Acoustic Pianos De-Mystified

April 1, 2020 Chuck Johnson

Why do some pianos last longer and sound different than others?

In the search for universal truths regarding acoustic pianos - the list usually comes up short.  We’ve developed a simple concept called the “two triangles” that attempts to explain differences between ALL pianos. Lofty goal? Yes.   Impossible? You be the judge…

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What pianists experience (the inner triangle):

  1. Touch: How it feels, the weight, the consistency, the response. Everything you feel.
  2. Tone: Color, Timbre at different dynamics, Depth, Sustain, Overtones. Everything you hear.
  3. Time: Age degrades touch and tone. Physical reality of piano design and the variable impacts of environment, and use. Hugely variant between makes, models and circumstance.

Where the experience comes from (the outer triangle):

  1. Materials: Wood type and specifications, all parts quality and materials.
  2. Workmanship: The care, experience and detail of assembly, the tolerances maintained.
  3. Design: The big one! Specifies the materials and prescribes the workmanship. Patents, etc.

Not all pianos are created equal, and furthermore, time plays a huge role in the musical life of a given piano. There are so many myths spun about old pianos, it’s hard to know where to begin! Hopefully this video is a start and sheds some light on how and why pianos sound and feel different (over time!).

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