Good books

Posted by: Dan M

Good books - 02/20/04 10:16 PM

Any good book recommendations for piano construction and history? I have one

"The Wonders of the Piano" by Bielefeldt

I picked it up at the library, it may be out of print. It has lots of pictures and descriptions about the materials and building of a piano, primarily between the Sohmer and S&S factories in the 70's. It also tours such places as the Mapes piano string factory (still in business), the Wickam piano plate factory (I think still in business), and others.

Lots of interesting details and pictures, though not without errors, such as the recently discussed issue of the rim holding up (or not) the crown.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Good books - 02/20/04 11:13 PM

You can still get it from Hendrick\'s Pianos where she works. It's the best book I've ever seen on the actual process of making pianos.
Posted by: ChrisKeys

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 12:16 AM

I actually have Bielefeldt's book, given to me by the son of a good friend of hers.

Another excellent book is "Giraffes, Black Dragons, and Other Pianos" by Edwin M. Good, ISBN 0-8047-4549-8 (roughly 310 pp, plus index and notes). This is a great history of the piano.

Chris
Posted by: Del

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 07:06 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dan M:
Any good book recommendations for piano construction and history? I have one

"The Wonders of the Piano" by Bielefeldt

I picked it up at the library, it may be out of print. It has lots of pictures and descriptions about the materials and building of a piano, primarily between the Sohmer and S&S factories in the 70's. It also tours such places as the Mapes piano string factory (still in business), the Wickam piano plate factory (I think still in business), and others.

Lots of interesting details and pictures, though not without errors, such as the recently discussed issue of the rim holding up (or not) the crown. [/b]
Mapes is still with us. Wickam is long gone. OS Kelly (now owned by Steinway) is the only remaining foundry in the U.S. specializing in casting piano plates.

Del
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 07:41 AM

For those who prefer looking inside a family that has had more influence than many others, try "The Steinway Saga" by DW Fostle or "Steinway and Sons" by Lieberman.

I like the first better, but I think it is out of print. Both books explore the hows and whys in the decision making (I believe they both used board meeting minutes as a source) but also go into who bribed whom and other juicy stuff!
Posted by: Dan M

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 09:12 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Del:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dan M:
Any good book recommendations for piano construction and history? I have one

"The Wonders of the Piano" by Bielefeldt

I picked it up at the library, it may be out of print. It has lots of pictures and descriptions about the materials and building of a piano, primarily between the Sohmer and S&S factories in the 70's. It also tours such places as the Mapes piano string factory (still in business), the Wickam piano plate factory (I think still in business), and others.

Lots of interesting details and pictures, though not without errors, such as the recently discussed issue of the rim holding up (or not) the crown. [/b]
Mapes is still with us. Wickam is long gone. OS Kelly (now owned by Steinway) is the only remaining foundry in the U.S. specializing in casting piano plates.

Del [/b]
Del,
Speaking of Mapes, something I've wondered but haven't gotten any info on, is are the treble and inner core bass/tenor strings plated? If so with what? It seems like an elementary precaution to take.

Where does Walter source the strings for the 190, Mapes? Are they the "gold standard" that Mapes sells?

Dan
Posted by: Del

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 09:18 AM

[/qb][/QUOTE]Del,
Speaking of Mapes, something I've wondered but haven't gotten any info on, is are the treble and inner core bass/tenor strings plated? If so with what? It seems like an elementary precaution to take.

Where does Walter source the strings for the 190, Mapes? Are they the "gold standard" that Mapes sells?

Dan [/QB][/QUOTE]


Most everybody has experimented with plated wire from time to time. To the best of my knowledge nobody is currently using the stuff in producion. The problem is that the plating doesn't stay put. It peels and flakes off as it renders through the various pressure points creating far more problems than it solves.

Yes, Walter uses Mapes IG wire.

Del
Posted by: Dan M

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 10:12 AM

Thanks Del.

But isn't Mapes International Gold wire triple plated (reading from the web site)? So the triple plating doesn't flake off then?

Dan
Posted by: BDB

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 11:45 AM

Another book everyone should read is Men, Women, and Pianos, by Arthur Loesser. It's a very witty book about how the piano fit into society over the centuries. Arthur Loesser was the concert pianist brother of Frank Loesser, who wrote Guys and Dolls, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and many other famous musicals. I've heard Frank was the black sheep of the family, the evil of two Loessers. \:\)
Posted by: Del

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 12:16 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Dan M:
Thanks Del.

But isn't Mapes International Gold wire triple plated (reading from the web site)? So the triple plating doesn't flake off then?

Dan [/b]
Not that I know of. We've been using the stuff ever since it was introduced and I'm not aware of any plating. When they sent me preliminary information about the wire and a couple of sample coils maybe 15 or 20 years ago no mention was made of any plating.

Which web site are you looking at? I just looked again at www.mapeswire.com and found no mention of plating. Or of International Gold music wire, for that matter.

Del
Posted by: Craig S

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 12:28 PM

I found the book "Temperament" by Stuart Isacoff to be interesting. It is about the history, science, politics, and philosophy of the developement of equal temperament tuning. It includes a good deal of history about the piano and it's role in the temperament problem.

Craig
Posted by: Dan M

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 12:43 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Del:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dan M:
Thanks Del.

But isn't Mapes International Gold wire triple plated (reading from the web site)? So the triple plating doesn't flake off then?

Dan [/b]
Not that I know of. We've been using the stuff ever since it was introduced and I'm not aware of any plating. When they sent me preliminary information about the wire and a couple of sample coils maybe 15 or 20 years ago no mention was made of any plating.

Which web site are you looking at? I just looked again at www.mapeswire.com and found no mention of plating. Or of International Gold music wire, for that matter.

Del [/b]
Our own piano world has a quote about it, it seems to show up on the pages of folks that sell it I guess.

http://www.pianoworld.com/Merchant2/merc...owire_mapes_1lb

"Premium grade piano wire made in U.S.A. Drawn to international standards from the world's finest steel. Exceptional tensile strength, and resistance to elongation. Triple plated for uniform color and rust resistance."

"Googling" it shows a few references to the triple plating. Any idea?

Dan
Posted by: JPM

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 02:41 PM

Another good book is Piano Roles: 300 Years of Life with the Piano by James Parakilas & others. It's well written and comprehensive, covering the piano's history, design, manufacturing & marketing, its roles in society, and more. It's richly illustrated and the end Notes section has more references than I'll get thru in this lifetime. Highly recommended.

Del & others: On piano wire. I read or heard that some piano manufacturers prefer to use uncoated wire, despite its tendency to oxidize or rust, because plain steel (either polished or not) produces the best tone. Yet when you look at Roslau (arguably the best producer) wire specifications they offer both plain and tinned.

Is there any merit to plain steel having the best tone or is it more marketing hype/manufacturing mythology?

JP
Posted by: Del

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 07:55 PM

[/qb][/QUOTE]Our own piano world has a quote about it, it seems to show up on the pages of folks that sell it I guess.

http://www.pianoworld.com/Merchant2/merc...owire_mapes_1lb

"Premium grade piano wire made in U.S.A. Drawn to international standards from the world's finest steel. Exceptional tensile strength, and resistance to elongation. Triple plated for uniform color and rust resistance."

"Googling" it shows a few references to the triple plating. Any idea?

Dan [/QB][/QUOTE]


Well I don't know if that information came from Mapes or from...? I have been of the impression that it was not plated. They do use some kind of surface polishing that is supposed to help the wire resist corrosion and/or rust but that is not the same thing. Indeed, among the information I received were some accelerated aging tests that compared the (then) new IG wire with the competitions plated wire showing the IG wire did a better job of resisting salt water corrosion.

If I think of it the next time I talk with somebody back there I’ll ask. Anyway, plated or not, it's the best wire I've tested and/or used.

Del
Posted by: Del

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 08:11 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by JPM:
Del & others: On piano wire. I read or heard that some piano manufacturers prefer to use uncoated wire, despite its tendency to oxidize or rust, because plain steel (either polished or not) produces the best tone. Yet when you look at Roslau (arguably the best producer) wire specifications they offer both plain and tinned.

Is there any merit to plain steel having the best tone or is it more marketing hype/manufacturing mythology?

JP [/b]
I've heard all kinds of horror stories related to the use of plated wire ranging from string buzzes from the plating flaking off to “ruined” hammers because the plating breaks off and lodges in the hammer felt. I've personally only strung a couple of pianos with Roslau plated wire. The pianos were located in houses right on the Pacific Ocean beach. I didn't find the wire to be any more resistant to corrosion than standard unplated wire. And it looked terrible after a couple of years. I had purchased a whole bunch of large coils and ended up throwing most of it away.

While I was at Baldwin during the 1980s we would occasionally get requests for plated wire and we always refused unless the client was willing to assume full responsibility for the results.

I know Roslau supplies plated wire. And McDonald’s sells something they call a hamburger — supposedly they are actually edible — that doesn’t mean I have to eat one.

For many years I used Roslau wire and considered it to be quite good, excellent even. And then along came Mapes International Gold which is neither international nor gold but it is great wire. After running my own tests I was convinced and I now use IG exclusively. I also recommend it to my commercial clients. I’m sure Roslau is also improving their product as time goes by, but for now I’ll stick with IG.

Del
Posted by: curry

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 08:34 PM

Dan,I've recently spoken with someone I know at Mapes.The IG wire is not triple plated,but triple polished comes to his mind.There must have been a misprint. \:\)
Posted by: Dan M

Re: Good books - 02/21/04 11:07 PM

Thanks Del and others, very interesting.

I had wondered why nobody took the simple precaution of plating the wire, now it's clear it's neither simple nor a precaution. Given the crazy things we do to piano wire I guess it makes sense it has to be unplated.
Posted by: Del

Re: Good books - 02/22/04 05:38 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by curry:
Dan,I've recently spoken with someone I know at Mapes.The IG wire is not triple plated,but triple polished comes to his mind.There must have been a misprint. \:\) [/b]
That sounds a whole lot more like it. IG wire is highly polished and looks it. It does not look, feel or act like it is plated with anything.

Del