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Dec 20

What’s Old is New. Sohmer 5’4″ Cupid Baby Grand

If you are looking at spending $150,000.00 for a new piano, such as the Steingraeber Phoenix, or Stuart and Sons, they both have ‘new’ patented technology. Namely, bridge agraffes. Strings are terminated on the bridge in order to couple the string energy to the soundboard, which acts as a ‘trasducer’ in order to hear the sound. These strings weave through steel pins and exert down pressure on the soundboard, which becomes a load bearing surface. The bridge agraffes allow the strings to not exert downward pressure on the soundboard, thus the soundboard does not need to support that load. It allows cleaner termination and better sustain. The thing is, the Sohmer company patented this over a century ago, and the strings do not have downward pressure. You may also see on some exotic pianos, and on our recent rebuild of the Haines Bros. upright, an ‘impedance’ bar underneath the strings. Simply put, impedance is the force that ‘impedes’ the movement of the soundboard. Too little and the sound is weak, too much and the sustain is short. It is costly to build as it must fit behind the ribs and entails extra material and exacting fitting. Sohmer also used this in Victorian times. The very first ‘Baby Grand’ piano was designed by Sohmer, called the Cupid. Unlike modern ‘Baby Grands’ which piano technicians refer to as ‘PSO”, or ‘Piano Shaped Objects’, the Cupid spared no expense in its construction. Also, as can be seen, it is much narrower than modern pianos, thus having a smaller footprint in the room. The sound, however is not compromised. In modern ‘PSO’, the marketing literature brags about the length of the longest string. Thus, marketing triumphs engineering. With the strings so long for the purpose of the brochure, the ‘back scale’ or length of string behind the bridge is much too short, decreasing the ability of the string to resonate and produce the fundamental tone. The solution for better tone is moving the bridge closer to the soundboard and increasing the back scale length. You will find this on the Cupid. Great piano, beautiful in any room. Up for restoration in our shop.

Stuart and Sons Bridge Agraffe System