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#1125999 - 12/22/06 07:51 PM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
Randy Karasik Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/06
Posts: 498
Loc: Arvada, Colorado, USA, Earth
I knew a piano technician in Colorado, the late Milt Hearich, who built a soundboard out of some kind of honeycomb fiberglass material. He demonstrated it to me on a small baby grand that he rebuilt. It had a huge sound, no weak spots, and of course impervious to changes in humidity allowing for much greater tuning stability.

I think carbon fiber is absolutely viable, can be engineered to a prescribed thickness, or varying thicknesses and of course would be a lifetime part never needing to be replaced.

If the sound passes muster and it's economically viable, then I suppose we'll see it in mass production someday.
Registered Piano Technician
Serving Colorado Since 1978

Piano & Music Accessories
#1126000 - 12/22/06 07:55 PM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
Randy Karasik Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/06
Posts: 498
Loc: Arvada, Colorado, USA, Earth
Roy said, "While we're replacing the wooden sound board, why not dump the cast iron frame and replace it with steel? Then, how about replacing the heavy wooden beams and other structural parts with more fabricated steel parts? With calculations and verification from finite element analysis, I bet even the wooden rim could be replaced, and become part of the steel structure. I don't know if any of this is economically feasible, but with the right materials and processing, imagine how stable and reproducible such a piano would be. It might be a challenge to keep the weight down, but hollow-section parts would be a big help."

I think the overiding consideration is cost. Cast iron is much cheaper than steel. I recall piano plates made of aluminum some years back ... don't recall who did it ... for some reason it didn't take.

I also recall iron back posts as well. They added a lot of weight, and were discontinued.

Anybody remember who the builder was of these?
Registered Piano Technician
Serving Colorado Since 1978

#1126001 - 09/17/07 03:19 PM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
salvationofyhwh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/12/07
Posts: 8
Loc: uk
i build the maclaren slr ,s out of carbon fibre.. for a piano... great idea
never reprove a ridicular....

#1126002 - 06/02/08 09:10 PM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
Trevor Wilson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/02/08
Posts: 1
Loc: Bennington, VT
This thread got me so excited that I joined the board. Let me lay out my mind here.

So I am in endless pursuit of a portable acoustic piano... we've seen examples of this in Yamaha's CP70, Fender's Rhodes, etc. Nothing quite does it. I play piano percussively, and I like a bright sound. I've also gotten used to a limited range (we'll say about 60 keys, more towards the bass).

I started doing some experiments- I took a spinet and re appropriated it to have a detachable action (similar to the Yamaha system, but with an upright). Believe it or not, this worked for a couple shows, but by the third, was completely toast.

Then I took an old 'whorehouse' piano and cut it in half, essentially. It was mostly an experiment, because I would never have been able to halve the iron frame. Nuts.

My next project is starting with this piano... the only one that I've seen that has just about 60 keys- Supposedly it's a child's practice piano, but it has full length strings and a large sound. The soundboard is just about to explode, but it's the lightest piano I have ever encountered.

This leads me to the carbon fiber question. So essentially, we're talking about a custom made piano that needs to be as LIGHT as possible. The biggest weight is the frame. I don't know the history of frame materials, so feel free to point out the obvious. Would carbon fiber be strong enough? Is there another metal that I could use that would cost more than iron, but be significantly lighter?


#1126003 - 06/07/08 09:24 PM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
Trevor, You will want to read this web page from Hurstwood Farms in England. Check out their news releases, etc. They are working with Steingraeber to test and make carbon fibre soundboards.
Also do a search on Piano World for the Phoenix Steingraeber pianos.
Master of Music, School Teacher, Church Musician- See "Our Adventure to a New grand" thread... http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/18212.html

#1126004 - 06/21/08 03:36 AM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
lucian Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/03
Posts: 404
Loc: Belgium
For the alluminum frame Rippen made a very interesting baby grand. (Google it. There are plenty of pictures.)
And it had a surprisingly good sound !
"more I learn,less I know"

piano tuner/technician (sort of..... ;\) )

#1126005 - 08/19/08 04:06 PM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
Pointblack Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/18/08
Posts: 1
Loc: Dallas, TX
Would a carbon fiber piano sound different from a normal piano? I've tried carbon fiber guitars, but I was never a fan of it due to it's "different" sound.

#1126006 - 08/19/08 10:39 PM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 760
Argh this got me excited. I don't play cello or any string instrument (used to play violin though), but that thing sounded pretty nice (just saw the video yesterday).

Sorry this is disorganized, now commenting on the multitude of posts regarding casing and all.
Cast iron actually is steel, just with an extremely high proportion of carbon for strength, but it makes it brittle. There's a million different types of steel, and some are cheaper than others.
Aluminum would cut the weight down by a lot, at the cost of a bit (in the context of the price of a piano) more.
You could substitute lighter materials for many structural components potentially. They probably won't be cost effective though.

Strength doesn't address sound though. Maybe metal parts would cause issues with the sound?

#1126007 - 12/11/08 10:21 PM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
fourthgenerationpianorestoration Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 115
Loc: Brewster Cape Cod Mass
Today almost everything is synthetic and produced outside the USA . I have made a carbon fiber sound board the piano was an Ivors and pond 1936 and a throw away.My results were not good.After duplicating the thickness and ribs of the original I had to increase the bow fo these ribs because the pressure of the strings flatened out the board and I lost sound at a-300,A440 was very disapointing but I am trying some new improvments in the crude design I am soon going to try.I need another test subject not as big 5' or smaller grand.
Jeffrey T. Swensen
35 years doing restorations
Restringing, Estimates,Players

#1126008 - 12/13/08 03:24 AM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2462
Loc: Denver, CO
Posting here only for the purpose of making the rest of the forums a bit easier to read (due to the length of fourthgenerationpianorestoration's handle).

#1154328 - 02/28/09 01:24 AM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano [Re: DragonPianoPlayer]
Jake Jackson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 625
Loc: Atlanta, GA
I have to ask: Can carbon do what wood does--reflect the vibrations and vibrate itself, with enough of the sound coming from its own vibrations to make it sound like a piano?

The few carbon guitars I've played never did it for me. The projection was there, but the notes somehow seemed a little thin, because the note didn't come from a mixture of the string sound, the vibrations reflected off the soundboard, and the vibrating soundboard, but instead mainly from the string and the projected sound.

#1200263 - 05/16/09 04:44 AM Re: Carbon Fiber Piano [Re: Jake Jackson]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3489
I've played one Steingraeber-Phoenix 168 with a carbon fiber soundboard. Based on that experience, I'm a believer. Google "Hurstwood Piano Farm".

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