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Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) #1426513
04/29/10 12:29 PM
04/29/10 12:29 PM
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Avariel Offline OP
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Hi all,

Finally I purchased a new piano, Boston GP 156. It is over my budget (which hurts me a bit when thinking about it) but I like it a lot.

The piano was delivered to my home last Saturday. When it was set up and I tried playing it, when I press the pedal, the dampers lifted, but it created quite a "sound/noise" as if it were rubbing against the strings when doing it. It even caused some ringing noise when I press down the pedal and play on a few specific notes (C, C#, D). I called the delivery guys back and they double checked, but they said they couldn't see anything wrong.

I called the sales person, and they said they will send out a technician to fix it but they want me to wait for 2 weeks so I can take notes of all problems I may see with the piano and they fix it together.

Now my question is, is this problem common, and is it fixable? I am a bit worried because I don't really trust the salesperson (they were all nice BEFORE they sell you the piano and after that they never call you back). What would happen if the damper/string rubbing problem is not fixable? Will it even be possible for me to "return" the piano? I am quite concerned.

Please advise- thanks....

Last edited by Avariel; 04/29/10 12:35 PM.
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Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Avariel] #1426530
04/29/10 12:52 PM
04/29/10 12:52 PM
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Avariel,

This is a common phenonemon known as 'Whooshing'.

I once asked myself on the forum:

Noisy damper lifting

And here is another one:

Damper noise


schwammerl.

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Avariel] #1426531
04/29/10 12:54 PM
04/29/10 12:54 PM
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Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

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Congratulations on your new piano, Avariel!

It is normal for there to be a slight noise as the dampers lift off the strings. (Some people call it the "damper whisper"). That noise is noticed by--and bothers--different people to varying degrees. It could be that your piano is making the normal damper whisper.

But it is also possible for a damper or two to be out of whack and making an unnaturally loud noise. The technician will be able to tell you if that's the case, and he/she will be able to fix it readily.

I think the dealer was giving you good advice. The truth is that almost all pianos experience settling-in issues after being moved to a new environment. (In my case, I had a couple of sticky dampers.) We usually recommend that you keep a notepad by the piano, and jot down anything you notice that you don't like or think is unusual, e.g., ringing notes, squeaky pedals, notes that skip or dampers that hang up, etc. etc. Some of these things may resolve on their own as you play; some may need some minor adjustments. But it makes sense to let the piano settle in for a couple of weeks and let the tech deal with them all at once rather than make a bunch of trips out to your house. smile

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Monica K.] #1426570
04/29/10 02:10 PM
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Avariel Offline OP
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Thank you for all the pointers -

Monica, thanks for the kind words smile no it wasn't a slight noise.... it was quite prominent and distracting, as if the dampers were a brush to the strings, creating that noise. If I don't use the damper pedal, my piano sounded oh-so-perfect.

Schwammerl, thanks for the links to the threads.... I will make sure I print them out and show it to the technician in case I encounter a *lazy* one. I just hope it can be fixed without creating another set of problems.


Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Avariel] #1426588
04/29/10 02:37 PM
04/29/10 02:37 PM
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Steve Cohen Offline
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Often, if one presses the pedal fairly hard the damper rod "tops out" and "knocks". Since the strings are undamped at that moment there is considerable ringing.

Do you get the same noice when pedaling gently?

If the damper rod is traveling too far, it is a very quick and simple adjustment. This is something the movers might well miss.


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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Steve Cohen] #1426652
04/29/10 03:54 PM
04/29/10 03:54 PM
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ChrisVenables Offline
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Avariel: Schwammerl is quite right, as usual.(!)

I'd call it a 'whisper' rather than a 'woosh.'

The whisper is caused by the split wedge dampers in the tenor section (they're W shaped dampers which slip inbetween the three strings on those notes). When the sustain pedal is depressed, the damper felt is lifted between the three strings and the friction between the damper felt and the strings causes the whisper.

It isn't often noticed in a showroom due to background noise which may not be evident in the quieter environment in the home. As a consolation, generally, the more sensitive the soundboard, the more amplification of the damper friction and the more evident the whisper. So you can congratulate yourself on having bought a quality piano!


Tech. & Partner: Venables Pianos
Yamaha Piano UK main dealer and Grand Piano Centre
Stocking new Yamaha, Petrof and Venables & Son
Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: ChrisVenables] #1426752
04/29/10 06:33 PM
04/29/10 06:33 PM
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Press the pedal on the far left a few times to move the action a bit. Sometimes this resets the action and some weird things stop.

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Jordy] #1427065
04/30/10 10:14 AM
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Avariel Offline OP
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Thank you so much for all the suggestions and feedback....

Steven: In terms of the ringing sound (when I press the damper pedal and play C, C#, D - only these 3 keys have problems), I don't think it is because I press the pedal hard or soft. The ringing sound happens when the dampers are lifted from these 3 strings. Then, for the overall "whoosh" sound, it happens during the process when the dampers go up and brushing against the strings. Again I tried pressing the pedal both very gently and hard, it still makes that noise. It is distracting (especially when you play softly).... therefore I am concerned....

Chris: Thank you for the information - and yes I love my quality piano smile I did notice the "whisper" in the show room too, but like you said, it wasn't too prominent and distracting. It was louder than, say, the kawais that were next to it. And of course the sales guy talk you out of any worry and saying it is supposed to be like that, and everything is fixable (that's why I don't trust them). Then when it arrived at my home, it is now more like a "tring/whoosh" noise than a whisper. I hope it can somehow be reduced...

Jordy: I pressed the pedal on far left many times too but it didn't correct the problem. I'll keep trying ....

Wish me luck...



Last edited by Avariel; 04/30/10 10:18 AM.
Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Avariel] #1427174
04/30/10 12:43 PM
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My piano does this, too. The only time it bothers me is when I'm recording. I'd never noticed it with other pianos I've owned or played, so when my tech (who is excellent and whom I respect immensely) came over, I asked him about what needed to be adjusted.

In short, he said that while the dampers make more "whisper" than on my prior piano, there was nothing wrong with them. The solution appeared to be mostly in adjusting my pedaling technique, which was not terribly precise. I'm working on it and it has made a big difference...!

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Larry B] #1427215
04/30/10 01:43 PM
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Is it possible as well that this sound might be a little more predominant because the piano is new? When I first got my piano it hadn't been played very much and I really noticed the sound of the dampers. It seems that now that I've had it for close to a year the sound has diminished. However, it might just be that I've gotten more used to it.

I hope this gets sorted out for you Avariel. You've got a great piano and you should be able to fully enjoy it.

Good luck.



Pianist, Composer
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Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Larry B] #1427222
04/30/10 01:55 PM
04/30/10 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Larry B
My piano does this, too. The only time it bothers me is when I'm recording. I'd never noticed it with other pianos I've owned or played, so when my tech (who is excellent and whom I respect immensely) came over, I asked him about what needed to be adjusted.

In short, he said that while the dampers make more "whisper" than on my prior piano, there was nothing wrong with them. The solution appeared to be mostly in adjusting my pedaling technique, which was not terribly precise. I'm working on it and it has made a big difference...!
I discussed this a while ago with my tech after reading about it at PW. I had never heard it on my BB but that was because the music covered up the sound. When the dampers are raised and lowered but no keys are struck there is a small sound.

My tech mentioned there was something(can't remember)that is sometimes done for recording sessions to reduce this sound. Maybe someone here knows about it.

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: pianoloverus] #1427482
04/30/10 09:54 PM
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I can hear damper "whoosh" on my Hamburg SS B very clearly. But that is because my piano is in an acoustically-treated environment, much like a recording studio, where there is hardly any ambient noise, and reduced reverberation. The whoosh drives me nuts when I am playing very softly, but according to the SS concert tech I had out to work on my piano, it is completely expected.

I realized later that I could also hear the exact same whoosh on CD recordings of soft pieces! I only notice the whoosh whenever I play the music back through headphones in my piano studio (i.e. very little background noise). And the whoosh on recordings is more or less the same sound and intensity as on my piano.

So it is perfectly normal. Irritating, but normal. If the tech comes out to check it and finds nothing wrong, you just have to live with it.

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Roxane] #1427498
04/30/10 10:21 PM
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The whisper or whoosh is a common problem, but is all the strings, not 3. Something else is going on if there are specific notes affected. Monica gave you good advice about taking notes over the first weeks. A good tech should be able to take care of the noise with relative ease, but I don't have enough info to diagnose here.

Is this the player? Player installations occasionally add some initial settling in problems but, again, are usually easy to fix once diagnosed.



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Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: PianoWorksATL] #1427626
05/01/10 04:47 AM
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Avariel:

Slightly over-tight damper guide rail bushings create a whisper too, from the friction caused by the damper wire travelling through the bushing. That may be why AJF felt the noise had diminished after a year of playing-in on his Shigeru.

In a quiet room, you will always here some damper whisper on any piano. Regarding the rogue 3 notes, I am sure your tech will cure that in a few minutes. No worries.



Tech. & Partner: Venables Pianos
Yamaha Piano UK main dealer and Grand Piano Centre
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Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: ChrisVenables] #1427999
05/01/10 07:33 PM
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Avariel Offline OP
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Thank you again for all the suggestions and information. I feel better now about the issue, and I am more confident that they can at least fix the ringing problems on the 3 strings.

My other question is, I read something about "trimming the felt brushes on dampers" to minimize the whisper on a thread that schwammerl posted. But no one mentions it on this thread. Is this something that I should bring up to the tech person, or should I not mess with it in case that may cause another set of problems?

PianoWorksATL: Yes my piano has a player - but the player came pre-installed, it was already there when I test played it. The piano sounded great except for a damper whisper back then, not as serious as a "trinnnggg" sound as now.

Last edited by Avariel; 05/01/10 07:36 PM.
Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Avariel] #1428075
05/01/10 10:25 PM
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Avariel, I wouldn't be so quick to think this stuff is "normal". I have no problem with my dampers in this way and I am incredibly sensitive. If one piano does it, and another doesn't then can't you make your piano like the one that "doesn't"?

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Jordy] #1428126
05/02/10 12:17 AM
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As Jordy says, you should expect good performance, to be picky even, just don't get too worked up or worried while the piano is settling before the first service. If the "trinnnggg" is interfering with your playing, you are absolutely within your rights to expect service sooner than 2 weeks.

Pre-installed players aren't exempt. Simply moving/handling the piano can disturb the extra moving parts.


Sam Bennett
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Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: AJF] #1428526
05/02/10 06:47 PM
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The wooshing noise you're hearing isn't normal, nor is it acceptable. Most probable cause is, unfortunately, the quality of the damper felt itself, and how it's been cut. It is possible to trim damper felt, but that's a difficult job that, I'm told by my tech friends, is not short in duration and takes real skill, in other words, expensive of a tech's time. As for the quality, particularly the graininess of the felt, addressing that could involve replacing ALL the damper felts with better quality ones.

Thanks to Chris Venables for his insight on potentially over tight damper rail bushings on the Shigeru Kawai. The ones I've played had dampers that were completely silent, so in their case, I believe that SK uses top quality felt.

Finally - the fact that 3 notes have some sort of "ringing" thing going on says that there's something different - and wrong - about them from the other 85. Me, I don't believe it was the movers; I believe it was the prep of the instrument.

In any event - you've got a brand new piano, bought from a dealer, with a warranty. You should be able to get satisfaction on this, but it may take some hassle depending on how good your dealer is about post-installation servicing.

Good luck with the piano. From what you wrote, it wasn't inexpensive, at least on your budget. I believe that you are entirely justified in being concerned about the performance of your new instrument.

For what you've spent, I believe you're at least entitled to an instrument where all 88 keys go quickly and smoothly up and down, the dampers do their job silently, and the pedals work smoothly and reliably - while absolute perfection of fit and finish, exotic woods, heavenly tone and incredible dynamic range remain the province of far more expensive instruments.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
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1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Seeker] #1428590
05/02/10 08:47 PM
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Pretty much every grand I have played has had a bit of damper whoosh. When switching from an upright it can be quite disconcerting. I would imagine the three notes that bother you are caused by something else. The tech will probably be able to adjust whatever it is very quickly. When my piano was new it had a couple of notes where the dampers did not return once they were played. They got stuck on the damper rail. The tech spent about 2 minutes adjusting that. It has been fine ever since.


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Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: TX-Dennis] #1428667
05/02/10 10:50 PM
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Avariel, you will want to find a good tech whom you can trust to take care of your piano. That will include things like the adjustment you're asking for (and yes, sometimes they trim the damper felts a bit), tuning, keeping it in good regulation as it plays in over the next few years, and eventually, some voicing as the hammers compact with play and become brighter.

Your seller's contract tuner may be the right person, or maybe not. You might locate a certified RPT in your area from the listing at http://ptg.org , or you might ask you pianist friends who they like.

When I'm recording and have the piano close-miked, I can hear what they call the 'loom of strings' sound as the dampers are lifted with no keys struck--- and clearly--- but not so much when I'm playing; then it's subliminal. They also make a little sound when they seat. If they bother you, maybe they can be adjusted to be more even or a bit more quiet, but you might find they just go away in a year or two as the felts compact and the parts seat themselves, as the piano adapts to your touch.

If you go over to the Digital Pianos forum, you'll find that these effects are sought after (and half-pedaling, too)... because it doesn't sound like a real piano without them.

Congratulations on your pianos! We'd love to see some photos and hear some recordings.


Clef

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Jeff Clef] #1428704
05/02/10 11:42 PM
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I have heard that excessively low levels of humidity can contribute to this problem as the damper felts dry and and lose their softness.This of course creates more friction against the strings as the dampers are raised.
The problem could be worse in very old pianos where the damper felts have hardened with age and wear.

Good luck!
Robert.

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Robert 45] #1428981
05/03/10 11:26 AM
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I have this issue on my newly rebuilt piano. It bugs me to the point that I sometimes get frustrated and play a Bach two-part invention without letting the hammers contact the strings. OK, it is quiet, but it sounds like a harpsichord.

Some things I've noticed:
- my 'double-wedge' dampers extend all the way up through the middle section past A440.
- one great tech and one average tech both told me there's nothing to be done within reason.
- sound board is very good/sensitive
- I had been accustomed to an upright (less high freq 'noise')

So not to sound like I'm trolling, but I went to a S&S dealer with a medium size room with a door holding their nicer pianos. I played a new O at full stick and listed quite carefully. No damper whoosh.

On the one hand, I'm OK thinking this gives me a reason to save up $60K. On another hand, it is a little frustrating to be told by multiple technicians that the dampers are "working correctly", when they don't sound all that great to me. I play a lot at night in the quiet. The signal to noise ratio becomes sub-optimal. I'm sure it would sound great on stage.

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: mrFussy] #1428990
05/03/10 11:37 AM
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I kinda like the subtle sound of the dampers. It reminds me of the way you can hear an acoustic guitarist's fingers sliding up and down the fretboard. However, if this was something that I didn't like, I wouldn't rest until the issue was resolved.



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Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: AJF] #1429006
05/03/10 12:28 PM
05/03/10 12:28 PM
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On my own piano I only hear this sound if I am pre-opening the dampers before I strike the first note of a piece. It is a quite clear sound then. I kind of get a kick out of it. It's like the sound of a door opening on a deep cave.


Kevin

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Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Music Major] #1429287
05/03/10 09:35 PM
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If you play staccato notes up the scale from middle C until you come to the point where the dampers are all flat, you will notice that the dampers become less efficient at that point. This will give some understanding of why clip dampers are considered necessary in the lower trichords of a professional instrument. There are instruments that have more flat dampers than others in order to lessen the swish of the pedal but the cut off of sound is less efficient and professional players who were consulted a hundred years or so ago preferred to have a slight noise that they could learn to control rather than sloppy termination of sound that they couldn't control.
There was a salesman who would whisper "this is a "........", listen to it breathe!" then, in the silence he had skilfully created, press the sustain pedal to produce this sound. We never had a client obsess over this sound in his bailiwick.
So why don't we notice this sound in recordings and concert halls? Firstly, it is skilfully
controled by the pianist and secondly it is not nearly the intrusion we imagine it to be when we are idly platyng with our piano. It has often been said that the keyboard is the worst place to listen to a piano. There are many noises created in the act of playing the piano that are masked by the notes themselves.


Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.


Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Music Major] #1429306
05/03/10 10:23 PM
05/03/10 10:23 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,298
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012
Monica K.  Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,298
Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted by Music Major
On my own piano I only hear this sound if I am pre-opening the dampers before I strike the first note of a piece. It is a quite clear sound then. I kind of get a kick out of it. It's like the sound of a door opening on a deep cave.


I love that imagery, Music Major! I used to be a little irritated when I heard my damper whoosh at the very beginning of pieces I recorded. You've given me a much nicer way to think about it. thumb

Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: Monica K.] #1429453
05/04/10 08:25 AM
05/04/10 08:25 AM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 285
Northeast USA
N
NoctuGranes Offline
Full Member
NoctuGranes  Offline
Full Member
N

Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 285
Northeast USA
I think it is downright silly that folks like RXD seem compelled to go to great lengths to minimize a _problem_ with some pianos.

And these little gems (called "poisoning the well") are ugly:
He who doesn't like the sound,
-must not be a "professional player" and must be OK with "sloppy terminations".
-must be "obsessing"
-can't "skillfully control" the piano

What the heck? On some pianos the damper noise is too loud. Avariel was asking for some help.

I have a wonderful piano with a very 'active' (?) soundboard, that tends to amplify the high freq stuff. I love the piano, but am always looking for ways to improve it. My dampers are loud enough that my wife notices. She doesn't play. This COULD be a useful thread for all of us non-professional, sloppy, obsessive, unskilled folk.

We now return to the more rational, helpful posts by Seeker, Jordy, PianoWorksATL, etc.


-Nocty
Not in the piano business.
1906 Baldwin C rebuilt 2008
Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: NoctuGranes] #1429822
05/05/10 12:32 AM
05/05/10 12:32 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,564
R
rXd Offline
2000 Post Club Member
rXd  Offline
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R

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,564
Noctugranes, There are degrees of everything, I was refering to the subtler degrees that cannot be heard in normal playing or can be heard when listening to the pedal alone in relative silence. I know nothing of your problems but if your piano has an extremely noisy damper release then call in your technician. As others have said, the problem can be made worse by rapid moisture changes that harden the felt. I saw no need to repeat the advice of others. There are ways of minimising your problem and, as I said, the possibility of completely erradicating it. Some very old pianos had flat dampers throughout the whole piano and it was a trade-off with damper efficiency. Even earlier fortepianos had wedge dampers that became noisy.
Your technician will offer you a range of options up to complete replacement of dampers.
I'm sorry that you chose to take my post personally and I apologise for my complete underestimation of your own particular problem.


Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.


Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: rXd] #1429832
05/05/10 01:06 AM
05/05/10 01:06 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,564
R
rXd Offline
2000 Post Club Member
rXd  Offline
2000 Post Club Member
R

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,564
In addressing the problem of sudden changes of humidity causing felt to harden, i'm reminded of the advice generally given when taking delivery of a piano on a rainy day. It was to open all the windows of the piano room prior to delivery and then gradually close them over the next couple of hours after the piano is delivered so that there is no rapid change of humidity. This advice dates from before air conditioning and may be even more appropriate today. Maybe just another archaic bit of wisdom that may sound silly today. I just throw it in for what it's worth since this thread concerns changing felt texture. Any situation where felt touches metal makes this problem worse.


Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.


Re: Dampers making a sound when lifted? (new piano) [Re: rXd] #1429838
05/05/10 01:21 AM
05/05/10 01:21 AM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 1,756
Toronto
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AJF Offline
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AJF  Offline
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Joined: May 2006
Posts: 1,756
Toronto
I appreciate your insights rxd. I don't find them "silly" or "ugly". While I'm sure there are geniune issues with the dampers on some pianos (which I'm sure can be properly addressed by a qualified tech) I agree with you that pedal technique can play a large role as well. Playing the piano well goes beyond just the keyboard.



Pianist, Composer
Disclaimer: Shigeru Kawai Artist
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