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#2100689 - 06/10/13 11:24 PM Does a soundboard improve with aging?
tdv Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/13
Posts: 69
Loc: MI
I am new to the technical aspects of the piano, so please forgive my ignorance! But I am curious about the change in soundboard sound as it ages. My background is classical guitar. High quality classical guitars generally have sound boards made out of cedar or spruce. With a cedar classical guitar is pretty much "there" sound wise from when you buy it. However a spruce classical guitar does not really come into its full rich sound until after a couple of years of regular playing. Is this true also of spruce piano soundboards? Also, does it take a lot longer because piano soundboards are so much thicker than a guitar?

I bring this up because I bought a 1978 Charles Walter upright for $700 from a private party early 2012 to learn to learn to play piano (at 60 years old). I heard that Walter made a good piano but I did not want to spend a lot as I did not know how learning piano at 60 would go - but I figured that it was hard to go wrong at $700, especially after a tech friend said that it was in good tunable condition. But it was not only the price; to me the piano sounded bright and alive. However, after getting it home and playing it a while, it was too "alive"; or I should really say it was too bright and it hurt my ears. The hammers were very hard so my tech friend put on new quality Abel hammers. Wow! What sound now! Mellowed it down but beautiful full alive rich tone.

Being new to pianos, I figured that this was normal. But I have since played quite a few other pianos. However, when I play other uprights they don't seem to have as full rich alive of a sound at my Walter. I am talking about good quality new uprights of very popular brands, even some new baby grands, and also a couple of newer used Walters. Only when I play a top quality used or new grands like a M&H, Bosendorfer, etc. do they significantly outclass my Walter upright. But that is not fair as those pianos are very expensive. I would have attributed this to Walter quality but the fact is that the other two newer (but still used) Walters I played did not in my opinion compare to my Walter.

So it got me thinking as to why this is. Did I just happen to get a great sounding piano? Or does a spruce piano soundboard, like with a classical guitar, improve with the sound age - assuming good hammers and strings, etc.? Just curious about your experiences.
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#2100690 - 06/10/13 11:34 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
BDB Offline
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Pianos change with age. If you feel it is an improvement, it is.
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#2100698 - 06/10/13 11:59 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
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Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 386
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
Not sure you can compare a vintage guitar with a vintage soundboard. I can tell you that when we dismantle old pianos for all the hardware/screws etc that stringed instrument builders want the old soundboard spruce and maple scrap from the bridges. Which they use for making new bridges and other parts.

I think the reasons behind it are it is getting harder to find any good dimensional hardwood and what you do get is almost always imported
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#2100700 - 06/11/13 12:02 AM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Maximillyan Offline
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Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 1543
Loc: KZ
Originally Posted By: tdv
So it got me thinking as to why this is. Did I just happen to get a great sounding piano? Or does a spruce piano soundboard, like with a classical guitar, improve with the sound age - assuming good hammers and strings, etc.? Just curious about your experiences.

The cause of poor sound new pianos or grand is a significant reduction of the cost of materials. Including a departure from the traditional manufacturing techniques soundboard. Oldest pianos were made only with the flawless execution of all cycle need acts. Therefore, through the centuries it's have not lost their sound, I'm think so
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#2100823 - 06/11/13 07:36 AM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
jim ialeggio Offline
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Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 729
Loc: shirley, MA
I think, in this case, what happened is simply that your tech did what a good tech does. He tweaked the systems to hone the sound and optimize the nature of the hammer impacts of your Walter.

Keep in mind, that before he did the hammer work, you were not at all pleased with the sound, and after the hammer work you were pleased. He did not change the soundboard. He did, with the new hammers, tone regulate the instrument, and this makes all the difference in the way the piano sounds.

Its not just a matter of the hammers swinging up and hitting the strings. The impact, is really quite an aggressive event. The hammer must strike all 3 strings simultaneously, the hammer shank pivots have to be such that the hammer doesn't shimmy around much at the actual impact, the density of the felt has to be adjusted to suite the soundboard's current impedance, and the action has to be regulated, at least somewhat in the process. All of these things effect the velocity of the impact, hammer string contact time, and precision of the strike, which results in pleasant musical tone.

You don't hear this in uprights and entry level grands in the showroom, because very little to no custom finishing is done to showroom entry level instruments...price point does not support it. In general, showroom prep is inadequate to achieve a nice sounding piano even on more expensive grands, but the bottom line is that a tech has to do the custom finishing before a piano will sound great. I can take a Chinese entry level grand that sounds quite unpleasant, and turn it into a musical instrument...it just takes time and chops.

Add to that, that the showroom instruments are kind-a tuned. A pianos sound often blossoms with a really nice tuning, all by itself, with no other work. You'd be surprised at how much the aggressiveness of the impact can be mitigated by having all 230 strings working together rather than chaotically grating against each other!

On top of that uprights are mostly of Asian origin and have been setup with cheap hard as rock hammers. The cards are stacked against them from the beginning. They can be greatly improved by a good tech, but the price point is such that owners are not particularly disposed to part with the cash it takes to customize these instruments and actually make them sound like musical instruments.

Jim Ialeggio



Edited by jim ialeggio (06/11/13 07:42 AM)
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#2101020 - 06/11/13 04:25 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: jim ialeggio]
kpembrook Offline
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Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1317
Loc: Michigan
[quote=jim ialeggio]I think, in this case, what happened is simply that your tech did what a good tech does. He tweaked the systems to hone the sound and optimize the nature of the hammer impacts of your Walter.

Keep in mind, that before he did the hammer work, you were not at all pleased with the sound, and after the hammer work you were pleased. He did not change the soundboard. He did, with the new hammers, tone regulate the instrument, and this makes all the difference in the way the piano sounds.

Its not just a matter of the hammers swinging up and hitting the strings. The impact, is really quite an aggressive event. The hammer must strike all 3 strings simultaneously, the hammer shank pivots have to be such that the hammer doesn't shimmy around much at the actual impact, the density of the felt has to be adjusted to suite the soundboard's current impedance, and the action has to be regulated, at least somewhat in the process. All of these things effect the velocity of the impact, hammer string contact time, and precision of the strike, which results in pleasant musical tone.

You don't hear this in uprights and entry level grands in the showroom, because very little to no custom finishing is done to showroom entry level instruments...price point does not support it. In general, showroom prep is inadequate to achieve a nice sounding piano even on more expensive grands, but the bottom line is that a tech has to do the custom finishing before a piano will sound great. I can take a Chinese entry level grand that sounds quite unpleasant, and turn it into a musical instrument...it just takes time and chops.

Add to that, that the showroom instruments are kind-a tuned. A pianos sound often blossoms with a really nice tuning, all by itself, with no other work. You'd be surprised at how much the aggressiveness of the impact can be mitigated by having all 230 strings working together rather than chaotically grating against each other!

On top of that uprights are mostly of Asian origin and have been setup with cheap hard as rock hammers. The cards are stacked against them from the beginning. They can be greatly improved by a good tech, but the price point is such that owners are not particularly disposed to part with the cash it takes to customize these instruments and actually make them sound like musical instruments.

Jim Ialeggio

[/quote

And that, is about as good a summary of this topic as one is likely to find.
thumb
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#2101131 - 06/11/13 07:37 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1974
Loc: Philadelphia area
(short answer) No.

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#2101162 - 06/11/13 08:28 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: jim ialeggio]
tdv Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/13
Posts: 69
Loc: MI
Thanks Jim for the insightful post.
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1978 Charles Walter piano
1915 5"1' Weber
Seeking truth in all areas of life

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#2101346 - 06/12/13 07:03 AM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Here is an old panel, a soundboard that passed 100 years .
(1889) -

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6GjQDkF_AMQVlVRXzFUQk5xbUU/edit?usp=sharing

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6GjQDkF_AMQTW9fQlpsZDNEazg/edit?usp=sharing


The piano is a mod C Steinway. (2.30m)

work in progress, action wise, new hammers will be fit in a few months (only the soprano section have good hammers there, as the original ones where really glassy and harsh sounding)

The soundboard is under downbearing normally (normal wire geometry on bridges)

Then, the dynamics in the treble is clearly reduced, (tone less thick than usual)

Basses have no real problem out of old strings and rarely have.
Mediums will sound better when all hammers will be replaced (the ones installed are an old Renner set that have been lacquered and is reduced in elasticity range)

A new piano have a little "green" tone, that quieten in +- 10 years, with less dynamics, if it can be over-simplificated that way)
Then under good conservation conditions (air moisture) the panel usually can stay stable for an extremely long period.

Now there are 4 different ways to make a soundboard, with some better than others from a resistance to cracks and loss of tension, so not all behave similarly.

A piano is under stress, more than what is perceived at first sight.

The glue used, the wood, the shapes of parts, are supposed to retain that tension for decades.

The weak part there is the wood, in the end, because of its permanent contraction expansion work.

So all piano owners that have a relatively closed room with an humidifier and a dehumidifier , are really doing their best for the long term maintenance of their instrument. (Dampp Chaser also are known to be efficient particularly when enclosed with an under-cover)



Edited by Olek (06/12/13 08:00 AM)
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#2101610 - 06/12/13 05:42 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Here is a Yamaha G5 , 25 years old.

The hammers where re shaped, a few days before the recording.(2012)

I will have the same piano recorded one year later .

Now the tone is really open, the treble sparkle, I could make a tuning with very open unison.

I like that pianist !

Tuning done without any ETD, of course !

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6GjQDkF_AMQdFV2YlJ5UmFDaGs/edit?usp=sharing
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#2101622 - 06/12/13 06:03 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
In my opinion a soundboard does improve with age. After a soundboard is installed I feel it take a few years for the best tone to appear. That being said that does not mean 30 years is better than 4 years.

You have a well made piano with a fantastic design. Changing the hammers was what made the improvement.

Enjoy!!!
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#2101643 - 06/12/13 06:49 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: Olek]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Olek
Here is a Yamaha G5 , 25 years old.

The hammers where re shaped, a few days before the recording.(2012)

I will have the same piano recorded one year later .

Now the tone is really open, the treble sparkle, I could make a tuning with very open unison.

I like that pianist !

Tuning done without any ETD, of course !

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6GjQDkF_AMQdFV2YlJ5UmFDaGs/edit?usp=sharing

Superb sound and tuning! Thanks, Isaac.

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#2101647 - 06/12/13 06:52 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Bonjour Isaac,

Does the group that did The Elegant Elephant have CDs? I would love to buy some. Very cool Jazz !

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#2101653 - 06/12/13 07:04 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Hi, I am happy you like it, in fact Christophe Cravero, the pianist is playing in many different groups and with singers (and plays also much different instruments, his is the real orchestra man !)

The CD is not yet ready.
Christophe begun as alto player find that too difficult so he turned to violin. wink
Then bass, cello, drums, piano, accordion, I certainly forget some instruments (mouthharp, bandoneon)

I will let you know when the CD will be ready.And I hope to receive a recording with the piano one year later, and tuned differently.

I am also much appreciating that music...





Edited by Olek (06/13/13 05:34 AM)
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#2101710 - 06/12/13 08:46 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1818
Loc: Conway, AR USA
We were always taught that no piano systems that come to bear upon the soundboard improve with age. If anything, these decline at varying rates with age and, in so doing, make the soundboard appear to be caught in the declension as well. (Harp in good shape excepted.) But, on the other hand, the soundboard itself improves with age, or perhaps it is better said "is an improvement due to its age." It was asserted that an old soundboard, cut from virgin forest, or second generation, is a better quality wood than those cut from newer timber. And, as the theory goes, better quality = better tone. Therefore, the old things are worth shimming and so on as opposed to replacing with new board.

Problem is, in my short time in rebuilding, I was never able to prove the assertion. Perhaps some of you who specialize in rebuilding and soundboard replacement can confirm or deny it?
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#2101820 - 06/13/13 04:16 AM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Well what strikes the most is the loss of power reserve (and its eventual "excess" when the panel is new.) But those things stabilize relatively soon.

I have heard a 110 years old Steinway D that had a surprising dynamics. And other , Steinway or not that missed a good part of it. In any case new hammers (and new strings)= are always an improvement (for the string if the man knows what he is doing with the abilities of the panel and do not overload it)

Here is the same 1889 grand (slightly better recording, but still with an Iphone, so the sound is much compressed and hardly shows the real dynamics of the piano) we will try to have something more audible asap)

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6GjQDkF_AMQLUlZbkx0elJic1E/edit?usp=sharing





Edited by Olek (06/13/13 06:14 AM)
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#2102054 - 06/13/13 04:01 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
In my opinion a soundboard does improve with age. After a soundboard is installed I feel it take a few years for the best tone to appear.
Can you give a brief explanation in layman's terms why you feel this it the case? Thanks.

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#2102075 - 06/13/13 04:42 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: pianoloverus]
tdv Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/13
Posts: 69
Loc: MI
I cannot speak for Rod Verhnjak, and he is far far far more experienced than I am. But I brought up the question initially because in classical guitars that have a spruce soundboard, it is my understanding that as you play it it opens up the pores / grain of the wood. In doing so the wood actually becomes more flexible and therefore vibrates better, giving a fuller, better sound. I have heard that this is also true of violins. But since the soundboards of guitars and violins are only a few mm thick, I have NO idea if this could also happen with the much thicker piano soundboards.

As for my piano, the board already conclusively answered that the reason my 35 year old Walter piano sounds better IMO than new pianos that I play is the quality work of my technician did in putting on Abel hammers, etc.


Edited by tdv (06/13/13 06:35 PM)
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#2102224 - 06/13/13 11:16 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Del Offline
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Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5317
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: tdv
I cannot speak for Rod Verhnjak, and he is far far far more experienced than I am. But I brought up the question initially because in classical guitars that have a spruce soundboard, it is my understanding that as you play it it opens up the pores / grain of the wood. In doing so the wood actually becomes more flexible and therefore vibrates better, giving a fuller, better sound. I have heard that this is also true of violins. But since the soundboards of guitars and violins are only a few mm thick, I have NO idea if this could also happen with the much thicker piano soundboards.

As for my piano, the board already conclusively answered that the reason my 35 year old Walter piano sounds better IMO than new pianos that I play is the quality work of my technician did in putting on Abel hammers, etc.
There is a lot of mythology that surrounds the functioning of the classical guitar. And a violin. But it all pales beside the mythology that surrounds the piano.

ddf
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#2102248 - 06/14/13 12:17 AM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Supply Offline
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Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: tdv
... the wood actually becomes more flexible and therefore vibrates better, giving a fuller, better sound....

If more flexible is good, then totally floppy must be even better... or?

More flexible does not necessarily vibrate better (think of a loose string, a loose drum head or a cooked noodle, for instance). And "better vibration" (whatever that is) may or may not lead to a "better sound". There are other important factors such as stiffness and impedance.
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#2102315 - 06/14/13 06:44 AM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
I suggest that this is the softness of the old wood that gives the basses that warm quality, on old pianos.

then when progressively we raise toward the treble, more inner stress is necessary for the whole assembly, basically to raise the resonant frequencies so the treble would be more easily reproduced.

But very certainly by creating a disequilibrium between the panel and the ribs, the ensemble and strings, the reaction to the impulse provided by the hammers is fastened.

The tuner perceive that on recent pianos with the amount of "shortening" the attack of the tone is allowed to.

There is, to me clearly something that make some panels more reactive and others slower.

For instance the panels made with 3 layers of wood (probably glued stressed) are generally a little slow and damp more or less high frequencies (that due to the less homogeneous material probably, or the glue layers)

Wood particles are certainly detached with the vibes.
I was said that it is noticed on old Fortepianas that did not had a lacquer protection coat (the brand or origin escapes me) that the surface of the panel is full of craters, so some wood turned to dust there.

Then the retraction due to the moisture level of wood is something that seem not to stop in time, as I was told by historical furniture restorers, you can have a huge retraction under very dry circumstance even with a 350 years old wood.

And "loss" of material (shrinking) simply due to the age happens also. this certainly lower any originally (moderate) installed stress.

(compression) I have read since years that the "compression crowning" was a crude method used to simplify a process, but in the end all first grade makers use some form of compression during their panel ribbing, (even harpsichord makers) and that for 2 reasons :

To have a compressed layer at the place where the ribs are glued, that will protect the panel from cracks (allowing more wood movement) as long it is done under controlled conditions.)

Of course also make the springiness of the panel better.
And to raise the resonant frequencies, in a place where the panel is soon too large and too heavy, due to the scaling in mediums and basses (pianos taller than 170-220 cm for grands, or taller than 120-124 cm for verticals)

Corrective measures to counterbalance the weight and surface of the panel are necessary on all tall or long pianos.

They make the panel more sensitive to time, probably.

Then the balance of tone is easily compromised, with basses that are overpowered, in regard to the smaller treble.

This can be noticed yet when comparing U1 and U3 Yamaha verticals series 25-30 years old.

It is easier to find a good sounding U1, and it will be more stable, tuning wise.

Now I have read that the only way to avoid the compression crowning method, is to glue the ribs fast enough on the panel -
I am not sure if it relate to the amount of moisture that the glue is adding, to be honest I do not really understand what is intended there.

Another problem related to old soundboard (old pianos) is when the instrument was left below pitch for long periods, as at each pulling up to pitch, part of the tension is not correctly balanced and the bridge tilts.

The explanation given to me for incorrect lengths of A49 with 398 mm where it must be at last 399 and more probably 400.

The improvement due to aging is not proved. In fact my brother is soloist violin player. He plays a recent violin (Fustier)

I saw a documentary on Stradivarius, where all sort of theories where proved wrong about why those violins where so much in view and considered the most musical violins.

In the end of the documentary a few violins (3-4)where played by 2 different players , hidden behind a curtain. one was a Stradivarius the other a good old maker.

About 12 persons in the audience, musicians, violin maker, musicologists - they had to recognize which violin was the Stradivarius.

They ALL (pun intended!) decides that was the Fustier, the most recent violin tested, that was the Stradivarius. Why ? because the "Fustier" had visibly a larger dynamics , hence a more precise and more lively tone.

Old panels I often compare to very good old singers. They retain most of their color but cannot provide as much as when they where younger.

There is indeed a color change, and it even can be appreciated. It is also often due to a different action with faster and lighter hammers. As old board does not really have the use for heavy hammers in the end it may turn to be an advantage for the restoration.

In the end I wonder if what I say is understood really. Most buyers today buy sort of "not too bad" asian pianos, that generally have a tone which lack deepness, is sort of simplified, when compared to traditionally made pianos (lets say German pianos to simplify !)

There are so many points in construction, where the tone may be lost or colored toward metallic sounding, that often related to the materials used and the industrial processes preferred, that those that where considered as defects some 30 years ago, slowly have became a "feature" of the piano tone.

S one if lucky can expect a light a little lemonish tone that is pleasing as long as you do not need a large dynamic plague.

Or have the best pleasant tone when played strong, and a little dull at low level

Of have a so much "rounded" tone that any amount of force will gives you the same musical tone, but without the subtleties obtained with the most expressive pianos.

etc.. Thanks for reading and sorry to be long
















Edited by Olek (06/14/13 06:51 AM)
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#2102398 - 06/14/13 10:23 AM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: pianoloverus]
jim ialeggio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 729
Loc: shirley, MA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
In my opinion a soundboard does improve with age. After a soundboard is installed I feel it take a few years for the best tone to appear.
Can you give a brief explanation in layman's terms why you feel this it the case? Thanks.


Alright...this is a potential can of worms...I'm going to take a shot at de-wormitizing it(custom word alert...no extra charge smile )...if that's possible.

The OP's question, from the way he referred to the "soundboard", infers that the soundboard is a singular entity...a single material. In thinking about this, one needs to keep in mind that the "soundboard" is an engineered structure, not simply a singular panel of spruce.

So there are at a number of components to be taken into consideration in the aging process. At the least, there is:

1-the 8-12mm spruce panel
2-the rib supports running roughly perpendicular(ish)to the panel's grain
3-the mechanical bond (glue joint) between the spruce panel and the ribs
4-the mechanical bond to the perimeter rim
5-the interface between soundboard engineered structure and the strings...namely the bridge/bridge pin assembly
6-in some fabrication techniques the panel wood is required, through high compression of the wood, to provide a significant amount of the overall system structure

In order for the instrument to sound nice throughout the entire 88 note compass, the integrity of the entire system, not just one part, but the system, needs to be intact.

This above analysis excludes the entire action, which as the OP experienced complicates the whole picture significantly. But lets just stick with the belly for now...though its a serious over simplicifaction.

As to the wood of the panel itself, moisture cycling of a 4ft wide piece of spruce can easily push the panel to a place where some of the spruce cells are permanently crushed. On the other hand, having worked with reclaimed aged wood throughout my career the stuff can be quite stable, and can have strength characteristics that differ from the strength numbers the fresh wood originally had. This is not necessarily good or bad, but just "is". Whether the aged spruce panel can perform, compression set or not, depends on whether the entire system has been able to retain its engineered structure. Since there have been many ways of approaching the engineered aspect of the soundboard system, making a generalizations about what happens in aged bellys can be misleading.

In some climates, in some maintenance schedules, depending on what fabrication techniques were used, the entire system can retain its engineered structure. In other set of circumstances,the engineered structure can fail before the piano leaves the showroom floor (this is not an overstatement, by the way).

On the other hand, if one were to take the 100yr old soundboard panel of a failed belly out, intact, as Craig Hair has done, and then reconstruct the entire engineered system, the old, crushed panel can perform again. But the spruce panel's ability to perform is totally dependent on reconsturcting the entire engineered system. What does the aged panel sound like all on its own...beats me, because we have no way of separating the panel from the structure in the whole gestahlt.

Jim Ialeggio


Edited by jim ialeggio (06/14/13 10:28 AM)
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advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
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#2102415 - 06/14/13 10:57 AM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: Supply]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1818
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: tdv
... the wood actually becomes more flexible and therefore vibrates better, giving a fuller, better sound....

If more flexible is good, then totally floppy must be even better... or?

More flexible does not necessarily vibrate better (think of a loose string, a loose drum head or a cooked noodle, for instance). And "better vibration" (whatever that is) may or may not lead to a "better sound". There are other important factors such as stiffness and impedance.


Good point.

This would argue against vintage boards always being necessarily better than new. I have great respect for the teacher who argued on the other side of the issue, but it just doesn't seem provable. Old boards can be good, true enough. On the other hand we have also observed an old board or two turning to dust. Do we really know how well it will manage post-Coronation? Even under the best of circumstances, with age, wood - no matter how good or well treated - can break down due to conditions, many of which are beyond human control. The Strad analogy that some are eager to advance is non sequitur. The conditions under which it was created are unique - unlikely to be repeated in our lifetime. That it is a different instrument entirely, is no small fact either.
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#2102535 - 06/14/13 02:44 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
In my opinion a soundboard does improve with age. After a soundboard is installed I feel it take a few years for the best tone to appear. That being said that does not mean 30 years is better than 4 years.

You have a well made piano with a fantastic design. Changing the hammers was what made the improvement.

Enjoy!!!


Here is my entire quote.
I was not implying a old board is better than new or a board 10 years down the road will sound better than new.
I find pianos in general seem to have a better sound a year or two after being manufactured. That is if a technician keeps on tweaking it.
I say this often in my shop. "A piano is never finished, it's a work in progress" If I shipped every piano when they were "done" I would never be done. smile

Cheers
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#2102651 - 06/14/13 09:36 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: Del]
phacke Online   content

Gold Supporter until November 11 2014


Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 578
Loc: CO, USA
Originally Posted By: Del
[/quote]There is a lot of mythology that surrounds the functioning of the classical guitar. And a violin. But it all pales beside the mythology that surrounds the piano.

ddf


I just can't help but remark, all of Mr. Del Fandrich's experience in the matter, such as -
http://www.pianobuilders.com/soundboards.html
is succinctly summarized as this, above!
_________________________
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Steinway YM (1933)
...Working on:
J. S. Bach, Sonata No. 1 in B minor (BWV 1014) duet with violin
F. Chopin, Prelude 28 (15)

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#2102657 - 06/14/13 09:48 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: jim ialeggio]
phacke Online   content

Gold Supporter until November 11 2014


Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 578
Loc: CO, USA
Originally Posted By: jim ialeggio


As to the wood of the panel itself, moisture cycling of a 4ft wide piece of spruce can easily push the panel to a place where some of the spruce cells are permanently crushed. On the other hand, having worked with reclaimed aged wood throughout my career the stuff can be quite stable, and can have strength characteristics that differ from the strength numbers the fresh wood originally had. This is not necessarily good or bad, but just "is". Whether the aged spruce panel can perform, compression set or not, depends on whether the entire system has been able to retain its engineered structure. Since there have been many ways of approaching the engineered aspect of the soundboard system, making a generalizations about what happens in aged bellys can be misleading.

Jim Ialeggio


Mr. Ialeggio,

Have you observed, and can you generalize what area(s) of the soundboard in the piano might exhibit compression beyond the elastic limit and yield should the relative humidity go way up?

I know it is not a problem in my piano because of the multiple 2-3 mm expansion joints (air gaps) that exist running most of the length of the soundboard every three or four boards or so. I'm sure glad Steinway had the good sense to put those in there.

(just kidding)

Thank you -


Edited by phacke (06/14/13 09:55 PM)
_________________________
phacke

Steinway YM (1933)
...Working on:
J. S. Bach, Sonata No. 1 in B minor (BWV 1014) duet with violin
F. Chopin, Prelude 28 (15)

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#2102660 - 06/14/13 09:51 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
phacke Online   content

Gold Supporter until November 11 2014


Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 578
Loc: CO, USA
I can add, lacquers take months to fully dry. Until they are fully hardened on the soundboard (if indeed a lacquer is used), I would speculate they have a bit of damping nature.

Regards-
_________________________
phacke

Steinway YM (1933)
...Working on:
J. S. Bach, Sonata No. 1 in B minor (BWV 1014) duet with violin
F. Chopin, Prelude 28 (15)

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#2102661 - 06/14/13 09:54 PM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: tdv]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
I acquired my 90 old, 7' August Forster, and found that the crown of the sounboard was sufficient(it wasn't like mad soundbaord crown or anything). The down bearing was perfect throughout. I replaced the pinblock and now have the piano of my dreams!. I left the soundboard completely unmolested
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Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2102760 - 06/15/13 03:33 AM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: phacke]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: phacke
Originally Posted By: jim ialeggio


As to the wood of the panel itself, moisture cycling of a 4ft wide piece of spruce can easily push the panel to a place where some of the spruce cells are permanently crushed. On the other hand, having worked with reclaimed aged wood throughout my career the stuff can be quite stable, and can have strength characteristics that differ from the strength numbers the fresh wood originally had. This is not necessarily good or bad, but just "is". Whether the aged spruce panel can perform, compression set or not, depends on whether the entire system has been able to retain its engineered structure. Since there have been many ways of approaching the engineered aspect of the soundboard system, making a generalizations about what happens in aged bellys can be misleading.

Jim Ialeggio


Mr. Ialeggio,

Have you observed, and can you generalize what area(s) of the soundboard in the piano might exhibit compression beyond the elastic limit and yield should the relative humidity go way up?

I know it is not a problem in my piano because of the multiple 2-3 mm expansion joints (air gaps) that exist running most of the length of the soundboard every three or four boards or so. I'm sure glad Steinway had the good sense to put those in there.

(just kidding)

Thank you -


Between ribs and panel, ribs being secured in the rim, usually.

As with the simple moisture meter you can make by gluing 2
Lenghts of wood crosswise.
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#2102783 - 06/15/13 05:08 AM Re: Does a soundboard improve with aging? [Re: jim ialeggio]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Originally Posted By: jim ialeggio
In some climates, in some maintenance schedules, depending on what fabrication techniques were used, the entire system can retain its engineered structure. In other set of circumstances,the engineered structure can fail before the piano leaves the showroom floor (this is not an overstatement, by the way).


Jim, this latter case, of premature failure on the showroom floor, is difficult for me to picture. Could you describe the nature of the failure?
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Autodidact interested in piano technology.
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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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