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Lighthammer technique for dummies #2928908 01/01/20 10:04 AM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Happy 2020 everyone! After reading various ways to optimize the touch on a piano over the past year, I'm most intrigued by what I've gleaned of Ed McMorrow's light hammer technique. It seems the most DIY friendly and inexpensive for the DIYer. Although I don't understand all the technicalities, it seems the following would achieve a lot of the improvement in the action that Ed speaks of:

  • Plot a smooth strikeweight curve on Stanwood's light-to-medium hammer curve, noting the weight each hammer should be on that curve;
  • Lighten the weight of each hammer to correspond to the above; then
  • Remove enough key lead from the front of each key to achieve a 60g static downweight


Now I know there is a lot more to it than this, but I'm assuming the geometry of the M3 action on my Kawai GL10 is ok so will leave it alone. Obviously it will be well lubricated and regulated. Do you guys think making just the changes in the bullet points above will achieve a lot of the Lighthammer magic?


Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
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Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2928931 01/01/20 11:33 AM
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P W Grey Offline
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Yes

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2928943 01/01/20 12:16 PM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Well that was easy wink

Thanks Peter.

So for the naysayers *cough* BDB *cough and Chris C. et al, any cons you see other than this simply being a waste of time?

Last edited by Emery Wang; 01/01/20 12:17 PM.

Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2928953 01/01/20 12:35 PM
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Ed Foote Offline
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The use of the static DW means that all friction and geometry irregularities will show up as irregularity in your FW. This leaves irregularity in the inertial resistance from key to key. I prefer to set all FW and SW to smooth curves and use the WNG parts to remove action and friction inconsistency from my equation. The real work is deciding what those two curves should be for the geometry of the action and the desire of the pianist.
Regards,

Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2928963 01/01/20 01:05 PM
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Perfection is not needed. However the closer you bring each action assembly to a smoothly graduated system, the easier it is for your brain to adjust on the fly to any slight deviations. Jumps of 3...4...5 or more grams from key to key are far more difficult for your brain to adjust to (though it will due to its masterful design). Think of stairs that are all different heights. At first you will trip and fall and have difficulty going up and down. In time your brain learns the (stupid) pattern and makes the adjustments so you don't kill yourself. Fix the stairs...and ahhh so much easier.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2928988 01/01/20 01:48 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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How about some LightHammer generalizations? (Caveat, there is no substitute for experience. Especially experience gained in a structured learning environment.)

As hammers get lighter: The static DW can be set higher than "standard" and the "feel" will still be perceived as light. I have pianos with nearly 70G DW in the bass that pianists don't perceive as heavy.

As hammer get lighter: The range of DW "disorder" from note to note can be larger before one feels it.

As hammers get lighter: The tone will brighten significantly. This can make a problem if the tone is already bright, because the felt will be found to be highly resistant to voicing down.

Then there is the knowledge to finding a method of lightening the hammers than can be done safely. Power machinery can quickly ruin a pianist life. It requires some shop skills to do this work. If you have little successful experience with power tools, stay away from this work.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2929079 01/01/20 05:48 PM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Hi Ed. Have you ever tried lightening stock Kawai hammers? Do you think they will get too bright?

BTW, is your shop open to the public? If so, it would be cool to stop by when the weather is warmer on my way to Anacortes and maybe play one of your Lighthammer pianos. I promised the wife we'd go to San Juan Island and Victoria one of these days.

Thanks.


Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2929154 01/01/20 10:03 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Emery Wang, Some Kawai's do have too dense hammer felt.

My shop is located in Mukilteo which is an easy stop off I-5. Just call or text me at 425-299-3431 to set an appointment as I do go out for service calls. I would love to see what you think of my pianos.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2929166 01/01/20 10:40 PM
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P W Grey Offline
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Emery,

Do you have an accurate gram scale?

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: P W Grey] #2929192 01/02/20 12:07 AM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Yeah, it measures in 1/100th of a gram up to 100 grams.


Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2929197 01/02/20 12:33 AM
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Okay, so you need to weigh each hammer/hammershank very accurately and write them all down. You must isolate the weight of this assembly from the friction in the flange/bushing. You do this by turning the flange vertically and supporting the nose of the flange on a point so that the shank is parallel to the gram scale. You will need to make this arrangement (or buy the whole kit from Pianotek). That is the starting point. Once you do that come back and we can make recommendations based on what you find. Might be good to post a pic or two of some of the hammers.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2929403 01/02/20 01:52 PM
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Roy123 Offline
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In my limited experience I have found that pianos with light hammers require a higher than normal static down weight to feel "right." That will lead to a higher up weight, which also feels darn good.

Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2929404 01/02/20 01:54 PM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Sounds about right per what Ed M's been saying. I think he recommends a 60g down weight.


Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2929406 01/02/20 01:56 PM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Emery Wang, Some Kawai's do have too dense hammer felt.

My shop is located in Mukilteo which is an easy stop off I-5. Just call or text me at 425-299-3431 to set an appointment as I do go out for service calls. I would love to see what you think of my pianos.


Thanks Ed. It would be awesome to see your pianos. I'll contact you when things warm up a bit, maybe late spring.


Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2930709 01/06/20 01:09 AM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Hi Ed M. I've paused my LHTR for dummies project to read your book, "The Educated Piano." You write on p. 38 that you don't recommend doing LHTR on ultradense hammers. How do you determine if your hammers are ultradense?

Thanks.


Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2930825 01/06/20 11:26 AM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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If you have difficulty getting a needle into the felt in the compass range of note 1 to 60, I suspect they are too dense.

The tone can also tell you. If the same range of notes noted above sound too bright when they start to get string grooves in the felt, they are too dense.

Experience is a very good teacher.

How did you come by my book?


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2930857 01/06/20 01:11 PM
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Emery Wang Offline OP
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Thanks Ed. I got your book thru interlibrary loan, looks like my copy is from the Seattle Public Library.


Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2931079 01/06/20 10:38 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Thanks. Good to know it is still in there. What kind of shape is it in?


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Emery Wang] #2931087 01/06/20 11:37 PM
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Chernobieff Piano Offline
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I don't know why you call me a naysayer Emery, I actually agree with your bullet points. When I install a new set of hammers, just with the proper selection, they always come out lighter than the original anyway by a 1/2 a gram to a gram. Often there are only minor adjustments to the weights in the keys. I like the traditional time proven 3,2,1,0 method. When done right, its a faster than the hand can play action. And the hammer tails don't have to be sanded down to a 1/4" width and shorten back-check life. You can have a light fast action without going Frankenstein.
-chris


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Re: Lighthammer technique for dummies [Re: Chernobieff Piano] #2931094 01/07/20 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Often there are only minor adjustments to the weights in the keys. I like the traditional time proven 3,2,1,0 method.
-chris


Curious minds are wondering...

What is a "3,2,1,0 method"?


Keith Akins, RPT
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