8. Steinway invented and patented many of the elements that are now standard in piano making
Through a combination of trial and error, experimentation and cutting-edge acoustic sciences, Steinway and his family were able to establish some of the most fundamental elements and production techniques for creating the best-sounding pianos in the world. For example, at the time, the bass and treble strings in a piano would often snap while a pianist was playing on stage because of the severe tension, and it would have to be replaced by another piano mid-performance. Steinway perfected the cast iron plate (or “harp”) that sustains this tension. It was originally made out of wood, which could not withstand the high tension required to create the volume needed by concert pianos to be heard above a symphony orchestra.
Steinway also perfected the “over stringing” process (stringing the bass strings over the treble), which improved tonal quality and length. But one of their most well-known patents was the “single piece bent rim”—the creation of which you can see on the factory tour—which is the bending of long pieces of layered hard rock maple (over 20 feet long for a concert grand) that establishes the initial shape of the piano and is bent on a press into its final shape.