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That upweight/downweight ratio #643282
10/23/04 07:23 AM
10/23/04 07:23 AM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,810
North County San Diego CA
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Rick Clark Offline OP
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Rick Clark  Offline OP
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North County San Diego CA
A figure of 50g downweight/20gram upweight is often given as the ideal for piano key weight. I'm not sure why this is "ideal" and personally it seems a bit light to me, but I digress.

Let's just say we supposedly want a 5/2 ratio.

Right now I'm dealing with an old Mason & Hamlin that someone put new hammers on some years ago that seem much lighter than the original hammers. I'm reading 40g/23g in the center octave. Let's round that off and call it a 2/1 ratio.

I would like to get it closer to the original downweight spec which is probably more like 60g downweight.

However if I simply add weight at the hammer or take lead out of the key, I will increase the upweight just as much as the downweight, so would really be no closer to the 5/2 ratio. It will still be closer to the 2/1 ratio.

Can anyone say what performance degradation occurs at a 2/1 ratio as opposed to 5/2? It seems to me that logically a 2/1 ratio should even be faster than 5/2. Is 5/2 just a "feel" thing that is more or less an arbitrary ideal, whereas 2/1 is fine too?

There is also the issue of action friction and I notice that the flanges are very non-resistant though not loose in terms of side-play. IOW, too many swings. I could add a little friction by repinning larger while still remaining within action center friction spec and this will give me a ratio that is spread a little more and closer to the supposed ideal of 5/2- though this alone will not give me 60g downweight. I would still have to tweak weights.

It seems most logical to just add weight to the hammer itself, as I think it will be due for a new set in about 10 years and at that time we can go back to a hammer which weight is more like the original. If I change the lead in the keys now, it will just have to be done over when the new hammers are put in.

I guess the upshot to all this rambling is still the question in the middle.... what is the performance difference in a 5/2 ratio as opposed to 2/1?

Regards,

Rick Clark


Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician
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Re: That upweight/downweight ratio #643283
10/23/04 02:49 PM
10/23/04 02:49 PM
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scutch Offline
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Here is my 2 cents:
Some artists that I have worked for really like the feel of a piano with high upweight in the keys. The key will tend to stick to their finger when they release it and give them greater feeling of control especially in repetitions. The higher up weight the better in my opinion.
If you could get a heavier hammer and bring the down weight to 50gm and the up weight to 30+ it would be very light and fast - especially if there was less led in the keys. Action geometry in this piano sounds like it is very good to me. - You have lots of options.
Also, I tend to favor heavier hammers as I think they give a better tone if voiced correct.
I have experimented with friction on hammer shank flanges at 8 to 10 swings (with no wobble). For someone that requires extremely fast repetition I cannot get it if the center of that flange is swinging at 4 to 6.

Re: That upweight/downweight ratio #643284
10/23/04 05:26 PM
10/23/04 05:26 PM
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Massachusetts
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Roy123 Offline
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Downweight minus upweight divided by two is the friction. So low upweight in comparison to downweight means high friction. High friction means slower repetition and more wasted energy. Personally, I'd minimize friction, which is to say, go with the highest upweight you can get for a given downweight. Many pianists are used to high-friction actions and therefore think low-friction actions don't feel right, but I bet most of them would change their minds after a bit of playing. A piano with a low-friction action can be a revelation--the added speed and control are a delight.

Re: That upweight/downweight ratio #643285
10/23/04 06:29 PM
10/23/04 06:29 PM
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otherside Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Roy123:
A piano with a low-friction action can be a revelation--the added speed and control are a delight.
Yet another aspect is that when you allow the hammer to move aggressively, the hammer ( and/or the key leading ) moves the key with more strength than your finger has, which leads to a less precise control because the key goes its own way.

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Re: That upweight/downweight ratio #643286
10/24/04 09:01 AM
10/24/04 09:01 AM
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Posts: 137
Wyoming
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Craig S Offline
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I understand the 50/20 ratio to be measured with the damper lifted off of the back of the key. Are there any general rules for downweight and upweight with the damper resting on the key?

Craig


Craig

No piano industry association. Amateur interests in playing and technical aspects of piano.
Re: That upweight/downweight ratio #643287
10/24/04 05:11 PM
10/24/04 05:11 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,376
Orange County, CA
KawaiDon Offline
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Orange County, CA
Rick,

I would say that the 50/20 is a guideline, not an ideal. 50/25 would still be a very good playing piano - as long as the mass is not too high. I have played actions that had 10 grams of friction before (equivalent to 50/30), and they performed very well.

If the overall action mass is low, then the friction can also be low and still be under control by the pianist. If the mass is high, more friction is needed to keep the parts from bouncing around too much and being out of control. Remember my little film of the jack at the PTG meeting the other night - that concept applies for overall action mass as well.

If you add weight to the hammer, the friction will also go up a little, so the upweight will not move as much as the downweight. The knuckle friction is very reactive, and is roughly proportional to the hammer weight (along with other things like skin material and the top surface of the rep lever and jack, etc).

With light hammers, if the tone is good I would remove lead from the keys. The friction will stay about the same, and the action will be feel heavier in soft playing but should be quick and responsive. This might give the effect of brightening the tone a bit, so that may 'weigh in' on the decision. :-)

Here's a quick test for you to try - go to Staples and buy some small black spring type paper clips - the kind with the chrome handles that flip back to allow you to open the clip. I think there is a 5/16" size or similar that will clip tightly on a hammer shank. Clip them on the middle section shanks as close to the hammer as possible, remove the chrome handles, then play the piano. This will make the hammer weight higher in a nice removeable and adjustable way.

This is a good way to do a temporary increase in the touchweight of any grand piano. The tone changes as well (shank flex and contact time change a lot, methinks), but not too bad. If they are a good fit they don't make any noise on their own.

Don Mannino RPT


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: That upweight/downweight ratio #643288
10/25/04 07:01 AM
10/25/04 07:01 AM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,810
North County San Diego CA
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Rick Clark Offline OP
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Thanks All for your contributions. I appreciate the way you reasoned it through, it makes good sense. I feel much more at ease about the dilemma now.

Don, you always have interesting if not novel ideas. I now know that you also probably have got research behind them to back them up. That's a very cool idea about the clips I can try before modifying anything and I will try it.

As to the general discussion of friction to which a couple people have contributed, I at one time also took a position of just having as little friction as possible. However it seems that there is a certain performance sacrifice in that during fast repetition things can bounce around a bit much in the action. So one should keep both benefit and detriment in mind and weigh these factors for the individual project. I certainly agree that minimum friction feels very good- as I like to describe it: liquid. And pleasurable feeling counts for a lot. But it may not be for everyone.

Regards,

Rick Clark


Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician
Re: That upweight/downweight ratio #643289
10/26/04 08:44 AM
10/26/04 08:44 AM
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Posts: 1,869
Massachusetts
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Roy123 Offline
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I am uncomfortable with the notion that friction is necessary for an action to behave. The Hickman action and Ron Overs' new action both have low friction. I have played a Hickman action and noted no bad behavior. It may be more appropriate to say that a conventional action requires some minimum amount of friction to work correctly, which is not to say that an action of different design might not work wonderfully with close to no friction.

Re: That upweight/downweight ratio #643290
10/26/04 12:25 PM
10/26/04 12:25 PM
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Posts: 347
california
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scutch Offline
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Hickman has been mentioned a couple of times and I located a post from Ron Nossmann on the Piano Tech archives that shows it moving.

http://mmd.foxtail.com/Tech/HickmanAction/

Re: That upweight/downweight ratio [Re: Rick Clark] #2353424
11/21/14 10:29 PM
11/21/14 10:29 PM
Joined: Oct 2014
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DeadPoets Offline
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What is "action mass?"

Re: That upweight/downweight ratio [Re: Rick Clark] #2353489
11/22/14 07:15 AM
11/22/14 07:15 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 397
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massac...
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Jon Page Offline
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Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massac...
Thinking in terms of ratios: 2/1, 5/2 is the wrong way to go about it.
Think in terms of Balance Weight (BW) and Friction (F).
(DW + UW)/2 = BW
(DW - UW)/2 = F

A touch weight of Downweight/Upweight = 50/20 would have a BW = 35 and F= 15. This is spec for a concert performance, 50 g in the bass tapering to 46 g in the treble. Keeping a consistent BW of 35, then the treble touch weight would be 46/24 (35 BW, 11 F - if friction is 11g). At a 12 F = 47/23; 9 F = 44/26. DW & UW are separated from BW by F. Use BW as a target because the UW/DW will vary (spread) with seasonal change in F.

A touch weight of 40/23, BW = 31.5, F = 8.5. Removing lead from the front of the key to bring the BW to 40 and the touch becomes ~49/32, F stays the unaffected. A BW below 35 starts to become featherweight and uncontrollable.

Friction typically ranges from 15~16 g in the bass to around 10 g in the treble.

Typically actions are setup with BW between 38 and 42. 38 being a lighter action, 42 being a heavier action.
Above 42 and the actions feel too heavy. Actions with Friction approaching 20 or above are sluggish. I usually set up actions to have a BW between 37 and 40, with F dictating how low can be the BW to maintain at least 20 UW in the bass.

Read up on all the material David Stanwood has produced over the years.

Last edited by Jon Page; 11/22/14 01:12 PM. Reason: correct math

Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
http://www.pianocapecod.com
Re: That upweight/downweight ratio [Re: scutch] #2353973
11/23/14 04:33 PM
11/23/14 04:33 PM
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Chrissy Arnone Offline
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Originally Posted by scutch
Hickman has been mentioned a couple of times and I located a post from Ron Nossmann on the Piano Tech archives that shows it moving.

http://mmd.foxtail.com/Tech/HickmanAction/


Cool read, I was lost when I started reading this post!! wink

Re: That upweight/downweight ratio [Re: Rick Clark] #2353998
11/23/14 05:39 PM
11/23/14 05:39 PM
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Suffolk, England
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Re: That upweight/downweight ratio [Re: Rick Clark] #2354011
11/23/14 06:22 PM
11/23/14 06:22 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 397
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massac...
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Jon Page Offline
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Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massac...
Please do not introduce an irrelevant topic to the OP, please start a new thread. There is always some friction involved with moving parts. Some actions, by design, develop less friction but that is not the topic of this thread.

Last edited by Jon Page; 11/23/14 06:27 PM.

Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
http://www.pianocapecod.com

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