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#2033109 - 02/14/13 03:46 PM It is Hard to Overcome Physics
Steve Cohen Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10344
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I have stated many times that it is hard to overcome physics when comparing pianos, and thought it worthy of a new thread.

Let's initially look at it from a few perspectives, the first being two pianos of identical construction varying only in size. For example a Yamaha C1 and C2, a Kawai RX-2 and RX-3, or a U1 and a U3. I think we would all agree that in this scenario the larger size will outperform the smaller one, and that the greater the difference in size the more obvious the tonal difference.

Another perspective is comparing pianos of differing quality and size where the "better" quality piano is smaller that the "lesser" quality piano. For example, comparing a Piano Buyer rated "High Quality Performance-Grade 5'8 inch grand with say a 6'7" middle group Consumer-Grade piano. Here the choice is not so easy, as it is hard to overcome physics.

The situation is becoming more complex with some of today's new designs. An example is Del Fandrich's designs for the Young Chang grands. Here, IMHO, the innovative scale design produces a tone that sounds, in many ways, like a larger piano. At the original introduction of the line I was fooled when I heard a 5' grand from across the room, thinking it was a 5'7". However, there is still a limit imposed by physics when you start to compare tone in instruments that are larger.

Rather than my fleshing out other scenarios I'd like to see what others think on the topic.
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#2033122 - 02/14/13 04:07 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2837
Loc: UK.
I don't really know anything about piano design or manufacture, materials used or the like. But I do know when I like the sound of a piano and how it makes me feel to play.

There has to be so much more to it than size. I mean you can play two different pianos of the same size and they will be completely different in sound and quality. I have played large pianos that sounded bad and small pianos that sounded good. And also some pianos which just seem to suit the environment where they are situated, and those that don't. A concert grand is great on the stage but when people crowbar them into a small living room they become pointless.

I would be interested to know what those in the manufacturing business think though.
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#2033123 - 02/14/13 04:08 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
wouter79 Offline
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Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3247
I don't believe that the limits of physics are actually playing a big role here. My 40cm, maybe 15kg bass speaker goes down to 20Hz. So I see no reason why a 1.8meter, 400kg piano would not be able to.

Besides, "physics" is just a mathematical model, a model that you can use or not, not something that should be "overcome".
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#2033153 - 02/14/13 04:47 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Radio.Octave Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 429
This seems like a very complex problem, but in general, I think more compromises have to made when designing a short piano. Theoretically, it's best if the bass strings are very long, but this can't be achieved within the confines of a small case. Here's an excerpt from "Piano Buyer"

"The place to begin is with the strings in the low bass. Normally among the longest in a piano, these copper-wrapped strings must be made thicker than normal to compensate for the length that the piano's small size makes impossible. The extra thickness makes them stiffer, causing the harmonics they produce to deviate from their theoretical frequencies, in a phenomenon known as inharmonicity. (This happens to some extent with all pianos; it's just much worse in small ones.) The problem here is that the fundamental frequency of a bass string is weak in comparison to its harmonics, and the ear "hears" the pitch of the note largely by listening to the harmonics and inferring from them which fundamental would have produced them. When the inharmonicity is extreme, however, each harmonic suggests a different fundamental, thus confusing the ear, which hears an indistinct pitch. So when trying out a small piano, play each note in the bass to see how low you can go before the pitch becomes unclear. (If you can no longer hum the note, the pitch is probably not clear enough to discern.)"

http://www.pianobuyer.com/fall10/92.html

The laws of physics play a role in virtually everything. I'm sure there are design tricks that can help squeeze the most "bang for your buck" out of a small piano, but in the end, the math doesn't lie. To get the best sound, you need looooong strings.

This sort of reminds me of the saying, "there's no replacement for displacement." You can take a tiny 2 liter engine and turbocharge it, but I'd rather have the raw power of a big, honkin', large displacement V8.


Edited by Radio.Octave (02/14/13 04:47 PM)
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#2033158 - 02/14/13 04:49 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6138
Loc: Rochester MN
When I read the title of this thread, this was the first thing which popped into mind.

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=218&ad=23855265&cat=&lpid=5&search=piano&ad_cid=4

(Courtesy of the Tuner/Tech Forum)
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#2033164 - 02/14/13 04:56 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Steven Y. A. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 291
Loc: Toronto
i rate tone over physics..
if you let me chose between August Forster 170 to NY Steinway D, I would take the Forster without hestitation.
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PLEYEL P124

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#2033174 - 02/14/13 05:08 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2837
Loc: UK.
So if you stretch a piece of wire from one side of the room to the other and twang it would it sound good?
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#2033178 - 02/14/13 05:12 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6138
Loc: Rochester MN
It seems that the focus has shifted slightly from price point pianos to well designed pianos which are very surprising for their size. I find this particularily true in the Walter W-175 and the Cunningham 5'10" Parlour Grand. I have yet to play Mr. Fandrich's designs for Young Chang, and am eager to do so.

It is interesting to look at the S&S-M. It has long been held as the benchmark for a small piano. There are many who consider it to be far superior to its larger brother, the 'L.' Now that the 'O' has been re-introduced in the US, it is a different story.
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2033179 - 02/14/13 05:15 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Chris H.]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6138
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
So if you stretch a piece of wire from one side of the room to the other and twang it would it sound good?


And that illustrates the need for excellent design and scale.
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2033203 - 02/14/13 05:53 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8077
Loc: Georgia, USA
I’m certainly no expert, but I’m thinking that quality does play an important role here… hence, a smaller, higher quality piano might out-perform (sound and play better) than a larger, lesser quality piano.

Also, I’m thinking that the biggest difference over-all between larger pianos and smaller pianos is in the low bass… thing is, you don’t play the low bass all the time. (Unless you play a lot of boogie-woogie smile ).

Rick
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#2033258 - 02/14/13 07:33 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19099
Loc: New York City
I think the premise in the opening post is generally true. Of course, when comparing pianos from different makers one can have personal tonal preferences that may override any theoretical size advantage, but I don't think that is what this thread is about. The fact that some think that a longer piano of "lesser quality" and cost can even compete with a shorter piano of "greater quality" and sometimes far greater price seems pretty clear indication of the importance of length.

I also think that for most makers, except possibly in the case where some of their models are radically different designs, most people feel the piano's tone improves as the length of the model in that line increases. If not, why would they purchase the larger(and more expensive) models?

If there was no cost differential and someone had enough space and an appropriate acoustical environment, how many would choose a Steinway M over a Steinway B or a Mason A over a Mason BB?


Edited by pianoloverus (02/14/13 07:38 PM)

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#2033275 - 02/14/13 07:54 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5067
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
I have stated many times that it is hard to overcome physics when comparing pianos, and thought it worthy of a new thread.

Let's initially look at it from a few perspectives, the first being two pianos of identical construction varying only in size. For example a Yamaha C1 and C2, a Kawai RX-2 and RX-3, or a U1 and a U3. I think we would all agree that in this scenario the larger size will outperform the smaller one, and that the greater the difference in size the more obvious the tonal difference.

Another perspective is comparing pianos of differing quality and size where the "better" quality piano is smaller that the "lesser" quality piano. For example, comparing a Piano Buyer rated "High Quality Performance-Grade 5'8 inch grand with say a 6'7" middle group Consumer-Grade piano. Here the choice is not so easy, as it is hard to overcome physics.

During the early years of my career the difference between what we now call “entry-level” pianos and high-end pianos was dramatic. To be sure, a lot could be done with good dealer prep work but there was still going to be a significant gap. While a 6’ 7” Brand K grand could be made to sound quite presentable, especially for its price, it was never—at least not without some modifying—going to perform on a level with a really good, high-end American or European grand. Even one four to eight inches shorter. To be sure, it might have an advantage in the very low bass but it takes more than a few low bass notes to make a great sounding piano.

This price- and size-to-performance ratio has changed dramatically over the past few years as the better high-production manufacturers have gradually gotten their act together. I know an increasing number of decent pianists who are buying longer, low-cost instruments in favor of shorter, more expensive instruments. Some of the money they saved by not going high-end is going into careful prep work that should be—but isn’t always—part of the package with a so-called “performance” piano. The potential tone quality and action performance of some of these pianos is hidden just beneath the veneer of high production.

With larger pianos the gap has been narrowing because high-production manufacturers have learned to better integrate modern manufacturing machinery into the piano making process. Design makes less difference here; the fundamental design of high-end pianos is not significantly different from that of their lower cost competition. Certainly there are differences in detail but a good technician can make up for at least some of those differences with careful action, hammer and string work.



Quote:
The situation is becoming more complex with some of today's new designs. An example is Del Fandrich's designs for the Young Chang grands. Here, IMHO, the innovative scale design produces a tone that sounds, in many ways, like a larger piano. At the original introduction of the line I was fooled when I heard a 5' grand from across the room, thinking it was a 5'7". However, there is still a limit imposed by physics when you start to compare tone in instruments that are larger.

With smaller pianos things get more complicated. It is not possible to overcome physics but it is possible to learn to work with it better than we have in the past and a willingness to take a fresh approach to working with the laws of physics can pay off handsomely with smaller pianos.

When we’re working with short scales in small physical packages we have to make clear-cut choices when we define the goals of the pianos we’re designing (or redesigning). All piano design and construction is based on compromise; anyone claiming otherwise understands neither. Until fairly recently—as piano history is measured—it seems the primary goal for the manufacturer of small pianos was to make them as loud as possible. Horsepower sells cars and sound power sells pianos. At least that seems to have been the operative theory. But, just like overpowered cars are not always pleasant to drive, overpowered pianos are not always pleasant to play.

Nothing I have done, either in new design (the Walter grands, for example) or in redesign (most recently the Young Chang/Weber product line) violates any laws of physics; I have simply used some of them in ways that are unusual to what we euphemistically call “modern” piano technology.

I started with a different musical goal; musicality as opposed to power. While this was the case with all models, achieving it has been most challenging with the smaller sizes. I learned long ago that with short pianos acoustical power must take a back seat to most everything else. That is not a big a drawback as it might seem as most of these pianos are going to be placed in relatively small rooms where power will take care if itself.

We can make short pianos sound quite nice once we relieve them of the obligation of producing huge amounts of acoustical power. We can reduce their scale tensions, thin out and lighten up their soundboard structures and give them lighter, less dense hammers. The result is something like a VW GTI compared to a Ford Mustang. The GTI is light and nimble, quick and responsive but it lacks the brute power of the Mustang. Both suit a purpose but that purpose is different. We could stuff a bigger engine into the GTI and it would certainly go faster but it would also pretty much ruin its pleasant character.

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

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#2033418 - 02/14/13 10:25 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steven Y. A.]
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2557
Loc: western Wisconsin
Originally Posted By: Steven Y. A.
i rate tone over physics..
if you let me chose between August Forster 170 to NY Steinway D, I would take the Forster without hestitation.


You have a rather odd sense of humor (or is it taste?)...
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#2033458 - 02/14/13 11:59 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1473
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I do find it odd that some piano makers offer 4' 11" grands and another 5' 1" (or some other closely related dimensions). It seems to me that if you have room for a 5' wouldn't a 5'4" fit also?
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#2033470 - 02/15/13 12:50 AM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5067
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
I do find it odd that some piano makers offer 4' 11" grands and another 5' 1" (or some other closely related dimensions). It seems to me that if you have room for a 5' wouldn't a 5'4" fit also?

I agree. But piano manufacturers tend to build what people buy and people buy both sizes. More of the 150s (4' 11") grands but significant numbers of the 157s (5' 2") grands as well. There was no thought given to dropping either.

ddf
_________________________
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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#2033602 - 02/15/13 08:58 AM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steven Y. A.]
KarelG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/11
Posts: 132
Loc: Czech Republic
Originally Posted By: Steven Y. A.
i rate tone over physics..
if you let me chose between August Forster 170 to NY Steinway D, I would take the Forster without hestitation.

That sounds interesting, could you be so kind and write more about your reasoning for a choice of August Forster 170 over NY S&S D?
Thanks! Karel
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#2033635 - 02/15/13 10:16 AM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Steven Y. A. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 291
Loc: Toronto
August Forster is simply my favorite piano. The trebe sounds divine to me and the base has extrodinary clarity and depth - even at 170.
my next favorite is C.Bechstein, Bechstein Academy and Grotrian.
Both C.Bech and Academy series shares the brilliant tone - C.Bech has better sustain in trebe, but Bechstein Academy is almost as good - that is, in a blind test, if you play only 1 piano and asks me if its C.Bech or Academy series - I could not tell. Both have great actions as well. I dont care some parts of Academy series are not made in Germany. If I decide to buy a Bechstein, I would rate Academy series over all other brands - only below C.Bech.

Grotrian has one of a kind dark, metallic tone, are some best uprights ive played. But I have only played 1 Grotrian Grand, it didnt surpurise me as their uprights did.

For NY Steinway, has the widest tonal palatee and dynamic range, but theres one thing I dont like, it is the upper registers. The trebe is too thin, rounded, with little sparkling,almost a bit dull - its not unpleasing by any means, but it doesnt do the trick for me.

I am not denying the fact that NY Steinway D is probably the greatest piano ever made - but it has nothing to do with my preferrence. For a dream piano at home I'd take a August Forster or Bechstein. Of course you can sell the Steinway D and buy 5 AF 170 smile

i havent seen a Fazioli and Steingraeber yet.
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#2033637 - 02/15/13 10:17 AM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Chopinlover49 Offline
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Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 612
Loc: NY and NC
I also want to hear why one would prefer the AF 170 to the SS D. If there is enough sonic room in the home or venue, the D is a fantastic piano. (I will skip the arguments about how all of them are different and some better than others. Obviously. However, that is true of many other brands and models.)
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#2033653 - 02/15/13 10:49 AM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1473
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I wonder if manufacturers who make a series of slightly longer small grands are not trying to force dealers to carry more stock of their brand and thus create less room for other brands in the same store. Sort of like 10 different cheerios fighting for shelf space.

With the advent of numerical machines and CAD design-having more designs does not add the same costs it once did to manufacture.

The greatest small grand scale ever done was the largest of the Chickering Quarter grands. When they are in good shape the depth of tone is amazing. I see no manufacturer today utilizing the design elements The Quarter Grand established.

With the hybrid wire design protocols now available and the wrapping options for wound strings, (and of course the option to license my Pat. application pending-"Fully Tempered Duplex Scale" technology-small pianos could take another step up in musical quality.
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#2033690 - 02/15/13 12:06 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Del]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 775
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Originally Posted By: Del


I started with a different musical goal; musicality as opposed to power.



This, a thousand times this. Why does this have to seem like such a novel, almost radical concept?
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#2033729 - 02/15/13 01:04 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Del]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10344
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted By: Del
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
I have stated many times that it is hard to overcome physics when comparing pianos, and thought it worthy of a new thread.

Let's initially look at it from a few perspectives, the first being two pianos of identical construction varying only in size. For example a Yamaha C1 and C2, a Kawai RX-2 and RX-3, or a U1 and a U3. I think we would all agree that in this scenario the larger size will outperform the smaller one, and that the greater the difference in size the more obvious the tonal difference.

Another perspective is comparing pianos of differing quality and size where the "better" quality piano is smaller that the "lesser" quality piano. For example, comparing a Piano Buyer rated "High Quality Performance-Grade 5'8 inch grand with say a 6'7" middle group Consumer-Grade piano. Here the choice is not so easy, as it is hard to overcome physics.

During the early years of my career the difference between what we now call “entry-level” pianos and high-end pianos was dramatic. To be sure, a lot could be done with good dealer prep work but there was still going to be a significant gap. While a 6’ 7” Brand K grand could be made to sound quite presentable, especially for its price, it was never—at least not without some modifying—going to perform on a level with a really good, high-end American or European grand. Even one four to eight inches shorter. To be sure, it might have an advantage in the very low bass but it takes more than a few low bass notes to make a great sounding piano.

This price- and size-to-performance ratio has changed dramatically over the past few years as the better high-production manufacturers have gradually gotten their act together. I know an increasing number of decent pianists who are buying longer, low-cost instruments in favor of shorter, more expensive instruments. Some of the money they saved by not going high-end is going into careful prep work that should be—but isn’t always—part of the package with a so-called “performance” piano. The potential tone quality and action performance of some of these pianos is hidden just beneath the veneer of high production.

With larger pianos the gap has been narrowing because high-production manufacturers have learned to better integrate modern manufacturing machinery into the piano making process. Design makes less difference here; the fundamental design of high-end pianos is not significantly different from that of their lower cost competition. Certainly there are differences in detail but a good technician can make up for at least some of those differences with careful action, hammer and string work.



Quote:
The situation is becoming more complex with some of today's new designs. An example is Del Fandrich's designs for the Young Chang grands. Here, IMHO, the innovative scale design produces a tone that sounds, in many ways, like a larger piano. At the original introduction of the line I was fooled when I heard a 5' grand from across the room, thinking it was a 5'7". However, there is still a limit imposed by physics when you start to compare tone in instruments that are larger.

With smaller pianos things get more complicated. It is not possible to overcome physics but it is possible to learn to work with it better than we have in the past and a willingness to take a fresh approach to working with the laws of physics can pay off handsomely with smaller pianos.

When we’re working with short scales in small physical packages we have to make clear-cut choices when we define the goals of the pianos we’re designing (or redesigning). All piano design and construction is based on compromise; anyone claiming otherwise understands neither. Until fairly recently—as piano history is measured—it seems the primary goal for the manufacturer of small pianos was to make them as loud as possible. Horsepower sells cars and sound power sells pianos. At least that seems to have been the operative theory. But, just like overpowered cars are not always pleasant to drive, overpowered pianos are not always pleasant to play.

Nothing I have done, either in new design (the Walter grands, for example) or in redesign (most recently the Young Chang/Weber product line) violates any laws of physics; I have simply used some of them in ways that are unusual to what we euphemistically call “modern” piano technology.

I started with a different musical goal; musicality as opposed to power. While this was the case with all models, achieving it has been most challenging with the smaller sizes. I learned long ago that with short pianos acoustical power must take a back seat to most everything else. That is not a big a drawback as it might seem as most of these pianos are going to be placed in relatively small rooms where power will take care if itself.

We can make short pianos sound quite nice once we relieve them of the obligation of producing huge amounts of acoustical power. We can reduce their scale tensions, thin out and lighten up their soundboard structures and give them lighter, less dense hammers. The result is something like a VW GTI compared to a Ford Mustang. The GTI is light and nimble, quick and responsive but it lacks the brute power of the Mustang. Both suit a purpose but that purpose is different. We could stuff a bigger engine into the GTI and it would certainly go faster but it would also pretty much ruin its pleasant character.

ddf


Great post Del.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#2033747 - 02/15/13 01:42 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5067
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
I wonder if manufacturers who make a series of slightly longer small grands are not trying to force dealers to carry more stock of their brand and thus create less room for other brands in the same store. Sort of like 10 different cheerios fighting for shelf space.

I can’t speak for all manufacturers but with those I have worked with over the years this was not the case. When I started the Young Chang/Weber redesign project I lobbied hard to drop the 150 size (or to start over and make it a truly modern design) but there was strong resistance from marketing; turns out this was/is one of their largest selling grand piano models. The public buys them and their dealers want them. They also want the 157 grand which is also a popular size. Marketing's philosophy was to continue providing what dealers were ordering. The marketing people have regular and on-going discussions with their dealers; if the consumer and dealer demand for these pianos wasn’t there they would be dropped from the product line. People buy specific pianos for many reasons not all of which seem logical to us as technicians.




Quote:
With the advent of numerical machines and CAD design-having more designs does not add the same costs it once did to manufacture.

Well, yes and no. The cost of introducing a new design—i.e., a really new design as opposed to a redesign—is substantial for a high-volume manufacturer. True, reprograming an NC or CNC machine is relatively easy but the cost of the multitude of production jigs and fixtures needed to make every single part of the piano is formidable. Even though things such as pedal systems, some fly parts, etc., are interchangeable; others are not.



Quote:
The greatest small grand scale ever done was the largest of the Chickering Quarter grands. When they are in good shape the depth of tone is amazing. I see no manufacturer today utilizing the design elements The Quarter Grand established.

This is a soapbox I’ve been on for years. When I hear of some “All New” piano coming along I generally just sigh out of shear boredom. Usually—almost always—no; it is the same, tired old insides dressed up with new leg styles and a new shape for the music desk. Occasionally some redesign work has gone on inside and some limited performance gains can be found but these still leave me wanting. Cosmetic surgery can hide the wrinkles for a while but it can’t restore that youthful vigor.

I have long argued that piano manufacturers should be continually be developing entirely new models that stretch the limits of known and traditional shapes, sizes and technologies. The arguments against this are cost and uncertainty. The cost of developing all-new designs is high but I argue that the cost of not doing this is higher in terms of declining sales. There is uncertainty in introducing an all-new design; will it sell? Will anyone want it? It is more comfortable selling something that has been around for a hundred years.

I would argue that without doing this, without getting new products—really new designs—out there for people to see and try, how will we know? I could almost become depressed when I think of all the lost market opportunities. These market opportunities exist across the market spectrum—grand and vertical, large and small, high-end and low-end—but they go unexplored and languish because of an almost universal lack of vision and courage.

We have made progress in making century-old architecture sound better than it ever has in the past but it really is time to move on and develop new designs that are more suitable to today’s marketplace. I have still more to say on this subject but it will have to wait until April.

ddf
_________________________
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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#2033801 - 02/15/13 03:39 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13976
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
I have long argued that piano manufacturers should be continually be developing entirely new models that stretch the limits of known and traditional shapes, sizes and technologies.


Which is exactly what people like Lothar Thomma have done with the new line of Ritmüller/ Kayserburg they developed for Pearl River. These pianos have nothing whatsoever to do with pianos by same name from before.

There are other examples of course, but when calling something "new" when it actually isn't, there are others where it clearly *is*

Del's own designs for both Young Chang and Walter are another good example of this.

Luckily in our industry the "proof is in the pudding" so it doesn't usually take too long before people start taking notice of things.

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (02/15/13 03:41 PM)
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#2033816 - 02/15/13 04:12 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Norbert]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5067
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
I have long argued that piano manufacturers should be continually be developing entirely new models that stretch the limits of known and traditional shapes, sizes and technologies.


Which is exactly what people like Lothar Thomma have done with the new line of Ritmüller/ Kayserburg they developed for Pearl River. These pianos have nothing whatsoever to do with pianos by same name from before.

There are other examples of course, but when calling something "new" when it actually isn't, there are others where it clearly *is*

Del's own designs for both Young Chang and Walter are another good example of this.

Luckily in our industry the "proof is in the pudding" so it doesn't usually take too long before people start taking notice of things.

No, none of these are examples of what I'm writing about. These are all based on existing rims and string frames (even if modified some). The new YC/W pianos is the most extensively redesigned piano product line on the market just now but even these are not examples of what I'm advocating.

What I am talking about is far more radical. If you read the Piano Technician's Journal you'll see what I mean in a couple of months.

ddf
_________________________
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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#2033867 - 02/15/13 05:53 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1473
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I am less interested in all new designs.

I think a study of best past practices combined with judicious adoption of new materials-PLUS getting all the proportions amongst the various elements properly established-not only will the piano sound and play better, but it will be easier to establish these standards in the manufacturing process and the piano will last longer than the competition! Understanding how piano tone is created and used is of paramount importance.

That is why I rebuild select pianos for sale-I can establish these things, (except the cost savings of mass production) and there is no new piano available that can match the performance.


I look forward to Del's "radical" PTG Journal article. Change should always be well thought out-the industry has failed so far to give pianist's a reason to replace their old pianos with a new generation of design.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2033970 - 02/15/13 09:54 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13976
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
No, none of these are examples of what I'm writing about. These are all based on existing rims and string frames (even if modified some). The new YC/W pianos is the most extensively redesigned piano product line on the market just now but even these are not examples of what I'm advocating.


This is not what Mr. Thomma told me but perhaps it doesn't matter. We all know that "new" is not automatically "better" unless the designer has a vested interest to accomplish this.

I don't see a contest in terms of "who's designed the most" but "who has accomplished the most doing whatever he was doing. The net result is all that counts.

Most manufacturers are not committed that way at least not for their smaller pianos - why offer someone a 'smaller' great piano when there's [generally] more money to be made on larger ones?

By same token, when something is in fact "better"- however this is being accomplished -the market will surely take note of this.

Enhanced product eventually will translate into increased sales for its maker often at the cost of other product offered at same time.

Without this, the entire process IMHO is mute.

Starting to believe Mr.Thomma perhaps should indeed have designed "less" rather than 'more'.

It's the small 4'10 - 148 grand starting to give us serious trouble by eating into otherwise hoped for sales of larger grands.

However this has been accomplished....

Norbert mad


Edited by Norbert (02/15/13 10:10 PM)
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604-951-8642

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#2034008 - 02/15/13 11:11 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5067
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
That is why I rebuild select pianos for sale-I can establish these things, (except the cost savings of mass production) and there is no new piano available that can match the performance.

I look forward to Del's "radical" PTG Journal article. Change should always be well thought out-the industry has failed so far to give pianist's a reason to replace their old pianos with a new generation of design.

As did I until I started spending 20 weeks a year in hotels.

What I propose—have for years—is not really all that radical. It doesn’t take any great technological breakthroughs or sophisticated materials. Those could be used but they are not necessary. I simply take the position that the evolution of the piano is not yet complete and that we can do better than rehash the basic architecture of 100 to 150 years ago.

There are many ways to make the piano more appealing to our changing lifestyles and I explore some of them. It is amazing to me that, as you say, no new piano available is able to match the performance of a nicely rebuilt and very moderately redesigned old one. No industry can afford to simply write off its existing customer base and not even try to capture some repeat business.

ddf
_________________________
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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#2034024 - 02/15/13 11:38 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Del]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1473
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Del,
I don't know if I would call some of your re-designed pianos I have seen as "moderately re-designed". We have a very real difference in approach and scope.

I have worked in an evolutionary way where I take my model of the piano structure /tone/touch/durability- and identify the problem I seek to solve-and develop a protocol that involves making one change at a time. That change also must have room to modify or revert, if possible, after completion. Changing one thing at a time gives the only assurance of correct interpretation of the result and some general range of magnitude. Over time I have developed a repertoire of design elements that give me great power over the qualities of a piano.

Also careful study of the design evolution of Steinway, Baldwin, Chickering, Mason-Hamlin can offer insight into how to predict the tonal result. The strength of a theory is always the measure of the predictions you can make from it.

My pianos have and are being used by some of the best pianists on the planet.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2034067 - 02/16/13 01:50 AM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5067
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Also careful study of the design evolution of Steinway, Baldwin, Chickering, Mason-Hamlin can offer insight into how to predict the tonal result.

Well, let’s see…Steinway is being eclipsed by a number of U.S. (and probably European) rebuilders rebuilding their own ancient instruments along with several European pianomakers, Baldwin and Chickering are history and Mason & Hamlin has—how can I put this generously—a troubled past. I’ve studied that design evolution as well.



Quote:
The strength of a theory is always the measure of the predictions you can make from it.

At least this we can agree on.

ddf
_________________________
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

Top
#2034879 - 02/17/13 05:42 PM Re: It is Hard to Overcome Physics [Re: Steve Cohen]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1473
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Surely we must include Young-Chang as a company with a troubled finances and some at times horrendous sounding pianos. I look forward and am planning a trip to hear the improvements that Del and YC have achieved in sonic results.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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