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string gauge and pins question #2238042
02/26/14 05:29 PM
02/26/14 05:29 PM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 5
Victoria, BC Canada
A
Abm7 Offline OP
Junior Member
Abm7  Offline OP
Junior Member
A
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 5
Victoria, BC Canada
As a new piano owner I am passionately enjoying the mechanics of the piano and learning as much as I can to bring out the best in my 1906 Starck. I've been reading through Arthur Reblitz' book and trying to absorb as much knowledge as I can on this great forum. I'm considering replacing the strings at some point down the road (i've already replaced some that were missing when I bought it) and my questions are regarding the gauge of the strings and pins. I'm wondering if there would be any benefit to a slightly lighter gauge to the plain strings and if the cast metal frame over time becomes weaker, would a lighter gauge help maintain the life of the frame? Currently it seems the plain strings are .040" according to my micrometer.

The second question I have is around the pins and wondering about the reasoning behind replacing the pins when replacing the strings. I understand this is the standard procedure but could someone explain why it is that pins should be replaced when the strings are changed? Is there something I should look for in the pins to discern their expiry?

thank you in advance.


background: hobby luthier and machinist.
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Re: string gauge and pins question [Re: Abm7] #2238062
02/26/14 05:58 PM
02/26/14 05:58 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Silverwood Pianos  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Treble wire in a tall vintage upright runs from size 13.0 -21.0 and is usually in a pattern of 4, 6, 12 or 8, 12, 18 or sometimes something different than that.

What I mean is when you look at the tuning pins in the block they are in sets of 3 vertically. If you measure the string diameters you will find that at the top, for example, there might be 4 sets of 3 pins with the same size 13.0 before there is a change to a larger size of wire such as 13.5.

Or there could be 6 sets of 3 pins that have size 13.0 before the change to 13.5 or however the instrument is strung. Some makers strung in whole sizes and some did not according to their scale designs…..

Piano to piano some are the same, some are slightly different and some are completely different.

Some makers wrote the wire size changes in pencil on the bridge as they went, some stamped the sizes in the bridge, and some wrote the sizes by the tuning pins.

And some makers did not leave any marks as to changes in the scale patterns.

Sure you can string the instrument down and lighten the load by installing smaller diameter wires across the scale but on an overall basis the proper load bearing is being removed from the instruments’ scale design which has the potential to leave the sounding board positioned in the wrong place with the incorrect curvature; the result will be weak and muddy tone….well not as good as the maker intended it to be….

It is not possible to have the wire in the treble all the same diameter.

Now for bass string sets these are custom made by a string maker who has the pattern or measurements sent from the repairman for copy.

-----------------------------------

Usually when a piano is restrung the tuning pins are changed out. In the instrument you have there for example the tuning pins may be loose or have low torque readings on the torque wrench. This is the primary reason tuning pins are changed for a larger diameter when stringing.

Now of course if a piano than is less than 20 years of age gets wet from some type of calamity in the place it is located and the strings require replacements then the tuning pins would not be changed out because they would still be in good shape with acceptable torque ratings.

What can be guaranteed is this; the 1906 instrument will have treble wire and bass strings that should have been changed some 70 years ago when the piano was about 40 years of age. However a lot of those vintage uprights were never reconditioned in that way, because of the time period in which they became 40 years of age, right in the middle of the second war, and during that time period there were moratoriums on metals, glass, paper, etc. etc. for the war effort.

Restorative work does not some cheaply these days. This is major reconditioning and requires significant funding.


Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
Re: string gauge and pins question [Re: Abm7] #2238064
02/26/14 06:03 PM
02/26/14 06:03 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,267
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,267
Oakland
String gauges change across the scale of the piano. In general, they are thinner on the top notes and thicker at the lower notes. The change in gauge helps deal with the shortening of the length of the string relative to the pitch as the notes get lower.

Tuning pins will wear the pin block, which is wood, if they are turned a lot. So in older pianos, it is usually a good idea to use larger tuning pins when all the strings are replace and the pin block is not.

You have a lot of questions about piano design, which you will need to read up on to understand what you are doing when you do the work on the piano.


Semipro Tech
Re: string gauge and pins question [Re: Abm7] #2238071
02/26/14 06:27 PM
02/26/14 06:27 PM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 5
Victoria, BC Canada
A
Abm7 Offline OP
Junior Member
Abm7  Offline OP
Junior Member
A
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 5
Victoria, BC Canada
thank you! That seems to make sense that a string replacement with similar gauges to the originals would eliminate the potetial for any intotation problems. It's amazing really how specific these giant frames are calibrated to the tension that they are meant to hold.

I'll have to look closer for any markings with regards to string gauge. Out of curiosity, when I measure the diameter of the old strings (that has been removed) with a micrometer am I reading a stretched string? would the diameter difference between a new string and old be significant assuming the gauge is the same?



background: hobby luthier and machinist.
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Re: string gauge and pins question [Re: Abm7] #2238086
02/26/14 07:00 PM
02/26/14 07:00 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,267
Oakland
B
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
BDB  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
B
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,267
Oakland
String gauges are not always exact. Sometimes one has to do some interpolation, but these days, I generally calculate a stringing scale in preference to following old scales, which were usually made according to custom rather than calculation.

Plates were overdesigned for the tension they carry. That is another custom.



Semipro Tech

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