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I have a 1984 Zimmermann baby grand. It sounds OK in my small apartment but the last 9 (of 14) single strings sound like a staccato tuba. I've already tried giving them a twist and tapping down the bridge pins, but no change. (I'm not a technician, but I completed technician training at community college years ago and did my work study in the piano tech dept at UT.)

If I wanted to replace the unichords myself, what's going to be the least expensive route? I just need something that sounds even a little better for the next four years until the kids move out of the house and I can get a new piano.

Thanks in advance,
Stewart


1984 Zimmermann baby grand
1901 Kurztmann upright
1980 Fender Rhodes 54
1979 Clavinet/Pianet Duo
196? Frankenwurly (Started life as a 206, chopped the base off, added a friend's prototype tube pre-amp and tremolo circuit from a Dan Electro Tuna Melt)
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Have you had this piano since new? How has the sound changed over the years? If it’s a very small grand , like 4’7” or less than 5’ it might not ever had very lively bass in the single strings.

But if you want to change them you’ll have to find a supplier of strings. Howard Piano might be your best avenue. You can order “universal” strings which come in a length where you have to cut back the winding to match your existing string, or you can order custom strings.

For custom strings you either have to send in your existing strings for matching or follow their instructions to make a paper pattern. Sending your strings is better but you’ll be without them for a while.


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Originally Posted by WBLynch
But if you want to change them you’ll have to find a supplier of strings. Howard Piano might be your best avenue. You can order “universal” strings which come in a length where you have to cut back the winding to match your existing string, or you can order custom strings.

For custom strings you either have to send in your existing strings for matching or follow their instructions to make a paper pattern. Sending your strings is better but you’ll be without them for a while.

The piano I teach lessons on has one universal string on a bass bichord, and I curse whomever did that every time I play D2. Granted, changing out one string on a bichord is probably not "best practice"...

To the OP, greetings from a fellow Teasip ('99-05). Any chance of getting Charles out of retirement to put a set on your piano? I think Mary and Tom are still around town as well.


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Another thought Stewart,

Have you evaluated the bass hammers? There is a possibility they’ve lost shape or become soft over the years. Might need some attention there.


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A quick look at Howard Piano Industry tells me that 1 universal bass string is $25.95 while custom is $31.95. Considering the hassle of preparing the universal strings and possibly the lesser tonal quality, I would go with the custom bass strings especially this is for all the singles to be used for the next 4 years.

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Mapes is a lot cheaper.


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Yes, but they open to the public?

Last edited by K8KT; 10/07/20 04:04 PM.
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All their information, including ordering information, is on their website.


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OP - you might want to check this out: https://www.sandersonpiano.com/accu-strings-ordering.html

I ordered a single replacement string from them about 10 years ago - took some careful measurements, filled out their form. String worked fine. It was one of a bi-chord.

Looks like they charge $20 for single wound string; $22 for double.
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I think that brings you close to $200 with shipping for your order.
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If you could spend a bit more, I strongly recommend contacting Gregor Heller at Hellerbass in Germany. We replaced the strings in my piano with them, and they are a significant improvement over the strings with which it had been re-strung prior to sale about 3 years before I bought the piano. Gregor can get you strings quickly, and his prices are very competitive. Quality is top notch. He has a different way of having you measure, but if you ask, they can send you a tape measure fitted out to help you with what they need.

Good luck with your project.


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It might be more cost effective to replace the whole set than a handful. I’m thinking they’ll be closer to $12 each if you bought the set. Not sure though.


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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
[quote=WBLynch]

To the OP, greetings from a fellow Teasip ('99-05). Any chance of getting Charles out of retirement to put a set on your piano? I think Mary and Tom are still around town as well.

That's a little past my time. ('88-92) Charles was still there, along w Ed Guerra and Ramon (?) I think Tom joined during my last semester. I learned so much from all those guys.


1984 Zimmermann baby grand
1901 Kurztmann upright
1980 Fender Rhodes 54
1979 Clavinet/Pianet Duo
196? Frankenwurly (Started life as a 206, chopped the base off, added a friend's prototype tube pre-amp and tremolo circuit from a Dan Electro Tuna Melt)
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Thanks for everyones responses. Custom looks like the way to go for me, less margin for error on my end. It plays very well for being so small, it just those last few bass notes that are horrible. I realize the tone may not be consistent between the new and old, but honestly this is a practice piano. I don't record with it or anything.


1984 Zimmermann baby grand
1901 Kurztmann upright
1980 Fender Rhodes 54
1979 Clavinet/Pianet Duo
196? Frankenwurly (Started life as a 206, chopped the base off, added a friend's prototype tube pre-amp and tremolo circuit from a Dan Electro Tuna Melt)
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You are facing multiple levels of tonal challenge.

- a tiny grand has impossibly short bass strings in the low register
- a piano designed and built in East Germany with all the inherent shortcuts on quality of material and construction (hammers??)
- bass strings of questionable original quality, now close to 40 years old.

Note that this is not a judgement, but rather a statement of fact. I say this with no disrespect.

Replacing those low strings will resolve issue #3, but will not affect the other issues.

Before I would get new strings I would get an expert in to rule out the possibility that the poor tone is related to a soundboard or bridge issue. Sometimes a loose apron, which might be impossible for a layperson to see, can have a similar effect to what you are experiencing. There could be negative bearing there, etc...

PS The shorter the bass strings, the thicker they are, by design. Working with that thick, stiff wire can be like wrestling a bear. The dampers on a grand make the job even more difficult. Not to be recommended for a layperson - I would let a technician do this.

good luck.


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I've replaced exactly 1 set of bass strings, and that was on my Kawai baby grand, so it is doable for a novice. Although I didn't buy my strings from these guys, I basically followed their step-by-step videos on how to do it. So if you're set on replacing bass strings, be sure to check out the videos in Arledge Bass Strings' library.

Good luck!


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I have faith in you Rohdes54. I'm sure you can figure it out. Piano tuners aren't taught how to put on wire anyway, so we are all laypersons in that respect. Everyone just does it.

I do it differently than the Arledge Bass String videos. I don't turn the pins out 3 turns, I make the coil on a dummy pin, I set my becket bends at 4:30, I don't over pull 100 cents, I don't massage the wire at the bridge pins, and I don't do that grab and wiggle thing with the pliers. Somehow, it all seem to work out in the end.


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Hey Lemon, how far to you turn your pins out when removing the strings? If less than 3 turns, but you turn your pin 3 turns to tighten, won't your pins end up being a little too low? I agree the overpulling, massaging, and wiggling seems of little benefit.


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I turn the pin out a single turn, make the coil on a dummy pin that is one size smaller, and then install the coil on the pin. Everything works out perfectly if you use the traditional 3 rounds plus "a little bit." I interpret that to be at 4:30. I don't think it matters as long as all the pins are in the same orientation. That will be a challenge for a first timer! I've seen many professionals pay no attention to that detail.


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Ah yes, you already made the 3 turns on the dummy pin. Duh. Thanks!


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I emailed Heller to ask for their free measuring tool. They were very kind and asked if I was a technician. I replied with that I'd completed a year Piano Technician training, was briefly a member of PTG and had done 4 years of work-study at UT Butler School piano dept. They said that answer was good enough. smile


1984 Zimmermann baby grand
1901 Kurztmann upright
1980 Fender Rhodes 54
1979 Clavinet/Pianet Duo
196? Frankenwurly (Started life as a 206, chopped the base off, added a friend's prototype tube pre-amp and tremolo circuit from a Dan Electro Tuna Melt)
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Very small baby grand pianos have bass strings that are much more difficult to work with due to their thickness. If you are going to make a coil on a dummy pin, you may want to consider doing it on a larger pin for the bass strings. Maybe even use a shorter leg (the part the goes into the whole). For the lowest notes, with such thick wires, a dummy pin may not be an effective approach. It won't be easy.

When I cut my wire lengths, I am aiming for a becket leg to be pointing at 4 o'clock position. The whole of the tuning pin, for me, is in the 4:30 position, which is basically a 45 degree angle to the direction of the string.

I am sure you will be able to get the job done!


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