First, it’s made from a variety of materials. At the center of that, of course, is the wood. A piano’s structure is designed to maximize a specific type of wood. While the wood in a certain instrument is considered the best in the world, that’s not always the case. Most pianos made today have a small amount of that wood in their construction. It’s an integral part of the structure, like the grain of a pecan tree. But the bottom line is that a lot of the material in a piano is made up of wood! The only exceptions to this are pianos with special properties and machines that can handle those special materials. A piano’s structure plays important parts in a grand piano’s appeal. Many grand pianos have three or more of these special parts. They feature a large, heavy body and a large, deep basswood (not to mention the other exotic woods). In the grand pianos that you see, you’ll also often find three or more strings. In addition, you will find that many grand pianos of today have more than one speaker (a type we cover in part three of this series) that is placed between or in front of the piano. This speaker gives the grand piano a wider range of sound than the piano would from its own internal speakers. The speaker also gives the speaker a chance to influence the volume of the sound that the piano makes.
In contrast, many grand pianos, especially those from the 1980’s or 1990’s have large, shallow bodies, large basswood for the body and strings, and a much smaller number of speakers. If the piano’s piano sound is more than just its own individual components, we call it a resonator.
Now, piano manufacturers, especially those with large factories in the U.S., put a great deal of effort into designing speakers and basscoats to get a large enough range of frequencies to work well in the piano. But sometimes it’s more obvious what the piano needs. For example, with the big, deep wood from the mid-20th century, a very high sound pressure level (SPL) is what a pianist will hear. There are some very sweet grand pianos that are able sustain the SPL level of 200 to 300 dBs for hundreds of hours, and other pianos may only sustain SPL levels of up to 15 minutes, or even less.
In general, the more sensitive or complex a piano is, the bigger the SPL will be. It may take one grand
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