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Dead bass strings

  • 1.  Dead bass strings

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 22 days ago
    So, I encountered a strange situation. This is a 1985 (or so) Samick grand. It has been restrung once. Not a bad job, however the bass strings were dead and rattling. First off we checked for twist and found upon close inspection that the bichords are wound one way and the monochords are wound the opposite direction. Both sets were twisted (slightly) in the WRONG direction relative to their windings.

    We "corrected" the situation (after testing) by twisting the strings (all) in their respectively correct direction, resulting in a huge overall improvement. That was pn Monday. Today, strangely, several of the strings have now gone pretty much back to how they were before, and it seems to be spreading gradually.

    Has anyone ever encountered some similar situation? I am baffled. My gut tells me the strings are toast. But who would wind the monochords opposite to the bichords? Makes no sense to me. Any ideas?

    Pwg

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    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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  • 2.  RE: Dead bass strings

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 22 days ago
    I have encountered this a few times in which the bass bridge had become unglued from the soundboard. When I secured the bridge, the bass came alive again. If you push hard on the bridge, forcing it into the soundboard, does it sound better? If not, this is not likely the problem.

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    Maggie Jusiel, RPT
    Athens, WV
    (304)952-8615
    mags@timandmaggie.net
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  • 3.  RE: Dead bass strings

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 22 days ago
    Maggie,

    Did not check that. I will certainly do so when I return. Thank you.

    Pwg


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    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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  • 4.  RE: Dead bass strings

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 22 days ago
    Samick used to make Horugel pianos. Horugel agraffes have a string flange that is very thick. The agraffes also had string holes with small chamfering the result being as the string bend on the tuning pin side got slightly greater the string would loose solid contact with the bridge side of the hole. I suspect this early Samick has the same agraffes because the way it is responding to your service is exactly what I found with the Horugels in the late 1970's.

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    Edward McMorrow
    Edmonds WA
    425-299-3431
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  • 5.  RE: Dead bass strings

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 22 days ago
    I've found dull bass strings/sections to be common on Samicks from that period on their instruments of all shapes and sizes. I ascribe it to poor workmanship or materials. One thing I've noticed is that they discolor unevenly as though they might have a lacquer finish unlike the uniform color bass strings usually tend to take on.
    Maybe Maggie is on to something with bridge or rib problems though. I think they may have used plastic soundboard buttons.

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    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
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  • 6.  RE: Dead bass strings

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 22 days ago
    Ed & Steven -  Interesting stuff! Plastic soundboard buttons...wow. I would not have thought about the agraffes so will remember that because, although my bass bridge problem has been the culprit on a total of 4 pianos I care for, I have others with this same problem and it's not the bridge. I'm also curious about the strings. I have one spinet with some bass strings that are discolored in places, almost as if something had been splashed on them, but 2 are discolored across the whole string. These strings are "dead" proportionally to how much discoloration they have, and the 2 fully discolored almost sound as if the hammer is blocking, but not quite that bad, and they are very quiet. These people don't want to spend the money to fix it so they are fine with it for now, but I have been curious. The discoloration is silver/gray where there should be brass, but there is brass underneath the silver/gray color. On the ones with just spots, it's obvious there is brass underneath.

    I hope this isn't too far off topic. If it is and anyone has a thought, I wouldn't mind a PM or to start a new thread. Thanks.

    Peter - If it's not the bridge, I'm very curious to see where this goes because I have other pianos with this problem and it's definitely not the bridge.

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    Maggie Jusiel, RPT
    Athens, WV
    (304)952-8615
    mags@timandmaggie.net
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  • 7.  RE: Dead bass strings

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 22 days ago
    Hi, Maggie.

    Did you mean to say copper, not brass?

    Here a number of the Boston UP118S studio pianos have dead strings, all on the same note, G1.
    This is puzzling. Discoloration was present on many of the bass strings, not just the on G1.
    I'll look into this more closely and see if it can be determined that's actually the problem. I thought
    it was a scaling issue, as it only seems to be that particular note on several pianos.

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    Dave Conte
    Owner
    Knoxville TN
    817-307-5656
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  • 8.  RE: Dead bass strings

    Member
    Posted 22 days ago
    I would definitely check the bridge to soundboard connection. By twisting the windings the strings got tighter and pushed down on the bridge giving more contact with the soundboard. The fact things sounded better after twisting shows the strings are not dead. They lost their sound after- probably due to changes in the soundboard /bridge bond. It is worth doing the test Maggie suggested but also trying to slip an automotive thickness gauge at the glue joint near where all the problem strings are.

    I have run into issues with poor bridge/soundboard glue on several Baldwin Hamiltons. On those pianos entire sections hardly made a sound or had drastic drops in volume. Solved the issue by drilling through the bridge cap with a long small bit to get a locator hole , drilling out a hole on the backside through the soundboard and inserting wooden threaded Miller dowels . I injected glue under the bridge after prying the bridge up slightly using plastic chisells

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    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    843-325-4357
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