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#1462856 - 06/25/10 11:46 AM does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano?
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
I currently live in a townhouse, where I house my 6'1" grand piano. Outside, they are demolishing a 6-story retaining wall, using cranes and dump trucks, which create small earthquake-like vibrations. These vibrations are very perceptible and even rough sometimes. Does this harm my piano in any way? My piano is near the back of the house, where the demolition/ construction is taking place. Any insight would be GREATLY appreciated!
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#1462860 - 06/25/10 11:51 AM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: tommytones]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8072
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi,

In my opinion, acoustic pianos are a lot tougher than most people think. I would say that enviornmental issues like humidity and temperature would be much more detremental than a slight physical vibration as you describe.

Worse case scenerio... it may slightly affect the tuning; then, you could demand that the construction company pay to have it tuned! :-)

Take care,

Rick
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#1462861 - 06/25/10 11:52 AM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: tommytones]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20759
Loc: Oakland
Not likely. Not unless the house collapses on it.
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#1462868 - 06/25/10 11:59 AM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: Rickster]
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
Originally Posted By: Rickster


Worse case scenerio... it may slightly affect the tuning; then, you could demand that the construction company pay to have it tuned! :-)



Good point, Rickster, thanks! By the way, a neighbor a few units down had her kitchen cabinets fall down as a result of the vibrations, this is how rough the vibrations are. We as an association are looking into insturance or reimbursment from the contracting company.
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tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
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#1462943 - 06/25/10 03:19 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: tommytones]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3246
I would worry more about my home than my piano... I heard and read many cases where such construction work caused big cracks in the house and such damage can be very expensive.
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#1462972 - 06/25/10 04:43 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: wouter79]
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
Originally Posted By: wouter79
I would worry more about my home than my piano... I heard and read many cases where such construction work caused big cracks in the house and such damage can be very expensive.


true, I also worry about the home, being as the vibration is quite rough. Just another thing to worry about. I am worrying over the piano because the soundboard has been cracked before, and then repaired. I wonder if the vibration is enough to do any damage to the shimmed soundboard
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Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
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#1463019 - 06/25/10 06:00 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: tommytones]
Pianolance Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1178
Loc: Nashville, TN
Soundboards are made to withstand lots and lots of vibrations. Dryness causes soundboards to crack, not vibrations. However, you do have some cause for concern. If I were you I would have my piano covered with a thick padded blanket in case something falls on it like a ceiling light or knick knack off of a shelf or a piece of furniture.
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#1463026 - 06/25/10 06:09 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: Pianolance]
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
Originally Posted By: Pianolance
If I were you I would have my piano covered with a thick padded blanket in case something falls on it like a ceiling light or knick knack off of a shelf or a piece of furniture.


Thanks Pianolance,

That part is already taking care of. It sounds like there is not to much to worry about in the way of damage done to pianos due to this circumstance. Thank you everyone for your quick replies!
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tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
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Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Model No. 200A
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#1463034 - 06/25/10 06:32 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: tommytones]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4394
Loc: San Jose, CA
Just as a blue-sky guess... if you can do it, you might place some foam pieces under the legs for the duration of the construction. I suppose it would take a stiff and dense foam to support the instrument and absorb at least some of the shock from the construction... and some care to keep it level.

But actually, it's probably ok anyway. Think about it: they're packed up and shipped halfway around the world every day, and they come out fine. And in my part of the world, they go through actual earthquakes and make it ok.

But I don't blame you for being worried; I wouldn't like it either.
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#1463043 - 06/25/10 06:54 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: Jeff Clef]
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
if you can do it, you might place some foam pieces under the legs for the duration of the construction. I suppose it would take a stiff and dense foam to support the instrument and absorb at least some of the shock from the construction... and some care to keep it level.


Thanks Jeff Clef. I actually have casters under the legs. Would this be suitable instead of the foam for dampening of the vibration?
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tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
Roland Digital Piano Model No. HP 147
Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Model No. 200A
Hammond M-3

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#1463045 - 06/25/10 07:07 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: tommytones]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4394
Loc: San Jose, CA
Something like those Piattino casters, which have a neoprene support built in, might help. They're usually used for keeping the piano sound from bothering the neighbors. They are dandy-looking, but fairly expensive.

I don't see how regular casters would help deaden vibrations. They're usually used to protect the floor under the piano legs. Maybe over a carpet and a very good foam pad, they might spread the base enough so that there was more shock-deadening material under the legs.

How long is this going to go on?
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#1463373 - 06/26/10 10:34 AM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: Jeff Clef]
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
Jeff,

It looks like the construction is going to be going on for another few months, unfortunately.

I do have carpeting where the piano is, i;m hoping this will help with the vibrations too.

Thanks for the info. I'm going to look into those casters!
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tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
Roland Digital Piano Model No. HP 147
Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Model No. 200A
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#1463383 - 06/26/10 11:12 AM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: tommytones]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2634
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Thinking practically, if the shock is strong enough to knock cabinets off the wall, I'd be sure to keep the lid down.

From an engineering point of view, the kind of vibrations that those special cups are designed around are very low amplitude sound waves. The shocks you describe are closer to mini-earthquakes. In this case, no caster cups will be able to distribute the weight during a shock, they have too small of a footprint. I'd spread the load & padding over a larger space. Perhaps larger wooden boards with something like thickest carpet pad material underneath for the duration of the construction. That would distribute the weight with some material left to compress when the shocks occur.
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#1463390 - 06/26/10 11:31 AM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: PianoWorksATL]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4394
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...spread the load & padding over a larger space. Perhaps larger wooden boards with something like thickest carpet pad material..."

There you are. The science.

For documentation against the possibility of a claim, you might have your tech do a written evaluation of condition now (they have forms they use), and then at the end of the construction. That, and some good photos, which should also show anything you've done to mitigate (like foam under the casters).

I hope it doesn't come to this, but in the event, you would be expected to prove up your claim.

Crashing kitchen cabinets...
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#1463409 - 06/26/10 12:17 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: tommytones]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1252
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: tommytones
I currently live in a townhouse, where I house my 6'1" grand piano. Outside, they are demolishing a 6-story retaining wall, using cranes and dump trucks, which create small earthquake-like vibrations. These vibrations are very perceptible and even rough sometimes. Does this harm my piano in any way? My piano is near the back of the house, where the demolition/ construction is taking place. Any insight would be GREATLY appreciated!


In my judgement, I'm going to say damage is unlikely. However, there is one possibility that hasn't been covered. If your strings are vibrating continuously, they can age and even break. I have been aware of this phenomenon in two scenarios:

1) Shipping a piano long distance. Grand piano on its side, dampers are off the strings, they vibrate for the entire time the truck is travelling. Upon arrival strings are broken.

2) Professional pianist has broken strings in high treble (undamped section). Insists they never play those notes often enough or hard enough to cause the breaking. In actuality, the high treble strings are always vibrating. With a heavy playing schedule, lifetime of treble strings can be shortened. (This will be related to pianists style, as well but is different from Moscow Conservatory Syndrome).
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#1463422 - 06/26/10 12:37 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: PianoWorksATL]
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
Originally Posted By: PianoWorksATL
Thinking practically, if the shock is strong enough to knock cabinets off the wall, I'd be sure to keep the lid down.


WOW! I did not even think about this, the lid has been in full stick the whole duration! I'm practically closing the lid right now while I'm typing this! Thanks for the tips PianoWorksATL!
_________________________
tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
Roland Digital Piano Model No. HP 147
Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Model No. 200A
Hammond M-3

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#1463423 - 06/26/10 12:39 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: Jeff Clef]
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
For documentation against the possibility of a claim, you might have your tech do a written evaluation of condition now (they have forms they use), and then at the end of the construction. That, and some good photos, which should also show anything you've done to mitigate (like foam under the casters).


Also a good point Jeff, thanks!
_________________________
tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
Roland Digital Piano Model No. HP 147
Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Model No. 200A
Hammond M-3

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#1463428 - 06/26/10 12:46 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: tommytones]
Volusiano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/10
Posts: 770
You would think that if a piano survives trips inside a bouncy truck, it should be able to survive your situation. Not too many things can be worse than the torture in a bouncy truck.

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#1463432 - 06/26/10 12:48 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand pi [Re: Volusiano]
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
Originally Posted By: Volusiano
You would think that if a piano survives trips inside a bouncy truck, it should be able to survive your situation. Not too many things can be worse than the torture in a bouncy truck.


Very true!
_________________________
tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
Roland Digital Piano Model No. HP 147
Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Model No. 200A
Hammond M-3

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#1463538 - 06/26/10 04:33 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: tommytones]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
My guess is that it is no big deal. This sort of vibration is no more violent than a heavy handed pianist playing the instrument for many hours. The thing you need to do is probably tune the piano after the demolition people are done.
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#1463539 - 06/26/10 04:39 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: 4evrBeginR]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
I agree with those that say you should be more worried about the house. The piano will be fine unless, as BDB says, something large and heavy falls on it.
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#1463553 - 06/26/10 05:52 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: 4evrBeginR]
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
Originally Posted By: 4evr88
The thing you need to do is probably tune the piano after the demolition people are done.


I was actually thinking about getting it tuned, since it's been six months since the last tuning. If I tune it now, would it go out of tune faster due to the construction?
_________________________
tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
Roland Digital Piano Model No. HP 147
Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Model No. 200A
Hammond M-3

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#1463558 - 06/26/10 06:03 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: tommytones]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
My old teacher had his Steinway knocked out of tune by an advanced student in one lesson because he played so hard. Yeah, you'll probably lose some pitch from the vibration. If the demolition is almost done, just hold off. But if they need 2 months longer, go for the tuning now.
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#1463561 - 06/26/10 06:12 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: 4evrBeginR]
tommytones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/09
Posts: 167
Loc: Northeast America
Originally Posted By: 4evr88
If the demolition is almost done, just hold off. But if they need 2 months longer, go for the tuning now.


Thanks 4ever8! If I tune this, will I need another tuning after the construction?
_________________________
tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
Roland Digital Piano Model No. HP 147
Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Model No. 200A
Hammond M-3

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#1463598 - 06/26/10 07:49 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: tommytones]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2634
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Strings are designed to vibrate violently, the legs of the piano are not. On a truck, a piano is off its legs and most over-the-road bouncing affects the tuning less than being in a hot/cold/humid/dry truck.

I guess I'd have to ask our California techs, but does a real earthquake knock a piano out of tune? After months, no one will be able to prove why it is out of tune, but it is possible - if you can get a free tuning for your inconvenience, then go for it.
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#1463599 - 06/26/10 07:54 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: tommytones]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4394
Loc: San Jose, CA
Perfect time for the tech to evaluate it for condition. It's bad juju to let it go out of tune, voice, or regulation--- twice a year tech visit, at least. You don't save money by letting it go so long it needs a pitch raise.
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#1463631 - 06/26/10 10:15 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: Jeff Clef]
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13969
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
There's sometimes outside vibrations that are actually real good.

Coming from people totally thrilled with their new instrument...

Norbert thumb
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#1463646 - 06/26/10 11:22 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: Norbert]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20759
Loc: Oakland
The vibrations from the construction are not likely to affect the tuning. If they do, chances are the tuning was not that good to begin with.
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#1463650 - 06/26/10 11:34 PM Re: does vibration caused by outside sources hurt a grand piano? [Re: BDB]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
I'm not sure how much shaking the OP is experiencing, but being from California, I consider anything less than a 6.0 on the Richter scale to be a nothing. I assume vibration that needs concern to be like a 6.5 to 7.0 on the Richter scale, which should be sufficient to see visible shaking of heavy furniture and cabinets. If the shaking can be felt but not seen, then it's a nothing.
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