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Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
#3025555 09/16/20 08:50 AM
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So the question is, how do the professionals feel about perfecting the triangle? Is it much better on Grand ? My experience thus far is only regulating my upright.

I've been playing around with this, and as a machinist I'm recognizing that the parts are not rigid enough to hold a tight tolerance (for very long anyway). You've got soft pieces, long levers, tiny 0.05 - 0.1mm shims mean 0.5mm changes at either end of the lever.

From just playing the piano, I feel like 1mm aftertouch 0.04" is a good place. My current understanding of aftertouch is that it is a fricative moment in the key-travel similar to a tactile response. The response is important in signaling to the player that the stroke is Finished. If this distance is too shallow, it leads to finger uncertainty where the player isn't sure if his user input has completed. Describing it even less precisely, it feels kind of like breaking a thin toothpick extremely quickly such that there's a snap, but it's so fast that it feels as part of the smooth travel.

As for getting very precise aftertouch or perfectly uniform dip, it doesn't seem to matter that much. By all means, for science and hobby, you would get it as uniform as time allows. But from playing the piano, I can't see a huge advantage of very perfect numbers. For 1, humans don't hit the key at the end, so what may be a 1mm difference at the very edge of the key is 0.5mm or less where the human hits it. Then with soft parts compression, the NON-linear relationship between loudness / friction / force input, the Non-linear frequency response of the human ear, it does seem like mostly an extraneous errand.

If these parts and bearings had much higher rigidity, I could imagine nailing down to sub-millimeter variances to be worthwhile. But as it is, I can't see the benefit of measuring so precisely with so many soft parts, just pick a hammer blow, aftertouch by feel, eyeballing the jack clearance, get dip within 0.5mm walk away ?

Last edited by jeffcat; 09/16/20 08:52 AM.
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Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3025665 09/16/20 01:13 PM
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Greetings,
Pianists register irregular aftertouch far more quickly than irregular dip, so I regulate by an "after-touch priority" protocol. The choice of blow is, to an extent, determined by the amount of the sharps that one must leave protruding above the keys when depressed. 13 mm, (1/2") is the normal for sharps height, as any taller and the fast articulation of passages becomes difficult. If lower than that, the amount of aftertouch or blow has to be changed to keep the top of the sharp above the naturals when played.

So, there are some limits on those two dimensions. If the pianist wants a deeper or shallower keycap, some accommodation can be made within the limits of acceptable after-touch. I find that .20"-.60" aftertouch are the limits I have been able to get away with before complaints, and my norm is .040". Some action's architecture requires less aftertouch in order to lower the blow enough to keep the shanks near the rest felts, even after the dip has been deepened as far as it can without causing the sharps to bury. Other actions require a lot of aftertouch due to the action ratio. I begin with the normal blow, and .040" aftertouch, after the let-off is set. Then, if necessary, make adjustments to fit the particular piano and owner. What I hold to be critical is the consistency of the aftertouch, and if necessary, I will adjust the dip to get there.

If the dip begins to need more than a .015" difference to get the aftertouch even, I will use a variation of blow to accommodate the difference. When the irregularity of the action is split between the dip and blow to keep the aftertouch consistent, pianists invariable love the consistency. If I let the aftertouch vary to keep an even dip, they invariably complain.
Regards,

Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3025768 09/16/20 05:47 PM
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@ Ed,

How would you rank the various parameters in order of importance ?

Aftertouch > Dip > Blow ?

Last edited by jeffcat; 09/16/20 05:48 PM.
Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3025780 09/16/20 06:15 PM
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The feeling of escapement will generally be more certain in a grand piano, less so in a vertical.
Darryl Fandrich inserted a grand knuckle into the vertical hammer butt in his later Fandrich actions to give a more grand-like aftertouch.


Ed Sutton, RPT
Just a piano tuner!
Durham NC USA
Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3025788 09/16/20 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
@ Ed,

How would you rank the various parameters in order of importance ?

Aftertouch > Dip > Blow ?


TRICK QUESTION!!!!

The important thing is the combination. I do favor consistent aftertouch, regardless of what I do with the blow and dip. Actions, particularly Steinways, will often require compromises, and I let those compromises be resolved between blow and dip. Sometimes, the various string heights found in a given piano will make the "optimum" combination different between sections, such a a very low top octave and an excessively high middle. A given blow will perhaps not have enough room at the top when perfect for the middle, or on the other end of the spectrum, be 1/8" off the rest felts a the top, but 1/2" off the felts in the middle, (which is asking for trouble!). I can alter blow enough to keep dip within acceptable bounds without appreciably changing the available power, so blow would probably be last. Dip can vary, but as I mentioned, the sharps have to be kept above the naturals surface and really can't be higher that 1/2", so there are limits there.

I suppose it would be aftertouch, dip, then blow. Keep in mind, that aftertouch, if even, can vary quite a bit. It is just important that the whole piano have the same amount.
Regards,

Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3025827 09/16/20 10:58 PM
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In my understanding, the key issue in setting the aftertouch in a vertical piano is making sure the jack clears the hammer butt leather sufficiently to avoid bobbling hammers. A firm press at the end of the key stroke should open up a visual separation between the parts when the hammer is held at checking distance, often 5/8" from the string. For me, aftertouch in the vertical piano is not a tactile sensation to the degree that it is in the grand.


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Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3025923 09/17/20 07:06 AM
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Floyd gives the core principle of vertical regulation: The jack must clear the hammer butt enough to avoid bobbling hammers.
This can be attained by various adjustments of the other regulation points.
Yamaha, as I understand it, wants keydip to be absolute an all Yamaha pianos. Given the accuracy of Yamaha design and production, once blow distance is set, fudging on let-off or lost motion will be minimal and undetectable.
The PTG vertical curriculum, mostly written by LaRoy Edwards, is the most comprehensive presentation of vertical regulation I know of.
On old, worn, or poorly designed and built verticals, the search for possible consistency can require tragically forgiving parameters.


Ed Sutton, RPT
Just a piano tuner!
Durham NC USA
Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3026515 09/18/20 05:34 PM
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@ the Eds

What is the absolute latest the damper-lift can be timed at.

I notice that timing it at the half way point, I can still get ~ 4mm of damper lift at the end of the travel.

Is there a particular reason half way is recommended, is it for seasonality, something to do with key travel/feel/resistance curve, or to preserve the staccato..

Last edited by jeffcat; 09/18/20 05:36 PM.
Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3026557 09/18/20 08:35 PM
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Greetings,
Damper lift at the half-way point is a general compromise. In dead rooms, earlier lift makes the piano sound fuller. In overly reverberant spaces, a late lift can help reduce the "muddiness". In dead rooms, a late lift will make the sound 'brittle", etc.

What the above conditions depend on is when the damper returns to the string. A late return(what you get with a very early lift), adds a legato character to playing while a very early return,(what you get with a late lift) introduces a more staccato character. The pianist's technique can be assisted or hampered by either, it all depends on what sort of sound is being sought.

As far as the action's "feel", a very early lift makes for a heavier feel, since work is being done earlier in the keystroke. A very late lift will often, (depending on hardness of the key end felt), introduce a noticeable impact in the keystroke, as the key end is traveling at near full speed when it encounters the underlever. This condition may also leave wedge felts close enough to the string so that there is interference in fast repetition due to the string's excursion zone becoming wide enough to touch the felts.

Further problems can arise from extreme damper lifts. A very late lift may leave excessive free play between the underlever and the stop rail, which may be set to the pedal. It can also leave wedges between strings, particularly if there are wound tri-chords, such as are found a the top of the Steinway D bass section. A very early lift may, with some wear, settling, or seasonal humidity swelling trap work felts, cause the dampers to be held off the strings, leading to bleeding dampers.

I don't remember ever being asked to make dampers lift earlier, except where a pianist wanted a "heavier" practice action. There has been times where a later lift helped, primarily in the recording studios where lighter touch and "cleaner" tracks were the goal.
Regards,

Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
Ed Foote #3026639 09/19/20 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Further problems can arise from extreme damper lifts. A very late lift may leave excessive free play between the underlever and the stop rail, which may be set to the pedal.

Thanks for the very deep insight.

How much play is suppose to be between the damper and the damper stop rail. Are they suppose to touch when the pedal is down, but -not- touch when only the key is fully depressed ?

Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3026644 09/19/20 05:58 AM
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My piano also has what looks like a felt rail that's suppose to touch the damper wire when the dampers are lifted, but this rail doesn't seem to touch anything at all. I don't think it ever has.

Last edited by jeffcat; 09/19/20 05:59 AM.
Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3026691 09/19/20 08:36 AM
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One of the problems if the damper timing is too late is when the key is released slowly, the sound can cut off before the pianist is ready. It's something I will pick up on quickly when I'm testing a piano.

When you take in all the parameters that need to be met, there really is only a range of adjustments you can make with damper timing.


Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com
Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3026863 09/19/20 04:20 PM
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Interesting point Bill, How does one differentiate something that's inherently wrong vs a _degree of which_ is reasonable for the player to adjust for via technique.

So to say it's cutting off too early, how early is too early ?

Are there diagrams anywhere for example, if we have 10.3mm of travel, @ x-mm this happens, @ x-mm this happens, on release @ x-mm this happens, @ x-mm jack resets.

Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3026876 09/19/20 04:51 PM
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Part of it, Jeff, is what the pianist prefers. I had a tech once that delayed my damper lifts in an attempt to lighten the feel of the action. However, that resulted in notes getting cut off too early for my liking, so I adjusted them back. As Ed Foote posted elsewhere, he may also adjust a piano in a studio to have a later damper lift to achieve a cleaner sound by having the notes mute earlier, but not necessarily so in a non-studio environment.

Hopefully your dampers are just having a timing issue. Buzzing and oinking dampers are a much bigger pain in the butt to deal with, I think.


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Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3026889 09/19/20 05:53 PM
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You would learn a lot about regulation with a little experimentation. Most regulation steps are easily reversible if they do not work out.


Semipro Tech
Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
BDB #3026895 09/19/20 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
You would learn a lot about regulation with a little experimentation. Most regulation steps are easily reversible if they do not work out.


I am trying out all of the tips so far. All the moves seem to work ok, and I can compensate with slightly different playing. The issue is I do not have a reference point.

Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3026930 09/19/20 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Further problems can arise from extreme damper lifts. A very late lift may leave excessive free play between the underlever and the stop rail, which may be set to the pedal.

Thanks for the very deep insight.

How much play is suppose to be between the damper and the damper stop rail. Are they suppose to touch when the pedal is down, but -not- touch when only the key is fully depressed ?

In this statement Ed Foote is referring to a grand piano damper upstop rail.
In a vertical, we don't expect the damper wire to touch the damper stop rail under pressure from the key, the rail is there in case of extreme bouncing from fff playing.


Ed Sutton, RPT
Just a piano tuner!
Durham NC USA
Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3026955 09/19/20 09:29 PM
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If damper lift is delayed too much in the key stroke so that it begins with escapement, soft playing will be more difficult to control.

Last edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT; 09/19/20 09:30 PM.

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Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3027021 09/20/20 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
Originally Posted by BDB
You would learn a lot about regulation with a little experimentation. Most regulation steps are easily reversible if they do not work out.


I am trying out all of the tips so far. All the moves seem to work ok, and I can compensate with slightly different playing. The issue is I do not have a reference point.

The thing about regulation is that we work to satisfy the player, not to conform to a particular measurement figure.
So, why not use halfway through hammer blow as your reference and "adjust to taste", to suit your playing preferences.
It is like a recipe, each chef has their own variation on the theme, and also variation each time they cook the dish. The weather may influence your choice of datum, or, as you get more experienced, your knowledge of how the weather affects that particular piano over a time. So also with your playing, what sort of pieces do you want to match your action to? The whole thing is a fluid situation and you've had some really useful replies on here to help you feel your way.
Nick


Nick, ageing piano technician
Re: Dip, Aftertouch, Blow
jeffcat #3027039 09/20/20 06:34 AM
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jeffcat,

You learn this like you learn any skill. You play a lot of well regulated actions and develop a feel for what is supposed to happen. I have worked at this for so long that I am quite sensitive to the feel of an action.

Recently, I went to an appointment and my customer complained that something had happened to her piano. I played one triad and said I think I know what's wrong. I pulled the action and adjusted the damper upstop rail that had come loose. When I played the chord I felt the dampers bounce on the end of the keys. It did turn out that was the problem she was experiencing. It could have been something else that was bothering her, but I started with that because it was so obvious and easy to fix.

The point is you study a well prepped piano. How it plays through the dynamic range, how the action sounds, etc. You go through all the functions of the piano over and over until you have a mental image of what a well prepped piano should be.


Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com
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