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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
OE1FEU #2997455 07/01/20 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Chris,

you're the pro here and you're praising something into the sky that so far hasn't seen any professional environment. It strikes me as odd that you are now coming up with an unreasonable suggestion instead of just getting yourself a decent concert grand, a place to put and a decent pair of microphones and an audio interface on to it.

Currently I don't have a need for you chemical stuff, because all the concert grands I encounter are being prepared by European technicians who prepare such a piano the traditional way with precise tuning, regulation and voicing. And voicing is done by filing and needling - with results that make me really, really happy and that are good enough for the Vienna Musikverein and Austria public radio. If you want to listen to a concert grand prepared this way, just visit https://oe1.orf.at/programm/20200716#604719 on July 16.

Since the modern piano was invented in America by Americans (and no, I'm not American) and the technique was later adopted in Europe and known as the "American Method" I have to admit I'm quite tired of the European arrogance and know it all attitude. Since almost every concert pianist plays an American piano, and some play Japanese, Italian or Austrian, perhaps you can become like a person who attains wisdom by learning from everyone instead of making proclamations that are certainly not made by any piano technician preparing a concert piano. I will suggest you have no honest idea of what the concert technicians are doing and if they indeed are only using those techniques, they are doing an inferior job.


Steve

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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
OE1FEU #2997456 07/01/20 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Currently I don't have a need for you chemical stuff... voicing is done by filing and needling -

Peter,
Didn't the voodoo witch doctors use the needles?

In the interest of making you happy Peter, What "internationally known artist" do you recommend? This piano is going back to the owner soon, so your chosen artist will have to be willing to go to Kentucky to play the piano. They might charge you more for that.

-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
Steve Jackson #2997494 07/01/20 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
I may sound like a broken record, but where is the concert grand prepared by this method, played by an internationally renowned pianist and recorded by a set up in terms of microphones, preamps, audio interface and a digital workstation that gives the world an idea about the superb superiority of putting chemicals into a hammer of a concert grand as opposed to voicing a piano without hairspray and plastic solutions?

No, you don't sound like a broken record, just a closed minded uninformed professional.

To start with, Steinway, way back in the 1880s, made a huge discovery to what we know as the modern piano sound. It's called the reinforced hammer, and to distinguish this, they used a grey dye. Perhaps you have seen it. It was, I believe, patented system of strengthening the shoulders of hammers using chemical hardeners. Perhaps you have heard a Steinway D in concert and recorded by well known pianists? More recently, another Steinway patent is a technique of using chemical hardener treatment on the felt before making the hammer. If you have heard a modern D in concert, you have heard this. Many concert technicians, myself included, use an array of chemicals, needles, sandpaper or the green cheese the moon is made of to prepare a piano for recording and concerts.

Just because an album liner does not include voicing notes from the piano technician, doesn't mean you haven't heard it.

Steve

Well said. To my knowledge, OE1FEU is employed by a piano maker but is not actually a technician, so perhaps his ignorance on matters regarding voicing can be excused.

The simple fact of the matter is that if you have ever heard a recording where a NY Steinway was used, you have heard a piano that owes its voice in part to chemical hardeners. Calling it voodoo simply because you a) aren't familiar with it, b)don't understand how it works and/or c) don't know whether you've heard a piano voiced with it doesn't make you right, it makes you close-minded.

I'll go ahead and put up a recording of a NY Steinway D, with Abel Natural hammers, voiced with an assortment of methods from traditional to "voodoo" (filing, polishing with fine-grit sandpaper, ironing hammers, using B72 solutions to bring up weaker areas that didn't respond to traditional efforts). I will say that B72 proved particularly crucial in balancing out the tone.

Neither the piano, nor the voicing, nor the tuning, nor the recording are perfect (the tuning was a couple days old by the recording, in a university hall with less than ideal climate control - and the recording itself is too bass heavy), but I think at a minimum it shows that using chemical hardeners is not just some wacky far-out idea with no merit.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/0ia8cwpnh...ro%20maestoso-Johannes%20Brahms.mp3?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/312tjol5k...%20espressivo-Johannes%20Brahms.mp3?dl=0

Last edited by adamp88; 07/01/20 08:54 AM.

Adam Schulte-Bukowinski, RPT
Piano Technician, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
ASB Piano Service
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
adamp88 #2997545 07/01/20 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by adamp88
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
I may sound like a broken record, but where is the concert grand prepared by this method, played by an internationally renowned pianist and recorded by a set up in terms of microphones, preamps, audio interface and a digital workstation that gives the world an idea about the superb superiority of putting chemicals into a hammer of a concert grand as opposed to voicing a piano without hairspray and plastic solutions?

No, you don't sound like a broken record, just a closed minded uninformed professional.

To start with, Steinway, way back in the 1880s, made a huge discovery to what we know as the modern piano sound. It's called the reinforced hammer, and to distinguish this, they used a grey dye. Perhaps you have seen it. It was, I believe, patented system of strengthening the shoulders of hammers using chemical hardeners. Perhaps you have heard a Steinway D in concert and recorded by well known pianists? More recently, another Steinway patent is a technique of using chemical hardener treatment on the felt before making the hammer. If you have heard a modern D in concert, you have heard this. Many concert technicians, myself included, use an array of chemicals, needles, sandpaper or the green cheese the moon is made of to prepare a piano for recording and concerts.

Just because an album liner does not include voicing notes from the piano technician, doesn't mean you haven't heard it.

Steve

Well said. To my knowledge, OE1FEU is employed by a piano maker but is not actually a technician, so perhaps his ignorance on matters regarding voicing can be excused.

The simple fact of the matter is that if you have ever heard a recording where a NY Steinway was used, you have heard a piano that owes its voice in part to chemical hardeners. Calling it voodoo simply because you a) aren't familiar with it, b)don't understand how it works and/or c) don't know whether you've heard a piano voiced with it doesn't make you right, it makes you close-minded.

I'll go ahead and put up a recording of a NY Steinway D, with Abel Natural hammers, voiced with an assortment of methods from traditional to "voodoo" (filing, polishing with fine-grit sandpaper, ironing hammers, using B72 solutions to bring up weaker areas that didn't respond to traditional efforts). I will say that B72 proved particularly crucial in balancing out the tone.

Neither the piano, nor the voicing, nor the tuning, nor the recording are perfect (the tuning was a couple days old by the recording, in a university hall with less than ideal climate control - and the recording itself is too bass heavy), but I think at a minimum it shows that using chemical hardeners is not just some wacky far-out idea with no merit.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/0ia8cwpnh...ro%20maestoso-Johannes%20Brahms.mp3?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/312tjol5k...%20espressivo-Johannes%20Brahms.mp3?dl=0

Any trained technician is aware of the chemical hardener that Franz Mohr concocted for Horowitz. I still find uses for this formulation today, amongst many others tools in the voicing kit.

Let OE1FEU listen to a Horowitz recording to prove himself wrong.

If he is a manufacturer representative than he should note that so all know.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2997601 07/01/20 02:13 PM
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In actual fact, the use of fabric softener, alcohol, lacquer, shellac, acrylic, acetone, etc all go back a long way. They are often shrouded in mystery (to protect the users secrets). The specifics of use here for fabric softener, and now B-72 are worth noting. I have been experimenting with them myself and I am quite amazed at how little is needed in targeted areas to achieve very good results. I have found that it even does work on worn hammers (much to my surprise) to an extent. I appreciate the exposure of this information here on the forum.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Last edited by P W Grey; 07/01/20 02:14 PM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2997613 07/01/20 02:37 PM
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Here's an example of hammers voiced using the Non OE1FEU approved techniques. There's a reason that almost no concert pianist perform on the German pianos voiced the OE1FEU way.

https://youtu.be/RKM58jz9NHw

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2997736 07/02/20 02:04 AM
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Personally I am very open minded to new techniques, tools or whatever can be of interest. The way for me is to test these things, try them out and add it to my toolbox or not. But it is not my job here on PW to educate the other users. They should make their own experiences and then decide, what to do or not. I have often realized here on PW, that a discussion started and after a short time it drifted away from the main theme because of someone who finds the theme of the discussion goes in the wrong way. That is very annoying.
My suggestion is that everyone who will never use or is against the chemical voicing should not discuss here and make life harder to these who are open minded, means not silly!!

For me, for example, the thinner lotion on the ff part of the hammers, as Chris mentioned a few posts ago, saved an upright piano yesterday!

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2997794 07/02/20 08:31 AM
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I too have been able to bring a smile to several owner's faces (and mine) due to the judicious application of this information.

Toni, I agree with you 100%.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Toni Goldener #2997834 07/02/20 11:19 AM
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I have to wonder. With the constant needling, filing, sanding, ironing, lacquering and who knows what other abuse those concert grands go through to please each artist, how often are complete hammer replacements required?

I am more happy to hear reports like from Toni Goldener above:
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
For me, for example, the thinner lotion on the ff part of the hammers, as Chris mentioned a few posts ago, saved an upright piano yesterday!


-Bill L. - former tuner-technician
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
WBLynch #2997861 07/02/20 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by WBLynch
I have to wonder. With the constant needling, filing, sanding, ironing, lacquering and who knows what other abuse those concert grands go through to please each artist, how often are complete hammer replacements required?

I am more happy to hear reports like from Toni Goldener above:
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
For me, for example, the thinner lotion on the ff part of the hammers, as Chris mentioned a few posts ago, saved an upright piano yesterday!

They need regular replacement when they cannot be serviced to the highest level, often within a year for a well used high performance piano. Also, key leads are modified to set the touch for certain artists and at some point a new keyset can be ordered. Think F1 car.

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2997877 07/02/20 12:35 PM
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A little more info on Big Sexy Play Harder Hairspray.

Todd had experimented with all brands before choosing it. He didn't know why, but it just worked better than the others.

I asked my wife (Carron) why she wasn't using it. She told me that she just didn't like the way it feels. She had also talked to her stylist about it, and the stylist also hates it. The stylist said its the only hairspray that leaves a film. So apparently its good for hammers, and not hair.

-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 #2998539 07/04/20 07:02 AM
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Do you use it in any way?

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2998583 07/04/20 08:41 AM
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Pretty sure he's moved to B72 pellets in alcohol for his hardener. Easier to mix different ratios.

I still use the Big and Sexy spray because I bought a big can and that should last me a good long time! I will suggest when using the hairspray to stop before you reach your "goal tone" because it does harden up over the next day and will continue to change the tone.

Ron Koval

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2999928 07/07/20 01:18 PM
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All my internet stuff Finally arrived. Shipping times are insane now.

Rewatching the videos now. @ Chris, could you make a short clip of the right type of sustain we're looking for. The 2 previous videos have alot of information that's all convoluted together.

So for example, if you could find 2 keys near each other where 1 is Proper and treated, while the other has that Dead tone.

And then for the tip-Harden section, also 2 different keys , where one is not hard enough, and one is treated ?

Last edited by jeffcat; 07/07/20 01:19 PM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #2999980 07/07/20 04:21 PM
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I made a video testing the deposition rate @ 40psi on this harborfreight sprayer, it's the $12 one. Using fixed focus on the camera made it much easier to film so it didn't change focus to my hand. Hopefully the 4K option works.

Chris, could you possibly spray some cardboard on your end and tell me if you're laying down more or less material Per pass, and how fast you're going from end to end.

I think it's important that people have some points of reference, because we are dealing with a liquid, and it's easy to spray too much.


Last edited by jeffcat; 07/07/20 04:31 PM.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #3000009 07/07/20 06:19 PM
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Jeffcat,
Thanks for thinking of me.

Sustain:
Video/Audio doesn't seem to capture it too well. When Todd demonstrated it, in person its as plain as day, but on the video i could barely tell. I can tell you its more prominent on hard hammers because when the low shoulders are too hard it affects the sustain. On the cold pressed hammers i am working on, sustain was great, but volume and dynamics are not there too much. Maybe you, and any of your technician friends, can get together and discuss how hard low shoulders creates a sustain issue.
Maybe Dr. Peter Grey can chime in with suggestions.

Spray atomization:
It's totally your call, and play with different settings to find one you like. I suggest that you get a can of Big Sexy Play Harder because its very easy to use in a clients home. At first my pressure suggestion was my way to mimic the spray atomization out of the Big Sexy can. But its also based on this "just enough to atomize , and any more than that just wastes material". Once you get the spray atomization the way you like it, the pass speed is also your call. Any speed is most likely ok, what matters is evenness.

Keep us informed of your progress.
Appreciate 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
Chernobieff Piano #3000051 07/07/20 08:53 PM
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when doing the shoulders for the sustain, how deeply does the soak-through happen, 5-6 mm ?

Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #3000064 07/07/20 09:47 PM
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If I remember correctly, in just one pass with the softener, the hammers went from no sustain to having a nice long sustain. It was pretty impressive. So it shouldn't take too much to hear a difference. One pass ain't going to soak too far.

-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
OE1FEU #3000092 07/07/20 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
I may sound like a broken record, but where is the concert grand prepared by this method, played by an internationally renowned pianist and recorded by a set up in terms of microphones, preamps, audio interface and a digital workstation that gives the world an idea about the superb superiority of putting chemicals into a hammer of a concert grand as opposed to voicing a piano without hairspray and plastic solutions?

Your posting completely misses the point. If fabric softener instead of needles can bring the tone of a vintage piano back to life, that is a wonderful thing. Well, it is wonderful for the owner of the piano, but maybe less wonderful for a piano manufacturer that wants to sell the person a new piano.

Applying a light lacquer treatment to hammers is an analogous thing, and NY Steinways with lacquered hammers are in use in concert halls throughout N. America and have been for a long time as far as I know.


Not logging in very often, but I will receive PMs.
Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers
Chernobieff Piano #3000161 07/08/20 06:46 AM
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I've been thinking about why they would make such hard hammers to begin with, it's probably not an issue of production cost. It may be a pragmatic reason to increase the overall durability of the hammers. If they're Harder, they will deform less over time, EVEN IF that comes at the expense of worse sound. They'd rather have it stay consistent for longer, because the general consumer would be averse to any expensive tuning/voicing/ buying new sets of hammers.

Looking at old hammers in old pianos, many are clearly blown in and apple shaped. A harder felt would sustain its shape better than a softer one.

But don't worry guys, JEFFCAT is not getting cold feet, when the time comes I am perfectly ok with buying a whole new set of hammers, drilling all 88 and installing them myself, FOR SCIENCE !

On the concert arena, it prolly doesn't matter, because the piano won't be played as hard or as often, and they'd pay whatever is necessary to redo the action, or just buy another one all together, so regardless of what condition it comes out at the factory, the system will get the full treatment at destination..

Last edited by jeffcat; 07/08/20 06:52 AM.
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