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Why do most grand pianos have music desks that are a solid piece of wood? (Read 3503 times)

Offline alexjr1543

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I am talking about music desks that look like this:



as opposed to, say, something like this:



or this:




In terms of aesthetics, I personally prefer the latter two, but that is just my own personal opinion. But besides that, I also think that the latter two are also more well-designed for the simple reason that they actually allow sound to pass through them. The first design, on the other hand, alters the sound considerably depending on its position, particularly when it's up, where it blocks the sound from reaching the player. I understand that not everyone likes pianos with elaborate designs which such music desks often have, but for those people, surely the third example is simple enough? I've also seen elaborate versions of the first design, which I find strange.

Offline perfect_pitch

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I'd say - the more costly the piano, the more elaborate the sheet stand.

Cheap piano = block of wood
Fazioli = not a cheap block of wood

Offline alexjr1543

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I'm talking more about the design. From what I've seen, Fazioli's stands have the same problem. And the first picture came from a Steinway.

Offline michael_c

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This seems to be the norm for modern grands, with a few notable exceptions (Stuart and Sons, for instance, or the totally over-the-top Bösendorfer Grand Bohemian).

I imagine it's to stop the pencil going through the paper when you are putting markings on sheet music. You're quite right about the acoustic effect, though, and I actually prefer the older versions which don't block the sound so much.

Offline mike71

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I'd say - the more costly the piano, the more elaborate the sheet stand.

Cheap piano = block of wood
Fazioli = not a cheap block of wood
But a streamlined frame, like the latter image, will cost less than a solid block of wood. I suppose that these stands aren't made in plywood, but eve if they were a frame made with plywood pieces glued together and painted will cost less than a solid piece of plywood.

Offline outin

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Personally I much prefer them solid, although the one in the photo is rather ugly...I do not like elaborate or ornamented furniture anyway.

The third one would look ok, but I would worry a lot about turning pages...and won't thin paper be a problem on such a see-through unsolid stand?

Offline quantum

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Solid block of wood is my preference.  I don't really care that it looks cheaper than the ones with carvings and holes to pass sound through.  For me the music desk is a functional item, it is frequently used to write on and I don't want pencils poking through my sheet music.  If I want sound to pass through, the music desk gets folded down. 

The music desk design where it folds towards the pianist is something I would rather not have (Steinway are you reading this?).  Such design only allows for one angle of propping up the desk.  A desk that allows for different angles far more adaptable to pianist height, lighting conditions, sight lines with other musicians, and striking a balance between having music and hearing your own instrument. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline alexjr1543

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I guess it's true that solid stands (which don't have too many elaborate carvings on them) are better for writing on, as you (i.e. Quantum) and Outin said. though I didn't really think about that. I keep most of my music in binders, books, or, more recently, on my tablet, because I hate having loose music sheets. In fact, to go a little bit off topic, on my digital piano, I have actually lowered the music stand and put a 24-inch 1080p monitor on top, powered by an old netbook, so that I can view my digital sheet music library on two pages at a time. My upright is too big for this, so I just use my tablet, though I do wish I could have a bigger screen. (I have over 1.2 GB of music on there.)

Maybe piano manufacturers should start offering music desks with a built-in screen, and maybe a very small computer running a customized version of Android or something like that, for just such a purpose. Pianos are already extremely expensive instruments as it is, so adding something like that would not add a significant amount to the cost. Sure, that would make the desk necessarily solid, but that's a small price to pay.

Regarding your point on music desks that fold forward, I seem to have noticed this on American-made pianos for some reason. NY (but not Hamburg) Steinway, Baldwin (even the Chinese ones), and Mason&Hamlin pianos all seem to have them, but I've seen no others that do.

Offline outin

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I guess it's true that solid stands (which don't have too many elaborate carvings on them) are better for writing on, as you (i.e. Quantum) and Outin said. though I didn't really think about that. I keep most of my music in binders, books, or, more recently, on my tablet, because I hate having loose music sheets. In fact, to go a little bit off topic, on my digital piano, I have actually lowered the music stand and put a 24-inch 1080p monitor on top, powered by an old netbook, so that I can view my digital sheet music library on two pages at a time. My upright is too big for this, so I just use my tablet, though I do wish I could have a bigger screen. (I have over 1.2 GB of music on there.)

Maybe piano manufacturers should start offering music desks with a built-in screen, and maybe a very small computer running a customized version of Android or something like that, for just such a purpose. Pianos are already extremely expensive instruments as it is, so adding something like that would not add a significant amount to the cost. Sure, that would make the desk necessarily solid, but that's a small price to pay.


Anyone could start manufacturing music desks with a screen and chips to replace (or attach to the) original. Maybe there's market for it. But since electrics become obsolite so much faster than acoustic pianos, people might not bite. It won't be long before electric paper or holograms are an everyday thing so screens won't be needed...

Offline michael_c

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Anyone could start manufacturing music desks with a screen and chips to replace (or attach to the) original. Maybe there's market for it.

The "find" piano (yes, that's really its name) has an integrated screen as wide as the keyboard: https://https://www.findpiano.cn/index.html