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New bass strings sound hollow #2951226 02/25/20 02:01 AM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Now that my new bass strings are installed, I notice that some of the bichord notes between C2 and C3 have a hollow, nasal sound to them. Here's a recording, I play all the bass notes then go back and concentrate on the notes between C2 and C3. G2 to B2 is especially noticeable to me.

Has anyone encountered bass bichords that sound this way? I twisted each string one complete twist counterclockwise. Manufacturer suggested 1/2 to 1 twist. Thinking 1 twist might have been too much, I undid B2 and put only 1/2 a twist in it. That didn't change the sound, so I don't think it's a twisting issue.

Manufacturer is trying to diagnose, but I wonder if anyone here might know what would cause bass strings to sound this way. The old ones didn't have this problem.

Thanks.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 02/25/20 02:03 AM.

Kawai MP11SE
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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2951233 02/25/20 02:35 AM
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Needs voicing.


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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2951264 02/25/20 05:21 AM
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We could hear the notes better if you hold each one for much longer.
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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2951304 02/25/20 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
Needs voicing.

I agree with BDB. A little hammer voicing/needling could make a big difference with that nasal sounding twang on a few notes.

Also, and please don't take offence, Emery, but I played a fairly new Kawai GL10 recently and I was somewhat disappointed in the touch and tone, and particularly the bass notes; although it did sound okay. Some of the lower bass notes were more like a percussive thud.

I do, however, admire you a lot for trying to improve your piano. Your piano tech skills are very impressive. smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2951345 02/25/20 10:56 AM
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I’m not sure how long they’ve been installed and what manufacturer you used, but in my experience with GC Piano bass strings (I’ve used them exclusively for the past maybe 14 years) they tend to develop somewhat in tone over the course of months.

They don’t develop a massive change, but if those were strings I installed I’d voice the hammers (of course) and would expect them to become somewhat fuller over time. Maybe the manufacturer you used is similar.

Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: jsilva] #2951396 02/25/20 01:14 PM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Thanks guys. I do hope it's just a voicing thing, that would be a big relief. I wonder why my old strings didn't sound that way. Do you think it's because the custom wound strings are more responsive and reveal deficiencies in hammer voicing that the stock strings didn't?

Rickster, I had the same experience you did when I first got my GL10. The touch was too heavy, and the tone sounded muddy. So why did I buy it? I'd always wanted a Kawai grand, and this is what I could afford. I probably should have played some other pianos and considered a larger size. But given my budget, I haven't found any 5' pianos that are better, and I do like Kawai's sound and build quality.

Fast forward a couple years: the muddiness in the sound was mostly a function of my living room. Angling the piano away from the wall and adding carpet and more furniture fixed that. I've also spent a lot of time regulating and re-regulating the action, added PTFE to the friction points, and replaced the capstans with WNGs. Not much cost, but boy did it help with the action. Now I find my GL10's touch is as responsive as the Shigerus and Faziolis at the piano store. The voicing is not as even yet, and obviously the sound is not as rich, but playing fast, tricky passages on these high end pianos is no easier than on my GL10 now.

You're right about the bass though: it's a bit weak. It's nicely balanced, but just doesn't have the depth of a larger piano. Though the bass will always be limited by the shortness of the piano, I thought installing custom wound bass strings might improve things. So that's where I'm at. Once I get the hammers properly voiced, I'm hoping I've maximized the performance of this admittedly low end Kawai, but which I've actually grown to be quite fond of. Maybe then I can stop molesting this poor piano (my wife's words). With enough prep and a few tweaks, I think the GL10 is quite a fine 5' grand piano.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 02/25/20 01:20 PM.

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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2951412 02/25/20 01:53 PM
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My amateur perspective...

When tuning unisons in the bichords you can shift the emphasis in the harmonics; you have more wiggle room in the bass before something sounds out of tune. This can affect the "honk".

Does each string in a bichord sound the same as the other? Does one side sound better? You can address this by mating the hammers to the strings and voicing.

Again my amateur perspective, but I found it much harder to get the bichords to sound good than I did the rest of the piano.


Last edited by johnstaf; 02/25/20 01:54 PM.
Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2951496 02/25/20 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnstaf
My amateur perspective...

When tuning unisons in the bichords you can shift the emphasis in the harmonics; you have more wiggle room in the bass before something sounds out of tune. This can affect the "honk".

Does each string in a bichord sound the same as the other? Does one side sound better? You can address this by mating the hammers to the strings and voicing.

Again my amateur perspective, but I found it much harder to get the bi-chords to sound good than I did the rest of the piano.

+1

Also, if/when you break a bass bichord string, you replace both and not just one. Also, (again:-) the windings on the bichord strings should be aligned equally side by side, and not one longer than the other, which requires precise measurements when ordering.

I'm hoping that a combination of hammer voicing and fine tuning those wayward bi-chords will get Emery's new bass strings sounding better than ever! smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: johnstaf] #2951758 02/26/20 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Again my amateur perspective, but I found it much harder to get the bichords to sound good than I did the rest of the piano.


It’s common to feel like you can’t get a clean tuning on some of a piano’s wound bichords (trichords can be worse). That’s actually one of the reasons I use GC Piano strings. I found their strings to be more easily tunable—it’s rare to not get a clean tuning with their strings in my experience, and the strings which aren’t ‘perfect’ are not bad.

Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2951862 02/26/20 02:56 PM
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Greetings,
I don't trust recording on computers, but if I was hearing that in real time, the first thing I would consider, (assuming the hammers are mated to the strings), is how much deep, shoulder, voicing has been done. The sound is one I associate with hard pressed, unvoiced hammers. I use J.D. Grandt bass strings, exclusively, now. They are the most accurate, clear, and consistent strings I have used. A new set will often show more voicing irregularity than the old ones, since old ones tend to have less partials in their mix.
Regards,

Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2958513 03/18/20 11:20 PM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Hi guys. I tried voicing down the hammers in this section but that didn't fix the nasal quality they have. So I had my tech come over and listen to the offending bass strings, which are B2 down to about G2. He squeezed the hammers and felt that the hammers in this range seemed softer than the ones below. He thought the nasal tone I'm hearing is due to over-needling of these hammers (tuning and string mating were fine). Perhaps the hammers were over-needled at the dealer, and my needling only made things worse. He tried needling down low on both sides of these hammers to increase the tension in the shoulders, but that didn't help. Therefore, he suggested I try lacquering these hammers to give them more power, as he suspected the nasal quality was due to the hammers being too soft.

I've always read that Japanese hammers like Kawais are meant to be voiced down, not lacquered up. But my tech says they do sometimes lacquer Japanese hammers.

Does this sound right? Anybody ever apply lacquer to Kawai hammers?

Thanks.


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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2958541 03/19/20 03:10 AM
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Kawai Voicing Manual. Keep in mind that reading a description of how voicing is done does not mean that one can actually do it, just as reading a book about brain surgery does not mean that you can do it. The fact that I posted it here does not mean that I think that it will solve your problem, nor that the techniques in it are complete, nor are they the only techniques that can be used for voicing,

When I said that your piano needed voicing, I was not referring to your particular problem, but that the sound was very uneven, with a few notes sounding particularly bad. It may be that some of the bass strings are bad, too. Listening to a recording does not mean that I can tell you how to fix your piano's sound, nor even whether I could fix it, any more than reading the voicing manual could tell you how to voice a piano.

Like so many things, voicing needs to be learned, which takes a lot of work on the part of the person trying to learn it. Teaching can only go so far, and it especially does not go very far in a book or over the internet.


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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2958696 03/19/20 06:43 PM
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Emery,

Try the following just to rule it out:

Grasp an an offending key by the sides and try to move it front to back at the balance rail hole. If there is any movement whatsoever you have some pulley keys. If so, this can contribute to strange sounds. If they are perfectly tight, then it is a non-issue.

Similarly if key bushings are a bit floppy.

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 03/19/20 06:44 PM.

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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2958699 03/19/20 06:51 PM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Thanks PW. I'll give that a try, though pulley keys would be unusual on a 3 year old piano I think. I might juice the sides of one of the hammers per my tech's suggestion to see what happens. I'm thinking of using my wife's nail polish remover and some shavings off a spare piece of plexiglass to make a hardening solution. Hopefully this is not the road to doom and despair, but worst comes to worst, I guess I'd just have to replace one hammer.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 03/19/20 06:52 PM.

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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2958726 03/19/20 10:28 PM
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For what it's worth, I've never heard of being able to replace one hammer - they're ordered as a full set.


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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2958818 03/20/20 07:56 AM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Doh, you're right. Gotta go easy on the juice then.


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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2958837 03/20/20 08:47 AM
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I think I remembering seeing that Pianotek sells various individual hammers. Not an ideal solution overall but could be really useful in a pinch.

Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2958839 03/20/20 09:05 AM
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I didn't know the piano was so young. You put new bass strings on a three year old piano? Hmmm.

Pwg


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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2958883 03/20/20 11:08 AM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Yes, that's exactly what my wife thought... I wanted to see if custom strings would help deepen the bass on my 5' grand. There was no data available whether it would, so I had to try. I can say bass is clearer but not deeper, so you can't make a short piano sound longer by replacing new stock bass strings with custom wound ones. Whatever Del Fandrich did to make the 4'11" Weber have such strong bass was not in the strings. Maybe it was the floating soundboard.


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Re: New bass strings sound hollow [Re: Emery Wang] #2958935 03/20/20 01:00 PM
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Yes, he floated the board...he also used some or all Paulello core wire in various grades with rescaling. He may also have changed to vertical hitch pins (I'm pretty sure he did) and did a bit of riblet work.

Pwg


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