Buzzing in pianos... maybe!
Hi All, Reading the article about buzzing sounds in a Steinway brought
back a fond memory of my days as a piano salesman.
Having sold a brand new Steinway grand, it was my job to accompany the
piano to its new home and insure that everything was perfect. The move
was uneventful, and after playing a few songs for the customer, I left.
Twenty minutes later we got a call from one very angry customer who
wanted the piano removed immediately. Somewhat frantic, I drove back
to investigate the complaint. Sure enough, when I played one
particular note (can't remember which one, but it was in the tenor
range) there was a very annoying buzz which sounded like it was coming
from the piano. I had the owner play the note as I searched every part
of the piano. I couldn't locate the buzz. So I called the store owner
and he came over.
When he arrived, I explained what I had tried and he calmly asked me
to play the offending note repeatedly. He stepped away from the piano
and rotated his head from left to right, then moved around the room,
stopping every few feet, and did the 'rotate the head' thing.
After about a minute or so, he walked over to a picture that was
hanging on the wall and he touched one of the corners. The buzzing
stopped! The problem: Sympathetic Vibration.
Pianos, and especially the larger grand pianos, are powerful
instruments. Although we might not be able to feel it, they can
vibrate a whole house. Nowadays when I can't quickly locate a buzzing
sound inside of the piano, I step away and ask the customer to play the
offending note as I walk around the room touching things. I'm serious!
Just last year I located a "buzzing picture frame". The customer was
impressed and just a bit embarrassed. I was a 'hero'.... ;-)
(This is for you, Frank! I know you're somewhere up in heaven smiling
as I write this email. Thanks for the valuable lesson in finding
Another way to locate buzzing sounds is a trick I learned while working
on cars. Take a screwdriver with a very long blade and touch the tip
to various locations in the instrument. At the same time, place the
handle of the screwdriver tightly up against your ear. Mechanics use
this technique to locate clicking sounds, bearing noises, etc. It's
Make sure the little piece of [projecting] skin near the ear canal is
in between the handle of the screwdriver and the ear canal, closing the
canal. It works better that way. I looked in the encyclopedia but
couldn't find the name of that piece of skin.
John A. Tuttle