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#2165068 - 10/11/13 11:03 PM broken bass strings-same ole same-ole
Steven Bolstridge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/13/05
Posts: 197
Loc: Fitzgerald ,GA
There is an excellent pianist in one of my large churches that continues to break bass strings both on the sanctuary Kawai RT2 grand and the Yamaha console in the choir room. I've gently tried explaining what's going on, and even replaced the complete set on the grand. I'm getting ready to do the same on the console. 12 strings in three years (this piano was donated) She won't hear of placing a monitor facing her on the grand.

I'm thinking I should adjust the height of the dampers so that when the pedal bottoms out, the dampers will just barely clear the strings. I think she must be only lifting the pedal part way, and perhaps the dampers aren't being allowed to do their job. I know this is not a new topic. Thoughts?


Edited by Steven Bolstridge (10/11/13 11:03 PM)
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#2165069 - 10/11/13 11:09 PM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1055
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
You can't fix stupid (or bad technique for that matter). Make it worth your time if they won't listen. Make sure they understand that a lot of damage is already done. The strings just haven't alerted them. Yet.....
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Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#2165104 - 10/12/13 12:42 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
Jbyron Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 511
Loc: USA
Good suggestion so far. Players like that should be banned to digital pianos until they calm down. I usually leave string breaking clients behind if they continue to do it. On the bright side, it is good practice for stringing and string splicing if you need it.
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#2165157 - 10/12/13 04:49 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7227
Loc: France
it may be normal that a pianist that deos not hear the piano clearly is banging on it.

Now I noticed that I have a false idea of what a "pianist" is , very often, expecting them to understand more how the instruments plays than they do.
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#2165182 - 10/12/13 07:06 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1633
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Like most, I've tried everything, but it is difficult to offset the effects of an aggressive pianist with a heavy foot and an inability to change from a brutal style of playing.

For me, the best shot at dealing with the problem where a grand piano is the victim:

1. Since aggressive playing and sustain can over time force the damper stop rail up, adjust it accordingly and immobilize it with brads on both ends. (We have seen manufacturers do this too.)

2. As mentioned by Steven, I lower damper lift so dampers just barely clear the strings when the pedal bottoms out.

3. Mike the piano into an amp in close proximity to the piano. Often aggressive playing and too much sustain has a direct relationship to a particular genre of church music, true enough. But such is also caused or exacerbated by the pianist competing with the choir, and other instruments (including a screaming preacher) for volume. Because of the negative effect upon timbre, I only recommend miking where bass string breakage is chronic. It's the lesser of two evils.

In the case of uprights in the choir room, numbers 2 and 3.

I don't know that it is correct to say that this actually solves the problem. Until the pianist changes old habits, these steps probably only slow things down.

If the problem is not addressed, I've seen the life expectancy of a new quality grand piano reduced by as much as 75%. String breakage is but a symptom of a much more serious issue.
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Bob W.
Retired piano technician
Piano Technicę

"Not to know what took place before you were born is to remain forever a child." - Cicero

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#2165202 - 10/12/13 08:35 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: bkw58]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7227
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: bkw58

If the problem is not addressed, I've seen the life expectancy of a new quality grand piano reduced by as much as 75%. String breakage is but a symptom of a much more serious issue.



And that could mean a prep on a less than first grade instrument, assuming the hammers can be managed and will not harden after 1 hour playing.

I pretend a correctly prepped grand will accept brutal playing to some point, reacting mostly with wear, going faster out of tune, and showing centers problems , mostly (plus faster hardening of hammers of course, but this can be somehow stabilized)

If the piano is not harsh and too powerful from the start, the pianist will accept more easily the idea of miking it (assuming the tone is nice of course)

competition with the choir could be avoided that way -

I would take some precautions by speaking with the owner of the piano first and explaining the reasons.

Bad pianos are also being beaten to death by some pianists in secret hope they could be changed someday wink

I may say I heard a few "church tuning" videos, and noticed how the tuning lacks firmness, with floating unisons and non concentrated tone.

With a less than robust pin/upper segment setting the string have a lot of room to move in the bearing points when the piano is played too strong, and I suspect this is a cause of string breakeage.


Edited by Olek (10/13/13 08:49 AM)
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#2165265 - 10/12/13 12:52 PM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
Steven Bolstridge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/13/05
Posts: 197
Loc: Fitzgerald ,GA
It remains somewhat of a mystery to me. This same "pianist" has a 79 Baldwin 6'8" that I've been servicing since 1985. She loves to practice for her many piano performances and beats the whatever out of it and has yet to break the first string.
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#2165275 - 10/12/13 01:29 PM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
Zeno Wood Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/07
Posts: 438
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Does the church pay your invoices? Do you charge enough to make it worth your time to replace the strings? Has anyone at the church mentioned that they're concerned about the pianos or your frequent billing?
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Zeno Wood, Piano Technician
Brooklyn College

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#2165317 - 10/12/13 03:12 PM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Zeno is touching on the solution - charges.
In one case I know, the church finally stopped paying for the damage and passed the bill on to the pounder.

The pounder refused to pay, quit the gig and that was end of the Saga of the Broken Strings.
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Piano Forte Supply
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#2165421 - 10/12/13 08:31 PM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Supply]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2379
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: Supply
Zeno is touching on the solution - charges.
In one case I know, the church finally stopped paying for the damage and passed the bill on to the pounder.

The pounder refused to pay, quit the gig and that was end of the Saga of the Broken Strings.


Makes me think of my Shout House gig.

There are two or three of the players who beat the bejeezus out of the pianos, even though they're amplified. And, we continue to average three broken bass strings a week (in the year and a half we've had these pianos, some of the strings have been replaced over 20 times, and the bichord hammers have 1/8" grooves in them already). The players in question have been told to turn up their monitors, but they insist that "it ain't rock 'n roll unless I beat the sh!t out of the piano." So far, the people in charge have been content to let them pound away (they do rake in the money), but if I was king of the world, I'd start charging these guy for broken strings. I think they spend ~$200/month average just on replacement bass strings.
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Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
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#2165424 - 10/12/13 08:43 PM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2039
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Steven Bolstridge
It remains somewhat of a mystery to me. This same "pianist" has a 79 Baldwin 6'8" that I've been servicing since 1985. She loves to practice for her many piano performances and beats the whatever out of it and has yet to break the first string.
'Bet she kicks it up just one more notch on Sunday morning and that upkick makes the difference.
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Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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#2165441 - 10/12/13 09:58 PM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: David Jenson]
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1055
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
Originally Posted By: David Jenson
Originally Posted By: Steven Bolstridge
It remains somewhat of a mystery to me. This same "pianist" has a 79 Baldwin 6'8" that I've been servicing since 1985. She loves to practice for her many piano performances and beats the whatever out of it and has yet to break the first string.
'Bet she kicks it up just one more notch on Sunday morning and that upkick makes the difference.


Not going to beat up her own piano, is she? And besides, no one to compete with or to impress while at home.


Edited by Dale Fox (10/12/13 09:59 PM)
Edit Reason: additional
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Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#2165465 - 10/12/13 10:51 PM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
Steven Bolstridge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/13/05
Posts: 197
Loc: Fitzgerald ,GA
Money has never been an issue. I tune several of the churches' 12 pianos 2-3 times a year. I'm not about to lose the account, so I'm looking for a face saving technical solution, if there is one in such cases. I certainly don't mind the extra work, they pay me very well.
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#2165569 - 10/13/13 08:37 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Dale Fox]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2039
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Dale Fox
... Not going to beat up her own piano, is she? And besides, no one to compete with or to impress while at home.

+1 - Bingo!
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David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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#2165571 - 10/13/13 08:40 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2039
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Steven Bolstridge
Money has never been an issue. I tune several of the churches' 12 pianos 2-3 times a year. I'm not about to lose the account, so I'm looking for a face saving technical solution, if there is one in such cases. I certainly don't mind the extra work, they pay me very well.

There just doesn't seem to be a technical solution. What seems to work is the solution Jurgen cited. Make the player pay ... dearly.
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David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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#2165577 - 10/13/13 09:10 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1633
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: Steven Bolstridge
It remains somewhat of a mystery to me. This same "pianist" has a 79 Baldwin 6'8" that I've been servicing since 1985. She loves to practice for her many piano performances and beats the whatever out of it and has yet to break the first string.


If Pianist is in The Bible Belt, then mystery solved.
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
Piano Technicę

"Not to know what took place before you were born is to remain forever a child." - Cicero

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#2165582 - 10/13/13 09:26 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1703
Loc: London, England
As a matter of interest, does this church have more than three words in its name?

In ultra fundamentalist churches, breaking strings is proof positive of the holy spirit working through the pianist.

I have known a few of this kind of pianist( and their following of those who worship them) in their everyday lives and been among the snake handlers. They become totally different people in church. (that's not uncommon with most people in church). When the spirit moves, the spirit moves.

I hold nothing against the church in general but, In this respect, those churches are no different, at the core, than the shout house. They may be regarding her as some kind if latter day incarnation of Joshua. Would you take that recognition away from her?.
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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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#2165588 - 10/13/13 09:36 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7227
Loc: France
That is interesting ! could be well observed.

That may be the cause of some pianists loosing faith as God surely should not allow those strings to break.

In secular countrie(s) as in France , this in in the automobile that it happens , when the people drive they tend to get in touch with some (not so sanctified) spirit.

Car fundamentalism may be.



Edited by Olek (10/13/13 09:41 AM)
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

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#2165599 - 10/13/13 10:07 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
Steven Bolstridge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/13/05
Posts: 197
Loc: Fitzgerald ,GA
Central United Methodist
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piano tuner/technician

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#2165609 - 10/13/13 10:31 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1633
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: Steven Bolstridge
Central United Methodist



Mystery is back on the table. confused
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
Piano Technicę

"Not to know what took place before you were born is to remain forever a child." - Cicero

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#2165709 - 10/13/13 03:38 PM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2379
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Bob and RXD are seriously cracking me up...

Quote:
In this respect, those churches are no different, at the core, than the shout house.


You, Sir, are the winner of the internet...
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Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2165934 - 10/14/13 07:45 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: Steven Bolstridge]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1703
Loc: London, England
I get this picture of the worship team pianist holding aloft a tangle of freshly broken wire to the approving cheers of the congregation.

"You ain't truly saved ifn you ain't breakin' strings.
....an the people said? ,...."

(I poke fun at us tuners, too). String breaking as a badge of honour was becoming deeply embedded in the culture for a time. There are hacks in every branch of piano playing.

Footwashin' fundies have been joining the more established churches in droves for years now. Some getting theology degrees and becoming ministers, good ones.

You can always guilt them out of the habit.
_________________________
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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#2165971 - 10/14/13 09:40 AM Re: broken bass strings-same ole same-ole [Re: rxd]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1633
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: rxd
I get this picture of the worship team pianist holding aloft a tangle of freshly broken wire to the approving cheers of the congregation.

"You ain't truly saved ifn you ain't breakin' strings.
....an the people said? ,...."

(I poke fun at us tuners, too). String breaking as a badge of honour was becoming deeply embedded in the culture for a time. There are hacks in every branch of piano playing.

Footwashin' fundies have been joining the more established churches in droves for years now. Some getting theology degrees and becoming ministers, good ones.

You can always guilt them out of the habit.


laugh
Actually rxd may be closer to the reality than some might think.

It is said that old piano tuners don't die, they just tell stories until everyone else does. So, here goes another one:

A piano salesman told of a little "holiness" church in a mobile home - the kind with the wheels still on it - down toward England (Arkansas, that is). It was headed by a super-sized preacher who near mid-sermon would relieve the piano player. With bench swaying and leaded foot shaking he'd floor the sustain and work the congregation to fever pitch with spasmodic rant and rumbling bass crescendo that peaked when he succeed in popping a bass string. Say'menaaaaahhhhh!* he'd shout - enraptured congregation responding in-kind.

* Translation: Say amen.

Have a good Monday.


Edited by bkw58 (10/14/13 09:46 AM)
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
Piano Technicę

"Not to know what took place before you were born is to remain forever a child." - Cicero

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