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Mark R. Offline OP
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I recently moved my Ibach upright to another spot in my lounge, to make way for my new-to-me harpsichord.

The tiling in my home is not very even, and I did notice that in its new position, the left front leg / foot was under less load than the right front. But seeing that nothing wobbled, I left it alone and forgot about it. Upon playing it last night, the octaves over the break were horribly out of tune. I was quite puzzled, as this piano is normally very stable, even through reasonably large humidity swings. The 5-10 highest notes on the bass bridge had gone significantly flat, and the lowest few on the treble bridge were slightly sharp. After a while I figured out that it must have been the move. So I lifted the left front by hand, while playing an octave across the break, and I could hear it going back into tune, then when I dropped the foot, it went back out of tune. It was quite repeatable.

Like I said, the piano wasn't actually wobbling! Just a bit of unequal loading on the feet. So I worked two pieces of cardboard under the left front foot, until both front corners of the instrument were about equally difficult to move. And voila, most of the detuning had vanished.

This is the first time I've seen an upright react so intensely to a change in "footing", and I'll certainly see to a good, level stance whenever I move the instrument again.

Can any techs here confirm whether this is normal behaviour? I wouldn't have expected this much elasticity in such a solidly braced and framed structure.

Last edited by Mark R.; 04/23/21 08:22 AM. Reason: spelling

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It might be the move and not the tilt itself.

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Mark R. Offline OP
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The move was about one foot, two at most, which landed the piano on a different set of tiles.
Like I said, when I lifted the left front (lifting the left end of the keybed while playing octaves), the octaves improved audibly. And when I lowered it back, they soured again.
With the two shims under the foot, the tuning is close to restored. Without the shims, the break is sour.
Definitely an elastic effect.


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Sure it could happen, if the heavy string drapes downwards at a different angle, it takes tension off the bridge.

I was only saying, if you bumped it, pins easily come loose.

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Hello Mark, your story is reminiscent of a Yamaha U3 thread a few months ago. It had moved to a new home and several adjacent strings started going out of tune one by one. This was put down to inappropriate tuning methods affecting tension in the backscale. In the end the owner wondered if the piano resting on only three wheels might be the reason.

More to the point there was another thread about acoustic isolating caster cups improving the sound of a piano. You might be able to try that out with some acoustic isolating pads made for machinery. Some of these have a metal plate on top (I'll post a link if you are interested). I imagine they would compensate for variations in the floor too.


Ian Russell
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Hi Withindale,

I am curious about these caster cups you mentioned ... are the metal caster coups enough to acoustically isolate a piano or there are special caster cups that improved the sound of the piano? Can you elaborate more in which sense the sound improves?


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The phenomenon is called "wracking" and will affect any 4 legged instrument to one degree or another. Always best to have all four casters "equally" supported. 3 legged grands are not affected in this way.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Guido, two types of acoustic isolation are Piattino caster cups and Townshend audio.

I have not used either but they are said to cut down sound vibration through the floor to the room below. They also reduce sound waves reflected back into the piano. This said to increase clarity, presumably by reducing "noise".


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Piattino:

Townshend:


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Thanks Withindale,

I wrote to the Townshend website to ask for the price but I have received no answer yet.


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Originally Posted by Guido, Roma - Italy
Thanks Withindale,

I wrote to the Townshend website to ask for the price but I have received no answer yet.

I think you will find them rather expensive.

I use these simple but nice and compact hardwood cups as a poor mans alternative
PianoCups They do have a thin foam layer which will isolate the sound to some (small) extent but you could cut a disc of more substantial foam material and place that underneath them to increase the isolation. My interest is to protect the wooden floorboards not sound isolation but they will do a bit of both.

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How much precise should be the instrument used to check if the grand piano is perfectly levelled?

Should I expect that the movers actually check the level of my baby grand when they will deliver it?

Last edited by Guido, Roma - Italy; 04/27/21 11:51 AM.

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If the floor is level enough that you can walk on it, that the piano will not roll when it is placed on it, it is level enough for a grand piano. Three points determine a plane, so grand pianos are not subject to the wracking that can affect an upright.

You really should not worry so much about your piano.


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Mark R. Offline OP
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
The phenomenon is called "wracking" and will affect any 4 legged instrument to one degree or another. Always best to have all four casters "equally" supported. 3 legged grands are not affected in this way.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Indeed, Peter, after adding yet another shim under the left front foot (my piano has no castors), even to the point of wracking the left side slightly to the back, the tuning across the break has been pretty much restored. I've deduced that before the move, the instrument was slightly wracked to the left back, and after the move, strongly to the right back.

Before I do the next tuning, I'll try to load the feet as evenly as possible (*) and give it a few weeks to settle.

* One can get quite a good idea of the weight distribution by either lifting up on the keybed, or nudging the top front corners of the piano backwards to the wall, and comparing how much effort it takes to lift each of the front feet off the ground.


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This is interesting. When my new piano was delivered 1.5 years ago, I noticed one of the front legs was not supporting any weight (this is also on a tile floor). My tuning guy didn't think it was a concern. Can this cause tuning instability, or likely just a shift?

I've also been dealing with a squeaky/creaky sustain pedal since day 1. It will go away for months after lubing but always comes back. The pin at the end of the dowel (that connects to the damper rail) is loose/wobbly. I don't know if it started out that way. Has anyone ever seen this 'wracking' cause misalignment with the pedal dowels/rods?

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Mark R. Offline OP
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As long as your piano stays in the same place, the tuning should also be stable. But I would think it's good practice to level the load on the feet as best one can.

The alignment on trapwork levers is not nearly as finely tuned or sensitive as the tolerances within the strung back. The wracking motion is only a fraction of a millimetre, so I doubt that it would influence the trap lever alignment. However, if there is a creaky or sticky panel, e.g. a dry (screwed) joint between the bottom board and the toe rail, the tension introduced by wracking might improve or worsen the creak.

I've found squeaks, creaks etc. to be quite sporadic. I would start by ensuring that all screws around the pedals are tight and that all contact points in the trapwork are properly cushioned. In my case, the pin at the upper end of the sustain pedal dowel was sitting loose in the hole of the damper rod lever. Some actions have a rubber grommet in that hole - if mine ever did, it fell out. I lined the hole with two strips of suede, and this largely resolved the pedal creak.


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Agreed. Although it varies from brand to brand and model to model, best practice is to check and adjust any 4 legged piano for "equal" weight distribution BEFORE tuning. Then don't move it unless you are going to re-tune soon.

This can be a problem when a piano is situated in a "custom" cubby hole that will not allow lifting of the lid for tuning (owner doesn't realize the ramifications of creating such a situation). Now the piano must be moved out to tune and then moved back in when complete. This can be problematic for obvious reasons.

On the pedal rod issue, bear in mind that it is far quicker and less expensive to stick a pin in a hole with a rubber bushing than it is to create a non-pinned, leather covered rod in a well bushed support mechanism (which will normally operate flawlessly for a very long time). The angles and pressure involved in the former virtually guarantees failure sooner rather than later. It is also a rather easy repair unless of course the dowel has split (not so fun, but still repairable).

Remember that pianos are DESIGNED to last about 30-40 years max. Replacement is the MO of the manufacturer. The "100 year" life cycle of pianos is a total myth propagated by marketing gurus, but the brainwashing of consumers (and techs alike) has been incredibly successful.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Last edited by P W Grey; 04/29/21 10:09 AM.

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