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Voicing - how much effort? #2933307 01/13/20 12:26 PM
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Hi all,

I am considering to ask my piano tech to voice my piano a bit softer, but I am unsure what this would entail. How much effort is this? And: can this only be done a limited number of times (before e.g. new hammers or felts are necessary)? Is this a risky operation? I don‘t know the tech yet but the store where I bought the piano is pretty big and they do a lot of tunings (and I suppose voicings, but I am not sure).

Many thanks in advance,
Gretel


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Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933311 01/13/20 01:02 PM
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Gretel, you sound a lot like me... I'm very particular about my pianos, and especially particular about who I allow to stab my hammers with needles.

Voicing is different from tuning. First of all, before voicing of the hammers is done:

* the piano should be tuned to perfection or as close as possible
* the piano action should be well regulated
* any string to hammer mating/string leveling should have been done

Secondly, the tuner/tech should be experienced at voicing hammers. Not all tuners are. An inexperienced tech can ruin a hammer(s) if over voiced or voiced improperly.

Also, FWIW, it depends on how new the hammers are. Newer, softer hammers are relatively easy to voice with a needling tool. Harder hammers are more of a challenge, and need more aggressive needling, or even chemical treatments (which can be more dangerous and uncontrollable than needling).

As far as the life expectancy of your hammers, as it relates to voicing, it depends on the skill of the technician. A good set of hammers can be reshaped and voiced many times, at least in my view.

Ask the store owner, or tech what their experience is regarding hammer voicing.

Good luck!

Rick


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Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933313 01/13/20 01:14 PM
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Gretel:

I agree with all that Rickster has written. Ultimately, it all boils down to the skill of the technician; what he does, how he does it, and what he knows not to do!

Regards,


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Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933315 01/13/20 01:28 PM
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The hammers are new - the complete piano is new. So ... how long would something like this take (as a rough measure of how complex or difficult this would be)? Someone in another thread mentioned half an hour. That sounds fairly minor and I would probably give it a shot. If however it would take three hours or so I would be more reluctant since this sounds more invasive and difficult.


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Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933320 01/13/20 01:35 PM
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My tech voiced my hammers mellower and softer during my recent tuning a few days ago, and it only took him a half hour. It made a huge difference in my ability to play p and pp. He told me he did some needling. I was surprised he could make such a big difference in such a short time. He tuned the piano after the voicing.

It's possible that although it made a big difference in my ability to play pp easily what he did would be considered a very minor voicing on the whole piano. So I think how long voicing takes, what preparatory measures are needed, depends on what has to be accomplished and the skill of the tech. I think my tech is extremely skilled. He has written an important book on tuning and invented a new tuning hammer that has become quite popular.

Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933321 01/13/20 01:36 PM
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Might be best to start off slow with the voicing. Ask your piano tech to voice down your piano down slightly on his or her next tuning visit and then see where you stand. You can always have further voicing done at the next tuning if needed.

Rich


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Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933322 01/13/20 01:40 PM
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When my piano was new, the technician came from the store where I bought it to do the first tuning. He voiced about an octave worth of keys starting from about G4 and I would say the voicing part took him about 10ish minutes (I was watching), the rest of the slightly more than an hour total was the tuning. He does all the setups for new Kawais at the shop as well as rebuilding pianos, and has 30 years experience, so his skill level is high. I would guess if the tech works at the shop where you bought your piano their skill level will also be high.


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Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933324 01/13/20 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Gretel
The hammers are new - the complete piano is new. So ... how long would something like this take (as a rough measure of how complex or difficult this would be)? Someone in another thread mentioned half an hour. That sounds fairly minor and I would probably give it a shot. If however it would take three hours or so I would be more reluctant since this sounds more invasive and difficult.
You have to ask the tech who is going to do the work. I not sure anyone can say with much certainty until they hear your piano and have a sense of how much softer you'd like it to be and the general condition of the piano's regulation.

I don't think you should necessarily use a tech that works for the dealer where you bought the piano because some of the techs that work for dealers are relatively inexperienced. You need to try and find out beforehand how good any tech you use, whether from the dealer or not, is as a voicer. If you give your location you can probably get good recommendations from some of the dealers or pianists here.The advice they give you may also be better than mine.

If you are concerned about the tech over doing the voicing I think you can ask them to voice a few test notes or to do the voicing in stages. I think you should post your question in the Technician's Forum also. It's OK to post a question on more than one forum if it's relevant for both of them.

Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933335 01/13/20 02:17 PM
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Why would you need a new piano voiced?
You have just bought it new and already knew how it sounded.
How about returning the piano and replacing it with another one, while it is under warranty?
I wouldn't count on voicing ?

Edit: Did you check that messing up with the hammer felts will harm your warranty or getting a full price in case of an upgrade?

Last edited by Hakki; 01/13/20 02:22 PM.
Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Hakki] #2933350 01/13/20 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Hakki
Why would you need a new piano voiced?
You have just bought it new and already knew how it sounded.
How about returning the piano and replacing it with another one, while it is under warranty?
I wouldn't count on voicing ?

Edit: Did you check that messing up with the hammer felts will harm your warranty or getting a full price in case of an upgrade?
A piano can sound different in the owner's home environment vs. the showroom or someone can change their mind about the tone. Normal voicing by a qualified tech would not usually void a warranty. It's considered appropriate maintenance. It's not unusual to have a new piano voiced in the home environment.




Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/13/20 03:45 PM.
Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933366 01/13/20 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Hakki
Why would you need a new piano voiced?
You have just bought it new and already knew how it sounded.
How about returning the piano and replacing it with another one, while it is under warranty?
I wouldn't count on voicing ?

Edit: Did you check that messing up with the hammer felts will harm your warranty or getting a full price in case of an upgrade?

Good point, Hakki.

However, minor voicing is, or should be, part of the basic prep and set-up of a new piano. I'm sure different dealers have different levels of prep they perform on new pianos.

Also, and this is my own opinion, based on my own personal experience, any amount of voicing is not going to yield a drastic change in the tone/timber of the piano. Voicing will make a bright tone less bright, and a mellow tone less mellow, but it will not make a tremendous change in the tone. Also, and again, just my opinion, voicing usually doesn't last a long time before it needs to be repeated, especially in cases of frequent and hard playing.

When I was shopping around for a grand piano, and visited a few dealers, I had a couple of dealers tell me they could voice a certain new piano anyway I wanted, up or down. Based on what I have learned and what I know now, that is a promise I'm not so sure they could actually follow through with.

Usually, what you hear at the piano store is what you will get at home, although voicing can improve any harshness, and balance out the overall tone across the entire piano.

As far as voicing causing problems with a pianos manufacturer's warranty, I don't think tuning and/or voicing is part of the warranty to begin with. If an inexperienced tech were to damage the hammers while voicing, due to inexperience, I'm quite sure that is not something covered under the manufacturer's warranty. Usually, tuning and voicing, and any minor repairs of sticky keys, squeaks, and other minor issues is covered by the dealer as part of their post-sale customer service and not part of any warranty.

Just a few thoughts...

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: MarkL] #2933369 01/13/20 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkL
I would guess if the tech works at the shop where you bought your piano their skill level will also be high.


This is only sometimes the case.
Many less experienced, or apprentice technicians learn by working for dealers, doing floor tunings and then lower-priority tuning calls. This gets them access to a wide range of pianos quickly, all in one location. In exchange for this (and for eventually being referred by the store for outside clients), the reimbursement rate to the tech is typically lower than what techs charge independently for service, even if you're paying full retail prices as the customer. On the other hand, if the store does a lot of concert service, they typically will either have at least one more expert tech on staff, or with whom they frequently hire as an independent contractor.


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Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933372 01/13/20 04:03 PM
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Is your new piano a W.Hoffmann T122? That is designed by C.Bechstein and produced at their Czech factory under Bechstein's supervision?

Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933375 01/13/20 04:05 PM
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@Hakki: Do you suggest returning the piano and replacing it with another piano because this would be less effort/cost/risk compared to a voicing?

I am very happy with the piano, but sometimes I think it is a bit too bright, hence the question if a voicing would be worth a try.


W.Hoffmann T122, Roland FP-50, Roland RD-64
Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Hakki] #2933378 01/13/20 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hakki
Is your new piano a W.Hoffmann T122? That is designed by C.Bechstein and produced at their Czech factory under Bechstein's supervision?


Yes, exactly.


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Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933383 01/13/20 04:12 PM
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And according to Pianobuyer.com the hammers for W.Hoffmann pianos are produced by Bechstein.

I don't know. C.Bechstein is a tier one company in piano business. I wouldn't change the original voicing of a brand new high quality piano.

Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933388 01/13/20 04:18 PM
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Gretel
You might want to post this question in the tech forum. Please be sure to include all the details about your piano


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Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933390 01/13/20 04:24 PM
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Quote
I am very happy with the piano, but sometimes I think it is a bit too bright, hence the question if a voicing would be worth a try.


To me, even with a brand new piano, this is exactly the sort of thing that voicing can address. And just because a piano is brand new doesn't mean it doesn't need voicing, it all depends on how it was prepped.

Having said that, Gretel, what is the acoustic environment like in your piano room? Is it possible that adding some soft furnishings, an area rug and/or soft curtains could make a difference?


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Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Hakki] #2933393 01/13/20 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Hakki
And according to Pianobuyer.com the hammers for W.Hoffmann pianos are produced by Bechstein.

I don't know. C.Bechstein is a tier one company in piano business. I wouldn't change the original voicing of a brand new high quality piano.
Why not? I don't think the quality of the piano makes a difference.

Just because the hammers may be high quality doesn't mean they're voiced to a particular buyer's home and personal preference. It's common to have pianos of all qualities voiced in one's home.

Re: Voicing - how much effort? [Re: Gretel] #2933403 01/13/20 04:43 PM
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This from T122 Bechstein.com site:

All the production steps involved in making this piano, including the manual voicing of the hammerheads, are performed in the Czech Republic by the C. Bechstein Europe piano-makers. The five-year warranty also comes from C. Bechstein Europe, a production site unique in Europe as it offers optimal prerequisites for high-quality piano-making.

Again, if it were me, I wouldn't let my new piano voiced.
But that is up to you to decide.

Edit: That is because I paid already for this cost of manual voicing at the factory.

Last edited by Hakki; 01/13/20 04:50 PM.
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