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#1125514 - 03/26/04 12:28 AM tons of tension
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
i should know the answer to this, but i can't find it anywhere.

a quick question:

how many tons of tension/pressure are on a grand piano's strings?
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#1125515 - 03/26/04 12:34 AM Re: tons of tension
jodi Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 6959
Loc: The Evergreen State (WA)
The answer is right under your nose! ;\)


Tons of Tension (# 4 - 6)

\:\) Jodi

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#1125516 - 03/26/04 06:25 AM Re: tons of tension
Rich Galassini Offline
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Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9285
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
But remember jodi, the tension increases if the piano is stressed. ;\)
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#1125517 - 03/26/04 09:24 AM Re: tons of tension
RKVS1 Offline
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Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 3192
Loc: Topeka, Kansas
I'm not sure which of these three would better know the answer to this technical question, but isn't a nice naked mango pack effective in the relief of tension?

Bob

(And are European mangoes of higher quality than their Asian counterparts, even though they are now using German seeds and stem parts?)

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#1125518 - 03/26/04 09:31 AM Re: tons of tension
jodi Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 6959
Loc: The Evergreen State (WA)
Bob, you lurker you. (And thanks for the tip, Rich - no wonder my practicing sounded terrible yesterday!)

\:D Jodi (queen of the naked mangos :p )

hey, let's start a band! I've got a great name...now we just have to fight over who gets to play the keyboard. ;\)

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#1125519 - 03/26/04 10:52 AM Re: tons of tension
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
thanks, jodi,
i knew i had read that somewhere, but couldn't remember where. and the rest of the list is great to have, too.
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#1125520 - 03/26/04 10:53 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5316
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by piqu:
i should know the answer to this, but i can't find it anywhere.

a quick question:

how many tons of tension/pressure are on a grand piano's strings? [/b]
More like a trick question. And the answer is -- it depends.

In the modern piano (regardless of type) the total scale tension varies from a low of approximately 34,000 lbf. to a high of approximately 50,000 lbf. Historically there have been a few that have gone some higher. The highest I have encountered was an eight foot something Sohmer grand that measured out at 67,000 plus lbf. (That is when it came in. It went out at somewhat less than that.)

And now I'm curious...why do your ask?

Del
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#1125521 - 03/26/04 10:56 AM Re: tons of tension
RKVS1 Offline
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Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 3192
Loc: Topeka, Kansas
Jodi, my favorite unused band name was always "Kewi,Kawai and the Bald Koalas...jammen at the Barbie".

Crocodile DunBobb

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#1125522 - 03/26/04 11:07 AM Re: tons of tension
RKVS1 Offline
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Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 3192
Loc: Topeka, Kansas
And more on the subject:
Del, how DOES one actually make a measurement of the total tension? I assume its a calculation of the totals of measurements made on each of the strings, but how are THOSE measurements made? Torque on the tuning pins? (probably not) Measured force needed to deflect the strings a standard distance vertically? Of do you just cut all the strings simultaneously and analyze the sound of the "Boinggggg"? (I think I'm getting colder \:\) )

Bob

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#1125523 - 03/26/04 11:24 AM Re: tons of tension
BDB Online   content
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I calculate the tensions, at least on treble strings. There's a formula for it, and nowadays it's a spreadsheet operation.

My M & H A, after fiddling with it, has about 31000 lbs. of tension on the treble strings. Bass strings are probably about 6000 more, but that's more of an estimate.
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#1125524 - 03/26/04 12:23 PM Re: tons of tension
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
Sorry to be slightly off topic, but the Steinway dealer was trying to explain to me that they use low tension versus the high tension strings that are used in "lesser" manufacturers. And the effect of this is better resonance and ease of tuning? Would someone mind explaining why one is better or worse?
Thanks
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#1125525 - 03/26/04 12:46 PM Re: tons of tension
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
jdsher:
I think you heard what happens when technical terms make it into a sales person's head.

There are all sorts of manufacturers of varying quality levels designing scales differently, some with higher, and some with lower tension.

Del just mentioned a Sohmer with a very high tension scale, but it wasn't a Steinway.

First it's important to understand why differnet tensions are needed/desired in relation to scale design.
I don't even want to touch on it with Del lurking around here. \:\) He certainly can explain the relationships between string tension, diameter, length, and so on better than I can.
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#1125526 - 03/26/04 12:50 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5316
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by RKVS1:
And more on the subject:
Del, how DOES one actually make a measurement of the total tension? I assume its a calculation of the totals of measurements made on each of the strings, but how are THOSE measurements made? Torque on the tuning pins? (probably not) Measured force needed to deflect the strings a standard distance vertically? Of do you just cut all the strings simultaneously and analyze the sound of the "Boinggggg"? (I think I'm getting colder \:\) )

Bob [/b]
Brrrr!

By measuring the speaking length and string diameter (in the bass both core diameter and overall diameter) of each unison, both bass and tenor/treble. It is then a relatively simple calculation. There are a couple of pre-packaged programs available for this. Or you can do what I (and many others) have done and build up your own program in a spreadsheet program such as Excel.

While this method is not exact it is quite close. With the plain steel strings the accuracy can be within one or two percent (depending on the accuracy with which the lengths are measured). With the wrapped bass strings there are a few more variables (the exact density of the copper wrap, the amount of wrap wire distortion, etc.) so the accuracy is not quite as good, perhaps only within four or five percent. But for real-world use that is generally close enough.

Del
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#1125527 - 03/26/04 12:56 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5316
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
I calculate the tensions, at least on treble strings. There's a formula for it, and nowadays it's a spreadsheet operation.

My M & H A, after fiddling with it, has about 31000 lbs. of tension on the treble strings. Bass strings are probably about 6000 more, but that's more of an estimate. [/b]
There are formula for both.

Del
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1125528 - 03/26/04 01:09 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5316
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by jdsher:
Sorry to be slightly off topic, but the Steinway dealer was trying to explain to me that they use low tension versus the high tension strings that are used in "lesser" manufacturers. And the effect of this is better resonance and ease of tuning? Would someone mind explaining why one is better or worse?
Thanks [/b]
It depends on the model. The S, M and L have relatively low tension scales. The B is somewhat higher and the D is quite high. Now, before your dealer gets to bragging overly much about this you might ask how even those scales are. The answer is, not very.


This topic comes up from time to time and it is often used as a "quality" issue when it is really a "voice" issue. Piano voice is a matter of individual taste and experience. The fact that a piano has a high tension scale or a low tension scale says nothing about its inherent quality, only about its voice.

I happen to prefer the warm dynamics of lower tension scaling coupled with a lighter, more flexible soundboard. I happen to believe this is where the pianoforte was headed before it got sidetracked by the insatiable demand for absolute power. Others disagree and to each his/her own. Neither side is inherently right or wrong.

In very broad terms a low-tension scale will have a sweeter, more fundamental voice while a high-tension scale will have a brighter voice with more energy in the higher harmonics.

Del
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Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
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Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1125529 - 03/26/04 01:30 PM Re: tons of tension
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Thanks Del, I knew you'd give a much simpler, and more importantly, easier to understand explanation. \:\)
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#1125530 - 03/26/04 01:44 PM Re: tons of tension
jdsher Offline
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Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
Thanks Del... The only thing I'm confused about is how is it possible to voice a high tension scaled piano if the desire is to have a "warmer" sound? In other words, if someone has a nice bright sounding Yamaha, can they really expect a technician to voice a mellower sound out of it. I apologize if this should be in the Piano technicians section.
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#1125531 - 03/26/04 01:47 PM Re: tons of tension
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
I think Del's referring to the inherent qualities of sound that can not be changed. Voicing is something that can be changed on any piano though, and any piano is capable of some range between mellow-bright.
In other words, you can have a mellower Grotrian, or a brighter Grotrian, each capable of the inherent qualities of the Grotrian
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#1125532 - 03/26/04 02:09 PM Re: tons of tension
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by KlavierBauer:
I think Del's referring to the inherent qualities of sound that can not be changed. Voicing is something that can be changed on any piano though, and any piano is capable of some range between mellow-bright.
In other words, you can have a mellower Grotrian, or a brighter Grotrian, each capable of the inherent qualities of the Grotrian [/b]
I agree with KB's post. I would add to it that the design of the piano ( scale tension, soundboard impedence, hammer type, structure etc.) does work best with an appropriate voicing. I think Yamahas work best when they are relatively bright. As they get voiced down, they tend to die rather than sweeten. The Petrofs and Estonias I have seen, seemed to have lower tension designs (although I have not verified this), and work better with softer hammers.
FWIW, we find Mason & Hamlins and Steingraebers to be quite flexible. They can work beautifully with a large range of voicings, from very mellow and sweet to concert hall bright.
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PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
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#1125533 - 03/26/04 02:13 PM Re: tons of tension
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Keith,
I agree with your post as well.

I would also agree that the Steingraeber is really capable of a huge range of color and voicing.
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#1125534 - 03/26/04 02:33 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5316
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by jdsher:
Thanks Del... The only thing I'm confused about is how is it possible to voice a high tension scaled piano if the desire is to have a "warmer" sound? In other words, if someone has a nice bright sounding Yamaha, can they really expect a technician to voice a mellower sound out of it. I apologize if this should be in the Piano technicians section. [/b]
If this is the only thing youre confused aboutmy hat is off!

No. It is not possible to voice a piano with a high-tension scale to have the 'same' voice as a piano having a low-tension scale. Nor is it possible to achieve this result by simply replacing the hammers, for example installing Steinway hammers on a Yamaha to make it sound like a Steinway. The scale (in combination with the soundboard assembly) is what it is.

It is, however, possible to voice each of these within some reasonable range of brightness and/or softness.

But this question brings up one of my standard points about piano buying. If you have a developed or developing taste in piano sound you should spend enough time with each instrument you are considering to be sure the voice it delivers falls within the range that excites you. You may be certain about a piano within minutes or it may take several hours, but you should be sure before you buy and it is delivered to your home. Do not believe any dealer who tells you this Yamaha can be voiced to sound just like a Steinway once it is paid for and delivered. Or for that, the dealer who tells you a Steinway can be voiced to sound just like a Yamaha. Neither attempt will be successful. The Yamaha is what it is and the Steinway is what it is. Now, the Yamaha can be voiced to sound a bit warmer than the norm just like the Steinway can be voiced to sound a bit brighter than its norm but each is built to a different design philosophy and never the twain shall meet.

During the 1970s and early 1980s I received many calls from folks owning relatively new Yamaha pianos with the common request to make my piano sound like a Steinway. More than a few of them did not take kindly to the news that it couldnt be done. Seems their dealer had assured them it would be no problem. Just buy the piano, play it for a few months and call in the piano tuner. Quite a few of these folks were of the impression they were purchasing a piano that was essentially a copy of the Steinway but at half the price. And who was I to tell them otherwise?

Del
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ddfandrich@gmail.com
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#1125535 - 03/26/04 03:11 PM Re: tons of tension
JohnC Offline
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Registered: 03/10/02
Posts: 1672
Loc: Lower Left Coast
 Quote:
Originally posted by jodi:

\:D Jodi (queen of the naked mangos :p )

[/QB]
Jodi, I too eat mangos while naked. They are soooooo messy! \:\)
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#1125536 - 03/26/04 03:52 PM Re: tons of tension
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
Maybe someone can answer something that has been plaguing me since my last visit to one of my local piano dealers. I played a Shigeru Kawai 5'10"(sk1?)about a month ago at an authorized Kawai dealer and just loved it. I played a repossesed one last week at a different dealer with the same size and found the sound to be lacking. At first I thought maybe it was the room acoustics, but the Estonia 190 sitting 10ft. away sounded great. Is this a situation where the prep was better at the authorized dealer, or could there be this much variation from one piano to the next?
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#1125537 - 03/26/04 04:01 PM Re: tons of tension
byebye Offline
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Registered: 02/18/03
Posts: 1426
jdsher,

I ran into the same thing with two Boston 5' 10" pianos. The new one sounded okay but the one which was a few years old next to it sounded dreadful, with very short sustain. The dealer's tech was very highly regarded; he is my tech as well. I concluded that it wasn't prep, but rather that the piano deteriorated in a few years.

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#1125538 - 03/26/04 06:48 PM Re: tons of tension
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21658
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
There are formula for both.
I suspect if weight were used instead of diameter, the formula would be about the same. In any case, I'm not interested in winding my own strings, so it's academic for me. I'm just interested in doing the best with what I have to work with. Mostly I'm concerned with not having big leaps in tension. There's usually a big drop in tension at the break, which I try to minimize.
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#1125539 - 03/27/04 01:50 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5316
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
 Quote:
There are formula for both.
I suspect if weight were used instead of diameter, the formula would be about the same. In any case, I'm not interested in winding my own strings, so it's academic for me. I'm just interested in doing the best with what I have to work with. Mostly I'm concerned with not having big leaps in tension. There's usually a big drop in tension at the break, which I try to minimize. [/b]
They work with diameters.

And it's not necessary to wrap your own strings to take advantage of them. Most, if not all, string makers will now work to specified numbers. That is, you supply the numbers and they will wrap the strings. If you supply desired core wire diameters and desired overall diameters they will work out the appropriate wrap wire to give you a string very close to that diameter. Or you can do as we do and specify both the core diameter and the diameter of the wrap wire (or wires in the case of a double-wrapped string) and they will wrap the strings using those specific wires. In this case, of course, we must accept full responsibility for the overall diameter of the string so we best be right.

Del
_________________________
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#1125540 - 03/27/04 02:27 AM Re: tons of tension
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21658
Loc: Oakland
Interestingly enough, a little searching on the Internet turned up a paper on the design of the scale for a medium-sized Estonia grand: PDF file on scale design.
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#1125541 - 03/27/04 11:12 AM Re: tons of tension
Dan M Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 770
Loc: California
Oooh, good one BDB.
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#1125542 - 03/27/04 02:10 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5316
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
Interestingly enough, a little searching on the Internet turned up a paper on the design of the scale for a medium-sized Estonia grand: PDF file on scale design. [/b]
This article has been around for a while. Interesting, but based on a number of assumptions and conclusions of dubious validity and value. The scale developed in this article would certainly never appear in any piano I had anything to do with. Good math, though.

Another source of scaling information is The Calculating Technician which was published by (and might still be available from) the Piano Technicians Guild.

And, of course, the various formulas worked out by Al Sanderson are among the best ever developed for anyone interested in learning about or evaluating piano strings scales. They are (relatively) simple and accurate.

Del
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
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ddfandrich@gmail.com
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Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1125543 - 03/27/04 04:47 PM Re: tons of tension
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21658
Loc: Oakland
So what are the characteristics of the Estonia 190 that you don't like, Del?
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