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#2021342 - 01/25/13 07:53 PM Wide tail designs
dustin44 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/13/11
Posts: 19
Just wondering if the wide tail designs on the newer grands makes alot of difference in sound. The only one I have tried is an Essex. It was a 5'7" and the dealer told me I would get the sound out of it as if I had a 6'1" piano. What I have read the Rits and the Hailuns are claiming the same thing.
Thanks

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#2021347 - 01/25/13 08:00 PM Re: Wide tail designs [Re: dustin44]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10765
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
This is an old debate. Do a search for some of Del's posts on the subject.

Like any "feature," the wide tail design is something that a brand can use to separate itself from competing brands. Whether or not it makes any difference, given the rest of the particular design elements in that piano, is something that no one has attempted to test in any systematic way.

Ask yourself the following question. If that particular design element was a no-brainer improvement to any piano, why then do so many of the top brands not use it? Many years have passed since some tails got wider, so you would have to presume conservatism in the self-defeating extreme to explain why Steinway, to take but one example, chooses to maintain a narrow tail in its NY pianos while touting wide tails in its lower price-point "made for Steinway" labels.
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#2021358 - 01/25/13 08:23 PM Re: Wide tail designs [Re: Piano*Dad]
kpembrook Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1573
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
This is an old debate. Do a search for some of Del's posts on the subject.

Like any "feature," the wide tail design is something that a brand can use to separate itself from competing brands. Whether or not it makes any difference, given the rest of the particular design elements in that piano, is something that no one has attempted to test in any systematic way.

Ask yourself the following question. If that particular design element was a no-brainer improvement to any piano, why then do so many of the top brands not use it? Many years have passed since some tails got wider, so you would have to presume conservatism in the self-defeating extreme to explain why Steinway, to take but one example, chooses to maintain a narrow tail in its NY pianos while touting wide tails in its lower price-point "made for Steinway" labels.


You are absolutely correct. There is no "killer" design feature that will make or break a piano. Often, a design feature is only one approach to accomplish a particular purpose -- Baldwin's vertical hitch pins being a case in point. They are a good way to manipulate downbearing, but certainly not the only way and not even a superior way in terms of end result.

Also, some features are just for market differentiation -- and lend no real value to the product.

A wide tail may -- in combination with other factors -- be able to offer greater flexibility in the bass, and that would probably be a good thing, but it's not the only way to get there.

One thing for sure, minor differences in soundboard area -- in and of itself -- is not an automatic benefit. More is not necessarily better.

When considering a piano, it should be evaluated for what it is when it is played. If it plays well and has a good tone, who cares whether the soundboard is bamboo, carbon-fiber or spruce? And if it doesn't sound good and play well, again, who cares what the soundboard is made of?
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Piano Technologist
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2021365 - 01/25/13 08:39 PM Re: Wide tail designs [Re: dustin44]
Kurtmen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 652
Loc: San Mateo, CA
Here are some fundamentals about piano sound-boards. The soundboard is responsible for radiating a large volume of sound over a wide frequency range. The sound-board system turns mechanical energy (vibration) into air-born energy (sound). In order to have sustain in a piano; energy must be re-direct to the point where was enter, which is the point of string coupling with the bridge. As energy enters the soundboard it can be consumed by the soundboard or lost to other parts of the piano; therefore the need for eliminating excessive vibration within the soundboard. This is done by stiffing the board with ribs and wood blocks in the corners. (This is typical at the corner of the bass registers)

Sound-boards require to be proportional to the scale design and must important; the acoustic properties of the board, ribs positioning, sound-board thickness, material, string coupling to the bridge are the fundamental factors of the performance of the sound-board system. (not the area of the board or the wide tail)
The wide-tail story is just a tangible feature for customers to see and in many cases the sound-board area is not functional in many parts. You don’t see wide tails in a concert grand pianos, they are usually narrower to prevent energy from vanishing.

Another problem is that if in reality they will use all the space for over-lapping the strings (longer-strings) it can cause stability problems.
It is about retaining energy and reflecting some of it, a larger area won’t do necessarily anything for a given scale design. This is basically it. Maybe somebody wants to enlarge about it.


Edited by Kurtmen (01/25/13 08:41 PM)
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#2021375 - 01/25/13 09:12 PM Re: Wide tail designs [Re: dustin44]
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2455
Loc: Lowell MA
A wide tail could also be a manufacturing expedient, allowing a manufacturer to install a sound board of uniform thickness while insuring enough flexibility and mass.



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E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
http://www.facebook.com/EJBuckPerformances

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#2021670 - 01/26/13 01:32 PM Re: Wide tail designs [Re: dustin44]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: dustin44
Just wondering if the wide tail designs on the newer grands makes alot of difference in sound. ... the dealer told me I would get the sound out of it as if I had a 6'1" piano. ...
Dealers of any brand will try to raise their product above their competition by extolling the virtues and features of the pianos they sell. The way you write about your experience, it sounds exactly like the comparisons of string length and square inches of soundboard as "proof" of a better tone. And that, as we know, is complete nonsense.

Do not let your actual listening experience be clouded by what the dealer says that you are hearing. Try a 6'1" piano and tell HIM which piano has more sound (if that is indeed a concern - personally I prefer tone quality over the "wall of sound" of other pianos).
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Piano Forte Supply
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