Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how you can get great bass sound out of an old piano. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a piano where the lowest notes just sound pathetic. It can make you not even want to play down there! I remember practicing for many years before I had a formidable instrument, and I found that I would kind of punctuate the low notes. I would bang them trying to get any sound out of them at all. Then I would play a concert grand or even a semi-concert grand and realize I was overplaying everything below the two octaves below middle C. It would all sound too loud and ugly.
Is there anything you can do to get a better bass sound out of your old piano?
The answer is yes, but it depends upon the size of your old piano. If you’ve got an old spinet, there’s not much you can do because the strings are so short. But if you have an older piano of a decent size that lacks sound in the bass, there are oftentimes ways you can get new life out of the bass. One obvious thing, if your piano is old, the bass strings might have lost their life. Replacing the bass strings may be necessary. Restringing the whole piano is a big job. But there aren’t that many bass strings because there are only one or two usually for each note down there unlike the rest of the piano, where there are three strings for each note. So you can get your piano technician to replace just the bass strings. They might even be able to use the existing tuning pins if they’re tight enough. If not, just replace those tuning pins while you’re at it with slightly larger tuning pins to make sure that they are good and tight.
There are also ways to bring new life to old strings.
Sometimes simply loosening the bass strings and then tightening them back up in tune can make them sound dramatically better. Better than that, bass strings can be twisted. Bass strings all come with at least a half twist or a full twist, depending upon the manufacturer. You can put another half or full twist on those strings. But it does flex the string. And if the strings are really old, you could snap some bass strings. So there is some caution advised here. But if they’ve never been twisted before, sometimes the sound you can get out of the bass strings with a simple twist is unbelievable. The way you find out if this will help your piano is to have a technician twist just one of the strings. Find a note that has two strings and twist one of them. Then listen for the difference by muting each string and listening to them separately. If the string that was twisted is dramatically brighter and more vibrant, have your tuner twist all of the strings to get new life out of the bass on your piano. Sometimes technicians will actually remove the strings, not completely, just at the point where they could take it off of the loop and then they clean it by folding it onto itself like tying a knot. This gets the crud out from between the coils, which can also really enhance the sound of those bass strings.
So, there are techniques for reviving the bass on your piano! I advise any of you who want the bass on your piano to sound more vibrant to talk to your piano technician about these techniques. But make sure that they’re versed in this technology because not all piano technicians do this. Don’t have them do it if they are not accustomed to doing it. Find a technician who is familiar with these techniques and they will know whether it’s going to work on your piano or not. You might just get new life out of your bass without having to spend a lot of money! I hope this helps you! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
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