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Entry level tuning lever #2839712
04/15/19 11:14 PM
04/15/19 11:14 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 5
A
argentopiano Offline OP
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argentopiano  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2018
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Hi! I'm a pianist from Argentina very interested in piano technology, who, like a lot of people out there, tunes his own piano with the help of ETD.
Recently I noticed there was some nicks in the tuning pins and I realised that it was due to the low quality and poor fit of my cheap gooseneck tuning lever.
I had the luck to get a borrowed european tuning lever which is much better quality, but as I will have to return it soon, I'm in the market for something decent but not too pricey 
After reading a lot in these forums I have narrowed my options to two models: the professional piano tuning hammer manufactured by AMS Piano Tools (which is the same as Schaff craftsman lever when bought with a two piece head) and the Levitan Utility lever. 
I think that the latter might be better because of its lightness and rigidity, but I feel concerned because it is a short lever and it's not designed for tuning the whole piano, but more as an auxiliary lever for other tasks. I'm afraid that I could find myself swearing when tuning the high treble, and missing those two extra inches of leverage. 
I've read that some tuners in these forum, as Ron Koval, were really excited about Levitan Utility, but they are professionals with a lot of experience. 
So my question to you, especially those who have tried the Levitan model, is: do you think that it is a good option for a student, or perhaps it's better going with a more traditional option like the AMS Tools hammer?
Thanks a lot. Regards,
Miguel

PS: I'm sorry, this is a duplicate thread, but I posted in the wrong sub forum and didn't know how to change that

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Re: Entry level tuning lever [Re: argentopiano] #2839718
04/15/19 11:41 PM
04/15/19 11:41 PM
Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 125
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jsilva Online content
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jsilva  Online Content
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If you have a grand then I don’t think you need to worry about lever length beyond your own preference.

I’ve used my 7” lever for most grand tunings (the piano technician at the conservatory I attended made it and gave it to me as a gift). In fact, 99.9% of my grand tuning is with my hand close to pin even on longer levers. The lever I use at home is the compact rosewood lever from Schaff.

I use my rosewood extension lever for tuning uprights though. I don’t like short levers on uprights at all. Fortunately I rarely tune them.

Re: Entry level tuning lever [Re: jsilva] #2839776
04/16/19 07:07 AM
04/16/19 07:07 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 5
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argentopiano Offline OP
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argentopiano  Offline OP
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Hi jsilva! Thank you for your input. Yes, I plan to use it for grand pianos, so I'll keep in mind your advice. Regards,
Miguel

Re: Entry level tuning lever [Re: argentopiano] #2839787
04/16/19 08:19 AM
04/16/19 08:19 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 3,934
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Hakki Offline
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Hakki  Offline
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Schaff Craftsman hammer might be another candidate.

https://www.vandaking.com/piano-tuning-hammers.html

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Re: Entry level tuning lever [Re: argentopiano] #2839791
04/16/19 08:53 AM
04/16/19 08:53 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 5
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argentopiano Offline OP
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Hi Hakki. Thank you for the feedback! The AMS hammer that I consider as another option is, for what I've read in this forum, the same as the Schaff craftsman if bought with a separate tip. It's a bit cheaper also and the site that sells it offers a cheaper shipping option to my country. That is the reason I mentioned as an option instead of the Schaff one, but I guess that in terms of quality they are the same, as AMS is one of the manufacturers for Schaff, if I got it right. Regards!

Re: Entry level tuning lever [Re: argentopiano] #2839849
04/16/19 11:34 AM
04/16/19 11:34 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 27,303
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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The tip is the important part to avoid damaging the pins. It also is where most of the strain is. The handle is not as important. What is important in the handle is that it is comfortable and rigid. I use very old Schaff extension handles. The only problem I have had with them is the thread that holds the tip on them, but the extension rod is sold separately, better than the original because it has a thread at both ends, and also the threads can be recut using a 1/8" pipe die.


Semipro Tech
Re: Entry level tuning lever [Re: argentopiano] #2839859
04/16/19 12:20 PM
04/16/19 12:20 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 5
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argentopiano Offline OP
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Hi BDB! I guess both levers have decent quality tips. Perhaps the Levitan Watanabe tip is better than the AMS, although I've never tried any of these... Regarding comfort, the utility lever might be too narrow, although it could be made thicker with some padding material. I'm not sure if adding some padding to the handle would affect the feedback and sensitivity it gives. Regards!

Re: Entry level tuning lever - Try the Dricoll [Re: argentopiano] #2840177
04/17/19 11:20 AM
04/17/19 11:20 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 559
Rockville, MD
Seeker Offline
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Seeker  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 559
Rockville, MD
It's a bit above entry level, but it works very well for me. I am able to set pins far more easily and accurately (maybe partly because I've done it more times...). Being carbon fiber is has absolutely zero flex. As always, I will defer to the full time professionals on choice of tip and head angle. I believe Driscoll's hammer is the least expensive carbon fiber hammer available at this time (but, I could be wrong and know I will be corrected if I am).

https://tomdriscollpianoservice.com/tools.html

Last edited by Seeker; 04/17/19 11:22 AM. Reason: forgot the hyperlink.

Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Re: Entry level tuning lever - Try the Dricoll [Re: argentopiano] #2840205
04/17/19 01:01 PM
04/17/19 01:01 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 5
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argentopiano Offline OP
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argentopiano  Offline OP
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Posts: 5
Hi Seeker! It looks really interesting but my budget is more in the under $70 dollars range. I have to pay shipping to Argentina and very high taxes too... Thanks you for the feedback!

Re: Entry level tuning lever [Re: argentopiano] #2841421
04/22/19 12:58 PM
04/22/19 12:58 PM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 120
Washington State
A
AWilley Online content
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AWilley  Online Content
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Washington State
I realize this is a late reply, but I wanted to share the criteria I find important in tuning levers. Roughly in order of importance:
  • Stiffness: the lever should be as rigid as possible, especially at the point where the lever connects to the head. The stiffness depends on the material and geometry, and you can gain a lot of stiffness with slight changes in thickness. This criteria is where Gooseneck tuning levers fail the hardest in my opinion.
  • Length: Longer is better, as long as it's still comfortable for you. The reason for this is that a longer lever arm gives you finer control over the angle of the pin, requires less force to turn, and results in less "flagpoling" of the tuning pin. However if your lever isn't rigid extra length will result in extra flex.
  • Tip quality/fit: I'm not an expert here and have never used anything cheaper than the "craftsman" lever sold by Schaff or more fancy than what came on my Faulk and Fujan levers. I would expect a high quality tip to have fancy features like having the pointy corners of the "star" slightly rounded (better connection with the pin) and some sort of bevel on the bottom to make finding the pin easier, etc. But at a minimum a tip should fit the pin well (#2 fits most pianos), have some play but not too much, and not sit so low on the pin that it touches the strings.
  • Weight: This is important if you're tuning multiple pianos per day. Having a light lever speeds things up and reduces strain. However unless you branch out into specialty materials and creative geometries (eg. carbon fiber, hollow tubes) you'll have to sacrifice on the weight for the more important stiffness and length.
  • Comfort/balance: I prefer levers with a ball at the top, and for the sake of speed when I switch pins I don't re-adjust my hold on the lever. When using this method it is helpful to have the center of mass of the lever as close to the top of the handle as possible. However again the stiffness is most important so with a standard design lever you'll have to sacrifice on the balance for the benefit of having a thick and rigid connection to the tip.
  • Tip length and angle: You've got three options: a large angle (15 degrees) and a short tip, a small angle (5 degrees) and a long tip, or a medium angle (10 degrees) and a medium length tip. I don't think it's particularly important which one you choose as long as the lever clears the struts in the piano. What you don't want is a large angle with a long tip (contributes to flagpoling).

If you haven't guessed already I use a Fujan, as it ticks the most boxes for me. That's definitely outside your stated budget, but you can still use the above criteria to evaluate the different levers you're looking at. Look at the thickness of the rod and the neck where it connects to the head. Compare the length against the length of your current lever and ask what is going to be comfortable. Forget about the weight and balance and find something that will be large enough to be comfortable in your hand.

And don't worry too much. Any lever will be a significant upgrade from the gooseneck lever you've been using :-)

Re: Entry level tuning lever [Re: argentopiano] #2841424
04/22/19 01:08 PM
04/22/19 01:08 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,757
Scotland
D
David Boyce Online content
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David Boyce  Online Content
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Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,757
Scotland
Well, maybe not quite any lever....

There are levers being sold on Ebay, I think of Chinese origin, which look nice in the photo, but which have extremely poorly fitting tips.

I had seen those on Ebay and then some months ago, encountered one 'in the flesh' which a piano-teacher client had bought but been unable to use. When I tried it on her Yamaha grand, I felt what she meant in saying that it "didn't fit properly".

Some tuners, at least in the UK, had their whole careers with gooseneck levers (and you can see one being used in some of the excellent YouTube videos of Roberts Pianos in Oxford).

What really amazes me, mind you, is that some tuners spent their whole careers using T-levers! Either they had enormously strong wrists, or they tuned mainly by outrageous flag-poling! (And perhaps traditional English-made pianos had slightly less tight tuning pins than the really great, solid, American pianos of yesteryear).

I too use a Fujan lever as standard.

Last edited by David Boyce; 04/22/19 01:09 PM.
Re: Entry level tuning lever [Re: argentopiano] #2841458
04/22/19 03:33 PM
04/22/19 03:33 PM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,094
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: 2,094
New Hampshire
Now now David...I was under the impression that the Chinese only make high quality stuff.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Entry level tuning lever [Re: argentopiano] #2843070
04/27/19 07:41 PM
04/27/19 07:41 PM
Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 745
Lincoln, NE
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That Guy Offline
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Posts: 745
Lincoln, NE
We failed to mention checking out the store right here in Piano World!


"That Tuning Guy"
Scott Kerns
Lincoln, NE
www.thattuningguy.com

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