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Hello!
I just bought a 2012 Yamaha U1 acoustic piano. Seller (retailer) says it is almost brand new and barely used (it does look like new).

I received it two days ago. Overall I am pleased with the unit but my ear is perceiving some major unpleasant overtones on some of the lower register notes. The worst note is D#3 but there are a few before or after that note that make the disturbing sound. The sound could be described as a “twang” or “buzzing” that almost sounds distorted to me (like a distortion guitar), making me think that the string may be overdriven or saturated.

The retailer says that D#3 is a transition note (last of its “group” when looking at the harps) and such sounds are to be expected. Indeed I tried another Yamaha at the store and I seemed to hear something similar. He suggests it could be helped by improving the damping on adjacent notes by running needles through the dampers. Now I have problems with this theory because I tried manually damping the adjacent notes by pressing them with my fingers (wearing gloves!) and it didn’t change a thing. I asked the retailer to schedule the complimentary service so that the tech could look at it, but I’d like to be able to ask for the right fix.

I tried to record the buzzing sound here, it does show up clearly to my ear around 0:15. Any thought?



I know Yamahas are great pianos and fully expecting this issue to be fixable. Right now playing any song in Eb such as a Chopin nocturne is a bit harsh on my ears. Am I wrong in thinking this? What is your opinion on such sounds? Normal? Voicing issues? Dampers? Something vibrating in the piano? I appreciate the help!

Olivier

Last edited by olabreche; 05/13/22 08:04 AM.
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Transition notes at the end of a bridge can indeed be problematic, leading to nasal, muddy or percussive tone, or poor sustain etc. But I'd always do the basics first.

In my opinion, first of all, your piano should be properly tuned. Although the unisons don't appear to be too bad, some (including the D#3 you've flagged) are not quite clean. And there are some really sour intervals, e.g. the D#3-G3 major third is much too wide. I think it's counterproductive, frustrating and frankly futile to try and address tonal issues on a poorly tuned piano.

So I'd start by giving the piano a couple of days, perhaps a week or two, to acclimatise to your home, and then have it tuned. Ask the tuner to schedule a bit of extra time to evaluate the tone together with you. If the overtones are still an issue for you after proper tuning, you could ask him/her to check for string seating and hammer-to-string mating, and if necessary, gently voice the D#3 hammer and try to blend the notes of that section.

Last edited by Mark R.; 05/13/22 08:31 AM. Reason: changed Eb to D# to avoid confusion

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Here’s another sample in context of a song, deliberately playing them loudish so they stand out:



Note the contrast with the higher notes.
Forgive my interpretation smile

Last edited by olabreche; 05/13/22 08:55 AM.
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Wait for tuning and acclimatization before doing ANYTHING! You could always look inside yourself if you wanted to.

Last edited by probably blue; 05/13/22 11:20 AM.
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Thanks Mark, I will indeed get it tuned next week and I did ask for the service to also look at the tone at the same time. Retailer says it was freshly tuned by previous owner, so I am a bit surprised by your finding, though the move itself and heat wave we currently have in Eastern Canada might have destabilized it.

Do you think a 1 week waiting period is enough given it was moved within the same city?

I am noting down your suggestion to check string seating and hammer mating, this seems more in line with what I saw in other similar posts on this forum and elsewhere on the net than the damper issue the retailer was talking about. Last thing I want a tech to do is start poking holes around without a specific sense of whether we are actually solving the underlying issue.

About the sound samples, besides the tuning which is not clean, is the tonal quality similar to what you'd expect of a Yamaha (once tuned)? Frankly, listening to these samples make me cringe, but maybe I am overly sensitive to such things? Of course, we'll get it tuned first, but I just want to get a sense what I should expect after proper servicing.

Last edited by olabreche; 05/13/22 12:34 PM.
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1 week should be OK if it’s mostly tuned in the same city. For me, it was badly out of tune and needed a pitch raise so I waited 3 weeks. Same city.

Hope it goes away. 😀

Last edited by probably blue; 05/13/22 12:36 PM.
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Also, one thing I noted (which might or might not be relevant) is that the hammer hitting D#3 seems offset a little bit. One of the two strings is being hit almost at the edge of the hammer, while the other one is closer to the center. Is this expected? I could imagine that maybe the hammer is hitting one of the two strings slightly before the other one, or not with the same strength because of that "offset"?

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I'm not a tech but yes you might need some hammer mating done to improve the tone. You want the hammer to 1) hit all the strings of the unison and 2) hit the strings with even force, meaning you might have to lightly sand the hammer to get an even strike across all strings.

Horizontally adjusting the hammer should be a relatively easy fix if that is the issue.

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Originally Posted by probably blue
1 week should be OK if it’s mostly tuned in the same city. For me, it was badly out of tune and needed a pitch raise so I waited 3 weeks. Same city.

Hope it goes away. 😀

Thanks! Will keep you posted once it is tuned and serviced, if it can't be improved I'll have to look at other options but don't want to jump to conclusions yet smile It's a bit frustrating to get a brand new piano and not being able to fully enjoy it from day #1. Waiting 3 weeks would be way too much for me!

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Originally Posted by olabreche
Originally Posted by probably blue
1 week should be OK if it’s mostly tuned in the same city. For me, it was badly out of tune and needed a pitch raise so I waited 3 weeks. Same city.

Hope it goes away. 😀

Thanks! Will keep you posted once it is tuned and serviced, if it can't be improved I'll have to look at other options but don't want to jump to conclusions yet smile It's a bit frustrating to get a brand new piano and not being able to fully enjoy it from day #1. Waiting 3 weeks would be way too much for me!


Even brand new pianos have minor problems in Day 1 — from either being moved or from a change in environment. Just because you bought the piano in your city does not mean that the INTERNAL environment is the same.

I know your’e disappointed; that’s normal— but new piano tics are not unusual. They can be fixed 😊


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by olabreche
Originally Posted by probably blue
1 week should be OK if it’s mostly tuned in the same city. For me, it was badly out of tune and needed a pitch raise so I waited 3 weeks. Same city.

Hope it goes away. 😀

Thanks! Will keep you posted once it is tuned and serviced, if it can't be improved I'll have to look at other options but don't want to jump to conclusions yet smile It's a bit frustrating to get a brand new piano and not being able to fully enjoy it from day #1. Waiting 3 weeks would be way too much for me!
I still enjoyed mine. Sounded terribly out of tune but still, I played.

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Originally Posted by probably blue
Originally Posted by olabreche
Originally Posted by probably blue
1 week should be OK if it’s mostly tuned in the same city. For me, it was badly out of tune and needed a pitch raise so I waited 3 weeks. Same city.

Hope it goes away. 😀

Thanks! Will keep you posted once it is tuned and serviced, if it can't be improved I'll have to look at other options but don't want to jump to conclusions yet smile It's a bit frustrating to get a brand new piano and not being able to fully enjoy it from day #1. Waiting 3 weeks would be way too much for me!
I still enjoyed mine. Sounded terribly out of tune but still, I played.

Give me an out-of-tune piano anytime over one which makes distorted sounds!

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A hammer barely grazing one string will definitely produce a weird tone. This piano is not new though...it's 10 years old. Even if unplayed stuff moves around in there as it is wood, and wood does what wood wants to do. It DEFINITELY needs tuning.

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I’m not a technician, and I would not describe myself as super sensitive to tuning. Things also can sound different on a recording vs what you’re hearing at the bench. But the out-of-tuneness of what you posted was quite bothersome to me, whereas I really had to work to hear the distorted overtones you mentioned. Get it tuned, and talk to the technician about the other issues. I don’t think it’s at all surprising that things changed after the move.

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There was someone on this forum years ago that said that 90% of all voicing problems are tuning problems, and vice versa.


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Originally Posted by Sgisela
I’m not a technician, and I would not describe myself as super sensitive to tuning. Things also can sound different on a recording vs what you’re hearing at the bench. But the out-of-tuneness of what you posted was quite bothersome to me, whereas I really had to work to hear the distorted overtones you mentioned. Get it tuned, and talk to the technician about the other issues. I don’t think it’s at all surprising that things changed after the move.

Funny how people can get bothered by different things smile
I also don’t think the recording renders the effect quite well, I am much more distracted by it in real life than when listening to the recorded version. Can’t wait to see the tech!

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The area that comprises the "break" (top of the bass and bottom of the tenor) will generally exhibit the greatest disparity of intervals when the humidity changes. Yours is currently pretty bad. You must allow the time for it to acclimate for the most part...then tune it. And point out these issues when said tech is there.

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