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Pin Block and Soundboard Questions

Posted By: Ansonflex

Pin Block and Soundboard Questions - 07/05/03 08:30 PM

I have a question for the piano technicians out there. I have a Music Product Directory published by Ancott Associates of all the major specs and prices of all the pianos available in the US market today. In the features section it lists the pianos with their size, soundboard size, pin block density (number of plies) and #1 bass string speaking length.

My questions specifically are:

1) Is there a relationship between the ply strength of the pin block in sound quality or durability? eg Steinway pin block is 7ply, August Forster pin block is 5ply vs Schimmel pin block 22ply, Bosendorfer 16ply. Perhaps differences in the ease of tuning??

2) Does a larger soundboard in general lead to a better/fuller sound? There are different pianos of the same size that has a different soundboard size eg 6ft 3 August Forster (2530 square inches), 6ft 3 Grotian (2216 square inches). Then there are anomalies like Mason and Hamlin 5ft 8 which has 2230 sq in soundboard (as big as these 6ft 3's!)

3) What about the length of the #1 Bass string speaking length??

Thanks for your time!

Ansonflex cool

PS- Anyone know how I could find a good piano technician here in San Antonio TX??
Posted By: curry

Re: Pin Block and Soundboard Questions - 07/05/03 09:13 PM

Ansonflex,to answer your questions in short.A pinblock regardless of how many laminations will only perform well if it has been manufactured with choice materials,has been drilled precisely,and fit to the case and plate correctly.Although some of the denser multi-laminate blocks may perform better in climates with greater temp and humidity swings.Soundboard size(per sq.inch)is all a part of a given scale design,bigger is not always better in this case.But in conjunction with string lengths and bridge and rib placement on the board(scale design),a smaller board can have a volume of sound equal to a larger board.#1 bass string lengths do make a difference on small and medium size grands,but with the larger concert instruments, comparing bass string lengths becomes tedious and has little merit. smile
Posted By: Brian Lawson, RPT

Re: Pin Block and Soundboard Questions - 07/05/03 09:26 PM

1) sound - no, durability - probably

2) no, see http://www.ptg.org/pipermail/pianotech/1995-March/001002.html

3) not so important
see - http://www.ptg.org/pipermail/pianotech/2003-February/128855.html

For a tech see - http://www.ptg.org/rptsearch/search_rpt.htm
Posted By: curry

Re: Pin Block and Soundboard Questions - 07/05/03 09:40 PM

Brian,not in Dallas? smile
Posted By: Rich Galassini

Re: Pin Block and Soundboard Questions - 07/06/03 04:03 AM

I will also add that the relationship between string length and bridge placement is an important one.

Although a longer string may give a little more vibration, a bridge placed further away from the rim will offer better amplification. Remember, the bridge acts as a transducer and moves the energy from the string to the soundboard itself. Just as a drum sounds fuller when struck closer to the middle of the head, the piano will sound fuller when the bridge is closer to the middle of the board.

Therefore looking at a single spec. like string length can mislead you about the sound that a given piano will have.

I hope I explained that well. smile
Posted By: Ansonflex

Re: Pin Block and Soundboard Questions - 07/06/03 05:27 PM

Thanks for everyone's input to my questions. Your answers gave me a pretty good idea into the dynamics of the parts of the piano in question.

1) sound - no, durability - probably BrianLawson RPT
Brian: Seems like you think there are differences in pinblock durability between different densities or number of plies in the pinblock. The Mason & Hamlin pinblock has 7 ply as does the Steinway vs Schimmel (22 ply) and Bosendorfer (16 ply). Would you argue there are differences in durability or "tunability" between the pianos in the two groups? What does everyone else think? By the way this is not like a crucial buy decison thing...just general curiosity.

Posted By: BDB

Re: Pin Block and Soundboard Questions - 07/06/03 07:41 PM

I decided to look at old firewood pinblocks that I have lying around the house. The Bosendorfer had 4 plies. The Baldwin had 5. I think they were both doing fine before their plumbing accidents.

It just goes to show that manufacturers change their specifications from time to time, and consumers may never even notice.
Posted By: Rick Clark

Re: Pin Block and Soundboard Questions - 07/07/03 05:19 AM


Manufacturers love to draw suck.... er, I mean consumers into the game of comparing specs.

Don't fall for it.

The most important things don't show up in specs. Things like manufacturing know-how, musicality, and commitment to a high quality final product.

Just know that pianos generally are well aligned with the price category they fall in to.


Rick Clark
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