Carbon Fiber Soundboards

Posted by: Manny De Angelo

Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 11:50 AM

Dear distinguished Members of this Piano World Forum,

It has been many years since my last request for help from you, and I reamin forever grateful to all of you. I have not participated with solutions or opinions inasmuch as I lack the knowledge and experience when it comes to matters of pianos. Besides, "who would dare tread where Gods gather" - only a fool! Nevertheless, I keep track of many subjects discussed in this, most excellent Piano World Forum. I am humbled by all of you and admire you as well.

Please, forgive me but I need your help once again. Thus, I pose the following question to you: Who are the experts in this forum that have made (or are making) "Carbon Fiber Soundboards" successfully, in this forum?

Allow me to state that the above mentioned request is addressed to experts who, although lovers of wood (mainly Sitka Spruce for soundboards), are also open to the use of materials derived from "fossil" sources, in pianos. I am not being dissrespectful to you; its just that I already know your position from previous postings I have read. My interest at this time is on the technical and one of a kind construction aspects of "carbon fiber soundboards."

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation with this request. I look forward to your replies.
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 12:11 PM

See Steingraeber and the Phoenix system.
http://steingraeberpianos.com/news/phoenix.html
Phoenix agraffe system grabs the strings and holds them to the bridge, hence, no down bearing needed.
Carbon fibre soundboard.

We viewed this piano at a PTG/CAPT? meeting in Montreal. The piano came from Toronto that day and they put it together out of the truck, and the tuning still sounded great. (No soundboard change due to humidity since soundboard is not wood.)

I think it is $20,000 - $30,000 extra on top of the regular price for a Steingraeber piano.
Posted by: Manny De Angelo

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 01:46 PM

Dear Mark,

Thank you for your reply and for pointing me to Steingraeber's Pianos website. I am very familiar with their website inasmuch as I have visited their website many times for the past six months; hoping that they would post technical information on how "carbon fiber soundboards" are actually constructed, but to no avail! I don't think that any piano manufacturer is going to open up their construction secrets to me or any one else to learn the minusa of the construction of their sounboards.

Perhaps, in addition to forum experts in "carbon fiber soundboard", there might be a very, very good book on how these boards are made from concept to completion. I just have not been able to find any valuable information in the Internet or at the library covering this subject. Thank you very much for your help and please keep me in mind if you come accross technical books, websites, etc. providing clear details.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 02:16 PM

I am quite sure there is no poster on PW who considers themselves an expert in CF soundboards. The few high-end companies working with this technology will not be racing to share their hard-earned insights with the world - why should they give up any competitive edge?

Carbon fiber piano soundboard technology is still so new and relatively unused (I would guess probably fewer than maybe two hundred instruments) that you will not find much technical information in the public realm - books etc. But CF stringed instruments have been around for a while - guitars, violins, 'cellos etc, so you could find something there. I am sure there is a forum on non-traditional violins etc.
Posted by: adak

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 02:29 PM

How will these new (and expensive) carbon fibre soundboard pianos compete with old pianos? I know I never need to buy a new piano because of how many old ones are out there. It kinda kills the market for carbon fibre pianos (unless you are greedy and be selling them for $100,000).

Now if they could make these carbon fibre pianos at an affordable price then that would be a different story. Any fool can make something more expensive.
Posted by: Manny De Angelo

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 02:53 PM

Hi Members,

Thank you for your recent replies, yet these address questions I didn't asked. Please, see my initial request for information.

In any event, does anyone knows or knows how to get in touch with a fellow member by the the handle name of "fourthgenerationpianorestoration." His name is Jeffrey T. Swensen, and he once posted the following statement here in the forum:

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
Posting No. 1126007 - 12/11/08 10:21 PM
Today almost everything is synthetic and produced outside the USA . I have made a carbon fiber sound board the piano was an Ivors and Pond 1936 and a throw away. My results were not good. After duplicating the thickness and ribs of the original I had to increase the bow fo these ribs because the pressure of the strings flattened out the board and I lost sound at a-300,A440 was very disappointing but I am trying some new improvements in the crude design I am soon going to try. I need another test subject not as big 5' or smaller grand.

As far as I know, he is the only one in the forum that has mentioned of having made a "carbon fiber soundboard." He said he was going to try "some new improvements." Does any one knows the continuation to his efforts posted here in the forum? I wrote to the email address indicated in the posting "jeffreyswansen@comcast.com" but the email was returned to me as no such address.

Your feedback on this subject and the initial one posted above will be greatly appreciated.

Posted by: Gene Nelson

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 03:23 PM

From what I recall, the board has no crown nor does it have ribs.
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 04:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Gene Nelson
From what I recall, the board has no crown nor does it have ribs.


Nope, It has ribs and crown ....

At least the Steingraeber Phoenix does ..

Gene, are you familiar with the specific piano the OP is referring to?
Posted by: Manny De Angelo

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 04:10 PM

Hi Gene,

You must be referring to some other posting I don't about in asmuch as "fourthgenerationpianorestoration / Jeffrey T. Swensen" clearly stated in his post and I quote: "After duplicating the thickness and ribs of the original I had to increase the bow fo these ribs . . ."

Thus, Jeffrey's carbon fiber soundboard had ribs given that he clearly stated that he had duplicated his piano's ribs, and furthermore, he made no mention of his carbon fiber soundboard not having a crown. How do you know that ". . . the board has no crown nor does it have ribs." (your post)? Do you know Jeffrey? If you do, would you please mention to him of my interest to communicate with him, and for him to please contact me? Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
Posted by: Manny De Angelo

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 04:14 PM

Hi Larry,

Do you know "fourthgenerationpianorestoration / Jeffrey T. Swensen", and how much do you know about his carbon fiber soundboard?

Would love to hear some valuable and to the point feedback about this subject!

Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 04:28 PM

I don't know of Mr Swenson ....

I revised my last post to ask Gene if he knows of this piano specifically.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 04:43 PM

Manny, Jeffrey Swensen has not posted in several years. Have you done an exhaustive internet search for the person you are trying to find? Try whitepages.com etc. Also, if he is "fourth generation", it should not be that hard to find him through his family by searching for rebuilders of that same last name.

You will have to do the leg work yourself, and not ask others to tell him to contact you.
Posted by: Gene Nelson

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 05:11 PM

I was thinking about the Steingraeber with cf board that toured here several years ago. Ribs serve no purpose, stiffness controlled by board thickness.
Memory says no ribs but not so accurate I suppose.
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 05:29 PM

Hi Gene,

I have a recent 212 Steingraeber Phoenix right here in my place.

It does have ribs.

There is a lot of "conversation" around about these pianos so I'll renew my offer for anyone in the area to come by and play it. It is an extraordinary piano.
Posted by: Manny De Angelo

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 05:46 PM

Dear Supply - Jurgen Goering,

You are assuming more than you should, and in my opinion you are very abrasive with your replies. I have read some of your posting to other members, and to me, you always come across as a "Debbie Downer." I invite you to abstain yourself from replying to any of my postings, please.

Furthermore, had you paid closer attention to my request, as posted above, you would realized that I am requesting “technical information,” not to be insulted. How do you know whether I already conducted a search on Jeffrey T. Swensen or not? Do not assume anything, unless you have all of the facts available to you!

And to other members, please, do not go on tangents talking about something else other than my request. please.

Thank you very much for your understanding and cooperation to all.
Posted by: accordeur

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 06:22 PM

Not here to argue. I am here because I am curious.

All the best!
Posted by: Supply

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 06:40 PM

Hello Manny - In my first post I replied to your question of searching for info on CF boards, in my second post I suggested ways of finding the person you are looking for.

A simple internet search on my part revealed the address of the person you are looking for in less than a minute.

No need to get huffy around here. Oh, and welcome to the Technicians Forum! wink

PS: on this forum, people often go on tangents talking about other things, which is why some treads run over many pages. Granted: it is best to try to avoid it, but often it cannot be controlled. I hope you find the information you are looking for.
Posted by: Manny De Angelo

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 07:43 PM

Oh my!, I was under the impression that this is a "Technical Forum" not a "Free-For-All." There are plenty of other sections within this Piano World Forum for that sort of psychology / thinking.

This will be my last posting here, given that my intent is not to alienate but to learn technical aspects about piano. Of course, those of you who cannot stick to the subject and provide correct - technical help may continue with your rantings all you want.

However, piano expert that are yet to reply are more welcome to contact me privately, please. Thank you very much, ahead of time, for any "technical" help you may be able to provide me about my initial "Carbon Fiber Soundboards" request.
Posted by: Phil D

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 07:56 PM

Manny, the expertise that you seek is simply not available here, as it is very specialised and very cutting edge! Don't get offended that we can't help you!
Posted by: accordeur

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 07:56 PM

All the best.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 09:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Manny De Angelo
... Do you know Jeffrey? If you do, would you please mention to him of my interest to communicate with him, and for him to please contact me? Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
Will do, next time I see him or talk to him. wink
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 09:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT

I think it is $20,000 - $30,000 extra on top of the regular price for a Steingraeber piano.


I believe you are mistaken (by a lot). My memory doesn't recall what the price difference is, but it is maybe on the order of a few thousand. If the technology were inherently expensive, it would not be installed on more economically friendly pianos such as Hurstwood's Phoenix pianos, rebuilds, or their line of pianos being made in China.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 09:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Manny De Angelo
Dear distinguished Members of this Piano World Forum,

It has been many years since my last request for help from you, and I reamin forever grateful to all of you. I have not participated with solutions or opinions inasmuch as I lack the knowledge and experience when it comes to matters of pianos. Besides, "who would dare tread where Gods gather" - only a fool! Nevertheless, I keep track of many subjects discussed in this, most excellent Piano World Forum. I am humbled by all of you and admire you as well.

Please, forgive me but I need your help once again. Thus, I pose the following question to you: Who are the experts in this forum that have made (or are making) "Carbon Fiber Soundboards" successfully, in this forum?

Allow me to state that the above mentioned request is addressed to experts who, although lovers of wood (mainly Sitka Spruce for soundboards), are also open to the use of materials derived from "fossil" sources, in pianos. I am not being dissrespectful to you; its just that I already know your position from previous postings I have read. My interest at this time is on the technical and one of a kind construction aspects of "carbon fiber soundboards."

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation with this request. I look forward to your replies.


In all honesty, this is probably not going to be a fruitful endeavor for you. Very few companies have bothered with carbon fiber soundboards and most of the ones that have could not figure out how to produce satisfactory results. The one successful company (Hurstwood Farm), has patents, and is not likely to share secrets without fair compensation.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/18/13 09:44 PM

Patents are open records. Making something from a patent without permission from the owner is infringement, though.

It might be fruitful to look at the patents. One would have to do that to avoid infringement.
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/19/13 09:33 AM

I was actually one of the people who organized the exhibition of the Steingraeber in Montreal. The difference was exactly $20,000 in 2010. I said $20,000 - $30,000 to account for the time that has passed. The $20,000 difference is what Steingraeber adds to their retail price for a new grand and includes the entire Phoenix system which is the CF board, a half blow soft pedal, and the Phoenix aggraffes.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/19/13 09:47 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
I was actually one of the people who organized the exhibition of the Steingraeber in Montreal. The difference was exactly $20,000 in 2010. I said $20,000 - $30,000 to account for the time that has passed. The $20,000 difference is what Steingraeber adds to their retail price for a new grand and includes the entire Phoenix system which is the CF board, a half blow soft pedal, and the Phoenix aggraffes.


Interesting. Perhaps it is a North American thing, because when I was in Europe, last in 2011, this was not the case.
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/19/13 09:54 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Manny De Angelo
Dear distinguished Members of this Piano World Forum,

It has been many years since my last request for help from you, and I reamin forever grateful to all of you. I have not participated with solutions or opinions inasmuch as I lack the knowledge and experience when it comes to matters of pianos. Besides, "who would dare tread where Gods gather" - only a fool! Nevertheless, I keep track of many subjects discussed in this, most excellent Piano World Forum. I am humbled by all of you and admire you as well.

Please, forgive me but I need your help once again. Thus, I pose the following question to you: Who are the experts in this forum that have made (or are making) "Carbon Fiber Soundboards" successfully, in this forum?

Allow me to state that the above mentioned request is addressed to experts who, although lovers of wood (mainly Sitka Spruce for soundboards), are also open to the use of materials derived from "fossil" sources, in pianos. I am not being dissrespectful to you; its just that I already know your position from previous postings I have read. My interest at this time is on the technical and one of a kind construction aspects of "carbon fiber soundboards."

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation with this request. I look forward to your replies.


In all honesty, this is probably not going to be a fruitful endeavor for you. Very few companies have bothered with carbon fiber soundboards and most of the ones that have could not figure out how to produce satisfactory results. The one successful company (Hurstwood Farm), has patents, and is not likely to share secrets without fair compensation.


There are no secrets in patents. The entire process will be disclosed in the patent file which is open for anyone to see.

BTW, I could not find any patents for Hurstwood for CF boards.)

The patent process is designed to disclose all secrets while protecting the patent holder, allowing them to make money on their patent for a certain period, usually 20 years. Then after that, the hope is that other people are free to improve upon the original design.

In this way, technical advancement is encouraged. Some people mistakenly think that discouragement and secrecy are the purpose of the patent process.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/19/13 01:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Manny De Angelo
Dear distinguished Members of this Piano World Forum,

It has been many years since my last request for help from you, and I reamin forever grateful to all of you. I have not participated with solutions or opinions inasmuch as I lack the knowledge and experience when it comes to matters of pianos. Besides, "who would dare tread where Gods gather" - only a fool! Nevertheless, I keep track of many subjects discussed in this, most excellent Piano World Forum. I am humbled by all of you and admire you as well.

Please, forgive me but I need your help once again. Thus, I pose the following question to you: Who are the experts in this forum that have made (or are making) "Carbon Fiber Soundboards" successfully, in this forum?

Allow me to state that the above mentioned request is addressed to experts who, although lovers of wood (mainly Sitka Spruce for soundboards), are also open to the use of materials derived from "fossil" sources, in pianos. I am not being dissrespectful to you; its just that I already know your position from previous postings I have read. My interest at this time is on the technical and one of a kind construction aspects of "carbon fiber soundboards."

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation with this request. I look forward to your replies.


In all honesty, this is probably not going to be a fruitful endeavor for you. Very few companies have bothered with carbon fiber soundboards and most of the ones that have could not figure out how to produce satisfactory results. The one successful company (Hurstwood Farm), has patents, and is not likely to share secrets without fair compensation.


There are no secrets in patents. The entire process will be disclosed in the patent file which is open for anyone to see.

BTW, I could not find any patents for Hurstwood for CF boards.)

The patent process is designed to disclose all secrets while protecting the patent holder, allowing them to make money on their patent for a certain period, usually 20 years. Then after that, the hope is that other people are free to improve upon the original design.

In this way, technical advancement is encouraged. Some people mistakenly think that discouragement and secrecy are the purpose of the patent process.


During my last interaction with Richard Dain, it was my understanding that they planned to patent the boards; it is possible that I am mistaken, or that plans changed. Either way, I know carbon fiber soundboards are mentioned in the Phoenix patent, but it doesn't go into much detail. PS I acknowledge that "secret" was the wrong word choice regarding the patent. My bad.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/19/13 01:43 PM

Richard Dain's agraffe patent (8217244 String-bridge interface system and methods) says this:

The continuous subjection of sound boards of traditional design pianos to down bearing forces inevitably and ultimately leads to collapse of the soundboard and consequent loss of effective contact between strings and sound bridge top. At thatpoint the piano loses its performance and sound quality. Effectively useful life of a piano is ended unless skill and money is expended on renovation which usually is difficult to justify. Aspects reduce or eliminate this cause of degradation of pianoperformance.

Greatly minimized or absent conventional uncompensated down bearing load on the bridge that would otherwise be transferred onto the sound board opens the possibility of using materials other than wood for soundboard construction. In particular,sound boards of carbon fiber may be used. General observations have suggested that carbon fiber sound boards in thicknesses more than 4 mm tend to produce harsh sound in a piano. Aspects can enable carbon fiber boards of approximately 2 mm thicknessesto be used in pianos. Such carbon fiber sound boards offer both enhanced sound power and resistance to adverse climatic conditions.
Posted by: Goof

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/19/13 02:07 PM

Hey Ho and here we go !
Quite frankly I giggle at the snide humour some times prseented/ directed at me !. After all," Sicks and stones may break my bones but words an never hurt me".
If you want to make a carbon fiber sound board I recon you could look up a suitable process on the net.
However, to be really successful you'd need things like a large autoclave!
Hurstwood farm i.e. Richard Dain and his group do not actually make the sound board but rely on a factory which produces the bodies for F1 cars and aerospace requirements!
Why not tackle a smaller project like a revolutionary action?
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/19/13 03:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Goof

Hurstwood farm i.e. Richard Dain and his group do not actually make the sound board but rely on a factory which produces the bodies for F1 cars and aerospace requirements!


Yes, this is true, however, not without input from Hurstwood Farm.

Originally Posted By: Goof
Why not tackle a smaller project like a revolutionary action?


This is not a small project.
Posted by: Nash. Piano Rescue

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/21/13 12:01 PM

I have to just laugh when I see something like " a carbon fiber board will add 20K to a price" When in actuality the cost of the material is about 1/3 less than that of gluing up a spruce board. Carbon fiber has become almost as cheap if not cheaper to work with than fiberglass, a vacuum press is still needed for making a perfect part though.

We experimented last year with Mono-cote which is the fabric they stretch over aircraft frames. We stripped out an upright, installed a mono-cote high tension frame in there with a titanium bridge. The end result was a piano that was about 60 % louder, still sounded like a piano and is still being used by the musician who bought it. Or as he says... No amp required.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/21/13 05:21 PM

Nashville,
Care to post pictures and a sound recording. Also since Titanium expands significantly with temperature changes how well does the piano stay at pitch when the heat switches on?
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/21/13 05:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Nash. Piano Rescue
I have to just laugh when I see something like " a carbon fiber board will add 20K to a price" When in actuality the cost of the material is about 1/3 less than that of gluing up a spruce board. Carbon fiber has become almost as cheap if not cheaper to work with than fiberglass, a vacuum press is still needed for making a perfect part though.

We experimented last year with Mono-cote which is the fabric they stretch over aircraft frames. We stripped out an upright, installed a mono-cote high tension frame in there with a titanium bridge. The end result was a piano that was about 60 % louder, still sounded like a piano and is still being used by the musician who bought it. Or as he says... No amp required.


I'll be traveling south this summer. I wonder if I might be able to see and hear the piano you mention?

Is that an arrangement you can make?

Larry
Posted by: Olek

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/22/13 03:34 AM

Originally Posted By: Nash. Piano Rescue
I have to just laugh when I see something like " a carbon fiber board will add 20K to a price" When in actuality the cost of the material is about 1/3 less than that of gluing up a spruce board. Carbon fiber has become almost as cheap if not cheaper to work with than fiberglass, a vacuum press is still needed for making a perfect part though.

We experimented last year with Mono-cote which is the fabric they stretch over aircraft frames. We stripped out an upright, installed a mono-cote high tension frame in there with a titanium bridge. The end result was a piano that was about 60 % louder, still sounded like a piano and is still being used by the musician who bought it. Or as he says... No amp required.


Should be interesting as for a "better electrical piano" in, that case (Fender Rhodes and such)

Do you have a few graphs of the spectra, or samples recorded ?
Posted by: Olek

Re: Carbon Fiber Soundboards - 02/22/13 03:38 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Goof

Hurstwood farm i.e. Richard Dain and his group do not actually make the sound board but rely on a factory which produces the bodies for F1 cars and aerospace requirements!


Yes, this is true, however, not without input from Hurstwood Farm.

Originally Posted By: Goof
Why not tackle a smaller project like a revolutionary action?


This is not a small project.


I have read mixed witnessings after testing pianos with and without the R Dain ameliorations.

Tone quality is one thing, play ability another , meaning, the way to modulate the tone.

But any research is welcome even the one not coming from piano builders.

Most good pianists are expecting "something" of an instrument, and that they don't find always. It is subtle, not a question of huge power ore purer partials, as the easyness to drive a race car.