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#161990 - 02/23/09 05:04 PM How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1721
Taking out the soundboard with the idea of installing a pickup device from Helpinstill http://www.helpinstill.com/ and amplify electrically instead of with a soundboard.

Don't worry, I'll use a core piano to experiment \:D
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Had I progressed to playing chords,
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#161991 - 02/23/09 05:31 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
John Mila Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 245
Loc: So California
You don't need to take the soundboard out to do this. (And by the way removing the soundboard, includes removing the strings and the plate before you can get to the soundboard)
Helpinstill pick-ups slide under the strings. Take the lid off of the piano and work the pick-ups under the strings from the bass side.
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#161992 - 02/23/09 05:39 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
Loc: New York City
The soundboard weighs less than 10 pounds so not much effort is required. ;\)

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#161993 - 02/23/09 05:46 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
John Mila Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 245
Loc: So California
The 100 pounds of gold is in that mountain over there. You just need to remove the mountain. :rolleyes:
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#161994 - 02/23/09 05:47 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8412
Loc: Georgia, USA
Electrical amplification is electrical amplification; Why not just get a digital piano?

Interesting video though.

Take care,

Rick
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#161995 - 02/23/09 06:29 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Mocheol Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
Depending on how the soundboard is connected to the rim [i assuming your talking about a grand piano are you?] then it can be difficult enough.

If you were very very skilfull with your hands you could blowtorch it to a cinder, but then you,d risk damaging other important bits .
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#161996 - 02/23/09 07:50 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1721
Consolidating my responses into one posting.

As I said in the above, I'd like to experiment with electrical amplification instead of[/b] soundboard amplification. In other words, I like to remove the soundboard either entirely or the biggest part of it.

A digital piano has digital sound generation, I'd like to retain the analog sound generation, but with electrical amplification.

If it is so difficult to remove the soundboard of a grand piano, how about removing the soundboard of an upright piano?
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Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#161997 - 02/23/09 08:20 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
David-G Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1242
Loc: London
Two thoughts...

If you remove the soundboard, I would imagine that there would be less loss of energy from the strings, which might continue to vibrate longer.

But, without a soundboard, how are you going to keep the bridges in place?

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#161998 - 02/23/09 08:28 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Mocheol Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
The difference between removing the soundboard in an upright is that that you remove everything bar the soundboard first , then place the soundbord to one side and reassemble. For a grand you just do the reverse.
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#161999 - 02/23/09 09:08 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2336
Loc: Lowell MA
Sound Boards are extremely easy to take out.

Slightly more challenging to put back in.

No More No Less
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#162000 - 02/23/09 09:10 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1721
Mocheol, can you please elaborate a little

Dave, the bridges are gone too, as you can see from the Helpinstill website, the sensor for the pickup is not mechanic (it is magnetic)
_________________________
I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#162001 - 02/23/09 10:06 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9138
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
As others have already pointed out, the belly of a piano acts as a single assembly. This means that the bridges, ribs, and board act as a single unit. Without ribs supporting a board and a board supporting the bridges, there can be no clear termination point to each string - which means no piano tone.

Neat idea though doremi.
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#162002 - 02/23/09 11:25 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
KawaiDon Offline
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Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1222
Loc: Orange County, CA
doremi, you post so many strange questions that it does not seem that you are serious. But then you respond as if you are serious.

LOOK at a piano. It is not hard to see how the strings connect to the bridges, which is fastened to the soundboard. Can you not reason out for yourself the answer? The piano will not function without the soundboard - the string would not have the bridge in position to set the correct lengths.

So simply removing the soundboard is not what you would need to do. You would need to design a new means of terminating the strings correctly, and mounting the string sensors.

Both Yamaha and Kawai made strung pianos with electronic pickups in the past. Look on E-bay - much easier than trying to make one.
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#162003 - 02/24/09 05:30 AM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2336
Loc: Lowell MA
Aeolian also made a short keyboard with the Helpinstill already installed.

Came in a Birch plywood case, black.

Neat little piano.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helpinstill
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#162004 - 02/24/09 06:29 AM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Mocheol Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
Doremi.

To remove the soundboard on an upright piano.

1]Place instrument on raised dais.
2] Carefuly strip away all components and leave the soundboard
freestanding
3] Remove soundboard from dais.
4] Re assemble all components excluding the soundboard on the dais


To remove the soundboard on a grand piano

1]Place instrument on raised dais.
2]Carefully strip away the soundboard and leave the grand piano freestanding
3]Remove the grand piano from the dais
4]Re-assemble all components,excluding the grand piano,on the dais.

Hope this answers your query
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#162005 - 02/24/09 07:38 AM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
David Jenson Offline
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Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2038
Loc: Maine
doremi, leave the "Instructions" from Mocheol right here to amuse the rebuilders among us, but don't try to follow them. They are too cryptic to be of any real use, and show an abysmal lack of any real knowledge of the subject.

As others have pointed out, the project is impractical. What are you going to do with the bridges? As Kawai Don pointed out, you need the bridges to set the speaking length of the strings, and with the sound board go the bridges! Yikes!
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#162006 - 02/24/09 08:11 AM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2336
Loc: Lowell MA
Baldwin made electric pianos with pin blocks and strings, no sound board. It had a quasi real action. tuning pins faced the rear of the piano.

Probably good enough to "experiment on" with different kinds of pick ups.

I have one of these actually.

There really is nothing preventing doremi from cutting out the sound board from around the ribs and bridges on his piano.

Sure, crown will be lost, becomes part of "his experiment".

He would not have to disassemble the piano in any major way to do this. A variety of shapes of saws would access most areas.
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#162007 - 02/24/09 11:10 AM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1721
LOL, hey guys, I am an engineer with well over 2 decades of experience in R&D, just no knowledge or experience with the technical side of pianos.

Nevertheless, here are some further information and thoughts. (I have left these previously out so as not to clutter up the post, but here comes a little bit of the gory stuff)

The Helpinstill sensor senses the vibration of the (steel) strings in a magnetic way, there is NO acoustic pickup. As the info on the Helpinstill website explains, you could put a drummer right besides the piano and you would not hear any drumming from the Helpsinstill sensor at all.

Hence, there is no soundboard, no bridges, no nothing of the acoustic chain of the piano required, only the vibrating (steel) strings are required for producing an electrically amplifiable sound.

Without soundboard, and hence, without bridges, the speaking lengths of the strings would extend to the hitch pins. This should be OK for making experiments.

I would think that removing the soundboard entirely (and the bridges) would result in an undue sharp attack portion of the sound. This can be electrically dealt with, I have the background for doing so. There is tremendous flexibility in how the sound can be electrically amplified (and manipulated), unlike the inflexibility of a fixed soundboard design. This is the exact point why I am interested in doing the experiments. The soundboard is sort of in the way for the experiments, and if it can be removed in an easy way, then I would consider removing it.

Larry, what kind of saws did you think of for sawing off the soundboard without disassembly?

hmm, maybe I AM strange \:D
_________________________
I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#162008 - 02/24/09 12:06 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2336
Loc: Lowell MA
I have a series of Japanese says that are great.

Dozuki Panel saws. they are available at Woodworkers supply, Rockler's, etc.

A drill with long spade bits would provide starting points for the saws.

Good old common sense I think will carry the rest of the day.

I might consider dropping the tension to make removing the bridges from the strings safer and easier.

Of course, all this advice comes with requirement that you will take good pictures and share your "journey" with us ...
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#162009 - 02/24/09 12:16 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Bart Kinlein Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 715
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
I have a series of Japanese says that are great.
Just for clarity, not to nit-pick, I assume you meant "saws".
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#162010 - 02/24/09 12:31 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1721
Thanks, Larry, but with my 2 left hands I could never cut out the soundboard with a handtool. Isn't there a motorized jigsaw that could be used?

Come to think of it, can you perhaps buy a piano without a soundboard? I would not be surprised if the Chinese are already experimenting with the same idea, since it would require much less woodworking that they still don't have and more electronics that they do have.

If I could play the harp, I would do the experiments on the harp. But I do need the keyboard and action (and the harp) but nothing else really.
_________________________
I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#162011 - 02/24/09 01:47 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2336
Loc: Lowell MA
doremi,

Milwaukee saws-all .... great all around "do anything" saw. You can get all types of blades at different lengths.
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Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
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#162012 - 02/24/09 02:17 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
what it sounds like your describing is something similar to a device called an EBS Octabass..where
a magnetic pickup is installed(in a guitar) under the bridge ..the neat thing about the Octabass expansion the pickup is under just the 2 low strings
when plucked give a deep bass sound..which BTW I'd like to see that device on under 5 ft model
pianos.. it can lend deep bass to short instruments lacking much needed deep bass.. \:\)

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#162013 - 02/24/09 03:32 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1721
Hey Bob, yes, that's what it is, only much longer pickup strips for a piano to cover all the strings, but it works exactly in the same way, and allows for exactly the same kind of sound enhancements.

Hmm, it sounds like the best I can do is to wait until a free piano pops up in town and ask my tech to take the soundboard out.
_________________________
I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#162014 - 02/24/09 03:41 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
mikewu99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/03
Posts: 314
Loc: Audubon, PA
 Quote:
Originally posted by doremi:
...but with my 2 left hands I could never cut out the soundboard with a handtool. Isn't there a motorized jigsaw that could be used?[/b]
A Fein Multimaster or Rockwell Sonicrafter would probably do the trick...

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#162015 - 02/24/09 04:37 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
doremi : you'd probably have to divide out the pickups to avoid crosstalk between strings ex..
low/bass... midrange...treble.. just my2cents \:\)

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#162016 - 02/24/09 05:01 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1721
Hey Bob, that's what Helpinstill have done, they would otherwise not be able to sell their product to churches and the like
_________________________
I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#162017 - 02/24/09 05:03 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1721
hmm, I could take the soundboard out of this old klunker...

_________________________
I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#162018 - 02/24/09 10:21 PM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5176
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by doremi:

The Helpinstill sensor senses the vibration of the (steel) strings in a magnetic way, there is NO acoustic pickup. As the info on the Helpinstill website explains, you could put a drummer right besides the piano and you would not hear any drumming from the Helpsinstill sensor at all.

Hence, there is no soundboard, no bridges, no nothing of the acoustic chain of the piano required, only the vibrating (steel) strings are required for producing an electrically amplifiable sound.

Without soundboard, and hence, without bridges, the speaking lengths of the strings would extend to the hitch pins. This should be OK for making experiments.

I would think that removing the soundboard entirely (and the bridges) would result in an undue sharp attack portion of the sound. This can be electrically dealt with, I have the background for doing so. There is tremendous flexibility in how the sound can be electrically amplified (and manipulated), unlike the inflexibility of a fixed soundboard design. This is the exact point why I am interested in doing the experiments. The soundboard is sort of in the way for the experiments, and if it can be removed in an easy way, then I would consider removing it.
[/b]
Let’s assume that you are serious about this and really want to go through with the project. Many of the difficulties in doing this have been listed above. But it can probably be done.

First, you will need the bridges. They define the speaking lengths of the scale. Running the strings back to the hitches really is not the same thing. So I’d try to work out some way of keeping the bridges while losing the soundboard panel—at least mostly. With this in mind I’d go looking for a cheaply built grand from the early to mid 20th century. What you want is a piano that was built without any bellybraces. For your purposes they will just be in the way. Lots of these things built during this time span, mostly in the 5 to 5 ½ foot range. You should be able to find one that works—kind of—but is still cheap. Not counting those we’ve gutted and donated for stage props we’ve tossed out at least half a dozen ourselves over the past few years.

Having found such a beast you’ll want to tip it up on end and cut away the soundboard panel immediately adjacent to the ribs and the bridges. Cut right up to the ribs and the bridges but not into either. With the exception of the soundboard area hidden by the offset of the bellyrail you should be able to do all this from the bottom of the piano. And that much of the soundboard probably won’t interfere with what you’re trying to do anyway.

The only to get the remaining part of the soundboard panel out of the way will be to pull the plate and cut it out from the top.

So, now you’ll have a piano with just strings and no soundboard and you can install your Helpinstill pickups. You do realize, I assume, that what you end up with won’t sound anything like a real piano. In cutting away all that soundboard area you’ll have removed a lot of mass and stiffness from the load felt by the vibrating strings. The sound will be some percussive and sustain time will rather short and abrupt. This is a problem that has been faced by every manufacturer that has tried to eliminate the soundboard from the piano system and replace it with something electrical. I’d suggest you experiment with mass-loading the bridges and figuring out some mechanism for stiffening the ribs to simulate the mass and stiffness characteristic of the original board.

And then there is the problem of the Helpinstill itself. This is a magnetic pickup device that works over a relatively narrow segment of the vibrating string. It won’t react at all to string partials that happen to have a node right under the pickup. Neither will it be able to simulate the sound envelope developed by that broad vibrating soundboard panel. They seem to be acceptable for type of noise aptly associated with rocks and metal but not the type requiring musical subtlety.

As may be, it does sound like an interesting experiment—so go for it and let us know how it works.

ddf
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#162019 - 02/25/09 12:09 AM Re: How much effort does it take to take out a soundboard?
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1721
Thanks for comments, Del! Here is my take on it.

Cutting out a large portion of the soundboard while leaving the bridges in the system leads to a gross impedance mismatch. That's why I want to get rid of the bridges altogether. I just want freely vibrating strings. Such freely vibrating strings should have long sustain.

For experimental purposes, I can't see why the speaking lengths cannot be all the way up to the hitch pins, just increase the string tension to get the pitch up to where it was, no? Or simply insert metal spacers between the strings and the plate, and the spacers will function as termination points defining shorter speaking lengths (although not as short as with bridge terminations). I would think of the spacers as one of the experimental parameters to play with. In an optimized design, I could envision both sides of the strings being terminated in agraffes.

The following comments are on the fidelity of pickup of string vibrations by the magnetic strips. Helpinstill suggests transversal placement of the pickup strips relative to the strings to save on the lenghth of the pickup strips and thereby save cost.

But the better placement is longitudinal placement of the strips relative to the strings to pick up all vibrations of the strings. Each string or unison would have its own pickup strip, although I don't think that the pickup strip would have to run the entire length of the string or unison. I would think that running the pickup strip for about a quarter to a half of the length of the string or unison would be sufficient to pickup all of the string vibrations.

It is not really that difficult to make the magnetic strips, and they can be made much cheaper too. In fact, that is what I had in mind. I note that the control box now has 88 potentiometers to adjust instead of Helpinstill's 3 potentiometers corresponding to the 3 strips that they use. All in all, I mentioned the Helpinstill product just for communication purposes, I have been thinking in more general ways.

The 'node' argument also applies to conventional bridges which are positioned transversal to the strings. I am therefore inclined to think, that longitudinal sensing of the strings has the better potential of capturing more of the string vibrations than conventional bridges, yet another argument to get rid of the bridges.

There is also the possibility of optical sensing instead of magnetic sensing. This may make a difference in the bass section with copper wound steel strings. Whereas magnetic sensing only senses the vibrations of the steel portion of the string, optical sensing would sense the vibrations of the entire copper wound steel string. Optical sensors and the corresponding control box would be expensive, though, even homemade ones.

I stop here, the post has become long.
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Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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