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#1162285 - 03/13/09 11:42 AM Steinway Damper Regulation
Greeneguy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Knoxville, Tennessee
A customer of mine just got back a Steinway she had sent back to the factory to have rebuilt. Unfortunately, it was shipped back truck and not packed very well. The dampers were allowed to hang loose during shipment and now do not fully sustain.

When I pull the action out, will I just need to adjust the damper screws to get the dampers to settle on the strings? I have never done this on a Steinway before and am a little nervous about it.


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#1162289 - 03/13/09 11:55 AM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: Greeneguy]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 24047
Loc: Oakland
It is impossible to say without looking at the piano, but the usual problem with dampers not working after a move is in the pedal trapwork. In particular, either the rod between the lever and the damper tray, or the pedal rods got mixed up. It was the former for the Yamaha I saw yesterday.

There is nothing special about Steinway dampers. They work like everyone else's.
Semipro Tech

#1162297 - 03/13/09 12:10 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: BDB]
rysowers Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2989
Loc: Olympia, WA
The first thing to try is to push down on the strings and see if the dampers follow the string, if not then BDB is probably right or the damper pedal needs to be adjusted for more free play.

Good luck! That must be really frustrating for the customer. Its good practice for those diplomacy skills!
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA

#1162298 - 03/13/09 12:16 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: BDB]
rXd Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 2412
Your diagnosis is not clear, you say the dampers do not fully sustain and then you ask what you need to do to get the dampers to settle on the strings. This seems contradictory.

Don't touch the damper screws at this point, you might get yourself into a helluvamess or, at the very least more work than is needed.

It is most likely a single adjustment that affect all the dampers.

Please Re-post explaining the problem more clearly.

First thing to check is the pitman, (dowel shaped thingy) that goes fron the trapwork, through the keybed up to the damper tray. This often slips out of location during shipment and either holds the dampers off the strings or dissapears entirely. There is a little hook holding the damper lever near where it should be for shipment. Check this, it might have been bent during shipment and can hold the dampers off the strings.

You don't need to take anything apart, just grope above the damper lever and make sure the pitman is located in its hole in the damper lever, which is about 1/2 inch deep.

This is just a guess but you can not create any extra work for yourself or anybody else if you check this first.
Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

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#1162302 - 03/13/09 12:29 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: BDB]
CC2 and Chopin lover Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/06
Posts: 1981
I agree with BDB. The first thing I would look at is whether the rod the movers replaced in the sustain pedal area of the lyre is the correct one. Since each of the rods should have a screw adjustment, if the wrong one was put into that position, that would be a primary suspect, since it sounds like all the dampers are failing to operate properly from your post. Also, as stated above, the lever mechanism may have dislodged or moved on the underside of the piano. They do not typically anchor the dampers or their mechanisms when moving a piano. I would not go in to adjust the damper screws until all of the above had been exhausted..

Edited by CC2 and Chopin lover (03/13/09 12:40 PM)
Piano Technician/Tuner

#1162357 - 03/13/09 02:32 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: CC2 and Chopin lover]
Greeneguy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Knoxville, Tennessee
I really apologize for the confusion. Not all of the dampers are hanging up. Some of them are resting comfortably on the strings and do their job when the key is pushed down and let off. But a few of them are sitting slightly above the strings and when the key is depressed, they do not return to starting position and the bass and treble unisons just continue ringing. So could that possibly argue against displaced rods?

But I will diligently check the rods to make sure that the wrong one has not been inserted. These are great answers!

#1162363 - 03/13/09 02:47 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: Greeneguy]
curry Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 3770
Loc: Hamilton Twp, NJ
Damper guide rail bushings need to be checked. S&S sets up dampers to exert some side pressure of the wires against the bushing.Or bushing felts in the rail have swollen.
G.Fiore "aka-Curry". Tuner-Technician serving the central NJ, S.E. PA area. b214cm@aol.com Concert tuning, Regulation-voicing specialist.
Dampp-Chaser installations, piano appraisals. PTG S.Jersey Chapter 080.
Bösendorfer 214 # 47,299 214-358

#1162376 - 03/13/09 03:26 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: curry]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 24047
Loc: Oakland
Always check the easiest things to fix before the difficult ones.
Semipro Tech

#1162404 - 03/13/09 04:37 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: BDB]
rXd Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 2412
Thanks for the clarification. Check the sostenuto system next. this is very dependent on action position on older Steinways. The action may have shifted in transit. If this is the culprit the dampers will seat themselves on withdrawing the action even an 8th of an inch.

Unless you have experience with sostenuto adjustment and with damper adjustment, don't attempt to adjust it yourself.

That you leapt to readjusting individual dampers before checking the simple possible causes gives me a clue that if the problem persists after these simple checks, you might want to refer the problem.
Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

#1162416 - 03/13/09 05:03 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: rXd]
Zeno Wood Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/07
Posts: 504
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
You might also take a peek to see if there's any debris stuck in there, under the underlevers or somewhere. Good luck.
Zeno Wood, Piano Technician
Brooklyn College

#1162486 - 03/13/09 08:43 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: Zeno Wood]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
Why not call the factory for advice and they'll walk you through the procedure..these dampers are set up in a very specific way with a bias to stop damper chatter and can hang up after shipping with humidity etc...you might also ask a local Steinway recommended tech to look at it before you make any adjustments...
This is all very simple and basic if you know what you're doing...
The prudent thing is to leave well alone until you have a definitive diagnosis as tinkering will cause an endless amount of work and it's possible to go around in circles...I know...I've been there....
If you are a beginner this work isn't where to start...with respect...
Good Luck
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician

#1162767 - 03/14/09 03:35 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
Greeneguy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Knoxville, Tennessee
Hey you all,

I just wanted to thank you all for great advice, especially RXD and Zeno Wood. I went to the appointment this morning and pulled the action out of the piano. I immediately saw what was wrong. The restoration company had left a felt covered block propping up the extreme treble end of the damper lift rail. I just removed that, replaced the action and everything worked as it was supposed to. I hate that I jumped to a big conclusion right away, but lately I have been dealing with low end grand pianos with faulty dampers and I automatically assumed the Steinway M had the same problems. Boy was I wrong! I really want to thank you guys for being such great mentors!


#1162794 - 03/14/09 04:43 PM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: Greeneguy]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
When techs encounter a problem, I can only recommend to check things out at the piano before posting. That way, even if you do not figure it out, you will be able to share pertinent information with the group. This will help us to hone in on the problem and keep us from wildly guessing at "what it possibly could be".

As posted above, many problems are simple and don't really call for experts all across the country to start scratching their heads over.

Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

#1163020 - 03/15/09 06:30 AM Re: Steinway Damper Regulation [Re: Supply]
rXd Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 2412
As a seasoned skulker around these pages, I felt it necessary to respond to this pasticular request for help because only a few hours before, I had spent time working on he aftermath of a similar problem.

A newly delivered grand with bleeding bass dampers, (bichords, lefthand side). After spending literally one minute performing the standard cure for what is a common occurrence on this companies' products, I then had to spend much more time correcting damper problems that had been created by some earlier attempts to solve the problem by means of readjusting individual dampers. I was paid well for my time but I don't like to make money this way.

I was pondering ways of solving this situation that occurs far too often, idly browsing these pages when, as if by providence, Greeneguys' post appeared.

None of us fell into the trap of trying to step by step guide him through the intricacies of a problem that most likely didn't exist, we just, politely, I hope, offered guidance on the simple things to look for first that anybody could do before creating the possibility of further problems down the line and between us covered the most likely possibilities from our collective experience.

While I am aware that piano problems sometimes occur by readers of forums grabbing hold of the wrong end of the stick, If our responses to Greeneguys simple and timely request have helped him and others, not forgetting the countless techs who become eventually involved, avoid these situations that we techs commonly find ourselves in, then Pianoworld and all its posters serve the piano industry well.
Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.


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