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What is the box hanging from the bottom of the grand piano?? Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 16th February 2019
  #1
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What is the box hanging from the bottom of the grand piano??

I’m watching the US Marine Band concerto competition in Washington DC since one of my wife’s students is performing. They are using a Steinway grand for accompaniment with the lid closed, and there is a black box about 10”x5”x12” hanging down from the bottom of the piano - it has a thick cable about 3’ long going toward the far end of the instrument. Perhaps some kind of micing system I’ve never seen before? What is it? Thanks.
Old 16th February 2019
  #2
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JCBigler's Avatar
Humidifier. Or dehumidifier.
Old 16th February 2019
  #3
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henryrobinett's Avatar
Piano disc is my guess. It plays prerecorded piano music. The piano keys actually play. I have a couple of good friends that used to record piano discs. They’d play the piano and the recorder would record all the moves and dynamics of the player. It also functions as a real piano.
Old 16th February 2019
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Pic
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Old 16th February 2019
  #5
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JCBigler's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
Pic
I'm 97% sure that's a dehumidifier or some sort.
Old 16th February 2019
  #6
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henryrobinett's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler View Post
I'm 97% sure that's a dehumidifier or some sort.
Yes! I bet you're right.
Old 16th February 2019
  #7
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But why is it outside the piano? Surely they don’t drill a hole in the soundboard to aerate it...
Old 16th February 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
But why is it outside the piano? Surely they don’t drill a hole in the soundboard to aerate it...
There's different types. Usually they are mounted to the frame or body. The tube is the tube to fill it with water or drain the water out. It's not a very good install job, I'll say that much.

Maybe there's someone around here who might know more about the Marine Band Competition.... Who can shed more light on the actual unit pictured.
Old 16th February 2019
  #9
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Btw, my wife’s student won runner up, and received $500. A nice honor for a fine young man.
Old 16th February 2019
  #10
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Here is the system our piano techs use, except we only go with the dehumidfiers.

Grand Piano Humidifier Dehumidifier | Piano Life Saver

The students don't seem to get this at all and broken AC cords are constant.
Old 16th February 2019
  #11
Arrow

Word from the front lines: the box and cable is the regulator and tube for water.

I can't vouch for the brand, but here's a similar system: How the Piano Life Saver System Works

When not in use, the piano stays plugged in (with power), so that it can stay in tune and healthy as long as possible.
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Old 17th February 2019
  #12
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EvilRoy's Avatar
I have a humidifier/dehumidifier on my piano which hasn't moved since new and has been tuned every 6 months. Talk about tuning stability. Also got one of those felt blankets with wood risers to fit over the strings so you can still play it covered. It's only uncovered when recording. 30 years and my strings still look brand new.
Old 17th February 2019
  #13
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Seems a good idea in principle, although I'm wary of any additional 'non-piano' mechanical device being bolted on (especially if it contains numerous discrete parts), as the potential for resonances/rattles to develop over time seems high ? Can anyone familiar with these devices comment ?

Despite the inconvenience, I'd prefer a device that were completely removable from the piano during playing. Like a violin case humidifier/hygrometer...ie it's not a permanent attachment to the instrument.
Old 17th February 2019
  #14
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I’ve seen a couple different types. Usually they are mounted and installed such that you never see the unit or the water inlet tube unless you crawl under the piano. Not sure why that one would be so obvious.

We never had humidifiers/dehumidifiers on the pianos at my last job because we had a climate controlled storage room. And since we were moving them around a four story building they usually got tuned before every performance anyway.
Old 17th February 2019
  #15
Gear Addict
I am a piano technician. That is almost certainly a Dampp-Chaser humidifier/dehumidifier. I've installed many of them. I've never heard a rattle or resonance with a properly installed system.

In dry conditions, a very small heater bar with a wet wick draped over it distributes properly moist air to the bottom of the soundboard, keeping the wood from shrinking and cracking and also keeping the pitch from going very flat. In wet conditions, larger heater bars dehumidify the air under the piano, preventing eventual cracks and keeping the pitch from going very sharp. The humidification/dehumidification is controlled by a humidistat (humidity sensor). The system is well engineered, and tells the user when water must be added (which is done using a special watering can that fits into a tube usually mounted directly under the rim).

The systems work well, but I almost always install an undercover (black almost acoustically transparent stretchy fabric - speaker cloth) to further segregate the properly humidified air near the soundboard from the rest of the air in the room, which makes the system work better and also looks better.

Since that is a nine-footer, there are two humidifier tanks (and probably an extra dehumidifying rod as well) to treat the larger area. That kind of installation is a bit more unsightly than the far more typical single tank system. Again, the undercover would make it less unsightly and also more effective. Usually, the tanks are installed much closer to the soundboard than the picture shows. I can't say why this one is installed the way it is, since I haven't crawled under that piano.

No holes are drilled in the soundboard or any other functional part of the piano. There are small screw holes drilled into the rim and beams,etc, but they don't affect those parts' structural strength in any way.
Old 18th February 2019
  #16
And I thought it was the "bad note safe" where all the bad notes go until someone pushes the "delete" button. <GRIN>
Old 18th February 2019
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
And I thought it was the "bad note safe" where all the bad notes go until someone pushes the "delete" button. <GRIN>
There are no bad notes! Only bad fingers...
Old 18th February 2019
  #18
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jnorman's Avatar
Both of you should go sit in the corner...
Old 18th February 2019
  #19
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Tommy-boy's Avatar
 

On the topic of dehumidifiers/humidifiers. Should most pianos be outfitted with them? Good practice? Home pianos?

I have a baby grand in my living room, that is unfortunately on 2 outside walls. I shut the vent near it so that heat/cold air isn't blasting on the piano. But I wondered if dehumidifiers/humidifiers would be useful.

For my current piano, it's probably a lost cause at this point. However, down the road I hope to purchase another larger grand piano and will want to take care of it.

-Tom
Old 18th February 2019
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
Both of you should go sit in the corner...
I live in a round house so there are no corners. <GRIN>
Old 18th February 2019
  #21
Unless the piano is kept in a temperature and humidity controlled room, it is good to have one of these systems. I have also seen systems where the piano cover goes all the way to the floor and a humidifier/de-humidifier is is kept under the piano.
All the best,
-mark
Old 18th February 2019
  #22
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy-boy View Post
On the topic of dehumidifiers/humidifiers. Should most pianos be outfitted with them? Good practice? Home pianos?
No, most pianos don't need something like this installed by default. They may benefit from a humidifier or dehumidifier in the room during certain seasons.

They prefer the same conditions as people, basically. Get a digital hygrometer and find out what's going on in your space.

Ideally, you should be staying within a 40-70% RH range, but if you occasionally stretch that to 30-80 I wouldn't worry.

In your neck of the woods, I expect the main problem would be prolonged low humidity during the winter heating season, compounded by the low atmospheric RH during snowy weather. A week or two in the 20s and we're into soundboard-cracking territory. (SB cracks don't matter anywhere near as much as people think, which is another story, but you're also drying out the pinblock, which is definitely problemzilla.)
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