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Eliminate Sustain Pedal Thump?
#2453812 08/25/15 02:11 PM
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fohman Offline OP
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Hello all,

I am a live sound engineer and recording artist, and I need to figure out a way to eliminate the thumping sound which gets picked up by microphones whenever the sustain pedal on a grand piano is released quickly. The problem is that all 88 dampers come crashing down on the strings to mute them, but in doing so cause a "thump" both in the strings themselves (which is picked up by devices such as a Helpinstill style microphone) and also in the body of the piano itself (which is picked up by conventional mics, especially when placed up close). Is there some way, or some device, which can slow the dampers down just before they land on the strings, much like a jumper pulling a parachute before landing? Something that would not change the characteristic of the pedal action too much as to disturb the player and the overall sound?

I have also considered a device which temporarily mutes the audio from the microphone at the moment of the pedal release (not the whole signal, but only the low-frequency range where the thump mainly resides), but a direct mechanical fix is more preferable as the piano sound can remain unprocessed after the microphone. The device or technique needs to be applicable in five minutes or less to any grand piano, and removed just as easily leaving no permanent marks.

Thanks!!

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Re: Eliminate Sustain Pedal Thump?
fohman #2453829 08/25/15 02:50 PM
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If the pedal is adjusted properly with the right amount of lost motion, the rest is all about the player and mic placement.


Jean Poulin

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www.actionpiano.ca
Re: Eliminate Sustain Pedal Thump?
fohman #2453862 08/25/15 04:38 PM
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Not asking for much, are you?

Seriously, there already exists a wonderful method for reducing damper noise - it's the player's right foot. Much better control than any mechanical contraption.

Sam

Re: Eliminate Sustain Pedal Thump?
fohman #2453888 08/25/15 06:14 PM
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A friend replace much felts and cloths by sandwiches with Polyurethane foam and cloth, but this is'ore for action noise.

For the dampers themselves I see no real solution. They should not protuberate under the string plane level, the more noisy (double wedges) can be brushed and I heard of Tefloning them with micro fine Teflon powder.

I would check where the pedal mechanism is resonating the most. May be decoupling the Lyra and the reinforcements could lower a little the noise of pedal stop.
If the piano is a Yamaha, it have a sonorous plate (iron that damp less than grey iron) and light wood bracing, hence some resonance.

Sorry not being able to help more.
PS dampers on Yamaha and Steinway have an horizontal layered felt. So it brush more the strings when moving.

Dampers are ironed, usually. Brushing is done when they are old and hardened.



Last edited by Olek; 08/25/15 06:17 PM.

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Re: Eliminate Sustain Pedal Thump?
fohman #2453907 08/25/15 07:47 PM
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Sam S is right - the player should raise the pedal slowly, and the noise is gone. Raising the foot quickly results in pedal noise that would not occur if the foot is raised slowly.



Re: Eliminate Sustain Pedal Thump?
fohman #2453909 08/25/15 07:56 PM
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I believe that the OP is talking about when the pedal is released. Resulting in a thump when the dampers are returning to the strings. Not when they are lifting away from the strings.

Regardless, the player is the one to control that behaviour, and can only do it on a piano with good dampers and regulation. A really good player can compensate if those parameters are not ideal.

So, get a better player or increase the distance of your microphones.


Jean Poulin

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www.actionpiano.ca
Re: Eliminate Sustain Pedal Thump?
fohman #2453910 08/25/15 07:57 PM
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Pedaling is an acquired skill, as most skills are.


Jean Poulin

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Re: Eliminate Sustain Pedal Thump?
fohman #2453917 08/25/15 08:55 PM
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you might try examining pedal stop felts for excessive hardness. check to ensure the lyre is secure. make sure that the pedal stop is regulated well and the dampers are not lifting excessively high. The pedal should only raise the dampers very slightly higher than the amount they are lifted by the keys. Adjust the stop felt or capstan or lift rod in the trapwork if necessary. Otherwise, if everything is in good condition, it is the player's responsibility to have good pedaling technique.

what type of music are you recording? If classical or jazz, I absolutely would not apply any signal processing to mute the sound of the dampers. However, since it sounds like you are close miking, I'm guessing you're not recording jazz or classical (I would hope not, at least!). In that case, you might be able to get away with very mild multi-frequency band gating. Basically, a de-esser, operating at low, instead of high, frequencies. It sounds like you already have this in mind. But first start by telling the player to lighten his foot up! Then regulate the damper system if necessary. Then move your microphones around. Then equalize. Gating should be an absolute last resort.

Last edited by machineintel; 08/25/15 08:59 PM.
Re: Eliminate Sustain Pedal Thump?
fohman #2453924 08/25/15 09:32 PM
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Great advice from the techs.

I have one recording studio Steinway grand where we used Sorbothane for the pedal rests in the pedal box in place of the buckskin covered felt that is standard. The Sorbothane is very dead acoustically. I did have to coat it with teflon powder between the pedal and Sorbothane because the Sorbothane has a little "tack" or stickiness on its surface.

Still working after 10 years but it is compressing a bit so the lost motion is increasing more than it would with the stock setup.

It significantly reduced the thump of pianists who like to lift their foot entirely off the pedal when they release it.


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Re: Eliminate Sustain Pedal Thump?
Ed McMorrow, RPT #2453963 08/26/15 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Great advice from the techs.

I have one recording studio Steinway grand where we used Sorbothane for the pedal rests in the pedal box in place of the buckskin covered felt that is standard. The Sorbothane is very dead acoustically. I did have to coat it with teflon powder between the pedal and Sorbothane because the Sorbothane has a little "tack" or stickiness on its surface.

Still working after 10 years but it is compressing a bit so the lost motion is increasing more than it would with the stock setup.

It significantly reduced the thump of pianists who like to lift their foot entirely off the pedal when they release it.


That is definitely the kind of things my colleague does. Some German actions did have foam for the hammer rest, and it is very efficient as a noise absorber.

Thanks for sharing, may be it can be better to use the Sorbothane but leave the leather at the contact, the wear is probably more due to abrasion than the foam compressing is not it ? (you may be did not have the opportunity to open the box again?)




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I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!

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