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Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
#2960174 03/24/20 11:18 PM
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I had Instructor Todd Scott RPT over at my shop to give a Technical. Here is a link to a video i made from the class in which Todd Talks about Piano Tone. This is just one segment of a 5 hour class. There will also be a video series on Todds Spray and Play voicing method. He uses Fabric softener and hairspray with incredible results. In fact after this class i am abandoning needles and Lacquer juicing all together. Thats how fantastic this is. Enjoy the video and watch for the upcoming voicing series.

https://www.brighteon.com/b92d9cfb-2fac-4655-a32b-ee160da4ea61

-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
"Where Tone is Key"
Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960180 03/25/20 12:14 AM
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Thanks Chris. I'd like to see the rest of that talk. Does he use fabric softener to soften the hammers and hairspray to harden? Does he just spray the strike point? I would think that hairspray would not penetrate far and give only temporary results. I wonder if a lacquer or acetone/acrylic solution applied to the strike point would achieve a similar result, but penetrate deeper and last longer?

Thanks for any insights. I'm about to juice a few bass hammers on my piano.


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960199 03/25/20 04:25 AM
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One minute into the video I have already started shaking my head in amazement. What kind of "cheap ass [censored]" hammers is he talking about that are supposedly free from Lanolin?

He can't possibly be talking about Abel, Bechstein and Renner, because those hammers use felt that has been cleaned in such a way that Lanolin is still an essential, integral part of their structures, density and resilience. Which is exactly why you want to keep away chemicals from these hammers. Filing and expert needling is the way to treat those hammers and achieve results that are consistent and long lasting.

I'd be surprised if the fabric softener and hair spray method would even work on that kind of hammers.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960224 03/25/20 08:05 AM
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I’d be interested to see more. Hope you share!

I’m also curious how lanolin affects his technique. The Abel Naturals in particular seem quite lanolin-y smile

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
OE1FEU #2960263 03/25/20 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
One minute into the video I have already started shaking my head in amazement. What kind of "cheap ass [censored]" hammers is he talking about that are supposedly free from Lanolin?

He can't possibly be talking about Abel, Bechstein and Renner, because those hammers use felt that has been cleaned in such a way that Lanolin is still an essential, integral part of their structures, density and resilience. Which is exactly why you want to keep away chemicals from these hammers. Filing and expert needling is the way to treat those hammers and achieve results that are consistent and long lasting.

I'd be surprised if the fabric softener and hair spray method would even work on that kind of hammers.

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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960286 03/25/20 11:25 AM
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The Abel natural felt are the only hammer i'm familiar with that has the sound that is caused by Lanolin content. In the beginning of the video we were comparing a bleached hammer next to a non bleached hammer. Notice the hammers were cut in half. We were analyzing the absorbtion of the fabric softener/alcohol mix. Just by spraying on the surface for a second the mixture wicked all the way in.

The piano in the video had brand new Renner Blue points that were pre-shaped at Renner. Todd showed us has how the Tone behaves when the shoulders are too hard. The tone practically dies off immediately because of that. So you see you go by ear to know what the hammer is doing to sustain. These hammers had no sustain. After only one application to the shoulders with the fabric softener /alcohol mixture the sustain had developed tremendously. And to the surprise to all the technicians in the room.

This technique has many advantages and so far no disadvantages. It is gentle on any hammer (unlike needles) its easy, the results are immediate. no more harsh chemicals, it smells nice. its application provides evenness that needles cant.

Todd told me about his method a few months ago. I was doubtful and thus wanted him to show me. I saw and heard first hand the results and was so impressed that I just got rid of my voicing lacquer, lacquer thinner, and acetone. And shelved all of my needles except one. That's how impressive and truly effective this is.

Last night I was working on a Steinway with over lacquer hammers and applied the Softener/ alchohol solution to the shoulders and tips. This morning The hammers had come to life and were slightly on the soft side. I sprayed one coat of B-72/alcohol solution )instead of hairspray which is alcohol, plastic, and fragrance) and now the hammers are sounding pretty darn good.

Needles are very damaging. The fabric softener gives the hammers a sweet tone without damage.
Give it a try, or get in touch with Todd and ask him to present a class at a PTG Chapter. This really works.
-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
"Where Tone is Key"
Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960342 03/25/20 02:09 PM
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I believe that you have misunderstood me. The premise that today's hammer felts do not (or only very little) contain lanolin simply is not correct. Since you were specific about the hammers used, I can specifically tell you that Renner's Blue Points do contain lanolin, just as Abel's natural felt hammers or Bechstein's hammers. In fact, the felt comes from the same factory for these producers. So when he says that (obviously speaking about processing the raw wool) "acid makes the felt shrink and also removes the lanolin", then I'd say that this is incorrect.

It's an objective to have a hammer that gives an experienced voicer the maximum of flexibility in shaping the tone. When a hammer, as you say, come only pre-shaped, not pre-voiced, from Renner, then it's clear that they are hard as a rock. Which is why Renner has a very good description of how to handle their hammers, specifically the blue points:

https://rennerusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Selecting-and-Voicing-the-Renner-Hammer.pdf

As described in this official Renner document, voicing is done in two stages: First the pre-voicing which is designed to give the hammer a certain resilience and finally a real voicing that is specifically directed towards a specific instrument in a hall and the desires of a pianist/customer. Renner clearly uses needles and files only to shape and voice the hammer.

I certainly understand that voicing itself is hard, time-consuming and puts strain on your hands and arms. Thus, finding a way to eliminate at least one stage of the voicing process is certainly desirable. Using fabric softeners is not new as a means of voicing hammers. if you look through the archives of this forum, you'll find articles about it dating back to the early 2000s. However, none of them actually describes in detail the exact chemistry and physics behind it and that's what I'd like to know. As an Open Source guy, I am not into secret black magic :-)

Next week I'll have the opportunity to talk about this to a German technician (not from Bechstein) who also uses fabric softeners in the pre-voicing stages, so any insight from your side is welcome to have a more technical discussion with this man, who is renowned to be really good at final voicings.

Can you shed some light on the ingredients used and their interaction with keratin and lanolin? I am really curious.

Last edited by OE1FEU; 03/25/20 02:11 PM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960371 03/25/20 04:19 PM
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How about voicing up? Hairspray only? Where, on the strike point? How much?


Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
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Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960451 03/25/20 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Last night I was working on a Steinway with over lacquer hammers and applied the Softener/ alchohol solution to the shoulders and tips. This morning The hammers had come to life and were slightly on the soft side. I sprayed one coat of B-72/alcohol solution )instead of hairspray which is alcohol, plastic, and fragrance) and now the hammers are sounding pretty darn good.


Hi Chris. This may have answered my question. Looks like you created your own hairspray-like solution, which is B-72 and alcohol? I'd like to try this. I have some hammers that need voicing up, and some that need voicing down. Would you mind sharing the fabric softener/alcohol formula for the voicing down, and the B-72/alcohol solution for voicing up? BTW, what is B-72?

Thanks.


Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
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Current fling: Petrof III
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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960470 03/25/20 09:24 PM
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Emery Wang,

Before you voice up or down you have to know what to listen for. What is helpful for me is i think of it this way. The top of the hammer is the Tone, and the shoulders are the Sustain. For example if the Tone is good, but the sustain dies off quickly, that means the shoulders are too hard. Thinking like that tells you where to voice and what to use.

Todd uses All fabric softener, alcohol, water in a 1-1-1 mixture. Try the Big and Sexy play harder hairspray to start with. I can't give a formula because I am still practicing with it.

If you look for Todd Scott on facebook, i'm sure he would answer your questions because of your interest.

All the Best,
-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
"Where Tone is Key"
Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960529 03/26/20 02:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Emery Wang,

Before you voice up or down you have to know what to listen for. What is helpful for me is i think of it this way. The top of the hammer is the Tone, and the shoulders are the Sustain. For example if the Tone is good, but the sustain dies off quickly, that means the shoulders are too hard. Thinking like that tells you where to voice and what to use.

Todd uses All fabric softener, alcohol, water in a 1-1-1 mixture. Try the Big and Sexy play harder hairspray to start with. I can't give a formula because I am still practicing with it.

If you look for Todd Scott on facebook, i'm sure he would answer your questions because of your interest.

All the Best,
-chris


Now that's a deep and thorough explanation of the chemistry and physics behind the process.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960594 03/26/20 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
The Abel natural felt are the only hammer i'm familiar with that has the sound that is caused by Lanolin content.


Last year I had ordered the natural hammers from WNG but received the Select hammers instead. I used them anyway and after careful needling the Selects sounded really awesome. I’ve used two sets of Naturals since then and while they sound very good I haven’t been wowed like I am with the Selects (granted they are all on different pianos and that could be 100% the reason). This thread makes me wonder about the lanolin content of both.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960603 03/26/20 08:32 AM
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Jsilva.
Me too. If you find any info please share. I've been a lifelong Ronsen user and just last year started trying other hammers due to customer requests. The Abels stood out to me immediately.

-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
"Where Tone is Key"
Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2960637 03/26/20 10:02 AM
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Thanks for the info Chris. From all I've read in other threads on PW about using alcohol and fabric softener, some people are reporting good initial results, but not necessarily good in the long term. Some feel it eventually ruins the hammer felt. Hairspray, however, is a new one. There are some threads about using it on the keys to improve grip, but not on the hammers. But if there was any brand of hairspray that does work, I'm glad its the Big and Sexy brand!

I'm curious as to what you experience and learn about the long term effects of this type of voicing, and look forward to seeing more videos of Todd's visit. Thanks for posting it.


Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
First crush: Kawai GL10
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963022 04/02/20 03:11 PM
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I just voiced a Steinway M with a B-72 solution, and the 1-1-1 fabric softener solution using the methods in the video. The type of hammers on this piano are unknown, and they sounded awful and brittle. I first went over the shoulders and top with the fabric softener solution. Then an hour later with the B-72 solution. Then I spot voiced some stubborn hammers.

Later my employee went over to play the piano and said he was blown away at the changes. Made me feel good since it was my first attempt at using Todds system.
I like this system a lot because its so easy.

-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
"Where Tone is Key"
Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963156 04/03/20 02:43 AM
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But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
OE1FEU #2963164 04/03/20 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.


It is probably unreasonable to expect anyone to have done studies and/or to understand the physics involved. The logic is probably more "We want the hammers softer, they are made of felt material, fabric softener is already here and designed to do that for wool, which is the base material as felt, so lets try fabric softener'.

What is different though is that each time a garment is washed the old fabric softener is pretty much removed by the detergent/soap wash then replaced by fresh softener. For piano hammers that won't happen so presumably there will be an ageing build up of fabric softener each time they are voiced like this.Who knows what effect that will have.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963360 04/03/20 02:49 PM
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I'd like to see the measurements of that hammer contact time.

He just made up this explanation, it works only in his head. I don't know why most technicians are delusional when it comes to too complicated for their minds or scientifically unexplored phenomena, just admit that you don't know what's going on and why things works or not

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
gwing #2963363 04/03/20 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.


It is probably unreasonable to expect anyone to have done studies and/or to understand the physics involved.


I think it's the opposite of unreasonable, but there you go.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
OE1FEU #2963398 04/03/20 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.


It is probably unreasonable to expect anyone to have done studies and/or to understand the physics involved.


I think it's the opposite of unreasonable, but there you go.


I consider it unreasonable, not because it isn't desirable, but because nobody makes enough money (any money?) from this process to fund the research that would be required to provide that information.

Now if this idea caught on, and there was a commercially produced version of the magic sauce sold in the millions, then some real study might reasonably be expected.

Last edited by gwing; 04/03/20 04:33 PM.
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