Steingraeber Piano

Posted by: Pianoshel

Steingraeber Piano - 01/16/13 10:05 AM

Larry invited my brother, Dan, my son, David, and myself, to come up to Lowell and play the Steingraeber.

It was unvelievable! The warm tones and feelings came out so easily. The new carbon composit sound board seems like a great new invention. It sounds great and it will probably last forever. The sound was big and wholesome. It was so enjoyable to play this great instrument.

Thanks Larry,
Sheldon Powers
Posted by: Goof

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/21/13 10:49 AM

I've been to see these pianos at Hurstwood Farm Pianos,here in Kent UK.
I was with my friend who is a fantastic pianist and I actually had to move away so that non could see that the sound was bringing tears to my eyes!!
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/21/13 10:55 AM

I had a conversation with my friend who studies material science few years ago. He said the composite material (probably the carbon or poly) has superior acoustic quality compare to wood, and can be used in violin or piano.
Thats from a pure scientific point of view.

I guess while it removes the prestine from tradtional wood manufacturer, its more sustainable and cheaper to make.
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/21/13 11:05 AM

I look forward to playing one someday.

I haven't heard a composite stringed instrument that's impressed me yet, but I'm sure Steingraeber wouldn't put out a piano that didn't sound great.

In the meantime, I'm confident I can milk my wooden soundboard for the years I'll need...
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/21/13 11:41 AM

I wish more concert pianists would play Steingraeber - even if only occasionally - in concert and for recordings. There are quite a few CDs around using Grotrian-Steinweg or Sauter, (and of course lots and lots using Fazioli, Bosendorfer or Bluthner) but only two or three that use a Steingraeber. Yet from my limited experience, Steingraeber is right up there with the best of the great European pianos.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/21/13 12:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Steven Y. A.
...I guess while it removes the prestine from tradtional wood manufacturer, its more sustainable and cheaper to make.
Cheaper to make? Then why are carbon fibre boards found only on the most expensive pianos, and wood is used by all other brands, from the lowest entry level on up?
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/21/13 12:46 PM

Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
I look forward to playing one someday.

I haven't heard a composite stringed instrument that's impressed me yet, but I'm sure Steingraeber wouldn't put out a piano that didn't sound great.

In the meantime, I'm confident I can milk my wooden soundboard for the years I'll need...


We have a Steingraeber Phoenix 212 here.

You are certainly welcome to stop by and play it ... presuming you would be in the Boston area.

All are welcome to stop by and play it.
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/21/13 01:26 PM

it could also be the cutting edge technology instead of the actual manufacuturing cost. Just my guess.
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/21/13 01:41 PM

The manufacturing cost is higher.

Considering the "Art" of piano building;
How does the carbon fiber panel behave compared to the spruce?
What needs to be done to insure it is a very successful musical instrument?

Considering the uniqueness of the carbon fiber sound board in a piano, how do you insure it excels compared to wood?

Considering the very few that are made, what is the impact of this considerable time expended on each instrument?

Oh, and, edge tools are quickly worn on the carbon fiber as it is very hard.

Having been to Steingraeber in Germany, I have seen first hand the work that goes into each Phoenix.
Posted by: Ori

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/22/13 09:28 AM

Originally Posted By: Pianoshel
Larry invited my brother, Dan, my son, David, and myself, to come up to Lowell and play the Steingraeber.

It was unvelievable! The warm tones and feelings came out so easily. The new carbon composit sound board seems like a great new invention. It sounds great and it will probably last forever. The sound was big and wholesome. It was so enjoyable to play this great instrument.

Thanks Larry,
Sheldon Powers



Pianoshell,

There is a big tonal difference between a Phoenix piano (made by Steingraeber) which is the piano that you had seen and a Steingraeber piano.

In order to highlight the separation, Udo Steingraeber considered at one point to remove the Steingraeber name from the fallboard and instead use only the Phoenix name.

Did the piano you tried say 'Steingraeber' on the fallboard, Phoenix Steingraeber or only Phoenix?

Perhaps you or Larry could relate.

While I believe all pianos made by Steingraeber are wonderful, the tonal departure is so great between a Steingraeber and a Carbon Fiber soundboard Phoenix that you'd be a miss if you thought that by trying a Phoenix you experienced the tone of a Steingraeber.


If you'd like to try Steingraeber pianos there is only one place to do so in the North Eastern US...which is here, at Allegro Pianos...so please don't be confused.

Thanks,

Ori
Posted by: rjc

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/22/13 02:43 PM

Ori knows best. I purchased my Steingraeber from him last year and he explained the difference between the two and guided me to the right decision. it sounds spectacular and just gets better .

Robert
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/22/13 02:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Ori
Originally Posted By: Pianoshel
Larry invited my brother, Dan, my son, David, and myself, to come up to Lowell and play the Steingraeber.

It was unvelievable! The warm tones and feelings came out so easily. The new carbon composit sound board seems like a great new invention. It sounds great and it will probably last forever. The sound was big and wholesome. It was so enjoyable to play this great instrument.

Thanks Larry,
Sheldon Powers



Pianoshell,

There is a big tonal difference between a Phoenix piano (made by Steingraeber) which is the piano that you had seen and a Steingraeber piano.

In order to highlight the separation, Udo Steingraeber considered at one point to remove the Steingraeber name from the fallboard and instead use only the Phoenix name.

Did the piano you tried say 'Steingraeber' on the fallboard, Phoenix Steingraeber or only Phoenix?

Perhaps you or Larry could relate.

While I believe all pianos made by Steingraeber are wonderful, the tonal departure is so great between a Steingraeber and a Carbon Fiber soundboard Phoenix that you'd be a miss if you thought that by trying a Phoenix you experienced the tone of a Steingraeber.


If you'd like to try Steingraeber pianos there is only one place to do so in the North Eastern US...which is here, at Allegro Pianos...so please don't be confused.

Thanks,

Ori


As I'm sure you know, originally, Steingraeber-Phoenix pianos had spruce soundboards and standard Renner actions. The tonal differences between these and the non-Phoenix versions were quite similar. Then, carbon fiber soundboards were being installed, starting with the 170, I believe; even these, I felt were pretty similar... not the same, of course, but similar. With the introduction of the WNG action, I can see where people would start to really notice a difference in character, but I still think it sounds like a Steingraeber. I do know that Hurstwood Farm is using the Phoenix name on pianos where the acoustic body is supplied by Steingraeber, at a significantly lower price, but these pianos are only available there, I believe.
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/22/13 06:29 PM

It seems to be getting only more confusing. Is Phoenix a brand separate from Steingraeber (made by Steingraeber but not a Steingraeber brand)?

Also, is the common thread through the Phoenix brand that those instruments are only available with carbon fiber soundboards and Phoenix bridges. If I wanted a solid soundboard and a Phoenix bridge, that piano would be called Steingraeber, not Phoenix?

Or, is ANY piano with a Phoenix bridge called a Phoenix?
Posted by: Craig Hair

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/22/13 07:48 PM

I had occasion to look at this Steingraeber, and its carbon-fiber soundboard. What surprised me the most was to see how much wood is employed in its construction. From above, the carbon fiber panel is all that is visible. From below, it is clear that the ribs are wooden and that there is at least a veneer of wood between the ribs and the carbon-fiber sheet itself. There was no way to tell how thick that wood veneer was. From below it looked like a normal soundboard. So I'm not sure how much the carbon-fiber is actually involved.
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/23/13 08:17 AM

Originally Posted By: Craig Hair
I had occasion to look at this Steingraeber, and its carbon-fiber soundboard. What surprised me the most was to see how much wood is employed in its construction. From above, the carbon fiber panel is all that is visible. From below, it is clear that the ribs are wooden and that there is at least a veneer of wood between the ribs and the carbon-fiber sheet itself. There was no way to tell how thick that wood veneer was. From below it looked like a normal soundboard. So I'm not sure how much the carbon-fiber is actually involved.


I may be wrong about this, but I seem to recall reading that a carbon-fiber only board was tried and found to produce too bright a sound. Laminating a thin wooden layer on to the carbon layer apparently provided a warmer tone. If someone knows otherwise, please correct me.
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/23/13 12:44 PM

It was my understanding, from Udo Steingraeber, that the wood veneer option is purely for cosmetic purposes, in case you feel the black color of the carbon fiber is too nontraditional for you.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/23/13 04:24 PM

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
It was my understanding, from Udo Steingraeber, that the wood veneer option is purely for cosmetic purposes, in case you feel the black color of the carbon fiber is too nontraditional for you.


This is my understanding as well. I've seen them with and without the veneer. It doesn't make any difference in the sound.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/23/13 04:30 PM

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
It seems to be getting only more confusing. Is Phoenix a brand separate from Steingraeber (made by Steingraeber but not a Steingraeber brand)?



There's the Phoenix System, which is the bridge agraffes. Phoenix pianos are Hurstwood Farm's house brand, which uses acoustic bodies from Steingraeber, but the pianos are finished at Hurstwood, and sold for a lower price.

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
Also, is the common thread through the Phoenix brand that those instruments are only available with carbon fiber soundboards and Phoenix bridges. If I wanted a solid soundboard and a Phoenix bridge, that piano would be called Steingraeber, not Phoenix?

Or, is ANY piano with a Phoenix bridge called a Phoenix?


At least at one time, Steingraeber-Phoenix pianos were available without carbon fiber boards, too (in the beginning, that was the only option, and then they started putting CF boards in the 170). Phoenix pianos are essentially the same as the equivalent Steingraeber models, but you can only get them with CF boards and WNG action. Any piano that is entirely made by Steingraeber, in Bayreuth, will be either Steingraeber (if it doesn't have agraffes), or Steingraeber-Phoenix.
Posted by: Goof

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/23/13 06:15 PM

You are correct it is the technology.
On my visit to Hurstwood farm it was explained that they rely entirely on a UK company which deals exclusively in engineering carbon fiber "items" for the Min of Defence;F1 motorcars; and the aerospace industry i.e. they donot make the sound boards on site.
They also had the basics for a baby grand where carbofiber tubes took the place of the normal cast steel frame. This unit was lying on a work bench but was playable - using surprise! surprise! a WNG carbonfiber action.
They would not say but I think in the Phonix models the cf sound board has some sort of printed paper overlay to make it look like wood !!
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/23/13 06:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Goof

They would not say but I think in the Phonix models the cf sound board has some sort of printed paper overlay to make it look like wood !!


It's veneer.
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/24/13 07:55 AM

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
It was my understanding, from Udo Steingraeber, that the wood veneer option is purely for cosmetic purposes, in case you feel the black color of the carbon fiber is too nontraditional for you.


You may be correct, but if that was the goal, why would they put the wood veneer on the bottom of the soundboard and leave the carbon fiber exposed on the top for all to see?
Posted by: CHAS

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/24/13 09:50 AM

Had a Luis & Clark carbon fiber cello. It was too bright for me. The designer liked it that way.
My previous piano was a Kawai with carbon fiber action. My present piano is a Mason Hamlin with WNG action.
Want to hear and play a piano with a carbon fiber soundboard. Would be great to have in the Western US where the air is very dry.
Posted by: KillerCharlie

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/25/13 12:48 AM

What precisely, in terms of material properties, is desired in a soundboard? A certain axial/torsional stiffness? A combination of stiffness and low density?

Wood just seems like a terrible material for anything... you can modify it easily but that's about it.
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/25/13 07:46 AM

Originally Posted By: KillerCharlie
What precisely, in terms of material properties, is desired in a soundboard? A certain axial/torsional stiffness? A combination of stiffness and low density?

Wood just seems like a terrible material for anything... you can modify it easily but that's about it.


At least in part, you would want the stiffness to weight ratio of the soundboard assembly to be within some limits. Of course, things quickly get more complicated--the piano soundboard system evolved using a highly anisotropic material, namely wood; the array of ribs helps stiffen the board to make up for the panel's very low across the grain stiffness. The subtleties of how this combination of ribs and anisotropic panel contribute to the sound may be of some sonic importance--only modeling and testing would confirm. Also, wood is a fairly highly damped material--much more so than metal or normal carbon-fiber panels. No doubt, this characteristic affects the sound.

Of course, with enough testing and development, someone could come up with a replacement for wood. The real question is what would the development costs be, and what would the recurring costs be?
Posted by: Goof

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/25/13 09:37 AM

The veneer is on top of the sound board. I did not look under the grands.
I was told that the only reason for the above is to cover the carbon fiber which looks like a smooth woven black "sheet"; i.e. cosmetic.
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/25/13 12:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Goof
The veneer is on top of the sound board. I did not look under the grands.
I was told that the only reason for the above is to cover the carbon fiber which looks like a smooth woven black "sheet"; i.e. cosmetic.


The only one I've seen is the one at Larry Buck's shop, and the top of the soundboard is carbon fiber.
Posted by: jim ialeggio

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/26/13 03:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Roy123
Of course, with enough testing and development, someone could come up with a replacement for wood. The real question is what would the development costs be, and what would the recurring costs be?

Also the question is what engineering tradeoff did you buy with the new material. Every engineering improvement will be tend to "fix" a long standing problem or challenge. However these improvements are almost always accompanied by new, sometimes unintended engineering challenges.

Roy mentions the internal damping as one. Another would be that though carbon fiber does not react to RH changes, as a plastic, how reactive will it be to temperature change?? Composite Plastics can expand/contract with temperature change. I don't know the physics but suspect some pickiness with regard to temperature. Do normal occasional 10-15f deg swings throws a monkey into mix??

Jim Ialeggio
Posted by: KillerCharlie

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/26/13 07:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Roy123

At least in part, you would want the stiffness to weight ratio of the soundboard assembly to be within some limits. Of course, things quickly get more complicated--the piano soundboard system evolved using a highly anisotropic material, namely wood; the array of ribs helps stiffen the board to make up for the panel's very low across the grain stiffness. The subtleties of how this combination of ribs and anisotropic panel contribute to the sound may be of some sonic importance--only modeling and testing would confirm.


I agree, it seems like you'd have to go away from the current rib setup to attain the same acoustic qualities. Playing around with the structural layout (and composite thickness/layup) in a vibration FEM program would be fun.



Originally Posted By: jim ialeggio

Another would be that though carbon fiber does not react to RH changes, as a plastic, how reactive will it be to temperature change?? Composite Plastics can expand/contract with temperature change. I don't know the physics but suspect some pickiness with regard to temperature. Do normal occasional 10-15f deg swings throws a monkey into mix??


No, in fact quite the opposite. Carbon fiber (woven, in an epoxy matrix, with plies in different directions) has a very low thermal expansion coefficient. In fact wood expands ten times as much as carbon fiber.

Wood is already basically a composite due to the grain. The thermal expansion and stiffness vary quite a bit depending on the direction (with or against the grain, or radially). Carbon fiber can have its properties tailored based on ply layup.

I'm really curious about the cost of the wood used in soundboards. Since it's slow growth wood it has got to be pretty expensive, and will only get more expensive in the long run. CFRP is expensive but is coming down in price as usage increases (aerospace industry).

Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/27/13 05:07 PM

I just ran a little "heat" test on a WN&G hammer shank. The shank has the thickest wall of all shanks WN&G offers. I warmed up my convection oven to 170 Degrees F. Measured shank diameter at room temp was .189" (I measured 1' in from the hammer end and oriented the micrometer parallel with the striking axis of motion, The extruded carbon tubes that form the shank are a little out of round), measured overall length with calipers from inside of fork to end of shank, (did't record value since I left caliper at pre-heat dimension).

After 15 minutes I removed shank from oven and measured diameter at same location it was .189", overall length was exactly as before heating.

Of course more refined techniques would reveal any more subtle movement. But this test jibes with the engineering reports about composites I am familiar with.
Posted by: jim ialeggio

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 01/27/13 07:48 PM

Hi Ed...

My comment was inspired by my memory of the Steingraber phoenix w/carbon fiber board at the 2011 KC convention. The air conditioning system was playing havoc with all the pianos. However, in the entire hall, the only piano that was seriously out of tune was the Steingraber.

Obviously there could be many more mundane explanations of this, such as Steingraber's tech was AWOL or awash in the lounge. One would assume the sales people who brought such a unique instrument before a high profile gathering of way-picky-conservative piano nerds, nerds who would be looking for flaws, would be paying attention to this sort of thing.

It leads me to wonder why the ambient reactivity was so strong, given the stability of the carbon fiber, lack of humidity driven migrating bridge pins, etc.

Perhaps Larry or someone with a more intimate day-to-day relationship to this creature could comment on its relative stability in normal and/or fluctuating ambient conditions.

Jim Ialeggio
Posted by: davepowers

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 02/03/13 12:08 PM

I had a chance play the Steingraeber piano a couple of weeks ago and I was pretty astounded. I have played a lot of keyboards and pianos over the years and have to say I was completely amazed by the action and the tone of this piano. The action was so nice that I felt completely connected to the instrument like I have rarely experienced. The carbon fiber soundboard created a sound that to me was very crisp and rich. Interestingly I found the lower mid-range to be a little thinner, with a slightly different timbre than other pianos. I do not mean that as a negative at all since I find many pianos to seem kind of "muddy" sounding if there's a lot going on in the left hand. I heard much more clarity in that range than I am used to hearing and it was very pleasing to me. I really appreciate the opportunity to play this wonderful instrument!
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Steingraeber Piano - 02/03/13 02:41 PM

Originally Posted By: jim ialeggio
Hi Ed...

My comment was inspired by my memory of the Steingraber phoenix w/carbon fiber board at the 2011 KC convention. The air conditioning system was playing havoc with all the pianos. However, in the entire hall, the only piano that was seriously out of tune was the Steingraber.

Obviously there could be many more mundane explanations of this, such as Steingraber's tech was AWOL or awash in the lounge. One would assume the sales people who brought such a unique instrument before a high profile gathering of way-picky-conservative piano nerds, nerds who would be looking for flaws, would be paying attention to this sort of thing.

It leads me to wonder why the ambient reactivity was so strong, given the stability of the carbon fiber, lack of humidity driven migrating bridge pins, etc.

Perhaps Larry or someone with a more intimate day-to-day relationship to this creature could comment on its relative stability in normal and/or fluctuating ambient conditions.

Jim Ialeggio


As a whole, I find the Steingraeber Phoenix to have more tuning stability.

Tuning stability is always a collection of circumstances that must include how the piano was tuned and prepared. Additionally, material wise, the strings themselves are very sensitive to temperature. An air conditioner unit cycling, blowing cold air on a piano is killing any hope of tuning stability. The same goes for stage lighting. Anyone truly experienced in concert preparation know these things well.

I have found the carbon fiber itself sensitive to temperature. I can not say that by itself, it is more or less sensitive than it's wood counterpart. That would require a proper scientific process that I have not done.

I can say that, overall this Steingraeber Phoenix demonstrates a noticeable degree of tuning stability over it's wood counterpart.