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#2083208 - 05/15/13 04:45 PM USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble
Tartansprite Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/14/13
Posts: 4
Having just had a 70's 9' Estonian restrung in the bass with new hammers and regulation, I observe that although it sounds well and generally fit for purpose as an accompanying instrument in a church, it is a bit weak in resonance from the 6th octave in the treble. This can also be noted by just plucking these strings with a plectrum - a 6 ft Chappell in the same room with MUCH older strings(v. bright) gives a 65% longer period of time resonating before falling silent.

I will probably live with the Estonian for long enough before either changing it or trying to improve it, but I would be interested if any techs could hazard what the most likely failing of the instrument would be from a build perspective and are there any methods (including Heath Robinson suggestions!) of gaining some improvement within this region without spending a fortune! Many thanks in advance for any thoughtful replies.


Edited by Tartansprite (05/15/13 05:41 PM)
Edit Reason: grammatical error

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#2083217 - 05/15/13 05:09 PM Re: USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble [Re: Tartansprite]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3360
If it has short sustain with pluck test, you can probably rule out hammers as the cause. Unfortunately, that leaves the belly system, which is a potentially bigger problem to fix. Perhaps the string scale is not optimal. More likely causes, IMO, is too much down bearing on the bridge, or the soundboard has lost stiffness in this section.
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#2083252 - 05/15/13 05:57 PM Re: USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble [Re: Tartansprite]
Tartansprite Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/14/13
Posts: 4
Thanks beethoven986. If downbearing were the problem, what might be the implications of switching to bridge agraffes. (Feasibility studies...I have no clue!!)

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#2083278 - 05/15/13 07:10 PM Re: USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble [Re: Tartansprite]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
The sustain issue could be a bearing problem, or a bridge or soundboard problem, none of which are easy or economical fixes. For the cost of doing that (and what else is probably needed), you could probably replace the soviet-era Estonia. A bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but it is not an instrument into which I would put a lot of money or effort. You say you can live with it - I would leave it at that.
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#2083343 - 05/15/13 10:20 PM Re: USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble [Re: Tartansprite]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2340
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
You could check to see if the V-bar under the capo bar has a narrow, definite V profile- with a 0.5 to 1.0mm apex. If the V-bar is too broadly round, the string cannot pivot across the termination point and this will reduce the strength of the fundamental pitch and the sustain.

That said, the Soviet era Estonias are not noted for their great tone. Making sure the new hammers are shaped light enough in the treble will also help.
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#2083470 - 05/16/13 02:15 AM Re: USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble [Re: Tartansprite]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Just out of curiosity, have any of the techs from North America ever worked on a Soviet Estonia? Ever even seen one?

I had a rather delightless experience in Prague, about 10 years ago, performing a Beethoven concerto. The piano was memorable for all of the wrong reasons. It remains absolutely the worst concert piano I have ever played. Its closest rival is a Soviet Petrof.

I wonder where the OP is located.
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#2083525 - 05/16/13 06:04 AM Re: USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble [Re: Tartansprite]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
I heard that the ribs are too thick and that there are too much of them. hence a lowering of the resonant frequencies in the treble.
I have seen thesame piano, the biggest problem was an extremly tall string's plane, to the point the underside of the key frame was fitted with +- 1 cm thicl wood blocks to raise the action, and despite that the hammers where around 55 mm tall in the mediums (standard heights around 46-47mm)

I worked on that relatively pleasing instrument, to obtain a decent touch with a few modifications and regulation.

it is in a small romm and played by an organ player so the weak treble is not such a problem in the end.

Probably that adding downbearing in the treble can help to some point . There is no much tone projection there the sound is not open, but a little rude.

As it is far from the shop I diod not have enough time to investigate when I regulated the instrument on site (the action only came to the workshop)

I would say first check the amount of deviation from bridge to rest and to capo- if more downbearing can be added string's rest can be modified (but due to the thickness and heavyness of the build I doubt the soundboard have gone down much there)

2 secure tight all plate screws, then massage all bends on strings on the bridge and capo, then check to find a strike point that helps the tone if possible.

Minimal letoff and minimal aftertouch sharp hammer heads.
Impregnation to raise power and partial content.

Change the front punchings if it was not done yet. white "creshendo" punchings add some precision and sparkle, but if the keybed is noisy you will hear it.

Have the hammers striking the strings at 90° whenever possible (depending of the angle from the bridge, it could be 2° less)

I seem to recal there are bolts that allow to regulate the string's rest height somewhat (bacl pressure on bridge)

A friend that vaught a recent one have it rebuild immediately, the soundboard was lightened, I was not able to understand if ribs have been made less heavy/thick or if new ribs have been made. Was at the Bluethner restoration shop in England, now closed.

That sort of very massive soundboard needs a lot of downbearing to raise their resonant frequency I see no other mean without big modifications. (and I suppose there is a limit in regard of what can be done that way)

WHen reading the writings of piano builders it seem that the larger the piano is the biggest the trouble to have a decent treble region, simply due to mass and surface of the soundboard.

AT some point it makes a 1.80 grand sound better than a 2.40 one, or a 120 cm upright better than a 130cm.


P.S The tone of the piano in basses and mediums is good






Edited by Olek (05/16/13 06:05 AM)
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#2083543 - 05/16/13 07:19 AM Re: USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble [Re: Supply]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Supply
The sustain issue could be a bearing problem, or a bridge or soundboard problem, none of which are easy or economical fixes. For the cost of doing that (and what else is probably needed), you could probably replace the soviet-era Estonia. A bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but it is not an instrument into which I would put a lot of money or effort. You say you can live with it - I would leave it at that.


The one I have seen (1973) have been bought for a few thousands Euros, really not much may be 5000, but was unplayable originally.
Once arranged and regulated, I believe the pianist/organist, was very pleased to have it.

I have pics of that strange keyboard underside and extra tall hammers. Never understood if the wood shims where original, may be so.



Edited by Olek (05/16/13 07:19 AM)
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#2084389 - 05/17/13 07:32 PM Re: USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble [Re: Olek]
Tartansprite Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/14/13
Posts: 4
Many thanks Olek for some very thoughtful and helpful remarks. Glad you could say something positive about an Estonian. For me the goodness is it's cheap- hence an affordable 9 ft bass sound. In regard to the ribs of the existing soundboard, could some clever carpentry strip a good portion of weight from these to useful effect in the treble? Especially since it is a heavy design, or does a heavyweight soundboard also require massive ribs... or am I barking up the wrong tree! The piano cost 4700 pounds inclusive of restringing bass and new hammers. Certainly better than a majority of 6 foot pianos in bass and pleasant in mid section (having been to a few piano auctions before buying)... and that was before work done. If I were playing much classical music on it though I guess I would end up frustrated. I need to decipher some of your suggestions maybe with the help of a local London tech since I am too ignorant yet! Best regards.

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#2084460 - 05/17/13 10:11 PM Re: USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble [Re: Olek]
Tartansprite Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/14/13
Posts: 4
Hi again Olek,
I am surprised you mentioned increasing downbearing. Am I misunderstanding you since surely maximum sustain is achieved with zero downbearing (i.e agrafe bridge or wapin.)

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#2084586 - 05/18/13 05:53 AM Re: USSR Estonian concert grand weak treble [Re: Tartansprite]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Not for sustain but to have a brighter spectra. Also the tension added to the treble part of the panel is supposed to make it behave as if it was lighter.

I believe that agrafes and wapin have more to do with forcing the string vibrating plane to vertical, hence avoiding all lateral waving, the tone is possibly lenghtened but I suppose the whole use of the impact energy is modified so the evolving in time of frequencies is very different than with the usual setup.

Efficiency of the energy transfer relates with the stiffness of the string plane. Then if the mass to be moved is too large no amount of dow bearing will help.

It may be interesting to look at the scale and backlenghts, I do not remind how they where.

But the action I have seen had really enlarged dimensions, that make it a challenge to repair and regulate. Damper mechanism was good.
The centers where too tight on many parts, a long job to free them, some where changed many freed with water alcohol.
.
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