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Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? #2401994
03/24/15 08:28 AM
03/24/15 08:28 AM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Mark R. Offline OP
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Mark R.  Offline OP
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Pretoria, South Africa
I have been asked to tune a piano in a few days' time. When the owner sent me some pics to discuss another matter, it turned out to be an overdamper. I wasn't prepared for this, in the sense that I don't (yet) own a Papps mute. At this stage, it's too late to order one (not to mention the cost of shipping it to South Africa...)

However, I'm considering two alternatives:

1) I've been wanting to make myself an assortment of wooden mutes, much like Schaff's #204-1/2. This would be a good time to do that, provided such a wooden mute will work in an overdamper. I can get some dowels, and I have rough leather and finer buckskin. I could either thin out the middle section of a thicker dowel, or use a thin dowel, make separate heads, and then drill and glue the heads onto the ends of the dowel. In your opinion, what diameter of dowel should I use?

2) Alternatively, I thought of cutting off the top 2" of one or two of my wire-handled rubber mutes and make myself a small-headed wire-handled rubber mute.

But I haven't seen an overdamper in the flesh, so I don't know how cramped these actions are, and whether the string spacing is similar to that of underdampers. So, before I start making or modifying tools, I'd be very grateful if the experienced tuner-techs here can give me an opinion on the feasibility of tuning an overdamper with a wooden mutes or perhaps small-headed rubber mutes.

Any advice welcome.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
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Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402159
03/24/15 03:28 PM
03/24/15 03:28 PM
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SMHaley Offline
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I have found chop-stick type mutes work reasonably for over damp instruments. The hard part is having something small enough and long enough to get in there, but with enough damping surface area to tune.


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Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402170
03/24/15 03:52 PM
03/24/15 03:52 PM
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Canberra, ACT, Australia
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Chris Leslie Offline
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Whatever you use, homemade or otherwise, I would recommend that you experiment with them on a normal upright first, but restricting yourself to muting from between shanks.

Remember also you probably can use normal rubber mutes above the damper rail for about the lower third of the piano.

Don't fuss too much about a perfect temperament. Concentrate on good unisons and octaves. You may have to refine with more than one pass.

You may have to decide on whether to pitch raise or not, and by how much, depending on the circumstances.

Please report back on how you go.



Chris Leslie
Piano technician
http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402236
03/24/15 06:52 PM
03/24/15 06:52 PM
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Mexico City
Gadzar Offline
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Use strip mutes.

Remove the damper system. Strip mute the whole piano. Reinstall the damper system. Tune the piano by pulling the strip note by note as you tune.


Rafael Melo
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Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402331
03/25/15 02:45 AM
03/25/15 02:45 AM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Mark R. Offline OP
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Pretoria, South Africa
Thank you all for the responses.

This is an old Kirkman upright (first time I've heard of the brand) that the owner and I want to try and salvage, starting with a CA treatment. From what he has said, many pins have been slipping for years. So for chipping, I may even work completely undamped. I have no idea how badly de-tuned the piano is, but by all accounts, it is completely unpalatable. My plan is to inspect the back/frame, plate and bridges, tighten screws, then try and pull it up to about 432 Hz, see how the strings and bridges fare, and take it from there. Our agreed premise is that the piano is actually a write off, and we want to see whether we can get it playable at all - for him to enjoy, and for me to grow my experience.

SMHaley:
I was thinking of making a head for the stick mute that is quite wide, i.e. has a relatively long contact area with the string, and gluing this onto a long chopstick.

Chris:
Definitely! My plan was to test my prototype on my own upright, working in-between the hammer shanks. As I mentioned, pitch raise is a certainty - probably in at least two passes, as I'm hesitant to overpull such an oldtimer. And yes, I'll be sure to report back.

Rafael:
I'd have to see how easy it is to remove and reinstall the damper system and/or action. From what I've read here, not all overdampers are equal in this respect. But I'll keep your advice as one option.

Looking forward to the project! Thanks again to all of you.
Mark

Last edited by Mark R.; 03/25/15 03:11 AM. Reason: removed SM Haley's first name, as he probably keeps it private for a reason

Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402339
03/25/15 04:01 AM
03/25/15 04:01 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 2,376
London
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My advice would be to see how well you can get the top dampers to work - that's the only fault with these pianos from a player's perspective. It'd be a shame to spend loads of time on it to find you/he are not happy with the damping.

Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402342
03/25/15 04:08 AM
03/25/15 04:08 AM
Joined: Jul 2009
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Pretoria, South Africa
Mark R. Offline OP
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Pretoria, South Africa
Point taken, thank you!


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402345
03/25/15 04:14 AM
03/25/15 04:14 AM
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London
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chopin_r_us Offline
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Aesthetically I love the idea of weight damping. The idea of springs seem so mechanical!

Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402360
03/25/15 06:46 AM
03/25/15 06:46 AM
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Canberra, ACT, Australia
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Chris Leslie Offline
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The head of the stick should not have any ledges. It must taper smoothly in both forward and backward directions otherwise it will always catch on wires and things when moving it around.

Could the chopstick have one end wide to fit between tri-chords, and the other end sanded down narrow to fit between strings? Because the thicknesses are fixed, the individual differences between string spacings could be accommodated by the angle that the tool is when inserted.


Chris Leslie
Piano technician
http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402373
03/25/15 07:47 AM
03/25/15 07:47 AM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Mark R. Offline OP
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Pretoria, South Africa
Yes, thanks Chris, this smooth tapering means that my earlier idea of simply cutting a wire-handled rubber mute shorter would have been a non-starter.

I've also seen on pictures that the leather is actually glued into a rebate (Americans call it a rabbet, I think), so that it is flush with the wood.

I have until Saturday, so I'll experiment on my own piano until I feel I have a versatile enough selection of mutes to face the music.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402462
03/25/15 12:06 PM
03/25/15 12:06 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 27,726
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Kirkman was the other apprentice of Tschudi. Broadwood was the one who married Tschudi's daughter.


Semipro Tech
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402510
03/25/15 03:14 PM
03/25/15 03:14 PM
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London
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chopin_r_us Offline
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Yes, I've played on a original from around 1800. The perfect piano, but I had no room for a grand.

Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402869
03/26/15 04:03 PM
03/26/15 04:03 PM
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Germany
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Upright Offline
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I use the nylon mutes with springs when tuning overdamper pianos. Works quite well.

Like this one http://www.pianosupply.de/werkzeuge/stimmen/kleinteile/332/diskantstimmkeil-nylon


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Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Upright] #2402896
03/26/15 05:24 PM
03/26/15 05:24 PM
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Montreal
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That looks like a Papp's Mute to my eyes!

Paul.

Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402920
03/26/15 06:47 PM
03/26/15 06:47 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Mark R. Offline OP
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Mark R.  Offline OP
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Pretoria, South Africa
Thanks, all,

Today I made my first prototype stick mute, as Chris suggested, with a narrow, acute angled end for in-between strings, and a wider, less acute angled end for in-between unisons. Unfortunately, the latter is a bit too narrow for approaching unison gaps directly; the head of the mute slips right through. But from an angle, e.g. five hammer shanks to the left or right, it works fine.

The narrow end was an altogether different matter. I had to sand a very acute angle on the wooden core, and once I had glued the leather on (I used hot hide glue, because I know it works on both wood and leather), I had to sand the leather down to within less than 1 mm of the wooden core. It seems to work, except on the most narrow-spaced strings, where I found that if the required force was used to drive the mute in-between the strings, it tended to de-space strings on the V-bar.

However, depending on what I find, I hope to use strip-muting (without dissembling the damper mechanism, if it can at all be helped), so that muting within a unison will not be necessary.

Martin:
Der Nylon-Stimmkeil ist genau das, was hier als Papps mute bezeichnet wird. Ggf. melde ich mich aber trotzdem bei dir.

Today was good fun, on the first day of my Easter leave. Once again, I was impressed by hot hide glue. Tomorrow, I think I'll make a second mute with a somewhat wider and stumpier head, for pushing in-between unisons head-on. The angle of the wedge is quite critical, I've found. If it's too obtuse, the mute is pushed out after two or three strikes.

BDB:
Thanks for this little titbit. I'd never heard about Burkat Tschudi. I'll tell the owner that Kirkman's the one who didn't get the girl, but that there's an old and proud tradition, Kirkman having learned right next to Broadwood.

Last edited by Mark R.; 03/26/15 06:53 PM. Reason: typo.

Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2402979
03/26/15 10:25 PM
03/26/15 10:25 PM
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Canberra, ACT, Australia
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Chris Leslie Offline
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Also, the tines of a real Papps mute are scalloped on the outer surfaces which prevents the mute from slipping out when the strings vibrate.

Maybe leather covering wont be needed. I am sure leather will wear away quickly in any case.

Last edited by Chris Leslie; 03/26/15 10:41 PM.

Chris Leslie
Piano technician
http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2403257
03/27/15 04:34 PM
03/27/15 04:34 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Mark R. Offline OP
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Mark R.  Offline OP
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Pretoria, South Africa
Chris,

It's interesting you mention this. I've been doing experiments these last two days, and I'm not particularly convinced that a leather covering does a whole lot of good. (Even though I spent a whole lot of time and effort preparing these damping surfaces...)

What I do see, is this:
The leather may not help to damp a string, but it does help to keep the mute in place for more than one or two soundings of the note.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2403260
03/27/15 04:56 PM
03/27/15 04:56 PM
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Canberra, ACT, Australia
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Chris Leslie Offline
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My main point was that it is the shape of the tines that stops the mute from slipping out with normal Papps mutes that have no leather.

There are leather covered static stick available, but I have found that they wear out very quickly, not to mention slipping out as well.

Last edited by Chris Leslie; 03/27/15 04:58 PM.

Chris Leslie
Piano technician
http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2403266
03/27/15 05:19 PM
03/27/15 05:19 PM
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Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Mark R. Offline OP
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Pretoria, South Africa
OK, thanks, point registered.

Methinks I'll just have to see how I go tomorrow, amongst my existing tools and my prototype wooden mutes.

Depending on how I fare tomorrow, my next order from Schaff might include a Papps mute.

Regards,
Mark


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Tuning an overdamper with stick mutes? [Re: Mark R.] #2403283
03/27/15 06:04 PM
03/27/15 06:04 PM
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Sicily - Italy
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alfredo capurso Offline
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Hi Mark,

Perhaps I am late, or.. you already know (I have not read the entire thread): you can unscrew and take down the action and strip mute a large part of the piano at once (check the point where the hammers hit the strings, you do not want the mute in the way), put the action back and tune middle strings only; remove the mute (no need to take the action down again, just unscrew it and find your way), and unison, either "open unisons" or using your new wooden prototype.

In any case, enjoy it.

Best wishes,

Alfredo
.


alfredo
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