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#615801 - 01/07/09 09:19 PM What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
Joined: Nov 2008
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JustAnotherPianist Offline
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JustAnotherPianist  Offline
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United Kingdom
I was just wondering what the techs on PW tend to think of Ari Isaac's bass strings and hammers?
Any pianos they work particularly well or poorly on?
How is the quality of workmanship and design in his products? I do not have any of his components in my piano, but I have heard his name come up frequently-some say his stuff is great, while others think it's, well, pretty bad.

Thanks

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#615802 - 01/07/09 10:02 PM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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Supply Offline
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I think the consensus is that there is no consensus. Just like with other sources there are personal prefernces, depending on the situation.

#615803 - 01/07/09 10:15 PM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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Steve Jackson Offline
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Steve Jackson  Offline
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Zichron Yaacov, Israel
I may be the most qualified to answer, knowing Ari for a long time, working with him when hr first built his hammer press and I used to do the cutting/looping/swaging of the bass strings. I've also installed countless sets of his products.

The strings sound different than most due to the harder copper he uses and stainless steel on the singles. He uses Mapes piano wire for the core. They need a few weeks to develop their tone, and in all cases I know of, improve for the 1st 5 years, reason unknown and sound great even after 20 or 30 years. His copper lines may not always be as good as it should which is annoying, but he stands behind his product.

His hammers take the longest playing in period and will outlast any other hammer on the market I know of. They arrive ready to install. He uses maple moldings and no underfelt, but huge overfelt. Hammers tend to be lightweight. He also makes them weighted with copper in the top and bottom to increase the mass, but you should ask him if this is right for you. They voice easily and also improve greatly with age. I have some sets that are 25 years old that sound much better than when new.

There are those, myself included, who have had some product that was substandard. He also tone tests all sets of hammers on a Mason upright and tone tests the strings under tension on the machine. Sometimes, as I have lately, I use other products and have installed quite a few Ronsen sets lately, but I just finished a 6'2" Heintzman that I put a set of Ari's hammers on as I had them in stock, and it's the best sounding piano I have right now, so I'm going back to them. Here in Toronto we have 4 string makers, so it's easy for me to try different things, some even pick up and deliver to my shop. Ari does come by to hear my pianos when his products are on them.

Hmmm, I've been rambling. I hope I was helpful!

Steve

#615804 - 01/07/09 10:23 PM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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JustAnotherPianist Offline
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Thank you.
I heard from one well-known concert technician who had to remove his bass strings and hammers from a client's 9' Petrof-the wrapping on the strings was all over the place and the hammers produced no sound at all...
Yet I come across well-known rebuilders who claim his hammers and strings are among the best out there! confused

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#615805 - 01/08/09 04:32 AM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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pianobroker Offline
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North Hollywood CA.
Quote
Originally posted by Steve Jackson:


His hammers take the longest playing in period and will outlast any other hammer on the market I know of. They arrive ready to install. He uses maple moldings and no underfelt, but huge overfelt. Hammers tend to be lightweight. He also makes them weighted with copper in the top and bottom to increase the mass, but you should ask him if this is right for you. They voice easily and also improve greatly with age. I have some sets that are 25 years old that sound much better than when new.

Steve
I try to utilize all the the quality hammers in the marketplace on my spec restored Steinways and Masons trying to cater to the diverse personal,subjective tastes of the pianists.Not one hammer will float everyone's boat.My prep tech /voicer being quite reputable in the industry having worked with and familiar with all my hammer choices Renner Blues,Hamburg Renner,Ronsen,Abel,Ari Issac, has different approaches depending on the hammer type. Personally when Ari Issacs are voiced meticulously,i really like them.They have this dynamic response and tonal quality I think sound great in this tone building concept of a quality felt cold pressed hammer.And I use them all(hammers that is). Though I think the results are great with a top notch experienced voicer,I find them very inconsistent from one set to the next.I'm just wondering if his prevoice procedure with the plexiglass granueles are consistent in your previous applications.Don't get me wrong,I really like these hammers for Steinways and vintage Masons though they seem like more work. Actually I need to order some more sets. What are you saying as for being "ready to install" Appreciate any insight working with these hammers so I can pass it along to my guy. wink


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#615806 - 01/08/09 07:36 AM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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Steve Jackson Offline
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Steve Jackson  Offline
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Zichron Yaacov, Israel
Hi PB;

What I mean as 'ready to install' is that the moldings are fully prepared, the boring is good and if you ask, they will be shaped to your specs. I prefer different shapes and felt mass for different pianos and I get them like that, so all I need to do is install. Voicing comes later. I order Ronsens with the full moldings and do all the work to prepare them, about 2 hours or so. Maybe because I am so close to Ari that I get them made just as I want them, but with other hammers (I use Imedegawa for some pianos and Abels and Renners too) I want to do it myself.
You can ask him to lay off the sauce if you prefer to do it from scratch. I don't use plexiglass even though Ari wishes I did. The problem I have with it is you cannot tell how strong your mix is as it's clear. If the solvent evapourates, you can't tell until later as the liquid is the same colour.
I don't find much difference with the amount of juice between Ronsen and Ari's hammers. Some sets need little, some need a lot.They really are great for lots of different pianos, not suitable to some others. I have an SD 6 that I am about to put hammers on, but I will probably use Abel for that, but I do have a set of Ari's pre-bored for an SD 6 so I will test them to see. I do find almost all of the people who try my pianos prefer the tone of Ari's or Ronsens. I sold a Mason on the weekend and not a Steinway as the Steinway had Renners and in my shop, seems overpowering to the other pianos. They buyers, as do most here, prefer to more traditional sounding hammers. That may be because of my experience with Ari's hammers too and that I can get him over here and do some voicing on occasion. In the end, I think it's the goal of the rebuilder/voicer to get what they can in the way they like with the materials and tools that work for them, and Ari's and Ronsens work for me the best for most applications, but the best I get is with Ari's hammers, to my tastes anyways.

Hope this helps.

Steve

#615807 - 01/08/09 07:42 AM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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Steve Jackson Offline
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Steve Jackson  Offline
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Zichron Yaacov, Israel
Quote
Originally posted by JustAnotherPianist:
Thank you.
I heard from one well-known concert technician who had to remove his bass strings and hammers from a client's 9' Petrof-the wrapping on the strings was all over the place and the hammers produced no sound at all...
Yet I come across well-known rebuilders who claim his hammers and strings are among the best out there! confused
As far as wrappings all over the place, yes, that has happened and he's worked to correct that. Some sets are perfect, but most could use a small improvement there. However, the tone and sustain work better than other sets I use, so unless it's a budget job, I use his. As far as the tone, that would be the techs non-experience with traditional hammers. They are not like Renners where they pound out sound when installed. They must be worked in the traditional ways, these ways all too quickly falling to the wayside as techs no longer have factory experience or real voicing training and rely on the hard hammers to do the job for them. All of his hammers can be made to sound sweet. They may not be the right choice for some pianos, but you do have to know how to voice them and others like his.

Take care,

Steve

#615808 - 01/08/09 08:47 AM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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JustAnotherPianist Offline
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Hmmm... this man was the technician for the Chicago Symphony under George Solti, Roy Thompson Hall for many years, and is currently the tech for St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, the Ford Centre for Performing Arts, and Glenn Gould Studio. I'm sure you know him.

I would love to try a piano with Ari Isaac's components at their best.
Not sure how I feel about hammers and strings that need 25 years to sound their best. confused

#615809 - 01/08/09 11:08 AM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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Steve Jackson Offline
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Steve Jackson  Offline
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Zichron Yaacov, Israel
Yes, I am sure I know him.

They don't need 25 years to sound their best! They still sound great after 25 years.

If your in the UK, I don't know where you could try them. I'll ask Ari if you want, if he knows of any pianos there you can go to. There are a number of recordings with his components though, on Steinway D's and Imperials, but that's not playing them.

Let me know if you want me to ask him.

Take care,

Steve

#615810 - 01/08/09 12:21 PM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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JustAnotherPianist Offline
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JustAnotherPianist  Offline
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I am always interested in trying new set ups. I doubt I'd buy any new strings or hammers for a while as I just had a set of custom KS bass strings and new Hamburg Renners installed on my Steinway.
I will be in Toronto this summer and can probably find someone with his components on their piano.
In the meantime, I will just have to settle for listening to some recordings.

Thanks

#615811 - 01/08/09 12:50 PM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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pianobroker Offline
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North Hollywood CA.
Thanks Steve. wink Very generous with your knowledge and insight.
The plexiglass granual ratio was the issue I was curious about. My voicer prefers to use his own Steinway lacquer juice concoction.
I prefer to get the hammers raw in that both my rebuilder and voicer would rather do everything from scratch. What do I do with this bag of plexiglass diamonds. laugh


www.pastperfectpiano.com
Largest selection in the USA
100+Steinway and M&H grands
Warehouse showroom Onsite Restoration
Preowned & Restored
Hailun dlr.818-255-3145
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z8RvhXGKzY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Voo0zumHGgE
#615812 - 01/09/09 10:01 PM Re: What is the consensus on Ari Isaac's bass strings/hammers?  
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David Jenson Offline
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David Jenson  Offline
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Maine
I've had great results with the hammers in Young Chang grands. The tone and power is spectacular, and they voice easily and hold the voicing very well. The weight of his YC sets matches the originals so closely that usually only a slight increase in repetition spring adjustment needed.


David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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