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#2164334 - 10/10/13 07:53 AM Replacing a few piano strings  
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 120
TeriLyn Offline
Full Member
TeriLyn  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 120
Utah
Good morning! I have a question for you piano tuners and techs.

If strings are replaced on a grand piano (I'm thinking about 2 notes that are next to each other, they are a 1/2 step apart) will it change the tone/flavor of the piano, or can it be made to blend in perfectly. (I am assuming that the correct string would be ordered and used to replace with.)

My tuner tech is hesitant to do so for he fears that it may not correct the problem I am hearing.

He has already fine tuned/worked on the hammers and that has not helped much to my ear! I get a funny sound to my ears on these two keys (they are base keys, they are the D two octives down from the D above middle C and then the note right below it, so the D flat or the C sharp. To me it sounds like the strings aren't sounding together, or maybe a false beat is how the tech described it. It's like I am hearing too much vibration, which kind of weakens the tone in my opinion---but I don't know if that is even a possibility!

I admit I have a finiky/picky ear and I am just looking for any
suggestions of how I might remedy it, or if it can even be fixed; or if it could just be "a characteristic to my piano" as my tuner referred to it.

It is a 1999-2000 Estonia 168.

Thanks in advance for your opinions and suggestions. I'm not sure whether to keep pursuing a correction, or whether to just live with it the way it is. It is just enough of a "prick" to my ear when I play that I can't quite leave it alone! It bugs me a little too much!

Thank you!


Estonia 168 Bubinga Polish, Yamaha CP300 Stage Piano, Kawai Console
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#2164346 - 10/10/13 08:27 AM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: TeriLyn]  
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
Olek Offline
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Olek  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
Hello ,it happens that wound stings are not the best quality even on recent pianos. I know some friends that change the Yamaha bass strings for HellerBass (very reputed string maker)before the piano have a few years. it happens as well on new Steinways in the factory, prior to shipping some bass strings are detected as"bad" and replaced.

When one of the strings of 2 bass strings is broken, the 2 strings are replaced( they have to be made by the same winder as winding technique may differ, hence the final result) . Even the best matching wou,d wire differs a little in their specrtra so change is not surprising,

Sometime the tone defects are audible only after some time.

Good bass winders "compute" the scaling when making new strings (unless you give them your wishes, or ask them to use exactly what was there) - There is a specialized slide rule that allow to do so "on the fly" efficiently.

In my experience that gives good results.

I do understand your technician reluctance as lack of experience in rebuilding. Scaling today is generally well computed, but in the case of your piano possibly an existing scale have been reproduced before amelioration.

The bass strings winder is a specialist, I used 3 of them and had always problems with lengths or to send back some strings that where not sounding good. It never happened with Heller. (I hearrd that there have been some training and that the situation evolved, but I am reluctant to change now)

About differences in bass winding techniques :
some tap the core with a hammer to create a flat part to begin the winding
Some use a special roller to do so
Some do nothing (I have seen that recently)
Some "file" the core between 2 files to roughen it
Some use 2 stones for that
SOme do nothing (just seen that recently)

Some produce strings that do not coil or almost no when put out of the machine
Some are coiling and need to be twisted back when mounted.
Some (one, Arledge ?) use a machine with a speed difference between the 2 sides top avoid the twisting of the core.

there are other differences...









Last edited by Olek; 10/10/13 08:29 AM.

Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
#2164352 - 10/10/13 08:43 AM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: TeriLyn]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,045
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014
bkw58  Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,045
Conway, AR USA
Hi TeriLyn:
Addressing this type of issue in the bass really requires on-site inspection to determine such things as: if the strings are mismatched, or flawed; if the hammer voicing and/or travel might be part of the problem; string leveling, etc., etc; but especially to listen for precisely what you are hearing. Your tech is probably correct, but you can always get a second opinion - and it really needs to be on-site.



Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
#2164360 - 10/10/13 09:11 AM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: TeriLyn]  
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
Olek Offline
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Olek  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
Your tuner is supposed to hear "better" than you.

Now as tuning implies a specialization of the listening it happens that the listening of the tuner is not as "musical" .

Sorry I forget :

An unsatisfactory wound string is first put off tension, twisted on itself (or untwisted sometime) and re-installed.

Sometime just relaxing the stress of the wire, then back, help it.



Last edited by Olek; 10/10/13 09:14 AM.

Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
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#2164390 - 10/10/13 10:10 AM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: bkw58]  
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 120
TeriLyn Offline
Full Member
TeriLyn  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 120
Utah
Thank you Olek and BKW58.

I appreciate your comments. I have had 4 different tuner/techs here on site in the past 2 1/2 years and this last one finally admitted he could hear a little difference on those two keys, but the others didn't seem to look for any other problems other than to tune and voice and adjust the hammers.

The latest tech can hear a little of what I am complaining about, but only suggested possible winding 1/2 turn on the string or replacing them---and he is hesitant to do either. He said he's not sure whether it would help and he didn't want me mad at him! That tells me either I'm too picky of a customer or he may not know exactly how or whether it is fixable and is worried about the expense versus the outcome. That is understandable, but I'd still like to correct it if possible.

In either case, I'm starting to feel like I'm weird because I'm the only one it seems to bother too much!

Looks like a 5th opinion may be in store, again :-) I think I will try to find someone who might have more experience with this kind of an issue (although the techs I already have had have be very reputable and knowledgeable according to others.)

Thank you for your suggestions!


Estonia 168 Bubinga Polish, Yamaha CP300 Stage Piano, Kawai Console
#2164406 - 10/10/13 10:44 AM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: TeriLyn]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,045
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014
bkw58  Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,045
Conway, AR USA
You're welcome. I understand your dilemma. A couple of questions:

Have you called the manufacturer for a recommendation? Some manufacturers have "traveling techs" who troubleshoot issues. A few overseas makers come to mind, but not Estonia. It might be worth a call or email.

For the other, please check your messages.



Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
#2164413 - 10/10/13 10:54 AM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: TeriLyn]  
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 25,548
BDB Offline
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BDB  Offline
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Posts: 25,548
Oakland
Changing bass strings is something I would avoid. The strings are expensive and the return trips to pull them up to pitch are a lot of trouble, and there is no guarantee that they would be any better.

It is also difficult to try to diagnose things like this without seeing the piano. However, I would try to determine whether it is one string or both which is bothering you, and whether the hammer is hitting both strings evenly first, and then move on from there.


Semipro Tech
#2164414 - 10/10/13 10:55 AM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: TeriLyn]  
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 504
Zeno Wood Offline
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Zeno Wood  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 504
Brooklyn, NY
If it's been bothering you for 2 1/2 years and you've already paid for 4 technicians to see it, maybe you should just go ahead and have someone replace the strings for those two notes. If it improves the tone then you were right and problem is solved. If problem persists, then at least you've eliminated the strings as the cause.


Zeno Wood, Piano Technician
Brooklyn College
#2164430 - 10/10/13 11:43 AM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: TeriLyn]  
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 2,511
Withindale Offline
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Withindale  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 2,511
Suffolk, England
Originally Posted by TeriLyn
He has already fine tuned/worked on the hammers and that has not helped much to my ear!

Did he work on the strings too?

I have found that seating strings at all points can work wonders. It can avoid the need to voice hammers or replace strings. Making sure screws and bolts are tight can also improve things.

Just a thought.


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
#2164509 - 10/10/13 03:26 PM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: Withindale]  
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 120
TeriLyn Offline
Full Member
TeriLyn  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 120
Utah
No, as far as I could tell, he did not do any work on the strings.

I will ask him about seating the strings and checking the screws and bolts to make sure they are tight. He may have done that and I didn't see him do it, but it's worth asking, for sure!

Thank you for your suggestions.


Estonia 168 Bubinga Polish, Yamaha CP300 Stage Piano, Kawai Console
#2164522 - 10/10/13 03:59 PM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: TeriLyn]  
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,488
Chris Leslie Online content
1000 Post Club Member
Chris Leslie  Online Content
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Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,488
Canberra, ACT, Australia
TeriLyn, most pianos have at least one pair of mismatching bass bichords where thy can never be tuned really purely. Their upper harmonics do not align up exactly and so tuning is a compromise in blending harmonics to be least offensive. The issue is whether or not it is worth addressing by changing strings, after all else has been tried. Some people are more bothered than others and I understand if it bothers you because it bothers me as well when I listen carefully to the individual note. Mostly though, in a musical context, it is not noticed.

New strings will carry the risk of them being no better, and will incur extra bother for regular re-tuning during the months later. If so, it is always best to have both strings of a bi-chord replaced together.

One of me clients had exactly your problems and requested I change the strings. As it turned out, after replacing what I thought was the dullest sounding of the bi-chord, the problem went away with only one string replaced. That fortunately solved the tuning issue because the new string could be muted until the next tuning.

Also, it is possible, if the are no agraffes involved, to keep the old strings for replacement back again if needed.


Chris Leslie ARPT
Piano technician
http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
#2164527 - 10/10/13 04:09 PM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: Chris Leslie]  
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
Olek Offline
9000 Post Club Member
Olek  Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
Originally Posted by Chris Leslie
TeriLyn, most pianos have at least one pair of mismatching bass bichords where thy can never be tuned really purely. Their upper harmonics do not align up exactly and so tuning is a compromise in blending harmonics to be least offensive. The issue is whether or not it is worth addressing by changing strings, after all else has been tried. Some people are more bothered than others and I understand if it bothers you because it bothers me as well when I listen carefully to the individual note. Mostly though, in a musical context, it is not noticed.

New strings will carry the risk of them being no better, and will incur extra bother for regular re-tuning during the months later. If so, it is always best to have both strings of a bi-chord replaced together.

One of me clients had exactly your problems and requested I change the strings. As it turned out, after replacing what I thought was the dullest sounding of the bi-chord, the problem went away with only one string replaced. That fortunately solved the tuning issue because the new string could be muted until the next tuning.

Also, it is possible, if the are no agraffes involved, to keep the old strings for replacement back again if needed.


Even with agrafes Chris, you pull with a screwdriver in the coils and the string can be re installed.

Good bass winders are rare.

Most strings have differences the plain wire also, it is noticed mostly in basses as the differences are larger.

Last edited by Olek; 10/10/13 04:12 PM.

Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
#2165028 - 10/11/13 07:13 PM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: Olek]  
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 120
TeriLyn Offline
Full Member
TeriLyn  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 120
Utah
Thank you everyone for your replies.

I still have hopes to be able to solve this problem, either
by replacing those two keys strings, or finding the right tech
that will be able to correct it with the existing strings!



Estonia 168 Bubinga Polish, Yamaha CP300 Stage Piano, Kawai Console
#2165160 - 10/12/13 04:25 AM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: TeriLyn]  
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
Olek Offline
9000 Post Club Member
Olek  Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
Did you try to pluck the strings (with a guitar plectra, a finger in a handkerchief ) ?

You can notice that way where does the noise or spectral inconsistency that annoy you.

pluck near the dampers, then in the middle of the strings, and try to locate listening , what is annoying you. focus on the partial components (you can play lightly or play silently the notes to locate those partials and hear if they are far from what is expected) The defects is ofen in the spectra homogeneity you can hear some beat for instance or the tones does not inflate and turns to an undefined mix of partials that fight themselves) .

voicing can often hide those sort of things, (by forcing on the fundamental) but the defect is yet there.

The hammer travel is not vertical in that section , the smallest pinning problem will impact the tone then. The top of the hammer is not square , also.

A bad sounding note can be due to a bad hammer shank too, but basses are very tolerant.

The first idea is always a "bad" wound string , with a too nasal tone or a little buzzing behavior.

If you have the budget you could also change the whole bass set for first class wound strings (I gave the name of the winder yet, others may exist) Twisting a string is very quickly done.
A string too much twisted have a pinched tone I have untwisted at some occasion . un twisting would make a softer tone.

too much power is not always the benefit of the tone.

P.S I regularly find regulation problem that destroy the deepness of bass region, sometime only the keyframe not well balanced (weight of the action) on the keybed.

Last edited by Olek; 10/12/13 04:33 AM.

Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
#2165239 - 10/12/13 10:05 AM Re: Replacing a few piano strings [Re: Olek]  
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 120
TeriLyn Offline
Full Member
TeriLyn  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 120
Utah
Hi, Yes I tried plucking, and I think I have identified which string doesn't sound "right" to me, on one of the two notes!


I am going to bring that up with whomever I get to work on the piano!

Thanks again for all your detailed advice!


Estonia 168 Bubinga Polish, Yamaha CP300 Stage Piano, Kawai Console

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