The terms rebuilding, restoration, and remanufacturing are often confused. There are no objective, institutionalized definitions for any of them. The words rebuilt or rebuilding have an especially wide range of possibilities. The musician looking to buy a rebuilt piano or contract for a piano rebuilding must therefore take care that the exact nature of the work to be performed is specified and includes a catalogue of the parts to be replaced or retained.
At Acousticraft, the sound and feel of your fine piano are our ultimate concerns. To assure a superb finished instrument, we maintain our own inventory of quarter-sawn lumber for hand crafting each soundboard and pinblock. This assures complete control over quality and selection for grain angle, density, thickness and strength. AcoustiCraft does not rely on aftermarket piano sources and their one size fits all prefabricated soundboard and pinblock panels.
Many piano rebuilders cut costs by purchasing generic soundboards and using the same soundboard press to bend each one. As a result, every soundboard they replace has the same curvature, regardless of the original size and design of the piano. AcoustiCraft uses different sets of cauls to give each soundboard the correct amount of crown for the individual piano model. This produces an instrument with superior musical response and structural stability.
Some of the most common questions a piano rebuilder will be asked are ones such as, "Why replace the soundboard? Is it even possible? Won't it change the sound? Why should I have my piano rebuilt?". In order to answer these questions properly a little background information is necessary.
When the piano was new, its soundboard had a "crown" or upward curvature. It also had "downbearing," or downward pressure of the piano strings against the upward curvature of the soundboard.
The process of stressing the soundboard, which produces the upward crown, also levels out the "response characteristic" of the soundboard. That is, it reduces the resonant frequencies of the soundboard even as it eliminates the notch frequencies which will also be present. Notch frequencies are areas into which sound and vibration weaken significantly, or disappear entirely. Frequencies which are too weak are strengthened. The downbearing of the strings against the crown further evens out the response characteristic of the soundboard so that all frequencies will respond uniformly throughout the audible piano scale!
The truth is all pianos will lose crown and downbearing as their soundboards age. It's simply a matter of time. A piano without crown or downbearing will respond unevenly across its scale, with a characteristic weak, thin sound in the fifth and sixth octaves of the piano keyboard. The fullness and richness of the overtone series will be adversely affected, and the sustaining qualities of some of the notes will be reduced. When in this state, the piano will no longer respond the way it was intended to. If the owner of such an instrument wishes it to sound as good as when it was new, the soundboard will need to be replaced. In other words, the piano will need to be rebuilt or restored.
To find out more about your pianos special considerations, please contact us for more information.