In this post we discuss in detail some of the individual components of grand pianos, and upright pianos. More ” nuts and bolts ” to enjoy.
The outer case of most pianos is made of hardwood, to act as a strong foundation from which the flexible soundboard can best vibrate. The purpose of a solid case is so that the sound energy will stay as much as possible in the soundboard instead of dissipating its’ power into the case due to its’ poor resonance in comparison to the soundboard.
ALWAYS INDIVIDUAL and NEVER FOLLOW THE REST
Bösendorfer who manufacturer extremely high quality pianos, construct their cases from spruce, the very same wood from which the soundboard is made . Their idea is to use the case in the projection and coloration of sound. The loss of energy into the Bösendorfer case alters the instrument’s tone, giving it a little less power but a distinct resonant sound.
The finest hardwood cases are made by laminating thin strips of hardwood, and bending them to the desired shape immediately after the glue is applied. This system was developed by Steinway in 1880. The thick woodenbeams on the underside of grands, or on the back of uprights, stabilize the case structure, and are usually made of softwood . These requirements of structural strength, makes a piano heavy; even a small upright can weigh 136 kg , and the Steinway concert grand Model D weighs 480 kg. The largest piano built, the Fazioli F308, weighs an immense 691 kg ! Compare that for instance, with my very portable Roland EP9e electric piano at 16 kg !
The pinblock, which holds the tuning pins in place, is another area of the piano where toughness is important. It is made of hardwood, such as maple or beech, and is laminated for strength, stability and durability and runs the width of the piano. It is attached to the cast iron frame and inner rim. Embedded in holes in the pinblock are steel tuning pins, around each of which is coiled one end of a piano string. The pinblock has to hold the tuning pins tightly enough by friction alone, so that the strings maintain their proper tension without slipping. That, of course, puts the instrument out of tune, and you will then require the services of a piano tuner.
Piano strings, which must endure years of extreme tension and hard blows, are made of high carbon steel. They are manufactured to vary as little as possible in diameter, since all deviations from uniformity introduce tonal distortion. The bass strings of a piano are made of a steel core wrapped with copper wire, to increase their mass whilst retaining flexibility. If all strings throughout the piano’s compass were individual , the massive bass strings would overpower the upper ranges. Makers compensate for this with the use of double strings in the midrange and triple strings throughout the treble, giving a total of over 200 strings in a piano. To conserve space and fit the longest possible bass strings into a cabinet, modern pianos have the bass strings crossing diagonally over the treble strings – known as cross stringing.