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A shop I was at recently had a Rippen aluminum piano, which looked a lot like this one:

[Linked Image]

It certainly looked fascinating, and also got me thinking.

Clearly, the odd shape/construction would make it a barrier to most folks just looking for a traditional piano. But why aren't modern pianos made with aluminum braces, legs and other structural components? Presumably these components aren't really adding much to the sound, and would seem ideal to benefit from modern materials, manufacture techniques, etc. They could be painted over or even veneered to be indistinguishable from traditional wooden components, and I suspect a metal frame would be structurally stiffer/stronger, and potentially lighter as well. Could it be cheaper, too?

We have makers experimenting with components that undisputedly affect the feel and tone of the instrument (I'm thinking about Steingraeber's aluminum lid and carbon fiber soundboard, Kawai/MH use of plastic composite actions), but what about the non-performant parts? Is wood really the cheapest construction material/labor unit for mass-manufactured pianos?


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Interesting thought.

Do you know Steingraeber's carbon fibre soundboards come from Richard Dain at Phoenix Pianos? Steingraeber supply the bodies for his Phoenix Steingraeber pianos. Nowadays these come with the 3D printed action Richard designed to stabilise the flight of the hammers to the strings. No more wobbles now.

Before Richard retired he was an inventor and a railway engineer. Read his paper about the Engineering of the Grand Piano, look into Carbiano grand piano, and ask him about you ideas.

Last edited by Withindale; 05/06/22 01:51 PM.

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One thing about carbon fiber, if it gets impacted it totally breaks or cracks unlike the bending aluminum.

We need to make a brand, PIANO WORLD PIANOS WITH ALL IDEAS FROM PW MEMBERS.
The new innovative piano!

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Originally Posted by Gombessa
But why aren't modern pianos made with aluminum braces, legs and other structural components? Presumably these components aren't really adding much to the sound ...

Why not share this presumption about your new piano with the folk at Bosendorfer who developed it? You know, throw a pebble in a pond and watch the ripples.

The Yamaha CFX 2022 press release said something about backposts. Just a marketing puff?


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Originally Posted by probably blue
One thing about carbon fiber, if it gets impacted it totally breaks or cracks unlike the bending aluminum.

We need to make a brand, PIANO WORLD PIANOS WITH ALL IDEAS FROM PW MEMBERS.
The new innovative piano!

Don't you think that it's the brainstorming that goes on in the R&D departments of piano manufacturers that has brought the instrument to where it is today? Aren't improvements constantly being made without the help of the more uninformed amateurs that most of us are?

Regards,


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Originally Posted by probably blue
One thing about carbon fiber, if it gets impacted it totally breaks or cracks unlike the bending aluminum.

I recall carbon fiber is extremely expensive, for something like a soundboard I think CF would more likely be a performance feature (and that seems to be how Phoenix positions it).

Originally Posted by Withindale
Why not share this presumption about your new piano with the folk at Bosendorfer who developed it?

Well, I'm specifically not interested from a Bosendorfer perspective, actually. Their market is at the tip top of the range, so I imagine they are going comparatively "no expense spared" in their component selection. But every piano has wooden braces/backposts, even the most budget 4' baby grand or upright. Is wood the most economical material, is it just because of tradition, or is it actually performant to the tone in a way that something else wouldn't be?


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Did you get to try the piano Gombessa? I'm curious how it sounds.


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Aeolian used aluminum plates in some of their inexpensive lines in the 1950s.

The problem with the Rippens is that the soundboard is bolted directly to the frame, so occasionally the bolts need to be tightened. Otherwise there are rattles.


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Yes Gombessa,

The fibers in CF can be rearranged to for example, be strongest in one spot or to be stronger one direction more than the other. At least my understanding.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by probably blue
One thing about carbon fiber, if it gets impacted it totally breaks or cracks unlike the bending aluminum.

We need to make a brand, PIANO WORLD PIANOS WITH ALL IDEAS FROM PW MEMBERS.
The new innovative piano!

Don't you think that it's the brainstorming that goes on in the R&D departments of piano manufacturers that has brought the instrument to where it is today? Aren't improvements constantly being made without the help of the more uninformed amateurs that most of us are?

Regards,
We are good at PIANOS but aren’t engineers! At least most of us.

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Originally Posted by probably blue
We are good at PIANOS but aren’t engineers! At least most of us.
+1. Plus, the piano manufacturers probably wouldn't respond to a silly question from a rando. But you people will wink

Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Did you get to try the piano Gombessa? I'm curious how it sounds.

Hi Emery, I assume you mean the Steingraeber Phoenix with the CF soundboard? No, I never tried one, though I really hope to one day, if I can find one smile

I came away really liking the "plain" 232 very very much. It's got a kind of light, airy tone (I'm afraid to say "brittle" but in a good way). Whereas Steinway and Fazioli seem to be chasing a platonic ideal sound to the nth degree (and coming ever closer to perfection), Bosendorfer and Steingraeber sound like they are going in a very different direction with how they think a piano should sound. "Refreshing" may be a good way to put it, for me.


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Actually I was wondering about the Rippen aluminum piano. Seems all that aluminum would make it more radical than the Phoenix, which sounds like it's a standard piano with just a CF soundboard instead.


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I would guess NOT but maybe NOT.

Gombessa probably would posted the experience 😉

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Oh sorry! No I didn't spend any time with the Rippen. It just really stood out due to how small it looked, kind of like a digital piano. I had driven quite a ways to the shop to try the Faziolis so really was a bit tunnel visioned with a mission.


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That’s what happened with me sort of.

I was at a piano store and they had SO many brands!

Estonia, Kawai, Yamaha, and other high end brands but I was on a MISSION! Look for MY piano.

I really wish I looked at those more but I was kind of on a time limit LOL.

Maybe I’ll go back and have a different mission.

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All the woodwork in a piano is performant for better or worse. The whole piano vibrates in one way or another. Yamaha have discovered the backposts have a huge effect on on sound. That's because there is an exchange of energy at the rim, between the soundboard and the woodwork, in both directions. The chaps who developed the piano 150 years ago would have known about that.

Last edited by Withindale; 05/07/22 03:52 AM.

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Originally Posted by probably blue
I really wish I looked at those more but I was kind of on a time limit LOL.

Maybe I’ll go back and have a different mission.

Yeah, now that things have settled a bit, I find myself thinking back past the "whirlwind" of activity and pondering all the really interesting things that didn't fit "the mission at the time." Although it took me 3 months to find time to try all the pianos I did, it now really felt ike a huge point to point sprint! I'm glad I made it to the finish line, but like you, I wouldn't mind a chance to stroll backwards along the track and take in everything I ran past in haste someday smile


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