Piano World Home Page

How to Tell ...

Posted By: UnrightTooner

How to Tell ... - 11/24/10 01:14 PM

How to tell when a re-what-ever job could have been done better:

1. Half a lid hinge is missing
2. A bass bi-chord has the left and right strings switched
3. The hammers rub on the pinblock when the action is slid out
4. Some strings are not hit by the hammers
5. The heads of the pinblock screws are painted
6. Gaps in the coils on the tuning pins
7. The pinblock is mushy feeling, bushings probably original
8. Mahogany case poorly refinished in open pore semi-gloss
9. Naturals have note letters molded into them, but are not in order

All this was on the same piano, but it didn’t sound too bad.

Others?
Posted By: maserman1

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/24/10 03:29 PM


1. Inclusions and dry spray in polyester.
2. Action not regulated : uneven down/up weights, uneven key dip, hammer blocking in base, double striking in tenor.
3. Main lid hinge (grand) not fitted correctly, so two halves not on same plane.
4. Leg attachments "improved" so piano unstable.
and, the last straw,
5. A 2-inch crack in the frame which had been lacquered over.

All in the same piano !
Posted By: Bob

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/25/10 04:04 AM

I had a couple of Kimball consoles in Chicago where the factory had the wire going to the wrong pins one unison. I had arrows drawn on the plates to remind me which pin to turn for which string!

I have a rebuilt Baldwin F here where the bass string unisons were installed backwards, as were the hammers - the hammer on C was on B and the hammer for B was on C. The piano buzzed, which turned out to be a loose plate bolt. The whole rebuild really needs to be re done.
Posted By: Loren D

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/25/10 12:14 PM

Strings that are spliced.....in the speaking portion! Yes, I came across a grand that had three of them.
Posted By: Cy Shuster, RPT

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/25/10 03:30 PM


  • Tuning pin heights that vary by 1/4" or more
  • Gold spray paint on the tuning pins and strings (if you're lucky, a true craftsman masks off the wound part of the strings)
  • New hammers, but didn't bother to replace back rail felt on a grand. This makes key leveling and even dip problematic! Please refelt the whole keyframe...


--Cy--
Posted By: wayne walker

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/25/10 09:10 PM

Originally Posted by Cy Shuster

  • Gold spray paint on the tuning pins and strings (if you're lucky, a true craftsman masks off the wound part of the strings)


--Cy--

What about the cooper paint on the wound strings to make them look new
Posted By: UnrightTooner

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/26/10 01:31 PM

Originally Posted by Cy Shuster
…..
  • Gold spray paint on the tuning pins and strings (if you're lucky, a true craftsman masks off the wound part of the strings)
…..

--Cy--


Great tip! I’ll have to stock up on masking tape. Reusing aluminum foil from the BBQ grill is OK, but I think it is time I “raise the bar.”
Posted By: Torger

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/30/10 03:27 AM

Key leads held in place by contact cement (which split the wood around the leads) ..... on an otherwise nice instrument...

Dampers that have jiffy leads on them to help them seat..... properly...

split hammer shank repaired by a pink band aid
Posted By: Dale Fox

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/30/10 06:45 AM

Originally Posted by Loren D
Strings that are spliced.....in the speaking portion! Yes, I came across a grand that had three of them.


Loren,
How did they sound? I've done that particular repair on multiple occasions on abused pianos from churches that only call when the strings break. Anyone else think this is necessarily a bad repair? A lot more stable than a new string without the wait.
Posted By: BDB

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/30/10 06:57 AM

I think of it as a temporary repair until new strings can be ordered.
Posted By: Loren D

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/30/10 11:29 AM

Originally Posted by Dale Fox
Originally Posted by Loren D
Strings that are spliced.....in the speaking portion! Yes, I came across a grand that had three of them.


Loren,
How did they sound? I've done that particular repair on multiple occasions on abused pianos from churches that only call when the strings break. Anyone else think this is necessarily a bad repair? A lot more stable than a new string without the wait.


They sounded ok, I'll say. I was just taken aback to see splicing in the speaking portion of the string. I was never very pro-splicing to begin with unless as a temporary repair, but splicing in the speaking portion (at least as a permanent fix, anyway) just seems wrong to me.
Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/30/10 01:21 PM

I've spliced them wherever I could get them to work. Especially during a concert. If they break and no strings are available, it's better than no string in there at all.



Posted By: James Carney

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/30/10 04:00 PM

If it's a new or late model piano, I think string replacement is best. But for an older instrument with some degradation of bass string tone, splicing is really the way to go. I've been taught that splicing wrapped strings along the speaking portion is completely acceptable - even more desirable - than new string replacement. It looks ratty, though, so if the owner wants new strings (even if the splice sounds great) then that's what the owner gets.

Plain wire strings should not be spliced anywhere along the speaking length.

Posted By: bellspiano

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/30/10 11:00 PM

Yesterday I went out to a new customer on a referral from a local tuner; the complaint was "separated hammer on G5." Here's what I found:
1899 M&H full-sized upright
all new hammer heads
all new damper felts
all new key covers
all new strings
all new finish
new bass bridge.
The customer was reported to be "so happy that they could afford a rebuilt Mason and Hamlin." (I never saw the customer, and I don't think that the referring tuner ever sees them either.)

Here's what else I found:
brass hammer rail, loose hammer screws everywhere and two hammers frankly separated (I fixed those and tightened all screws);
cracks in tenor bridge making tuning unstable;
cracks in treble bridge making tuning unstable.

Who would put all that work into a brass-hammer-rail piano? Who would replace only one cracked bridge? Who would imply to the little family that this was worth any kind of money at all? The piano is giving up the ghost daily as the child practices her recital piece, using appropriate dynamic range (no banging on the keys -- she played her piece for me). The tuner tells me the family paid "thousands of dollars" about five years ago, I guess on the basis of the nameplate, and when she reports tuning instability, they say, "Just do your best."
It was a very disturbing visit.
Posted By: Del

Re: How to Tell ... - 11/30/10 11:01 PM

Originally Posted by Cy Shuster

  • Tuning pin heights that vary by 1/4" or more
  • Gold spray paint on the tuning pins and strings (if you're lucky, a true craftsman masks off the wound part of the strings)
  • New hammers, but didn't bother to replace back rail felt on a grand. This makes key leveling and even dip problematic! Please refelt the whole keyframe...

Back in the 1970s the first two of these could be found on certain very high-end new pianos (and there are probably still a few of them out there that have not yet been restrung). And to these you can add:
  • Tuning pins driven down so far that the string has to climb up over the edge of the hole in the plate.


ddf

Posted By: Dale Fox

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/01/10 05:31 AM

Originally Posted by BDB
I think of it as a temporary repair until new strings can be ordered.


On some pianos I would agree with you, BDB. On some pianos, the customer isn't interested in paying for a proper new wire nor is the piano worth the time and extra trips. Some of these pianos I really never want to see again so I lose no sleep over giving them an effective repair that sounds and works well, and with a little effort can look fairly neat, as well.

A newer piano, that's a different case entirely. In that case, it's a temporary repair.
Posted By: Dale Fox

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/01/10 05:41 AM

Originally Posted by Loren D
Originally Posted by Dale Fox
Originally Posted by Loren D
Strings that are spliced.....in the speaking portion! Yes, I came across a grand that had three of them.


Loren,
How did they sound? I've done that particular repair on multiple occasions on abused pianos from churches that only call when the strings break. Anyone else think this is necessarily a bad repair? A lot more stable than a new string without the wait.


They sounded ok, I'll say. I was just taken aback to see splicing in the speaking portion of the string. I was never very pro-splicing to begin with unless as a temporary repair, but splicing in the speaking portion (at least as a permanent fix, anyway) just seems wrong to me.



I find that lots of techs having never become proficient at string tying, have difficulty with a bass repair. Since I often give the technical exam and have people in my shop practicing for the exam, I've gotten very proficient and find it to be an efficient and, done well, a neat repair.

Given an old wreck of a piano (or a piano that is being abused in some commercial or church setting) I really never hesitate to recommend we at least try it first. If it doesn't work, we can order another string, make the required trip (or three) back to install and re-tune and end up with a string that not only looks far different from it's tired neighbors, but also sounds out of place.

A newer piano requires a different mindset.
Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/01/10 01:29 PM

Quote
A newer piano, that's a different case entirely. In that case, it's a temporary repair.


Agreed. I have a fairly new RX-6 with a broken wire. I can tie a knot to look pretty and it'll sound pretty in or out of the speaking length but, on a quality grand, I prefer replacement myself at a later date, perhaps even on the next visit (I'm there often in this case) to save a service call charge.
Posted By: rXd

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/01/10 03:10 PM

Splicing bass strings is an essential skill for the responsible technician. There are many situations where an immediate repair is nexessary. It is folly to be snobbish about it when we should be doing what best serves the immediate needs of our clientel which is, usually, splice it now and replace it later or, if the piano is ready for restringing anyway, the most cost effective thing to do is to leave the spliced string in. The real skill is to make the knot so discreet that you have to be really looking to notice it.
I have tied knots in the speaking length and, after minimal basic tone regulation, asked visiting technicians to tell me which one it is without looking. Often the spliced string sounds better than the rest of the strings, particularly among strings that are getting dead sounding.
Posted By: Loren D

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/01/10 10:58 PM

I've never had a customer react positively when I pointed out a spliced string in their piano. And yes, I point them out, so if they find out about it later, they know I'm not the one who did it. Many times, they weren't even aware a string was broken and spliced, and that's what upsets them. It would upset me too. It would be different if options were explained to them and they got to choose.

Are there times when splicing is desirable? I suppose there are. But I still fail to see how it is a superior repair to replacing the string. If a string broke before a concert, I could see doing it then since there really isn't another option; but I still think the string should later be replaced, especially if it's a concert instrument.

If your parking break cable snapped, would you rather have it replaced or tied in a knot?

Looks like we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one, but it's all good. smile
Posted By: BDB

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/01/10 11:36 PM

As I said, I consider tying as a temporary repair. Sometimes the "permanent" repair never happens, though.
Posted By: rXd

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/02/10 03:04 AM

Whoever said splicing is a subversive act? I always point out a splice I perform and advise my client about their options from that point. I haven't broken a string during tuning for years now so the string is always broken before I get there and they already know about it. Splices I see done previously by others I will point out and explain the most likely circumstances then give them options from there. I never get negative reaction from a client. Why would I want to frighten them with unnecessary drama? It is just what it is, no more, no less. Neither 'good' nor 'bad'. any emotional content would have to come from the way I present the situation, wouldn't it?.
Surely we don't advocate struggling along with a string missing while we obtain a new one or allow a heavily used piano to suffer further damage from use without a string? Splicing is an essential skill and I welcome any and all opportunities to keep my skills honed.
Sometimes some tooner has taken the string for duplication and never returned. There is no excuse for this so let me now praise Mapes who keep records of any string you might possibly want for almost any piano. We don't have a service like that here so accord them their true value and never take them for granted. Is Wayne Hicks still there?.
Posted By: Loren D

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/02/10 03:52 AM

I disagree that a repair is what it is, nothing more, nothing less. That would seem to infer that all repairs are equal in quality, and only our perception of them differs, which of course is not the case. Some repairs are and look more professional and complete than others. The only time you need to be without the string altogether is when you have to send a bass string out for duplication, in which case I install a universal until the replacement arrives. That's really the only thing universal strings are good for. Plain strings can be installed on the spot, so doing without a string becomes a non-issue, providing you keep your wire stock complete.

Sorry, I still think tying a string in a knot and leaving it like that is a substandard repair. Yes, I know it's accepted and advocated in the trade. I still think it's a substandard repair. Many excellent technicians do it and have many satisfied customers and good reputations, and it is to their credit. Its just not for me.
Posted By: UnrightTooner

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/02/10 12:10 PM

Originally Posted by rxd


….. Often the spliced string sounds better than the rest of the strings, particularly among strings that are getting dead sounding.


Yep! I have had very good success with slacking off old bass strings about an octave, pounding on the note and restoring the tension to bring back the tone. Breaking and splicing a string is an uncontrolled way to do the same thing. But then I have never needed to splice in the speaking potion. (I feel a jinx coming on.)

I think most agree that a piano that has been re-what-evered should not have any spliced strings, though.
Posted By: PianoTech70

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/02/10 01:27 PM

I have had to tie strings in the past, but I do my very best to get the customer to let me replace the string with a new one. It is true, that the string is often not damaged signifcantly or the quality of the tone changed much by the repair, but I still try to replace as soon as possible. So far, even with old pianos of not much worth, I have been successful on nearly all occassions to replace the string at a later date. My customers seem to think that this is acceptable and worthy of consideration. SO.... do we need to change it? Maybe not, but I tend to make it a part of my customer satisfaction package, so I encourage it. That's my way, you do as you can.
Posted By: BDB

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/02/10 05:03 PM

A string is always damaged significantly by tying a knot. The tight bend is fatiguing in itself, half of it where the string was already weakened. Strings break at the knot.
Posted By: rXd

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/02/10 05:54 PM

Originally Posted by BDB
A string is always damaged significantly by tying a knot. The tight bend is fatiguing in itself, half of it where the string was already weakened. Strings break at the knot.


And the amazing thing is, they rarely do!
Posted By: BDB

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/02/10 05:57 PM

That has not been my experience.
Posted By: UnrightTooner

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/02/10 06:01 PM

I have had one spliced bass string break (someone else's splice, not that it matters) and it was at the knot, but on the new piece. And I have seen many, many more splices that have not broken.
Posted By: BDB

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/02/10 06:11 PM

That is because the ones that have broken are no longer in the piano!
Posted By: UnrightTooner

Re: How to Tell ... - 12/02/10 07:24 PM

The one that broke on me still is in that piano. I re-spliced it! Why not? Half the splice was still there! I'll be tuning it again this month. The re-splice has plenty of company in that Howard spinet.
© 2019 Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums