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Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019066 08/29/20 02:02 PM
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Just to add to this conversation....

We (Cunningham Piano Company) were a "beta tester" with WNG when they first came out. (I believe Ed Foote was as well).

We put a number of them into rebuilds for ourselves and for our clients. There are 2 issues to discuss:

1) The WNG is best worked with if you use the tools WNG sells. I have met technicians who have worked with traditional tools and do not like the result.

2) The hammer shank is stiffer in the WNG than in any traditional wooden shank. This means that the initial blow may seem more forceful than intended by the pianist. If the technician doing the work prepares the piano well, they will compensate through voicing.

Lastly, WNG had a big issue that they have dealt with. Ed has mentioned that WNG is more stable in his university and recording studio installations (which I believe). However, in homes and in situations where the pianos are not treated as harshly, the main issues in traditional actions come not from the fact that they are made from fine and carefully chosen woods, but from the fact that the cloth bushings (and other organic parts) change dimensions when the Rh changes.

WNG has "hard bushings". They do not use cloth bushings anywhere. I believe Kawai still does. If Kawai has now changed to hard bushings everywhere, somebody please share.

Anyway there are my 2 cents,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila., Pa.
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Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019099 08/29/20 03:20 PM
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So, I am curious... What material is used in a "hard bushing"?

Re: That "plastic" WNG action
David-G #3019131 08/29/20 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by David-G
So, I am curious... What material is used in a "hard bushing"?

I honestly do not know what is used in the WNG bushing. Anyone else?


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila., Pa.
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rich@cunninghampiano.com
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Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019170 08/29/20 08:02 PM
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When I have asked the W,N&G people what material the hard bushing is made from they say it is proprietary information. I suspect it is a ultra high molecular weight co-polymer.


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Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019228 08/30/20 02:56 AM
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Thanks, Ed. That's interesting. My chemistry doesn't quite stretch to that - are there any examples of similar materials that I might have heard of, that you know of?

Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019244 08/30/20 04:29 AM
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I have asked Bruce Clark directly about the material, and he demurred from identifying it. Whatever plastic is, it is very, very hard. And I suspect not cheap. The high end plastics of the world can be quite expensive. This material is hard enough to wear out even carbide reamers after a while. It wears out drills in factory pretty quickly, and drill size is so specific that WNG rejects a great many of the drills that they buy because they are out of tolerance. In short, not the easiest of materials to work with. But incredibly durable and stable in use over a very long time.

Rich, I used the WNG parts early on also. I felt like a beta tester, because those early parts had cloth bushings and were not very stable in humidity. They gave us - and them - lots of problems. So they moved on to the hard bushings.

The great strengths of the WNG are the stability of the parts in very humid or very dry conditions and the combination thereof. The reg specs don't change as the humidity does, and they don't warp or get loose such as wood does. The other great strength is their modularity. This makes them highly adaptable and you can meet design criteria or modifications thereof pretty easily.

They are not perfect, but nothing I have seen from any of the parts makers is. They all have their problems. I gave up on Renner about 15 years ago after using their parts for a decade because of an ongoing problem of the action centers slowly freezing up in play within the first year or two. On sum, I find the WNG parts the best pick of the lot.

Mason and Hamlin does not own WNG. Pianodisc, the leader in the aftermarket player industry. Pianodisc owns M & H and WNG. Bruce Clark is the head designer at M & H, and the designer of the WNG parts.

Bruce Clark has said that, when he first designed the shanks, he wanted to design a shank that was as stiff as the stiffest wooden shanks. And he did just that. Those parts are far more consistent in that stiffness than any wood parts, and the weight of the parts is consistent to a fine tolerance, unlike wood. That stiffness will give you more power. A good pianist can adapt to the difference. Not every pianist can feel the difference (most don't, but some do). However, I don't think the pianists are bothered by the stiffness per se. Carbon fiber does not handle impact and shock well. Wood absorbs much of that energy, but carbon fiber does not. Those impact vibrations can get transmitted to the finger, and i believe that is what some of the more sensitive pianists are feeling and not liking.

I believe that problem can be solved, but that has not been done yet in practice.

WNG now sells 3 shanks of varying stiffness, one of which is target to be at the average stiffness of wooden shanks.

People focus on the carbon fiber, but only the shank tube is made of it. The rest of the parts of the whippens, shanks, underlevers, etc. are made from nylon reinforced with glass fiber.


fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner
Re: That "plastic" WNG action
WilliamTruitt #3019307 08/30/20 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
I have asked Bruce Clark directly about the material, and he demurred from identifying it. Whatever plastic is, it is very, very hard. And I suspect not cheap. The high end plastics of the world can be quite expensive. This material is hard enough to wear out even carbide reamers after a while. It wears out drills in factory pretty quickly, and drill size is so specific that WNG rejects a great many of the drills that they buy because they are out of tolerance. In short, not the easiest of materials to work with. But incredibly durable and stable in use over a very long time.

Rich, I used the WNG parts early on also. I felt like a beta tester, because those early parts had cloth bushings and were not very stable in humidity. They gave us - and them - lots of problems. So they moved on to the hard bushings.

The great strengths of the WNG are the stability of the parts in very humid or very dry conditions and the combination thereof. The reg specs don't change as the humidity does, and they don't warp or get loose such as wood does. The other great strength is their modularity. This makes them highly adaptable and you can meet design criteria or modifications thereof pretty easily.

They are not perfect, but nothing I have seen from any of the parts makers is. They all have their problems. I gave up on Renner about 15 years ago after using their parts for a decade because of an ongoing problem of the action centers slowly freezing up in play within the first year or two. On sum, I find the WNG parts the best pick of the lot.

Mason and Hamlin does not own WNG. Pianodisc, the leader in the aftermarket player industry. Pianodisc owns M & H and WNG. Bruce Clark is the head designer at M & H, and the designer of the WNG parts.

Bruce Clark has said that, when he first designed the shanks, he wanted to design a shank that was as stiff as the stiffest wooden shanks. And he did just that. Those parts are far more consistent in that stiffness than any wood parts, and the weight of the parts is consistent to a fine tolerance, unlike wood. That stiffness will give you more power. A good pianist can adapt to the difference. Not every pianist can feel the difference (most don't, but some do). However, I don't think the pianists are bothered by the stiffness per se. Carbon fiber does not handle impact and shock well. Wood absorbs much of that energy, but carbon fiber does not. Those impact vibrations can get transmitted to the finger, and i believe that is what some of the more sensitive pianists are feeling and not liking.

I believe that problem can be solved, but that has not been done yet in practice.

WNG now sells 3 shanks of varying stiffness, one of which is target to be at the average stiffness of wooden shanks.

People focus on the carbon fiber, but only the shank tube is made of it. The rest of the parts of the whippens, shanks, underlevers, etc. are made from nylon reinforced with glass fiber.
Wonderful post. Thank you !!


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Re: That "plastic" WNG action
WilliamTruitt #3019309 08/30/20 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
I have asked Bruce Clark directly about the material, and he demurred from identifying it. Whatever plastic is, it is very, very hard. And I suspect not cheap. The high end plastics of the world can be quite expensive. This material is hard enough to wear out even carbide reamers after a while. It wears out drills in factory pretty quickly, and drill size is so specific that WNG rejects a great many of the drills that they buy because they are out of tolerance. In short, not the easiest of materials to work with. But incredibly durable and stable in use over a very long time.

Rich, I used the WNG parts early on also. I felt like a beta tester, because those early parts had cloth bushings and were not very stable in humidity. They gave us - and them - lots of problems. So they moved on to the hard bushings.

The great strengths of the WNG are the stability of the parts in very humid or very dry conditions and the combination thereof. The reg specs don't change as the humidity does, and they don't warp or get loose such as wood does. The other great strength is their modularity. This makes them highly adaptable and you can meet design criteria or modifications thereof pretty easily.

They are not perfect, but nothing I have seen from any of the parts makers is. They all have their problems. I gave up on Renner about 15 years ago after using their parts for a decade because of an ongoing problem of the action centers slowly freezing up in play within the first year or two. On sum, I find the WNG parts the best pick of the lot.

Mason and Hamlin does not own WNG. Pianodisc, the leader in the aftermarket player industry. Pianodisc owns M & H and WNG. Bruce Clark is the head designer at M & H, and the designer of the WNG parts.

Bruce Clark has said that, when he first designed the shanks, he wanted to design a shank that was as stiff as the stiffest wooden shanks. And he did just that. Those parts are far more consistent in that stiffness than any wood parts, and the weight of the parts is consistent to a fine tolerance, unlike wood. That stiffness will give you more power. A good pianist can adapt to the difference. Not every pianist can feel the difference (most don't, but some do). However, I don't think the pianists are bothered by the stiffness per se. Carbon fiber does not handle impact and shock well. Wood absorbs much of that energy, but carbon fiber does not. Those impact vibrations can get transmitted to the finger, and i believe that is what some of the more sensitive pianists are feeling and not liking.

I believe that problem can be solved, but that has not been done yet in practice.

WNG now sells 3 shanks of varying stiffness, one of which is target to be at the average stiffness of wooden shanks.

People focus on the carbon fiber, but only the shank tube is made of it. The rest of the parts of the whippens, shanks, underlevers, etc. are made from nylon reinforced with glass fiber.

Great information. Thanks!

Rich D.


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Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019320 08/30/20 10:04 AM
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It may also be PEEK. Poly ether ether ketone.


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According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019350 08/30/20 11:04 AM
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I too have wondered if it is PEEK, but have no proof.


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Re: That "plastic" WNG action
WilliamTruitt #3019370 08/30/20 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
I have asked Bruce Clark directly about the material, and he demurred from identifying it. Whatever plastic is, it is very, very hard. And I suspect not cheap. The high end plastics of the world can be quite expensive. This material is hard enough to wear out even carbide reamers after a while. It wears out drills in factory pretty quickly, and drill size is so specific that WNG rejects a great many of the drills that they buy because they are out of tolerance. In short, not the easiest of materials to work with. But incredibly durable and stable in use over a very long time.

Rich, I used the WNG parts early on also. I felt like a beta tester, because those early parts had cloth bushings and were not very stable in humidity. They gave us - and them - lots of problems. So they moved on to the hard bushings.

The great strengths of the WNG are the stability of the parts in very humid or very dry conditions and the combination thereof. The reg specs don't change as the humidity does, and they don't warp or get loose such as wood does. The other great strength is their modularity. This makes them highly adaptable and you can meet design criteria or modifications thereof pretty easily.

They are not perfect, but nothing I have seen from any of the parts makers is. They all have their problems. I gave up on Renner about 15 years ago after using their parts for a decade because of an ongoing problem of the action centers slowly freezing up in play within the first year or two. On sum, I find the WNG parts the best pick of the lot.

Mason and Hamlin does not own WNG. Pianodisc, the leader in the aftermarket player industry. Pianodisc owns M & H and WNG. Bruce Clark is the head designer at M & H, and the designer of the WNG parts.

Bruce Clark has said that, when he first designed the shanks, he wanted to design a shank that was as stiff as the stiffest wooden shanks. And he did just that. Those parts are far more consistent in that stiffness than any wood parts, and the weight of the parts is consistent to a fine tolerance, unlike wood. That stiffness will give you more power. A good pianist can adapt to the difference. Not every pianist can feel the difference (most don't, but some do). However, I don't think the pianists are bothered by the stiffness per se. Carbon fiber does not handle impact and shock well. Wood absorbs much of that energy, but carbon fiber does not. Those impact vibrations can get transmitted to the finger, and i believe that is what some of the more sensitive pianists are feeling and not liking.

I believe that problem can be solved, but that has not been done yet in practice.

WNG now sells 3 shanks of varying stiffness, one of which is target to be at the average stiffness of wooden shanks.

People focus on the carbon fiber, but only the shank tube is made of it. The rest of the parts of the whippens, shanks, underlevers, etc. are made from nylon reinforced with glass fiber.

Beautifully said, William. Thank you for taking my brief "scatter shot" post and giving it the time and effort the subject deserves.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila., Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Visit our Online Store
The Science Channel documents our piano restoration
Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019386 08/30/20 12:28 PM
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I too was asked to "Beta" test first gen W,N&G parts. They very graciously reached out to me and offered a free first set. I Countered that I would prefer to just take a dozen or so to inspect, plan and test before making the decision to install them into a customers piano.

When I got them and saw the cloth bushings I went, uh oh!

Plastic won't move with humidity, but wool will move faster, and more than wood.

I planned a graduated humidity test and performed it over a couple of weeks repeating it three times.

The test results showed that the wool/felt/composite combination would tighten and loosen at about twice the rate the traditional wool/felt/wood parts.

This would meant that an action with composite/felt parts set up to function perfectly at 50%RH would become sluggish at 70%RH and seize at 80%RH. As RH is reduced from 50%RH, the action would become dangerously sloppy at around 35%RH.

Well sized and aged traditional wood/felt parts set up at 50%RH will still work quite well at 70%RH and only start to become problematic above that. This range is reduced if the action inertia is on the high end. (Which most modern pianos are at from the factory. My actions are on the opposite end of the inertia spectrum and can tolerate friction changes much better).

How well wood/felt parts function at the low end of RH is very dependent on how well the felt is sized in the bushing hole. It must be densified enough after the felt is drawn into the hole to avoid becoming dangerously loose. (By dangerous, I mean sloppy enough that the free play allows the elastic limit of the wool to be exceeded when the piano is played vigorously.)

I reported my results to W,N&G and they replied with one sentence. "We will redo tests."

Not too many months after that they introduced the hard bushing. I was blown away they did that that fast. I suspect they might have had it in the works already but no one wants to talk about it. I have heard a rumor that Jamie Marks played a role in the bushing. Mr. Marks used to run the Pratt-Winn action factory in Juarez Mexico.


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: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019394 08/30/20 12:48 PM
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I wasn't asked to be a tester and I paid for them. I certainly felt like a guinea pig though. There is a river right out my window in this old mill building and gas heat in the shop for the New Hampshire winters. So I experienced the extreme variability that you detail. I shared my disappointment with Bruce, in detail.

They have had other hiccups along the way, and they have accomodated a number of suggested improvements along the way from technicians.

Their pain with the cloth bushings was short lived. Steinway's pain with the teflon bushings lasted several decades.


fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner
Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Ed McMorrow, RPT #3019397 08/30/20 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Not too many months after that they introduced the hard bushing. I was blown away they did that that fast. I suspect they might have had it in the works already but no one wants to talk about it. I have heard a rumor that Jamie Marks played a role in the bushing. Mr. Marks used to run the Pratt-Winn action factory in Juarez Mexico.


You were not the only one giving them this feedback. We were giving it from Philadelphia a bit less professionally than it appears you did, Ed. wink

It is my impression that Jamie was indeed involved.


Rich Galassini
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Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Carey #3019542 08/30/20 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
My guess is that WNG is not a hammer manufacturer ...
Good guess - in fact WNG is owned by M&H and for all I can tell the action parts are built in the M&H factory in Haverhill. Does anyone here know otherwise?

There's a separate factory (I think in California) for the action parts. It seems like that's what my tech told me when he ordered my WNG action for my S&S B.

Re: That "plastic" WNG action
GC13 #3019552 08/30/20 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by GC13
There's a separate factory (I think in California) for the action parts. It seems like that's what my tech told me when he ordered my WNG action for my S&S B.

Nah. I'm betting Chengdu

Larry.

Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019577 08/30/20 08:36 PM
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[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]

I thought I'd chime in here by pulling the action on my 1981 NY Steinway B and posting some pictures of the WNG wippens, Flex 2 shanks, and capstans along with the Ronsen Weickert hammers. It's been 3 years sided since the initial rebuild and no regulation. I play A LOT! The hammers were lightly filed in June 2020, and my technician did a little voicing, but the action is still dialed in and as tight and responsive as the day my tech completed the rebuild.

When I was making my decision, I visited his shop. He is our area's M&H rep, so he had an M&H upright and BB with WNG actions with the original shank. He was just finishing a complete 1980's Steinway B rebuild with a full WNG action including the Flex 2 shank and Ronsen Weickert hammers. As Rich Galassini stated, the original version of the shanks in the M& upright and BB felt a little stiff to me, but the Flex 2 shank in the Steinway B rebuild felt marvelous, so I chose that for mine. I had to wait a while for it due to manufacturing delays, but IT WAS WORTH IT.

The was to describe the action is that it's buttery smooth. In my opinion, it's very consistent and precise. I've tried to use other words here on PW to describe it in the past, but my descriptions fail to convey what I really mean. All I can say is that I can tell the difference between it and other pianos with traditional wood actions.

The WNG parts are amazing, but the technician who does the work is just as important -- just like in any other rebuild. One doesn't want a technician inexperienced with WNG parts doing the job. My technician did a very typical job with the regulation and weighting process. In some of the pictures you can see where he removed a lot of lead from the keysticks of my model B. Steinway tended to use a lot of lead back in the teflon era. My teflon action was just fine, but I desperately needed hammers. Since I chose Ronsen hammers, it just made sense to do the action all at the same time. And I'm so glad I did. Mid-stream during the rebuild, we decided to change out the capstans for WNG since they are much lighter than the Steinway brass ones to remove a little more weight. Notice how thin the Flex 2 shanks are compared to normal shanks.

My neighbor recently bought a brand new 2018 (or so) NW Steinway B. It's a lovely piano. He found a marvelous instrument at an unbelievable price. He has had quite a bit of regulation and voicing work done on it by a local NY Steinway trained concert technician. This technician takes care of all of Concert and Artists pianos in our area and the Steinway pianos in some nationally-known concert venues in our area. This technician knows his "stuff." My neighbor has spent the money to have him prepare this piano to the highest level. Anyone would love to play his S&S B. So why am I telling you this? As much as he loves his model B, when he plays mine he always comments on the WNG action in mine. He says he wishes it would make financial sense to replace the NY action in his for the WNG in mine.

The WNG parts have been designed to adjustable to give the technician flexibility when installing the parts to get the best fit due to the variability between pianos made in different eras and the wide variety of designs among the various piano builders.

Steinway, Renner, Yamaha & Kawai all make fine actions so there is nothing wrong with them. They all can be regulated by master technicians to the highest level of performance. But there is something different about the WNG Carbon Fiber action that is hard to describe. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs to replace the action in their pianos.

Last edited by GC13; 08/30/20 08:45 PM.
Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019586 08/30/20 09:32 PM
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Oooooo pretty. Thanks for the pictures GC13.

In my engineering mind, it makes logical sense to see more and more synthetic composites used in the future for the mechanical action parts instead of wood. At least once the market acceptance becomes more prevalent.

Last edited by rkzhao; 08/30/20 09:33 PM.
Re: That "plastic" WNG action
Emery Wang #3019589 08/30/20 10:03 PM
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Greetings,
Of all the pictures shown above, there is one that actually tells the story of WNG. That is the one that shows the let-off buttons. in any wooden action, you will see the let-off buttons as a jagged line. The cumulative irregularities of an action, primarily the knuckles and jscks, will cause the let-off buttons to be at various heights. In the composite actions I have built, and evidenced by the pictures above, it is noticeable that the let-off buttons form a nearly straight line. This, in itself, is evidence of how consistent all of the components of the action are. You will not see the buttons in this consistent and straight alignment in any wooden action. It will also be seen that the consistency of after-touch vs keydip follows the same parameter.
Wooden piano actions are about as accurate as wooden clocks. There is little comparison with modern materials.
Regards,

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Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
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