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Hi Friends:

Thanks a lot on all your great suggestions on my previous threads regarding used/rebuilt Steinway search. I kept searching and found a 1982 Steinway B. Although it has the original teflon bushing in the wippens and damper actions, it plays well and has an even and singing tone. The only thing I feel it could be better is that it has a slightly heavier touch, especially in the bass section. I've tried 12 used/rebuilt Steinway Bs and this is one of the 4 Bs that I like, and the only one in my price range. The action feels better than a lot of used/rebuilt Steinways but I still like new Kawai/Yamaha grand actions better because I feel they are lighter, tighter and less sluggish.

The seller is asking 35k and it plays better than any other pianos in this price range, whether new, used or rebuilt.

I asked a technician to inspect the piano. He gave a green light but said that the action could benefit from a full regulation. He is a big fan of Stanwood method and suggested skipping minor adjustments and directly doing a full Stanwood regulation. No parts need to be replaced though, and teflon is not a concern according to him, since no keys are clicking. The piano just got new Steinway hammers 10 years ago (with cloth bushings on the shank and flange) and being played lightly since then. The seller is also a technician and did some preparation work for about 10 hours.

I did a quick search on the Stanwood method and seems like nobody thinks it is a bad idea. Only someone was saying that Stanwood is very time consuming. It costs about $2,500 to do a full Stanwood regulation. I have no concerns on this piano so I'll probably look no further than this. I could probably play it the way it is and be satisfied with it for according to the technicians that I met, for maximum performance a full regulation would make it have a better feel and I will benefit in the long run. Both technicians claim that actions regulated using Stanwood method will feel better than most new pianos coming out of the factory, even Steinway. This is a strong statement and I'm considering doing that. I played two rebuilt pianos using Stanwood method. One Baldwin and one Steinway M rebuilt in 2006. Both pianos feel pretty good under my fingers so in my gut feeling the action will be better after the regulation.

Do any people have experience with the Stanwood method?


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You need to find out why your action feels as it does. Once you know that you can decide upon a course of action. Your Stanwood tech should be able to analyze and diagnose where any problems lie.

"Full Stanwood regulation" could mean a lot of things, including strike (hammer) weight modification and soothing, front (key) weight modification and smoothing, key leverage modifications, etc. I generally believe these techniques are best employed with new parts on a fully concert prepped piano, as a final sort of super-regulation although they can certainly be used to diagnose and address existing touchweight problems. Since a really complete action regulation/concert prep can easily cost $2500 by itself, you should discus with your tech exactly which Stanwood techniques will be used and why which should help with your decision.

Last edited by nhpianos; 02/11/21 08:46 AM.

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I second the idea of finding out why the action feels the way it does. The action usually feels heavier in the bass. Sometimes an action can be lightened in a few minutes by removing excess friction. I would ask the tech why the action feels too heavy and, unless you know him very well, get a second opinion before spending many thousands.

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Greetings,
"Had new hammers from the factory on shanks". This suggests that the factory pre-hung hammers were used. I have seen more than a few of these sets installed on Steinways as delivered,which is a mistake. The Steinway tonal philosophy is to use hammer shaping as a first step to voicing for each individual piano, and their hammers are sent out oversize with the expectation of the installers shaping to fit. It is not uncommon for these hammers to be installed and left in their raw state. I have seen more than a few pianos, from supposedly reputable shops, with heavy hammers left in them. The bass is particularly prone to being under-shaped, even when a file is used over the set. Taking a gram of weight off the hammer lightens the down-weight by five, and Ed McMorrow has given us a lot of info in regard to the mounting effects of resistance mass in the hammer creates. A half hour of careful shaping can often set an action free. ( This assumes that the factory center-pinning is not freezing up....)

Stanwood's approach is solid, and leaves an action with very even touch-response. If you are a serious player, it is a good investment. However, it may be that a re-examined hammer shape and basic regulation will give you 95% of the possible improvement. I think that a 35K piano being sold by an owner/technician would be regulated to a very high degree and playing nearly as well as it ever will. If not, caveats begin to sprout like weeds.

There is virtually no limit to the amount of time that will improve a piano, but the point of diminishing returns is somewhere in there for all of us.
There was a sign in a racing shop I once patronized. It read "Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?"

regards

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I think the "Stanwood" brand has stood for many things regarding action setup over the years. At first it seemed to be an adjustable friction at the hammer center and lightweight capstans. Then later he moved into weighing the mounted hammers at the strike point.

If the tech selling the piano thinks his application of the Stanwood protocols as he understands them would improve the piano, I am surprised he hasn't done it before offering the piano for sale.

Before Stanwood got into hammer weight I developed a tone regulation system where the inertia feel of the hammer is adjusted to produce a consistent feel at the key that allows precise soft control as well as lightening fast and effortless fortissimo playing. I call it LightHammer Tone Regulation.

As Ed Foote points out stock hammers come oversize and it is the tone regulators job to bring them down to open up the tone. This is especially true in the treble from around not 55 to 88. Another benefit of lighter hammers is the action resists wear far better over time. Too heavy hammers spend too long against the struck string and the string beats the felt up.

Most stock action parts from all the suppliers can benefit from precise densification of the bushing felt by careful repinning. This also reduces wear rate.

Older Steinway's and many other pianos had lighter hammers than makers use today.

Last edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT; 02/11/21 11:18 AM. Reason: typos

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I concur with all of the above.

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Not a tech, but having had my action rebuilt on my 1981 S&S (teflon) B when I put on new hammers, shanks, and flanges, I'll chime in with a few comments. My action didn't feel that bad to me, but my technician explained that my B had a lot of lead in the key sticks which attributed to the feel. He said this was common practice at S&S NY during that time period. He let me play another 1981 B (just a few serial numbers from mine) that he had just rebuilt from top to bottom. The difference was amazing. Since I was already putting out quite a bit for new hammers, shanks, and flanges, and the fact that the labor costs might be throw away if for some reason the Teflon started causing issues and I had to replace it, I opted to spend the extra $ for new whippens and capstans (the Steinway ones were quite heavy). I couldn't be more pleased with the results. He removed a lot of lead from those key sticks! (WNG action parts with Flex 2 shanks, Ronsen Wieckert hammers).

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I concur with Peter who concurs with all the above!

I would not invest in the Standwood protocol for a 1982 action. The limiting factor here is the age and quality of the parts.

My approach would be to evaluate the weight of the hammers which has already been stated as probably too heavy. Then performing a solid regulation.

I would not purchase the piano until you are truly happy with it.


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I agree with the notion that if it's a technician selling the piano then it ought to be in the best condition that he can put it in. It's even in their own best interest, IMO, because people will assume that the condition of what the technician sells is indicative of their capabilities.


I love this old adage: "never ask a barber if you need a haircut." To a barber, everyone "needs" a haircut. Perhaps a tech who regulates using the Stanwood system thinks every piano "needs" it too. If the tech thinks it needs regulation, then he should just do it, and sell the piano that way.

I don't know how to articulate this, but there's something hucksterish about sizing up a mark and trying to determine how much you can get out of them. "...for $Xxxxx more I'll do this other 'great' thing for you."


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I need to clarify that the piano is a consignment and the technician is housing it in his place. He did some touch ups that make the biggest differences, and he did re-shaped some hammers in the treble area. He said that when the piano was first sent to his place he found the treble to be dull, so he made the tone more even. The owner would like to sell the piano as is to minimize his cost.


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Welcome to piano technology voodoo.

'Grand Obsession' as mandatory reading of why staying away from some 'experts' is a good piece of advice.

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Originally Posted by Harpuia
I need to clarify that the piano is a consignment and the technician is housing it in his place. ... The owner would like to sell the piano as is to minimize his cost.

Thanks for the clarification. I can understand why he might be reluctant to put a lot of time into it. At the same time, it would still make some sense to do so (IMO).


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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
I don't know how to articulate this, but there's something hucksterish about sizing up a mark and trying to determine how much you can get out of them. "...for $Xxxxx more I'll do this other 'great' thing for you."

For high end action restoration I consider the use of Stanwood or some other systematic approach to managing mass, friction and leverage mandatory (most especially on Steinways), so it's built into my pricing. As it can involve a great deal of additional work beyond simple parts replacement I would tend to offer it as an option for the more budget conscious client or those not requiring the highest possible performance from their piano. I think it's only Hucksterish if it doesn't deliver value for the client's dollar.


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Originally Posted by nhpianos
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
I don't know how to articulate this, but there's something hucksterish about sizing up a mark and trying to determine how much you can get out of them. "...for $Xxxxx more I'll do this other 'great' thing for you."

For high end action restoration I consider the use of Stanwood or some other systematic approach to managing mass, friction and leverage mandatory (most especially on Steinways), so it's built into my pricing. As it can involve a great deal of additional work beyond simple parts replacement I would tend to offer it as an option for the more budget conscious client or those not requiring the highest possible performance from their piano. I think it's only Hucksterish if it doesn't deliver value for the client's dollar.


Just to be clear, I didn't say that the Stanwood system is hucksterish.

I think pricing it in, as you describe, is the appropriate way to go. The way to be sure you deliver value to a client is to make sure the value is there before making a sale. Do the work that needs to be done, and then price accordingly. Maybe a better way to sum up what I was trying to say is that the risks associated with improving value belong to the seller, not the future owner. Trying to shift risk to the future owner is hucksterish, IMO.


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There are a lot of people who don't want to sink any more money into their house/piano/car and want to sell "as-is". That's not unreasonable. They may have to price accordingly to find a willing buyer...


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Well if we prominent technicians would do more to inform the piano public about best practices to design and build pianos as regards long term ownership value, then the market would provide pressure to manufacturers to pay attention to the elephant in the room: How poorly most pianos endure in conditions of significant use.


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Most of the public are only interested in whether a piano will serve them from the time their children start taking lessons until they stop playing or leave the household. Acoustic pianos are almost all capable of that. What technicians can do to encourage people to appreciate pianos more is to provide good, honest service at a reasonable price, especially service beyond merely tuning.

If someone in the family takes to the piano well enough to wear it out, then they should upgrade to a better piano. Lifespan is not the most important issue.


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BDB, of course lifespan is an issue. If you don't think that the best long term business plan for piano service and cultural richness is that the musical utility of instruments is as good as the science allows, then you are not working at your full potential.

Every truly creative human seeks to establish a more firm basis for the art and science of civilization. Humans seek permanence, it gives meaning to our temporal lives.

I get great satisfaction knowing that the pianos I prepare are so durable.

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If lifespan were that much of an issue, nobody would buy digitals.

The lifespan most people care about is how long the tuning lasts. Last week I tuned a piano that I had previously tuned 7 years ago, in a different city, across the bay twice. It was still at pitch, but some of it had gone out a bit.

As for how long pianos you work on, I have no idea what you mean by lifespan. I have not lived long enough to know what the lifespan of pianos I work on it. My own pianos are from 1920 and 1923, and still going strong.


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The lifespan of high musical utility. So that whenever you sit down to play the piano it works to express full musical intent in a comfortable fashion.

A piano should retain optimum musical qualities for a long, long time if properly housed with modest service requirements. New piano don't meet that standard because of poor engineering choices and production methods.

It is far more expensive to have to redo these new pianos to bring them up to proper standards than it would be to make them proper in the first place. V-bars not shaped properly. Agraffe string holes not properly shaped. Hammers too heavy. Low leverage actions. Poorly engineered pedal systems. Some of these things actually reduce the cost of materials and processes if implemented correctly.

Lighter, softer hammer felt will glue up much easier than dense felts in the hammer making process. Lighter softer hammer felt is cheaper.


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