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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2974954 05/04/20 05:42 PM
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I'll be convinced of the chemical treatment the very day that major makers of hammers and pianos distribute a pamphlet that gives a technician an instruction manual that describes a reproducible method of treatment with clearly defined chemicals and specific ways of how to apply them for a clearly defined set of hammers.

Until then, please understand that I allow myself the luxury of not letting hair spray and other components that have not explicitly approved of in an official manual by an actual manufacturer of hammers to be seen as actually relevant to preparing concert grands that one can hear on recordings, in major concert halls and pianists traveling with pianos prepared like that.

So far, this hasn't happened, so please accept that I call it it Voodoo, Black Magic and a belief system rather than a scientifically relevant set of axioms with a proven track record.

Look at it as a challenge to change my mind with irrefutable facts and corresponding evidence.

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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2974956 05/04/20 05:50 PM
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Kind and Open minded Emery,

How or where I spray depends on what the hammers are telling me.

The Renner Blue Points that were on the Baldwin that Todd demonstrated on needed to be sprayed on the shoulders with Water/softener/alcohol because they were extremely hard and because of that, the sustain was dropping off immediately. If the hammers had sustain, then he wouldn't have had to work the shoulders so much or at all. Next he went to Volume. He described it as "needing to be like a punch in the chest". The note comes out at you. This is sprayed on top, the alcohol wicks better than acetone or lacquer thinner. When spraying for volume, spray from the top and/or 11:00/1:00 positions. Spray heavier so it will wick into the volume area. To spray the color area you spray the same but lighter/quicker so it stays on top and doesn't wick.

If you get any pinging you clean it up with a single needle. Don't jab the string grooves just scrape.

-chris

Last edited by Chernobieff Piano; 05/04/20 05:55 PM.

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 #2974976 05/04/20 06:43 PM
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Thanks Chris, although "doesn't know any better" Emery may be more fitting smile


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
OE1FEU #2975040 05/04/20 10:38 PM
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OE1FEU,
Why would one expect a hammer maker to be an expert at tone regulation? Hammer makers surely must learn what methods technicians have found useful and then provide a hammer that works with those protocols once they are developed.

The long time tradition of tone regulation of continuously felted piano hammers used by makers like Chickering, Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Baldwin all involve some shaping to reduce weight and additions of felt stiffeners for the top two or so octaves, along with some needle work at the break.

It is only in the post WW2 era that piano makers and Technicians have adopted needle down the first four or five octaves and just shape the top treble.


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Emery Wang #2975645 05/06/20 09:00 AM
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Did you directly talk with Todd about the four repetitions? The best 1-1-1 solution?
Is that the usual procedure, or could one layer of spraying be enough?

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2975690 05/06/20 10:14 AM
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Hi Toni. If you're asking me, yes I talked to Todd and he recommended spraying 4 passes on each side of the hammer. He said to do each pass at about a walking speed, so about 5 seconds to get from one end to the other. He recommended 1:1 fabric softener to alcohol in an aerosol sprayer. Seems Chris uses an airbrush, which should work well too.

You could try just one pass. I did a second 4-pass treatment after my initial treatment because the effect wore off, and Todd said it was because I didn't have enough fabric softener built up in the hammers. So, since you can build it up over time, it shouldn't be an issue if you start with fewer passes. You can just do it again.

I would not have used the hairspray again. Since I prefer a darker tone, I would have just sanded the crowns to focus them more, or maybe ironed them. But as it is, just playing it for a couple weeks compacted things enough to where the tone is where I want it. There is some residual zinginess from the leftover hairspray, so I may do some more sanding or just let it wear away.

I didn't try Chris's B-72 solution, which I understands does the same thing as hairspray but with less of the ping. You may want to try that if the fabric softener mellows things too much for you.


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2976020 05/07/20 12:23 AM
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I use the b72 solution for a long time and it works well and it is easy to get rid off the ping in cases it is there. I use a very deluted version, 2 grams per 100 cl acetone. I will probably change to alcohol as Chris does. In many cases I add the b 72 directly on the strike point with a syringe and for me it is very controllable. And there is hardly any corrections needed if the too dull hammers are at least uniform.

I am wondering if you use a solution for regular tuning appointments in cases you have a ugly, harsh sounding piano?

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2976134 05/07/20 08:47 AM
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Toni, that would be a question for Chris or Todd, if he's still following this thread. I only work on my own pianos so can't address your question.


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2976511 05/08/20 06:54 AM
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All these conversations about ways to wrestle the bad tone out of hammers always makes me wonder why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box. I've owned and rebuilt several pianos over the years, but have kept my U1 through them all. About 10 years ago, after constantly fighting with the Yamaha hammers, and after researching and trying sample hammers from a number of manufacturers, I replaced the Yamaha hammers in the U1 with Ronsen Wurtzen felt hammers. Wow--what a change. The top octave or so needed a bit of juicing, but other than that the other hammers have hardly required any voicing at all. Here I am 10 years later, and they still sound excellent with hardly a touch of a voicing needle. The hammers hardly seem worn--they are displaying incredible resilience and resistance to grooving.

I present this result to show that a well made hammer, using the right felt, applied in right way, can produce superb results over many years, without all the manipulation described in this thread. Why wrestle with hammers that start out so far from ideal when there are options?

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Roy123 #2976575 05/08/20 09:45 AM
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ROY123 and I bet the tone is better now than when you first installed the new hammers.


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According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2976598 05/08/20 10:45 AM
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With sufficient budget and time, I think many would just put on better hammers. For most people though, this isn't a viable option, so then you have to work with what you've got. Plus, it's worthwhile to see what you can get out of what you have, and if there are methods that aren't too onerous and give good results, it's worth a try. It would also be a waste to get rid of perfectly serviceable hammers if this is the case.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 05/08/20 10:46 AM.

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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2976698 05/08/20 02:57 PM
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My method/version is more suited towards shopwork because i use the air compressor. Todd's is more suited to the home. Hence the convenience of the hairspray and the oil/vinegar sprayers he used. Todd tried many different hairsprays and settled on The Big Red Sexy Play harder for getting results. I'd stick to the softener formulas I outlined earlier and get use to how the hammers respond. The adjustability comes in the form of how many passes and how fast or slow a pass is.

-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
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www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Roy123 #2976702 05/08/20 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Roy123
All these conversations about ways to wrestle the bad tone out of hammers always makes me wonder why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box. I've owned and rebuilt several pianos over the years, but have kept my U1 through them all. About 10 years ago, after constantly fighting with the Yamaha hammers, and after researching and trying sample hammers from a number of manufacturers, I replaced the Yamaha hammers in the U1 with Ronsen Wurtzen felt hammers. Wow--what a change. The top octave or so needed a bit of juicing, but other than that the other hammers have hardly required any voicing at all. Here I am 10 years later, and they still sound excellent with hardly a touch of a voicing needle. The hammers hardly seem worn--they are displaying incredible resilience and resistance to grooving.

I present this result to show that a well made hammer, using the right felt, applied in right way, can produce superb results over many years, without all the manipulation described in this thread. Why wrestle with hammers that start out so far from ideal when there are options?

Sounded like you wrestled with the bad tone in the treble. I'm not sure that is a testimony to the point you were trying to make. Also, You are forgetting the human element to voicing. Some people may have a finer ear and require more evenness or brightness out of the Ronsens.
But that is what's great about good hammers, is that as a voicer, you have options to please the varied tastes.

-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
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Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Ed McMorrow, RPT #2976982 05/09/20 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
ROY123 and I bet the tone is better now than when you first installed the new hammers.

You are correct.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2976990 05/09/20 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Originally Posted by Roy123
All these conversations about ways to wrestle the bad tone out of hammers always makes me wonder why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box. I've owned and rebuilt several pianos over the years, but have kept my U1 through them all. About 10 years ago, after constantly fighting with the Yamaha hammers, and after researching and trying sample hammers from a number of manufacturers, I replaced the Yamaha hammers in the U1 with Ronsen Wurtzen felt hammers. Wow--what a change. The top octave or so needed a bit of juicing, but other than that the other hammers have hardly required any voicing at all. Here I am 10 years later, and they still sound excellent with hardly a touch of a voicing needle. The hammers hardly seem worn--they are displaying incredible resilience and resistance to grooving.

I present this result to show that a well made hammer, using the right felt, applied in right way, can produce superb results over many years, without all the manipulation described in this thread. Why wrestle with hammers that start out so far from ideal when there are options?

Sounded like you wrestled with the bad tone in the treble. I'm not sure that is a testimony to the point you were trying to make. Also, You are forgetting the human element to voicing. Some people may have a finer ear and require more evenness or brightness out of the Ronsens.
But that is what's great about good hammers, is that as a voicer, you have options to please the varied tastes.

-chris

No wrestling--just one application of a hardener, which seems like much less wrestling than the preneedling required of the Renners along with chemical treatments or additional needling. All the stabbing that hammers like the Renners require just seems all wrong. It's seems like proof that the hammers aren't a good match to the piano, or are simply too hard and dense to begin with. I also wonder how much resilience and longevity the hammers will have after all the needling, and I wonder if they will tend to go back to being too hard, and will therefore require a steady diet of voicing to maintain the desired tone? The Yamaha hammers on my U1 always seemed to need voicing. I also wonder how much excess weight that the very dense felt on those hot pressed hammers add. The Ronsens have been very even, and the Wurtzen felt, which is the densest felt that Ronsen uses, was a good match to the scale design of the U1. Everyone who has played my U1 with the Ronsen hammers has been impressed with the tone. Those hammers really lifted the piano to a new level of performance.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Roy123 #2976995 05/09/20 11:18 AM
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Roy, were you able to get the Ronsens pre-shaped, or did you have to shape them yourself?


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Roy123 #2977049 05/09/20 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Roy123
why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box.

So you mean e.g. harder felt for a scale design with thick an high-tension strings and on the other hand the opposite for low-tension strings?


excuse my bad english, I'm not native. Corrections are always welcome!
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2977066 05/09/20 01:39 PM
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These are some of the reasons that hammers may not be well mated to the scale design of the piano, and may not sound good right out of the box:

Piano makers are constrained to use hammers that are available.

Hammer makers are constrained to use the materials that are available.

Different people have different ideas of what "sounding good" may mean.

Different ranges of the piano have different requirements for the hammers.

There are variabilities in hammers that are beyond the control of the hammer manufacturer, as there are variabilities in piano manufacture.

The manufacturing process imparts undesirable traits on the hammers.

Hammers cannot be tested for their final sound before they are installed.

It may be cheaper and more reliable to adjust the hammers in the piano than in the hammer manufacture.

What works at the time the piano is made may not work after a few hundred hours of play.

There are probably more reasons, but those are a start.


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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Roy123 #2977098 05/09/20 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Roy123
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Originally Posted by Roy123
All these conversations about ways to wrestle the bad tone out of hammers always makes me wonder why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box. I've owned and rebuilt several pianos over the years, but have kept my U1 through them all. About 10 years ago, after constantly fighting with the Yamaha hammers, and after researching and trying sample hammers from a number of manufacturers, I replaced the Yamaha hammers in the U1 with Ronsen Wurtzen felt hammers. Wow--what a change. The top octave or so needed a bit of juicing, but other than that the other hammers have hardly required any voicing at all. Here I am 10 years later, and they still sound excellent with hardly a touch of a voicing needle. The hammers hardly seem worn--they are displaying incredible resilience and resistance to grooving.

I present this result to show that a well made hammer, using the right felt, applied in right way, can produce superb results over many years, without all the manipulation described in this thread. Why wrestle with hammers that start out so far from ideal when there are options?

Sounded like you wrestled with the bad tone in the treble. I'm not sure that is a testimony to the point you were trying to make. Also, You are forgetting the human element to voicing. Some people may have a finer ear and require more evenness or brightness out of the Ronsens.
But that is what's great about good hammers, is that as a voicer, you have options to please the varied tastes.

-chris

No wrestling--just one application of a hardener, which seems like much less wrestling than the preneedling required of the Renners along with chemical treatments or additional needling. All the stabbing that hammers like the Renners require just seems all wrong. It's seems like proof that the hammers aren't a good match to the piano, or are simply too hard and dense to begin with. I also wonder how much resilience and longevity the hammers will have after all the needling, and I wonder if they will tend to go back to being too hard, and will therefore require a steady diet of voicing to maintain the desired tone? The Yamaha hammers on my U1 always seemed to need voicing. I also wonder how much excess weight that the very dense felt on those hot pressed hammers add. The Ronsens have been very even, and the Wurtzen felt, which is the densest felt that Ronsen uses, was a good match to the scale design of the U1. Everyone who has played my U1 with the Ronsen hammers has been impressed with the tone. Those hammers really lifted the piano to a new level of performance.

Roy123,
I agree with you regarding that the Renner are too hard, and I also am a big proponent of the Ronsens. But guess what, My client wanted the Blue points for the Baldwin. It wasn't my choice. So I installed the Renner Blue Points as my client requested, and I am not personally excited about them. I had a Steinway M prepared for the Todd class, but Todd picked the Baldwin for the class. The rest is on the Video. And i'm glad that Todd did his magic, because when i delivered the piano, the client loved it!!!!!!

-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
Roy123 #2977267 05/10/20 03:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Roy123
No wrestling--just one application of a hardener, which seems like much less wrestling than the preneedling required of the Renners along with chemical treatments or additional needling. All the stabbing that hammers like the Renners require just seems all wrong. It's seems like proof that the hammers aren't a good match to the piano, or are simply too hard and dense to begin with. I also wonder how much resilience and longevity the hammers will have after all the needling, and I wonder if they will tend to go back to being too hard, and will therefore require a steady diet of voicing to maintain the desired tone? The Yamaha hammers on my U1 always seemed to need voicing. I also wonder how much excess weight that the very dense felt on those hot pressed hammers add. The Ronsens have been very even, and the Wurtzen felt, which is the densest felt that Ronsen uses, was a good match to the scale design of the U1. Everyone who has played my U1 with the Ronsen hammers has been impressed with the tone. Those hammers really lifted the piano to a new level of performance.
I'm quite excited to try the Ronsen hammers one day. My Yamaha U3 has the classic heavy, compacted factory hammer-syndrome. I have to needle and shape them annually to keep them manageable. I'm just a novice piano tech, but everybody has told me you're on a hiding to nothing with old Yamaha hammers. I'd love to buy a set of Ronsens and have at it. Unfortunately I live in a city with very little in terms of people to work on pianos, so getting them installed locally is a problem. I might consider doing it myself, I suppose - knowing full well that most of you proper techs would strongly advise me against it. I guess if I'm able to devise a way of meticulously measuring the bore angle and position and drill an identical angle and position on the Ronsens, it should be possible.
Guess I'll have to research that further.

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