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 Post subject: RE: cracks in the piano sound board
PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 7:59 pm
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Location: toronto
Do I need to be very worried If I find cracks in the sound board of a very old piano?

The piano tech guys tells me it is not really a problems since the sound board is not seperated from the frame or ribs and isn't causing any significant change to the sound. Is it worth investing in an old piano if it has cracks in the sound board? In this case although the cracks are very large everything seems to be holding together some how :)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 8:56 pm 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
The nostalgia of owning a piano from Liszt's time sounds tempting. But if it has cracks in the sound board, than it is better to leave it for a museum. The cracks will expand and only cause you trouble if you cannot have a strictly controlled and sterile environment. Evenmore so by playing on it consistantly, you will only make the cracks worse.

My two cents: invest in a piano without defects. There are plenty of old pianos out there without cracks...sure they might not be the 1870 grand piano that you want, but they will be less of a burden for you.

I hope I made sense.

-JG

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:37 am 
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Location: Germany
I disagree that if there are cracks in the soundboard that it would be better to leave it for museum.

See for a better understanding the informations from the steinway website:
http://www.steinway.com/technical/soundboard.shtml

Cracks are not that problem because they are in the direction of the strings and not in crossed direction. So even if there are 10, 20 cracks, it will not change the sound, or only almost unaudible.

Much more important is for a grand, that the soundboard does not start to hang down instead having a convex dome. Because the distance strings to soundboard and the tension inside the soundboard is of importance. If there is something wrong here, that has a much more influence on the sound.

My piano has had some cracks too. During restauration, they dried the piano down to 20 percent humidity, so that even some more cracks occured during that. After that they filled the cracks, and put the soundboard back to convex shape. All who heard the piano gave kind comments on the sound, so it worked.

Personally I often prefer the sound of old brand pianos, if they are optimal restaured, over the sound of new ones. Because wood vibrates more freely with time - the resin is crumbled. See violins and guitars - they sound better and better with age, vintage wood instruments are much more expensive than new ones. If the mechanical parts inside a piano are new, same logic applies for pianos too, at least in my opinion.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 7:59 pm
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Location: toronto
MindenBlues wrote:
I disagree that if there are cracks in the soundboard that it would be better to leave it for museum.

See for a better understanding the informations from the steinway website:
http://www.steinway.com/technical/soundboard.shtml

Cracks are not that problem because they are in the direction of the strings and not in crossed direction. So even if there are 10, 20 cracks, it will not change the sound, or only almost unaudible.

Much more important is for a grand, that the soundboard does not start to hang down instead having a convex dome. Because the distance strings to soundboard and the tension inside the soundboard is of importance. If there is something wrong here, that has a much more influence on the sound.

My piano has had some cracks too. During restauration, they dried the piano down to 20 percent humidity, so that even some more cracks occured during that. After that they filled the cracks, and put the soundboard back to convex shape. All who heard the piano gave kind comments on the sound, so it worked.

Personally I often prefer the sound of old brand pianos, if they are optimal restaured, over the sound of new ones. Because wood vibrates more freely with time - the resin is crumbled. See violins and guitars - they sound better and better with age, vintage wood instruments are much more expensive than new ones. If the mechanical parts inside a piano are new, same logic applies for pianos too, at least in my opinion.



It's good to hear this second opinion. I did notice a very very slight buzz noise out of the piano. At first I thought it must be just dust or something inside the piano but is it possible that the crack is getting a bit too large? The buzz noise doesn't bother anyone and is only noticable if you listen very carefully.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:54 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Posts: 9550
Location: Netherlands
My sound board is pretty spectacularly cracked too, I can see straight through it in places. The grand (Gaveau, ca. 1920) doesn't seem to be much the worse for it. Though there is no way of knowing how it would sound without the cracks.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 5:42 pm 
As long as the edges of the crack do not make a rattling sound by vibrating, it really isn't that problematic. If splits in the sound-board do produce certain rattling or vibrating sounds, it is enough to place a wedge in the crack, otherwise, one must send the piano to a factory or repair shop to have the sound board replaced or properly repaired.


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 Post subject: N.B.
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 5:50 pm 
Btw, you might find some more useful information on how to take care of basic problems with your piano in this book, if you manage to get a copy:

'Piano Tuning - A Simple and Accurate Method for Amateurs' by J. Cree Fischer
(Published by Dover, ISBN: 0-486-23267-0).

Hope I have been a bit useful... :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 5:54 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 5:29 am
Posts: 692
Location: Germany
A very comprehensive book about piano repairs and tuning is the following:
"Piano Servicing, Tuning, and Rebuilding, Second Edition: For the Professional, the Student, and the Hobbyist" by Arthur Reblitz
As far as I know this is a set book for piano tuner education.

I think rattling of the soundbourd is very annoying even if listeners don't recognize it. It is bad enough if we get distracted by that during playing. I have the same problem in my upright. Thanks God it is only used here and there in my holiday house. I tried to overcome that through pressing cork pieces between soundboard and bracing. The sustain got worse, unfortunately, but the rattling disappeared. Until lately, as a new rattling started :roll: But a soundboard restauration for an upright from 1896 does not make any sense. Seems so I have to live with, or pressing wedges in the cracks? Sounds ridiculous,

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