What Wood Is Best For Making A Piano

What Wood Is Best For Making A Piano

If you look around your home, you’ll find wood is used in many ways, and comes from a variety of sources. You may have oak flooring, maple cabinets, and cedar in your drawers. For many of the items in your home, woods are interchangeable; you can use everything from birch, fir, mahogany, cherry or spruce to add a personal touch to your rooms. What Wood Is Best For Making A Piano

But how about your piano? What type of wood is best for creating a piano? 

It’s not so much what wood is selected as the process that is used to ensure the wood is properly treated before it is used to build a piano. 

After logs are harvested, they are sawed into planks, soaked in hot water to soften, then peeled to produce the veneer for the exterior case. It is then put through a drying process which can last from 6 months to two years, depending on how the parts will be used. This drying process is a crucial step. If not dried properly, the wood can warp and crack over time. 

In many cases, would is put through a process of air drying, then kiln dried bringing it down to as low as a 7 percent factor. It is often seasoned again before bringing it indoors to acclimate to its indoor climate. 

It’s a specialized process selecting the right wood. That’s what separates the manufacturers and gives each piano its own unique look and sound. Selecting wood takes a trained eye. It has to be able to be molded, closed, selected for its ability to be heat resistant and accept mild humidity changes without impact. And while many different kinds of woods can be used for the outside, in general, spruce is used for the soundboard. 

Spruce has high elasticity and is the most reverberant. Spruce is harvested when the sap is at the lowest content, with the manufacturer carefully selecting boards that can withstand environmental changes. Poor quality soundboards will straighten over time and lose tonal quality. So it’s important that they have the right grain for viability. 

Maple is usually used for creating the bridges and the pinblock. The bridge transfers the strings energy to the soundboard. Strength is needed to ensure the strings’ vibration is transferred efficiently. Maple is a hardwood that ensures a high degree of tuning stability over long periods of time, making it the perfect choice for the pinblock. 

Maple is also one of the best choices for the action mechanism. The action parts are a key component to a piano; precision is key. Which is why the quality of the wood is important for it to withstand constant friction and be durable over time.  

Does Wood Matter When Selecting A Piano?

Does Wood Matter When Selecting A Piano?

Ready to buy a new piano? What should you look at when making your final selection?

Since the majority of any piano – 85 percent – is made up of wood, its one of the first and best places to begin. Tone is created by the construction of the piano. And since that comes down to the type of woods and how it was finished, looking to the wood first will give you a good feel of the overall quality of the instrument.

Does Wood Matter When Selecting A Piano?Maple is a very strong wood that can be moulded to form the intricate action parts within a piano. It has a tight, straight grain that gives a piano shape retention and durability. It also gives a vice-like grip on things like tuning pins and bridge pins.

Spruce is one of the most commonly applied woods in creating the piano sound board. Because of its design and structure, it is considered one of the top tonal woods, and is often used in both pianos and acoustical guitars. Spruce is also often used as the braces for a piano because of its longer fibers.

Beech wood is typically used to manufacture the pin block or wrest plank. Pin blocks have up to 240 holes, one needed for every string within the piano. Pin blocks need to have a tight fitting placement to allow the turning pins. This tight fitting is what produced sound quality. Beech wood is both ridged and responds well to drilling and retaining its shape throughout the process and stress.

Bass wood is lightweight and easy to work with. Because it can be easily cut and crafted, its often chosen to create the piano keyboard.

Miscellaneous woods are used for many of the other production processes. For example, walnut makes an excellent choice for the cabinetry of a piano, including the architectural work and the decorative panels. Spruce makes a good choice for soundboards, keybeds, and upright back posts because of its lightness in weight and strength across the grains of the wood.

Does wood matter? In many ways it does. Start your searching process by asking what the piano was made from, and how it will impact the final sound and performance. You may be surprised at the answer.