A guitar in the home makes a silent statement, but a grand piano is recognized as the greatest in elegance. When given a choice between a grand piano and a straight a musician will most likely pick the grand piano. Why, you may ask is the grand piano much more desirable than a vertical piano. Herein we’ll cover some frequently asked questions that can help you decide on the best piano for your purposes.
First all pianos aren’t created equal. A good quality vertical piano is better than a cheaply built grand piano. Grand pianos range in price from $4,995 upward to over $170,000. Why is the more expensive pianos better? Quality of materials, aging of woods and quality of craftsmanship to craft them. The additional time producer takes to create a piano and the greater felt, leather and woods used will translate to a piano that’s effective at projecting sound efficiently and also better tone.
A piano’s action (the mechanism that propels the hammers when the keys are struck) is fairly intricate. The action has thousands of parts, that are adjusted and created to very fine tolerances. One key that’s a small variance in its action may cause that key to do differently, affecting the proficiency of ones touch and musical dynamics. Better felts will not wear as quickly as those in cheaply made felt/leather. Further, higher quality woods used in the action will contract and expand causing alignment problems and again affecting one’s dynamic control.
Keys used in a piano must certanly be manufactured from quality wood, such as spruce, basswood AND utilize key buttons, which supports give the key stability and prevents excessive wear.
Tuning stability is essential to the entire tone of the piano. The pin block, the multi-laminate plank of wood where the tuning pins reside should be made out of premium woods so torque on the pins is enough to withstand the over 20 tons or string tension. Some pin blocks work with a few, jazz piano very thin laminates which are not going to keep in addition to one that’s multiple laminates. Hard rock maple is probably the most accepted pin block by major manufacturers together that’ll, within the long term maintain tight pins, helping to keep up good tuning stability.
The soundboard is the diagraph that, when the strings are stretched across the bridges oppose the strings tension, thereby amplifying the strings vibrations. Top quality bridges and soundboards certainly are a must to again produce quality tone. Soundboards can be either laminated or solid. A Sitka spruce is regarded as the very best wood for soundboards in pianos, guitars, violins and other acoustic instruments.
A good soundboard is better than a laminated. Soundboard are created with edge-glued planks of spruce wood to make a large diaphragm, and then cut to suit the piano’s perimeter. The solid soundboard is more flexible than that of a laminated board, (kind of like a sandwich of three bits of spruce or other wood). The tone of a laminated board tends to truly have a brittle sound whereas the solid board has a more responsive tone that’s a lot more pleasing.
An old wives tale about cracked soundboards is simply that….a wives tale. A soundboard that’s a crack, first in virtually all cases can be repaired, IF the tone is even afflicted with the crack. I’ve tuned a number of pianos giving no indication of a problem. Now, if the ribs, (on the backside of the soundboard which supports maintain the crown or just like a drum head) have separated from the soundboard, there might be a buzz, or weak tone. But again that’s easily repaired. We repair soundboards/rib frequently. So, if a piano you’re considering has a “bad soundboard” or even a “cracked soundboard” let a qualified piano tuner-technician examine the piano for you. Chances are the piano is simply fine.
Another note about soundboards….a grand piano that’s say 60-90 years of age might have a soundboard that’s lost its crown. If the piano is just a quality piano, such as a Steinway & Sons, Baldwin, Mason & Hamlin, Bosendorfer or other quality piano, it’s worth replacing the soundboard and restringing when the piano has been restored. A Steinway piano today that’s rebuilt with a new soundboard brings from $22,000-90,000 depending on the size of the piano.
So what type of piano should you purchase; a console, studio, spinet or grand piano? This will depend on how it is going to be used. Will the piano be played at home, at college, a church? Each application will place varying demands on the instrument. A guitar that’s made cheaply will not last nearly so long in a college as it will in a home. How big is the grand piano needs to be considered. The longer the piano, the more volume and better tone quality it’ll produce. A guitar that’s too small for a church is going to be beat to death in an endeavor to bring out more volume for choral works, or when playing with a band. So the length of the piano, which gives larger soundboard area and longer strings is going to be best in those instances in which a smaller one is going to be just great for home or studio use.