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Hammers vs. lead weight reduction #2926166 12/23/19 05:34 PM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Hi guys. First, merry Christmas!

Second, I finally got around to replacing the stock brass capstans in my Kawai GL10 with the WNG aluminum ones. I also re-lubricated the knuckles and wippen felts with PTFE. The result is an average static downweight reduction of about 5 grams. Now instead of 50-54g, downweight is generally around 47-49g.

The action now feels very smooth and slightly lighter, but not lighter by much. I suspect this is due to the inertia still in the system by way of the hammers and the key leads. So, how best to reduce that inertia?

Given I've gained a 5g reduction in the downweight, I have room to reduce some of the front weight on the keys and still have a reasonable static downweight. I believe the next easiest thing to do would be to drill a few grams out of the front key leads with a drill press and Forstner bit. My guess is that won't reduce the inertia as much as if I took an equivalent amount of weight out of the hammers. However, altering the leads is less scary for me, and more easily reversible than shaving the hammers. So the question is, would taking 5 grams off the front key leads result in an appreciable reduction in inertia? Or would it be better to take even more weight off leads closer to the middle instead?

Thanks!


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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926272 12/23/19 11:15 PM
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Ed Foote Offline
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Greetings,

First, if you reduce weight by drilling lead, do it with a very slow speed. The more RPM you use, the more the lead will melt at the microscopic boundary between it and the steel, which creates a galling problem. I use a 7/16' Forstner at the second slowest speed on the press. It also helps to not drill them with a continual feed, but, rather, stop the feed about every two seconds to prevent long shavings of lead. When you stop the feed for a revolution or two, it break the chips in very small pieces. This is the way I bring all my FW's to a continuous line of decreasing weight, (it goes well with a consistent SW while using WNG parts, leaving me a consistent BW as serendipity.)

You should have digital scale that reads in grams, at least. That way, if you want to take 5 grams off each key, you will know exactly where you are. I think you could refine even more if you make a chart of 88 existing DW's, and take out enough lead on each key to give an even DW. If there is some key that ends up way off in the FW spec, you can check the SW and friction to find out where the inconsistency is coming from. DW is affected by friction, ratio, and SW, so be aware of its short-comings as a definitive diagnostic value.

If you alter hammer-weight to even things out,you will be changing the voicing. That may or may not be a bad thing, and if there is a need for hammer shaping, do that before any drilling of leads!
Goodluck,

Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926275 12/23/19 11:33 PM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Thanks Ed. Is it best to start your weight reduction with the lead closest to the front of the key?


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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926352 12/24/19 08:16 AM
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Ed Foote Offline
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Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Thanks Ed. Is it best to start your weight reduction with the lead closest to the front of the key?


I am hesitant to say "best". Though the Steinway patent for "Accelerated Actions" is a two part description of the fulcrum and lead placement, ( I remember that it calls for lead to be installed as close to the balance rail as possible).

This would perhaps be a topic for the physicists among us, but my thoughts are that it is easier to accelerate a larger amount of lead near the middle of the key than a lesser amount farther out. Given that the distance the lead travels is greater the farther out on the key, it seems like more work is being done. I am NOT a physicist, but it would seem there would be more inertial resistance if the lead is closer to the point where the finger applies force.

I also hear a lot of confusion on what the "Accelerated Action" is supposed to do. It is not a faster repetition being referred to, but, rather, an acceleration of the ratio as the key moves through its travel. This was to be accomplished by the half-round being slightly off-center on the pin so that the fulcrum point would move in the proximal direction as the key rotates. Much the same idea as putting cut punchings on the balance rail. It gives a "low gear" to get moving and gradually increased the ratio as the hammer gains speed.

I have measured some of the early models and found action ratios changing from, say, 6 at the beginning and 5.6 or so at the end of the stroke. However, it is not unusual to find that the action's ratio changes up and down during the stroke, depending on the capstan's approach to the line of congruence, (the "Magic line"). My preference is to have the capstan reach the line at the moment the tender touches the let-off pad. This creates a "rising rate" with the reduced effort at the beginning of the stroke and maximum transfer of motion at the very end. The use of the WNG capstans takes any measurable friction out of the equation, so I don't need to cross the magic line in the middle of the whips rotation to minimize relative motion between them and the capstan.

Just my two cents worth, but I am always looking for change!!
regards,

Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926360 12/24/19 08:40 AM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Thanks Ed, this makes sense. Sort of like swinging a baseball bat with weighted donuts added. The farther out the donuts are on the bat, the more you feel their effect on the swing. The closer to your hands, the less their inertial effect, and the swing seems lighter.


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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926401 12/24/19 10:46 AM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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In general, a 1/2" diameter lead that is placed closest to the playing end reduces DW by 10 grams.

It is best to remove mass from the key by starting with the weight closest to the player.

Biggest change in tone from reducing hammer weight is in the treble where the brilliance will rise and the "thwapping" noise will de reduced. If a piano is already bright sounding, removing significant amount of mass from the hammers will in general bring brilliance too high for voicing down techniques to work well over the long term.


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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Ed Foote] #2926425 12/24/19 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Thanks Ed. Is it best to start your weight reduction with the lead closest to the front of the key?


I am hesitant to say "best". Though the Steinway patent for "Accelerated Actions" is a two part description of the fulcrum and lead placement, ( I remember that it calls for lead to be installed as close to the balance rail as possible).

This would perhaps be a topic for the physicists among us, but my thoughts are that it is easier to accelerate a larger amount of lead near the middle of the key than a lesser amount farther out. Given that the distance the lead travels is greater the farther out on the key, it seems like more work is being done. I am NOT a physicist, but it would seem there would be more inertial resistance if the lead is closer to the point where the finger applies force.

I also hear a lot of confusion on what the "Accelerated Action" is supposed to do. It is not a faster repetition being referred to, but, rather, an acceleration of the ratio as the key moves through its travel. This was to be accomplished by the half-round being slightly off-center on the pin so that the fulcrum point would move in the proximal direction as the key rotates. Much the same idea as putting cut punchings on the balance rail. It gives a "low gear" to get moving and gradually increased the ratio as the hammer gains speed.

I have measured some of the early models and found action ratios changing from, say, 6 at the beginning and 5.6 or so at the end of the stroke. However, it is not unusual to find that the action's ratio changes up and down during the stroke, depending on the capstan's approach to the line of congruence, (the "Magic line"). My preference is to have the capstan reach the line at the moment the tender touches the let-off pad. This creates a "rising rate" with the reduced effort at the beginning of the stroke and maximum transfer of motion at the very end. The use of the WNG capstans takes any measurable friction out of the equation, so I don't need to cross the magic line in the middle of the whips rotation to minimize relative motion between them and the capstan.

Just my two cents worth, but I am always looking for change!!
regards,


The static torque that any weight provides is proportional to its distance from the fulcrum, and, in fact, the torque is simply T = r *M, where r is the radius, or distance of the mass, M, from the fulcrum. However, the moment of the inertia is proportional to the square of the distance from the mass to the fulcrum, and is I = Kg*m^2, if expressed in SI units, where Kg is the mass in kilograms and m is the distance in meters. The torque required to accelerate the mass is T = Ia, where a is the angular acceleration, expressed in radians/(sec^2). So these formulas show what Steinway's patent was about. Weights closer to the fulcrum create less moment of inertia for the desired static down weight. As it turns out, the hammer assembly is by far the largest contributor to moment of inertia in the piano action, so Steinway was playing around the edges, in a sense.

Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926444 12/24/19 01:34 PM
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Thanks Roy. Even without the math, I kind of suspected the hammer assembly was the biggest culprit due to the weight of the hammer, and the fact the hammer head is way out there past the end of the keystick. It's sort of like throwing a tennis ball for your dog with one of those plastic extension things. Therefore the most benefit would be gained by reducing the weight of the tennis ball.

It may be that I end up having to lighten the hammers. In fact, given that Kawai's M3 action is very smooth, I can only conclude that their heavy dynamic touchweight is due to heavy hammers. Unless the geometry is way off, I don't see what else would be contributing to this.


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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926446 12/24/19 01:47 PM
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"Accelerated Action" ultimately turns out to be a marketing term they developed (SS has been quite good at this). Prior to this no human could "out play" a well regulated SS action anyway, so further "acceleration" was unnecessary. Notice that Hamburg DID NOT incorporate it...interesting at least. And BY had long abandoned the leading principle on which the patent primarily focused.

If the OP does not optimize SW first, he could be looking down a rabbit hole.

This my opinion.

Pwg


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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926447 12/24/19 01:49 PM
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"Accelerated Action" ultimately turns out to be a marketing term they developed (SS has been quite good at this). Prior to this no human could "out play" a well regulated SS action anyway, so further "acceleration" was unnecessary. Notice that Hamburg DID NOT incorporate it...interesting at least. And BY had long abandoned the leading principle on which the patent primarily focused.

If the OP does not optimize SW first, he could be looking down a rabbit hole. And there is usually lots of room for optimization on a typical SS action.

This my opinion.

Pwg

Oops, sorry for the repeat.

Last edited by P W Grey; 12/24/19 01:49 PM.

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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926458 12/24/19 02:44 PM
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Thanks PW. BTW, SW refers to the static downweight and upweight, right?

I just thought of something else I've read on this forum: using Standwood's cut balance rail punchings to increase leverage to the front of the keys. He recommends gluing half the punching to the keystick, then cutting off the front half. However, I'd prefer not to do any gluing if possible. Instead, I have a bunch of extra Kawai stock felt punchings, and I thought I'd cut off about 1/4 of the punching, leaving the hole intact. Then, I install them on the balance rail with the cut side facing front.

Has anyone ever tried that to lighten the action? Is there danger of the punching turning out of position if it's not glued down?

Thanks!


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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: P W Grey] #2926459 12/24/19 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
"Accelerated Action" ultimately turns out to be a marketing term they developed (SS has been quite good at this). Prior to this no human could "out play" a well regulated SS action anyway, so further "acceleration" was unnecessary..


It was my understanding that "accelerated" did not refer to repetition speed, but, rather, to the slight increase in AR as the key moved through its downward travel. I have never heard a sales rep. make this distinction, instead preferring to tout the brand as faster because of the acceleration. I have found that virtually any modern grand action that has its weights correct will repeat faster than almost any human's ability if it is properly regulated, particularly in terms of back-check distance and spring strength.
regards,

Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926538 12/24/19 07:07 PM
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When you set out to reduce the mass of a hammer, it is in general best practice to not take felt from the strike point. Hammers need to be wide enough to hit all strings completely and with a little left over to allow for the half-shift. Half-shift being using the shift pedal just enough to take the hammers out of the string marks, but still hit all three strings.


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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: P W Grey] #2926577 12/24/19 09:48 PM
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.....not wanting to interrupt (this is all above my proverbial pay grade) but just curious:

Originally Posted by P W Grey
.....And BY had long abandoned the leading principle on which the patent primarily focused...

What is BY?

BTW (I assume nobody'll have trouble with that abbreviation) grin ....I'm always extremely impressed at threads like this -- both the content and the great responsiveness.

Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926584 12/24/19 10:32 PM
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Mark,

BY was what my "spell correct" did to NY. I didn't notice it until just now when I re-read it.




Emery,

SW is the abbreviation for Strike Weight, which is the combined weight of the hammer and shank (with the flange resistance taken out). David Stanwood coined the term (I believe). SW is immensely important to evenness of tone and touch response. No set of hammers in existence is graduated perfectly evenly.

Until David figured out the importance of this (and many of us at first thought he was a little nuts claiming to adjust the weight of each hammer to 1/10th of a gram), we were largely treating symptoms rather than problems when it came to voicing and fine regulating. Many "voicing" problems actually are SW ssues, or at least exacerbated by SW unevenness (BTW variations in hammershanks also contribute to voicing issues). The bass/tenor break is a prime example where smoothing the SW to 1/10th g can seriously improve that transition. Bass hammers in a grand can be as much as 1g (or more) heavier than the first tenor hammer. This is HUGE, but we never actually KNEW it until David proved it.

So, what I am trying to say is that you are (or appear to be) taking a "traditional" approach to dealing with touch weight (touch response). I think you will find that it will become an endless chase (down the rabbit hole) this way, and you will wonder why you're not getting what you want. The current key leading is based on an UNEVEN SW (as well as the previous brass capstans). You need to first "straighten out" the SW, and then start looking at key leading if you want to REALLY do it right. There is an entire kit available for doing this. It is tedious...but it works.

Pwg


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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: P W Grey] #2926587 12/24/19 11:01 PM
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(Thanks -- "NY" I woulda got!) grin

BTW, while my jumping in provided no substance, it shows you that you've got a larger audience than you usually know!

Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: P W Grey] #2926600 12/25/19 02:05 AM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Mark,

BY was what my "spell correct" did to NY. I didn't notice it until just now when I re-read it.




Emery,

SW is the abbreviation for Strike Weight, which is the combined weight of the hammer and shank (with the flange resistance taken out). David Stanwood coined the term (I believe). SW is immensely important to evenness of tone and touch response. No set of hammers in existence is graduated perfectly evenly.

Until David figured out the importance of this (and many of us at first thought he was a little nuts claiming to adjust the weight of each hammer to 1/10th of a gram), we were largely treating symptoms rather than problems when it came to voicing and fine regulating. Many "voicing" problems actually are SW ssues, or at least exacerbated by SW unevenness (BTW variations in hammershanks also contribute to voicing issues). The bass/tenor break is a prime example where smoothing the SW to 1/10th g can seriously improve that transition. Bass hammers in a grand can be as much as 1g (or more) heavier than the first tenor hammer. This is HUGE, but we never actually KNEW it until David proved it.

So, what I am trying to say is that you are (or appear to be) taking a "traditional" approach to dealing with touch weight (touch response). I think you will find that it will become an endless chase (down the rabbit hole) this way, and you will wonder why you're not getting what you want. The current key leading is based on an UNEVEN SW (as well as the previous brass capstans). You need to first "straighten out" the SW, and then start looking at key leading if you want to REALLY do it right. There is an entire kit available for doing this. It is tedious...but it works.

Pwg


Thanks Peter. Have you looked at Nick Gravagne's Action Geometry Program and Nifty Key Leads? Would these accomplish what you're suggesting?

-Emery

Last edited by Emery Wang; 12/25/19 02:12 AM.

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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926836 12/25/19 06:54 PM
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I have not perused his current offerings. I will check them out.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926837 12/25/19 07:08 PM
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But as Peter said, the first step is to create a smooth strikeweight continuity. For this you must have the equipment and knowledge to measure the hammer weights.


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Re: Hammers vs. lead weight reduction [Re: Emery Wang] #2926965 12/26/19 10:21 AM
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Thanks Ed. So Mario Igrec shows how Stanwood does this in the "Pianos Inside Out" book. One way is to balance the hammer flange on a pointed object while weighing the hammer on a gram scale. I presume this is meant to try to take the shank weight out of the measurement. However, part of the shank closer to the hammer must also be getting weighed, so I guess that's ok? I don't think removing the hammers to get a pure hammer weight is realistic.

Assuming this weighing method works, it seems I just need to make sure the weights follow Standwood's SW curve, which for a medium touch, seems to start at about 11g at note 1, and 4.5g at note 88. If my hammer and shank weights, measured as described above, follow this curve, could I assume that the SWs are right?

Last edited by Emery Wang; 12/26/19 10:22 AM.

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