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Re: Magnetic Actions
kenny #2992607 06/18/20 08:28 AM
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Reopening a VERY old thread, but, the adjustment part is only part of the benefit isn't it, the other part being a much faster more responsive action.

So is there a reason why other piano makers have not made use of this for their upright actions? Presumably, a non adjustable version of the MBA would not be very much more expensive to produce that a conventional action, unless the Royalties on the patent are very expensive?

Re: Magnetic Actions
kenny #2992812 06/19/20 01:30 AM
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I have a Stanwood magnetic action on my piano, and it changed a very good action into a supercharged action with exceptional responsiveness. The system has individual adjustable magnets on each key so that touch can be modified in 88 different ways.

Since every key had to be worked on to install the magnets, and if I remember remove some lead, I think the answer to your question is that the manufacturers who install these systems do not make their hammers. Fazioli relies on Abel or Renner, for example. That makes the magnetic system a bespoke production.

Now if Abel or Renner introduced a magnetic system as a product line, there might be more usage. You could buy a set of hammers with magnets as opposed to lead. But here too, you would still need a technician to install the magnetic rails on the key bed. In the case of the Stanwood system, there is further adjustment by the technician required so that the ultimate responsiveness matches Stanwood's calculations to produce as frictionless an action as possible.

The magnetic action system is a marriage between the companies which produce pianos, and the companies which produce hammers. Because you need both willing to put in the work with the right technical knowledge to install a magnetic action, this type of refinement is not likely to be widely adopted.

Re: Magnetic Actions
Numerian #2992903 06/19/20 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Numerian
I have a Stanwood magnetic action on my piano, and it changed a very good action into a supercharged action with exceptional responsiveness. The system has individual adjustable magnets on each key so that touch can be modified in 88 different ways.

Since every key had to be worked on to install the magnets, and if I remember remove some lead, I think the answer to your question is that the manufacturers who install these systems do not make their hammers. Fazioli relies on Abel or Renner, for example. That makes the magnetic system a bespoke production.

Now if Abel or Renner introduced a magnetic system as a product line, there might be more usage. You could buy a set of hammers with magnets as opposed to lead. But here too, you would still need a technician to install the magnetic rails on the key bed. In the case of the Stanwood system, there is further adjustment by the technician required so that the ultimate responsiveness matches Stanwood's calculations to produce as frictionless an action as possible.

The magnetic action system is a marriage between the companies which produce pianos, and the companies which produce hammers. Because you need both willing to put in the work with the right technical knowledge to install a magnetic action, this type of refinement is not likely to be widely adopted.

Thanks, that's very interesting!

Presumably, makers like Yamaha or Kawai make their own hammers and could design and sell magnetic actions on their instruments if they wanted to, depending on whether they could calibrate or adjust the actions sufficiently cost effectively, maybe using a technological method that wasn't labour intensive?

Re: Magnetic Actions
kenny #2993625 06/21/20 05:10 AM
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This is probably because it´s a really conservative market... but I´ve always wondered why wooden and felt actions are almost considered sacrosanct.
Wood was the best available material at the time when the piano was invented. Of course the acoustics are now really well understood but I can´t help but wonder what kind of responsiveness and sound we could get from a piano-like instrument designed and manufactured with the most modern materials available. Carbon fiber, magnetic elements, ... I bet there´s material somewhere that has amazing acoustic properties but is used in entirely different industries...

Re: Magnetic Actions
Keybender #2993953 06/22/20 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Keybender
I bet there´s material somewhere that has amazing acoustic properties but is used in entirely different industries...

Possibly. But to have 'amazing acoustic properties' those properties must by definition be very different to felt and therefore must sound very different to felt. I don't think the world generally wants a piano that doesn't sound 'like a piano sounds'.

Now if someone finds a material that doesn't have different acoustic properties to felt but with different mechanical properties such as not changing with time and usage or humidity and is cheaper to produce and use as well, then it might succeed. Or not, this is a conservative industry after all.

Last edited by gwing; 06/22/20 06:10 AM.
Re: Magnetic Actions
gwing #2996953 06/30/20 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by Keybender
I bet there´s material somewhere that has amazing acoustic properties but is used in entirely different industries...

Now if someone finds a material that doesn't have different acoustic properties to felt but with different mechanical properties such as not changing with time and usage or humidity and is cheaper to produce and use as well, then it might succeed. Or not, this is a conservative industry after all.

Isn't this what Kawai has done in its acoustic and hybrid piano actions, using carbon fibre and ABS to replace wood for exactly these reasons, as well as claimed lightness and responsiveness in their actions?

That's why I'm surprised that Kawai in particular haven't included a magnetic element in any of their actions.

Just a tangential thought though. Magnets used to need a "keeper" or lose their power after a while. Maybe this has been overcome with new materials, but that would be a problemswith aging of magnetic actions otherwise, wouldn't it. Is this a factor in practice?

Re: Magnetic Actions
Geoff G UK #2997021 06/30/20 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Geoff G UK
Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by Keybender
I bet there´s material somewhere that has amazing acoustic properties but is used in entirely different industries...

Now if someone finds a material that doesn't have different acoustic properties to felt but with different mechanical properties such as not changing with time and usage or humidity and is cheaper to produce and use as well, then it might succeed. Or not, this is a conservative industry after all.

Isn't this what Kawai has done in its acoustic and hybrid piano actions, using carbon fibre and ABS to replace wood for exactly these reasons, as well as claimed lightness and responsiveness in their actions?

That's why I'm surprised that Kawai in particular haven't included a magnetic element in any of their actions.

Just a tangential thought though. Magnets used to need a "keeper" or lose their power after a while. Maybe this has been overcome with new materials, but that would be a problemswith aging of magnetic actions otherwise, wouldn't it. Is this a factor in practice?


There is the question of patents to consider so there may possibly be difficulties for Kawai or others to introduce magnets. That said Kawai are possibly in the best position to introduce them as they could presumably be included withing their ABS/carbon mouldings as part of the production process more easily than drilling wood and locating each one. However they are possibly also in the worst position as changing those moulds would be a very expensive proposition and so not worth doing until they are very sure it is is worthwhile.

Re: Magnetic Actions
Geoff G UK #2997249 06/30/20 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Geoff G UK
Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by Keybender
I bet there´s material somewhere that has amazing acoustic properties but is used in entirely different industries...

Now if someone finds a material that doesn't have different acoustic properties to felt but with different mechanical properties such as not changing with time and usage or humidity and is cheaper to produce and use as well, then it might succeed. Or not, this is a conservative industry after all.

Isn't this what Kawai has done in its acoustic and hybrid piano actions, using carbon fibre and ABS to replace wood for exactly these reasons, as well as claimed lightness and responsiveness in their actions?

That's why I'm surprised that Kawai in particular haven't included a magnetic element in any of their actions.

Just a tangential thought though. Magnets used to need a "keeper" or lose their power after a while. Maybe this has been overcome with new materials, but that would be a problemswith aging of magnetic actions otherwise, wouldn't it. Is this a factor in practice?
Kawai actions have never been considered "light". More on the weightier side. "Responsiveness" is a subjective matter. The only metric that is beyond dispute is the dimensional stability, and therefore consistency of CF/ABS, relative to wood.

Re: Magnetic Actions
ando #2997363 07/01/20 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by Geoff G UK
Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by Keybender
I bet there´s material somewhere that has amazing acoustic properties but is used in entirely different industries...

Now if someone finds a material that doesn't have different acoustic properties to felt but with different mechanical properties such as not changing with time and usage or humidity and is cheaper to produce and use as well, then it might succeed. Or not, this is a conservative industry after all.

Isn't this what Kawai has done in its acoustic and hybrid piano actions, using carbon fibre and ABS to replace wood for exactly these reasons, as well as claimed lightness and responsiveness in their actions?

That's why I'm surprised that Kawai in particular haven't included a magnetic element in any of their actions.

Just a tangential thought though. Magnets used to need a "keeper" or lose their power after a while. Maybe this has been overcome with new materials, but that would be a problemswith aging of magnetic actions otherwise, wouldn't it. Is this a factor in practice?
Kawai actions have never been considered "light". More on the weightier side. "Responsiveness" is a subjective matter. The only metric that is beyond dispute is the dimensional stability, and therefore consistency of CF/ABS, relative to wood.

Well I consider my Kawai action 'light'. Maybe it isn't if you measure the static weight on the keys but when I play it it feels light which I feel is the proper measure.

Re: Magnetic Actions
kenny #2997618 07/01/20 03:42 PM
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Lead has been used all these years because it is cheap, easily worked with, and (until recently) no environmental restrictions placed on it. Most pianists are used to the feel of a lead balanced action. When everything is "RIGHT" not that much lead is actually needed. However, doing things RIGHT is usually expensive and therefore lead can compensate for poor design and execution pretty well. It's all about profit in the end. Those unwilling to pay a premium price vastly outnumber those willing and able to. You just have to do the math. If a manufacturer insists on doing only the BEST thing they likely will not remain in the marketplace. They have to compromise.

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