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Hey folks,

I'm a beginner in the piano tuning / maintenance world and would like to know what's the best tuning hammer I could get for about $100. I've read wonderful things about Fujan but it's way over my price range.
I appreciate your help. Thanks.
Rod

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It looks like the store here (pianosupplies.com) no longer sells tuning supplies, so I think one occasional forum poster runs this site. This link has tuning hammers:
https://www.howardpianoindustries.com/piano-tuning-hammers/

I use a Levitan Classic because it was recommended by my mentor, and isn't quite as expensive as the other stuff (while being reasonably rigid and communicative). Looks like the AMS extension hammers may be closer to your preferred price range. I have an old one of these as a backup, but never use it.


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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
I use a Levitan Classic because it was recommended by my mentor, and isn't quite as expensive as the other stuff (while being reasonably rigid and communicative).
I use a (Dan)Levitan to tune my piano.

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The Levitan utility is the best bargain lever I've ever tried...

https://www.howardpianoindustries.com/levitan-utility-piano-tuning-lever/

Might be less from Pianotek

Ron Koval


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At Pianotek, the Levitan Classic is $175, the Utility is $75. The difference, apart from handle material, is length: the former is 11”, latter 9.5. I’d recommend the longer, which I’ve used.

Don’t be cheap when it come to your most basic, most-used money maker. Just keep in mind who pays for your tools: your customers. The Fujan isn’t cheap, but it’s only 3-4 tunings. It’s the one to get. Ask anyone who has one: you will have to pry it from their cold, dead hands.

You might as well just get now because you will anyway.

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The Levitan Classic is a professional quality, lifetime tool. Stiff and sensitive, it will immediately improve your tuning.


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I just got a Levitan utility from Howard piano, just fixed a bad unison (With tunelab free mode), I like how it looks and performs well to a beginner, I picked this mostly because of the value/price, it’s about $100 (from Howard) not sure where RonTuner found his.

I would go for the utility although I’m not a tech (Well, trying to get it to at least be a hobby) and have never tried others but I bet the classic is a good upgrade.

Maybe get utility to see if you are interested or go straight for the classic if you are TOTALLY interested?

Btw, remember to buy mutes & tip wrench

Good luck

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I recently recommended AMS piano tools. I think they made my extension lever, which I have used for 40 years or so. I do not extend the shaft, except in rare instances where I need a little more clearance, but I often change the head and tip, according to the size of the tuning pins. If eventually the thread gets too loose, I can turn the extension rod around, or replace it as needed. I have not needed to do that much. Lever and head will probably run about $100.

Replacing just a tip is really difficult, not something I would want to do on a job. They are difficult to loosen, and once you replace them, it takes a while before they become tight enough that they do not loosen as I tune. I end up sticking the tip wrench in a vice, which is not something I will take to a job!


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I'm with BDB on this. The AMS tuning lever has served thousands of technicians for decades. After you have tuned for a number of years you may wish to upgrade to something different. By then you will know what you like and don't like about your tuning lever.


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One other issue I thought of regarding tuning levers:

You're not just buying the lever, but tips as well, and there are two different types that are not interchangeable: The traditional AMS type, and the Jahn/Watanabe. I believe these last two are the same, and in my experience that the Jahn/Watanabe type are of a higher quality than the AMS/Hale. So, if you get one type of lever you can't switch tip types.

There is a caveat though: I have mounted a Jahn tip on my Schaff rosewood handled lever. It's not supposed to fit--the Schaff (Hale type) lever has a conical thread while the Jahn/Watanabe is a constant diameter. I basically took the Jahn tip and jammed it on the Schaff lever. It works. I use the Schaff lever as a backup.

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If I may expand on what Scott wrote above: from my experience (*) , there is no problem in using a Watanabe tip in combination with a Hale head. To the contrary.

I have a Schaff extension lever. It came with a 5° Hale head and a #2 tip. One should distinguish between two threads in the Hale system:
... The thread fitting the head to the extension rod (or lever) is indeed conical, but
... the thread fitting the tip to the head is cylindrical.

I also ordered a #1 tip from Schaff, as many pianos here in South Africa have relatively small pins. I was not very happy with the fit of both the Schaff #1 and #2 tips on many tuning pins, so I ordered a Watanabe #1 tip from Steve Fujan. This tip, in fact, fits perfectly on the Hale-type head, it actually threads onto the head more smoothly than the Schaff tips, and once it reaches the shoulder on the head, it "locks" into place much more crisply. Unlike the Schaff tips, there is no need for tightening it down super tight. Plus, it wiggles much less on tuning pins than the Schaff #1 and #2 tips.

The Watanabe #1 is my go-to, and I've switched it between Schaff heads of various angles and lengths, with no problems at all. I only keep the Schaff tips as spares.

* Disclaimer: my tuning tally is still closer to 100 than 1000.


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... too late to edit the above, so added here:
I also have a Watanabe #2 tip that I bought from Schaff and which also fits the heads well. They didn't stock a Watanabe #1, which is why I got it from Steve Fujan.


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The tapered thread is 1/8" pipe thread.


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Yes, and apparently the tip thread is a 3/8" 30TPI. (Although I've also read something about the male and female having slightly different pitches, 27 and 30, which I somehow find difficult to believe.)

BTW, there is an adapter for fitting non-Jahn tips onto a Jahn lever:
https://www.pianoteile.com/public/p...&objid=A453726&page=2&red=pr
It is specified to receive Hale, Watanabe and Ikoshin tips, which indicates to me that all of these use the same imperial thread, while the Jahn system probably uses a metric thread.


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The Schaff/Hale levers use a tapered 1/8" pipe thread and the tips are 3/8" x 30TPI as stated above. Over the years the tapered thread has fluctuated in size so even though they are still the same tread, they don't always match each other.

The Jahn lever uses 10mm x 1 thread size. It seems like it's close to the Schaff lever, but it is not the same. If you try to put them together you're just distorting the threads.

I have made many tuning levers using all of these combinations and I have all the appropriate taps and dies so I know what they are.


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Originally Posted by Bill McKaig,RPT
I'm with BDB on this. The AMS tuning lever has served thousands of technicians for decades.

A quick question, if I may, Bill, concerning your recommendation of the AMS levers. For my needs, which amounts only to touching up the occasional unison in-between tunings on a Seiler upright, would the AMS gooseneck be a good choice? I foresee no need to ever need anything but the #2 it's equipped with.

Thanks,
Brian

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A gooseneck lever is not as rigid, but maybe you will never be accurate enough that the lack of rigidity will matter.


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Originally Posted by BDB
A gooseneck lever is not as rigid, but maybe you will never be accurate enough that the lack of rigidity will matter.

Thanks, BDB. Yes, I understand that's the issue. I guess one of the things — apart from the price — is seeing my most recent piano tech, with 50 years of experience, still using his old gooseneck and whipping a piano into perfect tune by ear in no time. Of course I appreciate that with that kind of skill and experience he could probably tune with a pair of tweezers, but hopefully the gooseneck will suffice for me. I appreciate the reply.

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There are "goosenecks" and there are goosenecks. I have a cheapo one in the drawer that I would never attempt to tune with. I also have an OLD one (i think it was an old factory unit) with a welded on tip properly oriented and good fit on #2 pins, also stiff enough to do a good job at tuning (if I were inclined to do so).

And yes, one's brain can get accustomed to the feel of almost anything and learn to do a great job. I still like my Fujan though. In a pinch though I could use almost anything as long as it fits the pins well (highly significant factor).

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Last edited by P W Grey; 07/10/22 09:24 AM.

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Originally Posted by P W Grey
There are "goosenecks" and there are goosenecks.

I guess I was wondering which category the AMS gooseneck specifically would fall into.

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