Hochschule für nachhaltige Entwicklung Eberswalde

Musical Instruments - overview


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Pfriem has been working for years on material developments and analyses for musical instruments. Completed research projects were mainly concerned with materials for plucked and stringed instruments (picture on the right) or woodwind instruments. He received his doctorate in 2006 on the topic: Investigations into the material behavior of thermally modified woods for their use in musical instrument making (ISBN 3867800146).

An important topic is wood modification with the aim of changing the wood in such a way that it meets the requirements of musical instrument making better than unmodified wood.Thus, through thermal modification, certain woods that were previously unsuitable for use in musical instruments can be used or high-quality tonewoods can be subjected to further refinement.

In the following projects with Reinhardt Best Acoustics GmbH, Buffet Crampon (FR), Hermann Eule Orgelbau GmbH, processes were and are being optimized to modify domestic woods so that they exhibit acoustic properties of tropical woods.


  • Acoustic wood (Recipes for the modification of native woods for the production of acoustic woods)
  • Clarinets (Development of alternative materials for the production of woodwind instruments and instrument cases from thermally modified and polymer-impregnated European woods)
  • Fingerboard (stringed instrument) - (Subcontract: Development of a process technology for the production of fingerboards for musical instruments from modified woods as a substitute for ebony wood)
  • FOMO (Development of recipe for the forming and modification process of European woods)
  • SubMat4Music - network (Identification and development of the potentials of European woods for musical instrument making)
  • Swabian Rio rosewood (Development of guitars free of tropical woods by using a modification process to upgrade native woods)
  • TMT-Organ (Development of a process for the serial modification of resinous softwoods for the construction of organ pipes)
  • Furthermore, as part of a subcontract from the Technical University of Dresden, work was carried out on a process for manufacturing fingerboards for musical instruments from modified woods as a substitute for ebony. More about this on the website of the project team of the TU Dresden.

Further activities


Head of project and contact person

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Pfriem (Alexander.Pfriem@hnee.de)

Lothar Clauder M.Sc. (Lothar.Clauder@hnee.de)


Tropical hardwood in musical instruments and case studies to their substition by modified wood. In: Marco A. Pérez [Hrsg.]: Book of End of WoodMusICK COST Action FP1302 Wooden Musical Instruments: Different Forms of Knowledge. 2018

Clauder, L.; Zerbst, D.; Olson, D.; Pfriem, A.: Influence on acoustical properties of resonant soundboard material through different processes of thermal modification. 9th European Conference on Wood Modification, Arnhem, Netherland, 17.-18.09.2018

Pfriem, A.: Thermally modified wood for use in musical instruments. Drvna industrija — “Wood Industry”, 66 (2015) 3, 251-253, Full-text

Pfriem, A.; Wulf, F.: Research with musical instruments at University of Applied Sciences Eberswalde. COST Action FP1302 opening conference, Paris, Frankreich, 27.-28.02.2014, Posterdownload

Sproßmann, R.; Zauer, M.; Pfriem, A.; Wagenführ, A.: Zum Einfluss der Holzart in Bassgitarrenhälsen auf das Schwingungs- und Klangverhalten. Holztechnologie, 54 (2013) 4,S. 19-25

Pfriem, A.; Ziegenhals, G.: „Holzmodifikation“ — Ein Weg zur Aufwertung von Holz im Musikinstrumentenbau? In: Musikinstrumentenbauer in Berlin, Brandenburg und Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, 2012

Zauer, M.; Pfriem, A.: Reinforcement of thermally modified wood for use in highly stressed components of musical instruments. 5th European Conference on Wood Modification, Riga, Lettland, 20.-21.09.2010