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hammers are mellow but feel thuddy- like concrete
#3049452 11/25/20 04:33 PM
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I am working on a late 1930's Lester upright. Hammer's were shaped to get the grooves out. there's still plenty of meat left but the issue I'm having is that the feel when played. It's hard to describe- I guess one analogy would be like when you hit something with an aluminum bat- you get some recoil- as opposed to a wooden one.

I don't know if needling would solve this- the tone is pretty warm- maybe too much so- but I prefer mellow sounding hammers. The only thing that has worked to alleviate the sensationi of hammers smacking the strings too hard- is to introduce quite a bit of lost motion. That, coupled with using the soft pedal- makes it much more pleasant to play. I know it's probably a temporary fix.

Any thoughts on this? Are the hammers just too old and thus that hard feel?

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Re: hammers are mellow but feel thuddy- like concrete
tjazz #3049455 11/25/20 04:37 PM
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Hard to say without a sample of the sound. But, if the hammers have been filed, then needling is usually part of the process. Normally you would need first then file. But, you can still do it now.


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Re: hammers are mellow but feel thuddy- like concrete
tjazz #3049517 11/25/20 08:31 PM
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The piano is approaching 3 times past it's design lifespan. The hammerfelt has probably lost its resiliency (tension and compression) and has become simply a blob of stuff on the end of a stick. Reshaping to somewhat of a point (egg shape) might help, but in reality the entire structure is past it's it's prime by a long shot. We must come to grips with that.

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Re: hammers are mellow but feel thuddy- like concrete
tjazz #3049541 11/25/20 09:57 PM
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There are at least two things working here: The hammers are worn out, and the strings are worn out. There is not much you can do about the strings short of replacing them, but old hammers will sometimes respond to aggressive needling, beyond what is usually recommended. The needling should be deep, both in the shoulders, and deep under the strike point (come in from the shoulder). It should be a lot of work and take a long time. Try a few hammers to get the feel for it, checking often to see if you are getting results that you want.

You need the hammers to be soft enough underneath that they will transfer more energy to the strings. You may not be able to get them a lot better, but you should be able to hear what the trends are, unless the hammers are so petrified by age that there is no give to them. There is always the possibility that there is no hope for these hammers, but at least that means that you cannot ruin them much worse than they are.


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