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Joined: Apr 2014
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Duaner Offline OP
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So, I tuned a nearly new vertical about two months ago. Two weeks late the lady called me saying there were strange noises when she play one of the notes. Sure enough a string had broken on her time not mine, just saying, I didn't leave it that way lol (C#3 one of the dual bass there). So the key to this story is that it's a longish drive to this piano and I went there again and brought the string home because it broke in the loop and I was hesitant to try to fix the loop (lack of experience really)....looking back now I should have and will from now on loop it and tie it whatever on the spot....but I didn't then. Instead I ordered a new bass string and installed it.

I said all that to say that in a while the string came to me and I set up an appointment to return on the longish drive to install the string....which I did only to get a call back in about less than 2 weeks that the string had dropped even though I thought I had done everything I could to stretch it and curve it around hitch pins, left it a bit sharp and all that.....but obviously it didn't take as I need to go back now.

So, I am asking for advice as to what you do in such similar cases? How do you leave a new string just installed when/before you walk out the door for home? There has got to be a method I'm not familiar with because now I have to make the trek all the way back there to do a 10 minute job!!


Duane Graves


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Duane, I am afraid that the repair you did will be like gum on the bottom of your shoe. It will take years for the new string to stretch out the same as it's mate. And even then there is a good chance of a tonal mismatch. Yeah, splicing would have been best. Can you still do so? Do you have the old string? But even so you can expect the spliced string to stretch, but there is a "dirty trick" for that. Leave it WAY high in pitch, but install a felt mute (I use a piece of temperament strip folded up) between the spliced string and the next note. Yes, you will have two notes, each with only one string singing, but the piano will sound as good as possible under the circumstances. If you need to do so in the future, charge for the next visit ahead of time, and plan on it in about a month. Maybe do some regulation and definitely a touch-up tuning since it is a bit of a drive. Of course at the second visit leave the spliced string as high as you might be able to stand.

But here you are now, not at "the next time". Guy, I suggest you splice the string, if you still have it, and do the muting and return technique I mentioned. If not, get two new strings, leave them both higher than you can stand it, plan on coming back in a week, and then again in a month. Always leave them higher in pitch than you can stand, which will be acceptable to just about any regular piano owner.

If you decide you must leave the new string like it is and not even replace it with the old, spliced string, you can still use the "dirty trick" with the mute and wait as long as you and the customer feel comfortable.

EDIT: Oh, and I wouldn't charge any extra. Count it as self education and customer satisfaction.

Last edited by UnrightTooner; 12/23/20 01:45 PM.

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Find a cheap tuning hammers and tell her that it's a gift. Show here how to carefully turn the hammer and if she has a smartphone, install a free app that helps her tune this one string. This may take 20 minutes longer than one 10 minute service appearance, but you only do this once instead of driving there multiple times

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Originally Posted by UnrightTooner
Duane, I am afraid that the repair you did will be like gum on the bottom of your shoe. It will take years for the new string to stretch out the same as it's mate. And even then there is a good chance of a tonal mismatch. Yeah, splicing would have been best. Can you still do so? Do you have the old string? But even so you can expect the spliced string to stretch, but there is a "dirty trick" for that. Leave it WAY high in pitch, but install a felt mute (I use a piece of temperament strip folded up) between the spliced string and the next note. Yes, you will have two notes, each with only one string singing, but the piano will sound as good as possible under the circumstances. If you need to do so in the future, charge for the next visit ahead of time, and plan on it in about a month. Maybe do some regulation and definitely a touch-up tuning since it is a bit of a drive. Of course at the second visit leave the spliced string as high as you might be able to stand.

But here you are now, not at "the next time". Guy, I suggest you splice the string, if you still have it, and do the muting and return technique I mentioned. If not, get two new strings, leave them both higher than you can stand it, plan on coming back in a week, and then again in a month. Always leave them higher in pitch than you can stand, which will be acceptable to just about any regular piano owner.

If you decide you must leave the new string like it is and not even replace it with the old, spliced string, you can still use the "dirty trick" with the mute and wait as long as you and the customer feel comfortable.

EDIT: Oh, and I wouldn't charge any extra. Count it as self education and customer satisfaction.

+1

Also, maybe not charge extra now, but do in the future.


Jean Poulin

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If it is a nearly new piano, this should be a warranty job.


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(Jeff wrote) If you decide you must leave the new string like it is and not even replace it with the old, spliced string, you can still use the "dirty trick" with the mute and wait as long as you and the customer feel comfortable.

Hi Jeff (and others) there is no next time as I cannot splice the broken string it is not available.....so I'm left with the new string (they are dual coiled strings by the way). If I mute the old string and the one below it like you said how long before (or even will it ever) start to match its mate. Funny thing is I have had to change one of the dual bass strings on another piano and it matched soon after but this one not so much.

Last edited by Duaner; 12/23/20 08:08 PM.

Duane Graves


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Did you wiggle the loop end at the barrel like James Arledge recommends? A large portion of "stretch" is contained in that twisted loop arrangement.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Last edited by P W Grey; 12/23/20 08:14 PM.

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I'm a huge fan of the "dirty trick". One tip is to use something that will stay in for a year without eventually popping itself out on a hard blow. A wedge mute obviously won't work for more than a day, but a thick piece of temperament strip folded in half will. I tried a foam ear plug once. That worked great, but it turned the copper green so I don't recommend that. Then you just pull the mute out the next time you tune the piano.

Sometimes I'll charge a little extra upfront and work it out so that the next time I'm working in the area I can take a small detour for a 5-minute appointment. But I have a hard time keeping track of things that aren't already explicit events on my calendar, so I avoid that.


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Originally Posted by Duaner
(Jeff wrote) If you decide you must leave the new string like it is and not even replace it with the old, spliced string, you can still use the "dirty trick" with the mute and wait as long as you and the customer feel comfortable.

Hi Jeff (and others) there is no next time as I cannot splice the broken string it is not available.....so I'm left with the new string (they are dual coiled strings by the way). If I mute the old string and the one below it like you said how long before (or even will it ever) start to match its mate. Funny thing is I have had to change one of the dual bass strings on another piano and it matched soon after but this one not so much.

Since it has already stretched some, I'd tune at least 20 cents sharp and wait a month before removing the mute. Remember to leave it as high as you can stand. My experience is that you can get a fair amount of drop out of the string by tightening and loosening the coil, about 1/8 turn but well below pitch, a few times while lifting the coil.


Jeff Deutschle
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Originally Posted by AWilley
I'm a huge fan of the "dirty trick". One tip is to use something that will stay in for a year without eventually popping itself out on a hard blow. A wedge mute obviously won't work for more than a day, but a thick piece of temperament strip folded in half will. I tried a foam ear plug once. That worked great, but it turned the copper green so I don't recommend that. Then you just pull the mute out the next time you tune the piano.

Sometimes I'll charge a little extra upfront and work it out so that the next time I'm working in the area I can take a small detour for a 5-minute appointment. But I have a hard time keeping track of things that aren't already explicit events on my calendar, so I avoid that.

+1


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Duaner Offline OP
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Originally Posted by UnrightTooner
If you decide you must leave the new string like it is and not even replace it with the old, spliced string, you can still use the "dirty trick" with the mute and wait as long as you and the customer feel comfortable.

EDIT: Oh, and I wouldn't charge any extra. Count it as self education and customer satisfaction.


Duane Graves


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Originally Posted by UnrightTooner
If you decide you must leave the new string like it is and not even replace it with the old, spliced string, you can still use the "dirty trick" with the mute and wait as long as you and the customer feel comfortable.

EDIT: Oh, and I wouldn't charge any extra. Count it as self education and customer satisfaction.

.....This is great advice and I will use it but there may be another hurtle in that I think the new string I installed either is the first or second string in at the start of the second section of strings. This would prevent using the "dirty trick" which doesn't seem so dirty when you think about it.

What would you suggest with this scenario. Quite a predicament I'm in here and compounded again by being probably my farthest town as to how far I will travel to tune a piano. Any farther down that road and I suggest trying to get another tuner. So, somehow I need to have the right answer when I go there next week [30th].

Any other ideas feel free

Last edited by Duaner; 12/24/20 06:43 AM.

Duane Graves


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Originally Posted by Duaner
Originally Posted by UnrightTooner
If you decide you must leave the new string like it is and not even replace it with the old, spliced string, you can still use the "dirty trick" with the mute and wait as long as you and the customer feel comfortable.

EDIT: Oh, and I wouldn't charge any extra. Count it as self education and customer satisfaction.

.....This is great advice and I will use it but there may be another hurtle in that I think the new string I installed either is the first or second string in at the start of the second section of strings. This would prevent using the "dirty trick" which doesn't seem so dirty when you think about it.

What would you suggest with this scenario. Quite a predicament I'm in here and compounded again by being probably my farthest town as to how far I will travel to tune a piano. Any farther down that road and I suggest trying to get another tuner. So, somehow I need to have the right answer when I go there next week [30th].

Any other ideas feel free

Mute the old string instead. It's a bad unison that is being noticed, not a slightly off octave. Oh boy, just be glad you are doing these dirty tricks too late for Santa to change his mind!


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Thanks for all your helpful ideas everyone....especially, Jeff Deutschle.....Happy New Year to you all....Duane.


Duane Graves


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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Find a cheap tuning hammers and tell her that it's a gift. Show here how to carefully turn the hammer and if she has a smartphone, install a free app that helps her tune this one string. This may take 20 minutes longer than one 10 minute service appearance, but you only do this once instead of driving there multiple times

OE1FEU.....you'll be happy to know that this is exactly what I did. The string that broke was (as I suspected) the last string in the first section and so impossible to mute it. I was prepared to mute the old string below it and work on the new string and leave it as sharp as they could take it then I asked the man of the house if he would take my cheap hammer and instead of me travelling down here once a month (or whatever) would he tighten the string when needed. He was fine with it after I showed him how to do it and he was going to download one of those free tuning apps. So, that ends the story.....I hope.


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