Piano World Home Page

Steinway D, improving sustain?

Posted By: jsilva

Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/23/19 03:04 PM

Outside of hammer-related issues and cracks around bridge pins, what are solvable causes of poor sustain on a Steinway D?

The tone in the higher range was also a little weak and so last night I installed a Treble Tone Resonator. It seemed to have balanced the output better, but the sustain was not affected at all. It says it might improve the sound 24-36 hours after installation, so maybe when I go back Friday there will be a miracle improvement in sustain smile (Not expecting so...)

It’s really disappointing how ‘dead’ the upper range is. I don’t recall ever hearing a high end piano this bad. Certainly not a D.
Posted By: Chernobieff Piano

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/23/19 05:27 PM

Its actually very common.
Here is 5 possibles. 1) the strike line is too close to the capo. also check blow distance and over-centering 2) The rib scale on Steinways is too weak in many of the upper ribs. 3) coupled by the fact that the panel is thinned too much up in the high end (a problematic diaphramatic). BTW, comparing a Baldwin rib scale to Steinways- its almost an identical copy but Baldwin made the ribs taller in that upper section. Hmm. 4) Excessive downbearing. I have seen Steinways with excessive downbearing angles in the high treble choking the board.

5)the soundboard has fatigued (due to 2,3,4 ) and a new board is needed.
-chris
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/23/19 07:13 PM

Thanks for the thoughts!

Do you think the Treble Tone Resonator addresses your items 2 & 3 to some extent? Honestly I’m not entirely sure how the thing works smile

I’m curious about 4. I understand it of course but have never explored downbearing (except for Baldwin’s accujust). Is the downbearing adjustable in such a way that if I can verify it is indeed too much that I’d then be able to set it non-destructively (for instance, small increments where I could test the result but where it would be reversible)?
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/24/19 02:30 AM

Resonator: you may need to tweak it a bit and have two people one playing notes and one tweaking. Not a guarantee but a strong possibility (if it works at all). I have installed one (only one) and I think it helped.

Downbearing: Please don't try to mess with it. You can't change it up there at this point.

Here's another (not seemingly related) possibility: Check the keys for front to back chucking. If so, this can rob the piano of sustain. I have seen D's with SERIOUS key chucking problems. Of course the key bushings would need attention too doubtlessly.

Don't forget the V bar!

Otherwise everything Chris said.

Pwg
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/24/19 02:52 AM

Make sure your keyframe is bedded PROPERLY. This can be huge.

Do the basics first. Then start looking for esoteric things.

Pwg
Posted By: BDB

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/24/19 05:32 AM

What type of hammers are they?

Is the decay adequately long if you pluck the strings?
Posted By: OE1FEU

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/24/19 11:59 AM

Bad tuning can ruin the sustain of a concert grand. A good concert technician will make sure that the tuning is in balance with the whole ensemble of strings, bridges and sound board.

I have a recording with my old Steinway B from 1887 that has been tuned really badly. The technician I then had over spoke about a mangled soundboard that needs straightening out by at least 2-3 tunings with 5 months. He tuned three notes that sounded really bad, had no character and little sustain and his tuning worked wonders.

I've now had the numbers of tuning by really experienced concert technicians and the piano is completely different and marvellous to listen to.

Somebody mentioned the strike line, which is another point of really great importance. A couple of millimeters away from the best tonal quality makes all the difference. I've had 42 hammers removed from the shanks and glued back in the position that we have previously defined by pulling out the action millimeter by millimeter and marking the best tonal spot. It's a completely different piano by now.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/24/19 02:36 PM

To add to the advice above.

Treble tone and sustain is strongly affected by the mass of the hammers. They are no doubt quite a bit heavier than they need to be. One can narrow and taper the hammer sides, shape more wood from the tails, and remove wires to allow for removing of felt on the low shoulders.

You will need to remove front leads from the keys if you do this work and maybe add back leads to the top octave and a half.

Correct treble strike point distance from the V-bar can be derived by using the following multipliers to the speaking lengths. Note (88 .064), (83 .075), (78 .085), (73 .089), (68 .094).

GOOD LUCK!
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/24/19 04:41 PM

Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
You will need to remove front leads from the keys if you do this work and maybe add back leads to the top octave and a half.


Thanks everyone for their advice and tips!

Ed, it’s interesting you bring up removing the front leads. The touchweight is too light and I had been planning on removing some (the action itself is also extremely heavy). Do you know if this the ‘standard’ amount of weighting for a middle C from a 1940’s D? It seems rather excessive.

[Linked Image]

I’m using 16lbs hammers on this piano.

As I’ve been thinking I realised sustain might not be the best way to describe the issue, although that is part of it. Maybe a better way to describe it is that the volume of the note drops off sharply after the attack. If the notes sustained the same amount but the drop wasn’t so sudden I’d probably not care too much. I haven’t voiced these hammers yet but I did the best I could with the previous ones and the new ones sound identical in terms of the issue I’m describing.
Posted By: GC13

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/24/19 05:03 PM

Wow! That has as many leads as my 1981 B with Teflon action had in it before I had it rebuilt. I wonder if the previous work was done during that time when Steinway was adding a lot of lead to the key sticks.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/24/19 10:28 PM

That kind of leading usually indicates some geometry and/or weight problems. I can't even imagine what the bass keys look like. That thing needs some serious help.

Pwg
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/25/19 12:10 AM

Yes the bass keys are really heavy with lead. I’ve never seen so much.

Can you tell from the photo what might be originals? On the front side 2 of the leads look different from the other 4. If there were some leads added later I could easily remove at least some of them with hopefully no ill effects. I want to anyway, since the touchweight is too light.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/25/19 02:43 AM

The original first leading is indicated by little punched marks in the bottom of the key.

This D is from the era when they first introduced the Accelerated Action and they made the key-sticks thinner to compensate for the thicker balance rail bearing. They don't have a "top plate" under the button. With key-sticks this long one needs the top plate to have adequate stiffness.

Judging by your comments and seeing the keys; I am gonna venture his piano needs some serious and significant professional attention to make it perform well.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/25/19 03:41 AM

Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Judging by your comments and seeing the keys; I am gonna venture his piano needs some serious and significant professional attention to make it perform well.


Yes, key weighting is not my forte by any means! After apprenticing with a technician 18 years ago I only continued to pursue things I as a pianist was personally interested in. Unfortunately there’s no budget to do any more work on this D than what I’m willing to do.

I mostly finished the regulation today though and at least that is considerably improved smile

I also recorded C6 on the S&S D and on my own M&H BB (which has a beautiful tone and sustain) and compared via FFT analysis. The fundamental was stronger on my BB but there was no apparent loss of partials on the D even though it sounds ‘dead’. The sustain, although less on the D, actually wasn’t bad. I recorded it right near the strings so I think that’s revealing—seems like it could be a soundboard or bridge issue since the string isn’t projecting what I recorded. Next time I’m around the D I’ll record it from underneath the soundboard and compare that to my BB.
Posted By: BDB

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/25/19 04:54 AM

Despite what is said about how the hammers have to be light to get away from the strings, the hammers have to stay on the strings long enough to impart a lot of energy to the strings. That is the reason there is felt on the hammers. They would bounce off the strings really fast if there was nothing but wood, but do you really want to listen to a piano with wooden hammers?

Ideally, the hammer should be like a dead-blow hammer so as much force as possible is transferred to the string. A dead-blow hammer is filled with weights in suspension, so that they continue to move forward when the hammer has hit to continue to apply force. This is what the cushioning provided by the felt does. If extra suspension is needed, that is what needling the felt provides.

Of course, after the hammer has hit the string, it should come off the string fairly quickly. The quality of the tone is due to the shape the hammer leaves on the string as it bounces off, according to the wave equation. If you are getting lots of fundamental, that means that the hammer is flattening out enough to damp out the partials. What you need to do is make sure that there is good support at the tip of the hammer to keep it from flattening too much. Dolge tried this by making a hammer core that was split down the middle and steamed apart, and putting the felt in the cavity that resulted, but it was expensive to do. Adding lacquer to the sides of the hammer does somewhat the same job. A little lacquer at the tip can help the hammer maintain the shape of the tip, as well, but you need to temper that with filing and surface needling.

Think of the dead-blow hammer. Some of them come with a variety of faces, depending on what you want to do. You have to provide the proper hammer face to make the sound that you want to get from the piano.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/25/19 11:25 AM

What Ed is talking about with key stiffness is the fact that on a significant blow, the key literally bends (and the long D keys bend more than others) and will rob the system of power. Anything in the power train that reduces power is going to affect tone and sustain. Doesn't matter who made the piano. It's like an old carburetor engine with a bad accelerator pump...the faster you press the gas the worse the lag is. Or, a backcheck dragging on the tail of the hammer...

Those keys should have about 8" of top plate under the buttons. And I'll bet the BR holes are a mess too.

Pwg
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/25/19 01:05 PM

Thanks for explaining your thoughts more, BDB. These are new WNG Natural hammers which have a nice shape. I’ve heard this piano with Steinway hammers, those hammers reshaped and voiced, and the new WNG hammers and the issue is literally identical.

Thanks also Pwg for explaining more what Ed meant. That’s interesting to consider.

Next time I’m in I will remove some of the front leads. I’ll also do some more recording comparisons/analysis and if they’re interesting enough I’ll share them here.

I think I must not be giving a great description of the issue. In fact most of the people who play this D think it sounds fine, and after my previous regulation in Dec everyone was pleased. One person who never wanted to play this D started using it earlier this year. And now it feels even better with the new hammers, and the tone sounds slightly better. But I’m trying to get this piano to ‘inspire’ people. It’s not there yet.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/25/19 03:01 PM

BDB's "dead blow" hammer analogy is useless. We are not trying to strike the strings and leave the hammer with no returning momentum from the strings like a dead blow hammer does when driving an object. The hammer must ESCAPE from the string!

Quote Fred Drasche, (Longtime Head Tone-Regulator at NY Steinway); "The hammer has got to get away from the strings", "The voicer puts the tone in the hammer with the shape".

In engineering parlance one could paraphrase Mr. Drasche this way; The inertial properties of the hammer must be in the proper proportion to the periodicity of the string it strikes. Hammer mass is the biggest contributor to the inertia in an action, (voicer reduces hammer string contact time by reducing weight through shaping process).

When one shapes hammers, one reduces mass. Best place to reduce the mass is anywhere but the wearing dimension if you value longevity.

Good hammer felt has a non-linear spring rate. This means that when it is highly compressed under a hard blow the felt springs back slower than when it is lightly compressed by a weak blow. That is what give tone color across the dynamic range.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/26/19 04:01 AM

I happened to come across this in a posting by DLove from a few years ago (I actually remember him from many years ago on a PTG listserv...).

“...higher profiles tend to result in heavier hammers and excess mass, especially in the upper part of the piano, and that tends to have a damping effect on high partial and high frequency development. You might get a more percussive "whump" but you will get less string energy...”

This sounds like what Ed was saying, and at least somewhat similar to what I’m hearing on the D in question. However, he goes on to say:

“...hammer weight is a tonal decision first and a touchweight decision second. The latter can always be altered (via leverage changes) to accommodate the hammer weight characteristics. You can't alter the touchweight to modify the tone.”

But this doesn’t quite sound like what Ed was saying. Unless I misunderstood, it sounded like he was saying the excess key mass could affect tone?

I’m not meaning to question the validity of what either has said, I’m simply wanting to understand.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/27/19 12:51 AM

IOW don't expect to address tone issues by changing the touch resistance. The only way you will affect tone with touch is through the fact that the pianist will (may) have more control and therefore be able to expand the tonal palette, but it won't change the fundamental sound of the instrument. To do THAT, you'll need to deal with the hammers and top action.

Pwg
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/27/19 01:26 AM

My LightHammer Tone Regulation protocol use the feel of the key moving the hammer to determine how much to lighten them. I start with almost no front leads in the keys and make my first judgments comparing the highest note on the overstrung portion to the first note above that.

You need to feel with a key speed that is within the range that would allow playing fast and light. In other words not too slow. In order to produce a soft sound, a piano that requires you to move the key so slowly that you can't play fast and soft is defective. You judge the momentum in the hammer by sensing how quickly you can change it. You also can use the return key speed to help judge this. You also must have a smooth and rapid escapement. You don't want to feel a bump resistance at escapement.

Then when you get to the portion of the compass where the frequency hit triple digits, 1,000HZ on up to the top; you must reduce the mass of the hammers nearly as much as possible to open up the treble tone. Don't start lacquering until you get the hammer mass correct.

Then you can measure the downweight and reduce it some and even it up by installing key leads. With low inertia actions 65 grams DW does not feel that heavy. (This is what blows technicians minds when they experience how easy an action can feel to play that has static touch weights above 60 grams.)

Lighter hammers also stay in voice and endure significant use far better than heavy ones.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/27/19 03:11 AM

Originally Posted by P W Grey
IOW don't expect to address tone issues by changing the touch resistance ... To do THAT, you'll need to deal with the hammers and top action.


Ok, thanks for explaining smile I wouldn’t have thought it’d make any difference but I like to hear others’ thoughts and consider them. I’m still going to remove some lead though, see how that affects touch.

It’s definitely not a hammer issue, and isn’t something affected by typical top action regulation (drop, let off, alignment, etc.).

Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
My LightHammer Tone Regulation protocol use the feel of the key moving the hammer to determine how much to lighten them...


Thanks for all of the details! Definitely interesting and useful.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/27/19 03:19 AM

When you hear too much "thud" hammer noise, you also know the hammers are too heavy. This is especially true from 1K HZ up in the compass. A you bring hammer weight down the sustain, brilliance and dynamic range rises.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/27/19 04:01 AM

Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
When you hear too much "thud" hammer noise, you also know the hammers are too heavy. This is especially true from 1K HZ up in the compass. A you bring hammer weight down the sustain, brilliance and dynamic range rises.


What weight hammers would Steinway likely have intended for this 1940’s D? I could file down one of the ‘originals’ a lot and see how it affects the tone. Although it’s worth saying the WNG replacements are somewhat heavier and in terms of the issue I’m hearing they are identical.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/27/19 05:02 AM

1940's NY Steinway hammers would have had walnut selected by weight for mouldings and they would have been made rather narrow. How they were tone regulated would have varied with who did the work. Each tone regulator can have their own "style".

Do you have a gram scale that can weigh to the nearest tenth of a gram? There are very inexpensive electronic ones now available. One that can weigh up to 200 grams should do.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 12:21 AM

Yes my wife has a nice kitchen scale I could probably use. I don’t have the original hammers though (well, I don’t think they’re originals, at least). What are you wanting me to weigh?
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 12:50 AM

Ed,

I think this might get a little too complicated...what do you think?


Pwg
Posted By: Chernobieff Piano

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 01:27 AM

Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
When you hear too much "thud" hammer noise, you also know the hammers are too heavy. This is especially true from 1K HZ up in the compass. A you bring hammer weight down the sustain, brilliance and dynamic range rises.


This is not true. I have been experimenting with this lately. Here's what i discovered. The thud noise is caused by the felt being too soft in the area above the tip of the moulding. I always hated that noise and so i have been playing with simple ways to get rid of it. What worked was applying lacquer to the tip of the moulding area with a few drops of lacquer/acetone until a circle is formed and you stop before the circle expands into the top part of the hammer( usually the circle is the size of a dime. Then let it dry and listen. It may take 1-3 applications but you'll hear the thud go away.
-chris
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 01:38 AM

That’s interesting, Chris. Do you feel like that’s always the reason? Could you get a ‘thud’ because of soundboard issues?
Posted By: Chernobieff Piano

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 01:47 AM

I was talking about the hammer thud noise, not soundboard. One thing for sure is there are many types of sounds/noises, and to be able to diagnose each of those is an essential skill for a piano technician to have.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 03:54 AM

Thanks Chris. I can certainly appreciate your thoughts. I am quite happy to ask questions and I feel no need to praise myself.

However, a rather perfect example of my perspective ... some years ago a university nearby with a CD Steinway had the action rebuilt by a reputable RPT. He did great work, except for voicing. The faculty expressed their severe disappointment to the technician but he didn’t see a problem. They (rightly) felt the piano was unusable. Eventually they asked me to come in to give advice and I wrote up a report on what I thought should be done. The technician came back and did ‘something’ and it was slightly better. I saw the piano again 2 years later and saw what he did (no one had worked on it since), and it was totally wrong for the type of hammer. I ended up spending many hours correcting the voicing work he thought needed nothing further.

I’m not a technician by profession but I did train with a longtime RPT. And since I only focus on things I’m interested in there are certainly some gaps in my knowledge. For instance, until recently I’ve had no reason to work with key weighting/balancing, so now it’s becoming something I’m interested in. Or the issue of the ‘thud’, you being very knowledgeable about soundboards I was curious what your perspective is on if that can affect the ‘thud’ sound (for instance will a dead or problematic soundboard not project string tone and sound like a thud?).

So I ask questions interested to hear everyone’s perspective, knowing that you will often disagree with each other and other fine technicians, and that some of you will give solutions that are wrong. I like to hear everyone’s thoughts and sometimes I learn things.
Posted By: Roy123

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 05:45 PM

Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
When you hear too much "thud" hammer noise, you also know the hammers are too heavy. This is especially true from 1K HZ up in the compass. A you bring hammer weight down the sustain, brilliance and dynamic range rises.


This is not true. I have been experimenting with this lately. Here's what i discovered. The thud noise is caused by the felt being too soft in the area above the tip of the moulding. I always hated that noise and so i have been playing with simple ways to get rid of it. What worked was applying lacquer to the tip of the moulding area with a few drops of lacquer/acetone until a circle is formed and you stop before the circle expands into the top part of the hammer( usually the circle is the size of a dime. Then let it dry and listen. It may take 1-3 applications but you'll hear the thud go away.
-chris


Actually, Ed was correct, and so are you. The thud noise is caused by the hammer taking too long to bounce away from the strings. Especially at the treble end of the piano, the result of a too slow bounce is the damping of the strings' vibrations. If that happens, what you're left with is a thud. There are 2 things one can do it shorten the bounce time--lighten the hammer or make it harder. Of course, one can do both.
Posted By: Rick_Parks

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 10:04 PM

Originally Posted by jsilva
Outside of hammer-related issues and cracks around bridge pins, what are solvable causes of poor sustain on a Steinway D?

The tone in the higher range was also a little weak and so last night I installed a Treble Tone Resonator. It seemed to have balanced the output better, but the sustain was not affected at all. It says it might improve the sound 24-36 hours after installation, so maybe when I go back Friday there will be a miracle improvement in sustain smile (Not expecting so...)

It’s really disappointing how ‘dead’ the upper range is. I don’t recall ever hearing a high end piano this bad. Certainly not a D.



To go back to the original question. Isn't this the same instrument you installed WNG composite parts on (which had hammers much longer than the ones that were installed). I remember your photo you posted-- about 1/8 to 1/4" longer than those that were in the action... This is more than likely your culprit for the disappointment in tone.
Not only the parts (in my opinion), but more so the installation and geometry of those parts. I didn't see how you would get a proper striking point on this piano with that photo you showed, and I am fairly certain this is what the problem is. If your striking point is off only slightly, your tone will disappoint (let alone how far off that photo was!).


Edit: "which had hammers much longer" = hammer shanks much longer

Posted By: Rick_Parks

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 10:08 PM

What I think you'll find you need to do, is perform striking point tests- find your proper location and adjust those hammers.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 11:33 PM

Originally Posted by Rick_Parks
What I think you'll find you need to do, is perform striking point tests- find your proper location and adjust those hammers.


Thanks Rick for getting the thread back on track smile Yes this is for the same piano as the other thread you mentioned.

However, I really don’t think we can use the previous installation as any kind of reference. For one, from hammer #68 up to #88 (though I forget the exact starting point) the shanks are the same length as the WNG parts. The previous hammers/shanks rather inexplicably became shorter at some point in the scale at or around #68. In the range where the WNG shanks are longer, the tonal issue I’m describing is exactly the same (and I have moved the action in and out some to see if it would get any better).

Not to mention the weighting issue. I went though and removed 63 extra weights from 15 keys today... It’ll take me hours to get the rest out and then start adjusting for optimum touchweight.

And then there was the ridiculous regulation job when I first encountered the piano.

I feel like whoever worked on this piano was a nut, or at least was trying to accommodate insane desires by a nutty pianist.
Posted By: Rick_Parks

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/28/19 11:59 PM

LOL
Nutsy jobs abound out there on pianos smile

I really do think the issue is coming from your striking line, though. Whether the set that was on there was right or not. The tone issue (or rather lack thereof) is more than likely coming from this factor. I really don't see how changing key-weight is going to do anything for you in this particular regard...
Regulation issues don't really affect such a "dead" tone of which you are speaking- except that is for regulation of hammer voicing, and as pointed out, the factors concerning the hammer strike (both proper rebound away from strings, AND more commonly the striking line of the hammers). I doubt you are experiencing a problem with the hammers killing the tone at the point of strike, so, I really do think that you are experiencing a striking point issue here.
I confess, I didn't follow the entire thread from before--- did you run any striking point tests? To see if tone improved? Are you sure the bore angle was set proper?
By the way, I can't remember- did you say the tone was dead like this BEFORE you replaced the hammers?
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/29/19 01:05 PM

Thanks Rick. I’ll give it a shot when I’m in next week. And yes, the tonal issue has been there since I first heard the piano. I voiced the previous hammers which made the piano sound better, but the ‘dead’ sound remained. The new WNG hammers sound a little better but again there is somewhat of a dead sound.

The touchweight issue became muddled into the tone issue because I misunderstood what Ed was saying. However, I had been wanting to increase the touchweight anyway. But when I saw how much lead was in the keys it became a bigger issue which I’m now regretting a bit (since it will take more time than I should reasonably put into the piano).
Posted By: Rick_Parks

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/29/19 02:19 PM

Agreed that you definitely have your work cut out for you there with the key-weight issue and the regulation...
Have you checked that the bridges are not loose? If the deadness of tone was there before, could it be that the bridge glue joints have let loose?
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/29/19 02:39 PM

Did you check the strike line using the multipliers I provided earlier? These ratios were derived from hundreds of pianos and testing by ear. I find them much more reliable than setting them all by ear every time because new hammers are too soft in the treble to give you any nuanced information about exact strike point. At least they should be too soft up there when new or they will be too hard everywhere else.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 05/29/19 08:18 PM

I will confidently admit I have done zero work with bridges beyond using CA glue on pins for false beats. Are there signs to look for regarding a loose bridge (I mean, if it’s not blatantly obvious)?

Thanks for the reminder Ed. I’ll be there next week and I’ll do more investigating.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/04/19 12:30 AM

I was in for a short time today and tested the strike line and no hammer position appeared to solve what I’m hearing. I’m inclined to attribute the problem to something I have no experience with, such as bridge repair or soundboard replacement. I can try Chris’ lacquering technique, although the WNG hammers are already fairly hard (but I can easily test with an older Steinway hammer).

But one good thing is that the piano is being moved into a room with more active acoustics smile That should help somewhat with the tone.

I was able to remove excess lead from another 17 keys today...
Posted By: Craig Hair

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/04/19 01:11 PM

Have you measured the crown height from note 50 on up.
If so, then what did you find?? it could be a good place to investigate also, maybe.
It's easy on that model, string and tape, flat, convex, or even concave, I'm curious.

R. Blais.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/04/19 08:43 PM

I haven’t but I can the next time I’m there.
Posted By: deerfield

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/15/19 03:00 AM

Hello, my Steinway O seems to have similar issues to that described by the OP. Can anyone PM me a reputable technician who services the lower Westchester, NY area? Many thanks in advance!
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/21/19 12:30 AM

On Tuesday I was pursuing an idea and got fairly frustrated because I hadn’t brought the tools I needed and was making do with what I had and then broke a string smile Not a big deal, however...

Today I replaced that string. According to the plate it was a 16. However the string on it was quite a bit smaller. When I put the new string on the tone/sustain was improved noticeably. I didn’t have a lot of time with it but it’s a little exciting.

But also frustrating. I don’t know how many strings are the wrong size in that problem area, but replacing potentially 20 or more notes doesn’t fill me with happiness!

I’ll investigate more when I’m there the next time.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/21/19 04:39 PM

Certainly the thing was strung with all the wrong wire it's going to have a significant impact on tone and sustain.

I have seen idiot workmanship like that before.

Pwg
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/22/19 06:56 PM

Idiot workmanship seems to describe every modifyable part of this piano... If changing the strings makes this piano sound better in that region it will be a big relief.

One thing I was wondering is if taking out all of that lead will weaken the key? There will be 4 or more empty holes in almost every key by the time I’m done. Do the holes need to be filled with something?
Posted By: BDB

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/22/19 08:42 PM

You should be very cautious about removing weights.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/22/19 10:39 PM

Personally, I would fill (glue) corresponding plugs of suitable wood on those holes. Yes, you do need some integrity. Pianotek sells plugs that work well.

I hope you're getting paid for all this.

Pwg
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/23/19 03:41 AM

Thanks Pwg. I checked them out on Pianotek’s website. A little more expensive than I would have hoped but I should do it.

I am sort of being paid ... it’s a complicated story smile
Posted By: BDB

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/23/19 04:03 AM

The drill bit supplier in the recent topic sells plug cutters.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/23/19 04:23 PM

With or without lead in a hole, the strength of the key is the same. The action response sure changes!
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 06/23/19 11:12 PM

That makes sense Ed. Unless the leads are glued then they wouldn’t be adding any strength to the wood. So at least I’m not losing any key strength, although maybe I should put plugs in them at some point.

The keys I did take the lead out of do feel different, and better.
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 07/07/19 03:23 PM

The other day I replaced more of the strings (with Mapes IGS) and the improvement in tone is very noticeable. Some of the notes have the wrong size string and some are ok, but the improvement is with every note. The poorest notes have a substantial improvement.

What a surprise! (To me, at least.)

I’m not the fastest at replacing strings so finishing up that range will take a while. Yet another thing I’m doing to the piano...
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 08/15/19 02:17 AM

I was finally able to replace the strings in the ‘dead’ range with Mapes IGS. Sound is substantially improved! Almost finished with this piano...

[Linked Image]
Posted By: adamp88

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 08/15/19 01:32 PM

Should've cleaned the plate when the strings were off. smile
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 08/15/19 02:49 PM

Originally Posted by adamp88
Should've cleaned the plate when the strings were off. smile


Yes... smile Thanks for pointing that out. I do have a detailing brush that would at least get the dust out. Tonight is my last night doing serious work on the piano (voicing and finish regulation) so I’ll try to remember to bring it.
Posted By: Chernobieff Piano

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 08/15/19 03:17 PM

Regarding sustain and the soundboards role.
I am in the process of rebuilding a Mason and Hamlin AA. I installed a new soundboard in it that focused on having a correct rib scale. The original board had a massive rib scale and the panel was also very thick. I'll admit that the original board sounded very good, and most people would have wanted to keep the original. My client knows my work and so wanted a new board. I installed a thinner panel, engineered the rib scale and my crew and myself could hardly believe the improvement in sustain. I usually do a tap test on the old board and then the new one to get a comparison. Most old boards sound like table tops until the plate is installed, and only then will they exhibit sustain. My new boards are sounding like timpani drums even loaded with the strings. On Steinways the main problem with no sustain in the questioned section is 3 fold as far as a soundboard is concerned. 1) excessive downbearing, usually 2 degrees. 2) Weak ribs, usually the 3rd and 4th ribs from the top are under-engineered. 3) Too thin a panel at the top treble sections. I even did a Chladni test of Steinway soundboards and even that test shows that Steinway's are too weak in the top sections, indicated by sand traveling to that area at a low frequency of 50hz. All of those factors contribute to poor sustain. Since every other part of the chain (strings , hammers) are built on top of the soundboard, the soundboard is the main culprit that has to be covered over by the other parts of the chain.
I am posting a comparison chart of 2 section modulus curves of a Steinway S. This shows the original and my new version. The chart clearly shows the weakness at ribs 8 and 7. -chris
[img]https://imgur.com/gallery/QcTPdgo[/img]
Posted By: jsilva

Re: Steinway D, improving sustain? - 08/15/19 11:03 PM

Thanks Chris smile In the case of this piano the issue I was experiencing was mainly due to someone putting too small of strings in that range. That is just one of several really strange things done to this poor piano!

With the correct size strings, and possibly to some extent the Treble Tone Resonator I installed a while back, the tone is much improved in that range.
© 2019 Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums