Engineering Philosophy

Why is engineering so important to the development of pianos? Because the marvel of the piano is that it is the combination of generations of engineer musicians. The piano is perhaps the perfect combination of the arts and sciences.

The Chairman of Phoenix Pianos, Richard Dain,  as well as being an enthusiastic pianist, has research experience and background in many branches of engineering, several of which impact directly on piano research in Upright and Grand Pianos.

Our founder, Richard Dain is a man of impressive engineering pedigree, and has a distinguished family history. His grandfather engineered the public water supply to Derby; the eldest of his uncles was a Deputy Viceroy of India; the younger uncle was responsible for the building of the Calcutta tramways.

After graduating from Cambridge, his first post was at Ruston & Hornsby in Lincolnshire, as part of a team who had worked with Sir Frank Whittle to develop the UK jet engine. He went on to form an engineering consultancy with Sir Hugh Ford, simultaneously establishing Powdrex, a global powdered steel supplier.

Later he oversaw the development of the IC 225 locomotive.

One of his personal engineering projects was to develop solvent extraction of copper from lean ores and wastes, for commercial application. This process now produces over a third of the world’s copper supply.

For Richard, retirement has simply been a case of having more time to work on what matters to him most: the development of the acoustic piano.

By the late 19th century, what is still called “the modern piano” already existed. The twentieth century saw surprisingly little real innovation within the industry, resulting in a gradual trend towards uniformity of design and cost-cutting production techniques.

Richard knew this had to be challenged: Phoenix sees piano innovation rising from the ashes.

His work has been in development of:-

  • Gas turbine, Rotary and Diesel engines
  • Rail traction (tilting trains and HS225)
  • Mining and Metallurgy by Solvent Extraction for recovery of copper and uranium from lean sources
  • Chemical and Oil refinery plant
  • Fertiliser plant for phosphate, ammonia and Lime fertilisers:
  • Agricultural machinery – such as very deep ploughing and powered surface cultivators
  • Grape harvesters and nut processing machines
  • Iron and steel making including  Continuous casting and tool steel powder metallurgy
  • Food processing machines for fish and bread industries
  • Road Transport Refrigeration units
  • Ammonia and methane production plant and their associated massive industrial compressors
  • High temperature steam reforming furnaces for producing industrial quantities of hydrogen

Whilst some of these sectors might appear distant to the development of the perfect piano, it is fair to say that the piano is the most wonderful engineering amalgam– one on which we have focussed the accumulated knowledge of several lifetimes of  research and development experience.

Phoenix Founder Richard Dain