A portrait of the W.Hoffmann soundboard specialist reflects the company philosophy.
Martin Fisar is the specialist for the soundboard, the main component of any piano’s acoustic ensemble. In his efforts to optimise the resonance, he adopts the principles used in manufacturing the board of the C. Bechstein instruments. The soundboard is widely considered the heart of the piano, and plays a crucial role in the sound quality. Once the membrane has been carefully dried, Martin glues on the reinforcement ribs (against the grain) and the bridges that transmit the vibrations from the strings. He is also in charge of assembling the soundboard and its frame.
The shape and position of the ribs are determined with precision, as these reinforcing parts decisively contribute to the board’s vibration properties and thus to the sound quality.
An excellent craftsman, Martin checks and re-checks the curvature of the soundboard in W.Hoffmann Professional and Tradition pianos to determine the precise moment when it should be put together with the cast-iron frame.
An irresistible voice
A piano’s voice is the result of the interplay of various factors. Take it from a voicing specialist at C. Bechstein Europe.
Marcel Novák is in charge of voicing the hammerheads. It consists in optimising the voice of the instruments, which is a real challenge: I must give them a soul! This demanding activity requires sensitivity, dexterity and a clear understanding of what beautiful sound is. Voicing the hammerheads means optimising the felt’s elasticity using a needle – a special knack is required. The dynamics of any note largely depend on the ability of the voicing specialist to recognise and modify the reaction of the felt as it hits the string. It is clear that voicing requires patience and much attention to detail.
The voicing is performed in three steps at C. Bechstein Europe: preparation, proper voicing and final inspection. There is always a certain delay between the two last steps to allow the felt time to stabilise and thus achieve the best result. Bechstein understood long ago that time is an important quality factor.
The advantages at C. Bechstein Europe include the successful symbiosis between Czech expert piano-makers and experienced German managers from the parent company, and the short distance between Hradec Králové and the German production site in Saxony, just over the border. Moreover, the Czech site is equipped with state-of-the-art CNC machines for basic manufacturing of the various parts, and every single piano undergoes a personalised processing to ensure consistent quality. W.Hoffmann pianos: personalised instruments made by Europeans!
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