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I would be interested to see (and when I have time I shall look) design details, particularly in regard to bass string length, for comparably-sized cross strung and straight string instruments.


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Originally Posted by RobAC
I would be interested to see (and when I have time I shall look) design details, particularly in regard to bass string length, for comparably-sized cross strung and straight string instruments.

That would indeed be interesting. If you come to any conclusions, do share them!

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Originally Posted by RobAC
I would be interested to see (and when I have time I shall look) design details, particularly in regard to bass string length, for comparably-sized cross strung and straight string instruments.

For my own piano (1887 Steinway A1) that's nominally 6'0", the longest bass string is 141.5cm from agraffe to 1st bridge pin. If the tail design was changed to make it square, but of the same length, the longest string that would fit (everything else being equal such as bridge to rim spacing etc) would be about 134cm - so about 6% shorter.

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I became curious after reading your post. I have the same model Blüthner (+ aliquot strings) that David-G has—only a hundred or so serial numbers earlier. I measured the lowest string, sub-contra A. It's 50-1/2 inches, thus 128 cm. (David, please correct me if my measurements are off—I'm notoriously bad about such things.) I can affirm everything David says about the clarity and colorfulness of the bass of this piano. I also have a Mason & Hamlin A, which has, for a short piano, an astonishingly rich and full (and loud) bass, but it lacks the color and agility of the Blüthner's bass. Besides that, with my Blüthner (with its patent action) there's hardly any difference in key resistance between the middle of the keyboard and the lowest bass notes, inviting all kinds of delicate shaping in even the lowest registers.


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Your measurements are not off! I always find measuring string lengths a very difficult operation, but having measured my lowest string as carefully and methodically as I could, I find it is 127.2 cm. I reckon the error could be +/- 1 cm, so I would say we are in agreement about the length.

Incidentally to fit in a string of this length, the designer has found it necessary to use a large amount of cantilever in the bass bridge - a shade less than 10 cm.

Your observation on the patent action is most interesting.

I would love to play one of the longer Blüthners of this design (with straight-strung bass), but I have never had the opportunity. There was a 270 cm model (earlier than my piano), of which there is an example in the Frederick Collection - and there was a 220 cm model (later than my piano). I would imagine that on these the deep bass would be amazing.

PS Just noticed an interesting design difference. My 180 cm model has 6 monochord strings and 20 bichords. The Fredericks' 270 cm model has 6 monochords and only 12 bichords.

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Originally Posted by David-G
Your measurements are not off! I always find measuring string lengths a very difficult operation, but having measured my lowest string as carefully and methodically as I could, I find it is 127.2 cm. I reckon the error could be +/- 1 cm, so I would say we are in agreement about the length.

Incidentally to fit in a string of this length, the designer has found it necessary to use a large amount of cantilever in the bass bridge - a shade less than 10 cm.

Your observation on the patent action is most interesting.

I would love to play one of the longer Blüthners of this design (with straight-strung bass), but I have never had the opportunity. There was a 270 cm model (earlier than my piano), of which there is an example in the Frederick Collection - and there was a 220 cm model (later than my piano). I would imagine that on these the deep bass would be amazing.

PS Just noticed an interesting design difference. My 180 cm model has 6 monochord strings and 20 bichords. The Fredericks' 270 cm model has 6 monochords and only 12 bichords.


What points did you use for the measurement? My bass bridge is also cantilevered quite a lot. I just put the tape measure on the first bridge pin and eyeballed the tape as it passed over the agraffe. I didn't go from tuning pin to hitch pin.

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Youtube: "Dana Robinson Organist"
1932 Mason & Hamlin A9
1877 Blüthner 185 cm Patent Aliquot grand
1883 Henry F. Miller pedal upright
Edward L. Kottick double-fretted clavichord
Lyndon Taylor double-fretted clavichord

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Originally Posted by pyropaul
What points did you use for the measurement? My bass bridge is also cantilevered quite a lot. I just put the tape measure on the first bridge pin and eyeballed the tape as it passed over the agraffe. I didn't go from tuning pin to hitch pin.

Indeed. Agraffe to first bridge pin. I used a metre rule and a ruler, measured it in parts, and added them together.

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Pyropaul, I think David-G and i both measured from the agraffe to the first bridge pin and came up with roughly the same figure. (I had someone hold the and of the tape on the agraffe.)


Youtube: "Dana Robinson Organist"
1932 Mason & Hamlin A9
1877 Blüthner 185 cm Patent Aliquot grand
1883 Henry F. Miller pedal upright
Edward L. Kottick double-fretted clavichord
Lyndon Taylor double-fretted clavichord

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Originally Posted by mha9
Yes, it is quite the extravagant cantilever!

Hope you don't mind me including your picture here. Mine is just the same!

[Linked Image]

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Back to the results-- found this today.


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I think there is such confusion and ignorance about the significance of the geometric organization of string lengths and bridge orientations as regards the influence of longitudinal modes to tone quality.

Straight strung geometry often requires the wound string portion of a scale to place the bass bridge mostly perpendicular to the line of the strings. This produces more coupling of longitudinal mode energy to transverse modes which often creates weird whistles, hoots, barks and clangs in wound scales.

In the early days of piano scales with cast plates, the wire was softer and produced less longitudinal mode energy. This is why when one rebuilds an old Pleyel, Erard or Broadwood, etc. and uses hard, modern wires the tone suffers.

I believe the most significant factor that gives the earlier pianos a desirable bass clarity is the lighter hammers that were used.

The other advantage to the modern overstrung scale is the fanning pattern to the strings across the bridge. This often reduces longitudinal mode coupling to transverse and allows the longer wave lengths of the bass transverse modes to reach down the bridge farther.

With the advent of the different Paulello wire types that allow placing softer wire types in portions of the lower compass it is perfectly feasible to have a piano scale that has both clarity and warmth in the lower portions of the compass.

You can come visit me an I will show you examples of these methods for you to experience. (Don't tell me to post video's, there is so much fakery that is possible with those methods that I refuse to engage that way.).


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I don't know much about piano design, but I did notice on a older Knabe I went to try that it had the bass strings in kind of a fan pattern. The lowest note looked to be completely straight while the rest gradually angled the higher you went up the scale. It was over 7' in length. I thought the bass was pretty nice. Didn't "growl" like a Steinway, but had a nice resonate rumble to it.

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The bass of my straight-stringed Malmsjo Concert Grand "Banana", produced in 1935, is simply captivating.




I am writing about this piano in this thread

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3189627/concert-grand-malmsjo-banana.html


https://pianino.waw.pl/malmsjo-banan/

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hi fellow Chris Maene-lovers,

I have written before about my experience with the instruments of Chris Maene:
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...ical-pianos-chris-maene.html#Post3166144

I do believe this is a difference that is much better heard live than in a recording. I liked the pianos by Chris Maene a lot for their character. They most clearly do not have the sound ideal that other builders go after and is unabashedly proud for it (and rightly so).

Originally Posted by Long Louis
One of the most spectacular new piano projects of the past years might be the return to straight strung concert grands by Chris Maene. Having heard one recital on sich a piano, I was deeply impressed by its sound. I am not sure if this was because of the good craftsmanship in general or an impact of the straight strings. Alas, I did not have the chance to play one yet.

It always both in my experience. Pianos already differ from instrument to instrument at a single builder. But Chris Maene straight strungs also have other different design choices than just being straight-strung, like a different metal used in the strings, smaller hammers, their own patented sound board, which I am sure also adds to sound differences. The craftsmanship is impeccable, it is a beautiful instrument also visually and not just technically. I can highly recommend playing one to find out for yourself.

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Now this kind of pianos seem to hit your living rooms in a smaller version. Did anyone have the chance to play one already? Are the bass strings too short by now for a moving acoustic experience?

https://www.chrismaene.be/nl/the-straight-strung-grand-piano/parlor-grand-cm200/

I have played Chris Maene's longest instrument and some of the smaller ones (although not the 200cm one you describe). The smaller instruments were less powerful than the grandest - as usual. But they also offered a great palet for performance. A smaller piano in a smaller room might actually sound better - who knows?

Chis Maene is a voracious innovator, and I know for sure this is not the last special instrument he is building. I would watch carefully what he is trying to build, since his instruments are much more a living source of innovation rather than a steady design that he is trying to maintain. It is an incredibly brave endeavour!


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Rather than straight strung I wonder how a piano with single strings would fair. For home use it presumably might have sufficient volume and would likely stay in acceptable tune for much longer without unisons to go sour.

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Originally Posted by gwing
Rather than straight strung I wonder how a piano with single strings would fair. For home use it presumably might have sufficient volume and would likely stay in acceptable tune for much longer without unisons to go sour.

I saw a video of such a piano (upright). It sounded a bit bizarre - sort of like a harp - not a piano-type sound at all really. Sadly I can't compose a search on youtube that is bringing up that video.

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Originally Posted by pyropaul
Originally Posted by gwing
Rather than straight strung I wonder how a piano with single strings would fair. For home use it presumably might have sufficient volume and would likely stay in acceptable tune for much longer without unisons to go sour.

I saw a video of such a piano (upright). It sounded a bit bizarre - sort of like a harp - not a piano-type sound at all really. Sadly I can't compose a search on youtube that is bringing up that video.

I found a couple on youtube, an old Tom Thumb piano which I rather liked and a new Klavins Una Corda piano which was rather un-pianolike in the recording sounding rather electronic processed and perhaps under damped. The Tom Thumb was rather nice and it would have been a practical small and light piano, presumably nothing aimed at truly high quality performance though. There wasn't much played in the higher notes -- presumably those would struggle more as they might lack power relative to the bass.

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Here is the Klavins m189 una corda concert upright playing Goldberg Variations. Does it stand on its own as a serious musical instrument? Single string, straight strung.

https://soundcloud.com/thepianoguy/jsbach-goldberg-variations-aria-var1-var2-var3

Last edited by WilliamTruitt; 02/03/22 01:40 PM.

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Has anyone had a good look at the Doutreligne pianos that Maene makes? Not sure how much is theirs, and how much made elsewhere and tweaked. But it is truly under the radar and might be a good route to some of the older European sounds that many of us like.

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