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I think they do experiment and innovate, but not always in visible ways. Bosendorfer had the SE recording/player technology back in the day, along with CEUS. Steingraeber has all sorts of wacky things like Sordino pedal, Mozart rail, carbon fiber soundboards and aluminum composite lids. Fazioli, Seiler and others have incorporated additional pedals, magnetic actions, etc.

I can't speak much to the measurement/manufacture piece, but presumably touch weight, repetition, etc. are all largely regulation-dependent issues, and how a car "feels" is probably hard to measure too, when you get past the basic 0-60 metric.


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I have so much to learn about pianos!

thanks
Gombessa


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The thing is that "best" is a subjective term based on how people react to the performance characteristics of that brand. Each maker brings its own "personality" or set of values to the table. Some like one over another, and some like most or all of them.

And then you've got certain pianists who have the capacity to make a not-so-great instrument somehow sound amazingly good. I don't know how they do it but they do.

I don't believe any maker can categorically prove that their methods of construction make their instruments truly superior to anyone else else's. They can claim it, but they can't prove it. If anything it is simply "different". Sometimes different is good.

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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
I have so much to learn about pianos!

thanks
Gombessa

You and me both, friend! Maybe the only undisputed claim is that pianos have a long, complicated history that defy easy categorization smile


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It's virtually impossible to separate the way something is built from its design specification but I'll talk about a couple of things here briefly.

Some makers have changed the method they use to construct the rim and build the soundboard. Some makers will use computer-aided machinery to taper the soundboard, others will do it by hand. Some makers don't taper the soundboard at all. Some makers, and I'm thinking about Bechstein here, will use a robot to install the bridge pins and notch the bridges. I'm sure Yamaha do that as well. Steinways do it by hand in New York, I don't know about Hamburg, although Steinways have converged the manufacturing processes so that Hamburg and NY are uniform now.

Steinway designs are similar enough that a Steinway from 1895 can be almost fully modernised to the point where it can sound almost identical to a new equivalent. The action specification is different, and they use computers to determine the geometry of the action before implementing it and regulating it by hand. Yamaha use machines and lasers to aid regulation in the factory. I don't know if they do that on all lines but I don't see why they wouldn't.

Grotrian, Bechstein, BlĂĽthner have changed so much in the past 100 years that one of their pianos from 1920 can't be modernised to sound like the new equivalent. In fact the old designs of these pianos prevailed right up until the 1980s in some cases. A 1980 BlĂĽthner is closer to a 1920 BlĂĽthner than a 2022 one. There is still the same DNA in the piano, so the familiar sound is still in there somewhere, but it's now stronger, which may or may not be a good thing depending on where your taste parameters lie.

Bösendorfer have two lines. As far as I know the standard issue Bösendorfer (the 225 and the 290) are built in the way they have been for the past 100 years at least. I can't tell you if the VC range veer from that extensively but I'm certain that computer technology has been used to implement changes in the soundboard design. There are changes in the VC that only CAD software could have found, but I don't know if once the designs are decided upon if the manufacturing techniques are fully traditional.

This is before I've even touched on Steingraeber and Steingraeber Phoenix, which offer the carbon fibre soundboard as an alternative. That's definitely not made the same way as a spruce board, although it may be installed the same way.

Rebuilding workshops are interesting in this conversation although they're not really what you're talking about here. Some rebuilders use fully traditional techniques meaning they'll do everything by hand, eye and ear, so that someone from 100 years ago could walk in and start working there knowing virtually all the techniques used, even if the drills were now battery charged/electric. Other rebuilding shops prefer to use modern technology to help with design elements they feel can be improved, particularly when it comes to calculating down bearing or action improvements.


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Joseph
Absolutely fantastic information - TY
You are a credit to the forum!

Your extensive knowledge is looked up to by many of us here on the forum.

Thank You my friend!
brdwyguy
JDM


1961-1964: Lester or Emerson Upright
1969-1992: Westbrook Spinet
1991-2021: Schomacker Model A (1912) "Schoowie"
2021-Present: Steinway Model A (1912) "Amalia"

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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
... There are changes in the VC that only CAD software could have found ...

I find this fascinating. Could you give some examples?


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Originally Posted by Mark R.
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
... There are changes in the VC that only CAD software could have found ...

I find this fascinating. Could you give some examples?

Well, I heard this from a technician and not through the Yamaha network, but a technician who knows people at Bösendorfer. When designing the soundboard for the VC edition, the designers fed all sorts of information into their computers. They tried hand building techniques as well. They found that for the kind of projection they wanted, they found that by changing the soundboard's thickness by 4 mm provided the sustain they were going for. They discovered this through computer modeling and I *THINK* he said they have a CNC machine that implements the design. I've head C. Bechstein have done something similar and they put their soundboards through a CNC mill that gives exactly the contour they want. Some may say this creates too much uniformity between the pianos, and others say that the uniformity is exactly what players want, especially those who are touring and using different pianos of the same model.

In 2007, Steinway Hamburg used CAD to revise their action geometry and it went spectacularly wrong for them. The pianos ended up being very sluggish and heavy, and a number of big name pianists went to Steinways and said they would switch allegiance if they didn't put it right. At first, Steinway was resistant saying it was the most expensive software, but their technicians reviewed the situation and found that they had indeed entered some incorrect information, and it's now sorted. That isn't me trying to bash Steinway, I was told this by a Steinway technician. Of course Steinway make excellent pianos.


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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
In 2007, Steinway Hamburg used CAD to revise their action geometry and it went spectacularly wrong for them. The pianos ended up being very sluggish and heavy, and a number of big name pianists went to Steinways and said they would switch allegiance if they didn't put it right. That isn't me trying to bash Steinway, I was told this by a Steinway technician. Of course Steinway make excellent pianos.

A CAD system does not design the system for you. It is just an aid; it is still the engineer who makes the decisions. Just like all the structure simulation, and various modeling gives data points, but the designers interprets those and makes the decisions. When I used simulation models to cross check a bridge behavior, I am still responsible of how I use the model and the conclusions I draw from it. So if they messed up the design it is not because of the CAD but because they made a mistake in the design itself. Most companies use CAD nowadays, certainly big companies like Kawai and Yamaha, but the other ones probably also.


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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
In 2007, Steinway Hamburg used CAD to revise their action geometry and it went spectacularly wrong for them. The pianos ended up being very sluggish and heavy, and a number of big name pianists went to Steinways and said they would switch allegiance if they didn't put it right. That isn't me trying to bash Steinway, I was told this by a Steinway technician. Of course Steinway make excellent pianos.

A CAD system does not design the system for you. It is just an aid; it is still the engineer who makes the decisions. Just like all the structure simulation, and various modeling gives data points, but the designers interprets those and makes the decisions. When I used simulation models to cross check a bridge behavior, I am still responsible of how I use the model and the conclusions I draw from it. So if they messed up the design it is not because of the CAD but because they made a mistake in the design itself. Most companies use CAD nowadays, certainly big companies like Kawai and Yamaha, but the other ones probably also.
Correct, I use CAD.

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In the Steinway case wasn't it a mistake in the data not the design itself?

As you imply the big advantage of simulation is crunching the numbers in ways we cannot do. One migjt think Bosendorfer might have worked òut a 4 mm thinner or thicker soundboard was the answer for themselves. That's hindsight.

Fazioli and Phoenix are two of the others who do significant R&D.


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Another double post - pianos have about 12,000 parts and cars 30,000 parts. Get their dimensions and characteristics right and you can build a consistently good product. My guess is Steinway's new casting plant could be as significant as any innovation on 100 years

Last edited by Withindale; 05/06/22 06:51 PM.

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Originally Posted by Withindale
Another double post - pianos have about 12,000 parts and cars 30,000 parts. Get their dimensions and characteristics right and you can build a consistently good product. My guess is Steinway's new casting plant could be as significant as any innovation on 100 years

This article says the Tesla Model 3 has 10,000 unique parts:

https://electrek.co/2017/09/06/tesla-model-3-supply-chain-parts-us-canada-mexico/amp/

I’m pretty excited about the long term viability of the car if it has 20,000 fewer parts than an internal combustion engine car, which I would never buy again.

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Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by Withindale
Another double post - pianos have about 12,000 parts and cars 30,000 parts. Get their dimensions and characteristics right and you can build a consistently good product. My guess is Steinway's new casting plant could be as significant as any innovation on 100 years

This article says the Tesla Model 3 has 10,000 unique parts:

I think the article is talking about unique parts. The 30,000 number refers to the total number of parts.


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Originally Posted by Withindale
In the Steinway case wasn't it a mistake in the data not the design itself?


It is difficult to assess precisely from the outside what was the exact source of the mistake. I would think S&S has no interest in ackowledging that they messed up. A mistake in the data can mean a number of different things, but that does not change the outcome which is that they did not deliver a usable design. Usually, the process in manufacturing companies is a rather elaborate one for a major change. You dont go straight from design into mass production. The design is cross-checked and before putting in production, there are test models being made and the company goes through a phase of pre-production where finished products are subject to more thorough quality control and testing.

So if S&S produced a number of flawed pianos, it means they really messed up not only the design itself but the entire process, assuming they have one.


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Originally Posted by Withindale
Another double post - pianos have about 12,000 parts and cars 30,000 parts. Get their dimensions and characteristics right and you can build a consistently good product. My guess is Steinway's new casting plant could be as significant as any innovation on 100 years


Yes, off the 12,000 parts, over 8000 are in the action itself and it is a fully repetitive model across the 88 keys. So the number of unique parts is way less. In fact even though the piano is one of the most complicated musical instruments (organ set aside), it is mechanically moderately complex, per modern standards.


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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Withindale
In the Steinway case wasn't it a mistake in the data not the design itself?


It is difficult to assess precisely from the outside what was the exact source of the mistake. I would think S&S has no interest in ackowledging that they messed up. A mistake in the data can mean a number of different things, but that does not change the outcome which is that they did not deliver a usable design. Usually, the process in manufacturing companies is a rather elaborate one for a major change. You dont go straight from design into mass production. The design is cross-checked and before putting in production, there are test models being made and the company goes through a phase of pre-production where finished products are subject to more thorough quality control and testing.

So if S&S produced a number of flawed pianos, it means they really messed up not only the design itself but the entire process, assuming they have one.

When we first worked with car manufacturers QC would ask despatch to divert certain vehicles for rectification. Many had already been delivered to the customer. At least they had detected the fault, unlike Steinway.

Joseph gave the reason for the mistake in his post but it must have deleted itself your post.


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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Withindale
Another double post - pianos have about 12,000 parts and cars 30,000 parts. Get their dimensions and characteristics right and you can build a consistently good product. My guess is Steinway's new casting plant could be as significant as any innovation on 100 years


Yes, off the 12,000 parts, over 8000 are in the action itself and it is a fully repetitive model across the 88 keys. So the number of unique parts is way less. In fact even though the piano is one of the most complicated musical instruments (organ set aside), it is mechanically moderately complex, per modern standards.

It goes without saying that the precision of each and every one of the 88 examples of each unique part in must be closely, monitored as must the assembly itself. These things can measured just as they are in the automotive industry.

Even then Yamaha say manual intervention is required to meet their tolerances for the assembly of their premium pianos.

Last edited by Withindale; 05/07/22 07:04 AM.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by Withindale
Another double post - pianos have about 12,000 parts and cars 30,000 parts. Get their dimensions and characteristics right and you can build a consistently good product. My guess is Steinway's new casting plant could be as significant as any innovation on 100 years

This article says the Tesla Model 3 has 10,000 unique parts:

I think the article is talking about unique parts. The 30,000 number refers to the total number of parts.
Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by Withindale
Another double post - pianos have about 12,000 parts and cars 30,000 parts. Get their dimensions and characteristics right and you can build a consistently good product. My guess is Steinway's new casting plant could be as significant as any innovation on 100 years

This article says the Tesla Model 3 has 10,000 unique parts:

I think the article is talking about unique parts. The 30,000 number refers to the total number of parts.

My point was that electric motors have far fewer parts than internal combustion engines and require far less maintenance. Internal combustion engines will become a thing of the past. I will not miss them.

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