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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2077992
05/05/13 10:50 PM
05/05/13 10:50 PM
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guess where in CA and WA
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OHMYGOD, the Wine analogy yet again! And I thought I was the only one bandying that about. So, Chateuneuf du Pape le Vieux Telegraphe, or Chateau Pichon Lalande? You pick.

Norbert, I also believe that kind of discernment can be taught. Much depends on the innate talent a person has for that kind of listening. But having said that, absolutely anyone can improve their listening/hearing with more and greater experience, and some guidance from a more discerning ear.

"Yet they want to buy a piano they will like for many years and perhaps a lifetime."

Pianoluver, for many people, a good Asian instrument will be enough to fulfill such a goal. Besides, it leaves the door open for an upgrade once the buyer has had enough experience and training. It's a place to start, in any case. The only obstacle such a buyer has is the willingness to be both patient, and to be taught, very rare qualities these days. If they pick a decent Asian instrument (very easy to do with the right help), they won't lose any money on it unless the world economy goes south again. Quite the contrary.

I'm going to drink some (really good) champagne now!

Last edited by laguna_greg; 05/05/13 11:01 PM. Reason: sp

Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
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Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078356
05/06/13 01:33 PM
05/06/13 01:33 PM
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Not keeping up with this thread.
re Wine;
(explanation of my position/opinion)
Some 30 years ago I made wine, I guess I was an aficionado or somesuch word.
We did tastings, critiqued them by number at blind tastings, thought we knew what we were talking about, impressed each other, learned from each other, etc. It was quite a hobby for a number of years and mine would usually place quite well.
It is not at all clear that professionals make "better" wine than amateurs, the boutique wines were no better, regardless of price and quality was only loosely related to age. We would include commercial ringers, some quite expensive.
I got to some modest number of thousands of bottles in my cellar (fancy wine-o word for basement). All aging and supposedly improving.
At some point it occurred to me that I wouldn't live long enough to drink it all and I would probably die a lot earlier if I tried to.
A LOT was given away and as I withdrew from the group and stopped producing I found enormous amounts of time available for other things in my life.
Clearer mornings followed soon after that.

So yeah, it is all BAD and has wasted a lot of my time on earth.

I haven't wasted a moment to alcohol for 15 years or so.
Not an AA case, I just quit and "stayed quitted" laugh
My opinion of wine and its "following" has some basis.

re automobile manufacturing;
At one time I lived fairly close to the Rolls Royce factory in Crewe - at a time when it WAS Rolls Royce.
My comment earlier about Ford and GM not being able to "file to fit" parts is taken from an urban legend about RR.
(may or may not be true)
It was said that they bought rejected parts from other manufacturers (shock & horror) and since they processed every part they bought and hand fitted it anyway anything/everything could be filed to fit.
Ford and GM can't DO that, so they have had to improve the quality of the component parts up stream.

I think I see parallels in tier 1 piano production.
Although I don't accuse anyone of buying rejected Asian parts and re-working them by hand in order to hone them to perfection, I suspect there are opportunities for improving component quality up stream.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: R_B] #2078371
05/06/13 01:45 PM
05/06/13 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by R_B

I think I see parallels in tier 1 piano production.
Although I don't accuse anyone of buying rejected Asian parts and re-working them by hand in order to hone them to perfection, I suspect there are opportunities for improving component quality up stream.

You must have a reason for this suspicion. Which Tier 1 components could be improved: keys, actions, hammers, strings, frames, wrest planks, soundboards, bridges, rims ...?


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: R_B] #2078380
05/06/13 01:54 PM
05/06/13 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by R_B
Not keeping up with this thread.

re automobile manufacturing;
At one time I lived fairly close to the Rolls Royce factory in Crewe - at a time when it WAS Rolls Royce.
My comment earlier about Ford and GM not being able to "file to fit" parts is taken from an urban legend about RR.
(may or may not be true)
It was said that they bought rejected parts from other manufacturers (shock & horror) and since they processed every part they bought and hand fitted it anyway anything/everything could be filed to fit.
Ford and GM can't DO that, so they have had to improve the quality of the component parts up stream.

I think I see parallels in tier 1 piano production.
Although I don't accuse anyone of buying rejected Asian parts and re-working them by hand in order to hone them to perfection, I suspect there are opportunities for improving component quality up stream.


I used to fly the CEO of Magna, a major manufacturer of automotive parts for Ford, GM, Toyota, and others, in the early 1990s. I asked him why, at that time, Japanese cars were so much more reliable than American cars, even though many of the same parts were used on Ford, GM and Toyota. He said that each car maker had particular tolerances that they required of Magna, so Magna used "binning", a technique where the part, once made, was measured and placed in a bin according to where it fit in the allowable tolerances. The closest (highest and most expensive) tolerances were required by Toyota and were class A parts. The same part for a Ford was class D, much cheaper. Lower tolerances, in this case, lowered reliability.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078390
05/06/13 02:11 PM
05/06/13 02:11 PM
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PS
I could probably find this SOMEWHERE on the web, but OK I get that "plywood" isn't accepted by some, what about other materials ?,
Materials that aren't labor & skill intensive to produce in consistent quality.
Have "ceramics" been tried ?
I understand most are strong under compression, though I have no idea of how they would stand up to "bending" from the down force of a bridge, embedded fibers might help there.
Ceramic is very ringing in bells (where it is desirable), but maybe that could go away with different thicknesses ?

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078399
05/06/13 02:31 PM
05/06/13 02:31 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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R_B,

Do some searching for carbon fiber soundboards. Check out Steingraeber and Phoenix.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2078743
05/07/13 08:53 AM
05/07/13 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
R_B,

Do some searching for carbon fiber soundboards. Check out Steingraeber and Phoenix.


Thanks, I've seen those.
I think carbon fiber is incredibly difficult to do well and to do consistently, so while it might go a long way to solving the humidity issue and natural resource shortage, it probably doesn't help with the skilled labor need and is likely to produce variable results (different sound "character" ?).
DIFFERENT skills, perhaps not congruent with other required fine woodworking skills - I think they are very different skills.

BTW, "Rain Song" had a carbon fiber guitar on the market quite a while ago, probably still around.
Controversial ? Oh Yezzzzz laugh

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078751
05/07/13 09:19 AM
05/07/13 09:19 AM
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MWM,
The US auto industry has for a long time used binning within acceptable tolerances.
Replacement shell bearings, for example, are likely to have small colored dots on them.
Simplified; They sort the largest ones to put in the biggest holes, bored holes having tolerances too.
In the electronics industry "speed binning" is common, it is a way of ensuring that "lemons" don't get built due to tolerance build up and CAN be used to produce products comprised of "all fast" parts, for a premium price.
"All slow" produces acceptable product, i.e. it will work.

I see drum stick matching as analogous, i.e. you get a very well matched pair, all pairs are different, selection is more about preference than "quality" - although one could argue that closeness of match is a measure of quality laugh
Drummers may want different weight, stiffness, balance, tone, feel, etc.
Drum sticks do have tone and as I understand it "feel" has to do with the vibrations that come back into the hands, some frequencies being good, some bad, varying by individual.

Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: laguna_greg] #2078823
05/07/13 12:16 PM
05/07/13 12:16 PM
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Posts: 5,531
Olympia, Washington
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Del Offline
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by R_B

Ah, "laminated" DOES have better dimensional stability - or is more uniformly unstable (in its dimensions along/across the grain, etc). How much that matters relative to (perceived) ability to resonate differently along/across the grain is probably an issue - at least in theory ?
This is SO familiar - ask the guitarists about rosewood - ask them about sitka spruce too - expect them to change the subject if anyone says "laminated" - they turn and walk away at the mention of "plywood".


Yes, but you know why that is, don't you? It's because those plywood soundboards don't resonate like the solid wood ones, and the instruments sound concomitantly bad. I'm a (very) amateur cellist myself, and I've run across this on student-grade cellos.
Can laminated soundboards be made to sound good? I'm imagining that they can, but I have not found one in a string instrument yet that does. I can't imagine what this comparatively poor quality of laminate would sound like in a piano.

But Del is right. We've been running out of soundboard grade spruce for 50+ years now. We will have to come up with some suitable alternatives, or all get into spruce farming.

We call them “laminated” rather than “plywood” because the panels used in modern pianos have evolved considerably from the simple cross-ply “plywood” soundboard panels found in pianos like the (mostly) unlamented StoryTone soundboard of the mid-1900s. These were simple plywood panels made with the “mahogany” laminae set at 90°. They were stiff and heavy and generally unsuitable for piano soundboard use. And they soured the industry on laminated soundboard panels from then on throughout all eternity.

The argument that laminated panels “resonate differently” illustrates part of the problem. Our notions of how piano soundboards work is heavily influenced by the misguided and somewhat romantic notions of how they work that have been handed down by our ancestors. Do piano soundboards “resonate?” Yes, they do but, in general, these resonances are not good things; they are typically voicing problems to be overcome by the skilled voicer. We are not particularly interested in making the laminated soundboard panel “resonate” like a so-called solid wood soundboard panel; we are interested it making it interact in a controlled and desirable way with the vibrating strings. These are two distinctly different goals.

Modern laminated soundboard panels bear little resemblance to the “plywood” panels of 60+ years ago. A lot has been learned about how piano soundboards work since those bad old days. “Can laminated soundboards be made to sound good?” Yes, they can and they have and they are. Can pianos using laminated soundboard panels be made to sound identical to pianos of the same design but using a solid spruce soundboard panels? I don’t know yet but I do know that we can come pretty close. So close, in fact, that in one test the consensus among those playing two otherwise identical small grand pianos was that the instrument fitted with the laminated soundboard panel was clearly the better-sounding piano. Ironically—although, perhaps, predictably—there were a couple of pianists who, after learning that the piano they thought sounded best was the one with the laminated soundboard panel managed to change their minds. The situation would have been funny had it not been so pathetic.

(Incidentally, spruce farming won’t help us in the piano industry. Spruce trees certainly do grow well in plantation setting. If fact, they grow too well and too fast; the wood is generally wide-grained and rather weaker than that of the slow-growth trees coming from old-growth forests. The wood is good for pulp and pallets but not piano soundboard panels except, of course, as core stock for laminated soundboard panels.)

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Del] #2078842
05/07/13 01:04 PM
05/07/13 01:04 PM
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Maryland/DC/No. VA
Steve Cohen Offline
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Originally Posted by Del
“Can laminated soundboards be made to sound good?” Yes, they can and they have and they are. Can pianos using laminated soundboard panels be made to sound identical to pianos of the same design but using a solid spruce soundboard panels? I don’t know yet but I do know that we can come pretty close. So close, in fact, that in one test the consensus among those playing two otherwise identical small grand pianos was that the instrument fitted with the laminated soundboard panel was clearly the better-sounding piano. Ironically—although, perhaps, predictably—there were a couple of pianists who, after learning that the piano they thought sounded best was the one with the laminated soundboard panel managed to change their minds. The situation would have been funny had it not been so pathetic.
ddf



A couple of years ago at NAMM, Del had a Young Chang 5 footer with the newly designed soundboard right near a YC with the original design. Larry and I turned our backs and had someone play the same piece on both. The new design was clearly better. We were particularly impressed with the improvement in the bass and lower-mid range.

And he's made improvements since then!


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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078848
05/07/13 01:17 PM
05/07/13 01:17 PM
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Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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I think there is much more to a Del-YC than just the difference in the soundboard.

wink


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078860
05/07/13 01:58 PM
05/07/13 01:58 PM
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Washington State
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Interesting discussion - I remembered seeing a 'blind' piano test some years ago, and here's a similar one and even though hardly scientific and that it's in Dutch with no subtitles, it's obvious that the blindfolded pianist scored 100% in identifying which instrument was which. I wish I could understand his comments, I think they would be instructive...

In any case, the difference between different 'tiers' of pianos is more than cosmetic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HScZ6dzTkU



1906 Steinway B (#124401)
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Tmoose] #2078865
05/07/13 02:09 PM
05/07/13 02:09 PM
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Encino, California
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Originally Posted by Tmoose
Interesting discussion - I remembered seeing a 'blind' piano test some years ago, and here's a similar one and even though hardly scientific and that it's in Dutch with no subtitles,


In DUTCH??? This is Norwegian, with the thickest Oslo dialect. (I guessed the Schimmel at the end.)


Some men are music lovers. Others make love without it.
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078868
05/07/13 02:11 PM
05/07/13 02:11 PM
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Washington State
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Oops, sorry - I don't know why I assumed it was Dutch! Thanks for the correction. Any idea if the comments were worth translating??


1906 Steinway B (#124401)
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Tmoose] #2078885
05/07/13 02:56 PM
05/07/13 02:56 PM
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Encino, California
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No, not really. All he does, is to identify two Yamahas, a Hamburg Steinway and a Schimmel. But nothing worth translating.


Some men are music lovers. Others make love without it.
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Tmoose] #2078887
05/07/13 02:59 PM
05/07/13 02:59 PM
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guess where in CA and WA
laguna_greg Offline
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Only in Norway.

Well, I got the first three, but probably would have gotten all of them if you guys hadn't posted a spoiler!

Cheers!

Why are the Schimmels so consistently over-bright?


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2078990
05/07/13 06:59 PM
05/07/13 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
I think there is much more to a Del-YC than just the difference in the soundboard. wink

There are many differences between the old-design pianos and the new-design pianos. But with the two instruments that Steve is referring to the only difference -- aside from normal manufacturing variations -- was with the soundboard and rib systems.

(I should add that that particular model of grand piano was designed with a high-performance laminated soundboard in mind. It was my first choice soundboard system for that model.)

ddf

Last edited by Del; 05/07/13 07:16 PM.

Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2078996
05/07/13 07:20 PM
05/07/13 07:20 PM
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Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Aha - Thanks Del. (hidden info)


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Handmade pianos versus well designed mass production pianos [Re: Reno] #2079052
05/07/13 10:02 PM
05/07/13 10:02 PM
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Long term trends in all industries and agriculture will increase the use of robotic labor. There are trends in place in manufacturing and agriculture that show a clear path to making things with almost no labor from people. This will upset the mass market structure in place since the dawn of the industrial revolution. When the economies of scale are reduced by the ever increasing flexibility of robotic means of production-the market forces of a large and growing middle class will no longer be needed to have a sustainable business model.

The small percentage of humans that own the means of production and resources will decouple from the mass market. These people have very little sensitivity to price and are more concerned with utility, novelty, quality, etc. They will no longer need to sell things to the un-wealthy to support their wealth. I have to wonder what the future holds for my son's generation.

Design will evolve quicker than it presently can because each item made can be changed with the next one, because the machines producing them can evolve to do things differently.

You have to wonder what all of us regular people will do to be considered gainfully employed. If we rebel against the wealthy they will by then have considerable robotic defenses that can kill by the millions any attackers who attempt to storm the citadels, take resources they don't own, and/or use technologies that are too damaging to the environment. If you presently have wealth in your family in the tens of millions of todays dollars-you will probably "be in the club". The rest of use may end up in the largest die off of people ever-say 4 maybe 5 billion.

As of the present-I vote for hand made pianos-but robotics have made significant inroads.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
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