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"Tight" action on new piano #2175461
11/01/13 04:48 PM
11/01/13 04:48 PM
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Sortsol Offline OP
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Hi All,

This appears to be a great forum with lots of friendly people and great advice.

Anyhow, we just became the proud owners of a brand new Kawai RX-1. We bought it new for $16k. After reading the forum, it appears we should have bought a rx-2, but I guess we're stuck with the rx-1 and as long as I never play a rx-2, I probably won't know the difference and won't care. Plus, I don't know if they had any anyway, they were getting low on inventory.

Anyway, my wife and daughter both play pretty well. They have both commented the keys feel tight. I played it and it feels fine to me, but I'm also no expert pianist. So, I'm not sure what she is saying by tight and she had a hard time explaining it. My question is do these actions loosen up over time or is it going to stay how it is forever. I'm sure they'll get used to it and probably learn to like it if it stays that way. I guess I was just wondering. We love the piano and compared to our 40 y.o. wurlitzer spinnet, it's amazing.

Thanks much!!

Mike

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Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175466
11/01/13 04:55 PM
11/01/13 04:55 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Hi Mike - Welcome to Piano World!

The action of a Kawai is a bit heavier that what is found on other pianos, and certainly different than an aged Wurlitzer spinet! All new actions, including the composite action of the Kawais, need some time to break in. After all, it is a machine. "Tight" is not the usual word, but "stiff" is. It just needs some time to "play in."

I hope all of you will enjoy your new piano!


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175467
11/01/13 04:59 PM
11/01/13 04:59 PM
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Georgia, USA
Rickster Online content
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Hi Mike, and welcome to Piano World!

Here are my thoughts… first of all, congratulations on your new Kawai RX1! Kawai makes a great piano! Secondly, I think what you all are experiencing is a firm action vs. a sluggish/tight action. Kawai is known for having a firm (medium heavy?) action. And, compared to your old spinet, the action on the Kawai probably does feel tight.

If the action were too tight, it would be sluggish with sticky, slow returning keys. I honestly do not think you have an issue with the action on the Kawai.

At least that is my .02.

I’m no expert either, but there are lots of them here; and, maybe some will chime in with more info.

Best regards,

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2175468
11/01/13 04:59 PM
11/01/13 04:59 PM
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Sortsol Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Hi Mike - Welcome to Piano World!

The action of a Kawai is a bit heavier that what is found on other pianos, and certainly different than an aged Wurlitzer spinet! All new actions, including the composite action of the Kawais, need some time to break in. After all, it is a machine. "Tight" is not the usual word, but "stiff" is. It just needs some time to "play in."

I hope all of you will enjoy your new piano!


Thanks Marty. I guess I won't spend too much time worrying about it.

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Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Rickster] #2175473
11/01/13 05:03 PM
11/01/13 05:03 PM
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Sortsol Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Rickster
Hi Mike, and welcome to Piano World!

Here are my thoughts… first of all, congratulations on your new Kawai RX1! Kawai makes a great piano! Secondly, I think what you all are experiencing is a firm action vs. a sluggish/tight action. Kawai is known for having a firm (medium heavy?) action. And, compared to your old spinet, the action on the Kawai probably does feel tight.

If the action were too tight, it would be sluggish with sticky, slow returning keys. I honestly do not think you have an issue with the action on the Kawai.

At least that is my .02.

I’m no expert either, but there are lots of them here; and, maybe some will chime in with more info.

Best regards,

Rick


Thanks Rick, as corrected by Marty, I guess stiff is a better word. It's definitely not tight in the sense that the keys don't return correctly. It has a very fast return. My bad on the verbiage.

Mike

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175488
11/01/13 05:27 PM
11/01/13 05:27 PM
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Many new pianos can benefit from regulation. Perhaps your tech could evaluate and see. Maybe some keys need easing. It's better to get an in person assessment before concluding that nothing can be done.

Sophia

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175497
11/01/13 05:35 PM
11/01/13 05:35 PM
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Arkansas
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If you really want the RX2, call your dealer. You wouldn't be the first to swap one out for a larger piano.


David



Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: sophial] #2175510
11/01/13 06:02 PM
11/01/13 06:02 PM
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Sortsol Offline OP
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Originally Posted by sophial
Many new pianos can benefit from regulation. Perhaps your tech could evaluate and see. Maybe some keys need easing. It's better to get an in person assessment before concluding that nothing can be done.

Sophia


It's had 4 hours of regulation. Personally, I think it's fine. Plays beautifully. I think it's just what she's used to. I'm sure it will work itself out.

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: supersport] #2175513
11/01/13 06:04 PM
11/01/13 06:04 PM
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Sortsol Offline OP
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Originally Posted by supersport
If you really want the RX2, call your dealer. You wouldn't be the first to swap one out for a larger piano.


Good call. I actually talked to the dealer. They only have 2 other rx-1's and an rx-6. I think I'm stuck (but, I'm a good with the rx-1. The rx-2 would have been a bit of a tighter fit anyway.)

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: supersport] #2175545
11/01/13 07:59 PM
11/01/13 07:59 PM
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Now this is one great suggestion but the RX1 is ok to. I believe the RX series has been replaced by the GX series so you might be able to do a deal. I would surely see because the larger RX2 will matter over time.

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175553
11/01/13 08:14 PM
11/01/13 08:14 PM
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Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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And now - Back to the important part of the thread:

Congratulations on your new piano!


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175554
11/01/13 08:15 PM
11/01/13 08:15 PM
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Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by Sortsol

It's had 4 hours of regulation. Personally, I think it's fine. Plays beautifully. I think it's just what she's used to. I'm sure it will work itself out.


What does the technician you hired to do the regulation say about it?

I do agree with the others regarding a marked difference in the feel of the action between this piano and a spinet.

I also agree with sophial...


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Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175564
11/01/13 08:37 PM
11/01/13 08:37 PM
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Hi Sortsol and congrats on the new piano !

Did the regulation include lubrication of the action ? If so, it's probably just a matter of getting used to the new touch. The first lubrication on my new piano reduced the downweight by a few grams, so the touch felt "easier to play" right away.

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175575
11/01/13 09:15 PM
11/01/13 09:15 PM
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Arkansas
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Yes congratulations on your new piano.

Pictures are nice when you get a chance.


David



Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175578
11/01/13 09:27 PM
11/01/13 09:27 PM
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All serviceable pianos get lighter, brighter, and looser with use. A new piano that will break in well is one that feels a little firm and sounds a little dark. As the hammers pack down from striking the strings the feel of the action will seem lighter because the tone is brighter. Even though the touch resistance is most likely very similar to when it was new.

A new piano, (or new hammers) that sounds brilliant right from the start will probably turn into a "tin can" over time


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Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175583
11/01/13 09:38 PM
11/01/13 09:38 PM
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Congrats on your piano!

Regarding your thoughts about the RX2 - it's a great piano, yes. But that shouldn't let anyone enjoy what they have less. Besides, extra space is great!

My thoughts about the action: that's a huge transition from the piano everyone was used to. I'd say with that big of a transition, just the sheer difference is going to stand out until you're used to it.


Pianist and Piano Teacher
Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175596
11/01/13 10:21 PM
11/01/13 10:21 PM
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Personally, I prefer a slightly heavy action to a light one, particularly in a smaller grand. I find it easier to shape dynamics (pianissimo to fortissimo), always problematic on a smaller grand, when the action isn't too light. My biggest struggles with dynamics were with a Story and Clark upright--one touch too heavy would take it straight to ff.


Anne'sson
El Paso, TX
Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175602
11/01/13 10:37 PM
11/01/13 10:37 PM
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Southwest
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Congratulations on your new piano...how wonderful! Pictures are in order and it's fun to post them here. You'll get lots of ooohhhss and aaaahhsss! The action of a new piano often feels a little stiff at first. With practice, it does settle in, plus, with time and practice your hands (or your wife and daughter's)get accustomed to the new piano. It took a few weeks for me to get used to my C3 and I thought the Kawai pianos I played had a slightly tighter/heavier action than Yamaha. The one thing that your family will really come to love, is the upgrade in the sound!


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Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175714
11/02/13 01:14 AM
11/02/13 01:14 AM
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Sortsol Offline OP
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Thanks everybody for all the great information. Sounds like it will loosen up a bit as times goes on. I actually like the feel of it. My wife and daughter love the piano. I also have twin 9 year old boys who have been taking lessons for a couple years who won't stay off it. I've even started playing a bit after not playing much for the last 20 years.

Thanks again,

Mike

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175781
11/02/13 06:56 AM
11/02/13 06:56 AM
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Ed Foote Offline
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Originally Posted by Sortsol
Thanks everybody for all the great information. Sounds like it will loosen up a bit as times goes on. I actually like the feel of it. My wife and daughter love the piano. I also have twin 9 year old boys who have been taking lessons for a couple years who won't stay off it. I've even started playing a bit after not playing much for the last 20 years.
Thanks again,
Mike


Greetings,
The piano is a good one. There will be an initial period of breaking in. There will be a gradual change in the action's cushy-ness and its sound, as well as the hands of those playing it. As the sliding surfaces mate, and the cushions and leather compress, the effort required to play the note goes down, and the ability to control it goes down with it. Every piano ever built morphs this way. Some over the first five years (only played at Christmas), some after the first 3 months, (school practice rooms). It depends, mainly, on how much it is played, but even a piano action left under the effect of gravity will gradually sag. This is called going "out of regulation". When it happens, it shows up as loss of control at soft levels of play.

So, expect to spend some money in two years, maybe three. It is just like getting valves in older car engines adjusted after the first 5000 miles. Regulations deteriorate gradually,, so the non-professional usually doesn't recognize what is happening, and there are a lot of people out there that think their technique is failing when in actuality, their actions have gone so far out of adjustment that there is no way to control a trill at pp, or to play a chord with all the notes sounding evenly.

The other important thing about regulation is that it determines the minimum amount of force needed to play a note. A poorly regulated piano will have to be played with more force, just to insure the notes sound. For a young musician, just starting to learn, this is an invisible barrier to learning a sense of touch. A child that learns on a piano that has to be played hard will learn to play hard, since the touch required to make a piano whisper can't be learned or used on a poor regulation.

There are a number of ways an owner can check the state of their pianos' regulation, but that is another topic. I would encourage all piano owners to talk about the condition of their regulation with their tech. Many techs prefer to tune and don't do a lot of this other work, so the tech you want will be one who regulates at least a piano or two a month, and can point you to referrals.

good luck, you have a quality piano, and it will last through many years of heavy service, and probably several regulations!
Regards,

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175800
11/02/13 08:03 AM
11/02/13 08:03 AM
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First things, first...Congratulations on owning a nice piano, much better than 9 out of 10 pianists will ever own in their lifetime. Yes, most folks prefer a RX-2, but the RX-1 is a good piano in its own right and you probably won't notice a lot of difference on the majority of pieces you play.

Just to underline something Mr. Foote wrote...depending on how much, and how hard the piano is played, will be a large factor in how soon it "loosens" up. Since most of your family plays, I suspect this will be sooner, rather than later.

Once again, you have an instrument to be proud of - may you and your family enjoy it for many, many years!


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Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175843
11/02/13 10:45 AM
11/02/13 10:45 AM
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Some pianos are designed with heavier touch. I’ve played some kawais and yamahas, and they are all on the heavy side. The piano with the heaviest action I’ve played was a Estonia 168 made in 2005. On the other hand, the actions on Steinway B/D, and some bostons I played in a local Steinway dealer felt really light. I think everyone has different preference, but for me the heavier touch makes playing soft much harder…

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175878
11/02/13 11:55 AM
11/02/13 11:55 AM
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There is heavy touch, and then there is heavy touch. With this I mean there are different factors which can be the underlying issues.

On some new pianos, the action geometry and the mass of he parts are such that the touch will always be heavy no matter how much "wearing in" and regulation the piano receives. This can be measured by static key downweight (DW) and upweight (UW) measurements. This was and is seen in many lower level Asian pianos.

In another scenario, there is excessive friction which can slow an action down and make it heavy to play. Again, the DW and UW measurements can be used to calculate the friction. Friction can be identified and addressed fairly easily.

A third scenario is the action's inertia. This cannot be determined by static DW and UW measurements. More complex action analysis is required to understand what goes on in the action when it is played at speed. You can have a high inertia action which feels OK when playing softly or slowly, with perfect DW and UW, but when played above mf for a time, it is tiring to play. Many good players even develop injuries form playing on high inertia pianos.

Finally, there can be a combination of any two of the above, or all three. So, if you really want to understand all the details, it can be quite complicated and involved. Not many technicians are well versed in the inertia arena.

But of course moving from an old spinet or console to a grand will always be a huge adjustment, and most of what you perceive is probably just that - finally playing on an instrument which has real potential in terms of dynamic range and control.

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2175925
11/02/13 02:10 PM
11/02/13 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Sortsol
Anyway, my wife and daughter both play pretty well. They have both commented the keys feel tight. I played it and it feels fine to me, but I'm also no expert pianist. So, I'm not sure what she is saying by tight and she had a hard time explaining it.


Words are tricky items when dealing both with individual perceptive realities, and different peoples personal definitions of words.

Whenever a client uses words to describe a frustration with their instrument, whether I've known the pianist for years, or whether they are a new customer, I do not take any words at face value, but rather "triangulate" to try and figure out what the chosen words mean to this individual at this particular point in time.

I find it highly useful unto necessary to carry out this "triangulation" in the presence of all the players, myself and the piano.

As I look at the OP's post and listen to the words he relays regarding his wife's difficulty in describing her experience, and as I refer to numbers of Kawai grands I've worked on which tended to be high inertia from the word go, I question the literal interpretion of the word stiff...I do not take this word at face value.

Any and all actions or pianos that leave my shop are playing at the top of their game..they don't need some frustrating "break-in" period to be enjoyable. If they are not fun right off the mark...I blew it, and I insist on doing the re-work, at my expense, until they are happy.

In some amount of time depending on the use, a new great new action will need to be regulated again, but on delivery a well designed and fabricated action should feel great, assuming the inertia levels built in to the action suites the player. I find the "stiff" work-it-in" or "get used to it" will frustrate an unhappy player to the point that they will stop playing...and, unfortunately, this happens all the time.

In posting the original question, the OP was trying to make sure his wife was happy, as she is the more accomplished pianist. Please continue to listen to her, and have a tech with open ears and eyes, unaffiliated with the dealer, come, watch her play, listen to her play, play the instrument him/herself, listen to her, and act as a knowledgeable educator and advocate.

Jim Ialeggio



Jim Ialeggio
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Shirley Center, MA
Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2176061
11/02/13 07:17 PM
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Jim,

What a great answer! You are my kind of technician! heart

Sophia

Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2176258
11/03/13 06:04 AM
11/03/13 06:04 AM
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Funny, I grew up playing a Wurlitzer spinet. The must've made millions of those as they're still hanging around the system. And as a kid, I always loved the feel of a Kawai, the firmer action, especially coming from that Wurlitzer.

Since I was a deprived child and never got the Kawai grand that I wanted, I finally bought one for my family. I didn't want my 5 year old daughter to go through what I did. Anyway, we've had it for 6+ months, been playing it a lot, and a month or so ago I visited a Steinway dealer and then a Yamaha dealer. The first piano I played was a Boston 5'8" or so, and my instant reaction was the action felt so much lighter. And this was a brand new Boston. And I played other Boston's, Steinway's and then Yamaha's again at another dealer. All new pianos and all with noticeably lighter actions than than my Kawai.

I think that's just how Kawai's are. Personally, I like it.




Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2176291
11/03/13 09:10 AM
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The action on my recently acquired Howard/Kawai (5’10”) is rather firm, but as others have said, I like a firm feeling action. The action on my Yamaha C7 is not light but not heavy either… kind of a mid-range feel, I suppose you could say. The action on my Kimball 5’8” is very similar to action of the C7… not too heavy and not too light (Goldilocks feel, maybe smile ). The action on my Kawai K48A upright is on the lighter side but not too light either… another Goldilocks feel? The action on my Baldwin 243 upright is in the medium range also; as compared to the 243 at my church, which was light as a feather.

I kind of like having a variety of pianos to play… now, I just wish I could actually play a piano. smile

Rick


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Re: "Tight" action on new piano [Re: Sortsol] #2182779
11/15/13 12:57 PM
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Western Canada
Originally Posted by Sortsol
Anyhow, we just became the proud owners of a brand new Kawai RX-1. We bought it new for $16k. After reading the forum, it appears we should have bought a Rx-2, but I guess we're stuck with the Rx-1 and as long as I never play a Rx-2, I probably won't know the difference and won't care. Plus, I don't know if they had any anyway, they were getting low on inventory.

Anyway, my wife and daughter both play pretty well. They have both commented the keys feel tight. I played it and it feels fine to me, but I'm also no expert pianist. So, I'm not sure what she is saying by tight and she had a hard time explaining it. My question is do these actions loosen up over time or is it going to stay how it is forever. I'm sure they'll get used to it and probably learn to like it if it stays that way. I guess I was just wondering. We love the piano and compared to our 40 y.o. wurlitzer spinnet, it's amazing.
Mike

Yes, I bought the Rx-1 Kawai baby grand and I can totally agree with what your wife is saying!

To answer your question, the "stiff/heavy" touch WILL go away. My Rx-1 piano was brand new, and with that, it hadn't been worked. Now it's perfect. It did take time. My fingers got stronger, but I can tell you, it will lose that tight/stiff key touch. Took about a year!

Work with a technician. A good tech can loosen the touch up for you quicker. But, in time, your piano will have that perfect touch! Mine does now! So play it lots!

Hope this helps!


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