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#1988592 - 11/19/12 03:43 PM Sound problems
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
I recently had my piano tuned but despite the fresh tuning, some of the notes give off a sharp metallic sound when played at anything above mezzoforte.

A recording of the sound can be heard at: http://youtu.be/eJnXbRtc9B0

The first two notes played in the video (Aflat and F) are the most prominent, but it is present on the other surrounding notes.

Is there anyone with a good diagnostic ear that can suggest what the problem might be and how it might be resolved? Though at first it sounded to me like out-of-tune 'beats' within the unison, this was evident immediately after tuning and the recording was taken only a few days after. Part of me suspects it may be to do with poorly aligned hammers, but I would love to hear what more experience folk have to say.

Any and all help is much appreciated.

With thanks in advance,

P.

PS: The recording is in stereo using a Zoom Q2HD set up. The problematic sound is crystal clear on headphones, but can even be detected on the little speakers of my laptop.

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#1988603 - 11/19/12 04:22 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
First off, long distance diagnosis is always fraught with problems, zoom and youtube notwithstanding.

The sound could possibly be improved with some judicious voicing and mating of hammers to strings. These are not normally part and parcel of a tuning. There could be some less than perfect unisons as well. Most pianos have some limitations to sound perfection, i.e. part of the "problematic sound" as you call it could be inherent in the piano.

Have you talked to your technician about it? By far, most technicians would be happy to come back, take a close look at the issues and do what they can to improve the tone for you. Be prepared to pay for this additional work. That is where I would start.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1988607 - 11/19/12 04:31 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: Supply]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Thanks for your prompt response, Jurgen.

Yes, I contacted my technician about it, but he has been less than responsive, and I suspect he is beginning to think I am a fussy so-and-so. This, and a couple of other occasions where he was less than enthusiastic about a couple of things I asked him to investigate (a few lazy dampers), mean I am considering changing to someone else.

The only thing I perhaps should add was that this occurred not just after the fresh tuning, but after he took it upon himself to adjust the action to reduce the amount of lost motion in the keys that appeared to have come from the settling in period. Could this minor regulation have had any effect??

P.

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#1988625 - 11/19/12 05:32 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3554
Yes my impression of technicians is that they are NOT so happy to come back. I guess it takes a lot of costs and time and it does not earn them anything probably
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#1988640 - 11/19/12 06:14 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Adjusting lost motion surely has nothing to do with any tonal problems showing up. On the contrary, if he did this for you, it shows that the technician is trying to look after your best interests.

Not all tuners are experienced in the finer points of piano technology. If you are not satisfied with what your current tuner can provide in regards piano service, then it may be time to look elsewhere for someone else to do the work to your standards. But as I said, part of what you are hearing may be inherent in the piano.

[edit] Yes, Wouter, callbacks do not make anyone happy. But as a technician, I look at is as a chance to show the client that I am willing to go the extra mile, to listen to their concerns and try to fix the problem. I view it as an opportunity to generate customer goodwill (not as a money maker). In an industry that relies so heavily on word of mouth referrals for new clients, goodwill is golden.


Edited by Supply (11/19/12 06:19 PM)
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1988643 - 11/19/12 06:33 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: Supply]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Thanks again Jurgen. I don't doubt the bona fides of the technician: he's the main tuner and technician for all the local institutions (concert halls, media organisations etc). That, however, may be the problem: the 'big boys' take precedence and his small number of domestic clients come second, especially when they get too 'finicky'.

As for the piano: perhaps it is an inherent flaw, but I didn't notice this 'problem' before and this was the first time that I was not delighted with the piano after having been freshly tuned (this is it's fourth tuning in 3 months).

And yes I agree that goodwill is key, though I suspect the goodwill of the corporate clients is most important to him.

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#1988664 - 11/19/12 07:40 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8567
Loc: Georgia, USA
As someone who has learned to tune my own pianos, I’ve also come to appreciate and respect the skill involved. I do not think I would want to tune pianos for others for money (though I’ve tuned a few for others for free). If I am not happy with my own tunings, (and I’m very picky) I can keep working on it till I get it right… I may not be so patient with someone else’s piano.

After I tune my piano I play it hard all the way up and down the keyboard for a few minutes, then I check the tuning again. There are always some unisons that need critiquing, plus the pounding helps the tuning stability. Pianos can be very sensitive, as well as the owners. smile

On the other hand, when I pay someone to do something, I have high expectations. If I hired a tuner to tune my piano and I had a twangy unison soon after they left, I'd call them back immediately and expect a return visit to make it right.

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1988677 - 11/19/12 08:01 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1973
Loc: Philadelphia area
As stated earlier, it is impossible to make a long distance diagnosis. Questions: How long between tunings? How old is the piano? What is the make and model? Was the pitch raised or lowered, and if so, how much? etc. The recording give me the impression that judicious voicing may find the sound your looking for.

Pianos need regular service to achieve and maintain a desired level of playability. Ask a few techs what they suggest.

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#1988719 - 11/19/12 09:31 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
newgeneration Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 428
Loc: Richmond Hill, Ontario
PNO40,
At first I thought perhaps that your piano had not been tuned for quite a long time, but then you did clarify by saying it was the 4th tuning in 3 months.

Maybe I'm dead wrong, (and it wouldn't be the first time) but looking at the damper blocks it seems like the damper felt is new which makes me wonder if the hammers are also not original and somewhat recently replaced? The other reason that suggests to me that the hammers are replaced is that the tone and sustain of the notes as you play them one by one seem to differ substantially, suggesting what Jurgen first mentioned regarding the need of a basic more thorough voicing. This can include hammer squaring to the strings, alignment, manipulation of the hammer felt itself (needling/hardening), addressing the bearing points of the wire at the bridge and upper terminations and so forth.

Most concert tuners are fantastic technicians, but although I wouldn't go so far to say that you stand in second place to their institutional clients, you might just need to make it clear to him/her that you would prefer and will pay for a much higher level of service. There are times when a technician gets used to working on very high end pianos, and offer the skill and the invoice that matches the high degree of craftsmanship to these institutions. When they then service a traditional upright in a home, they may falsely and/or unknowingly assume the private owner does not expect, (nor would be willing to pay for) their concert services and rates.

There is one odd question lingering in my mind though.... With tremendous use, the presence of lost motion might arise over a period of time, but it seems odd that with such regular and frequent service, your piano would experience the need for some significant lost motion adjustments. This doesn't seem to make sense to me and I wonder if there is more to this story that might play a factor with regards to what else might be the possibility for your tone issues.
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John
J.D. Grandt Piano Supply Company
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#1988763 - 11/20/12 12:19 AM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
You're playing single notes.
What do you hear when playing actual music?
Can record again?

Norbert
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#1988886 - 11/20/12 09:57 AM Re: Sound problems [Re: newgeneration]
Seeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 360
Loc: Rockville, MD
Originally Posted By: newgeneration
PNO40,
At first I thought perhaps that your piano had not been tuned for quite a long time, but then you did clarify by saying it was the 4th tuning in 3 months.

As I recall, the YouTube sample of this piano consisted of single notes, no chords, octaves, double notes - so it's hard to evaluate the quality/condition of the tuning. That said, at least to my ears, the unisons wobbled a bit more than I would find acceptable after a recent tuning unless there had been a LOT of hard playing done on it.
Originally Posted By: newgeneration

Maybe I'm dead wrong, (and it wouldn't be the first time) but looking at the damper blocks it seems like the damper felt is new which makes me wonder if the hammers are also not original and somewhat recently replaced? The other reason that suggests to me that the hammers are replaced is that the tone and sustain of the notes as you play them one by one seem to differ substantially, suggesting what Jurgen first mentioned regarding the need of a basic more thorough voicing...

New, or old, I agree that the voicing is uneven. That said, to my ears the zingy sound doesn't sound like a voicing problem.
Originally Posted By: newgeneration

...This can include hammer squaring to the strings, alignment, manipulation of the hammer felt itself (needling/hardening), addressing the bearing points of the wire at the bridge and upper terminations and so forth.

I agree with newgeneration. Were I a betting man, my bet would be that the zing comes from resonances in the indirectly speaking parts of the strings "...at the bearing points of the wire at the bridge and upper terminations and so forth...". I think it might have something to do with the fact that in the Northern Hemisphere we're in the winter heating season, and the piano is (probably) in a less humid environment than it was previously.

Technically inclined readers, and techs - shouldn't it be fairly easy to test that hypothesis by muting off parts of the strings, pressing down on the bearing points while playing test blows?

Originally Posted By: newgeneration

Most concert tuners are fantastic technicians, but although I wouldn't go so far to say that you stand in second place to their institutional clients, you might just need to make it clear to him/her that you would prefer and will pay for a much higher level of service. There are times when a technician gets used to working on very high end pianos, and offer the skill and the invoice that matches the high degree of craftsmanship to these institutions. When they then service a traditional upright in a home, they may falsely and/or unknowingly assume the private owner does not expect, (nor would be willing to pay for) their concert services and rates.

"newgeneration" raises a number of very interesting, and, at least to me, disturbing points here. The biggest one in my mind is what constitutes a professional "tuning" of a piano? How long should such a tuning be stable? Under what conditions? In general, people who are professional pianists, are going to stress a tuning more than an amateur, and in a much shorter period of time. This argues that the technician do what is necessary (and here we get into the arcane details of pin setting among other refinements) to tune in a way that maximizes both stability and accuracy. Should there be a two-tiered approach to that - the twenty-five minute once over easy vs the one-hour plus super stable concert tuning? Seems to me that in a world where people are less willing to pay top dollar for services, or are less able due to other constraints, such a bifurcation is inevitable. One tech that I called handled the situation by quoting two different rates - one for a regular tuning, one for a concert (professional pianist's) tuning.

Meanwhile - back to PNO40's piano problems. A good technician should be able to address them. How much that will cost, what the value will be to PNO40 vs the cost is something he will have to determine once the problems have been diagnosed adequately.


Edited by Seeker (11/20/12 09:58 AM)
Edit Reason: Added info on climate
_________________________
Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")

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#1989001 - 11/20/12 03:59 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: Dave B]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Originally Posted By: Dave B
Questions: How long between tunings? How old is the piano? What is the make and model? Was the pitch raised or lowered, and if so, how much? etc. The recording give me the impression that judicious voicing may find the sound your looking for.


The piano is a 1932 Bluthner Model A, bought from a small piano rebuilder's operation in June of this year. The pin-block is original, the soundboard has been restored, the strings are new, the hammers have been recovered, etc.

I received the piano in mid-July after a 24 hour journey in a van in torrential rain, then on an overnight ferry, and finally up a flight of stairs. It sounded awful when it arrived.

It was given its first tune a week later (3 hour) and another (2 hours) a couple of weeks after that. It's third tuning (2 hours) was at the end of August, and its fourth (3 hours +) was a month ago (mid October). All bar the second tuning involved a pitch raise, and on the third tuning the pitch was deliberately raised to 441hz to allow it to fall naturally courtesy of strings stretching. I suspect (as does the tuner) that the rebuilder was afraid to follow factory practices of tuning high (c. 446hz) for fear of cracking the plate with the extra tension. The last tuning (a month ago) is the first in which the top end has not gone flat within days: it appears quite stable overall (at last!), not withstanding the new tonal problems.

Q: Could any/all of this begun to effect bridge pins, thus affecting tone?

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#1989006 - 11/20/12 04:20 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: newgeneration]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Originally Posted By: newgeneration
PNO40,
At first I thought perhaps that your piano had not been tuned for quite a long time, but then you did clarify by saying it was the 4th tuning in 3 months.

Maybe I'm dead wrong, (and it wouldn't be the first time) but looking at the damper blocks it seems like the damper felt is new which makes me wonder if the hammers are also not original and somewhat recently replaced? The other reason that suggests to me that the hammers are replaced is that the tone and sustain of the notes as you play them one by one seem to differ substantially, suggesting what Jurgen first mentioned regarding the need of a basic more thorough voicing. This can include hammer squaring to the strings, alignment, manipulation of the hammer felt itself (needling/hardening), addressing the bearing points of the wire at the bridge and upper terminations and so forth.


Thanks John. The response above (to Dave B) should answer most of these questions, though I am beginning to think that hammer mating and bridge pins are where this is all heading: too many wise heads are pointing in that direction.

Originally Posted By: newgeneration
Most concert tuners are fantastic technicians, but although I wouldn't go so far to say that you stand in second place to their institutional clients, you might just need to make it clear to him/her that you would prefer and will pay for a much higher level of service. There are times when a technician gets used to working on very high end pianos, and offer the skill and the invoice that matches the high degree of craftsmanship to these institutions. When they then service a traditional upright in a home, they may falsely and/or unknowingly assume the private owner does not expect, (nor would be willing to pay for) their concert services and rates.


I think my technician knows what I'm looking for (I deliberately overpaid him for his first tuning!) but when I push things, he seems reluctant to do anything, with the response "You'll get this on a Steinway too, you know" thrown my way a few times to encourage me to 'accept my lot' (as it were).

Originally Posted By: newgeneration
There is one odd question lingering in my mind though.... With tremendous use, the presence of lost motion might arise over a period of time, but it seems odd that with such regular and frequent service, your piano would experience the need for some significant lost motion adjustments. This doesn't seem to make sense to me and I wonder if there is more to this story that might play a factor with regards to what else might be the possibility for your tone issues.


The tech said that the back rail felt had become compressed, necessitating adjustment of the lost-motion. He admitted it wasn't very much, but still went ahead with the adjustment, with my approval.


Edited by PNO40 (11/20/12 04:21 PM)

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#1989010 - 11/20/12 04:28 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: Norbert]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Originally Posted By: Norbert
You're playing single notes. What do you hear when playing actual music? Can record again?


Norbert: Zing, zing, zing is what it (now) sounds like when playing a piece of music with any king of gusto or force in it. I'll try to record a sample in the days ahead, but for what it is worth, this this is how it sounded a couple of months ago immediately after its third tuning. Admittedly this is a quiet piece and the problem is most pronounced with louder playing, but I was quite happy that day, even when I lashed out on a few more rowdy pieces.

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#1989015 - 11/20/12 04:43 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3554
Yes it's annoying sound

How old are the strings and hammers?

Sometimes the tone gets a bit harsh if the unisons are off but this is quite a lot. I would try to tune the unisons a bad sounding key yourself as good as you can, and see if it goes away. But you may not so good at it. Another option would be to use a tool to exactly measure the three strings of a bad sounding note and see how far they are off.
_________________________

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#1989016 - 11/20/12 04:45 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3554
Ah, and you wrote the tech is raising the pitch. Maybe a tech can comment on this but FAIK piano strings get stiffer over time and stretching older strings might be a bad idea. This noise might be due variances in the string thickness due to stretching?
_________________________

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#1989101 - 11/20/12 08:57 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: wouter79]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Originally Posted By: wouter79
Yes it's annoying sound

How old are the strings and hammers?

Sometimes the tone gets a bit harsh if the unisons are off but this is quite a lot. I would try to tune the unisons a bad sounding key yourself as good as you can, and see if it goes away. But you may not so good at it. Another option would be to use a tool to exactly measure the three strings of a bad sounding note and see how far they are off.


The strings and hammers are new, but you are right it might be worth trying to tune the more problematic unisons to eliminate the hypothesis that the effect is coming from the tuning (I suspect not).

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#1989805 - 11/22/12 01:57 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3554
Ah strings are new, yes then i think it's pretty likely that they are detuning quickly and that that the unisons are off
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#1992438 - 11/29/12 02:15 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: Seeker]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
An Update (for those interested):

The (new) tech came to inspect the piano today: he left scratching his head. As this was just an inspection visit (pending a proper visit for tuning and everything else later) he focussed on the most offensive couple of notes to see if he could isolate the cause. Here's what he did:

Firstly, he tuned the target unison beatless. The high metallic 'zingy' harmonics rang on regardless.

Next, he went after the bridge pins to reseat the strings. No effect.

He double-checked that the non-speaking parts of the string were effectively damped (they were).

He then examined the hammers, did some very mild filing, managed to lessen the effect a little, but the same fundamental problem persisted.

Finally, he had a close look at the condition of the bridge to see if he could identify any problems there. It seemed fine.

Conclusion: He said he was baffled, but would be consulting with his mentor who may have encountered a similar problem (and piano) before, and would get back to me with suggestions. His hunch is that the problem is with the hammers, at least one of which he could fell to be 'crunchy' underneath the surface, though given that the hammers were re-felted (by Abel) and effectively 'new', he doubted his own hunch. He raised the possibility that some strings may be sitting higher than others, thus adversely affecting the impact from the hammers, but didn't sound too convinced that this might be the cause. He mooted the worst case scenario of problems with the bridge and soundboard, but didn't seem to suspect these either. Hence, the puzzle.

So, I don't have a solution to the problem, but at least I now seem to have someone willing to engage with it and work towards sorting it out. If anybody else has suggestions, they will all be welcome grist to the mill.

Thanks in advance,

P.

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#1992456 - 11/29/12 03:06 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5316
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: PNO40
The (new) tech came to inspect the piano today: he left scratching his head. As this was just an inspection visit (pending a proper visit for tuning and everything else later) he focussed on the most offensive couple of notes to see if he could isolate the cause. Here's what he did:

Firstly, he tuned the target unison beatless. The high metallic 'zingy' harmonics rang on regardless.

Next, he went after the bridge pins to reseat the strings. No effect.

He double-checked that the non-speaking parts of the string were effectively damped (they were).

He then examined the hammers, did some very mild filing, managed to lessen the effect a little, but the same fundamental problem persisted.

Finally, he had a close look at the condition of the bridge to see if he could identify any problems there. It seemed fine.

Conclusion: He said he was baffled, but would be consulting with his mentor who may have encountered a similar problem (and piano) before, and would get back to me with suggestions. His hunch is that the problem is with the hammers, at least one of which he could fell to be 'crunchy' underneath the surface, though given that the hammers were re-felted (by Abel) and effectively 'new', he doubted his own hunch. He raised the possibility that some strings may be sitting higher than others, thus adversely affecting the impact from the hammers, but didn't sound too convinced that this might be the cause. He mooted the worst case scenario of problems with the bridge and soundboard, but didn't seem to suspect these either. Hence, the puzzle.

I'm not where I can listen to the YouTube audio on either headphones or decent speakers but I think I can hear what is bothering you.

First, I doubt it is bridge pins or bridge related.

The voicing sounds very bright -- almost strident (but this may be exacerbated by my computer speakers) -- for a piano that historically has been noted for having a warm, almost mellow sound. I'd start by having the hammers voiced to sound something like a Blüthner should sound.

Strings should be “level.” This might be part of the problem. And while the technician is in there leveling strings he/she might also check the contour of the V-bar. You’d like it to be smooth and nicely rounded—a radius of about 1.0 to 1.5 mm should be about right.

Have your technician make sure the bearing bar is installed to the correct height.

While this does sound like a string termination problem at the V-bar end it could also be something as simple—and as difficult to track down—as a loose hinge or other piece of hardware. Check for loose things anywhere in, on or around the piano. These things, by the way, are also made worse by the rather hard tone of the piano.

A few other ideas come to mind—not likely but still things to check—loose hammer heads, cracked hammershanks, loose hammer butt action centers, etc.

ddf
_________________________
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#1992693 - 11/30/12 05:00 AM Re: Sound problems [Re: Del]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1957
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: Del
I'd start by having the hammers voiced to sound something like a Blüthner should sound.

If it were my piano, I'd check everything else that Del suggests first and see that the plate is properly secured, none of the pressure bar screws are loose, and the action rails are firmly fastened to the brackets. Are the coils round the pins as tight as they should be? All these things should be ok as the piano has just come from the restorer but strange things can happen along the way.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#1993786 - 12/02/12 05:28 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: Del]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Originally Posted By: Del
I'm not where I can listen to the YouTube audio on either headphones or decent speakers but I think I can hear what is bothering you.

First, I doubt it is bridge pins or bridge related.

The voicing sounds very bright -- almost strident (but this may be exacerbated by my computer speakers) -- for a piano that historically has been noted for having a warm, almost mellow sound. I'd start by having the hammers voiced to sound something like a Blüthner should sound.

Strings should be “level.” This might be part of the problem. And while the technician is in there leveling strings he/she might also check the contour of the V-bar. You’d like it to be smooth and nicely rounded—a radius of about 1.0 to 1.5 mm should be about right.

Have your technician make sure the bearing bar is installed to the correct height.

While this does sound like a string termination problem at the V-bar end it could also be something as simple—and as difficult to track down—as a loose hinge or other piece of hardware. Check for loose things anywhere in, on or around the piano. These things, by the way, are also made worse by the rather hard tone of the piano.

A few other ideas come to mind—not likely but still things to check—loose hammer heads, cracked hammershanks, loose hammer butt action centers, etc.

ddf


Thanks for your input, Del.

Yes, there is always the possibility of some kind of adventitious sympathetic resonance taking place, so I am slowly eliminating possibilities (removing cabinet parts, etc). No joy yet, however, though it may take time (and patience ...).

One quick question regarding the V-bar. On this piano, the V-bar is around 4-5 mm in radius, and has no pressure bar on the tenor section. Yes, there are signs of wear in terms of the gilding (it is 80 years old) but it is hard to find evidence of grooves, though perhaps I need to invest in a magnifying glass (or new spectacles). Either way, is this an unusually large radius for a V-bar, and could that contribute to termination problems?

Finally, I'm on the look out for somebody half-way local who knows their Bluthners. Since I received the piano I have always thought it a bit bright in the tenor and treble, though sweet enough if played softly, and I raised the issue of voicing with my original tech who recommended tuning, tuning and tuning again before doing anything. Four tunings in (and another on the way), it is probably time to get someone willing and able to voice it properly.

Thanks again,

P.

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#1993789 - 12/02/12 05:29 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: Withindale]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Originally Posted By: Withindale
If it were my piano, I'd check everything else that Del suggests first and see that the plate is properly secured, none of the pressure bar screws are loose, and the action rails are firmly fastened to the brackets. Are the coils round the pins as tight as they should be? All these things should be ok as the piano has just come from the restorer but strange things can happen along the way.


Thanks Ian. I'll work on this in the days ahead.

Best wishes,

P.

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#1993803 - 12/02/12 05:56 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1957
Loc: Suffolk, England
Hadn't realised there is no pressure bar (in the tenor) of your piano.

Also it would make sense to voice a note or two to see if that solves, or partially solves, the problem.

Good luck.


Edited by Withindale (12/02/12 07:32 PM)
Edit Reason: tenor
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#1993806 - 12/02/12 06:00 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5316
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: PNO40
One quick question regarding the V-bar. On this piano, the V-bar is around 4-5 mm in radius, and has no pressure bar on the tenor section. Yes, there are signs of wear in terms of the gilding (it is 80 years old) but it is hard to find evidence of grooves, though perhaps I need to invest in a magnifying glass (or new spectacles). Either way, is this an unusually large radius for a V-bar, and could that contribute to termination problems?

It's not really a question of "grooves." Take a look at the contact point of the strings against the V-bar. Look closely. Typically the top surface of the V-bar (a misnomer, by the way) is rounded. It really shouldn't be. From the point of contact that constitutes the termination of the speaking length of the string it should drop away quickly. To relate it to something I'm familiar with...you'd like it to look something like the top surface of an ocean wave that is just about to break.

If the slope of the V-bar on the speaking side is too gradual the vibrating string can buzz against the bar creating just the sound you are hearing. I am currently in China and I cannot view anything on YouTube here so I can't go back and look at the string termination configuration in your piano but...if there is not pressure bar in the tenor section I'd guess (not being able to see or hear your piano) that this is where the trouble probably lies.

If this does prove to be the case the easiest solution is probably going to be to move the strings out of the way and grind the speaking side of the V-bar down a bit. Just enough that there is no possibility of the vibrating string coming into contact with the V-bar.
_________________________
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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#1993848 - 12/02/12 08:01 PM Re: Sound problems [Re: Del]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1957
Loc: Suffolk, England


I wonder about the two bottom coils in this image (I suggest you blow them up on screen - Ctrl+). Are the coils as tight as possible with the at right angles into the becket. If not the problem Del mentions could be induced or exacerbated.

Presumably Bluthner made this model with this type of V-bar and it performed satisfactorily so there must be something else as well as the V-bar causing the problem.

There are several posts on the technicians forum about the need to tighten coils even when there is no obvious need to do so.

PS The bottom right coil appears to have its wire bent round in a loop before it goes into the hole in the pin. To my mind this would mean the string is not properly terminated at the pin which, in turn, will mean it will not be properly terminated at a V-bar, or an O-bar, especially in the absence of a pressure bar. Does this make sense, Del?


Edited by Withindale (12/03/12 04:43 AM)
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#1995270 - 12/06/12 12:33 AM Re: Sound problems [Re: PNO40]
TomazP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/09
Posts: 106
Loc: Ucluelet, BC Canada
On my Hamburg "B" the metallic buzz turned out to be a loose knurled nut on the strip next to the balance rail that holds the keys in place when the action is removed from the piano. Took a long time to find that one!

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#1995327 - 12/06/12 07:04 AM Re: Sound problems [Re: Del]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Originally Posted By: Del
It's not really a question of "grooves." Take a look at the contact point of the strings against the V-bar. Look closely. Typically the top surface of the V-bar (a misnomer, by the way) is rounded. It really shouldn't be. From the point of contact that constitutes the termination of the speaking length of the string it should drop away quickly.


Thanks Del. I'm not sure the V-bar on this piano quite fits that description, but here are some photos to better judge the situation.







Originally Posted By: Del
If the slope of the V-bar on the speaking side is too gradual the vibrating string can buzz against the bar creating just the sound you are hearing. I am currently in China and I cannot view anything on YouTube here so I can't go back and look at the string termination configuration in your piano but...if there is not pressure bar in the tenor section I'd guess (not being able to see or hear your piano) that this is where the trouble probably lies.


For reference, here are photos of the three sections:





Originally Posted By: Del
If this does prove to be the case the easiest solution is probably going to be to move the strings out of the way and grind the speaking side of the V-bar down a bit. Just enough that there is no possibility of the vibrating string coming into contact with the V-bar.


To be honest, I am absolutely loathe to allow anybody file the V-bar until absolutely every other possibility is ruled out, but the option will always remain as a (very) last resort.

With thanks again,

P.

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#1995330 - 12/06/12 07:12 AM Re: Sound problems [Re: Withindale]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Originally Posted By: Withindale


I wonder about the two bottom coils in this image (I suggest you blow them up on screen - Ctrl+). Are the coils as tight as possible with the at right angles into the becket. If not the problem Del mentions could be induced or exacerbated.

PS The bottom right coil appears to have its wire bent round in a loop before it goes into the hole in the pin. To my mind this would mean the string is not properly terminated at the pin which, in turn, will mean it will not be properly terminated at a V-bar, or an O-bar, especially in the absence of a pressure bar. Does this make sense, Del?


Thanks Ian. Here are some better photos of the coils, and the post above has a full set of the general layout and V-bar design.




Having looked closely, I'm not sure if I can identify precisely the issue you are referring too, though I will be asking my tech to examine them closely when he comes on Friday. Most of the strings seem to have some curvature entering the pin, but perhaps it is that it is too much and should instead be a clear 90 degree angle? Or is that they should be entirely snug with the body of the pin when entering the hole?

With thanks in advance,

P.

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#1995332 - 12/06/12 07:22 AM Re: Sound problems [Re: TomazP]
PNO40 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 233
Loc: A North Atlantic Island former...
Thanks to Del, Withindale, TomazP, Supply, Seeker and all the others who have contributed to this discussion. Based upon all the input I have received, I have decided on the following plan:

1. As the piano is now once more out of tune, and some of the metallic zings now audible are likely coming from out of tune unisons and sympathetic resonance on the undamped treble section, the first thing is to get it back in tune. Once in tune, the hunt for suspect coils, hinges, screws, etc can begin in earnest.

2. I have identified a specialist tech (100 miles away) with experience of voicing Bluthners. He has been booked in to come a month from now to voice the piano (which I always thought needed to be done anyway) and in the course of doing this, he may well identify whatever problems remain after the tuning and hunt for stray 'resonators'.

I'll keep people posted on the progress and outcome in the weeks ahead.

With thanks and best wishes,

P.

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