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Hello, I hope it's OK to ask this question here in the Tuner/Tech Forum. (Great Forum!)

About 15 years ago now, I attended a concert by Jimmy Webb. (Great concert!) He played solo by himself on a piano I assume was provided by the concert venue. (Interesting venue - a fire station refurbished to host concerts.)

As Jimmy played the piano, we would periodically hear a very loud, resounding…THWAK! emanating from the piano….…Music….singing….piano playing…. THWAK! What the heck was that? More music…more singing…more piano…There it is AGAIN… THWAK! THWAK!.....THWAK -A DOODA-LAK!

It seems comical in recollection. I wonder what Jimmy thought as he plowed through his repertoire?

I've always wondered what could have been making those THWAKING noises. The pedal mechanism? The soft pedal?

???

Jeanne W

P.S. The piano didn't make "dooda-lak" sounds, only THWAK, THWAK sounds. The addition of "dooda-lak" is my feeble attempt at injecting a little humor into this post.


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In my vast experience the only time I recall a piano going THWACK or "THWACK-A-DOODA-LAK" was a piano I vaguely recall seeing in a Batman comic book as a kid. It may have also been in the old Batman TV shows.

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Jeanne,

Was the THWACK in-tempo, or simply random anytime?

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Tim M: Good One! LOL. I love the Batman image.

Peter: Thanks for chiming in. If you are asking if the THWACK occurred exactly on a downbeat, I'm not sure. It was so long ago I unfortunately do not recall. I can say the "thwacking" did not occur in a consistent, uniform, rhythmic pattern. It occurred every so often at random moments as Jimmy was playing the the piano.

As I've been thinking about this a little more, I seem to recall one of the pianos I played during my piano search made the same kind of thwacking noise. I think it had to do with the sustain pedal. I am not sure if my imagination is just running away with me now...

Jeanne W

P.S. When I just typed in "thwack" as opposed to "thwak", SpellCheck did not send me a "mis-spelled" indication. "Thwack" really is a word? I had no idea.

P.P.S. Maybe it was Jimmy's "Rhythm Section"? NOT.


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Maybe it was Jimmy's foot on the floor.


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Hi, Ed. Good thought, however I doubt it could have been Jimmy's foot on the floor, as the sound was of two very hard objects pounding into one another with a THWACK. Like a dense hard wood and/or metal crashing against one another.

Jeanne W


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You're SURE you're recalling events as they happened 15 years ago? 😆😲😄😂🤣😅😁☺

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Probably the stage crew beating the road manager with a 2 by 4. Happens all the time!


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BDB: You have me laughing!

Peter: In response to your question, I am positive I heard that resounding "thwack" in both instances - and so did my husband.

First, to clarify, when I said my imagination may be running away with me, I'm not sure I made it clear that I was referring only to my recollection of whether the test piano I played during my piano search was also making that curious "thwack, thwack" sound.

So, after I finished posting, I talked to my husband. He has confirmed that he also remembers the "thwack" noises happening on both occasions - at both the concert and when I played a particular piano during my piano search, and further, he recalls the salesperson at the piano shop warning us before I sat down at that piano that there was something wrong with it, and golly gee - there surely was!

Jeanne W


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Maybe the piano belonged to Stompin' Tom Connors (who actually stomped holes in the stage until he started putting a piece of plywood under his boot!) When someone asked about the plywood, he said "It's just a stage I'm going through." smile


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Most likely either:

The damper pedal stop felt for the up or down position was worn, too thin or missing. The loud sound happens when people stomp down all the way or release the pedal to let it thwack back into place. If a microphone was near, the sound would be amplified for all to hear!

I have seen pianos where the pedal is low enough (for a variety of reasons) so that the toe of the pedal will hit the floor. Again, if there was a microphone nearby, it would pick up the noise from the pedal hitting the floor.

My guess!

Ron Koval

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Frank: LOL!

Ron: Thank you for posting. I think your guess is right on! As you say, the thwack my husband and I heard likely had to do with the pedals and/or dampers.

Yesterday, before you posted your comments, I searched online for info on pedal noise and found this interesting Youtube video of a piano tech working under the belly of a piano to diagnose and fix a problem:

"Piano repair: Sustain pedal noise and its eradication"


In the video, if I'm understanding correctly, the tech identifies two different unwanted noises being caused by two different issues having to do with the pedal mechanism.

One of those two slightly different noises sounds just like the hard "thwacks" my husband and I remember hearing in the piano Webb was playing and also in one of the pianos I played during my piano search.

The particular noise I'm talking about can be heard in the video at 3:43 minutes. Also, at 6:16, it's the louder noise that is heard as the tech is saying, "Now we need to find out what this noise is…" - That's it! That's the noise!

The noise we heard at Webb's concert was much louder, however, than the pedal noises in the Youtube video; was easily heard over the sound of the Webb's piano playing and singing. I was wondering how the heck it could be that loud if it was an issue having to do with the pedals.

I was going to suggest in my reply (I prepared yesterday but failed to post in a timely manner) that maybe the audio set up at the concert somehow caused that. If, in fact, the sounds were being caused by the pedal mechanism, perhaps the location of the mics at the concert amplified the volume of that problem sound. But I waited to post my reply and just now see you beat me to the punch, came to the same conclusion as you say, "if a microphone was nearby, it would amplify the sound for all to hear."

Thank you for responding to my post, Ron. I believe you have solved the mystery and put this post to rest. I no longer have to wonder: "What the heck was that noise?"

Jeanne W


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