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Troubleshooting buzzes
#1853237 02/28/12 04:43 PM
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Hi all, I have not been active on here for a long time, but I'm still here. I have a customer with a 7- or 8-year old Bergmann grand with a persistent buzz when playing C#4, D4 and D#4. I spent over an hour trying to find the source of this buzz yesterday (having also failed to find it when I first tuned the piano a week ago). I found an old thread on the same subject, listing all the possible sources to check, and I checked them all.

My question, specifically, is this:

I could swear the noise is coming from under the plate, just to the "northeast" (or 2 o'clock) of the dampers of the affected notes.

We did try eliminating a few objects in the room that could be the source of the buzz, and I have heard many times that it turns out to be something in the room and not in the piano. But is it still possible for it to be something in the room when the buzz is loudest when you put your head down to the plate in the area I described?

Thanks for any opinions,

Anne


Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)
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Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1853686 02/29/12 12:02 PM
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Hi Anne,

I was wondering where you have been lately.

Try the lock in the separator that locks the folding lid down. I mean press the lock stem and block downwards as if it is engaging.

Damper wire crooked? Something on the sounding board underneath the plate like a penny? Coming off the plate like that I would be looking for string seating at hitch and bridge pin points. Loose bridge pins?

Could also be the hammer making the string bounce against termination points. Try muting the strings off between the tuning pins and agraffes, or at the opposite end.


Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1853706 02/29/12 12:21 PM
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In addition to locating things that may be loose, make sure that the hammers are properly mated to the strings.


RPT
PTG Member
Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Silverwood Pianos #1853756 02/29/12 01:47 PM
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Hi Dan and Gene, thanks for your responses. I'll try your suggestions. Not sure if this piano has a locking mechanism (don't think so); I did check for loose bridge and hitch pins and could not find anything. I could swear it is something on the soundboard under the plate, but I swept in the holes with both my Spurlock tools and a soundboard steel and could not find anything.


In your opinion, could it still be something in the room when the sound seems to be coming from inside the piano, or is it unlikely?

Guess what, the piano is 50km from where I live (wishing I had declined it, but I'm not busy enough to turn business down)... these return calls are darned expensive!!!


Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)
Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1853792 02/29/12 03:32 PM
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Make sure you charge for the returns. These kinds of problems are not the responsibility of the technician to shoulder....

I would check everything now; sostenuto assembly and pitman arm, pedal trap workings and lyre, action screws and nuts (the ones on the hammer bump rail….)

Damper guide rail, music desk hinges and all hinges…also check the hinge pins that hold the big board in place and make sure they are tight………..do you have a telescoping magnet? Send it around underneath the plate…

Is this every string of those unisons that you have mentioned? Can you isolate down to a couple of pieces of wire?

How about the legs; how are they attached? Are they a bolt with machine threads into a metal plate? If they are check the washers underneath the bolt heads to make sure they are snug.

Castors? Lift the piano and pivot the castor in a different direction….

Yep 25 miles out is a difficult one to service.

Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1853828 02/29/12 05:02 PM
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I've had success finding the source of a buzz by using a 4 feet length of garden hose with a funnel at one end. By moving the funnel around, and the other end up to your ear, it acts as an unidirectional microphone. Sounds crazy, but it works. Check hinge pins too, they can rattle.


Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca
Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1853842 02/29/12 05:34 PM
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Another good trick is to use a long handled screwdriver .... Press the handle into your ear and use the end to probe where the elusive sound is coming from.


Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 52 years in the United Kingdom
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com
Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1853981 02/29/12 11:04 PM
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Great advice above. If all else fails, here is a funny story for you. About 35 years ago, I was the technician for 3 or 4 stores all at the same time, in Grand Rapids. One of them sold the "Grand" brand name. NOT grand pianos but the piano with the name "Grand piano" on it. Yeah, I know, wonderful piano..... frown Well, one of these pianos had a buzz that I could not find for anything. I looked at and checked everything that I could think of but still, the buzz remained.

One day, I called my dad who was still servicing pianos full time too and the two of us went over there together. We looked and we looked. We made it buzz while the other person listened and vice versa. Still, we could not find the source of the buzz. The customer was not home either by the way.

Out of the clear blue, my dad picked up the piano, stood straight up with it and let it go!!!! WHAMMMM onto the floor it went. Surprised, actually, scared the crap out of me! I said, what you do dat for??? He said, is the buzz gone now? By golly if it was!!! It never returned either!

He said, I suspected something was lodged somewhere in there, behind the plate oro some other place where we could not see or get at it and if it was, then I was hoping this might knock it loose and out of there as a last resort.

While I don't condone that sort of thing, really....... it did work! haha.! I tuned that piano for many years after that with no further buzzing....


Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.
Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1853989 02/29/12 11:26 PM
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I saw a new one recently The tuning hammer left on the tuning pin was making a buzz. Looked EVERYWHERE before finding that one


Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1854006 03/01/12 12:15 AM
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What they all said...

And based on what you said about three consecutive notes, I'd guess the noise is coming from the piano, not the room. If all else fails, you could temporarily move the piano out of the room, and - if the buzz is still there - scientifically eliminate the room as a possibility.

On my frequent problem list: any and all cabinet hardware; back action screws/damper stop rail screws; locks; sostenuto screws and hardware. Another trick I've learned is to experiment by pulling the action out slightly towards the player position which will change the strike point of the offensive buzzing notes - sometimes this will focus and intensify the sound which in turn can be helpful in a quicker discovery of the source. And if possible have someone else bang on the notes that buzz while you search...


Keyboardist & Composer, Piano Technician
www.jamescarney.net
http://jamescarneypianotuning.wordpress.com/
Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1854008 03/01/12 12:26 AM
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Hi Anne,

Last week I found a nasty buzz in a Young Chang grand.
I believed it came from the string bridge terminations
so I worked on the strings, bridge pins, voicing,
hammer mating etc. with no luck.

I crawled under the piano and tightened a soundboard button
and that was the problem.

Jack Houweling
604 970-3371
www.Jackspiano.com



Jack Houweling
www.Jackspiano.com
604 970-3371
Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1854044 03/01/12 02:51 AM
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I suppose the reason is a little buzz foreign metallic object fell down on the soundboard. With the help of a magnet it's can be removed. Firstly magnet necessary to take and bring down (under soundboard), and then move it.

Last edited by Maximillyan; 03/01/12 02:53 AM.
Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1857145 03/06/12 12:22 PM
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Hi again, thanks for all these responses. I have been in email contact with the customer, suggesting things she can easily try (like tightening soundboard buttons, which I didn't think of). I did tighten all the screws I could see or think of in the action and back action and all the hardware on the piano, though it's possible I missed something due to lack of experience... and I did not actually manipulate the lid hinge pins--though I noticed they had bits of rubber hose on them to protect the finish so it's hard to imagine they would cause a buzz. James, thank you for validating my feeling that the noise is coming from the piano and not the room (though I would much rather it was the room so I would look less bad!!) I did have the customer playing the notes while I looked, and I have told her to do that too. I didn't try moving the action slightly, but if I have to go back there I will...


Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)
Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1857380 03/06/12 06:43 PM
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Anne,

I would revisit the loose bridge pin idea, especially since you have 3 consecutive notes in the octave 4-5 area buzzing. Living in the desert, I see this problem far too frequently. Tapping the pins rarely has any effect for me, because it's not that the pin isn't driven in far enough, but that the hole in the wood surrounding the pin just isn't tight like it was in the factory.

I've cured this issue a number of times by carefully applying a small amount of very thin CA glue to the base of all the bridge pins in the problem area. The glue wicks into the wood surrounding the pins, causing the fibers to expand to form a tight grip on the pin (same idea as doing CA on the tuning pins).

It only takes a few minutes to apply the CA, and I've found that it's good to wait about 20 minutes before testing to see if the buzz is gone.

If you do end up eliminating the buzz, I hope you will post to let us know the results.






Re: Troubleshooting buzzes
Anne Francis #1866091 03/21/12 04:30 PM
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Hi Mark, thanks so much for this advice... I haven't been monitoring this as closely lately. Another mentor suggested looking at the bridge terminations again also. I am quite familiar with CA glue for tuning pins so I will definitely consider that... I have a list now of all the suggestions I haven't tried yet.

Would you suggest tapping the string down first? I haven't done this because I am not sure how comfortable I am doing this... I recall Roger Jolly putting the fear of god into us at a MARC class a few years ago on this subject...

Mark, I was in your business tips class in KC last summer. It was very helpful!


Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)

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