Steinway & Sons

A Quality Piano Starts with Quality Wood

Since 85% of any acoustic piano is composed of wood, it behooves the shopper to compare the species and grades of the wood used, and the integrity with which each is employed. Pianos made to satisfy price requirements rather than quality standards compromise first on wood – restoring to inexpensive substitutes rather than the top grade, solid wood parts found throughout every Steinway piano.

The Steinway Diaphragmatic soundboard, for example, is made of the highest grade close-grained, quarter-sawn Sitka spruce. A wood selected for its superb acoustic properties.

The Steinway grand piano rim is entirely hard rock maple. In the Steinway concert grand piano, 18 laminations of this wood are bent together as on unified rim, so as to with stand 45,373 pounds of tension from the strings.  Unlike softer, lesser wood species found in other pianos, the solid hard rock maple projects the sound from the strings and soundboard with power only achieved by a Steinway piano.

If your standards leave no room for compromise, you deserve the one piano in the world with standards to match. Steinway – only Steinway.

Below is some background on the exquisite woods used in Steinway pianos.

*Hard Maple
We select two types of Hard Maple: Piano Grade Hard Maple and Quarter-Sawn Maple.

Hard Maple is used for action parts and rims because it is the whitest maple and has a tight straight grain. Main benefits: shape retention and durability. Quarter-sawn hard maple is used for wrestplanks and bridges.  Main benefits: stability, durability and the ability to attain a vise-like grip on tuning pins and bridge pins.

Source: Adirondack Mountains, Vermont, Eastern Canada, and Wisconsin.

*Yellow Birch
Among more than ten kinds of birch, yellow birch is the most important commercially.

For its extreme hardness and interlocking grain (known as ‘curly grain’), yellow birch is used for keybed caps, upright linings, upright backboards and the legs of models B and D.  Steinway selects only straight-grained birch, as it is slower in growth, whiter in color and better in texture (grain count). Main benefits: stability, shape retention and durability.

Source: Appalachian Mountains, New England, and Canada.

*Yellow Poplar
Quarter-sawn yellow poplar is used for corewood (wood used between veneers) in grand and upright tops, keylids, upright sides, music desks, etc. Main benefits: strength and the ability to retain its flat and/or rounded posture as corestock.

Source: The regions from New York southward to Florida and westward to Missouri.  Steinway uses only the best poplar, which is grown in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Mahogany is used in the legs of models S, M, and O, keybed moldings, pedal lyres and cross-banding veneer. Main benefits: stability and woodworking properties.

Source: Bolivia and Brazil.

*Black Walnut
This expensive cabinet wood is used mainly for furniture, architectural woodwork and decorative panels.  Steinway uses it for exposed furniture parts (veneers and solids) on vertical and grand piano cases.  It is steamed for uniformity in color.  Main benefit: its exquisiteness, beauty, and character.

Source: The Ohio Valley states of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

*Sugar Pine
This wood is used for soundboard ribs.  It is never used as a furniture wood.  Main benefits: strength and flexibility.

Source: Northern California.

*Sitka Spruce
This is a tree of tremendous size.  Steinway uses it for soundboards, upright back posts, grand piano braces and keybeds.  Main benefits: lightness of weight, extreme high strength properties across the grain, unequaled sensitivity to vibrating strings and tremendous tensile strength to weight ratio. Because of these qualities, Sitka Spruce is the preferred wood for ladders and aircraft construction.

Source: Northern Washington State, British Columbia and Northern Alaska.

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