ALL SPRUCED UP
There’s a lot more to a piano than meets the eye. If you’ve ever poked your head inside that tired old upright in your grandmother’s front room (not a euphemism) then you’ll see all kinds of nuts, bolts, poles, shafts, hammers and moving parts, all of which work in total harmony to produce that piano’s sound.
At the core of a piano, however, is a thick wooden soundboard—usually cut through with variously-sized holes—that acts as a resonator to project the sound forwards. It’s basically the piano’s speaker system. And that makes it super important.
For that reason, those good folks at Steinway & Sons only choose the very best wood for their soundboards. And, ooh boy, are they picky.
Steinway soundboards not only have to be made of the finest quality Sitka spruce timber, but the wood specifically has to come from trees grown on the shady side of tree-covered mountains.
Why? Well, trees grow slower in the shade than they do in direct sunlight, which means that their timber is closer-grained. That gives it more resonance—and that’s why Mr Steinway and his sons are famously so picky.