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MMD > Archives > January 2000 > 2000.01.19 > 15Prev  Next

Tri-Chord Piano Dampers
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Larry Mayo asked about why tri-chord dampers aren't used
throughout the steel-stringed portions of a piano.  I'm not an
engineer, but my feeling is that tri-chord dampers simply aren't
necessary for the majority of the tenor and treble portions of the

In large uprights, tri-chord dampers are often found near the bottom
end of the tenor section since regular dampers just don't do an
adequate job.  Secondly, tri-chord dampers are more expensive to make.
Thirdly, they have to be installed one by one because they have to
align perfectly with the strings.

I suppose they could be glued to the damper head and then aligned by
bending the damper wire, but that seems like a lot more work to me.
Either way, that adds a lot of time to the manufacturing process, which
leads to higher prices.

Some years ago, after replacing a set of dampers in a large upright,
I was dissatisfied with the amount of after-ring so I tried installing
a set of grand two-piece dampers.  The difference was nothing short of
remarkable.  Ever since that time, we split the upright dampers in the
middle (right at the stitch line) and glue them on with a small amount
of space between the two pieces.  (Actually, I shouldn't say 'we'
because Pandora does all the dampers.  ;-)

It might be of interest to piano technicians to note that some new
pianos now have two-piece flat dampers in place of the older style
one-piece damper, just like in grand pianos.  So evidently the manu-
facturers realized a need for better dampening throughout the tenor and
treble regions in larger pianos.  Having tested a number of new pianos
this past weekend, the difference in after-ring between the old style
dampers and the new style was easy to hear.  It was especially
noticeable when playing large chords in a staccato manner.

One question that has always puzzled me is why the dampers stop at
around note 65.  My feeling has always been that a certain amount of
sympathetic ringing in the higher treble section adds to the overall
tonal color of the music.  How the manufacture determines where to stop
placing the dampers is a total mystery to me.  And considering that
there doesn't seem to be any regularity with regards to where the
dampers end, from one make to another, one has to wonder if the process
of selecting the stop point is arrived at subjectively or via some
elaborate acoustic test.

So many questions, so little time,

John A. Tuttle

(Message sent Wed 19 Jan 2000, 19:16:56 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Dampers, Piano, Tri-Chord

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