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Estonia Pianos
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Joined: Jul 2021
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I have been annoyed by a sound on my grand piano that I would best describe as ringing. It is really noticeable when playing notes staccato around an octave above middle C and higher or even detached and especially when dynamics are louder. After you play those notes, and after you let go, there is a ringing sound that persists that does not seem to be the same frequency as the note played.

I have determined that it comes from the higher, undampened strings and that it is not an uncommon sound among Yamaha, Kawai or Steinway pianos. I have a C3X at home and I went to a dealer to try their pianos and noticed that a Steinway B had the same ringing sound and so did Kawai GX3 and Shigeru.

Much better with almost no noticeable ringing were the Estonia and Schimmel pianos at the same dealer. I asked the dealer and he said it's the duplex scaling that is causing this effect. Does this sound right?

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Damping is not perfect. Some pianos damp more than others. I think that is more likely what you are hearing, rather than the duplex scaling.

If you want to test this, put on a cotton glove to protect the strings, and damp the strings by placing your hand firmly but lightly on them as you listen for this. You can damp the string you are playing, the duplex portion of the string, and the other strings, and see what difference that makes.


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Like BDB said, you can mute the duplex. You can dampen a whole section by fashioning a small fiber board (1x2) with felt glued to the bottom.

You might also be hearing the upper register, where the keys are not damped. You can manually damped these also to see if that is causing the ringing (but of course they will not be playable).

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Originally Posted by BDB
Damping is not perfect. Some pianos damp more than others. I think that is more likely what you are hearing, rather than the duplex scaling.

If you want to test this, put on a cotton glove to protect the strings, and damp the strings by placing your hand firmly but lightly on them as you listen for this. You can damp the string you are playing, the duplex portion of the string, and the other strings, and see what difference that makes.
The damping is fine, I think. I damped the strings by placing my hand as you suggest and I could still hear the ringing sound. When I damped the higher strings, the ones without dampers, the ringing sound disappeared.

How do I tell which is the duplex portion of the string?

Also, cotton glove? I had a tech over once to tune and he used his bare hand to damp the strings. Should I not hire that tech again?

Last edited by WinstonSmith; 01/18/22 02:03 AM.
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The duplex portion is the part beyond the bridge, or in front of the capo bar.

I try to use gloves when I am handling strings, to avoid contamination. I know others do not. It probably does not make that much difference, but it is easy enough to be careful.

If you are not hearing it on the other pianos, maybe it means they are not as resonant. You have to decide whether you prefer that.

Last edited by BDB; 01/18/22 02:10 AM.

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Originally Posted by BDB
The duplex portion is the part beyond the bridge, or in front of the capo bar.

I try to use gloves when I am handling strings, to avoid contamination. I know others do not. It probably does not make that much difference, but it is easy enough to be careful.

If you are not hearing it on the other pianos, maybe it means they are not as resonant. You have to decide whether you prefer that.
Thanks, that is very helpful.

What makes a piano more resonant? I heard a Steinway B and a Kawai GX3 being as resonant as my C3X. On the other hand, an Estonia E190 and a Schimmel (forget the model, it was a 180cm grand) were much less resonant.

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Originally Posted by WinstonSmith
When I damped the higher strings, the ones without dampers, the ringing sound disappeared.
This makes sense. You mentioned the ringing effect was more pronounced an octave above Middle C and higher. Those strings are closer to the undamped highest strings, so the following effect is magnified:

string you're playing vibrates at its frequency -> air under string you're playing vibrates at string you're playing's frequency -> soundboard vibrates at string you're playing's frequency -> air under undamped strings vibrates at string you're playing's frequency -> undamped strings vibrate at their frequencies -> air under undamped strings vibrates at undamped strings' frequencies -> soundboard vibrates at undamped strings' frequencies -> air around soundboard vibrates with overlapping frequencies -> ringing

I like the "bite" that ringing gives the upper-middle treble but see how it could be annoying if it's too much.

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Originally Posted by WinstonSmith
Also, cotton glove? I had a tech over once to tune and he used his bare hand to damp the strings. Should I not hire that tech again?
I'd like to know this too. One told me he has calluses from playing guitar, implying his fingers touching the strings couldn't leave any acidic residue.

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About the original question of strings resonating two solutions that come to mind are change the tuning and change the piano. No doubt there are others.

By changing the treble stretch a bit it may be possible to avoid unwanted resonances, as the resonant frequency of the higher string will have moved away from that of the exciting partial. You will have to ask your tuner about that though.

Last edited by Withindale; 01/18/22 07:04 AM.

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Have you actually damped the duplexes as BDB suggested? That seems the most likely way to possible improvement on your existing piano to me ( improvement that is in the sense that you don't like the effect, I like the extra colour from the duplexes myself).

Doing that will take away some of the ringing (probably) but if there is still too much ringing from just the speaking lengths of the undamped notes it might be time to consider a change of piano to one with a tone you prefer.

Last edited by gwing; 01/18/22 09:34 AM.
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My M&H BB has significant undamped resonances in the rear tuned duplex area. It is part of what defines this piano's overall 'tone' and adds amazing colour to Debussy, Ravel, Rach and others. Not so much Brahms, whose textures are already so thick that I must be extremely light on the damper pedal to not add too much more resonance to what is already there.

I use thin felt woven through the duplexes to dampen them for playing Mozart and the like when doing chamber music. This provides a nice clear, lighter, more focused sound.

It is nice to be able to do both.


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