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#641448 - 07/29/07 12:48 AM Capo bar causing tuning difficulty on Steinway upright
Michael E. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/28/07
Posts: 4
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
One of my own personal pianos, a 45" Steinway upright from the 1960's, has always been very frustrating to tune. Through the whole treble section turning the tuning pin (either sharp or flat) repeatedly will not effect the pitch, and then one more turn way overshoots the mark. I always assumed the problem was that the capo bars had too much pressure against the strings so they resisted a change of tension, but I was nervous about adjusting it. Today I finally had had enough and decided to ever so slightly loosen the screws of the capo bar in the lower treble. Voila! The section suddenly became normally tunable for the first time!
My question is this: in the upper treble the capo bar has feet that rest against the plate (it does not "float" like in the lower treble). Therefore loosening the screws cannot be done. Is it possible to remove the capo completely and very slightly file it down so it will have less bearing against the strings when it is put back? If so, can this be done with strings at full tension? (There is a little metallic sizzle on a couple of notes which I think may be from a burr in the capo, so maybe I can fix that problem too!)
I would appreciate any insight on this question. thanks!
_________________________
Tuner/technician

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#641449 - 07/29/07 10:09 AM Re: Capo bar causing tuning difficulty on Steinway upright
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Do you mean the pressure bar? The strings go over the capo and under the pressure bar then the tuning pin.

I think the treble feet are an attempt to transfer the energy of the strings through the piano. The mystic "circle of sound."

In any case the casting of the plate could be warped or the feet were cut slightly short and there is too much pressure and it doesn't allow the strings to render. Loosen the pressure bar up in the treble and see what happens. If you do it just a little the feet could buzz till they clear the plate. I wouldn't try to tighten the screws up withut slacking up the tension.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#641450 - 07/29/07 09:57 PM Re: Capo bar causing tuning difficulty on Steinway upright
rziss Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 19
Loc: new jersey
Steinway has recently recast the vertical plates to lower the [nut] ridge under the treble strings. This reduced deflection is an attempt to address this situation.

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#641451 - 07/30/07 09:58 AM Re: Capo bar causing tuning difficulty on Steinway upright
David Jenson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 1952
Loc: Maine
Tuning a Steinway 45" upright is about the only thing that can ruin my whole day. That upper half of the scale is nearly impossible.

David
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#641452 - 07/30/07 12:53 PM Re: Capo bar causing tuning difficulty on Steinway upright
ptuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/05
Posts: 36
Loc: Modesto,Calif.
i agree with smallfish. I have a 45" at the college here and i drag my feet going to tune it when i think about that upper section. I'm glad to hear Steinway did something about it.
_________________________
Modesto, Calif.

..."pret' near, but not plum"

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#641453 - 07/31/07 08:36 PM Re: Capo bar causing tuning difficulty on Steinway upright
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
I turned down a college when I discovered they had Steinway verticals in their practice rooms. 70% of them are difficult to tune, but once in tune, they sound and play well. Does anyone know if the re-casting worked?
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#641454 - 07/31/07 08:41 PM Re: Capo bar causing tuning difficulty on Steinway upright
Brick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/06
Posts: 373
I agree with smallfish too.

I know techs who just refuse to do them. I know techs who charge double to do them.

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#641455 - 08/01/07 12:19 AM Re: Capo bar causing tuning difficulty on Steinway upright
Michael E. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/28/07
Posts: 4
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Thanks for your responses. Nice to know I'm not crazy. I once heard years ago that Steinway was in total denial about the problem--that it was the tuner's fault. Yes, I mispoke when I said capo bar-- it is the pressure bar that I was referring to. My very slight backing off of the screws (on a 12 hour clock, I backed them off not even one hour's turn) actually did seem to fix the problem, but as I said, in the upper treble that is not an option since the feet rest against the plate. But at least my middle treble where the temperment is set seems OK to tune now. Yes, maybe the feet are cut too short in the upper treble on the pressure bar. Do you think it is possible to add a very thin shim under the feet to reduce the down pressure?
Another odd thing about this piano is the hammers. When I got it (from my parents--it was my childhood piano) it was voiced too dull. I filed the hammers and it instantly became too bright. When I inspected the hammers, they seemed to be doped--I heard that Steinway was doing that for a period (maybe they still are). But the doping just seemed on the underside of the hammer, because a needle went in normally on top, but the hammers seemed hard as a rock on bottom. I did some needling on the bottom and it did improve the tone considerably.
_________________________
Tuner/technician

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#641456 - 08/01/07 10:12 AM Re: Capo bar causing tuning difficulty on Steinway upright
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
All S&S hammers get doped. To brighten them you should have goosed them some more.
The center of the hammer is always denser and harder and therefor filing always brightens the sound. Now you don't have any felt left to work with.

I would shim the feet of the pressur bar. Use a brass washer and cut one side out to slide around the screw.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#641457 - 08/06/07 12:00 AM Re: Capo bar causing tuning difficulty on Steinway upright
Michael E. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/28/07
Posts: 4
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Thanks for your reply. Actually, I have plenty of hammer felt left--they were not deeply grooved at all, so it was a very light filing. Of course I know filing brightens the sound--that was my reason for doing it--but I was surprised at the extremity of the change, given that they were not deeply grooved. If the hammers had been shot I would have replaced them. What bothered me, in terms of Steinway's manufacturing, is that the dope seemed to be applied unevenly to the bottom part only. In any case, I am quite satisfied with the tone now. By the way, my understanding is that Steinway only started doping their hammers in the "modern" era ('60's on?), so I'm not sure I sign onto the concept of using it freely or as a first resort.
_________________________
Tuner/technician

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