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Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
#3037591 10/20/20 12:49 AM
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My church got an Estonia L225 (SN 17344) new in 2014. It's a wonderful piano and lovely to play on. It gets a fair amount of use. The problem is the last couple of years, the area between C5 - C7 goes out of tune extremely quickly, usually within a couple weeks. A few notes are quite discordant sounding after only a few days.

The room that it's in is about 75 feet deep by 60 wide. We're in the interior of Alaska, which is generally a fairly dry climate, and the humidity in the room ranges between 20-35%. But I have only been carefully watching it for a couple months now, so I can't say how much that changes between seasons. The temperature in the room can range from 62F-72F. The piano has a double, Damp-chaser humidifier and we keep it full and clean and change pads regularly. The piano has an undercover as well. My tuner / technician is perplexed about why it can't hold a tune. We have broken a couple strings, about a year ago, that he replaced them but other than that, no major problems.

The only thing I can think to do next is to close the lid and put a cover on it between uses, but it is used 4-5 times a week and so I'm not sure how effective that will be. We had it tuned on Monday Oct 12, and by Sunday evening 6 days later, parts of that C5-C7 section were clearly out of tune.

I have no idea where to troubleshoot now or what to do. Do you all have any recommendations or suggestions?

-Michael


Estonia L225 in April '14...
Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037635 10/20/20 05:50 AM
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That definitely doesn’t sound right, though it also sounds like a tough environment.

Are you sure the tuner is capable of setting a solid tuning? Did they say anything about the feel of the pin block being iffy?

I would try eliminating variables as much as you can. Are the DC pads all crusty with mineral residue? Is that unit functioning properly? You can get it to cycle from humidify to dehumidify by either breathing on the control box or using a hair dryer.

If the DC is working, keeping it completely closed when not in use will help.


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Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037639 10/20/20 06:04 AM
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20% humidity is super dry and it is a factor you may consider.

Anyway if you ask in the technicians forum you probably will get more accurate answers.

Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037693 10/20/20 09:05 AM
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Church sanctuaries are notoriously hard on pianos. Most churches don't keep their sanctuaries at a consistent temperature, and rather bring it up to temp on the weekends for service. That kind of rapid increase/decrease in temperature will definitely affect the pitch in the piano, as the metal strings react pretty quickly to temperature changes. That, coupled with low base humidity and swings of 15% will make any piano a challenge to keep stable. If it varies as much as 15% only in the last couple months, then it could be even bigger swings throughout the year.

I hope your technician has already checked this, but if not, make sure he checks the tightness of the plate perimiter bolts and those screwing the pinblock to the plate - low humidity and regular swings in humidity can cause these to loosen over time. If those are loose, then that can very easily cause some rather dramatic tuning instability.

Also, any grand piano with a dampp chaser installed should be fully closed up when not in use. A cover would definitely be beneficial - and in this case - a piano in a large space with a fairly wide range of temperature and humidity swings - I'd recommend a floor length cover, as it would help the dampp chaser system work more efficiently.


Adam Schulte-Bukowinski, RPT
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Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037701 10/20/20 09:54 AM
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Oh, I forgot to add the DC undercover (if not already installed) will definitely help a lot, in combination with keeping the piano closed.


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Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
terminaldegree #3037712 10/20/20 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Are you sure the tuner is capable of setting a solid tuning? Did they say anything about the feel of the pin block being iffy?
I can't honestly say if he's capable of "setting a solid tuning", outside of how he leaves the piano sounding. I've been using him for maybe two years now, the previous tuner got out of the business. Unfortunately there are only two people in my area that do tunings. The current gentleman definitely leaves the piano sounding much better than found it. He is a registered piano technician with the Technician's Guild, although I don't honestly know if that counts for anything or not. He's not made any comment about the pin block.

Thanks for the suggestion about the DC, I will verify that it's operating properly, but we do keep after it regularly.


Estonia L225 in April '14...
Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
Ubu #3037713 10/20/20 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Ubu
if you ask in the technicians forum you probably will get more accurate answers.


Thanks, I will ask over there as well!


Estonia L225 in April '14...
Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
adamp88 #3037716 10/20/20 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by adamp88
Church sanctuaries are notoriously hard on pianos. Most churches don't keep their sanctuaries at a consistent temperature, and rather bring it up to temp on the weekends for service. That kind of rapid increase/decrease in temperature will definitely affect the pitch in the piano, as the metal strings react pretty quickly to temperature changes. That, coupled with low base humidity and swings of 15% will make any piano a challenge to keep stable. If it varies as much as 15% only in the last couple months, then it could be even bigger swings throughout the year.


You are pretty much describing my room lol, have you been in it before?? grin

Originally Posted by adamp88
I hope your technician has already checked this, but if not, make sure he checks the tightness of the plate perimiter bolts and those screwing the pinblock to the plate

I don't know that he has but I will ask him about it specifically.

Originally Posted by adamp88
I'd recommend a floor length cover

I will definitely get one, thanks for the suggestion!


Estonia L225 in April '14...
Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037722 10/20/20 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by M_albert
The problem is the last couple of years, the area between C5 - C7 goes out of tune extremely quickly, usually within a couple weeks. A few notes are quite discordant sounding after only a few days.

In this circumstance I'd be very suspicious of the pinblock. If it's only two octaves (C5-C7), and a few notes in particular, that go out of tune that quickly but the rest of the keys don't, I would wonder about the pinblock in that area. Have your technician inspect it as closely as he can. Maybe try tightening a few tuning pins to see if that fixes the problem with a few notes; if that works, then maybe tightening all the tuning pins will do the trick. Next step would be to replace the pins with larger ones.

I'd suggest an overall inspection of the piano with particular attention to the pinblock; and while your technician is at it, have him inspect the soundboard's crown and any irregularities in the crown. Broken strings on a 6 year old piano is also strange. Perhaps you should contact the dealer and maybe even Estonia itself to have someone come out and inspect your piano; these are unusual experiences and your piano should still be under warranty.

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 10/20/20 11:43 AM.
Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037759 10/20/20 01:22 PM
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Pianos are very susceptible to swings in humidity and when 20% is mentioned as the lowest level, I would think that is harmfully low. If it's only between C5-C7, it could be that the soundboard in that area of the piano is moving. Very low humidity can cause the crown of the board to flatten and significantly affect the tuning of the strings in that region of movement. Excessive dryness can also affect the pinblock and it could be a contributing factor as well. However, if it were just the pinblock, I would think that there would be out of tune notes across the whole range of the piano, not just in the C5-C7 register.

I would suggest careful monitoring of the humidity levels and raising the levels of RH to a narrower band.

Regards,
Robert.

Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037761 10/20/20 01:28 PM
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You have gotten solid advice from TerminalDegree and Adamp88.

I wonder if the strings that were replaced are in the area that goes out of tune or if they are specifically associated with notes that are going out of tune that you are observing.


Keith D Kerman
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Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037777 10/20/20 02:50 PM
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To all the contributors here with your comments and suggestions, THANK YOU for taking the time to help me!

@Keith D Kerman, the two broken strings were in the affected region. They occurred 3-4 weeks apart.

Last edited by M_albert; 10/20/20 02:50 PM.

Estonia L225 in April '14...
Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037785 10/20/20 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by M_albert
To all the contributors here with your comments and suggestions, THANK YOU for taking the time to help me!

@Keith D Kerman, the two broken strings were in the affected region. They occurred 3-4 weeks apart.

FWIW, newly replaced strings will be less stable until they have been tuned many times. Good chance this explains at least part of what you are hearing.


Keith D Kerman
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New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin
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Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
Keith D Kerman #3037816 10/20/20 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
FWIW, newly replaced strings will be less stable until they have been tuned many times. Good chance this explains at least part of what you are hearing.

Ok I didn't realize it was "many" times. I believe this might explain the weirdness with one of the notes, I believe it's been tuned 3, maybe 4 times since it was replaced.


Estonia L225 in April '14...
Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037837 10/20/20 07:24 PM
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According to my technician Churches and Universities are absolutely awful at maintaining their pianos. He says it is mostly due to humidity swings. I'm not sure where you church keeps it, but if it is subject to winter dryness and summer humidity they should try to address that by keeping it in a separate room that can be humidity controlled and rolled out only when needed. A piano that can be maintained around 40% relative humidity generally holds a tune much better than one that is in 40% humidity one day and 10% the next. A good thick piano cover over it when not being used is also helpful.

Some people like damp chasers. I've asked Bösendorfer about that and they've insisted I NEVER install one. I use a humidifier in the winter and a de-humidifier in the summer and never have an issue with tuning. I monitor the humidity using a humidistat that is $10 on Amazon.

For a piano as young as your churches the pin block should be fine, that's why I think it is humidity swings.

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 10/20/20 07:33 PM.

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Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
Robert 45 #3037840 10/20/20 07:34 PM
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I totally agree. Read my post above.

Wow two broken strings on a 6 year old piano sounds very strange to me. I've been playing for years and have never broken one. Is your pianist like Godzilla on it?

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 10/20/20 07:36 PM.

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Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037847 10/20/20 07:57 PM
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That is some serious dry air. I don't think that a Damp Chaser system can counter that.

The 15% swing on its own is not even that bad. It is more one what side of the spectrum this is happening.

7 years sound like enough time to dry out a piano to the core.


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Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
Learux #3037852 10/20/20 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Learux
That is some serious dry air. I don't think that a Damp Chaser system can counter that.

Yes, it can. I worked for 8 years in a building where the RH stayed at 23% for 4 months of the year. With the undercover installed, and keeping the pianos closed at the end of each workday, it definitely made a difference in an extreme environment. I think I was watering the pianos about every 12-14 days, and changing pads every 6 months. My colleague who kept his pianos open all the time and didn't really pay attention to the system watering or maintenance had pianos that sounded in much rougher shape.

I know these systems are not recommended by everyone for every situation, but there's some data out there by Roger Jolly that should show what the system performance does (with and without undercover) in extremely dry winter conditions in Canada, for what it's worth.


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Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037873 10/20/20 10:29 PM
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There are has initially brand piano estonia that quikcly are losing it's pin. Maybe this is your option here.
Humidity and poor tuning have nothing to do with the toughness of a pin. Either use cardboard or CA or get rid of it.

Re: Estonia L225 loses tune very quickly
M_albert #3037885 10/21/20 01:22 AM
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Train the piano players at the church to uncover and cover the piano at each use. There are thicker and longer ones available. If symphony musicians can pack up their instruments, so can a pianist. It’s really not a big deal as that’s what do with mine daily although I understand it is not too common. This is a fairly young piano. The church needs a long term solution to combat the instability. Are the tuning pins that loose?

Last edited by K8KT; 10/21/20 01:24 AM.
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