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Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: jeffscot] #2849970
05/19/19 12:19 PM
05/19/19 12:19 PM
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Posts: 5,691
Hobart, Australia
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ando Offline
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Originally Posted by jeffscot
Originally Posted by ando

Well, you might be all lemmings dropping off the same cliff! The power of suggestion... laugh

shocked

Well, Nashville is certainly no Hobart . . . laugh

So what guitars do you play?
And where can we see, or hear, your work?



I recently moved to Hobart after living in Melbourne for 25 years. It was time for a sea change and I can still do most of my work in my own studio and sending it back and forth over the internet.

I will have to decline to give my identity on this forum, I'm afraid. I like to keep a specific "shopfront" for my services on Google. I choose not to confuse my online identity as a recording guitarist with copious entries from a piano forum - even though I am very passionate about piano and play every day.

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Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: joe80] #2849975
05/19/19 12:29 PM
05/19/19 12:29 PM
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Posts: 5,691
Hobart, Australia
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Originally Posted by joe80
Originally Posted by ando
Funnily enough, classical guitarists have the opposite mentality to you and your cohort - they are generally unsentimental about the attributes of their guitars. They will move to a different guitar when the top wears out on their current favourite - or if the original luthier is still active, some will retook their guitars, but that is rare. Most people hang on to them as keepsakes but they wouldn't use them in concerts anymore because they lack the response and projection they formerly had.

Oh, by the way, I am a professional guitarist and studio musician - it's what I do for a living, so I'm not just a piano player who has a latent interest in guitar. I can go toe to toe with you on all matters guitar, don't worry about that. wink


I was going to write, my friend who is a classical guitarist and professor of guitar in a conservatoire, changes his guitar as often as every 5 years.

He said to me that he still has a couple of favourites that he likes to play privately, but for concert work he needs the most projecting instrument and that has always been the newest one.

The Nashville sound and style of playing is entirely different to the classical style.

There was a piano in Trident studios in Britain, an old Bechstein. For classical purposes it would have been useless as a recital piano, and certainly wouldn't manage a concerto. The musicians coming to the studio loved it, and I believe it was used by The Beatles. It was being recorded, and the type of playing didn't require the purity of tone that classical pianists require.

Just so you know though, that's not me saying "a new soundboard is better than an old one". Although I believe that in most cases a new soundboard is better than an old one and you all know I think that already anyway, I'm merely saying that the rock musicians who came trident were enthralled with this old piano, while a classical pianist wouldn't touch it.

Thanks Joe, that is pretty much the size of it. I am not saying people can't enjoy their old Martins etc, but I am saying that they do change in sound and response over time. Some would call it deterioration, others might call it colouration - it all depends on the sound that is sought and the style of music it is intended for. I won't tell anybody their Martin is completely dead, but I might not find it lively enough for me!

I do find it ironic however that a piano builder who can argue that there are times when a piano needs a new board and other times when it doesn't, can't at least concede that old guitars might also be subject to a similar discussion. The idea that some guitars are impervious to age simply doesn't pass muster. Perhaps he simply knows more about pianos than guitars?

Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: l8style] #2850020
05/19/19 02:20 PM
05/19/19 02:20 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
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Southwest
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Thank you Keith Kerman and joe80. I understood the explanations.


J & J
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Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: ando] #2850047
05/19/19 03:30 PM
05/19/19 03:30 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,892
Tennessee
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Ed Foote Offline
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Tennessee
Originally Posted by ando
[
I do find it ironic however that a piano builder who can argue that there are times when a piano needs a new board and other times when it doesn't, can't at least concede that old guitars might also be subject to a similar discussion. The idea that some guitars are impervious to age simply doesn't pass muster. Perhaps he simply knows more about pianos than guitars?



I know far more about pianos than guitars. Soundboard replacement is based on individual instruments, not by class or age. And it is broad blanket statement to say "There is a large trade-off with the pre-war Martin though: it is just as clapped out as the pianos of the same era - probably more so because guitar tops are less resilient due to the large amount of flexing they do compared to a piano board. The Martin needs a new soundboard too,<<

I don't know if it is clapped out or not. It may have spent its life on the road or under a bed. I do know that the market values old ones more than new ones, measured in dollars, and I hesitate to write that off as mass hysteria or wide-spread delusions about sound.
got no further interest in debating the point,

Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: Ed Foote] #2850125
05/19/19 07:39 PM
05/19/19 07:39 PM
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Posts: 5,691
Hobart, Australia
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Originally Posted by ando
[
I do find it ironic however that a piano builder who can argue that there are times when a piano needs a new board and other times when it doesn't, can't at least concede that old guitars might also be subject to a similar discussion. The idea that some guitars are impervious to age simply doesn't pass muster. Perhaps he simply knows more about pianos than guitars?



I know far more about pianos than guitars. Soundboard replacement is based on individual instruments, not by class or age. And it is broad blanket statement to say "There is a large trade-off with the pre-war Martin though: it is just as clapped out as the pianos of the same era - probably more so because guitar tops are less resilient due to the large amount of flexing they do compared to a piano board. The Martin needs a new soundboard too,<<

I don't know if it is clapped out or not. It may have spent its life on the road or under a bed. I do know that the market values old ones more than new ones, measured in dollars, and I hesitate to write that off as mass hysteria or wide-spread delusions about sound.
got no further interest in debating the point,


No problem, Ed. For what it's worth, I do very much enjoy and appreciate all your posts on technical matters of the piano. You are a leader in your field and your knowledge is admirable. You are also very generous with your advice and thorough with your explanations. So thank you very much for your contributions. I eagerly read all of your posts. Cheers. smile

Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: l8style] #2850209
05/20/19 02:24 AM
05/20/19 02:24 AM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,751
Dublin
johnstaf Offline
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Originally Posted by joe80

There was a piano in Trident studios in Britain, an old Bechstein. For classical purposes it would have been useless as a recital piano, and certainly wouldn't manage a concerto. The musicians coming to the studio loved it, and I believe it was used by The Beatles. It was being recorded, and the type of playing didn't require the purity of tone that classical pianists require.


It was also used on Bohemian Rhapsody. On the album (A Night at the Opera), Freddie Mercury is credited with "Bechstein debauchery".

Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: johnstaf] #2850227
05/20/19 03:53 AM
05/20/19 03:53 AM
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Posts: 3,104
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joe80 Offline
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by joe80

There was a piano in Trident studios in Britain, an old Bechstein. For classical purposes it would have been useless as a recital piano, and certainly wouldn't manage a concerto. The musicians coming to the studio loved it, and I believe it was used by The Beatles. It was being recorded, and the type of playing didn't require the purity of tone that classical pianists require.


It was also used on Bohemian Rhapsody. On the album (A Night at the Opera), Freddie Mercury is credited with "Bechstein debauchery".



Not the same piano, but a similar one. The Wiki article says it's the same piano, but it was a different studio. The Queen piano was a brush painted white Bechstein on hire from Samuels.

Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: l8style] #2850234
05/20/19 04:54 AM
05/20/19 04:54 AM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,751
Dublin
johnstaf Offline
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You're right of course.

Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: l8style] #2850626
05/21/19 07:27 AM
05/21/19 07:27 AM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 164
Norway
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oivavoi Online content
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I’m far from being a technical expert, so these are only my subjective experiences. With that said, some of the pianos I’ve enjoyed playing the most have been old or antique pianos which have been rebuilt, and where the soundboard have been kept as much as possible.

With uprights, I find that some of the older pianos have actions which are more easily played than many new uprights, for some reason. With uprights and grands alike, I find that some of the old instruments have a timbre and tonal balance which is more to my taste: rich and more orchestral, rather than sharp and linear (linear=same timbral character in the bass and mid/treble. Orchestral: fat bass, clear mids and treble). When it comes to tone, I believe that this has quite a lot to do with the soundboard.

I do find that the very best modern instruments - Steingraeber for example, sigh sigh - easily surpass the older rebuilt instruments. But within the same budget range, I will much rather take an old rebuilt instrument over a middle of the road new one.

Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: l8style] #2851098
05/22/19 11:43 AM
05/22/19 11:43 AM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 774
Zichron Yaacov, Israel
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Steve Jackson Offline
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There's no real answer here. I for one try to avoid shimming boards as the job makes no sense to me. You have to make a small crack bigger. You have to add heat to dry the board, and probably damage the glue joints. You have to remove the original patina which usually cleans and polishes well. It is time consuming and expensive so I just leave the cracks as they are with everything else cleaned and polished and a new coat or two of shellac. Also saves money on the decal.

As noted, if the board is rattling and rolling and has no sound and the glue joints are loose, you can replace that board, or as some do and I myself tried it once, is to remove the original board and remove and re-glue the ribs and bridges. More work than a new board I think.

A good piano that has no sound because of a bad board should be evaluated for a new board, or another piano purchased, either rebuilt or new, and the old piano sold to help pay for it.

At the highest level, there are reasons to replace the board, especially on demanding high performance pianos as Keith describes. Replacing the board also is helpful on some Victorian pianos, like an 1899 Knabe 6'2" I did. Not the usual 6'4" model. Some rib and impedance problems weakened the low tenor and some small modifications which are documented and removable were made. The action was also altered to be modern feeling and the owner loves to show it off to her friends with new Steinways.

BDB is pragmatic and I agree with his overview, except when I don't. It is true in my experience, that a good vintage Steinway with a solid original board can perform equally when placed next to a new one, but mostly on the O and other smaller models. When possible, I prefer to rebush, repin, replace knuckles and hammers and keep the piano as close to factory original as possible for these vintage late 1800's to 1940 era pianos.

As usual, it depends on desired outcome and most of all, who is doing the work and their previous success at it.

Steve

Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: Steve Jackson] #2851137
05/22/19 12:57 PM
05/22/19 12:57 PM
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Posts: 1,892
Tennessee
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Ed Foote Offline
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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
. When possible, I prefer to rebush, repin, replace knuckles and hammers and keep the piano as close to factory original as possible for these vintage late 1800's to 1940 era pianos.

Steve


Greetings,
For a museum, yes, I would keep them, as that is the point. However, I don't trust 100 year old hammer shanks. Too often I have found a lot of brittleness in the old shanks, and can't trust them for heavy hands on a piano with medium weight hammers, (or heavier). For commercial work, that I have to guarantee, I prefer a more known quality and consistency. The original geometry can be replicated in many ways, but before it is assumed that all those pre-1900 pianos were perfected instruments, we should ascertain that their response is actually desirable. Al Sanderson, after studying the evolution of their scales, said, "They sure learned a lot about pianos between 1860 and 1900." I am going to assume the same is true of their actions. Basically alike, but seemingly changed in small increments, throughout their history.

It may be possible, (with the capacity for analysis we have communally developed), to take a look at some of the older designs and find some of the improvements the designers were looking for. Of course, the easy targets for modifications are the actions of the 1960's, where restoring to "factory original" would just yield a newer disaster. But, with the alternatives we have, today, we can use new parts to not only rectify some grievous designs of the past, but to re-create the same leverages of the most senior examples with parts capable of going out on stage for a concerto.

Regards,

Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: Ed Foote] #2851687
05/24/19 08:20 AM
05/24/19 08:20 AM
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Posts: 2,043
London
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David-G Offline
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
. When possible, I prefer to rebush, repin, replace knuckles and hammers and keep the piano as close to factory original as possible for these vintage late 1800's to 1940 era pianos.

Steve


Greetings,
For a museum, yes, I would keep them, as that is the point. However, I don't trust 100 year old hammer shanks. Too often I have found a lot of brittleness in the old shanks, and can't trust them for heavy hands on a piano with medium weight hammers, (or heavier). For commercial work, that I have to guarantee, I prefer a more known quality and consistency.

Ed, can I ask whether the problem with brittleness of antique hammer shanks is just a propensity to breakage due to heavy hands - or might brittle shanks adversely affect the tone of the instrument, even with more gentle playing?

My interest in this is regarding my 1881 Blüthner.

Thanks.

Re: New soundboard vs restored/shimmed [Re: l8style] #2852818
05/27/19 03:53 PM
05/27/19 03:53 PM
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Posts: 526
Chesterfield. MA
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Craig Hair Offline
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Chesterfield. MA
David
We work with original parts, and have never had trouble with shank breakage.
The only times I have seen damage was from the player doing something unmusical; Terry Adams from NRBQ.
Not even McCoy Tyner broke parts on that piano; 1895 Knabe 7'4"
Your shanks are proprietary, so they cannot be replaced.
They should rebuild just fine.

OT, Would you have access to any original Bluthner hammers from the mid-1850's?
It is kind of a dark zone in the research with so few examples.
We are also trying to decide whether the Errard action in the Glockenfluegel is Bluthner made.
Some odd details lead us to suspect it may be real.
If you could provide a few shots of your action, it may help narrow margin of doubt.

Be well,
Craig


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Hampshire Piano
Chesterfield, MA
Conservative Piano Restoration
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