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Hey guys,

First post here. Looking for some informative advice, thank you in advance.

I bought a Hailun grand around October last year. I'm currently enjoying it quite a lot. Definitely not a Bechstein or Steinway, but comparable to Japanese pianos like Yamaha and Kawai with the price being a bit cheaper. I've had three technicians in the span of 10 months come to my house, but none of them satisfied my needs for the tuning of the piano. I was also recommended the Dampp Chaser humidity control system, and it seemed to have good reviews online, so I bought it.

This time for tuning, I asked the dealer for another piano technician. They were able to supply me with another tech at a reasonable price. This tech was clearly better than the other three technicians, and I was very satisfied with the tuning.

After the tuning, however, the tech told me that there were four "adjustments" that had to be made on the piano in order for it to reach its full potential.

1) The hammer line needs to be raised. This, according to him, would lighten touch. I did notice that the touch is quite heavy, but I don't know if this would help.

2) The damper pedal needs to be adjusted.

3) The dampers need to be adjusted.

4) The hammers need to be voiced. He explained that the tone of the piano was purposely voiced to be bright to project in a showroom. In a living room condition, it should be more mellow and sweeter.

All of these adjustments would cost another $500 CAD. I am very reluctant to spend this money, as I have already spent more than $20,000 plus another 1k for the Dampp Chaser. He claims that this would help the piano significantly and make it sound much better, but I am hesitant to believe him.

My question is, will this extra $500 really make a difference in the tone? Or is he trying to oversell me? I am certainly not lacking the financial means to pay $500, but I'm not sure if it is worth it. I know essentially nothing about pianos, so I have no idea.

Thank you so much.

Last edited by LegendLife1; 09/01/21 09:39 PM.
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Items 1, 2, 4 are probably two hours’ work at most, but #3 is harder to know by the vagueness of the description given. Items 1, 2, and 4 are also quite likely to need adjustment after a year of solid use on a new piano.


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Thanks for the info. I will ask the technician about what adjustments to the dampers he will be making. The tech charges roughly $400 for items 1, 2, and 4. This seems like a lot for two hours of work, but is this a reasonable price for those adjustments?

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Did you complain to the tech about some aspects of the way the piano plays and sounds?

If you like the tone the way it is, do no voicing.


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I didn't complain to the tech about how it sounds, but it does sound slightly too bright to my ears. Don't know if it is worth paying $175 CAD though.

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Dampers do not often need adjustment, and you can test for yourself whether they lift from the strings uniformly when the damper pedal is lifted, and that all of the dampers are held up by the sostenuto pedal, if there is one. I would check whether the let-off is at the right height and even, in addition to what is recommended.

Voicing done when the piano is slightly worn in helps the hammers last longer, because they absorb more of the shock of hitting the strings than they would if they were harder.

I would probably estimate that much or more US, but then, real estate is undoubtedly a lot more expensive where I live.


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Originally Posted by LegendLife1
This seems like a lot for two hours of work, but is this a reasonable price for those adjustments?

It's perhaps expensive, but you don't indicate in your forum profile at all where you are located, so we have no clue about the cost of living/services where you are.

The one thing I would definitely say is you don't want some hack/newbie/the cheapest possible tech doing much voicing or damper work, if your piano needs it. For that sort of stuff (I'm admittedly pretty picky), I only choose technicians who do high-level concert service, since they're typically accustomed to doing high level work for the best pianists/venues. And that sort of person is usually backed up with weeks of work, and can more or less name their price.


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In Canada, a home visit from an appliance repairman is around $100 US.

I'm sure it would be cheaper if I brought the dishwasher to the shop.


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The technician was trying to sell additional services you did not ask for and do not want to pay for.

Better to leave it for another 6-12 months and see what you think then.

Is it a new piano under warranty?


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The work described seems reasonable for a new instrument after break-in perioid, my dealer send a tech to do the same without charge (first maintenance visit was free). I would absolutely have it done to get the full potential.

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Legend

suggestion - call the nearest big city Symphony Orchestra in your area
Ask them who THEIR piano technician is and call him for advice or even service?

Just a thought


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Sounds like your tech is advocating for some action/damper regulation and voicing.

At the end of the day, whether the work needs done or not depends on how you feel about the piano? It's like buying a 100k sportscar and then tweaking the engine and suspension with aftermarket parts to squeeze every last inch of performance out of the car. Most people won't need it but for a select few that makes the difference. If you are not satisfied with the action/dampers/voicing then it might be worth getting the work done.

FWIW the piano I bought had been the action/dampers regulated/rebuilt by the dealer before I bought it. What I did find after a few months living with it was that I didn't have the control I wanted especially when playing pianissimo and action lacked the control I felt I should have. I shopped around for a tech and eventually found one I trusted to spend two days checking and regulating the action and also adjusting the dampers so they worked evenly on all the bass notes. He also did some voicing so it sounded less loud in my house. It was money well spent and gave me the control and tone I wanted. Get the work done only if you feel you need it smile. It's not the tech that has to live with your piano.

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Did you have so many different tuners because you were unhappy that the piano would not stay in tune? Were you aware at the time of purchase that a new piano may require at least four tunings during it's first year of playing?
Ian


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Hi Legend. Raising the hammer line should make the action feel a little lighter. You may want to confirm whether it is low, however. You can measure it by sliding a ruler between the strings down to the top of a few hammers and see what the distance is. If it is more than 44-46mm from the top of the hammer (at rest) to the underside of the strings, then the hammer line should be raised.

As for damper pedal adjustment, what is the issue? If you look at the pedal under the piano, you can see where it connects to the pedal and above at the piano body. If something is too loose or tight, it should be easy to figure out how to adjust. It's basically just a rod connecting the pedals to the mechanism on top, with nuts to extend or shorten. In my case, there was a slight bumping sound where a piece of felt had fallen out where the top of the rod meets the wood, so just adding another fixed it.

As for dampers, if the strings are being equally damped and there isn't excessive noise when you raise them, then as BDB says, you probably don't need to do anything to them.

That leaves the most technical adjustment, which is the voicing. Whether you get that done is up to you. If you like the bright sound, then leave it alone. However, if you prefer a warmer, more rounded tone, then voicing will address that. However, a thorough voicing job may cost well over $500 depending on how much you want the tone changed. Plus, tone can be affected by room positioning/acoustics, so you might look into optimizing that first.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 09/02/21 06:01 PM.

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Additionally, if you happened at any time to mention a slightly heavy touch, the damper timing would be a logical first place to check. If they are timed at 1/3 hammer travel it could be surmised that changing it to 1/2 hammer travel could be in your interest. If he simply brought it up from nowhere, then that's a slightly different story.

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Peter makes a good point. To check this, see when your damper starts to lift when you depress a key. Ideally the damper shouldn't start to rise until the hammer is halfway to the string.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 09/02/21 07:05 PM.

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Hi everyone,

Thanks for all the information. Some responses to everyone's suggestions:


Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by LegendLife1
This seems like a lot for two hours of work, but is this a reasonable price for those adjustments?

It's perhaps expensive, but you don't indicate in your forum profile at all where you are located, so we have no clue about the cost of living/services where you are.

The one thing I would definitely say is you don't want some hack/newbie/the cheapest possible tech doing much voicing or damper work, if your piano needs it. For that sort of stuff (I'm admittedly pretty picky), I only choose technicians who do high-level concert service, since they're typically accustomed to doing high level work for the best pianists/venues. And that sort of person is usually backed up with weeks of work, and can more or less name their price.

Apologies for the lack of info, I live in Calgary in Alberta, Canada. I'd say the living cost here is cheaper than Toronto or Vancouver, but it is still relatively high compared to the rest of Canada.

I agree with your second point. This technician seems to be quite professional. He even builds his own pianos from scratch (he showed me the pictures of his pianos during my last tuning).


Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Items 1, 2, 4 are probably two hours’ work at most, but #3 is harder to know by the vagueness of the description given. Items 1, 2, and 4 are also quite likely to need adjustment after a year of solid use on a new piano.

I have asked the tech. He responded with the following.

"Rotation angle, lift capstans and possibly spoons if there are any present, and damper pedal lost motion and stop screw if present."


Originally Posted by Aritempor
Sounds like your tech is advocating for some action/damper regulation and voicing.
Get the work done only if you feel you need it smile. It's not the tech that has to live with your piano.

Completely agreed. This is the reason why I lean towards not spending this money. I am not a professional pianist, just a person who practices an hour a day.


Originally Posted by Beemer
Did you have so many different tuners because you were unhappy that the piano would not stay in tune? Were you aware at the time of purchase that a new piano may require at least four tunings during it's first year of playing?
Ian

Here's a backstory. The first tuner, after one tuning, didn't want to come anymore. I don't know why. The second tuner charged too much - close to $300, so I wasn't willing to pay for it. The third tuner did not impress. I understand that it is a new piano and it needs to settle down, but it went extremely flat so quickly (within 1 month perhaps). The tech this time was very surprised when he tuned my piano, stating that it needed a pitch raise. I think he was exaggerating, but nevertheless the piano was extremely flat.


Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Hi Legend. Raising the hammer line should make the action feel a little lighter. You may want to confirm whether it is low, however. You can measure it by sliding a ruler between the strings down to the top of a few hammers and see what the distance is. If it is more than 44-46mm from the top of the hammer (at rest) to the underside of the strings, then the hammer line should be raised.

As for damper pedal adjustment, what is the issue? If you look at the pedal under the piano, you can see where it connects to the pedal and above at the piano body. If something is too loose or tight, it should be easy to figure out how to adjust. It's basically just a rod connecting the pedals to the mechanism on top, with nuts to extend or shorten. In my case, there was a slight bumping sound where a piece of felt had fallen out where the top of the rod meets the wood, so just adding another fixed it.

As for dampers, if the strings are being equally damped and there isn't excessive noise when you raise them, then as BDB says, you probably don't need to do anything to them.

That leaves the most technical adjustment, which is the voicing. Whether you get that done is up to you. If you like the bright sound, then leave it alone. However, if you prefer a warmer, more rounded tone, then voicing will address that. However, a thorough voicing job may cost well over $500 depending on how much you want the tone changed. Plus, tone can be affected by room positioning/acoustics, so you might look into optimizing that first.
Originally Posted by P W Grey
Additionally, if you happened at any time to mention a slightly heavy touch, the damper timing would be a logical first place to check. If they are timed at 1/3 hammer travel it could be surmised that changing it to 1/2 hammer travel could be in your interest. If he simply brought it up from nowhere, then that's a slightly different story.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

I will check all of this when I return home. Thanks for the suggestions.

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Originally Posted by Withindale
The technician was trying to sell additional services you did not ask for and do not want to pay for.

Better to leave it for another 6-12 months and see what you think then.

Is it a new piano under warranty?

Good idea.

Yes, it is a new piano under warranty. I highly doubt my dealer will cover these costs though.

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Dealer won't voice the piano. But if damper pedal is out of adjustment, or dampers aren't working right, they should send someone to fix that. Mechanical things that aren't working as they ought to should definitely be covered on a new piano.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 09/02/21 11:45 PM.

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If the piano is brand new it's too early to judge its tone. If the distance between hammers and strings is ok, and the tuning is stable, now it's time to bang on the keys! This is a breaking-in phase, hammers strings and soundboard will be put through its paces. After one year if you still don't like it, you can reconsider every step.

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