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Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? #1270074
09/17/09 04:36 PM
09/17/09 04:36 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 113
New Westminster, Canada
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Mike088 Offline OP
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Is there a resource that might list common brands of pianos by the weight of their actions?

I've read these following pianos could be considered as a having lighter actions:

Boesendorfers
Bechsteins
Bluthners
Shigeru Kawai?
Brodmann?

Personally I prefer between a medium to a heavier action. But that always depends on other factors when I play the piano and how it feels. It also depends on how the piano was regulated. At some dealers, I've played heavier Yamahas right beside very light ones - no consistency. I often find Petrof's to be a little lighter - maybe thats just me though. Their uprights seem to be lighter than their grands. Do you find Petrofs grands light or heavy on average?

We are looking to buy a piano and it would be used by several people in our home including my younger children and so I had better choose a piano that isn't too heavy - or should that not be a concern for younger children? Perhaps they shouldn't learn on a piano that is too light or they will develop an intolerance for most other pianos.

I am particularly curious about grand pianos and how others find the weight of their actions?

I have read much about the science and physics of action design and there is a lot more to it that a simple "light" or "heavy" classification. There's weight and inertia and other properties but aside from getting too technical, generally...

Which pianos are considered to have lighter actions?
Which pianos are considered to have medium actions?
Which pianos are considered to have heavy actions?

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Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: Mike088] #1270118
09/17/09 05:32 PM
09/17/09 05:32 PM
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Zichron Yaacov, Israel
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Steve Jackson Offline
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Hi:

You bring an important question.
The truth is, touch weight is not a good measurement of how a piano feels. How much force produces how much sound is what matters, and how well can you control the action when playing softly. Voicing and regulation can make huge differences in how you work, and some actions feel light but cause strain after long playing sessions. It's best to find a piano, of any brand, that feels right. Having a technician well versed in voicing and regulation and action geometry will help if the piano you like does not quite feel the way you want it to.

Hopw this helps.


Steve

Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: Mike088] #1270126
09/17/09 05:44 PM
09/17/09 05:44 PM
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California
4evrBeginR Offline
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As far as children are concerned, it is a non-issue. Children will learn to play with their arms and their whole body for those forte moments. I started my 6-year-old on a piano with rather heavy action, and 2 months into it, he went from barely making out sound to my constantly telling him he is playing too loud.


Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci
Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: 4evrBeginR] #1270166
09/17/09 07:16 PM
09/17/09 07:16 PM
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Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline
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The question of 'light' versus''heavy' touch is IMHO not just to be answered by *make*.

While some pianos have a seemingly lighter - or heavier - touch right from factory, most if not all can be regulated later exactly to where an artist will like to have the action set.

Most of todays' actions are very good quality and are totally adjustable in this regard: much of it depends on setting and resetting of repetition springs, after touch, hammer drop and so on.

Even more depends on having such a technician at one's avail and the wilingness of store to go the extra mile.

Some prefer to simply "sell up" to another brand perhaps, in order to convince customers that more money is required to achieve this goal.

We have a large number of different buyers many of whom have specific preferences and would like to have their pianso set a certain way.

For this purpose, we have them always meet our main tech [usually in on Fridays] who will demonstate right in front of them how differently a piano action can be set and regulated.

I'm sure this would apply to also any other good piano in today's market, provided the store keeps an experienced tech at hand willing to work in a more customized way.

Just ask any Steinway tech how different some of the perfoming artists in today's world often wish to have their pianos prepared for their respective concerts.

SAME piano,always....

Norbert


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Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: Norbert] #1270194
09/17/09 08:33 PM
09/17/09 08:33 PM
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Vancouver B.C. Canada
Rod Verhnjak Offline
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Originally Posted by Norbert
The question of 'light' versus''heavy' touch is IMHO not just to be answered by *make*.

While some pianos have a seemingly lighter - or heavier - touch right from factory, most if not all can be regulated later exactly to where an artist will like to have the action set.

Most of todays' actions are very good quality and are totally adjustable in this regard: much of it depends on setting and resetting of repetition springs, after touch, hammer drop and so on.

Norbert


I'll have to disagree. crazy

If a piano has a heavy touch, regulation will not make it lighter.
If there are friction problems and the friction is reduced that may help.
If the damper pedal is engaged and the keys are heavy, it's going to stay heavy unless major work is done like changing the hammers or adding lead to the keys. Adding lead is not a good fix unless the maker made a mistake on that front. Seen that.

Now, the performance is always enhanced by proper prep but changing the weight is entirely another issue.





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Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: Mike088] #1270324
09/18/09 02:15 AM
09/18/09 02:15 AM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,031
Belgium
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schwammerl Offline
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Quote
There's weight and inertia and other properties but aside from getting too technical, generally...


Mike,

I think you have answered the question yourself.
At the end it all boils down to inertia - which determines the responsiveness of the action - and, if the same quality action parts/assembly methods are used - e.g. a genuine Renner -, directly relates to the geometric design of the action.

As Ron pointed out any action needs to be well regulated and excessive friction taken out as to make it play evenly and some tricks may be given a try like reducing the blow to make it feel a bit lighter, but when you want to change the weight of an action fundamentally you will have to be prepared to accept drastic action redesign measurements such as e.g. a Stanwoodisation.

A forum member - gzc - witnessed of this today when he told us what his tech said about his Estonia piano action:

Quote
The piano tech said that the renner action from Estonia was designed to Estonia's specifications, and that Schimmel had completely different specifications. The hammers, whippens, etc are the same quality and materials, but it could be that Estonia's specs have different length hammers, and more weight in the keys etc, which is what makes the action firmer. He said to change that its a much bigger deal, requiring taking weight out of the hammers, perhaps the keys etc. He did say you can do that to make the action feel like most anything you like.


So the only advice I could think off right now is: try a number of piano makes with different action types, make sure the dealer has prepped the action properly, be prepared to accept aswell the psycho-acoustic effects that will also influence your judgement of an action [different tonal characteristics of an instrument, the way it is voiced also give you a different touch sensation] and finally pick the one that suits you best.

schwammerl.

Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: schwammerl] #1270475
09/18/09 11:03 AM
09/18/09 11:03 AM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 1,756
Toronto
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AJF Offline
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Toronto
I've read a number of posts characterizing the Shigeru action as light. Interesting. Mine has a quite firm action. Much more so than any of the Yamaha S's, C.bechsteins, Bosendorfers and Fazioli's I've played.



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Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: AJF] #1272995
09/22/09 06:48 PM
09/22/09 06:48 PM
Joined: Nov 2006
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Marty Flinn Offline
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The "touch" of a piano is about 50% reality and measurable and about 50% impression that comes back to the player from the speaking voice of the piano.

A piano with a broader based and mellower tone will have the impression that it is slightly "harder" to play.
A piano with a more percussive, focused and brighter tone will often give the impression of being "easier" to play. The actual down weight and up weight of the key action may be very close to the same.

For optimum performance, new pianos need to be prepared by friction removing adjustments and treatments and voicing to even out the tone across the register. Raw out of the box a piano may have a "heavy touch". After a good preparation, it may be just what the doctor ordered.


Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.
Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: Marty Flinn] #1273145
09/23/09 12:03 AM
09/23/09 12:03 AM
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Sarasota and Naples, FL
Nick Mauel Offline
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Sarasota and Naples, FL
The above post by Marty is so eloquent and factual, from my own experience as a pianist and technician, that I am practically speechless. This just means that I completely agree with what he is saying - for what it's worth!


Nick's Piano Showroom
Naples, Fort Myers, & Sarasota, FL
New Estonia, Mason & Hamlin, Baldwin, Brodmann & Ritmuller
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Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: Nick Mauel] #1273435
09/23/09 11:25 AM
09/23/09 11:25 AM
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Posts: 8
Canada
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JJSK Offline
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Canada
I do not find the action on my Shigeru to be "light." It is very responsive and easy to play trills and repeated notes, but that does not make it light. I would agree with AJF and say that it feels rather "firm." It's obviously a very subjective thing, though.

Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: Marty Flinn] #1273447
09/23/09 11:36 AM
09/23/09 11:36 AM
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Phoenix, Arizona
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Fun Offline
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Originally Posted by Marty Flinn
The "touch" of a piano is about 50% reality and measurable and about 50% impression that comes back to the player from the speaking voice of the piano.

This is indeed very true. When I completely close the lid of my Estonia, the sound came out of the piano is thinner than with the lid open (which produces deep warm tone). And, somehow I do feel the action to be a bit "lighter" with the lid close, even though it's exactly the same piano and action.


Estonia L190 in Pyramid Mahogany, Petrof 125F in Ebony Polished
Dark Love
Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: JJSK] #1308528
11/19/09 01:40 PM
11/19/09 01:40 PM
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New Westminster, Canada
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Mike088 Offline OP
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New Westminster, Canada
Sorry about replying so late to these helpful comments:

All such good insite. I suppose, I'll have to play each piano as I go with only a slight emphasize on the generalizations.

AJF and JJSK, I am not familiar enough with Shigeru to have made that earlier comment about it being a light action. I am not sure why I wrote that earlier. Maybe I read that somewhere. I'll have to try one for myself to see.

Marty Flinn's response is particularly interesting. Thanks Marty.

Mike

Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: Fun] #1308533
11/19/09 01:43 PM
11/19/09 01:43 PM
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New York City
pianoloverus Online content
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Originally Posted by Fun
Originally Posted by Marty Flinn
The "touch" of a piano is about 50% reality and measurable and about 50% impression that comes back to the player from the speaking voice of the piano.

This is indeed very true. When I completely close the lid of my Estonia, the sound came out of the piano is thinner than with the lid open (which produces deep warm tone). And, somehow I do feel the action to be a bit "lighter" with the lid close, even though it's exactly the same piano and action.


I think usually just the opposite occurs. And if the sound is "thinner", I think most would feel the action is heavier.

Re: Heavy action vs light action. Which pianos? [Re: pianoloverus] #1308978
11/20/09 03:21 AM
11/20/09 03:21 AM
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The down weight and upweight ratio is the controlling factor as for 90% of how one percieves the action touchweight.As Rod mentioned earlier aside from eliminating friction which in essance increases your upweight more % wise than decreasing your downweight,there is no way around physically changing the numbers unless one leads the keys or lightens the hammers.Voicing the piano brighter or adjusting the damper lift or ? is an illusion as for how one would percieve the touchweight to be lighter. To me it's only a small %. Actually I've found upon eliminating friction in an action the piano becomes noticeably brighter. If one had 70 grams of downweight with a low insufficient amount of upweight,it wouldn't matter if your hammers were like granite and your action is regulated to the optimum,the action is HEAVY and feels HEAVY.

Reducing the blow distance is not adviseable either in that it compromises power.

Last edited by pianobroker; 11/20/09 03:28 AM.

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