Pianotech

Topic: Muting strings

1.  Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
It takes me probably 10-20 minutes to insert temperament strips in a piano. Spinets are especially difficult. My main problem area is the high treble where there isn't a lot of room to work. By the time I'm done, my neck and back are already hurting, then I have to sit there for 3 hours while I tune. Any suggestions on what alternatives to use to make it quicker and easier on my 23 year old body? The strips are .135" thick from Schaff.

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Justin Hill
Jacksonville IL
217-370-2458 call/text
tuneworkspianoservice@gmail.com
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2.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
Justin

You're obviously doing something not right. It should only take you 20 - 30 seconds to install a temperament strip. For the high treble area, you can put the strip behind the dampers. The extra ring won't interfere with your tuning. So as to not damage the damper felts, put the strip in above the dampers, then slip your business card between the strings and the dampers, and push the strip down.

I presume you're an aural tuner. After you tune all the middle strings. pull the strip, and insert them every other string and tune the open outside string. After you get that done, pull the strip all together, and tune the third string.

I don't know how tall you are, but I sit at spinet pianos. That helps my back.


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Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
Mililani, HI 96789
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3.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
Fold a loop then press between strings with wire from rubber mute or screw driver....use paps mute in treble(spelling?)
30 sec. to insert mute felt

Sent from my iPhone




4.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
Learn to use a temperament strip only for the temperament area. Used three rubber mutes for the rest. One muting two strings of the reference note and two for the note to be tuned (outside strings. Proceed up the scale tuning each unison as you go. The benefit of muting two wires in the reference note is volume and reduction of extraneous noise such as false beats or a drifted unison (heaven forbid).

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Regards,

Jon Page
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5.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
What ever method you use get the damper or dampers off the string before you insert temperament strip or mutes.

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Larry Messerly, RPT
Bringing Harmony to Homes
www.lacrossepianotuning.com
ljmesserly@gmail.com
928-899-7292
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6.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
I learned a new muting approach for the treble in Dan Levitan's tool kit class at Convention.  Cut a strip of key bushing cloth (about 1 mm thick is typical) that is narrow enough that it will sit above the dampers without interfering with the hammers.  This will not work in the large space between the notes, but you can insert it between the middle and right string of each note.  Tune the left string first.  If you're tuning the whole section before pulling in the unisons, tune with the strip in place, pull the strip, then on each note, use a rubber mute to mute the right string. Tune the middle string, move the mute, then tune the right string.

When I tune unisons-as-I-go in the treble, I use a split mute rather than a temperament strip.  I haven't found the split mutes from the supply houses useful in this regard.  The instructions for making the one I use appeared in the April 2003 Piano Technicians Journal.  If you want to make one, but nobody in your immediate circle of acquaintance has the Journal archive files, let me know, and I can forward you the instructions.  Briefly, I start with 1/4" thick mutes (Schaff 201-1/2) and glue them together with CA.  I also put an offset bend in the handle for easier insertion behind the hammers.  Thanks to Mitch Kiel, RPT for originally submitting the item to the Journal.

Split Mute Illistration from PTJ April 2003

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Floyd Gadd
Regina SK
306-502-9103
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7.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
Floyd --

Thanks for the tip on gluing two rubber mutes together, with an offset, to form a split mute. I have been using the split mutes that were made with the spring steel handle, but can't find them anymore. The current version, with the wire handle just don't cut it. I'm going to make one like you have shown this afternoon.

Ever since I since I started tuning I have been using a felt split mute for grands. I just took two felt mutes and glued them together with an offset. I don't know why I did not think of this same solution for rubber mutes too. (- D'Oh! -)

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Geoff Sykes, RPT
Los Angeles CA
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8.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
Justin,

One way to speed up inserting the temperament strip is to use an artist ruler. It is simply a thin 6" ruler backed with cork to keep it from slipping on paper. The cork gives it enough strength to push in the temperament strip effectively. I found mine at Michael's for $1.99, and have loved using it. Or you can buy a heavy duty 6" steel ruler for $30; both work just as effectively, but the artist ruler is much cheaper.

You should be able to insert the strip in under a minute. My mentor could strip mute an entire piano in (no kidding) in about 25 seconds (yes, we made it a game to see who could do it faster. Guess who won?)

Speeding up your tuning time? Learn first how to get a stable tuning. It is imperative that you focus on learning stability at the beginning of your career. Once you know your tuning hold for more than a few days, you can cut down your tuning time by learning this one secret. Last week my average tuning time was 2.5 hours; this week it is slightly less than 1.5 hours. Overnight change, literally.

What is this secret? Learn to focus on the first 1/2 second of sound. The man who taught me this claimed that beginners listen far too long during a tuning blow. He said to tune during that first half a second, then hit the note again, tune again, etc. It takes a conscious effort to do so, but as noted above, it's working for me, and my time continues to drop. Give it a try, but don't sacrifice quality for speed. If you do, your reputation will be ruined. That's why I said to focus first on learning stability.

As as far as back and shoulder aches, for verticals check out impact hammers, specifically the CyberHammer from Reyburn Tools. I just got one, and already I love it. From everything I hear it is much better than a traditional impact hammer. Learning to tune with the CyberHammer can also help improve your stability, but I'll let Mr. Reyburn explain. http://www.reyburntools.com/
Reyburntools remove preview
View this on Reyburntools >

Hope this helps,

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Benjamin Sanchez
Professional Piano Services
(805)315-8050
www.professional-piano-services.com
BenPianoPro@comcast.net
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9.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
You've gotten plenty of good advice already. Schaff temperament strips aren't umm, exactly optimal. Buy several thicknesses of action cloth and find one that works for you. Jim Coleman sells a temperament strip that probably is excellent but as I recall it wasn't cheap ($28 I think?).
Meanwhile get a good selection of mutes, including the 1/4" wide ones from Schaff. Felt mutes from Pianotek Supply are very nice but their widths are best for grands.

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Patrick Draine
Billerica MA
978-663-9690
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10.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
Don't forget to get two Papp's Mutes. Once you try them, you'll never go back! They're great, and the $8 price isn't too back either, considering they last way longer than rubber mutes do. The only thing is you have to make sure they don't fall out in the extreme treble where the hammers strike point is right near the mute tips. They don't hold like the rubber ones do; still, great investment.

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Benjamin Sanchez
Professional Piano Services
(805)315-8050
www.professional-piano-services.com
BenPianoPro@comcast.net
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11.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 7 days ago
What I use to strip mute a piano is the action screw blade such as this. Every tech needs at least one, and it works well for every piano I've seen. The blade is easy to hold while muting, and feels better than the other things I've tried. I carry a fairly small tuning kit, and have the blade and the handle for tightening action screws. It saves a trip to the car, and doesn't take up extra room with the way I carry it.

Except for levers, all my tuning stuff goes into a mesh Pearl River bag that was handed out at a convention some years ago. Various strip mute felts, two rubber mutes for vertical treble tuning, several felt wedge mutes for grand tuning, and I have a Papps mute that never gets used. I don't like the ping that it makes at impact. The small rubber mutes from Pianotek work well for verticals, and I generally use one mute if I'm doing unisons as I go. However, most of my tunings are done with the entire piano strip muted. The strip method is fast and accurate enough for most customers, and often I'll do a two-pass tuning anyway. It's perfect for that. There are some pianos whose strings are widely spaced and muting felt doesn't work well. For those, I'll mute the temperament area, then tune unisons as I go with the felt mutes.

As others have said, action cloth of various thicknesses is a much better choice than "temperament" strips.

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John Formsma, RPT
New Albany MS
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12.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 10 days ago
Working with any material by hand, you want to acquire the "feel" of the strengths and weaknesses, the grain and structure. I learned this first working with wood, particularly with planes and chisels. Once you learn to work with the grain, all of life is easier.

Inserting a temperament strip is not just mushing it into the hole. It took me awhile to learn to work pushing with the grain of the felt, not across it. Once it becomes part of muscle memory in forming the loop, it goes much quicker.

As with many things about pianos, they are full of individual situations. Some pianos have wide, even gaps between the unisons. Some are incredibly narrow. Some models of Wurlitzers are notorious for having little space behind the strings so that the strip will not stay. I tried various tools to aid in inserting temperament strips. Screwdrivers can be too thick, risking moving the strings on their bearing points. The thinest, stiffest tool I found was a palette knife located in the artist brush section. It makes a good glue applicator, and has other uses. In the high treble, I would insert the strip just above the dampers, press down on the sustain pedal, and then use the palette knife to push the looped felt behind the dampers.

Hope that helps.

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David Stocker, RPT
PNWRVP
Olympia WA
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13.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 8 days ago
Edited by Paul Klaus 6 days ago

                I eliminated all mutes even single for fine tuning. It is not unusual for there to be 6 -9 wires sounding at the same time as I work. This is not an original idea. I read about it but cannot recall who/when/where (maybe a Ted).  What I remember was at first being incredulous by the prospect especially since the writer said not only for tuning but also speedier pitch raises!!  I persisted until now tuning without but still need to use them some for pitch correction. After a while it is easier/faster because extra time spent revisiting some individual wires over and over is saved by not handling/dropping mutes.

             Mutes are part of pitch correction if needed at all in my opinion. Once out is when tuning starts not ends. For me heading to fewer/no mute whole note tuning is the natural process of acquiring aural skill not a 6 of 1, half dozen of another type of thing. I progressed thus.

  1) Strip the whole piano to a single string.

  2) Strip just the middle.

  3) Tried to skip the strip altogether but that was too hard at first (weak unisons) so my next strategy for

       years was to strip mute to 2 wires each in the middle only. Mutes outward.

  4) Eliminate strip

  5) Go from 2 to 1 mute

  6) No mute. Simply(ha,ha) play unison/interval, turn if needed, work/wriggle/jiggle pin(s) of the target note and listen.  

 Very light tapping with wood drift replaces most loud test blows.  Paul                                                                    




14.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 6 days ago
Paul,
You have piqued my curiosity but your email is difficult to follow. Are you saying that you don't use any mutes at all when pitch raising or fine tuning? If so, would mind explaining your procedure?
Thanks,
David Weiss

Sent from my iPhone




15.  RE: Muting strings

Posted 6 days ago

      David: The quick answer for mutes is yes for pitch raises but usually just the bass and middle, letting the upper 2 octaves or so ring free as I go upward.   It is semantics when pitch correction ends and tuning starts but the quick answer for tuning is no mutes.

      The long answer rattles on as my strategy yet evolves.

      In other words depending on the amount needed, a pitch correction might start anywhere from line #2 to #5. I never strip mute everything. Tuning is #6.   Over the course of time the way I check my tuning tends to become my next tuning strategy if that has meaning.

      For more please see my post #39 on the thread Why does pitch shift when strings break? (7/2/17) for starters.  Paul 




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