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piano hammer hardness #1359359
01/27/10 01:06 PM
01/27/10 01:06 PM
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TheSockPuppet Offline OP
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Yamaha piano hammers are often considered to give a very bright sound because of hammer hardness. A technicial's web site says that other hammers such as Renner and Hamberg Steinway are also quite hard. A softer hammer to begin with would be less work for the voicing technician to tone down and more in the range of tone preference for many people.

Is there a hammer hardness scale to measure hammer hardness? What softer good quality hammers are available to consider for hammer replacement as an option?

Last edited by TheSockPuppet; 01/27/10 01:09 PM.
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Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: TheSockPuppet] #1359375
01/27/10 01:19 PM
01/27/10 01:19 PM
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Gene Nelson Offline
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http://paws.kettering.edu/~drussell/hammers.html
This will give you some interesting reading about the hammer.
Softer: NY Steinway if they do not over do it with pre lacquering, Ronsen, Isaac, Classical West.
Cold pressed is usually synonomous with softer, hot pressed harder.


RPT
PTG Member
Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Gene Nelson] #1359388
01/27/10 01:34 PM
01/27/10 01:34 PM
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Portland, Oregon
Grandpianoman Offline
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Arguably, the best hammer out there...a softer, resilient hammer...I have a set on my 7ft M&H Grand......one word.....superb.


www.isaacpiano.com

Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Grandpianoman] #1359426
01/27/10 02:24 PM
01/27/10 02:24 PM
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BDB Offline
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There is nothing wrong with Yamaha hammers except that they need a little needling when they are new. If you do that, they go a long time without getting much brighter.


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Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: BDB] #1359730
01/27/10 08:56 PM
01/27/10 08:56 PM
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Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
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There is not enough knowledge imparted in these pages regarding voicing....
It is not an easy skill to learn....but it well worth the effort so that tuners have it as an extra skill set.

Deep shoulder needling, as described and demonstrated on a Yamaha grand by Andre Orebeek in his book and DVD, is the only way I know to arrive at a broader dynamic range on this type of hammer.
IF that is matched with DETAILED hammer fitting and fine 'sugar coat' voicing a skilled technician can make a huge difference.


Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician


Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician] #1359763
01/27/10 09:23 PM
01/27/10 09:23 PM
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Marietta, GA
Les Koltvedt Offline
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Peter, I take it slow and easy would be the word of caution if going about it first hand? Better to sneak up on it then to go to far.


Les Koltvedt
Servicing the Greater Atlanta Area.
www.well-lovedpiano.com/atlanta-piano-technicians/
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Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Les Koltvedt] #1359940
01/28/10 01:07 AM
01/28/10 01:07 AM
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Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
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Hi Monster...
Taking things slow and easy is good....BUT you have to have a positive and strong technique and go for it.
20 to 25 stabs in each shoulder of each hammer with three needles at about 5mm long from 9 O'clock to 11 O'clock will relax the hammer to a very acceptable level...
If you keep away from the strike point it is hard to go too far...
You are trying to create a cushion so that the harder strike point will float on a resilient felt underneath.
You need to support the hammers four at a time...grip them hard...and hit them hard with the needles....you may frighten the children and small animals so be careful..

Read that book first and watch the DVD...all will be much clearer then!!


Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician


Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician] #1360018
01/28/10 05:48 AM
01/28/10 05:48 AM
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France
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Olek Offline
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Aggreed , I feel that hammer harness is ther if the heat was too high (or micro wave used too strong to dry the glue)

It is more a felt question than a press question, to me.

On the opposite, a hammer with not enough internal tension will sound hard beacause it does not rebound enough, when you'll have needled it too much that is the same, the hammer suspension is killed (at the same time all the felt have concentrated within the crown) hense an abrupt tone.

Beginners voicers are afraid because when needling in the shoulders the tone have more partials, it is easely confused with hardening (and it is), so what is to be evaluated is the quality of the suspension,(the largness of the "power") not the spectra (during first voicing).



Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Olek] #1360029
01/28/10 07:22 AM
01/28/10 07:22 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,726
Portland, Oregon
Grandpianoman Offline
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My Isaac Cadenza "S" hammer set required NO voicing when I received them, and have not required any voicing since. In fact, they are sounding better and better the more they are played. As I understand it, Mr. Isaac pre-voiced them before he shipped them.

I am not a tech, but the fact that they did not need voicing at the piano or have not since their installation, and that the tone has improved, is this not a sign of a very high quality hammer?

Bill Bremmer and I are working on his visit to my house to tune with his EBVT III..at this point, it looks like the weekend of Feb 26. We are planning several recordings and a few Videos, which I will post here and on YouTube. You will be able to hear the hammers and understand my enthusiasm for them. smile

Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Grandpianoman] #1360031
01/28/10 07:29 AM
01/28/10 07:29 AM
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France
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Olek Offline
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I received a set from Serge Harel, pressed with Dolge press, (WUrzen "AA" felt) they have a particular kind of rebound that raise the harmonic content immediely at the attack.

They lack some deem hardness to me, and that part I understand will raise when the piano will be played.

I guess I recognize a timbral quality present on the few US verticals I could see. A different voice than European pianos (while I suppose American piano makers where coming from Europe so I am unable to trace the reasons, or intentions)

Thank you in advance for the recordings and videos, I 'll try to come out with something interesting soon ...



Last edited by Kamin; 01/28/10 07:30 AM.

Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Olek] #1360191
01/28/10 01:59 PM
01/28/10 01:59 PM
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Old Hangtown California
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Gene Nelson Offline
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I service one Yamaha CF with factory hammers that is frusturating in regard to its voice. If fact, it will no longer voice by needling. Hammers can be stabbed to your hearts content and it makes little difference. The only remedy is water/alcohol treatment and its effect is temporary, only lasts about 3 to 4 months and the piano is usually only played on Sunday's.
The hammers really need replacing but the clinet will not pay for it.
There is the same model Yamaha CF at the university that has had a set of Isaac hammers on it for the last 26 years. They still have considerable resiliance and require minimal voicing, - similar to what grandpianoman experience. This is the go to concert piano and recieves up to 2 to 4 hours per day of playing, sometimes considerably more to include performances.
It was on display with Ari at our 2005 Cal State PTG conference for techs to play and listen to.


RPT
PTG Member
Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Gene Nelson] #1360386
01/28/10 07:10 PM
01/28/10 07:10 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
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Olek Offline
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Hammers have a life, and we cant really needle them so much,and get power, but a good hammer will always keep some.

Don t know much about Yamaha CFIII hammers - they are usually very soft at the beginning of their life, may be because they have be needled a lot) but the Yam tone better with Renner hammers generally speaking.

A hammer that does not have a differential within can of course have some dynamics, but I have to hear that it the tone can change as much as with voiced hammers, the hammer may well be more linear in springiness.

A too much heated felt can loose resiliency sooner, fiber disrupt, while a more natural felt will stay more coiled.

We need a huge amount of density to play strong, but this one may be at the heart of the hammer. hence the problem of the hammer maker.









Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Olek] #1360441
01/28/10 08:38 PM
01/28/10 08:38 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
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Massachusetts
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Roy123 Offline
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I can only speak about my own Yamaha. The original hammers seemed to have a mind of their own. They were voiced by more than one highly rated tech. They were also steamed. They would sound quite good after a voicing, but alway revert back to their bright sound in a couple of months. I ended up replacing the hammers with Ronsen Wurzens. The piano is still a Yamaha, but has permanently lost some of its previous brittleness and harshness.

Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Roy123] #1361620
01/30/10 02:25 PM
01/30/10 02:25 PM
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TheSockPuppet Offline OP
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Thank you for your responses. They are very helpful. I would like to hear a lot more because I am still confused.

BDB says the hammers are fine the way they are. Pete Summers says you have to mall the hammer with 50 jabs per hammer. How long would it take a tech to do that for 88 keys? Gene Nelson says there is nothing you can do, they will harden right up anyway. A few people have said you have to replace the hammer with Isaac or Ronsen Wurzens. Isaac want $450 a set and then there is installation. That might be worth it if it give the desired tone and they don't harden up much, but who knows.

There may be an issue of taste here as well. Personally I would like the hammers toned way way down. I am looking for a bimp sound much more than a bing. Even the recording on the Isaac web site are brighter than I would like. Many professional classical recording, like Ashkenazy Chopin complete, are also brighter than my preference. A harpsichord can sound very nice, but that is not what I am looking for from a piano.

You still want the hammers to retain some power. I don't know how far they can be toned down and still retain good power.

I know I am going to get yelled at for daring to touch my own piano, but I did buy a voicing instrument off ebay. My Yamaha hammers are like little stones. I could not get the needles in at all and they just broke off. All I have now is a voicing instrument with all the needles broken off.

If Yamaha hammers need to be savaged with 50 jabs each to get them to sound right and they harden up shortly afterward, they could fairly be considered defective in the first place.

Last edited by TheSockPuppet; 01/30/10 02:27 PM.
Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: TheSockPuppet] #1361625
01/30/10 02:36 PM
01/30/10 02:36 PM
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Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
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Please find a technician who can do deep needle shoulder voicing...
It may be that your hammers are too hard for ANY real voicing...I find that hard to believe.
BUT you need professional advice from someone who has the piano in front of them and can try some techniques.
If I gave you a paint brush could you paint like Rembrandt?
Why do you think you can voice just because you have to correct tool?
It is a skill acquired over years of practice...

There are folks out there who are either trying to sell something or believe that their pet hammer of choice...maybe even the 'hammer of the month' is what everyone needs....but Yamaha use the hammers they do for a reason...all you need is a technician that knows what they're doing...good luck with that...
Please remember that what it is is not necessarily what it is!


Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician


Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician] #1361637
01/30/10 02:44 PM
01/30/10 02:44 PM
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TheSockPuppet Offline OP
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Sooner or later that is the poor advice I get here.

Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: TheSockPuppet] #1361648
01/30/10 03:00 PM
01/30/10 03:00 PM
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charleslang Offline
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Oh dear.

I listened to your recordings SockPuppet.

Your piano is horribly out of tune, first of all. That is probably the main source of what you think as harshness.

You also seem to be wildly undervaluing the skills of technicians. Your voicing needles are likely breaking off because of poor technique as much as the hardness of the hammers.

What you call 'poor advice' is just about the only reasonable thing to say to what you've posted here. Don't be surprised if you don't get any more advice, poor or otherwise, after you've insulted the talented folks who've tried to help you.


charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: Olek] #1361657
01/30/10 03:20 PM
01/30/10 03:20 PM
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Dave Stahl Offline
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Originally Posted by Kamin
Hammers have a life,


Maybe I should get one...

Seriously, Andre Orobeek's book is succinct and instructional. It contains plenty of details that are necessary, but not a lot that don't apply directly to the task at hand.

Shoulder voicing skills are definitely something that take some practice to develop. You need to be fast to get the proper force in the blow to get in deeply and out quickly, you need to be accurate enough not to damage felt or finger.

Originally Posted by TheSockPuppet
Sooner or later that is the poor advice I get here.


Pretty hostile here, sock puppet. Your piano is hideously out of tune. As stated before, the poor tuning is probably the main cause of the offensive tone. Did you tune it yourself? Before ANYBODY sticks a needle in the hammers, it should be professionally tuned.

Last edited by Dave Stahl; 01/30/10 03:28 PM.

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Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: charleslang] #1361666
01/30/10 03:31 PM
01/30/10 03:31 PM
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Gene Nelson Offline
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Gene Nelson says there is nothing you can do, they will harden right up anyway.
__________________________________________________________
Not quite what I said. The reference was an example of only one piano with hammers that need replacing.
There is nothing wrong with Yamaha hammers.


RPT
PTG Member
Re: piano hammer hardness [Re: charleslang] #1361667
01/30/10 03:31 PM
01/30/10 03:31 PM
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BDB Offline
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I did not say that your hammers are fine the way they are. I have no experience with your hammers. I made a general remark about Yamaha hammers as they are as of the last time I worked with relatively recent ones, and even then, I did not say that they are fine as they are.

Hammers are complicated, and because the sound they make is tied to the rest of the piano, dealing with them is even more complicated. It takes years of experience even to begin to grasp the subject. There is more than one way to approach them, as can be grasped by the variety of answers that have been given.

When you hire one of us for hammer work, you are paying for these years of experience, along with a great deal of very difficult work. Usually not nearly what it should be worth, but that is what you are paying for.


Semipro Tech
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