steinway m soundboard

Posted by: giantoctupus

steinway m soundboard - 12/14/10 07:45 PM

which is better soundboard: a faziola style ciressa soundboard or a bolduc soundboard? Or is there a better one?
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/15/10 08:50 AM

Well... if you wanted to stay consistent with what Steinway uses at present, you would use an Alaskan sitka spruce panel. To be honest it is mostly on the capability of the bellyman. I know bellyman that can make orange crates sound good. wink
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/15/10 09:24 AM

If you are comparing Ciresa and Bolduc, you are comparing very similar raw materials.

Despite exactly what country the wood comes from in Europe, most white European spruce is "picea excelsia" or "abies pectinata", with few exceptions. Here in North America, the white spruce used is "picea glauca" or "picea alba". All four species behave as to make their identification solely on characteristics near impossible.

Remember, each tree harvested is different - each processed plank is different, and each soundboard is different. Add to that the customization of ribs, bridges, and work that a particular rebuilder may, or may not, do and it becomes difficult to make a clear recommandation one way or the other with any consistency.

Know that each supplier offers a tremendous product and, IMHO, white spruce would be a great choice if color of tone is your major concern. Sitka may give more power, but usually at the expense of blurring the more delicate pastel shades of tone. The result is that your technician must work harder to bring these out.

In spite of my ramblings, PB summed it all up well when he said:

Quote:
To be honest it is mostly on the capability of the bellyman


Although I have yet to meet anyone who can make a soundboard perform well using orange crates. wink
Posted by: Del

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/15/10 11:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Rich Galassini
Quote:
To be honest it is mostly on the capability of the bellyman


Although I have yet to meet anyone who can make a soundboard perform well using orange crates. wink

Several decades back I was visiting another rebuilding shop and was asked to take a look at an upright piano that was about to be torn apart for scrap. The poor thing had been dropped off the back of a pickup during an amateur move and was beyond economical repair.

What they wanted me to look at, however, was not the casework but the construction of the soundboard. This soundboard panel came as close to looking like an “orange crate” as anything I’ve seen in a piano. Indeed, I actually have seen wood of better quality in old orange crates! There couldn’t have been a board in this whole panel that was longer than 18” (≈ 45 cm). To come up with boards long enough the manufacturer had end-jointed short strips of what was, at best, wood of mediocre quality. I think the wood used was spruce but was the widest-grain, mismatched grain, waviest-grain, pitch-filled, color-mismatched wood I’ve ever seen used in a piano soundboard. The joints had a clever shape which helped them hold together in case the hide glue bonds failed though none had that I could see. (Today we would use finger-jointing to end-join boards this way.)

The thing is, this soundboard worked quite well! Mechanically the piano was in pretty good shape; it had an excellent sound. There was a good balance between attack and decay rate. The upper tenor and treble had a balance of power and sustain certain high-end “modern” grands can only dream about. I spent a fair amount of time with the piano studying and thinking about this soundboard and came away quite impressed. To be sure, it was ugly as sin but it sure did work! It was a definite learning point on my way to gaining a better understanding of how piano soundboards work. It caused me to rethink a lot of what I’d been taught about just what constituted a “proper” soundboard.

ddf
Posted by: Del

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/15/10 11:45 AM

I'll give you the same answer here that I gave on the Technician's form where you posted the same question:
Originally Posted By: Del
Originally Posted By: giantoctupus
Which is better soundboard: a Fazioli style Ciresa soundboard or a Bolduc soundboard?

Neither one is “better;” both are excellent soundboards. Their physical characteristics are, however, somewhat different. More will depend on the experience, knowledge and skill of the rebuilder than on which of these two panels is selected.

If this is the same Steinway M you’ve been asking about elsewhere, however, you really should be looking at soundboard panels made of Sitka spruce; especially if the soundboard is bellied using the traditional panel compression technique. Sitka spruce—with its moderately higher compression strength—is a bit tougher and will stand up better than either of the two boards you’ve mentioned. Sitka spruce is the wood Steinway has been using for some decades.

If the rebuilder uses crowned ribs and/or a hybrid system of crowning the board it won’t really matter all that much which panel is used. It will matter that the rebuilder understands the characteristics of the wood in the soundboard panel and knows how best to work with it.

ddf
Posted by: sophial

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/15/10 01:17 PM

RIch wrote: "Sitka may give more power, but usually at the expense of blurring the more delicate pastel shades of tone. The result is that your technician must work harder to bring these out. "

Del, I'm wondering if you could comment on this as to whether this is correct or if there is evidence to support this .

Thanks
Posted by: Del

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/17/10 01:25 AM

Originally Posted By: sophial
RIch wrote: "Sitka may give more power, but usually at the expense of blurring the more delicate pastel shades of tone. The result is that your technician must work harder to bring these out. "

Del, I'm wondering if you could comment on this as to whether this is correct or if there is evidence to support this.

Any evidence would be purely anecdotal. There are so many way in which two seemingly identical pianos will vary in small details it would be difficult to attribute subtle differences in tone to any one specific change.

The two woods have slightly different physical characteristics; Sitka spruce has a higher stiffness-to-weight ratio so, for a given soundboard stiffness and mass the soundboard panel can—probably should—be just a bit thinner than its Eastern spruce or Engelmann spruce counterpart.

I doubt there are very many installers, however, who actually do anything to compensate between the two. (With Sitka spruce the panel can be made a bit thinner and lighter.) So, in practice I suspect most Sitka spruce soundboard panels are a bit heavier and stiffer than their Eastern spruce or Engelmann spruce counterparts. In theory then—And with everything else being absolutely equal!—the piano using the Sitka board should not have quite as much power but should have moderately better sustain. I don’t have a lot of experience comparing Sitka spruce boards directly with Eastern spruce boards but I do have some comparing them with Engelmann spruce boards and here this difference generally holds true.

The biggest difference between the two would be in longevity. Sitka spruce has somewhat higher compression strength so, if the soundboard assembly is bellied in the traditional, compression-crowned manner, the Sitka spruce panel will stand up to the requisite internal compression a bit better. Hence it will retain its design voice for a longer period of time. If the ribs are crowned and the panel is not subjected to a high level of compression any advantage this difference might give to the system is debatable.

ddf
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/17/10 02:36 AM

Originally Posted By: Del
The biggest difference between the two would be in longevity. Sitka spruce has somewhat higher compression strength so, if the soundboard assembly is bellied in the traditional, compression-crowned manner, the Sitka spruce panel will stand up to the requisite internal compression a bit better. Hence it will retain its design voice for a longer period of time. If the ribs are crowned and the panel is not subjected to a high level of compression any advantage this difference might give to the system is debatable.
In your opinion, what kind of timescale would reveal this difference under the higher compression scenario?
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/17/10 02:49 AM

Impossible to say. To many variable reasons or culprits as for when and why a compression board stars to lose it as for crown,downbearing blah blah. I would be curious to know of this timescale myself,Del
Posted by: Dale Fox

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/17/10 09:54 AM

Compression set starts immediately, but a big culprit is excess humidity. A compression crowned board is bound to suffer less in Pianobrokers neighborhood than in Sam's region.
Posted by: Del

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/17/10 10:45 AM

Originally Posted By: pianobroker
Impossible to say. To many variable reasons or culprits as for when and why a compression board stars to lose it as for crown,downbearing blah blah. I would be curious to know of this timescale myself,Del

Anywhere from six months to 60 years.

ddf
Posted by: BGJ

Re: steinway m soundboard - 12/17/10 09:43 PM

Taylor guitars took the theory of craftsmanship versus intrinsic material quality to the test in 1995. To make the point that manufacturing technique was the most important factor Bob Taylor went out to the dumpster and got a discarded pallet and used the wood from it to make a guitar. The back and sides (comparable to a piano's rim) were oak and the top (guitar soundboard) was from the 2x4's, they weren't sure if it was fir, pine, or hemlock. His point was well made, they then made 25 and I believe sold for like $15,000 each.

http://www.taylorguitar.com/Guitars/Archive/Older/pallet.html