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#3176145 12/09/21 12:49 AM
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This question is purely out of curiosity: what are the materials used for modern (current production) grand piano lids? I am asking because this piece of information seems hardest to find. For example, Steinway's website mentions materials used for key bed, rim, keys, soundboard, ribs, bridge, etc., but the rid's construction was notably missing. Steingraeber's does mention using materials for aircraft construction for the lid, lessening the weight and improving projection presumably.


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Generally speaking, if the lid is rather "light" it is made entirely of solid wood (of course with all proper cabinetry techniques applied). If however it is very heavy (comparatively speaking) it will be largely particle board (or a reasonable facsimile of such). This is a less expensive method since large panels can simply be cut from larger ones (no gluing of alternating grain straps to bother with).

The stuff is very dense (high percentage of glue involved) and very stable. It gets veneered like usual a day possibly even hardwood edging all the way around so it's difficult to identify it without taking a big gouge out of the middle to prove it.

Much furniture is made this way as well. It is difficult to repair and/or touch up. It does not hold screws well for long periods of time. It is intended to be discarded when it's design lifespan has been reached.

This is probably TMI anyway.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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NY Steinway lids, I guess, are still made from mahogany and poplar.

Lids made from particle boards should have solid wood inserts to properly accommodate screws and other hardware.


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Sometimes I think mine is a lead core with a granite veneer, it is so uncomfortably heavy!
At a previous job, we had a Steinway D and Bösendorfer Imperial in the same hall— lifting the lid on that Imperial was a real pain, compared to the American piano.

As I get older and more susceptible to injury, I wish more manufacturers would think about this on their larger models, or fit a Magic Lid as standard.


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Peter - sorry, what is TMI?

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Originally Posted by David-G
Peter - sorry, what is TMI?

common acronym

TMI = too much information

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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Generally speaking, if the lid is rather "light" it is made entirely of solid wood (of course with all proper cabinetry techniques applied). If however it is very heavy (comparatively speaking) it will be largely particle board (or a reasonable facsimile of such). This is a less expensive method since large panels can simply be cut from larger ones (no gluing of alternating grain straps to bother with).

The stuff is very dense (high percentage of glue involved) and very stable. It gets veneered like usual a day possibly even hardwood edging all the way around so it's difficult to identify it without taking a big gouge out of the middle to prove it.

Much furniture is made this way as well. It is difficult to repair and/or touch up. It does not hold screws well for long periods of time. It is intended to be discarded when it's design lifespan has been reached.

This is probably TMI anyway.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Good info, Peter.

As you mentioned, I've experienced both the lighter lid and heavier lid on the same size grand piano, 5'8". For example, when I had the Kimball Viennese grand, 5'8", the lid was rather heavyish. On my current Baldwin R, 5'8", the lid is much lighter than the Kimball, although both lids were pretty much the same size.

So, I'm thinking the Kimball lid was made of the MDF material, and the Baldwin lid is made with of the cabinet-grade real-wood laminate plywood type material. Anyway, the Baldwin lid is MUCH lighter than the Kimball, although both were the same size.

As for the newest grand pianos being produced today, I would think they still use similar materials as mentioned, depending on the cost/tier of the piano being made.

Rick


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The woodworker I rented shop space from used to joke that he wanted to write a book entitled The Soul of MDF, as a counterpoint to George Nakashima’s book, The Soul of a Tree.

MDF is the best substrate for veneer work as it does not move, because it has no grain. My friend did beautiful veneer work, and was especially skilled at veneering curved forms.

I once helped him install a huge, expensive cabinet, a home entertainment center, in the apartment of a lawyer. The piece was in the Biedermeier style, on steroids. It was beautifully veneered in walnut. The flitch was over $3k at the time, and the whole cabinet cost around $15k. Since it took him over a year and a half to build it, he didn’t make much money on it.

Anyway, after spending three days installing twenty seven pieces constructed out of MDF, we were riding down in the elevator and he said to me, it’s beautiful, but if the sprinkler system ever goes on, it will explode out of the wall, and we shared a laugh.

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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Generally speaking, if the lid is rather "light" it is made entirely of solid wood (of course with all proper cabinetry techniques applied). If however it is very heavy (comparatively speaking) it will be largely particle board (or a reasonable facsimile of such). This is a less expensive method since large panels can simply be cut from larger ones (no gluing of alternating grain straps to bother with).

The stuff is very dense (high percentage of glue involved) and very stable. It gets veneered like usual a day possibly even hardwood edging all the way around so it's difficult to identify it without taking a big gouge out of the middle to prove it.

Much furniture is made this way as well. It is difficult to repair and/or touch up. It does not hold screws well for long periods of time. It is intended to be discarded when it's design lifespan has been reached.

This is probably TMI anyway.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Thank you! I don't think it is really too much information for the forum members here, but maybe too much for others who are browsing manufacturers' websites.

Another question out of curiosity: you mentioned that particle boards would not hold screws well. I assume once in a while rebuilder would encounter such problem. How would it be solved?


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Well...my usual solution to that is CA glue. It will re-solidify the particles and glue, ir in the case of MDF solidify and harden it.

Everything has a design lifespan. IMO good cabinet grade core lumber, veneered with crossbanding on both sides, has a longer design lifespan than a sheet of either MDF or particle board (there are numerous styles of this stuff). But one us certainly far cheaper to construct than the other.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Originally Posted by LarryK
The woodworker I rented shop space from used to joke that he wanted to write a book entitled The Soul of MDF, as a counterpoint to George Nakashima’s book, The Soul of a Tree.

MDF is the best substrate for veneer work as it does not move, because it has no grain. My friend did beautiful veneer work, and was especially skilled at veneering curved forms.

I once helped him install a huge, expensive cabinet, a home entertainment center, in the apartment of a lawyer. The piece was in the Biedermeier style, on steroids. It was beautifully veneered in walnut. The flitch was over $3k at the time, and the whole cabinet cost around $15k. Since it took him over a year and a half to build it, he didn’t make much money on it.

Anyway, after spending three days installing twenty seven pieces constructed out of MDF, we were riding down in the elevator and he said to me, it’s beautiful, but if the sprinkler system ever goes on, it will explode out of the wall, and we shared a laugh.
Most uprights now I believe are made of MDF even expensive premium ones which look wonderful when veneered or with black polyester and when I see or play them I think of them as wood.There are one or two premium brands which seem to have a single slab of this material as a lid which is quite difficult heavy to lift as it does not have a hinge in the middle.(so you can just fold back)
Fortunately my upright which will be arriving in a few days does have a fold back lid.(like a U3 or YUS5) The only thing is it also has one of those "lift up fancy" lids that that can be lifted at one end and balanced on a rather tall lid prop.So it only has one hinge at one end of the lid.The lid is really heavy.

I sent pictures to the movers explaining this and that it could be dangerous if they had to move the piano on its side.If it is not secured and especially if it is turned it to the wrong side the lid could fall down and cause severe injury to the movers.
I am sure they will no longer be holding the piano either..
Strangely enough the removable panels at the top and bottom are not that heavy and could be made of plywood.
Although I do not believe that this MDF has any negative affect on the sound quality.I have tried Japanese uprights as well and they also are not affected.
For a large grand I have heard that a rebuilder has suggested LDF(not Chipboard) to reduce the weight of the Lid.Here is a PW thread a few years old about these materials although mainly uprights are discussed.
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/257412/4.html

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That thread is from a few years back and I wonder if those uprights mentioned as being made of plywood rather than MDF would still be valid.The later Walter's seemed to have changed their type of action, so what else could have changed?.
We never seem to hear of anyone having an August Forster upright so it would be interesting to hear if plywood is still.the material they use.Of course this discussion is only about cabinets.Please excuse me for going off topic about uprights.


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