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#1969188 - 10/05/12 05:10 PM Does My 1922 Steinway Model O Have Its Original Strings?
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 225
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
My last question set off such an interesting discussion that I can't wait to see what this one gets.

The mover took one look at the bottom of my 1922 Steinway Model O's soundboard and said it's been replaced. My technician agreed that's likely, given its excellent condition. It seems highly likely the strings were replaced at the same time. I'm wondering whether there are any giveaways that would tell me a) that mine are not the original strings and b) approximately when they were replaced.

Thanks in advance,

Andy

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#1969199 - 10/05/12 05:30 PM Re: Does My 1922 Steinway Model O Have Its Original Strings? [Re: AndyJ]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3489
a. If your Steinway's soundboard has been replaced, its strings have been replaced. Period. If the soundboard when looking at the bottom side of the piano looks light in color (aka isn't dark brown), it is almost certain to have been replaced, as not many rebuilders will go through the trouble of cosmetic work down there.

b. No. Some pianos that are 25 years old have strings that look new. Some pianos that are a year old have strings that look old. It all depends on how well the piano is taken care of.

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#1969259 - 10/05/12 09:28 PM Re: Does My 1922 Steinway Model O Have Its Original Strings? [Re: AndyJ]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1569
Loc: Tennessee
Greetings,
I have seen a number of elderly Steinways that had nearly pristine finishes on the bottom. There will be some yellowing to an older board, and if it is white, it is new.
I think the real clues would be around the edges. How does the quarter-round look along the straight side? hard to disturb it, replace a board, and get it back without the surrounding finish showing something.
Examine the reinforcement found along the treble section, on the leading edge of the soundboard above the dampers. If it is factory, there will be a 45 degree angle to that joint, most others just screw on a straight piece of wood, without understanding what is happening there. It is a rare factory board that isn't fitted beautifully around the edges, at least, not in this vintage.

Original strings in some of the Steinways outperform new wire, so it is not necessarily a bad thing to have. I don't know why this is so, but new wire is often less musical ( less sustain, muddier spectra, false beating). I have incontrovertible ( geez, I have wanted to use that word for months) evidence that somehow, in 1914, one of these pianos could be strung with less false beats than the majority of new ones today.
Regards,

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#1969285 - 10/05/12 11:29 PM Re: Does My 1922 Steinway Model O Have Its Original Strings? [Re: AndyJ]
Dave B Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 2513
Loc: Philadelphia area
Ed, What is the evidence? Is it the quality of the strings? Or the skill of the stringer? false beats are a continuing problem.
_________________________
"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams

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#1969296 - 10/06/12 12:24 AM Re: Does My 1922 Steinway Model O Have Its Original Strings? [Re: AndyJ]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3489
I think my piano probably wins the false beat award. Seriously, I want to burn the darn thing sometimes....

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#1969351 - 10/06/12 06:20 AM Re: Does My 1922 Steinway Model O Have Its Original Strings? [Re: Dave B]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1569
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: Dave B
Ed, What is the evidence? Is it the quality of the strings? Or the skill of the stringer? false beats are a continuing problem.


Greetings,
I wish I knew. After 36 years of this, I am still baffled, at times. Many are easy to remedy, just change the wire. This is the most common source I have found in new, expensive, American made grands, and I wonder if careless stringing and chipping is to blame. I use the same wire and see far, far few problems with false beating. I have seen the factory stringers, and I think they go way too fast to avoid overstressing a significant number of strings from C6 up.
My "evidence" is a number of older pianos that out-sing the new ones. Among them is a 1914 model O that I completely replaced the action in, but left the original stringing. I did this because it sounds better than the new one it is next to in a professor's studio. She prefers the older one to a 2000 model L. The older piano has one or two questionable strings, the new one, dozens. Actually, all new models of this brand have numerous un-tunable strings!
I am told that virtually all steel today has some recycled metal in it, and that contaminants like copper cause wire to be weaker,whereas, in 1914, all the metal was being smelted from virgin iron ore. I am not a metallurgist, so I can be easily led by logic rather than knowledge on this one.

Other false beats go away when I lightly massage the wire against the bridge pin. This is done with a very small hook, right in front of the pin on the speaking length. Others yet are persistent.
Jim Ellis and James Arledge did some research that indicated that a false beat would always occur when the curvature of the music wire aligned at 45 degrees to the hammer's direction. Not against it, or sideways to it, but 45 degrees off of vertical. Hmm. I have gotten rid of one impossible beat by loosening the wire, turning the coil one revolution, and then putting the string(plain wire) back on. I have also had them break when I tried this...

I suppose the best approach to false beats is the most experienced one; give it your best shot, and then continue on. The beginner will spend a lot more time before deciding it's wasted effort than I will !
Regards,

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