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Joined: May 2022
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Hello everyone. I have a question that I wanted to pose to you. I was hoping perhaps some of you may have opinions as to possible ways to resolve the issue:

I have a 45" upright Charles Walter from 1991. By all appearances, from what I can tell and from what I've been told, it has been well maintained. It has always been kept tuned and it retains a tune quite well, etc. The previous owner had a damp chaser installed inside of it which I have removed because I don't think it's necessary where I am.

The problem is that there is an odd echoing that seems to be coming from within the piano. It happens while I'm playing it with or without the sustain. It's somewhere in the lower-middle register and it lasts for a good maybe 5-8 seconds after a key is pressed. But what is also odd is that I can hear it even when I'm not playing the piano. If I walk in the room with shoes or if something drops on the floor, the piano begins emitting the same echo/reverberation. It's like a resonating chamber. It's located in a decent sized (13x15 ish) spare bedroom with hardwood floors a queen bed and several hundred books so I don't think it's coming from the room itself. It is facing an interior wall about 5 inches from the wall.

So far I've tried:
- Loosening/tightening the sustain pedal spring
- Making sure all of the dampers were actually in contact with the strings (which they do seem to be)
- putting large pieces of foam behind and under the piano
- varying the distance from the wall

When I brought it up with my tuner, he could not find anything obviously wrong and said that maybe the piano was designed to sound that way. (......?) And that it can sometimes happen with larger upright pianos. I'm somewhat dubious/hopeful it can be resolved though. Here is a link to some photos which may hopefully be helpful. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1RWIirbvJgt-wvQldZd83ehk-WJY4LFZj?usp=sharing

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Strum the strings with your fingernail to find which dampers are bad. I see some in the low treble section dampers are not aligned well. Go to PTG.org and find a technician to come regulate the dampers or have them replace the dampers with fresh felt.

Last edited by TimM_980; 05/16/22 10:54 AM.
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I recently had a similar sort of thing with a large Pramberger upright. After attempting several adjustments and tests (clearly coming from the bass strings), the owner decided simply to get used to it and live with it. There are no abnormalities with the damping. It simply leaks and holds on (low frequency) much longer than most pianos.

If I was given license to "fix" it, the first thing I would do would be to replace the wooden dowels rhat hold the damper felt with solid brass ones to increase mass. This has improved other pianos but whether it would fix this issue or not is a question mark. One would have to try it and see. I figure it's the least invasive surgery to start with. After that...well who knows yet.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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@TimM_980 That's where I found my current piano tech. We did the same thing that you suggested while he was here. There were a couple that he changed the alignment on but the problem persisted. Perhaps I should consult another tech?

@P W Grey Are there any other ways to "increase mass" that I could perhaps try myself? That may be a silly question. Sorry if so.

Here's an audio recording of two chords in different octaves. You can hear the reverberations going on in the lower octave for a good 8 seconds. =(

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My dampers on my KK Grand were misaligned.

What I did is I turned the dampers to the direction it needs to go and lift the sustain pedal which shows if it’s still going out of alignment when pressed.

Repeat until it stays in place even when pressing sustain or the key.
Not sure how assessable the dampers are on uprights though.


GRAND ONLY:
Put something somewhat heavy to seat the felt into the strings, I used a small but somewhat heavy book.

I would NOT think replacing the felt is necessary.

Last edited by probably blue; 05/16/22 04:05 PM.
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I have noticed this on several Walter consoles that I service. Adjustments to the pedals, damper timing, damper spoon lift, and damper seating did not eliminate the after ring. Replacing the wood dowels with brass ones as Peter suggests may be what they need, but my customers prefer "living with it" rather than entailing the necessary expense. The OEM damper felt may be a bit too firm, so new (somewhat softer) damper felt might help too.
Also keep in mind that grand dampers dampen on the same node where the hammer strikes, while vertical dampers don't.


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You can also check to see if the damper spring for the problem damper needs to be tightened. It will feel like less pressure is being pushed onto the string as compared to other dampers that are working properly.

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In your fourth image, IMG_4070.jpg, I can see that the damper sixth from the left is not seated properly. I would replace or see if you can fix it by cutting/shaping the felt. Then see if the damper springs need to be strengthened.

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Try this: gently push a string back (wear cotton gloves if possible) and watch the damper. Does it follow the string back? If not it needs adjustment.

Strengthening springs can help, but will increase resistance at the key. Modern pianos have good damping, and strong springs.

Poor damping is a common complaint, especially after tuning (“hey what did you do to my piano? Now it’s all ringy!”).

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Bear in mind that one must pinpoint the problem before doing anything to treat it otherwise itnis simply an exercise in trial and error. I agree that one trichord damper in the photo appears to be sitting on top of the unison rather than sticking its fingers in between the strings, however if the unison is strummed and does not leak then that probably ain't the problem.

Additionally, if in fact many dampers are located on a node of the strings, increasing spring pressure will not do anything (except possibly make it worse). One must determine by a process of elimination whether it is one string, several strings, or in fact actually a global issue. Once this is determined a remedy can better be determined.

Have you tried some wide masking tape (blue) on the strings to temporarily stop them from vibrating? Try this, and then strum the strings to see if there is any leakage? If so isolate these and find out whats going on. Determine what you need to do to stop it from vibrating. If it's a nodal issue you will hear upper tones that do not sound like the pitch of the fundamental. If you find you can stop the string from vibrating with your (gloved) finger then mass added to the damper may fix it. (Brass barrels is one way...another is to attach smaller weight to the back of the damper asymmetrically oriented lower on the damper rather than on the pressure point [a little bit tricky but effective]).

If it's nodal, repositioning the dampers slightly may be the solution.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
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Yeah, listen to Scott Cole and P W Grey. They know a lot more than me. I was just guessing based off of your pictures.

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Just from glancing at the pics, quite a few of the dampers look positioned rather low to me. It might be worth trying to bring just one up higher if you can and solve what could be a node problem.
Just my thoughts from looking, not hearing on site which is what I'd need really.
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I have personally experienced how LITTLE movement in a damper can eliminate a nodal ringing problem. Just saying...

This may or may not be the problem.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
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I think there is not enough pressure on the strings with the dampers at rest. put a glove on and press each string toward the plate and see how the damper follows. What looks good at rest may not be the true picture . A mirror under a damper may show the bottom is not in full contact. Some of the dampers in the bass look like they have been trimmed. I just tuned a professional model full vertical by Pramberger. There was an overdamper on the first triple string in the tenor. It is also not a bad idea to weave some piano cloth between all of the strings in the non speaking part of the strings between the bridge and hitch pin. This fix worked on a Kawai console that had sustain after key and pedal release

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I hear this quite often on similar uprights - Baldwin, Kimball etc.

In my experience, this turns out to be caused from the bass string ringing through the dampers. Play similar chords while having someone press a towel or something across all the bass strings and listen.

If that solves your 'problem',(many just accept it as part of the design) then probable solutions include those already mentioned - mass loading, new felt, longer felt - assuming the dampers are travelling with the strings a bit. (that test where you push in a little on a string to make sure the damper is able to move backwards a bit.)

Usually on 30+ year old pianos, it's not alignment or weak springs...

Ron Koval


Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com





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