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Soundboards - to replace or not to replace?
Not to long ago soundboard replacement was far beyond the average piano rebuilder. The day is coming (if it isn't already here) that all serious rebuilders will be doing it. The quality of materials and the current techniques are far better than ever for soundboard replacement.
It's very unfortunate when, after shimming the soundboard, replacing and voicing hammers, pinblock, strings, etc., that the piano sounds tone is a disappointment. Sometimes an old board just can't get anything other than a mediocre tone. That situation is very unfortunate since you have to undue the just completed work to get to the soundboard.
Q. Can a soundboard be replaced?
A. Definitely yes, as good as the original. A good board will return the sound back to the sound it had when it was new.
Q. Why should a soundboard be replaced?
A. Soundboards are under several hundred pounds of pressure causing them to lose their crown. Humidity fluctuations cause soundboards to become full of cracks, loose ribs and to come loose from their parameter. rim, and a number of other problems that keep the piano from sounding it's best. Also, to fix a soundboard later the whole piano has to be taken apart again. Previous work is usually lost.
After the soundboard is removed it's easy to see exactly the condition of the old board. A good board that must be removed under rare circumstances will still have crown. A board with poor crown will be flat after removal.
Click here to see pictures of an old bad board, an old good board, and a new good boardQ. Does a new soundboard radically change the character of the sound.
A. No, The new soundboard restores the tone back to it's original sound. The old boards usually have many problems that will never get better. The new soundboard should be patterned after the old board. Piano makers don't make pianos soundboards with cracks, loose ribs, week crown, poor sustain, rattles, strange hums, and other offensive sounds. The difference is often astounding.
Q. Can a soundboard be re-crowned.
A. Not permanently, propping up and shimming a soundboard will re-crown a soundboard only temporarily. Soon the board will be flatter than ever.
Please check out photos of old and new boards.
Also, click here to see new soundboards.
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