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Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes #2172546
10/26/13 10:28 PM
10/26/13 10:28 PM
Joined: Jun 2013
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Minnesota, USA
Gesualdo Offline OP
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I have a piano that is beautiful in many regards (A Yamaha S400B) but for some reason when doing tremolos in the bass(for instance the low C2 and C3, as in the Beethoven Pathetique), I get a ringing high overtone that drives me crazy. When hit loudly as a solo note, no problem on either note!. What can be done about this?

Also, there is one note that seems to sound high overtones, it is the E below middle C. After my tech leveled the strings it was much better, but I still hear these high over tones in that note more than in others. Any ideas why?

I know I am pickier about this piano than my old one. My tech doesn't want to do a full voicing until it has acclimated to my home. I keep the humidity at 42% all year. The piano came from a place where it was higher humidity than that.

Thanks,

Mike

PS - I know all pianos, no matter how great, have at least one funky note, often more. The Steinway D I used to play all the time had some notes in the upper register that were dull, and I have noticed that in the same area in almost every D I have played. However, having an instrument that is beautiful under most circumstances makes me more critical to issues like I am having.


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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2172653
10/27/13 07:39 AM
10/27/13 07:39 AM
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I'd wager the problem will disappear once the tech is comfortable with voicing it.


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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2172853
10/27/13 06:00 PM
10/27/13 06:00 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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The bass C's your are noting the "ring" in could well be longitudinal modes, (L-modes) ringing with a transverse mode partial, (harmonic). They only become objectionable with repeated playing because the L-mode acquires a little more energy under these circumstances. Sometimes replacing the strings of troublesome notes will reduce it. BUT, it could make it worse because wound string vary a little bit from each other. Plus you then have a few new strings which go out of tune quicker than the rest for the next year.

On the C's you list most Steinways have a little bit of that L-mode chime. I don't like the sound when the scale is modified to completely eliminate them. But you might. I have heard a chime on those C notes on the two S-400's I service

Fitting hammers on notes with multi-string unisons so that the hammer excites all unison strings in phase will reduce chiming that varies with each blow. Also making sure the hammer center is firm yet free helps. Spongy hammer centers will reduce the ability of the hammers to be stay fit to the unison strings for phase coherence across the dynamic range.

The E below mid-c probably needs to be needled to match the neighbors.

WARNING, This advice is limited by me not hearing the piano in question. But you did ask for it!


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2172891
10/27/13 07:16 PM
10/27/13 07:16 PM
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New bass strings (Heller bass for me) on Yamahas are often helping.

agreed the S400 are better than the C series, but I doubt the basses are hand wound.



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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2173020
10/28/13 02:35 AM
10/28/13 02:35 AM
Joined: Jun 2013
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Minnesota, USA
Gesualdo Offline OP
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Thank you all! This is great info! I love this piano, and want to work out any bugs!

The mid and upper registers sing like no other piano I know!

Mike


Technique is a means to an end, but if you don't have any, it's the end!
Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2173035
10/28/13 04:23 AM
10/28/13 04:23 AM
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Repeated notes, such as in a tremolo, will occasionally produce a 'ping' when a string is hit by the hammer at a certain point on its vibrational cycle. Particularly in the lower half of the piano. I suspect this because of the way you describe it.

Try practicing the tremolo in different ways so that it doesn't do that. Even if you don't succeed, you'll be a better pianist from the experience of trying. If it is the hammer hitting the string in that way, a fine pianist can deal with that easily as part of their technique.


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: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: rXd] #2173043
10/28/13 05:25 AM
10/28/13 05:25 AM
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Minnesota, USA
Gesualdo Offline OP
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Originally Posted by rxd
Repeated notes, such as in a tremolo, will occasionally produce a 'ping' when a string is hit by the hammer at a certain point on its vibrational cycle. Particularly in the lower half of the piano. I suspect this because of the way you describe it.

Try practicing the tremolo in different ways so that it doesn't do that. Even if you don't succeed, you'll be a better pianist from the experience of trying. If it is the hammer hitting the string in that way, a fine pianist can deal with that easily as part of their technique.


Yup, that's what I've been doing. My piano tech, one of the two best in the Twin Cities, says it is not a flaw but a characteristic of this piano and it can be made better in time, but he also said I should try playing in ways to avoid the ringing. It's not that hard.

Owning a new piano, especially one as nice as this is quite a challenge. My old piano had tons of funky notes and I just got used to it. The new one is so much nicer that odd things stick out more. He said it'll take us a year to get it where I want it because he is very conservative about voicing, and it went from a place of rather high humidity to my place which is kept at 42% all year. I passed up a Steinway B in mediocre condition and a 9' Bechstein with some nasty upper register problems for this Yamaha S400B. It's a lovely instrument, we just need to get used to each other!

It's like owning an 800 pound baby! :-)

Mike


Technique is a means to an end, but if you don't have any, it's the end!
Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2173101
10/28/13 09:52 AM
10/28/13 09:52 AM
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It is very possible that you hear longitudinal waves or any kind of frequency created by the strings not moving in their optimal vibrating plane.

That may also have to do with the level of saturation (in fact this "shows" the level of saturation.)

SO possibly first grade bass strings could do better.

Impossible to say beforehand, but I know friends that rent pianos for concert and the change the bass strings on their C6 C7 after some years with good results.

K. Fenner when looking for a reason why treble strings climb on the pins when the pianos are played, thought that may be interactions created by the partials (in the same note) could create sufficient beating and waving between the pins to induce some motion that would raise the strings (because the pins would be induced into resonance)

Some say it is only due to the wood expansion and compression with seasons, but it is a rebuilder point of view, and does not correspond to then findings on concert pianos..

I said that because a certain amount of energy spread exists between the pins, certainly. The pins themselves are long enough to be vibrating on their own frequencies, to (pin + bridge elasticity may correspond to some frequency, seem to me )





Last edited by Olek; 10/28/13 09:58 AM.

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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Olek] #2173478
10/28/13 11:36 PM
10/28/13 11:36 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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The resonance frequency of the exposed bridge pin would be well above human hearing. The damping from the wood is so strong that no movement of the pin along it's length is possible unless the bridge pin is loose in the pin-hole. Because of the stiffness of piano wire the string can lever its way up the bridge pin slightly when played strongly. That is why I prefer copper plated bridge pins. The copper is soft enough to be dented by the string and thus held in place better by the little dent the wire creates. It also helps damp L-mode a little more.


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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2173510
10/29/13 01:35 AM
10/29/13 01:35 AM
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Minnesota, USA
Gesualdo Offline OP
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So, I have another question for you guys. Because this piano is new to me and has barely been played (also, all original parts, no rebuilding needed, and it was maintained in a good climate controlled environment). Could some of these ringing tones change over time? Will it be different after being played, a lot, over the next year or two? The previous owner was at one time a fine pianist, but became ill and could no longer play. He kept the instrument in remarkable condition, inside and out, but played it very little before getting ill, so, for all intents and purposes it is almost a new piano even though about 12 years old.

I am getting used to how this piano works and as I have said above, it has an amazing mid and high register, just beautiful. The bottom is VERY powerful and sounds fantastic under most playing circumstances. It is only when I play a tremolo or fast repetitions on C2. Might this change over the years? I don't want to replace a string unless it is the last resort just because of dealing with a constantly stretching string for a year!

Also, I have talked to many other pianists and technicians and they have told me this is pretty common, regardless of the piano manufacturer. They don't consider it a "problem," but rather a characteristic. Is it common? I know I have encountered it on a Steinway B, D, and Bosendorfer Imperial.

Thanks again,

Mike


Technique is a means to an end, but if you don't have any, it's the end!
Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2173552
10/29/13 06:18 AM
10/29/13 06:18 AM
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when the soundboard have received enough energy it begin to wave so much the hammer hit strings while they are moving a lot, so maintaining a clear tonaldefinition while playing tremolo in basses is not so easy.

A string can also hit the hammer while it was just falling of , and that create partials . What kind of pitch do you hear, relating with the fundamental ?

Above a certain amount of power the bridge motion create a pure frequency that is 4th times the fundamental, too .

Taller bridges do that more easily so this is present in basses.

Possibly allowing for an unexpected change of tone when playing strong. this may possibly lower a little the saturation level, by adding a new pure frequency to the string (?)


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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2173676
10/29/13 11:09 AM
10/29/13 11:09 AM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Not having heard the particular notes on your piano-it is impossible to know whether you are very sensitive to that sound or it is genuinely obvious. Of course to you it is "genuinely" obvious. Sometimes tuning the unison until this ringing is a little less can be done in the bass bi-chord.


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According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2173856
10/29/13 04:54 PM
10/29/13 04:54 PM
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Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow RPT
Sometimes tuning the unison until this ringing is a little less can be done in the bass bi-chord.

I've experienced this as well, on some of my pianos. I had a 46" Petrof upright that had one bass note (bichord) that rang pretty badly at times. Precision tuning of the bichords would help, as well as needling the hammer ever so slightly. However, the ringing overtone was never completely resolved... just improved.

I figure new bass strings may have solved the problem, but I sold the piano before I could experiment on it further. It didn't seem to bother the buyer, or they didn't notice the ringing.

Pianos can definitely be finicky. smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2173885
10/29/13 05:32 PM
10/29/13 05:32 PM
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I also have seen techs not noticing defects in new wound strings.

It is difficult to make a good set of bass strings.



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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2174140
10/30/13 03:12 AM
10/30/13 03:12 AM
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After, and only after all standard tone regulation has been done, an experienced tech familiar with the careful handling of strings and the reasons why strings should be handled that way will know how to break the rules and easily remove those unwanted harmonics from the more lively string with no tools while keeping the string looking like the rest of them.

Isn't the e below middle c is a plain steel trichord on that model? Bass string techniques won't apply.

Over time, strings develop a patina from the atmosphere. This happens much more slowly now than it did in the days of rooms filled with smoke from tobacco and open fireplaces but this covering would tame all the strings, including the livelier ones to a certain extent.



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: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: rXd] #2174254
10/30/13 10:32 AM
10/30/13 10:32 AM
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RXD,
What a tease you are! You will have to divulge this technique or I am sending Dick Cheney over to "enhance" my interrogative skills.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2174441
10/30/13 04:55 PM
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Sorry t be so cryptic. It's something that can be done after everything else has been done but before changing strings Is considered. This being a public forum, there are some factory techniques that can easily be misunderstood and used indiscriminately. Those that know enough to get it will also know enough to use it discriminately.

I put it In a way that an experienced tech such as yourself will get it. Look at the clues again, think about it and then sleep on it if necessary. It's simpler than you think.


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: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: rXd] #2174581
10/30/13 11:37 PM
10/30/13 11:37 PM
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RXD,
Dick Cheney will soon be at your door! Enjoy!!


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2174585
10/30/13 11:52 PM
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Gesualdo,

I have a piano(a fairly decent quality grand), that has a couple very low bass notes that do the same thing. But somehow, I just decided to accept it, and enjoy this piano's uniqueness. It's really oNLY a problem if I focus on those two bass notes and let it drive me out of my mind. The fact is, in the course of playing the piano normally, one would never ever hear anything out of the ordinary.


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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2839201
04/14/19 07:39 PM
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Another one to add to this thread:

My friend has a 6ft Heintzmann grand (Canadian) made in 1976, when she bought it. It is a nice piano. Her new tuner likes the instrument, and finds it still of good value despite its age. It has never been heavily used.

It was well maintained, kept its tune, and was easily tuned in the past, but had not been tuned for several years because the tuner had retired. Recently, the piano went noticeably out of tune, and a number of keys were sticking randomly on it.

The new tuner, well recommended, came, and suggested that the humidity was too high in the room where it is kept, in the 70s, causing the problems. He tuned the piano successfully. My friend believes the tuner also did some voicing on hammers, needling them, when he tuned. He suggested coming back when the humidity was corrected if required.

Friend's husband purchased a room dehumidifier, which has been taking large amounts of water out until just a few days ago, and the humidity has reduced into the 40s for the last several weeks. The key sticking pretty well vanished by the end of that time.

The piano has been kept in the same room for many years. There have been renovations in the house, but none would obviously impact the humidity levels to the best of our knowledge.

However, since the latest tuning, a new problem has occurred, which never existed before in the life of this piano. When you play the F1, a slightly flat C#5 rings out most distinctly and annoyingly. No other notes ring similarly so far as we can see.

The tuner returned, and said it is an overtone of the bass string ringing out, which has nothing to do with the higher note. He tried "detuning" the F1, both slightly flat and sharp, with little success in reducing the ringing.

I have sent her a link to this thread, and another one about agraffes in this instrument.

Any further ideas?

Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2839211
04/14/19 08:31 PM
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I have had success lessening or eliminating such sounds by needling the hammers from the side under the strike point. The idea is to soften the center of the hammer felt so the hammer stays against the string long enough that the string is not excited in a higher mode. (Think of a jump rope that you whip around really fast so that the center stays close to motionless while the halves are arced: that is the second mode of the motion of the rope. The strings can do that, especially in the bass, because the vibration of the string is so slow.)


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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2839215
04/14/19 08:48 PM
04/14/19 08:48 PM
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It is possible that a PitchLock string coupler will effectively mask the problem.

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 04/14/19 08:48 PM.

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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2839221
04/14/19 09:10 PM
04/14/19 09:10 PM
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Interesting that you said that it didn't ring until the referred tech worked on it. You said he leveled strings and did some spot voicing and mentioned the high humidity. This made me think that the dampers were formed to the unleveled strings, and when he leveled them, not all strings of the note mute at the same time anymore. Leaving one to ring. Also, if he did any sanding on the hammers, maybe he un-mated them to the strings. Anyways, just my initial reaction.
-chris-

Last edited by Chernobieff Piano; 04/14/19 09:11 PM.

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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2839230
04/14/19 09:50 PM
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My immediate thought went to the Baldwin I just dealt with last week. It was F2 on this one, a distinct C# (as with yours) was ringing out of the F2, due to the damper bleeding. So, I agree with Chris on this- it does sound like a damper killing the initial partials, but allowing the high to ring. Perhaps the damper may have gotten hard over time-or as Christ says, the tech may have tweaked things, and left the damper bleeding- perhaps not noticing?)...


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Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2839235
04/14/19 10:25 PM
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Thanks so much for these ideas. I will pass them on.

The tuner did leave her something to insert between strings ?? but she was finding no effect. I thought it was some felt?? I will ask if it was a Pitch Coupler, but I don't think so.

I found the PitchCoupler site, and sent her that. I am fairly sure the bass string is a wrapped single string, not a double.

Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2839395
04/15/19 08:43 AM
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Agree with the above scenario. In addition, IF it had been quite a while since the PREVIOUS tuning on it, it may have required a pitch raise which could alter the specific positioning of the damper on the string, possibly exacerbating things.

Pwg


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: P W Grey] #2839463
04/15/19 11:38 AM
04/15/19 11:38 AM
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Canada
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LXXXVIIIdentes Offline
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Thanks again, PWG. I have checked, and the felt was a holdover found in the piano after its last tuning! I think it was just some shredded felt from a strip used for isolating strings during tuning.

The piano was only slightly flat - we had checked with a Korg tuner, but a few notes were more off than others. (In my youth I used to be able to tune my violin by memory to the slightly different A4s of each of the pianos I played with regularly, beforehand! I drove everyone nuts with my skill, although we all found it useful at orchestra rehearsals.) (I still prefer tuning by ear, and find the electronic tuner just a nuisance. I can adjust for equal temperament OK, but still tune the violin properly in perfect fifths. I do not tune pianos, far too intricate in comparison.)

Nonetheless, maybe damper movement is the culprit, although we do not see one obviously out of place, nor it seems did the tuner when he returned.

My friend is keeping all of the suggestions for her tuner to consider, and plans to wait a little longer to see if further dehumidification solves the issue. He suggested that the dehumidifier be placed under the piano, not slightly to the left of where a player sits, to see if the air movement might be different.

Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2839617
04/15/19 05:22 PM
04/15/19 05:22 PM
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New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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I caution you against putting either a dehumidifier or humidifier directly under the piano. It will direct a concentration in places you don't want. Better to be patient and let it do it's work outside the piano.

Most people would be flabbergasted to see how small a movement in a damper can make either a good or bad change. 1/64" (even less sometimes) can cause or completely dampen certain partials. I demonstrated this to a young new technician recently in my shop. He was looking over the rebuild in progress on a 100 yr old Steinway O. I had just gotten the dampers on and operating fairly well. One note in the tenor had a prominent high ringing partial which he picked out and asked about it. I had not noticed it yet till he pointed it out. In the process of my "lecture" on partials and nodes...I noticed that the damper on that note was visibly out of line (between 1/64" and 1/32" - not much) with all the other dampers and pointed it out to him. I said: "That MIGHT just be the problem, let's find out". I made one bend below to move it into line and one bend above to seat the damper and played the note...GONE! He was astonished at how just that little bit could take care of it.

What was happening was that the very edge of the damper felt was resting directly on a nodal point which acted like a finger on a harmonic on your violin. Moved it off the node...problem solved. Correct position had been designed into the piano. This one was out of place, therefore behaving badly.

Not saying this is THE problem your friend is faced with. Simply to show that dampers can be VERY sensitive to a change. And dampers that have had time to conform to their respective strings are like some people set in their ways. Try to change them and they don't like it. 😁

There are ways of diagnosing it and it PROBABLY is in the skill set of your current tech. He may simply have not noticed it along with everything else that day.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: P W Grey] #2839688
04/15/19 08:45 PM
04/15/19 08:45 PM
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Pwg, thanks further. I will pass on your suggestion on the dehumidifier, and the dampers.

My friend did like the tuner, who came recommended by mine, and does seem very competent.

Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2840264
04/17/19 05:25 PM
04/17/19 05:25 PM
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Foster City, CA, US
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Originally Posted by Gesualdo
I have a piano that is beautiful in many regards (A Yamaha S400B) but for some reason when doing tremolos in the bass(for instance the low C2 and C3, as in the Beethoven Pathetique), I get a ringing high overtone that drives me crazy. When hit loudly as a solo note, no problem on either note!. What can be done about this?


Do you have the sustain pedal pressed down when playing that section? Re-striking vibrating strings with the dampers lifted can emphasize the odd-order harmonics that may be unpleasant or metallic. Hammers are usually located at 1/7 or 1/9 of the speaking length in order to suppress undesired odd-order harmonics, but also causes such harmonics to be emphasized when re-striking. While some voicing work can be performed to lessen the effect, it's also nature of the scale design.

I'd only use a tiny bit of the sustain pedal in that section, if at all.

Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Gesualdo] #2840265
04/17/19 05:26 PM
04/17/19 05:26 PM
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Foster City, CA, US
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Ken Iisaka Offline
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And maladjusted or deteriorating damper can certainly create undesirable harmonics.

Re: Really loud overtone ringing on bass notes [Re: Ken Iisaka] #2840280
04/17/19 07:10 PM
04/17/19 07:10 PM
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Posts: 2,094
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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P W Grey  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,094
New Hampshire
Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka
Originally Posted by Gesualdo
I have a piano that is beautiful in many regards (A Yamaha S400B) but for some reason when doing tremolos in the bass(for instance the low C2 and C3, as in the Beethoven Pathetique), I get a ringing high overtone that drives me crazy. When hit loudly as a solo note, no problem on either note!. What can be done about this?


Do you have the sustain pedal pressed down when playing that section? Re-striking vibrating strings with the dampers lifted can emphasize the odd-order harmonics that may be unpleasant or metallic. Hammers are usually located at 1/7 or 1/9 of the speaking length in order to suppress undesired odd-order harmonics, but also causes such harmonics to be emphasized when re-striking. While some voicing work can be performed to lessen the effect, it's also nature of the scale design.

I'd only use a tiny bit of the sustain pedal in that section, if at all.



When that piece was written, pianos did not have these kind of issues. Tension and volume was much lower and cases were lightly built. If you played it on a historically accurate instrument, tuned historically correct, you would not hear this.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
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