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Who invented the slow-fall lid?
#3042559 11/04/20 03:21 AM
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Just curious about who invented or was the first who produced pianos with slow-fall lid.

I always thought/assumed it was Kawai because those are the pianos I first saw with a slow-fall lid. Now I see Boston also has it and who knows which other pianos have the same mechanism.

Does anyone know?


Be yourself

Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
Tubbie0075 #3042566 11/04/20 04:34 AM
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I'm more interested in the moment a person came to this idea and how that happened. grin

Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
Tubbie0075 #3042599 11/04/20 07:47 AM
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A quick Google search came up with the following site:
https://patents.google.com/patent/US6946591

The name "Yamaha" is listed several times. So I would guess it was invented by Yamaha, possibly after someone watched the "Cat Concerto" with Tom and Jerry. Especially from 2:55 on. wink


My grand piano is a Yamaha C2 SG.
My other Yamaha is an XMAX 300.
Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
Tubbie0075 #3042611 11/04/20 08:41 AM
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1:20

That piano has a revolutionary design in the way the hammers work as dampers as well, I just don't see them all rising when Tom uses the damper pedal. confused

Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
Tubbie0075 #3042615 11/04/20 09:01 AM
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In an attempt to avoid reading about election results I did some patent searches. It appears the first patents were filed in the mid 70s in Japan and China and then there was a long history of iterative changes up to the present day. The early devices were attached to both fallboard and piano and included coil springs, scissors, oil dampers, and every other combination of mechanical gizmos imaginable. In the late 90s the Japanese Industrial Standard (which I think is like our ISO standards) specified that the fallboard had to be removable without tools and that led to another round of inventions to satisfy that requirement. Here's a US patent held by Kawai that has pictures and language that's more user friendly than most. A lot of the patents are mixed use, the same device concept that slow closes a fallboard also helps support those computer keyboard trays that hang under desks, or digital piano stands that move up and down, etc.

Someone who has access to asian patents and can read chinese and japanese might be able to infer from those early patents where the idea came from and if it even originated for the piano or if it was primarily used for something else and a piano company saw an application on their fallboard.


Yamaha P90, Kawai GL-10
Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
Tubbie0075 #3042644 11/04/20 11:35 AM
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Perhaps they stole it from the soft-close toilet lid.

Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
Tubbie0075 #3042653 11/04/20 11:48 AM
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The first one I've seen was on a limited edition Yamaha C-3 in 1987, their Centennial grand. Not long after that they started putting it on the rest of their C series grands.


Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com
Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
oldMH #3042676 11/04/20 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by oldMH
Perhaps they stole it from the soft-close toilet lid.

Yikes! Is there such a thing?

I've always thought it was inspired by the slow-close cassette players back in the day.

Personally, I don't like them, but can acknowledge that they could avoid safety hazards in some cases.


January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
Tubbie0075 #3042704 11/04/20 02:32 PM
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When manufacturers stopped using low mass wood and went to MDF, the fallboards became much heavier and a falling board could break a finger.
The slow close is an engineered solution for liability based on accounting departments quest for cost lowering in manufacturing and according to the marketing people it goes from a bug to a feature.


Almost every new shiny object that is pointed out to you is to hide a cost savings elsewhere.

The original Boston Fallboard would never cause this problem, but they cost more to make than many pianos these days.

Last edited by Steve Jackson; 11/04/20 02:33 PM.
Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
Tubbie0075 #3042812 11/04/20 10:31 PM
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Steve, do you realize how many of your posts are very critical of piano makers? Your statement is not at all truthful - just imagined scenario from your mind.

Manufacturers usually add features to pianos because people ask for them, mainly the piano dealers. If one company adds a widget to their piano and consumers and dealers feel it has value, then all the other piano companies have to try to find a way to offer the same widget. It's competitiveness.

Grand pianos were first to have slo-falls because in so many designs the fallboard does close very easily. I have never had my fingers get caught in an accidentally closed fallboard, and I have always felt the slo-fall was not needed. But people want it, and some people feel it makes the piano more safe for little fingers. So we offer it in more and more piano models to remove an objection from the purchase process. Even segmented fallboard can be made with a damping mechanism!

So please, ease off and stop and think that there just might be positive and valid reasons why piano makers do what they do.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
Tubbie0075 #3042890 11/05/20 07:50 AM
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Theses pianos could have used slow-close lids...


stooges piano

Re: Who invented the slow-fall lid?
Tubbie0075 #3042989 11/05/20 02:27 PM
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While case parts like lids have gotten heavier because of the use of MDF, it does not generally apply to fallboards. Many old fallboard include a counter weight to make them less likely to fall, however when they do, that added weight does increase the energy if one does slam down. Others have used a spring that helps hold the fallboard upright. When pulled past the spring, this design does not have any added weight to slam down, just the normal weight of the wood.

I was told before many years ago that Mr. Schimmel had invented or developed the first slow-close fallboard for a grand piano, but I have no specific knowledge.


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