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#2026018 - 02/02/13 07:31 PM Does overstringing really increase the length of the
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19202
Loc: New York City
bass strings?

I think it is a common statement that one of the advantages of overstringing is that it allows the bass strings to be longer than in a straight strung piano of the same length. This seems logical to me as the hypotenuse of a right triangle would be longer than either leg.

But according to one of the owners of the Frederick piano collection in Massachusetts this idea statement is false. He said that an 9' Erard has a bass string with a longer length than a 9' Steinway.

So who's correct here and what's the flaw, if any, in my triangle explanation of why an overstrung bass string has the potential to be longer?

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#2026035 - 02/02/13 08:41 PM Re: Does overstringing really increase the length of the [Re: pianoloverus]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3318
I'm sure it's possible to find examples where it is true and not true. However, over-stringing does allow bridge coupling at the center of the soundboard. I'll leave it to the Peanut Gallery to comment on whether or not this makes any improvement or impediment.
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#2026067 - 02/02/13 10:00 PM Re: Does overstringing really increase the length of the [Re: pianoloverus]
BerndAB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/10
Posts: 541
Loc: Germany
The most benefit of the angled position of the overcrossed bass strings seems to be the "freeness" to vibrate for the soundboard. To use a distance from the bass wall at the bridge contact point where the vibrations of the bass strings go from the string into the bridge and down to the soundboard.

Straight strung old grands have the disadvantage that the left most strings are too close at the bass wall and consequently the free vibration of the soundboard at the contact point with the bridge is hindered, the connection to the rim seems to be "too stiff" there.

Bechstein had in his 1862 straight strung concert grand for Franz Liszt (can be seen in the Berlin Stilwerk at Bechstein) a so called "bass belly" with a gap in the bass wall near the bridge. The interrupted bass wall got a steel brace there to carry the tension loads. The soundboard "popped" a little bit out there, to use a bigger surface there and to have more freeness to vibrate.

Stephen Paulello in France intends to build seven footer grands and nine-plus-footer concert grands with "angled" straight stringing (my words). (BTW Alternatively also he offers cross strung grands). His concept for a new straight-strung version is to keep the bass strings angled as they are normally, and to set the tenor strings and the shorter strings all in a parallel layout, paralleled to the bass strings, with quite the same angle pointing to the right, seen from the pianist, vs. pointing to the left under the bass strings in the "normal" layout.

BTW his soon-to-come-straight strung concert grand is intended to be 300 long, second only to the F-308 Fazioli.

Does length really matter? I think yes - but the consequences of lenght for the manufaturing costs often seem over estimated for me. The relation "manufacturing costs plus material costs" vs. selling prices is much more a matter of numbers built - if a piano sells well, the costs decrease significantly.

So the buyer of a concert grand IMHO does not merely pay the more "labor" or the plus-material of a big piano but merely the exclusivity of a small number built..

The difference (if I am right) is much more marketing thinking than hard-nosed calculated manufacturing costs..
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#2026132 - 02/03/13 01:17 AM Re: Does overstringing really increase the length of the [Re: pianoloverus]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Not sure you're interested in uprights, but FWIW I happened to be measuring my bass strings today smile On our 1874 Steinway "early large scale" upright the A0 string is about 60" pin to pin, with a 52-53" speaking length. Piano height is ~54". So in this case I would estimate that over stringing has added at least 8" or ~18% to the speaking length of the A0 string.

Rob


Edited by miscrms (02/03/13 01:44 AM)
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#2026139 - 02/03/13 01:46 AM Re: Does overstringing really increase the length of the [Re: pianoloverus]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5161
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think it is a common statement that one of the advantages of overstringing is that it allows the bass strings to be longer than in a straight strung piano of the same length. This seems logical to me as the hypotenuse of a right triangle would be longer than either leg.

But according to one of the owners of the Frederick piano collection in Massachusetts this idea statement is false. He said that an 9' Erard has a bass string with a longer length than a 9' Steinway.

So who's correct here and what's the flaw, if any, in my triangle explanation of why an overstrung bass string has the potential to be longer?

It depends on the piano and the angles of the strings involved. It is certainly true that overstringing makes longer strings possible in the typical vertical piano layout. But in these pianos the bass strings are often laid over at 30° to 40° angles, sometimes more (relative to the strike line). In these pianos overstringing clearly allows longer strings.

In very short grands the string angles can also be fairly high; upwards of 20°. Here, too, overstringing will allow a somewhat longer string that would be possible if the strings were laid out perpendicularly to the strike line.

As the length of the piano increases this advantage decreases. In concert-length instruments there is little, if any, length advantage to be gained by overstringing. Here the only advantage lies in bridge placement. And even here there are other ways of accomplishing essentially the same thing.

ddf
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#2026145 - 02/03/13 01:59 AM Re: Does overstringing really increase the length of the [Re: pianoloverus]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21206
Loc: Oakland
The other advantage, if you think of it as one, is better coupling of the bass strings to the strings under them. The tenor strings on a cross-strung piano will excite the bass strings, providing additional resonance, at the expense of clarity, when the damper pedal is used. This is clearly audible if you compare a flat-strung piano with one that is cross-strung, and are listening for it.
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#2026254 - 02/03/13 10:42 AM Re: Does overstringing really increase the length of the [Re: BDB]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3415
Loc: Northern England.
This is interesting. Overstrung uprights can be over resonant although the greatest length advantage is to be found in the upright rather than the grand it seems; it also indicates why many straight strung ones are clearer sounding. I was brought up on a straight strung upright; perhaps therein lies my problems with modern pianos!

Ya learn something everyday . . .
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"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

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#2026550 - 02/03/13 09:39 PM Re: Does overstringing really increase the length of the [Re: pianoloverus]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
What cross stringing allows is longer strings in the tenor. Essentially, the lowest string in the tenor can now be as long (or even a bit longer) than the longest bass string would have been in a flat strung situation. This allows a minimal for-shortening of the plain wire scale. Of course, the bass scaling must ideally be matched to the tenor section to minimize break. This must be done in any case whether the piano is cross, flat or diagonally strung.
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