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Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound #2851915
05/24/19 08:11 PM
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Coda9 Offline OP
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I’m a pianist (not technician) seeking a model D or B Steinway to purchase and hoping I might ask your understanding and opinions about totally rebuilding a Steinway piano from case only . In this situation only the case remains to begin rebuilding a Steinway instrument . Can the tonal characteristics that produce a Steinway “Sound” be re-created? If this is possible what aspects of the rebuild contribute to making the finished piano recognizable as producing a Steinway sound? Does the wood of a vintage Steinway case contribute to producing a Steinway sound?
Thanks for any observations on this rebuild situation . Or if you know an article recommended for reading on this topic that would be wonderful also .

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Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2851916
05/24/19 08:27 PM
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You might want to speak with Keith at PianoCraft in Maryland about this.

Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2851942
05/24/19 10:36 PM
05/24/19 10:36 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Online content
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Coda9
Huge subject and there are many, many "opinions" about it.

I will just point out that Steinway has two factories, NY and Hamburg. Both factories use significantly different soundboards from one another. Both use significantly different hammers from one another. Both use different strings from one another. Yet both are Steinway's.

So there seems to be a range of approaches to get the Steinway sound.

I have heard many rebuilt Steinway's and some sound wonderful, others sound awful. Same can sometimes be said for new Steinway's.

I suggest you visit some rebuilders shops to sample their work. You would be welcome at mine located in the Seattle area.


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
Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2851996
05/25/19 06:53 AM
05/25/19 06:53 AM
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OK hEd, I am more likely to search for a New York Steinway . And on the topic of soundboards , if a rebuild of a vintage Steinway needed a new soundboard , what would be the best choice to aim for the Steinway ”sound?” Would it be possible to form a soundboard outside of the Steinway factory in New York that could contribute to capturing the steinway character ?

Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2852013
05/25/19 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Coda9
if a rebuild of a vintage Steinway needed a new soundboard


How would you define the criteria when a vintage Steinway needs a new soundboard?

Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2852124
05/25/19 02:16 PM
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Coda9 Offline OP
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As I stated in my OP, I am a pianist not technician . So I am also appreciative and curious of a technician answering your question , OE1FEU.

Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2852230
05/25/19 11:03 PM
05/25/19 11:03 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Online content
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I can only speak from my own experience and there are more variants in soundboard crafting than I could evaluate in a lifetime at the rate I work.

I have taken other brands of pianos and installed my standard NY Steinway style belly in them and succeeded in importing some of the tonal characteristics recognized as the "Steinway" sound. This tells me something about how significant the style of a "Belly", (The soundboard making process is called "Bellying" because when you glue the ribs and bridges on the flat panel it crowns up to an arched structure), is to the tonal signature.

I have heard rebuilt Steinways that use a significantly differing belly procedure from mine that still retain the tone signature and I have heard ones that don't retain it. So there is a point where one can depart to far from the "proper" Belly procedure to get the desired result.

The single most important facet of rebuilding pianos is the tone regulation process of the action. This will do more to determine the success or failure of a rebuild than soundboard work, but the soundboard is still very significant.

Many rebuilders fail or struggle with mastering tone regulation and this can color how a layperson would judge their work overall.


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
Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2852299
05/26/19 07:23 AM
05/26/19 07:23 AM
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Coda9,
Can you describe what the Steinway sound is?
-chris


Maker of Fine Piano Soundboards
Chernobieff Piano Restorations
Lenoir City, Tennessee
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2852534
05/26/19 09:29 PM
05/26/19 09:29 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Online content
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The Steinway sound in the male voice range is reminiscent of the finest operatic voices.


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
Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2852957
05/28/19 01:14 AM
05/28/19 01:14 AM
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Hmmmmm Chris asked what is the Steinway sound ? Some people regard the Steinway sound as fat .... but that seems an oversimplification yet certainly a general impression . I live on the Pacific coast and when I stand on the shore looking out at the expanse of the pacific ocean that reminds me of sound potential of bass tone in the Steinway instrument—- expansive. Treble reminds me of clear bell-like singing voice and mid range blends the entire keyboard tonally. I value the Steinway soound for it’s amazing flexibility in playing very different sound affects throughout piano literature Bach to Bartok..
Last fall I had an opportunity to practice Bosendorfer 200, 1980’s piano for five days and felt it’s immaculate functioning action . But the three distinct ranges were a feature I needed more time to acquire familiarity with .

Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2853225
05/28/19 05:58 PM
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smile
Steinway sound is different per piano produced by Steinway. I don't know that any two Steinways produce the same sound really. Indeed, they have made it a point over the years to advertise their instruments as each having their own unique character.
Besides that, the final "sound" (tonal characteristics) on any one S&S is even more a matter of voicing performed by the tech, after it leaves the mfg...which varies widely. Voicing is basically to suit each artist's preferences (to-each-their-own basis).
I have worked on a S&S that has a wonderfully full bass and a beautifully clear treble (what I consider "an excellent Steinway sound"), and I have worked on a S&S that has developed such bright tone that it is nearly "Asian" in character (almost Yamaha-like)- what I consider "a lousy Steinway sound" LOL.
So, I would point out that it would be a rather difficult task for any tech to replicate a S&S sound simply according to someone stating that they wish to have "the Steinway sound" replicated.
In the end- good results are good results: which comes from good skilled craftsmanship and the craftsman caring to produce quality results.
I suppose one could answer (as S&S' sales department would) that it is a true S&S sound when all the parts are S&S, and the scaling is S&S.
Other than that, technically I suppose, it would be an adapted S&S sound (which could indeed turn out to be better in some cases).


Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com
Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Rick_Parks] #2853382
05/29/19 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick_Parks
smile
I suppose one could answer (as S&S' sales department would) that it is a true S&S sound when all the parts are S&S, and the scaling is S&S.


Right, so only a S&S with S&S hammers and a S&S action is a real piano.

Oh, wait.

Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: OE1FEU] #2853399
05/29/19 04:01 AM
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Mr. Rick Parks brought out 2 topics of rebuilding a Steinway piano from case only that I would value hearing from others comment about — steinway action parts and Steinway scaling . Aren’t these essential in re-creating the Steinway “sound effect”? And I’m not yet clear about how important is a Steinway soundboard for contributing to the finished Steinway sound tonal .characteristics ..... of course voicing is hugely influential in the finished tonal impression . But surely using Steinway components and scaling are essential ....?

Last edited by Coda9; 05/29/19 04:06 AM.
Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2853452
05/29/19 08:35 AM
05/29/19 08:35 AM
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Greetings,
I think the scale is important. It has measurable harmonic character. The other parts are not so essential or standard, as Steinway has changed leverage and hammer design through the years. Current hammers are NOT the same as pre-war hammers, nor knuckle ratios.
You can put any kind of tire on a Corvette and it is still a Corvette. If you want to put a Steinway in a museum as an authentic piece of musical equipment, it needs to be all Steinway, as provenance matters more than performance. However, if you want to be true to the original design, you will often need to get after-market parts to do it. So, today, we have a choice between maximizing authenticity or performance.
Regards,

Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2853507
05/29/19 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by Rick_Parks
smile
I suppose one could answer (as S&S' sales department would) that it is a true S&S sound when all the parts are S&S, and the scaling is S&S.


Right, so only a S&S with S&S hammers and a S&S action is a real piano.

Oh, wait.


Don't understand what your point is... Never said, nor implied that it was not therefore a real piano. Read the whole post, please.

I said that one side's viewpoint is that it is only a TRUE S&S when ALL parts are S&S- otherwise it is altered from that of what S&S designated it to be as a S&S... It is definitely still a piano (perhaps even better playing than before?).
This S&S 'D' we are talking about here, for an example- it now has WNG parts on the action (which I suspect are a wrong length in hammer shanks- causing deadness of tone)...When the time comes to sell it, even with the tone issue solved, the selection of parts will in fact be a factor in realization of pricing on the market- as it would NOT be considered a TRUE S&S for sales purposes in the special clique that is S&S clientele. Just the way it is (from their viewpoint)- whether we like it or not, it is true. And I personally see it as fair enough when one considers it all.
It's just as any other valued item really (right down to baseball cards)- scrupulous originality is important in that particular area of claim.

Now, whether a S&S instrument is better or worse after someone replaces parts with non S&S, is I suppose a completely separate discussion-- a matter of skill level of craftsman, and even (quite often) based on opinion of "better"/"worse".
This was my only point on that.

Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Greetings,
......You can put any kind of tire on a Corvette and it is still a Corvette. If you want to put a Steinway in a museum as an authentic piece of musical equipment, it needs to be all Steinway, as provenance matters more than performance. However, if you want to be true to the original design, you will often need to get after-market parts to do it. So, today, we have a choice between maximizing authenticity or performance.
Regards,


Exactly, yet Corvettes are known for their POWER and SPEED...if I put some cheap no-tread tires on that vehicle, you'll have a Corvette that is now known for its stationary noise as it spins its wheels on the road and goes nowhere. It might look and sound like a Corvette, but it certainly does not produce the results of a TRUE Corvette! So, it is (technically) 'an altered Corvette'.
I know, I know - tires are a very small thing, and silly to use for this particular comparison to an actual ACTION for a grand piano.
It SHOULD BE more a comparison of, "If you put new generic engine components as replacement parts into the Corvette engine- is it still a Corvette?" - the answer from the Corvette people will be unanimous to that!
The name still might say Corvette- but go try to sell it to someone in the Corvette clique. They are going to devalue it immediately when they learn what you did. Again, whether we like it or not, this is the world we live in.

Same thing with a tier 1 piano- the MFG and their adoring followers are not going to consider it the way you or I might like to think of the realities of all the work, craftsmanship, and time that we put into it.
THIS would be why we (as techs) need to have our minds set ahead of time- that is, before starting any "restoration" of such a piano- what we wish to accomplish as an end-product.

* Do you wish to RESTORE it to 100% S&S? - That would require S&S parts ONLY. (as this topic is about restoring S&S sound- I would think this would be the route one would think necessary to take).

* Do you wish to simply Rebuild it into a VERY NICE, High-performance instrument that is based on S&S string scale and action geometry- advertise it as a S&S with "_____" Part Replacements? - Then this path does not require one to be so bound by those "stringent" restraints in choosing parts.----- always be honest and upfront with the adaptations made, and let the opinions of the free market decide whether they consider it a S&S or not.

Whichever path, one should understand the options that are involved (limitation involved in choice 1), and then realize ahead of time that the path chosen COULD very much affect the end-product's market value (but then again, maybe not?).


Originally Posted by Coda9
......And I’m not yet clear about how important is a Steinway soundboard for contributing to the finished Steinway sound tonal .characteristics....?

This would be a matter of opinion in the tech field...BUT, once again the reality of the market world is a matter of, "What did you do to this S&S D? You put a "___" soundboard into it?!?!?!".
You very well might get a WONDERFUL deep rich tone and volume.
The question of whether it is a TRUE Steinway Sound is one that I, in all honesty, would have to answer with an asterisk for the record-book. I know that I could not profess it to be 100% S&S.

I think this has been a very LONG way to answer, "I don't know that your questions CAN be answered". LOL


Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com
Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Rick_Parks] #2853532
05/29/19 10:54 AM
05/29/19 10:54 AM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Online content
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Rick Parks,
You have bought into "magical sauce thinking". Which Steinway is the "real" Steinway, Hamburg or NY?

They both have significantly different soundboards, hammers, keys, and many times strings.

If there is more than one way to build a Steinway, why isn't my way better? And if my customer wants a better Steinway, why shouldn't I be able to provide that? And if my customer wants the original fallboard decal, what right does Steinway have to take decals off the market and demand that the piano be made like the new ones to be "authentic" and be "rewarded' with a new style decal only? This is stealing from Steinway owners. This is blatant Trade Restraint.

I think you know most buyers of pianos care most about how it feels and plays. They also want to be assured it will endure. Steinway is attempting to gain a monopoly over all Steinway's ever made to determine if they are "authentic" enough to be sold as Steinway's. And with the reduction of action leverage implemented first in Hamburg and later in NY, I maintain recent factory original Steinway's are not "authentic". If a buyer wants the finest performing Steinway action you must rework the newer ones to put the leverage back in and make the hammers much lighter. This can't be done buying parts from Steinway.


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
Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Rick_Parks] #2853543
05/29/19 11:09 AM
05/29/19 11:09 AM
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[quote=Rick_Parks]
Exactly, yet Corvettes are known for their POWER and SPEED...if I put some cheap no-tread tires on that vehicle, you'll have a Corvette that is now known for its stationary noise as it spins its wheels on the road and goes nowhere. It might look and sound like a Corvette, but it certainly does not produce the results of a TRUE Corvette! So, it is (technically) 'an altered Corvette'.
I know, I know - tires are a very small thing, and silly to use for this particular comparison to an actual ACTION for a grand piano.
It SHOULD BE more a comparison of, "If you put new generic engine components as replacement parts into the Corvette engine- is it still a Corvette?" - the answer from the Corvette people will be unanimous to that!
The name still might say Corvette- but go try to sell it to someone in the Corvette clique. They are going to devalue it immediately when they learn what you did. Again, whether we like it or not, this is the world we live in. [quote=Rick_Parks]


Greetings
Perhaps it is more illustrative to ask how many high level rebuilders use the original bass string supplier to keep their Steinway remanufacturing all original. Or, can you call a 1908 Steinway authentic if we put Steinway's 2019 hammers in it? Just because the maker's name is on the box doesn't mean that the piano is closer to "original" than if one uses a Ronsen Weikert set that is much more similar to the original hammers.


If we are talking about museum pieces vs performance, a choice has to be made, as you will find people racing Corvettes don't usually use all stock parts. And, will that Corvette perform better with the 1965 tire technology under it, or something more modern?

Choices that improve performance are something that will cost the manufacturers, so the vested interest is as much a part of the spiel as anything else.
regards,

Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2853598
05/29/19 01:57 PM
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@Rick_Parks I just wanted to point out that S&S is reliant on external suppliers for many parts, including hammers, actions, strings, wood, keyboard. Add to that that Hamburg and NY Steinways are distinctly different in their choice of suppliers and even design, it's not helpful to talk about "all the parts from S&S" when critical parts of their products are not manufactured by S&S themselves.

In that sense you get a higher consistency when buying a Yamaha or Bechstein, because those two have a disctinctly higher level of inhouse production of critical parts.

Asserting that " that it is a true S&S sound when all the parts are S&S, and the scaling is S&S." just doesn't make sense when parts are not manufactured inhouse by S&S but by Kluge, Rösöau, Ronsen, Abel, Renner, just to mention a few external suppiers.

And a 1975 Teflon Steinway is a true S&S as well.

Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: OE1FEU] #2853651
05/29/19 05:30 PM
05/29/19 05:30 PM
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My original query was asking how to rebuild not restore necessarily a Steinway model D with only a case to begin work . It seems a daunting Challenge and I was not expecting to debate whether the choice of parts be authentic original Steinway parts so that the finished product could be called 100% rebuilt with Steinway parts . Originally I was most concerned that the final sound of this instrument would be of the Steinway tonal. character . ( personally I prefer New York Steinway ). So let me see if I’ve understood from everyone’s discussion , what the order of importance is when assessing which components have more influence towards the final Tonal Character of a rebuilt Steinway .
1. Scaling designated by Steinway
2. Voicing — is this skill equally critical as using Steinway scaling?
3. Soundboard—to be or not to be Steinway ???
4. Supplier(s) of strings and moving parts

May I ask MrEd Foote about bass strig reference: “Perhaps it is more illustrative to ask how many high level rebuilders use the original bass string supplier to keep their Steinway remanufacturing all original.”
As I am especially seeking a quality of bass tone, could I please ask for a bit more filling out of information about what are considered original bass string suppliers ? With this bass strings give an exceptional quality of sound ?

I have an incomplete memory of reading another thread similar to this with someone naming a true restoration project on the east coast of a very special Steinway piano with a name , maybe something like Oak Ridge Steinway Or Dunbridge Steinway . In this project they actually examined qualities of the instrument’s tonal personality before beginning restoration and tried to rebuild using perhaps historically correct styles of parts Like prewar hammers .

Re: Is it possible to rebuild Steinway sound [Re: Coda9] #2853666
05/29/19 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Coda9


May I ask MrEd Foote about bass strig reference: “Perhaps it is more illustrative to ask how many high level rebuilders use the original bass string supplier to keep their Steinway remanufacturing all original.”
As I am especially seeking a quality of bass tone, could I please ask for a bit more filling out of information about what are considered original bass string suppliers ? With this bass strings give an exceptional quality of sound ? .


Greetings,
As I understand it, there is only one 'original' bass string supplier. Mapes bass strings have been used in all New York Steinways for decades. I have had numerous top rated restorers tell me that they have found better quality from other, 'aftermarket' string makers. Some of those I have tried and found wanting, but at present, JD Grandt has provided me with the best strings I have used.
regards,

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