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#2102463 - 06/14/13 12:28 PM Steinway D - in apology and response to another post...
joe80 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 951
Today I played a Steinway D in recital, it was a 2008 hamburg model. I was really looking forward to playing it and when I sat down and rehearsed I was pretty disappointed.

The piano didn't sing, it felt like it had really short sustain, the action was incredibly heavy and it didn't have a great deal of possibility in the dynamic range - ok it could go very loud, and it could be very soft, but controlling it was very hard because there was just so much inertia.

I am pro-Steinway - I think they are generally wonderful pianos (although they are not my favourite), and I have to say I've played some beautiful examples of the model D, but this particular one just didn't do it for me. Perhaps this is the kind of thing that our friend who has had the problem purchasing a New York model D has run into. The sound just didn't 'open' on it, virtually no sustain and uncontrollable.

It was in a small cathedral. Perhaps the acoustic swamped it, and perhaps it hadn't been well-prepared, but I just felt like the poor piano had no song left. Lots of punch and power, but it wasn't a singer!

So, I'm sorry I doubted or original poster about his bad Steinway experience, because today's concert proved it can happen - be it a tech, acoustic or piano problem.

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#2102484 - 06/14/13 01:08 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
A 2008 is awfully young to be having true piano problems, unless the he11 has been beaten out of it. Oh, wait, it's in a cathedral, right? So the he11 HAS been beaten out of it. grin

Seriously, church pianos can have maintenance issues. But jeez, a cathedral with a D on the floor surely has the money (and taste) to keep it in good working order. Doesn't it?
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#2102486 - 06/14/13 01:13 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: Piano*Dad]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3293
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
But jeez, a cathedral with a D on the floor surely has the money (and taste) to keep it in good working order. Doesn't it?


You'd be surprised.
_________________________
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
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#2102487 - 06/14/13 01:14 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6044
Loc: Rochester MN
One of the problems with large, and especially aging, churches is environmental control. The RH is all over the map. Pianos don't seem to find it heavenly at all.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2102503 - 06/14/13 01:44 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Almaviva Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 435
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
One of the problems with large, and especially aging, churches is environmental control. The RH is all over the map. Pianos don't seem to find it heavenly at all.


Marty, I know that adverse humidity conditions can cause a piano to go out of tune. But humidity couldn't cause all of the problems that Joe described, could it?

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#2102504 - 06/14/13 01:49 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: Almaviva]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1166
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: Almaviva
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
One of the problems with large, and especially aging, churches is environmental control. The RH is all over the map. Pianos don't seem to find it heavenly at all.


Marty, I know that adverse humidity conditions can cause a piano to go out of tune. But humidity couldn't cause all of the problems that Joe described, could it?



Yes it certainly can! Of course the piano might just be a dud. That can happen too.

Joe, that sounds like a rather awful experience. I'm glad it was you and not me. What was your program?

Cheers, and glad to see you here again.


Edited by laguna_greg (06/14/13 01:51 PM)
Edit Reason: thought of something
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#2102507 - 06/14/13 01:56 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6044
Loc: Rochester MN
Almaviva,

Humidity can wreck havoc on any action. Though rare, it can even happen to the composites. However, that wouldn't be the case in this situation.

What was described could certainly be the result of fluctuating humidity. Also, neglected service on the action (regulation/lubrication) could add to the problem, or be the problem.

The lack of sustain is anyone's guess. That is certainly not a characteristic of the Hamburg-D.

It seems that the piano was "tampered" with in some way as it wouldn't have left the factory in that condition.

Dontja jest luv a mystry?
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2102552 - 06/14/13 03:44 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Norbert Online   content
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Registered: 07/03/01
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Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Everybody in the industry knows that it is impossible to draw conclusion about an entire line of pianos from one single experience.

A tuner friend of mine in Germany is head technician for the renowned "Rhur Festival" one of world's largest "who's who" type concert series for classical pianists.

http://www.klavierfestival.de/index.php?id=kuenstler&no_cache=1

I had the pleasure to see and try before several of the Steinway concert grands there: each one is a magnificent specimen technically prepared by one of Germany's finest.

The variables between these and a not optimally serviced piano in some odd cathedral setting are not indicative of what these pianos are all about.

Try again, perhaps elsewhere...

Norbert
_________________________
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#2102635 - 06/14/13 08:44 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1457
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
When relative humidity rises, all the wood and felt in an action swells up and gains mass from the added moisture. This slows down the action both by increasing friction and inertia. Also the hammers are duller sounding from the softer felt and increased inertia slowing the rebound rate from string contact.

That said I have heard "dog" Hamburgs. They are not all perfect, same as not all NY's are perfect. I prefer to work with a NY hammer when tone regulating. Having to do wholesale needling of all but the top two octaves does not lead to the most stable, long, lasting voice.
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#2103074 - 06/15/13 09:48 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Almaviva Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 435
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Almaviva,

Humidity can wreck havoc on any action. Though rare, it can even happen to the composites. ...
What was described could certainly be the result of fluctuating humidity.


Fascinating. Then answer this, Marty. Pianos existed long before air conditioning and Dampp Chasers. How did piano technicians keep their instruments in good working order when they were at the mercy of the elements, i.e. no control over humidity?

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#2103076 - 06/15/13 09:51 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6044
Loc: Rochester MN
Almaviva - With constant service! (Or, the pianist ignored the sticking keys and sluggish action.)
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2103281 - 06/16/13 11:35 AM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
joe80 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 951
Norbert, don't get me wrong, I have played some truly wonderful Hamburg Ds, and some excellent New York Ds, this post isn't to slag Steinway at all, it's just that sometimes you come across a piano that has issues.

I think that humidity CAN cause these problems, but also I think that the church will have neglected the piano. The piano was actually a gift to them, so they didn't pay for it themselves, and I think they think 'oh, wow, new Steinway, don't have to do anything to it!'.

If the piano isn't being regulated, then humidity will cause these problems and they won't go away until things are made good by the tech.

The lack of sustain, well, some Steinways are like that and some aren't. The heavy touch - there was a batch of Steinways made around 2003-2010 that seemed to play like trucks, it was like they were putting on heavy hammers to try and give more power. They seemed to have changed this particular characteristic back and it is working better on their latest models.

Greg! Hi! How are you? Mendelssohn Fantasia Op.28 and Beethoven Waldstein. With the shock of the piano action the Mendelssohn was a bit hairy in places, but the Beethoven worked well. It was very difficult to use any kind of jeu perle touch, but I did manage the glissando octaves - it was heavy but not 'stiff'.

Yeah, usually Steinways are fine, and usually hamburg Ds are excellent pianos, but this poor thing needs attention!

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#2103338 - 06/16/13 01:16 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1730
Loc: Philadelphia area
Not all Steinways are created equal. They are like snowflakes. No two are alike.

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#2103339 - 06/16/13 01:17 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
BDB Online   content
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20744
Loc: Oakland
All pianos eventually take on characteristics of the person who cares for them, no matter who made them. If nobody takes care of them, that is a characteristic they take on.
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Semipro Tech

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#2103368 - 06/16/13 02:42 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1680
Loc: London, England
Another rather odd thread. Did you or your agent report this situation to somebody who needs to be aware of the condition of their concert piano?
Was your recital part of a series of recitals by other pianists? Was it a paying audience? You could have refused to play it.
Everything you describe can be caused by excessive humidity coupled with lack of adequate servicing for whatever reason.
Nothing is being achieved by ranting on here.
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#2103373 - 06/16/13 02:57 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4393
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...Nothing is being achieved by ranting on here..."

Why not; everyone else does, and as long as they watch their language, keep a civil tongue in their head, and have something of a care about libel... hey, let a thousand flowers bloom. Besides, sometimes people do learn something from ranting, or if not they (and it is true that some OPs seem indifferent to anyone's point of view but their own), then other readers.

You would need a microscope to find PW if your wish came true. The advertisers wouldn't like it.
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Clef


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#2103374 - 06/16/13 03:00 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6044
Loc: Rochester MN
There's a big difference between ranting and rambling.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2103379 - 06/16/13 03:11 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: rxd]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19096
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: rxd
Nothing is being achieved by ranting on here.
This must be the most mild rant in PW history.

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#2103402 - 06/16/13 03:57 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13963
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
People kepp forgetting again and again that the preparation, maintainance and service of a piano is of utmost importance.

Last week we got a new piano in that was less than ideal, even surprising me.

On Saturday the piano sold to a prominent piano teacher who had tried it for a couple of hours. [among others]

Having my own tech out on medical, I had "emergency-hired"
another top tech letting him set up piano for better part of day. Admittedly, the guy is very good.

Wasn't the cheapest but difference was phenomenal.

P.S. "same piano"

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (06/16/13 04:01 PM)
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#2103417 - 06/16/13 04:34 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: pianoloverus]
jdw Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 799
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: rxd
Nothing is being achieved by ranting on here.
This must be the most mild rant in PW history.


I was thinking the same thing. Seemed to me like pretty calm sharing of a not-so-great experience.
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R

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#2103420 - 06/16/13 04:46 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1680
Loc: London, England
Wow. That brought a few out of the woodwork there. Point taken, gentlemen, partially a cultural difference in the strength of the word 'rant'.

This is also the very problem with radio call in shows. Anybody with the necessary patience can get on a talk show and sound off, thinking they've achieved something by talking. Raised awareness? Among whom?.

The fact remains that some other poor sod is going to struggle with that piano, possibly tonight. (assuming it is the resident piano there). Do pianists have no concern for their brethren?

A piano can be serviced to the hilt but when it is hit with moisture like that, this is what happens. There is a cure, albeit temporary, it costs the price of a beer and takes a few seconds and it will get a piano through that open air summer concert by the lake after a thunderstorm with no lasting side effects when the show simply must go on. A product available at any corner store. Anybody remember it? I last resorted to it some years ago when CPL wouldnt cut it. In a cathedral, funnily enough, in a very similar situation. Works like magic. Stinks, though.


Edited by rxd (06/16/13 04:52 PM)
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#2103426 - 06/16/13 04:56 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6044
Loc: Rochester MN
Never, ever, confuse Vic's VapoRub with K-Y.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2103533 - 06/16/13 09:01 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: laguna_greg]
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1227
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg

Joe, that sounds like a rather awful experience. I'm glad it was you and not me. What was your program?

Cheers, and glad to see you here again.


He had to play on a $100,000.00 plus piano and was disappointed.

Oh, the horror! When I think of some of pianos I've had to play on over the years, this sounds a bit silly.
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#2103677 - 06/17/13 04:35 AM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
joe80 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 951
Roger, the price of the piano is not really the issue. The preparation of the piano is. A Steinway D is generally a good piano, but this one has been neglected.

My recital was part of a concert series, but usually the recitals are not featuring piano - which I think is rather odd considering they have this potentially magnificent instrument. The piano is used by the associate organist for training the choir. The piano was bought by a generous donor who wanted to make a gift in memory of someone.

I told the associate organist that they really should have the piano serviced. In fact I might mention to Steinway Hall who sold them the piano, and Steinway Hall might offer them some kind of service plan. Perhaps that's not the ideal situation cost wise, but it will ensure the piano is cared for at least. I know the people at Steinway Hall quite well, so I will mention it.

And Roger, I've played on some horrible pianos too, given recitals on church hall straight-strung uprights, played concertos on upright pianos with cracked frames and no sound, and really I can't refuse to play the instrument in the venue at this stage, because I have to do the gig and be paid. It's not good to rock the boat by NOT playing. The disappointment here wasn't that the piano is fundamentally bad. No, rather, it's that the piano is fundamentally good (potentially the best) and they've allowed it to morph into something that is altogether unsatisfactory. I'm sure they have it tuned twice a year or three times a year or whatever, but I would hazard a guess that the action hasn't been out of the piano since it was delivered. I agree with Norbert, it's not the piano's fault, it's not Steinway's fault, it's the fact that these instruments NEED to be serviced, and DESERVE to be serviced. People need to have respect for their instruments, especially when they have a £120,000 price tag (I think that's almost $190,000US)

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#2103961 - 06/17/13 05:18 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
Norbert Online   content
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Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
People need to have respect for their instruments, especially when they have a £120,000 price tag (I think that's almost $190,000US)


While this is true there's more to the story.

"Price tag" should not by itself be an indicator of how much service a customer "deserves"

Someone who buys a piano at the fraction of the cost of the above "deserves" IMHO as much good service as someone who pays many times that.

And when this person ends up with a piano as good or better than the one of much higher cost, good for him/her.

And for the dealer...

This is where I see the challenge but also opportunity of the market for today's cost-conscious buyers, both in lower and higher spectrum of market.

Thinking that spending super dollars for relatively mediocre sounding pianos is not something that can be sustained on ongoing basis in future....

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (06/17/13 05:19 PM)
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#2104216 - 06/18/13 04:35 AM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: Norbert]
joe80 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 951
Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
People need to have respect for their instruments, especially when they have a £120,000 price tag (I think that's almost $190,000US)


While this is true there's more to the story.

"Price tag" should not by itself be an indicator of how much service a customer "deserves"

Someone who buys a piano at the fraction of the cost of the above "deserves" IMHO as much good service as someone who pays many times that.

And when this person ends up with a piano as good or better than the one of much higher cost, good for him/her.

And for the dealer...

This is where I see the challenge but also opportunity of the market for today's cost-conscious buyers, both in lower and higher spectrum of market.

Thinking that spending super dollars for relatively mediocre sounding pianos is not something that can be sustained on ongoing basis in future....

Norbert


Norbert, I completely agree with you but I think you might have got the wrong end of the stick there.

I was speaking about people who have already bought pianos that are now outwith their guarantee period, or even within their guarantee period, but that neglect to have their instruments serviced. As in, I mean the instruments deserve to be serviced. I mean all instruments of course, but you would think that when someone has paid 120k they might have more respect.

Of course when buying a piano, the dealer should give excellent service regardless of the price of the instrument. I understand that certain instruments have a retail price that don't support as much preparation as others, but I don't think that's what either of us are talking about here.

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#2104301 - 06/18/13 10:20 AM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: joe80]
S. Phillips Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 199
Loc: Forte Farm, Lexington, KY
Humidity can indeed create havoc in pianos. In addition to the swelling of the cloth and felt, making the action sluggish and the hammers heavier, the increased moisture swells the soundboard.

In mild cases the only noticeable change is the rise in pitch as the board /bridge swells under the strings. In dramatic cases the board swells enough to increase the bearing (angle of the strings over the bridge) to effectively trap the soundboard, limiting it's movement. This causes a loss of sustain especially in the first treble section. This loss of sustain and volume can be mistaken for a voicing issue and is often incorrectly diagnosed as hammers that are too soft. The resultant hardening of hammers only decreases the sustain.

This problem is pervasive in the summer in cooler climates where it is not cold enough for heat and not warm enough for air-conditioning. The humidity just rises, especially overnight.

I encourage customers to note the humidity with a hygrometer. The digital ones that can track the rise of humidity overnight are especially helpful so that the customer can see the problem.
_________________________
Sally Phillips
Piano Technician
One can always find something to improve.
2 Steinway Os, Steinway B & C, C. Bechstein A
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#2104630 - 06/18/13 08:39 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: BDB]
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2313
Loc: Lowell MA
Originally Posted By: BDB
All pianos eventually take on characteristics of the person who cares for them, no matter who made them. If nobody takes care of them, that is a characteristic they take on.


Well Said !! thumb
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#2104672 - 06/18/13 11:36 PM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: S. Phillips]
phacke Online   content

Gold Supporter until November 11 2014


Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 385
Loc: CO, USA
Originally Posted By: S. Phillips
Humidity can indeed create havoc in pianos. In addition to the swelling of the cloth and felt, making the action sluggish and the hammers heavier, the increased moisture swells the soundboard.

In mild cases the only noticeable change is the rise in pitch as the board /bridge swells under the strings. In dramatic cases the board swells enough to increase the bearing (angle of the strings over the bridge) to effectively trap the soundboard, limiting it's movement. This causes a loss of sustain especially in the first treble section. This loss of sustain and volume can be mistaken for a voicing issue and is often incorrectly diagnosed as hammers that are too soft. The resultant hardening of hammers only decreases the sustain.

This problem is pervasive in the summer in cooler climates where it is not cold enough for heat and not warm enough for air-conditioning. The humidity just rises, especially overnight.

I encourage customers to note the humidity with a hygrometer. The digital ones that can track the rise of humidity overnight are especially helpful so that the customer can see the problem.


I am wondering what the rate is for the humidity getting into the piano soundboard. Say, if the humidity goes up over night in the house, what is the rate of moisture ingress? I would guess that there is a bit of a lag.

I'm also wondering if anyone has measured any pitch change over night as in the above scenario give by Ms. Phillips.

I am looking at the wood moisture curves in the Steinway Service Manual (Matthias, 1990) that shows even if the relative humidity remains constant, and the temperature goes down (as it does at night) wood moisture % is going up a bit too.

Some good T and RH loggers (one of many models in product lines):

http://www.lascarelectronics.com/temperaturedatalogger.php?datalogger=375

http://www.onsetcomp.com/products/data-loggers/u12-011

Some of them connect by wifi, and some models send you a text message or email when the reading goes out of some limit.

http://www.onsetcomp.com/corporate/press...-monitoring-kit

Regards -
_________________________
phacke

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

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#2104678 - 06/19/13 12:10 AM Re: Steinway D - in apology and response to another post... [Re: phacke]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1457
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
The rate of increase in moisture content of wood varies by species, specific sample, thickness and surface finish treatments. A rule of thumb guide is that softwoods, (spruce is a softwood), take on moisture about five times faster than they give moisture out to the air. Thus protecting a piano from spikes in humidity is more important than spikes in dryness. The same is generally true for felt although the number may be more than five times I don't have it available right now.
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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