A Journey Through a Soundboard

My hand surgery is two days from now. I gave up trying to make my left hand play the piano over a week ago; it simply can’t do it anymore. I am trying to keep myself distracted from my impending challenges, but I usually fail.

However this afternoon and evening I lost myself in the smell of spruce and feel of fine wood dust on my skin as I began building a new soundboard for a customer’s piano. The hours slipped by unnoticed as I first laid out the dimensions of the new ribs and then began the peaceful process of measuring, cutting, sanding, cutting, and sanding some more. There are few more satisfying feelings than working with a chisel sharp enough to give you a very close shave as it cuts through a maple piano rim as if it were basswood. So for a few moments, as Maria Tipo played through Bach’s Partitas, I went to a place of calm and peace.

Two months ago I played a recital without any problems and now I am unable to play at all. This reminded me again how we must live our lives in dependence and submission to our Father. We may think we know where we are going and what will allow us to live a well lived life, but tomorrow you can lose everything. If after Friday’s surgery and the two months of recovery, I am unable to play in the manner I have become accustomed to, will I be able to accept it as my Father’s will? After all I have been playing for over 40 years! I was hoping for at least another 25 or so, I have my best years ahead of me. Yet, in the words of our savior, “not my will, but thine, oh Lord.”

Andrew Remillard

Myth: A Crack in the Soundboard Means my Piano is Ruined.

Fact: While a crack in the soundboard can be a problem such as when the panel comes unglued from the ribs. Most soundboards have cracks within a few years after manufacture… you just don’t see them yet.

A single crack or gap is usually nothing to worry about, even several can pretty meaningless. If however you start getting more than 5 or 6 your soundboard is probably also losing its crown which will adversely affect the sustain and volume your piano will have.

The only pianos which don’t develop cracks in their soundboards are those with very flimsy frames which allow the soundboard to expand and contract without cracking and laminate soundboard (plywood).

A crack in the pin block is a much more serious matter. Now the piano will not stay in tune. Can you tell if there is a potential problem in the pin block?

Andrew Remillard