Monday, March 28, 2011

Days 82 and 83 – Saturday and Sunday, March 26 and 27 – Strings are strung

Goals: Finish the strings

Music: Tony Bennett’s “MTV Unplugged”; Lars Gullin’s “Danny’s Dream".

I decided it was high time I quit making excuses and started making some progress on the piano. I was helped by the fact that I largely didn’t feel like practicing the piano this weekend (as much as I do need that). So on Saturday, I completed the rough tuning of the piano, tuning everything down a half tone, so middle A on the piano sounds like G#. My tuner is actually pretty handy, but as I got higher into the upper register, it became less and less reliable. By the time I reached the last few notes, I was tuning by ear alone, but as I got the tones to where I thought I was close, I was able to use the tuner to check them and they all were fine. At the lower end of the double strings, there were about a half dozen pins that needed shimming, including one that I had used a sandpaper shim on. Although I’ve gotten quite skilled at that, it took a little more time than I would have liked, due to having to replace two strings, one that was too short to begin with and one that was kind of short and broke off at the end. Again, due to having gained some skill and plenty of practice in this area, it didn’t take me long to do.

On Sunday, there was nothing left but the 33 wound bass strings, all singles. Not being in the mood to fuss and knowing that when I did the reaming I started at this end and wasn’t tired so the holes were probably all over-reamed, I went straight to the oversized pins. Even at that, I had to shim quite a few, say one of every three, so towards the end, I just went with putting a shim in automatically without bothering to check fit.

Because all these strings were custom made, I took my time handling the actual strings. I made sure every one had plenty of wire to wind on the pins, I started the pins up high to allow me to wind them well, and I made sure every one was seated properly before winding. I only had one or two give me fits, mostly towards the end when my eyes were getting tired and I couldn’t tell if the coils were seating correctly or not. But in about three hours, I had completely attached and tuned the 33 single bass string strings. The strings are now complete: 

The big advantage of finishing this part of the project is it allows me to clean up a good bit. I can put away all the boxes of pins (3 of them), the sandpaper and metal shims, the aluminum bushings (never used) the coils of wire, plus all the tools that go with this part of the project – hammer, pin driver, pin turner, tin snips, stamp tongs (for inserting shims), calipers (for measuring strings and pins), and tuning wrench and tuner (which I’ll need again later). I can now also throw out all the old strings and put into storage my string size chart, marking flags and all the miscellaneous stuff that accumulated during this phase of the project. I’m sure I won’t know what to do with all the space.

Next up is the hammer assembly and the damper arms. I still don’t know what I’m going to do about the missing damper arm, but as I do have replacement hammers for the broken and missing ones, I guess that’s where I’ll start. Although I have a lot of little jobs left, I’m thinking I’ll be able to steamroll through them. I very well may be catching my second wind for the fourth or fifth time. 

No comments: