Posted by: Don L
Berry upright - 01/17/13 06:57 PM
Ran across a Berry upright for the first time ever today. Very unique design...the damper wires et al, are in front of the hammer rail. There is nomroom whatsoever near the strings to insert the mutes. Had to take out the damper action thus leaving all strings to sound with every stroke. Even using a mute strip across the entire piano presented a challenging tuning. This was at a senior living complex and the manager said every tuner who has looked at said it was not tuneable! I guess that would be true if you didn't want to take the time/effort to figure out how the thing comes out of there! Anyone else ever seen this? A first for me.
Posted by: BDB
Re: Berry upright - 01/17/13 07:08 PM
Birdcage action. Most pianos with them are not worth the powder to blow them up. If you search here, you will see them mentioned often.
I use a Papp's mute and tune open unisons as I go. Tuning open unisons elliminates the need to get accurate with the Papps in between two strings of a unison. The target between two notes is much bigger and easier to hit, and the tuning goes much faster.
Posted by: Bob
Re: Berry upright - 01/17/13 09:58 PM
And the reason we say they are untunable, is that we have all tuned them before, after taking the time and effort to tune them, and decided they are not our calling.
Posted by: David Jenson
Re: Berry upright - 01/18/13 12:37 AM
Ugh! I'm looking forward to the day that I'm smart enough not to try to tune one of those things. At that point life will get SO much easier.
I only service one bird cage piano. It had been restored by some company in New Zealand and the first time I saw it I couldn't believe it. It looked brand new inside and out. I'd never seen one so perfect. The only evidence of its age was an original decal that the shop had saved on the open pinblock.
When I tune it, I lean the action away from the strings and install an extra long mute strip(action cloth). I replace the action and feed one end of the strip through the action. I tune the piano and pull out the strip as I go. It works the best of all the things I've tried.
Posted by: David Boyce
Re: Berry upright - 01/18/13 02:38 PM
What Mark does - using a Papps mute - is easiest.
With just a little practice it is easy to learn the technique of dragging the hard nylon tip of the mute across the strings to quickly identify where to insert the mute. Unisons need to be tuned as you go.
Overdamper action ("birdcage") pianos continued to be made in Britain as until as late as 1954, but I think they were probably using up pre-war stocks of the actions. I don't think any action manufacturer was making overdamper actions after world war two.
There are lots of photos of birdcage pianos of varying degrees of antiquity on the Birdcage Pianos page of my website.