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#2067628 - 04/20/13 02:16 PM Random, intermittent buzzing
islander53 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Nova Scotia, Canada
Hello! First time poster to the forums, long-time pianist! smile

I have an upright Willis from the late 1920's/early 1930's that has developed a random buzzing (usually between C3-C6, give or take a few notes). It first happened about 3½ years ago, and lasts anywhere from a couple hours to a few days. It can be very light and tolerable, or it can sound like it's being played through an over-driven amplifier.

But then it goes away just suddenly as it turns up, and can be gone for days or weeks; this last time it was gone for months! Today it suddenly came back more extreme than ever, and instead of only a portion of the keyboard being affected, almost all of it.

I've done a lot of checking for loose or broken parts. No cracks in the soundboard that I could see. I did tighten a few screws last year, and cleaned out some dust and looked for things like paper clips and other foreign objects. No dead critters, lol. I've given the piano a gentle push in all directions to check for any shifting problems; taken everything off the top of it (photos and knick-knacks).

If there was something structurally wrong, I would think the buzzing would always be there, but it comes and goes when it wants to, with no discernible pattern.

Any idea what I can do?

Thanks!


Edited by islander53 (04/20/13 02:18 PM)
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#2067664 - 04/20/13 03:32 PM Re: Random, intermittent buzzing [Re: islander53]
Brick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/06
Posts: 373
Have you had your regular tuner-technician come in to give it it's regular tuning while the buzz was happening? A good, experienced tech will be able to solve it (or at least identify it) most of the time as long as they can hear it while it's happening- though occasionally it can be very difficult to diagnose the source of a buzz.

As to "no discernible pattern" do you have a humidity gauge near the piano and have you taken notes of the relative humidity when it is/isn't happening? To me that would be the first thing to go to when trying to determine a pattern.

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#2067670 - 04/20/13 03:42 PM Re: Random, intermittent buzzing [Re: islander53]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1952
Loc: Suffolk, England
Make a list of everything that could vibrate then check them out one by one. I thought my buzzes this week were coming from the dampers but they disappeared when I tightened the music desk screws.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2067717 - 04/20/13 05:27 PM Re: Random, intermittent buzzing [Re: Brick]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7881
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Brick
Have you had your regular tuner-technician come in to give it it's regular tuning while the buzz was happening? A good, experienced tech will be able to solve it (or at least identify it) most of the time as long as they can hear it while it's happening- though occasionally it can be very difficult to diagnose the source of a buzz.

As to "no discernible pattern" do you have a humidity gauge near the piano and have you taken notes of the relative humidity when it is/isn't happening? To me that would be the first thing to go to when trying to determine a pattern.


Plus one that is good thinking .. Sounboard buzz or some foreign object at the bottom of the board..

Ribs, bridge..

Someone push on different parts of the soundboard while the other play tge faulty notes. Where are they located ?

The bridge may be touch the plate at the treble break... It happens


Edited by Olek (04/20/13 05:29 PM)
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#2067720 - 04/20/13 05:38 PM Re: Random, intermittent buzzing [Re: islander53]
islander53 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Nova Scotia, Canada
Thanks for the good suggestions. Humidity is something I have considered but never tracked with a gauge; I really need to do that.

This weekend is busy for me, but the next time I will completely open it up and push & prod and find the culprit. I thought it had gone for good but apparently not. It certainly breaks the mood!


Originally Posted By: Olek
...faulty notes. Where are they located ?

Usually every note between C3-C6. Today it included almost the entire keyboard. And most of the time when it acts up, it won't start until after I've played for a couple minutes. Never right away.


Edited by islander53 (04/20/13 05:41 PM)
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#2067996 - 04/21/13 12:06 PM Re: Random, intermittent buzzing [Re: islander53]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1251
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Have you looked at the back of the piano, at the bottom of the soundboard? Something may have fallen behind the piano and could be lodged against the soundboard. This could be anything...a greeting card, small piece of paper, a little toy or even a small bowling pin (yes...found one of those once!) It could even be a loose electrical outlet cover right behind the piano. Also, check the ribs, using good light, to see if any are separating from the soundboard.
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#2068014 - 04/21/13 12:42 PM Re: Random, intermittent buzzing [Re: Eric Gloo]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7881
Loc: France
to check ribs it is enough to push on the panel, the same at the perimeter .

A simple screw half hidden at the bottom of the board may do a lot of noise but not on a so large portion of tge scale.

It is really better to be 2 persons, and have access to the board from the back.

Bumping strong on the case trying to hear a similar buzz, one can be sure it is not fautive.
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2068023 - 04/21/13 12:59 PM Re: Random, intermittent buzzing [Re: islander53]
Gerry Johnston Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/13
Posts: 102
Loc: Haverhill, MA
Definitely have your technician in to look/listen while buzz is happening. It can be very difficult to track down the cause of an intermittent buzz even at the best of times as there are hundreds of possible sources - a loose screw, loose caster, object touching soundboard, loose hinge pin, the list is almost endless. Impossible to analyze in a forum such as this.
_________________________
Gerry Johnston, Registered Piano Technician
Haverhill, MA
(978) 372-2250
www.gjpianotuner.com

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