New Custom made
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
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.
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.