• Piano Manufacturers and the Pitfalls to Avoid

    22 Mar 2016 | Blog
  • The Manufacturing Process

    The piano is a stringed instrument. Its parts are arranged into 5 basic structural and mechanical parts of either grand or straight pianos. They are the case of the wing-shaped grand piano the soundboard and the ribs and bridges which are the components; the stings, the cast iron plate, and hammers, the keys and piano mechanism.

    Bending the rim of the case

    1. Steinway's way of rim bending is still used and is the starting point in manufacturing the grand piano. Layers of long-fiber maple wood are fixed together and bent in a metal press to form a persisting rim; both the outer and inner rim is made like this. Resin glue is applied by machine, and then the layers are carried to the press where they are designed.
    2. The wood parts of the piano jointly called the framework the pinblock and the cast iron plate are the parts of the piano that assistance the tension of the strings. Braces are made up of select spruce, and the pinblock is made of bonded layers of rock maple.
    3. The cast iron plate is designed in a piano plate foundry. Match-plates are made up of metal from the wood pattern made by the top and bottom items to match. Sand molds are produced from the match-plates, and they are used to cast the plate. The plate is hand-sanded and rubbed, primed, and colored.
    4. The cast iron plate is suspended above its piano during the process of setting up. The plate will be reduced and raised in and out of the piano many times as the pinblock, seal against the rim, and the sound-board and bridges are fixed

    Creating the soundboard

    1.  The soundboard is a thin panel of spruce that underlies the guitar strings and the cast iron plate and is placed on the rim braces. Its components are the board itself, supporting ribs on the bottom of the board, and the two bridges over which the strings are stretched. it plays the role of a natural resonator, it is strong for its weight, and can be vibrated by the strings due to its lightness
    2. The soundboard is curved to produce the right sound. The curve is known as a crown that arches up toward the strings. The arch is made by fixing ribs of lightweight spruce or sugar pine wood to the bottom of the board.
    3. The two soundboard bridges send the vibrations of the strings along their lengths to the soundboard. The long bridge is crossed by treble strings, and the bass strings that fan across the trebles cross the short bridge.

    Stringing and tuning

    1. Piano strings are made in special mills and contains carbon steel wire. The bass strings are covered with copper windings in a process referred to as loading the strings.
    2. Keyboards, key and action frames, and actions are created by unique manufacturers like Calgary manufacturers. The keys balance and shift on a set of either 2 or 3 rails that are covered with felt to avoid noise.
    3. The voice of the piano is based on the quality of the hammers. The sound of the piano is modified by a specially trained tuner referred to as a voicer. The felt hammers are adjusted with a sticker that retextures the hammerheads and changes the sound.
    4. The last parts are added, such as the pedals and their trap work, the fall-board or key cover, the music rack, the hinges and top lid, the top stick that supports the raised lid, a lot of other details. All components are carefully made so they fit firmly and do not rattle or otherwise affect the sound of the instrument.
  • Things to keep in mind when purchasing a piano

    The world of piano manufacturing is changing, and as it does, the confusion of the piano buyer is increasing. For more than a century, nearly all pianos were built, by hand, in either Europe or North America. Very few instruments ever left their continent of origin. But the world is a shrinking place and the piano market is a global one. The USA used to have over 100 independent piano manufactures, now there is only there is only 3 and Europe is much the same. Today most of the pianos are build in Asia in automated factories with China as the leader.

    1960 was the first time the Japanese offered a lower cost option to North America. The quality was a bit of a problem first, partly due to climate but over the years the issues where resolved. Korea also started manufacturing and built up a reputation for quality piano’s, however, the game changed again and piano manufacturing is almost non-existent in Korea as they moved over to Indonesia and China. At first the piano’s made over in China had a lot of quality issues but today things have improved. Although there’s a twist, many Asian manufacturers build instruments under other brand names rather than their own. Many of the old North American makers who are long defunct, have had their brand names revived on the fallboards of Asian pianos. Don't get me wrong here. This does not mean that they are all bad pianos. It also doesn't mean they are all good pianos. What is certain though is that they are not the same pianos as they were a hundred years ago regardless of what the advertising says. North American and European buyers are often resistant to buying pianos with an Asian sounding name that they can't pronounce. Give them the same piano with an "English" name and the chances of a sale increase.

    To increase the confusion further, think about this. One well known American maker has two additional brand names in the family. The more expensive of the two brand names is made for them by a Japanese piano builder in Japan and Indonesia. The less expensive of the two was originally made for them by a Korean company whose factory is in China and is now made for them by a wholly Chinese company. Some brands of piano on the market these days are nothing more than a couple of people in a small office somewhere who buy pianos from an Asian company and have them put their name on it. Many factories make the same piano under a multitude of brand names. If you want to sell pianos and have enough money to make a large purchase, they will put any name you want on it.These are referred to by the industry as stencil pianos.

    On top of all this are the well known old names that were once family owned independent companies but are now owned in whole or in part by Asian piano makers. Bösendorfer, one of the oldest piano makers in the world is now owned by Yamaha. Schimmel, one of the largest volume makers in Europe, was recently acquired by Pearl River.

    How does a potential piano buyer wade through all this and separate fact from fiction? First and foremost, do some researching on your own. Use the computer you're reading this on to find out some things for yourself. Second, find a reputable piano dealer. Armed with the research you have done, ask them some questions that you already know the answers to to see if they are being honest with you. Maybe tied for second, is talk to a professional piano technician. I would suggest someone not affiliated with a particular piano store. The information is out there and make sure to separate fact from fiction and opinion. There is no one single brand that is the only brand you should buy and no single company makes all equally good pianos.

    Once you purchase your new piano make sure you get it to your home safely, no one wants to spend a bunch of time and money and then have your piano get damaged in the move. One way to ensure that happens is to call Calgary Piano Movers, our team of professional piano movers know the ins and outs of every piano make and model, we have the tools and the knowledge to carefully move your piano to your new home. Call us today to get a quote or use our online form and one of our representatives will get back to you right away.

    Ref: Piano Life Saver System, Changing Piano World
    February 22, 2016