Tuning pins stiff but slipping

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bricklayer
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Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by bricklayer » 11 Mar 2019, 19:29

I have a Steinway model B from 1898. During the last year it's been going out of tune only days after tuning (so it's reasonable to assume that the tuning pins are not holding well), and meanwhile our tuner reports that it's difficult to tune because the tuning pins are not moving smoothly. So in one way they need to be looser, and in another way they need to be tighter! I've read a lot about the solution using CA glue, so if I tried that to tighten them up, is it likely to make the tuner's job even harder?

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Barrie Heaton
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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by Barrie Heaton » 11 Mar 2019, 20:05

Stop do not use CA glue. If the tuner is reporting that the pins are not turning smoothly, that could mean that the tuning pins are very tight and jumping. CA glue will make it worse.

How old is the piano? Has the piano been restrung with oversize pins?
Other problems with Steinways is string drag this can make tuning a challenge, as the strings are difficult to set and can run sharp or flat.

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bricklayer
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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by bricklayer » 11 Mar 2019, 21:42

The piano was built in 1898. It had a complete rebuild including restringing in 1997 so it's probable that it had oversize pins fitted although I've no way of knowing for sure. Until I spoke to our tuner this morning, the only issue I was aware of is that it doesn't stay in tune for long at all (our observation), and our tuner had already told me that this must be because the pins are 'slipping'. Now he says they're too tight as well! Very confusing...

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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by Barrie Heaton » 12 Mar 2019, 00:20

bricklayer wrote:
11 Mar 2019, 21:42
The piano was built in 1898. It had a complete rebuild including restringing in 1997 so it's probable that it had oversize pins fitted although I've no way of knowing for sure. Until I spoke to our tuner this morning, the only issue I was aware of is that it doesn't stay in tune for long at all (our observation), and our tuner had already told me that this must be because the pins are 'slipping'. Now he says they're too tight as well! Very confusing...
Tight pins: Grab your first index finger of the right hand in the palm of your left hand hold it tight. Then twist your righthand you can feel that the top of your finger turns before the bottom part. I good tuner need to feel that pin turning. Also, as it has been restrung, it may have oversize pins (some tuners find them harder to control), plus if the strings are tarnished, then there will be some drag.

How long have you had the piano?
if you have had the piano for some time has this problem just started
How long has this tuner been tuning it

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bricklayer
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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by bricklayer » 12 Mar 2019, 10:08

We've had the piano for 22 years, we first noticed it not holding its tune about 5 years ago, since then it's got worse so now it's out of tune again after a couple of days, and it's across the entire range of notes. The present tuner has only been a couple of times, but everyone who has tuned it has commented that it's difficult to tune because the strings don't pull up smoothly. There's no obvious sign of tarnish on the strings (they were new 22 years ago). We keep an even temperature around the piano and humidity is controlled too at around 65%. I guess if it's not holding its tune it must be because the pins are slipping.

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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by Barrie Heaton » 12 Mar 2019, 17:42

its drag, if the person who restored the piano made the bearing pads too thick it will add extra drag older S&S have a lot of drag at the best of times. You have to use the drag to help you tune.

Options

Restring or try a different tuner

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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by bricklayer » 13 Mar 2019, 10:15

Are you saying that the difficulty with 'stiff' tuning is due to the strings not moving in and out from the pin smoothly, and not because the pins are 'stiff' in the block? Then of course I still have the problem with the piano not staying in tune - could that also be an issue other then the pins slipping in the block?

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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by Barrie Heaton » 13 Mar 2019, 12:43

Drag is from the stud to the tuning pin the string travels over a red bearing pad if the friction at that point is too much when you turn the pin and stop. There is an equalization between the pin and the stud taking place as a tuner you must adjust for this. (some tuners are better at it than others). if the tuning pins are jumpy that will not help.

Your tuner said that the pin where stiff not lose and they did not pull up smoothly so that would indicate the above.

So try a different tuner or get it restrung

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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by bricklayer » 13 Mar 2019, 14:48

Thanks for your advice, it's much appreciated as I am the pianist and not an expert tuner. I have just one more question. I understand now why the tuning might be 'jumpy' to execute but despite this the tuner does eventually manage to get it very well tuned when he visits. Then after a couple of days the tuning is off again, so am I looking at loose tuning pins but excessive friction on the bearing pad? Should I go ahead and try the CA glue in the pins plus some special lube on the bearing pad? Are there other possibilities which could cause both these problems to occur simultaneously on the same piano?

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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by Barrie Heaton » 13 Mar 2019, 16:37

Before you go down the route of CA glue Get a different tuner in Please.

FYI we use CA glue on pianos that are at the end of their life and restring is more than the piano's worth. Also, on Grand's care has to be taken as it can drip down on to the action.


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David Pinnegar
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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by David Pinnegar » 23 Mar 2019, 16:13

Yes - CA is only for slipping pins. It sounds to me as though the problem is with oversize pins. As a matter of preference when faced with slipping pins and a solution of fitting oversize pins I'd always recommend the CA route - but your pins have probably already been changed.

Possibly a drop of oil on the holes of the agraffes as the string goes through them might ease the passage of the string. But that's for jumpy strings rather than jumpy pins.

The result of stiff pins, for which CA is the very last thing they need, is that they're difficult to microtune. So the going out of tune is more likely to be to do with the tuner's inability to "set the pins".

Where I meet sticky pins or sticky strings, one way or another strings that don't want to move other than in jerks, I jerk the string downwards to get both the pin and the string on the move, playing the note continuously and pulling the string smoothly but quite sharply up to pitch exact in one go without stopping. This technique, if it can be achieved, ensures that all the string has moved at all friction points and has moved evenly up to pitch, and it stays there.

With the Steinway Duplex scale there are more friction or bend points.

The trouble with this technique is that the jerk downward can cause the string to break just at the coil onto the tuning pin which is most embarrassing. But an instrument which presents difficulties in tuning will only be happy again when restrung . . .

Best wishes

David P

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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by Barrie Heaton » 24 Mar 2019, 15:49

David Pinnegar wrote:
23 Mar 2019, 16:13


Possibly a drop of oil on the holes of the agraffes as the string goes through them might ease the passage of the string. But that's for jumpy strings rather than jumpy pins.

DO NOT put oil on the agraffes it will make it worse over time. if you must put a lubricant on the agraffes use Teflon or graphite powder or a spot of Proteck on the string above the agraffes.

However, most of the drag on the string on a S&S is from the bearing pads.

All the above should be done by the tuner, not the owner.

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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by David Pinnegar » 24 Mar 2019, 15:59

Barrie Heaton wrote:
24 Mar 2019, 15:49
DO NOT put oil on the agraffes it will make it worse over time. if you must put a lubricant on the agraffes use Teflon or graphite powder or a spot of Proteck on the string above the agraffes.
Thanks - yes - Proteck is a magic liquid.

The problem with oil is that felt particles from hammers sticks to it and this can cause a dulling of the treble particularly over time.

Is Steinway drag on bearing pads any worse than Bechstein or others? It hasn't struck me so.

The worst instrument that I've come across ever was an Ibach with old strings, and the sharpest possible angle from agraffes up to tuning pins. Every string was a breakage risk. When I came to the same model but restrung within the past 20 years, the strings didn't break and it was better behaved, but that design seems to be a matter of built-in obsolescence for stringing as far as I can see.

Best wishes

David P

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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by Barrie Heaton » 25 Mar 2019, 18:27

I would agree on the Ibach older ones are very bad. The new Steingraeber is like the old Ibach very steep up to the pins.
Older Stineway grand pianos can be interesting. Model V is a pain as well. Same as the Model 7,8, 9 Bechstein upright pianos, but for me its the old double agraffes Broadwood grand.

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Re: Tuning pins stiff but slipping

Post by David Pinnegar » 01 Apr 2019, 12:22

From the US PGT forum questions like this have brought forward the idea of using Protek on agraffes and felts . . .

Best wishes

David P

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