method of muting

Posted by: Josef

method of muting - 03/23/05 04:33 PM

I have talked to several other piano techs about the method they use to mute a piano during tuning. Some use temperament strips to mute the piano entirely and some use the strip for the temperament section in the middle. I talked to many who prefer felt wedge mutes rather than rubber. What methods do you all prefer when tuning a grand or upright?
Posted by: Piano Guy

Re: method of muting - 03/23/05 05:16 PM

Strip mute from beginning of unwound strings, all the way to top. Rubber mutes in the bass. Paps mute [tweezer like] for isolating strings during a double check.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: method of muting - 03/23/05 05:37 PM

I depends on individual preference and what you find works for you. The piece of felt the supply house sells as a "temperament strip" will wear out quickly and will choke off many middle strings at first. The best material to use is what is sold as "abstract or sticker cloth". Buy 3 strips of it. One of the strips you will have to taper about the last 1/3 of it to half its width in order for it to fit in the upper part of the tenor section of a vertical.

You can mute the entire treble section of a vertical by sliding the strip under the dampers or cut the strip in half lengthwise so it will fit between the top of the dampers and the bottom of the hammers. The material will be stiff and thick at first but will wear well. I tune over a thousand pianos a year and almost always do a double pass. That means I am inserting and pulling the cloth well over two thousand times before it wears out. The felt wouldn't last me a month.

People who mute off each unison as they go claim they don't have to do a double pass as much and that their tunings work out better. It's just a claim. They have to know how to compensate for "pounding a unison flat" and the fact that 3 strings together have about a half cent lower pitch than one string alone.

The strips work for me because they allow me to move through the piano quickly with little stress. If I were to go string by string, it would seem very tedious to me. I also raise pitch in whole steps which seems far less stressful than chromatic tuning. The strips allow me to rough tune the piano in 10-15 minutes and fine tune in usually no more than another 30 minutes. When I'm really on the ball, a complete double tuning can be accomplished in 30 minutes and it will be on pitch and very stable. Large pitch raises take more time because the initial pitch raise requires multiple strokes for each string while a usual first pass can get each string to pitch in a single stroke or two.

But try things both ways and decide which way works best for you.
Posted by: ryan3ps

Re: method of muting - 03/23/05 08:28 PM

I've been trying to figure out how to mute the treble with a strip mute. I'll have to try putting it below the dampers next time.

I also bought the rubber type material strip that Schaff sells to try it out. Having had any luck with it. Anyone else tried it?
Posted by: BDB

Re: method of muting - 03/23/05 08:52 PM

I use a strip mute only in the center section where I set the temper. I use 3/8" x 3" rubber wedges on grands, and 3/8" x 3" and 1/4" x 2-5/8" wedges with handles on uprights for the rest of the piano, or where the mute strip doesn't work. The handles are skewers for sewing up turkeys which I get at the grocery store. (Oddly enough, I was tuning here in in the city yesterday, and looked out the window to see a flock of wild turkeys walking down the street.)
Posted by: Brian Lawson, RPT

Re: method of muting - 03/23/05 10:06 PM

Papps mute for uprights, two rubber wedges for grands.
Posted by: Robin Stevens

Re: method of muting - 03/24/05 12:03 AM

Paps mute for uprights and felt wedges for grands. As I use Cybertuner, and need to sample the 5 A's.
I use three pap's wedges and two felt wedges for uprights and 5 felt wedges for grands. The paps wedges really need a lot of breaking in as they start out too thick at the business end.The three I am using now are .109 thou, .101 thou, .85 thou. at the tip. Usually the thinnest tip eventually breaks and I replace it with a new one which is used for the Bass and tenor section untill it wear s and moves up the list.
As for being bored with completing each note as I go through each pass, I am not faced with going through it another another time!!
The Paps wedges are extremely versatile for quick checking of all notes and make tuning overdampers no problem.
I suppose it gets down to what we were all taught and started with.
Best thing is to try all methods and see what you feel best with.

Robin Stevens
South Australia
Posted by: Sam Casey

Re: method of muting - 03/25/05 04:14 PM

Josef, Josef, Josef, my dear, dear boy. Cast off the shackles of the temperment strip! Seek you the wisdom of the learned and aged. Wedges, one two and a treble mute. Learn that way and cut your time, hassle and increase profits. Then you can get a nifty hammer case like mine!!
Posted by: Bob

Re: method of muting - 03/25/05 05:50 PM

I tune by ear, and I strip the whole piano out. tune the center strings first, check my stretch, then tune the outside strings. A good whack with my key banger makes every string stable. I tune the bass last, but that's stripped out as well. I spose it's just personal preferance.