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Estonia Pianos
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Joined: Mar 2015
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Hey hammer heads!

I have used Ronsen Weickert hammers on many pianos now and have repeatedly achieved gorgeous results. But I have to work SO hard and long for that result! I feel Ray has succeeded in making a very versatile and stable hammer in the Weickert (kudos), but not one that sounds great with minimal attention.

Enter Bacon felt. Several rebuilders I admire who know the Ronsen array prefer Bacon. Additionally, I have had the chance to use them twice. At least in the middle of the piano, both times I thought to myself, "this is the sound I'm striving so hard for...immediately"! The Weickert hammers, on the other hand, seem to need a good deal of deep shoulder needling to get that warm, bloom-y sound. And then--at least in my experience--they need some chemical hardening to achieve focus to the attack. A lot of fussy back and forth.

Unfortunately, both sets of Bacon felt hammers are on pianos about an hour away, so I've never had the chance to live with a piano with Bacon felt on them. But the last time I attended to them they sounded great!

I'm hoping technicians who have used both types and has more experience than I with Bacon. I'd love to hear about their lived experience (and their clients' as well) with each hammer. Longevity, stability, sustain and projection. I need a hammer that delivers the goods without too much chasing. I'm a fussy enough person regarding pianos anyway, I don't need encouragement! smile

(And btw I work almost exclusively in American piano brands.)

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I should add that the piano I mainly have in mind is my personal piano, about which I'm extremely picky. It's a recently-acquired 1962 Baldwin concert grand in a professional recording studio. I know typically Ronsen Bacon felt hammers are not recommended for concert grands, however since it's not in a large hall I don't have to prioritize loudness or projection over an orchestra, say.

So many techs enthuse about Weickert. And the Bacon felt being cheaper, I have a bit of the "you get what you pay for" mentality. (Perhaps the cost differential has to do with factors other than quality.) Bottom line: I guess I'm looking for data in support of my hunch that I'd be happier with Bacon felt.

Thanks to anyone who can weigh in.

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After much research, I had my tech install Ronsen Weickert hammers on my M&H BB 4 years ago along with WNG composite shanks. What a difference! I did not let him touch the hammers after installation. No lacquer, no needles, nothing. The piano has been played up to 8 hours a day (my wife teaches and I practice). The softness of the felt initially required a little more arm effort in the upper register to create equal amplitude and tonal qualities. We expected this. It has evened out now. The sound and control is amazing. After 4 years the tone, bloom, sustain, and especially the una corda effect, which rarely, rarely use, is just getting better and better.

My tech normally dopes the upper couple of octaves very early on, sometimes before delivery, at the request of clients.

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Not that I’m wanting to diverge from your preferences, but since your title said ‘vs something else’…

I’ve used the WNG Selects and Naturals (Abel hammers, wurzen felt) and I’ve been very impressed. The Selects are harder and require more needling but they sound stellar. The Naturals require less needling though perhaps you’d want to harden some of the upper and/or lower range.

WNG also offers quality hanging services for a good price with their shanks. That’s what made me choose them for my own piano over Ronsen hammers. And because the Selects were so good on my own piano I chose WNG for two other pianos - Steinway M and D, for both I used the Naturals since I didn’t want to spend a long time needling pianos which weren’t mine. The Naturals produce a good tone on both pianos including that otherwise mediocre D, making it overall sound equal to a recently rebuilt CD model Steinway D (Steinway hammers) at my university.

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Thank you, Prout. That's taking the high road, patiently playing hammers in for years and letting them ripen like good wine. You list all the things I want from a hammer, and I'm sure you will be rewarded with a great degree of stability. Come to think of it, I installed Weickerts on a BB about 4 years ago with a less interventionist follow up. Maybe it's time to check in on that instrument.

My piano being in a recording studio, I need to get it to sound as amazing as possible from the get-go. I'm reminded of a time when I happened to be working on two Baldwins, one with Weickert the other with Bacon. I was able to swap in each type of hammer. For my sound ideal (cushiony, warm, complex) the Bacon was dead-on whereas the Weickert was nasal and shorter lived (sustain-wise) in comparison. Fortunately, I can get the former result with Weickert, I just have to work hard for it.

Anyway, I'm starting to repeat myself. I was afraid to place Bacons on my studio Baldwin for lack of experience. Really curious if anyone will chime in who has used them repeatedly.

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Jsilva, I'm happy to hear of your positive experience with "something else" and that is good to know about WNG's hanging service. A real time saver, I'm sure! I may try those Abels at some point.

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I believe Baldwin used Bacon felt and I prefer it often but also like the Weikart.

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I also had a set of Ronsen Weickerts installed in my piano last year and noticed the sound changing, generally for the better, over time. But I'm curious about why this happens and what is going on with the hammer as the tone becomes richer. Does anyone have insight on this?

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I have been using Ronsen hammers for over 40 years on most of my rebuilds. Most of the Ronsens have Bacon felt. I use the silver maple mouldings, no staples, no underfelt and the hammers starting about number 55 are slightly narrower than the hammers below that.

I find that by tapering the sides and minimizing wood in the tail, I can reduce the hammer mass to where I seldom need more than two front leads in the bass and low tenor then 1 lead up to around note 49 and no front leads on up to 88.

When you make hammers lighter, they become brighter. I lacquer very lightly from around note 55 then slightly more up to the high 60's and then rather heavy at the very top.

Tone regulating is task that takes understanding the physics and materials, plus understanding how the tone and touch intersect musically.


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According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: toneman1@me.com

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