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#647944 - 02/16/08 01:08 PM destringing / restringing a grand piano.
joelgraham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 10
I have recently purchased a cheap grand piano as a refurbish job and am wondering what the best way to destring the whole board without damaging the strings!

Also what is the best way to clean the tuning pins as they need a really good clean!

regards.

Joel

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#647945 - 02/16/08 01:11 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
curry Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 3769
Loc: Hamilton Twp, NJ
Strings cannot be re-used. If you're going to attempt this it won't be too successful.
_________________________
G.Fiore "aka-Curry". Tuner-Technician serving the central NJ, S.E. PA area. b214cm@aol.com Concert tuning, Regulation-voicing specialist.
Dampp-Chaser installations, piano appraisals. PTG S.Jersey Chapter 080.
Bösendorfer 214 # 47,299 214-358

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#647946 - 02/16/08 02:05 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
JDelmore Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/07
Posts: 634
Tuning pins should also be replaced when restringing. The 30,000-40,000 pounds of tension in the strings should not be taken lightly either.

Please take no offense, as none is intended, but it doesn't sound like you have the knowledge necessary for the task. Either educate yourself (Reblitz is a good start) before you 'dive in', or pass the task along to a qualified technician--if the piano is worth it...
_________________________
PTG Associate Member

"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)

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#647947 - 02/16/08 02:11 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
joelgraham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 10
okay - i had a feeling i would have to replace the strings but i didn't think the tuning pins would have to be!

how much would a new set of tuning pins and strings roughly cost?

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#647948 - 02/16/08 02:13 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
joelgraham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 10
okay - i had a feeling i would have to replace the strings but i didn't think the tuning pins would have to be!

how much would a new set of tuning pins and strings roughly cost?

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#647949 - 02/16/08 02:16 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
eddie twang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/08
Posts: 132
Loc: east yorks,england
im sorry but by asking the question above it is obvious you must never ever be allowed anywhere near a piano...l have never heard such a "hair brain"idea!.this isnt a job for enthusiastic amateurs.you insult the people who have had to train for many years to be able to restore and tune pianos...was your next question going to be "what size spanner should l use to tune a piano ?".

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#647950 - 02/16/08 02:31 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
joelgraham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 10
excuse me! i am a piano player - and i was given a grand piano on the very cheap so though i would do a job on it to learn about how it works!

why is it such a bad thing that i want to learn about how pianos work etc...

i am just trying to get a little advice from people who do know more than me!

Joel

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#647951 - 02/16/08 02:41 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
David-G Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1227
Loc: London
Joel,

You are touching a sensitive nerve here! See for example this recent thread:

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/3/3349.html

David

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#647952 - 02/16/08 03:28 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
joelgraham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 10
hi - yes, sorry i was unawares of having to put [DIY] at the start of the thread - and i apologise for that.

i as well have realised that i didn't word the earlier question very well - ie. how much would a set of strings and tuning pins for a 5ft C Kemmler & sons 1920's grand piano cost roughly?

i do appreciate how much experience the people on here have - which is why i am asking for advice from them.

regards.

Joel

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#647953 - 02/16/08 04:36 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Joel, restringing a piano is not a job for an amateur. You can be the best piano player in the world, but that wont help. Restringing is not brain surgery, but let me tell you it is not for the untrained. At least get somebody with some experience to assist. I run into DIY'ers several times during the year, they usually give up and call me or another technician. At least do some major research and study before you touch the piano.

The reason those of us in this forum react so strongly to DIY questions is, far too many people think: "oh, this piano technology stuff aint so hard, any idiot can do it." Proceed without proper caution and research, and you will find out exactly what I mean.

Have you thought about what condition the pin block might be in...huh???
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#647954 - 02/16/08 06:05 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
joelgraham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 10
i was not going to restring the piano myself anyway as i'm aware that's out of my league - and since starting this thread have done research into removing strings - so hopefully with a little more research would be able to remove the tension in the strings and remove the current strings (which are in fairly bad condition by the looks of it!)

but with regards to re-tuning and re-stringing i am going to get a technician to have a look at the iron framework and the pin block.
from what i have seen the pin block looks in good condition (there is 2 strings missing so looked at the tuning pins from them!)
The piano also holds it's tune and as far as i'm aware non of the pins are slipping.
other than the strings being bad, and the soundboard and iron framework being very dirty it doesn't look in a bad condition (to my untrained eye!) - a little exterior case work required, but i know a professional french polisher who is going to help me with that!

regards.

Joel

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#647955 - 02/16/08 08:23 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Well the 5 lb rolls of wire are say $20 apiece and you need eight different sizes. Pins are $100. The bass strings have to be specially ordered for $500+.
Are you going to replace the bridge caps or just epoxy in new pins. Downbearing should be checked and set. Doing a good belly job takes about a semester of a 4 unit college class worth of education. Maybe two.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#647956 - 02/16/08 08:44 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Before and during string removal, there are lots of things to watch out for, measurements to take and information to record. Neglecting to do this will cause the restinging technician a lot of headaches and a lot of extra time spent. Think about it before you dive into things.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#647957 - 02/16/08 11:38 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2245
Loc: Portland, Oregon
RJALEX, this is to you...I don't understand why you have to continue to be so condescending to joelingram. He apologized about his first post, yet your curt response to him, as in your last post...."Have you thought about what condition the pin block might be in...huh???", continues that same attitude. If that were me asking the same question, I would seriously consider not coming back to this forum.

What about a little constructive criticism next time?

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#647958 - 02/17/08 04:00 AM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
joelgraham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 10
many thanks grandpianoman.

what sort of measurements would i look to take?

Keith - i take it the tuning pins are $100 for the set!

thanks.

Joel

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#647959 - 02/17/08 04:03 AM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
RJALEX, this is to you...I don't understand why you have to continue to be so condescending to joelingram. He apologized about his first post, yet your curt response to him, as in your last post...."Have you thought about what condition the pin block might be in...huh???", continues that same attitude. If that were me asking the same question, I would seriously consider not coming back to this forum. [/b]

I honestly do not see why you would view my comments as any more condescending than some of the other replies. I simply asked if he had thought about the condition of the pinblock!
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#647960 - 02/17/08 09:34 AM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
UprightTooner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 839
Loc: North-East US
Joel,

All the advice you are getting is good. But, I’m not sure it is the advice you need.

I’m trying to get the big picture. (By the way, I don’t rebuild pianos.) You are a pianist that bought a budget piano to learn about pianos. The items about the piano that you want to change seem to be the appearance of the strings and the appearance of the case. That is not the same thing as learning about pianos.

I’d like to suggest just learning about pianos first. As JDelmore said, Reblitz is a good start. Get the book, read it, investigate what you are learning, and then decide what you might want to do to your piano.

I’d hate to see you restring this piano just to find out that the strings were really only discolored and there is no improvement in the tone, or worse yet, that the soundboard has negative crown and the piano is not worth any major repairs. There are many usable pianos with discolored or rusty strings. It might not be necessary or wise to restring this piano.
_________________________
Part-time tuner

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#647961 - 02/17/08 11:25 AM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
joelgraham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 10
many thanks for all the advice - i have already taken apart the hammers, keys etc - and am moving on to the sound block.

i am going to get a tech to have a look at the soundboard and framework to find out what the best course of action is - and am not going to even attempt to restring the piano myself!

i was orininally just trying to find out if there was a way to destring a piano to reuse the strings.

cheers.

Joel

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#647962 - 02/17/08 11:42 AM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
What do you mean by sound block? This is not a term I have heard used by piano pros. At the risk of repeating what others have set, read up on what you are getting into. At least learn the nomenclature so you become capable of conversing with others.

The old strings may be useful for rabbit snares... ;\)
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#647963 - 02/17/08 11:49 AM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
joelgraham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 10
i am very tired at the moment so wasn't concentrating on what i was typing, and after posing realised that i had written sound block - i actually meant soundboard!

well, if anyone wants old strings i have got 200+ that are about to be removed!

any info on the best way to remove them?
ease off the tension and then cut with a pair of wire plyers (with a pillow over the string?

or is that the wrong way to do it?

Joel

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#647964 - 02/17/08 11:53 AM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
UprightTooner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 839
Loc: North-East US
Joel,

Now I know why the "little red light" in the back of my mind if flashing. If you think the strings are good enough to be reused, why do you want to take them off?
_________________________
Part-time tuner

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#647965 - 02/17/08 12:13 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
joelgraham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 10
because i want to clean the whole iron framework and the soundboard underneath.

unless there is an easier way to clean the strings and the soundboard?

Joel

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#647966 - 02/17/08 12:49 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Joel there is a tool for cleaning under the soundboard. Really, have the tech look at it, before you do anything else. If you just want a cleaner piano, there are ways of doing that, without removing the strings. It does help when proper terminology is used.
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#647967 - 02/17/08 01:13 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
At the risk of sounding snotty myself, after reading these posts, it sounds to me as if Joel is asking for all sorts of advice but not willing to take any advice given. He seems insistent upon removing the strings regardless of anything he's being told or advised. In this case IMO any further conversation or advice to him seems rather useless.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#647968 - 02/17/08 04:57 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Jerry Viviano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/07
Posts: 263
Loc: Cary, NC
Joel,
I don't consider myself a piano tech, but it's obvious that I've got a lot more experience under my belt than you have. Since I consider myself to be a beginner, there are few opinions which I carry with conviction. I try to discipline myself to take the advice of those who have been in the piano business for years.
But here is an opinion that I am pretty darn confident in. You are going too fast. Your ambition far outweighs your experience. Restringing a piano is NOT the place to start. And I have to agree with the pros here. The things you are saying make it very clear that restringing a piano is much too advanced a task for you right now.

I've restrung one once, but only after having studied piano technology to the point that I knew I had to check the crown, the condition of the bridges, the pinblock, measuring the wire thicknesses with a micrometer and where the changes were, knew to photograph the unusual stringing patterns, recorded the position of the duplex scale and so on and so on. I had read several books on piano rebuilding, especially the one by John W. Travis called "A Guide to Restringing".

Sometimes it is difficult to take advice from someone who has been in the business a while, simply because the psychology gets in the way. One gets to thinking, "That guy doesn't think I'm smart enough just because I'm a beginner and he's not". Well, I'm a beginner and I'm telling you that you aren't ready for this type of work.

It's your piano. And if you have the inclination and plans on becoming a piano technician, I encourage to learn, but in a reasonable way. Learn to tune first. Learn to clean the soundboard in the normal way. Learn to adjust let-off and other steps in regulating. These things are more harmless. And along the way you will slowly learn about some of the more complex tasks. At some point you will be ready to start into them.

A piano is one of the confounded concoctions of entangled compromises I've ever run into. Until you learn what those compromises and trade-offs are, complex tasks will SEEM easy. But only because the one doing them hadn't realized that the complexities really do exist.

If you can't take the advice from a pro, take it from me, another beginner. And do have your tech look at things and advise you before you do anything else.

Thank you,
_________________________
Jerry Viviano
V. I. Piano
PTG Associate Member

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#647969 - 02/17/08 05:21 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
many thanks for all the advice - i have already taken apart the hammers, keys etc - and am moving on to the sound block.

Really guys, read through the typos and poor wording. This guy has already done the hammers and keys, etc. Jerry, he is doing it just like you only a different order. OBVIOUSLY there must be some mechanical ability here. Even if he busts them all off without measuring, Arledge will rescale (with purchase of bass strings) for under $100.

No that's for each pin. With the devaluation of the dollar, it's costing us $8,800 for a set. \:D and going up fast!!!

If you believe that.....
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#647970 - 02/17/08 05:29 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Wasted words Keith...wasted words!!! He'gone. According to grandpianoman, it's my fault. I guess I'll just have to bear the burden. Just like in the movie "Shane"...."come back Joel, come back."
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#647971 - 02/17/08 05:31 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Hahahaaa, you're funny Ron. I liked that movie by the way, Shane...
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#647972 - 02/17/08 06:02 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Jerry Viviano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/07
Posts: 263
Loc: Cary, NC
A few more points for JoelGraham to consider. Ron Alexander suggested that you should first check the pin block. It's a basic step.

I had checked the pin-block on the piano I restrung. It was in horrible shape. I replaced it myself as well. But before I removed the first string, in addition to the things I already mentioned, I had:
Researched pin-block boring and replacement techniques.
Ordered and received the blank pin block.
Researched string suppliers.
Ordered and received the strings. Mapes bass strings, if I remember. It was about 12 years ago.
Ordered and received my restringing tools.
Ordered and received all of the stringing felts.
Checked and found two cracks in the soundboard.
Ordered and received soundboard shimming material.
Learned how to mask off the agraffes during the painting of the plate.
Ordered and received the new tuning pins.
Had a refinisher look at the case and give me an estimate and schedule.
Learned techniques for removing the plate without scratching the case.
And so on and so on.

If JoelGraham hasn't yet done many of these things, he should take this as strong evidence that he's not ready to restring the piano. He may get there some day. But he's not there yet.
_________________________
Jerry Viviano
V. I. Piano
PTG Associate Member

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#647973 - 02/17/08 06:18 PM Re: destringing / restringing a grand piano.
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Those are excellent points Jerry. Excellent advice.

I remember some years ago, I used to think that replacing a pin block was like standing on "sacred ground." Then I assisted someone who know what they were doing, and found that it is not "sacred," but just about anyone with a basic knowledge of the piano and some moderate woodworking skills can do it. I dont say that to encourage someone who lacks these basic skills, but to reinforce what Jerry has stated.
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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