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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2992935 06/19/20 10:15 AM
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Hi Chris and everyone else here

Thanks very much for your explanations and the diagram.
Today I used a solution with 1part all and 3 parts of alcohol. Applied on the lower shoulders for more sustain, especially in the bass. The rest of the piano was very very nice and I asked me, what the magic is behind the hammers in that mid class upright.
For the sustain in the bass I applied the solution with a pippett instead of spraying. One question I asked myself was, if the solution penetrates deeper with spraying or using the pippett. From looking at the side of the hammers it seems to be that the solution soaked in about 3-4 mm, I had the impression that it only softened the outside of the hammers.

For that stunning sound: even in the pp blow the tone had that “punch” behind it and in the ff blow the sound was still pleasing, not screaming or something like that.
The ff part in the diagram must be very hard, I think. What is your explanation for mid class upright hammers that sound exceptionally good?
Thanks.

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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2992945 06/19/20 10:45 AM
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Hi Chernobieff -Chris:

I've been doing up my kawai606 (year 2002-2003) upright lately. Everything is finally in tune thanks to all the help from generous tuners on this forum. However, I noticed that my hammers may have hardened too much. Their shape is normal, and the grooves are not that deep. But if I give them a pinch, they're almost rock like, and mostly uniformly hard. I guess I'll have to blame this mass produced Crap as Todd does from the 1st video.

The hammers were never voiced or treated in any way. Right now the problem is, I can not play softly at all. it basically goes from MF and up. Part of that may be the room.

How would you approach this problem. Which of the different mixtures 1:2, 111, b72, would you use, sprayed at what angle. My main goal is to get ppp out of it if possible.

Last edited by jeffcat; 06/19/20 10:53 AM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2992969 06/19/20 11:35 AM
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Also, it may help to graph the difference. If the claim is that sustain is improved, it should be louder for longer. Perhaps an SPL logger could be of use. In this image I just played C4 through C5. Maybe chris can do a before and after measurement. Excuse the 55db room noise, the refrigerator currently compressing nearby.

[Linked Image]

It's from the SPL logger in the Room EQ wizard (freeware) which supports the popular Umik linear microphone as suggested by another tuner from my other thread. If the sustain is longer as the result of the softening, the shape of the decay should change or elongate near the bottom, the area under the curve should enlarge. You don't need to buy the Umik to use the app. the default microphone on laptops will work fine for this purpose.

There are phone apps as well, but it's probably best we all use PC apps so that everyone can get in on it. and no ads.

Last edited by jeffcat; 06/19/20 11:40 AM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2993027 06/19/20 01:37 PM
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Jeffcat,

I have greatly benefited from this discussion overall and my experimentation has corroborated everything that Chris and Toni have presented. If it was me at your piano I would not hesitate to spray right on the strike point with 1:2 solution (or 1:3) as an initial application. I am using a spent Cory Key Cleaner spray bottle as my atomizer. I would move at a rate of about three hammers per pump using this. Then wait an hour or so and try it. You will notice a significant change for the better.

If you are afraid to do this then instead apply 1-3 drops per string groove instead using a very fine pipette or "hypo-oiler" (this is my other 'magic wand as it has been dubbed). Again wait an hour and try it. If you like that, but it's not enough, that may give you the courage to try step one above.

I have been amazed at the capacity of this solution to create a full round tone on even worn hammers and those not worth doing anything else to. I seem to have more reason to soften bright clanging hammers than to need to brighten up soft ones. In the past I have used VS-Profelt in a similar way with similar results, but I must wait 8 hours or more to hear the results. This stuff seems to do the same thing MUCH faster. Just yesterday I applied it to a set of pretty worn and very bright hammers (as in par. one above) about 10 minutes before tuning. Went ahead with the tuning and by the time I was done the piano had developed a gorgeous round tone (perfect for Debussy) and I did not need to do anything else. The owner was beyond happy (as was a previous spinet owner treated similarly).

I also like Toni's idea of massaging it in...kind of more hands on.


Anyway, that's my .02 on your dilemma.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Last edited by P W Grey; 06/19/20 01:39 PM.

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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2993044 06/19/20 02:18 PM
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Hi Jeff. Peter and Chris are the pros so whatever they say would be the way to go. Just to give you more info, I can tell you my experience with my Kawai GL10. I pretty much sprayed my hammers per Todd's instructions, using a pressurized aerosol sprayer. I bought them on Amazon, 3 for $16: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R5C669H/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I laid towels down to cover everything on the action except the hammers, then sprayed the mixture of 1 part ALL and 2 parts alcohol onto the shoulders from each side, at about 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock. I made 4 passes on each side, going about walking speed. Takes about 5-7 seconds to make a pass on all 88 hammers. The sprayers I got on Amazon will stay pressurized for about 20 seconds of continuous spraying. A regular pump sprayer should work, but Todd recommended a aerosol-type sprayer because they're more even.

I let everything dry for a couple hours, and when I played, it, I noticed a dramatic difference. PP became so much easier to play. The piano became quieter overall, but I could still get just as loud if I punched it. So the dynamic range increased by a lot. The effect wore away somewhat in about a week, so if things are too mellow for you, you may want to wait a week to see if it brightens up. If not, you can spray the tips with hairspray or B72.

It would be hard to spray hammers on an upright without removing the action, so I'd recommend you do that first.


Daily driver: Kawai MP11SE
First crush: Kawai GL10
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
jeffcat #2993069 06/19/20 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
Hi Chernobieff -Chris:

I've been doing up my kawai606 (year 2002-2003) upright lately. Everything is finally in tune thanks to all the help from generous tuners on this forum. However, I noticed that my hammers may have hardened too much. Their shape is normal, and the grooves are not that deep. But if I give them a pinch, they're almost rock like, and mostly uniformly hard. I guess I'll have to blame this mass produced Crap as Todd does from the 1st video.

The hammers were never voiced or treated in any way. Right now the problem is, I can not play softly at all. it basically goes from MF and up. Part of that may be the room.

How would you approach this problem. Which of the different mixtures 1:2, 111, b72, would you use, sprayed at what angle. My main goal is to get ppp out of it if possible.

First line of offense in your case would be to use the 1:2 (All softener/Alcohol) and try one pass across the top of the hammers. And then listen to the results. If you like the way its going, you can stay or try another pass. Next you could try 1-1-1 (i add alcohol often to make it wick in better. currently using a 1-4-1 All-alcohol-water) apply with a hypo oiler and only put 1 drop on each strike point.

And yes, it best to remove the action, lay it down so the hammer tops are pointing upwards.


Those are some simple and the least invasive to try.

-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
jeffcat #2993101 06/19/20 04:38 PM
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How is your letoff? Close enough? Key dip? Is your action regulated? Ic you can play only mf up you have probably an action that is not regulated or you are an inexperienced pianist.

Voicing is IMO something different than voicing. First you need a good regulation and then you voice your piano to your preferences.

Can you send a video of your action? Played very very slowly?

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2993103 06/19/20 04:47 PM
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For these hard screaming hammers go directly to the strike point with the 1:2 solution. I personally like to massage the solution in the hammers instead of brushing with the wire brush. It is also easier to feel witch hammers feel drier or wetter and then you can add some extra 1:2 on the drier ones.
If it is too soft an hour later, I would recommend waiting till the next day. Often it brightens up a tiny amount then, and your ears are freshly, too. In many cases it feels right or at least you have a clearer picture in your mind of what to do next. For me the magic brighten up touching it my 1.6 grams/100cl paraloid solution.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Toni Goldener #2993104 06/19/20 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
How is your letoff? Close enough? Key dip? Is your action regulated? Ic you can play only mf up you have probably an action that is not regulated or you are an inexperienced pianist.

Voicing is IMO something different than voicing. First you need a good regulation and then you voice your piano to your preferences.

Thx for the tip Toni, I am not a piano voicer/technician, but I am a machinist. I went through the regulation manual from kawai, and all the numbers are within .5mm of their spec.

I remember how the hammers felt because I couldn't resist squeezing something fuzzy looking when I first bought the piano. Today they are ROCK HARD compared to my memory of how the hammers felt when new. I suspect the long years of non-use, moisture/ hot'n'cold cycling over time got them this way. The shape is fine, so I know it's not compaction from impact.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2993107 06/19/20 04:51 PM
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Just want to confirm, This is the-Stuff ?

ALL, are these sold in different concentrations, or is the product uniform.

https://www.amazon.com/all-Concentr...l+softener&qid=1592603421&sr=8-3

Bsxy Play Harder ?

https://www.amazon.com/SEXYHAIR-Spr...lay+harder&qid=1592603496&sr=8-5

Where do you guys buy the B-72 ?

Last edited by jeffcat; 06/19/20 04:58 PM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
jeffcat #2993108 06/19/20 04:54 PM
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Then go for the tips. Don’t worry about that. Spray them, probably more than you think.
You can create after drying your personal preferences. 😊

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2993109 06/19/20 04:56 PM
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I bought it in a shop where you can buy acetone, alcohol or something like that.
If you like I can send me your address and I can put some in an envelope and send it to you.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Toni Goldener #2993112 06/19/20 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
I bought it in a shop where you can buy acetone, alcohol or something like that.
If you like I can send me your address and I can put some in an envelope and send it to you.

You are too kind Toni, I found some on ebay, it's probably cheaper in shipping than personal mail. Thanks very much..

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
P W Grey #2993114 06/19/20 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
If you are afraid to do this then instead apply 1-3 drops per string groove instead using a very fine pipette or "hypo-oiler" (this is my other 'magic wand as it has been dubbed). Again wait an hour and try it. If you like that, but it's not enough, that may give you the courage to try step one above.

I am not afraid to spray, but this seems like a good point to start testing and get a feel for the chemical. I fully intend to later Spray the thick shoulder section, the whole thing is hard.

When you say 1-3 drop per string groove, does that mean 2-6 drops for double grooves, and 3-9 drops for triple grooves.

Last edited by jeffcat; 06/19/20 05:12 PM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
jeffcat #2993127 06/19/20 05:30 PM
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Simply test it. Start with one drop per string groove. Let it dry. Listen. Repeat it needed.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2993136 06/19/20 06:00 PM
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I just read this whole thread and a couple of thoughts came to my mind.

There seems to be a lot of argument over the treatment of professional concert grands in a large performance setting. Then there is talk about setup of newly restored or re-hammered (unplayed) pianos.

But my thoughts are toward the utilization of the spray and play method on home pianos in the field.

I was an active tuner/tech in the 80s-90s but have been inactive for two decades. I had not heard of spraying hammers like this. Before it was lacquer and needles.

Now to my point, I always believed and practiced the concept of doing the most good possible within the time, budget and client’s taste. To be able to quickly and simply improve an instrument’s quality and character during a visit is valuable. It increases the owner’s pleasure and your reputation with them.

I tune customer’s pianos very rarely these days but attend to friend’s and family’s instruments from time to time. I also occasionally find project pianos for freshening up, to then return to the wild.

I am excited to try the spray and play method the next opportunity where a little effort can produce pleasing results.


-Bill L. - former tuner-technician
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
jeffcat #2993147 06/19/20 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
Just want to confirm, This is the-Stuff ?

ALL, are these sold in different concentrations, or is the product uniform.

https://www.amazon.com/all-Concentr...l+softener&qid=1592603421&sr=8-3

Bsxy Play Harder ?

https://www.amazon.com/SEXYHAIR-Spr...lay+harder&qid=1592603496&sr=8-5

Where do you guys buy the B-72 ?

Yes, that is the ALL fabric softener I bought. I got my B-72 here: https://www.talasonline.com/Paraloid-B-72. I didn't like the ping I got with the Big Sexy, but if you brush the crown afterward, it may work. I like the B-72 because you can adjust the dilution, and I sprayed mine at the medium dilution formula that Chris shares in this thread, which is 1 gram of B72 per fl. oz. of alcohol. Incidentally, that B-72 dissolves very slowly in alcohol, but it will dissolve. Took about 5 days to completely dissolve in my bottle of Everclear. My biggest worry was that someone would try drinking it in the meantime! Use a clear bottle so you can see when the pellets have dissolved. They tend to clump up at the bottom at first, then the clump slowly flattens out and disappears.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 06/19/20 06:26 PM.

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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
WBLynch #2993162 06/19/20 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by WBLynch
There seems to be a lot of argument over the treatment of professional concert grands in a large performance setting. Then there is talk about setup of newly restored or re-hammered (unplayed) pianos.

I don't think the argument over professional concert use cases is necessary, even if it can work.

They're probably after consistency, they don't care about how much they spend on technicians, replacing hammers, rebuilding actions. So in that mindset there may be reluctance in changing what already works for them. It's like asking a formula 1 driver what he does to save on tires, probably not something which crosses his mind when the team buys 2x20million dollar cars every season.

Last edited by jeffcat; 06/19/20 07:41 PM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2993181 06/19/20 08:46 PM
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Let me put this in my own words, and y'all correct me if I'm not reading the concept correctly.

If and when the piano hammer is too hard, such is the case with quote(Todd), these cheap ass-$hi7 they got now", they bounce off the string too-energetically not imparting the right tone. By softening the hammers, we are controlling the impact time the hammers make. Finally, by ear we successively tune the hardness to reach the sound we want.

The Hardener both in the volume area and on the crown is to add a non-linear dynamic to the behavior of the hammers, which allows the artist/player to then colorize the sound.

Also, is there full set of videos, besides the 2 linked ?

Last edited by jeffcat; 06/19/20 08:52 PM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2993495 06/20/20 04:23 PM
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Last edited by jeffcat; 06/20/20 04:25 PM.
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