What Are the Parts of a Piano Made Of?

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With over 2,500 parts, the piano is probably the most complicated musical instrument ever made, according to How Products Are Made. A Steinway grand piano can take over a year to build. Wood is the main material used in making pianos, but metal is also a key material especially for the metal frame, which needs to be able to withstand the immense tension of the strings.

Wood

  • In Steinway grand pianos the rim, or curved side, is made of hard rock maple, as is the pinblock, the device that holds the tuning pins and bridges for the strings. Kemble pianos use Strunz Bavarian spruce for the soundboards, while some manufacturers use Sitka spruce. Spruce is also often used to make the braces, or supports that are fastened in place with wooden dowels. The ribs of some Steinways are made from sugar pine and wooden keys are reinforced with Linden wood buttons. A piano's encasement, or cabinet, is covered in wood veneer. Legs and lid are also usually made of wood.

Metal

  • The plate, or metal frame of the piano, is made of cast iron, created by sand casting, in the case of Samick and Bechstein pianos, among others. The strings are made from high-tensile steel. Bass strings are wound with copper. On some pianos, the tubing, used to house parts of the action, is made of brass. The action is the mechanical assembly that converts key pressure into notes. On some, the action repetition and fly spring is made from phosphor bronze. The pedals are usually made of solid brass.

Other Materials

  • In the past, the hammer heads have been made from rubber and even elk skin. Nowadays wool and felt are used and wool is used for the dampers. Wool cloth is used to make the action smooth, so the keys don't stick when played. The keys themselves are covered in black or white plastic. On older pianos black ebony and white ivory were used.

Unusual Materials

  • Piano manufacturer Bösendorfer produces individual instruments. Their limited Kuhn-Bösendorfer piano has up to 100,000 jewels in diamond patterns on the case, fallboard, legs and lid. These are hand cut, lead crystal, rather than diamond, but Bösendorfer will build you a piano encrusted with diamonds for the right price. In their Art Collection, Schimmel has a grand piano whose encasement is made from acrylic glass. Light bulb inventor Thomas Edison had a less propitious "light bulb moment" when he decided to build a piano made of concrete. The idea did not catch on.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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