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Hoping to find some folks here with shareable experience regarding Paullelo wire vs. Mapes IG. For people who've used lower tensile cores in your bass strings, how did the tone change? How do the tones differ in the plain wire?

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From my tests, lower tensile strength wire have less pronounced longitudinal modes and thats all, it won't solve your hockey stick bridge issues, it will just mask them a bit.

As for using wire of different tensile strengths in bass strings, it may make sense, but it is a very complex subject, there are some experiments with sound samples on Hans Velo page http://home.kpn.nl/velo68/ He assumed, partially incorrectly, that if big pianos have lower inharmonicity in bass, small pianos with strings with low inharmonicity will sound better, it is somewhat true but not because of inharmonicity itself (humans doesn't actually hear inharmonicity itself without "context" of other notes) but because of the lower stiffness of the string there is more lower partials and they decay slower and this usually sounds better. All paulello wires have the same stiffness as "standard" wire but they differ in tensile strength so thanks to that you can use smaller diameter (so less stiff) but higher strenght XM type wire in a string and gets lower stiffness and inharmonicity and supposedly sound, BUT you can somewhat hear on his sound samples that in higher tensile strength wire longitudinal modes are quite pronounced, I wouldn't call this conclusive, but it looks consistent with my experiments.
You can of course use this effect the other way around (as Paulello himself proposes, but with no real explanation beyond "waving hands") and use lower than normal strength wire and gets probably less longitudinal modes for a cost of higher inharmonicity and different partials energy distribution, or in lowest notes, where you can't usually make a string with very thin core anyway, so usually core diameter is larger than it could be, you can use lower strength wire without changing diameter and maybe get better sound...

Last edited by ambrozy; 04/03/22 10:00 PM.
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I use Paulello type O wire in wound scales to blend the scale breaks. It allows less wrap which keeps the tone brighter and has less L-mode.

I also convert some wound and plain bi-chords at the break to type O cored tri-chord wound unisons.

I use type O cores on the lowest wound bi-chord and on smaller scales the bottom two to five single string notes.

This allows the total mass of the string set to be reduced while the flexibility across the compass is enhanced which keeps more brightness in the transverse modes. Thick strings sound duller.


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Ambrozy, I think you are pretty far off the target in much of what you say, and I think your understanding of hybrid wire is incomplete.

I will begin by stating that the most important component in scaling with hybrid wire is BREAKING PERCENTAGE. Of course, in traditional string scaling using only a single wire type with its own set of values for tension, breaking percentage is only given passing attention, mostly to be assured that the wire has not exceeded or is too close to the breaking point. You don’t have the opportunity to use BP to make meaningful changes in tone in the piano because you are limited to only the one wire type. In that sense, tension and breaking percentage travel together in scaling.

Not so in hybrid scaling. Allow me to example the lowest plain wire on a Steinway B, F21. I will use three Paulello wire types – M, O, and 1. M is roughly equivalent to Mapes or Roslau for tension and BP. O is a weaker wire in BP, and 1 is weaker still. Type M gives a PBL% (Practical Breaking Load Percentage) of 30.06%. Type O a PBL% of 36.26%, and Type 1 is at 47.36%. Type 1 here is in the Goldilocks zone of good piano tone, and it is an audible improvement. Type M is at a too low value at 30%, and you would hear the droop in tone quality that is characteristic of Steinway Bs in the low tenor. On this piano, I used 4 notes of type 1 at the bottom, O from there up to note 39. The notes up to 39 stayed within the range of 50 to 60%, solidly in the range of good tone and a blended match to the M type notes above it to 88, and to the upper bass as well. I did not change wire sizes to meet my BP goals. Tension, IH, and Loudness remained the same.

What is interesting is that the only thing that changes here are the wire types. That is not to say that tension is not an important component of piano tone, it certainly is. Where one may consider the tonal identity of a particular piano (such as a Steinway B) desirable to preserve, one can improve the tone of problem areas in a piano scale (most often the low tenor section and the monochords in the bass by substituting the appropriate weaker wire type (O or 1). Doing this in a calculated manner will yield improvement in almost all pianos. The character changes and these problem areas blend better with their neighbors.

I started decreasing my core wire sizes in the lower monochords long before I started hybrid scaling about 10 years ago. Decreasing a core size of .059” in a Steinway O down to .051” yielded audible improvement to the tone. Inharmonicity decreased, as did the tension and loudness. And yes, even without hybrid wire, this also raised the breaking percentages more towards the Goldilocks zone. I would consider this the greatest contributor to the improved tone.

In practice in monochord scaling, I am always mixing weaker wire types, reduced core size, and wrap size to achieve my goals and also create the smoothest transitions from note to note. With the additional tool of wire types, you have greater flexibility to make changes in combination with the other tools.

And no, the wire types aren’t going to fix a bad hockey stick. It can improve it, but you are still going to hit the wall. Wound bi or trichords may be the better answer, and sometimes type O will improve things further still.
Wire type substitution is not mere experiments for me and many others in bass scaling. I have been doing this from the very beginning. I use a Paulello centric spreadsheet as my design tool, and the numbers agree with what my ears are hearing consistently.

I have had success in reducing core diameters in some small grands by as much as 2 wire gauges 21 ½ to 19 ½ to great improvement, but that is a story for another post.

Last edited by WilliamTruitt; 04/04/22 02:30 PM.

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William, I know exactly what Paulello claims about breaking percentage, but I'm an engineer, not the kind of person who believes in astrology, ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit here, but there is no explanation why breakage percentage is the cause of "good" or "bad" sound, because in reality there is only some correlation (for example no one is claiming that the last plain wire on a hockey stick bridge with 30%BP sounds good, it always sounds bad, there is no doubt about that), but CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION, I was talking about my own test comparing type M and 1 wire and there was no difference in partials energy distribution, there was only reduced L modes energy in type 1 wire, I won't call this absolutely conclusive, those was just simple tests with wire monochords on a wooden board recorded directly from the bridge, but results were quite clear.

Then you proceed to talk that reducing core diameters is usually beneficial for the sound, this is exactly what Hans Velo found and took it to the extreme by using XM type wire, but incorrectly assumed that it is because of inharmonicity (another correlation - causation trap), I myself took that path a little too far by creating a software that can calculate inharmonicity constant for each partial for non-uniform diameter strings, I was probably talking with you about that some time ago but you probably didn't read my latest posts where I showed the results by making a string with negative inharmonicity, it doesn't sounded different from similar string with standard construction, and neg inh would only be audible in the context of other notes in interals, chords etc..

You should read Hans Velo work:
http://home.kpn.nl/velo68/OPTIMIZATION%20OF%20BASS%20STRINGS%20WITH%20PAULELLO%20PIANO%20WIRE6.pdf
http://home.kpn.nl/velo68/internlin...ow%20inharmonicity%20in%20the%20bass.pdf here on the end are spectral graphs that shows that reduced core diameter causes more energy in lower partials and this is main cause of better tone.

His claims about inharmonicity turns out to be incorrect, but his experiments results are usefull,

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I have done almost exactly what Will has done on the B scale. (Actually it may be exactly, I just don't remember the note numbers but the switch to Type M was in the middle of #17 wire [I think]).

Back in the day of Puresound SS wire, I used that at the tenor break on nearly every restring I did basically using a "seat of the pants" rescaling. I was very happy with the results of these and never had any negatives about it. When I learned of Paulello wire and got a bit more sophisticated in the rescaling dept. (actually doing the math) I feel I have improved even more. The only issue that sometimes crops up is a difference in sheen of the wire compared to IG wire (which is what I primarily use instead of type M Paulello).

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Ambrozy, I am not an engineer and am likely less technically sophisticated than you (and a lot of other people too). But, if you change out only one variable (in this case, wire of varying breaking percentages) and everything else remains the same, and you get a different and better sound which correlates to a calculated breaking percentage which has been found to fall within a range claimed to give the best tone, then the most logical and reasonable conclusion is that breaking percentage is strongly determinate of ideal piano tone, even as it is not the only contributor.

Ten years of doing many string scalings for all 88 notes using BP as the deferred to factor has always given me consistent results that I can get no other way. You may think I am deaf, dumb, and deluded and snort fairy dust, if that best suits you.

Just to assure myself that I am indeed not dented, I have exposed my results to multiple sets of good ears, including the Piano Doctor. There has been a strong consistency of opinion on what we are hearing.

I am a restless piano rebuilder who just wants to make great sounding and feeling pianos. I can hear the differences and I like them. I wouldn't be spending 5 or 6 hours working out a scale for every piano that I rebuild if I were not getting these results. No customer of mine has ever been disappointed in the sound of the piano wire, and all tell me the piano sounds better than it ever has.

I think the fact that I have rebuilt many pianos this way is an important distinction when compared to your simple monochords.


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Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
Just to assure myself that I am indeed not dented, I have exposed my results to multiple sets of good ears, including the Piano Doctor. There has been a strong consistency of opinion on what we are hearing.

And they do sound great!

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Jim Ellis tested the levels and frequency of L-mode that Mapes wire and stainless wire produced with equal excitement. The stainless had lower frequency and lower amplitudes. I think this would also apply to the softer annealed steel alloy wires produced by Paulello. This is an assumption because L mode behavior of Pualello wire has not been tested to my knowledge. But it is a very simple one that is in line with what testing trends have revealed.

Therefore the simplest explanation for the tone difference we hear is due to the differing L-mode behavior of softer wires. Especially since it has been shown that inharmonicity levels can vary greatly and still not appreciably influence our perception of tone quality.


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