damage overtime and why is it so?
The soundboard is
the single largest piece of wood and the most important part in a
piano. A proper constructed soundboard has a crown or a slight dome
shaped curvature to the top of the board to help it resist the down
pressure of the strings on the bridges and to transmit sound better. The
soundboard is made from either compression or rib-crowning method. Over the years, piano soundboard can lost
their crown or their curvature caused by fluctuation of humidity in
the surrounding air. As a result, the wood of the soundboard panel
expands and contracts and eventually becomes damaged.
How do I know
if the soundboard is damage?
You will see this damage in form of cracks on the soundboard.
However, in some cases the soundboard shows no visible sign of
damage. If that is the case, only a careful evaluation of the sound of
the piano can determine the damage; for instance losses power, lack
of dynamic range and weak sustain qualities. These are very
important because they are the foundation of the piano personality in
producing a good musical tone.
Can damaged and
cracked soundboards be repaired?
The repairing of cracks on the soundboard is merely a cosmetic work
and does little if anything to restoring the soundboard performance.
Once the wood cells have undergone permanent crushing (compression
set), as a result of stress cause by repeated swings in humidity,
the soundboard is damaged and should be replaced.
How much does
it cost to replace a new soundboard?
To replace a
soundboard can be very expensive. Other than the high repair bill,
it is largely depends on the skill and the experience of the person
doing the work and the working facilities. A skill person will be
able to make the soundboard to sound better and last longer than before.
I’ve been told
that the wood used on earlier pianos is no longer available today.
This is completely
false. The wood being used today is no different that in the past.
Of course, there are some manufacturers have switched to using
less-expensive wood in order to stay competitive as top quality wood
is getting more scarce and expensive all the time. The fact remains
that top piano manufacturers in Europe continue to seek and use the same
type of wood as in the past. Also, with new technology being
introduced today, a great deal more is known about how to
make the soundboard sound better and last longer than before. And, modern glues used
in piano making today last
much longer than the animal glues used in the past.
When should a piano soundboard not be replace?
should ask yourself about the value of a new piano of a brand similar in
quality. The value of a used piano will never be, in cost, of a
comparable new one. And if you decide to sell later,
the ability of recoup the expenses spent on the repairing or
replacement will be limited. In our opinion,
if not for sentimental or historical reasons, older pianos should
not be rebuilt. It will be better off to trade-in for a
quality piano where it can produces powerful tone, wider dynamic ranges and good sustain