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allen mason piano maker

New Custom made

Sounding Boards

Complete Piano Restoration

"Custom built for the masters" was hand lettered on the sounding boards of the three Mark Allen concert grands I hand built from scratch, for which I received international recognition (see article). But more to the point they were custom designed utilizing unique acoustic inventions in sound board construction.

In the early 70's I worked out how to make superlative sounding boards that maximized the acoustic potential inherent in the original manufacturers design. The key I found was in the ribbing of the sounding board. The fanning out of the ribs as done in the Bösendorfer (see picture) was, in my judgement, ideal for bass and middle range tone transmission but much less ideal for the treble. Thus I started making my sound board ribbing in a pattern that graduated the extreme degree of fanning out in the bass to a lesser degree in the treble. I also by trial and error determined that what I call auxiliary ribbing (smaller in size and length installed in between the main ribs in bottom half of sounding board ) greatly increased the volume and resonance.

Finally I worked out how to hollow out certain sections of the ribbing for a very superior treble (according to the design potential of original scale design and overall engineering). My sound boards are now famous for the outstanding beauty of what is often affectionately called the "Chopin nocturne range" of the treble along with an overall homogenized blending of the tone in all its ranges. Piano technicians have often noted, regarding my sounding boards, that my design knits together the harmonics of string scaling partials for smooth tuning.

Over a period of 3 1/2 decades I have been perfecting my unique design features as I succesively rebuilt pianos with my custom sounding boards. If you have a fine grand piano needing restoration please consider that (along with new hammers, strings, refinishing etc.) a new sounding board capable of greater resonance than the original maker achieved would be musically exciting.

Solid Canadian red spruce (commercialy called "eastern white spruce") is my preferred wood for sounding board panels. However my experience has proven that for superior results the ribbing should incorporate sugar pine in the bass section.

Serious inquiries are welcome. Endorsements and references of my work can be provided.

Allen Mason
AKA Mark Allen piano maker.

Allen Mason is retired.
He maintains these pages for educational purposes only.

The piano above is a circa 1908 Bösendorfer grand with its sounding board removed. You can see it propped up behind the Bösendorfer with its ribs in a pattern fanning out, wider apart at the tail or bass end. In the foreground of picture the case of the piano is being glued up as its laminations had seperated from climatic extremes to which it had been exposed. This picture was taken in the mid 70's.