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Kawai RX6 heavy action #2746565
06/23/18 03:50 PM
06/23/18 03:50 PM
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Radio.Octave Offline OP
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I have an RX6 that's about 6 years old now. It's always had a fairly heavy action, and I'm not sure if it's gotten worse over time, or it's just that it's finally getting annoying, but let's just say I'm noticing it lately. I recently had the piano tuned, and had the tech checkout the touchweight. It was 65+ grams around the lower end of the keyboard, and I think around 60 higher up. I just did a quick test with coins, and it agrees with what he measured. Even at the C above middle, I'm over 60 grams.

He said what he'd normally do is take the action, make sure there's no binding, excess friction, etc, and then re-weight the keyboard. Since we're talking thousands of dollars, just wondering if I have other options? Maybe something a little less drastic?

To compound the matter, the piano is pretty mellow, so I think it takes more effort anyway to get the sound I'm after. As I play harder, notes get louder, but they don't seem to get much brighter (which is what I want sometimes). I think what I'm saying is, the volume is there, but the change in timbre isn't as obvious.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks! thumb


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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746573
06/23/18 04:21 PM
06/23/18 04:21 PM
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I would ask your tech to diagnose exactly where the friction is. It could be keys or flanges in the action that are tight.
Sometimes just a bit of lube in the right place can cure.
He/she should be able to cure the excess friction on a sample note prior to taking the action and remeasure touch weight in order to demonstrate to you the correct fix and the change in touch weight after the fix.
You will be better informed about what to expect.
as an example: I have had the occasion to cure tight hammer flanges on similar pianos using a water alcohol solution and a hair drier, in house and it took about an hour.

Last edited by Gene Nelson; 06/23/18 04:31 PM.

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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746575
06/23/18 04:31 PM
06/23/18 04:31 PM
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First thing to do is to get it regulated. If you can no longer play it softly, you are going to play it harder, and it will feel heavier.


Semipro Tech
Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746582
06/23/18 05:08 PM
06/23/18 05:08 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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If one shapes the shoulders and tapers the sides of the hammers the tone will get brighter and the touch will get lighter. Just removing about 0.5 grams from the hammer will reduce the static down-weight by about 2.5 grams. If you can remove more like a gram from each hammer the difference in sound and performance will be dramatic, especially the tone in the treble. Lighter hammers bounce away from the string faster and this reduces the damping of the string during hammer contact time. The action will also repeat much better and soft playing will be easier if the hammer felt is not too dense.

This means removing the hammer flange screw to be able to work on the hammers which means all the traveling and spacing of the hammers to the strings will need to be redone. Also the lighter hammers will require adjustment to the repetition springs.

This much work can cost $2K in my shop. And there may be other details needing attention.


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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746583
06/23/18 05:22 PM
06/23/18 05:22 PM
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Radio.Octave Offline OP
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Interesting. So it sounds like there are some other options besides re-weighting the keyboard. There are a few techs I've used in the past, so maybe I'll see what the others say.


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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746603
06/23/18 07:31 PM
06/23/18 07:31 PM
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Radio.Octave,

Although I agree with the above recommendations, you should also know that there is a device called the Touchrail which installs behind the fallboard and has an individual coil spring (adjustable) for each key. You can easily take 10 grams off the touch weight with this. It is much less expensive than re-weighting the keyboard, etc (though I agree with Ed that material should be removed from the hammers, and there usually is plenty of meat available on Kawai's to do this).

I have installed two of these Touchrails and the owners are VERY happy with them. The first one was essentially to decide whether it had merit or not. Needless to say, I was very impressed.

The primary purpose is to give an assist in overcoming the initial static friction and weight in the keystroke. It provides most of its "action" at the beginning of the keystroke and tapers off to nothing as you follow through. It is NOT a panacea to cure all ills in an action, and regulation and weight reduction are very important. However, if those things don't quite cut it for you, this could make all the difference.

Check it out.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746637
06/24/18 01:21 AM
06/24/18 01:21 AM
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I'm going to be teaching a class on this subject at the PTG convention next month in Lancaster ...

Anyway, the first thing is not to attempt any "diagnostics" that produce numerical values in grams. They will be either pointless or misleading.

First of all, pointless because with a piano of your age and description, the first thing to do is already known: It needs a thorough lubrication (keypins, capstans, knuckles and action centers) and regulation. After needed accumulated routine maintenance is performed, if performance is still unsatisfactory, then some kind of meaningful assessment can be performed.

Misleading because static measurement does not disclose dynamic playing issues. As a result, sacred parameters can be meaningless. For example pianos with downweights less that 48 grams can be unplayable and others with 68 grams or more of downweight can be enjoyable.

In fact the term "touchweight is inherently misleading since weight, as such, may not be the issue at all. There are many other factors affecting perceived touch resistance. I've pretty well gotten away from taking the typical measurements with weights since they are only occasionally useful and there are better means available to make accurate and reliable assessments.

Be suspicious of any attempt to compensate by adding weight to the front side of the key and even other kinds of force like springs. Springs might work to some degree and in some circumstances -- as described above -- but in all cases adding weight or force to the front of the key is from a failure to diagnose or correct the real problem which is upstream from the front side of the key. Removing sources of energy consumption such as friction or mass upstream is more likely to prove worthwhile. In fact, I just took back an action on Thursday that I had discussion with the owner about possibly using the TouchRail. Fortunately, she didn't go for it and instead, I was able to remove the actual problem with the result she is now happy with her piano (Baldwin Howard, not Kawai).

Ed's suggestion to consider removing mass from the hammer is likely to be a better approach. I've developed a way to do this without removing hammers from the action that helps keep the cost of that kind of procedure down to a reasonable level.

Regarding hammers, Kawai is typical of most piano manufacturers in that it simply isn't possible to produce quality hammers in the volume that large manufacturers require. Even if they are lightened, they are simply not capable of first-class tonal color and will always tend toward a constricted dynamic range and lack of tonal color -- even when serviced by the most skilled of voicers. This is not because a manufacturer is trying to "cut corners". It's simply a reality that hammer sets that are banged out of a press every 20 minutes or so are incapable of premium tone because of several reasons.

My area had one of the largest Kawai dealers in the country. I am now doing a lot of Kawai restorations and upgrades with results that leave my customers amazed and delighted. Perhaps one of the best examples is an owner of a new (at the time, 2-year-old) RX-6 who confided that he has "settled" for that instrument instead of getting a Boesendorfer. After having me perform upgrades on the piano, what he said after sitting down and playing it for a couple of minutes was, "now I don't have to get a Boesendorfer!" If you would like to interact with me about the specifics, feel free to send me a PM.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746726
06/24/18 01:24 PM
06/24/18 01:24 PM
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Lots of good ideas here but if the action is bound up with excessive friction, get the friction in a reasonable range first, then do some regulation before thinking about what to do next.


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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746731
06/24/18 01:35 PM
06/24/18 01:35 PM
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If the piano has been played over 6 years time and gotten worse, it is not friction which is the problem.


Semipro Tech
Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: BDB] #2746737
06/24/18 02:22 PM
06/24/18 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
If the piano has been played over 6 years time and gotten worse, it is not friction which is the problem.

It's always been pretty heavy, so it's hard to say if it's gotten worse. I was quite a bit brighter when I got it, and was voiced down on several occasions, maybe a bit too much? It just seems like if I want some "bite" to the notes, I have to really pound them.


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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746755
06/24/18 04:04 PM
06/24/18 04:04 PM
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You've gotten lots of excellent advice, but I'd like to add one little thing. You may have a gram scale, as many inexpensive digital kitchen scales have resolution to the gram or even tenth of a gram level. If you've got one, pick a white key on your piano that feels pretty typical and is toward the middle of the piano. Hold the sustain pedal down, and start stacking coins on the end of the key until the key slowly goes down. The note will not sound. Weigh the stack of coins. Now, place them back on the same key, in the same place they were before. Again with the sustain pedal depressed, start removing coins until the key is able to slowly come up to or very close to its normal up position. Now weigh that stack of coins. Subtract that weight from the first weight you measured, then divide by two. That's the friction. If it's much over 10, part of your problem may well be excess friction. This whole procedure will take you 10 minutes and costs nothing. It will give you information that is useful.

Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: BDB] #2746757
06/24/18 04:13 PM
06/24/18 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
If the piano has been played over 6 years time and gotten worse, it is not friction which is the problem.

Not sure why you would say this. Why do you think friction should be ruled out?


Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: kpembrook] #2746760
06/24/18 04:21 PM
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Because surfaces become smoother as they rub together. Smoother surfaces have less friction.


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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: BDB] #2746763
06/24/18 05:06 PM
06/24/18 05:06 PM
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True enough, but maybe the lubrication at the jack/knuckle/rep-lever interface has worn away. Maybe the knuckles are worn or a bit flattened. Maybe dust and dirt have accumulated here and there. Maybe volatilized fats from cooking have caused gummy surfaces. It's hard to know what the issues are without a good evaluation of the action and its state of adjustment. All in all, it seems to me that measuring the friction is so fast and easy, it would be strange not to do it. What if, despite all odds, friction really is a good part of the problem--not addressing the issue would seem like malpractice, so to speak.

Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746765
06/24/18 05:17 PM
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Measuring forces in actions is never easy to do! There are so many variables, like when things start moving and for that matter, what constitutes movement, how the forces are applied, etc. Not the least is uniformity in regulation, which is why I recommended starting with that.


Semipro Tech
Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Roy123] #2746777
06/24/18 07:19 PM
06/24/18 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Roy123
You've gotten lots of excellent advice, but I'd like to add one little thing. You may have a gram scale, as many inexpensive digital kitchen scales have resolution to the gram or even tenth of a gram level. If you've got one, pick a white key on your piano that feels pretty typical and is toward the middle of the piano. Hold the sustain pedal down, and start stacking coins on the end of the key until the key slowly goes down. The note will not sound. Weigh the stack of coins. Now, place them back on the same key, in the same place they were before. Again with the sustain pedal depressed, start removing coins until the key is able to slowly come up to or very close to its normal up position. Now weigh that stack of coins. Subtract that weight from the first weight you measured, then divide by two. That's the friction. If it's much over 10, part of your problem may well be excess friction. This whole procedure will take you 10 minutes and costs nothing. It will give you information that is useful.


I don't have a scale, but going by a nickel = about 5 g, and a dime = 2.5 g, I get 65g downweight at middle C, and around 37.5 upweight. This is while holding the sus pedal, so I'm assuming without it, the downweight is even more.


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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: BDB] #2746802
06/24/18 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
Because surfaces become smoother as they rub together. Smoother surfaces have less friction.

True enough as a concept. However, in pianos, friction always increases with age at the capstans and keypins. They become tarnished and grungy. Knuckles always benefit from lubrication. Action centers may or may not need attention. It's a part of my "accumulated routine maintenance" service package protocol. And I always get an improvement in playability.

If you want to measure, it can be done. Otherwise, just notice the improvement after proper lubrication. In the real world friction in pianos goes up, not down with the passage of time.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: kpembrook] #2746803
06/24/18 09:27 PM
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You want me to measure because you cannot provide measurements yourself, I guess. As is typical around here.


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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746807
06/24/18 09:41 PM
06/24/18 09:41 PM
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From your measurement it is likely that friction is not a significant issue. On the note you measured it shows just under 10G of friction.

So shaping the hammers to reduce weight is the most likely way to improve both the tone and touch and make the action wear longer and the regulation more stable.

My LightHammer Tone regulation procedure involves matching the weight to the leverage. The more leverage, the lighter the hammers must be. As ROY123 has shown in an excellent article published in the PTG Journal, it is the weight of the hammer that is the predominant factor of the inertial properties of the action.

I have found it true that the lower the inertia in an action, the higher the static touch weight needs to be to allow the most ease of dynamic control and sensitivity. A low inertia action can have static touch weight of 70G in the low bass and feel light.

The first tone regulation class I took in 1973 at the PTG Convention was taught by Fred Drasche who was the Head Tone regulator at Steinway NY. His first two sentences were: "The hammer has got to get away from the string" and "The voicer puts the tone in the hammer with the shape".

One of the three classes I will be teaching at next months PTG Convention is LightHammer Tone regulation. I have some new material about how a technician can determine touch quality even if they can't play the piano with facile technique, just by using your fingers to test the feel.


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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: BDB] #2746822
06/24/18 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
You want me to measure because you cannot provide measurements yourself, I guess. As is typical around here.


That't not what I meant to imply. Sorry if it came across that way. I'm simply saying that if you take any piano several years old and measure the friction and then measure the friction after proper treatment that there will be a measurable improvement. How much will vary.

This is an experiment that would be more difficult to perform:

Measure the friction on a brand new piano and then on that same piano several years later that has not had action service. The friction will be higher later on. I know it's counterintuitive, but it's what my observation is.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
Editor Emeritus, Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: kpembrook] #2746828
06/24/18 11:55 PM
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Again, no numbers, just telling me what to do.

The action service may be the difference, not increased friction. That has been my observation.


Semipro Tech
Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2746832
06/25/18 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
From your measurement it is likely that friction is not a significant issue. On the note you measured it shows just under 10G of friction.



Isn't (65-37.5)/2= 13.75?? Not that it makes a huge difference....

But empirical is better than calculation. Actually removing whatever friction that is removable simply clarifies what the actual intrinsic friction is.
But I certainly agree that friction is probably not the major bugaboo in this particular scenario.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2746834
06/25/18 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
I have found it true that the lower the inertia in an action, the higher the static touch weight needs to be to allow the most ease of dynamic control and sensitivity. A low inertia action can have static touch weight of 70G in the low bass and feel light..


thumb thumb thumb

William Braid White cites typical downweight as being between 2 and 3 ounces (=52 and 78 grams). And that was from an era that didn't normally use heavy hammers.


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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
Editor Emeritus, Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2746836
06/25/18 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT

So shaping the hammers to reduce weight is the most likely way to improve both the tone and touch and make the action wear longer and the regulation more stable.

...[snip]...

The first tone regulation class I took in 1973 at the PTG Convention was taught by Fred Drasche who was the Head Tone regulator at Steinway NY. His first two sentences were: "The hammer has got to get away from the string" and "The voicer puts the tone in the hammer with the shape".


As far as tone quality is concerned, hammer mass is indeed a significant variable affecting tone. But it is only one of the variables. Hammer construction also significantly affects piano tone regardless of hammer mass (or, perhaps in interaction with mass). More specifically, hammer resilience is another aspect that has two factors. 1) spring ratio or simply "springiness" and 2) spring stroke -- now negatively manifesting itself in what I call "arthritic" felt. That is, felt that could perhaps have a high spring ratio but it is so rigid that it has little movement. Both of these aspects have much to do with how fast a hammer gets away from the string. They also affect touch effort in that rebound velocity affects energy transfer to the string which therefor also affects total energy needed from the finger.

I've done extensive dissection of hammers and observed these 2 qualities firsthand as well as hearing the tonal difference they make.

Quote
One of the three classes I will be teaching at next months PTG Convention is LightHammer Tone regulation. I have some new material about how a technician can determine touch quality even if they can't play the piano with facile technique, just by using your fingers to test the feel.

Looking forward to taking the class if my schedule allows. smile


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
Editor Emeritus, Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746925
06/25/18 10:56 AM
06/25/18 10:56 AM
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One more thing to consider on this RX-6 is:
If your down/up weight measurements are accurate, then excess friction is relatively minor but still an issue that needs to be addressed.
Also, if you can, take a count of how many lead weights are in the keys.
A typical leading pattern is about 3 to four leads in each key starting at the bass and tapering to zero in the treble.
If there are less, this is a great opportunity to balance your action and make it almost perfectly even by adding key leads in the correct position.
It is not a good idea to automatically assume that the hammer set installed on your piano are too heavy.
One thing to consider about hammer mass is that it contributes directly to the upweight.
Upweight plays a key roll in repetition.
If the tone of your piano remains a bit muted, hammers can be voiced.


RPT
PTG Member
Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: kpembrook] #2746928
06/25/18 11:17 AM
06/25/18 11:17 AM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,867
Michigan
K
kpembrook Online content
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kpembrook  Online Content
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Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,867
Michigan
Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
From your measurement it is likely that friction is not a significant issue. On the note you measured it shows just under 10G of friction.



Isn't (65-37.5)/2= 13.75?? Not that it makes a huge difference....

But empirical is better than calculation. Actually removing whatever friction that is removable simply clarifies what the actual intrinsic friction is.
But I certainly agree that friction is probably not the major bugaboo in this particular scenario.

My own typo. Should read 13.5g


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2746944
06/25/18 12:46 PM
06/25/18 12:46 PM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,454
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Online content
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P W Grey  Online Content
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Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,454
New Hampshire
Piano probably would benefit from a complete weight/friction reduction and regulation regimen.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
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Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Gene Nelson] #2747086
06/25/18 11:03 PM
06/25/18 11:03 PM
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 612
Radio.Octave Offline OP
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Radio.Octave  Offline OP
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Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 612

Originally Posted by Gene Nelson
One more thing to consider on this RX-6 is:
If your down/up weight measurements are accurate, then excess friction is relatively minor but still an issue that needs to be addressed.
Also, if you can, take a count of how many lead weights are in the keys.
A typical leading pattern is about 3 to four leads in each key starting at the bass and tapering to zero in the treble.
If there are less, this is a great opportunity to balance your action and make it almost perfectly even by adding key leads in the correct position.
It is not a good idea to automatically assume that the hammer set installed on your piano are too heavy.
One thing to consider about hammer mass is that it contributes directly to the upweight.
Upweight plays a key roll in repetition.
If the tone of your piano remains a bit muted, hammers can be voiced.


Without pulling out the action, from what I can see it looks like 3 weights way down in the deep bass, 2 a little farther up, and 1 weight by middle C. The upper octaves don't have any. So, it seems pretty close to what you said.

I'm also talking to tech support from Kawai, so I'm sure we'll get it all sorted out. I'm actually pretty interested in the Touchrail device, but kind of wish I could try one first to see how it feels.


Kawai RX-6 BLAK
Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Radio.Octave] #2747214
06/26/18 04:16 PM
06/26/18 04:16 PM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 11
North Carolina
S
Stitches Offline
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Stitches  Offline
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Posts: 11
North Carolina
Originally Posted by Radio.Octave

I'm actually pretty interested in the Touchrail device, but kind of wish I could try one first to see how it feels.


I play on a RX 3 at a local church that has a touch rail and it's quite nice. I'm probably going to get one for my GX 5. I think it's dialed in to a down weight of 50 or a little less (baseline is 55g).

Re: Kawai RX6 heavy action [Re: Stitches] #2748082
06/29/18 02:23 PM
06/29/18 02:23 PM
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 612
Radio.Octave Offline OP
500 Post Club Member
Radio.Octave  Offline OP
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Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 612
Originally Posted by Stitches
Originally Posted by Radio.Octave

I'm actually pretty interested in the Touchrail device, but kind of wish I could try one first to see how it feels.


I play on a RX 3 at a local church that has a touch rail and it's quite nice. I'm probably going to get one for my GX 5. I think it's dialed in to a down weight of 50 or a little less (baseline is 55g).


Thanks. I'm going to have my tech work with Kawai support to see if they can diagnose. If not, it's nice to know that the Touchrail may be an option.


Kawai RX-6 BLAK
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