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#639379 - 04/02/07 12:45 PM Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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McLaughlin Offline
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I dont see a consensus on this topic ... can we get all the ideas here?


Scenario: Let's say that only the upper 2 octaves of an older grand piano have hairline cracks at the bridge pins, causing a loss of sustain and some false beating. Let's say they're 1/16" to 1/8" at most. A new bridge or cap is out of budget. The rest of the bridge is solid.


So what would you do to repair these cracks?


Brian Lucey - M&H BB 1930
the day job: Magic Garden Mastering
"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown
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#639380 - 04/02/07 01:02 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Gene Nelson Online content
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Remove 1/2 octave of strings and put a clamp on the bridge (if you can make one fit) to see if some clamping pressure can close the gap. With hariline cracks this may not be possible. Take care not to dimple the bridge.
You can remove some bridge pins and put some epoxy in the holes, tap in the bridge pin to see if you can force epoxy to migrate into the cracks. You may not need to do this to every one.
Once filled, clamp it and clean very well and let it set up for 24 hrs.


RPT
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#639381 - 04/23/07 02:13 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Thanks Gene. So option #1 is the most minor work that may help, Epoxy, clamp, re-pin

What about bridge capping? What's involved in that process? Can one section be capped or do I do the whole thing?


Brian Lucey - M&H BB 1930
the day job: Magic Garden Mastering
"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown
#639382 - 04/23/07 11:21 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Gene Nelson Online content
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One section of the bridge can be recapped and it has been done without removing the plate. The problem in the treble is access because of the plate struts.
If you can figure out how to plane off the existing cap, clamp and glue on the new cap, drill the bridge pin holes, carve the bridge notches - there you go. Chances are you will have raw knuckles and scars on the plate, bridge and board.
With the plate removed this work becomes easier.
You should take a look at the existing bridge pins - are they traveling? Is the string offset the same as other parts of the piano where bridge splits is nonexistant? Maybe just removing the bridge pins of those offending notes and put a small amt of ca glue or epoxy into the hole can help a great deal. It would pay to experiment.
Then start a savings acct for the big job to come.


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#639383 - 04/23/07 07:42 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Okay, no recapping as it sits!

Quote

You should take a look at the existing bridge pins - are they traveling? Is the string offset the same as other parts of the piano where bridge splits is nonexistant? Maybe just removing the bridge pins of those offending notes and put a small amt of ca glue or epoxy into the hole can help a great deal.
Sorry, I dont know what 'traveling is ... the sound up there has good attack but lacks any real sustain. The visual is a lot of 1/8" lateral/diagonal cracks next to the pins.


Is another option that does not need restringing a Wapin Bridge?


Brian Lucey - M&H BB 1930
the day job: Magic Garden Mastering
"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown
#639384 - 04/23/07 11:40 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Original sound board?


"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
Mark Twain

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
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#639385 - 04/23/07 11:42 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Quote
Originally posted by McLaughlin:
Okay, no recapping as it sits!

[QUOTE] Is another option that does not need restringing a Wapin Bridge?
A Wapin retrofit job, without a new bridge cap, uses the existing cap. Installing Wapin is somewhat independent of your issue. In some manner you will need to repair the bridge. Wapin could be part of that repair or not. If you were considering Wapin anyways, it would be a good oppurtunity, because you are already loosening strings and exposing the bridge. You could repair the bridge just as well without it. I think you would like the results, but it is more of an oppurtunity to go further than a replacement. Does that make sense?


Roy Peters, RPT
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.cincypiano.com
#639386 - 04/24/07 12:03 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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I would examine your premise. Hairline cracks around the bridge pins will not usually cause audible problems. Most pianos that suffer loss of sustain in the top two octaves are suffering from old strings and old hammers. Lousy scaling has an effect, too.


Semipro Tech
#639387 - 04/24/07 12:11 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Quote
Originally posted by BDB:
Most pianos that suffer loss of sustain in the top two octaves are suffering from old strings and old hammers. Lousy scaling has an effect, too.
Well, the hammers are 5 years old as are the strings. The sustain of the instument is great except where the small cracks exist. Seems pretty solid, was told to me by an inspecting tech as well.


Quote
Originally posted by RoyP:
Quote
Originally posted by McLaughlin:
[b] Okay, no recapping as it sits!

[QUOTE] Is another option that does not need restringing a Wapin Bridge?
A Wapin retrofit job, without a new bridge cap, uses the existing cap. Installing Wapin is somewhat independent of your issue. In some manner you will need to repair the bridge. Wapin could be part of that repair or not. If you were considering Wapin anyways, it would be a good oppurtunity, because you are already loosening strings and exposing the bridge. You could repair the bridge just as well without it. I think you would like the results, but it is more of an oppurtunity to go further than a replacement. Does that make sense? [/b]
I think so ... the retrofit is not a wooden bridge, it's only a pin change? Please PM me about pricing on a BB retrofit job, and the tonal changes you've seen on M&H. Premium Blue lightweight hammers.


Brian Lucey - M&H BB 1930
the day job: Magic Garden Mastering
"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown
#639388 - 04/24/07 10:48 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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If work was done in the past 5 years and it was unsatisfactory, you should complain to the person who did the work. There are plenty of people who do lousy restringing jobs, and even more who do lousy hammer jobs.


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#639389 - 04/24/07 02:12 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Sorry, I dont know what 'traveling is ... the sound up there has good attack but lacks any real sustain. The visual is a lot of 1/8" lateral/diagonal cracks next to the pins.
_________________________________________________
Brian,
What I refer to by "traveling bridge pins" is if they are moving with the bridge splits - the direction that the string offset is pulling them - You will see the string off set caused by the bridge pins tend to go away and the string will appear straight across the bridge as compared with other areas of the piano where bridge splits do not appear. This is an extreme condition.
The sustain or lack of sustain cannot necessarily be attributed to your bridge splits. You should pick the notes that are most troubling and pluck the string, count seconds of sustain and compare with a hammer blow. If there is a difference the hammer can be voiced to get more sustain that will more closely match that what you get from plucking. An old worn out sound board or lack of bearing in this area of the piano is more likely the cause of lack of sustain.
The notes with false beats are more likely associated with loose bridge pins. Removing the bridge pins and swabing the hole with Ca glue or epoxy in small amounts will stablize the bridge pins and help to eliminate false beats.


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#639390 - 04/24/07 06:49 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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There is not much travel at all, the pins look to be at the same angle.

And yes, there are false beats up there.

(I bought it used, so no recourse, just pondering the options)


Brian Lucey - M&H BB 1930
the day job: Magic Garden Mastering
"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown
#639391 - 04/24/07 07:08 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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RoyP and I did the Wapin retrofit on my Mason and Hamlin CC2 right here in my living room this past January. As he said, you can incorporate the bridge repair while doing the Wapin modification. You will be amazed at the result. Here are a few samples of what your Mason could potentially sound like:

Bach Prelude on Wapin CC2

Chopin Prelude

Chopin Prelude


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#639392 - 04/24/07 08:40 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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I still recommend a strong evaluation of the soundboard before "pinning" any hopes on the bridges.


"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
Mark Twain

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
http://www.facebook.com/EJBuckPerformances
#639393 - 04/24/07 11:54 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Thanks Dan. Are those new recordings? It is sounding good.

Of course, it is prudent to check the soundboard.

That said, I have done Wapin installs on a couple of pianos with flat boards that I thought really needed replaced. This is the interesting thing. They were very successful jobs. In the one case, it was a Baldwin grand from the 1890's....the earliest Baldwin grand I have ever seen. I did this job for another tech, who was restringing it. We both tried to convince the owner to put in a new board, but he was adament that he wanted to keep the old one. It had at least a dozen cracks, and was completely flat. I was dubious. I recapped the bridges w/wapin, shimmed and repaired the board, and put in a pinblock. The other tech did the rest of the work, including an all new action w/Abel hammers. Well, the tech and the owner both say that it is amazing....the best sounding 6'3" piano they have ever heard. It is out of town, and I have never heard it, but am happy to take their word for it. I have since gotten several rebuild jobs off of that piano. You never can tell.


Roy Peters, RPT
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.cincypiano.com
#639394 - 04/25/07 12:38 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Assuming freshly filed hammers, what are the possible causes for a lack of sustain in the high treble?


(There's a D with Wapin in Columbus I'm going to visit next week.)


Brian Lucey - M&H BB 1930
the day job: Magic Garden Mastering
"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown
#639395 - 04/25/07 01:33 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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What do you consider to be good sustain? Is there a particular note where you think the sustain is noticeably worse than other notes?

Sustain is not what the high treble is noted for. That is why there are no dampers there.


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#639396 - 04/25/07 03:54 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Quote
Assuming freshly filed hammers, what are the possible causes for a lack of sustain in the high treble?
Loss of crown in the soundboard; poor scale design; poor contact of the strings with their termination point on the bridge; old, worn out strings.


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#639397 - 04/25/07 08:26 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Quote
Originally posted by BDB:
What do you consider to be good sustain? Is there a particular note where you think the sustain is noticeably worse than other notes?
There is attack and then just the reverberation. It's not a huge deal as the tech says he can make the hammer compensate a little bit, and it's just the last octave or so .... but I'm just asking your views.


Brian Lucey - M&H BB 1930
the day job: Magic Garden Mastering
"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown
#639398 - 04/25/07 09:16 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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The last octave isn't where the soundboard typically dies. It's usually more like the 5th and 6th octaves. Hammer work could help, as well as adjusting the strike point. Sometimes the capo bar gets grooves. It can be reshaped. Bridge pinning is the other culprit, along with bridge notching.

If the hammer voicing doesn't help, I would think about restringing the top section. While the strings are off, you could reshape the capo bar, fix the bridge pinning, etc.


Roy Peters, RPT
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.cincypiano.com
#639399 - 04/26/07 01:33 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Sustain is the reverberation after the attack. So what is it? Is the musical sound not strong enough? Often that is a bad strike point, particularly if hammers have been replaced poorly. That is an easy adjustment to make, although the alignment of the hammers must be correct.


Semipro Tech
#639400 - 04/26/07 02:46 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Actually sustain is the decay of the note after the attack. Reverberation is the ambience ringing in the piano, it's different. These notes have an obvious lack of sustain.

Roy when you say "restringing" you mean remove, repair, replace? Or reuse the strings? I didn't know you could replace only a few octaves of strings and have consistent tone?


Brian Lucey - M&H BB 1930
the day job: Magic Garden Mastering
"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown
#639401 - 04/26/07 03:28 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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If you want to get technical, sustain is the period in which sound continues to be produced after the attack. Pianos, being percussion instruments, do not have any sustain. That is reserved for winds and bowed strings.

I think you want to say that the decay of the tone is too rapid. That is what most people mean by lack of sustain in a piano. However, pianos naturally decay faster the higher the pitch. What you are hearing may be normal. Your hearing may be at fault. One cannot tell from your explanation. For example, I do not understand what you mean by "the ambience ringing in the piano." What does that mean?

You are asking for our views, but then you are not helping your own cause. You could be barking up the wrong tree entirely, but you seem to be insisting your own notions about what causes you not to like your piano, and that is keeping you from exploring other possibilities. Especially the cheap and easy ones, which is just crazy.


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#639402 - 04/26/07 07:54 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Restringing typically refers to replacing the old strings with new ones. As far as having consistent tone after doing so only in the treble section, you would be RESTORING consistent tone by restringing this section, since you are not complaining about any other section of the piano.....that's assuming that the strings were the sole original problem (which they are probably not, in this case). I do have one question for you Brian. I have posted two previous responses to your questions earlier in this thread, even taking the time to upload soundfiles to address your curiousity regarding what Wapin could do for your piano. Both posts elicited no response whatsoever from you. I'm just curious as to why that might be......if someone takes the time to try to assist you, isn't it just common courtesy to acknowledge that with a response?


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#639403 - 04/26/07 02:13 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Not being able to see the actual deterioration but assuming it is minor, I can suggest a far simpler and easier repair. I have done it many times. First, loosen the strings from the affected area enough that you can pull them up and aside from the bridge pins as best possible. Use a string hook to pull the stings up as far as possible so that they clear the bridge pins so you can work on the bridge fractures and to reset any pins which have moved over from the stress of the strings (called "traveling" by others on here). Get a couple of C clamps (common hardware store types) and some thin strips of wood (popsicle type sticks or tongue depressors will do) to serve as cauls to prevent clamp marks on the bridge base which is called the "root".

Now, get two grades of Cyanoacrylate (CA) glue ("Super" glue), the water thin type and the medium viscosity type. The smallest quantity of each you can find will be enough. You can usually find it at a hobby store where they sell model airplanes. It is often used to repair them after they have crashed. You can also get it through piano supply houses such as Schaff Piano Supply or Pianotek but if all you need is the glue, it would not be enough for a minim order, so I suggest a hobby store. Their supply is usually fresh because they sell a lot of it (at least the one where I shop does).

There is no need to and best not take the bridge pins out. Simply reset them (push them back) where they appear to have originally been set. You can use a some blunt nose pliers or a punch and a small tap hammer but absolutely do not cause any more damage to the bridge, just reset the pins into position. Then, using the water thin CA glue, cut off the tip so that it exposes the tiniest hole possible or put it into a plastic oiler bottle from Schaff Piano supply, so that you can control the amount of glue to a drop by drop application. Along the base of each pin, apply the glue. You will see it wick down into the cracks. Do this along all of the damaged area but don't fill up the voids entirely with the thin glue. Just apply enough of it so that it wicks down into the deepest part of the damaged and deteriorated area.

Now, take the medium thickness glue and again, cut the tip so only a small amount can flow. Fill the rest of the voids with it so that the glue is filling all cracks. Now, quickly, before the glue begins to set up, put your clamps and cauls on the sides of the bridge and clamp lightly, not too forcefully, just so they squeeze together whatever amount has the bridge structure has separated out sideways. You should see only a small amount of glue squeeze out. Quickly mop this up with a small cloth and some Q-tips until you see no pools of glue on the bridge top or mounds around the base of the pins, a "clean" and clear of extra glue appearance.

Wait 10 or 15 minutes for the glue to soak fully in and begin to cure. Then with the catalyst sprizter called "Zip Kicker" a small bottle that looks like what some cologne would come in (which the hobby store would also have), just give the area a few light spritzes, as if you were "perfuming" it. This will cause the CA glue to cure nearly instantly so you may begin replacing the strings without any more delay. First, put them across the bridge and past the bridge pins and turn your tuning pins while lifting the coils with a string hook just tightly enough so that the coils are approximately set and the string is tight but not yet up to pitch.

After all strings are in place, gently tune them each up to approximate pitch, (a half step low is best). Then, take a narrow screwdriver tip or small, appropriately sized punch, and with a light tap hammer, gently tap the string coils around the pins so they are even and perpendicular to the tuning pins, the way they were originally set. Now, with a brass punch or small block of wood, tap very lightly on the strings to fully seat them onto the bridge. A key dip block or a hammer shank will work very well. Tap first on the bridge next to the pin, then on each string on both sides of the bridge. Again, very lightly, just enough to push each string down upon the bridge but not causing it to dig into the wood.

Finally, raise each string up to proper pitch then fine tune two or three more times and your done! All of this can be done in about an hour and a half to two hours for the appropriate fee for that amount of time, plus the cost of the CA glue and the catalyst (probably less than $15) and you will have some glue and nearly a full bottle of catalyst left over to use on future repair jobs.

One note of caution: have the customer provide you with a fan and some open windows. If you have a respirator, great, use it but just a dust mask is really enough. If you have some eye protection glasses, use them or get some of those plastic goggles at a hardware store for a few dollars and add them to the bill. The CA glue in itself is not toxic but highly irritating to the eyes and nose. If you have your face down close to the work you're doing, the fumes may irritate you but having a strong blowing fan going and a mask and eye goggles will spare you the irritation. The catalyst on the other hand is highly toxic but you'll only be using a very small amount of it and it will evaporate quickly and any of its fumes will be carried away by the fan and be gone in just a few minutes.

You should find that the normal tone and sustain has returned after this kind of repair.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
#639404 - 04/26/07 06:25 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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Yes CC2, thanks for the ideas ... good ones. The clips are okay but without an A/B they dont tell me as much as going to hear an actual piano ... visiting a Wapinized D next week. I dont think I like the harmonics of the Wapin, but I remain open until I hear one in person. I didn't mean to ignore you, but there was nothing more to say for now.

Thanks for everyone who has posted. And you'll forgive me now for spending more time on this disruptive response than on your truly informative and helpful ones... isn't that life, 80% of the time is spent on the worst 20%.


Quote
Originally posted by BDB:
If you want to get technical, sustain is the period in which sound continues to be produced after the attack. Pianos, being percussion instruments, do not have any sustain. That is reserved for winds and bowed strings.
If YOU want to get technical, which you seemingly do then yes, that's technically true but just useless and off topic in practical terms. A piano has what we call sustain, as an acoustic guitar or even an electric guitar has sustain. 'Fast Decay' if you want to be a smarty pants but come on, this is not a thesis paper.

Quote

However, pianos naturally decay faster the higher the pitch. What you are hearing may be normal. Your hearing may be at fault. One cannot tell from your explanation. For example, I do not understand what you mean by "the ambience ringing in the piano." What does that mean?


Of course the higher strings decay faster ... but this piano is not just doing that. And the "natural ambience" is the harmonic resonance with the other strings, and the reverb from the wood in the case and the room.

The premise here is that the Sustain is weak (decay is too fast), and there are visible pin cracks in the same area. What COULD it be in principle? Can you play along?

Quote

You are asking for our views, but then you are not helping your own cause. You could be barking up the wrong tree entirely, but you seem to be insisting your own notions about what causes you not to like your piano, and that is keeping you from exploring other possibilities. Especially the cheap and easy ones, which is just crazy.
What cheap and easy ideas am I ignoring? You have no idea what I'm ignoring (um ...nothing).

You're insults need to stop. I have been defending this premise that the sustain is weak for only one reason ... your inability to accept it! Your presence here is not helping the discussion in principle or me specifically.

Maybe just pretend there is a "sustain" problem? I like my piano just fine, I'm simply looking at options to tweak it a little bit. The strings are 5 years old, the hammers are like new, the downbearing seems to be good. I'm a musician and a professional mastering engineer, I have relative pitch ... my hearing is not faulty, thank you. I'm looking, in principle, at ALL the OPTIONS. I may do nothing at all here, I may have Roy come up and Wapinize it someday. This thread is for general conversation on a common topic as much as it is for specifics on my piano, although we are doing pretty well given the lack of contact with it.

My technician agrees that the "sustain is weak", and he says it's due to the bridge pin area cracking ... it's a 1 to 1 between the cracks and the tone change. If you want to argue the premise then just go away. There are already too many variables to have some guy saying "well maybe the decay time is just fine and youre barking up the wrong tree" !

If I'm barking up the wrong tree why dont you spend less time proving how smart and right you are, and defining sustain for us ... and give us some new ideas like the other kind people here?

:rolleyes:


Brian Lucey - M&H BB 1930
the day job: Magic Garden Mastering
"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown
#639405 - 04/26/07 06:39 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,046
Casalborgone Offline
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Casalborgone  Offline
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Posts: 1,046
San Francisco Area
Quote
Originally posted by McLaughlin:
My technician agrees that the "sustain is weak", and he says it's due to the bridge pin area cracking ... it's a 1 to 1 between the cracks and the tone change.
Sounds like you have a diagnosis on which you are willing to rely. Bill Bremmer has given your tech a very credible step-by-step repair technique.

I hope you will report the results.


Mike
Registered Piano Technician
Member Piano Technicians Guild
Not currently working in the piano trade.
#639406 - 04/26/07 08:27 PM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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BDB Offline
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BDB  Offline
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Oakland
I defined "sustain" twice, the correct version and the popular version. I said what I think is wrong with your piano, and suggested a fix that should cost no more than a tech's visit.

Today, I was tuning a Steinway D. Perhaps not the best in the
world, but average, and Garrick Ohlssohn said nice things about it when he played it. Just for fun, I checked the amount of sustain it has in the top two octaves. The amount of time between playing the top note (C-88) much louder than normal and the decay to which point it could not be distinguished as a musical tone was at most 3 seconds. Two octaves lower, perhaps twice that amount of time, 6 seconds. To talk about "sustain" being bad when that is the standard (and if anything can be said to be a standard, it would be a Steinway D), is pretty much useless. It is not a characteristic of that range of pianos.

So I suspect that the problem, if there is one, is not "sustain." But since you refuse to say what you mean, I have done the best that I can. You are not worth wasting my time on, and all I have really wanted to do was to keep others from wasting their money and energy on non-problems like this.


Semipro Tech
#639407 - 04/27/07 12:17 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
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RoyP Offline
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Cincinnati, Ohio
I would trust your tech. It sounds like he has a handle on things. Bill B gives gives good advice for executing a repair.

The reason I suggest restringing the top section is that often the coupling becomes too strong. By this I mean grooves at the termination points, which can be cleaned up. The top of the bridge becomes grooved, the sides of the bridge pins become grooved, grooves develope in the capo bar. The bridge notching might be compromised. Strings can become deformed. If the tuning pins are tight, you could put new strings on using the old pins. If it was me, I would just replace the old bridge pins too. Fixing any of this in addition to fixing the loose bridge pins should help. This will freshen up the tone, and shouldn't cost that much.


Roy Peters, RPT
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.cincypiano.com
#639408 - 04/27/07 01:35 AM Re: Bridge Pins, Crack Repair Ideas?  
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 271
McLaughlin Offline
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McLaughlin  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 271
Ohio
Thanks to all ...

Larry I skipped over your question, but not on purpose. Yes the soundboard is original, with an "excellent repair in a non-critical area" according to the pre-purchase inspection technician, Larry Crabbe of Atlanta.

Mr. Crabbe is a Hall of Fame PTG tech so he had better know a good soundboard. He had no issue with the sustain at the inspection, but the local tech and I both hear the last octave + as having a very fast decay.


Brian Lucey - M&H BB 1930
the day job: Magic Garden Mastering
"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown
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