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Actions on smaller top tier grands #2743447
06/10/18 02:31 PM
06/10/18 02:31 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 8
Austin, TX
W
westexdent Offline OP
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westexdent  Offline OP
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Austin, TX
As a very amateur player, I’ve been educating myself reading as much as possible and playing as many pianos as is possible over the last year as I begin to hone into my first grand piano purchase in the next year or so. I always imagined wanting the biggest piano possible, but I find myself drawn toward the more intimate experiences of the smaller grands, plus I live in a modern high rise space full of hard surfaces and nearby neighbors. Currently, I “play” a Sauter 130, and I think it’s a magnificent instrument... for an upright.

The Estonia 168, much to my surprise, has been an unsuspected sleeper both times I’ve played one (especially when the price is factored)! Bösendorfer wins it for me on tone, Steingraeber on dynamics and control, and Bluthner somewhere in between the two. I’ve yet to play a Hamburg Steinway (do their small grands get the step child treatment as in New York?). One of the big reasons I want a grand is of course for the touch, the action. I also assume that those smallest pianos, aside from smaller soundboards and shorter strings, receive necessary compromises in the actions. I assume this to include smaller key length, but are other compromises made as well? I assume that for any manufacturer, no model gets the full concert grand treatment (except maybe Schimmel Konzert).

My long winded question is, is there a minimum size that features a “full grand action” if you will? Steingraeber mentions it’s 192 sharing the same action as the 212, which I infer to mean the 170’s action as being somehow lesser and the concert series being more. Is 6”ish the general breakover point? What would I be losing with the smaller pianos? I know I still need to play more examples, but it’s always a cross country trip for this, and it may be a while still. Thank you very much I advance for your inputs!

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Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: westexdent] #2743453
06/10/18 02:45 PM
06/10/18 02:45 PM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 559
Wisconsin, USA
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Lakeviewsteve Offline
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Lakeviewsteve  Offline
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That is really a good question. You mentioned Bösendorfer, was that their model 155? I played one in their Vienna showroom and it was very a great instrument. They developed that model in 2012. A person in a master class I took there bought a 155 and loved it. The action on my 170 is by Renner and is made according to Bösendorfer's specifications and it is wonderful.

https://www.boesendorfer.com/en-us/pianos/pianos/grand-piano-155

Best wishes to you finding what you are looking for.

Steve

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 06/10/18 02:46 PM.

Bösendorfer 170
Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: Lakeviewsteve] #2743459
06/10/18 03:01 PM
06/10/18 03:01 PM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 559
Wisconsin, USA
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Lakeviewsteve Offline
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Sorry my edit timed. I doubt actions are smaller but I could be wrong. I don't think key length is any shorter for smaller models either.

Lastly, I live in a modern high-rise and have never ever had a neighbor complain. They can only hear it when out in the hallway. Bösendorfer can install a silencer from Yamaha as an option. They are part of the Yamaha group who make excellent instruments as well.

Steve

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 06/10/18 03:07 PM.

Bösendorfer 170
Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: westexdent] #2743461
06/10/18 03:12 PM
06/10/18 03:12 PM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 4,506
Georgia, USA
terminaldegree Offline
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terminaldegree  Offline
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The key length changes with the overall length of the piano. The most recent experiment to put a full sized concert grand action into a shorter piano is Schimmel's current Konzert series, though some modifications to the layout, case and stretcher had to happen to make it fit. I would not make key length the sole determination of whether an action is good or not, consistency/quality of parts and excellent regulation is required...


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Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: westexdent] #2743492
06/10/18 05:54 PM
06/10/18 05:54 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 11,893
Georgia, USA
Rickster Offline
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I too am a very amateur piano player. But I have been learning to play (which never ends) for about 12 years or so. That said, I think I've had enough experience with different pianos to recognize a decent action; or at least an action that I can appreciate, or not.

I have an older 7'4" Yamaha C7 grand (circa 1978) that I love and admire; playing it is a pleasure. It has the longer key-sticks. I also have a newer 5'8" Baldwin R grand (circa 1999) with the shorter key-sticks. Although I can tell a difference in the feel of the action of the two pianos, to be honest, it is not enormous; the difference between them is not huge, but more subtle. I enjoy playing the Baldwin R almost as much as I like playing the Yamaha C7. If I had to choose between the two, I'd choose the C7, but for more reasons than just the action.

Here in the south we have a saying that you can't have your cake and eat it too, but you can taste it just a wee bit... smile

Good luck!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: Rickster] #2743494
06/10/18 06:09 PM
06/10/18 06:09 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 76
Washington DC area
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Ritz Offline
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Originally Posted by Rickster
I too am a very amateur piano player. But I have been learning to play (which never ends) for about 12 years or so. That said, I think I've had enough experience with different pianos to recognize a decent action; or at least an action that I can appreciate, or not.

I have an older 7'4" Yamaha C7 grand (circa 1978) that I love and admire; playing it is a pleasure. It has the longer key-sticks. I also have a newer 5'8" Baldwin R grand (circa 1999) with the shorter key-sticks. Although I can tell a difference in the feel of the action of the two pianos, to be honest, it is not enormous; the difference between them is not huge, but more subtle. I enjoy playing the Baldwin R almost as much as I like playing the Yamaha C7. If I had to choose between the two, I'd choose the C7, but for more reasons than just the action.

Here in the south we have a saying that you can't have your cake and eat it too, but you can taste it just a wee bit... smile

Good luck!



I'm a neophyte myself and just learning. I equate discussions like this to a comparison between someone who is a casual golfer and Tiger Woods. The casual golfer is probably never going to notice the difference between a set of Sears Roebuck clubs and a 5 figure set of professional clubs. But a professional golfer or a serious enthusiast would. The casual golfer goes out to have fun on occasion, maybe have a few cold beers, and just relax. The enthusiast or pro is out there to constantly hone their game and takes it far more seriously.

Personally, I'm interested in studying the instrument so I can understand HOW/WHY undesirable noises and forces are created. I'm interested from a standpoint that a piano is a machine. If a machine is operating out of spec, it should be rather simple to identify and rectify the cause, right? If we can drill down to that, perhaps us neophytes could benefit more from the discussion. OK, so I've got a "clicky" action. Now what? smile

Best,


1938 Chickering Baby Grand
Trying to learn about these fascinating instruments
Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: westexdent] #2743504
06/10/18 06:40 PM
06/10/18 06:40 PM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 95
Chicago
J
John305 Online content
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Chicago
I believe the current model Shigeru Kawais have increased the length of their keys in the smaller models in an attempt to approximate the feel of the larger piano’s actions. This may be the case with their GX line as well but I’m not sure.


It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: terminaldegree] #2743533
06/10/18 09:35 PM
06/10/18 09:35 PM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 559
Wisconsin, USA
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Lakeviewsteve Offline
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
The key length changes with the overall length of the piano. The most recent experiment to put a full sized concert grand action into a shorter piano is Schimmel's current Konzert series, though some modifications to the layout, case and stretcher had to happen to make it fit. I would not make key length the sole determination of whether an action is good or not, consistency/quality of parts and excellent regulation is required...


I understand and agree, however the difference between a 155 model and a 170 model is so insignificant (15 cm = 5.91 inches). Bösendorfer's action is based on their specifications given to Renner in any case.

Steve

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 06/10/18 09:37 PM.

Bösendorfer 170
Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: westexdent] #2743585
06/11/18 07:26 AM
06/11/18 07:26 AM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,788
Tennessee
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Ed Foote Offline
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Posts: 1,788
Tennessee
Greetings,
The key length is of minor importance to the 'FEEL' of an action. Regardless of the length, the ratio of the key is the same, (or close enough). Longer keys have more flex in them, so compliance in the action is higher,(unless the keys are made significantly stronger). This sponginess decreases the feedback the player gets.

Of far more importance is the design of the action in terms of ratios between hammer weight, key weight, and blow distance. The key-dip is universally expected to be between .380" and .420",, so if the hammer weight goes up,( a common selling point for un-educated buyers), either more lead has to be added to the key, (not good), or the key-dip has to go deeper to power the lower ratio needed for leverage, or, the touch has to be heavier. How these variables interact with one another is far more germane to the action's feel than the length of keys.

regards

Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: westexdent] #2743611
06/11/18 10:59 AM
06/11/18 10:59 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 4,675
Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Online content
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Seattle, WA USA
I agree with Ed Foote and will only add the information that the inertia of the hammer is the most significant variable in the feel of an action. Changing the hammer by only 1 gram will produce a very significant change in the response to your touch.

Most new pianos now are made with lower overall leverage than was used in the past. Makers are forced to do this because they are using hammers that are heavier. It is far preferable to have higher leverage and lower hammer mass.


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Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: westexdent] #2743621
06/11/18 12:08 PM
06/11/18 12:08 PM
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Oakland
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BDB Offline
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I have been comparing the weights of old hammers with similarly-sized new hammers, and find that the newer hammers from the bass are about 0.1 gram heavier than the old hammers, which could be accounted for by evaporation of residual water left in the hammers, or perhaps the shape of the core and tail. I cannot say whether the hammers would have been for the same notes, either. They were just what I could find in my big box of old hammers.


Semipro Tech
Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: westexdent] #2743648
06/11/18 01:55 PM
06/11/18 01:55 PM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 559
Wisconsin, USA
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Lakeviewsteve Offline
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Ed McMorror and Ed Foot,

Thank you so much. Your posts are very informative and appreciated.

Steve

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 06/11/18 01:56 PM.

Bösendorfer 170
Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: westexdent] #2743778
06/12/18 12:41 AM
06/12/18 12:41 AM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 8
Austin, TX
W
westexdent Offline OP
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westexdent  Offline OP
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Austin, TX
Can anyone speak as to who is making a lighter hammer higher leverage action still? I was under the impression the brands I was considering still did. Maybe they used to even more, but still they do so more than others?

Re: Actions on smaller top tier grands [Re: westexdent] #2743785
06/12/18 01:45 AM
06/12/18 01:45 AM
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huaidongxi Offline
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W, if it's new pianos you're considering, try working with a responsible, reputable dealer. any such individual should know their inventory well enough to help you within the parameters of what they have to offer. you're the sole arbiter of how the action responds to you. you are not the only consumer who for various factors and preferences needs a modest-to-small size grand and wants a responsive action, and there are pianos made for your market.

the most responsive yamaha grand in my experience (have not played any of the biggest grands, nor the current CX models), was a used 5'3 in. model from the early 70s (their grands that size in later years including the present have probably changed considerably), which had seen excellent servicing before being sold to me by the area's top yamaha dealer. there are a number of small grands that receive praise and recommendations, some mentioned here by others, as well as on the pianoworld staff recommendations list.


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