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#1431139 - 05/06/10 11:39 PM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: victor kam]
newgeneration Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 428
Loc: Richmond Hill, Ontario
No, we haven't. We've had great success with our production over the last 15 years using the high quality German Degen copper.
I am intrigued to try the harder copper (mainly to test its use on my machine).
_________________________
John
J.D. Grandt Piano Supply Company
Steingraeber & Söhne (Canada) www.facebook.com/SteingraeberCanada
Lomence Modern Crystal Piano (North America) www.facebook.com/LomencePianos
Piano Bass String Manufacturing Specialist (Worldwide) www.jdgrandt.com

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#1431181 - 05/07/10 12:32 AM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: SeilerFan]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5065
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: SeilerFan
Originally Posted By: newgeneration
It is by far superior to any manual method, both in the consistency of winding the string itself and the drastically reduced vibrations during the winding process.


If that were true, why then did I see one guy at the Grotrian factory in Braunschweig who wound all bass strings manually. He had apparently been there for over 20 years. The factory didn't strike me as nostalgic but state of the art. Yet Grotrian uses only manually wound bass strings. Methinks there must be a reason.

I think you’ll be seeing more and more factories switching to automatic, or at least semi-automatic, winding machines in the future. There are enough of them around by now that they have more than proven their worth.

While it is certainly possible for an experienced worker to wrap good strings using hand operated machines it takes a lot of skill and practice.

I have to agree with John, automatic winding machines produce more predictable and more consistent results—as long as they are properly maintained they simply do not have the off days that just happen to even the best of the hand-winders.

ddf
_________________________
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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#1431215 - 05/07/10 01:26 AM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: Del]
Hellerbass Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 13
Loc: Eschelbronn - Germany -
Hi!

Mr. Isaac is right ... hand made strings sound richer than full automatic strings.
We make all strings by hand and there is no need to change this.

But may be it is the same discussion as for tuning by ears or by pocket tuner.
The best tuners tune only by ears ;-)


@John

Quote:
Heller, although I don't believe an active technician, quite knowledgeable in the piano trade and supplier of strings.


Hi John ... by the way ... I´m a master piano technician ... 2 1/2 years piano technician apprenticeship + 1 year full time master school at Ludwigsburg-Germany ...really tough but was a great time there looking back a few years after.

See you in Las Vegas
Gregor
_________________________
Gregor Heller
Ringstr. 4
74927 Eschelbronn
Germany

www.hellerbass.com

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#1431303 - 05/07/10 08:45 AM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: Hellerbass]
newgeneration Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 428
Loc: Richmond Hill, Ontario
Gregor,
good of you to set things straight for the record.
I wasn't sure if you were actively into the rebuilding and/or tuning etc.
I remember when I visited you last fall that you were involved in rebuilding in the past, but not anymore, so I wasn't sure.

I'm so looking forward to Vegas. I have planned that my wife and I will remain for a couple extra days to do some sights - Hoover Dam, maybe the Grand Canyon, etc.

Care to join? Have you been before?
Anyone else - let's make a big trip of it!

Originally Posted By: Hellerbass
Hi!

Mr. Isaac is right ... hand made strings sound richer than full automatic strings.
We make all strings by hand and there is no need to change this.

But may be it is the same discussion as for tuning by ears or by pocket tuner.
The best tuners tune only by ears ;-)


;), Gregor, the best tuners are usually the ones who have learned and are accomplished by ear first!! but have been able to adopt new technologies which aid to make their tuning more efficient and eliminate the elements of fatigue.
Perhaps it is the same with string winders, at least I think so. You should first be an expert winder by hand. Only this way can you use a 'hands-free' winding machine to yet improve further. This is fact, not opinion.
_________________________
John
J.D. Grandt Piano Supply Company
Steingraeber & Söhne (Canada) www.facebook.com/SteingraeberCanada
Lomence Modern Crystal Piano (North America) www.facebook.com/LomencePianos
Piano Bass String Manufacturing Specialist (Worldwide) www.jdgrandt.com

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#1431307 - 05/07/10 09:05 AM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: newgeneration]
newgeneration Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 428
Loc: Richmond Hill, Ontario
For the sake of having an accurate discussion, lets make sure we're all on the same page:
For me:

Manuel winding maching
- copper is being fed and led by hand onto the spinning core wire which is fastened to a winding lathe. The 'draw' on the copper (holding it back some) is done by hand and it is unwinding from its spool which is mounted on some sort of rotating apparatus (lazy susan).

Automatic machine which I use
- the string is mounted on the lathe. The tension of the string is entirely adjustable/controllable. The copper spool is mounted to a moving 'sled' and on its path towards the string travels around the circumference of a channeled disc. This disc is numerically controlled to inflict whatever desired 'draw' on the copper is wanted (or chosen by the experienced winder). This can be altered up to 0.0005" of an inch in the strings final overall diameter. This allows for an entirely consistent, uniform string which is simply IMPOSSIBLE to achieve by hand. The sled glides down the length of the string in perfect form, wrapping the copper as it goes.
The winding speed is entirely variable/controllable. The copper is automatically 'finished' at the start and end of the winding process (no need to aggravate or tear the copper to finish or vibrate the heck out of the string to 'cone' the ends of the copper).
The transverse vibrations of the string are night and day diminished from that of a manuel winding machine by way of other aspects of the machine.

I suppose my machine should really be called a 'Hands-free, NC machine' (numerically controlled).
Perhaps what others are calling automated is closer to a CNC type winding machine which I have no experience with. I could see a CNC type winding machine eliminate any winding experience by its operator which could result in less than quality string being produced.

Are we all on the same page with these terms at least?
Manuel winding machine
Hands free NC machine
Automated (CNC) machine
_________________________
John
J.D. Grandt Piano Supply Company
Steingraeber & Söhne (Canada) www.facebook.com/SteingraeberCanada
Lomence Modern Crystal Piano (North America) www.facebook.com/LomencePianos
Piano Bass String Manufacturing Specialist (Worldwide) www.jdgrandt.com

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#1431430 - 05/07/10 11:49 AM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: newgeneration]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5065
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: newgeneration
I suppose my machine should really be called a 'Hands-free, NC machine' (numerically controlled).
Perhaps what others are calling automated is closer to a CNC type winding machine which I have no experience with. I could see a CNC type winding machine eliminate any winding experience by its operator which could result in less than quality string being produced.

Are we all on the same page with these terms at least?
Manuel winding machine
Hands free NC machine
Automated (CNC) machine

Yes, as far as I know. The machines I am most familiar with have been what you describe as NC machines.

ddf
_________________________
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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#1431626 - 05/07/10 04:34 PM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: Del]
88man Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/08
Posts: 21
Loc: Boston
Thank you everyone for all your great contribution to the topic of bass strings!

It would seem to me, hand winding is extremely technique sensitive and depends on the skill and consistency of the artisan. I am sure that like artisans, not all machines are equal as well. I am a newcomer to the discussion of bass strings.

3 months ago, I entertained the thought of selling my B, and buying a D for the sake of the last 6 bass notes the D could offer in spades. After a visit to Steinway Hall, I still haven't seen a D that matches my B in terms of tonal quality. My B was previously owned by a Steinway technician himself, cherry picked from NYC. The bass is solid, robust, with just a few notes that are going slightly flat as I have mentioned. The mids have that double reed sweetness, and the highs have that bell like quality with good sustain. The action is very expressive and responsive with numerous dynamic shadings.

It's just recently that I've been considering restringing the piano as a feasible option to selling it and buying a D. However, I can't even find a D that exceeds my current B at any price!

Your responses have me thinking with questions:

1. It seems harder to wind, but can I assume that harder copper might yield a more robust and rich sound?...

2. What proportion or percentage of the desired qualities in the sound is being conveyed by the strings? And how much of the desired qualities in the sound is conveyed by the supporting structures (sound board, pins, skin, frame, etc.)?

3. Do certain bass string makers sound better on certain makes of pianos? What is typical with Steinways, besides Mapes?

4. Art vs Science - Here is the $5,000 question that transcends the science in winding strings: If the string maker understands that I am looking for a "rich tone, bronze timbre, harmonically rich, gutsy/killer sound," can he translate these "sonic adjectives" to the proper scaling, materials, and technique required to achieve these goals?...

Thanks Everyone!


Edited by 88man (05/07/10 04:34 PM)

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#1431952 - 05/08/10 01:21 AM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: 88man]
newgeneration Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 428
Loc: Richmond Hill, Ontario
Originally Posted By: 88man

1. It seems harder to wind, but can I assume that harder copper might yield a more robust and rich sound?...


I won't say yes or no, because I haven't dealt much with harder copper.

What I can speak for which pertains to your robust and rich sound inquiry is the opportunity in producing a new set of strings, certain items can be addressed.
For example, single wrapping the lower strings versus double wrapping (this perhaps not for a Steinway B or D though). The size of the core diameter in relation to the overall diameter. The amount of draw taken out of the copper during the winding process. Addressing the original overall tension and rescaling within those parameters, but possibly redistributing the tension across the section of bass strings. Definitely the hitch loop style has come more and more to the forefront in string manufacturing as well. These are only naming a few.

These are all considerations of both the tech (representing the customer) and the string winder irregardless of what type of machinery is being used.

Originally Posted By: 88man

2. What proportion or percentage of the desired qualities in the sound is being conveyed by the strings? And how much of the desired qualities in the sound is conveyed by the supporting structures (sound board, pins, skin, frame, etc.)?


Great question. The vibrating 'patterns' within a giving string are complex. Each and every adjustment made in producing a string (items I mentioned in my answer to your first question) will change and create a new vibrating pattern.

These vibrations are transferred to what you refer to as the supporting structure. What percentage is being conveyed by the string you ask? Well as much as possible in a well planned out, well made string. You want an efficient energy transmission from the string to the bridge and soundboard. And then you want to have hoped that this 'supporting structure' was manufactured in such a way to transfer as much of the string energy into the air around the piano which we acknowledge as sound.

Originally Posted By: 88man

3. Do certain bass string makers sound better on certain makes of pianos? What is typical with Steinways, besides Mapes?


Others may differ in opinion from me here, but I would say that it is less that certain string makers strings would sound 'better' on certain makes of pianos BUT RATHER it is more that certain string makers strings could possibly be better suited for different eras of classical music or genres in general.
From our feedback, we believe that our strings have such a spectrum and versatility and are able to satisfy the end pianists whatever style they desire from their instrument.

Re: Steinway, I do not know when Mapes came in as their supplier or of their stringing habits prior to that point.

Originally Posted By: 88man

4. Art vs Science - Here is the $5,000 question that transcends the science in winding strings: If the string maker understands that I am looking for a "rich tone, bronze timbre, harmonically rich, gutsy/killer sound," can he translate these "sonic adjectives" to the proper scaling, materials, and technique required to achieve these goals?...


Yes....and no. There is so much more of the piano that contributes to creating the overall sound character of a piano that proceeding with just the bass strings is not, how did you put it, "[the] technique required to achieve these goals?..." It is definitely a huge piece of the puzzle, but everything from the structure to the hammerheads to proper regulation contribute significantly to the tonal outcome.

Take for example an old Knabe concert grand (oh, by the way I need to unload one of these smile ), checking underneath you find the rim is amazingly thicker than many newer concert grands. We have installed our strings (yes, the softer European copper) and aside from the quality and strong fundamental you would expect, the piano has that American sought growl in the low notes - clean yet bold - like a King elegantly rising from his throne yet a voice that exudes authority and awe.

-----
Well, sorry for the long reply but hope I did do your questions some justice.
_________________________
John
J.D. Grandt Piano Supply Company
Steingraeber & Söhne (Canada) www.facebook.com/SteingraeberCanada
Lomence Modern Crystal Piano (North America) www.facebook.com/LomencePianos
Piano Bass String Manufacturing Specialist (Worldwide) www.jdgrandt.com

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#1431961 - 05/08/10 01:43 AM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: newgeneration]
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2245
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Here is yet another example of what The Isaac Profundo Bass Strings have contributed to the overall tone and timbre of my grand piano.

This was recorded about the same time as "Music of the Spheres"

"Rhapsody" Op.11, No.2, composed and played by Ernst Von Dohnanyi, recorded in EBVT III on the Ampico Reproducing Roll System. http://www.box.net/shared/xnojy1dxnj

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#1432305 - 05/08/10 02:56 PM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: Grandpianoman]
88man Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/08
Posts: 21
Loc: Boston
Many thanks, John for such an in depth response. Great recording too! I am very impressed at the caliber of understanding and knowledge you have all shared on this topic. I am going to archive all this great advice. I am also keeping the info on the string makers that have responded on this thread too. Thanks again!

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#1432355 - 05/08/10 03:52 PM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: 88man]
newgeneration Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 428
Loc: Richmond Hill, Ontario
You're most welcome. Where do I send the fees for the consultation wink
(just kidding) Glad to have been of assistance.
_________________________
John
J.D. Grandt Piano Supply Company
Steingraeber & Söhne (Canada) www.facebook.com/SteingraeberCanada
Lomence Modern Crystal Piano (North America) www.facebook.com/LomencePianos
Piano Bass String Manufacturing Specialist (Worldwide) www.jdgrandt.com

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#1432411 - 05/08/10 04:51 PM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: newgeneration]
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2245
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Glad you enjoyed the recordings. smile

I wish more folks would post recordings, they really make a difference when trying to explain something that is musical in nature, such as the effect that bass strings have on a piano, or hammers for that matter.

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#1454058 - 06/10/10 03:23 PM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: Grandpianoman]
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2076
This is a question for Del, but I see he might not want to take sides among who are, by all accounts, all excellent string makers. (On the other hand, an informative answer might not involve taking sides.)

Have you tested different materials for bass strings on your 'contraption'? Of course, people here seem to be interested in hard versus soft copper winding, specifically.

I find it infinitely difficult to compare bass strings from anecdotal evidence, and especially when the other factors - soundboard, scaling . . . ) are so significant. I would think the only way to get an answer would be to isolate the variable as Del does on his machine.

(For those unaware: Del constructed and has demonstrated in seminars a 'contraption' to test various parameters of strings, including length and tension, which includes a small soundboard, and which fits on a large table.)
_________________________
Charles Lang
Working on: A Night in Tunisia; Memories of Tomorrow (Keith Jarrett).
Just started: Brazilian Like (Michel Petrucciani)

Baldwin Model R (1974), Hardman 5'9" grand (1915), Rieger-Kloss 42.5" vertical

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#1454200 - 06/10/10 07:25 PM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: charleslang]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5065
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: charleslang
This is a question for Del, but I see he might not want to take sides among who are, by all accounts, all excellent string makers. (On the other hand, an informative answer might not involve taking sides.)

Have you tested different materials for bass strings on your 'contraption'? Of course, people here seem to be interested in hard versus soft copper winding, specifically.

I find it infinitely difficult to compare bass strings from anecdotal evidence, and especially when the other factors - soundboard, scaling . . . ) are so significant. I would think the only way to get an answer would be to isolate the variable as Del does on his machine.

(For those unaware: Del constructed and has demonstrated in seminars a 'contraption' to test various parameters of strings, including length and tension, which includes a small soundboard, and which fits on a large table.)

I have not yet made this comparison.

To come up with a meaningful comparison would require obtaining the two different strings—actually, in the case of wrapped strings I’d want several samples of each—from the same string winder with the only variable being the “hardness” of the wire.

One of the reasons I built this test fixture was to be able to make comparisons of this type. You are quite right: anecdotal comparisons, while they may be heartfelt and honest on everyone’s part, are inherently inconclusive. There are too many variables between pianos and they depend on our perceptions of tone. Or, worse, on recordings that are the result of uncertain recording acoustics, equipment and techniques.

To determine if claimed results are real or simply perceived the variables have to be limited and the results measured using at least reasonably accurate and precise equipment.

ddf
_________________________
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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#1454212 - 06/10/10 07:47 PM Re: Finest Bass Strings [Re: Del]
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2076
Originally Posted By: Del

I have not yet made this comparison.

To come up with a meaningful comparison would require obtaining the two different strings—actually, in the case of wrapped strings I’d want several samples of each—from the same string winder with the only variable being the “hardness” of the wire.

One of the reasons I built this test fixture was to be able to make comparisons of this type. You are quite right: anecdotal comparisons, while they may be heartfelt and honest on everyone’s part, are inherently inconclusive. There are too many variables between pianos and they depend on our perceptions of tone. Or, worse, on recordings that are the result of uncertain recording acoustics, equipment and techniques.

To determine if claimed results are real or simply perceived the variables have to be limited and the results measured using at least reasonably accurate and precise equipment.

ddf


Thanks for your answer.

I then have a bold challenge to the stringmakers, who have both claimed superior products. Forgive me for the crude formulation: put your product where your mouth is!

Would someone volunteer to send Del the required few strings? Of course he would have to agree to volunteer his time, too, to do the test.

Just a suggestion, of course. I understand if the stringmakers want to keep the mystery there. On the other hand, comparisons like this are exactly the kind of thing that advances the field, which is in everyone's interest.
_________________________
Charles Lang
Working on: A Night in Tunisia; Memories of Tomorrow (Keith Jarrett).
Just started: Brazilian Like (Michel Petrucciani)

Baldwin Model R (1974), Hardman 5'9" grand (1915), Rieger-Kloss 42.5" vertical

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