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Re: Rebuilt Steinways ~ replacement soundboards [Re: BassoonGirl] #2843673
04/30/19 06:24 AM
04/30/19 06:24 AM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,875
Tennessee
E
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Ed Foote  Offline
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E

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,875
Tennessee
Greetings,

I once asked the head of the factory restoration dept. what they did with the hammers from Horowitz's piano when it was "restored". I was told that they were probably thrown away, as the factory only distinguishes between "good" and "bad" parts. (I later was informed that the hammers were saved and taken home by a factory insider). At North Bennett Street School, Bill Garlick made the distinction between "durable and non-durable" parts. Non-durable referred to components that are expected to be replaced in a restoration.

The "restoration" department, (I use the quotes because restoration is NOT what they do, but rather "remanufacture"), replaces a lot of soundboards. Why? Because they are, in essence, non-durable. I have found perhaps only one out of every seven Steinways over the age of 80 that have a soundboard that is still sufficiently responsive. I don't know what sets these few apart from the other six, with their sustain and tone in the fifth octave, but they are recognizably superior and worth saving. Anyone that says ALL old boards are superior to any new ones is, IMHO, inexperienced or trying to sell snake oil.

Otherwise,for full tonal response and balance, those boards that have collapsed have to be replaced, and this is not magic. The materials are secondary to the skill employed, not only during the installation of the board, but in the decision-making process involved in setting the bearing. A perfect board, improperly loaded, will yield inferior results. Knowing what downward force a particular board is most suited for requires a lot of experience gained by setting the bearing and, when finished and voiced, finding out what the response is. Factory belly-men do not accompany the piano on the rest of its journey to learn how their work turned out, but the private restorers do. Thus while the former is following a factory formula, the latter is empirically building expertise. It is this expertise that the custom restorer offers, and the quality of it is variable. Fortunately, we can hear critiques of various restoration facilities and make informed choices. Unfortunately, the brand sells itself so is very attractive to low-quality shops that can't sell instruments based on their rebuilding quality.

Antique soundboards have a different response when compared to new ones, and most of us that have routinely had the A/B comparisons know what a dead board sounds like. (hint: listen for the combination of boomy, full bass, and a thin, lacquered tone in the fifth octave....)
regards,

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Re: Rebuilt Steinways ~ replacement soundboards [Re: BassoonGirl] #2843722
04/30/19 09:56 AM
04/30/19 09:56 AM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 509
Chesterfield. MA
C
Craig Hair Offline
500 Post Club Member
Craig Hair  Offline
500 Post Club Member
C

Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 509
Chesterfield. MA
Well, there is one place the original materials are still used.
I read most of this thread, and maybe these videos can reveal a lot about old SB's.

Soundboard Walkaround
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2MGQ_hcJr8&t=57s

Atwood O #73
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YoiDHlZvYw&t=33s

Richard Blais.


Craig Hair
Hampshire Piano
Chesterfield, MA
Conservative Piano Restoration
Watch us on YouTube
https://plus.google.com/u/0/105412259108667869462

Sometimes, all you can hear is the cat snore.
Re: Rebuilt Steinways ~ replacement soundboards [Re: Ed Foote] #2843748
04/30/19 11:25 AM
04/30/19 11:25 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 27,323
Oakland
B
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
BDB  Offline
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B

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 27,323
Oakland
Originally Posted by Ed Foote
... Antique soundboards have a different response when compared to new ones, and most of us that have routinely had the A/B comparisons know what a dead board sounds like. (hint: listen for the combination of boomy, full bass, and a thin, lacquered tone in the fifth octave....)
regards,


This translates to "those of us who have an interest in selling new soundboards are the only ones who can hear a difference."


Semipro Tech
Re: Rebuilt Steinways ~ replacement soundboards [Re: BassoonGirl] #2843764
04/30/19 12:11 PM
04/30/19 12:11 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,722
Atlanta, GA
PianoWorksATL Offline
3000 Post Club Member
PianoWorksATL  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,722
Atlanta, GA
BDB, I appreciate your continual, pragmatic advice. However, I also think it is impossible to separate your experience and how it has colored your opinion from your location in Oakland.

The term "California Piano" is a well known thing in the restoration business, whereas pianos that lived on the East coast and Midwest, and then through the introduction of central heating and air rarely fared as well. Additionally, the ones that survived in good condition will still fall somewhere on a gradient of diminished performance from excellent to below average.

Simply sourcing a "California piano" is not exactly the answer either. Good pianos are eventually subjected to bad work if they remain in use for a century. It's just about the odds and the life most pianos lead. Whether the bad work has affected the belly or not is also more likely to happen on a piano on the East Coast or Midwest simply because the piano was more likely to have experienced environmental issues earlier in its life.

There is a lot of poor work out there, of course, but I don't think the decision to put in a new soundboard is an effort to drive up costs except in a very few cases. The availability of cores that need bellies is far, far higher than those that might not. When done properly, the clock is reset and the piano is like new.


Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
Bösendorfer, Estonia, Seiler, Grotrian, Hailun
Pre-Owned: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway & other fine pianos
Full Restoration Shop
www.PianoWorks.com
www.youtube.com/PianoWorksAtlanta
Re: Rebuilt Steinways ~ replacement soundboards [Re: BDB] #2843765
04/30/19 12:12 PM
04/30/19 12:12 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,875
Tennessee
E
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Ed Foote  Offline
1000 Post Club Member
E

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,875
Tennessee
Originally Posted by BDB
Originally Posted by Ed Foote
... Antique soundboards have a different response when compared to new ones, and most of us that have routinely had the A/B comparisons know what a dead board sounds like. (hint: listen for the combination of boomy, full bass, and a thin, lacquered tone in the fifth octave....)
regards,


This translates to "those of us who have an interest in selling new soundboards are the only ones who can hear a difference."



No, it doesn't translate that way, at all, and your cynicism smells. I don't replace boards, I am not equipped to do it, and must sub-contract it out. The customer pays the installer, and I have not profited by any of the 34 soundboards I have had replaced in my career. But, I don't sell action restorations on dead wood.

If, you cannot hear a difference, I sympathize, but since you cannot, to automatically assume it isn't real, and cast aspersions on those that can does nothing but cheapen your opinion. Even the factory acknowledges that their boards are not expected to last forever.

Re: Rebuilt Steinways ~ replacement soundboards [Re: BassoonGirl] #2843791
04/30/19 01:42 PM
04/30/19 01:42 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 653
New Hampshire
W
WilliamTruitt Offline
500 Post Club Member
WilliamTruitt  Offline
500 Post Club Member
W

Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 653
New Hampshire
Ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem.....


fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner
Re: Rebuilt Steinways ~ replacement soundboards [Re: BassoonGirl] #2843796
04/30/19 01:54 PM
04/30/19 01:54 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 27,323
Oakland
B
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
BDB  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
B

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 27,323
Oakland
More comments from people who have an interest in selling new soundboards! More "I can hear things nobody else can hear!"

For the record, our Steinway spent the first 75 years near Philadelphia, and, with nothing more than new hammers and strings, sounds quite similar to new Steinways.

I also admit that no soundboard will last forever. I predict that it is likely every soundboard ever made will fail within 10 billion years.


Semipro Tech
Re: Rebuilt Steinways ~ replacement soundboards [Re: Ed Foote] #2843820
04/30/19 03:07 PM
04/30/19 03:07 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,341
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline
Platinum Subscriber
Rich Galassini  Offline
Platinum Subscriber

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,341
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Originally Posted by BDB
Originally Posted by Ed Foote
... Antique soundboards have a different response when compared to new ones, and most of us that have routinely had the A/B comparisons know what a dead board sounds like. (hint: listen for the combination of boomy, full bass, and a thin, lacquered tone in the fifth octave....)
regards,


This translates to "those of us who have an interest in selling new soundboards are the only ones who can hear a difference."



No, it doesn't translate that way, at all, and your cynicism smells. I don't replace boards, I am not equipped to do it, and must sub-contract it out. The customer pays the installer, and I have not profited by any of the 34 soundboards I have had replaced in my career. But, I don't sell action restorations on dead wood.

If, you cannot hear a difference, I sympathize, but since you cannot, to automatically assume it isn't real, and cast aspersions on those that can does nothing but cheapen your opinion. Even the factory acknowledges that their boards are not expected to last forever.


Dear BDB and Ed Foote,

I have had the privilege of knowing you both and of providing new soundboards for one.

BDB - I know your thoughts on the subject, but I must respectfully disagree. If my mission is to make a piano play to its best potential and the piano has some age to it I will replace the soundboard. The assembly does age. The soundboard will lose crown and not behave as it was designed.

I do not mean that a piano will not play with an original soundboard. I also do not mean that I never come across pianos that can play pretty well with their original soundboard. Of course the hammers will hit the strings - there will be tone.

However, in an older high quality piano, a new soundboard will improve the performance every time. In fact, I know of no manufacturer who does not prescribe to this. I would love it if this were not true. I would save a tremendous amount of money on all of the wood components I replace did not decay. The soundboard is only one of those parts.

I say this with great respect BDB.

Yours,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
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Re: Rebuilt Steinways ~ replacement soundboards [Re: BassoonGirl] #2843874
04/30/19 06:28 PM
04/30/19 06:28 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,983
Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013
ClsscLib  Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,983
Northern VA, U.S.
I’m pretty picky about pianos, but I’ve never heard a factory Steinway that sounds better than mine (or as good, for that matter). The piano was completely rebuilt by a top independent rebuilder in 2017, including a new soundboard.


[Linked Image][Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins
Re: Rebuilt Steinways ~ replacement soundboards [Re: BDB] #2844426
05/02/19 08:24 AM
05/02/19 08:24 AM
Joined: Sep 2018
Posts: 412
Chernobieff Piano Offline
Full Member
Chernobieff Piano  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Sep 2018
Posts: 412
BDB,
I found your post to be somewhat insulting. You make it sound like craftsman who installs new soundboards in old pianos are nothing but greedy snake oil salesman. I can't speak for others, but my motivations have nothing to do with acquiring cash. I would say my motivation is enjoyment. The joy of bringing a dead piano back to life. The joy of of bringing joy to others, who had no idea their clunker in the corner could sound that good.

Last year I rebuilt a M&H BB for a family that wanted to give their family heirloom to their grand-daughter. It was in bad shape and they wanted it to be back to like new condition. When it was done a year later, i personally delivered it to their home way out in the middle of farm country. It turns out, that their whole family was there, and everyone of them was an accomplished pianist. The concert my wife and I got that day was UNFORGETTABLE.
That's what its about to me.
-chris


Maker of Fine Piano Soundboards
Chernobieff Piano Restorations
Lenoir City, Tennessee
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
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