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I'm talking only about how bright or mellow a piano sounds. I assume the biggest component is the choice of hammers and how they are voiced, correct?

What about the choice of strings? What other factors contribute towards how bright or mellow a piano sounds and how do they contribute?

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The person playing it! laugh


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Everything except the colour?

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Originally Posted by gwing
Everything except the colour?

I agree with this. I do, however, think the hammers have the most influence on brightness or mellowness of tone. I also think that hammer voicing is as much of an art as a skill, with limitations on tonal changes.

I also think the scale of the strings are a strong, contributing factor to the overall tone. But I'm no expert.

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Hammers are easily the most significant factor in piano tone.

Not only the condition of the hammers but their mass. The heavier a hammer is the longer it will stay on the string. This increases the duration of the hammer impact sound and can damp the overall distribution of energy into higher modes frequency. In the treble region of the compass, you can hear too heavy hammers as a sort of "lisping" sound.

The strike point in the treble is also profoundly important. As little as 1mm at the top of the compass is the difference between tone and no tone.

The way the action is regulated can have a great effect on tone as well. The hammers and strings must be spaced and fit to one another the energy of the hammer strike to enter the three strings evenly and in phase.

Hammer felt acts as a non-linear spring. On hard blows the felt springs back from the compression slower than it does on a soft blow. This us what produces color change with dynamics, if the belly of the board and string terminations are properly responsive.


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In descending order of importance - pianist/fingers, hammers, strings, sound board, room, rim, plate.

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Does scale design influence tone?

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The nationality of the screws.


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Wall and floor( tile, wood, carpet), piano location and angle, humidity
Absolutely hammer( which brand and type)

Last edited by tony3304; 02/26/21 05:07 PM.
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Originally Posted by Windjammer
The nationality of the screws.
I laughed because didn't this come up as a serious consideration for a certificate or something a few weeks back? laugh


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Size ? I've still never played any B that I would prefer over a D. And that's not slagging Bs or any high end 7'er but for me, sound and tone go hand in hand.

Hammers and good room acoustics favorable to pianos. The higher the ceiling height, the better.


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The technician taking care of it.


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Originally Posted by SonatainfSharp
Originally Posted by Windjammer
The nationality of the screws.
I laughed because didn't this come up as a serious consideration for a certificate or something a few weeks back? laugh
Yeah, a Bechstein employee red-handedly admitting straight up that their screws may be Chinese sourced.
That settles it, might as well buy Pearl River!


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I have read something which a technician on PW said , "that the plate on Yamaha pianos" cause them to be brighter.
A brighter tone is sometimes favored by musicians , perhaps for pop music only.....?
Of course there are degrees of brightness and mellownes. Is the Bluthner sound or tone universally regarded as ideal or do we prefer something in between as ideal ?

Last edited by Lady Bird; 02/26/21 08:09 PM. Reason: spelling
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Ah yes, Michael Stilwell says that all the time on the YouTube videos for the pianos he's selling. Supposedly the Vpro-casted plates used by most Asian manufacturers yield a tinnier sound than wet sandcasted plates, which give a warmer tone. However, I've also read that it's not really the casting process but the thickness of the plate that makes that difference.

Not sure what to believe, but in my experience, Kawais can sound very warm, Vpro plate not withstanding.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 02/26/21 08:15 PM.

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I think a piano’s voice is affected by the hammers with voicing, the strings, the soundboard, the size of the soundboard, the plate, the scale design, the rim, the ribs, room dimensions, ceiling height, and overall environment in which the piano is placed. That’s why acoustic pianos are so unique.

Last edited by j&j; 02/26/21 08:54 PM.

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I’m wondering how much the strings contribute to the tone. From my limited knowledge the copper of the bass string affects the tone much more than the steal wire. I played some pianos with rusty strings but they sound good. In my opinion string has much less impact on the sound than the hammers unless they are very old. But I’m not a technician.


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I changed the bass strings on a new Kawai baby grand for a set of custom wound ones. Couldn't really tell the difference. Had my original bass strings been old, it probably would have made a difference.


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Originally Posted by Windjammer
... the screws.

Windjammer is sailing close to the wind but he has hit the nail on the head. A piano with loose screws will become tonally unstable. In the pecking order, screwdrivers and spanners come before tuning hammers and voicing needles.


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Good quality Abel or Renner hammers on a Yamaha C series or a U3 .I would love to hear how that would sound ?

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