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Posted By: U3piano Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/22/19 04:01 PM
As you probably already know i own a Yamaha U3, from 1985.

It sounded great in the store where i bought it. The store was a small/medium sized hall, with a fully carpeted floor, the piano was placed standing freely, not against a wall or other piano. In my living room, it's a different story. Here, the U3 is too bright, and pretty loud also. My living room is very hard, and obviously much smaller than the store hall. The room will eventually change a little by adding furniture and such, but i think not by that much. So that's not where i think the change will/should happen.

So now im wondering, if it's true that yamaha's are brighter than most other piano's, what exactly makes them this bright? One of the reasons i ask this, is because i installed an aftermarket muffler rail. With the muffler rail engaged, it's extremely mellow, way too wooly actually. Of course, that's to be expected, but... it makes me think, the only thing that changed in the piano is an extra piece of felt between the hammers and the strings. So, that yamaha brightness people talk about, is this just caused by the yamaha hammers? Since nothing else changes with the muffler rail engaged, and the sound is suddenly extremely mellow, i would think so.

I think I would like it if the sound would be somewhere inbetween the sound it has now, and the sound with the muffler rail engaged. I like some of that woolyness, but obviously not to the extreme, like it is with the engaged muffler rail.

One more reason im asking: I go to piano stores every now and then, and have recently discovered i like Schimmel uprights, i like their sound. I also looked up many video's of them on youtube, and they do seem to have a warmer sound, compared to most other brands. Now i know nobody can make this choice for me, but i'm kind of wondering what's best to do. Get my U3 voiced down, or maybe replace it with a Schimmel. It's hard to know beforehand, because i might just love my U3 again after it gets voiced down, so maybe i should try that first. It is a nice piano in a great condition, so that would definitly be the easiest option too.

I wrote a long post, when my questions could actually be quite short: Is all that brightness of a (yamaha) piano in the hammers? Or could for exampe scale design make a piano bright? Could voicing my U3 down do alot?
Posted By: BDB Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/22/19 04:10 PM
Most pianos come bright and should be voiced down. Age and use make them brighter. Yamahas voice quite well.

Many technicians are afraid of doing the amount of voicing that pianos need. Too much has been said and written about over-voicing a piano. It can happen, but it is less common than under-voicing, especially since hammers have become harder as more power is available for making them.

Much can be done by shaping the hammers, but needling is usually necessary as well.
I would like to add on to U3piano's question -- does the high-tension design versus (presumably) low-tension design of the Schimmel's affect the brightness/loudness characteristics U3piano is concerned about?

Or is it purely about voicing the hammers?
Unless money is not a consideration you should try voicing first. Ask the person you want to do it if they think the voicing will be successful.
You can probably get them to voice a small number of notes or just an octave's worth and see how it sounds before you commit to voicing the entire piano.
Posted By: jsilva Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/22/19 06:47 PM
I’d suggesting voicing the Yamaha and I bet it could sound much better without even a lot of work. The occasions I’ve performed on Yamahas I’ll often do a 10 min voicing to take the edge off and they’re very responsive to it.

But I’d suggest you hear some examples, preferably before and after, of a technician’s work before using them.
Posted By: U3piano Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/22/19 06:50 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Unless money is not a consideration you should try voicing first. Ask the person you want to do it if they think the voicing will be successful.
You can probably get them to voice a small number of notes or just an octave's worth and see how it sounds before you commit to voicing the entire piano.


It definitely is a consideration, i think i will try having it voiced down.

If i now decide to take the more time and money consuming route, and sell it to buy another piano, ill probably always wonder how it would have sounded if i would have had it voiced down.
1985 Yamaha hammers were relatively hard and bright.
You can voice them down, and they may stay mellow, or they may come back to bright.
You can replace the muffler felt with thin cloth, Beethoven would have had this on his piano, and it will give an effect somewhat like the una corda of a grand piano.
You could also replace the hammers with Abel Naturals, Ronsens or Isaac hammers, all of which are more resilient and will hold a mellow voicing.
If you're replacing hammers, find someone who can weigh the new hammers and produce a strike weight continuity. This will make your piano beautifully responsive.
Posted By: U3piano Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/22/19 10:00 PM
Originally Posted by Ed Sutton
1985 Yamaha hammers were relatively hard and bright.
You can voice them down, and they may stay mellow, or they may come back to bright.
You can replace the muffler felt with thin cloth, Beethoven would have had this on his piano, and it will give an effect somewhat like the una corda of a grand piano.
You could also replace the hammers with Abel Naturals, Ronsens or Isaac hammers, all of which are more resilient and will hold a mellow voicing.
If you're replacing hammers, find someone who can weigh the new hammers and produce a strike weight continuity. This will make your piano beautifully responsive.


Interesting! Do you know anything more about the differences of these brands of hammers? Which would you recommend?

Also your last sentence, what does it mean exactly? Do you mean a technician should weigh all hammers so he can install them in perfect order from heavy to light?

Ill have the Yamaha hammers voiced first and see how that goes.

Also, is any kind of cloth safe to use instead of muffler felt? That one is interesting too!
Did somebody say Beethoven had a Yamaha?

No one has answered why yet so i'll chime in. It's because of the soundboard . Yamahas have thick and heavy soundboards that require a lot of energy to move them. So they are most likely voiced to sound as good as they can from the factory (threshold) and as they are played in they get brighter and harder (Over the threshold). So then they need to be voiced down, and then the cycle continues. Other hammers make them sound better from my experience.
I'd say keep the U3 until you can get/afford a nice grand.
-chris
Posted By: U3piano Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/22/19 10:55 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Did somebody say Beethoven had a Yamaha?

No one has answered why yet so i'll chime in. It's because of the soundboard . Yamahas have thick and heavy soundboards that require a lot of energy to move them. So they are most likely voiced to sound as good as they can from the factory (threshold) and as they are played in they get brighter and harder (Over the threshold). So then they need to be voiced down, and then the cycle continues. Other hammers make them sound better from my experience.
I'd say keep the U3 until you can get/afford a nice grand.
-chris


Again, interesting!

And your suggestion makes sense too, a grand would be the true upgrade, even a baby grand, as i think the extra control the action of a grand provides is even more important to me than the sound.

Owning a grand is on top of my bucket list, but getting better at playing is even more important. smile
From about 1780-1830 it was common for pianos to have a "moderator," a strip of cloth that could slide between the hammers and the strings, not to muffle like modern muffler felt, but to modify the tone, reducing brightness.
On the Yamaha, try a thin piece of muslin, like an old pillow case or sheet, one or two layers, and see if you like the sound. First just tape it to the top of the plate or to the top hinge. If you like it trim back the muffler felt part way and replace it with the muslin.
All three brands of hammers I mentioned can give beautiful sound, mellower than the original Yamaha hammers. You might need very slight hardening for the Ronsen and Isaac, just the top range. Probably not with the Abel naturals.
Strike weight continuity means you weigh the hammer heads and adjust the weight, adding little pieces of lead, so that the weigh changes smoothly from the heaviest (#1) to the lightest (#88). This, combined with voicing, will give you fine control of volume and voicing. The hammers will have a smooth, even change in inertia across the instrument.
You will need to find a technician who understands what this is about.
Posted By: BDB Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/23/19 01:01 AM
Changing the weight of the hammers will last you until the spring loops fail or the springs weaken, or both.
The inertial resistance of the hammers is determined by the mass of the hammers.
This is not about "down weight" or "balance weight," it is about inertia.
Traditional key weighting deals with static measurements, only a small part of the story.
The concern I express involves the resistance of the hammer to movement, which is a large independent factor in the response of the piano to the player and the quality of sound produced by the hammer/string interaction.
John Rhodes and Darryl Fandrich wrote extensively about this in the Piano Technicians Journal about five years ago.
Posted By: BDB Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/23/19 02:58 AM
So you are saying the springs have no part in the resistance of the hammers to movement? Somehow I doubt that.
Posted By: AWilley Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/23/19 05:21 AM
Originally Posted by BDB
So you are saying the springs have no part in the resistance of the hammers to movement? Somehow I doubt that.

I don't think Ed said that precisely. He said "inertial resistance of the hammers" which I interpret as "moment of inertia" which doesn't have anything to do with the springs.
Posted By: BDB Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/23/19 06:08 AM
The moments of inertia have everything to do with the springs. They are what the springs work against.
I think 'soft' is not equal to 'mellow'. By puncturing hammers you can make sound softer, but 'mellow' is a different thing, it is a (mostly unchangeable) characteristic of the piano tone. I would describe mellow piano as having rich, bell-like sound in middle and upper rigisters. As opposed to having thin, piercing sound, more resembling sound of a tone generator than a bell.
Posted By: U3piano Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/23/19 11:25 AM
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I think 'soft' is not equal to 'mellow'. By puncturing hammers you can make sound softer, but 'mellow' is a different thing, it is a (mostly unchangeable) characteristic of the piano tone. I would describe mellow piano as having rich, bell-like sound in middle and upper rigisters. As opposed to having thin, piercing sound, more resembling sound of a tone generator than a bell.


Ok, so what aspect of a piano do you think could be the reason for this unchangeable thin piercing sound, rich bell like sound, or something in between?

I would think no well respected piano manufacturer would design their piano's in a way that results in a thin piercing sound.
Posted By: U3piano Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/23/19 03:42 PM
Originally Posted by Ed Sutton

On the Yamaha, try a thin piece of muslin, like an old pillow case or sheet, one or two layers, and see if you like the sound. First just tape it to the top of the plate or to the top hinge. If you like it trim back the muffler felt part way and replace it with the muslin.


This was a nice tip.

It tried it today, and i have to say the result is pretty great with 2 thin layers of an old pillow case. Right now it doesn't deserve any awards for looks, i cut 2 layers of the pillow case in the right size, and attached it with the screws of the hinges at the top of the piano. I did it like this because this way i don't have to lose my muffler rail, i could still use that too if i want too, but maybe ill find i won't use it anymore, and then ill just replace the muffler felt with the muslin, i don't want my tech to have a heart attack when he opens up my piano. eek Or, i could leave one layer of muslin the way it is, and put the other one on the muffler rail, so i can adjust the brightness of my piano with the lever, choosing between 1 and 2 layers.

One more question. Is there no possible risk to the strings with this? The old pillow case is clean, but im thinking about rests of laundry detergent or fabric softener in it, something like that, who knows?

Anyway, it plays and sounds great, like i described my wish earlier, somewhere between the muffler felt sound and the standard sound that was too bright. It's much easier to play softly, and i can still play more than loud enough, so the dynamic range actually increased. That's probably the result of the threshold you mentioned earlier, i think there is a better balance now, as if i had the hammers voiced down.
Originally Posted by U3piano
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I think 'soft' is not equal to 'mellow'. By puncturing hammers you can make sound softer, but 'mellow' is a different thing, it is a (mostly unchangeable) characteristic of the piano tone. I would describe mellow piano as having rich, bell-like sound in middle and upper rigisters. As opposed to having thin, piercing sound, more resembling sound of a tone generator than a bell.


Ok, so what aspect of a piano do you think could be the reason for this unchangeable thin piercing sound, rich bell like sound, or something in between?

Well, what aspect of the piano you think makes difference between, say, tone of Kawai and tone of Steinway?
I think everything matters, a soundboard, the quality of wood, strings, mechanics, etc.

Originally Posted by U3piano
I would think no well respected piano manufacturer would design their piano's in a way that results in a thin piercing sound.

There are people who prefer this type of sound. There are people who don't (yet) care. There are people who don't like this type of sound but they have no other choice if they need otherwise good durable instrument for the money.

And when playing in a band the most thin piercing sound is exactly what one needs, because mellow piano sound will get drown.
Originally Posted by AWilley
Originally Posted by BDB
So you are saying the springs have no part in the resistance of the hammers to movement? Somehow I doubt that.

I don't think Ed said that precisely. He said "inertial resistance of the hammers" which I interpret as "moment of inertia" which doesn't have anything to do with the springs.

Anthony-Yes, your terminology is correct.
The hammer return springs matter most for faster return of the hammers from the strings, since the hammers are almost vertical when they are touching the strings. This is also the point in the cycle when the springs are most compressed and are exerting the most force.
I think you'll find that when the springs are loosened from their loops (or the loops are broken), there is not much perceptible difference at the beginning of the keystroke, but there may be a slower repetition, especially in the low tenor.
If, on the other hand, you randomly add weight to some of the hammers, you will probably feel a difference and find it difficult to control dynamics.
Weighing off the hammers and evening the strike weight line is very fast and easy, well worth trying when replacing hammers on a good vertical like the U-3.
And if the spring cords are breaking, they need to be replaced.
Posted By: U3piano Re: Yamaha's are considered bright..... why? - 10/24/19 09:05 AM
Originally Posted by Ed Sutton
Originally Posted by AWilley
Originally Posted by BDB
So you are saying the springs have no part in the resistance of the hammers to movement? Somehow I doubt that.

I don't think Ed said that precisely. He said "inertial resistance of the hammers" which I interpret as "moment of inertia" which doesn't have anything to do with the springs.

Anthony-Yes, your terminology is correct.
The hammer return springs matter most for faster return of the hammers from the strings, since the hammers are almost vertical when they are touching the strings. This is also the point in the cycle when the springs are most compressed and are exerting the most force.
I think you'll find that when the springs are loosened from their loops (or the loops are broken), there is not much perceptible difference at the beginning of the keystroke, but there may be a slower repetition, especially in the low tenor.
If, on the other hand, you randomly add weight to some of the hammers, you will probably feel a difference and find it difficult to control dynamics.
Weighing off the hammers and evening the strike weight line is very fast and easy, well worth trying when replacing hammers on a good vertical like the U-3.
And if the spring cords are breaking, they need to be replaced.


My piano actually has some broken spring cords, I do think i feel it effects playability, as in harder to control timing and dynamics. Im nowhere near an advanced player so i don't mind the loss in repetition, but i also think the keys with broken cords tend to double strike (bobble), does that make sense?

I measured the downweight on about 40% of the white keys with a set of gram weights, and wrote it down. From the result i could see which keys had broken cords, because these keys all were about 7 grams lighter on average compared to the other keys, which had just differences of a couple of grams otherwise. I checked the cords and the results i wrote down matched the broken ones. Ill have them fixed soon.
Originally Posted by U3piano
i also think the keys with broken cords tend to double strike (bobble), does that make sense?

Absolutely. Broken spring cords will definitely increase the risk of bobbling.
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