January 2015

Let us take a voyage in tthe belly of the piano. We have highlighted in this issue the work of our Chapter member Bruce Fanzlaw. You will find his images below. These will show the basic steps involved with the installation of a new soundboard in a grand piano. Also check out Bruce's brief write up of his journey into the belly. Excellent information.


The Belly Work Of Bruce Fanzlaw

mouse over images to enlarge
clean case botton
primed case
completed bottom
crown in board
ready for board
setting bridges
ready board
correct angle
down bearing
clamping board
what is that again
drilling pin holes
carving bridge
bridge carving
bridge pins
new hitch pins
installing plate
ceiling lift
Bechstein factory installation of soundboard

Journey Into The Belly by Bruce Fanzlaw

clamping soundboard

Indeed, sound board replacement (belly work) can be very rewarding. Especially for the technician that offers full rebuilding services. It allows for refinement and/or correction of problems that may have occurred during the original manufacturing process, giving you full control of the restoration/rebuilding outcome tailored for your client; i.e., arm to strike ratio, entry height, optimal string bearing components, bridge side bearing, strike lines, etc. All of which has a direct impact on action geometry. I would like to share a quote from a good friend and mentor, Mike Spreeman (Ravenscroft Pianos), ďBruce, learning belly work is a journey, a path that you will embark on, and not something that is definitive.Ē How true these words are! Among different things youíll discover along the way are, itís one thing for an engineer to design specifications and tolerances - implementation of the same in the real world, can be totally different from piano to piano (particularly the 70ís era S&Sís). When first starting my journey, I surrounded myself with experts and mentors who were willing to share their knowledge, Nick Gravagne, Bruce Clark, Michael Spreeman, Christian Bolduc, David Hughes, and Jude Reveley. Then you take a big breath and jump into the pool. Tooling Up Ė A well equipped shop is an absolute must. I would hate to have to repurchase all the clamps, specialty tools, etc., at todayís prices. Clamps alone are a considerable purchase; i.e., Bessey & Jorgensen clamps for clamping the board to the inner rim on a 6í piano requires approximately 30 clamps. Then you have the front of the board at the belly rail Ė this requires approximately 12-15 different style clamps. Thatís just for starters, very deep throat clamps are also required for some styles of bridge bodies when gluing to the board; chisels and planes, bridge saws for setting bearing, air tools, a high quality commercial grade air compressor, etc. Youíll be inserting and removing the plate numerous times, and I can attest that an overhead crane rail beats a cherry picker any day! The list just goes on and on. Shop Space & Environment Ė Its best if you are able to control the temperature and humidity of the subject piano while doing the belly restoration work. I have three main rooms in constant use: 1) a 1,500 sq. ft. room for deconstruction, finish work, etc.; 2) a 1,500 sq. ft. room heavily insulated and climate controlled for assembly work (keep this room at approx. 35% relative humidity); and 3) a small 10íx10í room is my hot box for blank sound board panels. The hot box stays at approximately 10-20% relative humidity. Suppliers Ė We all have our favorites. Currently, I purchase sound board panels and bridge cap materials from Christian Bolduc. Sound board panels are fit in-house, glued in and bridges installed along with setting optimal bearing, notching the bridge and drilling pinning for string side bearing. I prefer to use Bolducís acoustic wood glue for the process. Dana Mazzaglia is a great source for bridge saws, punches, all of which are custom made. Danaís tools can be viewed at his website: www.mazzagliatools.com. Wood Craft and Woodworker Supplies are also suppliers I use. In short, there are many resources required for a quality sound board installation. For me, itís very rewarding and beneficial to have complete control over a high end restoration from start to finish, and not have to outsource. Iíll forward a few pictures of the process for you to share. Iím sure there are other sites on the web with the same information. I really encourage anyone interested in belly work to take the plunge! I have a Mason BB in the queue for a full restoration in a few months. If the Chapter is interested, perhaps we can coordinate a field trip to my place when itís time to glue in the board.

“When she started to play, Steinway came down personally and rubbed his name off the piano."

― Bob HopeBob Hope

Bob Hope & James Garner

What is the longest piano ?


January 28, 2015 10 am

D. C. Moore & Sons (Bergs Shop)
1201 Upsala Rd Sanford, FL 32771

  1. Next meetings
  2. Plans for educating our Chapter
  3. Business
  4. Open forum

Technical: Demonstration of the tools available from Pianotek for applying the Stanwood key balance system. Discuss benefits and drawbacks and other current systems being used for action geometry and weight control.

Feb or Mar..to be decided

Location to be decided


  1. business
  2. More to come

Technical: To be decided



Yamaha's TransAcoustic Technology
yamha piano
Can Science Improve The Piano
early piano design

Control Noise With Technology

The world is changing and it's technology is changing. I still have people saying "Oh, you use a machine and not your ear to tune!" to which I say "I use both." On the other side of the coin I have had a customer check my tuning with an ipad tuning app, standing next to the piano and letting me know when I got the note correctly tuned. I responsibly proceeded to explain the theory of piano tuning and octave stretching etc. and that her $1 app will not be as accurate as my $1,800 ETD combined with my years of ear tuning experience. This seemed to dull the excitement of accurate tuning verification with free or inexpensive tuning apps. Although I must say, the accuracy of some app's is quite good in the middle octaves. The current array of professional tuning apps for phones and pads are excellent tools for augmenting your arsenal of tools, skills, training for testing and ear tuning as well as chipping newly strung pianos etc. Ear tuning will always be an excellent skill to have, however, the world of professional musicians has embraced all of this technology for the most part as well as plans for PTG testing to only require tuning unisons by ear which is what most ETD users do anyway. Remember....piano tuning can be very subjective. Our testing is quite limited for variation but pianos sound good to many people with all kinds of applied tuning variations. Unisons must be tight though I am sure you will agree. And yet, I did have a customer that called and said my fresh tuning on her newer grand did not sound right in the bass! After a brief interview I learned that as a child she learned on an old big upright that was not maintained well. I said "let me try something." I then de tuned the bass ever so slightly stretching the singles further and putting a small wave in the bichords. "That's perfect" she said and I was on my way. The subsequent tunings for her were done the same. As my wife's Grandmother once said "it's all noise to me." And that's what music is isn't it?....controlled noise. How much control do we need to make a living is the question. Use all that is available for control and you should succeed.


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