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#3089449 03/05/21 07:05 AM
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My old overdamper upright has pins instead of a pressure bar and 'nut'. On an upper C the third pin has caused the string to be untunable (I tried replacing the string, and then hammered the pin in more). How to repair? I've shoved a nail in sideways to act as a 'nut' but that only improves the middle string (which also started giving a problem). Anyone know a good solution? Thanks so much in advance folks!
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That arrangement was very common on old English overdamper uprights. It's sometiems called a Top Bridge.

From the look of it, it's time that piano was gracefully retired (i.e. chopped up). It's about twice the normal working age of a piano, it's rusty, and it was cheapest of the cheap when it was barnd new, two piano lifetimes ago.....

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Originally Posted by David Boyce
it was cheapest of the cheap when it was barnd new,
Mind your language! It's my Pleyel

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Sorry!

But I bet Ignaz Playel and his son Camille didn't envisage their pianos made in the late 19th century to be still playing in 2021! They would have wanted you to throw it out and buy a new Playel sixty years ago.....

You are going to have to remove the bridge pins and do something with epoxy there, I think, if you decide to try a repair.

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Thanks, I know you can buy new Pleyels but they're not. Epoxy sounds like a good idea.

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Is that pressure bar wood or iron? If it is iron, maybe you could try JB Weld. But you can bet that piano was not Pleyel's best effort.


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There is no pressure bar. I just didn't know what to call the pins.

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What the pins are installed in is a bar of some sort which takes up the pressure: hence, pressure bar. If it is wood, you could make a new one.


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The pins nail into the pin block. (The part of it you see is painted grey).

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Checking again the wood the pins go in is attached to the pin block. I'll do a pic

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Here's the 'bar' from the bass end. Not sure how it's fixed to the pinblock but it is wood.

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It looks like a wooden upper bridge that is glued down. It is also splitting and probably has been like that for many decades. Removing it cleanly to replace might be difficult, but you could try a temporary repair by removing the pins, epoxy the cracks and reinsert the pins with epoxy.

I see this type of bridge from time to time and they all seem to be splitting and cracking. It is just a weak part of the design.


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Thanks that's very helpful.

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Originally Posted by Chris Leslie
It looks like a wooden upper bridge that is glued down. It is also splitting and probably has been like that for many decades. Removing it cleanly to replace might be difficult, but you could try a temporary repair by removing the pins, epoxy the cracks and reinsert the pins with epoxy.

I see this type of bridge from time to time and they all seem to be splitting and cracking. It is just a weak part of the design.

That's exactly what it is; a wooden upper bridge. As I said, often called a Top Bridge. Repair approaches (not something I've ever attempted) would be as you suggest, I think, Chris, and as I suggested earlier in the thread, with epoxy.

Chopin_r_us, I know that pianos with a Pleyel logo will be Chinese now. It is sad to think of Pleyel having gone the way of so many other European and UK makers - no longer manufacturing. But why do you want to keep this old cheap instrument going - is it wonderful in some way?

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I haven’t repaired a bridge like that but have on others that are more typical.
Remove bridge pins then Use a forstner bit to drill out the damaged bridge pin area down deep into the bridge root.
Cut a plug to fit and epoxy it in. Then shape it to match the surface of the bridge, drill new holes and carve a new notch.
Pay attention to grain pattern, match the bridge.


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While that bridge could be repaired with epoxy or replaced with the new bridge, financially it probably makes more sense to retire the piano and find a newer one in better condition. I think you would enjoy a newer piano for its musicality. If you have enough space, you could still keep your playel as a historical artifact. (No chopping!)

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I know what I would try. First, make that a two string unison. If that didn't work because the middle string is in bad shape too, I'd drill new bridge pin holes 1/4" further up and move the bridge pins up there. After that, I guess a forstner bit and plug would be an option, but that's a lot of skilled work for a piano in poor condition. Is there sentimental attachment?


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One can see what has happened. Moisture got in and dripped on that part of the strings, which loosened the pins and rusted the strings. The best way to repair it, if you want to leave it as original as possible for historical reasons, would be to remove the strings and the pins, and then repair the wood. Repairing the wood is the questionable part. It depends on how bad it is. An epoxy filler might work, or carving out the bad wood and replacing it. It depends on how authentic you want the repair to be. You can remove the rust from the strings and reuse them, but keep in mind, they have a lot of wear from when the piano was new.

I cannot see under the bad pin, so I cannot be any more specific than that.


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Originally Posted by David Boyce
. But why do you want to keep this old cheap instrument going - is it wonderful in some way?
There is a famous quote of Chopin:
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One observer remembered the composer saying that if he was not feeling on top form, he preferred to play on an Erard, for its bright and ready-made tone. ‘But if I feel alert, ready to make my fingers work without fatigue, then I prefer a Pleyel… My fingers feel in more immediate contact with the hammers, which then translate precisely and faithfully the feeling I want to produce, the effect I want to obtain.’
I understand exactly what he is saying here. Can you understand what it's like to feel what Chopin felt? The sound is not given to you on a plate, you've got to carve it out. I've played a Fasioli - wonderful sound but it's not me creating it and so it bores after a while. I'll be nipping up to pianoauctions in April to see if they've got anything better as I must admit getting it tuned every few months is a bore! Still, I'm very grateful for my tuner whose happy to take it on. Sitting next to it is my Geyer. It has a Renner action and only needs tuning once a year but it doesn't melt my heart (or float my boat if you prefer!).

Thanks for all the advice, I really apreciate it.

Oh, the tuner made it a two-string unison last time but I lose so much sound it's unacceptable. In fact, moving the bridge pins up is something I've considered. Do I drill first or hammer them in? Any suitably shapped nail do?

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Originally Posted by BDB
One can see what has happened. Moisture got in and dripped on that part of the strings, which loosened the pins and rusted the strings. The best way to repair it, if you want to leave it as original as possible for historical reasons, would be to remove the strings and the pins, and then repair the wood. Repairing the wood is the questionable part. It depends on how bad it is. An epoxy filler might work, or carving out the bad wood and replacing it. It depends on how authentic you want the repair to be. You can remove the rust from the strings and reuse them, but keep in mind, they have a lot of wear from when the piano was new.

I cannot see under the bad pin, so I cannot be any more specific than that.

These Top Bridges are shallow in comparison to a soundboard bridge. Perhaps around 3/8" (10mm). Their function is obviously rather different; they are about speaking length termination and string spacing, not about transferring acoustic vibration to a soundboard. That being so, I guess the acoustic properties of any materials used to make a repair, would not be particularly significant.

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