Please don't take the broken bass string with you

Posted by: James Carney

Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/08/12 08:22 AM

This past week I tuned yet another piano with a missing monochord bass string. I looked at the owner and said "Let me guess - the last tech took the broken string with him, right?"

Owner: "Yup, he said he needed to send it to a bass string maker for duplication, but I never heard from him again."

If the string hadn't been taken I could have spliced it, based on where the break happened (at the coil.) This has happened to me so many times, and every time it does it costs the owner more, since the current tech needs to spend a lot more time measuring and interpolating diameters from neighboring strings. Then we need to order the string, come back, install, and return again to retune. Yet a spliced repair would have been done on that single visit, and the tuning would have been fine as well.

If you have a micrometer and a tape measure with you (and you should if you are a professional piano technician, right?) then simply measure the core wire diameter, the copper wrap diameter, the distance from hitch pin loop to the beginning of the wrap, and the overall length of the wrap. Those four measurements are all you need to order a new bass string if you can't splice. And, if you don't know how to splice, please leave the broken string for the next tech who might.

Whatever you decide to do (or not do) please don't take the string. Even if you have no skills or tools to complete stringing repairs, just coil it up and leave in the bottom of the piano for the next tech...
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/08/12 08:58 AM

OR....be conscientious and follow up on your business and run it professionally. I promptly send out the string and install it when it comes in. Usually I set the return installation appointment before I leave the customer's house.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/08/12 12:15 PM

Amen James!!! I HATE it when I find missing wires. Sometimes, it's the owner themselves that tossed it thinking, oh, they can just order another one... NOT!

And, if you don't now how to splce a wire? Please don't practice on a customers piano leaving 5 coils wrapped all over one another with a tuning pin or two 1/4" higher than all of the others...... Don't do sloppy work. Do it right or don't do it at all. Practice at home on something else.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/08/12 02:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
Amen James!!! I HATE it when I find missing wires. Sometimes, it's the owner themselves that tossed it thinking, oh, they can just order another one... NOT!

And, if you don't now how to splce a wire? Please don't practice on a customers piano leaving 5 coils wrapped all over one another with a tuning pin or two 1/4" higher than all of the others...... Don't do sloppy work. Do it right or don't do it at all. Practice at home on something else.


One of my pet peeves . . .
With 210 examples (+ or -) of how to it's supposed to look, why would you think that anything different is OK??
</dismounting soapbox, but feeling better>
Posted by: Ryan Hassell

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/08/12 04:28 PM

I had a church that kept breaking strings constantly and would just throw them away. It was a GREAT day when I realized that I could just give Mapes the model of the piano and the string number and they would send me out a replacement.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/08/12 04:50 PM

Hammers are even worse than strings! Ivories, too.

I say that one should not take any parts without a firm estimate of when they will be coming back.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/08/12 05:21 PM

My bass string maker needs only distance A from hitch pin to front pin of bridge, and distance B from hitch pin to agrafe.

But I may tell him ho far from bridge and agrafe are the windings, if not he use his standard distances.

I may also say if I measure above the damper.

diameter helps, of course

On a well known model the number of the string is enough, often.
So I can order by mail.
Posted by: Chris Leslie

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/08/12 06:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Kamin
My bass string maker needs only distance A from hitch pin to front pin of bridge, and distance B from hitch pin to agrafe.

But I may tell him ho far from bridge and agrafe are the windings, if not he use his standard distances.

I may also say if I measure above the damper.

diameter helps, of course

On a well known model the number of the string is enough, often.
So I can order by mail.

Isaac, doesn't your string maker also require the core gauge and winding diameter?
Posted by: Olek

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/08/12 06:59 PM

Yes I give the note name at last, but sure it is better to check diameters at last on the next note, so the bass string maker have an idea of the tension.... But the A-B measurement method is efficient and the winding lenght is designed to start at 18 mm from the bridge and 22 from the agrafe after 3 tunings (the dimensions I give by memory)
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/08/12 08:43 PM

Go with what James says. Sometimes Kamin doesn't make a whole lot of sense. grin No doubt, an English problem? What the heck are you talking about anyway Kamin?

James described the procedure pretty accurately and yes, on many models we can simply call in the make, model, serial and string number to get a replacement wire but we can't always do that. In those cases how James described it is the correct way to go about it. wink

Or, am I just plain missing something here???





Posted by: David Jenson

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/09/12 08:27 AM

Yea, what James and Jerry said. A missing bass string just makes things that much more complicated.
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/09/12 08:35 AM

Is it really all that difficult to send the string out, return to the customer's piano, and install it? Really?
Posted by: Olek

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/09/12 12:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
Go with what James says. Sometimes Kamin doesn't make a whole lot of sense. grin No doubt, an English problem? What the heck are you talking about anyway Kamin?

James described the procedure pretty accurately and yes, on many models we can simply call in the make, model, serial and string number to get a replacement wire but we can't always do that. In those cases how James described it is the correct way to go about it. wink

Or, am I just plain missing something here???







I am sorry typing on a cellular phone with auto correct of typing, add strange mistakes I cannot always see immediately.

I was just saying that I can send the bass winder the 2 measures A and B, plus the note name, and that of course it is better to send also the next note diameter and core if the string is missing, interpolate will be done by the string maker if I send the 2 next notes diameter but I am unsure it is so important.

He uses a standard distance from the winding to the bridge and from winbding to the agrafe, and this is very precise, computed to be the given distance after 3 tunings (metal elongation)

So if the piano have a particular dimension between the winding and bridge/agrafe I have to send this dimension too, , probably he uses it and not the lenght of the winded portion (which is not so different, it is just another computation method.

I am sorry my English did not get better in time...

ALl the best
Posted by: David Jenson

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/09/12 06:28 PM

Originally Posted By: Loren D
Is it really all that difficult to send the string out, return to the customer's piano, and install it? Really?

I've wondered if there is a phenomenon in space like a light-grey-hole that is sitting there full of piano tuners holding bass strings that they will replace once they are released from the pull of the thing.
Posted by: Bojan Babic

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/09/12 06:40 PM

I work for an institution whose students always take broken bas strings out, fearing that they would have to pay for them, so it is easiest for them to hide the string in silence, and not report the breakage. It makes me a problem later.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/09/12 08:15 PM

Oh-Oh

I feel a light-grey reverse well approaching.
Posted by: David Jenson

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/09/12 09:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Oh-Oh

I feel a light-grey reverse well approaching.
You're in luck! There's no intelligent life down there in the hole I fear.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/09/12 11:03 PM

This is kind of a grey area isn't it?
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 12/13/12 04:06 AM

Look inside the bench. Some folks put reference parts there, because they won't vibrate when the remaining notes are played.
Posted by: Gary Fowler

Re: Please don't take the broken bass string with you - 05/29/13 03:12 AM

Usually it's the customer who discards the broken bass string. (usually in a church). Frustrates me to no end!