Thermally Modified Wood for Use in Musical Instruments


Apart from a change of the acoustically relevant characteristics, thermally modified wood exhibits advantages concerning the dimensional stability and sorption in regard to changing climatic conditions. On the other hand, the modification of wood at high temperatures results in a reduction in strength and toughness. Certainly, a mild thermal treatment leads to clear changes of the measurable acoustic characteristics, such as Young’s modulus, damping and sound velocity. In conclusion, thermally modified wood (mild treatment) is a material with favorable characteristics for making musical instruments. A pre-selection of raw materials is, however, absolutely necessary. Inappropriate materials can hardly be improved by thermal modification. Due to these investigations, traditional production technologies for making musical instruments can be adapted to use thermally modified wood in musical instruments. For thermally modified wood (mild treatment), three application areas are possible:

• Use in instruments, where high dimensional stability and low moisture sorption and reduced reaction to climatic variability are required.

• Use in musical instruments, where specifi c sound characteristics are required, which otherwise can only be attained by use of wood stored for a very long time. A reduction of storage time and in that way a signifi cant saving on storage costs can be obtained. Thermally modifi ed wood will not replace wood used so far, but it can be a successful supplement. Through the use of thermally modifi ed wood, the assortment of musical instrument manufacturers can be widened or extended.

• Since the thermally improved wood shows similar sound characteristics to naturally aged wood, it is suited for the restoration and reconstruction of old musical instruments. In addition, based on the results obtained, it can be concluded that thermally modifi ed timber can also be used for other applications. As musical instruments represent the “upper class” in the wood processing industry, such statements regarding the workability and usability can also be applied to other areas.

 Reference: Pfriem A., 2015., Thermally Modified Wood for Use in Musical Instruments. DRVNA INDUSTRIJA 66 (3): 251-253