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Steinway S #88 Speaking length

  • 1.  Steinway S #88 Speaking length

    Member
    Posted 21 days ago
    Anyone out there have a Steinway S's in reasonable condition (maybe even not reasonable condition) in your service  If so, do you experience string breakage or not, in the high treble of this instrument.

    The S's I have heard have often had a great high treble sustain, and clean low falseness. SL is often very very long,  as in 78mm (which is wildly long). 12.5 american gauge (13 metric), all exceeding normal BP% limits. Nice low gage string, a tonal parameter that does not appear on any spread sheet.

    I want to know if they do or don't  seem to break excessively.


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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
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  • 2.  RE: Steinway S #88 Speaking length

    Member
    Posted 21 days ago
    I've had more C8's break on S's than any other but find the SL to be in the 48~53mm range.

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
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  • 3.  RE: Steinway S #88 Speaking length

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago
    Mr. Ialeggio
    The model S since about 2005 has a speaking length spec of 48mm. I've seen new ones with lengths up to 50mm but not more. The older ones were wildly variable. I recently replaced the board with one from the '60s that was 62mm. I moved the bridge and set the new length at 52mm.  And yes, in my experience the ones with excessive length were very prone to breakage in the top 3 or 4 notes with the top 2 being the worst. I think capo shape and excess bearing may also be factors.

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    Karl Roeder
    Pompano Beach FL
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  • 4.  RE: Steinway S #88 Speaking length

    Member
    Posted 21 days ago
    Would you agree that the high treble of these things tend to be really quite good?

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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
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  • 5.  RE: Steinway S #88 Speaking length

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago
    When properly set up the S is one of my favorite pianos. Really amazing for a 5' 1" instrument.

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    Karl Roeder
    Pompano Beach FL
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  • 6.  RE: Steinway S #88 Speaking length

    Posted 21 days ago
    And its their lightest board per sq ft. My Steinway Manual says the speaking length was designed to be 54mm. I too have seen them all over the place. Boards for 5'1" pianos should come in at 15lbs.  I have seen various mfg's as much as 18 lbs, but the "S" i have seen them as low as 12 lbs.  I have not seen any of these survive too well, so 15lbs should be the minimum.

    The string tensions and Breaking % for note 88 (.031) at various lengths.
    49mm=​ 153Lb BP  57%
    50mm= 159lbs BP 59%
    51mm= 165 lbs BP 62%
    52mm= 172lbs BP 64%
    53mm= 178lbs BP 67%
    54mm= 185lbs BP 69%
    55mm= 192 lbs BP 72%
    Parson/Sanderson recommended not going past 66% others not past 70%. So i have always settled on 53mm as a safe max.

    -chris

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    Chernobieff Piano Restorations
    "Where Tone is Key"
    chernobieffpiano.com
    grandpianoman@protonmail.com
    Lenoir City, TN
    865-986-7720
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  • 7.  RE: Steinway S #88 Speaking length

    Member
    Posted 21 days ago
    That list assumes .031.

     I have been thinking about reducing the gauge of the wire, which is partially where the S question comes from. The older S I saw/heard, had 12.5 gage (American decimal) printed on the plate, at 57mm. WIre was old, intact and had lovely sustain. I have also heard a serious performance venue relatively recent D with a 50mm, .775mm  13 gage metric ( .0305" - 12.5 gage american decimal), believe it or not, type 0 Paullelo, which puts it at 66%bp.  Obviously not factory. Again, a lovely sound, high sustain, performance level and not breaking.

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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
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  • 8.  RE: Steinway S #88 Speaking length

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago

    The S is notoriously inconsistent at #88 ranging from 50 - 64 mm (that I've seen). At 64 you can break strings unless you modify the tuning curve down to around +30-32 cents at c88. Changing the gauge won't help. Lower gauge requires less tension but then has a lower breakpoint. 

    If you're installing a new board you can just move the bridge forward slightly. If not you can sometimes recap the top section and move the bridge pins forward. While you're at it you can create a logarithmic progression in both capo section which is helpful anyway.  That's usually how I approach it. The log scale can be done on excel. 



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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
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  • 9.  RE: Steinway S #88 Speaking length

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago
    This is a circumstance where the use of Paulello XM wire is appropriate.  It is Paulello's strongest wire and will lower the breaking percentage to a safer level, and it will sound better because the wire is not so stressed.  Use it for that top section of 12.5 gauge wire, and perhaps the section of 13 gauge wire.  If you are restringing, bottom four notes type 1, followed by type 0 most of the way up the scale, some notes of type M, then the XM.  Where the transitions occur will need to be calculated in a spreadsheet set up for Paulello wire.

    Scaling along these lines works particularly well for smaller Steinway grands, such as the M, O, L, and A scales.  I have varied the transition point of O to M quite a bit as I have learned the virtues of the wire over time.  If this were an M or an O, I might carry the O type as high as note 82.  In the lower part of the plain wire scale, the breaking percentage is often too low to have the best tone, so raising the BP is a virtue and still within safe limits.  Above that, there is a zone where the choice of O or M is an aesthetic one, as either will be suitable.

    In the bass, I would significantly lower the core wire size in the monochords and even lower the wrap size, depending on what the piano asks for.  I would use type O wire for most or all of the monochords.  In the bottom half of the monochords, the breaking percentages are too low by a wide margin. so manipulation of the core and wrap sizes along with type O produce significant tonal benefit.  Smaller pianos like the S will greatly benefit from wraps made of nickel plated bronze in the monochords and nickel plated iron for the bichords.  If you are putting in a new board, a bass corner float and vertical hitch pins in the bass that will lengthen the effective back scale.

    I am finishing up the voicing on an O with a new board by Jude Reveley (old growth red spruce) with most of what is detailed above.  The bass has growl up to about C2 and a sound that is different from copper wraps.  It is a darker, warmer sound with a well defined pitch center.  It has become a truly lovely piano, and is definitely not your plain vanilla Steinway sound.  A step away from the Steinway tonal monoculture.


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    William Truitt
    Bridgewater NH
    603-744-2277
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