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#2189208 - 11/27/13 01:09 PM Sticking dampers, what to do???
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1964
I am quite certain I will not be able to get a piano tech out here before the end of the Thanksgiving weekend. But with the change in the weather, my recent tuning appears to have gone south, and what's more, several of the dampers now stick so that I can hear several notes half ringing long past releasing them, or as overtones to other notes when I play loudly because they never fully came down after I last played them.

I tried manipulating the particular dampers in question up and down to get them to move more freely, and it appears to have helped, but I'm guessing this isn't the end of it.

Is there something I can do or put in that little hole under the damper through which that little metal rod passes?

The piano is a 5'10" grand piano, it's new from April meaning this is its first winter so I'm sure there's lots of things it's going to work out for itself this year. I've never owned a new piano, so I'm taking this as it comes and being patient. I just can't quite ignore notes that are sustaining themselves too much.

I'm really kind of sad about the tuning. It sounded so great so such a short amount of time! However, I'm not getting near self-tuning my own piano with a ten foot pole.

I hope this isn't a harbinger of things to come. But my living room, while insulated nicely and generally not a bad room for my piano, certainly does experience temperature changes during the winter here in the Northeast US. Can't do anything about that.

What should I reasonably expect?

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#2189220 - 11/27/13 01:21 PM Re: Sticking dampers, what to do??? [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
terminaldegree Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 3885
Loc: Georgia, USA
Often, if you tap the damper or sostenuto pedals with your foot, the sticking damper will return. I would strongly advise against touching or manipulating the dampers manually for any reason, as they can be fussy, fragile, and you can make things worse.

I'll have the occasional damper on my Steinway become sticky in extremely humid weather in my less-than-optimally controlled office, and I know how frustrating it can be!
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#2189225 - 11/27/13 01:27 PM Re: Sticking dampers, what to do??? [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 24554
Loc: Oakland
It depends on where it is sticking. There is not much you can do yourself, although I can suggest one thing. Try pumping the sostenuto pedal, in case that is the problem. The dampers should not move even slightly if the pedal is pumped while you are not playing any keys. If they do, pumping it should release them, and it should be inexpensive to fix.

If the problems are weather-related, and this is the first winter the piano has been through, this could be a warranty issue.
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#2189230 - 11/27/13 01:34 PM Re: Sticking dampers, what to do??? [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
PianoWorksATL Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 3295
Loc: Atlanta, GA
For the tuning, you've answered your own question: the change in the environment/weather is what affects your tuning. In part, being a new piano, it will benefit from extra tunings in the first few years. While twice per year is an average industry standard, manufacturers all recommend 3-4 per year.

That the dampers are sticking is also weather related. It's certainly evidence that the indoor environment changed enough to affect the felt and wood.

You may not be able to do anything about the outdoor weather, but you can moderate the indoor climate. Pay special attention to humidity levels. Temperature and humidity are closely related, but seasonal temperature swings cause fewer issues than humidity swings. Are there any point sources like a vent or fireplace in proximity to your instrument? You may want to investigate a Dampp-chaser system for your piano as an additional layer of protection.

Until you've made the environment stable, you should expect nuisance issues and tuning issues. There are also some services that can be more for preventative maintenance once the swings are minor.
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#2189286 - 11/27/13 04:11 PM Re: Sticking dampers, what to do??? [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 4086
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
The tuning is probably unstable because the piano is still new. (I am assuming this given your purchase date). BDB's advice is good.

Some pianos suffer what I call "mystery sluggishness" where the notes work fine until after they have been played for an hour or two. The action centers tighten up from use. The only permanent repair I have found is to re-pin the flanges with new center pins.
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#2189295 - 11/27/13 04:33 PM Re: Sticking dampers, what to do??? [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
SMHaley Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 1131
Loc: Seattle
I'll go a little further than Mr. Bennett. You may wish to get yourself one of these digital thermometer/humidity combination units (should you not have one already). While they may not be perfectly accurate it can give a good sense of the fluctuations and a rough idea of how far any swings are going. Having a stable humidity level is probably most critical. It is most likely that the situation is just fine and the break in is still taking place. But just to assure that is the case, keeping an eye on the indoor environment would be an excellent idea. Its one less thing for a technician to worry about and a Damp Chaser system may not be completely necessary.

As Mr. McMorrow pointed out this is a new piano (from this April). While we haven't been told what make of piano it is there is a reason most manufacturers say 4 tunings in the first year. Following that schedule it is coming due for its next tuning. Probably not a bad idea to brush up any regulation needs to allow for the winter shift as well as any further prep work (minor voicing, and certainly damper regulation).
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#2189334 - 11/27/13 06:03 PM Re: Sticking dampers, what to do??? [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1964
Thanks, guys, for the hints. The pedal pumping didn't really work. Pushing the damper on the main culprit verrrry gently to the side seems to have centered it adequately, but it and other notes are still a little wonky.

It's pretty humid here right now. Northeast is getting a LOT of rain, unusually so.

There is a fireplace in the room, and I did light it for a short spell on Monday. On the other hand, we have a pretty sophisticated climate control system for the whole house that manages humidity as well.

I have an old broken metronome that has a temperature/humidity function. I think the temp/humidity sensor part still works. I'll check it out and see what the current level is, and also if there are any particularly huge swings. Both in temperature and humidity.

It's a low midrange, non-mass-produced piano that is sufficiently well regarded on this board and elsewhere that I am not at great risk for having bought a lemon, so I am not upset or panicked or anything. I presume that whatever is going on is either a) normal, or b) capable of being corrected if there's something wrong.

#2189422 - 11/27/13 10:12 PM Re: Sticking dampers, what to do??? [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
S. Phillips Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 493
Loc: Columbus, GA
If pushing the damper to the side corrects the issue, the problem on a new piano is that frequently the damper guide rail screws loosen in the dry weather. This can cause all the dampers in a section to move ever so slightly to one side. The fix is easy but since it is new, just call the dealer and have them send someone who services their pianos regularly come take a look. This is not a big problem. Dampers are touchy though and even a slight push in the wrong direction can bend the wire and make it much worse.
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