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#2105813 - 06/21/13 03:02 PM piano pin torque measuring
Mike088 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/09
Posts: 91
Loc: New Westminster, Canada
Hello,

Over the years many people have asked me to help them look for a used piano. Considering I play the piano and that I've read many piano books such as Larry Fine's books in detail, I feel I can offer them some objective advice and help in choosing a piano. This arrangement has worked out well over the years - mostly just help for friends and relatives when they ask me about pianos.

When I inspect a piano I go through the detailed checklist in Larry Fine's piano book however there is one area of the piano that I am not able to determine and that is the tightness of the tuning pins.

I am not a licenced piano technician however I feel competent with tools and handy work. Is this an area of the piano I should not work with, leaving this specialty to a qualified piano tuning tech or can I at least check the pin torque myself with a piano torque wrench without putting the piano out of tune? If not, I would also need a tuning lever and the proper tuning tips and tools and obviously lots of experience tuning pianos - which I do not have.

Once a friend asked me to go with her to check out an old upright. The first thing I noticed when I checked the overall tuning with my tuning fork was that the entire piano was scaled down a semitone. Relatively, it sounded OK, but the fact that it was all tuned down led me to suspect that perhaps a piano tuner at some point in the past couldn't tighten one of the pins up to the standard pitch and so had to tune the entire piano lower. At that point we just walked away and did not consider the piano because we couldn't take any risk ending up with a piano with possibly loose tuning pins. I just wished I had a piano torque wrench to have checked this with certainty.

Should I buy a piano torque wrench, and if so, could someone recommend a supplier on the west coast in Canada or should I leave the inspection of pin torque up to a qualified piano tech?

If you check pin torque with a piano torque wrench, doesn't that put that string out of tune in which case that string would need to be retuned?

PS I often think I would like to take the Randy Potter piano tech course but I need to think about this carefully because it is quite a commitment.

Mike

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#2105824 - 06/21/13 03:23 PM Re: piano pin torque measuring [Re: Mike088]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
The problem is not the inch pound torque wrench. These are readily available at many of the tool supplies locally. What you will require is the proper star fitting to go over the tuning pins.

At full pitch the tuning pin is forced to the left until it breaks free of the friction control. That would be your measurement for friction resistance.

Then the string attached to the same tuning pin will have to be pulled back up into tune with the rest of the unison.

Regarding low pitch pianos, it is not always because of loose tuning pins. There are other reasons technicians refuse to pull instrument up to pitch, the primary one being an inability to replace or repair broken wire and strings. Another would be structural failure of some sort; most likely plank separation at the top of the instrument.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2105872 - 06/21/13 05:08 PM Re: piano pin torque measuring [Re: Mike088]
Jim Frazee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 392
Loc: Westchester County, New York
Dan,

I've been wondering about whether to take the torque measurement on the first pull, thus overcoming both rust, crud and friction, or whether it would be better to take a second measurement once the first "break" has been done. Thoughts?
_________________________
PianoPerfection
Teacher, performer, technician
Westchester County, NY

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#2105892 - 06/21/13 05:51 PM Re: piano pin torque measuring [Re: Mike088]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Always as a general rule Jim I test each tuning pin I pick twice. Usually I do all of the C’s or all of the A’s....

This reveals the weakness and strengths of all areas of the block.
I never pull the string up to test the torque. Always to the left, (down). With the string at A440 trying to pull the tuning pin out of place, the pin should hold a minimum of 60 inch pounds of friction resistance including the weight of the piece of wire.

Good question.
_________________________
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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#2105917 - 06/21/13 07:00 PM Re: piano pin torque measuring [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10452
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Always as a general rule Jim I test each tuning pin I pick twice. Usually I do all of the C’s or all of the A’s....

This reveals the weakness and strengths of all areas of the block.
I never pull the string up to test the torque. Always to the left, (down). With the string at A440 trying to pull the tuning pin out of place, the pin should hold a minimum of 60 inch pounds of friction resistance including the weight of the piece of wire.

Good question.


That is exactly the way I was taught. (Back in the old days!)
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

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Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#2105923 - 06/21/13 07:09 PM Re: piano pin torque measuring [Re: Mike088]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8418
Loc: Georgia, USA
Excellent information on checking tuning pin torque!

I must confess that I have never checked the tuning pin torque on any used piano I've ever purchased. I figure if it is not outrageously out of tune, having not been tuned in a while, or a particular note is not way out in left field compared to the others, it is likely ok. I know I took a risk, but it has worked out so far and I’ve been lucky.

I’ve only bought one old upright piano that I wish I had not bought, but it was not because of loose tuning pins. smile

It is best to have a pre-owned prospect piano checked out by a qualified piano tech.

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#2106141 - 06/22/13 10:21 AM Re: piano pin torque measuring [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Jim Frazee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 392
Loc: Westchester County, New York
Thanks a lot, Dan. I've been doing it correctly (mostly by intuition) and I check and record all the C's as well. I normally do this when I'm asked to do an inspection for a purchaser or when I encounter bad pins when I see a piano for the first time as part of my pre-tuning inspection report thumb .
_________________________
PianoPerfection
Teacher, performer, technician
Westchester County, NY

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#2106200 - 06/22/13 12:56 PM Re: piano pin torque measuring [Re: Jim Frazee]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
Originally Posted By: Jim Frazee
Thanks a lot, Dan. I've been doing it correctly (mostly by intuition) and I check and record all the C's as well.



Loose pins tend to show up near the bass/tenor break, first. That's where I usually concentrate my torque checking.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2108612 - 06/26/13 06:14 PM Re: piano pin torque measuring [Re: Mike088]
Mike088 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/09
Posts: 91
Loc: New Westminster, Canada
Thank you Dan, Jim, Steve, Rickster and beethoven986 for your helpful replies and for elaborating on this interesting discussion about pin torque.

Mike

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