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Ack! Buzzing treble keys (Read 5234 times)

Offline sandracb

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Ack! Buzzing treble keys
« on: September 13, 2015, 01:29:08 AM »
This is about to drive me nuts!

The D6 key on my Kawai upright is buzzing, and to a lesser extent, the G6. We JUST had the tuner tune the piano this afternoon. It's better than it was last week, but it's still buzzing.

It's driving me crazy since one of the pieces I'm working on is Rach's Prelude in D+, which has a whole section with quite a few highlight accent type notes on a whole page using that D. The buzzing is starting to feel like nails on a chalkboard to me.

It's not a unison thing as the buzzing is happened when the note is played by itself, not in a chord or octave. I've removed everything from the piano, so there's nothing physical I think that could be buzzing, and the noise is definitely from that key and not from elsewhere in the room. The tuner used an electronic tuner but he has 30+ years experience so I trust that he knows what he's doing. He said he did a pitch raise for the whole keyboard too, but I don't see how this could have anything to do with the buzzing thing especially since it was there before.

Is it just the age of the piano? The piano is 35 years old. Is this an indicator of a worn part in that particular key? Is there anything I can do myself to fix it? It's honestly the most irritating thing ever - my teeth are starting to itch!
Current repertoire:
ARCT program (Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Rach, Barber, Mendelssohn), plus Schumann's Papillons, Scarlatti, and Czerny op 740

My pianos: Kawai BL-51 (50"), Kawai RX-2 Conservatory

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Ack! Buzzing treble keys
«Reply #1 on: September 13, 2015, 09:36:45 AM »
There could be a host if little things and then the bigger item of a crack or separation in the sound board. I've seen a near by lamp buzz and swear it was coming from the piano someplace too. The fact that it is so irritating you is probably enhanced by all thwe potentiality of a grand piano in your future too lol ! But seriously a buzz can drive you bonkers all on it's own, been there done that !!
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Ack! Buzzing treble keys
«Reply #2 on: September 13, 2015, 12:18:08 PM »
Correcting a buzz is not part of a normal piano tuning charge.  Certainly if you asked your tuner to fix it, he might have given it a try, but that is a $$ an hour mouse hunt, where you pay the bill for whatever it takes.  In my low cost area, about $60 an hour to run a car and pay an accountant, leaving $15-20 per hour for the poor tech.  Tuners set up several calls a day, so he may have had to come back to fix this problem anyway, as tuning calls are 2-3 hours max even with a full restoration to correct pitch. (Lowering pitch is faster and cheaper). 
If you want to diagnose this yourself, get a mechanic's stethescope, or stick a windshield wiper hose or fish tank air hose (8mm diameter max) in your ear.  Then you move the end of the stethescope around possible culprit areas while somebody else plays the bad note.  The noise will be louder when the end of the stethescope is there.
I'd suggest paying particular attention to the music rack, and if you have one, that metal damping bar inside attached to the middle pedal.  Loose action mounts could also be a problem.  The worst would be a cracked soundboard.  Putting felt washers in the music rack mounts, or tightening up the action nuts is something you could do yourself.  A cracked soundboard, better involve the professional again.  In my area, I doubt that any tuner has ever repaired this sort of problem - the level of competence of the tuner from the old Steinway dealer did not impress me. He was tuning flat to save time, and not giving me the option of paying more to get my new piano back up to standard pitch.  His suggested "repair" of a loose pin problem (goes flat in days)  was also totally ineffective. 

Offline sandracb

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Re: Ack! Buzzing treble keys
«Reply #3 on: September 13, 2015, 12:44:50 PM »
Thanks to both of you!

Ok I think maybe 'buzzing' is the wrong term.....I'm not sure what to call it, it's almost like the top 'half' of the tone is ringing at a slight dissonance from the bottom half. I have no clue if that makes any sense! It's almost like a sonic 'scraping' tone on that handful of treble keys.

Great suggestion about the stethoscope, I will see if I can find one. In the meantime, I'll get my kid to play the problem note and crawl around and see if I can figure out the source. I DEARLY hope it's not the soundboard!!

I'm not blaming my tuner at all, nor would I hire a technician to fix this around here - the piano tuners going rate in my area is $60/hr!!! Hardly worth it for a 35 year old upright. I hope I figure it out but if not, I guess it adds character?!?
Current repertoire:
ARCT program (Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Rach, Barber, Mendelssohn), plus Schumann's Papillons, Scarlatti, and Czerny op 740

My pianos: Kawai BL-51 (50"), Kawai RX-2 Conservatory

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Ack! Buzzing treble keys
«Reply #4 on: September 13, 2015, 02:09:33 PM »
A buzzing soundboard is literally that , a buzz.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline sandracb

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Re: Ack! Buzzing treble keys
«Reply #5 on: September 13, 2015, 03:05:16 PM »
A buzzing soundboard is literally that , a buzz.

Ok good to know!

I think we figured it out, shouldn't be the soundboard. We took the front cover/lid off, and I played a bit, and it seemed okay. (Well the upper registers are a tad tinny/brassy in tone and I don't like it, but nothing to do with the buzz). So then we put the lid back on and it was fine for about 3 min then started buzz like a crazy thing after a few minutes. Sounded like a loose metallic wire zzzz'ing against the trouble notes. Even my tone deaf husband heard it, it was pretty obvious.

So, not the soundboard, probably something in the lid/cover. We need to mess around with some felt padding to insulate the rattle, should help. The B6 key is sounding funny but not sure where it's coming from, my husband said it was 'twanging' when I was playing the G6, so it might be sympathetic resonance from something else. We might try sticking some felt in the strings to dampen it but I didn't want to mess around with it now while it was freshly tuned. In a few months when the tuning's all out of whack we'll experiment.
Current repertoire:
ARCT program (Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Rach, Barber, Mendelssohn), plus Schumann's Papillons, Scarlatti, and Czerny op 740

My pianos: Kawai BL-51 (50"), Kawai RX-2 Conservatory