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#2087108 - 05/23/13 12:40 AM bass restringing questions
phacke Offline

Gold Supporter until November 11 2014


Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 784
Loc: CO, USA
Hello,

I would like to get the presumably original bass (copper-wound) strings in my '33 Steinway M series piano changed. Most of the notes on the main bridge sound quite good, so it is not obvious that I really need to have those strings changed. I would like to hire out the change to an experienced technician, but was thinking that I would do the grunt work myself while the bass strings are getting changed out, such as cleaning the oxide off the trichord unison strings that normally run under the bass strings.

My questions:

1) Reblitz (2nd Ed. 2 p. 288) string change-out method says to raise the pitch to tune on the bass bridge strings last. This implies that it is safe for the piano to have no string tension on the bass bridge with the main bridge fully populated and tuned. Do I have this correct?

2) The piano has the original size 2 pins (I measured them). If it turns out when changing the bass strings that we also need to increase the diameter of the tuning pins for the bass strings, would it be too weird to have larger diameter pins for the bass strings only. I am not looking to make a museum piece piano, but would like to keep things respectable.

3) Any recommendations for bass string brand? or are they all about the same. Steinway NY indicated they use Mapes presently (though I can't be sure this means all strings in the scale), and Heller writes that he supplies strings for Steinway 'houses' in Germany, but I don't know exactly what that means.

4) Also in the string area, do the custom shops like Isaac, GC, Arledge, J D Grandt, and Heller generally try to replicate the original scale, or do they do their own thing for string mass/diameter for re-optimization of longitudinal vibration modes, etc?

Thank you for your consideration.
_________________________
phacke

Steinway YM (1933)
...Working on:
J. S. Bach, Sonata No. 1 in B minor (BWV 1014)

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#2087139 - 05/23/13 02:04 AM Re: bass restringing questions [Re: phacke]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1447
Loc: Michigan
Well, you've got quite a list . . .

1) Correct. Never a worry.
2) Typically you would want to go up 1 or 2 sizes. This would mean a pinblock replacement when full rebuilding would take place. Not necessarily a problem, because pinblock replacement is more often than not the appropriate step, anyway.
3) Different brands do have different characteristics. Arledge uses soft copper in order to be able to do the automated former-Baldwin-patented "Synchrotone" thing. They sound good. Isaac "Profundo" are hand wound and use hard copper and spring stainless underwrap along with a minimal alternative swaging. They sound good put on and continue to open up as time passes.
4) You can have it your way. Typically Isaac recalculates.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
Editor, Piano Technicians Journal
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2087143 - 05/23/13 02:19 AM Re: bass restringing questions [Re: phacke]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 22773
Loc: Oakland
Replacing the bass strings on a piano that old without replacing the treble strings is bad practice. The treble strings may sound okay in comparison to old bass strings, but they will not in comparison to new bass strings.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2087289 - 05/23/13 10:40 AM Re: bass restringing questions [Re: BDB]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1447
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: BDB
Replacing the bass strings on a piano that old without replacing the treble strings is bad practice. The treble strings may sound okay in comparison to old bass strings, but they will not in comparison to new bass strings.


I would agree that all the strings are the same age and have lost their original liveliness. As a matter of general principle, it is better to keep the piano consistent rather than different bits here and there.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
Editor, Piano Technicians Journal
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2087332 - 05/23/13 11:26 AM Re: bass restringing questions [Re: phacke]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
I find that replacing the bass strings alone makes a huge difference, and that any amount of tone loss of plain wire strings (in good condition) is negligible.
Bass string replacement should really be done by a technician, especially if you want to preserve the value (resale or otherwise) on your Steinway.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2087372 - 05/23/13 12:11 PM Re: bass restringing questions [Re: Supply]
TunerJeff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 528
Loc: Oregon Coast
http://www.jdgrandt.com/order-complete-sets.html

I prefer ordering from JDGrandt and asking them to rescale. As their website points out, you can get 'duplicate' of the original strings, but the best result comes from letting modern knowledge of scaling and bass-string production into the picture.

Yes; slightly oversize on the pins is not a problem. I prefer to use the 'Lo-Torq' tuning pins from Pianotek. These keep a #2-size on the head, but a 3 or 3-1/2 on the shaft. Slightly more spendy (Klinke/Diamond), but I have been very pleased with keeping the #2-tuning tip in place for the whole piano. Good quality, and very nice appearance, too.

Yes; if the orignal plain-wire are in good condition, no rust or corrosion, then you'll likely be fine with just restringing the bass. If you have corrosion and/or some replaced wire in the tenor/treble then you should restring the whole instrument.

Unloading the bass only?
Not a problem, but I actually prefer not pulling all the strings at once. As I send a paper pattern and measurements to JDGrandt this means I have the new strings in hand with the old wire still in place. I pull 4 to 6 strings at a time, and install the new strings in series. This keeps a more balanced load on the piano's structure, and I think is better than yanking 40-50 strings at once from the total tension on the piano. Given a choice, at least. Sometimes, if the bridge needs attention, you do what you must!

Consider the related work, too. Dampers should be replaced in the bass for the new strings. Hammer reshaping, regulation, etc. Damper guide-rail bushings sloppy? There is quite a lot to consider and check as part of the job. Simply replacing the wire is only a part of the picture here. Be thorough to get the best result.

From the armchair,
.02--------ching!
_________________________
Jeffrey T. Hickey, RPT
Oregon Coast Piano Services
TunerJeff440@aol.com

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#2087383 - 05/23/13 12:22 PM Re: bass restringing questions [Re: phacke]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4263
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

In a 1933 instrument all of the strings and wire are past due for replacements. The bass section can be done only but eventually they would have to come off to restring the treble side so with all of the tooling in place why not complete the entire scale.

I always include new felt damper plates in the quote. Using the old damper felts does not allow good seating/ damping.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2087709 - 05/24/13 12:26 AM Re: bass restringing questions [Re: phacke]
phacke Offline

Gold Supporter until November 11 2014


Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 784
Loc: CO, USA
I really appreciate everyone's instructional comments. Thank you very much indeed. I was thinking of just cleaning the plain wires (they are significantly oxidized, especially where they are hard to reach under the bass strings; none seem to have been replaced), but the bias I hear above is to replace all strings even if the wires sound OK given the opportunity when the bass strings are off. We'll see how the quotes for these scenarios look.

As for bass string brands, it seems that different technicians have good experience with different ones. I do appreciate the hints above.

Best regards,
_________________________
phacke

Steinway YM (1933)
...Working on:
J. S. Bach, Sonata No. 1 in B minor (BWV 1014)

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