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Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627522
11/30/08 03:20 PM
11/30/08 03:20 PM
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Madison, WI USA
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline OP
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List, I decided to start a new topic on this since I had mentioned it before on a Steinway B thread which generated some interest. I would appreciate Del's comments and would write to him privately but I think everyone could benefit from his expertise and discussion from others.

The situation is this: I care for a 45 year old Steinway model L which I have done so now for fully 30 years. It is in an exclusive university residence house where I had lived as a grad student. I am now a supporter of the house and its activities and functions now as an alumni.

In the last few years, a crack developed in the soundboard under the wound strings. The piano has for many years had a humidity control system which was recently replaced with the current model. However, as in many public places, the humidity control system has not always been adequately watered or kept plugged in.

It sits in a room overlooking a lake. The room and house has no humidity control of its own. Air conditioning is used in Summer but only when it is needed and the room is in use. Otherwise, the room goes from hot and humid in the Summer to varying degrees of temperature and very dry in Winter every year.

As Ron K. kindly mentioned, the low tenor of this piano has always gone wildly sharp and flat with changing conditions of relative humidity as many pianos do in this climate. It gets several tunings per year to keep it on pitch and in tune with itself. It is used by students with advanced skills and for performance events held at the house. Occasionally, a high caliber artist performs.

Low tenor tuning instability and volatility are simply not due to a technician's technique or lack thereof. One can easily blame a technician for a portion of a piano going flat but when it goes wildly sharp, we all know that the tuning pins do not turn themselves tighter!

The plain wire bridge takes a left turn near the end of it, the well known "hockey stick" design. From reading Del's comments, I imagine what his solution to that would be: to create a separate low tenor bridge at the beginning of that curve, at the point where there is not enough speaking length to support plain wire scaling. He would put bi-chord wound strings on that portion of the low tenor bridge.

Del's recent design for Walter's smaller grand has just that kind of configuration. I must testify that I have never heard a smoother break from plain wire to wound strings and across to the Bass as in the Walter small grand! It is absolutely seamless! I've showed this to any number of other technicians who were equally impressed. There is no distinction in tone whatsoever from plain wire to wound strings. The low tenor does not go flat and sharp disproportionately with the rest of the piano. I have seen a few other classic designs such as this from makers such as Mason & Hamlin and A.B. Chase. There may be others.

Of course, any Steinway L or O (which both have the same scale) do not have a smooth sounding break. Yes, voicing techniques can help but they are really just symptomatic treatments for a built in and uncorrectable problem. Voicing can only serve to bring up a weak and nasal tone from the low tenor and suppress the strong tone which is good from the highest wound strings. You have to emphasize what is not good and suppress what is good to make the break sound as smooth as it can. It is never an entirely satisfactory solution, the break just ends up not standing out so terribly contrasting. Voicing, of course, does nothing about the tuning stability problem.

This is why I find it perplexing and incomprehensible why Steinway would choose to discontinue the Model L and bring back the Model O without any scale design modification whatsoever! The very least that could have been done, it seems to me, would have been to put at least two unisons of wound strings in the low tenor (like the Model M) or 4 like the Model S. Some Model A's have the separate low tenor bridge as described above.

I suppose Steinway's defense of this is that no artist ever complained about these problems. I've been told any number of times that Steinway responds only to what artists say and not technicians. But how could an artist or typical piano owner say much more than the break isn't smooth, the tone is nasal and the piano is out of tune? There are solutions for all of those problems and every Steinway L and O (with, I imagine, very few exceptions) will only get only those temporary and symptomatic fixes.

The residence house wants me to repair and arrest any further development of the crack. The piano has always been a great sounding instrument in general and has been enjoyed by all. However, it's action is wearing out. The Teflon­­ era action parts will be replaced with new New York Steinway parts in 2010. While the Teflon bushings have not presented the "clicking" problem that has sometimes occurred, the resistance on each one of them is higher than ideal. The knuckle position also contributes to a heavier than ideal touch.

I can improve the piano's action using genuine Steinway parts and so I will. I know how to work with them, having received Steinway factory training in 1986 and 1991. This is, of course Steinway's recommendation and the residence house's insistance. I have no problem with that.

Since I must get under the Bass strings to make an effective and cosmetically inconspicuous repair to the crack, I have also recommended that the Bass strings be replaced at this time. The residence house agreed.

Now, the big question is, can the low tenor also be improved, if only slightly by changing the wire sizes of the six lowest unisons?

I have ruled out any conversion of plain wire to wound strings. I also would not change any tri-chord plain wire to bi-chord plain wire of a much larger size. That may be an improvement to some scales but I wouldn't do that with a Steinway.

I have worked on this portion of the low tenor on many pianos in the past. I am quite familiar with the dilemma that eventually occurs in the "hockey stick" low tenor bridge configuration. Because there is not enough speaking length, the tension and per cent of the breaking point (I'll call it that for clarity's sake) both drop dramatically low from one unison to the next.

Keeping size 18 wire for all of the 8 lowest unisons simply does not make sense to me. Now, I do not have speaking length measurements for this model of piano at my disposal. I will see the piano within the next two weeks and I can get them if there is no other way. But out there, somewhere, someone must have them. They would probably not vary enough from piano to piano at this portion of the scale to make any difference.

My gut instinct is to keep 2 unisons at size 18, but to make 2 unisons each of 19, 20 and 21 for the rest of the low tenor. Now, I have already heard the alarm bells go off on the previous thread, been told there is nothing wrong with a Steinway, there must be something wrong with me, the piano would explode, the strings would break, etc., none of which is true and would not happen, knowing from many experiences of doing exactly that on other pianos of similar size.

There are, of course, other possibilities: 4 size 18 and 4 size 19. 2 size 18, 2 size 18 1/2, 2 size 19 and 2 19 1/2. 2 size 18, 2 size 18 1/2, 2 19 and 2 20. None of these, however completely solve the problem of too low tension and too low per cent of breaking point. The inharmonicity would rise in any of these cases but by mere tenths of a cent for the second partial. The difference in inharmonicity is negligible and would not be a factor for me in the decision.

What would be a determining factor is the small but not totally adequate advantage gained in tuning stability over the voicing problem created by the lowest notes gaining significant power, enough that the lowest tenor hammers would need considerable softening to blend them with the rest of the low tenor and across the break to the wound strings.

How would this voicing problem be any more difficult to solve than the one which is already there but opposite in nature? As I see it, the 2 unisons with size 19 wire (under my first option) would actually improve in tone by gaining strength. The other options I suggested would, as I speculate, create a slight improvement in tuning stability but only a very slight one. There would be an improvement in tone for at least 4 of the unisons using one of the other options. There would still be a voicing problem with at least the lowest 2 unisons but less of one than with my first option.

As far as an improvement in tuning stability would go, I could expect some but not as much as with a conversion to wound strings. So, the ultimate question is, would any such conversion of the 6 lowest low tenor unisons to larger sized wire result in a net improvement, all things considered, to be worth the effort?


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
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Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627523
11/30/08 05:20 PM
11/30/08 05:20 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Bill Bremmer RPT:

Of course, any Steinway L or O (which both have the same scale) do not have a smooth sounding break. Yes, voicing techniques can help but they are really just symptomatic treatments for a built in and uncorrectable problem. Voicing can only serve to bring up a weak and nasal tone from the low tenor and suppress the strong tone which is good from the highest wound strings. You have to emphasize what is not good and suppress what is good to make the break sound as smooth as it can. It is never an entirely satisfactory solution, the break just ends up not standing out so terribly contrasting. Voicing, of course, does nothing about the tuning stability problem.

This is why I find it perplexing and incomprehensible why Steinway would choose to discontinue the Model L and bring back the Model O without any scale design modification whatsoever! The very least that could have been done, it seems to me, would have been to put at least two unisons of wound strings in the low tenor (like the Model M) or 4 like the Model S. Some Model A's have the separate low tenor bridge as described above.
Heavens, Bill, be careful--it seems sometimes that anyway who criticizes Steinway gets accused of bashing. They are, after all, perfect pianos with no room for improvement in their designs. Or, I guess that's what Steinway thinks.

Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627524
11/30/08 07:09 PM
11/30/08 07:09 PM
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Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Bill, you may want to take all the scale measurements and run them through some scaling software. The you will see what is going on and you can play with different scenarios.

Have you heard of Scaleripper? It is a shareware program.

I have serious doubts that any of your proposed changes would affect significant tonal improvement in the tenor break area.

If you are expreimenting with different wire gauges I strongly suggest trying Pure Sound wire in that area. You will be very pleasantly surprised.

Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627525
11/30/08 07:17 PM
11/30/08 07:17 PM
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Madison, WI USA
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline OP
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Well, I would consider it constructive criticism. I already know what anyone from Steinway's answer would be, I've heard it a thousand times. That doesn't make me believe it. It also doesn't change the cold, hard fact of a severe weak spot in the scale design for which there could easily be a design change that would take care of it.

Those new Model O's could have had such a modification and it would not only been a physical improvement in the instrument but a great selling point. It would have been an actual reason to get rid of the L as it was and bring on something new and improved.

I'm not bashing Steinway, by the way. I take care of dozens of their instruments and am the exclusive technician for two of their concert grands in two different concert halls. I went along with using their parts when they needed replacement when so many people urged me not to. I appreciate very much what I learned from Steinway and the many opportunities I have had and will continue to have to service their instruments. I worked for a Steinway dealer for 10 years but it is now out of business. It accounted for a very formative part of the skills I have today.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
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Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627526
11/30/08 07:42 PM
11/30/08 07:42 PM
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Old Hangtown California
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I do not have an L scale but an original O scale has the lo tenor notes 27, 28 and 29 at 1110mm, 1091mm and 1072mm. Tensions are 113 lbs, 122 and 133 lbs with wire size of #18 respectively.
For note 27 you would need to go to #20.5 to get tension in the low 140's. I think the tone would resemble hitting a rod rather than a musical wire.
I have helped experiment with alternatives to larger wire sizes or bichord conversions with reasonable results. That is mass loading the bridge. Try a 100 to 125 gram weight in several places around the upper bass bridge and low tenor bridge to see if you can get any improvement in tone. Color and power are more desirable in this area than the ability to tune smoothly in my opinion. Mass loading may help.
As this is usually the most flexible part of the soundboard I cannot see where anything you do will help stability.
One other possibility is to plug and redrill the bridge pins for these notes. With some careful work you may be able to relocate the pins and lengthen the spl by a few mm and for every mm increase in spl the tension will increase, combined with an increase in wire size to maybe #18.5 or #19 it may improve a bit.


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Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627527
11/30/08 08:03 PM
11/30/08 08:03 PM
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Madison, WI USA
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline OP
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Thanks Jurgen but I know how to do my plain wire scaling by hand. I rescaled dozens of pianos during my rebuilding days. I saw some pianos which were actually scaled along the lines I am thinking. I converted others. I did some tenor bridge conversions to wound strings. I did some plain wire bi-chords. The book I have tells me all the information I need to know. It may seem a long and slow way to solve a puzzle and it is but I have always found it fascinating. I guess I don't like the idea of putting numbers and clicking on a tab and it does it for you anymore than I like ETD calculated programs. I don't really like or trust a computer program that purports to do something for me but has no or limited judgment of its own.

I mentioned before that I had seen and still tune one Steinway M that had been completely re-scaled. It went far beyond anything that I would ever do. It was not an improvement. It no longer really sounds like a Steinway but it does stay in tune.

I already know basically what the result would be. I'm just wondering if anyone else has done it and what they thought of the results. Was it really an improvement or do they wish they had never even tried it. I know I never regretted what I had done with other pianos, many of which I still tune 20 years later. Would I regret this 20 years later? Or would the people who use the piano like it better? Would it stay better in tune for longer. As it is, one cold snap or one stormy day in Summer and B2 goes far adrift. What I have always heard were questions about why it needs to be tuned so much and why doesn't it stay in tune. If I can do something about that, I would consider it an improvement. Every time I come through that kitchen to tune that piano, the chef sees me and says, "AGAIN???!!!"


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627528
11/30/08 08:06 PM
11/30/08 08:06 PM
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Madison, WI USA
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline OP
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Thanks Gene, that has been the most helpful comment yet.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627529
11/30/08 09:41 PM
11/30/08 09:41 PM
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Madison, WI USA
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline OP
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Gene, one question I have for you in return is, if nothing would help stability in the low tenor, why is it that with virtually every piano with wound strings in the low tenor, those strings are more stable than the plain wire just above them?

It seems to me that the reason is because those wound strings are much higher in tension. This includes Steinway Model M's and S's but any other make has the same problem. Modern designers like Kawai have solved the problem by creating a very long bass bridge for very small grands. The lowest tenor note is F3. I've read Del make that remark as well.

Yamaha made many GH1 grands with the same flaw as the Steinway L and O. At one time, they provided a conversion kit for anyone who wanted to take the project on. I had one piano teacher customer who had a Yamaha GH1. She complained about the tuning instability. I told her I knew of a solution for it. I got the kit and made the conversion. It solved the problem. That was at least 20 years ago. I still tune the piano today. With its humidity control system, it stays in tune well enough to only need service once a year or so. I never have to raise or lower pitch, just do a fine tuning and care for the piano in other respects. I don't necessarily tune it in the same season either. It does not seem to matter what season it is, the piano stays in tune.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627530
11/30/08 10:02 PM
11/30/08 10:02 PM
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I have increased the gauge of the lowest notes on my Mason & Hamlin A, and the most noticeable difference is the improved break. When I do this, it usually requires some other changes, generally reducing the tension higher in the scale. What has become apparent to me is that scales were made according to a tradition: changing the gauges at fairly regular intervals in the high end of the piano, while keeping gauges constant low in the tenor. As it turns out, this is exactly the opposite of what is desirable. Gauges should change less often at the top of the piano, and much more often at the break. The foreshortening of the scale will lower the tension, and the only way to keep it up is to increase the gauge.


Semipro Tech
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627531
11/30/08 10:58 PM
11/30/08 10:58 PM
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline OP
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Thank you, BDB, that is a truly helpful comment from you and I appreciate it very much. It supports what I have learned over the years and which isn't admitted to by manufacturers and can't be found in books.

I recall reading about the scale design of Baldwin Acrosonics (which do have wound strings on the low tenor bridge) but which I have read many technicians complain about. Scale designers made their findings quite clear to the manufacturer. It would not have been a difficult or expensive change to make. In the end, Baldwin chose to do nothing about it and continued to build the Acrosonic they way they always had.

Here's one defense I've often heard: the way the Steinway is gives it its character. That's a very easy way of sidestepping the whole issue.

I know that Steinway had William Pramburger on its staff for some years. He was a superb scale designer. But of what use was he to Steinway if he accomplished virtually nothing? He went on to work for Young Chang and gave at least some of its instruments some respectability. Just think of what he could have done for Steinway but was not permitted to do!


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627532
12/01/08 12:05 AM
12/01/08 12:05 AM
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Old Hangtown California
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Mass loading a bridge on a piano with low tension in the low treble will not help with power but it could help with pitch definition - which can be sorely lacking in a string with very low tension.
I have been tempted to try the Pure Sound wire in the lo tenor but have never done it yet. If Jurgen says it works it is worth a try.
Larger wire sizes help increase tension and power but I am a little hesitant to over do it and end up with a string that has only partials and no fundamental.
Rescaling starting at the treble is something I am new at. Not having the experience I used Sam Wolfendens approach. I first took advantage of a new bridg cap and used his 39 to 37 ratio to refine the unison spl. This worked out ok to about note 58. At 88 I used #13 wire and changed 1/2 wire size every 6 notes. According to him, when you do this the wire mass doubles at the octave as long as the spl increases at his ratio. On a graph the tension stays from about 170 on the high side to 153 on the low side - not bad in my opinion.
After note 58 I was at the mercy of the bridge shape in regard to spl. When locating bridge pins in this part I squeezed every mm I could in length out of the bridge without making it look odd or getting a pin outside of the bridge core. The result was a cure for lo tension in this piano from note f4 through the killer octave. Was in the mid to lo 140's and now all are above 153.
I believe that all pianos are just about the same in the top two octaves regardless of size.
If I did not change wire sizes for 8 notes down from the top the tension would fall into the 140's, more at 10 notes.


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Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627533
12/01/08 01:54 AM
12/01/08 01:54 AM
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Oakland
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Larger wire sizes help increase tension and power but I am a little hesitant to over do it and end up with a string that has only partials and no fundamental.
It is not a problem. If it were to be a problem, the chances are it would be more fundamental and weaker partials. After all, the more partials, the more the wire has to bend.


Semipro Tech
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627534
12/02/08 01:48 PM
12/02/08 01:48 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Bill Bremmer RPT:



The residence house wants me to repair and arrest any further development of the crack. The piano has always been a great sounding instrument in general and has been enjoyed by all. However, it's action is wearing out. The Teflon­­ era action parts will be replaced with new New York Steinway parts in 2010. While the Teflon bushings have not presented the "clicking" problem that has sometimes occurred, the resistance on each one of them is higher than ideal. The knuckle position also contributes to a heavier than ideal touch.



Since I must get under the Bass strings to make an effective and cosmetically inconspicuous repair to the crack, I have also recommended that the bass strings be replaced at this time. The residence house agreed.

Now, the big question is, can the low tenor also be improved, if only slightly by changing the wire sizes of the six lowest unisons?

I have ruled out any conversion of plain wire to wound strings. I also would not change any tri-chord plain wire to bi-chord plain wire of a much larger size. That may be an improvement to some scales but I wouldn't do that with a Steinway.

I have worked on this portion of the low tenor on many pianos in the past. I am quite familiar with the dilemma that eventually occurs in the "hockey stick" low tenor bridge configuration. Because there is not enough speaking length, the tension and per cent of the breaking point (I'll call it that for clarity's sake) both drop dramatically low from one unison to the next.

Keeping size 18 wire for all of the 8 lowest unisons simply does not make sense to me. Now, I do not have speaking length measurements for this model of piano at my disposal. I will see the piano within the next two weeks and I can get them if there is no other way. But out there, somewhere, someone must have them. They would probably not vary enough from piano to piano at this portion of the scale to make any difference.

My gut instinct is to keep 2 unisons at size 18, but to make 2 unisons each of 19, 20 and 21 for the rest of the low tenor. Now, I have already heard the alarm bells go off on the previous thread, been told there is nothing wrong with a Steinway, there must be something wrong with me, the piano would explode, the strings would break, etc., none of which is true and would not happen, knowing from many experiences of doing exactly that on other pianos of similar size.

There are, of course, other possibilities: 4 size 18 and 4 size 19. 2 size 18, 2 size 18 1/2, 2 size 19 and 2 19 1/2. 2 size 18, 2 size 18 1/2, 2 19 and 2 20. None of these, however completely solve the problem of too low tension and too low per cent of breaking point. The inharmonicity would rise in any of these cases but by mere tenths of a cent for the second partial. The difference in inharmonicity is negligible and would not be a factor for me in the decision.

What would be a determining factor is the small but not totally adequate advantage gained in tuning stability over the voicing problem created by the lowest notes gaining significant power, enough that the lowest tenor hammers would need considerable softening to blend them with the rest of the low tenor and across the break to the wound strings.

How would this voicing problem be any more difficult to solve than the one that is already there but opposite in nature? As I see it, the 2 unisons with size 19 wire (under my first option) would actually improve in tone by gaining strength. The other options I suggested would, as I speculate, create a slight improvement in tuning stability but only a very slight one. There would be an improvement in tone for at least 4 of the unisons using one of the other options. There would still be a voicing problem with at least the lowest 2 unisons but less of one than with my first option.

As far as an improvement in tuning stability would go, I could expect some but not as much as with a conversion to wound strings. So, the ultimate question is, would any such conversion of the 6 lowest low tenor unisons to larger sized wire result in a net improvement, all things considered, to be worth the effort?
Yes, I do change those lowest strings to bi-chord wrapped strings and I do put them on a transition bridge. This is, in my opinion, the best solution to the tone and tuning problems you describe.

I have also tried changing the lowest strings to bi-chord wrapped string on the original bridge but for a variety of reasons have rejected this change in nearly all pianos.

As you suspect, this scale can be made some less bad by simply changing the wire sizes through the low tenor and by rescaling the bass strings to match. It has been some years since I have done one of these pianos without converting to a transition bridge but (if memory serves) the plain steel wire diameters on the lowest ten notes are changed as follows:
G#-36 – F-33 = 0.040” (#17 1/2) wire;
E-32 – D#-31 = 0.041” (#18) wire;
D-30 – C#-29 = 0.042” (#18 1/2) wire;
C-28 – B-27 = 0.044” (#19 1/2) wire.
I did quite a few of these pianos back in the day so I’ll be surprised if I find this is not accurate but you should probably treat this with the same caution you exercise with all free advice.

Increasing the wire diameters does, of course, raise the inharmonicity of those lowest notes making an already awkward tuning break even worse. This is resolved by appropriately rescaling the bass strings. Hopefully the person working up the bass string scale will have adequate enlightenment to take the timbral and inharmonicity characteristics of the low tenor scale into consideration.

These—subject to my going back into my old scaling archives to verify—are the changes I made to the Model L scale during the 1970s and early 1980s when a new owner complained about the tone quality through the bass and low tenor. I would first try to solve the complaint by hammer voicing alone then, rather than trying to get heroic with my needles, sandpaper, etc., I would change out the strings as indicated. While not a perfect solution it was good enough to satisfy all but the most critical pianist.

With rare exceptions these modifications were never done prior to a sale. Occasionally this would become a deal-breaker—the potential buyer liked the piano except for bass/tenor break; if I could fix that they would buy the piano. I could and they did. We also had one or two owners who—after living with their new pianos for a few months—had become totally fixated on that region had become nearly impossible to satisfy. We ended up swapping out their pianos with new Model Ls on which I had already installed this modification. They were happy with the new instruments. Ironically, other buyers came along who had no problems at all with the voice of those returned pianos, bought them and loved them.

There are some pianists—some technicians as well—who simply do not notice and/or are not bothered by tone problems and timbre changes through this area. I have serviced pianos with simply horrible bass/tenor transitions which their owners simply love. They would be quite offended if I were to point out any tone problems at all anywhere in the piano. Other pianists can, and do, pick out the slightest timbral changes. My practice through the years has been to leave well enough alone; if the owner is not offended by the sound of their piano who am I to complain? But when a customer does complain I want to be ready with a practical solution that works.

This issue, by the way, is one of two—the killer octave being the other—that pushed my early investigation into piano design. It all started by trying to understand what it was about their design that caused one piano to have a musically transparent bass/tenor transition and another to have a transition so timbrally awkward as to be unplayable by some pianists.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627535
12/02/08 03:14 PM
12/02/08 03:14 PM
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Posts: 1,869
Massachusetts
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Roy123 Offline
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The information given by Del et al calls to mind Bill's original comment that started this thread, "This is why I find it perplexing and incomprehensible why Steinway would choose to discontinue the Model L and bring back the Model O without any scale design modification whatsoever!"

Can Steinway not implicitly admit that their designs are not perfect? Do they not want to bother with the changes because they think it won't affect sales? One might think that improving the design of their new pianos would cause more people to buy them rather than rebuilds, but perhaps their marketing department knows better.

I must admit that this rankles me. A company that claims to make the best and sure charges as if they make the best ought to at least try to correct obvious design flaws. Lest I be accused of Steinway bashing, I'm sure many high-end pianos have uncorrected design flaws as well.

Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627536
12/03/08 10:03 AM
12/03/08 10:03 AM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,014
Madison, WI USA
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline OP
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Bill Bremmer RPT  Offline OP
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Madison, WI USA
Thank you Del, for your most informative and detailed post. I thank you eternally for the free information! If I had my druthers, I would have that piano sent to you for a full restoration. Unfortunately, there is not a donor with deep enough pockets for that. The house board of directors wants the crack repaired and the bass restrung next month and then they will have the action redone in Summer 2010. I'll have to live with that. I know who I can get to rescale the wound strings to work with whatever is my ultimate decision on the low tenor modification.

I will take string length measurements and consider those along with what you remember that you had done in the past. Your recommendation goes right along with what I had considered to be one of the possible options, so it does sound quite reasonable. The board considers the conservative modification of only changing the wire size of 6 unisons to be reasonable. It would not alter the appearance or structure of the original and is not irreversible.

However, considering the only slight increase in tension over what wound strings would offer, even with my "gut feeling" option, I am expecting only a slight improvement in tuning stability. Anything would be better than the way it is now, however.

Roy, Steinway is not the only company that has or had (before they went out of business) persisted in turning out pianos with bad scaling even when they knew full well they could do better.

Del, what makes (and models) come to mind for you that had the separate tenor bridge that has worked so well for you in your modifications and the new design I had witnessed in the small Walter grand? I know I have seen that kind of idea on some pianos built nearly a hundred years ago.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627537
12/03/08 02:57 PM
12/03/08 02:57 PM
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Posts: 2,215
Old Hangtown California
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Gene Nelson Offline
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Old Hangtown California
Gene, one question I have for you in return is, if nothing would help stability in the low tenor, why is it that with virtually every piano with wound strings in the low tenor, those strings are more stable than the plain wire just above them?
_________________________________________________
I cannot answer that one. Maybe Del will chime in.
I suppose that I would add to the idea: are the tenor bichords more stable after a conversion has been made from tirchord plain steel? Or are we talking about pianos that were designed with tenor bichords?
I know that I always have more difficulty tuning the lo tenor lo tension plain wire strings and they will move more in pitch than the others but I had always attributed this to board flexability.


RPT
PTG Member
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627538
12/03/08 03:14 PM
12/03/08 03:14 PM
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Posts: 5,531
Olympia, Washington
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Del Offline
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Del  Offline
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Olympia, Washington
Quote
Originally posted by Bill Bremmer RPT:

Del, what makes (and models) come to mind for you that had the separate tenor bridge that has worked so well for you in your modifications and the new design I had witnessed in the small Walter grand? I know I have seen that kind of idea on some pianos built nearly a hundred years ago.
A number of piano makers used transition bridges through the late 1800s and early 1900s—but not necessarily well. The transition bridge passed out of favor, I think, because, while the basic concept is good it was rather poorly executed. Nearly all of the early transition bridges had a speaking length disparity of around 20% to 25% between adjacent notes and they nearly all used tri-chord wrapped strings on part (or all) of the transition bridge. This combination is really impossible to scale properly.

If you noticed on the Walter 175 there is a greatly reduced speaking length difference between the end of the primary tenor bridge and the start of the transition bridge. I shortened the speaking length of E-32 just enough so that I could blend the acoustical properties I wanted with string inharmonicity—the piano tunes smoothly across the whole of the bass/tenor transition. The transition bridge uses all bi-chord wrapped strings. This combination is much easier to scale and it keeps the two bridges in close physical proximity. They are close enough, in fact, that I was able to put both the end of the primary bridge and the whole of the transition bridge on a carefully shaped maple base which ties them all together and helps control soundboard impedance across the break.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627539
12/03/08 07:03 PM
12/03/08 07:03 PM
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 221
Southern California
pianosxxi Offline
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pianosxxi  Offline
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Joined: May 2008
Posts: 221
Southern California
Quote
Of course, any Steinway L or O (which both have the same scale) do not have a smooth sounding break.

…having received Steinway factory training in 1986 and 1991.



Mr. Bremmer,

I just wonder, who told you and where you read that the Steinway L and O, got the same scale?

I don’t think that this information came from the Steinway courses you took. It seems that you completely don’t understand what it means scale of the piano and what the scale designer supposed to specify when he calculates it.

It’s obvious that you have no experimental background to talk about this specific area of the scale design. Especially when you criticize Steinway. Instead, you should ask the audience what size of pins to put on the piano you are going to restring. confused eek


Gene Korolev, RPT
President, Master Piano Rebuilder

PIANO SOLUTIONS XXI
Exclusive Piano Restoration, Custom Piano Design and Sales
http://www.pianosxxi.com | http://www.custompianodesign.com
Contact: 818.503.0800
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627540
12/03/08 07:17 PM
12/03/08 07:17 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,903
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Quote
I just wonder, who told you and where you read that the Steinway L and O, got the same scale?
They do have the same wire gauges. That is specified in the technical information from Steinway.


Semipro Tech
Re: Steinway L and O Scale Modification #627541
12/03/08 07:36 PM
12/03/08 07:36 PM
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 221
Southern California
pianosxxi Offline
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pianosxxi  Offline
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Posts: 221
Southern California
Dear BDB,

Same guages doesn't mean the same scale.


Gene Korolev, RPT
President, Master Piano Rebuilder

PIANO SOLUTIONS XXI
Exclusive Piano Restoration, Custom Piano Design and Sales
http://www.pianosxxi.com | http://www.custompianodesign.com
Contact: 818.503.0800
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