The world’s first carbon fibre grand piano
The Phoenix Carbiano prototype was built in the summer of 2012 and is the world’s first ever carbon fibre grand piano. It is the prototype of a range of pianos under study at Hurstwood Farm Piano Studios, and is forerunner of the next generation of pianos.
In 2009 we introduced our innovative carbon fibre soundboards in our highly successful range of traditional appearance Phoenix pianos. These are now recognised as having superior sound and power; they have been sold worldwide.
Why do we use carbon fibre?
The principle advantage of using carbon fibre for piano construction is that it is almost totally unaffected by harsh climatic conditions (ambient temperature, corrosion, moisture or humidity). It is very durable. It has a modulus of elasticity (stiffness) exceeding that of steel and a low specific gravity (density) that favours quality sound production. Low density also enables a piano of low mass to be designed. The mass of the prototype is about one third of that of a comparable size traditional piano. Much more weight reduction can and will be achieved. The acoustic absorption of sound energy in the carbon fibre body of the prototype piano is lower than with wood construction giving it amazing upper register sound.
Carbon fibre shanks – giving the artist better control
The use of carbon fibre tubular shanks in the action reduces both the mass and the whip of the shanks thus enabling better definition of the strike point in forte playing and consequent elimination of the volume ceiling that occurs in most traditional instruments due to the strike point migrating towards the tail of the piano as the hammer shank flexes and the hammer head leans forward.
The artist senses better feedback of conditions in the action and thus achieves better control. The exceptionally low friction of the action combined with the better efficiency of conversion of string vibration energy to sound, enables the artist to use less finger effort for a given volume output. Most artists find this improves accuracy and assists with interpretation.
Lower friction from humidity-proof sintered bushes
Many, if they are not first told, conclude the action of the carbon fibre piano is traditional but in exceptionally good regulation. The facts are that its geometry and operation is barely different from a traditional wooden action, but its friction is lower because felt bushings are eliminated in favour of humidity-proof sintered bushes and the geometry is better defined and more stable.
Suspended sound board
Unlike conventional pianos the sound board of the prototype CF piano is suspended directly from the carbon fibre frame (plate) rather than being mounted on a massive wooden sub-frame as in traditional pianos.
Carbon fibre bridge
In our first piano, the bridge was made in wood because in professionally controlled research it is unwise to superimpose too many experimental features. However, it has since been altered to have a carbon fibre bridge with great benefit.
Phoenix bridge agraffes
Keen observers will note that the upper registers are equipped with standard appearance bridge pins, but the tenor and bass have the patented Phoenix bridge agraffes that free the soundboard of the heavy down-bearing loads from the strings.
The advantages of elimination of down-bearing by use of Phoenix bridge technology derives mainly from the bass registers. With the extra strength of carbon fibre the bridge pin and side draft angles can be changed to generate the essential high contact forces between the strings and bridge cap without imposing stresses on the bridge material that, were it wood, would cause cracking of the bridge timber.
This enables down- bearing conventionally developed by a change of angle of the string in the vertical plane over the bridge to be reduced to insignificant amounts yet the string is held firmly in contact with the bridge cap while the sound board is left free to vibrate.
Carbon fibre tuning pin block
The tuning pin block is made of a carbon fibre block. Each tuning pin hole is lined with maple wood so that tuners accustomed to pins in a wooden pin block will not need to learn a new technique for setting the pins.
Many of the features of this carbon fibre prototype have already been incorporated in the Phoenix range of instruments which are now long and well proven and commercially available at highly competitive price.