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Casting Iron Piano Frames

Casting Iron Piano Frames

Every piano has one. It is the backbone to structural integrity. It's also what gives a piano most of its weight. What is it? Commonly called the frame, harp or plate, this iron mass in the piano withstands the 19+ tons of string tension.While iron reinforcement pieces were introduced into the piano by the year 1799, it wasn’t until 1825 that a full cast iron frame was patented by a man named Alpheus Babcock (The Piano: An Encyclopedia. Palmieri). All of the piano manufacturing world then saw the great advantage of the implementation of iron, and have incorporated iron frames ...
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The Una Corda Pedal - The Soft Pedal

The Una Corda Pedal – The Soft Pedal

A few months ago we examined the mechanical and musical basics of the damper pedal. This month we’re going to look at how the una corda, also known as the soft pedal, works. I was speaking with an older gentleman recently who used to be a typesetter for a newspaper, meaning that he would manually place letters in rows each day for the daily newspaper (pre-computer and pre-typewriter). Each of the letters in the alphabet was grouped together and were called “sorts”. As the day progressed, depending on what the typesetting would require, you might run out of a certain ...
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Piano Touch

Piano Touch with David Stanwood

I was speaking with someone recently about this blog post on touch, describing it as "an interview with a piano mathematician". "There are piano mathematicians?" was the reply. If people only knew how many calculations go into the engineering of a single instrument, they would be astounded. Today we have the privilege of speaking with David Stanwood, a piano technician who also happens to be a published author specializing in piano touch metrology. (Metrology being the science of measurement). He has spent decades studying, pouring over data to understand what it is that we FEEL under our fingers at the ...
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Visiting Pearl River Factory

Visiting Pearl River Factory

On this latest trip to China, I managed to catch a glimpse into the transformation of Pearl River Piano. Already the largest piano company in the world manufacturing more than 130,000 pianos annually, Pearl River Piano has its sights set on even greater advancement. One hundred thirty thousand pianos annually equates into about 400 pianos being manufactured per day. Imagine though what it must be like to produce 400 pianos daily. With roughly 225 tuning pins per piano, that’s 90,000 coils per day. Conservatively a piano contains 200 pounds of iron for each frame. That would be 80,000 lbs of ...
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Musical and Mechanical Basics of the Sustain Pedal

Musical and Mechanical Basics of the Sustain Pedal

I remember teaching my kids how to drive a car. At first it’s a bit daunting putting a young adult in a 2 ton vehicle controlled primarily by a gas pedal. Over time, the confidence and competence increase. What remains somewhat of an accepted disconnect, however is HOW that process works. You put your foot on a small pedal and ‘magically’ the vehicle moves. Similarly, piano pedals are like that: if you step on the sustain pedal (the right pedal), the sound of the piano is transformed. Today, we’re going to delve into a bit more of the mechanical side ...
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