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Voicing #1255095
08/24/09 12:11 PM
08/24/09 12:11 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 977
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cardguy Offline OP
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Hey gang,

Just had my beautiful new Bluthner "B" tuned. As would be expected with a new piano in a difficult environment (summer heat and humidity),it's been a struggle to maintain stability,even with dampp chaser. This time the tech tuned it a bit sharper in hopes that it won't go flat as quickly. I'm really enjoying the brighter tone this has resulted in, and look forward to some more permanent voicing along these lines when the instrument has calmed down some. I love this piano overall, but would prefer a little less mellow sound in the treble.

My question is, is one better off taking baby steps when going in one direction or the other? Is voicing reversible? I'll bring this up with my tech of course, but thought I'd try to educate myself a bit in the meanwhile...

Any info/advice/suggestions highly appreciated..

CG

Last edited by cardguy; 08/24/09 12:14 PM.
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Re: Voicing [Re: cardguy] #1255113
08/24/09 12:38 PM
08/24/09 12:38 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,658
Georgia, USA
Rickster Online content
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Hi,

My knowledge of voicing is very limited, but I do know that the hammers will get harder and brighter naturally the more they are played. They can be brightened with certain voicing techniques and the use of certain chemical hardeners. Also, the tuning temperament and “stretch” in the treble can make a difference in the brightness or mellowness of tone.

I voiced/needled the hammers on my grand piano several months ago and felt like I got a few notes too mellow. After a few months of hard playing, the notes in question are more in sync with the rest of the piano and sound great, with good power and tone.

Voicing can only be learned by experience (as well as training); on a piano that nice, I’d make sure the tech is highly experienced in voicing.

Hope this helps.

Rick


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Re: Voicing [Re: Rickster] #1255850
08/25/09 01:42 PM
08/25/09 01:42 PM
Joined: Nov 2006
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Marty Flinn Offline
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My recommendation is that for a brand new piano you have the tuner voice only a few notes to even the tone across the scale. A complete voicing to alter the tone to your ear and acoustics should only be done after several weeks of regular play to pack the hammers.

Voicing is the last step in the tuning/regulation process. A complete list of steps must be followed to achieve a quality and somewhat lasting result. String seating and leveling are critical prior to voicing.


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Re: Voicing [Re: Marty Flinn] #1255900
08/25/09 03:12 PM
08/25/09 03:12 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 4,683
San Francisco
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FogVilleLad Offline
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+1 for Marty's suggestions.

Based on previous posts, I think that people tend to consider voicing the hammers before the piano is played in and before they know what preparation was actually done. The recommended sequence is tuning, regulation, voicing. In this case, "regulation" should include examining leveling and seating, just as Marty advised. Can't hurt to verify hammer alignment, as well.

Yes, take baby steps. Your piano's tone will become a little more incisive as the hammers are played in.








Re: Voicing [Re: FogVilleLad] #1255903
08/25/09 03:14 PM
08/25/09 03:14 PM
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BDB Offline
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Quote
The recommended sequence is tuning, regulation, voicing.


I recommended regulation, tuning, voicing.


Semipro Tech
Re: Voicing [Re: BDB] #1256128
08/25/09 09:07 PM
08/25/09 09:07 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,178
Minnesota
Marty in Minnesota Offline

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Cardguy,

How new is the piano? That is very important. If your piano is less than a year old, calm down. Don't start with any drastic measures just yet. Play it in, break it in, and let it settle into its own self.

This statement by Rickster is right on the mark:

Quote
Also, the tuning temperament and “stretch” in the treble can make a difference in the brightness or mellowness of tone.


A skilled tuner can tune "with the piano" as opposed to just tuning the piano. There are very fine tuners and there are "tooners." The difference in the result is amazing. An excellent tuner will not set all the notes equally apart. That is "temperament." That is what Rickster is referring to as "stretch."

Unless your new baby needs critical surgery, let it learn to say "Mama" and "Papa" on its own.


Marty in Minnesota
Re: Voicing [Re: Marty in Minnesota] #1256153
08/25/09 09:44 PM
08/25/09 09:44 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
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Agreed!


Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.
Re: Voicing [Re: BDB] #1256356
08/26/09 09:15 AM
08/26/09 09:15 AM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,178
Minnesota
Marty in Minnesota Offline

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Originally Posted by BDB
Quote
The recommended sequence is tuning, regulation, voicing.


I recommended regulation, tuning, voicing.


BDB,

I am totally confused. Does your reply mean that you regulate an action before you have tuned the piano? How could you possibly know what problems exist without having taken the first "baby step?"

It is still my belief that a new instrument should be allowed to settle in and not be attacked too soon. It takes a year or more.

With a new instrument, I would be taken aback if a tuner arrived and attacked the action before a tuning lever was ever applied to the pins and hands were never on the keyboard.

Just out of curiosity, what exactly is a "Semipro Tech?" If you are reciving monetary compensation for your work, you are professional. If you do not, you are an amateur and/or a hobbiest. It is either/or.


Marty in Minnesota
Re: Voicing [Re: Marty in Minnesota] #1256369
08/26/09 09:53 AM
08/26/09 09:53 AM
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Oakland
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Of course you regulate before tuning. If the piano is not regulated, you cannot play the notes as hard as when it is, so you regulate, then tune, then voice. Besides, tuning needs to be done as close to voicing as possible.

I used to be fully professional, but I inherited enough that I do not need to charge for some worthy organizations.


Semipro Tech
Re: Voicing [Re: Marty in Minnesota] #1256374
08/26/09 10:06 AM
08/26/09 10:06 AM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,935
Colorado
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Inlanding Offline
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Colorado
The order BDB describes is correct, and how my piano was brought to its glory.

Regulating action = multiple adjustments to the mechanics of pressing the key, and the hammer hitting the note.

Voicing = hardness/softness/shape of the hammer itself which causes the string to vibrate where the hammer meets the string.

Tuning = bringing all the notes to correct pitch relative to one another

As for voicing - if you have a new piano with new hammers, they perhaps don't even have any grooves as yet. Voicing the hammers across the scale might be premature. Have your tech get them close to what you like, but then...play the piano...ALOT for six months to a year before having them revoiced.

Regulation refers to how the hammer/key responds to your touch and how the hammer reacts to key pressure.

The Steinway tech who transformed my 1917 O, took the action out of the piano, back to his shop for a week to do the majority of the action regulation and to shape the hammers.

Upon return, the hammers were first adjusted to align/level with the strings - hit all three strings at once.

Then the strings were tuned, then the action was precisely regulated while at the piano. Regulating the action requires expert skill to obtain a high level of consistency and precision. When one adjustment of the regulation is performed, it might affect another adjustment. The work often requires several passes as multiple adjustments are required to get it right. Let's just say, he got it right!!

Then the new Steinway hammers were voiced. Since they are new hammers, he left them on the down side of neutral so as to not be too bright or too soft. I prefer the notes when played softly to "ping", when played with medium pressure to ping-ring, and when played loudly to have a percussive tone. Over time, a long time, the hammers will become harder and then become too brilliant, then a revoicing will become necessary.

This was acheived, and the instrument is magic to my ears. I will have the hammers revoiced in about two months, now that it's been nearly a year and the new bass strings have stabilized on this 92 year-old instrument.

My girlfriend's Bluthner is quite an instrument and I enjoy the heavy contrast in playing it vs playing my 1917 O. Enjoy your Bluthner - it is a very substantive instrument.

Be patient with the voicing. I doubt, once the action's been regulated, it most likely won't need it again. I tune my piano myself, (no easy task) but the rest is left to the expert.

All of the above work at the level my Steinway tech performs is beyond my comprehension - he's spent 35 years of his work-life working on Steinways, and anything I could do pales in comparison, including the tuning he performed. At best, my tuning is shallow duplication, but still pleasing to my ear and my neighbor's...{;>)

A good technician's work is art.

Hope this helps a bit...

Glen

Last edited by Inlanding; 08/26/09 10:14 AM.

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Re: Voicing [Re: Inlanding] #1256394
08/26/09 10:35 AM
08/26/09 10:35 AM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 245
Houston, TX
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Zooplibob Offline
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Houston, TX
Question about regulation. If you are happy with the touch of a new piano, do you still need to get it regulated? How is the tone affected by a proper regulation?

Re: Voicing [Re: Zooplibob] #1256402
08/26/09 10:41 AM
08/26/09 10:41 AM
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Oakland
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Originally Posted by Zooplibob
Question about regulation. If you are happy with the touch of a new piano, do you still need to get it regulated? How is the tone affected by a proper regulation?

It might need regulation, or it might not. You can be happy with the touch of a poorly regulated piano, but you will probably be happier once it is regulated.

Without an even touch, your playing cannot be even, nor can your tone. This may be a matter of degree.


Semipro Tech
Re: Voicing [Re: BDB] #1256460
08/26/09 12:17 PM
08/26/09 12:17 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
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Grand Rapids Michigan
If the piano was quite far off from pitch, I would raise it up to at least the proper tension as moving the strings can affect level and I most certainly do not want to level them 1/2 tone flat and then redo it all over again after the pitch raise either.

So, in that case, at least get it on pitch. Then, regulate, seat, level, tune, voice and mate. Then touch it up.


Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.
Re: Voicing [Re: Jerry Groot RPT] #1256583
08/26/09 03:00 PM
08/26/09 03:00 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,899
San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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"If you are happy with the touch of a new piano, do you still need to get it regulated?"

My tech does some work on the regulation every time he tunes, which is 4x/year. It keeps it even and in adjustment as it wears during playing-in. My opinion is, it's part of normal maintenance.

The answer would be about the same as if you had asked, "I took a bath a few days ago, why do I need to take one today--- I'm still happy."


Clef

Re: Voicing [Re: Jeff Clef] #1256587
08/26/09 03:05 PM
08/26/09 03:05 PM
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Posts: 245
Houston, TX
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Zooplibob Offline
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Houston, TX
Sorry I was under the impression regulation was just the touch of the piano, ie heavy or light. I am happy with the touch, but I guess you're saying theres more to it than just the touch.

Re: Voicing [Re: Inlanding] #1256642
08/26/09 04:06 PM
08/26/09 04:06 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,178
Minnesota
Marty in Minnesota Offline

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Marty in Minnesota  Offline

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Glen,

Are you saying that your piano was never tuned before it was requlated and then voiced? I am not referring to the manufacturing process, but to a new piano delivered to the home.

Tuning is the first order of business and then the other needs are addressed.

Please keep in mind that the question was about a new, high level piano. It was not about reconditioning a vintage instrument. It makes a big difference.

I firmly believe that a new Bluthner would not need to be re-hammered and the action rebuilt. Unless something is totally obnoxious, the new piano should be tuned at least four times in the first year and any minor issues are addressed as they come up.

When the tuner/tech comes through the door, the first order need is to tune the piano. Everything else is then assessed in that process. If the action needs to go away for a week, or if the hammers should be replaced, then the piano is faulty. Then the piano should be replaced under warranty.

It is a new instrument.


Marty in Minnesota
Re: Voicing [Re: Marty in Minnesota] #1257111
08/27/09 10:11 AM
08/27/09 10:11 AM
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Inlanding Offline
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I only used my scenario as an example. New hammers are new hammers regardless of whether they are in a new piano or installed in an old piano. Since the hammers are new on my old piano, it was suggested by my expert technician to hold off doing any fine voicing until they had been well-played. He most certainly got it close for my taste in sound in the meantime, but in a few months when the new bass strings have stabilized, he will make another pass at it. Currently, the voicing is quite even across the scale and it is a joy to play, even at times distracting, it sounds so good to my ear wink.

I would hope a new piano is regulated properly, or at least so it is consistent across the registers, but some players prefer a particular feel to the action. I would not take delivery of a new piano if it were not regulated to my preference - and especially a high-level piano to which you refer.

As for voicing the hammers. I'd want the final voicing done in my home, since the acoustics there are most likely different from the showroom from where the piano was demo'd. It might not matter to some folks.

My girlfriend's substantial Bluthner I enjoy very much playing. It has it's own signature sound and feel, just like every other instrument has its own character.

Glen




Last edited by Inlanding; 08/27/09 10:12 AM.

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