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#2196186 - 12/11/13 04:54 PM DIY upright bridge repair + restring
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
My Grandmother has a Starck upright with a cracked bass bridge. Also, it's about 50 cents flat all around. A local tech thinks (based on pictures) that it likely won't hold a tune, and that the currently minor cracks on the bridge will significantly worsen once properly tuned.

Anyways, it'll cost a lot to have someone fix it. I'm looking into doing the work myself, and wanted to get an idea of the labor involved, and the cost for any special tools, plus new bass strings. I don't have any experience building or repairing pianos, but I am alright with some woodworking skills, and I have a decent ability to not just tear into things blindly (I've built some cars/engines in the past without formal training).

So what I'm looking for is how easily one can replace a bass bridge. I have no problems reading into getting it all done, I'm not expecting to just go and do it with no research. If it's something that requires a skilled technician in order to actually work, I'll just find something else to do...if a layman can do a sufficient job with a little practice and lots of reading, I'd like to at least try.

Also on that note, I'm curious to know the costs of the associated tools and parts. How much for a new bridge? How much for strings? What is an ideal, but not excessive tool kit for this? If I'm going this far, should I also tune the piano myself? I'm wondering if I can maybe save some coin by replacing the bridge and stringing the strings, then having the tuner take it from there (he does tech work as well).

Does any of this sound feasible, or am I out of my lane?

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#2196314 - 12/11/13 09:58 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1421
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Ya, that's a pretty technical job. The downbearing has be right and the bridge notching has to be perfect, or the bass notes will sound like, you know what.

The good news is, maybe you don't need a new bass bridge. When you play the notes loudly in the bass, do you hear an annoying woody metallic buzzing? If so, the bridge would need work.

One repair is to remove all the bass strings. Do not loosen all the tension at once. The rising soundboard could break the strings. Happened to me once.

Remove the bridge pins. Measure first. (If pieces of the bridge cap fall off, this repair will not work; the cap needs to be replaced.) Smooth in some epoxy, right to the bottom and in the cracks. Make sure none is left on the top of the bridge and on the notches.

Drill out the holes after the epoxy dries.

Hammer the pins back in. I suppose you could use the same ones if they were not ground down. Or use new ones of the same size of the ones removed.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2196352 - 12/11/13 11:17 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21829
Loc: Oakland
I would be interested in seeing the pictures of the bridge. The tuning is not affected by tiny hairline cracks which many pianos have. The cracks need to be so wide that the pins actually move before it will cause problems with tuning. Even then, some of them stabilize. You need to get another opinion.

There may be other problems which cannot be diagnosed, even incorrectly, with just photographs. The problems with assessing a piano by appearance is that you can miss serious problems that are not visual, and that things that look bad often make little or no difference in how the piano sounds or performs.

If you do something that does not need to be done, it is even worse than doing nothing.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2196586 - 12/12/13 03:00 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Goof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 359
Loc: UK
I have a Yamaha chromatic tuner YT-250 - buy one of these and a tuning hammer, make certain you get the screw on tip which will fit tight on the pins, and you'
re in for "starters". That is you will be able to tell if the pins are holding in the pinblock.
If the piano is flat through out the YT-250 will allow you to tune flat through out and so keep tension down.
Then come back and ask more quetions - I did!

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#2196593 - 12/12/13 03:31 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
This is the bridge, and the piece of wood it seems to mount to (not the soundboard) that is also cracked considerable.

It buzzes a LOT.




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#2196596 - 12/12/13 03:36 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21829
Loc: Oakland
Yes, that is bad. I would just replace the entire assembly, since it is not very complicated. But I have had experience.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2196610 - 12/12/13 04:09 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
Yes, the tech said that a new bridge, pins and strings might as well be done.

How easy would it be to get a new bridge and strings, and at least get myself right up to tightening the strings?

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#2196612 - 12/12/13 04:14 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Goof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 359
Loc: UK
Just an add-on: I've never heard of a Starck, it's not a Steck is it? They were associated with Aeolian - both good piano makers as far as I have read.

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#2196613 - 12/12/13 04:14 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21829
Loc: Oakland
$3000-4000 of my labor and parts, roughly. Other work would be extra.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2196635 - 12/12/13 04:56 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
Yes, hence my desire to fix it myself. It's just not worth that sort of money.

And yes it's a Starck. I believe they closed shop in the 60's sometime.

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#2196987 - 12/13/13 11:15 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Goof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 359
Loc: UK
smile I have seen MUCH worse which could still make a decent sound!
Recon what you should do is vacuum out all the gunge, better still blow it out. I made my "tub-type" vacuum's discharge flow out though a tube!
Be sure to remove the action and the keys as there will be plenty to clean there.
The fact that it has bronze bridge pins instead of the common bits of steel rod suggest, to me, that it may have a quality build.
Buzzes can usually be traced by carefull listening, perhaps the most difficult are those at the back of the soundboard, you need a helper on the offending key! A slither of wood and some glue usually do the trick.
Bass strings do not look bad in the photograhs: bad sound there is often due to a hammer not striking both strings at precisely the same instant.
Having started like you with an interest in engines I'd be interested in reading how you get on.
Finally buy the book on Pianos by Reblitz.

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#2197035 - 12/13/13 01:01 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
fjb-tink Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/07/12
Posts: 6
Loc: central texas
Doesn't seem to be a piano to spend much money on. So, go ahead and try to fix it as you have little to lose but your time. Maybe you can find the Reblitz book at the library. It would be a good start as a place to get general piano info. Could be done as follows:

It looks like a small piano with laminate soundboard, perhaps, better to glue repair than try to remove the bridge -- or it might just fall off when you remove screws. But, plan to try glue repair first. The pins are not badly out of position.

1. remove case parts and action (see Reblitz). If you can work in the garage, it would be best. be safe, be neat, think thru the steps before you begin.

2. get help to put piano on its back on two sawhorses - one at each side so you can access top and bottom of piano. this is the be safe part.

3. take off the bottom board. check to see if the bottom frame of the piano is structurally sound. If not, clamp together and remove screw in plate, drill through and bolt from the back with carriage bolts.

4. use tuning hammer to let off tension on bass strings just enough to pull off the hitches and string on a wire so you can hold them out of the way. Using flashlight and mirror check all glue joints at the bass bridge and underneath on soundboard ribs. use a feeler gauge to clean dirt from loose joints. sheetmetal screws make good temporary clamps. predrill for all screws and wax the screws so they will come back out. use pva glue where you can work it in with the feeler gauge, thin ca glue where joints are just slightly loose. After glue dries, remove screws and redrill and glue in hardwood dowells. clean up with chisel.

5. lightly tap all lbridge pins over and down into bridge. very carefully drip in thin ca glue along the crack in bridge, follow with a thicker ca glue if cracks are open much. let dry using kicker sparingly. when dry lube top of bridge then replace bass strings with one counterclockwise twist in the hitch.

6. carefully pull the strings back up near to pitch. Seat hitches on plate and tighten and seat coils on pins as you apply tension. (go ahead and put a few drops of thin ca glue on each tuning pin while the piano is on its back, at least in the bass. I would just do the whole thing while it is on its back, if the bass pulls to pitch without wires breaking.)

7. put the bottom board back on (with new felt for pedals, all tightened and lubed) and get your help back to set up the piano -- very carefully.

note: if you first check ribs and frame of piano and all seems well glued and tight if is much safer just to tip the piano onto its back on blocks on the floor to work on the bridge even if you set it up and down a time or two to do the work. shops use tilters or hoists or very strong young men. your piano might weigh about 450 lbs.
_________________________
Frank J. Baxter
Frank's Refinishing & Sales
piano repair, refinishing, restoration, bone keytops

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#2197042 - 12/13/13 01:13 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21829
Loc: Oakland
Actually, it is a big old upright, not a small piano with laminate soundboard.

I would not put the piano on its back for this, unless I was okay with lying under it to unscrew bridge screws. I might experiment with eliminating the cantilever, and just making a straight bridge where the current cantilever screws to the soundboard. That would require new bass strings, but I would rescale and restring the piano anyway.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2197056 - 12/13/13 01:33 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
What is a rough cost for new springs, say just the bass and all of them? I can't find too much info on pricing, all the suppliers want detailed string info first. Don't need a quote....just a ballpark price so I know what I'm getting into.

Honestly, removing the old bridge and replacing it doesn't sound that hard. Is it easier/better to just make my own bridge, especially since it doesn't appear to be oddly shaped or anything? Can I just copy pin locations from the current bridge?

Also, is the cantilever the piece of wood the bridge is currently mounted to? You're saying that doesn't really do anything? I haven't had time to really look into where specifically the vibrations were coming from, I figured it was that piece since it's cracked right through. Most of the bass notes cause vibration, and you can sometimes hear it higher up as well.

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#2197084 - 12/13/13 02:23 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
Also, regarding the book by Reblitz, I have found an older (looks like original) edition at the local library. Will that suffice or is the newer 2nd edition preferable?

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#2197189 - 12/13/13 06:17 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Goof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 359
Loc: UK
I had six pairs of bass strings (12), made by Ari Izaacs about a year back. You can find him on the web and he will quote when you have supplied required dimensions.
Actually I could have saved the cash if I'd just shaped the hammers to strike correctly. Do post some pics of the hammers - up and down from middle C. If they are really shot you'd do better repacing these rather than strings.
Regarding the cantilever bridge one would think that the manufacturers had good reason to choose this design. It is fairly common knowledge that to get the "smoothest" transition in sound from the end long treble tennor brige on to the bass is not easy.

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#2197231 - 12/13/13 08:22 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
I'll get some pictures of the hammers in a day or two. I'm no 100% sure how they are supposed to look, but they do have considerable grooves in them from the strings. My mom's piano (which hasn't been played as much) looks similar but not as worse, so that's all I have to go buy. It's still all felt, hasn't worn down to the interior metal.

Also, when ordering strings, is it necessary to measure the current string gauge/thickness if I'm restringing the whole thing? Can I just go by length and pick whatever thickness I want, or does the string gauge matter for each piano? Seems like it would be easier that way, instead of measuring every freakin' string.

I did just pick up Reblitz's book, so I'll give that a read over the next couple of days. Perhaps that will answer many of my questions.

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#2197235 - 12/13/13 08:34 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1253
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
What size is this piano? How old is it?
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#2197243 - 12/13/13 09:03 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
Built in the 60's, I'll measure it tomorrow.

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#2197313 - 12/14/13 01:07 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21829
Loc: Oakland
If you want to do this, make a new bridge and mount it to the cantilever, and see if that gets the piano working. You can go back and change the scale again afterwards, if you have the energy to do it.

It is best to learn this trade a little at a time. I would not recommend learning to string a piano on a piano that needs a new bridge first. Similarly, I do not recommend learning replace a bridge at the time you are learning to string a piano. Since you have a piano, with some sentimental value, fix the bridge, and then worry about the strings.

And I apologize. Looking at the picture more carefully, it does have a laminate soundboard, so it is not worth putting a lot of effort into it.

Just keep in mind that it very well could cost more to fix it than to replace it with a similar piano without the problem.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2197389 - 12/14/13 08:57 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1253
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Keep in mind, it is not always necessary to replace the bass strings when doing this type of repair.
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#2197599 - 12/14/13 03:43 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
After further deliberation, I don't think I'm going to repair this piano. My primary issue is that I'm not 100% sure all the problems stem from the broken bridge. I don't want to open it up and find a plethora of other issues that were not easily noticeable. There is a significant amount of buzzing throughout most of the range, so I'm thinking there might be a crack somewhere else I can't easily see.

I do appreciate the help you folks gave, and hopefully in the future I can try my hand at piano repair with something a bit easier to tackle, that is also of better quality in the first place.

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#2197722 - 12/14/13 09:35 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
Joey,
Good plan NOT to pursue this. It's fairly common knwoledge that UNLESS it's a Steinway(or similar quality piano), it makes no sense to throw money into an old upright.
_________________________
Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2197899 - 12/15/13 10:10 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
Don't get me wrong, if it was in better condition I wouldn't mind doing the work. It does have sentimental value, but it just seemed that there was a lot wrong with this one, and potentially even more...and the fact that it's not a great piano kind of put the last nail in the coffin.

Hopefully I can find another decent piano for super cheap later on, I actually wouldn't mind tearing into a piano and fixing it up. Sounds like a good project.

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#2197902 - 12/15/13 10:17 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Gary Fowler]
Goof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 359
Loc: UK
cryAh! Too bad! if as you claim you have repaired engines you would have found a piano a walk-over.
Also better to start on some thing that is not worth much because it would not matter if you made a few mistakes along the way.

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#2197918 - 12/15/13 11:36 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
Yeah, but when I built the engines I had a killer powerplant for a '68 Camaro. With this...I'm just not convinced that I'll end up with a "good" piano. I don't want to drop a ton of money and end up with a "alright" piano. I already have a decent upright.

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#2198161 - 12/15/13 06:48 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Goof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 359
Loc: UK
cool Point taken, if you you already have a piano then fixing another will waste time you should using to practice - don't I know!

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#2198396 - 12/16/13 08:43 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 733
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA


Joey - I just read through this thread, and I'm curious. Does your Starck upright look anything like this model?:

[img:center]http://[/img]

I've had two identical Starck uprights in my shop. Both had this detail on the front corner of the case:

[img:center]http://[/img]

These pianos were both beauties - great to play. Obviously, yours has issues, but if it's this particular piano, I can tell you that it would be worth it to at least give it a go. I would recommend the method that Mark Cerisano described near the beginning of the thread, with one modification. There's no reason (as far as the bridge repair is concerned) to completely remove the bass strings as Mark describes. Loosen them starting with the upper string to the point where they can be taken off the hitch pins at the bottom of the strings, and thread the loops (in order again) through a 18" or so long copper wire. Bind them up once they're all removed, and pull them out of the way, using the excess copper wire to attach them to a strut.

Here's a look at the method I use with epoxy in repairing bridges. Frank Baxter's detailed description looks to be very doable as well, although I myself have never tried CA glue for this type of repair.

Good luck, whatever you decide. Don't be discouraged when folks tell you that old uprights aren't worth the time or effort to bring them back to life. Many of these instruments are very much worth saving. Chuck Behm
_________________________
Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke

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#2198425 - 12/16/13 10:08 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Chuck Behm]
Paul678 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 831
Chuck, what kind of epoxy do you use in this type
of repair? Any kind of two part epoxy you can
get at Home Depot? JB Weld? Or some other
specific brand?

Thanks.

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#2198446 - 12/16/13 10:59 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
I believe it is console size. Definitely not like that.

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#2198565 - 12/16/13 02:33 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Paul678]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 733
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA

Hi Paul - I use J.B.Weld, although probably any paste type epoxy with a fast curing time would work well.

Joey - I haven't had a Starck console in the shop, but have had a spinet that was nice. From what I've seen, they made quality pianos:

[img:center][/img]

One thing to say about the epoxy repair is that your costs are negligible, especially if you're going to retain the old bass strings. You might see if your technician would part with a small quantity of DAG, to dress the top surface of the bridge once the repair was completed. Chuck
_________________________
Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke

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#2199152 - 12/17/13 01:37 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Chuck Behm]
fjb-tink Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/07/12
Posts: 6
Loc: central texas
Joey and all -- o.k. I was guessing it was a small piano based on the laminate s.b. That is not a board I would want to pull the bridge off. If any of the bridge remains glued it is

likely to take a huge part of the top layer of the s.b. with it when you pull it off. I failed to note that you hadn't had your tuner look at the piano. That would be step one and it is only a few dollars to find out the overall condition of the piano. Some tuners apply a portion of .the estimate fee to work at a later (but not too later) point.

I think the buzzing you hear is the bridge glue joint failure. Bridge pins holding that amount of stagger in the wire are not likely making much noise -- poor weak tone and false beats, yes. Buzzes will be strongest in the bass, obvious on the tenor bridge over the s.b. ribs that connect to the bass bridge and detectable throughout due to harmonics. You could still only be dealing with a bass bridge problem.

I suggested a glue repair in place to save money (even sentiment has its limits).
Chuck -- yes I might use an epoxy putty to fill cracks after the ca glue, but the only thing that matters is to stabilize the pins and leave a relatively clean termination at the speaking side of the bridge. The strings should pull to pitch if done carefully on a piano from the 60's. If you are not so lucky you break bass strings and pull them all off and pack them up and send them to mapes for replacement. Your tuner can sell you a few pins leftover from his restringing to use. If he doesn't have any you need to be using a different tuner for this project. by the way -- nice piano chuck. I wish people understood just how good some of the old uprights could be.

You will pay your tuner for an estimate, pitch raise and tuning at best. That shouldn't be too much given the family connection. Even if you have to buy bass strings it would still be not totally unreasonable -- for sentimental reasons. It will never sell for even the price of pitch raise and tuning though if that is part of your sentiment.

It is an easy bridge to re-cap as it is straight without complicated notching if you want the woodworking project. I would still do it in place for all of the reasons mentioned.

Have the tuner out for an assessment and estimate then decide if sentiment stretches to the bottom line. It was never a good piano, but it could be a functional piece of your family history saved from the dump. best luck.
_________________________
Frank J. Baxter
Frank's Refinishing & Sales
piano repair, refinishing, restoration, bone keytops

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#2199253 - 12/17/13 04:28 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: fjb-tink]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
It does appear that its just the cracked cantilever vibrating, and there is also some loose time on top that didn't help. O also found that the dampers didn't work too well, still lots of sound after the key is released. They touch the strings, so is it more an adjustment issue, or new felt? I'll upload more pics later.

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#2199323 - 12/17/13 06:08 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
Pictures, as promised:

(also, it's certainly a spinet, after looking at it again today I really don't think it's console size)

(do these hammers look OK?)





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#2199923 - 12/18/13 11:41 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
Any thoughts on how those hammers look? It's hard to tell exactly how good/bad they sound when the the strings are so horribly out of tune. The piano does seem a little bright, but not bad (but again, hard to tell for sure).

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#2271823 - 05/06/14 11:03 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Dan Cravens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/14
Posts: 32
Loc: Central Texas
Please let me know if I should start a new thread. This is my first post on this forum and I don't know if it's better start a new or tag onto an existing thread when I have the same problem.

A little background first, I have a 1923 Gulbransen player piano that I've been reconditioning/restoring.



I know the finished resale value doesn't warrant the time and money I'll put into it, and I'm okay with that. I'm getting pleasure out of doing this. The craftmanship and materials that went into this piano are amazing! I do blacksmithing & welding and get immense satisfaction using tools and things I've personally made. I've also restored older cars and trucks, my daily driver is an early '55 Chevy 1/2 ton truck which I did a frame off. That said my background is metal working & mechanics, not wood working so this will be an educational, fun challenge. I do have a very skilled experienced wood working friend with a shop to lean on.

When I got the piano, only 3-4 keys played because the bridle straps were broken and most of the jacks were jammed under the hammer butts. Once the action was removed I was able to strum the strings individually and tell that it has a nice sound and progression. While the sound board has cracks I haven't heard any buzzing when testing any of the strings. All the treble bridges appear to be in good shape. A few small hairline cracks around those bridge pins, but none of them extended to neighboring pins.

The bass bridge is a different story, there's a long crack that goes along at least 3/4's of the upper pins.







While I never heard any buzzing from the bass strings, I don't know if it's tunable either. The bridge pins do appear to be stable for the time being but who knows when you try to tune it and start actually playing it. I assume without attention they'll get worse over time.

I have a copy of Arthur Reblitz's book and have found it an exceptional resource, but still have questions. First, can I unstring all of the bass strings without completely unstringing the piano? Last thing I want to do is crack the plate. I'd leave each string still attached to the tuning pin, but pulled out of the way. If so is there an order to loosening the tension on the bass strings and how much should you loosen at each step. I know from doing engine work you loosen and tighten head bolts in an order in a 3 step process. Arthur's book describes the process for the entire piano, but doesn't say if you could do just the bass section.

My wood working friend has offered to help build a new bass bridge. When considering replacement vs. recapping an advantage he said it might be good to have the old one as a future template in case something goes wrong. Creating a new one would seem easier as you can do any routing & drilling holes externally, setting the angle on a drill press vs. a hand drill.

Can the replacement of the bass bridge and repair of a cracked apron be done with the piano vertical? I eventually plan on laying the piano on it's back to do a CA treatment on the pinblock, (treble pins takes about 50" lbs to loosen, bass pins more like 20) I am hoping to avoid laying it over, because of limited space unless it's just for a couple of days. With young kids, a few days would be fine, more than that odds are something would get damaged either by them or me.

Lastly, does anyone have a link or documentation on re-dagging a bridge? Thank you for taking the time to read this, please let me know anything I've forgotten.

Dan



Edited by Dan Cravens (05/06/14 11:13 AM)
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1st time reconditioning 1923 Gulbransen, http://imgur.com/a/Zmvka

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#2271845 - 05/06/14 12:05 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Offline
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Yes, you could remove the bass bridge with the piano vertical. After you have removed the rest of the strings, it should unscrew from the back of the soundboard, so leaving it vertical would be the easiest way to do it. It is a simple bridge to make, so it should be no problem for your friend.

Since you have to replace the bass strings and bridge anyway, you might consider removing the cantilever and giving more backscale to the bass, as Del Fandrich has spoken about. It would change the strings somewhat, but if you are replacing them anyway, the maker should be able to account for that.
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#2271863 - 05/06/14 12:30 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Dan Cravens Offline
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Registered: 05/05/14
Posts: 32
Loc: Central Texas
Thank you for your response. I'm finding the following interview with Del Fandrich here very interesting and worth consideration. http://pianopricepoint.com/piano-blog/

I'm sorry if this is a dumb question but do I need to unstring the entire piano using the method described in Reblitz's book, at least reduce the tension on all strings or is it safe for the piano (plate & soundboard) to evenly reduce the tension on the bass strings in steps and then remove them (still attached to the tuning pins)?
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1st time reconditioning 1923 Gulbransen, http://imgur.com/a/Zmvka

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#2271870 - 05/06/14 12:57 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
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Loc: France
A lazy person would cut the actual bridge top thinner, and reinstall the pins farther. There is room for that. Old holes/cracks being closed and secured with epoxy or just glue.

The apron is extreme on that piano. It add a lot of suppleness to the bridge,(unfortunately the pressure is almost in grain direction) that mean lowers the power but with so long strings it can be an advantage.

Smaller aprons are cut to lower rigidity, usually.
Curved shaped bridges add stability.





Edited by Olek (05/06/14 12:59 PM)
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#2271871 - 05/06/14 01:00 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
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Loc: Oakland
I think you should restring the entire piano. New strings are one of the biggest improvements you can make to an old piano. Besides, it is good practice.

If you would like to try your hand at rescaling the treble, you can use my spreadsheet template.
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#2271878 - 05/06/14 01:28 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Dan Cravens Offline
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Registered: 05/05/14
Posts: 32
Loc: Central Texas
Eventually I'd like to restring the entire piano, but I'm on a tight budget and short leash from my wife. I also want to make a series of small progressions before spending more $. I already have the parts I think I need to restore the action and keyboard. For the most part, time is my friend on this. If suddenly she sees me pouring a lot of money into this project, ie. lots of new parts showing up my wife is going to make life difficult. I'm forced to fund my hobbies doing things like weekend blacksmithing & welding, how I financed my truck's restoration. She feels like any extra should go towards bills (part of which already does).

At least for now, taking something that was headed for the junkyard that not only I got for free but the previous owner paid the entire moving costs then turning it into one that plays and the family can enjoy is my goal. Rebuilding the action is going to take some doing. I also want to see the results of doing a CA treatment. The treble tuning pins seem to hold well, but the bass ones turn very easily. Compared to an engine or transmission, this is easy to disassemble & reassemble. That would all change if I needed to remove the plate to get to the sound board or pinblock.


Edited by Dan Cravens (05/06/14 01:36 PM)
_________________________
1st time reconditioning 1923 Gulbransen, http://imgur.com/a/Zmvka

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#2271884 - 05/06/14 01:42 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
as it is an old player system you will have a playable piano, but the keys are too long to provide a good control on the action.

that may be can be helped with a "Touchrail" or similar idea (helping the keys to raise back.
still there is a little flexing in the keys that is not ideal.

Mechanically that is not sooo difiicult but chances are that you find the job boring.

Then there are also a huge pile of details that make the job eficient.


Edited by Olek (05/06/14 01:43 PM)
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It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2271897 - 05/06/14 02:13 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Olek]
Dan Cravens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/14
Posts: 32
Loc: Central Texas
Perhaps it will be boring at times, right now not so much as I have lots to learn. So far it's been perfect in the evening when the kids are asleep. Time constraints, not able to make a lot of noise, get dirty etc. limits blacksmithing, welding, auto work. I can tinker with this for an hour or less and then stop.

Looks like the touchrail essentially replaces the keystop, nice idea I would've never thought of that. My ability to play piano is an intermediate level at best. I do like the fact that this piano has a mute strip and the option to decrease the distance of the hammers to the strings. Many times when I have the opportunity to play it's either early morning or late at night which has been an advantage with the digital we have.


Edited by Dan Cravens (05/06/14 02:22 PM)
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1st time reconditioning 1923 Gulbransen, http://imgur.com/a/Zmvka

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#2272039 - 05/06/14 07:40 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21829
Loc: Oakland
The big expense in restringing a piano is the bass strings. If you buy tuning pins by the dozen, they are more expensive than by the set. The bass strings cost more than the piano wire for the rest of the piano. It really does not make sense just to replace the bass strings.
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#2272290 - 05/07/14 09:47 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Dan Cravens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/14
Posts: 32
Loc: Central Texas
For now though I not planning on restringing the piano, including the bass section. I know you're right that it would make a big difference in sound quality, but for now it will have to wait. Plan is to leave them attached to the tuning pins and move them out of the way so I can replace the bridge and repair the apron. Last night I reduced the tension on all of the strings, bass & treble as detailed in Reblitz's book. I was surprised that the majority of tuning pins required at least 50" lbs, some were closer to 75. Then a few bass pins are ~25. From what I've read on doing the CA treatment you treat all the pins?

Olek said "The apron is extreme on that piano. It add a lot of suppleness to the bridge,(unfortunately the pressure is almost in grain direction) that mean lowers the power but with so long strings it can be an advantage.

Smaller aprons are cut to lower rigidity, usually.
Curved shaped bridges add stability."

So the large or thick apron causes the bridge to flex more. When cutting a new bass bridge you want the woodgrain to go in the direction of the press, correct otherwise I think it would be more rigid but more likely to crack?

Is the reason the treble bridges are curved for stability, sound quality or both? I'm glad those are in good condition.
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1st time reconditioning 1923 Gulbransen, http://imgur.com/a/Zmvka

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