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#2047927 - 03/13/13 11:02 PM isolated tonal inconsistency 1915 Henry F. Miller
houseofmiracles Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/13/13
Posts: 10
Loc: Ontario Canada
Hi everyone,

I viewed a 6'8" Henry F. Miller this evening which I like very much. It is in very good condition with recently replaced strings, pins, felts, dampers, and refinished frame. I'm very tempted to buy it....

But - there is a problem with the sound of the 4 lowest notes before the overstrung bass. All four are uniformly weak and zingy. They are in tune, just lacking bass. All of their neighbours on both sides sound great, and the rest of the piano is very consistent.

Is this, by any chance, a common problem with a common solution? Any tips on how to investigate the cause? I don't want to inconvenience the seller or rack up tech bills for an instrument that is near my price limit already - just hoping to hear of some similar issues and how/if they were resolved. Thanks for any and all advice!

-Andy

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#2047936 - 03/13/13 11:23 PM Re: isolated tonal inconsistency 1915 Henry F. Miller [Re: houseofmiracles]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
This area in the low tenor - the transition to the bass, can be particularly difficult, tonally. While careful regulation and fitting of the hammers to the strings can help, very often it is the scaling (string, soundboard and bridge design and layout) which is simply very limiting. Voicing the hammers can help to mask the effect, but it is not treating the "problem".

Rectifying the problem (changing the piano design) is fairly involved and the results cannot be predicted.

If the hammers and strings and bridges are in good condition, what you hear is probably what you are going to get. One could assume that in the course of the recent refurbishing, efforts were made to mitigate the tonal problems as much as possible, if they really stand out so much.

If it bothers you just playing the instrument before buying it, it will be on the forefront of your mind every time you go to play it if you go through with the purchase. It does not sound like a piano you would fully enjoy. If the price is right it may be a fair compromise though.

How many times in your life will you be buying a 6'8" piano? I would hope you buy one that you can really love for a long time.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2047942 - 03/13/13 11:33 PM Re: isolated tonal inconsistency 1915 Henry F. Miller [Re: houseofmiracles]
houseofmiracles Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/13/13
Posts: 10
Loc: Ontario Canada
Thank you Jurgen! Much more than technical wisdom in your reply.....

-Andy

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#2047952 - 03/13/13 11:53 PM Re: isolated tonal inconsistency 1915 Henry F. Miller [Re: houseofmiracles]
houseofmiracles Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/13/13
Posts: 10
Loc: Ontario Canada
The problem is not a gradual change on the way down - it is sudden and not just at the point where there is a change in the piano's mechanics. This is what makes me believe that it may be more than just a regulation issue.

In case it's relevant, the refit was performed more than 5 years ago.

Thanks again,

-Andy

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#2047996 - 03/14/13 01:33 AM Re: isolated tonal inconsistency 1915 Henry F. Miller [Re: houseofmiracles]
Tunewerk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/11
Posts: 487
Loc: Boston, MA
Sounds like a delaminated bridge to me, although I can't believe they would have missed that in a restoration. Could be a composite bearing/scaling problem if those are wound strings at the bottom of the tenor section.

Other possibility if it is really sudden tone change is something could have spilled on the last 4 hammers in that section, making the felt lose its tension and integrity.

Either way, I think there will be some cost involved to fix this problem.
_________________________
www.tunewerk.com

Unity of tone through applied research.

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#2048000 - 03/14/13 01:48 AM Re: isolated tonal inconsistency 1915 Henry F. Miller [Re: Tunewerk]
houseofmiracles Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/13/13
Posts: 10
Loc: Ontario Canada
Thanks Tunewerk,

Is a delaminated bridge an affordable/justifiable repair if we're talking about a $3500 instrument?

Also - the spill theory is completely possible. Seller has kids!

Big thanks,

-Andy

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#2048003 - 03/14/13 01:55 AM Re: isolated tonal inconsistency 1915 Henry F. Miller [Re: houseofmiracles]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 22579
Loc: Oakland
There are two possibilities, that it is inherent in the design or condition of the piano, or that it is something that can be fixed without a lot of fuss. The odds are probably against it being fixable cheaply, but there really is not a lot to go on. There is no substitute for actually seeing and hearing the piano.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2048236 - 03/14/13 02:33 PM Re: isolated tonal inconsistency 1915 Henry F. Miller [Re: houseofmiracles]
Tunewerk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/11
Posts: 487
Loc: Boston, MA
Hey no problem, Andy!

No, if you're talking about a $3,500 instrument, a good bridge repair will cost more - unless someone does it cheaply by screwing in from the back of the board.

Hopefully the problem is the hammers in that section. That would be cheapest to replace and voice, for the cost of probably a few hundred dollars.
_________________________
www.tunewerk.com

Unity of tone through applied research.

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