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Hammer softening solution #2077111
05/04/13 10:07 AM
05/04/13 10:07 AM
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Hudsonville, Western Michigan,...
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Davepost Offline OP
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Does anyone know the recipe for hammer softening solution?


David Postma, Associate Member, PTG Lansing, Michigan
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Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2077184
05/04/13 01:39 PM
05/04/13 01:39 PM
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Hello Davepost

I know you did not ask for what I am going to point you to, but I am pointing you to this as I think this is an excellent technique to use.

These videos are an example of a good method for rock hard hammers, too much lacquer hammers, poor quality hammers and for hammers that are just plain worn out.

This type of voicing, compass point voicing/needling is what will produce the best possible tonal gradient for these types of hammers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-BazjScJtk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hoJUim4Cf90

Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2077229
05/04/13 02:44 PM
05/04/13 02:44 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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There are a lot of options. The principle to keep in mind is the one of using water to loosen the compressed felt. I usually use water diluted with acetone. About 10 parts acetone to 1 part water. I do not recommend it for hammers 60 to 88 applied to the strike point. Let it wick in from the shoulders. I have not had any luck with Yamaha hammers doing this. They take the moisture in and do not swell up the usual 2mm or so.

I ruined the hammers on my home piano because I used a heat gun to speed up the drying and it made them puff out so much they were destroyed. I usually put on the solution and let it air dry for three or four days before shaping the hammers. It is a method that I am still thinking about how to know the best way to treat a particular set that is overly bright from wear. The procedure must be calibrated for the felt and where the problem is in the compass and how this blends across the whole piano. Good luck!


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2077232
05/04/13 02:51 PM
05/04/13 02:51 PM
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Québec, Canada
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I have used with success 20% fabric softener and 80% rubbing alcohol. Only a few drops per hammer, it is easier to apply less so you can re-apply if needed.


Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

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Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2077239
05/04/13 03:02 PM
05/04/13 03:02 PM
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For the best results of this type of voicing, others have made important contributions to the matter, though I think the actual method is originally David Stanwoods.

Boaz Kirschenbaum made an important comment on the David Stanwood youtube video link,

"This is an excellent demonstration of the technique. Be sure to use only a compass needle in the needle holder to ensure correct depth of penetration. Also, a 3-oz ball pein hammer is ideal for this protocol. Strike the hammers straight down and avoid a glancing blow. Support of the hammers and shanks is crucial both laterally and from below, to avoid damage to the parts."

And as David Love, RPT, wrote,

"For Compass point needling of the crown - I don't think the idea is to insert this tool all the way to the .078 diameter of the shank. It's just that the increasing diameter offers some resistance to penetration and tends to expand the felt at the surface more than it does deeper in the hammer. That contributes to the formation of this sought after gradient. The actual total depth of penetration will depend on what you need or are after on a particular hammer.

While traditional methods would advocate avoiding this area of the hammer and this aggressive use of needles, hammers that respond well to this technique are often hammers that simply don't conform to those traditional standards. You do what you must to achieve the tonal goals that you're after. This is a very useful technique under some circumstances.

I think one should be cautious in considering employing this as your "go to" default technique for every voicing situation. - but since one of the goals (maybe the primary one) in dealing with these difficult hammers is in creating a gradient such that progressively harder blows actually yield progressively different results, my experience suggests that the compass point tool does a better job.

As far as damage to the felt, I can say that the compass point requires fewer insertions. Since the net effect of this method seems to be a spreading of the felt thus changing the density mot near the surface, I'm not sure I would be so convinced that it does more damage than conventional needles used in the sugar coating fashion that you describe."





Numbered
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2077395
05/04/13 08:44 PM
05/04/13 08:44 PM
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North Carolina
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I can't recall a video on needling hammers on an upright. The technique show on grand hammers with the action pulled does not work.

I have had good results on a 60-YO upright with the 20-80% fabric softener/alcohol solution, and reshaping the strike point with course emery cloth. Several small applications at a time until that metallic "hardness" is gone, and the tone matches the neighbors.


Bob M

Charles Walter Model 1520
Yamaha NP 30, NP 11, PSR E333
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Bob M] #2078133
05/06/13 05:03 AM
05/06/13 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob M
I can't recall a video on needling hammers on an upright. The technique show on grand hammers with the action pulled does not work.


I believe this technique is valid and has its place, as explained.

Now i dont deny that there are numerous other ways of dealing with hammers, some better than others, and i think that the technique i have posted about and qualified, is a better technique than the one you are advocating.


Bob, I think that my posts explain the effectiveness of David Stanwoods technique and for what type of hammer this technique is best used on, I think that you owe a better explaination than "it does not work".


Numbered
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2078160
05/06/13 06:55 AM
05/06/13 06:55 AM
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voicing works because of mass displacement and hammer shape change.

softening the felt cannot raise the harmonic content, in my opinion.

correctly voiced heads need very little shaping , generally, it is also easier to shape as the felt peels in layers very cleanly.

the shape have to be sharp in the treble, to allow the lower portions of the head to be active.

A too round hea slap on the strings.

A too hard crown is voiced as the rest but if it is not supported, the result is fore 48 hours playing to the max.

the needle orientation (and lenght) is what change the dynamics as the shape change depending of needling angle.

Yamaha method leave a packed hard bottom, which is suiteable for their pianos, but not adapted to instruments with a more deep tone, that will need more pre voicing.
Leaving the bottom of the head too packed will harden the tone,in a few years, but mostly it give problems with the final shape, that cannot be attained.

So the job have to be done differntly at that point.






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Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2078326
05/06/13 12:34 PM
05/06/13 12:34 PM
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Just for a refresher on fabric softner for hammers,

Originally Posted by Del
Originally Posted by pppat
I still haven't got the confidence to try something like this on a customer's hammers, but I can tell you what I did. I had a brand new Yamaha V-124 with extremely hard hammers, producing a lot of upper partials -> harsh and nasal tone.

This was before my piano tech days, some 5 years ago. I tried to side needle, but with little result. A lot of work though, because getting the through the hammers with a needle was no easy task.

Then I heard about fabric softener and acetone, and logically it made sense. This i used, once, and it opened up the hammers really nicely. After that, good side needling could be done, getting me a pretty good end result.

As I learn about all techniques, subjective preferences and no-no, I realize I would never have pulled that one off if I knew more. Not because of the technique itself, but because I would be scared to death to use it.

BDB said something in a thread half a year of go, about learning voicing as an on-going process through piano tech life, and includes ruining a few sets of hammers. I found this comforting smile

Much about voicing is poster's highly subjective opinions. There is a catch 22 - to succeed in voicing piano hammers you have to be really good at it (practice it) in order not to ruin the hammers. Then, to practice it, you would have to be prepared to ruin hammers.

Trying out all different kinds of suggestions on a set of "disposable" hammers is my way to go, and I'm getting better at it. Lastly, i try to stay imaginative and use common sense. It hasn't gotten me into any major trouble yet smile

For some years I have been presenting classes and seminars on such esoteric topics as “How the Piano Works,” “Understanding the Modern Piano, “Voicing the Soundboard,” or “Voicing the Whole Piano.” The importance of these classes and seminars is generally underestimated. After all, if one is not planning on designing and building new pianos why should it be necessary to know anything about stringing scales or soundboard design? Still, I continue to advocate these classes—and present them at considerable personal expense—because it has long been my belief that the more we know about the instrument we work on the better our work will be and the less damage we will inflict on the poor things. The less mysterious the piano becomes the less fear we will have in trying something new and the more confidence we can have in trying something a bit out of the norm. Not to mention the fact that fewer mistakes based on ignorance will be made.

Understanding the acoustical differences between different types of scales might well keep one from attempting to achieve impossible results and, in the process, causing irreparable damage to the hammers. Understanding the physics of what is happening at the bass/tenor transition might prevent one from over-voicing—and ruining—the hammers in that area when it is really the soundboard system that needs voicing. Indeed, it will open up whole a whole new area of voicing potential techniques; techniques that do not include the hammers at all. Understanding what is really causing that sharp, percussive attack and abnormally short sustain time might prevent destructive and useless hammer voicing techniques and enable one to properly explain to the piano owner what is really making the piano sound that way. And the list goes on….

To use the present case as an example, you do not really need to know that, “Cationic softeners bind by electrostatic attraction to the negatively charged groups on the surface of the fibers and neutralize their charge; the long aliphatic chains are then oriented towards the outside of the fiber, imparting lubricity.” But it is helpful to understand that, quite simply, fabric softeners work by lubricating the felted wool fibers. And thinking about this for a time will be helpful in understanding what effect this might have on the hammer as it impacts the taut strings in a piano.

The more one knows about wool, felt (including the felting process), hammer making and the interaction between the hammers impact against the strings the less mysterious hammer voicing becomes. The idea of treating hammers with fabric softener then becomes a relatively simple decision about whether or not lubricating the surfaces of interlocked and stressed wool fibers in these specific hammers will be beneficial or destructive to the production of piano tone in this particular piano.

I am obviously in favor of experimentation—I certainly do enough of it myself—but as much as possible I try to make this informed experimentation. Otherwise it becomes something like the Edison principle of invention: try everything you can think of and eventually something might work. With luck you might end up with something that works but you’ll have wasted a lot of time and ruined a lot of hammers in the process. And you’ll have learned very little. Having a working knowledge of the materials from which the piano is made—wood, steel and iron, wool, etc.—will give a significant head start in subsequent experimentation. As well, understanding how strings of different physical characteristics vibrate will help one to analyze the sounds heard and will make for much more intelligent voicing choices.

ddf


Originally Posted by Del
Originally Posted by pppat
I agree on the need of knowledge. Still, I wouldn't encourage anybody to wait until they know it all before doing empirical research, because chances are you will never get there.

It is very easily related to the music field. Insufficient theory skills should never stop you from playing, writing and making music while you work on your theoretical deficiencies.

I don’t think I have ever encouraged anyone to wait until they know it all before doing “empirical research.” In my case I would not yet be qualified to do research of any kind! I do, however, encourage those wanting to expand their knowledge and skills—and that should include everyone wishing to make piano tuning and servicing a profession (even a part time profession)—to first do the requisite background study to guide them along the way.

Generally speaking, empirical research is used to answer questions or to test a theory. To continue using the idea of treating hammers with fabric softener it might be a good idea to learn just what fabric softener is formulated to accomplish and how the chemicals affect wool fibers in an effort to understand what might happen when it is applied to hammers. This knowledge will be quite useful in predicting how the fabric softener might work when applied to hammers of varying physical qualities and what might be the acoustical effect.

I continue to believe it is a good idea to acquire as much background information as possible before moving to the empirical research phase. Too often, I think, the question is there and the application is there—all too often on an unsuspecting customer’s piano—but the theory is missing.

ddf

Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2078331
05/06/13 12:41 PM
05/06/13 12:41 PM
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Suffolk, England
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Withindale Offline
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Originally Posted by Davepost
Does anyone know the recipe for hammer softening solution?

I used a surfactant called White Wizard, a dry cleaner, directly on some of my Schiedmayer hammers. This made it quite easy to manipulate and reshape the felt and the results seem to be permanent.







Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2078765
05/07/13 09:51 AM
05/07/13 09:51 AM
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Conway, AR USA
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Only certain conditions call for a "liquid solution," and these are limited. With respect to such, isopropyl alcohol (50/50-70/30)- i.e. alcohol for penetration, water for expansion of fiber - is a tried and true method and, when applied correctly, will not shorten hammer life. Avoid mixtures that might compromise structural integrity over the long term.


Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2078770
05/07/13 10:04 AM
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I can understand when, if for instance the hammers have been so much heated they are glued and hardened so no needling creates any motion within the fiber.

But needling must be allowed after the liquid treatment, and if the fiber is made slippery, the loss of tension occur and cannot be bring back.

I believe that "dry moisture" can be used on those overly hard hammers (asian cheap grade, mostly)

The tool to produce it is used in cleaning trade, and it is not cheap.

That said, I bet that felt makers recreate softness of the fiber by adding lanolin if not enough remain after the felting process.

Anyway that is, with certain qualities.

If too much is left, felt is very sensitive to heat and you can glue the fiber in a pinch, with a slightly too hot iron.






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Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2078790
05/07/13 10:35 AM
05/07/13 10:35 AM
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As I understand it, from a wool technologist, felt hardening is due to the scales on the surface of the wool fibres interlocking themselves. Fabric softeners create a monomolecular layer on the surface of the fibres. This acts as a lubricant and restores some of the movement between fibres that gives felt its resilience.

Obviously testing is necessary but moderate softening should help with needling.

What to do about hammers hardened with lacquer or something is another matter. Del posted about some very hard hammers he softened to give an old upright a new lease of life; a Kawai as I recall.


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2078797
05/07/13 10:48 AM
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You are right, the thing is we need to have hard and tense/compact zone, and other that is less, so liquids should be used only at some location.

A too soft hammer does not provide a deep tone as it cannot compress enough, it may damp much tone before attaining enough compression to spring back.

The problem with wool softeners is that they seem to contain oils, and those are not stable products.

Of course too heavy impregnation make an horrible tone as well.

Impregnation happens after voicing, (on European type hammers) we say hammer "hardeners" but seem to me that some are mostly avoiding the fiber to move as easily one on the other.

I believe it have also been done as a mean to protect the basic voicing against moisture.

But generally it allow to raise the harmonic content at lower volume, so it provide a faster/shorter rebound.



Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Withindale] #2078812
05/07/13 11:26 AM
05/07/13 11:26 AM
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Is research available on the long term effects of fabric softener introduced to strings via hammers treated thereby, and sent via vibrational travel to bearing points and parts, many and varied? When I hear of a "lubricant" contacting string I see a yellow flag. Perhaps someone can allay any concerns?


Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2078820
05/07/13 11:57 AM
05/07/13 11:57 AM
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I had assumed Davepost is interested in softening old hard hammers as an alternative to replacing them.

Come to think of it I only used the surfactant on the shoulders and the ends of the grooves where the densely packed fibres affected the tone - too many noisy harmonics, weak fundamentals.

Some surfactants are made from oils but their chemical composition changes during processing. I do not know how they degrade over time if at all. Even so the result may be better than throwing the hammers away.


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: bkw58] #2078829
05/07/13 12:27 PM
05/07/13 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bkw58
Is research available on the long term effects of fabric softener introduced to strings via hammers treated thereby, and sent via vibrational travel to bearing points and parts, many and varied? When I hear of a "lubricant" contacting string I see a yellow flag. Perhaps someone can allay any concerns?


I would not worry too much on that, due to the oil being fixed on the fiber.

If a treated hammer can be compacted by tapping it with a hammer I believe there is not so much harm.
Also if the felt can be opened with thin needles without loosing its texture, all is well.

I suggest that the fiber interlock to create density and resiliency, but the fiber itself have its own springy behavior.

If an old felt can be "lubed" with a good result, why no
t ? we do the same with leather. to have it more supple.

Then it may be the more central part of the head under the shoulders than may have some benefit of the treatment.

Experience is needed there anyway.




Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2079740
05/09/13 08:09 AM
05/09/13 08:09 AM
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That begs the question somewhat, but thank you for the reply.


Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Davepost] #2079750
05/09/13 08:33 AM
05/09/13 08:33 AM
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As Issac said, the "lubricant" is a chemical that attaches itself to wool fibres and the rest turns to dust. If used in measured quantities there should be little or no dust.


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Re: Hammer softening solution [Re: Withindale] #2079762
05/09/13 08:49 AM
05/09/13 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Withindale
As Issac said, the "lubricant" is a chemical that attaches itself to wool fibres and the rest turns to dust. If used in measured quantities there should be little or no dust.


I must have missed where he says "the rest turns to dust."


Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
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