grand piano makes strange sounds by itself

Posted by: zapper

grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 06:45 PM

Hi Everyone,
I have bought recently a new acoustic grand baby piano and have a question. Is it normal for a piano to make some kinda cracking noise by itself from time to time? What can cause it? I heard it twice already watching a movie and suddenly my piano "has spoken" smile It's relatively laud, short cracking sound.
thanks
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 06:47 PM

No, this is not usual.

You might check the structural integrity of the floor!
Posted by: Maxtor

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 07:14 PM

This is a job for a very important specialist.
You need to start by hiring a young priest and an old priest....
wink

On a more serious note, the post above is correct and it is worthwhile to consider the piano's placement. A floor should easily hold a piano, but the word "should" contains no promises. Is the piano near any air vents or windows? Air currents or large temperature changes could cause some interaction with the wood. How long has the piano been there, and has it been played much or tuned since delivery? Some problems could be manifest in the sound or could be discovered by a technician, but that all depends on the location of a problem.
Posted by: zapper

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 07:37 PM

Interesting, never thought it could be floor. It's hardwood though so it's possible indeed.
The piano is about 6 feet from the fireplace and about the same from the window in my leaving room,
its standing there 6 months already and so far has been tuned once. It's not been played that much,
and hour maybe every other day or so.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 07:51 PM

My sister used to make strange sounds when she was all by herself. Oh, that's right, she was talking to herself.... Sorry, couldn't help myself again.....
Posted by: Maxtor

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 08:01 PM

The tuning and playing sounds perfect, and it's good to hear that it's getting regular use smile

If the fireplace is used, the dry heat from a fire could cause the problem. If the fireplace is not used, then some cold could still get inside through the fireplace's vents (but probably not much assuming the vent is closed). I would estimate that heat or dryness from a fire would be more of a worry if it can get to the piano, assuming you use the fireplace.
It is certainly something to ask the tuner about the next time they visit. The piano should still be under warranty too, so the dealer should be able to provide some advice or feedback over the phone and could troubleshoot with you.
Posted by: backto_study_piano

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 08:16 PM

What sort of movie was it? Horror?
Posted by: bennevis

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 09:13 PM

Originally Posted By: backto_study_piano
What sort of movie was it? Horror?


http://youtu.be/eaO_Y8DN0L4
Posted by: rocket88

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 10:11 PM

I have an old chest of drawers, and it constantly "creaks" as the temperature/humidity changes. It has done that for years, several times a day/night.

Its been in the family for decades...we are used to it. I assume it is a wood joint that is expanding/contracting, and "snaps" back and forth to its two positions.
Posted by: victthoe

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 10:14 PM

This is a job for a very important specialist.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/13/13 11:36 PM

My floors make noises when no one is walking on them. The flooring 'floats' over the subfloor; it is not nailed down or attached at the edges, and this is so it can adjust to changes in the environment without buckling. I was skeptical about this when we installed it, but evidently there was some sense to it. And, the piano's soundboard is actually made to transduce mechanical movements into audible sounds, so some small wood noise could sound a lot louder than you would expect, thanks to its help.

Pianos like a nice, steady, even environment--- in a perfect world. Since you would have mentioned it if the plate were breaking or the strings had popped off, it's probably the wood adjusting to changes in temperature and humidity from day to night, and over the seasons. The steadier you can keep the temp and RH, the better off you will be.

We're always suspicious of fireplaces and HVAC vents here at PW (but I have both in my music room). The further you can distance the piano from sources of heat and cold, drafts and dust, the better. If it's not possible, screening the piano from the heat or draft is a help. If the fireplace is disused, see if the flue is closed off--- it can make a pretty good draft, if not. There is actually such a thing as a fireplace screen, a movable ornamental screen, which was used back in the day to screen people from uncomfortable direct heat if they were sitting too close to the fireplace. You might still find one, or make one. If the side of the piano nearest the fireplace feels warmer to the hand than other parts, it might be good to do something about it.

If the piano says anything else, write back immediately, and tell us its exact words.
Posted by: musicpassion

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/14/13 01:14 AM

Originally Posted By: zapper
Hi Everyone,
I heard it twice already watching a movie and suddenly my piano "has spoken" :)thanks

Yeah, I can never get those player systems to work right either.

On a serious note, no it's not normal.
Posted by: peterws

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/14/13 03:29 AM

I had an old Broadwood grand. It`d sound off in the middle of the night, a loud crack. Was probably the soundboard; the instrument came out of a barely heated church hall and went into a centrally heated living room.

It was not best pleased..
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/14/13 07:41 AM

Sounds like it could be fluctuations in humidity and/or heat. You may want to consult with your technician about installing a Dammp-chaser system. Perhaps even before that, see what the humidity is in the room over a period of days and see if it's stable. If not, try putting a humidifier in the room to normalize things a bit. If this helps, then I highly recommend the Dammp-Chaser - it is a great help. Especially in colder climates where there are wide swings in humidity and temp over the year.
Posted by: Thrill Science

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/14/13 11:53 AM

Do you know where your cat is when you hear these noises?
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/14/13 12:25 PM

I still think it's my sister.... smile
Posted by: Dave B

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/14/13 04:16 PM

First you have to rule out ancient burial grounds and the need for "Ghost Busters". Then it could be new strings settling.
Posted by: woodfab

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/14/13 07:53 PM

Cracking noise usually indicates that it's drying out to much. You should keep the humidity at at least 40%

I have an 12 year old Chinese made 5' grand.

Within the first couple of years the case has partly separated from the rim on both sides of the piano.

I feel that in this case the separation was most likely due to not conditioning the rim and the case properly prior to assembly.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/14/13 07:57 PM

RH of 40-50% for pianos, people, and furniture is ideal.

Consistancy is the goal and there are various ways to achieve it.
Posted by: piano joy

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/14/13 08:44 PM

Are you 100% certain it's the piano?

Our kitchen floors make loud, sharp cracking noises and I've realized it's the settling of the foundation underneath.
Can't wait to see how THAT will show up someday..... crazy
Posted by: Rickster

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/14/13 10:10 PM

Well, my grand piano made a strange noise a year or so ago... of course I was playing it at the time. Turns out it was a string breaking in the upper treble.

Ouch!! Not a sound that was very pleasant... smile

One of the hazards of the piano, I guess... smile

Rick
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/15/13 03:27 AM

Zapper, where are you located? Speculation has run to climate, so it would be helpful to know. Any earthquake faults or landslide areas nearby? Make and age of the piano?
Posted by: AndyJ

Re: grand piano makes strange sounds by itself - 01/15/13 05:33 PM

The Haddorff 5'6" grand I had until last fall periodically emitted a scary, loud "crack" sound. I could never relate the sound to anything in the piano but I'm pretty certain it was the piano, not the floor. The 1923 Steinway O that replaced it has plenty of issues, but speaking out of turn is not one of them.