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MMD > Archives > January 2000 > 2000.01.16 > 11Prev  Next

Replacing Bass Strings vs. Knotting
By Craig Brougher

There is a vast difference between knotting a bass string close to
the tuning pin, and knotting one in the speaking portion of the note.
As a matter of fact, I have knotted strings on rare occasions when
the knot wasn't going to be singing with the string.

The ability to knot versus the ability to knot in an space approxi-
mately 3/4" and not pull the knot against the agraffe is the same
difference as saying, "I rebuilt my player piano," versus, "I rebuilt
my player to pump easily with one foot."

As Art Reblitz says, "It's difficult to tie a knot that doesn't end up
touching the agraffe as it tightens."  I'd say that's the understate-
ment of the week.  And re-reading my first comment, you will notice that
it was this subject that I had the reservations about: tying a knot
when you barely have room or the remaining wire to do so.

The idea of having to replace old, blackened strings with new ones
because one of the old strings broke is actually a very _good_ (not
a bad) idea.  The few times I've had to do this in a customer's home,
I made a friend and created a lifelong confidence.  I am surprised that
no one has come to the defense of new strings, so I will.

For example, You can preach till the cows come home about tone but
nobody really believes you, until they actually hear the difference
on their own instrument.  I have explained many times how much better
a person would like his piano if it just had a new set of bass strings,
because the bass is called the foundation of the piano!

The reason for that is, the bass strings sing faintly -- even through
dampers -- while the piano is being played.  Dampen them out with a
large towel and weight it down (on a grand piano), then play your piano
treble and you will quickly hear the difference.  Raise the dampers,
strike a note in the treble and dampen it immediately with your thumb.
Leaving the dampers on, that note is carried by the other long strings.
Do the same test with old, darkened bass strings, and the test becomes
much less impressive, almost inaudible in some cases.

So instead of tying an obviously defective or rusty string (ready to
break again) to begin with, I would replace it with a new one and not
worry at all about the fact that it is shiny and new.  If the note has
two strings, then I replace them both!  Set the coils and hitches,
stretch the new strings and bring them up to pitch.

Then I tell the customer, "Can you hear any difference?" And I play a
slow arpeggio across that area.  Invariably, he will say, "Yes!  There
it is.  It really stands out!  Wow!"

And I just smile, and say, "If I were you, I'd multiply that effect by
a factor of about 28 or 30 times.  I'd invest in some new bass strings
-- but, it's up to you."  Then that's where I just dump it in his lap.

From that point on, I've never been turned down.  I make money, my
customer is delighted, and I've even had them say, "Why didn't my
regular tuner say something?"

So now everybody knows why I don't do much knotting of bass strings.
I'd rather do the capitalistic thing, and sell a new set!  People who
knot get forgotten.  But not the people who don't knot.  So I knot
not!  Hmmm... Reminds me of a "knot knot" joke.

Craig Brougher

 [ "Who's that knotting at my door?"  Or, "Waste knot, want knot!"  ;)
 [  -- Robbie

(Message sent Sun 16 Jan 2000, 13:40:00 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  Bass, Knotting, Replacing, Strings, vs

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