes a lot of money selling replacement soundboards.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1125807 - 12/04/04 09:57 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
My brother, an RPT of nearly 30 years, does say that a crack in the soundboard is not necessarily a big problem, but if so are usually easily repaired with shims.
_________________________
Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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#1125808 - 12/04/04 10:03 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6180
How about this:

For a piano with cracked soundboard --

1. If it still sounds good (no buzz year round, regardless of whether it's shimmed/repaired), then it is OK.

2. Else, it is not.

Simple enough. Does that make sense?
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#1125809 - 12/04/04 10:12 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
Sounds like the bottom line to me.
_________________________
Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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#1125810 - 12/05/04 03:19 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
 Quote:
Originally posted by jchmag:
Won't name the dealer as not to raise a mess but while hanging out at a Steinway store today, I heard a salesman "selling" a rebuild job to the owner of an older Steinway.

He made a huge production about replacing the pianos soundboard as it is the heart and soul of the piano.

What I find amazing about his "pitch" is the fact that Steinway's website still has an article about why cracked soundboards didn't matter. A new piano with a cracked board is okay but a customer has to spend thousands to replace a cracked board on an older piano?

As far as I know, there is not another piano builder which claims that cracked soundboards are okay.

The more I listen and read the more my personal opinion of Steinway as a company erodes. How can they have it both ways? [/b]
Jchmag:

I'll throw this out for discussion if anyone would like to bite...

Maybe it *is* possible to have it "both ways", considering...

If a newer piano has a cracked soundboard, is it more likely it will still sound good (as long as there's no separation of the ribs/buzzing, etc.)??

Maybe so, considering...

If a *much older* piano has a cracked soundboard, even if there's no buzzing, isn't it more likely the soundboard should be replaced because:

1) The crown is probably gone. (If that really makes a difference and I understand there are differing opinions on this) and,

2) Perhaps more importantly, might the wood fibers in the soundboard be "crushed" having withstood years and years of high/low humidity, with the result the soundboard is "dead".

Experts?

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#1125811 - 12/05/04 03:30 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
RealPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 2335
Loc: NYC
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jeanne W:
2) Perhaps more importantly, might the wood fibers in the soundboard be "crushed" having withstood years and years of high/low humidity, with the result the soundboard is "dead".

Experts?
[/b]
Jeanne, I'm no expert, but I tend to think you're right about this. Something about impedance and the ability of the board to carry sound waves as it was meant to.
_________________________
Joe

www.josephkubera.com

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#1125812 - 12/05/04 03:34 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3327
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:
How about this:

For a piano with cracked soundboard --

1. If it still sounds good (no buzz year round, regardless of whether it's shimmed/repaired), then it is OK.

2. Else, it is not.

Simple enough. Does that make sense? [/b]
This goes for an uncracked soundboard as well, regardless of age. Even simpler.

A new soundboard might sound better anyway ( it might sound worse depending on who installed it!)
and will give the piano a longer life.

Beware of technicians that don't have the ability to install new soundboards who are trying to sell you on the merits of keeping an old worn out board because they make a lot of money this way.
\:\(
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#1125813 - 12/05/04 05:20 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
Jeanne,
You are right.
I wonder how did you get to be such a piano expert yourself. ;\)


Keith wrote:
 Quote:
Beware of technicians that don't have the ability to install new soundboards who are trying to sell you on the merits of keeping an old worn out board because they make a lot of money this way.[/b]

Right on Keith.

Over here they are touting a dead soundboard as “authentic”. \:D
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

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#1125814 - 12/05/04 05:59 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
POTENTIAL DUMB QUESTION ALERT:

What exactly is a "dead" soundboard? How can you tell if your soundboard has met its demise?

Seriously.

Maybe it's obvious from my question that all the soundboards I've encountered are amongst the living. But I've always wondered...

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#1125815 - 12/05/04 06:34 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
HammerHead Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/03
Posts: 354
Loc: Metro Atlanta
Nina,

It is not a dumb question, at all. A rebuilt piano with an original old soundboard vs. the same one with a brand spanking new one might sound no worse, or just different, or maybe it would be better. Not a clear-cut question, and one that, probably more than anything, requires experienced evaluation by a "true" rebuilder (or should I say, one of those few "true" rebuilders).

The problem is, absent obvious serious damage or deterioration, how do you tell for sure? A few cracks means nothing. Strings in an old piano are very likely to be "dead", and you know those are going to be replaced on a rebuild. So do you restring, stick in the completely rebuilt action, voice it up nicely--then, if the piano still sounds rather "dead", tear the whole thing apart and put in a new soundboard!? Well, of course not--much more economical from all points of view (actual costs, and marketing a rebuild) to just use a new soundboard. But it is not ALWAYS necessary, and not always an improvement--sometime, maybe the opposite, which could require some serious (way) before-and-after knowledge to truly evaluate.

Bottom line, you'd never just replace a soundboard alone, so if an older piano really does need a new one, you can be sure it really needs a true rebuild. (And I just don't believe "crown" by itself has as much meaning as people usually impart to it. Well-shimmed older boards can sound great--good shimming affects nothing AUDIBLE except the elimination of buzzes, et. al.)
_________________________
HH
Completely and forever out of the music business (but still full of opinions)

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#1125816 - 12/05/04 09:46 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
ny1911 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: New York
Why are cracked soundboards such an emotional thing?
_________________________
So live your life and live it well.
There's not much left of me to tell.
I just got back up each time I fell.

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#1125817 - 12/05/04 11:04 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Because perhaps "cracked" = *broken* - hearts....

..... are![/b]

norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#1125818 - 12/05/04 11:08 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21583
Loc: Oakland
As far as I can figure out, there isn't any reason to replace a soundboard, ever. First of all, I've only seen one piano that had a soundboard that sounded dead. That was a spinet that someone put in a bathroom, and the ribs had separated. It wasn't worth restoring. There isn't any reason why a soundboard under ordinary circumstances should be under any more stress as it gets older than it is when it is new. If the soundboard is going to fail, it's going to fail whan it is new.

Second, if you do all the work that some people claim you need to do with an old piano, replacing the soundboard, pinblock, action, keys, etc., saving only the frame and case, you have do practically all the work you need to do to make a new piano except making the frame and case, and you have the additional work of disassembly and removing the old finish. It has to be pretty much custom, as opposed to assembly-line work. You just aren't going to save that much money to get the same quality of work. You might as well just get a new piano.

On the other hand, if you just replace the things that are known to wear out, strings, springs, hammers, felts, and finish, you probably won't pay much more than the cheapest new piano. If you start with a decent old piano, it can come out a lot better than the cheapest new piano.

So I don't see any economic sense in doing a full rebuilding, including a soundboard.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1125819 - 12/06/04 03:59 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
ny1911 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: New York
THere often seems to be more emphasis on the condition of the soundboard from a physical perspective than there is on the actual sound of the instrument though.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Norbert:
Because perhaps "cracked" = *broken* - hearts....

..... are![/b]

norbert [/b]
_________________________
So live your life and live it well.
There's not much left of me to tell.
I just got back up each time I fell.

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#1125820 - 12/06/04 04:09 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
I wonder where Irving is? I woulda thought he'd comment on this. ???

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#1125821 - 12/06/04 05:46 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
ny1911 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: New York
Hopefully busy selling pianos for the holidays!
_________________________
So live your life and live it well.
There's not much left of me to tell.
I just got back up each time I fell.

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#1125822 - 12/06/04 06:14 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
It is amazing how different BDB’s and my experiences are.
I almost NEVER find a soundboard older then 70 years that doesn’t need to be replaced.


The soundboard is made of spruce.
As the humidity changes, the soundboard expands and contracts. These movements damage the cells of the wood.

Take 2 fibers of the same kind of spruce, one that is 70 years old and one that is newer, and stretch the fibers, one would break before the other.
The older one would break first. The newer fiber will have more resilience.

An old soundboard will vibrate differently than a new one. It will produce less sound, all other things being equal. The loss of sustain will be noticeable first in the mid to upper treble, around the 5th octave.

Many times, old pianos that were ”rebuilt” with the original soundboard will lack so much sustain that the “rebuilder” will over harden the hammers in order to get some volume. This only makes the obvious “lack of sustain” become even more apparent.
Some people may think it's normal, but to many it sounds like someone pulled some strings over a tin can.

A piano is good only as what you compare it to. Take a good fully restored piano (with a new board) and place it near a similar one that was “rebuilt” with the original board and the difference is clear.

In some parts of the country, soundboards will last longer then in others. A constant humidity level may add many years to the life of the soundboard. But if a piano spent most of its life in one climate zone will be moved to another it will deteriorate very fast.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

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#1125823 - 12/06/04 06:46 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
In my experience there's also the psychological element of "feel" involved.

If you already are willing to spend the $$ to rebuild the whole piano, it - at least for some - doesn't *feel* right to leave the soundboard *old* and potentially decrepit in the original corpus.

Which leaves to debate, if the *frame* - holding the soundboard in its place, at least in some cases - could/should not be perhaps rebuild as well.......

norbert :rolleyes:
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#1125824 - 12/06/04 08:32 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
classicalgirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 171
Loc: Illinois
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
I've only seen one piano that had a soundboard that sounded dead. That was a spinet that someone put in a bathroom, and the ribs had separated. It wasn't worth restoring. [/b]
Must have been one serious pianist - committed to utilizing all potential practice time. \:D

The picture your words bring to mind is too funny. My children will have a good laugh when I tell them.
_________________________
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. Plato

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#1125825 - 12/06/04 10:21 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21583
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
n old soundboard will vibrate differently than a new one. It will produce less sound, all other things being equal. The loss of sustain will be noticeable first in the mid to upper treble, around the 5th octave.
So when exactly does this happen? I suppose it must be before the piano leaves the factory, since most manufacturers stop putting dampers in the piano around the 5th octave. If they felt the sustain were so great up there, they would feel they need to put dampers there.

But this is beside the point. Let's say you buy an old, unrestored Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, or other well-known piano for X dollars, put a new soundboard, pinblock, action, etc. in it. You refinish it and sell it for Y dollars, because all your work made it into a wonderful piano. Why can't you make your own case and frame, and buy your own plate for X dollars, then do all the other work that you would do for a restoration, and sell a wonderful new piano for Y dollars?
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1125826 - 12/06/04 11:03 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Ori,

I have had variants of this soundboard discussion with BDB in the past.

I think a good explanation for the disparity in what is recommended re soundboard replacement may largely be related to geography/climate.

I used to live in Florida and a whole lot of the old grands I saw had been brought down from NY, NJ, and environs. I too felt that there was a tonal problem with these old boards that couldn't be solved except by replacement. It was part of a general syndrome of wood and joinery problems throughout the piano obviously caused by the indoor climates they lived in in NY, etc.

Now that I live in CA I see a lot of old pianos with wood that is in *much* better condition. And where BDB lives it appears to be even better than where I am.

I just had a 1921 California grand restrung and am very happy with the tone, sustain, singing quality, etc of the original board. It really does sound like a new piano.

So I think you are just in a really bad part of the country in terms of pianos getting beat up by climate whereas BDB is in a very preservative area. A friend of mine who was a tech in Fla but now lives in BDBs region feels the same way.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#1125827 - 12/06/04 11:51 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21583
Loc: Oakland
Maybe, but I was thinking about this as I was sitting in the back room listening to others in the house playing the Steinway, which spent the first 75 years of its life near Philadelphia. There's nothing wrong with the sound of it, despite the crack in the soundboard. The same is true of the M & H (R)T, which spent most of its life near NYC.

Now I can understand that moving a piano to Florida might be like putting it in a bathroom, but again, that's traumatic damage.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1125828 - 12/07/04 04:31 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
ny1911 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: New York
What about violins and other stringed instruments, which some believe improve with age in spite of arguably less effort to control humidity? There is also the truth that the wood available today is different than the wood that was available 50, 75 ot 100 years ago.
_________________________
So live your life and live it well.
There's not much left of me to tell.
I just got back up each time I fell.

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#1125829 - 12/07/04 04:57 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
The rebuilder doing mine "insisted" on replacing the soundboard which he routinely recommends on older pianos. His reasons are much as Ori stated, resiliency of the wood, greater sustain with a new board. Yet this does beg the question brought up by ny1911, why are the old Cremona violins of the masters so sought after and considered better instruments by virtually all violinists? Is it the finish as some say, the wood? It seems this is one area that there is no concensus but who is right here? ;\)

Will

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#1125830 - 12/07/04 05:23 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
irving Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 705
Loc: Irvington, NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jeanne W:
I wonder where Irving is? I woulda thought he'd comment on this. ???

Jeanne W [/b]
Hi Jeanne,

Thanks for asking about me. I'm up for just a bit of air this morning before plunging back into the business. This as always a very busy time of the year for us. Also, since Ori has begun writing here, much of what I might have said is being covered pretty well so I've been able to back off and do other things (like spend time with my grandchildren and sell pianos).

As to my thoughts about old soundboards, BDB and I have been around the block with this a few times. It's all in the archives.

In a nutshell, BDB and I live in very different climatic parts of the country; his is piano friendly, mine is not. BDB and I may have different standards; we have no practical way of knowing. I have saved many hundreds of soundboards and replaced thousands; I would guess that BDB has replaced very few soundboards. My experience is that the soundboards that I elect to save (the best candidates for being saved) often sound as good as new soundboards, but just a bit too often they don't. I also sometimes hear the consequences of saving a board that shouldn't be saved since some of my rebuild customers insist on saving a board that is marginal. \:\(

The bottom line is that all of my new soundboards sound good \:\) , many of my original boards sound good (because of careful pre-screening and my knowledge regarding the proper way to save an original board), and some of my original boards are disappointing in spite of all heroic efforts to save them.
_________________________
Irving
Faust Harrison Pianos
We sell new Bechsteins, Yamahas, Mason & Hamlins, Brodmanns and W. Hoffmanns, and rebuilt vintage Steinways. All rebuilding is done in our own factory. www.faustharrisonpianos.com

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#1125831 - 12/07/04 07:12 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
BDB wrote:
 Quote:
there isn't any reason to replace a soundboard, ever.

And wrote:
if you do all the work that some people claim you need to do with an old piano,

and wrote:
there isn't any reason to replace a soundboard, ever.

And wrote:
So I don't see any economic sense in doing a full rebuilding, including a soundboard

And wrote:
On the other hand, if you just replace the things that are known to wear out, strings, springs, hammers, felts, and finish, you probably won't pay much more than the cheapest new piano. If you start with a decent old piano, it can come out a lot better than the cheapest new piano.

And wrote:
playing the Steinway, which spent the first 75 years of its life near Philadelphia. There's nothing wrong with the sound of it, despite the crack in the soundboard
As I stated before, the condition of the soundboard has a lot to do with humidity changes in the area the piano is.
I can only feel sorry for myself since I don’t live in wonderland (like BDB maybe?), this area where pianos that spent 75 years in Philadelphia are moved to, and then they perform as good as when they were new.

I guess it can also be a matter of expectations.

As BDB said, he probably strives to recondition a piano to a level that it would be, and I quote ” a lot better than the cheapest new piano”.

Other rebuilders try to rebuild a piano that would perform at least as good or better then it ever was.

It may appear to some that BDB hinted by saying “if you do all the work that some people claim you need to do with an old piano” that by saying "claim", not all the work is really needed and maybe it is money hungry rebuilders that "push" customers to throw their hard earned $$$ on something they don't really need.

I will relate to this issue because I feel very differently about it than BDB.
This is a sensitive subject, since many technicians and rebuilders are in one side of the fence or another.

Since I believe that a soundboard in a 60-70 years old piano should almost always be replaced(at least in my area), I had to give up on a lucrative market of “rebuilds”.

As BDB hinted, the retail cost of fully rebuilding an instrument, including a new soundboard, pinblock, pins and strings, dampers, key tops, key bushing etc…can be very expensive. It can easily top 20K-25K
Very few pianos justify this kind of expense in terms of return on the investment for the rebuilder.

Now BDB said (and again I quote) ” So I don't see any economic sense in doing a full rebuilding, including a soundboard”.
I am in a full agreement with you on this one.
Unless it is a Steinway or a Mason & Hamlin I feel it is not viable for ME to restore any other piano in order to resell it.

The difference between us is that I decided to avoid what BDB would call “rebuilt” and I would describe as “patching up” pianos altogether.
When I’m offered a Knabe, Baldwin or a Chickering for free (and it happens all the time) I refuse it.
Not because I can’t ”patch it” and sell it, but because I feel it is wrong for the customers, their kids (that more often then not will stop playing the piano) and for my reputation.
Other rebuilders feel they can restore these makes and recuperate their investment, but expect to pay over 20K-25K for a good rebuilding Job. There is nothing wrong with these pianos.

It is the 12K rebuilding jobs that I don’t like. These are the pianos that a year after they were bought I would refuse to take again for free.
These are the pianos with original soundboards, and usually too many “cut corners” in the rebuilding process.

Since Steinway and Mason & Hamlin have some $$ value even when in need of a full restoration (before the restoration), the cost of these instruments should be added to the rebuilding job.
Whenever I saw a dealer selling a vintage “rebuilt” Steinway for 20K he wasn’t giving any gifts.
He was usually robbing the customer.
Some customers find out soon enough what they have. Others are happy with their purchase even though their pianos perform to a level that is “better then cheapest pianos” but far less than their potential.
For what they paid they got a “name” on a fallboard and a piano that is outperformed by many new instruments that cost less.


BDB also wrote:
 Quote:
since most manufacturers stop putting dampers in the piano around the 5th octave. If they felt the sustain were so great up there, they would feel they need to put dampers there.
What???
I thought you rebuild pianos. Please take a look at one.
The dampers in Steinway, Mason, Estonia, Yamaha, Baldwin and any other modern piano I know of are going well into the 6th octave. The dampers will stop usually around E-6.
Maybe where you live not only the soundboards last forever, but the piano manufacturers (or “rebuilders?” )try to cut down cost by making the dampers an octave shorter.


Regarding violins:
I don’t know enough about violins. So I can’t comment on this issue.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

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#1125832 - 12/07/04 07:18 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6180
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:

But this is beside the point. Let's say you buy an old, unrestored Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, or other well-known piano for X dollars, put a new soundboard, pinblock, action, etc. in it. You refinish it and sell it for Y dollars, because all your work made it into a wonderful piano. Why can't you make your own case and frame, and buy your own plate for X dollars, then do all the other work that you would do for a restoration, and sell a wonderful new piano for Y dollars? [/b]
I'll take a stab at this:

You cannot do that because the name "Steinway" is not on the piano[/b]. Without Steinway the corporation doing the marketing work, rebuilt Steinway pianos will not command the price they do and the piano rebuilding business in this country may shrink by an order of magnitude.

Take a look at the Fandrich and Sons operation. They do some sort of "rebuild," but do their Fandrich and Sons pianos command the prices of rebuilt Steinways size for size?

A wonderful piano is not wonderful enough without a wonderfully marketed name.
_________________________
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#1125833 - 12/07/04 08:57 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Rick Clark Offline
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Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Can't compare pianos to violins, folks.

Violins are simple boxes, the tops are carved, the tension little, and 'singing tone" is not an issue.

If a violin soundboard loses mechanical impedance with age it's probably a good thing as it becomes more efficient a transducer, and you don't have to worry about sustain because sustain is provided by the bow.

If a piano soundboard loses mechanical impedance with age, the dynamics envelope changes for the worse. And if you lose sustain, it's gone.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#1125834 - 12/07/04 09:14 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
ny1911 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: New York
Rick,

Does that mean a piano should sustain after the wire is damped, or the amount of time an undamped wire vibrates is affected by the soundboard and not only the wire itself and the tension that it is under? I guess I can see too much compliance in the board effectively damping the wires.

There is still the issue that the wood is quite different today than long ago.

I keep learning...not trying to refute anyone here.
_________________________
So live your life and live it well.
There's not much left of me to tell.
I just got back up each time I fell.

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#1125835 - 12/07/04 05:46 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Rick Clark Offline
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Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Undamped. But it's not as simple as sustain time alone. It's also the shape of the sound envelope as the tone transforms over time from the initial attack to the eventual sustain. In a fresh-sounding board you still have the characteristic "round" tone with a nice, long transitional period between attack and sustain. In this transitional period the string exhibits a mix of horizontal and vertical motion.

In a board lacking impedance the vertical energy is sucked out right away rather than reflected back into the string, so you get this very brief 1/2 cycle initial attack sound followed almost immediately by pure horizontal motion. The transition portion is now mostly missing and along with it, good singing tone.

I wouldn't give too much credence to the "wood used to be different" theory regarding soundboard tone. There is a whole lot of discussion and mythology on the subject and it's very romantic, but it doesn't seem to hold up under objective scrutiny. If the spruce has a good strength-to-weight ratio it should make a good board. I don't see anything magical about the past in that regard. Now in terms of the beauty of hardwood grain patterns, that's a different story.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#1125836 - 12/07/04 05:53 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Rick Clark Offline
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Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
BDB,

Philly is not coastal NY or NJ.

I have encountered some surprisingly very nice old Philly pianos myself. Even had a discussion with Rich Gallassini about it a few years ago and why they fared better than NYC ianos. Seems that the typical indoor Philly climate is a lot easier on pianos.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#1125837 - 12/08/04 01:25 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21583
Loc: Oakland
That doesn't explain the (R)T. (The parentheses are because it is a reproducer with a hysterectomy.)

I've seen pianos that have been restrung poorly, and the results are what is ascribed to a dead soundboard. But it doesn't mean the soundboard is dead. It means the piano was restrung poorly.

Ori said:
 Quote:
The difference between us is that I decided to avoid what BDB would call “rebuilt” and I would describe as “patching up” pianos altogether.
When I’m offered a Knabe, Baldwin or a Chickering for free (and it happens all the time) I refuse it.
Not because I can’t ”patch it” and sell it, but because I feel it is wrong for the customers, their kids (that more often then not will stop playing the piano) and for my reputation.
Other rebuilders feel they can restore these makes and recuperate their investment, but expect to pay over 20K-25K for a good rebuilding Job. There is nothing wrong with these pianos.
However, if I could take that same piano and make it as good as any you sell for a fraction of that price, the only one it would be wrong for is you.

We're not in the same business. You sell pianos. I don't. I am disseminating my skills, knowledge and craftsmanship, so that as many people as possible can enjoy pianos and music. My reputation depends on my doing good, economical work, and not in telling them that they can't enjoy pianos or music unless they spend more money than they can afford.
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#1125838 - 12/08/04 06:50 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
ny1911 Offline
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Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: New York
Ori is a good guy. His (and Irving's) rebuilt pianos sell to an upscale market. I suspect their buyers wonder if they should buy a new Steinway or one of their rebuilt Steinways.

My philosophy closer aligns with BDB's because I have neither the budget or the skill to justify $40k for a piano. I must consider if a $15k rebuilt M&H with a shimmed board is better (for me) than what I can buy new in that price range. For my dollar it was, with the closest second going to Estonia. It was a toss-up for me, but my wife (who is much better pianist than I) prefered the M&H.

Would we be able to discern the difference between our rebuild and one from Ori or Irving? I sure we could. Do we regret our choice? Not in the least.
_________________________
So live your life and live it well.
There's not much left of me to tell.
I just got back up each time I fell.

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#1125839 - 12/08/04 07:07 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
BDB,
As I said before, it is a matter of a decision and expectations.
You defined it very clearly. You expect the piano to sound “better than the cheapest piano”.
I want a lot more.
I decided to avoid this market because I don’t think it’s right for my customers.
I believe there are many new, or almost new pianos, in the price range of a “patch up” job, that will serve the customer a lot better then a dead piano with some lipstick.
I am willing to let people that insist on getting “dead’ pianos to buy pianos elsewhere.
Many of them will come back to me a few years down the road.

The difference between us is simple.
I have a choice. You don’t.

In our factory, we can “patch” pianos all day if we choose to. We can shim boards from dawn till dusk.
I decided not to take this route.
You on the other hand, clearly don’t have the equipment and the capability to replace a soundboard.
If you had to replace one, you’d have to send it to someone like me and it will cost you a lot of $$.
You won’t be able to SELL that 12K-restoration job you’re touting as “service to the poor”.
The “poor” that buy an 80 years old 20K “patched” Steinway thinking they’re getting a deal.
The same poor people that come to me few years later and paying an extra 25k to throw out the window everything that was “rebuilt” and start all over again.
If you had the ability to change soundboards you’d talk differently than, and I quote “there isn’t any reason to replace a soundboard, ever”.

I have a choice, and I choose to do what I believe is the right thing.
You obviously don’t have a choice so you do what you must.


By the way, I’m still waiting to hear what kind of pianos you “fix” that have dampers in the 5th octave.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

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#1125840 - 12/08/04 07:34 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
ny1911,
There are other important things, as you may find out, in the performance of the piano other then just the way it sounds when you buy it.
I hope you’ll be happy with your choice also a few years from now.

I hope things really work out for you. If they will, however, you will be one of the lucky ones.
For most of those that play the piano, a new piano within the budget you mentioned, will be a lot more reliable and will serve them for a much longer time.

Especially if you live in the NY area.

Pianos in this area don’t fair very well and usually need full rebuilding after 70 years (we have here great swings in the RH).

If the piano was brought here after spending many years in a place like…Arizona, where it’s always consistent and dry, it may be in a much better shape.
The problem is that the piano will not acclimate to its new environment very well.
Usually, within a few years the piano will deteriorate in a very fast pace. So unless one is willing to relocate from NY to the area the piano came from. The odds are against the piano performing well for long.

It’s a shame, but it’s a no win situation.

So if you have a vintage Boston M&H (before 1930), than I suggest you install a Dampp-Chaser in AND control the RH of the room. Make sure the humidity is constant and hope for the best.

You’re a good guy too, and I hope things will work out for you.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

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#1125841 - 12/08/04 08:50 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
ny1911 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: New York
Thanks Ori...if it doesn't work out, I can blame my wife!

You and I spoke on the phone at length about Estonia last winter. Shopping was half the fun though, so if I have to do it again in 5-10 years when my girls get a little older, I won't be too unhappy!
_________________________
So live your life and live it well.
There's not much left of me to tell.
I just got back up each time I fell.

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#1125842 - 12/08/04 11:32 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
This is only partially a question of local or regional climate. It is also a question of how the soundboard assembly was originally designed and built. Since I’ve already gone into this subject under several different Piano Forum topic headings I’ll not repeat myself here — if you are interested please check the archives — but, briefly, if the original soundboard assembly was built as a purely compression-crowned soundboard there is inherently enough perpendicular-to-grain compression stress on the wood fibers within the soundboard panel to permanently deform them over time.

Thr process is called compression-set and is a well known phenomena among wood technologists. Whether some in the piano industry refuse to acknowledge or accept this phenomena as reality is another issue. But that refusal does not detract at all from reality — compression-set continues on whenever there is compression stress present. Unless the piano is located in some desert region which keeps the wood at an equilibrium moisture content of 4.0% compression-set is going to be an ongoing condition. The time required for compression-set to damage a soundboard panel sufficiently to affect tonal performance will be extended if the piano is kept in a mild climate that lacks high humidity extremes simply because the level of internal compression stress will be relatively low. Conversely, during periods of high humidity there will be greater compression stress within the soundboard panel and the rate of compression-set will be accelerated. Ultimately compression-set will work to reduce internal compression to some relatively stable minimum and along with that reduction will come some loss of soundboard assembly crown. Along with the loss of soundboard assembly crown will come an overall reduction in soundboard assembly stiffness.

At this point, as Rick Clark has pointed out, the issue becomes one of tonal performance. Or, perhaps, our expectations of tonal performance. The change in acoustical performance is (usually) very gradual and is evidenced by both the rate of sustain and the shape of the sustain envelope. As piano soundboards lose stiffness through time-related compression-set and the subsequent loss of crown and string bearing they begin to accept lower frequency energy at an increasingly faster rate. The tone quality becomes increasingly percussive with a tone envelope that, after a sharp attack sound, dies out rather rapidly. This sound envelope can not be altered appreciably through new hammers nor by any amount of voicing regardless of how skilled the voicer is.

If your tonal expectations find this type of percussive tone quality acceptable or desirable then nothing further needs to be said. or done. Keep (or get) the piano in mechanically good condition and play on. If, however, you don’t like that particular sound — and many do not — then something beyond this needs to be done. This acoustical problem will not go away by restringing alone. Yes, restringing alone (along with the related work, of course) might well make the piano sound better but it will still have that characteristic percussive attack and fundamental drop-off through (mostly) the upper third of the compass.

I cringe when I hear someone say, “As far as I can figure out, there isn't any reason to replace a soundboard, ever….” because I can’t begin to tell you how many otherwise nicely rebuilt pianos I have been called to evaluate after the fact that have left their owners dismayed. After having spent all that money they still hear the same tone character that led them to have the piano rebuilt in the first place. Sure, the piano looks great and the overall performance has improved some. The action performance is better, the new hammers do sound better and the overall voice is improved. But, despite all the warm and fuzzy assurances of the rebuilder, repairing the original soundboard — patching it, shimming it, whatevering it — simply did not yield the desired and promised results. The rebuilder may be justifiably proud of technical and aesthetic quality of his or her work and the price may have been quite reasonable for the work done but the customer ends up feeling they didn’t really get what they paid for.

You see, they didn’t really think they were paying for a piano rebuilding, they thought they were paying for a mechanism that would enable them to get the music in their heads out into the airwaves. And now, after spending all that money and after all that time, they find their instrument of choice is still not able to do that. Often it’s nothing they can really put their finger on but the overall result is just vaguely unsatisfactory. But now they have spent their money and they really can’t afford to start over. Regardless the physical quality of the rebuilding work, these owners have not received value for their money but they are the ones stuck with the result. Only the rebuilder, having happily deposited the check and made the boat payment, is happy.

No, piano soundboards should not be arbitrarily replaced. But, when the acoustical evidence is there telling us the soundboard has seen better days, we should also not refuse to acknowledge reality. We owe our clients better than that.

Del
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1125843 - 12/08/04 11:52 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21583
Loc: Oakland
Actually, Ori, you undoubtedly have less of a choice than I do. Having made the investment, you probably have to use it whether the piano or the customer needs it or not. I don't need any money from piano work any more, so I can concentrate on what the piano and customer needs. That was my focus even when I did live off the piano money, because I could easily have made a lot more money doing something else.

I also don't have a need to make outlandish claims. If I say that a piano I have worked on plays and sounds at least as well as a new piano that costs what I charge to do the work, that doesn't mean that they don't play and sound as good as a "comparable new piano," whatever that may mean. After all, it's kind of difficult to say that old Steinways I work on sound like new Steinways, when new Steinways are all over the map. (As are other makes. I just use Steinway because they are the most common old piano that are still around.)

To answer your question, all my pianos have dampers in the fifth octave, but just about all of them stop having them around the fifth octave, as I said.

Perhaps you could answer some questions that I have asked before, but have never gotten satisfactory answers:

How do you measure sustain in a measurable, repeatable, objective way?
How do you know exactly when a soundboard needs to be replaced?
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1125844 - 12/08/04 09:01 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
BDB,
I start to feel uncomfortable here.
You refuse to hear it from me.
You refuse to hear it from Irving.
You refuse to many others.
And now, after Del wrote a “hall of fame” post, one that people should print, frame and hang on their walls, you still refuse to believe what you read.

Very few people know about pianos as much as Del, so I would suggest you read his post again.

However, since Del's writing stile is so eloquent and polite, and since you decided to ignore his post altogether as if you couldn’t bear to read it, I would like to offer some help here and “translate” it for you as I read it..

For your convenience, all of Del’s quotes are in bold letters. My simple translation is not.

if the original soundboard assembly was built as a purely compression-crowned soundboard there is inherently enough perpendicular-to-grain compression stress on the wood fibers within the soundboard panel to permanently deform them over time.[/b]

Translation: The soundboard wouldn’t last forever.


Whether some in the piano industry refuse to acknowledge or accept this phenomena as reality is another issue.[/b]

Translation: He is talking about you, and the likes of you.

But that refusal does not detract at all from reality [/b]

Translation: wake up and face the facts.


Unless the piano is located in some desert region which keeps the wood at an equilibrium moisture content of 4.0% compression-set is going to be an ongoing condition. The time required for compression-set to damage a soundboard panel sufficiently to affect tonal performance will be extended if the piano is kept in a mild climate that lacks high humidity extremes simply because the level of internal compression stress will be relatively low. Conversely, during periods of high humidity there will be greater compression stress within the soundboard panel and the rate of compression-set will be accelerated.[/b]


Translation: The soundboard “dies” with age. Greater humidity swings will “kill” it faster.

If your piano is the Kalahari Desert you’re lucky, You could play to the Bushman for a very Long time.

At this point, as Rick Clark has pointed out, the issue becomes one of tonal performance. [/b]

Translation: Hello, Rick also tried to get to you.


Or, perhaps, our expectations of tonal performance.[/b]

Translation: Maybe you should aim higher.

The change in acoustical performance is (usually) very gradual and is evidenced by both the rate of sustain and the shape of the sustain envelope.[/b]

Translation: It sounds like someone pulled strings over a tin can.


This sound envelope can not be altered appreciably through new hammers nor by any amount of voicing regardless of how skilled the voicer is.[/b]

Translation: You’ll succeed in making a piano with a “dead” soundboard sound as good as one with a new one, the same day you’ll be able to wave your magic wand and turn a pumpkin into a limousine.

I guess life is great in wonderland.


If your tonal expectations find this type of percussive tone quality acceptable or desirable then nothing further needs to be said.[/b]

Translation: If people that are willing to spend 20K for a “rebuilt” Steinway think that it should sound as good, or just a little better than the 38” spinet their aunt got for her 7th birthday 45 years ago, then nothing further needs to be said.

If, however, you don’t like that particular sound — and many do not — then something beyond this needs to be done. This acoustical problem will not go away by restringing alone.[/b]

it will still have that characteristic percussive attack and fundamental drop-off[/b]

Translation: If you don’t like your Steinway grand to sound like your aunt’s spinet, you’ll actually need to RESTORE it.

I cringe when I hear someone say, “As far as I can figure out, there isn't any reason to replace a soundboard, ever….” [/b]

Translation: No need to translate here. I cringe too.
And by the way, he quoted you-BDB.

….” I cringe when I hear someone say, “As far as I can figure out, there isn't any reason to replace a soundboard, ever….” [/b]

After having spent all that money they still hear the same tone character that led them to have the piano rebuilt in the first place. Sure, the piano looks great and the overall performance has improved some. The action performance is better, the new hammers do sound better and the overall voice is improved. But, despite all the warm and fuzzy assurances of the rebuilder, repairing the original soundboard — patching it, shimming it, whatevering it — simply did not yield the desired and promised results.[/b]

Translation: The owners/buyers finally figured out they had been “stiffed”.


You see, they didn’t really think they were paying for a piano rebuilding, they thought they were paying for a mechanism that would enable them to get the music in their heads out into the airwaves. And now, after spending all that money and after all that time, they find their instrument of choice is still not able to do that.[/b]

Translation: The owners/buyers finally figured out that they were “conned”.


But now they have spent their money and they really can’t afford to start over.[/b]

Translation: The owners/buyers finally figured out that they threw their money away and that the great ”deal” wasn’t such a bargain after all.


Regardless the physical quality of the rebuilding work, these owners have not received value for their money but they are the ones stuck with the result.[/b]

Translation: Stiffed, conned, too late buddy.

Only the rebuilder, having happily deposited the check and made the boat payment, is happy.[/b]


Translation: the “patch up/con” artist is cruising towards the sunset with a bottle in one hand a bundle of cash in the other…


Now, and lets make it very clear so there won’t be any mix up…Del did NOT write this. BDB did.

BDB wrote:
 Quote:
Actually, Ori, you undoubtedly have less of a choice than I do. Having made the investment, you probably have to use it whether the piano or the customer needs it or not. I don't need any money from piano work any more, so I can concentrate on what the piano and customer needs. That was my focus even when I did live off the piano money, because I could easily have made a lot more money doing something else.
No, I could take people's money too, if I was a crook.
I could send their pianos to some of the wholesale butchers that do a complete “rebuiled” for less then $4000. Is this what you do and charge 12K for?

Ahhhh… sorry, you don’t need any more money…You could have done something else…Your doing volunteer work all day…Your “customers” don’t pay you anything.

Well I’m glad you made so much money and now you’re cruising into the sunset…
I am surprised though, you’re not ashamed to come out and say it. After all, now we all know how did you make your money.
Kudos to you.

BDB also wrote:
 Quote:
To answer your question, all my pianos have dampers in the fifth octave, but just about all of them stop having them around the fifth octave, as I said.
Ahhh...now you admit that pianos HAVE dampers in the 5th octave...so now around the 5th octave can be the upper part of the 6th. If so, then It can also be the lower part of the 4th octave...Do you know of any pianos that have no dampers in the 4th octave then?
As you said, and I quote:"most manufacturers stop putting dampers in the piano around the 5th octave".
I just love it how you try to justify your comments.
A 2 year old with some integrity will just say...OOOps, I made a BU-BU.


Now to answer you questions:
BDB wrote:
 Quote:
How do you measure sustain in a measurable, repeatable, objective way?
How do you know exactly when a soundboard needs to be replaced?
Well the first one… How do you measure sustain in a measurable, repeatable, objective way?

I think Del answered this already for me so I’ll just quote him again.

Del said:
The change in acoustical performance is (usually) very gradual and is evidenced by both the rate of sustain and the shape of the sustain envelope.[/b]

Your second question:
How do you know exactly when a soundboard needs to be replaced?

It's an easy one to answer… I am not deaf!.[/b]
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

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#1125845 - 12/08/04 09:13 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3327
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Ori,

Rather than antagonize BDB, I think you should make an effort to befriend him. Then, you can sell him the perfect 100 year old soundboards you remove from pianos you are rebuilding. I am sure if you are careful, the slight damage done in removal, and taking off the bridges wont be of any concern to him.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#1125846 - 12/08/04 11:38 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Ori,

I have no desire to browbeat BDB on this issue. There is no need to "translate" my comments. He and I have had these discussions in a respectful manner in the past and I think we understand each other's position and are willing to listen to new info when it comes in.

Also I am not 100% positive that all the modern explanations about how and why tone deteriorates in soundboards are completely correct. I am 80% convinced maybe. I think there is room for discussion at least.

I can certainly support BDB on the fact that there are some pretty old soundboards here in CA that still sound great- and neither of us is in a climate anything at all like the Kalahari desert. We are both in regions with a heavy marine air influence. In mine, it runs on the high side (usually 50-80% RH) . In his, just about right I think. And I have witnessed other rebuilt pianos that at first got tagged as having bad old boards, but once they got really tweaked out nicely, the "bad board tone" somehow disappeared.

So while I am certain that some boards do need to be replaced, I am a lot less sure of the arguments that they all should be replaced.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#1125847 - 12/09/04 12:17 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21583
Loc: Oakland
Actually, if anyone might have bothered to check the times of the posts, you might have noticed that Del posted his response while I was writing mine. It doesn't matter. I've read his stuff before. I know what compression set is, and I know that the only way it figures into soundboard construction is that the soundboard is glued crosswise to the ribs. That's entirely independent of how the soundboard is formed. Whether you form the crown in a soundboard by compression-crowning or by shaping, or any other method, if you take two otherwise identical soundboards and dry them to the moisture content used to form the crown by compression, they will both go pretty much flat. All the forces balance out. If you take off the ribs, they pretty much will go back to their original shape, except for the problems caused by being glued crossgrain to the ribs. That's because there hasn't been any compression set caused by the construction method.

That's only one of the questionable assertions made here by Del. For those of you that choose not to question them, that's fine. It doesn't make any difference to most people. There are only a few people who really understands what he says, fewer for whom it would make any difference, and I am probably the only one who follows what he says with a critical eye. I learn a lot from his writings, although they may not be what he wants me to learn. Del, I hope you understand that this is my sincerest compliment to you and the work you have done!

Ori, if you can't understand that the sixth octave is around the fifth octave, if you don't understand what measurable, repeatable, objective means, if you don't know how to spell "deaf," I'm afraid I can't help you.

Keith, if I were into making pianos, I would be happy to take old soundboards and recycle them into new pianos. After all, old instrument makers did such things for centuries. I, like Ori, am not into such things, I'm afraid. I wish Del would be a bit more forceful in taking the leap. But as I said at the outset, I recognize that there is a cost to recycling old materials, even old pianos, and doing too much doesn't make economic sense.
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#1125848 - 12/09/04 12:41 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Ori Offline
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Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
Kith, you’re sooo right!!
You are a much better businessman than I am.
Why didn’t I think about it…

But you know, when I remove the old, dead soundboards, even if they are damaged, he could easily fix them with his ” skills, knowledge and craftsmanship”… and his magic wand.


BDB.
The 6th octave is around the 5th as much as the 4th.
So why be over smart and not just say the 6th?

Thank you for correcting my spelling, English is not my first language.
If you just noticed it now I'll take it as a compliment.
Now if you can't do better than pointing out my typing errors in a discussion about pianos, than I really can't help you.
_________________________
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Restored Steinway pianos.

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#1125849 - 12/09/04 01:19 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Ori Offline
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Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
Rick,
If you read my posts I think it's clear that I believe too that RH plays a role in the preservation of the piano and the soundboard.
I never said ALL boards need to be replaced, I said I almost never see in my area a board that can and should be saved.

I also know what happens to pianos that are moved from an area of the country where they were kept in a relatively good shape, to this area, and it's not good.


I faced many times families that thought they're getting the piano that was in their family for 90 years lovingly restored just to be disappointed.
Del said in his post he was there too.
Keith posted in the past he was there too.
Irving was there...Many good rebuilders had to face that family.

And it's not a pleasant experience.
What should I tell them?

It's not the "patch up" job that bothers me...It's the romantic storys about the special woods, the authentic soundboard and the false hopes they give their clients.

It's when the "rebuilders" say there's never a reason to replace what they're not equipped to replace.
It's when they try to tell their clients..."it's just as good or better" than replacing what they can't replace.

It's when those peoples hopes crash.
People want to believe that a 12K rebuilding job on a 100 years old piano is a good thing...but we know better.
it's not just the boards...It's keeping action parts that should be replaced.
It's restringing with over sized #6 pins or doping the block.
Or replacing the pinblock in a way that...well, I'm sure you know...

Reading on this forum it seems that piano dealers and rebuilders as a whole enjoy a reputation not much better then used car salesman. Why???
I was always proud of what I do. And always happy to recommend my customers to do the right thing (at least as I see it) even if it means that I "loose" them.

When people are "taken"...in the end it comes back to us dealers, as a whole.
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

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#1125850 - 12/09/04 03:25 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Jeanne W Offline
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Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
Anyone want to venture a "guesstimate" as to how long - *how many years* - it might take for compression to deaden a soundboard? Are we most likely talking 5-10 years? 10-20 years? 30-40 years or more?

I'm still not sold on dampchasers. Still worry about them cracking the soundboard, etc. Humidity levels are running between 35% - 45% right now with a room humidifier which I think is reasonably good for a piano. It's the summer I'm concerned about. Haven't checked into dehumidifiers yet, and wonder if we'll really be able to control humidity without a LOT of noise in the room, so I'm wondering ....

If the better choice is to take a chance and get a DC, which some feel can actually crack a soundboard. Which is better (worse?):

*A cracked soundboard - how likely are the ribs to remain intact and for how many years? vs

*Higher humidity levels which will eventually compress and "deaden" a soundboard. Again how many years does this likely take?

If the consensus is it may take 30-40 years or more for the soundboard to "die" due to "compression" from high humidity, well, then, that's a good long time. If the ribs generally detach from a cracked soundboard in just a few years, well, these ae factors it is helpful to know when deciding which route to take to protect one's piano.

There are lots of variables to consider, I guess. I'm asking these questions from New England. We experience high humidity only during a 4-6 weeks maybe during the summer. Much different that the Pacific Northwest region where you are Del. I also wonder if the estimate may differ from one type of piano to another due to differing methods or quality of piano construction?

One last question, when rebuilders replace soundboards, do they usually rebuild to the same specs as the original soundboard? Is a piano that originally had a compression-crowned soundboard usually rebuilt the same way?

I know this is a lot of questions. I realize there are no cut and dried answers, either. Maybe just some guestimates on the time frame thing??

Just a note - I hope not to hear more testimony for DC's - I've read all of them, but I'm still hesitant.

Jeanne W

P.S. Steinway has a compression-crowned soundboard then, right?
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
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#1125851 - 12/09/04 04:25 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Roy123 Offline
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Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1715
Loc: Massachusetts
I think it's worth mentioning that the main cause of soundboard failure is the widespread practice of compression crowning rather than rib crowning. If manufacturers rib crowned, maybe old soundboards, like old violins, would get better and better with age.

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#1125852 - 12/09/04 04:45 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
ny1911 Offline
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Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: New York
Del...yo said "if" a soundboard is compression crowned. Is there another way that it is done in pianos, and who might do it that way? (note...non-technician here, trying to duck the bullets).
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#1125853 - 12/09/04 04:51 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Axtremus Offline
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Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6180
Jeanne W, did your piano get a new soundboard?
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#1125854 - 12/09/04 05:16 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
AndrewG Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
My soundboard is exactly 90 years old. It still sounds sweet and resonant. It certainly is not dead to my ears.

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#1125855 - 12/09/04 09:50 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Roy123 Offline
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Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1715
Loc: Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by ny1911:
Del...yo said "if" a soundboard is compression crowned. Is there another way that it is done in pianos, and who might do it that way? (note...non-technician here, trying to duck the bullets). [/b]
The other way is to shape the ribs so they have the right amount of curvature, and with the % moisture in the ribs and soundboard the same, glue the soundboard to the ribs. Before the strings are installed, there is no compression on the board, unlike a compression-crowned board, which starts out with a very large compression stress. Even considering the downbearing force from the strings, a rib-crowned board has much lower compressive stress on it.

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#1125856 - 12/09/04 11:06 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
Actually, if anyone might have bothered to check the times of the posts, you might have noticed that Del posted his response while I was writing mine. It doesn't matter. I've read his stuff before. I know what compression set is, and I know that the only way it figures into soundboard construction is that the soundboard is glued crosswise to the ribs. That's entirely independent of how the soundboard is formed. Whether you form the crown in a soundboard by compression-crowning or by shaping, or any other method, if you take two otherwise identical soundboards and dry them to the moisture content used to form the crown by compression, they will both go pretty much flat. All the forces balance out. If you take off the ribs, they pretty much will go back to their original shape, except for the problems caused by being glued crossgrain to the ribs. That's because there hasn't been any compression set caused by the construction method.

[/b]
True, compression-set as such is not caused by the soundboard’s construction method. Compression-set occurs as wood fibers are held in compression over some period of time. Constructing a compression-crowned soundboard assembly only results in a structure and process that creates the requisite perpendicular-to-grain compression within the soundboard panel. The missing element is time. Internal fiber compression is inherent and necessary to this crowning process and the compression set that develops over time is a natural and inevitable result. But this is just semantics.

In this type of soundboard construction without some amount of internal perpendicular-to-grain compression there will be no soundboard crown. There is no other mechanism that will either form or maintain crown. I suppose one could argue that soundboard crown itself is not necessary but most of us are of the opinion that it, along with the corresponding string bearing, does contribute to the overall tonal performance of the piano.

Your hypothetical example of two otherwise identical soundboards is misleading. Only the compression-crowned soundboard assembly is formed by drying the soundboard panel to 3.8% to 4.0% moisture content. A soundboard assembly using crowned ribs would be glued up much closer to the moisture content it will experience in real life. In our shop this is between 6.5% and 7.0%. Other factories use similar moisture content controls. In our region wood typically maintains an equilibrium moisture content of around 8% to 10% throughout the year. This means that a rib-crowned soundboard assembly will typically be under some small amount of compression year-round. By comparison the soundboard panel in a compression-crowned soundboard assembly will have a considerably higher measure of compression. At least initially, before compression-set begins to take its toll. Over time this initial measure of compression will decrease through the process of compression-set and along with it will go some amount of soundboard crown. Over enough time and given the right conditions, most or all of the original crown simply disappears.

(For those interested there are charts available that make it possible to calculate just how much initial compression will be involved in each case. There are too many variables involved to reasonably predict the rate at which compression-set will affect the soundboard assembly.)

Drying a rib-crowned soundboard assembly to a moisture content of 4.0% will create some perpendicular-to-grain tension but it will still have crown. Slightly less than it was designed to have, perhaps, but it will still have crown. Drying a compression-crowned soundboard assembly to a moisture content of 4.0% will remove all compression and the assembly will have no crown whatsoever. Indeed, if the compression-crowned soundboard assembly has been in existence long enough for some amount of compression-set to develop, at 4.0% mc this panel may well be under some amount of tension. Compression-set causes the wood fibers to physically and permanently change shape.

No, these systems are not at all otherwise identical. If you take the ribs off of these two examples the ribs from the compression-crowned soundboard assembly will return to their flat configuration while the ribs from the rib-crowned soundboard assembly will still have their curved face, or crown. The soundboard panels themselves are so floppy (across-grain) as to be of no consequence in this discussion.

The only way a compression-crowned soundboard assembly can form and maintain crown is through perpendicular-to-grain compression. That’s it. That is the whole point of the process and there are no other forces at work; take away that compression — as happens naturally over time through the mechanism of compression-set — and that crown goes away. Whether we like it or not this is the process that takes place over time. This is not just some wild theory I dreamed up out of the ether, it can be (and has been) demonstrated through a variety of experiments and tests both myself and many others. It’s gone well beyond speculation, it’s verified fact.

Del
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#1125857 - 12/09/04 11:27 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jeanne W:
Anyone want to venture a "guesstimate" as to how long - *how many years* - it might take for compression to deaden a soundboard? Are we most likely talking 5-10 years? 10-20 years? 30-40 years or more?

I'm still not sold on dampchasers. Still worry about them cracking the soundboard, etc. Humidity levels are running between 35% - 45% right now with a room humidifier which I think is reasonably good for a piano. It's the summer I'm concerned about. Haven't checked into dehumidifiers yet, and wonder if we'll really be able to control humidity without a LOT of noise in the room, so I'm wondering ....

[/b]
There are too many variables involved to accurately predict the rate of, or the effects of, compression-set. These range from the characteristics of the actual wood samples (specifically the resiliency of the earlywood portion of the growth ring) to the extremes of humidity in the micro-climate surrounding the piano. How high does the relative humidity go? And for how much of the year?

Like most technicians I’ve evaluated pianos upwards of a hundred years old with soundboards that still exhibited good tonal character. I’ve also evaluated pianos still on the showroom floor that were already exhibiting the percussive attach and rapid sustain drop-off characteristic of compression damaged soundboards. Since these pianos were mostly prepped by technicians I consider to be exceptionally good at their work I expect they (the pianos in question) were performing about as well as possible with their given soundboards.

Most of the pianos coming to our shop for soundboard replacement are upwards of 40 years old. There have been a few that were less than 10 years old, but they are the exceptions.

Personally, I’d suggest you reconsider that position on Dampp-Chasers. Properly sized to the piano and properly installed they are quite effective at keeping the moisture content of the soundboard panel down during periods of high humidity. Even if you don’t wish to install the whole system complete with water buckets (and I usually don’t), if my piano lived in your neck of the woods it would have a D-C bar or three down under the soundboard (along with the humidistat control, of course). Ask your technician.

Del
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Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
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#1125858 - 12/09/04 12:03 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jeanne W:


If the consensus is it may take 30-40 years or more for the soundboard to "die" due to "compression" from high humidity, well, then, that's a good long time. If the ribs generally detach from a cracked soundboard in just a few years, well, these ae factors it is helpful to know when deciding which route to take to protect one's piano.

There are lots of variables to consider, I guess. I'm asking these questions from New England. We experience high humidity only during a 4-6 weeks maybe during the summer. Much different that the Pacific Northwest region where you are Del. I also wonder if the estimate may differ from one type of piano to another due to differing methods or quality of piano construction?

One last question, when rebuilders replace soundboards, do they usually rebuild to the same specs as the original soundboard? Is a piano that originally had a compression-crowned soundboard usually rebuilt the same way?


P.S. Steinway has a compression-crowned soundboard then, right? [/b]
Part II.

The issue is not whether or not the ribs will detach themselves from the soundboard panel. With modern adhesives this is rarely a concern. The issue is how rapidly compression-set will develop and how long it will take for this to have an effect on you piano’s performance. And, of course, how much of an effect it may have.

Yes, your climate is much different than ours. Checking the charts that illustrate these things you will notice that the moisture content of wood products within the average home in the Pacific Northwest stays pretty much between 8% and 10% year round and we don’t experience the high humidity peaks you mention. Our climate takes pretty good care of the wood products we use in our homes — better than in most other parts of the country. (And this despite the fact that it rains pretty much every day and it’s always wet and miserable and nobody should ever think about moving out here!)

As to your last question — it depends on the rebuilder. Some do use a relatively authentic compression-crowning system (as is described elsewhere). We do not. Our ribs are crowned and the soundboard panel is held to a somewhat higher moisture content when it is all glued up. We believe our system has certain acoustical advantages and fewer inherent structural drawbacks. Obviously, others disagree. It is a matter of choice, experience and technological background.

Del
_________________________
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ddfandrich@gmail.com
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#1125859 - 12/09/04 12:12 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
JeanneW,

The reputation of D.C.s causing damage to boards is from three things:

1. Heater bars installed *without* the humidistat in an environment that already goes dry seasonally. This is not supposed to be done, but many have done it and probably still do. it comes from a mixed mentality of cheapness and technical ignorance.

2. People observing boards that have both cracks and Dampp-Chasers and jumping to the conclusion that the D.C.s *caused* the cracks, when in fact the cracks existed before the D.C. was ever installed. In fact, the cracks are what prompted the owner to finally do something about climate control.

3. Technicians who are unable or unwilling to change their ways or adapt to new facts. Not unusual in this business.

A properly installed system *can't* cause cracks because the humidistat shuts off the dehumidifier when the proper humidity level is reached.

Regards,

Rick Clark
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Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#1125860 - 12/09/04 12:22 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Rick Clark Offline
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Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Ori,

Certainly in your neck of the woods a good argument can be made for replacing boards a large % of the time, even if we set aside these issues about tone/compression set, etc. The deteriorated joints alone (old glue gone bad etc) make an argument for it. I mean a rebuilder friend of mine says he can literally kick an old NYC soundboard out of a piano,that's how weak things get. And I have certainly seen many rebuild jobs with the old boards left in where odd problems and sounds developed that seemed to strongly suggest failed joints and/or crystallized glue.

These pianos have problems that require complete tear down, removal of the board, new rib glueing, new bridge caps, etc. At that point the difference between regluing and reusing the old board versus putting in a new one is relatively small and it makes good sense to go ahead and get new wood in there- better safe than sorry.

Regards,

Rick Clark
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#1125861 - 12/09/04 01:29 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Chris W1 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/26/01
Posts: 915
Loc: Boston
Irving wrote:
"I have saved many hundreds of soundboards and replaced thousands"

Bumping for emphasis. One should always be aware of the perspective of the technician who is offering advise. Know they've done both, at least a handful of times.

I know this thread has seemingly been a repeat and would only attempt, in siding with the replacement camp, to add one more voice that isn't making money doing it and who says go for it. A dead soundboard is a dead soundboard, is a dead...and you may not figure it out without anything fresh near by.

Welcome to the forum, Ori. Irving, Rick et al. must be getting pretty tired of this chapter and verse ;\) . "12k rebuild"? May not be a lot for a refinish, action rebuild, and a new soundboard, but I think its not far off for any two out of those three.

Chris
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#1125862 - 12/09/04 04:47 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3327
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris W1:
Irving wrote:
"I have saved many hundreds of soundboards and replaced thousands"

Bumping for emphasis. One should always be aware of the perspective of the technician who is offering advise. Know they've done both, at least a handful of times.

I know this thread has seemingly been a repeat and would only attempt, in siding with the replacement camp, to add one more voice that isn't making money doing it and who says go for it. A dead soundboard is a dead soundboard, is a dead...and you may not figure it out without anything fresh near by.

Chris [/b]
Chris,

This may be the most illuminating post of the entire thread. Many techs think they are doing great work repairing old boards, until they begin to install new boards. If they master soundboard replacement, it becomes obvious how much better the new boards work, and they often feel embarrassed by their stubborn adherance to saving old boards no matter what.
With that being said, we recently rebuilt a 100 year old Bechstein on which we saved the original board, and this piano sounded wonderful in all registers. This is the exception, and perhaps it would have sounded even better with a new board.
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Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
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#1125863 - 12/10/04 04:09 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
 Quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:
Jeanne W, did your piano get a new soundboard? [/b]
Yes, it does have a new soundboard installed. I wouldn't have bought an early 1900's piano without a new soundboard (and complete rebuild).

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#1125864 - 12/10/04 08:23 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
JCS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/02/04
Posts: 75
Loc: Aurora, Colorado
Question:

Assuming crown is retained over time, why would newer wood vibrate better i.e. with more sound and sustain than older drier wood?

Seems to me the reverse would be true... i.e. stiffer drier wood would seem to vibrate stronger.

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#1125865 - 12/10/04 09:27 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1097
Loc: El Cajon, California
 Quote:
Originally posted by JCS:
Question:

Assuming crown is retained over time, why would newer wood vibrate better i.e. with more sound and sustain than older drier wood?

Seems to me the reverse would be true... i.e. stiffer drier wood would seem to vibrate stronger. [/b]
New versus old wood has nothing to do with moisture content. New soundboards are made from seasoned lumber that has, or should have, the precise moisture content required by the soundboard maker. Soundboard makers have the capability of adding or removing moisture from lumber according to their requirements.

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#1125866 - 12/10/04 10:09 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by JCS:
Question:

Assuming crown is retained over time, why would newer wood vibrate better i.e. with more sound and sustain than older drier wood?

Seems to me the reverse would be true... i.e. stiffer drier wood would seem to vibrate stronger.

[/b]
This debate has gone on in the industry for almost as long as the piano has been in existence. For some reason we continue trying to ascribe some magical function to the age of a piece of wood.

In part, I think, this has persisted because of the difficulty — at least until recently — of precisely defining just how the piano soundboard works.

It might help to stop thinking in terms of wood as an individual element vibrating and start thinking of the piano soundboard assembly as an integral whole, a system made up of one or more bridges to transfer vibrating energy from the strings to a large panel or diaphragm having some controlled amount of mass and stiffness that takes this vibrating energy and changes it into sound energy. As long as the mass and stiffness of this diaphragm is controlled in a way that gives us our desired results it does not matter what materials go into its construction.

Del
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#1125867 - 12/10/04 10:27 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Ron L. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 9
Loc: US
I'm not a tech and this is my first reply, but I've been reading and learning on this matter, as I was considering having an old Steinway rebuilt. The question of the soundboard and the associated costs came up to almost 20K for a total rebuild so I just bought a new piano. It seems that the primary argument about replacing a dead soundboard with a new one could be settled by actually measuring and plotting the sound wave of the initial attack and the subsequent sustain against a known good piano. No doubt that most of you techs on this site are able to hear the difference, but is this not an area that could be tested scientifically to settle these arguments?

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#1125868 - 12/10/04 11:24 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by Ron L.:
I'm not a tech and this is my first reply, but I've been reading and learning on this matter, as I was considering having an old Steinway rebuilt. The question of the soundboard and the associated costs came up to almost 20K for a total rebuild so I just bought a new piano. It seems that the primary argument about replacing a dead soundboard with a new one could be settled by actually measuring and plotting the sound wave of the initial attack and the subsequent sustain against a known good piano. No doubt that most of you techs on this site are able to hear the difference, but is this not an area that could be tested scientifically to settle these arguments? [/b]
It can be and it has been. But the equipment with which this can be done accurately is quite expensive. Somewhat beyond the budgets of most technicians.

In general piano technicians don’t go out looking for pianos that need new soundboards. At least I don’t know of any that do this. When the discussion of whether or not to replace the soundboard assembly comes up it is usually a result of the piano owner not being satisfied with the sound of the piano. The fact that the piano has a problem is accepted and the issue becomes one of identifying just what that problem is. Once the obvious is taken care of — proper tuning, adequate and appropriate hammers, good voicing, etc. — the question will eventually get around to rebuilding and/or replacing the soundboard. These are pianos with known tonal problems and through a process of elimination the question ultimately gets to the soundboard assembly.

The tonal characteristics related to soundboard problems are fairly well known, fairly consistent from one piano to the next and can be easily described. Since comparisons with pianos of known quality and performance are usually not difficult to arrange this has become a common way to help the client understand and identify what to listen for.

Del
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#1125869 - 12/10/04 12:11 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
JPM Offline
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Del said --

 Quote:
As to your last question -- it depends on the rebuilder. Some do use a relatively authentic compression-crowning system (as is described elsewhere). We do not. Our ribs are crowned and the soundboard panel is held to a somewhat higher moisture content when it is all glued up. We believe our system has certain acoustical advantages and fewer inherent structural drawbacks. Obviously, others disagree. It is a matter of choice, experience and technological background.
Del, this would be an interesting topic to pursue -- one perhaps better suited for the Piano Tuner-Technician's Forum. I am interested in learning more about the relative merits/demerits of the two techniques in terms of the sonic qualities or characteristics they produce. I would also like to know which piano makers use the crowned rib method. This might help me better understand why certain pianos have the tonal qualities they do.

Much of what has been stated here has been corroborated, at least for me personally, through side-by-side comparisons of new and rebuilt pianos. My experience has been rebuilt pianos that retain the original shimmed soundboard often (but not always) lack power and sustain in the treble. They often lack a full-bodied rounded sound too.

It is interesting to note that when certain piano manufacturers rebuild their old pianos, they often, if not always, replace the old SB with a new one. That's the case, at least, with a certain piano maker whose piano's I'm rather partial to. I assume they do so for a reasons other than convenience and economy.

JP
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#1125870 - 12/10/04 01:47 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
JCS Offline
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Is there any real statistical evidence that the Mason & Hamlin tension resonator actually works as intended?

i.e Does the M&H really hold crown better than other pianos over time in general?

Fluff or stuff?

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#1125871 - 12/10/04 01:59 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by JCS:


Is there any real statistical evidence that the Mason & Hamlin tension resonator actually works as intended?

[/b]
No. There is, however, evidence that it does not and can not work as advertised. This subject has been discussed in detail under previous topics.

Del
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#1125872 - 12/10/04 02:04 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by JPM:
Del said --

Del, this would be an interesting topic to pursue -- one perhaps better suited for the Piano Tuner-Technician's Forum. I am interested in learning more about the relative merits/demerits of the two techniques in terms of the sonic qualities or characteristics they produce. I would also like to know which piano makers use the crowned rib method. This might help me better understand why certain pianos have the tonal qualities they do.

Much of what has been stated here has been corroborated, at least for me personally, through side-by-side comparisons of new and rebuilt pianos. My experience has been rebuilt pianos that retain the original shimmed soundboard often (but not always) lack power and sustain in the treble. They often lack a full-bodied rounded sound too.

It is interesting to note that when certain piano manufacturers rebuild their old pianos, they often, if not always, replace the old SB with a new one. That's the case, at least, with a certain piano maker whose piano's I'm rather partial to. I assume they do so for a reasons other than convenience and economy.

JP [/b]
I do not have a list of which manufacturers use which processes. Unfortunately the representatives of these companies often do not themselves know.

As far as tonal performance is concerned you really shouldn't be able to tell much of any difference assuming both soundboards are in good condition. The differences would show up after 20 or 40 or whatever years. Tone performance is determined by a number of disparate factors ranging from scale length and tensions, bridge construction, plate design, rim and belly structure, soundboard shape and on and on. It is impossible to select out one attribute such as how the soundboard assembly is constructed and determine that the piano sounds a certain way because of that one factor.

When pianos are rebuilt by the manufacturers that originally built them they tend to use the same processes and materials that are used to construct the original. I don't know of any exceptions to this. It is what they know how to do and I’m sure they would consider it some odd if they were asked to do anything other than this.

Del
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#1125873 - 12/10/04 03:11 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
JCS Offline
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Hey Del, I went back to the thread where you discussed the tension resonator and well, the discussion was a bit over my head.

Can you dumb down your explanation a bit on why the tension resonator doesn't work as advertised by M&H?

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#1125874 - 12/10/04 09:48 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by JCS:
Hey Del, I went back to the thread where you discussed the tension resonator and well, the discussion was a bit over my head.

Can you dumb down your explanation a bit on why the tension resonator doesn't work as advertised by M&H? [/b]
I'm not sure how. The shape of the ribs is such that they don't push out against the rim as they are forced flat. They are pretty close to neutral, that is, if you start with a crowned soundboard assembly, glue it into a piano and physically force all of the crown out of the system the rim will not be forced outward. It will actually be pulled in very slightly.

Even if this were not the case there are a number of false claims made for how the system works. In their web site presentation they seriously exaggerate the crown radii involved making it look more like a roman arch. It is not. They make the claim that wood, longitudinal to grain is non-compressible. It is compressible. Not as much as across-grain but still compressible.

There are other problems with their claims but these are the biggies as related to the soundboard assembly. It is unfortunate this story goes on. The M&H grands are excellent pianos and inaccurate claims such as this are really unnecessary.

Del
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#1125875 - 12/11/04 08:23 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
HammerHead Offline
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Del said...
"The M&H grands are excellent pianos and inaccurate claims such as this are really unnecessary."

One last thing--would it be your opinion that without the flux capacitor, sorry, I mean tension resonator, M&H grands would be just as excellent, minus the extra weight and expense?
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#1125876 - 12/11/04 08:45 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Rick Clark Offline
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I would like to put in my 2 cents that strictly from anecdotal observation I have found that on average, old M&H soundboards do seem to hold up better. I base this not only on 30 years of observation, but also 30 years of talking to other techs whose observations agree.

This is not to say they are bulletproof, never crack or suffer any problems. I'm saying that on *average* they seem to hold up better.

What I have stated in the past here is that while I cannot say for certain whether this is due to the tension resonator or some other factor, since the mfgr's claim seems to agree with the field observation I take it as a matter of faith that the resonator is doing something good.

(OTOH I also note that their bridges seem to hold up better too, and they have nothing to do with the resonator- so there is a question mark)

And I put my money where my mouth is. I am now on my third pre-1930 M&H grand, and am quite happy with the existing board, as I was in the other 2.

Regards,

Rick Clark
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#1125877 - 12/11/04 09:41 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
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You take a day off, and see what happens!

 Quote:
The other way is to shape the ribs so they have the right amount of curvature, and with the % moisture in the ribs and soundboard the same, glue the soundboard to the ribs. Before the strings are installed, there is no compression on the board, unlike a compression-crowned board, which starts out with a very large compression stress. Even considering the downbearing force from the strings, a rib-crowned board has much lower compressive stress on it.
Perhaps. If you start with a flat board and bend it freely, there is a difference in stress from one side to the other, depending on whether the material is stronger under tension or under compression. Since spruce is about twice as strong under compression as it is under tension, one would expect that the bottom third of a board crowned this way would be compressed, and the other two thirds would tensed. The amount of stress imparted in this board is perhaps not as great as the total compression stress in a compressioned-crowned soundboard, but since 2/3 of it is tension, and the wood can only stand half as much tension as compression without failure, it may be that the board is more likely to be stress-damaged with age if it is rib-crowned. The top of the board will be ripped apart by the tension, while the bottom will be crushed by the compression. That is, if these tensions amounted to much.

As for compression due to the downbearing of the strings on the bridge, cross-grain to the soundboard, that is withstood by the long grain of the ribs, while the pressure parallel to the grain is, of course, withstood by the long grain of the soundboard. Wood is real strong parallel to the grain, enough so that the pressure of the strings is no problem.


 Quote:
I'm not sure how. The shape of the ribs is such that they don't push out against the rim as they are forced flat. They are pretty close to neutral, that is, if you start with a crowned soundboard assembly, glue it into a piano and physically force all of the crown out of the system the rim will not be forced outward. It will actually be pulled in very slightly.
There are a few things wrong with this statement. First of all, the ribs have no effect on the pressure along the grain of the soundboard. They don't go that direction. If the stress along the ribs were the issue, the TR on the M & H 50 would probably go from top to bottom, or diagonally, but it doesn't.

In the direction of the ribs, the role of the soundboard in providing rigidity at the top of the ribs was entirely discounted. Even though thickness adds a lot of rigidity, there's enough more width to counteract that.

Of course, all this proves nothing. What I say may not be true, nor what Del says. Certainly the people at M & H would disagree with Del, as would all those companies that use compression-crowned soundboards.

Some of claims can be tested. For instance, it would be pretty easy to cut a piece of wood to the shape of a rib, fasten it to a couple of uprights, press down on it until it is flat on the top, and see if the uprights bend in or bend out. (I would bet on bending out, scoring one for M & H.)
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#1125878 - 12/11/04 10:08 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:


Of course, all this proves nothing. What I say may not be true, nor what Del says. Certainly the people at M & H would disagree with Del, as would all those companies that use compression-crowned soundboards.

Some of claims can be tested. For instance, it would be pretty easy to cut a piece of wood to the shape of a rib, fasten it to a couple of uprights, press down on it until it is flat on the top, and see if the uprights bend in or bend out. (I would bet on bending out, scoring one for M & H.)

[/b]
BDB, you really need to get out in the shop and start doing some of your own hands-on experimenting and testing. Actually try to crown a soundboard assembly in the way you describe. When it doesn’t crown figure out for yourself why it didn’t. Actually measure the stresses involved. See for yourself how much a soundboard panel physically contracts when it is taken from 12% or 14% moisture content down to a verified 4% moisture content. Glue up a soundboard assembly with the panel at a 4% moisture content for yourself and watch what happens as it takes on moisture. Compare its final across-grain dimension with a sample test panel. And then try to explain the difference without acknowledging that the panel is, in fact, under some 1% to 2% compression. Doing these things for yourself will help immensely when you start speculating about things like wood tension and compression in the various types of soundboard construction.

As it is your explanations simply make no sense. They do not accurately describe the forces that are created and that exist within the various types of soundboard assemblies.

As to the M&H rib, this has been verified through actual experiment by a number of technicians (including myself). It works as I’ve described. The Centripital Tension Resonator neither helps nor hinders the creation of, or maintenance of, soundboard crown. While it may contribute to the overall performance of the piano in other ways, that is the subject for another time.

Del
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#1125879 - 12/11/04 11:10 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
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Now I don't get you. You said:

 Quote:
The other way is to shape the ribs so they have the right amount of curvature, and with the % moisture in the ribs and soundboard the same, glue the soundboard to the ribs. Before the strings are installed, there is no compression on the board, unlike a compression-crowned board, which starts out with a very large compression stress. Even considering the downbearing force from the strings, a rib-crowned board has much lower compressive stress on it.
There's no mention of shaping the soundboard with the right amount of curvature, too. Do you do that? If so, you've never mentioned it, only that you shape the ribs.

Incidentally, I went down in my junkpile, and it struck me how to put a really huge amount of stress in a piece of soundboard wood. I grabbed a scrap of it and twisted. I found that I could twist a piece approximately 2" x 24" so that one end was 45 degrees from the other. That's a lot more stress than you would get from forming a soundboard, but it wasn't enough to make any difference in the wood. It sprang right back, even though this was a hunk of ancient probably compression-crowned soundboard wood which should have lost all of its elasticity from being in a piano under stress from strings for umpteen years.

Incidentally, some of the soundboard wood among the scraps did show some signs of stress. However, it was tension stress, rather than compression stress: Tiny cracks in the finish of the top of the board, just as one might predict from my description of stress in a soundboard.

But in the long run, I guess that all that matters is that my customers are happy with what I do, and other people's customers are happy with what they do.
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#1125880 - 12/12/04 08:56 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Calin Offline
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BDB, cracks in the finish don't necessarily mean that the wood cracked the same way.

Calin
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#1125881 - 12/12/04 08:58 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Calin Offline
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#1125882 - 12/12/04 09:05 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Calin Offline
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#1125883 - 12/12/04 04:19 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Roy123 Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
You take a day off, and see what happens!

 Quote:
The other way is to shape the ribs so they have the right amount of curvature, and with the % moisture in the ribs and soundboard the same, glue the soundboard to the ribs. Before the strings are installed, there is no compression on the board, unlike a compression-crowned board, which starts out with a very large compression stress. Even considering the downbearing force from the strings, a rib-crowned board has much lower compressive stress on it.
Perhaps. If you start with a flat board and bend it freely, there is a difference in stress from one side to the other, depending on whether the material is stronger under tension or under compression. Since spruce is about twice as strong under compression as it is under tension, one would expect that the bottom third of a board crowned this way would be compressed, and the other two thirds would tensed. The amount of stress imparted in this board is perhaps not as great as the total compression stress in a compressioned-crowned soundboard, but since 2/3 of it is tension, and the wood can only stand half as much tension as compression without failure, it may be that the board is more likely to be stress-damaged with age if it is rib-crowned. The top of the board will be ripped apart by the tension, while the bottom will be crushed by the compression. That is, if these tensions amounted to much.

As for compression due to the downbearing of the strings on the bridge, cross-grain to the soundboard, that is withstood by the long grain of the ribs, while the pressure parallel to the grain is, of course, withstood by the long grain of the soundboard. Wood is real strong parallel to the grain, enough so that the pressure of the strings is no problem.


 Quote:
I'm not sure how. The shape of the ribs is such that they don't push out against the rim as they are forced flat. They are pretty close to neutral, that is, if you start with a crowned soundboard assembly, glue it into a piano and physically force all of the crown out of the system the rim will not be forced outward. It will actually be pulled in very slightly.
There are a few things wrong with this statement. First of all, the ribs have no effect on the pressure along the grain of the soundboard. They don't go that direction. If the stress along the ribs were the issue, the TR on the M & H 50 would probably go from top to bottom, or diagonally, but it doesn't.

In the direction of the ribs, the role of the soundboard in providing rigidity at the top of the ribs was entirely discounted. Even though thickness adds a lot of rigidity, there's enough more width to counteract that.

Of course, all this proves nothing. What I say may not be true, nor what Del says. Certainly the people at M & H would disagree with Del, as would all those companies that use compression-crowned soundboards.

Some of claims can be tested. For instance, it would be pretty easy to cut a piece of wood to the shape of a rib, fasten it to a couple of uprights, press down on it until it is flat on the top, and see if the uprights bend in or bend out. (I would bet on bending out, scoring one for M & H.) [/b]
The stress in the board from just bending it over curved ribs is very small--that's because the board is thin, and the rib curvature is large. However, the compressive force required to bend the ribs is quite large. Remember that the ribs are stiff, and the lever arm (the distance between the center of the board and the center of the ribs measured normal to the plane of the board) is small. Both parameters dictate high compressive forces in the board.

Take Del's word for it--he understands the physics and is telling you the truth. Forces in a compression-crowned board are much higher than in a rib-crowned board, and compression-crowned boards will lose their crown much more readily.

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#1125884 - 12/12/04 10:21 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
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No, the pressure required to bend ribs isn't that much. Again, I can do it with my hands.

Besides, just compression doesn't damage the wood. The wood compresses all by itself just due to changes in humidity. You can see the situation on page 114 of Hoadley.

Standard woodworking practice for glueing crossgrain members is to use the very method of lowering the moisture content before glueing. If you don't you increase the chances that the wood will be damaged by changes in humidity. You will get cracks. The most damage that you could get from compression set, whether by compression-crowning or by glueing to shaped ribs, no matter how long it is done for, is that the soundboard would take on the arch of the soundboard permanently, even if you remove the ribs. But I don't believe that happens.
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#1125885 - 12/12/04 11:32 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
No, the pressure required to bend ribs isn't that much. Again, I can do it with my hands.

Besides, just compression doesn't damage the wood. The wood compresses all by itself just due to changes in humidity. You can see the situation on page 114 of Hoadley.

Standard woodworking practice for glueing crossgrain members is to use the very method of lowering the moisture content before glueing. If you don't you increase the chances that the wood will be damaged by changes in humidity. You will get cracks. The most damage that you could get from compression set, whether by compression-crowning or by glueing to shaped ribs, no matter how long it is done for, is that the soundboard would take on the arch of the soundboard permanently, even if you remove the ribs. But I don't believe that happens. [/b]
Yes, compression can and does damage wood. The most extreme and visually dramatic occurrence of this damage in the piano soundboard are the compression ridges that often show up in soundboard panels crowned in this way. As the name implies internal compression is literally forcing the latewood layers up or down as the earlywood fibers fail in shear as the force from internal compression becomes greater than they can withstand.

Even without exhibiting this kind of dramatic failure a wood member held in cross-grain compression over a period of time will physically change shape. In other words a panel that is held in compression across grain will gradually lose some of its overall width. If you were at all inclined toward experimentation I would suggest the following:

Cut a 250 mm long (i.e., with the grain) by 1025 mm wide (across-grain) panel of nice new spruce. Dry this panel to 4% moisture content. (You’ll have to determine this by weighing samples, wood moisture content meters do not read accurately below 6%.) With the panel at 4% quickly cut it to exactly 1,000 mm and put it into a prepared frame that will hold it flat but which will not put any pressure on it at 1,000 mm but which will not allow it to expand beyond that initial 1,000 mm. Now set the whole thing aside in a normal atmosphere for a year.

When you take your panel out of the frame and dry it back down to 4% moisture content you will find it is no longer 1,000 mm wide but somewhat less that that. Just how much less will depend on the specific characteristics of the wood you used and the extent of the humidity swings to which it has been exposed. If you leave it in your frame long enough you will eventually see it actually coming away from the ends during moderately dry periods. This is the effect of compression-set.

This is the piano version of the illustration Hoadley gives on page 114 of his book, Understanding Wood. This illustration shows how constrained wood samples are damaged through the mechanism of compression-set after being exposed to varying amounts of humidity. The experiment I've described above is roughly equilivent to the middle sample. What has happened to the sample on the left is exactly the same as what happens to a compression-crowned soundboard panel over time. The soundboard panel is physically constrained by being solidly glued to all those perpendicular-to-grain ribs on one side of the panel. Those ribs don’t allow the panel to freely expand and the resulting stress-interface between the compressed (trying to expand) soundboard panel and the ribs forms the crown. Without that compression there is no crown.

A free piece of wood like a soundboard panel (or the sample on the right in Hoadley’s illustration) will not develop any internal compression or tension due to changes in humidity. It will simply expand or contract depending on whether it is absorbing or desorbing moisture. It is only when the wood is constrained and not allowed to move that it will develop either internal compression or tension.

Standard woodworking practice calls for wood to be at a minimum of 7% moisture content at glue up. To go below this can lead to starved glue joints as the wood will very readily draw the glue solvent (usually water) out of the glue. This is well above the 4% moisture content called for in the process of gluing up a compression-crowned soundboard assembly.

Gluing up a soundboard panel at the 4% moisture content required to end up with a compression-crowned soundboard assembly is abnormal to the woodworking industry. Several of the wood technologists I have consulted on the subject expressed mild shock and something bordering on disbelief when the process was explained to them.

Like it or not the soundboard panel in a compression-crowned soundboard assembly is under long-term compression and it remains under compression until compression-set has relieved that compression by physically altering the shape of the wood fibers. It is a gradual but certain process.

Del
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#1125886 - 12/13/04 05:07 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Roy123 Offline
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Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1715
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 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
No, the pressure required to bend ribs isn't that much. Again, I can do it with my hands.

Besides, just compression doesn't damage the wood. The wood compresses all by itself just due to changes in humidity. You can see the situation on page 114 of Hoadley.

Standard woodworking practice for glueing crossgrain members is to use the very method of lowering the moisture content before glueing. If you don't you increase the chances that the wood will be damaged by changes in humidity. You will get cracks. The most damage that you could get from compression set, whether by compression-crowning or by glueing to shaped ribs, no matter how long it is done for, is that the soundboard would take on the arch of the soundboard permanently, even if you remove the ribs. But I don't believe that happens. [/b]
The force to bend a rib doesn't seem high to you because you are bending the ribs differently. I assume you are grabbing a rib in two spots with each of your hands and then torquing it or maybe bending over your knee (or whatever). BUT, the soundboard isn't doing that. The soundboard is pushing on the rib longitudinally, very close to its centerline. As I mentioned in my previous post, that's what causes the high forces. If you refuse to believe Del, here is a quote from Ron Overs, a piano guru from Australia.

"CC [compression-crowned] rib sound board panels typically are grossly overloaded in compression, even before they are subjected to the downbearing force of the strings. It is not unusual for CC boards to exhibit significant signs of collapse within twenty years, and often much earlier (some overstressed sound boards can exhibit signs of collapse even before the instrument is sold from new). Overs Pianos is currently (2004) replacing a CC concert grand sound board (circ. 1962) from a 'leading' manufacturer, with reverse crown between the bridge and the belly rail in the second top string section (colloquially known as the killer octave)."

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#1125887 - 12/13/04 08:42 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
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Sorry for the duplicate post. Del
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#1125888 - 12/13/04 08:44 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Del Offline
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Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by Roy123:
The stress in the board from just bending it over curved ribs is very small--that's because the board is thin, and the rib curvature is large. However, the compressive force required to bend the ribs is quite large. Remember that the ribs are stiff, and the lever arm (the distance between the center of the board and the center of the ribs measured normal to the plane of the board) is small. Both parameters dictate high compressive forces in the board.

Take Del's word for it--he understands the physics and is telling you the truth. Forces in a compression-crowned board are much higher than in a rib-crowned board, and compression-crowned boards will lose their crown much more readily. [/b]
The peak compressive forces that can build up in a soundboard panel that is crowned this way is between 1% and 2% depending on the specific wood samples and the atmosphere the soundboard assembly is exposed to.

It is generally accepted within the woodworking industry that to avoid rapid compression stress failure wood should not be under any more than 1% compression (perpendicular-to-grain) for even relatively short periods of time. Significant long-term compression set will occur at much lower levels of compression than this.

Del
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#1125889 - 12/13/04 10:26 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21583
Loc: Oakland
Force is measure in Newtons, not percentage.

At any rate, it doesn't make any difference. As far as I know, I've had only two pianos fail after restringing, and the reason that they failed is because they were subjected to excessive heat. That was in the Oakland firestorm, when it got up to a couple thousand degrees. Nothing was left of them except the strings, so I hear. I doubt anyone else's pianos would do any better under those circumstances.
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#1125890 - 12/13/04 01:40 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Roy123 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1715
Loc: Massachusetts
Del was referrring to how much the wood was compressed in distance. For example, if a piece of wood measuring 100 cm was compressed 1%, its compressed dimension would be 99 cm.

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#1125891 - 12/13/04 05:30 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
Should have done this earlier. Just want to thank you, Del, for responding to my question earlier in this thread and for continuing to visit PianoWorld. We piano people appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge. \:\)

Jeanne W
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#1125892 - 12/13/04 10:14 PM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
tritone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/16/04
Posts: 189
Loc: Alberta
I second that emotion Jeanne W.

Thank you to all you contributors - Educating us all. Taking the time to write thoughtful insights from your years of experience. None of this shill-baiting nonsense that drives my crazy. Threads like this remind me why I love Piano Forum. And why I will start subscribing to keep it going. Thank you all.

I've sent this one into Frank B. to have this thread join the FAQ page. Hopefully he'll listen.

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#1125893 - 03/18/05 06:21 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena
RPD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/05
Posts: 961
Loc: Kalamazoo Michigan
 Quote:
Originally posted by Ori:
Translation: The owners/buyers finally figured out they had been “stiffed”.
And...

No, I could take people's money too, if I was a crook.
Hmmmmmm.....pretty harsh. I've been restoring, and rebuilding pianos since 1977. I've never replaced a soundboard. When I come across old Steinways, irrespective of how the SB looks or sounds, I ALWAYS tell the customers that restoring Steinways is a specialized art, and that the SB may need, and probably should, be replaced. I refer them to a shop that does that. I don't offer that service directly, although I am willing to sub that out if necessary to accomodate a complete rebuilding.

Many customers don't want, no matter what, a soundboard replaced. There is the family heirloom factor to consider. It comes up all the time in the field. Some clients simply want THEIR piano rebuilt...If, after properly advising a client as to their options, they want me to rebuild their piano, and assuming I can do a good job for them, we will take in the contract.

You run a factory, where you have a different onus. However, I have two people besides myself in my shop. We do beautiful restoration work on old pianos here. No corners cut. And, I ALWAYS advise customers to consider buying a new piano instead of rebuilding their older one...new pianos are immediately available (whereas we are 1-2 yrs. backlogged) and the results are predictable in purchasing a new (or newer) piano.

That said, if I were to refuse work on pianos that might be improved by replacing SB's, I would be virtually guaranteeing that many old, quality, pieces of family history would be basically thrown out.

I think we've found a great balance in how we bid on work. I am brutally honest with my customers about their old Brazilian Rosewood Chickering grands that need restoration. In all cases so far, those customers have wanted their pianos restored, rather than tossed. Those customers, having the option described to them, chose NOT to have the SB's replaced.

Would their pianos be better with new SB's installed?? Yes, in most cases. But I have generally found that neither the will, nor the budget, to get that done exists with the pianos I restore.

Somewhere within this issue there IS a fine art to making a piano with an original SB a beautiful restoration.

BTW, we replace virtually ALL action parts, and purchase high quality strings and hammers for our restorations...we don't cut corners...

...but neither am I a "crook" for being willing to assist my customer in bringing their fine, old, family heirloom piano back to life...

You run a factory and obviously keep high standards. If I were spec-ing on Steinways or MH and offering them for sale, replacing a SB would be no contest...it would happen virtually every time.

We live in different worlds. There are hack shops out here, to be sure...it drives me nuts too...but my clients are my best source of rebuilding referrals...they know I bring to the table a very discriminating ear, a willingness to assist them at their level, and a standard that frankly costs more than the competition last time I checked. None of our restorations have ever left a client feeling "stiffed". Never happened, never will. They get the whole picture before we start the work, and make their informed choices.

I think we come from two different worlds. I respect yours, and if you were here in Michigan I would probably refer certain rebuilding customers to you...especially those who have pianos that deserve new SB's....er, that is, if you could quit implying that anybody who does what I do is a crook.... ;\)

RD
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#1269102 - 09/16/09 02:06 AM Re: Fascinating Steinway Phenomena [Re: RPD]
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1652
Loc: Colorado
The sound coming from this 1917 O Steinway is from a 92 year-old sound board with 92 year old treble strings and new GC bass strings.

This piano only required proper voicing and action regulation. The sound board has no cracks. I was told that cracks only mattered if they caused a buzzing sound and that it can be corrected with shims.

Action and voicing were the main concerns for the expert Steinway tech that brought it to life.

Recorded with a DM-10 and a cheap condenser mic. The humidity over the past few months this summer knocks some of the unisons out of whack after about a week, but it's still acceptable. You will notice the bass is a bit stretched because they are recent replacements and I only bring them back into alignment once every ten days or so when they get too far off.

Glen

Snippet of Moonlight Sonata Mvt 1
http://www.box.net/shared/zv6h8ej07a

C-min Improv
http://www.box.net/shared/elyyhcuzsb

F-min Improv
http://www.box.net/shared/v70msif9xr

Schumann Warum
http://www.box.net/shared/g70giix57h







Edited by Inlanding (09/16/09 02:16 AM)
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