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Default shank length for Steinway pianos? #2849215 05/17/19 10:22 AM
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jsilva Offline OP
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I recently ordered a set of hammers, shanks, and flanges from WNG along with their complete hammer service for a 1940’s Steinway D. WNG asked if I wanted factory specs based on serial no. or if I wanted to send samples. I opted for factory specs, partially because the existing hammers, shanks, and flanges are not originals (among other things, the flanges have Teflon bushings...) and I have no idea who did the work.

The WNG shanks are approx. 6-7mm longer than the existing. So I was curious if anyone could comment as to the reliability of factory specs for Steinway pianos in regards to shank length?

The piano in question has a pretty poor tone and had probably the most wacky regulation I’ve ever seen on a quality piano, so there’s plenty of reason to think the existing ones are incorrect.

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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2849418 05/17/19 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jsilva
I recently ordered a set of hammers, shanks, and flanges from WNG along with their complete hammer service for a 1940’s Steinway D. WNG asked if I wanted factory specs based on serial no. or if I wanted to send samples. I opted for factory specs, partially because the existing hammers, shanks, and flanges are not originals (among other things, the flanges have Teflon bushings...) and I have no idea who did the work.

The WNG shanks are approx. 6-7mm longer than the existing. So I was curious if anyone could comment as to the reliability of factory specs for Steinway pianos in regards to shank length?

The piano in question has a pretty poor tone and had probably the most wacky regulation I’ve ever seen on a quality piano, so there’s plenty of reason to think the existing ones are incorrect.



What do you mean, "longer"? Are the hammers pre-hung on the shanks? If not, how could you know they are longer than new shanks and flanges from Steinway if you don't have a basis for comparison?


Keith Akins, RPT
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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2849419 05/17/19 09:42 PM
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Ed Foote Offline
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The normal hanging distance for Steinway hammers is 130 mm. The larger pianos usually require a departure from a straight line of hammers int he fifth octave to optimise tone. This will often bring in the hammers between # 55 and 75 anywhere from 1 to 3 mm.

Regards,

Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2849424 05/17/19 09:50 PM
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Steinway says that since 1992, the normal distance is 5-1/8" and if it is older, you need to check the distance that the hammers were originally.


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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2849426 05/17/19 09:52 PM
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Measure the speaking length of note 88 and multiply it by .064. That should be the distance the center of hammer should be from the front of the V-bar.

For example; Note 88 speaking length of 52mm, times .064, equals 3.0mm


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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2849438 05/17/19 10:28 PM
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I am afraid that I could not ascertain where the "front of the V-bar" is to figure out where 3.00 mm from it is with much accuracy. In any case, the strike point can be varied by moving the action forward or backward. That is done with the plate in the cheek block.

I have found that the sound is usually best when the hammers are as close to the belly rail as possible without jamming on them. The optimal strike point could be farther back, but then the hammers will not strike the string at all.


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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2849441 05/17/19 10:35 PM
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In a Steinway the string plane drops off because of the casting over the last 4 notes or so. Up to 3mm. I prepped hammers and hung 20 or so. Not a lot but I found the height of the string from key bed to really dive the last few notes. We would alter bore distance to compensate but if you use standard bore and hang that comes from Steinway, you have to rehang the last notes. Also, like Mr Ed Foote said, there is an arc around the 5th octave that brings strike line in 1 to 3mm. I think it was Dale who told me Kent Webb had said there was a problem discovered in the bridge template. Something about the pin pattern got shifted in that section. The result was the killer octave


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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: kpembrook] #2849450 05/17/19 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
What do you mean, "longer"? Are the hammers pre-hung on the shanks? If not, how could you know they are longer than new shanks and flanges from Steinway if you don't have a basis for comparison?


The hammers are pre-hung smile I’ve used WNG once before with their hanging service (for my own M&H BB) and it was top notch. Because of their quality work I do have reason to trust their decisions on this matter. I’m just wanting to double check with other technicians what their experience/knowledge is.

The existing shanks/flanges/hammers are Steinway parts, but not originals and as I said I don’t know who did the work. I do know that the regulation of the piano was outrageous—not due to neglect, just really weird decisions, and incredibly difficult to play quietly.

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. I won’t be back at the location until probably Monday at the earliest so I’ll have a look at the piano then. I do have the hammers/shanks with me though so I can measure them just for curiosity.





Last edited by jsilva; 05/17/19 11:48 PM.
Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: Ed Foote] #2849712 05/18/19 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
The normal hanging distance for Steinway hammers is 130 mm...


I’m assuming you mean from the top of the shank to the centre pin? I measured a few of these hammers and 50 and 88 are 134.5mm. I also measured hammer 1 and it was 133.5mm. I didn’t bother measuring anymore even though I’m slightly curious.

Guess we’ll see how it goes when I install them... smile

Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2849714 05/18/19 04:50 PM
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The measurement is from the center pin to the center of the hammer.


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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: BDB] #2849743 05/18/19 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
The measurement is from the center pin to the center of the hammer.


Yes, of course..! From the centre of the hammer to the centre pin is 130mm on all of the hammers I checked. Hearing that is Steinway’s default is reassuring to me even though I have confidence in WNG’s work.

Interesting that the existing hammers are so much shorter. I may have been being conservative in saying a 6mm difference. Below is a photo of one of the WNG hammers/shanks/flange installed next to the existing hammers.

[Linked Image]

Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2849746 05/18/19 07:14 PM
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That does not look good. Will the topmost hammers clear the belly rail?


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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2849758 05/18/19 08:20 PM
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Really? I should be going in on Monday so I’ll see how it goes. I installed from 59 to 72 and those seemed fine (except for having to move the backchecks of course). That one in the photo is 64 I think.

Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2849763 05/18/19 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by jsilva
Below is a photo of one of the WNG hammers/shanks/flange installed next to the existing hammers.

[Linked Image]


That is a greater discrepancy than I have seen. One of those dimensions should NOT work, at all. The WNG strike point tool is well worth the money, as it has never failed to put me at the optimum strike point on every piano I have used it with.
regards,

Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2850050 05/19/19 02:41 PM
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What is the corresponding measurement on the short ones?

Pwg


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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: P W Grey] #2850081 05/19/19 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
What is the corresponding measurement on the short ones?

Pwg


I’ll definitely be in tomorrow so I’ll measure. My guess is about 124mm or less.

Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2850085 05/19/19 04:07 PM
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There is a narrow range for the topmost hammer, #88. It must not hit the belly rail, it must hit the speaking length, and the action can only be moved so that the back of the black keys does not hit the fallboard, and the keyfronts do not hit the keystrip. I fear that if the old hammers fit within that range, the new hammers may not.

I once came across a fairly new Steinway where that hammer was hitting on the bottom of the capo, and when I moved it back, the back of the black keys hit the fallboard. I was able to reposition the fallboard hinge so that it worked. The piano worked fine the last time I saw it, but it probably never did before. The owner is not a pianist, so he may never have noticed, but I do not understand why noone at the factory or the dealer dealt with it.


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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: BDB] #2850132 05/19/19 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
There is a narrow range for the topmost hammer, #88. It must not hit the belly rail, it must hit the speaking length...

That photo does not look good (perhaps it looks really bad because the hammer is so much lower than the others?- but that is terrible). I agree with BDB here, you'll want to immediately check those upper treb lengths-- check the #88 hammer when you go tomorrow. That should tell you whether you have a proper length in the end for those new hammer shanks.
If it does what it looks like it's going to do, you'll have a your upper treb hammers snagging on (if not outright hitting) the belly rail!


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Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: jsilva] #2850146 05/19/19 07:38 PM
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Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it! I’ll be sure to install #88 before doing anything else. I do understand what you and BDB are saying about it.

Photos can be deceiving though. That hammer actually isn’t any lower than the others. The shank is a bit lower but that’s only because the hammer has a lot more felt on top.

Re: Default shank length for Steinway pianos? [Re: Ed Foote] #2850157 05/19/19 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Originally Posted by jsilva
Below is a photo of one of the WNG hammers/shanks/flange installed next to the existing hammers.

[Linked Image]


That is a greater discrepancy than I have seen. One of those dimensions should NOT work, at all. The WNG strike point tool is well worth the money, as it has never failed to put me at the optimum strike point on every piano I have used it with.
regards,



This is a probably a classic example that with Steinway there can be substantial variation for any "standard" because of the way they make their pianos. Otherwise, it's a mistake on WN&G's part. But it is also an example of why it is irresponsible to do piano work to a published standard. The reality on the ground may differ. We do pre-hanging but only will do it to samples submitted by the customer. Then, if there is a minor error in execution, it is possible to finagle a sixteenth of an inch. But the difference in the photo looks between 1/8" and 1/4". I doubt you can make that work. The hammers will need to be re-hung. Fortunately, they are too far out so there is room to mount them further in and trim the shanks -- rather than needing new shanks because you can't move them out into empty space.


Keith Akins, RPT
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USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
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