Posts tagged Boston
There are SO many differences in piano design. “Well aren’t all pianos kinda the same?” you ask. Not at ALL!!!! (I can’t emphatically add more stress to this point). Yes pianos operate the same – they all have soundboards, strings, keys and actions. Think about cars… BMW, Toyota, Honda, GM… they all drive but do they feel identical? Of course not. Even within the same company there are huge differences between models. Toyota makes (my beloved) Landcruiser but they also have made the Tercel (and trust me… i’ve owned both and there are few similarities). Pianos, within the same company have different designs. These designs are called “scales”. When you play hundreds of pianos you will appreciate a good scale. So what’s the difference between a good scale and a bad one? Oooohhhh (rubbing hands together) where do we start? Hmmmm let’s start at strings: There are 2 types of strings on any piano – plain wire steel treble strings and copper wound bass strings. In the steel wire treble strings, there are about 2 dozen sizes of wire (plus half sizes!) ranging from 0.029″ to about 0.059″ in thickness. To look at them, they all kinda look the same but they are INCREDIBLY different. So each note is matched in length and tightness to the pitch of the note. Someone then decides “OK let’s use size 14.5 wire for that note on the piano”. Now that’s part of the design – part of a decision to make a piano sound a certain way. Now getting into the bass section… OMG! There are hundreds if not thousands of permutations on what could be used for the centre ‘core’ of the string but also the copper winding… how much mass, how long is the copper blah blah blah… there are HUGE choices to be made on JUST the strings alone. Which reminds me… i should write a blog about great sounding bass strings… cuz trust me, not all strings are equal (far from it). And believe it or not, there are different grades of steel wire as well – all factors that play into the overall sound of the instrument. So that’s just one tiny tiny element of piano design… then you think about hammers – the quality, the weight, the placement… the action – the various types…. the frame, the soundboard, the quality of the wood… even the expertise of installation… the list goes on and on and on!!! Someone once told me “The piano requires the attention to a thousand details”. I believed him… THAT’s scale design.
All this to say… i have found that there are 2 pianos that i tune that i REALLY REALLY enjoy. One being the Yamaha C7 – it’s the 7 foot Yamaha grand. The other is a Boston 6′ grand (designed by Steinway, manufactured by Kawai). Both have SUCH smooth scales… meaning that the sound from one note to the next is like a string of pearls – matched in tone and timbre – fundamental and overtones. Nothing beats a good scale. Shout out to Steve in Metchosin who has me regularly tune his C7 and to Hillary and Lawrence on their choice of such a wonderful Boston. Thanks… those pianos remind me of why i love to play.