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Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
#2150563 09/15/13 01:48 PM
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I am considering buying a barely used, nine-year-old Walter whose touch and tonal qualities astound me. It's a physically beautiful instrument, too, and priced right. I really love the piano, but I can't get anything below a mezzo piano. I'm wondering what your guesses are about that being a function of the piano being in a very small space with a big window next to it and on a hardwood floor with a small rug under the piano? The room has large entrances at adjacent sides, so the piano isn't entirely boxed in. The piano was originally sold to the current owner by a very reputable tech who also used to deal Walters, and, knowing him, I think he probably voiced it as a true Walter and didn't do anything to brighten it up. Would you guess this is just a loud piano, or is this normal for a piano this size in a small space? I'm an accomplished pianist and can usually get a piano to purr. On the other hand, the piano could really scream on the other end--way more than I'd ever use. With the exception of the loudness (which is a big exception), I truly don't know if I've ever played a more divine and perfect sounding and playing instrument of any size or make. I almost got choked up it sounded so beautiful. I would have the piano in a small apartment with carpet and drapes, and I would use it mostly for playing light classics, light jazz, and as stress management. smile I can't imagine ever finding an instrument of this quality at this price, but I couldn't deal with not being able to play quietly (nor would my neighbors). I'd worry alot about having anyone revoicing one of Del's specified hammers.

Thanks for any feedback. I've probably got to act fast if I want this piano.

Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2150575 09/15/13 02:00 PM
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I think you are trying to find youeself an excuse to buy a house. smile

Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2150577 09/15/13 02:03 PM
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That piano has very hard, loud hammers that were not specified by Del Fandrich. He designed the piano, but the choice of materials and what is done with the design is Walters.

Ask the piano technician that you have check out the piano what he would charge to change the hammers to a cold pressed hammer. Make sure he has excellent experience with this also.

Additionally, the piano is probably out of regulation in a way that makes it harder to control at a soft volume. Ask the tech what he will charge to get the piano excellently regulated.

You can also voice the hammers down for a softer sound, but they are inherently a loud hammer and the loud sound will come back. How soon it will come back will be based on how much you play combined with how aggressively the hammers are voiced.


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Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Keith D Kerman #2150624 09/15/13 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman

Additionally, the piano is probably out of regulation in a way that makes it harder to control at a soft volume. Ask the tech what he will charge to get the piano excellently regulated.


I'd probably start there.


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Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2150675 09/15/13 04:50 PM
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As a Walter 190 owner, I would say get it NOW and don't look back.

As for me, I'm NOT an accomplished pianist, I try my best with the time allotted to me, but i can tell a good thing when I see and hear it and the Walter is, in my opinion, an early twentieth century New York Steinway with a Hamburg Steinway action (German Renner)stuffed into a body that says Charles R Walter on it.

I just recently had further work done on mine and installed a Damp Chaser as well and it just really OPENED UP. What a sound! I love my piano!

The only other thing I can think of that make me happier is to have it in a 9 foot concert version, and that's not going to happen, or get a Hamburg D (Like the one I played at the Steinway store in Vienna next to the opera house) and that's not going to happen anytime soon either. I've gotten the best possible choice for me and it sounds like you have found yours as well.

Either get the hammer work done like the others said or simply learn how to play quieter.

Just get it.

Last edited by Theodore Slutz; 09/15/13 05:11 PM.

Charles Walter Model W (190)


“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” J.S. Bach


"I just want to know, if we came from monkeys and apes, WHY DO WE STILL HAVE MONKEYS AND APES?" George Carlin
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Theodore Slutz #2150733 09/15/13 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Theodore Slutz
As a Walter 190 owner, I would say get it NOW and don't look back.

As for me, I'm NOT an accomplished pianist, I try my best with the time allotted to me, but i can tell a good thing when I see and hear it and the Walter is, in my opinion, an early twentieth century New York Steinway with a Hamburg Steinway action (German Renner)stuffed into a body that says Charles R Walter on it.

I just recently had further work done on mine and installed a Damp Chaser as well and it just really OPENED UP. What a sound! I love my piano!

The only other thing I can think of that make me happier is to have it in a 9 foot concert version, and that's not going to happen, or get a Hamburg D (Like the one I played at the Steinway store in Vienna next to the opera house) and that's not going to happen anytime soon either. I've gotten the best possible choice for me and it sounds like you have found yours as well.

Either get the hammer work done like the others said or simply learn how to play quieter.

Just get it.
I think this reply shows the potential danger in getting advice from owners who love their piano. The OP has a serious problem with the piano in its present condition even though he likes many things about it.

The OP is apparently at least a reasonably advanced pianist who can usually play softly without a problem. So telling him to learn how to play more quietly is not really reasonable IMO.

Keith Kerman has indicated that this model has hammers that make playing softly difficult, so I think his suggestion of finding out the cost to change hammers and/or regulate the piano is far more reasonable. Then the OP can know what the actual cost of the piano plus additional work will come to and decide if the price is right. Without doing at least one of those things the OP will not be happy with the piano in its present condition.

Changing the hammers may also change the tone(in other ways besides making softer playing easier)so this is something else to ask a good tech about.

Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2150764 09/15/13 07:15 PM
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Cristofori,

When you say that the piano won't play softer than mp, are you judging the volume level by listening, or is it the response to your fingers? Do the keys simply not respond to a soft touch?

The reason I ask is that Walter is designed more for home use than in a large hall situation. Often they are disappointing in a voluminous showroom. The fact that the piano thunders, and from your statement I would assume well in excess of what is perceived as ff, sounds odd. Much of it might very well be due to the room acoustics. Usually, a 6'4" piano will not blow you off the bench with sheer power unless its full volume is being directly directed back at the pianist.

Here in the forum, we are often asked by new members who are surprised by how loud their piano sounds compared to the showroom. After a few questions, it is found that the room has similar acoustics to what you describe. Sparse furnishing, hard floors, and lots of glass will affect a piano greatly.

I agree with all that has been said about regulating the action and attending to the hammers. The Walter is a very fine piano and it certainly could be restored to Mr. Fandrich's intention, but that is a consideration based on the kind of price you are being offered. Also, make a considered comparison to the environment you have at home. It might be only the surroundings the piano is in.

If the price is very good, and you are willing to take the chance on additional costs, it still might be an exceptional value. With any used piano of about the same age, regardless of brand, voicing and regulation would not be unusual at all. Hammer replacement would be a much larger investment.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2150782 09/15/13 07:38 PM
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Interesting reply... I mean this in all respect Pianoloverus, your analysis of my response is inaccurate and you should reread it before posting. Sorry for being so blunt.

I didn't say learning to play quietly was the only option. I said either do what the other posters said to do, which was to find out about the option of the hammer replacement or work on them. There of course are other things you can do as well but when you find a superb instrument, like any other desirable possession, you make the accommodations and make sacrifices to obtain it. After all we only have one life right?

If the piano in subject was a Steinway, I don't think anyone would be having this conversation. Loving your piano, or potential piano is the main reason of buying and then owning the piano in the first place, and clearly the OP loves this piano.

IMO i think this person's following statement qualifies for forgiving an idiosyncrasy or two:

"I truly don't know if I've ever played a more divine and perfect sounding and playing instrument of any size or make."

Also to start out with the statement: "I am considering buying a barely used, nine-year-old Walter whose touch and tonal qualities astound me."

In my view, when I read statements like this, it moves me past the minor issues and look at the broad perspective. After all the statements I've read on here and conversations with my technician, you actually CAN find a way to make it "sound" softer. "Playing" softer is another issue and it involves technique changes.


As a post script... In the book "A romance on three legs," Gould's technician spoke about how Gould literally stepped on the soft pedal ALL the time. There's no telling if he exaggerated or meant it literally, but I have found that practice useful for my own environment.


Charles Walter Model W (190)


“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” J.S. Bach


"I just want to know, if we came from monkeys and apes, WHY DO WE STILL HAVE MONKEYS AND APES?" George Carlin
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2150798 09/15/13 07:56 PM
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TS,

I believe that PLU responded to your opening statement:

"As a Walter 190 owner, I would say get it NOW and don't look back."

Being an owner of a similar instrument does not address the OP's concerns. Because I own a Mayberry & Aunt Bee doesn't prove its quality or appropriateness for other's usage, and I certainly would not unequivocally suggest that others buy one NOW.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Theodore Slutz #2150807 09/15/13 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Theodore Slutz
Interesting reply... I mean this in all respect Pianoloverus, your analysis of my response is inaccurate and you should reread it before posting. Sorry for being so blunt.

I didn't say learning to play quietly was the only option. I said either do what the other posters said to do, which was to find out about the option of the hammer replacement or work on them. There of course are other things you can do as well but when you find a superb instrument, like any other desirable possession, you make the accommodations and make sacrifices to obtain it. After all we only have one life right?

If the piano in subject was a Steinway, I don't think anyone would be having this conversation. Loving your piano, or potential piano is the main reason of buying and then owning the piano in the first place, and clearly the OP loves this piano.

IMO i think this person's following statement qualifies for forgiving an idiosyncrasy or two:

"I truly don't know if I've ever played a more divine and perfect sounding and playing instrument of any size or make."

Also to start out with the statement: "I am considering buying a barely used, nine-year-old Walter whose touch and tonal qualities astound me."

In my view, when I read statements like this, it moves me past the minor issues and look at the broad perspective. After all the statements I've read on here and conversations with my technician, you actually CAN find a way to make it "sound" softer. "Playing" softer is another issue and it involves technique changes.


As a post script... In the book "A romance on three legs," Gould's technician spoke about how Gould literally stepped on the soft pedal ALL the time. There's no telling if he exaggerated or meant it literally, but I have found that practice useful for my own environment.
You have selectively quoted the parts that are positive. My strong impression from the OP is that if the inability to play softly can't be solved the OP would reject the piano despite everything he likes about it. In fact, I think he or anyone else would be foolish to buy a piano that they couldn't play below mp. That is not some minor idiosyncrasy.

My comment on your post has zero to do with the brand. I have said many times at PW that dealers for piano X and owners of piano X are quite frequently not the best people to ask about piano X because they both have inherent bias.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/15/13 08:04 PM.
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Minnesota Marty #2151033 09/16/13 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Mayberry & Aunt Bee .


Lol!!



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Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2151048 09/16/13 02:54 AM
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I agree with Keith. Changing the hammers can make a dramatic improvement to an instrument's tone and touch if the existing hammers are too hard and/or heavy. Ronsen Bacon felt hammers would probably be a good match. Expect to spend a few thousand to replace the hammers and regulate the action.

Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2151080 09/16/13 05:46 AM
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As always, K K has excellent suggestions.

I have a MH AA (over 6 ft) and it is in a small room in a small old house. I have lined drapes on 3 windows; a wool carpet and pad, and a quilt on wall along with quite a bit of wood furniture. It works. Best when the lid is down for daily practice. I have even closed the flap and put the music rack on it, but the sound then becomes more muffled, not as pleasant to my ear. But it did make it softer.

It has been regulated and voiced. And has the ability to be played pp.

Suggestion from here that maybe you can do what I can't, was to angle the piano slightly to change the acoustics.



"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
pianoloverus #2151198 09/16/13 09:46 AM
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I think it's time to hug


Charles Walter Model W (190)


“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” J.S. Bach


"I just want to know, if we came from monkeys and apes, WHY DO WE STILL HAVE MONKEYS AND APES?" George Carlin
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2151228 09/16/13 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Cristofori
... I'd worry alot about having anyone revoicing one of Del's specified hammers.

It sounds like that has already happened.

The original hammers—made-to-order Abel—in their original condition would not sound like that.

One of the problems these pianos faced when originally introduced was that they were often sold against pianos such as Yamaha. Dealers were bothered because they didn’t sound as bright and powerful as the typical Asian piano of the time. Rather than work with them and present them as a musical alternative to the hard, linear sound prevalent then, their expedient was frequently to start adding chemical hardeners to the hammers—much like Baldwin and Steinway hammers of the time—until they sounded “bright” when sitting out there in a big, open showroom.

This solution (sorry about that) didn’t work for Baldwin pianos, for Steinway hammers or for Walter hammers and it resulted piano capable only of an unmusical cacophony of harsh, strident sounds that bore little resemblance to the meaning of pianoforte. But, what the heck, they were bright and they were powerful and everybody knew that pianos had to sound bright and powerful to sell.

Have your technician take a look at the hammers. If they’ve been lacquered (or otherwise chemically hardened) they’ll have to be replaced. Today I’d probably specify a Ronsen hammer with the felt being chosen to suit your specific environment.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
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Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2151249 09/16/13 10:55 AM
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Del, I love your piano you designed!!!

Sorry I haven't told you before, I know how important it is to be recognized for a great accomplishment and you achieved that in mapping out a masterpiece for Charles Walter.

Fortunately I found a used Walter with the original hammers still intact, so the sound is sublime.

Thank you!


Charles Walter Model W (190)


“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” J.S. Bach


"I just want to know, if we came from monkeys and apes, WHY DO WE STILL HAVE MONKEYS AND APES?" George Carlin
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Theodore Slutz #2151266 09/16/13 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Theodore Slutz
Del, I love your piano you designed!!!

Sorry I haven't told you before, I know how important it is to be recognized for a great accomplishment and you achieved that in mapping out a masterpiece for Charles Walter.

Fortunately I found a used Walter with the original hammers still intact, so the sound is sublime.

Thank you!

Why, thank you ... blush

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
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Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2151330 09/16/13 01:06 PM
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Thank you, everyone, for the feedback. It's a great piano, but I'm really uncomfortable not knowing how it will sound after getting new hammers. Probably won't be forking out a big chunk of my savings for a piano that I'll then have to pour a couple of grand into. Too bad. I think I probably gently auditioned the piano on my first visit, but when I went back with a friend the second time, my ears almost bled from the second he started pounding something out. It's in the mf to f range that I heard the sound that really got me, but you've got to be able to play and stand listening to the stuff on either sides of that range.

BTW, I've lost a little respect for the bigwig local tech here that would have prepped that piano. He and his wife are always talking about what purists they are and that they're above the fray of "those other" dealers. A real shame. I guess I feel bad they had to take such desperate measures to sell the piano.


Last edited by Cristofori; 09/16/13 01:29 PM.
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2151414 09/16/13 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Cristofori
Thank you, everyone, for the feedback. It's a great piano, but I'm really uncomfortable not knowing how it will sound after getting new hammers. Probably won't be forking out a big chunk of my savings for a piano that I'll then have to pour a couple of grand into. Too bad. I think I probably gently auditioned the piano on my first visit, but when I went back with a friend the second time, my ears almost bled from the second he started pounding something out. It's in the mf to f range that I heard the sound that really got me, but you've got to be able to play and stand listening to the stuff on either sides of that range.

BTW, I've lost a little respect for the bigwig local tech here that would have prepped that piano. He and his wife are always talking about what purists they are and that they're above the fray of "those other" dealers. A real shame. I guess I feel bad they had to take such desperate measures to sell the piano.

This is not the first time I've heard this story. And it's not the first time of heard of a sale being lost because of it.

I'm not sure this would have happened today. Piano buyers are more informed about piano performance and it is forcing both manufacturers and dealers to tone them down and search, once again, for the essence of music. And to learn how to sell it. The days of "power sells" above everything else are almost over.

(Before you're too hard on your local technician, by the way, make sure you have the whole story. There are a number of ways the hammers could have ended up overly hard. It is possible Walter could have received hammers that were overly hard from the hammermaker. It is possible that the factory voicer could have juiced them up; these folks are human as well. A lot can happen to a piano between the factory line and the buyer's home. And a lot could have happened to it in the buyer's home.)

ddf

Last edited by Del; 09/16/13 03:15 PM.

Delwin D Fandrich
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Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Considering a Walter 6'4", but it's really loud.
Cristofori #2151566 09/16/13 06:56 PM
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I recently dealt with another brand of piano for a client. Their complaint was they could not play softly either.
The regulation and some friction issues were dealt with. Now the instrument is performing as intended.
The main culprit was the let off was too far from the strings and damper timing being early. All regulation setting had to be reviewed.
Some tight keys (bushings and balance holes)
So after some needed prep all is well.
Please understand the regulation on a $100,000 dollar piano or a $40,000 dollar piano will settle after some time. All pianos need technical service, many/most clients never have anything done except the yearly tuning, if that. Some of the entry priced instruments will settle even faster.

The hammers could have been hardened or not. A technician should take a look. The notion that the hammers are ruined is not guaranteed. Some of the most expensive pianos in the word use a similar hammer and are voiced in the factory with the results desired.

The hammers on the instrument being discussed will need some voicing but I bet the best plan of attack is, regulation.


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