By Gabriele Bonamini
Every Fazioli piano emerges from the great vision of the company's founder combined with the daily commitment of the many skilled and passionate colleagues that form the Fazioli technical team.
Over forty years, the company has succeeded in distilling the best of piano-building and musical tradition and experience from the last three centuries. This has been analysed with a critical eye, considering the evolving tastes of players and audiences, and contributing with innovative solutions that improve the instrument in terms of all aspects of sound quality, playability, and durability with optimum performance.
Fazioli's range of grand pianos offers all of the characteristics universally recognised as the most advanced and best suited for creation of modern concert pianos: powerful yet expressive sound, balanced and responsive to the pianist's touch, along the entire keyboard.
These characteristics are achieved through careful attention to many different aspects, all of great importance:
ACCURATE CONVERSION OF THE PIANIST'S TOUCH INTO A PRECISE HAMMER STRIKE ON THE STRING
The geometric relationships and masses in the complex mechanics are calibrated to provide a precise and immediate feedback to the pianist’s fingertips, offering a feeling of absolute control over the instrument and the resulting sound.
Fazioli has created innovative and original patented solutions, ensuring that this feeling remains constant over time and use, and making mechanical adjustments simpler.
BALANCED STRING DESIGN
The size of the strings (length, diameter, tension, density and flexibility of materials) and their distribution is designed to minimise acoustic non-uniformities between notes that are near to each other. It allows natural flow from the clear depth of bass notes, to sweet, sustained singing mid tones, and through to the gleaming brightness of the highest notes.
Fazioli models actively contribute to the quality of the final sound via the possibility of adjustment, note by note, of both front and rear duplex scales.
This precise adjustment undoubtedly increases the range of colour available to the highly trained ear.
UNRIVALLED STRENGTH AND STABILITY
The crossed-stringing design, proven through the experience of a multitude of professional pianists and millions of instruments built over more than 100 years, offers the following benefits:
- Greater string length with the same soundboard dimensions.
- Optimisation of bridge positioning on the soundboard.
- More compact cast-iron frame, without increasing weight, to better withstand the string tension (greater tuning stability).
- Greater mobility of the soundboard with a significant increase in dynamic range, colour and power of acoustics.
All other set-ups (such as straight stringing) end up compromising the high-performance specifications required of the modern piano.
PRECISE SOUNDBOARD DESIGN
The ultimate goal of a piano soundboard is to maintain the full richness of the vibrations generated by the strings, gradually converting them into sound waves which are propagated efficiently through the surrounding air.
The soundboard is a very complex component that represents the heart of the piano.
It is formed of planks 11 mm thick and with a width varying between 8 and 12 cm. These are glued edge to edge forming a thin “diaphragm” that is very mobile and offers a large surface area.
Ribs are glued to the underside (flexible wooden strips shaped so that they are rigid at the centre and more flexible at the ends), perpendicular to the grain of the soundboard, giving them greater uniformity and a slight upward curvature.
Then, the mid-upper and bass bridges are glued in place, which transfer the vibrations from the strings to the soundboard.
The soundboard must react uniformly to the vibrations of the strings, absorbing energy gradually and converting it into sound.
A soundboard with too much mobility may create explosive notes in terms of attack, but they will have a short duration.
However, going too far the other way, restricting its mobility, will create a sound that is too weak. A perfect balance is required that allows the soundboard to amplify the vibrations from the strings whilst maintaining good duration (known as “sustain”) and also guaranteeing sufficient harmonic richness and power (when the pianist desires it). The soundboard must also guarantee sufficient strength to withstand the static vertical load exerted by the strings tensioned on the bridge, along with stability of form (e.g. curvature), reacting as little as possible to changes in humidity and temperature, allowing stable tuning of the piano.
Fazioli has dedicated a significant portion of its research to optimising the soundboard, also patenting innovative solutions for its creation.
The soundboard made with a special structure featuring three crossed layers of wood and a thickness of micrometres represents an important step towards achieving a solution with more uniform acoustic response and even greater stability over time, also under extreme environmental conditions (e.g. very dry or very humid environments).
OPTIMISATION OF THE BOND BETWEEN SOUNDBOARD AND CASE
The functional vibrating part of the piano is restricted to two components: the strings and the soundboard.
Instrument design must aim to maintain the musical vibrations within the limits of these two systems. As long as vibration energy bounces back and forth between the strings and the soundboard, the sound can spread and endure. If this energy flows out beyond the limits of the soundboard and propagates through the shell, fundamentally it is lost.
In fact, the mass and rigidity of the case are such that it has very limited mobility: exactly the opposite of what is desirable in the soundboard.
Ideally, the bonding of soundboard and shell should impede any transfer of vibrations from one to the other. Fazioli research aims to maximise this acoustic isolation, employing constantly evolving build techniques, involving not only soundboard and shell but also the cast-iron frame and all other acoustically passive instrument components.
NON-ACOUSTIC CONSTRUCTION SOLUTIONS
Fazioli pianos are continually perfected down to the most minute details also in terms of elements not directly linked to the production of sound, but intrinsically connected to the quality of the final product.
Every screw, joint, bond and other construction detail is carefully analysed to identify potential improvements. There is always room to improve, on a range of fronts: sourcing of materials and components, glues and paints, processing, build and assembly, packaging, final inspection, testing and sign-off, transport and shipping, and the musical use of the piano itself.
This is a journey towards perfection that involves everything and everyone, working together. And it is a journey that we will always be dedicated to.