Pianotech

Expand all | Collapse all

tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

  • 1.  tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Posted 22 days ago
    Greetings,

    One of my church customers has a S&S studio upright piano which they bought new in 2000 from the S&S piano gallery.  When i started tuning for this church, i noticed that all the screws that hold the pressure bars, were marred so i am pretty sure that someone tried to either tighten or loosen the pressure bar for whatever reason.
    The piano is extremely difficult to tune and the tuning simply does not hold.
    I have two questions:
    1)  how can i set the pressure bars to have the proper amount of pressure on the strings?
    2)  is there a particular way as how to tune these pianos?  (i usually use my impact hammer and keep gently bumping up until it gets to where it is supposed to be but of course, many times it just over-shoots).  Btw:  i do use Jon's CBL)

    Thank you,
    Peter

    ------------------------------
    Petrus Janssen
    Peachtree City GA
    678-416-8055
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Posted 22 days ago
    I haven't met the S&S uprights but your mention of using an impact lever rings the alarm bells for me in this situation.

    Potentially the clues are in the PTG thread "Tuning instruments with steep angles at the agraffes" in which a number of us discussed lever techniques with instruments with complications. A number of us have found that rather than short jerks or anything approaching a fine adjustment doesn't work and that one has to take the string down in pitch to break friction points and pull it up to pitch in one operation, one continuous movement without stopping.

    A number of people on that thread contributed with thoughts and whatever the reasons for the technique being required I demonstrated it on the video https://youtu.be/2XW51LORCxs .

    Best wishes

    David P

    --
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    David Pinnegar, B.Sc., A.R.C.S.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    +44 1342 850594





  • 3.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago

    The impact lever does help in the treble. The mid range is no harder than usual to tune.

    I carry in the impact lever for these, which usually stays in the car, knowing that I will need it. With the long upper duplex, the very large pressure bars, and the tuning pins without plate bushings, it is far too easy for any "English" on the pin (no offense intended) to end up as unequal non-speaking-length tension. Any attempts at very small corrections just get the non speaking length tension from previous unfortunate attempts to mess up the pitch something fierce. To settle things down, one needs to not only make small adjustments, but to make several small adjustments in a row, till one has washed out the worst of the non-speaking-length unequal tension. In the search for tiny adjustments, a very careful use of impact can help at least a little bit.

    The impact lever also helps because it doesn't leave any twist in the tuning pin, and it doesn't cause "flagpoling." Both are very easy to do in these pianos because of the lack of plate bushings.

    Yes, coming up to the pitch and stopping helps some. It is far more important than usual to focus on the last direction one exerts pressure, which needs to be upwards.

    It's extremely hard to make small changes, yet unless several of the last pitch adjustments in a row are small no stability can be achieved.

    In defense of these pianos, they may be harder to tune, but piano students prefer them to practice on because of a rich and varied tone. Also, if one does manage to get them REALLY in tune, the tunings last very well.






  • 4.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago
    Petrus

    Steinway uprights are notorious for being very difficult ot tune. You're not the first to find that out. I don't think there a "correct" way to tune these beasts other than just keep beating it to death until the string eventually gets to where it has to be.

    Regading the pressure bar. I believe the pressure bar actually has feet to make sure it's at the right height. What I suspect the reason the screws are marked is that another piano tuner might have tried to tighten the bar as much as possible thinking it would solve the tuning problem.

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    St. Augustine, FL 32095
    Tnrwim@aol.com
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago

    I know they have been discussed either in this group or the CAUT group before. Using an ETD is very beneficial in this instance.   If my memory serves on previous discussion about them is that You pretty much have to throw your usual technique out the window when tuning them.  You pretty much have to come very, very close, or nail the target on the first try. Otherwise you'll be fighting it; it's a fight no matter what…I use a smooth pull technique and find that works best for me.  I'm an assistant tech at U. Of GA and there are several in our inventory; not one of them is any easier than the other.  

    Tony Graves



    ------------------------------
    Tony Graves
    Athens GA
    850-499-2891
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Posted 21 days ago
    I learned to tune on my very own S&S 1098. I'm surprised that a bionic piano tuner hasn't chimed in yet to claim that these pianos are as easy as any other to tune. I sure find them to be a good bit of a challenge. I find that you simply need to somewhat carefully evaluate whether you have the tension in the speaking part of the string close to the portion near the tuning pin. I do that be evaluating whether it is similarly easy to nudge the pitch sharp and flat by nudging the tuning pin with my tuning lever in a bit of a pin-bending manner. If falling flat too easy, then nudge the pin with a super-small turn - which of course means a 35 cent raise in pitch - that's what really makes these things a bear to tune. Very un-Yamaha-like. Very sad.

    ------------------------------
    Terry Farrell
    Farrell Piano Service, Inc.
    Brandon, Florida
    terry@farrellpiano.com
    813-684-3505
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Posted 21 days ago
    Left handers don't have a problem tuning S&S uprights. I don't know if that true of a newer one but you put the tuning hammer at 10 to 11 o'clock instead of 1 to 2 o'clock.
    Try it,,, it works for me

    ------------------------------
    Keith Roberts
    owner
    Hathaway Pines CA
    209-770-4312
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago
    You might be on to something here…I tune uprights with the left and do put the lever in the 10-11 range.  Don't get me wrong they are still a bear to tune; maybe less painful.

    ------------------------------
    Tony Graves
    Athens GA
    850-499-2891
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Posted 21 days ago
    I remember my first tuning on one of these and I was totally frustrated. Then, I read on these pages how difficult they are and that knowledge was kind of freeing. At least I knew it wasn't just me. (Same thing with the Yamaha GH1 that is difficult to tune with the terrible break.) At least now when I tune one I'm mentally prepared. One thing that has helped a little is my tuning lever. I use a Fujan that I have extended to 17", so I have some really good leverage and control.

    ------------------------------
    "That Tuning Guy"
    Scott Kerns
    www.thattuningguy.com
    PianoMeter, TuneLab & OnlyPure user
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago

    Petrus,

    I believe Steinway never attempted to make a great upright piano. And your experience with the studio upright is just another example of the shortcomings of these beasts. A couple of years ago I came across a Steinway studio that I found impossible to tune. When I told my customer that it was impossible for me to get it to stay in tune she said, "Oh the last tuner said the same thing". That last tuner was a nationally recognized technician who has taught many tuning classes at regional and national conferences.



    ------------------------------
    Roger Gable
    Gable Piano
    Everett WA
    425-252-5000
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago
    Mr.Janssen,
    I've just tuned six of these this week using my Reyburn cyber hammer. The technique that worked for me (YMMV) was to position the tip so that the impact to tighten the string happened beyond the 12 o'clock position and the impact to lower the tension happened before the 12 o'clock position. After turning the pin in the amount that seemed right I bumped the lever away from myself and towards myself until the pitch stabilized. If it stabilized where I wanted it I moved to the next string and if not I repeated the process until I got the desired result. It sounds like a longer process than it is. I was able to get an acceptable result in about an hour and twenty minutes. The ones made in the last two or three years are orders of magnitude easier to tune and have less falseness. Counter-intuitively the biggest change in production was to increase the bearing angle between the pressure bar and the plate rib. It turns out that not enough friction at the upper termination is just as bad as too much.

    ------------------------------
    Karl Roeder
    Pompano Beach FL
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago
    You can use the technique Karl offered to check whether tension in the top segment (tuning pin to pressure bar) is properly balanced inside the tension limits allowed by the friction barrier of the pressure bar. Gently pull, then push the hammer handle in and out (yes, we're talking minute flag-poling). Try to make this bending as equal as possible in both directions. If the point at which the string string eases across the friction barrier happens sooner in one direction, that tells you that the segment's tension was closer to overcoming the friction barrier in that direction than in the other. This test motion (in/out, sharp/flat) doesn't need to be anything more than subtle to answer the question "was that string's tension equally far away from the pressure bar's friction barrier".

    ------------------------------
    William Ballard RPT
    WBPS
    Saxtons River VT
    802-869-9107

    "Our lives contain a thousand springs
    and dies if one be gone
    Strange that a harp of a thousand strings
    should keep in tune so long."
    ...........Dr. Watts, "The Continental Harmony,1774
    +++++++++++++++++++++
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: tuning difficulties with Steinway & Sons upright because of pressure bars

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 21 days ago
    I concur...CyberHammer left handed 10 to 12 o'clock position will tame the beast.

    ------------------------------
    Greg Junker
    Greg Junker's Piano Shoppe, LLC
    Belleville IL
    618-971-9595
    ------------------------------