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#1205742 - 05/25/09 07:18 PM Advice on regulating/voicing 1915 Bechstein B  
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 1
artexetra Offline
Junior Member
artexetra  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: May 2009
Posts: 1
We just bought an all original Bechstein that had been owned by the same family since 1965 and played an hour or so daily until 5 years ago. We really like the piano's tone but the action is sluggish and uneven (the leather is quite dry and on some notes the mechanism makes a slight but audible rubbing sound.) The hammers are flattened and grooved, esp. in the bass register but there seems to be plenty of felt left on them. We are considering having the piano regulated and hammers reshaped and voiced. We would be grateful for advice on how to proceed and recommendations for a technician in Amsterdam.

One tech, who examined the piano, said it would take approx 8 hours to regulate it at his hourly rate (€20/hr). He could also reshape the hammers but could not do the voicing. Does 8 hours sound like enough time to regulate the piano properly? I've seen estimates of more than twice that amount of time on this forum. I'm hesitant have the hammers and voicing done because we like how the piano sounds now and don't want to change its tonality. However, we realize that in all likelihood it could sound much better after that work is done - if it's done well.

Thanks! Ed

Piano & Music Accessories
#1208308 - 05/29/09 07:42 PM Re: Advice on regulating/voicing 1915 Bechstein B [Re: artexetra]  
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
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Jerry Groot RPT  Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
In this field, you generally get what you pay for. It's a buyer beware market.

A qualified piano technician will be able to bring out the best in that piano.

It sounds like you may have more problems with the piano than regulation. A qualified technician call assess everything and tell you what other problems may be involved with the rubbing sounds, leather issues etc.

I would tend to skip by this tuner you speak of. Contact a university or college and see who their technician is.

Otherwise, if the Piano Technicians Guild is over there, find an RPT if you can as another suggestion.

The bass hammers are naturally larger than the rest of the pianos hammers are. If you notice, the treble hammers are quite small by comparison. It is possible that those and other hammers may be to flat for filing in which case, a new set may be in order.

Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan

We love to play BF2.
#1208319 - 05/29/09 08:30 PM Re: Advice on regulating/voicing 1915 Bechstein B [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]  
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 961
RPD Offline
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RPD  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 961
Kalamazoo Michigan
Although opinions may vary, there are really a couple of approaches to what is referred to as "regulation"...the first could be an onsite/one-day approach, similar to what a good tech would try to do for you if you have an event to meet and there's little time to get too "tweaky". Concert techs would fly through your action in 4-6 hours or perhaps a little longer, if it needs a fair amount of work...

The second option is something we at our shop call action re-setting. It goes a little beyond onsite work, and really re-sets the geometry (key dip, key height, hammer stroke, etc etc)...its what we would do if we replaced all the parts in a rebuilding, but without replacing all the parts...and you know you're getting this service if you visit the tech and ALL of your whippens, hammers-stems-flanges, and keys are organized and completely removed from the action frame and being checked for friction etc.

The better techs you will find can do this, although whether they feel the process is worth it will depend upon whether you plan in the next several years to rebuild the piano.

This job for us normally takes a few weeks to turn around (we don't just do one at a time) and with a little repair to parts you'd expect to pay 1-2K (or more) here in the USA.

Besides that, what Jerry said above is good advice...the only thing that caught my eye was that the tech said he couldn't voice the hammers (??). I think you should find a more complete service (unless he was saying there was no use in voicing the hammers LOL, in which case, you're in for a more expensive hammer job!)

You cannot believe the HUGE!! difference that is made by having somebody qualified work on your grand action...its a very specialized field, and the average self taught tuner isn't going to do the job you want.

Find a concert tech, and expect to pay alot more than the quote above, I'm afraid.

Hope that helps...RPD

MPT(Master Piano Technicians of America)
Member AMICA (Automated Musical Instruments Collector's Association)
(Subscriber PTG Journal)
DEALER Hailun Pianos
#1208336 - 05/29/09 09:11 PM Re: Advice on regulating/voicing 1915 Bechstein B [Re: RPD]  
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member
Jerry Groot RPT  Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
Thanks RPD. Nicely said yourself. :-)

Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan

We love to play BF2.
#1255296 - 08/24/09 03:28 PM Re: Advice on regulating/voicing 1915 Bechstein B [Re: RPD]  
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,935
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Inlanding  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,935
Yes, you are absolutely correct RPD!

The Steinway technician that regulated the action and voiced the hammers on my 1917 O removed the entire action assembly, took it to his shop for a week, then brought it back to finally refine the work done to it while at the piano. It's value to me far exceeded its price!

It is as fine an action as any I've ever played on any piano. That coupled with the fact the instrument's sound is at times mesmerizing, the tactile sense, responsiveness, and tone, from the softest pianissimo "ping", to the most percussive fortissimo is as good as any piano I've been fortunate to play.

I am sure other instruments exhibit these qualities, but I think once one gets used to a certain sound and responsiveness in touch from the piano they play regularly, other instruments are simply different, or don't stack up.

Finding a good tech is worth its weight in gold.

I am simply learning how to tune, but the quality of the mechanics are central to the success of a good tuning and how the instrument produces it's sound. Temperament is key, but meaningless if unisons are not where they should be.


Last edited by Inlanding; 08/24/09 03:30 PM.

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