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Advice on Tuning Hammer
#2068219 04/21/13 08:37 PM
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Hey Everyone -

I was wondering if anyone could recommend a tuning hammer. I'm thinking of learning how to tune a bit on an old piano, and I'm trying to decide on a hammer to start off with. I'm a piano player, not a technician, but I want to learn more about tuning, voicing, regulating, etc. - At this point, it's just sort a hobby or to educate myself more about pianos.

It seems like the Schaff or Schaff-Hale hammers might be a good place to start.

Thanks.


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Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2068236 04/21/13 08:59 PM
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Generally, a hammer with removable tip/head is better than a gooseneck (which has no detachable tip or head). If you can, bring some #2 pins with you to the supplier and test fit the tip with your pins to get the best fit.

In my experience, the type of hammer does not matter as much as the hammer technique which comes with experience, and an understanding of the pin/string system and it's points of friction and flexability.

Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2068251 04/21/13 09:15 PM
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Thanks for the info. Yeah, I was leaning toward something with a removable head and/or tip. I'm not sure if there is a place around here (NYC area) where I can actually go in and look at the different options. That would be nice. If anyone knows of one, please let me know. I was planning to order something online - maybe from Amazon or from pianosupplies.com.

This one looks pretty good to me (the "Student Quality Lever"), although I may go for a set that comes with some mutes, etc. as well.

http://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/No7.html

This one, though, (the "Craftsman Lever") seems to have a separate head and tip.

http://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/No8.html

Not sure which one might be better. I'm guessing that maybe the craftsman one is a bit more versatile because it has the separable head and tip?


pianokeys135
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Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2068290 04/21/13 10:42 PM
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I would not buy either of those. I used to supply ones like those in my course but had problems with heads stripping. I know I said the hammer doesn't matter as much as the technique, but in this case, these hammers are just a bit under the minimum quality level, IMHO.

Here's what I would suggest:

Hammer:
http://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/No4.html
I do not recommend the longer head they recommend. Yes, you can get over the rim, but I just stand beside the grand with the hammer at 12 o'clock and go over the frame instead of the rim.Or better yet, stay seated and use my left hand. I sometimes have to change my technique but it works.

The longer head will induce more bending of the pin which will make stability and precision more difficult. And of couurse, the extra time to change heads.

Fork:
http://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/JW2110_11.html
Johnny Walker A440 Tuning Fork

Felt Strip (3)
http://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/209T.html
2 for an upright, 3 for a grand.

Papps Mute (2)
http://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/207.html
One to tune the treble, one to fix the unisons without losing track of where you are.

(4) wide rubber wedge mutes
http://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/201.html and
(4) thin rubber wedge mutes
http://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/203_1_2.html

I think that's it.

Good luck

Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2068306 04/21/13 11:01 PM
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Thanks for the links. I'm curious - is there a reason why you suggested the nylon handle instead of a wooden one - like this one?

http://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/No6.html

I guess the wooden one is a bit more expensive, but I don't mind the cost if it's better to go with wood.

Now I'm thinking that I might as well go with the extension lever too....

http://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/No21.html


pianokeys135
a piano player
Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2068307 04/21/13 11:04 PM
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I'm a pianist and not a tuner so I have no advice on the tools.

I would like to thank Mark for recommending Piano Supplies, however. It helps to support Piano World and that is just great!


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2068362 04/22/13 01:06 AM
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They're both similar. Yes, I suggested the nylon one for price.
The extension handle is a nice addition but I don't recommend it for my course; it is quite a bit more expensive and if a student wants to upgrade from the professional hammer, there are many more choices at that point: Ball handle (my favourite), titanium, carbon graphite, impact, Dan Levitan's, extension, custom, etc.

My suggestion is, see how much you get into this before spending too much money on tools

Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2068463 04/22/13 04:50 AM
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PK135,

From my limited experience, a decent-fitting tip is at least as important as a decent hammer. From the look of things, the hammers offered on PianoSupplies.com are Schaff hammers. I bought the rosewood extension hammer (item 21) from Schaff a few years ago. This comes with their standard #2 tip, and I also ordered a #1 tip because many pianos here have smaller pins. I was never really happy with the fit of the #1 and #2 tips. Then, last year, I bought corresponding Watanabe tips (#2 from Schaff, #1 from Steve Fujan), and it's been a day-and-night difference - so much more fun!

Unfortunately, PianoSupplies don't appear to offer Watabane tips. But Watanabe themselves do (http://www.watanabemusical.com/products/index_02.html), as does Steve Fujan (http://www.fujanproducts.com/watanabecomponents.php).

From my vantage point, I'd advise you to get a Watanabe tip(s).


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2068505 04/22/13 08:06 AM
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I agree with the importance of the fit. (As an aside, and IMHO, tip fit can be more or less important depending on certain hammer techniques.)

Also, from my experience as an engineer, professional musician (trumpet), and tuner, not all machined parts have the exact same dimensions.

In the factory, machines have cutting surfaces that wear down and need to be sharpened or replaced. This results in a certain amount of variation in the actual dimensions of the part being manufactured.

As a trumpet player, my teacher once sold me an old Bach #2 mouthpiece,which he claimed was nit the same size as the new ones, for the reason mentioned above.

When I bought my first hammer, I brought some #2 pins to the supplier and tried many #2 tips from the same maker, Hale, I think it was. Each one had a more or less good fit. I bought the one with the best fit.
(Since altering my hammer technique and purchasing other #2 tips, tip fit is notas crutial for me. I seem to feel no difference.)

So, is it a possibility that the last poster got lucky with the Watanabe tip? Has anyone tested different makers' tips with multiple #2 pins?

Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2068511 04/22/13 08:23 AM
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Of course, luck is entirely possible, seeing that (to my knowledge) there is no piano supplier in our country into whose shop I could walk and select one tip from among several. I have to order one from overseas and hope for the best. Hence I have only one tip from each (relevant) size and manufacturer.

But judging by posts on this forum, the improved fit of my Watanabes is not only luck. Numerous other posters have reported on Watanabes having a better fit than (recent) Schaff tips. By no means unanimous, but there's a definite trend in what I read here. Those posts are what put me onto ordering Watanabes in the first place.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2068883 04/22/13 08:34 PM
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From what I understand, all of the Schaff hammers have the same tips, so whether you get the student or craftsman lever or the extension levers, the tips will all fit the same. I have used both the Watanabe and the Schaff tips. I did find the Watanabe tips to be a slightly better fit. You may find a video that I have posted on YouTube that shows a brief difference between some of the different styles of tuning hammers:
Piano Tuning Hammers


Steve Howard
Piano Technician
Owner of Howard Piano Industries
www.howardpianoindustries.com
Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2069295 04/23/13 11:49 AM
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Thanks for the info. everyone. I'll look at the Watanabe tips in addition to the Schaff ones.

It seems like they offer some Watanabe stuff here, but I'm not sure if I can set up an account as a general consumer.

http://www.pianoteksupply.com

http://www.pianoteksupply.com/assets/pdf/tools/tuningtools.pdf

Thanks for the video link! I just watched it - it was nice to see some of the different options compared and explained.


pianokeys135
a piano player
Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2069543 04/23/13 07:14 PM
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Is this a Grand or an Upright? I ask because Two-sided (like a giant "T" wrench) are the best option for a "non-tuner".

Why? Because the "t" wrench makes bending pins impossible.
Because the "t" wrench allows a non-tuner to "set" the pin (longer lasting tunings) more easily than a trad. one-armed wrench.

The T wrenches can be expensive, but they're worth it. Get a piano tuner whose tunings you LIKE, to do a thorough tuning. "Memorize" or "record" the result with Tunelab. Then you're all set to keep the piano in perfect tune yourself, for ever and ever!


Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
johnlewisgrant #2069569 04/23/13 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by johnlewisgrant
Is this a Grand or an Upright? I ask because Two-sided (like a giant "T" wrench) are the best option for a "non-tuner".

Why? Because the "t" wrench makes bending pins impossible.
Because the "t" wrench allows a non-tuner to "set" the pin (longer lasting tunings) more easily than a trad. one-armed wrench.

The T wrenches can be expensive, but they're worth it. Get a piano tuner whose tunings you LIKE, to do a thorough tuning. "Memorize" or "record" the result with Tunelab. Then you're all set to keep the piano in perfect tune yourself, for ever and ever!
OR ... until you realize that setting the pins and equalizing the string segments is pretty nearly impossible with the "T" hammer.


David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----
Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2069636 04/23/13 10:58 PM
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Defacto pin bending during a normal hammer turning (I am not advocating purposeful pin bending, but I do use that on occasion >Gasp!<) is required for good stability. It is the "unbending" which may be needed in some systems to counteract the tension differential across the v-bar created during tuning. T-hammers can bend pins too if you are not careful. Why not start from a "I can learn how to do this right" rather than learn using an inferior tool. The T-hammer is used for restringing and harpsichords, where tension is lower. You will have some pretty sore and cramped thumbs and fingers after tuning a whole piano with a T-hammer. Do not use it. (IMHO).

Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2069693 04/24/13 12:42 AM
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Clarification... NOT the "T" hammer that looks like a corkscrew: that is indeed for harpsichords, claviers, etc. Very hard to used THAT to tune a piano.

I was referring to the Rayburn Cybertuner style of impact wrench:
http://www.reyburn.com/grandrch.html

I use one of these. They are fantastic on grands (IMO). Huge control, not because of the impact factor, but because of the massive "arms" on this wrench!!

Rayburns are very expensive, however.

Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
johnlewisgrant #2069741 04/24/13 03:45 AM
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Originally Posted by johnlewisgrant
Rayburns are very expensive, however.


Indeed.

If the OP has $895 "spare cash" to spend on learning to tune, I submit that there's more bang per buck to be had, e.g. by spending
... $300-400 of that on a more or less tunable Craigslist Clunker to practise tuning, splicing, hammer shaping, regulation if he wants, CA pinblock treatment if needs be, etc. - even ruin a few hammers with some needles *gasp*,
... $400-500 on supplies (should cover assorted tools, including a decent hammer, and materials),
... $80 on Mario Igrec's new book, and
... keeping $25 aside, for a movie and some pizza on a night when the piano just frustrates him.

But that's just an opinion. Perhaps I'm a cheapskate, suggesting to stretch $895 this far.


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1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2069787 04/24/13 06:52 AM
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Being of unequivocally Scottish decent, I'm appreciative of Mark's proviso. So I hasten to add that much cheaper makes are available.


J. S. Bach Well-tempered Clavier, complete preludes and fugues (with significant MIDI analysis):

https://soundcloud.com/johnlgrant

https://www.youtube.com/user/dohgrant/playlists (slightly better sound quality)



Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2069926 04/24/13 11:38 AM
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I have ordered the new book Pianos Inside Out. I'm looking forward to it's arrival!

I'm not really thinking of spending $800 on my first tuning hammer. I'm thinking of somewhere around $100 or maybe $200, as I'm not really sure how much I'll actually get into tuning pianos. I just want to get something that's a good quality tool that I can use to experiment and learn the basics for now.

I do find pianos to be very interesting though. I'm really enjoying learning about them, and about the different kinds of tools that people use to work on them.


pianokeys135
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Re: Advice on Tuning Hammer
pianokeys135 #2071764 04/26/13 07:13 PM
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Does anyone know if the Schaff and Watanabe tips are interchangeable?

For example, if I buy a Schaff hammer, can I use both Schaff and Watanabe tips on it?

Thanks.


pianokeys135
a piano player
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