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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
gwing #2963425 04/03/20 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by gwing
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.


You do not work in the piano industry, do you?

While I am not even close to production, R&D or Marketing&Sales, I still work for Bechstein as a project manager, even though I consider my contributions to this forum as matter of private interest. Nevertheless, I have some insights into the workings of a piano manufacturer and I can tell you that we are not only in the market to make money and grow the company, we also do this to make pianos better, more serviceable - and more beautiful when it comes to the intricacies of having some of the best concert technicians there are to squeeze out the last bit of possible perfection from a piano.

We produce our own hammers, so it's a fair assumption that our people spent quite some time developing the technology of production, use of material and particularly after-care, i.e. voicing a hammer to perfection to get the best possible match between the pianos capabilities, its location and the preferences of the pianist.

Research and Development plays a huge role in today's top piano makers, so your assumption is unreasonable, because there are strong incentives to improve all the qualities mentioned before - and one of them is money. Ask Fazioli, Bösendorfer, Yamaha, Steingräber or other companies that actually design and produce pianos - they are always interested in new ideas, approaches and discussions with those coming forward with that new stuff.

So, funding research is not the problem, but it takes a little more than just applying a secret sauce without explanation and declaring it the best thing since the invention of sliced bread.

Quote
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.


It would take at least one brand new concert grand with untouched hammers (ideally two grands), a documentation of the process, multiple before/after recordings with multiple microphones, an independent expert technician, a material scientist famliar with the process of manipulating the structure of sheep wool and a really experienced pianist to go through motions of comparing before/after and ideally a recording engineer who knows what to listen for.

Telling people that an employee was blown away by the results isn't really something that any piano maker would see as an incentive to look into the matter, especially when anything regarding the actual physics and chemistry involved is not explained or questions in this regard are ignored.

But there you go, it's obvious I am completely unreasonable.

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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963458 04/03/20 07:46 PM
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If Bechstein does conduct these tests, would you ask them to include Big and Sexy hairspray in the trials? Inquiring minds want to know...


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963476 04/03/20 09:50 PM
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OE1FEU,

I am a Piano Technician, not a Chemist or Physicist. However, I was intrigued by your question. After a little research my understanding of how this all works is this.
Lacquer or Plastic when diluted, and applied to wool, stiffens the wool fiber by coating the fiber. The fabric softener does the reverse and lubricates the fibers. What is neat about this system, is that both the stiffener and softener are alcohol based thus creating a method that is controllable.

Hope that helps.
-chris

Last edited by Chernobieff Piano; 04/03/20 09:52 PM.

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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963588 04/04/20 09:15 AM
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0E1FEU,

I was under the impression Bechstein used Renner hammers and action parts. Did they use them in the past?
Bill


Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Bill McKaig,RPT #2963596 04/04/20 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill McKaig,RPT

I was under the impression Bechstein used Renner hammers and action parts. Did they use them in the past?


When you take a look at: https://louisrenner.com/en/history-of-the-piano-action/ you will see that Bechstein is no longer listed as exclusively using Renner hammers and action parts.

Bechstein designs and produces its own hammers at the German factory and by now all Bechstein and W. Hoffmann pianos use these hammers.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963597 04/04/20 09:51 AM
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Thanks.


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963613 04/04/20 11:27 AM
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The simplest model of the piano tone production mechanism is to consider the inertia of the hammer in relation to the periodicity of the string and to consider the non-linear rate of the elastic parameters of the hammer felt.

One also must understand how good tone is modeled.

And also understand how these parameters change across the compass.

And how the feel of the action allows the pianist to control the hammer. In general, the faster a pianists can "know" how much force a hammer is carrying, the sooner they can move on the the next note they plan to play. I have found one can use their hands to "measure" the inertia of an action and "know" what sound control it will produce even with the action out of the piano.

I have a tone model I call Musically Intelligible Sound. I use consonants to describe the sound during the dwell time of the hammer on the string. And vowel sounds to describe the quality of tone after hammer impact. Vowel tone is frequency bracketed, in the treble the ear only recognizes two vowels E and not E.

In the most basic terms one can describe a piano hammer as a type of damper. The greater the inertia of the hammer, the greater the contact, (damping) time with the string.

The spring rate of the felt is almost always much slower than the period of the string a hammer strikes. And the felt spring rate slows when compressed by a greater force.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963635 04/04/20 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
OE1FEU,

I am a Piano Technician, not a Chemist or Physicist. However, I was intrigued by your question. After a little research my understanding of how this all works is this.
Lacquer or Plastic when diluted, and applied to wool, stiffens the wool fiber by coating the fiber. The fabric softener does the reverse and lubricates the fibers. What is neat about this system, is that both the stiffener and softener are alcohol based thus creating a method that is controllable.

Hope that helps.
-chris


Not really, and by now I can see that we are turning in circles. This guy starts talking in explicit language about hammers without Lanolin - and treats Renner Blue with his chemistry, when Renner is renowned for having extremely high quality felt with Lanolin as lubricant. This just doesn't make sense at all, but there you go, it's your hammers and your pianos.

My private piano is a Steinway with new Renner hammers and they won't ever see a drop of chemicals. My technicians use file and needles, and while it's a cumbersome process to work on new hammers, the reward is a spot-on voicing for my room, my action and my piano that lasts me a long time.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963655 04/04/20 01:59 PM
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But what does fabric softener do anyway? Isn't it just a coating? Aren't there various different types of softener?

AFAIK the antistatic coating causes loose fibres to repel each other so they stand up, puffing up the outer layer so it makes the fabric feel soft to the touch. Wouldn't this just make the most superficial layer less dense? Is the effect different from using a damp cloth and an iron?

I don't think fabric softeners actually change the hardness or springiness of the fibres.


Last edited by johnstaf; 04/04/20 02:02 PM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
johnstaf #2963660 04/04/20 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
But what does fabric softener do anyway? Isn't it just a coating? Aren't there various different types of softener?

AFAIK the antistatic coating causes loose fibres to repel each other so they stand up, puffing up the outer layer so it makes the fabric feel soft to the touch. Wouldn't this just make the most superficial layer less dense? Is the effect different from using a damp cloth and an iron?

I don't think fabric softeners actually change the hardness or springiness of the fibres.



The fibers in question are Keratin anyway. That's the stuff your fingernails, hair and toe nails consist of. Look at the material's qualities and you know that manipulation can only be done in two ways:

* Coating it with a different material (which is what Lanolin does anyway, so another 'lubricant' is counterproductive)
* physically destroying it either with aggressive chemicals or ruptures through cuts with needles

With the density of a compressed hammer, getting through all layers with a chemical substance in a controlled and reproducible way is impossible.

Which is why all renowned producers of hammers have explicit and detailed instructions on how to properly voice a hammer with a file and a needle.

Last edited by OE1FEU; 04/04/20 02:19 PM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963666 04/04/20 02:35 PM
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Steinway and Kawai have instructions for using lacquer on their hammers. However, none of the instructions I have ever seen have been explicit nor detailed enough to use without a lot of practice.

By the way, OE1FEU, forum rules require you to indicate your piano industry affiliation in a signature. See the permanent post in the Piano area addressed to piano industry professionals.


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Ed McMorrow, RPT #2963754 04/04/20 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
[...] In general, the faster a pianists can "know" how much force a hammer is carrying, the sooner they can move on the the next note they plan to play. I have found one can use their hands to "measure" the inertia of an action and "know" what sound control it will produce even with the action out of the piano.

I have a tone model I call Musically Intelligible Sound. I use consonants to describe the sound during the dwell time of the hammer on the string. And vowel sounds to describe the quality of tone after hammer impact. Vowel tone is frequency bracketed, in the treble the ear only recognizes two vowels E and not E.

In the most basic terms one can describe a piano hammer as a type of damper. The greater the inertia of the hammer, the greater the contact, (damping) time with the string.


The spring rate of the felt is almost always much slower than the period of the string a hammer strikes. And the felt spring rate slows when compressed by a greater force.



This ^^^ is *genius*! Ed's whole post is excellent in its scope and definition (sorry about the ellipsis)! The bolded part is what really captured my imagination. Ed's whole post speaks volumes.

Thanks for that gem, Ed!
--Andy


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2963755 04/04/20 07:45 PM
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OE1FEU,

Ad Hominem attacks are also against the rules.

BTW, Renner removes the lanolin during their bleaching process and later puts it back in.

-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
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Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Cinnamonbear #2963780 04/05/20 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
[...] In general, the faster a pianists can "know" how much force a hammer is carrying, the sooner they can move on the the next note they plan to play. I have found one can use their hands to "measure" the inertia of an action and "know" what sound control it will produce even with the action out of the piano.

I have a tone model I call Musically Intelligible Sound. I use consonants to describe the sound during the dwell time of the hammer on the string. And vowel sounds to describe the quality of tone after hammer impact. Vowel tone is frequency bracketed, in the treble the ear only recognizes two vowels E and not E.

In the most basic terms one can describe a piano hammer as a type of damper. The greater the inertia of the hammer, the greater the contact, (damping) time with the string.


The spring rate of the felt is almost always much slower than the period of the string a hammer strikes. And the felt spring rate slows when compressed by a greater force.



This ^^^ is *genius*! Ed's whole post is excellent in its scope and definition (sorry about the ellipsis)! The bolded part is what really captured my imagination. Ed's whole post speaks volumes.

Thanks for that gem, Ed!
--Andy


Would you be kind enough to explain what Ed's post means to you? Is there any useful information to be derived from it?


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
BDB #2963851 04/05/20 10:16 AM
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I can elaborate a little for you BDB. The surface hardness of the hammer will greatly affect the sharpness of the consonant sound during impact. After escaping the strings, the same hammer wiIl also leave the strings with a higher proportion of wave energy in the upper partials.

Vowel tone is more independent of hammer parameters. For example, a piano belly that rings with a strong e-vowel sound will always retain that color regardless of the hammer.

I once started work on a second book titled; Grand DeLight. Subtitle; Using the theory of Musically Intelligible Sound to design and service pianos.

I got 13 chapters roughed in but stopped after I realized the market was just too small for such an effort.

For LightHammer Tone Regulation, I use my fingers to feel how much force the hammer is carrying as the guide in determining how much weight I remove. I do this sensing at the maximum key speed one would use when playing soft and fast. I want the hammer to escape easily and I want the key resistance to be high enough at soft playing that I can complete the finger gesture used quickly and reliably.

When I play fast and loud, I want the key to move just as readily as my finger/hand/arm can. Essentially, with fast and loud playing the key should disappear into your fingers.


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: toneman1@me.com
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2964115 04/06/20 09:21 AM
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Hi Chris. How did you find the evenness of the hammers after spraying with the fabric softener/alcohol solution? Did hammers that were too bright before still stand out as too bright after the treatment?

BTW, thanks for the intro to Todd. I gave him a call over the weekend. Interesting guy. I also watched part 2 of your video. Nice Baldwin. Your neighbors must have thought Dino moved in for an evening!


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
OE1FEU #2964125 04/06/20 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
[

It would take at least one brand new concert grand with untouched hammers (ideally two grands), a documentation of the process, multiple before/after recordings with multiple microphones, an independent expert technician, a material scientist famliar with the process of manipulating the structure of sheep wool and a really experienced pianist to go through motions of comparing before/after and ideally a recording engineer who knows what to listen for.
...
But there you go, it's obvious I am completely unreasonable.


No of course you are not being unreasonable in wanting real tests and explanations backed by science, but you have explained quite eloquently why that isn't likely to happen.

And even if it did we'd really want better than just the simple test you describe, how about double blind tests on a statistically significant number of pianos and hammer types against how many different secret sauces, and which sauce(s) would we pick to test?

I'll shut up at this point.

Last edited by gwing; 04/06/20 10:25 AM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2964135 04/06/20 10:46 AM
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Scientific tests are great, but real world results are useful as well. The guy in the video, Todd Scott, claims to have used his solution hundreds of times over the past several years. If hammers he's treated this way are still good 3-5 years later and show no ill effects, I'd say it works for practical purposes. I'd be happy with a cross-section comparison of similar hammers that were treated 5 years ago vs. those that weren't, and see if the solution degraded the treated hammers in any way

Not scientific, but of practical value, I think. As a pianist I'd be more interested in the latter.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 04/06/20 10:46 AM.

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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2964293 04/07/20 02:08 AM
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I happen to be in the rare position of experiencing both Todd Scotts Method and McMorrows.

When Ed first demonstrated to me the sounds the hammer makes on impact using vowels and consonants, it was both scary and hilarious at the same time. At the time i was a newbie at voicing, so it mostly went over my head. What I do remember, Ed is able to mimic the sounds he is talking about using his voice. And I would describe it as an Ed-ism because it works for him, but everyone else would probably end up with more questions than answers. A video would probably be more useful in order to bypass the complications introduced by the new terms, and he would also most likely have to tour the convention circuit to demonstrate and teach people how to do it.

Todd Scotts method on the other hand is rather simple and follows the traditional protocol of building tone. First you address the sustain. Todd showed us what to listen for, made sure we all got it, and then fixed any sustain problem. It was interesting that the Renner hammers sounded pretty darn good out of the box. In fact, I was preparing another piano for Todd to use, but when Todd came across the Baldwin with the Renner Hammers, he said these really need to be voiced. And he was right, especially after listening to the sustain issues it had. You may notice that in the video, that I mention d# a few times. This was a note that the sustain was extremely short and very noticeable to me and others. I was hoping it could be heard on the video. Todd fixed it solely with the Fabric softener (1-1-1 solution). As the short sustain was caused by the too hard shoulders. After the sustain/shoulders are done, you move on to the Top of the hammer to build tone. Todd demonstrated the tone that he was looking for that satisfies his well known clients.
The most value of course comes from being there first hand and witnessing the real time changes. Todd transformed the Baldwin piano from being a good sounding piano to an incredible sounding one. And it only took about an hour. I thought it was quite impressive over all, mostly because of the evenness that was created, and the simplicity of application.

-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
"Where Tone is Key"
Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
www.chernobieffpiano.com
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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2964468 04/07/20 04:08 PM
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Interestingly, I have achieved results "similar" to the fabric softener using VS-PROFELT, which leads me to believe that VS-PROFELT might actually be chemically similar to what he is using (no one has yet been able or willing to divulge the actual contents of VS-PROFELT to me). I do know that you can easily go too far with it, so it must be used judiciously.

Pwg


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