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What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways?

Posted By: D959

What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 03:37 PM

I was at the nearest steinway dealer in my state and was super excited to play a brand new model M. However, when I played it I noticed that the lower register sounded exceedingly muddy and unclear--almost like some sort of swirling echo chamber. There was also a lightly used Schimmel there and the lower register was crystal clear and sharp. Anyone else having this experience with Steinway? I really hope the company hasn't gone bad..
Posted By: joe80

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 03:52 PM

I'll hold my hands up and say that Steinways have never been my favourite piano anyway.... although what you describe is something I've never heard.

It sounds like the soft pedal was jammed, or the hammers weren't quite aligned, or perhaps it's just the way that piano was voiced. Was it a hamburg or new york steinway? usually Steinways are very clear and projecting, and not muddy at all. The model M isn't their strongest but it's still good.
Posted By: D959

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 04:32 PM

Well it was brand new so it shouldn't have had anything to do with a jammed pedal or misaligned hammers, right? And it was a New York Steinway made toward the end of last year..my past experiences with Steinway model Ms have all been great so I'm not sure what to make of this.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 04:42 PM

Originally Posted by D959
I was at the nearest steinway dealer in my state and was super excited to play a brand new model M. However, when I played it I noticed that the lower register sounded exceedingly muddy and unclear--almost like some sort of swirling echo chamber. There was also a lightly used Schimmel there and the lower register was crystal clear and sharp. Anyone else having this experience with Steinway? I really hope the company hasn't gone bad..


What model was the Schimmel? Schimmels use harder hammers than NY Steinways and that would add to more clarity in the bass especially if the Schimmel was a larger instrument.
The Schimmel might also have had a lighter action or been better regulated both of which would make the clarity in the bass more accessible.

Schimmel bass strings are more clear sounding than NY Steinway ( Mapes ) bass strings.
Also, a brand new Steinway needs lots of prep especially to bring out tone and power in the bass. Maybe the dealer uncrated this M and it hadn't yet been prepped. 2 or 3 days of correct work on it would likely have completely changed your perception of that piano.

It would be interesting to find out if both pianos were prepared to the same standard which would have been your preference.

Finally, it might also be that the Steinway doesn't suit your approach as well as the Schimmel.
Posted By: redfish1901

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 04:46 PM

With hand made pianos, every one is different. That means sometimes they make duds. And pianos are not always bought for their musicality. This is more true for home grands than concert grands. And famous makers know this.

Some piano makers have the "courage" to not let a bad piano leave the factory. Others know that people will buy it no matter how bad it is because of the label.
Posted By: joe80

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 06:33 PM

true that New York Steinways start off sounding very mushy and need prepped. I was really very shocked by the New York Steinways the first time I played new factory examples this year. Previously the only NY Steinways I'd played had been fitted out with Hamburg actions or rebuilt in the UK.
Posted By: KurtZ

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 06:43 PM

Unless they were right next to each other, don't discount the affect of room acoustics. It's one of a plethora of variables. One example of an M doesn't represent the whole line.

Kurt
Posted By: j&j

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 08:25 PM

D959 - did you ask the dealer about the muddy sounding M? Whenever I’ve ever tried pianos, I was nearly always asked what I thought about the sound and action. There could be many reasons that piano didn’t sound as you expected but the only sure answer would come from the dealer.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 09:56 PM

Originally Posted by joe80
true that New York Steinways start off sounding very mushy and need prepped. .


True -- Their policy has been to do minimal factory prep, and leave most of that to the dealers. That makes some business sense, as much of the factory prep would have to be tweaked again in the environment of the destination city. But it does lead to uneven prep quality from dealer to dealer.
Posted By: dhull100

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 10:12 PM

Got a new NY B a couple years ago. It DID take a year or so to really get the characteristic sound. Playing and coaxing by a good tech. Eventually slightly changed the strike point (might have been better to do that earlier on!), and that really did it. Still has it's same tone, but more clarity in treble--bass was never a problem. It was good initially. Now it's great, recognizing that Steinway isn't everyone's cup of tea. Schimmel isn't my preference, but there can be no doubt that it's an awfully fine piano (my first adult piano was Schimmel).
Posted By: trandinhnamanh

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/25/19 11:32 PM

It's normal for a NY Steinway. Why??? All owners of a Hamburg Steinway know why...
Posted By: Dave Ferris

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/26/19 12:40 AM

Originally Posted by dhull100
Got a new NY B a couple years ago. It DID take a year or so to really get the characteristic sound. Playing and coaxing by a good tech. Eventually slightly changed the strike point (might have been better to do that earlier on!), and that really did it. Still has it's same tone, but more clarity in treble--bass was never a problem. It was good initially. Now it's great, recognizing that Steinway isn't everyone's cup of tea. Schimmel isn't my preference, but there can be no doubt that it's an awfully fine piano (my first adult piano was Schimmel).


Mine took a solid 1.5 to 2 years to blossom after buying at 9 months old. This was after multiple voicings, tunings and regulation by two of LA's finest techs. I actually felt huge buyer's remorse during this time. I was longing for my Yamaha S6 I sold. Then one day it just magically opened up

Agree on the Schimmel. High quality piano but not my tonal preference.

The NY Bs I played about 7-8 months ago, out of maybe ten I played, there were a good half dozen that I would've gladly taken home based on first impression at the Beverly Hills store.
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/26/19 01:53 AM

The stock wound string scale on all models of steinway grands leaves the bottom two notes ranging from somewhat muddy on a D to absolutely useless on M's and S's. The core wires are too thick and the wraps too little.

Plus now with the advent of all the wire types from Stephen Paulello offering choices of "hardness", one can modify the stock Steinway stringing scale to retain the lovely warmth and bite, and add clarity and volume.

Independent techncians are the only way to get a Steinway fitted with a (what we in the trade are calling;) Hybrid Wire Scale.

Just another example of how Steinway has not kept up with technological developments in recent decades.
Posted By: BDB

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/26/19 05:21 AM

There have been a number of technological developments that have come into fashion and gone away in recent years, without being adopted by any manufacturers. Somehow it only seems to matter if Steinway fails to adopt it.
Posted By: WilliamTruitt

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/26/19 09:41 AM

It has long been my experience that Mapes bass strings are not the best choice for a Steinway. Firstly, they are not as well made as the offerings from several other domestic suppliers, and audibly so. That hasn't changed, and some of the Steinways I service have absolutely wildly beating overtones through most of the monochords. Secondly, reducing the core wire size in the monochords substantially will result in greater clarity and focus even with Mapes or Roslau wire.
Thirdly, the use of Paulello hybrid wire will result in further improvement still (Type O for the lower monochords or all of them, Type M from there). Whether or not this technological development is in fashion or has not been adopted by a maker has no bearing on the tone.

As a piano dealer in the 90's I remember many Steinway buyers coming into my store to look at rebuilt Steinways I had to sell. It wax a common complaint that many of the new Steinways sounded like they were "underwater". My rebuilds were fully prepped and voiced to a point where the buyer had a clear sense of what the character of that individual piano was, and they could make a judgment as to whether or not that was to their taste. I think I made a lot of sales that could have gone to the Steinway dealer had they made the effort to bring the piano to better voice.

I used to spend two to three days voicing and regulating the Baldwin grands that I sold because they would be difficult to sell otherwise. Why should Baldwin or Steinway pay factory personnel to do this work, when they can get the dealer to do it for "free"? I can assure you that the dealer knows the cost of doing this work.
There is a certain irony when people blame the dealer for not doing the prep, when those pianos should have come from the factory in far better condition than they do. There is no rational reason why this cannot be so. Is there some congenital reason that a Steinway or Baldwin cannot come from the factory prepped as well as a Yamaha or Kawai? I don't believe the factory is incapable of doing good work.

Dhull100 reports that it took his skilled technician a year to bring his new B up to speed. That means the factory passed the buck to the dealer, and the dealer passed the buck to the buyer. The buyer pays full boat for the piano, and then assumes to cost of properly prepping the piano. Nice....
Posted By: D959

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/26/19 11:50 AM

Originally Posted by KurtZ
Unless they were right next to each other, don't discount the affect of room acoustics. It's one of a plethora of variables. One example of an M doesn't represent the whole line.

Kurt

This is true, but I also played an O and an A and they had the same poor tone in the bass. Not to mention Steinway is widely known to have some variance between models, as is common with hand made instruments.
Posted By: Furtwangler

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/26/19 04:24 PM

Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
It has long been my experience that Mapes bass strings are not the best choice for a Steinway. Firstly, they are not as well made as the offerings from several other domestic suppliers, and audibly so. That hasn't changed, and some of the Steinways I service have absolutely wildly beating overtones through most of the monochords. Secondly, reducing the core wire size in the monochords substantially will result in greater clarity and focus even with Mapes or Roslau wire.
Thirdly, the use of Paulello hybrid wire will result in further improvement still (Type O for the lower monochords or all of them, Type M from there). Whether or not this technological development is in fashion or has not been adopted by a maker has no bearing on the tone.

As a piano dealer in the 90's I remember many Steinway buyers coming into my store to look at rebuilt Steinways I had to sell. It wax a common complaint that many of the new Steinways sounded like they were "underwater". My rebuilds were fully prepped and voiced to a point where the buyer had a clear sense of what the character of that individual piano was, and they could make a judgment as to whether or not that was to their taste. I think I made a lot of sales that could have gone to the Steinway dealer had they made the effort to bring the piano to better voice.

I used to spend two to three days voicing and regulating the Baldwin grands that I sold because they would be difficult to sell otherwise. Why should Baldwin or Steinway pay factory personnel to do this work, when they can get the dealer to do it for "free"? I can assure you that the dealer knows the cost of doing this work.
There is a certain irony when people blame the dealer for not doing the prep, when those pianos should have come from the factory in far better condition than they do. There is no rational reason why this cannot be so. Is there some congenital reason that a Steinway or Baldwin cannot come from the factory prepped as well as a Yamaha or Kawai? I don't believe the factory is incapable of doing good work.

Dhull100 reports that it took his skilled technician a year to bring his new B up to speed. That means the factory passed the buck to the dealer, and the dealer passed the buck to the buyer. The buyer pays full boat for the piano, and then assumes to cost of properly prepping the piano. Nice....



Of course. This is quite common, I can assure you.

But hey, whattya want for $112k+??
Posted By: j&j

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/26/19 05:09 PM

Just a question that doesn’t take this too OT. Could the reason that the the Steinway model sounded off to the OP be that it takes a much longer time for new Steinways to really settle in even with adequate prep? I’ve never owned or even had the opportunity to own a Steinway new or used. It’s just hard to imagine a factory and a dealer would really expect to sell a 6 figure piano that doesn’t sound wonderful. If I was trying to sell a Porsche, I’d at least clean the bird poop off the car and windshield.
Posted By: j&j

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/26/19 05:15 PM

And yes I know dealer prep and factory prep are all over the place. It’s just really hard to square in my mind how any dealer of musical instruments can expect to sell out of tune, poorly prepped instruments and stay in business.
Posted By: williambonard

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/26/19 09:15 PM

The OP's original point almost doesn't surprise me... it's been about a year since I was last in a Steinway showroom playing brand new Steinways (Steinway Hall in London). I distinctly remember being totally underwhelmed for what is considered to be some of the finest pianos in the world that money can buy. I tried several Ds the hour I was in the store along with a Model B and a Model A.

It wasn't until I finally sat down at the Model A last that I actually found one that I enjoyed playing... even then, the tone of the A was still all over the place. The voicing of the bass did not match the voicing of the treble. Whether this is down to a lack of dealer prep or otherwise is beyond me but going back to my earlier point: for what is considered to be some of the finest pianos in the world that money can buy, the pianos at the dealer need to impress far more than they did.

On a slightly unrelated note, I visited the Yamaha Music London store after Steinway Hall and was totally blown away by the Yamaha CF6 - now THAT is some serious piano. The dealer/factory there is obviously doing the necessary prep work on the pianos...
Posted By: WilliamTruitt

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/27/19 09:23 AM

As far as the action regulation is concerned, there is no functional reason why a Steinway grand cannot be as well regulated as that Yamaha grand on the dealer floor, which comes out of the box in that condition. Grand action parts are far more similar than dissimilar. There are differences in the hammers. Steinway hammers start out as a very soft hammer whereby the tone must be "built" by the addition of hardeners to the felt, otherwise it is extremely muddy and unfocused. In contrast, that new Yamaha hammer would sound much better out of the box before any voicing is done. Both hammers should get multiple voicing sessions to arrive at their best.

If a lowly piano rebuilder/dealer like myself can take the very same hammers as Steinway uses and get an acceptable tone out of them in fairly short order, what prevents the factory (with their vastly greater resources) from doing the same? Especially since my techniques are very similar to what the factory is doing (when they do it).

And yes, Furtwangler, this modes operand is quite common. .

The piano industry in general remains in a state of contraction with ever fewer buyers. Dealers and makers have to compete harder for those buyers. That makes not putting your best foot forward all the more irrational.
Posted By: D959

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/27/19 11:58 AM

Originally Posted by williambonard
The OP's original point almost doesn't surprise me... it's been about a year since I was last in a Steinway showroom playing brand new Steinways (Steinway Hall in London). I distinctly remember being totally underwhelmed for what is considered to be some of the finest pianos in the world that money can buy. I tried several Ds the hour I was in the store along with a Model B and a Model A.

It wasn't until I finally sat down at the Model A last that I actually found one that I enjoyed playing... even then, the tone of the A was still all over the place. The voicing of the bass did not match the voicing of the treble. Whether this is down to a lack of dealer prep or otherwise is beyond me but going back to my earlier point: for what is considered to be some of the finest pianos in the world that money can buy, the pianos at the dealer need to impress far more than they did.

On a slightly unrelated note, I visited the Yamaha Music London store after Steinway Hall and was totally blown away by the Yamaha CF6 - now THAT is some serious piano. The dealer/factory there is obviously doing the necessary prep work on the pianos...


That's pretty much my experience in a nutshell (minus the preference for Yamaha..I just prefer a more mellow tone). It just seems ridiculous that for the better part of a hundred grand, you can't get the right sound out of an instrument.
Posted By: dhull100

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/27/19 12:17 PM

If you don't like, don't buy and post about in forums. An interesting phenomenon. I agree that having to play in and work on a piano for a while after delivery can be a bit frustrating, but I had the same experience with another "tier 1" brand (or whatever the tiers are called)--granted factory prep was probably a bit more refined. In the end, buy what you like. Life is for living. As an aside, the best showroom piano I have ever laid hands on was a small new C. Bechstein in Manhattan; it was breathtaking.
Posted By: WilliamTruitt

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/27/19 01:33 PM

The idea that buying a piano whose voicing and regulation are largely unfinished prior to sale to the piano buyer can be remedied by simply playing it enough is a fiction promulgated by sellers, requiring an act of faith on the part of the buyer that the results they hope for will be achieved. Mostly they will be disappointed in the results they get, Any improvements playing add to the voicing are a far cry from what would be achieved had the voicing process been brought to a point where it was substantially finished. By the time the buyer realizes that they have been shortchanged by this process, it is too late to return it to a dealer.
Posted By: j&j

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/27/19 01:41 PM

D959 - if you were seriously looking to buy a new Steinway, I’d call or email or stop back into the showroom and ask about the prep. If the piano is poorly voiced, ask the owner about it. If you were just trying out Steinways to try out Steinways, when time and circumstances allow, go to another Steinway store and check out their pianos. See if the new Steinways in the 2nd showroom sound better.
As a hobbyist, I’m interested in acoustic pianos and their distinctive beautiful voices. If a dealer of high end pianos is cutting costs by cutting required prep time, it’s a shame. I don’t own a piano store but it sounds like piano store suicide to put pianos on the showroom floor that don’t sound right. If I was selling super cheap piano shaped objects, I would just uncrate it and quickly tune it and call it OK, but new Steinways??
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/27/19 03:20 PM


For a personal home piano, it always makes sense to look at both new and used. There aren't so many on the market that you'd have to worry about wasting your time....
Posted By: Chernobieff Piano

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 12:16 AM

I'd sure like to know if soundboard specs changed again. Whenever i come across a Steinway that sounds particularly very good, i have observed that the rib scale has a lower profile ( 70-75% range) when most Steinways are in the 80-85% range. I have observed this same phenomena on custom ordered Steinway when they go to famous celebrities. Bette Midlers S was one of the best I ever heard, had a 70% rib profile.
Posted By: Steve Chandler

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 01:49 PM

Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
I'd sure like to know if soundboard specs changed again. Whenever i come across a Steinway that sounds particularly very good, i have observed that the rib scale has a lower profile ( 70-75% range) when most Steinways are in the 80-85% range. I have observed this same phenomena on custom ordered Steinway when they go to famous celebrities. Bette Midlers S was one of the best I ever heard, had a 70% rib profile.

In the tuner tech forum you'd be understood, but this is a different place. Please explain, are you saying less crown?
Posted By: Chernobieff Piano

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 03:17 PM

Steve,
In the interest of keeping it simple. From top to bottom the soundboard has 3 essential elements- the bridges, the panel, and the ribs. The ribs are an element that can be manipulated to control the boards stiffness. From an engineering perspective, 70% is the lowest you can go structurally. Steinways generally hover around 85%, and nossamites who do not follow Steinway's protocols often add much more stiffness at a 115% level.
Posted By: Retsacnal

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 03:59 PM

I wonder why NY Steinway doesn't simply offer a variety of hammers to suit the tastes of individual buyers, so that the piano is closer to what a buyer wants at the time of purchase, and less risky (IMO).
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 05:02 PM

Which other, if any, manufacturers use the same basic kind of hammers as Steinway ? Do the makers prepare the hammers better in the factory?
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 05:34 PM

Chris,

Without getting too mathematical can you explain how you arrived at these percentages in a strung piano? You've gone into it before elsewhere but I get lost somewhere in the "deflection" area. Is it simply a matter of measuring the width and height and making a calc?

Pwg
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 05:42 PM

As to offering different hammers, this would be very problematic from a manufacturing standpoint. If you asked Steinway about it they would say that you can make THEIR hammers do anything you want. Just a matter of knowing how to do it.

Pwg
Posted By: BDB

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 05:43 PM

Originally Posted by Retsacnal
I wonder why NY Steinway doesn't simply offer a variety of hammers to suit the tastes of individual buyers, so that the piano is closer to what a buyer wants at the time of purchase, and less risky (IMO).


A good voicer can customize Steinway hammers quite a lot.

By the way, why pick on Steinway? Most manufacturers do not offer a choice of hammers.
Posted By: WilliamTruitt

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 05:44 PM

It is somewhat misleading to make a direct comparison between a Steinway style soundboard and a rib crowned and supported soundboard such as Ron Nossaman made. That Steinway board at 70% low profile ribbing is done as a purely compression crowned panel glued in at about 4 to 4.5% EMC, the R, C, and S board at 115% higher profile is deeply rib crowned and glued in at 6.5 to 7% EMC. It has some compression crowning, most of the crown comes from the rib radiusing and taller and narrower ribs.
Posted By: j&j

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 05:49 PM

Originally Posted by Retsacnal
I wonder why NY Steinway doesn't simply offer a variety of hammers to suit the tastes of individual buyers, so that the piano is closer to what a buyer wants at the time of purchase, and less risky (IMO).


Retsacnal - Because Father Steinway knows best. 😁 We the lowly consumers do not have the knowledge to tell the “ Piano maker to the concert stars” what hammers to install.
Posted By: Retsacnal

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 06:36 PM

Going from memory (which is dangerous...), I think NY makes their own, and Hamburg uses Renner. ???
Posted By: Retsacnal

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 06:47 PM

Good points, BDB and PWG. I didn’t mean to be critical, per se, just thought it might offer a faster and more deterministic route to a desired voicing. And, definitely, any manufacturer could do it. I was going to point out that a lot of high end bicycles come without pedals, because the rider will want to choose based on their preferred shoes. Cars often have dealer configurable options. Anyway, just a thought.
Posted By: GC13

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 06:52 PM

Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Going from memory (which is dangerous...), I think NY makes their own, and Hamburg uses Renner. ???


Yes, NY Steinway makes their own hammers. I believe they make their own action parts as well. They buy their plates and keys from their own subsidiaries and their strings from Mapes. So you could say they make everything in-house except for the strings, unless I'm forgetting something.

Hamburg uses Renner action and hammers and a different soundboard design. I believe they also source their soundboard spruce from somewhere in Europe somewhere. I know someone will correct me if I'm wrong. But all this is way off topic -- Steinway bass on new pianos.
Posted By: dhull100

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 07:41 PM

Originally Posted by Retsacnal
I wonder why NY Steinway doesn't simply offer a variety of hammers to suit the tastes of individual buyers, so that the piano is closer to what a buyer wants at the time of purchase, and less risky (IMO).

I quite like that idea.
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 11:13 PM

This is getting really educational-thanks to all!
Posted By: Chernobieff Piano

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 11:46 PM

Peter,
As you know, I use several parameters to measure piano soundboards. The Profile% is just one of them. Yes, it can be measured in the piano. As an example, I just pulled up an Original "O" from my database, and it has 11 ribs. Adding up all the Heights was equal to 7.54". Then adding up all the widths was 10.69". The formula for percentage is H / W * 100 = %. With the numbers I just gave that is 70.5% (71%).

William,
I thought that too at first, but the more i dug into this it is very fair. My belief is that you are confusing method with function. After both styles are made, they still have to answer to physics. Both are laminated wooden structures that have to hold up a load placed upon them.
-chris
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/28/19 11:56 PM

Originally Posted by GC13
[ They buy their plates and keys from their own subsidiaries and their strings from Mapes. So you could say they make everything in-house except for the strings, unless I'm forgetting something. .


How far up the supply chain do they go in-house? In the 1920's, Ford made their own steel using limestone and iron ore from their own mines. I wonder where the forest is where they get the trees for the wood for the sound boards.... Could there be a Steinway forest? ;-)
Posted By: Ed Foote

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 12:20 AM

Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
As far as the action regulation is concerned, there is no functional reason why a Steinway grand cannot be as well regulated as that Yamaha grand on the dealer floor, which comes out of the box in that condition. Grand action parts are far more similar than dissimilar. T


Greetings,
I must respectfully disagree. I do most of my work on STeinway actions, having maintained a school full of them for 38 years, but when I regulate a Yamaha action, I am always struck by how even everything is. The Yamaha will have all of its knuckles within closer tolerances than the Steinways I have worked on, both in size and placement.. The Steinway shortcomings I have seen are not only the distance from the center-pin to core having a greater variability , but their capstan line is often less than straight. Then there are wide tolerances in placement of the stack in respect to the capstans; sometimes the key dip and aftertouch simply cannot both be consistent. Consistency of the pinning also plays into the action's regulation, and I have had to re-pin more actions from New York than anywhere else. This doesn't occur in the Yamaha actions I have worked with. They are incredibly consistent.

If you want to compare action consistency at a glance, look at the let-off buttons and the jack-tenders after they have been properly regulated. The action with consistent parts will have the buttons in a straight line, The erratic line is indicative of the compromises needed to make irregular parts behave as closely to one another as possible.
Regards,
Posted By: AssociateX

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 05:57 AM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by GC13
[ They buy their plates and keys from their own subsidiaries and their strings from Mapes. So you could say they make everything in-house except for the strings, unless I'm forgetting something. .


How far up the supply chain do they go in-house? In the 1920's, Ford made their own steel using limestone and iron ore from their own mines. I wonder where the forest is where they get the trees for the wood for the sound boards.... Could there be a Steinway forest? ;-)



The wood comes from Sitka, Alaska- at least thats what I remember from watching a Steinway documentary called “Note by Note: The Making of a Steinway “.
Posted By: BDB

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 06:16 AM

I think it is Sitka Spruce, which is a type of spruce, not necessarily from Sitka, Alaska.
Posted By: phacke

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 07:56 AM

Originally Posted by trandinhnamanh
It's normal for a NY Steinway. Why??? All owners of a Hamburg Steinway know why...


The same issue exists with Hamburgs. There was a guy here some years back with a new Hamburg D. He did his own string-setting -- by that I mean, he pushed on the strings around the bridge pins to make the string angle around them more ideal, and reported much better sound. I think this gives you an element of the same effect of the Paulello strings that self-sets because of the inherent lower yield strength of those strings.
Posted By: WilliamTruitt

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 09:36 AM

Chris: Please call me Will. Everyone else does.

I am not at all confused as to function. Surely you are not going to argue that the R, C, & S board at 115% (by your measure) is not capable of carrying the load placed upon it by the loading of the board with downbearing. That is demonstrably so; indeed the load bearing capacity of the structure is calculated prior to installation, as is the amount of downbearing. I've seen the spreadsheets many times. Still, the R, C, & S board does gain some of its support from compression crowning, just not as much because the EMC at installation is higher.

Since the Steinway board is pure compression crowning, much more of its load bearing capacity is created by the compression crowning. Hence, the lower EMC at installation. Both systems need ribbing to function.

Please show me where I am disregarding physics.
Posted By: WilliamTruitt

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 10:04 AM

Ed, I must respectfully agree with virtually all of your comments. The majority of my rebuilds have long been Steinways, and I have experienced everything that you have, along with the vagaries of the stupid tubular metallic action rails. I am often relocating the capstans to optimize the action set up. I don't use Steinway parts because of the inconsistencies that we see. I use the WNG parts, they are much better.

Still, let me reclaim a modest bit of turf. As long as there are no fatal defects in the action set up, most of the Steinways can be regulated to function satisfactorily. Just not to the level of refinement you are pointing to.

As you no doubt know, Steinway parts are often a compromised choice when rebuilding an older Steinway. The heavier hammers require more leading, changing a lower inertia action to a higher inertia action. Replacing a 15.5 mm shank with a 17 mm. shank will require more dip than the original spec of .390. Where the key ratio is above 2 to 1, this adds still more dip to get sufficient aftertouch. That .390 dip can turn into .430. Using modern Steinwayparts can result in a "Frankensteinwayed" action.
Posted By: johnstaf

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 12:47 PM

Originally Posted by phacke
Originally Posted by trandinhnamanh
It's normal for a NY Steinway. Why??? All owners of a Hamburg Steinway know why...


The same issue exists with Hamburgs. There was a guy here some years back with a new Hamburg D. He did his own string-setting -- by that I mean, he pushed on the strings around the bridge pins to make the string angle around them more ideal, and reported much better sound. I think this gives you an element of the same effect of the Paulello strings that self-sets because of the inherent lower yield strength of those strings.


But Hamburgs are perfect. The fanboys say so!
Posted By: Ed Foote

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 02:19 PM

Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt


Still, let me reclaim a modest bit of turf. As long as there are no fatal defects in the action set up, most of the Steinways can be regulated to function satisfactorily. Just not to the level of refinement you are pointing to.

As you no doubt know, Steinway parts are often a compromised choice when rebuilding an older Steinway. The heavier hammers require more leading, changing a lower inertia action to a higher inertia action. Replacing a 15.5 mm shank with a 17 mm. shank will require more dip than the original spec of .390. Where the key ratio is above 2 to 1, this adds still more dip to get sufficient aftertouch. That .390 dip can turn into .430. Using modern Steinwayparts can result in a "Frankensteinwayed" action.


Greetings,

Agreed, and Will, I am well aware of how refined an approach you take to actions. You have posted a lot of great info on this board, so I am NOT questioning any work. I was pointing out that the factory parts of today require compromises that a tighter quality control would let us avoid, and many other manufacturers have superior consistency, durability, and value. Umm, well, that "value" thing is not easily defined when there are piano owners out there that would rather have a inconsistent action that was 'authentic' rather than a WNG action that was built to mimic the original dimensions. I prefer to go back to the original dimensions, as light hammers with the original high ratios feel differently than the combo of hammers and low ratios, even if the BW and DW are the same.

Regards,
Posted By: j&j

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 03:14 PM

Ed - thank you for sharing your experience. It does make me wonder why Yamaha and Kawai are sent from the factory so regulated and consistent but Steinway does not. Handmade vs manufactured for the majority of the Yamaha and Kawai line? Or maybe since those pianos are often shipped overseas to the dealers, Y and K might tighten the specifications to withstand an ocean voyage but Steinway NY does not? It seems counterintuitive to say the least.
I love the consistency and reliability of my C3. Does this now mean I can hold my head up because I have a manufactured piano instead of handmade? Oh, be still my beating heart! I can now celebrate that when my piano was delivered it was really wonderful from DAY ONE! Sorry! I wish Steinway and Steinway fans all the best. Many fabulous concert artists won’t touch anything but a perfectly tuned, perfectly regulated Steinway concert grand so I “know my place” so to speak
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 03:46 PM

Originally Posted by j&j
Does this now mean I can hold my head up because I have a manufactured piano instead of handmade?
There are many parts of piano manufacture where computer machine made is at least as good if not better than hand made.
Posted By: GC13

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 06:22 PM

Originally Posted by Ed Foote

Greetings,

Agreed, and Will, I am well aware of how refined an approach you take to actions. You have posted a lot of great info on this board, so I am NOT questioning any work. I was pointing out that the factory parts of today require compromises that a tighter quality control would let us avoid, and many other manufacturers have superior consistency, durability, and value. Umm, well, that "value" thing is not easily defined when there are piano owners out there that would rather have a inconsistent action that was 'authentic' rather than a WNG action that was built to mimic the original dimensions. I prefer to go back to the original dimensions, as light hammers with the original high ratios feel differently than the combo of hammers and low ratios, even if the BW and DW are the same.

Regards,


That's exactly why I chose WNG for my S&S B rebuild. My tech advised me that a new Steinway action and hammer would not match the original specs on my piano. So even though Steinway would call mine a "Steinwas", I feel like it's more of a Steinway of it's era than if it had been rebuilt with all Steinway parts that don't match the original specs.
Posted By: Ed Foote

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 06:32 PM

[quote=j&j] It does make me wonder why Yamaha and Kawai are sent from the factory so regulated and consistent but Steinway does not.
Does this now mean I can hold my head up because I have a manufactured piano instead of handmade? Oh, be still my beating heart! /quote]

Greetings,
Yamaha and Kawai have to compete on the basis of the quality of the instrument they are trying to sell. They cannot "trade on the name", so they rightfully demand that the quality be in the piano when it is shipped.

As to "hand made" vs manufactured, the need for hands is reduced if the machinery can be made to produce consistent components. (Henry Ford demanded that there be no metal files allowed on any of the production lines. He saw them as an admission that the parts, as delivered, were not consistent enough to be used with hand fitting each one, which both slowed production and guaranteed an inconsistent build). The "hand-built" design requires humans to make all the compromises needed when the fore-finishing department begins trying to put the action department and the case/stringing department's output together in a cohesive whole. The varying results are touted as "individuality" for the particular instrument. Bug to feature process, that. It takes a lot more skill to render a collection of inconsistent parts into a consistent "whole", and when there is no room or time to address this after the initial rough assembly is done, it is shipped to a dealer, whose own technician will be responsible for doing the fine regulation, if at all.

The quality of the piano is going to be dependent on the skill applied to assembly, from down-bearing to damper actions, from plate flanges to center pins. The more machines involved in this, the more consistent the result. Why do so many "hand-built" pianos come with excessive pressure on the sides of the damper-guide rails? It is a faster way to give the appearance of evenly regulated bends in the wires. It is also a faster way to wear one side of the hole and force the wedges to go sideways. But, that doesn't show up for a while, so it isn't a factor. Same with all the front pins that have been damaged in the key leveling department. It takes a few years for those keys to show excessive side-play. How hard would it be to go into the factory and find the guy with the sharp edges on the pin-bending tool? There are many other places that machines will completely surpass hand-built quality.

It is interesting that the sales pitch of 'hand built' is still pushed, while some of the most critical operations, (tapering the soundboard, etc). are now turned over to machines, rather than a craftsman with a hand plane and caliper,(which I saw being used in 1976). My own opinion is that it is ironic that the major sales pitch, (other than what a great financial investment "hand-built"pianos are), is that they are "hand made" when that aspect is the major shortcoming to the quality of the piano. Perhaps, if they could get their plate casting as consistent as Henry Ford got his engine blocks, the need for major compromises would be reduced.
Regards,
Posted By: Ed Foote

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 06:36 PM

[quote=GC13

That's exactly why I chose WNG for my S&S B rebuild. My tech advised me that a new Steinway action and hammer would not match the original specs on my piano. So even though Steinway would call mine a "Steinwas", I feel like it's more of a Steinway of it's era than if it had been rebuilt with all Steinway parts that don't match the original specs. [/quote]

A sentiment shared by many of us trying to restore these pianos to produce a more original response.
Regards,
Posted By: j&j

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 06:40 PM

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by j&j
Does this now mean I can hold my head up because I have a manufactured piano instead of handmade?
There are many parts of piano manufacture where computer machine made is at least as good if not better than hand made.

Ahhh, the magnificence of CNC machining (old school term) and 3D printing means the future looks bright!
Posted By: WilliamTruitt

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 06:50 PM

Indeed, Ed. If we are any good at our action work, we really have to have two sets of skills. One where we can work with optimized parts to create the most refined and uncompromised actions that our skills allow. The other set of skills requires making the best compromises when given less than perfect actions to work on.
Posted By: Chernobieff Piano

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 07:51 PM

Will,
I am not saying an RC&S board cannot carry the load. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. The ones that I have examined are overbuilt structures. I think that this is based on floor joist math, which has different aims and safety factors built in. You need different math for soundboard structures (springs).
In my many debates with Nossaman, I got the feeling that his assumption was that CC boards are glued in flat, then bellied to a crown as it took on moisture. Not the case (at least with me). My press has a 60’ radius, and the board crowns up even more before install. This in my opinion defeats Rons argument that the ribs are pulling down on the panel over the years.
Posted By: WilliamTruitt

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/29/19 08:14 PM

I strongly doubt that Ron was assuming that CC boards are glued in flat, whether you mean in the gluing on of ribs or gluing the panel into the rim (it is not clear which you are referring to). Ron was fully conversant in the differing ways that CC boards can be made. I have had many conversations with Ron in person and on the Pianotech forum over the years.

When you say overbuilt, what exactly is your frame of reference in making that determination?. Your rib height % formula seems wholly based on pure CC boards glued up at a specific EMC range, you can correct me if I am wrong. RC boards and RC & S boards would have to incorporate a modified formula, as they are designed differently.
Posted By: Chernobieff Piano

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/30/19 03:20 AM

Will,
I didn't know Ron like you did. Only from forums. Some of his comments made me believe that that was what he thought. How else do you come to the conclusion that the ribs are not resisting the downward force of the strings? But are always in a state of wanting to be flat again? I simply use rib stock that has a natural bow and that's its natural state, not flat.

It basically comes down to the Stress/strain chart for a material and knowing when that material can stay elastic under load or when it reaches its proportional limit and then plasticizes. Since an ideal soundboard should be strong and light, the ideal bending fiber stress of rib stock should be in the upper limit of the elastic zone with a small but traditional safety factor. This comes out to 2,000- 3,000 p.s.i. fiber stress. Nossam-ites are making boards of a bending fiber stress at 1,000 p.s.i. and less. This is just bad engineering for soundboards (too much mass and overbuilt). The result of this is to shrink the tonal power and projection a piano can have. To my ear RC &S boards sound like spinets to me, which is easy to do. Getting a big tone is very hard, so I focus on that. CC boards deliver.
Posted By: WilliamTruitt

Re: What's up with the bass sound on new Steinways? - 03/31/19 06:00 PM

Chris, I don't think your further reasoning is on solid ground here. I am surprised that you are stating that Ron believes that the ribs are not resisting the downward force of the strings. I strongly doubt that he ever said or implied any such thing, given the way R, C, & S boards are designed. After all, downbearing forces are calculated, as are dimensions of each rib, so as to sufficiently bear the loading of the board. It is up to you to show that this is what he said and meant. Since Ron passed away a couple of years ago, he is not here to agree with you or state otherwise. You are saying to the world that he is wrong in believing that ribs are not resisting the downward force of the strings, and you have given us no evidence that he believes that. Why should I give any weight to your comment?

I need you to show me a reason why the fiber stress values of a good sounding CC board would be applicable to the design of a good sounding R, C & S board, as they are designed so differently as regarding how the board is loaded. It is not an apple to apples comparison.

As for spinet sounding R, C, & S boards lacking tonal power and projection, nothing could be further from my own experience in what I was hearing. At the Rochester PTG convention in 2006, I heard a rebuilt Nossaman Steinway B and an Overs grand piano (both in the range of 7') played in concert. They both had power, projection, and clarity, and were exceptional instruments. Perhaps a bit of confirmation bias on your part?
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