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String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
#3048657 11/23/20 06:18 PM
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Hi everyone,

I need some advice, opinions, ideas, anything, etc. with an odd sound that my piano is making.

I have an 1896 Steinway Model A, and have noticed that when you play note, it produces is a thin, metallic type of sound instead of a clear, pure sounds that I associate with a lot of Steinways that I’ve listened to. The piano was recently regulated (action regulated), tuned, and voiced by one technician.

I’m kind of at a loss of how to describe what I’m hearing to the tech, but when I had another tech recently come he described the sound as being “in the upper partial” of each note. We added some understring fabric (I think that’s what it’s called) to some of the bass notes, but I’m still hearing the sound. It is mostly notable in the mid-register and upper-register notes, but less noticeable (but not completely gone) in the bass notes.

On another forum, it was recommended that I post here and include a video of the sound. Limitations of videos notwithstanding, I am able to here the “sound” on the video, so I’d like to get some opinions from professionals (because I am VERY MUCH not.)

I thank you all in advance.


Last edited by bhoover76; 11/23/20 06:19 PM.
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Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
bhoover76 #3048664 11/23/20 06:30 PM
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Love the sound samples. How did you record?
I would say to check the string phase. Gently bring a hammer up to the string with a hook, lift the dampers, then pluck the strings to see if the hammer is striking all three strings at the precise same time.

-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
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Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
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Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
bhoover76 #3048669 11/23/20 06:42 PM
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The reality is that every single note has a different quality of sound. There is no consistency in any part of the tone. The attack, the body of the tone, and the sustain qualities are all different. I hear a lot of thin metallic sound, I hear a lot of falseness in the upper partials, I hear a lot of notes out of tune, I hear the hammers not contacting all three strings evenly, and I hear a lot of random things going on in the voicing.

There is not going to be a quick and easy fix. It is going to take some significant work.

I would start over with the tuning. Tuning 101 is to take the tension off each string pair and set the coils. The piano really needs a ground-up new tuning. Then there is basic work than needs to be done to the voicing to even things out.

Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
Chernobieff Piano #3048678 11/23/20 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Love the sound samples. How did you record?
I would say to check the string phase. Gently bring a hammer up to the string with a hook, lift the dampers, then pluck the strings to see if the hammer is striking all three strings at the precise same time.

-chris

Thanks! I used this app on my iPhone: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/dolby-on-record-audio-video/id1443964192

I’ll try your suggestion and give an update.

Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
bhoover76 #3048683 11/23/20 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bhoover76
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Love the sound samples. How did you record?
I would say to check the string phase. Gently bring a hammer up to the string with a hook, lift the dampers, then pluck the strings to see if the hammer is striking all three strings at the precise same time.

-chris

Thanks! I used this app on my iPhone: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/dolby-on-record-audio-video/id1443964192

I’ll try your suggestion and give an update.

Updated video: http://www.youtube.com/shorts/cwMYSVApxd4

I hope I did it correctly 😂

Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
bhoover76 #3048684 11/23/20 07:31 PM
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Bhoover76,

Process of elimination:

1) Use masking tape to mute off ALL off the duplex segments (rear) as well as ALL non-speaking lengths of all notes that are allowed to vibrate...NSL (non speaking length)

2) Play the most offensive notes or sections and decide whether the "problem" is gone.

3) If it is gone you now know that what you are bothered by is SOMETHING in the NSL portion(s) of the wires. If so go to 4. If not, GO to 5

4) Little by little remove the tape and play notes until you begin to hear the "problem". You will then need to mute the offensive sections of NSL and your problem is solved.

5) If the problem persists even though everything is muted but the speaking lengths them you know that the problem strike related. Strike point, hammer mating, hammer hardness, etc etc.

6) It COULD also be damper leakage but I sort of doubt that.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
bhoover76 #3048707 11/23/20 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by bhoover76
I hope I did it correctly 😂
People normally pick the three strings faster in secession to ensure the upwards pressure is the same. Regardless, your third string is hitting before the other two under normal playing conditions. That is why that third string sounds more damped than the other two. All three strings need to have the same sound.

Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
P W Grey #3048733 11/23/20 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Bhoover76,

Process of elimination:

1) Use masking tape to mute off ALL off the duplex segments (rear) as well as ALL non-speaking lengths of all notes that are allowed to vibrate...NSL (non speaking length)

2) Play the most offensive notes or sections and decide whether the "problem" is gone.

3) If it is gone you now know that what you are bothered by is SOMETHING in the NSL portion(s) of the wires. If so go to 4. If not, GO to 5

4) Little by little remove the tape and play notes until you begin to hear the "problem". You will then need to mute the offensive sections of NSL and your problem is solved.

5) If the problem persists even though everything is muted but the speaking lengths them you know that the problem strike related. Strike point, hammer mating, hammer hardness, etc etc.

6) It COULD also be damper leakage but I sort of doubt that.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

I’m going to share this with my tech and ask him to explore this option. I’m sure he will understand how to to do this more than I would. Seems like great suggestions.

Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
piano411 #3048734 11/23/20 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by piano411
The reality is that every single note has a different quality of sound. There is no consistency in any part of the tone. The attack, the body of the tone, and the sustain qualities are all different. I hear a lot of thin metallic sound, I hear a lot of falseness in the upper partials, I hear a lot of notes out of tune, I hear the hammers not contacting all three strings evenly, and I hear a lot of random things going on in the voicing.

There is not going to be a quick and easy fix. It is going to take some significant work.

I would start over with the tuning. Tuning 101 is to take the tension off each string pair and set the coils. The piano really needs a ground-up new tuning. Then there is basic work than needs to be done to the voicing to even things out.

I agree with everything you said. I hear something different with every note, and the voicing does seem uneven. Even the touch seems uneven to me. I’ll share this with my tech.

Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
bhoover76 #3048751 11/23/20 10:57 PM
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Brad,

There is another issue POSSIBLY. That is the wire itself. Modern cast piano wire is definitely NOT the same as wire used 120 years ago. It is harder and stronger, therefore it behaves differently than the old wire (even when it was brand new). It may seem bizarre but it is true. This is why you need to figure out WHERE the offensive sounds are originating. Otherwise you could be "putting water in the radiator when in fact it needs gas in the tank", if you know what I mean.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
bhoover76 #3048761 11/23/20 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by bhoover76
I agree with everything you said. I hear something different with every note, and the voicing does seem uneven. Even the touch seems uneven to me. I’ll share this with my tech.
Right. I wish there were a quick fix, but the reality is there are a lot of small details that need to be cleared-up. I sounds like there are a lot of hammer mating issues going on (those three strings really need to hit at the same time). But, it sounds like a really nice piano, so it just needs some attention to the details. I would voice it, but only with a single string voicer, just to even out the individual offending strings.

Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
bhoover76 #3051437 11/30/20 08:50 PM
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Good job on presenting the forum with a well-described and well-recorded extraneous noise. I hear clearly defined notes and an added tin sizzle distortion accompanying the tone (that lasts briefly) on HARD struck tones. This sizzle sounds the same pretty much on the first ten or so notes you play.

I doubt his is a mating issue. Strings not mated give you a muted sound and have little to do with your sizzle.

As an aside, IMO your piano has a nice tone. I may not initially notice the noise on your piano were I to play it. Chopin, Bach, Mozart, Joplin etc. All of them sound good at moderate volume. Much less volume than the moderate/hard blows needed to bring out your objectionable sound, though it may be annoying at softer volumes too.

PW Grey has some good advice with taping off the duplex. But I doubt this is a duplex problem. Duplexes impart very low energy to the sound of a note and the sizzle you have is very tightly wound to my ear and at a high tension. Is it present at soft key strokes as well?

I suspect forward termination points. Agraffes or capo bar. I'm not sure how one could test this without actually replacing an agraffe
though there must be a way.

Re: String vibration sound? Metallic sound? Help?
bhoover76 #3051477 11/30/20 11:27 PM
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OP demonstrated that it was a mating issue by blocking the hammer to the strings. In that recording you can clearly hear that the hammer was overdriving the last string plucked, the other two strings were just being grazed. Mis-matted strings can be described in various ways depending on the situation. A muted sound is not one that I would normally use. I can hear various mating issues in nearly ever note played. Some are worse than others. Basically one or two strings are being overdriven, compared to the others.


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