This is something many of you might not be familiar with, it’s truly a topic for Steinway aficionados or those curious enough to look underneath their pianos. So what is the Steinway bell and what does it do?
If you have ever looked below a large Steinway grand piano, you would have noticed a strange piece of metal that is attached to the bottom of the piano. It looks like this:
As you can see, it has the shape of a bell – which is where it gets its name – but does it actually serve a purpose? The short answer is yes.
On larger steinway pianos this bell is attached securely to the rim and the plate of the piano to help maintain the “crown” of the soundboard. This is extremely helpful especially with older pianos because over time they tend to lose crown on their soundboards which is essential for good tone. The link above includes an article and video that explains the concept of crown with regards to soundboards in much greater detail. To describe it briefly, the crown of a soundboard refers to the slight upward arching of the soundboard within the rim of the piano. Over time the wood of a piano may warp slightly with changes in weather. If the rim isn’t stable, the rim’s support of the crown may diminish over time. This will affect the treble notes the most – impacting the projection, sustain, and power of these notes.
The Steinway bell is placed in a strategic part on the rim of the piano. It is designed to attach directly to the curved part of the rim of the piano and the plate to maintain the shape of the rim and prevent it from expanding over time. This will in turn help the piano keep its crown longer.
I hope this is helpful and if you have any questions about this topic or any other, please email me Robert@LivingPianos.com for more information.