As your piano tuner Wilmington DE, I am frequently asked what types of wood are used in a piano. As we said in our previous two articles, there are many kinds of wood that are used in a piano, depending on the function of each particular structure. If you have not yet read our previous two piano tuner blog articles, this would be a good time to read them, so that this article will be more easily understood.
Our first article in this series discussed the types of wood in the case of a piano. The second article discussed the types of wood in a piano soundboard. This article will elaborate on the construction of a soundboard. As we said, the soundboard is the amplifier for the piano. In order to do that, the soundboard cannot just be a dead piece of wood. It must be a live vibrating surface. In order for it to be that way, it must be constructed in a specific manner, so that it is under considerable tension.
In the construction of a soundboard, pieces of Sitka spruce are made 3/8″ thick and about 8″ wide. These pieces are glued side by side until a structure is formed that is the size of the piano, but is only 3/8″ thick. Once the glue is dry, the large piece of wood is trimmed to the exact size of the piano. Next, one-inch spruce “ribs” are glued to the soundboard in a specific way to create a live vibrating structure. This is accomplished using a “bellying board.” If you imagine a turtle shell upside down, so that the concave portion of the shell is facing upward, that is the shape of a bellying board.
The spruce piano soundboard is placed over the concave portion of the bellying board, and then the ribs are positioned running across the grain of the spruce, and about 8 inches apart. Glue is placed between the ribs and the soundboard, and the whole structure is pushed with thousands of pounds of pressure into the concavity of the bellying board. When the glue is dried, the soundboard is a live resonant structure. It is turned over and placed into the piano case, so that the convex portion is facing upward.
Next, the bridges are attached to the soundboard. The bridges are made of maple, since the forces on the bridges are great. The bridges are where the piano strings are located at the back of a grand piano or at the bottom of a vertical piano.
If you have any questions about pianos, please let us know. Kenneth Keith Piano Services is your Wilmington DE piano tuning experts. As your DE piano tuner, we also proudly provide piano services Philadelphia, Eastern Shore MD and Southern NJ.