Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers

Posted by: Blues beater

Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers - 02/09/13 11:37 PM

My family heirloom Steinway 44" upright has dampers on all but the top 18 notes, my 100 year old, approx. Whittier on all but the top 20, but on my Webber the top 24 notes are not damped. It is noticeable and distracting that the lower 4 or so of these could use dampers. Has something changed over time with the soundboard that the notes actually sustain longer than they once did? Or was the Webber Co. simply stingy in this regard? I have replaced all the hammers with Imadegawa. They were down to the wood at the very top, had been filed a lot, and the whole piano above the bass sounded "clangy." The very obvious break at the end of the dampers was present before and after hammer replacement.

In any case, I am planning to drill additional holes in the rail and install 4 or maybe even 6 more dampers. I have an old upright action in the closet with dampers that will fit, (used it as donor for a couple of dampers with broken flanges) and wippens that will fit if I simply swap out the stickers. Easier for me to replace the entire wippen than install spoons.

Is there any reason I should not do this, other than being a DIYer? smile i can not think of one. I have done pretty well with my pianos so far and my tuner/tech is either suitably impressed or very charitable (or both) re' my repair efforts so far.
Posted by: rxd

Re: Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers - 02/10/13 12:24 AM

You will need spoons on the wippens and a longer damper lift rod, otherwise, it can be done with no problems.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers - 02/10/13 01:21 AM

1) are you sure that piano only has 64 dampers (88-24)? That would be very rare and unusual. 65 is the standard minimum.

2)the ringing you hear, or at least part of it, could probably be coming from leaky bass dampers.

PS did your Steinway recently shrink from 48 to 44 inches?
Posted by: Olek

Re: Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers - 02/10/13 07:24 AM

I would preferentially drill and install spoons, (unless the whippens are exactly the same. ) you can use a dab of first grad white glue - Titebond - at installation, as a lube and a security for later

Longer rod for the sustain pedal, indeed, that should be find somewhere, you may need to reinstall the rod centers, etc.

Having no sustain pedal on those new dampers would be probably not terrific...

VOicing can help, also, unless your treble is so active by now (which is fairly possible, the wire being stiffer can ring more easily for high partials) usually with old wire the consonance is lowered at last for fundamental

JUrgen : 2)the ringing you hear, or at least part of it, could probably be coming from leaky bass dampers.


Yes for sure, first thing to test is to take some cloth in hand and put it on the bass wire while playing and listen if the ringing lowers.
Posted by: rxd

Re: Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers - 02/10/13 09:42 AM

Not an unusual request. Yamaha had a kit for this very thing for their new pianos. It included some wippens with spoons, the dampers, and a whole new damper lift rod Apparently there were enough requests to warrant the kit.

I have seen a few American uprights that the dampers stopped at D# or E. sometimes a damper is robbed from there to replace a broken one further down. A quick look at the damper rod will tell that tale.

I have seen extra holes bored and spoons installed with no ghost marks of them ever being used.

An extra length can be welded on to the existing rod.

Old Steinway uprites had dampers up to the A as I remember.
Posted by: Blues beater

Re: Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers - 02/10/13 09:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Supply
1) are you sure that piano only has 64 dampers (88-24)? That would be very rare and unusual. 65 is the standard minimum.

2)the ringing you hear, or at least part of it, could probably be coming from leaky bass dampers.

PS did your Steinway recently shrink from 48 to 44 inches?


I just took a look in there and refreshed my memory. Kind of a blur between this piano and the Whittier which I did a lot of work on also.

Now I remember, I have already added one, it had 63. I counted again just now. There is a hole drilled to accommodate one more and lift rod reach for one more. The hole in the rail is smooth and it is obvious there has never been a screw in it. I remember that was the case with the hole when I added #64. I guess Webber WAS being stingy. Although I am happy with it overall, my tech quite some time ago pointed out that this is not a top-of-the-line instrument in that is has only a 3/4 plate. Famous last words: it was "free." smile

When I dampen these treble notes manually the sounds stops immediately. The highest notes WITH dampers do not sustain after the keys are released. My bass dampers are working pretty well.

So I can easily add just one more damper. Then I have to decide if I want to modify the lift rod -- drill and tap the end of it and screw in a machined piece. OR, if I get really lucky, the lift rod from the action in my closet will work. It extends to #70. I am going to investigate that. Alternatively, I can go with a few notes that do not have sustain pedal function. Of course this is wrong, but I do not know how offensive it will actually be to my ears. I could try this option and easily reverse the experiment if I do not like it. I tend to play up into the low 70s a lot, and I use the sustain pedal rarely.

Steinway is still 48" smile
Posted by: Blues beater

Re: Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers - 02/10/13 09:56 AM

Originally Posted By: Olek
I would preferentially drill and install spoons, (unless the whippens are exactly the same. ) you can use a dab of first grad white glue - Titebond - at installation, as a lube and a security for later

Longer rod for the sustain pedal, indeed, that should be find somewhere, you may need to reinstall the rod centers, etc.

Having no sustain pedal on those new dampers would be probably not terrific...

VOicing can help, also, unless your treble is so active by now (which is fairly possible, the wire being stiffer can ring more easily for high partials) usually with old wire the consonance is lowered at last for fundamental

JUrgen : 2)the ringing you hear, or at least part of it, could probably be coming from leaky bass dampers.


Yes for sure, first thing to test is to take some cloth in hand and put it on the bass wire while playing and listen if the ringing lowers.


Other than different length stickers attached, the wippens appear to be a perfect fit. I replaced several that were wobbly or had cracked flanges, etc. I had acquired a "free" piano that my tech showed me had disasters re' the bridges, soundboard, separated pinblock etc. Ironically, its action was in really good shape so it has been a great source of good used pieces for the Webber and the Whittier. That piano, minus the action, went to a hippie artist who "deconstructs" old pianos. Some of his stuff looks pretty cool.
Posted by: fishbulb

Re: Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers - 02/12/13 05:15 PM

Interesting stuff. My early 1890s Weber 56" upright has dampers on all but the top 18 notes.

Is your piano a "Weber" or a "Webber"? There were several different companies with both names.

Also 3/4 plate, in and of itself, does not necessarily indicate a low-quality instrument. Up to about the turn of the century (1900) most uprights were 3/4 plate.
Posted by: Blues beater

Re: Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers - 02/12/13 09:33 PM

Originally Posted By: fishbulb
Interesting stuff. My early 1890s Weber 56" upright has dampers on all but the top 18 notes.

Is your piano a "Weber" or a "Webber"? There were several different companies with both names.

Also 3/4 plate, in and of itself, does not necessarily indicate a low-quality instrument. Up to about the turn of the century (1900) most uprights were 3/4 plate.
One "B", a "Weber." Its not too bad a piano by my standards, although the pinblock is a little sketchy. I don't understand the paucity of dampers. I wonder if the high notes are actually sustaining more than originally due to a change in downbearing force.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Old Webber 54" upright needs more treble dampers - 02/13/13 06:43 AM

I think of using a stringing ribbon (braid ?) it possibly can help , depending of the stile of fixture and the backlenghts.