Piano soundboard

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Piano soundboard

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Like the speaker of a radio, a piano's sounding board is a vibrating diaphragm. To work properly, the board must always be under tension.

piano soundboard

This is accomplished by having the center of the board arched, or crowned, with the strings pressing down on the board where they cross the bridges. The vibrations of the strings are thus transmitted through the bridges to the sounding board, where they are greatly amplified by the board and projected into the air to reach our ears.

The piano string acts as a tone generator. The sounding board's function is to truly reflect and amplify that tone. The sounding board is the most important single part in the piano because if the board is bad, you do not have a piano until there has been a major repair job.

No real music can come out of a conventional piano except through the sounding board. Ribs are added to stiffen the board and to help preserve the crown. The reason the ribs are shaped at the ends is to allow the board more flexibility around its perimeter. Until recent years, all piano sounding boards were made of solid lumber pieces glued edge to edge.

Wood, however, has an irresistible tendency to absorb or lose moisture according to the humidity content of the surrounding air. Absorption of moisture causes the conventional sounding boards to expand, increasing the tension of the strings and, thus, raising the pitch. Conversely, the pitch is lowered when the board dries out. It has been a constant struggle to try to keep such sounding boards from splitting or from losing their all-important crown.

To obtain perfect musical results, there must be good contact between each of the strings and the board. This perfect contact cannot be maintained if the board loses all, or even part, of its convex form crown. Piano sounding boards are made of wood because no other known material amplifies musical tones so well. The soundboard consists of a sheet of wood. Starting from 6 to 9mm at the at edges three eights of an inch thick and beveled as a resonator. The soundboard is not flat as it appears.

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If the soundboard were flat or if it were to lose this crown, there would be very little volume or tone. Bridges, made from maple, must be planed to exact thickness from end to end, so as to provide the proper down bearing of the strings upon the bridges, this is measured by the use of a "bearing gauge" See Glossary of Piano Terms. From an article by Dr.When doing research on pianos, what role does the soundboard play? After a key is struck on the piano, the hammer is activated to strike against the strings.

The vibration of the strings, in turn transfers the vibration through the bridge to the soundboard. While we casually talk about the soundboard being an amplifier, technically speaking an amplifier ADDS energy to multiply the sound source whereas a soundboard inherently transforms and radiates energy into sound waves.

If you think of a skin of a drum where the rim is attached around the edges, so too the piano soundboard vibrates freely in the middle and the edges are affixed to the rim of the piano. This vibration from the board allows us to hear the piano, without which the string vibration would be but a whisper.

Well over years ago, spruce became the popular wood of choice for piano soundboards. Possibly taking the lead from violin and harpsichord makers which had existed for centuries, the soundboard material utilizes tone wood made from spruce due to its combination of elasticity for vibration and strength.

Interesting to note is the experimentation of other substances that were still being considered for soundboards. Among the metals, iron, copper, and aluminium have been tried, but only experimentally; the first results seem never to have warranted a continuous departure from the common practice.

So why is the soundboard made from wood? The answer is that, unlike metal, which amplifies both low and high frequency sounds in the same way, wood amplifies only the lower-frequency sounds. They transmit only the sounds that we perceive as round and mellow in a rich fashion. It may not be the only substance that could be used as a soundboard but history confirms that it is by far the most excitable, resonant and strongest wood in its class to resist the pressure of piano string tension and simultaneously filtering desired frequencies of sound.

If soundboards are all made from spruce with modern manufacturing, what then are the differences with regards to doing piano research? While we could discuss thicknesses, how they are tapered from the edge to the middle, how many supporting ribs they have on the back or even grain orientation, by far the biggest discussion presently is about a solid or laminated soundboard. Solid vs. Laminate A solid soundboard is one that is made from solid planks of wood. A laminated soundboard is one comprised of layers of wood.

It has been referred to in many different ways such as surface tension soundboard, multi-ply soundboard, meniscus soundboard but the structure is the same — glued layers of wood.

Repairing A Piano's Soundboard

The word laminated seems to have negative connotations attached to it. When we think of laminated wood, we hear the word plywood, which is inexpensive building sheets. Laminate also refers to inexpensive flooring. So why would laminate be used in a piano for a soundboard? Let me first ask you a question. If you were a piano manufacturer, which would be easier to construct, gluing planks of wood together or peeling thin layers of veneers and then pressing them together evenly under a few hundred pounds of pressure to form a homogenous board?

The laminated soundboard is much more difficult to make. If having a solid soundboard is perceived more desirable and the laminated soundboard is more difficult to manufacture, why persist in making them?With so much of the work being done by hand, each piano took on its own special characteristics.

After the wood was cut, it was then cured for up to seven years using special racks that allowed the outdoor air to circulate around the boards. As the wood dried completely, it became extremely stable. This resulted in the legendary soundboard stability and tonal quality for which Steinway is known. A traditional soundboard is made of solid spruce.

Sound board (music)

Many individual planks of this resonate wood are glued together to form a single soundboard. The strings cross over the board and transmit their vibrations to the soundboard through the bridge. Constant pressure is placed on the board which allows the sound of the vibrating strings to resonate with power and sustain.

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This can result in cracks and loose soundboard ribs. After decades of constant pressure from the strings and varying environmental conditions, the soundboard inside of a Steinway piano can crack, become loose from the supporting ribs and it may lose its crown.

This is when the board should be fully inspected and its condition evaluated. Many times it is possible to retain and restore the original soundboard preparing it for many more decades of service. However, if the soundboard is heavily cracked and damaged, this is when a new custom fitted soundboard is recommended. This is the option that offers the best quality of tone and stability. Utilizing our vast amount of woodworking experience along with continued innovation results in a high quality finished product and a restored level of tone.

Many clients prefer the use of the original soundboard. Our soundboard restoration process ensures optimum stability returns to the board. Our soundboard restoration process does not use shims. This has become a popularly adopted technique for repairing soundboards. When installing a shim repair the crack is opened, scraped and enlarged. So why is this repair method a potential issue? The problem with this method stems primarily from the use of two different kinds of wood.

piano soundboard

Even if you insert a piece of wood that is of the same general age and type, there is no way to match them exactly. Even if you could magically make your shim fit perfectly, the newer wood will begin to expand and contract in a fairly short time.The soundboard is one of the most essential parts of your piano. When you play, the soundboard amplifies and radiates a large volume of sound into the air. This design allows for greater projection and air movement, which many piano makers have adopted since then.

You can trust Bradfield Piano for your soundboard repair and replacement needs. This is your soundboard. Then, the pin block and iron plate are mounted before the piano is strung. The soundboard amplifies the vibrations of the strings via treble and bass bridges. Vibrating strings send the waves through the bridges and into the soundboard. Without a soundboard, the music from vibrating strings would be difficult to hear. The good news is that most cracks do not create a noticeable difference in sound.

In fact, small cracks are quite common and are usually not serious. Keep in mind that even a deep split is not a cause for immediate alarm. Play the instrument and listen — is there a pronounced rattle or buzz? If so, the crack may have split the soundboard into different pieces.

piano soundboard

In this case, consult with a professional piano technician. Unless you have repaired a cracked soundboard before, we recommend contacting a professional. If the soundboard has sustained extensive damage, we can remove the plate from the piano and replace the soundboard.

Our technicians have first-hand knowledge of how Steinways and other pianos are manufactured. You want to treat your piano like the treasure it is.Perhaps it looks less like a smooth, machined piece of carpentry and more like a freight pallet. Mind you, these statements usually come from the mouths of pianists—and while some of them may be very good musicians, they tend to be suckers to the old myth that cracked piano soundboards equal immediate piano death.

The Diaphragmatic Soundboard: The Heart Of The Steinway Tone, Color And Richness

If you crack open the lid of either your grand or upright piano and look down, you will see a shiny piece of wood behind the iron plate that runs the entire area of the bottom or back of the instrument.

This is the soundboard. The soundboard is imperative for the projection of any piano, seeing as how it is the part of the instrument that actually turns the vibrations of the strings into sound. This is accomplished by creating the movement of air through wave vibrations. The physics behind this are complex, but just know this—music boxes work around the exact same concept.

Remember when you were a kid and undoubtedly got to play with a little tinny crank music box? These boxes involve the turning of a cylinder with small raised bumps that strike small metallic tines in order to produce a tune, much like the one pictured below.

Perhaps during the course of playing with one of these contraptions, you may have noticed that the sound it produced got much louder when you placed it on a table top or other hard surface. The same holds tru e for p ianos. It takes the vibrations from the strings and greatly amplifies them in order to produce sound that can be projected.

So how is a soundboard constructed? The pin block and iron plate are then mounted on top of the soundboard, and the piano is strung. The tolerance for perfect balance throughout the soundboard has to be very strict, and the wood cannot contain any knots or other imperfections that could potentially have a negative effect on the sound. Other piano makers followed suit with many different conceptual designs. Nearly all pianos develop cracks in the soundboard over the course of their lives, and rarely are these cracks serious enough to cause any bother.

Split seams are quite common, and usually do not become a worry. The boards themselves may also crack along the grain of the wood between seams. These cracks may be cause for concern; however, a crack only becomes a problem when the separated pieces of wood pull far enough apart to rattle or buzz against each other or against the rear bracing of the piano.

Usually, the diagnosis is easy. If an instrument has a pronounced rattle or buzz when played, a deep crack may have split the soundboard into different pieces. These cracks are usually roughly the width of a penny or wider. Even in this case, a quick and easy repair may be done using little more than wood wedges and screws in order to prevent extraneous noise.Piano Soundboards. Home Contact Piano Soundboards.

Some Features: Controlled Compression Crowning takes advantage of internal forces creating density for optimum sound velocity. Use and manufacture of the Naturally bowed rib for longevity and a high strength to weight ratio. Each rib is computer engineered and scaled for evenness.

Each rib scalloping is adjusted so that the Bridge is the center of amplitude. The panel stiffness is tested and adjusted for evenness after installation. Chladni testing is done to measure compression and the boards fundamental frequency.

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Why I don'y copy an original. No two pieces of wood are alike. Two similar pieces of wood can have the same physical dimensions, but have different acoustical properties.

Bounce two on a concrete floor and often one will have a different pitch than the other. When rebuilders copy the physical dimensions of the old board, they're also copying the old boards mistakes. An analysis of over soundboards shows, massed produced piano makers didn't take the extra time needed to refine the compression soundboard to maximize its performance. Once they had a design the market accepted good or bad they just stayed with it.

There were many bad designs. For example, The diaphragmatic soundboard suffers from a panel that is too thin causing a deadness in the treble. Many other makers assumed stiffness is gained via mass, they made the panel too thick and the ribs too large, resulting in boards that are much too heavy. This assumes a straight rib is glued on a flat panel on a flat surface. Most Professionals glue ribs on a panel in a bowl shaped deck.

I have gone one step further for longevity and strength. I discovered that when the rib stock cured on racks in my shop, its natural behavior was to bow. It turns out to naturally bow to a 60 foot radius.

Perfect for compression crowning. This is not the fault of the compression crowning method. But the result of a poor installation and will happen to any system of design. In the early 's, controlling the humidity in the Summer in the Northern States is very problematic. Today, this is easy to control.

Piano Soundboard Repair 2

In fact, the compression soundboard is an expansion joint that offers the best chance against cracking when properly made. This may be a matter of perspective. When wood is under hygroscopic transverse radial compression, it actually becomes stronger by becoming more dense. There are many examples of soundboards from the past that aged a Hundred years and were in great shape. If you are looking for the best sounding board for your piano.

Look no further. The Chernobieff Compression Soundboard with it's state of the art innovations will make your piano sing, almost like it was human. Site powered by Weebly.However, there has been some controversy about them. There being little market for these used pianos in Japan — the Japanese are said to have a cultural bias against buying any used goods — enterprising businesspeople buy them up, restore them to varying degrees, and export them to the U.

Used Korean pianos are available under similar circumstances. They are used instruments, not new, and there is nothing illegal about buying and selling them. Yamaha has taken a public stand warning against the purchase of a used Yamaha piano made for the Japanese market. When Yamaha first began exporting pianos to the United States, the company found that some pianos sent to areas of the U.

To protect against this happening, Yamaha began to season the wood for destination: a low moisture content for pianos bound for the U. The gray-market pianos, Yamaha says, having been seasoned for the relatively humid Japanese climate, will not stand up to our dryness. The company claims to have received many calls from dissatisfied owners of these pianos, but cannot help them because the warranty, in addition to having expired, is effective only in the country in which the piano was originally sold when new.

There probably is a greater chance, statistically, that these pianos will develop problems in conditions of extreme dryness than will Yamahas seasoned for and sold in the U. In mild and moderate climates, reported problems are rare. There are, however, some precautions that should be taken. These pianos are available to dealers in a wide variety of ages and conditions. The better dealers will sell only those in good condition made since about the mids.

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In some cases, the dealers or their suppliers will recondition or partially rebuild the pianos before offering them for sale. Make sure to get a warranty that runs for at least five years, as any problems will usually show up within that period if they are going to show up at all.

Finally, be sure to use some kind of humidity-control system in situations of unusual dryness. Remember that air-conditioning, as well as heating, can cause indoor dryness. The dealer may know, and Yamaha has a utility on its website www. One of the problems that comes up most frequently in buying a used piano is judging the significance of a cracked soundboard.

Contrary to popular belief, cracks in the soundboard, while often unattractive, are not necessarily important, as long as the tone is acceptable.


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