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#619057 - 08/06/03 05:59 PM Downbearing question
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
I'm working on an old piano (Steinway upright) that has very good crown in the soundboard and the bridges are in good shape. I measured the downbearing and it is not as much as I would like. Upon further investigation, I noticed the cap of the bridges, especially in the middle area, have deeper grooves, caused by downbearing of the strings (and years of tuning, than I would like (pardon the long sentence).

My question is, would epoxy or super glue, in the grooves help the downbearing? Or maybe a mixture of glue and wood putty? Any other ideas appreciated.

I know the best fix is new bridge caps, but I really do not want to get into replacing the bridge caps on this piano. That would be last resort.

Not sure of the actual hardness of epoxy or super glue versus the tension of the strings over time.
Also not sure of the effect on tone caused by transfer of sound vibrations thru glue.

The depth of the grooves are almost, not quite the width of the strings. So the depths vary depending upon the diameter of the strings. This condition would tend to lead one to believe the wood of the bridge is old and not stable, but a check reveals the wood to be solid.

By the way, I'm not restoring this one for a customer, or for sale. It's my daughter's piano, so I'm willing to experiment a little.

Regards,
Ron
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#619058 - 08/06/03 07:24 PM Re: Downbearing question
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21657
Loc: Oakland
I think the question you have to ask is: What do you expect to change by making a change? Even in the worst of circumstances, the downbearing is minimal compared to the sidebearing exerted by the offset in the bridge pins, and the slope of the pins exerts downbearing as well. If you want to improve contact with the bridge, consider that the grooves actually do just that.

I wouldn't try to change this with a filler of any type. I wouldn't expect fillers to stay put, especially over a lubricated surface. If I were convinced there were any good reason to worry about the downbearing, the easiest way to deal with it might be to shim the bridge from underneath by prying it up from the soundboard.
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#619059 - 08/06/03 08:32 PM Re: Downbearing question
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
BDB, the sidebearing by the bridge pins is normal The slope of the strings coming over the bridge was my concern. There are no cracks, even hairline cracks around the bridgepins. Before I de-strung the piano the tone was excellent. The strings are just dug into the top of the bridge more than I like. Thanks for the advice.

Regards,
Ron
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Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#619060 - 08/07/03 10:40 PM Re: Downbearing question
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3872
I can't think of any filler that won't be cut immediately by the strings as you pull the piano to pitch. Even epoxy won't be hard enough. You may even cause termination problems as the filler is cut and ends up on the string at the edge of the bridge. If you had good tone before, don't mess with it. If it aint broke, don't fix it.
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#619061 - 08/11/03 10:30 AM Re: Downbearing question
vandergraf Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/11/03
Posts: 15
Loc: Dania Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by rjalex:
I'm working on an old piano (Steinway upright) that has very good crown in the soundboard and the bridges are in good shape. I measured the downbearing and it is not as much as I would like. Upon further investigation, I noticed the cap of the bridges, especially in the middle area, have deeper grooves, caused by downbearing of the strings (and years of tuning, than I would like (pardon the long sentence).

My question is, would epoxy or super glue, in the grooves help the downbearing? Or maybe a mixture of glue and wood putty? Any other ideas appreciated.

I know the best fix is new bridge caps, but I really do not want to get into replacing the bridge caps on this piano. That would be last resort.

Not sure of the actual hardness of epoxy or super glue versus the tension of the strings over time.
Also not sure of the effect on tone caused by transfer of sound vibrations thru glue.

The depth of the grooves are almost, not quite the width of the strings. So the depths vary depending upon the diameter of the strings. This condition would tend to lead one to believe the wood of the bridge is old and not stable, but a check reveals the wood to be solid.

By the way, I'm not restoring this one for a customer, or for sale. It's my daughter's piano, so I'm willing to experiment a little.

Regards,
Ron [/b]
hi Ron-

if everything is solid and the tone is fine, don't mess with it. the amount of downbearing seems to suit the piano, if not your concept of how much there should be. if you are determined to experiment, you could pull all the bridge pins, re-surface the bridge caps down to the bottom of the string grooves (this will not change downbearing), renotch the bridge to make sure the terminations end in the middle of the bridge pins, then install new bridge pins (same size) with epoxy in the holes. you will get clean unisons, for sure. but tough to do if you don't pull the plate, as the working space is limited. if all is well, best to leave it alone unless you are among the inveterate experimenters.
bcnu
david
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#619062 - 08/11/03 04:26 PM Re: Downbearing question
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Thanks, for your input. I have decided to leave the bridge as is. Yes Vandergraf, I will experiment now and then, but the chances must be reasonable for success. Since this is an upright, even though a Steinway, it is just not worth the time and effort to pull the plate. I have never seen an upright that was worth it. Others may disagree, but that's my opinion.
Anyway, because it has good tone and other areas give me good indications it will be a good servicable piano for years to come, I will proceed. Again thanks for your input.

Regards,
Ron
_________________________
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Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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