Facts About Pin-TiteŽ
by Craig Brougher

I also want to answer in regard to what I feel is not a fair assessment in regard to Pin-Tite and the Guild. It was said by Doug Rhodes that the fact that nothing had ever been written about Pin-Tite in the last 15 years of the Journal stands as mute testimony to the "fact" that the PTG does not endorse pin tighteners.

While it is true that no official articles have been written on pin tighteners (which would require a comparison test between potential advertisers in the Journal), neither have there been evaluations of technician schools (which the PTG doesn't endorse or rate, either.) After all, Charles Flaum included their lack of endorsement as proof, too. The Piano Manufacturer's Association has never in its history endorsed any after market product, yet Charles and Doug are, by inference, including this as a proof that Pin-Tite is damaging to pin planks. Charles said that the entire industry is clearly opposed to it since no one in the industry endorses it. Doug seconds that motion. As I will show, that is incorrect.

Pin tighteners got a bad rap when, in the 50s and 60s (around here, at least) it was said that Mobil Oil Co's antifreeze was as close to pin tightener as you could get and at the time sold for about 50 cents a qt. So armed with no knowledge and trusting completely on hearsay, dozens of tuners in this city filled their bottles with it and ruined thousands of wrest planks. Not that other brands wouldn't do just as good a job of ruining them, but the tuners saved the $3.85/plank. This wave went around the country for about 10-15 years.

Finally, tuners known to do this got a bad reputation, and suddenly the entire guild ran as far away from pin tighteners the other way as they could get. They went from one ridiculous extreme to the other. Never ever trying to find out if, in fact there was actually something to do the job safely and permanently (as proven by the total lack of research done by the PTG and admitted by Doug and Charles as well).

It was lots easier to just throw the baby out with the bathwater. Lump all pin tighteners together and pretend they didn't exist. They are presently in this mode yet today, fearful that they will be labeled, otherwise.

Anybody who says they use it is immediately persona-non-grata. That's why I did it! I enjoy being "their" persona-non-grata. It gives me a lot of pleasure and confidence. I enjoy it. Besides, I, and thousands of other legitimate (but very quiet) users of Pin-Tite are not the exception, and there are some very fine PTG techs I know who swear by it! Just not very loudly, lest they be labeled a "hack," which pleases some, and right here on this MMD page! That doesn't bother me. I know what's right and I always stick up for those things. People know they can trust what I say.

I think that if a man does not fear what other people will think, he will not simply go with the flow, but will be honest and curious about trying to learn what and why. If anybody is actually interested, a chemist could explain how a resin impregnation system is permanent and cannot possibly hurt any wood product. I'm surprized that so far no one has said, "I think it an important enough subject to warrant further study, and to prove one way or the other." Instead, all I have read is, "I don't know, and I don't care to find out."

The principle behind all of the early pin tighteners is this: Glycerine in alcohol is absorbed by the wood. The alcohol evaporates, leaving glycerine behind. Glycerine has a great affinity for moisture, and so, draws water out of the air to join with it. As moisture is adsorbed, it fills the spaces, increasing hydrostatic pressure in the plank. This crushes the wood tightly around the pins until most of the space is taken up by the moisture entrained. The pins rust eventually, not from the glycerine, but from the moisture in the air. The next thing that happens is this: The glycerine migrates away from the pins and gradually finds its way deep into the plank, where it no longer can be of use. The powerful action of wood to wick liquids is stronger than the glycerine's ability to stay where it is. So gradually, the water then leaves the wood. When it does, it leaves behind a crushed cellular stucture which has destroyed the plank. Sometimes they can be repinned, but it isn't likely. And the pin holes seem "mushy" to tune, and never seem to hold a tuning.

If you had repinned several of these planks, only to have your customers breathing fire down your neck, you would know why tuners ran as fast as they could from pin tighteners.

Now comes Pin-Tite. It was formulated by a real live chemist who knew how to do it. He ran years of experiments. I have spoken to his widow about it, and the tests which were done to prove it. Her son today is a professional chemist who supervises its manufacture and tests it. It doesn't rely on water retention/compression at all! It is made from the resins which come from wood and a delivery system which allows the wood to "absorb" it, NOT just entrain it. That means, it is not simply a coating but an integral part of the pin hole area which chemically reacts with cellulose, dries completely, and becomes a permanent part of the plank again. There is nothing in Pin-Tite that does not come from wood. The resultant tuning is a restored plank, with that nice little pin "jump" restored, just like Bruce Clark and others want to feel.

Pin-Tite will not work well on any plank previously treated with a glycol or any other system which relies on water retention. You are wasting your money. However, despite the PTG's fearful silence on Pin-Tite, you must realize that all of these products have been advertised in the PTG Journal, and that all of these products are still sold by the carload! And guess who buys them? PTG members! That, friends, is the ultimate endorsement. It's just that they don't talk about it anymore, lest the stigma is also applied to them. One day, this will be corrected, but until physical principles are respected and trusted, the same taint will be applied to all who use it. Ridiculous!

E-Mail to: Craig Brougher
Phone No: 816-254-1693


The third parties mentioned in this article have been contacted and asked to present any scientific and/or practical information which refutes Mr. Brougher's comments. Thusfar, none have responded. For the position of the Piano Technicians Guild regarding all commercially available products, including Tuning Pin Tighteners, click here. For other opposing and agreeing articles written about the use of Tuning Pin Tighteners and Loose Tuning Pins, click here. The hyperlinks within this paragraph are just a small part of the Archives located at the Mechanical Music Digest website.

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This page was last revised on March 11, 2019

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