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Any experience installing a stock set of Mapes Bass Strings #2952161 02/27/20 10:33 AM
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GC13 Offline OP
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I am considering installing a set of new bass strings on the 1981 S&S Model B. There's one section, from F1 to Bb1 where I hear more upper partials. They aren't completely dead, but the tone is like that of a smaller piano in ways. I've twisted the strings, and that helped a little, but there's not much of an improvement. My technician says it isn't that bad, but it REALLY annoys me. It's in the bi-chord section, and I've asked if it's a bridge pin, string/hammer mating, or voicing issue, but my technician doesn't seem to think so.

A Steinway-trained technician recently played my piano. Overall, he was very impressed. I asked him what might the nasal tone in the lower bass bi-chords. He mentioned something I had never heard off. He said the windings might be a little loose at one of the termination points. He mentioned something about tightening them to see if that resolves the issue. This is something I've never seen anyone talk about in discussions about tubby bass strings here on PW.

I've thought about removing the strings and cleaning them according to Craig Hair's protocol. Then I wonder about the wear and tear on the pin block if the cleaning didn't improve them and I decide to go with new strings. I'm thinking that if I'm going to remove the bass strings, I might be better off to just replace them. I know that replacing string is a process as well.

I REALLY like the overall tone of the bass section, and I'm really nervous about disturbing that, but then there are these few pitches that really stand out and irritate me.

So, I've seen on the Mapes website that I can order the factory bass strings for Steinway pianos based on serial number range. Does anyone have any experience doing that with Mapes? How accurate are their strings when ordering for older pianos. I'd say their strings are made accurately to match current Steinway production. I'll add a recording of the bass section this evening. Maybe will hear something that sparks another idea based on what other hear.

Your thoughts? Hopefully, we'll all learn a lot!

Last edited by GC13; 02/27/20 10:40 AM.
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Re: Any experience installing a stock set of Mapes Bass Strings [Re: GC13] #2952163 02/27/20 10:38 AM
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BDB Offline
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Mapes made the strings originally.

But your problem may be voicing.


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Re: Any experience installing a stock set of Mapes Bass Strings [Re: GC13] #2952171 02/27/20 10:52 AM
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My experience is very limited, but I've done the loosen and twist method a few times on bass strings, with very little improvement, if any. So, my conclusion is that if you are going loosen the tuning pin enough to remove the string from the rear hitch pin to begin with, why not just go ahead and replace the string(s)? The wear and tear on the pinblock will be the same either way, more or less.

I may be doing it all wrong, but I've learned that when replacing a bass string (or plain wire string), if you loosen the pin a few full turns and then prewind the string coil using an old tuning pin, and then install the pre-wound coil of the new string on the tuning pin, there are not as many turns of pin involved.

Also, on the bichords, I've learned that the windings of the bichord strings need to be even with each other, although the one of the strings are a tad longer (left). Or, they should be as close to even as possible. Hence, careful measurement of the strings before ordering might be better than ordering stock strings.

By-the-way, the twist (or not) can also make a difference in the tone quality of a new wound bass string.

But again, my experience is very limited.

Good luck!

Rick


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Re: Any experience installing a stock set of Mapes Bass Strings [Re: GC13] #2952326 02/27/20 05:54 PM
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WilliamTruitt Offline
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It may or may not be a voicing issue, a good tech should be able to isolate where the problems lie.

I am not much of a fan of Mapes, as their QC seems to be so variable. I have heard more than one set of Mapes strings full of loud, undesirable overtones. Twisting may help, but probably not. Replace in that case.

Those in the rebuilding community who care about clean, well laid out strings use other suppliers. My preference is JD Grandt. They can provide you with the exact copy of the original Steinway you send them, and it will be much better quality. Better still, you can get a hybrid re-scaled set of bass strings, using Paulello piano wire for cores. They will sound even better.

Last edited by WilliamTruitt; 02/27/20 05:55 PM. Reason: spelling

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Re: Any experience installing a stock set of Mapes Bass Strings [Re: GC13] #2952364 02/27/20 08:51 PM
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I replaced mine about 6 months ago with GC Custom. My tech said that Mapes was fine but that he thought I'd be happier with GC Custom. This is what he said:
"Mapes makes strings for Steinway and these would be the same strings that would be found on a new Steinway B. They are high quality strings and sound great.
"GC custom bass strings I find to have a superior sound. The scaling is a little different and the strings generally have a smaller core with a heavier winding. The theory is that they are able to move more freely and thus have a purer tone.
"I think you would be very happy with either one, GC is a deluxe option."

I'm sure the other brands mentioned are good options too. I'm not really trying to talk you out of Mapes, what I mainly wanted to point out is that he also replaced all of the bass agraffes and the stringing felt. He also used all new tuning pins one size larger. As far as accuracy, for either one all he needed to do was submit the serial number.

Re: Any experience installing a stock set of Mapes Bass Strings [Re: GC13] #2952369 02/27/20 09:30 PM
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Ed Foote Offline
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Greetings,
Your first decision is whether to replace your strings with a stock set or with a custom measured set. If this were a Yamaha, I would say get the stock set, as the ones I install are so precise that the precut strings make coils with beckets aligned, you don't even cut them. However, on a Steinway, the distances from hitch pin to bridge pin and agraffe is a very variable thing from piano to piano. The stock sets have plenty of margin for error, so they will fit on all the units on the production line, but they rarely exhibit top level consistency from top to bottom. For that, you need to measure your individual piano and have strings made to fit. I have tried many and now use J.D.Grandt, as their accuracy in winding has given me better and more consistent tone than others, and I haven't. yet had a 'bad' string yet. You could even measure and order just the bichords, if that is all you think needs improvement. You won't find a better string, so that would be one variable taken out of your quest for tone.
Regards,

Re: Any experience installing a stock set of Mapes Bass Strings [Re: GC13] #2952370 02/27/20 09:32 PM
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I’d also suggest considering another vendor—I’ve actually never been impressed with the stock Steinway B strings, especially in the lowest notes which is fairly fundamental-less for a 7’ piano. I’ve had great experience with strings from GC Piano.

Back when I had my 1925 Steinway L I tried strings from Mapes, Arledge, and then GC Piano. I was very unhappy with the Mapes in comparison to the original strings. Arledge had the clearest fundamental in the lowest bass. GC Piano had a good fundamental in the lowest bass, the best reliability of sound and tunability, and a slightly ‘darker’ sound which sounded more like the original Steinway strings (than even the Mapes).

Re: Any experience installing a stock set of Mapes Bass Strings [Re: GC13] #2953067 02/29/20 08:50 PM
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GC13 Offline OP
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Thanks for the recommendations. I'll checkout each of the recommendations. i guess the stock bass strings on my S&S B are Mapes, but they don't sound the same as other B's I've played more recently with Mapes strings on them. If I recall correctly, Mapes has supplied bass strings and piano wire to Steinway for decades not, correct?

Re: Any experience installing a stock set of Mapes Bass Strings [Re: GC13] #2953211 03/01/20 08:38 AM
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Ed Sutton Offline
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Mapes is the standard standard of standardness for Steinway bass strings.
This can include bichords that don't quite match and strings that produce a loud longitudinal wave (a high, whining sound).
These sounds are not so obvious in an auditorium, but can be heard in a smaller environment.
It is possible to play the piano for years and not notice these extra sounds, then, when you begin to notice them you can't ignore them.
The official Steinway definition of Steinwayness requires Mapes strings. In the factory strings are available in large quantities. If a string sounds bad, they can just throw it out and try another.
On the other hand, if you want clarity, quality control and evenness of sound, JDGrandt, Arledge or Heller is the way to go.


Ed Sutton, RPT
Just a piano tuner!
Durham NC USA

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