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Easing tight tuning pins #1775279
10/22/11 05:29 PM
10/22/11 05:29 PM
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Pianomann2 Offline OP
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Some new Hamburg Steinways are being produced with brutally tight and jumping/cracking tuning pins. I am having problems with tuning stability because of difficulty in setting pins, a problem I have neve ever had in the past. What techniques for easing pins are suggested. Does taking string tension down and then working the pins to and fro work? Suggestions welcome, except complaining to Steinways. They are not interested.

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Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1775537
10/23/11 06:51 AM
10/23/11 06:51 AM
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I have not experienced this to be a problem.

Exactly how many pianos exhibit this behaviour and in which sections is it most noticeable?

Could be you are in a high humidity area and just coming out of the humid season?

I am wondering if unusual atmospheres such as in fumigation could cause this?(in which case the manufacturer could hardly be held responsible). Any input on this, anybody?

In my experience, conditions like this in most new pianos will settle down and it is best to just tune it as normal and do nothing. Certainly not attempt to loosen the tuning pins.

It is hard for me to imagine this condition in a new Steinway type pinblock. It is more common in million ply pinblocks.

Is it in the stringing cloth? That could happen, remember that spilt water or clear spirit will not necessarity leave a stain.

Most tuners skills encompas this condition to the extent that they hardly even notice it.

Has the Steinway dealership been notified?

I very much doubt it left the factory like that. Some of those apprentice tuners are a bit fastidious. They would have noticed it and, believe me, they would have said something.

This is the opinion of a freelance tech. with recent experience of new Steinways, Hambg and NY.

Last edited by rxd; 10/23/11 07:06 AM.

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: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1775538
10/23/11 07:02 AM
10/23/11 07:02 AM
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You have my deepest sympathy Pianomann2 - There's nothing worse than turning up to tune a nice new piano and then finding a brutally tight and jumpy plank ( pinblock )! Many years ago we in the UK had this kind of issue with "Knight" pianos .... so tight that the company issued some dealers with special extra long tuning levers so that they could cope with the extra effort needed to turn the wrestpins.

I am finding many Boston uprights have planks that are way too tight and "jumpy", and am getting more and more customers complaining that their last tuner "didn't do a good job, because it went out of tune so quickly". This is where the knack of setting the pin really comes into play .... if it's not done correctly, then the piano has no chance of attaining a stable tuning.

It may take a few tunings to really get these pianos "solid", but I find that the best method is to use impact tuning ... where you nudge the pins rather than apply steady pressure. The trick is to get to know how much to nudge ... without over doing it ... by taking it too sharp, and then gently flag poling the pin to achieve your final goal. If you've done things right, a good firm strike will confirm things ... if not it'll go straight out of tune again.

Tuning pianos with these brutally tight planks takes every ounce of the skill needed for tuning - Don't get despondent my friend ... get brutal back!! Once you get it there, and have set the pins, it will stand like a rock ... until the heating or humidity changes frown



Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 52 years in the United Kingdom
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com
Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1775595
10/23/11 09:50 AM
10/23/11 09:50 AM
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Are they grand or upright? I have no recent experience of new uprights. Uprights are even harder to imagine doing this clickng and creaking. Tight, yes. So what's new?.


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.


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Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1775687
10/23/11 01:20 PM
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There are some fluctuating humidity problems in this venue with the highest being 70%. The air conditioning system is supposed to aim at 53%. However, how long does it take for a plank to react to high humidity and would 70% create these problems? This particular 'D' arrived with uneven tightness in the plank and appears to have got worse. I have had numerous pianos over the past 40 years with almost impossible pins, and yes, a high skill level is needed to achieve stable tuning, but this just happens to be the first high profile venue where I have experienced a significant problem. It is just so annoying that, with more care and monitoring in the factory, these situations would not arise. My experience with Bosendorfer and Fazioli is totally different.

Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1775752
10/23/11 03:25 PM
10/23/11 03:25 PM
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Ah. Your most recent post reads nothing like your initial post.

Steinways Hamburg should be informed, not complained to nor scolded nor compared, but informed in a non judgemental, matter of fact way of the precise problem with that particular piano. Avoid generalities.

Best these days to do it by email so that you have an electronic copy. You could also do it by way of Steinways, NY.

That way, you are covered if there is a real problem in the future. Remember, there is a manufacturers warranty.

With your experience, I am amazed that you chose to complain in this way. Please excuse me if I appeared to underestimate your experience from your initial post in this thread.


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: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1775955
10/23/11 10:55 PM
10/23/11 10:55 PM
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It's possible the block was drilled when the RH was 25%, and now the RH per you is up to 70%. This change in RH can make tuning pins tighter to the point of being too tight. If the RH remains high, the initial tightness of tuning pins will remain for years. I experience that here. The typical RH here is 45% to 65% year round. There were unusually long cold snaps these past two winters where RH dropped to 15% in some instances in schools and churches. I noticed that drop in RH to 15% caused tuning pins to loosen up an notch or two - the blocks dried out just a bit.

I find the tuning pins here in Orlando are twice as tight as they were in Chicago. I have a couple of long tuning levers, to combat tight pins. There have been a few pianos where the pins were almost too tight to move.

You could try installing a De-humidifier and make sure a piano cover is used 24-7.




Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1776073
10/24/11 07:32 AM
10/24/11 07:32 AM
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Pianomann2:

I am thinking that the jumpiness, and especially the "cracking", is caused by glazing from when the block was drilled. Either the bit was dull or the RPM too high or the feed too slow or a combination. I found "cracking" pins on an old open faced upright, so I don't think it is just because of super-multi laminations in the pin block, although this could make drilling trickier.

Johnkie suggests an impact technique. I have good luck with jumpy pins with a jerk style, also. But when it comes to "cracking" pins, I find it best to use a slow pull with an obscene amount of overpull. Then use CCW pressure and tuning blows to get the note where it belongs, and finishing with a small "monkey's tail" CW to remove residual torque in the pin.

But your question is how to ease the pins. There is a particular Boston 7 footer I service that is pretty new. In the treble there is an area of overly tight pins. One in that area is not too tight, in fact it is looser that I would expect on a new piano. It also has a paper front rail punching on it! I suspect that it was marked by the Q&A folks at Kawaii. But I don't know for sure if it was because it was looser, and never was corrected; or if it was waaay too tight, over corrected, and the punching never removed. (There are also two sharp keys in the bass that are switched...? A Friday piano? Inconsistent dealer prep?)

Anyhoo, the fine folks at Kawaii seem to have a way of addressing the situation, at least on this one pin. Perhaps Kawaii Don can enlighten us. Myself, I would not start loosening strings and working pins back and forth. I would be afraid of causing false beats. I would deal with the pinblock as it is.


Jeff Deutschle
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Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1776304
10/24/11 02:50 PM
10/24/11 02:50 PM
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Marking a loose pin in some way is common. It's done so the tuner has a heads up the pin is loose, and he doesn't break the string by giving it a good yank like it's neighboring pins need. Punchings, Chalk, or black marker are often used. Putting a larger pin in there is a quick job, and an easy sell.

Issues with tuning pins on Steinway grand pianos has been rare in my experience.




Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1776415
10/24/11 06:03 PM
10/24/11 06:03 PM
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We are told this piano is in a venue.

I would not be happy if I had a genuinely problematic piano in a venue. Sometimes, in a busy venue, speed is of the essence. I don't want a piano with abnormal tuning characteristics in a professional venue. Nor does Steinway.

This thread started as a rant against Steinways in general and we were instructed not to suggest 'complaining' to them because 'they are not interested'.?????. Have they Even been informed? (you can bet they are, now).

We narrowed it down and we learned that there was only one piano involved.

While it is a perfect oportunity for us to describe our various techniques, I can't help feeling there is something basically very odd about the premis of this thread.







Last edited by rxd; 10/25/11 07:49 AM.

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: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1776746
10/25/11 06:49 AM
10/25/11 06:49 AM
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Some pianos are really tight. One piano had two tuning pins broken off. I wondered what had happened until I started tuning it. They were really really tight. I was worried about my tuning lever breaking. I had to pull and yank them with a lot of force. I found that moving the pin back a semitone and then pulling it up to the right place was much easier, because when you get the pin moving already you can get it in the right place with less force and more predictability. Moving them seemed to make them easier to turn. On some pins it was almost impossible to even lower the pitch. One tuning pin broke off after I had lowered the pitch a little and tried to pull it back up. As I was pulling it up, it suddenly started turning easily, I thought that the threads on my tuning lever tip gave away. Actually the tuning pin sheared off right at the tuning pin hole. There was enough of the edge of the hole left that the string didn't come out.

Now I have to figure out how to get the string out so that I can use a tuning pin extractor on the pin.

Tuning the piano was a real workout. The one that broke off needed a lot of wrestling and a lot of force just to lower the pitch a little.

I think if I do a couple of more tunings where I lower each string a semitone first it would still be tight but at least tunable without extreme effort.

Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1776752
10/25/11 07:11 AM
10/25/11 07:11 AM
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Geez. A piano like that is not tuneable. Surprising, as I've encountered several high end pianos that won't be named that have pins that are just barely tight enough after a few years.


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Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: rXd] #1776759
10/25/11 07:30 AM
10/25/11 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by rxd
.....

While it is a perfect oportunity for us to describe our various techniques, I can't help feeling there is something basically very odd about this thread.


Yes.


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1776760
10/25/11 07:33 AM
10/25/11 07:33 AM
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Partistic.
Before CA glue, people experimented with epoxies. It was necessary to break the pins free after the treatment. Some said give tham a tap, just enough to free them, not to drive them further in. This may have been happenin in your piano.

The eternal dilema of a manufacturer is how to make pins stay tight but not so tight when new as to prevent tuning by the inexperienced.

Last edited by rxd; 10/25/11 08:45 AM.

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: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: rXd] #1776762
10/25/11 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by rxd
Partistic.
Before CA glue, people experimented with epoxies. It was necessary to break the pins free after the treatment. Some said give tham a tap, just enough to free them, not to drive them further in. This may have been happenin in your piano.

The eternal dilema of a manufacturer is how to make pins stay tight but not so tight when new as to prevent tuning.


That's hardly a dilemma, considering piano makers have been doing it successfully for hundreds of years.


DiGiorgi Piano Service
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Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1776763
10/25/11 07:44 AM
10/25/11 07:44 AM
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I've only experienced the difficult cracking tuning pins on one Steinway, but that was after it had been rebuilt with a new block. I'm not sure what the block material was, but it was just awful. I've never experienced it on an original Steinway.


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Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1776771
10/25/11 08:26 AM
10/25/11 08:26 AM
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"Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

Those who are able, cast your minds back to the 1960's when the average North American living room temperature was In the 80's. Every other old piano was untuneable.

Companies like Baldwin were dealing with this problem with multiply pinblocks and got a right royal slagging off for their trouble by tooners who had no idea how to handle even moderately tight pinblocks.

Mid 1970's came the energy crunch, remember the brown outs?. The recomended household temperature became 68 degrees. It was too expensive to do otherwise. Most of those old pianos suddenly became tuneable, remember??. Many old pianos still being tuned today went through this period of being untuneable.

Temperatures were creeping up again in living rooms until the recent economic downturn. Currently made pianos since those days are built to withstand high temperatures and the resultant dryness. And yes, they begin life very tight.

Very tight pins lend themselves to really solid tuning if y know how t handl em.


Last edited by rxd; 10/25/11 12:49 PM. Reason: Self restraint

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: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1776783
10/25/11 08:58 AM
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Well wait. Average household temps were never 80 degrees unless you're talking a nursing home. That's sweltering. 70-75 was more like it. I remember! Today, most people keep their homes at the same temperature they did then; little has changed. I'm comfortable around 70-72.


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Re: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: Pianomann2] #1776808
10/25/11 10:04 AM
10/25/11 10:04 AM
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Thanks, Loren.

I congratulate your admirable restraint. An example to us all.


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: Easing tight tuning pins [Re: rXd] #1777197
10/25/11 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by rxd

Very tight pins lend themselves to really solid tuning if y know how t handl em.


That is true. It takes a bit longer to set the pins - and my second pass is usually a bit more work.

Many pianos settle in over time. Take the Suzuki grand I tuned today - first tuning 5 years ago took 1 3/4 hours due to tight pins. He has tuned it every 6-9 months. Today, it was done in an hour, and I raised it four cents. The pins are better now. Second piano today, a Steinway M 3 years old. 3rd tuning. Pins also very tight - but every year it gets easier to tune as the pins ease up a bit. That one took 1.25 hours to lower it 3 cents. Shoulda left it sharp - would have been a lot less work - but heck, almost 440 isn't 440.




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