DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance!

Posted by: Blues beater

DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/25/13 07:52 AM

Approaching the final stages of http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...20DIY%20pr.html

My piano tuner came and said the hammer installation was not nearly as bad as I had led him to believe, smile and tuned my project. I am overall pleased although I would do a lot of things differently next time.

But here is the rub, about 10% of the time there is a nasty ringing buzz at a certain frequency range -- B through Eb the octave above middle C. I don't think it is a bridge problem because it happens to a degree with notes an octave above or below. There are soundboard cracks and I found slight separation of the soundboard from ribs in a few places. How can I locate the exact area that buzzes? If I could find it I would stuff a matchbook cover in a crack, fill a crack with CA glue, screw a lead weight on there or ANYTHING to supress/detune it.

Again, it is so temperature or humidity sensitive that it was not even there when my extremely capable and experienced tuner/tech/restorer visited.

I own a car repair shop and people try to find engine noises with a stethascope, but I know all too well how misleading that is because of the way sounds are transmitted. Also I think using the stethascope while someone was beating on the ringing/buzzing note would cause hearing loss.

I have two other pianos, but would hate to be unable to play this one even 10% of the time!
Posted by: Roy Rodgers

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/25/13 08:49 AM

I used a mechanics stethoscope when I was doing mechanic work a lot. Helped to isolate a unit with a bearing going out. So for me they were very useful.

But, to use one to find a buzz or ringing might indeed be a bit too loud for use with an acoustic piano.
Posted by: Craig Hair

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/25/13 09:01 AM

In my humble experience, that which rings is strings; that which buzzes is board. If you have both, I would check the bridge pins first. I would also make sure that the pressure bar is set low enough. Odd as it may seem, if the deflection of the wire is insufficient, the wire can actually bounce around at the upper termination. This makes an aweful noise, and is volume sensitive.

Rather than a stethascope, try listening through a paper towel roll. It may help you target the point of gratest volume.
beyond that, if humidity gets rid of it, install a Dampp-Chaser or the like. Try some Mason jars filled with water inside the bottom board.
good luck
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/25/13 09:23 AM

Press on the soundboard at different points near the frame while playing notes. If the buzz goes awaay, you may find putting a wedge of some kind between the plate and the board is a good temporary solution.

If the ribs are off, drill from the back; oversize hole through rib and pilot hole through soundboard. Don't go through sound board. Apply wood glue between rib and board. Screw rib to board using a washer between screw and rib. When dry, remove screw and washer. Drill 7/32" hole. Don't go though soundboard if you can help it. Install hammer shank with glue on it. If you go through soundboard, line up shank end flush with soundboard. Be careful with the glue or it will make a mess.

Other places to look: does string buzz against bridge notch? I've seen boards with cracks that allow the bridge to "roll" and bring the bridge notch in contact with the string. Lossen strings and renotch. I've also tried screwing through rib into bridge and try to roll the bridge back a bit with some success.

Good luck.
Posted by: Eric Gloo

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/25/13 09:36 AM

Try this, with lots of good light. Remove the knee board. If you can see the cracks in the soundboard, use a long-handled screwdriver to lightly press on the soundboard (near the cracks) as you are playing the buzzing notes. (You don't have to press hard enough to gouge the soundboard with the screwdriver.) If the buzzing disappears, the cause is probably the soundboard. Depending on where the cracks are causing the buzzing, it may be as easy as drilling some holes and screwing a rib back in contact with the soundboard.
Posted by: Blues beater

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/25/13 01:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Roy Rodgers
I used a mechanics stethoscope when I was doing mechanic work a lot. Helped to isolate a unit with a bearing going out. So for me they were very useful.

But, to use one to find a buzz or ringing might indeed be a bit too loud for use with an acoustic piano.


The stethoscope is indeed useful -- but can be misleading if you are not careful.
Posted by: Blues beater

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/25/13 01:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Eric Gloo
Try this, with lots of good light. Remove the knee board. If you can see the cracks in the soundboard, use a long-handled screwdriver to lightly press on the soundboard (near the cracks) as you are playing the buzzing notes. (You don't have to press hard enough to gouge the soundboard with the screwdriver.) If the buzzing disappears, the cause is probably the soundboard. Depending on where the cracks are causing the buzzing, it may be as easy as drilling some holes and screwing a rib back in contact with the soundboard.


There was one place where a rib was lifted significantly. I attempted to screw it back, but before things drew together the screws pull out. I was using #10 wood screws per Steve's Piano Service advice. I filled the gap with epoxy. This was before my tuner came by and the problem seemed repaired then and even through his tuning session. But it is highly intermittent. This morning it was gone again! The other areas where the ribs and soundboard are separated the gap is very small. I had to blow dust away to even see it. I filled these areas with CA glue. Next time it buzzes I will recruit the spouse to keep playing an offending note.

Thanks so much for your reply.
Posted by: Blues beater

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/25/13 01:50 PM

The reason I didn't think bridge pins is because is more certain pitches than certain strings. For an example, if b above middle C is particularly offensive at a given time, similar ringing will be heard one octave above and below to a little lesser extent.

Thank you and I will follow up on your ideas!
Posted by: Eric Gloo

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/25/13 02:43 PM

The buzz could also be away from the rib, but along a soundboard crack. It could also be something laying against the soundboard in the back or the bottom of the piano.
Posted by: Blues beater

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/25/13 05:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Eric Gloo
The buzz could also be away from the rib, but along a soundboard crack. It could also be something laying against the soundboard in the back or the bottom of the piano.


Didn't find any foreign objects down there. (This is a 100 year old full size upright.)

Wishing for a silver bullet to find it, but I think the realities are it won't be easy.

Don in Austin
Posted by: Blues beater

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/31/13 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: Blues beater
Approaching the final stages of http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...20DIY%20pr.html

My piano tuner came and said the hammer installation was not nearly as bad as I had led him to believe, smile and tuned my project. I am overall pleased although I would do a lot of things differently next time.

But here is the rub, about 10% of the time there is a nasty ringing buzz at a certain frequency range -- B through Eb the octave above middle C. I don't think it is a bridge problem because it happens to a degree with notes an octave above or below. There are soundboard cracks and I found slight separation of the soundboard from ribs in a few places. How can I locate the exact area that buzzes? If I could find it I would stuff a matchbook cover in a crack, fill a crack with CA glue, screw a lead weight on there or ANYTHING to supress/detune it.

Again, it is so temperature or humidity sensitive that it was not even there when my extremely capable and experienced tuner/tech/restorer visited.

I own a car repair shop and people try to find engine noises with a stethascope, but I know all too well how misleading that is because of the way sounds are transmitted. Also I think using the stethascope while someone was beating on the ringing/buzzing note would cause hearing loss.

I have two other pianos, but would hate to be unable to play this one even 10% of the time!



Boy, do I feel like a total dumbass!! I was getting frustrated because my other two pianos started producing similar ringing and buzzing. I was getting really depressed thinking I should stop trying to refurbish these 100 year old pianos as a DIYer maybe over his head and just bite the bullet and by a nice used Yamaha or something. Then on the way to bed last night my eye caught the glass shelves in the next room full of CRYSTAL WINE GLASSES TOUCHING EACH OTHER! It was all I could do not to beat out some joyful blues on each of the three pianos in rotation, but that would not have gone over too well with my sleeping wife.

Like, I said, I feel like a real dumbass, but all's well that ends well. All three pianos sound sweeter than honey today. I have replaced the tenor and treble hammers in the 100 year old Weber in a fashion that is far less embarrassing than the job I did on what I call my #3 piano, and am inspired to replace the bass set this weekend. Unlike the previous re-hammer job, I splurged on all new hammer butts and shanks making the re-hammer far easier.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: DIY update and need help -- thanks in advance! - 01/31/13 09:44 AM

Originally Posted By: Blues beater

Wishing for a silver bullet to find it, but I think the realities are it won't be easy.


found