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MMD > Archives > May 1998 > 1998.05.20 > 10Prev  Next

Sounding Boards
By Andy Taylor

In the last Digest D. L. Bullock wrote

> I do not replace the soundboard unless someone has driven a truck
> through the old one.  90% of them can be repaired with MUCH better
> tone than you have from any new board.  The old ones MUST be
> recrowned, however.

That is very hard to believe, D. L., especially if you pick and grade
high quality boards.

Parroting an old procedure is a safe way of doing things, if the piano
was constructed right to began with.  But consider this: what made a
certain brand more powerful than the other?  The soundboard, for the
most part!  If you are doing all that work anyway, why not raise the
quality and the power if you can?

Quoting from an excellent book:

  "The soundboard also gives away a poor quality piano if one
   understands wood quality and how spruce is graded.  Basically, a
   lighter rich clear color with a translucent appearance and up to
   twenty grains per inch make for a good soundboard.

  "It is not uncommon to find uprights with fewer than 8 lines per inch
   and lots of sap wood.  This makes for a weak tone since the power of
   a piano is directly related to the shear strength and inversely to
   the weight of the board.

  "Color gradient should be light or absent between its glued up
   planks.  Sound boards which are purposely colored dark by the
   manufacturer are usually an attempt to conceal mullet-graded and
   poorer quality sound boards.  A darkly stained board by itself will
   warn a smart builder to test the strength of tone of that particular

Source:  The Orchestration and pneumatics handbook by Craig Brougher,
Automata publications -- a _must read_ for every rebuilder; no matter
how expert you are, you will learn something.

Here is what I glean from this:  To parrot a original design, you will
end up with original performance.  If it was acceptable, then Great!
If you feel it lacks something, find out why.  It was a fact that some
players sounded much better than others.

Best Regards
Andy & Chris Taylor
Tempola Music Rolls

(Message sent Wed 20 May 1998, 18:46:26 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Boards, Sounding

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