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Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
#3052735 12/04/20 04:55 AM
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Numerous websites on the internet state that the soundboard is solid German spruce. Brigham Larson's youtube video about the hailun 218 says the same. But when I went to visit a dealer he looked underneath the piano and noted that the grain rain a different direction on the bottom versus the top, indicating it was actually a laminated or "multilayered" soundboard.

I ask because the very similar Feurich 218 does have a solid spruce soundboard as I understand it, and I'm wondering whether that should affect my decision of which one to buy.

Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052747 12/04/20 06:50 AM
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Check out this article on laminated soundboards. I think laminated soundboards are the future, especially with the dwindling supply of old growth spruce. I would not hesitate to choose a piano with a laminated board if I liked the sound of it. Plus you may get a better price due to the laminated board. A dealer in my area recently started selling Hailuns, and I hear they are very nice pianos. They're on my list to go try.


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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052748 12/04/20 06:51 AM
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Which one sound better to you?
Which one do you prefer?

I am under the impression that these pianos are of similar quality.

Just get the one that you like better.

Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052750 12/04/20 07:13 AM
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Well, AFAIK, Feurich 218 is a design by Stephen Paulello, with Paulello rust free strings, hammer heads with Wurzen felt, solid spruce soundboard, action and keyboard by Feurich. The pianos are preped by Feurich experts before sending to the buyer. But the real "exclusive" item about it is the fact that you can order one with the "4th Harmonic pedal", which is something you may well know by now. Also, it comes with integrated led light in the music desk and in silver frames as well as red ones.

But in the end, as everyone has pointed out here, what really matters is how do you like the sound and touch of the Feurich or, alternatively, the Hailun. That shall be the decision criteria.

Or you could just wait a little bit longer and find another piano more to your liking.

Good luck in your search. smile


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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052795 12/04/20 10:15 AM
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This video might answer your question. It sounds like the core is solid and they glue a thin layer on each side at a different angle for stability:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=x3k4cw7xOv8

Not sure if this applies to that specific model but it would explain it if it does.

Last edited by HeathH; 12/04/20 10:18 AM. Reason: Typo
Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052804 12/04/20 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by HeathH
It sounds like the core is solid and they glue a thin layer on each side at a different angle for stability:

Exactly the definition of a laminated soundboard.

I owned a grand piano once with a laminated soundboard, and it sounded great to me, and held a tuning like a rock. I also did some research on laminated soundboards used in acoustic pianos. From what I read, although there may be some forfeiture of tone quality with a laminated soundboard, as opposed to a solid panel soundboard, it is so slight that the benefits of the laminated board outweigh the disadvantages.

The benefits are more structural stability, and better tuning stability. I would not be afraid to buy a piano with a laminated soundboard, depending on my perception of how it sounds to me.

Also, one has to be careful when interpreting the marketing language of piano manufacturers. Some use the term "solid spruce soundboard" to mean solid core, with laminated veneer on top and bottom, and some mean "solid spruce soundboard" to mean a fully solid panel, and no laminant layers.

As high quality spruce becomes more and more scarce, you will likely see more laminated soundboards, or even carbon soundboards in acoustic pianos.

Rick


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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052827 12/04/20 12:08 PM
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Regardless of their performance (which, in a well-engineered board is comparable), pianos with laminated soundboards are at a competitive disadvantage that ultimately affects resale value.

A competitor need only say that "not a single "top rated" piano manufacturer uses a laminated soundboard. Not Steinway, not Bosendorfer, not Bechstein, not Sauter, not Bluthner, not Fazioli, not Steingraber, not Grotrian, not August Forster.

I could go on t0 2nd Tier makers - not Mason & Hamlin, not Estonia, not Petrof.....

This leaves open, in a potential buyers mind, the question....

If laminated boards are as good as solid spruce soundboards, why haven't they been adopted by the top makers?

While it may be unjustified, the doubt raised by the question remains, and negatively affects potential buyers.


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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052831 12/04/20 12:35 PM
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The video from HeathH is useful, as it shows exactly how the soundboard is constructed.

But I guess a key question is, why did Hailun put a laminated soundboard in their top of the line model? Is it because it resists cracking and provides better tuning stability? Or is it because it allowed them to use lower quality or less aesthetically appealing wood inside? Was it done to improve the piano or to improve Hailun's margins? I think most people would be unhappy if it was the latter.

The thing is though that the Feurich 218 has, as I understand it, a non-laminated solid spruce soundboard. Despite this, it is the same price as the Hailun in Australia.

Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Steve Cohen #3052833 12/04/20 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
Regardless of their performance (which, in a well-engineered board is comparable), pianos with laminated soundboards are at a competitive disadvantage that ultimately affects resale value.

A competitor need only say that "not a single "top rated" piano manufacturer uses a laminated soundboard. Not Steinway, not Bosendorfer, not Bechstein, not Sauter, not Bluthner, not Fazioli, not Steingraber, not Grotrian, not August Forster.

I could go on t0 2nd Tier makers - not Mason & Hamlin, not Estonia, not Petrof.....

This leaves open, in a potential buyers mind, the question....

If laminated boards are as good as solid spruce soundboards, why haven't they been adopted by the top makers?

While it may be unjustified, the doubt raised by the question remains, and negatively affects potential buyers.

I'm not sure the Hailun 218 would have great resale value anyway. Their new value is $23,000 less than the corresponding Yamaha in Australia, so buying new is a great deal. They're a little-known brand that people haven't heard of. And the market for larger pianos (7'2) is much smaller. I'd be buying it to play, not to sell.

Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052835 12/04/20 12:55 PM
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Having spent considerable time shopping and researching pianos, the most important point is to buy the piano you love as long as it would pass a piano technician’s inspection. If you enjoy both the Hailun and Feurich equally and they’re the same price, if it were me I’d take the Feurich. Solid spruce soundboards are easier to sell down the line. It doesn’t require convincing the next buyer that laminated spruce soundboards are as good as solid spruce. My 2 cents.


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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052845 12/04/20 01:27 PM
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I suspect that the reason Hailun used a laminated soundboard, if they did, was to do with longevity. To some, that may mean there is a slight compromise in sound quality, but maybe not. The single most important thing after buying the piano is the maintenance anyway.

Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052875 12/04/20 03:01 PM
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The Hailun 218 on our showroom floor clearly has a solid spruce board. I can visually verify this. Per specs, the panel is sourced from Strunz in Germany.

I realize specs for a manufacturer can vary for different regions, but I am surprised they would vary the soundboard on a low-production model like the 218. That piano was designed to have a solid board.

With respect to Steve Cohen, his observations do not point to the variety of reasons why laminate boards are not used when there are clearly other factors. I offer a few speculations.

Historically, laminate boards were made in a variety of ways, but offered makers of scale (mass production) cost advantages. One cost advantage is reliability and less warranty. The production cost for these boards would require a greater capital investment in machinery. Of the makers listed above, only Steinway makes +1,000 grands annually, so scale generally does not apply.

Also historically...laminate boards were made full-thickness, whereas nearly all of the premium makers use some type of tapered soundboard design. Only recently have some laminate boards been designed with tapering. Some great pianos have been designed with full thickness boards, but the rim, ribs and bridge change to the design.

If I used just one example from the list, Fazioli, to point out the hurdles of incorporating a laminate board into their existing line...

A) They produce just over 100 grands per year.
B) They source panels from Ciresa, a source to other makers and rebuilders as well.

A maker like Fazioli might have reason to believe the laminate panel was of equal performance by with added reliability...but how could they make that change? Would a laminate panel supplier agree to make tapered panels to their exact criteria for so few instruments? ~120 grands includes all 6 model sizes.

Would they then also choose to rewrite all of their marketing to pitch to their high-end clientele...we need to make a laminate board for your Fazioli because when you go on Summer holiday, you allowed the heat/humidity of your home to rise above the recommended range? wink

It's all highly impractical at that scale and segment of the market. That further puts pressure on the wide middle segment of very good makers to stay "traditional" when some might be able to justify the change. Customers ask for it not always sure why?

If you are a producer at scale making small and medium grands, laminate boards are compelling as sources of the very best tone wood are dwindling or unprotected. That same larger maker is still making small numbers of larger grands, so I expect the current trends will continue to slowly gain wider acceptance in smaller sizes with larger grands tending to get solid boards.


Sam Bennett
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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052880 12/04/20 03:13 PM
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I was surprised reading the forums to read that even some of the smaller Hailun models use solid spruce. Perhaps I should make the effort to acquire (import if necessary) a 218 that has a solid board?

Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052893 12/04/20 03:38 PM
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The 151, 161 & 178 were all designed with a modern laminate board in mind. I suspect the 150 was designed with the laminate board in mind, too. It has proved to be a good thing for the maker and the brands that partner with them, and certainly their customers.

Some of the other models like the 168, 180 and 218 were designed for solid boards.

It feels strange second guessing your tech's observations, but in Hailun's laminate boards, the orientation of the laminate is only ~15 degrees (maybe 12 degrees, working from memory) different from the core grain orientation. Other laminate board designs are at far different angles for greater cross banding but with a greater influence on the sound performance. In my case, I can observe the cross section of the soundboard by looking at the hole around the plate strut in the bass and see that it is solid. If I had the skill and lighting, I'd post a photo here of the differences.


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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052906 12/04/20 04:05 PM
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Fazioli uses laminated soundboards in at least some pianos.
From their website: The soundboard made with a special structure featuring three crossed layers of wood and a thickness of micrometres represents an important step towards achieving a solution with more uniform acoustic response and even greater stability over time, also under extreme environmental conditions (e.g. very dry or very humid environments). I guess I could be misunderstanding but sounds like it to me, at least.

Last edited by dhull100; 12/04/20 04:07 PM.
Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
dhull100 #3052958 12/04/20 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by dhull100
Fazioli uses laminated soundboards in at least some pianos.
From their website: The soundboard made with a special structure featuring three crossed layers of wood and a thickness of micrometres represents an important step towards achieving a solution with more uniform acoustic response and even greater stability over time, also under extreme environmental conditions (e.g. very dry or very humid environments). I guess I could be misunderstanding but sounds like it to me, at least.
That's pretty clearly a reference to a modern laminate soundboard. I wasn't aware. Perhaps the benefits will eventually surpass the preconceptions.


Sam Bennett
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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052961 12/04/20 05:54 PM
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Caught me unaware as well.


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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
PianoWorksATL #3052967 12/04/20 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
I offer a few speculations.

Historically, laminate boards were made in a variety of ways, but offered makers of scale (mass production) cost advantages. One cost advantage is reliability and less warranty. The production cost for these boards would require a greater capital investment in machinery.

Thanks, Sam. Interesting discussion and observations. When I first started reading the thread I was reminded of the debate between sand-cast plates and vacuum-cast plates. Your observations and speculations seem analogous to me. And probably very true.

Del has written extensively (and positively) about laminated boards.


If Fazioli is using them, that certainly changes the marketing equation!


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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3052969 12/04/20 06:21 PM
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I'd be curious to know how long Fazioli has been doing so.

The quote on the page linked by dhull100 has been online for more than a year now:

https://web.archive.org/web/20191127154238/https://www.fazioli.com/en/grand-pianos/design-concepts

Perhaps longer (that's the oldest snapshot available at the Internet Archive).


Kudos to dhull100 for catching this! thumb


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Re: Is the Hailun 218 solid spruce?
Sonepica #3053027 12/04/20 08:45 PM
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Is Fazioli actually using the laminated soundboards already? Or just advocating for them? I looked up a few sales pages and it seemed to suggest the sound board was solid spruce.

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