The PHOENIX system has been in production on ALL Steingraeber & Söhne grand piano models since 2008



Steingraeber & Söhne / Phoenix Piano Systems

Bridge Agraffes

The penetrating dynamic power of classically built pianos is sometimes felt to be insufficient for the interpretation by modern pianists. Research has shown that, on average, 4% of the energy supplied by the artist is converted into sound. Experiments in alternative piano construction are mostly in the modification of the sounding board, including the outer rim. In the PHOENIX, changes occur mainly at the bridge. The PHOENIX does not replace classic piano technology. Rather, the goal is to increase energy efficiency.

Classic piano sound results from both vertical and horizontal string vibrations. The former are generated by the attack, the latter develop by means of the angled geometry of the pair of bridge pins, which locate and hold the string in contact with the bridge. These together define the harmonic structure of traditional piano sound. The idea of concentrating solely on the dynamically powerful vertical vibrations arose out of early twentieth-century purism. However, the efforts of the most acclaimed piano manufacturers did not lead to any reliable or lasting solutions.

In 2006, English engineer Richard Dain presented his bridge agraffe principle to Bayreuth piano manufacturer, Steingraeber & Söhne. Advances in the construction of the acoustic mechanism of grand pianos were made there and the prerequisites for the reliable incorporation of “foreign metal parts” into classic Steingraeber & Söhne grand pianos were established by Steingraeber craftsmen. According to Richard Dain’s measurements, energy efficiency has been greatly increased. The artist needs less effort from his fingers to produce the sound he wants.

With the new bridge agraffes, tensile force in the string is used to develop high contact loads between the strings and the bridge cap via independent knife edges. This system permits adjustment of the balance of forces within each individual agraffe. New adjustable hitch pins were developed so that the amount of down bearing on the bridge can be adjusted to within 1/100 of a millimeter. The end result is that pressure on the sounding board has been greatly reduced, thereby further increasing acoustic efficiency. The agraffes have achieved a perceptibly altered, brighter spectrum of overtones, more clarity, increased sustain and greater volume.

Half-blow Pedal

This led to the notion of developing additional pianissimo “layers” as “mirror images,” so to speak. For this purpose, Steingraeber drew upon its own invention, reduced hammer blow distance in grand pianos, as requested by composer Engelbert Humperdink in 1897 to replace the una-corda pedal. Together with Richard Dain, the designers in Bayreuth found a new way to combine the two soft-pedal-versions. The classic una-corda function has been retained, but further depression of the pedal lifts the hammers up to 10 mm nearer to the string, and the keys depress to take up lost motion. This reduced blow distance renders genuine pppp playing possible to a previously undreamed-of extent.

Carbon Fiber Soundboard

Steingraeber / Phoenix has achieved a carbon fiber soundboard with very similar acoustic qualities of spruce boards. These carbon fiber boards provide the consumer with a more stable soundboard and therefore more tuning stability. Carbon fiber soundboards are almost impervious to cracking due to humidity conditions and can be more desirable for areas of the world with severe humidity fluctuations or dryness.

North American Distributor for Steingraeber/Phoenix & Phoenix Pianos Systems