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Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125989 06/17/04 01:05 PM
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I think the use of carbon fiber will be the most exciting innovation in piano’s since the iron frame. Sometimes I lay awake at night thinking about how this would work, but that’s because I’m a dork.

The difficult thing will be the transition between the different materials. Some metal would need to be used in areas of acute stress, like string mounting points, and bonding that to the fiber with their different rates of thermal expansion would be problematic. Also, the weave of the fabric would have to be experimented with, as different weaves would probably produce different effects. The structural properties of different weaves are well known but acoustics would be a whole new ballgame. The exciting thing is how stable the piano would be. There would be a big learning curve to making things like soundboards and of course it would get into the realm of art as much as science but the payoffs would be enormous.

I would see carbon fiber piano’s start to change the way piano’s looked as form changed to follow function. The straight vertical sides of a grand piano would begin to be curved around at the edges as this would be a stronger extruded shape than the classical vertical side. The lid could be curved slightly parabolic to better transmit the sound (I suppose this could already be done with wood).

Exciting subject.

Kirk

Piano & Music Accessories
Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125990 06/17/04 01:21 PM
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The thing tht blew me away was the viola. I am a violist myself. I have a very fine Italian viola, with a wonderful tenor sound. Like all violas with a wonderful tenor sound, it is about the size and weight of a Buick. Fortunately, I am only am amateur player. If I were a professional, playing the viola for hours every day, I would probably be in a wheelchair by now.

What makes that viola special is the very fine sound that comes out of a small, ultra-light instrument.

The implications for piano re-design are probably far-reacing.

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125991 06/17/04 02:13 PM
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Mike, do you know the actual weight of your wooden viola? If I remember the website stats correctly, the carbon fiber viola was only about 1 lb 8 ounces or so. Is that half your weight, or 1/3 or what?


bob

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125992 06/17/04 02:58 PM
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RKVS1:
You know, that's a good question. I've never weighed the thing, but it's probably close to 4 lbs.

That doesn't sound like much, I know, but the fact is that much of the weight is concentrated at the end of the lever (one's shoulder being the fulcrum). The neck of any good instrument is made of maple, and the neck of a big viola is a good-size piece of wood. And then, there is the decorative scroll, which is also made of maple; on a large instrument has to be large to look proper. Maple, as I am sure you know, is heavy.

And your arm is way out there, in a position where it easily tires.

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125993 06/17/04 06:40 PM
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Having a soundboard that wasn't subject to humidity and temperature changes would be a huge relief. Additionally the environmental cost of saving all those beautiful Sitka Spruce trees.

Especially exciting would be the possibility of making a better, more consistent piano. Why must we audition our piano before we buy it? Wouldn't it be better to just be able to order a piano sight unseen, and be confident that it sounds basically the same as the shop model?

I imagine most of the variation in pianos is due to the SB's. Rib crowning removes a lot of the uncertainty, going to carbon fiber is even better.

Wow -


The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!
Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125994 06/17/04 07:22 PM
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Dan M,

You mean Siberian Spruce trees. wink

Synthetic materials don't always last. Thirty years ago several major pipe organ builders substituted "perflex" for leather in the pneumatics. Since leather deterioration was the major headache in older organs this seemed like a good idea. It wasn't. The most reputable builders replaced the perflex with real leather in every single organ--at their own expense.

Will a synthetic material last as long as the wood in a Stradivarius or del Gesu? I suppose a composite violin for 20K which sounds just as good would be a bargain if it were to last fifty years.

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125995 02/10/05 07:38 PM
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Might as well throw in a foamed metal frame to reduce weight and increase acoustical deadness. And an acoustic bandgap reflector on the underside of the piano lid to increase the reflected sound output and equalize the volume over the frequency range.

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125996 02/11/05 03:37 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Dan M:
Having a soundboard that wasn't subject to humidity and temperature changes would be a huge relief. Additionally the environmental cost of saving all those beautiful Sitka Spruce trees.
I have a guitar with a laminated soundboard. It's a layer of Nomex in between two cedar veneers. It's made by John Dick of West Branch, Iowa. John was one of the pioneers in bringing this technology to America. He learned the technique from Gernot Wagner in Germany.

Anyway, the soundboard is about a third lighter than a traditional soundboard and just as strong. The volume is amazing for a guitar. Here's some info on what guitarists call doubleetops, or sandwich tops.

http://www.classicalguitars.ca/

on edit: Bleh I see this thread is about 8 months old.

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125997 02/11/05 04:31 PM
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i know absolutely nothing about what the sound potential of carbon fiber is, but as a cycling geek i can tell you that carbon fiber has made enormous technical strides & market penetration wrt bike frames and components. many of the top end frames marry carbon fiber with titanium or aluminum to produce greater strength, and many of these frames are way under the UCI weight limit. the techniques of weaving & layering the carbon fiber must be quite advanced now as well, because component manufacturers are even making cranks out of the stuff, and a tremendous amount of stress (and potential fatigue) is exerted on those parts.

i believe the competitive nature of world class pro cycling, as well as the multitude of other uses for carbon fiber, has evolved it to a point where it can be applied to musical instruments (the sound from the cello video is quite amazing). it will be interesting to see what piano mfgr takes a shot at it, where they chose to implement carbon fiber and how they blend it with other materials to produce sound quality, strength & durability. perhaps one of the bigger questions will be -- will it be cost effective in the production of a piano?

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125998 05/24/05 06:15 AM
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While we're replacing the wooden sound board, why not dump the cast iron frame and replace it with steel? Then, how about replacing the heavy wooden beams and other structural parts with more fabricated steel parts? With calculations and verification from finite element analysis, I bet even the wooden rim could be replaced, and become part of the steel structure. I don't know if any of this is economically feasible, but with the right materials and processing, imagine how stable and reproducible such a piano would be. It might be a challenge to keep the weight down, but hollow-section parts would be a big help.

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1125999 12/22/06 07:51 PM
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I knew a piano technician in Colorado, the late Milt Hearich, who built a soundboard out of some kind of honeycomb fiberglass material. He demonstrated it to me on a small baby grand that he rebuilt. It had a huge sound, no weak spots, and of course impervious to changes in humidity allowing for much greater tuning stability.

I think carbon fiber is absolutely viable, can be engineered to a prescribed thickness, or varying thicknesses and of course would be a lifetime part never needing to be replaced.

If the sound passes muster and it's economically viable, then I suppose we'll see it in mass production someday.


Registered Piano Technician
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Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1126000 12/22/06 07:55 PM
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Roy said, "While we're replacing the wooden sound board, why not dump the cast iron frame and replace it with steel? Then, how about replacing the heavy wooden beams and other structural parts with more fabricated steel parts? With calculations and verification from finite element analysis, I bet even the wooden rim could be replaced, and become part of the steel structure. I don't know if any of this is economically feasible, but with the right materials and processing, imagine how stable and reproducible such a piano would be. It might be a challenge to keep the weight down, but hollow-section parts would be a big help."


I think the overiding consideration is cost. Cast iron is much cheaper than steel. I recall piano plates made of aluminum some years back ... don't recall who did it ... for some reason it didn't take.

I also recall iron back posts as well. They added a lot of weight, and were discontinued.

Anybody remember who the builder was of these?


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Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1126001 09/17/07 02:19 PM
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i build the maclaren slr ,s out of carbon fibre.. for a piano... great idea


never reprove a ridicular....
Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1126002 06/02/08 08:10 PM
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This thread got me so excited that I joined the board. Let me lay out my mind here.

So I am in endless pursuit of a portable acoustic piano... we've seen examples of this in Yamaha's CP70, Fender's Rhodes, etc. Nothing quite does it. I play piano percussively, and I like a bright sound. I've also gotten used to a limited range (we'll say about 60 keys, more towards the bass).

I started doing some experiments- I took a spinet and re appropriated it to have a detachable action (similar to the Yamaha system, but with an upright). Believe it or not, this worked for a couple shows, but by the third, was completely toast.

Then I took an old 'whorehouse' piano and cut it in half, essentially. It was mostly an experiment, because I would never have been able to halve the iron frame. Nuts.

My next project is starting with this piano... the only one that I've seen that has just about 60 keys- Supposedly it's a child's practice piano, but it has full length strings and a large sound. The soundboard is just about to explode, but it's the lightest piano I have ever encountered.

This leads me to the carbon fiber question. So essentially, we're talking about a custom made piano that needs to be as LIGHT as possible. The biggest weight is the frame. I don't know the history of frame materials, so feel free to point out the obvious. Would carbon fiber be strong enough? Is there another metal that I could use that would cost more than iron, but be significantly lighter?

-Trevor

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1126003 06/07/08 08:24 PM
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Trevor, You will want to read this web page from Hurstwood Farms in England. Check out their news releases, etc. They are working with Steingraeber to test and make carbon fibre soundboards.
Also do a search on Piano World for the Phoenix Steingraeber pianos.
http://www.hurstwoodfarmpianos.co.uk/news.php?news_id=18


Master of Music, School Teacher, Church Musician- See "Our Adventure to a New grand" thread... http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/18212.html
Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1126004 06/21/08 02:36 AM
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For the alluminum frame Rippen made a very interesting baby grand. (Google it. There are plenty of pictures.)
And it had a surprisingly good sound !


lucian
"more I learn,less I know"

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Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1126005 08/19/08 03:06 PM
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Would a carbon fiber piano sound different from a normal piano? I've tried carbon fiber guitars, but I was never a fan of it due to it's "different" sound.

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1126006 08/19/08 09:39 PM
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Argh this got me excited. I don't play cello or any string instrument (used to play violin though), but that thing sounded pretty nice (just saw the video yesterday).

Sorry this is disorganized, now commenting on the multitude of posts regarding casing and all.
Cast iron actually is steel, just with an extremely high proportion of carbon for strength, but it makes it brittle. There's a million different types of steel, and some are cheaper than others.
Aluminum would cut the weight down by a lot, at the cost of a bit (in the context of the price of a piano) more.
You could substitute lighter materials for many structural components potentially. They probably won't be cost effective though.

Strength doesn't address sound though. Maybe metal parts would cause issues with the sound?

Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1126007 12/11/08 10:21 PM
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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 flatened out the board and I lost sound at a-300,A440 was very disapointing but I am trying some new improvments in the crude design I am soon going to try.I need another test subject not as big 5' or smaller grand.


Jeffrey T. Swensen
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Re: Carbon Fiber Piano
#1126008 12/13/08 03:24 AM
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Posting here only for the purpose of making the rest of the forums a bit easier to read (due to the length of fourthgenerationpianorestoration's handle).


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