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#2047365 - 03/12/13 11:50 PM Possible reasons for piano sounding flat  
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Gatsbee13 Offline
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what are some of the reasons a grand piano can sound flat or "muffled"? I know a pitch raise and tuning could fix this but are there possibly any other concerns I should know? Im having this problem with a piano I just purchased. my tuner will be here Friday but im concerned it could be something worse. any information appreciated. thx

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#2047367 - 03/12/13 11:54 PM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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The possible answers on this topic are as wide as an ocean. Bring your question back after your Tech gives you a report. Otherwise you are asking us to work too hard for free!


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
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#2047370 - 03/12/13 11:58 PM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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the wait is killing me.. im scared its going to be something that cant be fixed with a simple pitch raise/tune.. whats the worse case scenario? I mean, I can play the piano.. the soundboard doesn't appear to have any cracks from what I can see on top and underneath the piano..

#2047373 - 03/13/13 12:03 AM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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The most likely cause is that your piano is out of tune.


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#2047376 - 03/13/13 12:08 AM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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Gene Nelson Online content
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Flat or muffled are two different things. Most people that I know cannot tell if a piano is flat - flat in pitch that is.
Muffled could mean that the tone just does not have enough power.


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#2047398 - 03/13/13 01:07 AM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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im hoping its just very flat in pitch.. I have another piano that has been tuned regularly, so I have something to compare it to. although the one that has been tuned regularly is 9 years younger (not sure if that makes a difference). these are pianos from the 90's and 80's im talking about.

Last edited by Gatsbee13; 03/13/13 01:08 AM.
#2047409 - 03/13/13 01:28 AM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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Some more details might help. What kind of piano, did it sound like this before or just after moving, did you have a tech evaluate it before buying, etc?

From what you've said so far it could be anything from the room (bad position, too much carpetting/drapes) to minor issues (tuning,voicing, maybe dampers need adjusting after move) to major issues (hammers, strings, soundboard, bad scale design, etc).

Rob

#2047417 - 03/13/13 02:00 AM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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Its a 82 Baldwin L. it was kind of hard to tell prior to move as the prior owner had it just setup in his garage (he just moved and had it wrapped and stored on its side for a week or two). it just sounded out of tune when I played it. Its most likely not the room as i have another grand piano right next to it and that one sounds fine. i didn't have it checked out by tech, but just read up and watched videos on what to look for in a used grand.. everything checked out fine.

Last edited by Gatsbee13; 03/13/13 02:00 AM.
#2047419 - 03/13/13 02:02 AM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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now when i have it in my living room and something to compare it to, i can hear that "flatness" of sound.

#2047456 - 03/13/13 03:54 AM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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Ok, makes sense. You probably already know you were taking a pretty big risk not having it checked out by a pro first. There are a lot of pretty big issues that an untrained eye would be likely to miss. Not getting to really try it out fully before buying is pretty risky too, just because its a fairly respected brand/model doesn't necessarily mean its going to sound great, or be to your liking. It will be interesting to see what the tech thinks when they check it out.

What are you comparing it to out of curiosity? Comparing two pianos side by side can be tricky even when there aren't any issues. The way the ear/brain perceives sound is a very relative thing, which can get thrown on its ear a bit when switching back and forth between two different pianos. My understanding is Baldwin's tend to have pretty warm/round sound which many like, but sitting next to a piano with a more cutting/brighter tone it might sound a bit dull? Playing it by itself the ear might have a better chance of adapting to the sound and appreciating it more?

I'm no expert by any means, but some things you could maybe look at while you're waiting:

- condition of the hammers to see if they're worn/flattened or grooved? Even if they look ok it could be that if it hasn't been played in a long time they need a good voicing to bring them back to life (or just need replacing).

- action, does it seem fully seated in position, so the hammers are striking the strings evenly and at the right point on the strings?

- dampers, do they seem to be coming off the strings fully and fairly evenly with the pedal and/or keys?

Someone with more experience may have other ideas, but ultimately there's no substitute for the tech who's going to evaluate it in person.

Good Luck!

Rob



#2047516 - 03/13/13 08:18 AM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
The possible answers on this topic are as wide as an ocean. Bring your question back after your Tech gives you a report. Otherwise you are asking us to work too hard for free!

'What Ed said!


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#2047670 - 03/13/13 01:23 PM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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Originally Posted by Gatsbee13
Its a 82 Baldwin L..... i didn't have it checked out by tech, but just read up and watched videos on what to look for in a used grand.. everything checked out fine.
It is a bit of a risk, buying a piano like that, especially one that was in storage... You must remember that while there are on-line videos on just about everything, watching a few vids does not impart any experience or significant in-depth understanding. Example: There are dozens of videos on piano tuning and voicing. Are you going to watch a few of those and then tune and voice your pianos?

As technicians we hate to be the bearers of the bad news about the recent "good deal" on a used piano. I hope you are lucky and that your piano is indeed OK.

#2047749 - 03/13/13 04:13 PM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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I don't think tuning would make it sound muffled. I imagine it could be a regulating issue. It could also be a hammer issue. One of my friends has a model R from about that time period and when he bought it, it was rather bright sounding. His tech, (who I think is very over rated) voiced it down with some kind of hammer softener to the point that it barely has any power. Oops.

#2047758 - 03/13/13 04:36 PM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: beethoven986]  
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
I don't think tuning would make it sound muffled.


hasn't been tuned or serviced yet.. my tech will be out here friday

#2047768 - 03/13/13 05:12 PM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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During my tenure at Baldwin I discovered that there was a tendency for the hammer makers to put the felt in the press upside down. Durometer readings were in the 60's. Way too soft for any power. The hammer making department in their wisdom decided that it was much easier to insert into the press that way. Many of these hammers were very offsided with one side larger than the other and the under felt askew. Occasionally they actually had gaps that were visible between the molding and the felt. This made for very dull hammers.


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#2048990 - 03/16/13 04:34 AM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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so I had a piano tech over today.. he says the piano checks out fine.. just needs a regulation,hammer filing, and voiced up a bit to alleviate that "dull" sound.. he did a partial pitch raise as he told me the treble section was mostly off-pitch..

#2049048 - 03/16/13 08:42 AM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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Sally, what do you mean with "upside down" I believe that felt strips have no particular orientation, so they are cut symetrically (3 cuts make 2 strips)

In the presses I have seen, the cauls are at the bottom, and the wood core acts as a blade , come from above to fold it in the cauls (opposite direction from the Renner nice picture in the PTG journal)

Now other presses model exist probably. Or are the sheets oriented with one side firmer ?

Last edited by Olek; 03/16/13 01:34 PM.

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#2049141 - 03/16/13 12:52 PM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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The profile of the felt strip is triangular in shape. Traditionally the smaller surface is pressed into the tip of the molding, with the flat side becoming the surface of the hammer. These particular workers decided to put the flat side on the inside of the hammer next to the molding and file off the smaller side. The cauls were the same only the felt was placed in the reverse of what is traditionally done. The results were poor.


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#2049154 - 03/16/13 01:17 PM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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-.... incredible wink Hammers are yet difficult enough to make with a good inner tension, this is a real recipe for failure

Indeed it must be "easier" as one of the problems is that the felt when folded can move one side or the other, and then the folding is not centered (I even thought that the sheets where 'pre folded" without glue, (in pneummatic press) but this is possibly just the process before refelting (with presses that are not so strong as the pneumatic ones)

greetings

Last edited by Olek; 03/16/13 01:18 PM.

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#2049161 - 03/16/13 01:33 PM Re: Possible reasons for piano sounding flat [Re: Gatsbee13]  
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About "sounding flat" (dull, etc) a minimal pitch lowering does that generally (assuming the piano is stable at a higher pitch usually)

But as is often said , a good piano is

A good regulation
A good tuning
A good voicing

add a little tuning and you are done

A piano that is slightly off its optimum can eventually send signs Sometime it get hard and the roundness of the tone is gone, but sometime it just sound a little dull

Moisture play a role, also, the soundboard react differently in the humid season (more downbearing, the tone can thicken)
But the hammer felts can get softer giving then a too mellow tone


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