Does a piano " open up"?

Posted by: Mr. Square

Does a piano " open up"? - 07/09/13 10:04 PM

Let me explain. I the world of guitars, from which I come, it is said that a new spruce topped guitar will take some time for that sound ( via the top) to mature or open up. As it matures the sound is said to become more complex, louder and possibly more balanced as the mid range and bass developers with the loosening of the top in terms of it's vibrating range of motion.

So the question is; for a new piano with a solid spruce soundboard can one expect a similar opening up or maturing process over the first few hundred hours of playing?
Posted by: Dave B

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/09/13 10:09 PM

Yes
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/09/13 10:12 PM

Yes - But it isn't the hours of playing. It usually takes a couple of years. The action will be "played in" after about 200 hours, however.
Posted by: musicpassion

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/10/13 01:46 AM

Also the hammers will "play in" - for most of the best brands this contributes to the sound getting better for a period of time after the components are new.
Posted by: Robert 45

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/10/13 02:28 AM

I would say that "playing in" a new piano depends on duration of the playing and even the kind of repertoire. A new piano being used for Rachmaninoff practice will probably "play in" much more quickly than a new instrument being lightly played at an elementary level. The process may take between two and five years for a new piano to reach its optimum sound. However, piano sound may begin to lose some power and sonority after 10 years or so as the soundboard begins to lose crown; although a well maintained piano should retain most of its musical charms until the strings and hammers need replacing after some decades of playing.

Robert.
Posted by: Hamburg-D

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/10/13 10:17 PM

They can't put the piano on the pounding machine for a bit longer?

As quoted by Marty, 200 hours of playing. But when a person plays 1 hour, they may only hit the middle C 30 times. So lets "work" with those rough figures...
In 200 hours, the middle C (and every other note, on average) will be played 6000 times.

so 6000 key strokes per note should brake in a piano.

So, if the pounding machine could just hit EVERY note simultaneously, once per second, within 2 hours we will have a broken in piano...

Pounding machine should hit EVERY single note, once per second, at intervals of 10 in which the 1st is the softest, and 10th is loudest, and on the 11th second, go back to softest.

heck, just leave that piano on a pounding machine for 8 hours, then set another piano on it and close the factory and let it run over-night...

I think this could help alot with manufacturers that demand their hammers need to harden ergonomically.

Not pointing any fingers...
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/10/13 10:28 PM

I don't think piano soundboards open up with playing. If you control the ambient humidity so the range does not exceed ten percent fluctuations-a well made piano soundboard will last indefinitely. At least a lifetime.

The hammers do get work hardened a bit and if you plan on being able to use your new piano for many years of regular and vigorous music making-you do not want the piano maker to install hammers that are hard enough to sound broken-in upon installation. With use a piano like that turns into a tin can that cannot be softened up in any long term way.

Hammers are worn out when they can no longer be tone-regulated to provide a stable and complete dynamic range. There are many new pianos made today and some going back forty years with hammers that in essence are worn out from day one. If you actually use a piano like that often-the tone becomes ugly quick.
Posted by: Jolly

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/11/13 08:51 AM

Today, it seems as if manufacturers are trending back towards lighter hammers.

Which wears in faster, light or heavy?

And if one wears in faster than another, does this mean this hammer has to be voiced more often?
Posted by: de cajon

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/11/13 09:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
I don't think piano soundboards open up with playing...

Hmm. I would have thought they did. A guitar's sound definitely opens up as it ages. A piano soundboard is thicker sure, but nonetheless I would have expected some kind of ageing process, that isn't necessarily drying, to take place.
Posted by: joe80

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/11/13 11:51 AM

Well, some claim that a soundboard does open up, some claim it's the sound of the hammers getting harder. It's probably a combination.

Jdeacon, you have quite a collection of instruments, and seem to be quite a rocker. You're not 'the' jdeacon are you? ;-)
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/11/13 12:06 PM

Jolly,
I have been tone regulating pianos with my LightHammer Tone Regulation Procedure for over thirty years. I am able to make the hammers light enough to eliminate nearly all of the lead counterweights from the front half of the key.

Actions like this are many times more stable and long lasting than the usual type.
Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/11/13 12:46 PM

Originally Posted By: noambenhamou
They can't put the piano on the pounding machine for a bit longer?

As quoted by Marty, 200 hours of playing. But when a person plays 1 hour, they may only hit the middle C 30 times. So lets "work" with those rough figures...
In 200 hours, the middle C (and every other note, on average) will be played 6000 times.

so 6000 key strokes per note should brake in a piano.

So, if the pounding machine could just hit EVERY note simultaneously, once per second, within 2 hours we will have a broken in piano...

Pounding machine should hit EVERY single note, once per second, at intervals of 10 in which the 1st is the softest, and 10th is loudest, and on the 11th second, go back to softest.

heck, just leave that piano on a pounding machine for 8 hours, then set another piano on it and close the factory and let it run over-night...

I think this could help alot with manufacturers that demand their hammers need to harden ergonomically.

Not pointing any fingers...


30 hours every piano, then they get regulated again.

Posted by: Robert 45

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/11/13 03:42 PM

Am I right in suggesting that even with good humidity control, the great pressure of the down bearing of the strings may eventually cause the soundboard to lose some crown? However, there are experts who say that some pianos with little or no measurable soundboard crown sound perfectly fine.
I am sure that we would all agree that compared to guitars and many other musical instruments, pianos decline as they age, analogous to the process of aging in people.
The difference is that the piano restorer or re-builder can step in to rejuvenate completely a decrepit instrument.

Robert.
Posted by: Allan W.

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/11/13 04:35 PM

What difference do you hear before and after breaking in, and after final voicing? Much better tone?
Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/11/13 04:45 PM

Originally Posted By: Allan W.
What difference do you hear before and after breaking in, and after final voicing? Much better tone?



The hammers do get more percussive after pounding. This also depends on the hammers used. Some of the hammers being used on so many pianos you see in the showrooms will change. Mellow now not later.
The ones on this upright are Ronsens. Lacquer was needed after pounding but only in a few areas.
What it does is settle out the new felts that compress over time. So the final regulation is more stable.
After breaking in the action and voicing we get stability in tone and touch you would not get without the pounding.

I'm in the 29th hour of pounding a Steinway "M" with new Steinway hammers. It has brightened up and the new strings have gone out of tune. The hammer line has dropped so less after touch and the repetition springs have weakened.
Posted by: Dave B

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/11/13 07:17 PM

The directly downward push of the pounding machine mechanism elimminates the sideway push that our hands create. There are limits to how much the pounding machine can help break-in the action.
Posted by: de cajon

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/12/13 03:55 AM

Originally Posted By: joe80
Jdeacon, you have quite a collection of instruments, and seem to be quite a rocker. You're not 'the' jdeacon are you? ;-)

Compulsive collector I'm afraid. And that list is with the signature limit cutting in blush . I am proud to report however, that I did force myself to sell a Vox AC30 recently (although I still have regrets about that) and that Jupiter 6 synth. On the other hand, I seriously tried to find a way not to sell the lovely Baldwin upright when we bought the Yamaha C3X grand. To the family's relief it was sold though.

And that other fella? I think he was a Fender man.
Posted by: joe80

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/12/13 06:16 AM

so I don't have to kneel in the mercurial presence of royalty then ;-)

Yeah I think he played Fender basses and actually a Fender Rhodes piano on some songs.
Posted by: de cajon

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/12/13 08:11 AM

Originally Posted By: joe80
so I don't have to kneel in the mercurial presence of royalty then ;-)

Well you don't have to; but you May.
Posted by: joe80

Re: Does a piano " open up"? - 07/12/13 10:33 AM

You'll have to 'Taylor' your jokes to be a little better....