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I think IF there was a Piano Buyer rating system during the wonderful years of original American made Baldwin grands I think Baldwin would have been high up on Performance Grade instruments,perhaps next to Steinway.
Steinway won the war as someone once said.I think it is purely because of commercial (not musical interests) that they are not often rebuilt.


My piano's voice is my voice to God and the great unknown universe, and to those I love.In other words a hymn.That is all, but that is enough.Life goes on, despite pain and fear.Music is beautiful,life is beautiful.


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Reading this thread, remembering this video:

Making me question if the comparison is valid.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Perhaps late in this thread to ask, but what exactly does it mean for a soundboard to increase in resonance? What effect would an increase in resonance have on the sound?

A belated reply.

In the Fazioli thread Wzkit said the new F278 played by Angela Hewitt at a recital in Singapore had blossomed with more complex overtones a year or two afterwards, The "resonance" and "depth" of tone in the bass and tenor had increased. He understood minimal voicing had been.

In another thread we heard a Yamaha S7X lacked bass resonance out of the box. The cure was to pound the hammers into exciting more overones but one may wonder if the assault was not bringing up the board as well.

At a rough count the voting in this thread is 8 saying the tone of the board can change in a year or two saying you can't tell, 2 saying you can't tell and 3 saying it doesn't.

The reason for supposing the tone is likely to change is wood is a natural material. Scientists have studied its composition and properties extensively and it is well know some parts of its cellulose and hemicelluloses are prone to decompose. Yamaha's ARE process accelerates these changes.

I also read somewhere that wood subject to repeated bending can lose 25%-50% its strength. As a soundboard has many vibrational modes (areas which move) in response to the vibrations transmitted from the strings through the bridge, it is plausible that localised changes would occur. "Work hardening" (due to dislocations) is known in metals and maybe there are "work softening" processes at play in soundboards. These would not be the same as the general deterioration in the board over a longer period resulting in loss of crown.

It is far from obvious that all boards would change in the same way, and Keith Kerman's first post in this thread indicates they do not. Fazioli's "Modal analysis of a grand piano soundboard" i quoted above suggests Fazioli are more concerned with manufacturing consistent boards. They do not appear to have considered playing in their pianos for a year or two before releasing them to customers.

They say, "A grand piano soundboard is a complex structure, whose elaborate manufacturing process introduces subtle changes in its shape and stress state. From the origin of the scientific studies on pianos [University of Southampton] it was found that even the most slight modification of the soundboard geometry can have a perceptible effect on the tone quality. Specifically it is believed that all the following soundboard characteristics need to be considered and opportunely designed: the board variable thickness (“diaphragmed” soundboard), the ribs section and spacing, the material properties, the residual curvature after ribs gluing (“crown”), the static deflection due to the vertical component string loads “downbearing”) with the consequent residual stresses, the bridge position, and the way the soundboard is glued onto the rim. At the purpose of correlating these characteristics with the final tone quality, piano manufacturers are looking for reliable methodologies capable of predicting the acoustic behaviour of their instruments under design modifications, thus limiting the need for building prototypes."

If the manufacturing process produces subtle changes in stress state and tone, it would be no surprise if life in the outside world produced some too.

P.S. Roy mentioned wood is a homogeneous elastic material and the paper assumes that it is. However it goes on to say that determining the nine moduli of elasticity and the mass density is a hard task since they can be defined only in a statistical sense:

"Wood from different logs has different properties, owing to the varying micro and macro climatic conditions that affect tree growth. Even specimens from the same log, but taken from different annual rings exhibit different material properties. Finally the same specimen changes its properties according to moisture content, seasoning, rate of loading."


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This conversation goes on a lot with violins. Makers who like double-blind tests say there is no breaking in period. Violinists know that there usually is a period of time when an instrument isn't too responsive-- but then gives way to something else. This could be a brand-new instrument opening up, a Strad coming out of a century with a family that didn't play it, or just a cranky antique that you haven't touched all summer.

The problem is that there are a lot of variables. With violins, you have the spruce belly (the big surface everyone thinks about). But you have the rest of the instrument which is mostly made of maple. Then there are strings that change with use. Also, if you imagine that there is a perfectly optimal place for the soundpost to sit, it is totally possible that the vibration of the instrument encourages that to find exactly the right spot-- maybe a tenth of a millimeter from where the luthier first placed it. Same with the bridge. Just breathing on one foot can make it pop into the right place.

Then there is the player. One adjusts technique to fit the tool, to a degree.

So when I hear about soundboards being the magic ingredient that changes for the better, I am suspicious. Not that the piano isn't settling into a nice groove. Just that this one piece of a complex piece of machinery is the only thing that has changed.

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Originally Posted by Withindale
P.S. Roy mentioned wood is a homogeneous elastic material

It is not, but can be considered so in a simplified model.
It is relatively easy to find small piece of wood (for hammer shank, for example) that is almost homogeneous, but not so for any significant size expected for piano soundboard. Even the best quartersawn spruce may have imperfections that affect its homogeneity. But soundwise this is not really important; it mostly affects longevity and environmental stability.

Last edited by VladK; 09/15/21 08:02 PM.

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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
So when I hear about soundboards being the magic ingredient that changes for the better, I am suspicious. Not that the piano isn't settling into a nice groove. Just that this one piece of a complex piece of machinery is the only thing that has changed.

Pray, where did you hear that? We are all ears!


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Leaving magic ingredients with apothecaries for now, the root of this discussion was Fazioli's aim to isolate the the soundboard from the rest of the piano, acoustically. Fazioli's clarity or sterility of sound, whatever you choose to call it, has to be the result from what they have done to achieve that aim.

They say they construct their rims to minimise the amount of energy escaping from the soundboard. Had they been completely successful in that aim (a physical impossibility, I know) then changes in tone and timbre must come from changes in the hammers, the strings, the plate, and the soundboard including the bridge and the ribs.

The question here was whether a significant part of the changes in tone of the F278 in Singapore could have come from the soundboard.

In a previous thread William Truitt described his experiments with different woods for bridge caps. Some produced a richer sound and others did not. In other words changing the properties of the caps affected the tone. In this case the bridge caps have not changed but William says soundboards do"come up". That implies the properties of the soundboard must change a bit.

The pianist said the sound of the F278 was more "malleable" and that would with accord with a (slightly) more "malleable" soundboard.

According to the Fazioli paper, small changes in stress in the soundboard can have have a big effect on sound. Minor (geometrical) changes in the rim due to settling in could conceivably produce such changes in stress. Who knows whether they would be beneficial or detrimental to the sound.

I'd say be guided by observation and experience.


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I have not read through this entire thread so I don't know if it was mentioned, but as wood ages, it slowly loses its hemi-cellulose through evaporation, etc. When the wood is new this hemi-cellulose acts somewhat as an insulator, but as it slowly dissipates it resonates differently (guitarists often say better). This is a true physical change that occurs in all wood as it ages, and could very well contribute to the perception of beneficial improvement in a vibrating membrane.

Thank Tom Thiel for this information. And there's more where that came from.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Originally Posted by P W Grey
I have not read through this entire thread so I don't know if it was mentioned, but as wood ages, it slowly loses its hemi-cellulose through evaporation, etc. When the wood is new this hemi-cellulose acts somewhat as an insulator, but as it slowly dissipates it resonates differently (guitarists often say better). This is a true physical change that occurs in all wood as it ages, and could very well contribute to the perception of beneficial improvement in a vibrating membrane.

Thank Tom Thiel for this information. And there's more where that came from.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Also, with time and practice your touch may improve and the whole instrument starts to sound better.

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Originally Posted by P W Grey
I have not read through this entire thread so I don't know if it was mentioned, but as wood ages, it slowly loses its hemi-cellulose through evaporation, etc. When the wood is new this hemi-cellulose acts somewhat as an insulator, but as it slowly dissipates it resonates differently (guitarists often say better). This is a true physical change that occurs in all wood as it ages, and could very well contribute to the perception of beneficial improvement in a vibrating membrane.

Thank Tom Thiel for this information. And there's more where that came from.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

I believe I mentioned something similar: resins naturally drie and melt with time, and spruce contains a lot of them.


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The wood used for soundboards is seasoned by drying and aging for many years before it is made into the soundboard.


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Originally Posted by BDB
The wood used for soundboards is seasoned by drying and aging for many years before it is made into the soundboard.

The same is true for guitar.
But it is not about just drying. Vibrations play a vital role in melting resins.


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Originally Posted by VladK
Vibrations play a vital role in melting resins.

Stiffness increases. More so at higher humidity. The Fazioli in question is in Singapore where humidity is high. We do not know what the RH levels are in the dealer's showroom, but 40% might not make economic sense.


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Originally Posted by VladK
Originally Posted by BDB
The wood used for soundboards is seasoned by drying and aging for many years before it is made into the soundboard.

The same is true for guitar.
But it is not about just drying. Vibrations play a vital role in melting resins.
Absolutely. Anybody who denies that soundboards go through a change with use is simply in denial. I have bought many guitars which have been used in sound recordings. Without a single exception, the same guitar recorded years apart will sound dramatically better if it has been played a lot compared to when it was new. This excludes the age of strings as being a factor too, because I always record with fresh strings.

The piano is not so different to the guitar that it won't experience changes due to prolonged periods of musical vibration. I will also add that an ageing guitar will still improve even if it is only played a little, but if it is played a lot, especially by a high level player who plays all over the neck (many pitch levels), it will improve considerably more. My current steel string recording guitar was terrible when I first got it. I have some recordings of it when new that sound really awful - stiff and bland. Fast forward 20 years and it is the best recording guitar I own. Sounds magnificent. I'm really glad I persisted with this guitar.

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