Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#909640 - 02/11/04 01:14 PM Explanation of sustain?
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Could you please give me an explanation of sustain and what I should be looking for regarding sustain as I search for a piano?.

Many thanks,
Steve
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

Top
#909641 - 02/11/04 01:34 PM Re: Explanation of sustain?
Dan M Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 770
Loc: California
 Quote:
Originally posted by Stevester:
Could you please give me an explanation of sustain and what I should be looking for regarding sustain as I search for a piano?.

Many thanks,
Steve [/b]
Bang a note, see how long it plays, or sustains. It can differ based on octave.

While comparing pianos, be careful to try and hit the notes with an equal force. Some people actually time it. I just get a subjective feel for it. This is one of those features that seems to matter more in real life music rather than on a scientific measurement basis, in my small estimation. \:\)

Tone on the other hand, is something I feel comfortable 'measuring' separate from music.
Dan
_________________________
The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!

Top
#909642 - 02/11/04 01:55 PM Re: Explanation of sustain?
curry Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 3769
Loc: Hamilton Twp, NJ
Stevester,sustain occurs in two parts. Attack,which would comprise the hammer hitting the string,and decay,the length of time it takes for the strings to stop vibrating.For example by depressing a key on an organ,the tone would continue until the key is released.We would call this sustaining the note.Drawing a bow across a violin's string would sustain that note until the bow stops moving.The attack and decay of the piano strings when struck by the hammers is of course much shorter in duration.Some piano makes are said to have a much longer rate of decay,Steinway,M&H,Bosie,Grotrian,Estonia,etc.They sustain or sing longer.Other makes like some of the asians, are described by many as having a short rate of decay.This makes \:\( playing some types of music like classical sound choppy.Players of jazz and other pop music like this and don't mind the sacrifice.
_________________________
G.Fiore "aka-Curry". Tuner-Technician serving the central NJ, S.E. PA area. b214cm@aol.com Concert tuning, Regulation-voicing specialist.
Dampp-Chaser installations, piano appraisals. PTG S.Jersey Chapter 080.
Bösendorfer 214 # 47,299 214-358

Top
#909643 - 02/11/04 05:12 PM Re: Explanation of sustain?
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Curry,

You answered my question, many thanks. It is the issue of decay that I was really questioning. I have noticed that the decay rate on my old upright is way to fast for a piece of music I am working on. This is unquestionably an important consideration for me when looking for my next piano. I am certainly glad I have this forum. Thanks Dan, now I have a better idea regarding testing of possible candidates.

Steve
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

Top
#909644 - 02/25/04 08:50 AM Re: Explanation of sustain?
BobK Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/22/04
Posts: 11
Loc: Oakland, CA
There's another test for sustain - the pluck test, which Larry Fine describes in The Piano Book.

If some notes don't seem to sustain long enough when you play the keys, try the pluck test. According to the techs I've spoken with, if the strings sustain well when plucked, the problem might be remedied by such things as voicing or adjusting the strike point. If you like the piano otherwise, you could ask the store to have it fixed. If it fails the pluck test, that might indicate a more serious problem.
_________________________
Bob K

Top
#909645 - 02/25/04 11:56 AM Re: Explanation of sustain?
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19339
Loc: New York City
I feel that in judging sustain, it's not only the length of the sustain but the quality of the sustain that matters. If a piano's tone drops very sharply and quickly from the initial attack sound, then even if it lasts quite long(before becoming completely inadiable) I would say the piano has poor sustain.

Top
#909646 - 02/25/04 12:30 PM Re: Explanation of sustain?
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5287
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by curry:
Some piano makes are said to have a much longer rate of decay,Steinway, M&H, Bosie, Grotrian, Estonia, etc.They sustain or sing longer. Other makes like some of the asians, are described by many as having a short rate of decay.This makes \:\( playing some types of music like classical sound choppy.Players of jazz and other pop music like this and don't mind the sacrifice. [/b]
This is an interesting observation. And one which I shared until I actually started building pianos. Our upright had particularly good sustain qualities, especially through the upper third of the scale. When we started showing the piano I fully expected the classical pianists to notice and be impressed by this. But such was not to be.

The classically trained pianists — for the most part, there were some noted exceptions — raved about the precision of the action, the reliable repetition, the touch and feel of the action, etc. Few noticed or commented at all about the tone or voice of the piano.

It was the jazz pianists who came in for a quick look-see and ended up staying for hours. It was the jazz pianists who stretched the piano to its acoustical limits, especially exploring the extremes of pianissimo and the depth of the dynamic range — qualities that largely went unnoticed by the bulk of the classical crowd.

My business partner is a jazz musician (mostly sax but he also plays the piano professionally) and, though his piano training was classical, he is the last one I’d ask to evaluate the touch and feel of an action. He’ll play anything! It is his observation that, since jazz pianists are so often required to play on pianos that are in truly horrible condition, they actively work to ignore the performance of action. But he is also the one who has been prodding me to keep working on soundboard theory to improve both sustain time and the rate, or slope, of decay. It’s never (well, rarely) enough. “The notes have to connect…” Especially through “the melody line…,” or the fifth to seventh octave.

I realize this is a generalization but, after observing several thousands of pianists of varying skill levels and musical tastes, I’d say the bulk of the classically trained pianist pay more attention to the performance — the precision and control — of the action and the bulk of the jazz pianists pay more attention to the overall sound and voice of the piano.

Del
_________________________
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
#909647 - 02/25/04 10:27 PM Re: Explanation of sustain?
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Many thanks to everyone who has helped me with this important question, I have gotten a lot of valuable input.

Steve
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

Top
#909648 - 02/26/04 01:22 AM Re: Explanation of sustain?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21519
Loc: Oakland
In some sense, pianos don't have much in the way of sustain, not like an organ or a violin, which can hold a note at a given volume. What people speak of as sustain in a piano is really its decay. In some sense, the slower the better.

To measure it, you would plot the volume across time. You might want to say that a good sustain would be when the volume goes from the maximum (which is the end of the attack) to say, half that volume in so many seconds. A worse sustain would be if it takes less time, a better sustain, more time.

But within that framework, there are a lot of variables. It might depend on how strong the initial attack is, and although half the volume is usually measured logarithmically, it could be some other curve. It would take a bit of experimentation to decide.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

Top

What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
-------------------
PIANO BOOKS
Interesting books about the piano, pianists, piano history, biographies, memoirs and more!
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
ad (Casio)
Celviano by Casio Rebate
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Returning to piano, advice on slow learning process
by roninpro
6 minutes 37 seconds ago
Anton Kuerti and Cyprian Katsaris
by pianoloverus
54 minutes 31 seconds ago
Pianists' tessitura
by Riddler
Today at 06:54 PM
Fingering for "Wind (Naruto)" excerpt
by longyodel127
Today at 05:28 PM
A tune I wrote last night
by Arizona Sage
Today at 05:20 PM
Who's Online
124 registered (255, accordeur, AEMontoya, A Guy, analarana, 36 invisible), 1311 Guests and 20 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
76233 Members
42 Forums
157591 Topics
2314760 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission