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Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
#2902124 10/19/19 05:37 PM
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Hi all,

I am looking for some unbiased feedback on some work I recently had performed on my Yamaha G5 action. While I am a very DIY minded person, I followed the advice that I received to seek a professional for the action work. As a note, I did rework some of the action on my 1920's Chickering which came out great. Since my Yamaha is a much newer and nicer instrument, I left it up to the pros for the work. During the process, I spoke with 3 different businesses for the work. All of which advertise that do the far more than tuning work.

I recently started taking lessons while playing a Yamaha CFX at the location. When I would return home, I would definitely feel a difference between the CFX and my G5. So, I thought the G5 could use some TLC and maintenance. My thought was too balance out the keyboard and remove/resolve some of the action noise I hear in the middle of the keyboard. These were the two main issues I asked to be resolved.


So, the action was returned to me and back in the piano. First off, I will say that it does play better. However, I am disappointed in several things which is why I seek some second opinions as this was not a cheap (well over $1000) service that I paid for. With that second opinion, I would like to know what most of you would consider as standard steps or procedures for a " Grand Piano Action reconditioning and regulation service". That way I will have a strong understanding if my expectations were not within the normal spec of work.

The issues I feel are still there.

1.) There is still noise in the action, mostly between the C1 and E3 sections.

2.) The piano volume is not as even as it was before. While it was a bit loud before, it was even. Now the sound is not even across the keyboard.

3.) The center of the keyboard is not as smooth to operate the keys. The bass and treble play smoother (felt at the key).

4.) In the first pic, shouldn't the hammer fall from it's own weight? I would assume that these hinges would have been lubricated?

5.) In the second pic, shouldn't the knuckles have been smoothed and tapered? They are unchanged.

6.) Hammers prior to the service were level. I can see they are not level and it appears that they have a left/right taper. Maybe contributing to the uneven tone?

7.)Shouldn't the key pins been polished? Every single article and video I've watched show the removal of the keys and polishing of the pins.

Here are some pics and videos to help understand some of the issues.


[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]



Thanks in advance!


1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
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Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902216 10/20/19 06:24 AM
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Greetings,
I would not have regulated this action without first giving you a list of the unavoidable shortcomings a high-wear action suffers. Your hammers and shanks and knuckles are worn beyond their service life and will need to be replaced for this piano to play as intended. There isn't enough felt on the hammer to allow a proper regulation, much less control of the tone. The noise is usually from jack to knuckle, and if the pinning is loose, it is worse.

This may be a situation where $1,000 is more than the action's condition justified, or $1,000 isn't nearly enough for what it needs. Just looking at the pictures, I would either go with a factory hung set of shanks and hammers or, my usual, WNG composite shanks and Ronsen Weikert hammers.

Regards,

Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902235 10/20/19 08:42 AM
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What did the technician say they did? You say the action was returned to you—did the technician not do regulation work with the action in the piano?

I agree with Ed in that the action is worn, but I have worked with actions more worn than that and have achieved decent results.

It seems to me that $1000 is suspect. You need to get a specific list of what work was performed. And if the technician didn’t even do regulation in your piano I’m not sure what to even say about that...

On a side note, if the noise you talk about is when the shank falls down to the rest position, stabbing the knuckles with a voicing tool can help.

Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
jsilva #2902254 10/20/19 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Greetings,
I would not have regulated this action without first giving you a list of the unavoidable shortcomings a high-wear action suffers. Your hammers and shanks and knuckles are worn beyond their service life and will need to be replaced for this piano to play as intended. There isn't enough felt on the hammer to allow a proper regulation, much less control of the tone. The noise is usually from jack to knuckle, and if the pinning is loose, it is worse.

This may be a situation where $1,000 is more than the action's condition justified, or $1,000 isn't nearly enough for what it needs. Just looking at the pictures, I would either go with a factory hung set of shanks and hammers or, my usual, WNG composite shanks and Ronsen Weikert hammers.

Regards,


This is exactly the type of response I wanted to hear from a local tech. If the work needed is beyond just a regulation, I would have wanted to know. I knew very well that the hammers were worn and suspect about their condition. Turns out I was exactly right and should have followed my gut feeling.

Originally Posted by jsilva
What did the technician say they did? You say the action was returned to you—did the technician not do regulation work with the action in the piano?

I agree with Ed in that the action is worn, but I have worked with actions more worn than that and have achieved decent results.

It seems to me that $1000 is suspect. You need to get a specific list of what work was performed. And if the technician didn’t even do regulation in your piano I’m not sure what to even say about that...

On a side note, if the noise you talk about is when the shank falls down to the rest position, stabbing the knuckles with a voicing tool can help.


I asked several times for what would be done. Unfortunately I never received a detailed list of work done. What I can see is that the hammers were re-shaped, lubricated key pins, lubricated knuckles. As far as the noise, most of the noise is where the whippen travels up and contacts the drop screw. There is another noise (not as audible) when the shank falls back down and contacts the repetition lever.

What I feel that still needs to be done (at a minimum);

1.) New hammers and shanks (I'll probably buy factory Yamaha)
2.) Remove keys and polish key pins
3.) Replace leather pad on whippen/drop screw contact point
4.) Reset let off and drop (I measured a few and let off is too far from the string)

Here is another video showing the noise I hear from the keyboard. As you will see, there is noise as the repetition level contacts the drop screw then some more noise which appears to be under the keys. Also adding a picture of the repetition lever leather to see if it is in fact worn, as I suspect. I would assume that the leather is compacted and now too rigid to dampen the contact noise.

[Linked Image]



1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902268 10/20/19 10:43 AM
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Unfortunately your technician doesn't appear to be a pro. You have already identified most of the caveats and a decent technician would have told you what will be necessary to get the action back into a good state. He would also have included all parts of the keyboard in his assessment and from what I can see in terms of hammer position, the regulation part of the work done is pretty sloppy.

It's clear that this is a piano in heavy use when even the top notes show that kind of wear and tear. As a result, all parts of the wippen are worn out. While you can clean, replace and re-work these parts, it's probably less expensive to replace them with new ones. The hammers should be good for another couple of months, but the felt is so thin that you won't achieve anything by filing them any more and voicing them properly with that little substance left is nearly impossible. You'll have to accept that they sound uneven over the whole range and a new set of hammers is necessary. In your case you should probably buy a full set with new shanks, knuckles and flanges.

This is not going to be a cheap repair job if done properly, but since you obviously know what a really good action plays like, you know that it's worth it if the rest of the G5 is in an acceptable state. However, the CFX action is in a different ballpark in terms of quality, so don't expect a renovation to magically convert the action into one of a CFX.

I have had the action of my very old Steinway reworked and with all the new components and a lot of manual work done, the repair job done by a master builder in Austria cost me roughly 7500 USD. That included new wippens, hammers, shanks, knuckles, flanges, capstans, back checks. It also included making the hammers lighter, gluing 50 hammerheads to a better strike line position, re-working the weighing of the keyboard, two days of regulation, voicing and two tuning sessions. I can only say that it was totally worth it and I am confident that this repair job will last over my life time.


Last edited by OE1FEU; 10/20/19 10:49 AM.
Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902288 10/20/19 11:35 AM
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The repetition leather does not slap into the drop screw in normal playing. You are pushing the keys down on the back rail cloth, and that makes noise. There is also noise from the jack position button hitting the spoon and things like that. All of those things can be mitigated by needling the felt or cloth. Even leather can be needled, or massaged to make it less stiff. This should not cost thousands of dollars.

Actions are not silent, even when new. The noise is more noticeable when the action is out of the piano. The fallboard lessens the noise for the player.

New parts are not a panacea. New parts get old, just as old parts get older.


Semipro Tech
Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902291 10/20/19 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by TurboMatt
I asked several times for what would be done. Unfortunately I never received a detailed list of work done. What I can see is that the hammers were re-shaped, lubricated key pins, lubricated knuckles. As far as the noise, most of the noise is where the whippen travels up and contacts the drop screw. There is another noise (not as audible) when the shank falls back down and contacts the repetition lever.

What I feel that still needs to be done (at a minimum);

1.) New hammers and shanks (I'll probably buy factory Yamaha)
2.) Remove keys and polish key pins
3.) Replace leather pad on whippen/drop screw contact point
4.) Reset let off and drop (I measured a few and let off is too far from the string)

Here is another video showing the noise I hear from the keyboard.


If you are able to invest in new hammers etc. then by all means do so! You may even want to consider getting an entire WNG action—you may even prefer that feel to the Yamaha’s CFX. And WNG will do all of the hammer hanging work for a very reasonable price (and their Abel hammers are very good quality) and so only touch and tone regulation would be necessary.

But ... while I see your action is worn, I don’t think it’s beyond salvageable. I’ve worked on and substantially improved actions in worse shape than that (for far less than $1000). I don’t see reason to think you couldn’t get an even tone and decent touch out of that. It obviously wouldn’t be as good as new parts, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like it. If it’s worth the work to you I wouldn’t know, but having already given $1000 to a questionable tech it may not make sense to keep investing in it.

Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902293 10/20/19 11:42 AM
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My initial impression of the tech that I selected was very strong. I'm not sure if I doubt his abilities based off of the reputation. However, I absolutely feel that the service provided to me was sub-par. Unfortunately for me, the funds to pay for the service had to be saved up an spent carefully. At this point I cannot pay another business/tech to have the job done again. Especially if I have to purchase hammer and shanks.

You are correct in that my older G5 will never feel like the CFX. That in no way is my expectation. However, I play other instruments at the same location (C6, GH1 or GB1?). They all played much better than my G5.

So, now that I am confident that I will need to save for some parts, I figured I'm at a loss. I just spent a few minutes working on one knuckle to lightly sand the knuckle. I followed up by lightly agitating the area with a bristle brush. With this small amount of work, I was able to restore the shape and a nice improvement in how the leather feels. I have a full can of MicroLubrol XDL PTFE here with me to finish the knuckle. Should I continue with the rest? It feels and looks like a nice improvement to me.

[Linked Image]

Last edited by TurboMatt; 10/20/19 11:50 AM.

1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
BDB #2902296 10/20/19 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
The repetition leather does not slap into the drop screw in normal playing. You are pushing the keys down on the back rail cloth, and that makes noise. There is also noise from the jack position button hitting the spoon and things like that. All of those things can be mitigated by needling the felt or cloth. Even leather can be needled, or massaged to make it less stiff. This should not cost thousands of dollars.

Actions are not silent, even when new. The noise is more noticeable when the action is out of the piano. The fallboard lessens the noise for the player.

New parts are not a panacea. New parts get old, just as old parts get older.


You are obviously correct in this statement. My initial assumption has been based on moving the action on the table with it outside the piano. The area where I can see most of the noise is where the tip of of the repetition lever contacts the drop screw. I do see the spoon contacting the regulating button as well. There is a very small amount of noise there. I would say that is acceptable as you can lightly hear it but still pretty quiet.

As far as cost, I wish I know this was correct. I already spent a good bit of money for work that I don't feel was done correctly.


1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902305 10/20/19 12:09 PM
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I think the price was reasonable for what was done.


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Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
BDB #2902309 10/20/19 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
I think the price was reasonable for what was done.


Do you have any feedback on what additional cost I should have paid to have some of the additional work done for needling and reconditioning? Also, based off of the pictures, do you feel that the hammer heights are correct? Prior to the work, they were level at their resting position. I have read that it's possible to have their resting positing slightly un-level as long as their let off and drop is uniform? I'm going to collect the parts today to build a jig to measure the let off and drop on the work table.


1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902357 10/20/19 02:02 PM
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Achieving a straight hammer line at rest is primarily a function of having the proper relationship between the jack top/rep lever/knuckle. However the action centers must also be free of excess friction. When this is all good, you can easily adjust the capstans for a straight line at the hammers.

Prior to the work, was there NO discussion about the fact that this was a heavily worn action?

Was there NO discussion that the treble hammers would have very little felt left on the business end?

Was there NO discussion about the real need for new parts?

I'm interested in what really went down in the consultation before doing the work. Currently we are getting one side of the story. There are always at least two sides to every situation like this. Simple reality and human relations.

Pwg


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Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
BDB #2902358 10/20/19 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
I think the price was reasonable for what was done.


Really? The OP said he sees that the ‘... hammers were re-shaped, lubricated key pins, lubricated knuckles’. We don’t know what else the technician did because we don’t know what shape the action was in prior, but the OP reports irregular let off and hammer line and irregular tone across the scope of the keyboard and a noisy action. The technician could have easily filed the hammers and lubricated the knuckles and front rail pins in an hour.

Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902360 10/20/19 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by TurboMatt
Should I continue with the rest? It feels and looks like a nice improvement to me.


If you like the end result then go for it smile

Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
P W Grey #2902367 10/20/19 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Achieving a straight hammer line at rest is primarily a function of having the proper relationship between the jack top/rep lever/knuckle. However the action centers must also be free of excess friction. When this is all good, you can easily adjust the capstans for a straight line at the hammers.

Prior to the work, was there NO discussion about the fact that this was a heavily worn action?

Was there NO discussion that the treble hammers would have very little felt left on the business end?

Was there NO discussion about the real need for new parts?

I'm interested in what really went down in the consultation before doing the work. Currently we are getting one side of the story. There are always at least two sides to every situation like this. Simple reality and human relations.

Pwg


We talked about the hammers being heavily worn. As well, the tech did mention that the hammers should have already been reshaped. At this point I did bring it up that I already contacted Yamaha to get a price on pre-hung hammers. He assured me that he could reshape them. It was also mentioned that the hammer felt is thin now (obviously). This is not by any fault on the tech. My whole point to this point was listed in the first post. I am not sure that the work that was performed was inline with an industry standard for this type of service?

No, no mention of parts. I did ask to please let me know if anything needs to be replaced. As I would need to figure out the funding aspect before we move forward. A majority of the consultation was done over the phone. The tech showed up to inspect and pick up the action. There was no communication regarding the action until it was returned to my home. I was completely fine with all of this, assuming everything was going ok with the reconditioning.


1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902376 10/20/19 02:34 PM
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For reference, these are all before pictures. Is there something else I should have said or mentioned to address the action noise?

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]


1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902417 10/20/19 04:03 PM
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Did the technician regulate and voice the action while it was inside your piano? It doesn’t sound like he did. That’s not extra, that’s essential. You can’t expect that the work is complete without doing that. I wouldn’t even offer to work on an action without regulating it properly in the piano.

Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
jsilva #2902424 10/20/19 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by jsilva
Did the technician regulate and voice the action while it was inside your piano? It doesn’t sound like he did. That’s not extra, that’s essential. You can’t expect that the work is complete without doing that. I wouldn’t even offer to work on an action without regulating it properly in the piano.


The voicing work was done with a tool that had 5 short needles. It was done in a few minutes 5 or 6 hammers at a time. There was no regulating work done after the action was back in the piano. Based off the articles I've read and videos I watched, the let off and drop should be measured in the piano after any initial bench regulation was done. Am I wrong?

Last edited by TurboMatt; 10/20/19 04:14 PM.

1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902458 10/20/19 05:47 PM
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As I've said before this technician was not a pro.

From the wear on your hammers in the last pictures it is clear that this is a practice piano with daily usage.

Please find someone who has experience with that and the best way to find out is to play pianos that have been refurbished by this technician.

BTW: This is what working on an action by a pro looks like in the workshop:
https://www.clavio.de/threads/steinway-b-seriennummer-60103-1887.23873/page-2#post-588421

Last edited by OE1FEU; 10/20/19 05:48 PM.
Re: Professional Action Recondition - Need post work feedback
TurboMatt #2902491 10/20/19 07:20 PM
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You have to decide what you want: a $1,000 job or a $5,000-10,000 job. The biggest difference is in the first $1000, which will make about 90% of the difference. The rest might make more than 90% of the remainder, but that is at most 10% of the total job.


Semipro Tech
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