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Upright Pianos

Essay by   •  December 10, 2010  •  Essay  •  437 Words (2 Pages)  •  510 Views

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At the turn of the century new threats to the piano's predominance were appearing, as the movies and phonograph appeared. Too many owners could not play their pianos, so it was to be expected that man's ingenuity would arrange for them to be played automatically. The player piano craze, which reached its peak in the 1920's, was an attempt to provide variety, but once it became customary for a machine to provide entertainment, the piano was vulnerable to these fresh rivals. Then came gramophone and radio which put an end to the piano's extensive popularity, for social patterns too were changing, and the depression years took their toll.

Pianomakers responded to these pressures by in the 1930's introducing the miniature upright piano. These miniatures rapidly caught on and created a new vogue for the piano. As, however, the space available was severely restricted, compromises were inevitable. The soundboard was small and bass string lengths were short, so tone was poor. For a time baby grands enjoyed marked popularity. Again the string lengths were inevitably too short to yield even the tone of a good upright. Many uprights were made vaguely to resemble grands.

Then came war. One of its legacies was that it gave pianomakers experience of newly developed glues. As solid timber for the cabinet became increasingly costly, producers turned with renewed enthusiasm to veneers, confident that the glues would endure extreme climates. Kilning or the controlled drying of wood using heat, steam ventilation was introduced as well. Kilning enables soundboards, tuning planks to withstand the worst effects of the harsh central heating. Modern soundboards are unlike to split, tuning pins unlikely to come loose. When pre-war pianos are introduced to modern conditions, these things would happen, ruining tone causing the instrument not to stay in tune.

With several decades experience of the miniature upright, makers have achieved substantial tonal improvements, Today's small uprights are infinitely superior to their pre-war forbears. Indeed all contemporary pianos made in the better-known nations are more soundly constructed and assembled than was the average pre-war instrument. New materials and techniques have been placed at the service of those craft skills which are irreplaceable. The piano with its in excess of five thousand intricate pieces



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