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I had Instructor Todd Scott RPT over at my shop to give a Technical. Here is a link to a video i made from the class in which Todd Talks about Piano Tone. This is just one segment of a 5 hour class. There will also be a video series on Todds Spray and Play voicing method. He uses Fabric softener and hairspray with incredible results. In fact after this class i am abandoning needles and Lacquer juicing all together. Thats how fantastic this is. Enjoy the video and watch for the upcoming voicing series.

https://www.brighteon.com/b92d9cfb-2fac-4655-a32b-ee160da4ea61

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 03/25/20 05:14 AM
Thanks Chris. I'd like to see the rest of that talk. Does he use fabric softener to soften the hammers and hairspray to harden? Does he just spray the strike point? I would think that hairspray would not penetrate far and give only temporary results. I wonder if a lacquer or acetone/acrylic solution applied to the strike point would achieve a similar result, but penetrate deeper and last longer?

Thanks for any insights. I'm about to juice a few bass hammers on my piano.
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 03/25/20 09:25 AM
One minute into the video I have already started shaking my head in amazement. What kind of "cheap ass [censored]" hammers is he talking about that are supposedly free from Lanolin?

He can't possibly be talking about Abel, Bechstein and Renner, because those hammers use felt that has been cleaned in such a way that Lanolin is still an essential, integral part of their structures, density and resilience. Which is exactly why you want to keep away chemicals from these hammers. Filing and expert needling is the way to treat those hammers and achieve results that are consistent and long lasting.

I'd be surprised if the fabric softener and hair spray method would even work on that kind of hammers.
Posted By: jsilva Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 03/25/20 01:05 PM
I’d be interested to see more. Hope you share!

I’m also curious how lanolin affects his technique. The Abel Naturals in particular seem quite lanolin-y smile
Posted By: Beemer Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 03/25/20 03:38 PM
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
One minute into the video I have already started shaking my head in amazement. What kind of "cheap ass [censored]" hammers is he talking about that are supposedly free from Lanolin?

He can't possibly be talking about Abel, Bechstein and Renner, because those hammers use felt that has been cleaned in such a way that Lanolin is still an essential, integral part of their structures, density and resilience. Which is exactly why you want to keep away chemicals from these hammers. Filing and expert needling is the way to treat those hammers and achieve results that are consistent and long lasting.

I'd be surprised if the fabric softener and hair spray method would even work on that kind of hammers.

+1
Ian
The Abel natural felt are the only hammer i'm familiar with that has the sound that is caused by Lanolin content. In the beginning of the video we were comparing a bleached hammer next to a non bleached hammer. Notice the hammers were cut in half. We were analyzing the absorbtion of the fabric softener/alcohol mix. Just by spraying on the surface for a second the mixture wicked all the way in.

The piano in the video had brand new Renner Blue points that were pre-shaped at Renner. Todd showed us has how the Tone behaves when the shoulders are too hard. The tone practically dies off immediately because of that. So you see you go by ear to know what the hammer is doing to sustain. These hammers had no sustain. After only one application to the shoulders with the fabric softener /alcohol mixture the sustain had developed tremendously. And to the surprise to all the technicians in the room.

This technique has many advantages and so far no disadvantages. It is gentle on any hammer (unlike needles) its easy, the results are immediate. no more harsh chemicals, it smells nice. its application provides evenness that needles cant.

Todd told me about his method a few months ago. I was doubtful and thus wanted him to show me. I saw and heard first hand the results and was so impressed that I just got rid of my voicing lacquer, lacquer thinner, and acetone. And shelved all of my needles except one. That's how impressive and truly effective this is.

Last night I was working on a Steinway with over lacquer hammers and applied the Softener/ alchohol solution to the shoulders and tips. This morning The hammers had come to life and were slightly on the soft side. I sprayed one coat of B-72/alcohol solution )instead of hairspray which is alcohol, plastic, and fragrance) and now the hammers are sounding pretty darn good.

Needles are very damaging. The fabric softener gives the hammers a sweet tone without damage.
Give it a try, or get in touch with Todd and ask him to present a class at a PTG Chapter. This really works.
-chris
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 03/25/20 07:09 PM
I believe that you have misunderstood me. The premise that today's hammer felts do not (or only very little) contain lanolin simply is not correct. Since you were specific about the hammers used, I can specifically tell you that Renner's Blue Points do contain lanolin, just as Abel's natural felt hammers or Bechstein's hammers. In fact, the felt comes from the same factory for these producers. So when he says that (obviously speaking about processing the raw wool) "acid makes the felt shrink and also removes the lanolin", then I'd say that this is incorrect.

It's an objective to have a hammer that gives an experienced voicer the maximum of flexibility in shaping the tone. When a hammer, as you say, come only pre-shaped, not pre-voiced, from Renner, then it's clear that they are hard as a rock. Which is why Renner has a very good description of how to handle their hammers, specifically the blue points:

https://rennerusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Selecting-and-Voicing-the-Renner-Hammer.pdf

As described in this official Renner document, voicing is done in two stages: First the pre-voicing which is designed to give the hammer a certain resilience and finally a real voicing that is specifically directed towards a specific instrument in a hall and the desires of a pianist/customer. Renner clearly uses needles and files only to shape and voice the hammer.

I certainly understand that voicing itself is hard, time-consuming and puts strain on your hands and arms. Thus, finding a way to eliminate at least one stage of the voicing process is certainly desirable. Using fabric softeners is not new as a means of voicing hammers. if you look through the archives of this forum, you'll find articles about it dating back to the early 2000s. However, none of them actually describes in detail the exact chemistry and physics behind it and that's what I'd like to know. As an Open Source guy, I am not into secret black magic :-)

Next week I'll have the opportunity to talk about this to a German technician (not from Bechstein) who also uses fabric softeners in the pre-voicing stages, so any insight from your side is welcome to have a more technical discussion with this man, who is renowned to be really good at final voicings.

Can you shed some light on the ingredients used and their interaction with keratin and lanolin? I am really curious.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 03/25/20 09:19 PM
How about voicing up? Hairspray only? Where, on the strike point? How much?
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 03/26/20 01:31 AM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Last night I was working on a Steinway with over lacquer hammers and applied the Softener/ alchohol solution to the shoulders and tips. This morning The hammers had come to life and were slightly on the soft side. I sprayed one coat of B-72/alcohol solution )instead of hairspray which is alcohol, plastic, and fragrance) and now the hammers are sounding pretty darn good.


Hi Chris. This may have answered my question. Looks like you created your own hairspray-like solution, which is B-72 and alcohol? I'd like to try this. I have some hammers that need voicing up, and some that need voicing down. Would you mind sharing the fabric softener/alcohol formula for the voicing down, and the B-72/alcohol solution for voicing up? BTW, what is B-72?

Thanks.
Emery Wang,

Before you voice up or down you have to know what to listen for. What is helpful for me is i think of it this way. The top of the hammer is the Tone, and the shoulders are the Sustain. For example if the Tone is good, but the sustain dies off quickly, that means the shoulders are too hard. Thinking like that tells you where to voice and what to use.

Todd uses All fabric softener, alcohol, water in a 1-1-1 mixture. Try the Big and Sexy play harder hairspray to start with. I can't give a formula because I am still practicing with it.

If you look for Todd Scott on facebook, i'm sure he would answer your questions because of your interest.

All the Best,
-chris
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 03/26/20 07:30 AM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Emery Wang,

Before you voice up or down you have to know what to listen for. What is helpful for me is i think of it this way. The top of the hammer is the Tone, and the shoulders are the Sustain. For example if the Tone is good, but the sustain dies off quickly, that means the shoulders are too hard. Thinking like that tells you where to voice and what to use.

Todd uses All fabric softener, alcohol, water in a 1-1-1 mixture. Try the Big and Sexy play harder hairspray to start with. I can't give a formula because I am still practicing with it.

If you look for Todd Scott on facebook, i'm sure he would answer your questions because of your interest.

All the Best,
-chris


Now that's a deep and thorough explanation of the chemistry and physics behind the process.
Posted By: jsilva Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 03/26/20 12:56 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
The Abel natural felt are the only hammer i'm familiar with that has the sound that is caused by Lanolin content.


Last year I had ordered the natural hammers from WNG but received the Select hammers instead. I used them anyway and after careful needling the Selects sounded really awesome. I’ve used two sets of Naturals since then and while they sound very good I haven’t been wowed like I am with the Selects (granted they are all on different pianos and that could be 100% the reason). This thread makes me wonder about the lanolin content of both.
Jsilva.
Me too. If you find any info please share. I've been a lifelong Ronsen user and just last year started trying other hammers due to customer requests. The Abels stood out to me immediately.

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 03/26/20 03:02 PM
Thanks for the info Chris. From all I've read in other threads on PW about using alcohol and fabric softener, some people are reporting good initial results, but not necessarily good in the long term. Some feel it eventually ruins the hammer felt. Hairspray, however, is a new one. There are some threads about using it on the keys to improve grip, but not on the hammers. But if there was any brand of hairspray that does work, I'm glad its the Big and Sexy brand!

I'm curious as to what you experience and learn about the long term effects of this type of voicing, and look forward to seeing more videos of Todd's visit. Thanks for posting it.
I just voiced a Steinway M with a B-72 solution, and the 1-1-1 fabric softener solution using the methods in the video. The type of hammers on this piano are unknown, and they sounded awful and brittle. I first went over the shoulders and top with the fabric softener solution. Then an hour later with the B-72 solution. Then I spot voiced some stubborn hammers.

Later my employee went over to play the piano and said he was blown away at the changes. Made me feel good since it was my first attempt at using Todds system.
I like this system a lot because its so easy.

-chris
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/03/20 07:43 AM
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.
Posted By: gwing Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/03/20 08:25 AM
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.


It is probably unreasonable to expect anyone to have done studies and/or to understand the physics involved. The logic is probably more "We want the hammers softer, they are made of felt material, fabric softener is already here and designed to do that for wool, which is the base material as felt, so lets try fabric softener'.

What is different though is that each time a garment is washed the old fabric softener is pretty much removed by the detergent/soap wash then replaced by fresh softener. For piano hammers that won't happen so presumably there will be an ageing build up of fabric softener each time they are voiced like this.Who knows what effect that will have.
Posted By: ambrozy Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/03/20 07:49 PM
I'd like to see the measurements of that hammer contact time.

He just made up this explanation, it works only in his head. I don't know why most technicians are delusional when it comes to too complicated for their minds or scientifically unexplored phenomena, just admit that you don't know what's going on and why things works or not
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/03/20 07:55 PM
Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.


It is probably unreasonable to expect anyone to have done studies and/or to understand the physics involved.


I think it's the opposite of unreasonable, but there you go.
Posted By: gwing Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/03/20 09:29 PM
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.


It is probably unreasonable to expect anyone to have done studies and/or to understand the physics involved.


I think it's the opposite of unreasonable, but there you go.


I consider it unreasonable, not because it isn't desirable, but because nobody makes enough money (any money?) from this process to fund the research that would be required to provide that information.

Now if this idea caught on, and there was a commercially produced version of the magic sauce sold in the millions, then some real study might reasonably be expected.
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/03/20 10:56 PM
Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.


It is probably unreasonable to expect anyone to have done studies and/or to understand the physics involved.


I think it's the opposite of unreasonable, but there you go.


I consider it unreasonable, not because it isn't desirable, but because nobody makes enough money (any money?) from this process to fund the research that would be required to provide that information.


You do not work in the piano industry, do you?

While I am not even close to production, R&D or Marketing&Sales, I still work for Bechstein as a project manager, even though I consider my contributions to this forum as matter of private interest. Nevertheless, I have some insights into the workings of a piano manufacturer and I can tell you that we are not only in the market to make money and grow the company, we also do this to make pianos better, more serviceable - and more beautiful when it comes to the intricacies of having some of the best concert technicians there are to squeeze out the last bit of possible perfection from a piano.

We produce our own hammers, so it's a fair assumption that our people spent quite some time developing the technology of production, use of material and particularly after-care, i.e. voicing a hammer to perfection to get the best possible match between the pianos capabilities, its location and the preferences of the pianist.

Research and Development plays a huge role in today's top piano makers, so your assumption is unreasonable, because there are strong incentives to improve all the qualities mentioned before - and one of them is money. Ask Fazioli, Bösendorfer, Yamaha, Steingräber or other companies that actually design and produce pianos - they are always interested in new ideas, approaches and discussions with those coming forward with that new stuff.

So, funding research is not the problem, but it takes a little more than just applying a secret sauce without explanation and declaring it the best thing since the invention of sliced bread.

Quote
Now if this idea caught on, and there was a commercially produced version of the magic sauce sold in the millions, then some real study might reasonably be expected.


It would take at least one brand new concert grand with untouched hammers (ideally two grands), a documentation of the process, multiple before/after recordings with multiple microphones, an independent expert technician, a material scientist famliar with the process of manipulating the structure of sheep wool and a really experienced pianist to go through motions of comparing before/after and ideally a recording engineer who knows what to listen for.

Telling people that an employee was blown away by the results isn't really something that any piano maker would see as an incentive to look into the matter, especially when anything regarding the actual physics and chemistry involved is not explained or questions in this regard are ignored.

But there you go, it's obvious I am completely unreasonable.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/04/20 12:46 AM
If Bechstein does conduct these tests, would you ask them to include Big and Sexy hairspray in the trials? Inquiring minds want to know...
OE1FEU,

I am a Piano Technician, not a Chemist or Physicist. However, I was intrigued by your question. After a little research my understanding of how this all works is this.
Lacquer or Plastic when diluted, and applied to wool, stiffens the wool fiber by coating the fiber. The fabric softener does the reverse and lubricates the fibers. What is neat about this system, is that both the stiffener and softener are alcohol based thus creating a method that is controllable.

Hope that helps.
-chris
0E1FEU,

I was under the impression Bechstein used Renner hammers and action parts. Did they use them in the past?
Bill
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/04/20 02:47 PM
Originally Posted by Bill McKaig,RPT

I was under the impression Bechstein used Renner hammers and action parts. Did they use them in the past?


When you take a look at: https://louisrenner.com/en/history-of-the-piano-action/ you will see that Bechstein is no longer listed as exclusively using Renner hammers and action parts.

Bechstein designs and produces its own hammers at the German factory and by now all Bechstein and W. Hoffmann pianos use these hammers.
Thanks.
The simplest model of the piano tone production mechanism is to consider the inertia of the hammer in relation to the periodicity of the string and to consider the non-linear rate of the elastic parameters of the hammer felt.

One also must understand how good tone is modeled.

And also understand how these parameters change across the compass.

And how the feel of the action allows the pianist to control the hammer. In general, the faster a pianists can "know" how much force a hammer is carrying, the sooner they can move on the the next note they plan to play. I have found one can use their hands to "measure" the inertia of an action and "know" what sound control it will produce even with the action out of the piano.

I have a tone model I call Musically Intelligible Sound. I use consonants to describe the sound during the dwell time of the hammer on the string. And vowel sounds to describe the quality of tone after hammer impact. Vowel tone is frequency bracketed, in the treble the ear only recognizes two vowels E and not E.

In the most basic terms one can describe a piano hammer as a type of damper. The greater the inertia of the hammer, the greater the contact, (damping) time with the string.

The spring rate of the felt is almost always much slower than the period of the string a hammer strikes. And the felt spring rate slows when compressed by a greater force.
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/04/20 05:34 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
OE1FEU,

I am a Piano Technician, not a Chemist or Physicist. However, I was intrigued by your question. After a little research my understanding of how this all works is this.
Lacquer or Plastic when diluted, and applied to wool, stiffens the wool fiber by coating the fiber. The fabric softener does the reverse and lubricates the fibers. What is neat about this system, is that both the stiffener and softener are alcohol based thus creating a method that is controllable.

Hope that helps.
-chris


Not really, and by now I can see that we are turning in circles. This guy starts talking in explicit language about hammers without Lanolin - and treats Renner Blue with his chemistry, when Renner is renowned for having extremely high quality felt with Lanolin as lubricant. This just doesn't make sense at all, but there you go, it's your hammers and your pianos.

My private piano is a Steinway with new Renner hammers and they won't ever see a drop of chemicals. My technicians use file and needles, and while it's a cumbersome process to work on new hammers, the reward is a spot-on voicing for my room, my action and my piano that lasts me a long time.
Posted By: johnstaf Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/04/20 06:59 PM
But what does fabric softener do anyway? Isn't it just a coating? Aren't there various different types of softener?

AFAIK the antistatic coating causes loose fibres to repel each other so they stand up, puffing up the outer layer so it makes the fabric feel soft to the touch. Wouldn't this just make the most superficial layer less dense? Is the effect different from using a damp cloth and an iron?

I don't think fabric softeners actually change the hardness or springiness of the fibres.

Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/04/20 07:15 PM
Originally Posted by johnstaf
But what does fabric softener do anyway? Isn't it just a coating? Aren't there various different types of softener?

AFAIK the antistatic coating causes loose fibres to repel each other so they stand up, puffing up the outer layer so it makes the fabric feel soft to the touch. Wouldn't this just make the most superficial layer less dense? Is the effect different from using a damp cloth and an iron?

I don't think fabric softeners actually change the hardness or springiness of the fibres.



The fibers in question are Keratin anyway. That's the stuff your fingernails, hair and toe nails consist of. Look at the material's qualities and you know that manipulation can only be done in two ways:

* Coating it with a different material (which is what Lanolin does anyway, so another 'lubricant' is counterproductive)
* physically destroying it either with aggressive chemicals or ruptures through cuts with needles

With the density of a compressed hammer, getting through all layers with a chemical substance in a controlled and reproducible way is impossible.

Which is why all renowned producers of hammers have explicit and detailed instructions on how to properly voice a hammer with a file and a needle.
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/04/20 07:35 PM
Steinway and Kawai have instructions for using lacquer on their hammers. However, none of the instructions I have ever seen have been explicit nor detailed enough to use without a lot of practice.

By the way, OE1FEU, forum rules require you to indicate your piano industry affiliation in a signature. See the permanent post in the Piano area addressed to piano industry professionals.
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
[...] In general, the faster a pianists can "know" how much force a hammer is carrying, the sooner they can move on the the next note they plan to play. I have found one can use their hands to "measure" the inertia of an action and "know" what sound control it will produce even with the action out of the piano.

I have a tone model I call Musically Intelligible Sound. I use consonants to describe the sound during the dwell time of the hammer on the string. And vowel sounds to describe the quality of tone after hammer impact. Vowel tone is frequency bracketed, in the treble the ear only recognizes two vowels E and not E.

In the most basic terms one can describe a piano hammer as a type of damper. The greater the inertia of the hammer, the greater the contact, (damping) time with the string.


The spring rate of the felt is almost always much slower than the period of the string a hammer strikes. And the felt spring rate slows when compressed by a greater force.



This ^^^ is *genius*! Ed's whole post is excellent in its scope and definition (sorry about the ellipsis)! The bolded part is what really captured my imagination. Ed's whole post speaks volumes.

Thanks for that gem, Ed!
--Andy
OE1FEU,

Ad Hominem attacks are also against the rules.

BTW, Renner removes the lanolin during their bleaching process and later puts it back in.

-chris
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/05/20 05:32 AM
Originally Posted by Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
[...] In general, the faster a pianists can "know" how much force a hammer is carrying, the sooner they can move on the the next note they plan to play. I have found one can use their hands to "measure" the inertia of an action and "know" what sound control it will produce even with the action out of the piano.

I have a tone model I call Musically Intelligible Sound. I use consonants to describe the sound during the dwell time of the hammer on the string. And vowel sounds to describe the quality of tone after hammer impact. Vowel tone is frequency bracketed, in the treble the ear only recognizes two vowels E and not E.

In the most basic terms one can describe a piano hammer as a type of damper. The greater the inertia of the hammer, the greater the contact, (damping) time with the string.


The spring rate of the felt is almost always much slower than the period of the string a hammer strikes. And the felt spring rate slows when compressed by a greater force.



This ^^^ is *genius*! Ed's whole post is excellent in its scope and definition (sorry about the ellipsis)! The bolded part is what really captured my imagination. Ed's whole post speaks volumes.

Thanks for that gem, Ed!
--Andy


Would you be kind enough to explain what Ed's post means to you? Is there any useful information to be derived from it?
I can elaborate a little for you BDB. The surface hardness of the hammer will greatly affect the sharpness of the consonant sound during impact. After escaping the strings, the same hammer wiIl also leave the strings with a higher proportion of wave energy in the upper partials.

Vowel tone is more independent of hammer parameters. For example, a piano belly that rings with a strong e-vowel sound will always retain that color regardless of the hammer.

I once started work on a second book titled; Grand DeLight. Subtitle; Using the theory of Musically Intelligible Sound to design and service pianos.

I got 13 chapters roughed in but stopped after I realized the market was just too small for such an effort.

For LightHammer Tone Regulation, I use my fingers to feel how much force the hammer is carrying as the guide in determining how much weight I remove. I do this sensing at the maximum key speed one would use when playing soft and fast. I want the hammer to escape easily and I want the key resistance to be high enough at soft playing that I can complete the finger gesture used quickly and reliably.

When I play fast and loud, I want the key to move just as readily as my finger/hand/arm can. Essentially, with fast and loud playing the key should disappear into your fingers.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/06/20 02:21 PM
Hi Chris. How did you find the evenness of the hammers after spraying with the fabric softener/alcohol solution? Did hammers that were too bright before still stand out as too bright after the treatment?

BTW, thanks for the intro to Todd. I gave him a call over the weekend. Interesting guy. I also watched part 2 of your video. Nice Baldwin. Your neighbors must have thought Dino moved in for an evening!
Posted By: gwing Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/06/20 03:23 PM
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
[

It would take at least one brand new concert grand with untouched hammers (ideally two grands), a documentation of the process, multiple before/after recordings with multiple microphones, an independent expert technician, a material scientist famliar with the process of manipulating the structure of sheep wool and a really experienced pianist to go through motions of comparing before/after and ideally a recording engineer who knows what to listen for.
...
But there you go, it's obvious I am completely unreasonable.


No of course you are not being unreasonable in wanting real tests and explanations backed by science, but you have explained quite eloquently why that isn't likely to happen.

And even if it did we'd really want better than just the simple test you describe, how about double blind tests on a statistically significant number of pianos and hammer types against how many different secret sauces, and which sauce(s) would we pick to test?

I'll shut up at this point.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/06/20 03:46 PM
Scientific tests are great, but real world results are useful as well. The guy in the video, Todd Scott, claims to have used his solution hundreds of times over the past several years. If hammers he's treated this way are still good 3-5 years later and show no ill effects, I'd say it works for practical purposes. I'd be happy with a cross-section comparison of similar hammers that were treated 5 years ago vs. those that weren't, and see if the solution degraded the treated hammers in any way

Not scientific, but of practical value, I think. As a pianist I'd be more interested in the latter.
I happen to be in the rare position of experiencing both Todd Scotts Method and McMorrows.

When Ed first demonstrated to me the sounds the hammer makes on impact using vowels and consonants, it was both scary and hilarious at the same time. At the time i was a newbie at voicing, so it mostly went over my head. What I do remember, Ed is able to mimic the sounds he is talking about using his voice. And I would describe it as an Ed-ism because it works for him, but everyone else would probably end up with more questions than answers. A video would probably be more useful in order to bypass the complications introduced by the new terms, and he would also most likely have to tour the convention circuit to demonstrate and teach people how to do it.

Todd Scotts method on the other hand is rather simple and follows the traditional protocol of building tone. First you address the sustain. Todd showed us what to listen for, made sure we all got it, and then fixed any sustain problem. It was interesting that the Renner hammers sounded pretty darn good out of the box. In fact, I was preparing another piano for Todd to use, but when Todd came across the Baldwin with the Renner Hammers, he said these really need to be voiced. And he was right, especially after listening to the sustain issues it had. You may notice that in the video, that I mention d# a few times. This was a note that the sustain was extremely short and very noticeable to me and others. I was hoping it could be heard on the video. Todd fixed it solely with the Fabric softener (1-1-1 solution). As the short sustain was caused by the too hard shoulders. After the sustain/shoulders are done, you move on to the Top of the hammer to build tone. Todd demonstrated the tone that he was looking for that satisfies his well known clients.
The most value of course comes from being there first hand and witnessing the real time changes. Todd transformed the Baldwin piano from being a good sounding piano to an incredible sounding one. And it only took about an hour. I thought it was quite impressive over all, mostly because of the evenness that was created, and the simplicity of application.

-chris
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/07/20 09:08 PM
Interestingly, I have achieved results "similar" to the fabric softener using VS-PROFELT, which leads me to believe that VS-PROFELT might actually be chemically similar to what he is using (no one has yet been able or willing to divulge the actual contents of VS-PROFELT to me). I do know that you can easily go too far with it, so it must be used judiciously.

Pwg
I titled my book on tone regulation; The Educated Piano. It assume the reader is professional and schooled in the general principles of piano service. It assumes the reader can reason from first principles and has inculcated a certain level of the wisdom gifted to us by our ancestors regarding natural law. (Natural Law includes science and logic).

My book for all its omissions and limits is still the only text on the subject that treats developing the feel and tone of a piano simultaneously.

I have been at the task long enough that I can get feedback from customers who have experienced over forty years of playing one of my pianos. The durability and stability my LightHammer Tone Regulation creates both in tone and touch is simply unmatched by any other piano, The actions are nearly indestructible.

This is a truly significant value for owners of these pianos. Technicians who ignore these facts are derelict in professionalism in my opinion. If we technicians expect the piano to endure, we must use our skills to improve the value proposition of piano ownership. That will help improve the market for pianos and thus piano service.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/09/20 04:17 PM
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
I believe that you have misunderstood me. The premise that today's hammer felts do not (or only very little) contain lanolin simply is not correct. Since you were specific about the hammers used, I can specifically tell you that Renner's Blue Points do contain lanolin, just as Abel's natural felt hammers or Bechstein's hammers. In fact, the felt comes from the same factory for these producers. So when he says that (obviously speaking about processing the raw wool) "acid makes the felt shrink and also removes the lanolin", then I'd say that this is incorrect.

It's an objective to have a hammer that gives an experienced voicer the maximum of flexibility in shaping the tone. When a hammer, as you say, come only pre-shaped, not pre-voiced, from Renner, then it's clear that they are hard as a rock. Which is why Renner has a very good description of how to handle their hammers, specifically the blue points:

https://rennerusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Selecting-and-Voicing-the-Renner-Hammer.pdf

As described in this official Renner document, voicing is done in two stages: First the pre-voicing which is designed to give the hammer a certain resilience and finally a real voicing that is specifically directed towards a specific instrument in a hall and the desires of a pianist/customer. Renner clearly uses needles and files only to shape and voice the hammer.

I certainly understand that voicing itself is hard, time-consuming and puts strain on your hands and arms. Thus, finding a way to eliminate at least one stage of the voicing process is certainly desirable. Using fabric softeners is not new as a means of voicing hammers. if you look through the archives of this forum, you'll find articles about it dating back to the early 2000s. However, none of them actually describes in detail the exact chemistry and physics behind it and that's what I'd like to know. As an Open Source guy, I am not into secret black magic :-)

Next week I'll have the opportunity to talk about this to a German technician (not from Bechstein) who also uses fabric softeners in the pre-voicing stages, so any insight from your side is welcome to have a more technical discussion with this man, who is renowned to be really good at final voicings.

Can you shed some light on the ingredients used and their interaction with keratin and lanolin? I am really curious.


When I first read Renner's description of their preneedling and needling techniques, I decided that any hammer that needed that much stabbing would never be used on my piano. Sure, you can make them softer, but how much resilience will there be in the hammer? Will it have the nonlinear springiness to crate the tonal color difference between soft and hard playing? For those interested in fabric softener, this is quite a good article on the subject.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/09/20 05:40 PM
-Pump aerosol sprayer from Amazon? Check.
-ALL fabric softener? Check.
-Bottle of 190 proof Everclear? On my way to the liquor store this afternoon.

I plan to dose my hammers tonight, I'll let you guys know how it works out.
Hi Ed,
In the video and during his visit Todd Scott, who is an exceptional pianist, put the Baldwin R through the works with arpeggios, scales and repeated notes. Basically for about 4 hours. Everything that a top notch pianist could do, the piano performed effortlessly. He loved the touch and feel. I didn't have to remove excessive weight from the hammers, nor remove all of the lead weights, nor taper the hammers tails down to a 1/4" width. Nor do any radical procedure of any kind. All i did in this case, was follow the regulation specs set by Baldwin after installing all new Renner parts and Hammers. Followed by precise regulating.

I don't see how that is derelict of professionalism. Also in the video, I recorded first reactions of other pianists as soon as they sat down to play it after Todd was finished voicing. The Utter surprise at the beauty of Tone expressed by them really says a lot towards improving our market.

-chris
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/09/20 08:27 PM
I wonder if pure ethanol is needed. Denatured alcohol is available at pharmacies and hardware stores--it is mostly ethanol with a small amount of denaturing chemicals added, which are often methanol and/or isopropyl alcohol. For that matter, I wouldn't be surprised is isopropyl alcohol worked just a well.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/09/20 08:35 PM
As explained to me, isopropyl works but only if it's over 90% alcohol. Otherwise it has too much water which will puff out the hammer felt. Plus, isopropyl alcohol is as hard to find as toilet paper nowadays ;-)

As for denatured alcohol, I'm not sure what the water content is. However, since it contains toxic stuff to prevent you from drinking it, I'm not sure I'd want to spray it out in a mist.

Nice thing about the Everclear: if this doesn't work, or even if it does, you can always stir up a nice cocktail.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/09/20 09:30 PM
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
As explained to me, isopropyl works but only if it's over 90% alcohol. Otherwise it has too much water which will puff out the hammer felt. Plus, isopropyl alcohol is as hard to find as toilet paper nowadays ;-)

As for denatured alcohol, I'm not sure what the water content is. However, since it contains toxic stuff to prevent you from drinking it, I'm not sure I'd want to spray it out in a mist.

Nice thing about the Everclear: if this doesn't work, or even if it does, you can always stir up a nice cocktail.

Isopropyl alcohol can't be ingested, but it's sold as rubbing alcohol, and people have been using it on their skin for a long time. It's considered a respiratory irritant, which doesn't sound horrendous. However, as you say, ethyl alcohol is not poisonous, though long-term exposure has killed many a person.
My thoughts regarding the different types of alcohol are basically that it doesn't matter when it comes to hammer felt absorption. What does matter is the water content of the alcohol. Everclear is pretty pure, but it's downside is its price. Everclear is 190 proof and I did a google search regarding the proof of Denatured alcohol, and it was also 190. I'm sure some brands of denatured alcohol contain more water than others. I wouldn't be too concerned about the contaminant they put in the denatured alcohol to make it unusable for human consumption.

I use a small spray gun to spray the two solutions. I found 40 psi mimics the can of hairspray. Since the spraying process takes about 5 seconds, your not really putting too much into the air. So i feel its very safe to do. Also much more safe and enjoyable than breathing acetone or lacquer thinner.

-chris
Roy123,
Thanks for the fabric softener link. I enjoyed the article.
-chris
No doubt one can make a successful piano with the methods you describe. But how long will it stay that way when you play it like you love it? Longevity of quality should also be a goal of any tone regulation protocol. The industry has avoided considering this. I have not.

It is absurd to pay good money for hammers and need to shred them or swell them up to get the felt into a musical condition. That was not normal 100 years ago.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 02:33 AM
Ed, is there truth to the idea that 100 years ago hammers had a lot of lanolin in them so needed less voicing? If so, maybe now the harsher hammer making process reduces the lanolin in the hammer felt so much that you either need to 1) needle them, 2) make them very light, or 3) inject a lanolin substitute to get the proper tone.

What do you think?
Thanks for asking Emery. I have never found much utility in thinking about lanolin in hammer felt. I find a model that prioritizes controlling mass, the non-linear spring rate of the felt placed within the musical parameters of the keyboard compass, and the control rate of the hammer as experienced when playing, provides a far more productive paradigm. It is all about escapement in a certain sense.
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 04:20 AM
As far as I can tell, there are four techniques for voicing hammers: Filing (includes brushing), needling, ironing, and chemicals (includes steaming).

Filing and needling are the easiest for fine control. They are the fastest. They are necessary skills which are used to correct deficiencies in other techniques, so you have to know them.

Ironing has not given me results that have suited me, but then, I have not spent too much time with it. Chemicals are the riskiest. They are hard to control, and they usually are slower than other methods, so I use them sparingly.

The effects of voicing are described by the wave equation, which says that the waveform (the most important factor of musical sound, even though people these days seem to avoid talking about it) depends on the way that the wave is initiated. I believe that what most people want is a good amount of displacement imparted to the string in such a manner that the waveform is a nice round shape. The displacement is created by the hammer being soft enough to keep the hammer from bouncing off the string before its energy can be transferred to the string. The shape of the waveform is due to the way that the hammer hits and then leaves the string. A hammer that is worn has sharpish corners where it hits the string, which is more angular than the roundish waveform that we want, and has a harsher sound. This is why filing old hammers can have such a satisfying effect on the way that a piano sounds.

Needling the hammers can have a variety of effects. It can keep the body of hammer soft enough to stay on the string so that more power can be imparted to it. It can keep the tip of the hammer soft enough that it does not act like a sharp point, so that the waveform will be more round. It depends on where and how one needles.

One cannot learn the techniques without really good listening skills. Excellent aural tuning skills are the best way to learn them. For me, they are a prerequisite.
Originally Posted by BDB
Originally Posted by Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
[...] In general, the faster a pianists can "know" how much force a hammer is carrying, the sooner they can move on the the next note they plan to play. I have found one can use their hands to "measure" the inertia of an action and "know" what sound control it will produce even with the action out of the piano.

I have a tone model I call Musically Intelligible Sound. I use consonants to describe the sound during the dwell time of the hammer on the string. And vowel sounds to describe the quality of tone after hammer impact. Vowel tone is frequency bracketed, in the treble the ear only recognizes two vowels E and not E.

In the most basic terms one can describe a piano hammer as a type of damper. The greater the inertia of the hammer, the greater the contact, (damping) time with the string.


The spring rate of the felt is almost always much slower than the period of the string a hammer strikes. And the felt spring rate slows when compressed by a greater force.

This ^^^ is *genius*! Ed's whole post is excellent in its scope and definition (sorry about the ellipsis)! The bolded part is what really captured my imagination. Ed's whole post speaks volumes.

Thanks for that gem, Ed!
--Andy

Would you be kind enough to explain what Ed's post means to you? Is there any useful information to be derived from it?

Sure, BDB! Glad to!

A couple of years ago, I was doing a fluff and buff of a neglected 1950s vintage Steinway L. At one point in the project, I noticed that the hammers were shaped like upside-down figs, and that the strike points had been destroyed by a previous tech's over-needling (following what appeared to be the previous to that tech's over-lacquering. There was evidence of both). I surmised that this caused the hammers to spread into fig shapes by successive playing. The memory of those upside-down figs prompted me to understand Ed's point about hammers acting like dampers, as those hammers were wrapping around the strings like an under-inflated red playground kick ball.

Also, when reading Ed's post, above, I recalled a post a few years ago by RxD, in which he said something about "taking the 'meow' out of the unison." That illustration really helped me learn to set solid unisons, expecially after someone else posted clarification about the "meow" sound coming from mis-matched highest partials. When I read Ed's post, and considered the vowel sound of "meow" (which is not just a vowel sound, but a dipthong...), and then considered the strike of those figs on the Steinway L, (it was kind of a hard "G' sound, like, "Guh"), (plus, when I considered other strike sounds that I often hear, like, "Cuh" and "Paugh" and "Tik,") I had an epiphany of understanding about what Ed was saying. The clarity of the epiphany excited me, and I wanted to express my appreciation and validate his post. You are right, BDB. I should have explained my excitement.

Oh, and I can add that I filed those figs on that "L" into nice slender eggs. The birds got lots of nice felt for their nests, that day. Weight came off of the hammers. I have had several compliments about how nice that piano is to play. The "L" is in a struggling concert venue. One pianist who played it was from New York, and she said, "That is a *sweet* piano." The other pianist is a well known local artist who remarked, "That is the first Steinway I've ever played where I did not have to work so hard to play it." (I am not in it for the compliments--I just want to leave behind me a wake of pianos that sound good and are fun to play.)

I try to listen and learn here on Piano World, and I've learned a lot from all of you! (Including things like using Elmer's Blue School Glue for gluing new damper felt to old blocks! grin )

Hope that helps.

--Andy
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 01:23 PM
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Thanks for asking Emery. I have never found much utility in thinking about lanolin in hammer felt. I find a model that prioritizes controlling mass, the non-linear spring rate of the felt placed within the musical parameters of the keyboard compass, and the control rate of the hammer as experienced when playing, provides a far more productive paradigm. It is all about escapement in a certain sense.

A big yes to the statement above that I bolded. I believe that implies very light, somewhat hard hammers at the treble end, and softer and heavier hammers at the bass end.
ROY123, My experience confirms your suspicions.
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 03:21 PM
I have no idea what non-linear spring rate is. Springs obey Hook's Law, and that is not linear. To imply that a spring does not obey Hook's Law does not explain what it does. It just opens it up to an infinite number of possibilities.
Posted By: gwing Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 04:09 PM
Originally Posted by BDB
I have no idea what non-linear spring rate is. Springs obey Hook's Law, and that is not linear. To imply that a spring does not obey Hook's Law does not explain what it does. It just opens it up to an infinite number of possibilities.

I think Hook's law for springs is a linear response, quoting from wikipaedia: "Hooke's law is a law of physics that states that the force (F) needed to extend or compress a spring by some distance (x) scales linearly with respect to that distance"

However HL comes with caveats that it is only an approximation if there is any deformation of the metal/material and it is a law for simple helical wound springs. Complex wound springs can be engineered to non-linear rates, an example of this might be a typical car suspension spring. Likewise other elastic materials do not necessarily obey Hook's ;law at all.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 07:04 PM
Originally Posted by BDB
I have no idea what non-linear spring rate is. Springs obey Hook's Law, and that is not linear. To imply that a spring does not obey Hook's Law does not explain what it does. It just opens it up to an infinite number of possibilities.

Hooke's Law may be expressed as F = kd, where F is force, k is the spring constant, and d is the displacement of the spring. By inspection we see that F is linear with respect to d. Springs absolutely follow this law, though, at some point, with excessive stretching or compression, they may divert from it. Many weigh scales use springs because of the linearity springs display.

Ideally, piano hammers have a nonlinear force curve. One could express such a nonlinear spring constant as F = kd^exp, where exp is some exponent that expresses the degree of nonlinearity. If exp = 1, then the spring is linear. Some may prefer to express the nonlinearity using the the form, F = ke^(ad). e is Euler's constant (inverse of the natural log), and a is some constant expressing the degree of nonlinearity. Of course, piano hammers may not follow a simple exponential. Their response may more closely conform to the sum of 2 or more exponentials, or perhaps a power series.
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 07:13 PM
Originally Posted by Roy123
Ideally, piano hammers have a nonlinear force curve.

Why?
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 08:40 PM
Originally Posted by BDB
Originally Posted by Roy123
Ideally, piano hammers have a nonlinear force curve.

Why?

The nonlinear spring allows color change with volume change. With a soft blow, the hammer is compressed a relatively small amount, and hence stays within the low spring-force region. The relative softness at this point produces a relatively dark tone. With hard blows, the hammer is compressed into the relatively high spring-force region, and so the hammer effectively becomes harder. The harder hammer produces a brighter tone, with relatively more power in the upper partials. In hammers with a constant spring constant, harder or softer blows produce a change in volume, but not in tone.
Posted By: gwing Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 09:33 PM
Quote
Hooke's Law may be expressed as F = kd, where F is force, k is the spring constant, and d is the displacement of the spring. By inspection we see that F is linear with respect to d. Springs absolutely follow this law,

Yes, but this is the case only for simple helical wound springs. Look at a car suspension spring, it typically has an area where the coils are wound shallowly and a larger area where the coils are more widely spaced and hence stiffer. This means that when a load comes on the spring is quite compliant and a low load compresses it easily. As those close wound coils make contact with each other they effectively become a solid lump of metal not a spring, and further compression requires the stiffer coils to compress. So effectively we have a spring that acts as two different springs of different stiffness and the overall response is not linear. This again is a simple case and much more complex non-linear compression rates can be engineered in to the design.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 09:49 PM
Originally Posted by gwing
Quote
Hooke's Law may be expressed as F = kd, where F is force, k is the spring constant, and d is the displacement of the spring. By inspection we see that F is linear with respect to d. Springs absolutely follow this law,

Yes, but this is the case only for simple helical wound springs. Look at a car suspension spring, it typically has an area where the coils are wound shallowly and a larger area where the coils are more widely spaced and hence stiffer. This means that when a load comes on the spring is quite compliant and a low load compresses it easily. As those close wound coils make contact with each other they effectively become a solid lump of metal not a spring, and further compression requires the stiffer coils to compress. So effectively we have a spring that acts as two different springs of different stiffness and the overall response is not linear. This again is a simple case and much more complex non-linear compression rates can be engineered in to the design.

I think it's fair to say that springs are linear unless they contain specific design features to make them nonlinear. To look at it another way, the spring constant is proportional to the stress/strain value for the (typically) metal used in the spring. Stress/strain defines the Young's modulus of the material. The Young's modulus is constant for any given metal as long as it is used within its elastic limits. Please let me know if I misstated anything.
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/10/20 09:53 PM
In other words, when less force is applied, the hammer is compressed less. When more force is applied, the hammer is compresed more. Just like a linear spring.
With a hard blow, hammer felt rebounds slower from deformation than when it delivers a lesser blow. This makes the hammer seem harder to the string when it hits the string with more force than when it hits it with less. Hence the tone is brighter when played hard than when played soft. So the tone color changes with dynamics. Just what the composer ordered.

This is why continuously felted hammers swept the industry when Henri Pape introduced them.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/11/20 03:29 PM
Originally Posted by BDB
In other words, when less force is applied, the hammer is compressed less. When more force is applied, the hammer is compressed more. Just like a linear spring.
I believe you're missing the point--a linear spring has a constant spring constant whereas a nonlinear spring has a varying spring constant. In the latter case, the incremental spring constant is a function of the amount of compression. As such, the strings being struck experience a different spring constant as the hammer blow is varied. I believe you claim to have a math background, in which case, my post should have been simply understood by you.
This image should make it crystal clear. If the image does not embed itself in this post, the link labeled "image" seems to work fine.
[img]https://imgur.com/rDCAuCX[/img]
I don't think analogies are the best way to teach hammer voicing techniques. Its better to learn directly, for example the sound a hard shoulder makes versus a soft shoulder, or too soft a shoulder. And then having the tools to make the correct altercation. etc.

Also, Todds method is not the same old paradigm. And this may have been missed. The main feature is the spraying, and the diluted softener solution. The hairspray technique is a clever way to spray in a clients home. Whereas, in the shop i use B-72 and my small spraygun. Spraying imparts an evenness that is unparalleled compared to using a hypo or needling.

What may or may not have come across in the video, was before Todd started with the spray techniques he spent quite a bit of time teaching how to listen to the hammer. This was important because then all of us could hear the changes. That was what made this so impressive.

-Chris
Posted By: gwing Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/11/20 03:59 PM
Originally Posted by Roy123
Originally Posted by gwing
Quote
Hooke's Law may be expressed as F = kd, where F is force, k is the spring constant, and d is the displacement of the spring. By inspection we see that F is linear with respect to d. Springs absolutely follow this law,

Yes, but this is the case only for simple helical wound springs. Look at a car suspension spring, it typically has an area where the coils are wound shallowly and a larger area where the coils are more widely spaced and hence stiffer. This means that when a load comes on the spring is quite compliant and a low load compresses it easily. As those close wound coils make contact with each other they effectively become a solid lump of metal not a spring, and further compression requires the stiffer coils to compress. So effectively we have a spring that acts as two different springs of different stiffness and the overall response is not linear. This again is a simple case and much more complex non-linear compression rates can be engineered in to the design.

I think it's fair to say that springs are linear unless they contain specific design features to make them nonlinear. To look at it another way, the spring constant is proportional to the stress/strain value for the (typically) metal used in the spring. Stress/strain defines the Young's modulus of the material. The Young's modulus is constant for any given metal as long as it is used within its elastic limits. Please let me know if I misstated anything.

No, you're exactly right. A spring made of a perfectly elastic material (which spring steel is a very close approximation to) will be linear - unless it isn't because it isn't a simple helix with uniform pitch and uniform cross section and the same material composition throughout. Other materials are of course much worse approximations to the perfect spring than spring steel and so are likely to be less linear.
Chris, don't confuse scientific models with analogies. They are not the same thing.

Describing inertial properties, spring rates and periodicity elements uses standard engineering methods. The piano industry seems to need to elaborate with models that I find distracting. I think that tendency exposes the low literacy level of the profession.
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/11/20 07:12 PM
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
With a hard blow, hammer felt rebounds slower from deformation than when it delivers a lesser blow. This makes the hammer seem harder to the string when it hits the string with more force than when it hits it with less. Hence the tone is brighter when played hard than when played soft. So the tone color changes with dynamics. Just what the composer ordered.

This is why continuously felted hammers swept the industry when Henri Pape introduced them.

A harder blow deforms the hammer and string more than a lesser blow. It may take time to rebound just from the fact that it is a greater distance to rebound from. More information is necessary.
Originally Posted by Roy123
Originally Posted by BDB
In other words, when less force is applied, the hammer is compressed less. When more force is applied, the hammer is compressed more. Just like a linear spring.
I believe you're missing the point--a linear spring has a constant spring constant whereas a nonlinear spring has a varying spring constant. In the latter case, the incremental spring constant is a function of the amount of compression. As such, the strings being struck experience a different spring constant as the hammer blow is varied. I believe you claim to have a math background, in which case, my post should have been simply understood by you.
This image should make it crystal clear. If the image does not embed itself in this post, the link labeled "image" seems to work fine.
[Linked Image]

The point that I "missed" was the one that you failed to make, just like you failed to understand how to embed images. Of course, the image itself has nothing to do with the question. It is just a couple of graphs someone has drawn. In order for it to be relevant, one would have to show that one or the other actually pertains to piano hammers. You would also have to show several things: That either of the graphs comes from piano hammers, that if one of them does come from piano hammers that it is accurate, that it is not linear instead of just a different constant, etc.

That is before getting to the pertinent part of the discussion: What voicing techniques make a difference in the graph, and what differences in the sound do you get from the graph. Or you could skip the graph entirely and go to what voicing techniques make what differences in the sound, which is pretty much what Chris and I are concentrating on.
BDB, A harder blow from a piano hammer to a string does not deform the string in any meaningful way. It displaces the string more from rest. And of course the string is still going at the same periodic rate, so its return from displacement takes the same time regardless of displacement.

The hammer felt works differently. The felt compression returns from the deformation of a hard blow slower than it does from a lesser blow.

The distance the hammer travels with the string is a distracting way to look at it, because during hammer string contact the hammer and string are coupled. This makes the hammer inertia relation to the string periodicity the most significant factor of hammer dwell time on the string.
Posted By: kpembrook Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 01:49 AM
Originally Posted by BDB
Originally Posted by Roy123
Ideally, piano hammers have a nonlinear force curve.

Why?

The short pre-digested answer is "for tone color" .
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 01:58 AM
Does that mean that if the hammers had a linear force curve, there would be no tone color?

(Remembering that it is by no means clear that hammers do not have a linear force curve. So far, nobody has bothered to demonstrate whether they do or do not.)
BDB take a bass or tenor hammer and press into it firmly with the round shaft of a small screwdriver. Watch how fast the felt rebounds from that deformation. Then repeat it with a slight force and compare. If you have ever placed your hand above a grand hammer and played the key gently to where the hammer just touches your skin, that is the force the felt takes on the softest blows. It ain't much.
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 03:13 AM
if I press on a linear spring a little bit, it will rebound slowly. If I press on it a lot, it will rebound faster. I would not be able to tell the difference without more equipment than I am willing to invest, however. Same results with a hammer. Same results with a piano string. Without a lot of work, I would not be able to tell whether the change is constant or a variable. Either way, I am not certain what the difference would be as concerns a piano's sound.
BDB it seems you are confusing distance with period.
How does knowing about linear or non linear springs help me with voicing a piano hammer? How do i put that to use?
-chris
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 04:17 AM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
How does knowing about linear or non linear springs help me with voicing a piano hammer? How do i put that to use?
-chris

It is just jargon, for the sake of making people think that they actually know what they are talking about. In the end, it boils down to what I said: Everybody has a bag of tricks that they rely on to get the sound that they can get. You have yours, I have mine. Without listening to the pianos in person, it is really hard to evaluate them.

I appreciate your sharing this bag of tricks, but I am no longer doing much shop work any longer, so I have to limit techniques to those which are quick and clean, since I am in customers' homes. I do not want to fill their houses with solvent smells. I also like to do a little voicing on low-quality pianos, to show the customer what is possible, and to educate their ears so that maybe they will want something better sometime. You can do so much for them fairly quickly, and there are a lot more of them than there are high-quality pianos. You can really improve your reputation fast by performing miracles on cheap pianos, and it keeps you in practice for the better pianos.

I do believe that the results depend on how the hammer hits the string, as well as how the hammer releases from the string, but linear versus non-linear is not the factor.
Thanks BDB,
I suppose that makes it clear regarding intellectualizing for the sake of tickling their own ears.

A quick word about chemical smell. First the hairspray, to me it isn't unpleasant. At least I never complained when i was dating. When Todd was using it, i don't recall the smell being a concern. But if it were me, I would use the B-72 instead( which the primary smell is the alcohol). What I do is put a few drops of Lavender essential oil in the B-72, and it smells very nice( or should i say quite lovely). Todd said he uses rose water. In the fabric softener solution i also put a few drops of lavender. I don't say all of this to convince you because clearly you have your tricks you're happy with, but that i too was concerned about smell. But I don't think that's a worry in this case.

-chris
Lanolin is Yellow. Abel admits that natural felt hammers have considerably more lanolin in them then acid Washed hammers. They are also a darker colored hammer. Lanolin is the natural lubricant in wool. The fabric softener simulates the lanolin and even the natural felt hammers can be improved with this method. The alcohol is the carrier that thins the fabric softener and softnens the wool all the way down to the core.

I read everything. I'm not going to argue with any of you. The techs that learn how to use this method will appreciate it. As far as I'm concerned, all good things come from God anyhow. I won't take the credit for the things that He teaches me.

Todd
Todd,
Can you explain your choices that makes you decide to use either the 1-1-1 or the 50/50?
-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 06:28 AM
Hey Todd, glad you're here! So here is my attempt at your concoction based on your video and our conversation. It worked great, amazing how rich the hammers sound now, far more even tone, and the harsh notes in the treble I could never voice down with needles are now smooth as silk. Only took a few minutes too, actually took longer to pull the action out of the piano.

I like the mellow sound, reminds me of the Shigerus at the piano store. But my kids who are taking piano lessons want it to be brighter, so I'll meet them halfway with some more hairspray on the crowns. I used what hairspray my wife had, but I have a bottle of Big Sexy Play Harder on the way from Amazon. That should voice everything up a bit, and let me brush down the few notes that stand out a little too much. I'm liking the velvety tone as it is though, so we'll see.

Thanks Chris for introducing this method to me. Makes me want to spray it on all my friends' too bright pianos!

[Linked Image]
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 06:33 AM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Todd,
Can you explain your choices that makes you decide to use either the 1-1-1 or the 50/50?
-chris

Chris, since the extra 1 in the 1-1-1 is water, would it be for hammers that need puffing out? Not sure when hammers need that, but I'm imagining maybe hammers that have been filed a lot and are a little thin?

BTW if I did this again, I'd try 1 part fabric softener and 2 parts alcohol. 1:1 was starting to clog the cheap pump aerosol sprayer I got off Amazon.
This isn't true and you in know it. Why are you misleading? The meaningful way is heard. Too many excited partials and the cancel more of the partials closer to the fundamental out. I know you know this (or at least should)
He's not. You are.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 01:44 PM
Because their density and elasticity is different from tip to core due to their unique construction. If they were simply a blob of felt on the end of a piece of wood, they would have a linear response...but they are not, ideally (repeat IDEALLY).

Pwg
Emery,

Thanks for sharing that. It's a surprisingly effective method. The silky sound is a characteristic which was a big draw for me. The 1-1-1 works in the sprayers that Todd recommended. It works great with my sprayer too, and I have not noticed any puffyness because of the water in the mix. But in this case i am of the belief that it is just thinning the softener. But there is nothing wrong with trying a 2-1 of just softener and alcohol. I might give that a try as well. Report back your results.
Amazing how fast and effective this is as you now know.

And welcome to the Todd Spray and Play club.

-chris
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 03:38 PM
Originally Posted by BDB
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
With a hard blow, hammer felt rebounds slower from deformation than when it delivers a lesser blow. This makes the hammer seem harder to the string when it hits the string with more force than when it hits it with less. Hence the tone is brighter when played hard than when played soft. So the tone color changes with dynamics. Just what the composer ordered.

This is why continuously felted hammers swept the industry when Henri Pape introduced them.

A harder blow deforms the hammer and string more than a lesser blow. It may take time to rebound just from the fact that it is a greater distance to rebound from. More information is necessary.
Originally Posted by Roy123
Originally Posted by BDB
In other words, when less force is applied, the hammer is compressed less. When more force is applied, the hammer is compressed more. Just like a linear spring.
I believe you're missing the point--a linear spring has a constant spring constant whereas a nonlinear spring has a varying spring constant. In the latter case, the incremental spring constant is a function of the amount of compression. As such, the strings being struck experience a different spring constant as the hammer blow is varied. I believe you claim to have a math background, in which case, my post should have been simply understood by you.
This image should make it crystal clear. If the image does not embed itself in this post, the link labeled "image" seems to work fine.
[Linked Image]

The point that I "missed" was the one that you failed to make, just like you failed to understand how to embed images. Of course, the image itself has nothing to do with the question. It is just a couple of graphs someone has drawn. In order for it to be relevant, one would have to show that one or the other actually pertains to piano hammers. You would also have to show several things: That either of the graphs comes from piano hammers, that if one of them does come from piano hammers that it is accurate, that it is not linear instead of just a different constant, etc.

That is before getting to the pertinent part of the discussion: What voicing techniques make a difference in the graph, and what differences in the sound do you get from the graph. Or you could skip the graph entirely and go to what voicing techniques make what differences in the sound, which is pretty much what Chris and I are concentrating on.

It is understood by everyone that harder hammers produce a tone that is brighter and has more energy in the upper partials than soft hammers. Many people in the industry have noted and reported on tonal change by using hammers with nonlinear spring constants. The extent to which my graph exactly comports to piano hammers is irrelevant--I only wanted to demonstrate what a nonlinear spring constant could look like. My graph was simply a visual demonstration of the math I earlier described. Your comment on embedding an image was just a cheap and gratuitous shot. I haven't attempted to embed an image into a PW post for years, am working from home, don't have unlimited time, and didn't feel like fussing. My post was an attempt to provide information--that's all. Can't we address ourselves to the questions at hand instead of thinly veiled ad hominem comments?
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 03:54 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
How does knowing about linear or non linear springs help me with voicing a piano hammer? How do i put that to use?
-chris

Of course, what matters is the tone profile one is seeking. However, we shouldn't denigrate the analytical knowledge that helps explain the experimental results. Often, the analytical knowledge can lead to better processes or products. Without analytical knowledge, we wouldn't have modern cars, modern medicine, modern electronics, and most of the other products and inventions that make modern life so much better than what people experienced during the dark ages. Analytical knowledge could lead piano-hammer manufacturers to better understand how to design and manufacture better hammers. I could lead them to better test and control their manufacturing processes, leading to more consistent and high quality hammers.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 03:56 PM
Originally Posted by covenantpiano
This isn't true and you in know it. Why are you misleading? The meaningful way is heard. Too many excited partials and the cancel more of the partials closer to the fundamental out. I know you know this (or at least should)

I hope I'm not being pedantic, but I don't think it's correct to say that higher partials cancel the lower partials. I believe it is correct to say that harder hammers excite more higher partials than lower partials.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 04:00 PM
Originally Posted by covenantpiano
This isn't true and you in know it. Why are you misleading? The meaningful way is heard. Too many excited partials and the cancel more of the partials closer to the fundamental out. I know you know this (or at least should)

I hope I'm not being pedantic, but I don't think it's correct to say that higher partials cancel the lower partials. I believe it is correct to say that harder hammers excite more higher partials than lower partials.
Originally Posted by BDB
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
How does knowing about linear or non linear springs help me with voicing a piano hammer? How do i put that to use?
-chris

It is just jargon, for the sake of making people think that they actually know what they are talking about. In the end, it boils down to what I said: Everybody has a bag of tricks that they rely on to get the sound that they can get. You have yours, I have mine. Without listening to the pianos in person, it is really hard to evaluate them.

I appreciate your sharing this bag of tricks, but I am no longer doing much shop work any longer, so I have to limit techniques to those which are quick and clean, since I am in customers' homes. I do not want to fill their houses with solvent smells. I also like to do a little voicing on low-quality pianos, to show the customer what is possible, and to educate their ears so that maybe they will want something better sometime. You can do so much for them fairly quickly, and there are a lot more of them than there are high-quality pianos. You can really improve your reputation fast by performing miracles on cheap pianos, and it keeps you in practice for the better pianos.

I do believe that the results depend on how the hammer hits the string, as well as how the hammer releases from the string, but linear versus non-linear is not the factor.

Evidence? Your sentence expressed this idea in any absolute way. An absolute statement needs evidence, or should instead be expressed with some qualifications.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 04:07 PM
Originally Posted by BDB
if I press on a linear spring a little bit, it will rebound slowly. If I press on it a lot, it will rebound faster. I would not be able to tell the difference without more equipment than I am willing to invest, however. Same results with a hammer. Same results with a piano string. Without a lot of work, I would not be able to tell whether the change is constant or a variable. Either way, I am not certain what the difference would be as concerns a piano's sound.

A linear system is scale insensitive, and as Ed suggested, I think you are confusing speed with period. Let me try to explain with this example. If one plucks a stretched string softly, it will vibrate at a specific fundamental frequency. If you pluck it harder, the transverse wave will have a greater amplitude, and the transverse velocity of the string will be greater. However, the fundamental frequency will not have changed. The real question is to what extent the hammer/spring interaction can be modeled linearly, i.e., with linear equations, or to what extent a good model will require nonlinear equations.
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Chris, don't confuse scientific models with analogies. They are not the same thing.

Describing inertial properties, spring rates and periodicity elements uses standard engineering methods. The piano industry seems to need to elaborate with models that I find distracting. I think that tendency exposes the low literacy level of the profession.


Ed,
Do you have a source of "Scientific Models for Springs?" How do you use inertial properties, spring rates, periodicity elements to voice piano hammers? Could you describe that process?
-chris
Originally Posted by Roy123
Originally Posted by BDB
if I press on a linear spring a little bit, it will rebound slowly. If I press on it a lot, it will rebound faster. I would not be able to tell the difference without more equipment than I am willing to invest, however. Same results with a hammer. Same results with a piano string. Without a lot of work, I would not be able to tell whether the change is constant or a variable. Either way, I am not certain what the difference would be as concerns a piano's sound.

A linear system is scale insensitive, and as Ed suggested, I think you are confusing speed with period. Let me try to explain with this example. If one plucks a stretched string softly, it will vibrate at a specific fundamental frequency. If you pluck it harder, the transverse wave will have a greater amplitude, and the transverse velocity of the string will be greater. However, the fundamental frequency will not have changed. The real question is to what extent the hammer/spring interaction can be modeled linearly, i.e., with linear equations, or to what extent a good model will require nonlinear equations.

The real question is NOT how to model the the hammer/string interaction with equations. The real question is how to develop the ear/hand techniques to voice the piano hammers evenly and bring out a beautiful tone. How does modeling, theories, and math equations do that?

-chris
I notice I am the only one concerned with the longevity of the tone quality. My friends, you need to consider how long the tone quality your tone regulation methods produce endures. Your customers who actually play the piano several hours a day will notice after a few days to a few months. If you charge people money for tone regulation that doesn't last, home customers will perceive that as a poor value.

One can get away with quick tone patches on the concert stage. But the piano will degrade in stability and evenness over a very few years. If the piano industry is to survive, the value proposition of ownership must be kept foremost in your mind. If the concert hall is the only place real pianos are found, the future of our profession is reduced to a death rattle.

I have many wonderful rebuilt grands with LightHammer Tone Regulation I have produced over about forty years and they endure and improve with use. That is an ownership value. It also simplifies my maintenance work.

*deleted*
Ed,
This is a friendly discussion regarding Voicing Piano Hammers. Its clear that when pressed for facts to backup your claims, you instead resort to dodging the question, Advertise your LHTR, and belittle Todd. That is not what furthers a profession sir.

Regards,
-chris
What makes you think that chemical voicing doesn't last? The old world style lanolin filled hammers are extremely stable and have the grease in them.

What do you think happens to hammers with holes punched all through them? The felt has somewhere to move and the holes get smaller over time. Would you really disagree that this happens? And when this happens, what do you think happens to the tone?

Bye the way, I saw what you wrote disrespectfully to me before you deleted it. It's a shame that you have so much hatred in you. That is the same reason I blocked you on Facebook. You are intolerant of anyone that thinks differently than you.

Please Ed... open your mind for reason.
Regarding too many partials equals less sustain, It's easy enough to prove to yourself by voicing and timing and a decibel meter and stop watch.

There is more energy being used with more partials and that energy results in less sustain. Think it through a little in this light.
Regards to stability.
I believe its more stable than needling.

Here's why.
Lets take the B-72 solution for example. The Paraboloid B-72 is a plastic. When diluted in alcohol the plastic particles are then in a liquid that will carry them into the hammer felt. After the solution is applied to the piano hammer only the alcohol evaporates off, leaving the plastic particles. If you think that the plastic particles are evaporated off too, you would be mistaken. If you leave the solution untouched in the jar, the particles will settle to the bottom of the jar showing they separate.


-chris
Scott, My deleted paragraph was all fact, it contained nothing that was degrading to anyone, it simply stated why using religion instead of science has been proven to create real problems for life in general. I stand resolutely against the destruction of our collective inheritance from our ancestors of a civilization rooted in natural law. That is why I call the adoption of the Nicene Creed the second crucifixtion. I refuse to allow a suicide cult to destroy that inheritance. The piano is a product of the Enlightenment.

I agree needles ruin hammer felt. Chemicals in lieu of widespread use of needles is preferable. Making hammers that are lighter and with less dense felt avoids both, and produces the most stable, responsive tone and touch possible. My "preaching" is so this is not forgotten.

I prefer nitrocellulose lacquer for stiffening hammer felt in the treble. It does break down over time and can be made to penetrate the felt well and has a reversible element available as well if the proper application techniques are used in the first place.

The acrylic and vinyl solutions change very little over time, hammers get brighter with use, so having the stiffening agent degrade some over time seems to work out better in long term value for pianos owners.
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 08:11 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Regards to stability.
I believe its more stable than needling.

Belief should not play any role in this.

Quote
Here's why.
Lets take the B-72 solution for example. The Paraboloid B-72 is a plastic. When diluted in alcohol the plastic particles are then in a liquid that will carry them into the hammer felt. After the solution is applied to the piano hammer only the alcohol evaporates off, leaving the plastic particles. If you think that the plastic particles are evaporated off too, you would be mistaken. If you leave the solution untouched in the jar, the particles will settle to the bottom of the jar showing they separate.

Nice one. so you put some kind of plastic solution into the hammer and it does a thing and you think you know what it does, because you're the one who did it.

That's fine when you are the only one servicing the piano, which is usually the case when you service private customers.

Not so much when it comes to institutional pianos, such as recording studios, concert halls, universities, music schools etc. You have a number of technicians working on that specific piano over the years and I have yet to see a piano that a technician left with detailed documentation about what he did to the piano. Usually that's irrelevant anyway when it comes to regulation and tuning, those are obvious things that have long ago been standardized and anything there can be reversed with out any traces of the previous technician left.

Not so much with hammers. Unless you have this detailed documentation you are basically left with a black box and nothing you will do to it will have any guaranteed results, because you have no idea what's in the black box and how its ingredients interact with your own secret sauce.

That's my main gripe with the whole chemical approach. It may actually be easier for your everyday work, but for any other technician working on that instrument is going to be a nightmare.

I'd rather have a common ground on how to do things on a concert grand that is accepted among piano makers and concert technicians and thus achieve a high level of consistency over a wide range of instruments. There is no such standardized methodology about putting chemicals into a hammer and of course every technician is convinced that his special secret sauce is the only right secret sauce. It's a recipe for a pianist's worst nightmare when it comes to recording and concertizing on instruments that are completely inconsistent with the way his previous piano played, felt and sounded like.

There is a reason why the overwhelming majority of outstanding pianists record on European pianos prepared by European technicians: They know what to expect - and if the instrument's preparation does not provide what they are looking for, any really good concert technician will be able to fix that issue within a very short time, because he knows what's inside the action, specifically the hammers.

Maybe that's a point you should consider when praising the secret sauce.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 08:52 PM
You make a good practical point OE1FEU. However, you are describing a notice problem instead of whether chemical voicing should be used.

If, hypothetically, chemical voicing is superior (easier on the hammers, lasts longer, takes less time, more even, better tone, etc.) would it still be better to stick with the old needling methods? I think the answer would be yes if the goal is to maintain an atmosphere that's easy for current techs to navigate. But if the goal is to achieve the best result, then no. In that case, shouldn't we devise some sort of system where techs must leave notice to the next tech about what method was last used on the hammers? Maybe this is not realistic yet, but that shows a deficiency in tech-to-tech communication, not in chemical voicing.
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 09:03 PM
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
If, hypothetically, chemical voicing is superior (easier on the hammers, lasts longer, takes less time, more even, better tone, etc.) would it still be better to stick with the old needling methods?

It's, as you say, hypothetical.

I have yet to play and hear the outstanding concert grands that were treated that way and received unanimous applause by renowned pianists.

Until then, I'd rather stick to the traditional and methodological approach that produces reproducible results.
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 09:17 PM
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
I have yet to play and hear the outstanding concert grands that were treated that way and received unanimous applause by renowned pianists.

How would you know? Surely you do not know the maintenance history of every piano you have run across.

By the way, you have mentioned that you work in the piano industry. Forum rules state that you should state your affiliation in a signature.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 09:27 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Originally Posted by Roy123
Originally Posted by BDB
if I press on a linear spring a little bit, it will rebound slowly. If I press on it a lot, it will rebound faster. I would not be able to tell the difference without more equipment than I am willing to invest, however. Same results with a hammer. Same results with a piano string. Without a lot of work, I would not be able to tell whether the change is constant or a variable. Either way, I am not certain what the difference would be as concerns a piano's sound.

A linear system is scale insensitive, and as Ed suggested, I think you are confusing speed with period. Let me try to explain with this example. If one plucks a stretched string softly, it will vibrate at a specific fundamental frequency. If you pluck it harder, the transverse wave will have a greater amplitude, and the transverse velocity of the string will be greater. However, the fundamental frequency will not have changed. The real question is to what extent the hammer/spring interaction can be modeled linearly, i.e., with linear equations, or to what extent a good model will require nonlinear equations.

The real question is NOT how to model the the hammer/string interaction with equations. The real question is how to develop the ear/hand techniques to voice the piano hammers evenly and bring out a beautiful tone. How does modeling, theories, and math equations do that?

-chris

All I'm saying is that analytical knowledge and empirical knowledge go hand in hand. Each can reinforce each other. Scientific progress can not progress without both. As a piano rebuilder, you are most concerned with empirical knowledge, but analytical knowledge can lead to better hammers, better action components, better scale designs, and so forth. I honestly don't know why this statement would be considered controversial.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 09:31 PM
Originally Posted by covenantpiano
Regarding too many partials equals less sustain, It's easy enough to prove to yourself by voicing and timing and a decibel meter and stop watch.

There is more energy being used with more partials and that energy results in less sustain. Think it through a little in this light.

Upper (higher frequency) partials die off more quickly. Thus a too hard hammer will produce a tone with less sustain.
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 09:45 PM
Originally Posted by BDB
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
I have yet to play and hear the outstanding concert grands that were treated that way and received unanimous applause by renowned pianists.

How would you know? Surely you do not know the maintenance history of every piano you have run across.

I would know by getting consistent reports from pianists, but first of all by some kind of consistent test set up that allows anyone to get to an informed impression about what's going on. I've worked in the computer industry for more than 20 years and did so with an exclusive focus on open source. To come to an informed impression and follow up with a procedure that can actually be implemented on a large scale, I think that it's necessary to exclude any proprietary formula from that. So far it's secret sauce and I have yet to hear a single recording or performance on an actual concert grand that provides a testing environment to provide that. I am open and have good ears, but those ears need to be fed and so far there hasn't been anything but hot air.

Quote
By the way, you have mentioned that you work in the piano industry. Forum rules state that you should state your affiliation in a signature.

I have chosen not to do so, because I am not an official representative of Bechstein.

I have been member of this forum way before I started working for Bechstein. Whenever the name of Bechstein came up and I felt had to contribute something, I've made it clear in an explicit disclaimer that I work for the company, but that I am not involved in Sales, Marketing, Production and R&D, thus making it clear that nothing I say can and should be taken as an official Bechstein statement and that it's me as a private individual who wrote something.

So far I have not been contacted by the forum people and received this request and unless you are on the board of those who rule over the forum, I'd say that I am consistent with the spirit of not hiding my affiliation, but also making it clear that I am not here as an official representative.

My private piano is a Steinway, my first concert grand was a Yamaha CF-II and my first grand ever was an 1874 Bechstein.

If you feel that I am not acting in good faith and that my message that I act as a private individual isn't clear enough, then you should report me to the people running the forum, not pointing your fingers at me in public, when I have been completely transparent all the way through.

Should the ones running the forum decide that my non-signature is inappropriate, then I will clearly refrain from posting here at all without any exception and just keep on reading. I cannot and will not establish a Bechstein-signature, when I am not authorized to do so and when I would find it counterproductive to my activities in this wonderful forum.

I hope this statement is good enough for you and the rest of the wonderful people of this forum.
OE1FEU, Thanks for explaining your industry position. I don't see any problem with how you present yourself.

I do disagree with your contention that Europe has highly standardized and productive tone regulation protocols. I have heard European technicians express as wide a diversity of approaches to the skill as I am familiar with here in the States.

I do regret what I see as the German school of piano design that has swept the Asian factories. The overly wide scale sticks and unison spacings. The low leverage actions. The dense felt hammers. The overly heavy case construction. The too numerous single strings in the bass. And the very dangerous huge steam roller casters that allow people to move the piano at too high a speed for safety.

Most of these things affect the tone regulation and feel. And they really affect how stable the tone quality is over time.

A pianists report from a one time experience on a concert stage leaves much wanting as regards long term ownership value. Without private people buying pianos, depending on the concert stage market is a disaster of a business plan.

And how do you explain the success 19th and early 20th century piano makers had with the lighter, softer hammers used then?
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/12/20 10:37 PM
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
And how do you explain the success 19th and early 20th century piano makers had with the lighter, softer hammers used then?

Thank you for addressing this.

I am privileged to be a close friend with someone who owns what is probably the most exceptional collection of 19th century concert grands there is on this planet. His collection comprises Bösendorfer, Streicher, Röhnisch, Blüthner, Graf, Ehrbar and of course Erards. And since he is not only a collector of dead wood, but also a pianist with Funérailles in his repertoire and a master piano builder - all his pianos are there to be played on. No restraints, so when you want to know what the Liszt sonata sounded like at the time of his first performance, the 1851 Streicher is the instrument to go for.

Visiting this collection and getting to know it intimately changed my whole perception of pianos, piano playing, the piano literature and the way of how to approach a piano as a player.

I've played 'Le Gibet' on his 1879 Erard and that in itself was something worth more than 10 piano professor lessons. Anyone interested in the piano should definitely get to know faithfully restored instrument from that era, when piano went through its magical transformation, i.e. between 1860 and 1890.

My 1886 Steinway was rebuilt with new Renner hammers and those were were mercilessly reduced in width to match the instrument as it was supposed to be back then 130 ago. Plays like a dream.
Did you not watch the video? There was a clear transformation throughout of the piano being voiced. Todd told me he has been doing this method for 10 years now. There is a video of Famous Concert Pianist Dino Kartsonakis testing Todd's piano that was just voiced with this method. The reaction is priceless.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10216755515656463&id=1119521370


You obviously dislike the idea of chemical voicing, so why participate? Just to tear down? Is that why the derogatory label "Secret Sauce?" Why not try to build up? I shared Todds method in the 2 videos for the purpose of others to try it. Give their feedback. Try it on a few pianos tell others how it holds up. You may like it better. You may not. Its not expensive to try either, less than $50.

I'm sure Emery will give valuable feedback. That's the idea.


The idea that chemical voicing makes the hammer unserviceable in the future is absurd. Many, Many, techs are using B-72 these days. Heck, Dale Erwin sells the stuff. So you're just not well informed on that. Plus, just because a hammer has been voiced with B-72 or All Fabric softener, doesn't mean that a future technician can't destroy them again with needles. They can.


Most of my clients are RPT's and Universities. So I have to be ultra precise because all of my pianos get scrutinized. The Students at the 3 Universities I provide pianos for play on my pianos around the clock and so my main criteria is for durability. They allow me to try new things and when I do I quickly know if it fails or not. For example, the LTHR system failed miserably. The touch was unacceptable, and the wear and tear was worse than normal. The recommended tapering of the hammer in the LTHR destroys backchecks at this high playing load.

I'll get feedback soon enough on Todds voicing method. But I know a winner when I see one.

-chris
Here are the ingredients that I used in the class. However, the airbrush is too small and I had to go to a 4oz spraygun.
[Linked Image]

Thanks Emery, got it to work with your help!!!!
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/13/20 12:06 AM
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
I agree needles ruin hammer felt. Chemicals in lieu of widespread use of needles is preferable. Making hammers that are lighter and with less dense felt avoids both, and produces the most stable, responsive tone and touch possible. My "preaching" is so this is not forgotten.

Hi Ed. I remain interested in your light hammer method. I discussed it with my tech who is also intrigued, but he worries a hammer that light would lack sufficient mass to move the strings enough. However, when he worked at Callahan's in San Francisco, they did do a lot of hammer weight reducing while Stanwoodizing their action rebuilds, and usually the results were good.

I see you, Ed, as the Liam Neeson of heavy piano hammer rescue with a very particular set of skills you have acquired over a very long career. But I wonder why it has to be that way. It would be far more efficient for the hammer to be formed to the proper shape and weight during the manufacturing process, than to be redone later by a rebuilder however highly skilled. Any idea why none of the hammer companies are making hammers lighter if they obviously sound and play so much better? Plus, with all the piano brands out there, it is tough to differentiate yourself from the crowd. I would think that any intrepid piano manufacturer would jump at something that gives them a leg up on the competition, and ordering lighter hammers for their pianos seems like a relatively inexpensive modification.

My guess is that the Chinese piano manufacturers are the most open to change, since they're accustomed to building pianos to design specs imposed upon them by other countries' stencil brands. I wonder if one of the brands coming out of China would be open to a LightHammer model. It sounds cool, and I bet lots of people would be interested to check them out. I definitely would, especially if I got one signed by Ed McMorrow. Heck, the "Hailun Ed McMorrow LightHammer Concert Series" sounds awesome. What do you think, Ed?
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/13/20 12:08 AM
Quite a bit of that Everclear is gone, Chris. Are you sure it all went into the piano? wink
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/13/20 12:51 AM
Chris,

you're right, I am wrong.
Posted By: Andymania Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/13/20 10:18 AM
Yesterday I tried out Hairspray for the hammertips and must warn you: don't take too much ;-) Wait at least 15 minutes bevor judging the result...

Chernobieff Piano, how long did you wait before doing the next pass?
Andymania,

There's no set time, your ear decides.

Some examples:
During the class, Todd sprayed about 8 passes. After a pass, he would go onto a show and tell, and he would check the results anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes later and determine the next step.

In a regular shop day, i'll spray and usually check the results anywhere from an hour to the next day.

The day after the Todd class, the piano had brightened up a little and I made a quick pass with the 1-1-1, at that point, I was very happy with it. Here we are a month later and it still sounds great.

Hope that helps. Enjoy the new process!

-chris
Here's a newly discovered tip, as i'm not sure if this has ever been tried before. But I think many may find this useful.

Pictured is an old Steinway hammer i had laying in a box. The shoulders had been lacquered to death and were hard as rocks. I decided to see if the 1-1-1 fabric softener solution would penetrate the lacquer induced hardness. It did and improved the sustain almost immediately.

It doesn't take very much either, as the 1-1-1 wicks very well. But if you have old and tired hammers, this brings them back to life a bit. Which could be useful in some circumstances.

-chris
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Posted By: accordeur Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/14/20 05:26 AM
A picture is a thousand words.
Posted By: RonTuner Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/14/20 01:30 PM
Did you spray from the sides of that hammer or the shoulders??

Ron Koval
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/14/20 02:27 PM
Todd recommends spraying the shoulders of the hammers. With the action out and hammers at rest, 4 passes from the front of the action, and 4 passes from the back. Takes about 1-2 minutes to do the entire set of hammers. I put a long towel over the backchecks and another on the shanks so nothing but the hammer felts get sprayed.
Posted By: RonTuner Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/14/20 02:49 PM
Thanks! Yes, I understand in a piano that is the protocol.

I just wondered about the picture posted above on the hammer out of the piano. It looks like the hammer was sprayed from the side above the wood core to see if the 1-1-1 would penetrate the felt already lacquered?

Or, was that really sprayed only on the shoulders and then viewed from the side to see the penetration deep into the felt??

Ron Koval
Ron,

In the picture the hammer is an old one that was laying around from a past rebuild. I don't know its voicing history. But the hammer sounded and felt just like an over lacquered hammer. Hard as a rock. I used the 1-1-1 in a hypo oiler and applied just enough for it wick up from the staple area to the 10-2 position.

Had the effect of opening up the hammer.

-chris
Posted By: RonTuner Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/14/20 06:18 PM
Thanks for the clarification - I was looking at the yellow color near the core as what was added, but it sounds like it is the lighter color coming up from the staple area that you were demonstrating!

Now it makes sense...

Ron Koval
I came up with a new diagram of the hammer. Slightly different than others i have seen. But based on my experience with the chemical voicing seems to be very practical.

Work from the bottom up. Adjust sustain first until it tapers off smoothly. Then adjust the loudness until all hammers are even. Then finish off with the impact to your liking.

Easy! I have come to the conclusion others just made it overly complicated.


-chris
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Posted By: Andymania Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/15/20 08:58 AM
Could you explain the step 'loudness' in detail?
Using the Mrs. as a guinea pig. I instructed her to use the B-72 as hairspray ( shes use to my crazy experiments). Seems like the 1Tbls- 40oz of alcohol is too weak. It doesn't hold like the Big Sexy does. So i'm making a stronger Batch. Once i get this right, the Mrs said she will no longer by hairspray as making it is pennies on he dollar. What a trooper!!

-chris
Hairspray experiment inconclusive.
Apparently, it behaves differently on your hair than it does on a piano hammer. I believe the plastic used in Hairspray is hard and brittle. Great for hair but not so good for tone. That's why you get pings with lacquer or keytop material. B-72 remains flexible so less tendency to ping. Great stuff.

Update on formulations and applications. No longer using the 50/50. Now using a 1 to 2 softener, 1 to 2 B-72, still using the 1-1-1. Now added a 2 oz spray bottles for spot voicing on single hammer. And a hypo for voicing in the volume section. For adjusting volume its better to voice from the side and avoid influencing the impact section.

The experiments continue.

-chris
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/18/20 05:11 AM
Instructions for using dissolved keytop material is not very specific, as are most instructions for piano work. The material has varied over the years. My thought was that one should use the material that was first used, which is celluloid, if you want the results the "old-timers" used. Celluloid is much softer than most keytop material used now, and that seems like a good thing.

Also, application should be followed with careful filing. That takes off the top layer, which might have little irregularities in it. What is underneath has been filtered by the top layer.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/18/20 01:31 PM
Hi Chris, thanks for the update. Let me break it down to see if I understand all the steps correctly:

  • Spray shoulders with 1:1:1 solution of fabric softener, alcohol, and water
  • Spray crowns with 1:2 solution of acetone and B72 pellets
  • Spot voice individual hammers shoulders with more 1:1:1 if needed
  • Use hypo bottle to apply 1:2 to the shoulders at about 11:00 and 1:00 to increase power
  • Spray more 1:2 or brush away excess 1:2 at the crowns as needed to achieve desired tone


Does that seem right?
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Hi Chris, thanks for the update. Let me break it down to see if I understand all the steps correctly:

  • Spray shoulders with 1:1:1 solution of fabric softener, alcohol, and water
  • Spray crowns with 1:2 solution of acetone and B72 pellets
  • Spot voice individual hammers shoulders with more 1:1:1 if needed
  • Use hypo bottle to apply 1:2 to the shoulders at about 11:00 and 1:00 to increase power
  • Spray more 1:2 or brush away excess 1:2 at the crowns as needed to achieve desired tone


Does that seem right?

The 1:1:1 is for extremely hard hammers or excessively lacquered hammers. So far I have only needed it for the sustain area.
The 1:2 Softener, and the 1:2 B-72 are great counterparts.

Working in the volume section I am preferring side voicing as i can get more juice in there before it wicks to the color area. When adjusting the volume i want to avoid the color area. Also, I am preferring to use a hypo for the sustain area. Once Sustain and volume are built and even, i then use the spraying for the color section using the 1:2's.

I do not use acetone. Yes it melts the B-72 quicker, but I am ok with just melting with alcohol even if it takes a few days. Saves me from having to buy another chemical.

On new hammers, it can all be done with spraying to focus on evenness from the beginning of the procedure as Todd showed. So i suppose all of us will develop their own way of doing things. I had to add the other techniques because of working on old hammers. I was delightfully surprised that Todds system brings back to life dead hammers. Made this Steinway M i'm working on sound new again.

Sounds like your doing well with it too.

And yes, I have modified the hammer diagram too after chatting with other fellow Techs..
-chris

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Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/18/20 04:50 PM
Thanks for the clarifications Chris. So I got my bottle of Big Sexy today and lightly sprayed the crowns. I did not like the slight metallic zing it gave everything. I didn't brush the crowns with a wire brush like Todd did in the video. Was that to get rid of the zing? Instead, I lightly gang sanded the hammers with 800 grit and that took most of it away. I think in the future I won't be spraying anything on the crowns and instead just treat the volume section.

As you say, however, we will all develop our own best methods. Unfortunately I only have my one piano do do all the experiments on for now. My wife is threatening to report me for piano molestation.
Posted By: Andymania Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/18/20 05:41 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Working in the volume section I am preferring side voicing as i can get more juice in there before it wicks to the color area.

But when do you work on the 'volume' or 'loudness' area? When it is too loud? When it is too silent? When the loud tones are too heavy?... I don't really understad this area.
Notice that I am working from the bottom up.
You work the volume area after you build sustain. How loud or soft you want the piano is up to you or your client. More important is evenness from hammer to hammer. Too loud would be sitting at the keyboard and one note is giving out so much energy than the others, that it goes right into your ears. In that situation I would apply 1:2 softener to tone it down to match a neighbor hammer that I like. Always good to have hammers that you like and match others to it. It may take one application, or it may take a couple. It depends on the hammers.

Hope that helps.

-chris
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/18/20 07:35 PM
Not that I necessarily agree with that diagram of the piano hammer, even with it, I am not clear on which areas should be harder and which should be softer.
I voice according to what I hear and make the changes the hammer is indicating. With the chemicals i am using and the diagram as a mental picture, i have been successful getting the hammers sounding very good.

First listen to sustain. If it drops off in a wave pattern. The shoulders are too hard. Soften. Once all of the hammers sustain nicely move to adjust volume.

Second Volume. If it sound dull, thumpy, lacking power etc. apply B-72 to the volume area. If the volume area has too much energy use softener.

Last adjust the impact sound. Emery just mentioned the hammers had too much ping after one application of big and sexy. Try a pass of 1:2 softener solution. If you then go too soft, I would sand with 1500. 1500 really cleans up a hammers appearance and tone. If you want to just remove the ping with a sugar coating needle thats okay too.

-chris
BDB,
Lets see your preferred hammer voicing diagram that you like.

-chris
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/18/20 10:39 PM
I can't really relate to those approximations with a wide range of unknowns.

Is there any representative concert grand with a recording of uncompressed audio quality that you can present as "That's the way a concert grand should sound like."?
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/18/20 10:40 PM
I do not think of voicing visually, but I have some ideas that seem to work. As I said, the important thing is the way the string is excited. The shape of the wire when the hammer leaves it is what shapes the tone of the note.

So the first thing is that the hammer needs to be shaped properly, with a nice round shape at the top.

I find that clarity of tone comes from a good definition of that top. A fuzzy top gives a fuzzy tone. If the hammer is too soft, it is mostly at the tip of hammer. Hardening should be near the surface. However, the surface needs enough give that the roundness is not compromised by tiny hard spots on it.

Strength of tone comes from getting the hammer to stay on the string long enough to transfer the maximum amount of energy to the string. This varies widely across the range of the piano, according to the frequency of the notes. The lowest note vibrates about 27 times a second, while the highest note is over 4000. So the #1 hammer should be on the string over 100 times longer than #88. But even note 88 needs some softness. Otherwise why have felt on it at all! Deep needling (or possibly other softening) gives strength.

Sustain comes from the initial waveform and how it holds up as the note decays.
Posted By: jkess114 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/23/20 07:00 PM
Chris-

Is there only one video of the visit? I am interested to see more about this process of Todd's.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/23/20 07:13 PM
Second part his here: https://www.brighteon.com/78153c40-e66f-4130-a1ba-a41b946d9fa7
Emery,
Here's another update.

I am now using

1:4:1 (All, Alcohol, Water) on very hard hammers only in which the sustain is poor. The 1-4-1 isn't used very much.

When I want to soften, so far 1:4 (All, Alcohol) is working very well.

The B-72 1:2 is working quite nicely.


As you may be able to tell, i have diluted the fabric softener since starting, and increased the strength of the B-72.
-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/24/20 08:05 PM
Thanks Chris. Are you only putting B72 into the shoulders? I'm wary about hardening the crowns at all because I think it's too easy to get a metallic-sounding ping that way.
Its not so easy to get a ping with the B-72 as its not a brittle plastic like lacquer. I apply it in two ways on old hammers. In the volume area, a little at a time until i get the tone i want. And i spray on top with a spot sprayer (2oz bottle) Apply the 1:2 wait an hour to listen. If you do get a ping, sugar coating can fix it.

-chris
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 04/30/20 06:03 PM
Chris,

Do you find that the B-72 does not remain fully in suspension in the ethanol and must be agitated frequently for this purpose? Or have I done something wrong?

Pwg
The main jar of the last batch i made didn't seem to have any sediment worthy of note. It certainly doesn't hurt to give it a shake either. I make it at a 1-4 ratio, are you going thicker? I also used 190 proof alcohol to minimize water content. I did not use acetone to dissolve the crystals, i don't mind that it takes longer to dissolve in the alcohol.

Hope that helps.
-chris
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/02/20 02:01 AM
I think I made it about 2 parts vodka (190 proof but over a year old so it may have absorbed a bit more water than it had originally) to 1 part plastic. All approximate done by eye in a squirt bottle. Seems a bit thick to me, though I haven't actually tried it on anything yet. I may thin it out some more.

Pwg
So earlier in this post the presence of lanolin in hammer felt was deemed significant to tone. I don't understand how. Could someone please give a deterministic mechanistic explanation of what or how lanolin affects tone?
Peter,

I think you are making it too thick.

This should help:

Erwin Mixing Protocol
The formulas below replicate the approximate strength of a comparable lacquer solution. Voicing is a result driven process, so you can obviously mix thinner or thicker solutions as you wish. These solutions will get you headed in the right direction.

Thick: Mix 8-10 grams B 72 with 4 oz. of acetone. Comparable to 3-1 lacquer solution
Medium: Mix 4-5 grams with 4 oz. of acetone. Comparable to 6-1 lacquer solution
Thin: Mix 2-2.5 grams with 4 oz. of acetone. Comparable to 12 -1 lacquer solution


The only difference is i do not use acetone.


-chris
McMorrow,

Lanolin is important so the fibers have resilience. Abel natural felt has 10 times the lanolin. I must say that they have a somewhat sweeter sound than the Ronsens.

Here's a link to an interview with Norbert.

https://pianopricepoint.com/interview-with-norbert-abel/
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/02/20 09:58 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
McMorrow,

Lanolin is important so the fibers have resilience. Abel natural felt has 10 times the lanolin. I must say that they have a somewhat sweeter sound than the Ronsens.

Here's a link to an interview with Norbert.

https://pianopricepoint.com/interview-with-norbert-abel/

So Abel jumps through hoops and loops to remove any aggressive chemicals in the process of producing a felt that has a high Lanolin contents to keep it as clean, but unprocessed as possible, with the result that "Abel's hammers are resilient and sound sweeter than others." (Your words).

Only to then treat them with aggressive chemicals to remove Lanolin, harden them with lacquer, hair spray and plastic. And soften them with fabric softener.

This does not make sense.

You got a natural felt hammer which is hard and resilient in the beginning and in order to produce a beautiful sound out of it in a concert grand, you'll need to put in quite some effort to voice it, i.e. shape it, file an even strike surface, needle it in a consistent way. Once you're done with that, the piano can be played hard on a daily basis for 4-5 months at least. And what you do then is to re-shape the hammers as before, losing maybe 1mm of felt substance, file the strike surface and needle the shoulders to regain the resilience that has been lost by constant compression on the strike line.

Tell me how that does not make more sense than experimenting with chemicals for a hammer that has not been designed to be treated with chemicals in the first place. Which. by the way, goes for the Renner Blue Points as well. And our own Bechstein hammers.

Disclaimer: I work for Bechstein, but not in Marketing, R&D, Sales, Production and my postings are that of an individual and may not be taken as official statement of my employer. I've been here before starting to work for the company.
You say it doesn't make sense, but everyone who tries it, hears the results immediately.

Maybe you should try it. If not, good for you. Keep doing it your way.

Maybe start a voicing with needles post and show everyone how great your system is. Instead you choose to go onto a post that you disagree with and undermine.

I don't get it.
-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/03/20 02:48 AM
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
So Abel jumps through hoops and loops to remove any aggressive chemicals in the process of producing a felt that has a high Lanolin contents to keep it as clean, but unprocessed as possible, with the result that "Abel's hammers are resilient and sound sweeter than others." (Your words).

Only to then treat them with aggressive chemicals to remove Lanolin, harden them with lacquer, hair spray and plastic. And soften them with fabric softener.

This does not make sense.

Hi OE1FEU. I think the idea behind the fabric softener is to add something like lanolin back into the hammers. Likely this would not be needed on the Abel naturals because they already have lanolin. However, if most hammers are acid washed like the article says, reintroducing something that acts like lanolin would help achieve after the fact what Abel is trying to do beforehand.

As for the hairspray and plastic, they are used to stiffen up parts of the hammer, like Steinway has been doing to their hammers with lacquer.

So, there is no witches brew of chemicals being added here. Just fabric softener to replace the lanolin, and plastic, hairspray, or lacquer to voice up when needed, like Steinway has been doing with their hammers.

Personally I didn't like the effect of hairspray on the crowns, and I didn't feel the need to increase the loudness on my hammers. Therefore my Kawai hammers only have fabric softener in them.
The result for me has been good. Everything sounds richer with more sustain. And some overly harsh treble hammers that I could not mellow out with any amount of needle voicing are now smooth and even.

I think the question here is whether fabric softener really acts like lanolin in a hammer. That may be a question for a chemist, but the actual result of doing so has made my hammers sound better.
Chris:
What evidence do you have that lanolin provides resilience to wool felt?
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/03/20 06:45 AM
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
What evidence do you have that lanolin provides resilience to wool felt?

Your own body will give you the answer. A human's head has glands producing lanolin and thus coats your hair, which consists of keratin. Both materials are pretty much identical to unprocessed sheep wool. Fibres coated with lanolin are "springy", which is why your hair and sheep wool pretty much go back into its original form after you compress it.

Keratin itself is a brittle material that has only very little resilience and is prone to breaking at a certain point. Look at your fingernails and toenails: both are made from keratin, but they are not coated with lanolin, because there are no glands producing lanolin anywhere near your fingernails/toenails. If you had a heap of hair with lanolin in it and a heap without, compressing both heaps at the same time will make the first heap spring back into its original form and the second one remain in the form it was compressed to, because you actually irreparably broke the fibres.

I'd say that pretty much describes resilience.
I read up on lanolin. It is a mix of compounds including 97% long chain, waxy esters with the remainder alcohols, waxy esters, acids and hydrocarbons. So it is a type of natural skin cream that also enhances water repelling.

So it would act to reduce friction between hairs.

Given how compressed hammer felt is, I doubt it plays much of a role in spring rate.

The modern piano hammer is way out of step with the traditional way hammers were made and voiced into a piano. A hammer that requires massive needle work in the bass and mid section to bring it down to warm tone is an absurd exercise.

Use less dense felt, design the piano to make is easier to have the hammer light enough in the first place by choosing dimensions carefully, and stiffen the treble felt with the proper chemical agents and application methods will produce the most stable tone over time. It will also produce a faster more controllable action that requires way less maintenance, can tolerate changes in humidity better, and will last many times longer in use.

THAT IS A SELLING POINT that pianists understand! Our wonderful industry is besotted with sales spiels that list brand X or Y components that pianists have no way of relating to.

If our, (PW enthusiasts) "Grand Obsession" is to continue as a viable business opportunity: we must give pianists a reason to replace their old instruments with MODERN ones.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/04/20 02:46 PM
Hmm... you can buy 100% lanolin on Amazon. The question is how to get it into piano hammers. I wonder if thinning with a solvent (acetone? alcohol?) then spraying onto the hammers would work. I'm sure an intrepid piano rebuilder has tried this at some point. Anybody know of results?
Posted By: gwing Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/04/20 03:00 PM
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Hmm... you can buy 100% lanolin on Amazon. The question is how to get it into piano hammers. I wonder if thinning with a solvent (acetone? alcohol?) then spraying onto the hammers would work. I'm sure an intrepid piano rebuilder has tried this at some point. Anybody know of results?

I came across this: " Lanolin is soluble in organic solvents like diethyl ether, chloroform and chloroform/methanol mixtures, but poorly soluble in ethanol. It does not dissolve in (but is mixable with) water, forming stable oil-water emulsions."

The best way of getting it into hammers is probably to leave it on the wool before making your felt :-)
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/04/20 03:38 PM
Spray it quick before you pass out!
Hi Emery,

I just went over the Baldwin that Todd did. Its going back to the owner Wednesday. I only had to touch up a couple notes at the break. But I just tuned it and i believe the customer will love it. I want to go over the ratios again as there has been some typos and changing of them in the experiments. But i seem to have settled (by process of elimination) on these ratios.

The B-72:
I buy the pellets from Talas. I mix 1 Tablespoon to 2 oz. of alcohol. The batch i made last week I used Denatured alcohol from Home Depot. As a spray this one seems about right. It makes a change, but not a drastic one. If i do get a ping, sugar coating or brushing will work.
If the volume is too low still (even after a ping) I spray again until i get the volume i want. Then remove the ping. BTW, the B-72 will not ping as easily lacquer or Hairspray will. That's because of B-72's flexible properties.

All Softener:
I have settled on two formulations.

Without water:
1 part All, 2 parts alcohol. Has a predictable behavior, so it becomes easy to know how much to apply.

With water:
1 part ALL, 4 part Alcohol, 1 part water (1-4-1). Only to be used when there is excessive hardness. So its not used often, but i needed it on some overlacquered hammers i was working on. When using it, i prefer to let it sit a day and check it the next. On some hammers you may have to add more alcohol until its absorbing correctly.

The key to Todds system is getting that sustain first, volume second (FF)(F), color last (p)(pp).
Enjoy playing with it.

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/04/20 09:36 PM
Thanks Chris. Are you spraying the B72 on the crowns only? Or are you spraying it on the shoulders to stiffen them, and then spraying the crown in a 3rd step to adjust the tone?

Also for the fabric softener: Todd recommended 4 passes on each shoulder. Is that what you're doing too?

-Emery
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/04/20 10:42 PM
I'll be convinced of the chemical treatment the very day that major makers of hammers and pianos distribute a pamphlet that gives a technician an instruction manual that describes a reproducible method of treatment with clearly defined chemicals and specific ways of how to apply them for a clearly defined set of hammers.

Until then, please understand that I allow myself the luxury of not letting hair spray and other components that have not explicitly approved of in an official manual by an actual manufacturer of hammers to be seen as actually relevant to preparing concert grands that one can hear on recordings, in major concert halls and pianists traveling with pianos prepared like that.

So far, this hasn't happened, so please accept that I call it it Voodoo, Black Magic and a belief system rather than a scientifically relevant set of axioms with a proven track record.

Look at it as a challenge to change my mind with irrefutable facts and corresponding evidence.
Kind and Open minded Emery,

How or where I spray depends on what the hammers are telling me.

The Renner Blue Points that were on the Baldwin that Todd demonstrated on needed to be sprayed on the shoulders with Water/softener/alcohol because they were extremely hard and because of that, the sustain was dropping off immediately. If the hammers had sustain, then he wouldn't have had to work the shoulders so much or at all. Next he went to Volume. He described it as "needing to be like a punch in the chest". The note comes out at you. This is sprayed on top, the alcohol wicks better than acetone or lacquer thinner. When spraying for volume, spray from the top and/or 11:00/1:00 positions. Spray heavier so it will wick into the volume area. To spray the color area you spray the same but lighter/quicker so it stays on top and doesn't wick.

If you get any pinging you clean it up with a single needle. Don't jab the string grooves just scrape.

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/04/20 11:43 PM
Thanks Chris, although "doesn't know any better" Emery may be more fitting smile
OE1FEU,
Why would one expect a hammer maker to be an expert at tone regulation? Hammer makers surely must learn what methods technicians have found useful and then provide a hammer that works with those protocols once they are developed.

The long time tradition of tone regulation of continuously felted piano hammers used by makers like Chickering, Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Baldwin all involve some shaping to reduce weight and additions of felt stiffeners for the top two or so octaves, along with some needle work at the break.

It is only in the post WW2 era that piano makers and Technicians have adopted needle down the first four or five octaves and just shape the top treble.
Did you directly talk with Todd about the four repetitions? The best 1-1-1 solution?
Is that the usual procedure, or could one layer of spraying be enough?
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/06/20 03:14 PM
Hi Toni. If you're asking me, yes I talked to Todd and he recommended spraying 4 passes on each side of the hammer. He said to do each pass at about a walking speed, so about 5 seconds to get from one end to the other. He recommended 1:1 fabric softener to alcohol in an aerosol sprayer. Seems Chris uses an airbrush, which should work well too.

You could try just one pass. I did a second 4-pass treatment after my initial treatment because the effect wore off, and Todd said it was because I didn't have enough fabric softener built up in the hammers. So, since you can build it up over time, it shouldn't be an issue if you start with fewer passes. You can just do it again.

I would not have used the hairspray again. Since I prefer a darker tone, I would have just sanded the crowns to focus them more, or maybe ironed them. But as it is, just playing it for a couple weeks compacted things enough to where the tone is where I want it. There is some residual zinginess from the leftover hairspray, so I may do some more sanding or just let it wear away.

I didn't try Chris's B-72 solution, which I understands does the same thing as hairspray but with less of the ping. You may want to try that if the fabric softener mellows things too much for you.
I use the b72 solution for a long time and it works well and it is easy to get rid off the ping in cases it is there. I use a very deluted version, 2 grams per 100 cl acetone. I will probably change to alcohol as Chris does. In many cases I add the b 72 directly on the strike point with a syringe and for me it is very controllable. And there is hardly any corrections needed if the too dull hammers are at least uniform.

I am wondering if you use a solution for regular tuning appointments in cases you have a ugly, harsh sounding piano?
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/07/20 01:47 PM
Toni, that would be a question for Chris or Todd, if he's still following this thread. I only work on my own pianos so can't address your question.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/08/20 11:54 AM
All these conversations about ways to wrestle the bad tone out of hammers always makes me wonder why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box. I've owned and rebuilt several pianos over the years, but have kept my U1 through them all. About 10 years ago, after constantly fighting with the Yamaha hammers, and after researching and trying sample hammers from a number of manufacturers, I replaced the Yamaha hammers in the U1 with Ronsen Wurtzen felt hammers. Wow--what a change. The top octave or so needed a bit of juicing, but other than that the other hammers have hardly required any voicing at all. Here I am 10 years later, and they still sound excellent with hardly a touch of a voicing needle. The hammers hardly seem worn--they are displaying incredible resilience and resistance to grooving.

I present this result to show that a well made hammer, using the right felt, applied in right way, can produce superb results over many years, without all the manipulation described in this thread. Why wrestle with hammers that start out so far from ideal when there are options?
ROY123 and I bet the tone is better now than when you first installed the new hammers.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/08/20 03:45 PM
With sufficient budget and time, I think many would just put on better hammers. For most people though, this isn't a viable option, so then you have to work with what you've got. Plus, it's worthwhile to see what you can get out of what you have, and if there are methods that aren't too onerous and give good results, it's worth a try. It would also be a waste to get rid of perfectly serviceable hammers if this is the case.
My method/version is more suited towards shopwork because i use the air compressor. Todd's is more suited to the home. Hence the convenience of the hairspray and the oil/vinegar sprayers he used. Todd tried many different hairsprays and settled on The Big Red Sexy Play harder for getting results. I'd stick to the softener formulas I outlined earlier and get use to how the hammers respond. The adjustability comes in the form of how many passes and how fast or slow a pass is.

-chris
Originally Posted by Roy123
All these conversations about ways to wrestle the bad tone out of hammers always makes me wonder why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box. I've owned and rebuilt several pianos over the years, but have kept my U1 through them all. About 10 years ago, after constantly fighting with the Yamaha hammers, and after researching and trying sample hammers from a number of manufacturers, I replaced the Yamaha hammers in the U1 with Ronsen Wurtzen felt hammers. Wow--what a change. The top octave or so needed a bit of juicing, but other than that the other hammers have hardly required any voicing at all. Here I am 10 years later, and they still sound excellent with hardly a touch of a voicing needle. The hammers hardly seem worn--they are displaying incredible resilience and resistance to grooving.

I present this result to show that a well made hammer, using the right felt, applied in right way, can produce superb results over many years, without all the manipulation described in this thread. Why wrestle with hammers that start out so far from ideal when there are options?

Sounded like you wrestled with the bad tone in the treble. I'm not sure that is a testimony to the point you were trying to make. Also, You are forgetting the human element to voicing. Some people may have a finer ear and require more evenness or brightness out of the Ronsens.
But that is what's great about good hammers, is that as a voicer, you have options to please the varied tastes.

-chris
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/09/20 03:58 PM
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
ROY123 and I bet the tone is better now than when you first installed the new hammers.

You are correct.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/09/20 04:11 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Originally Posted by Roy123
All these conversations about ways to wrestle the bad tone out of hammers always makes me wonder why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box. I've owned and rebuilt several pianos over the years, but have kept my U1 through them all. About 10 years ago, after constantly fighting with the Yamaha hammers, and after researching and trying sample hammers from a number of manufacturers, I replaced the Yamaha hammers in the U1 with Ronsen Wurtzen felt hammers. Wow--what a change. The top octave or so needed a bit of juicing, but other than that the other hammers have hardly required any voicing at all. Here I am 10 years later, and they still sound excellent with hardly a touch of a voicing needle. The hammers hardly seem worn--they are displaying incredible resilience and resistance to grooving.

I present this result to show that a well made hammer, using the right felt, applied in right way, can produce superb results over many years, without all the manipulation described in this thread. Why wrestle with hammers that start out so far from ideal when there are options?

Sounded like you wrestled with the bad tone in the treble. I'm not sure that is a testimony to the point you were trying to make. Also, You are forgetting the human element to voicing. Some people may have a finer ear and require more evenness or brightness out of the Ronsens.
But that is what's great about good hammers, is that as a voicer, you have options to please the varied tastes.

-chris

No wrestling--just one application of a hardener, which seems like much less wrestling than the preneedling required of the Renners along with chemical treatments or additional needling. All the stabbing that hammers like the Renners require just seems all wrong. It's seems like proof that the hammers aren't a good match to the piano, or are simply too hard and dense to begin with. I also wonder how much resilience and longevity the hammers will have after all the needling, and I wonder if they will tend to go back to being too hard, and will therefore require a steady diet of voicing to maintain the desired tone? The Yamaha hammers on my U1 always seemed to need voicing. I also wonder how much excess weight that the very dense felt on those hot pressed hammers add. The Ronsens have been very even, and the Wurtzen felt, which is the densest felt that Ronsen uses, was a good match to the scale design of the U1. Everyone who has played my U1 with the Ronsen hammers has been impressed with the tone. Those hammers really lifted the piano to a new level of performance.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/09/20 04:18 PM
Roy, were you able to get the Ronsens pre-shaped, or did you have to shape them yourself?
Posted By: Andymania Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/09/20 06:09 PM
Originally Posted by Roy123
why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box.

So you mean e.g. harder felt for a scale design with thick an high-tension strings and on the other hand the opposite for low-tension strings?
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/09/20 06:39 PM
These are some of the reasons that hammers may not be well mated to the scale design of the piano, and may not sound good right out of the box:

Piano makers are constrained to use hammers that are available.

Hammer makers are constrained to use the materials that are available.

Different people have different ideas of what "sounding good" may mean.

Different ranges of the piano have different requirements for the hammers.

There are variabilities in hammers that are beyond the control of the hammer manufacturer, as there are variabilities in piano manufacture.

The manufacturing process imparts undesirable traits on the hammers.

Hammers cannot be tested for their final sound before they are installed.

It may be cheaper and more reliable to adjust the hammers in the piano than in the hammer manufacture.

What works at the time the piano is made may not work after a few hundred hours of play.

There are probably more reasons, but those are a start.
Originally Posted by Roy123
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Originally Posted by Roy123
All these conversations about ways to wrestle the bad tone out of hammers always makes me wonder why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box. I've owned and rebuilt several pianos over the years, but have kept my U1 through them all. About 10 years ago, after constantly fighting with the Yamaha hammers, and after researching and trying sample hammers from a number of manufacturers, I replaced the Yamaha hammers in the U1 with Ronsen Wurtzen felt hammers. Wow--what a change. The top octave or so needed a bit of juicing, but other than that the other hammers have hardly required any voicing at all. Here I am 10 years later, and they still sound excellent with hardly a touch of a voicing needle. The hammers hardly seem worn--they are displaying incredible resilience and resistance to grooving.

I present this result to show that a well made hammer, using the right felt, applied in right way, can produce superb results over many years, without all the manipulation described in this thread. Why wrestle with hammers that start out so far from ideal when there are options?

Sounded like you wrestled with the bad tone in the treble. I'm not sure that is a testimony to the point you were trying to make. Also, You are forgetting the human element to voicing. Some people may have a finer ear and require more evenness or brightness out of the Ronsens.
But that is what's great about good hammers, is that as a voicer, you have options to please the varied tastes.

-chris

No wrestling--just one application of a hardener, which seems like much less wrestling than the preneedling required of the Renners along with chemical treatments or additional needling. All the stabbing that hammers like the Renners require just seems all wrong. It's seems like proof that the hammers aren't a good match to the piano, or are simply too hard and dense to begin with. I also wonder how much resilience and longevity the hammers will have after all the needling, and I wonder if they will tend to go back to being too hard, and will therefore require a steady diet of voicing to maintain the desired tone? The Yamaha hammers on my U1 always seemed to need voicing. I also wonder how much excess weight that the very dense felt on those hot pressed hammers add. The Ronsens have been very even, and the Wurtzen felt, which is the densest felt that Ronsen uses, was a good match to the scale design of the U1. Everyone who has played my U1 with the Ronsen hammers has been impressed with the tone. Those hammers really lifted the piano to a new level of performance.

Roy123,
I agree with you regarding that the Renner are too hard, and I also am a big proponent of the Ronsens. But guess what, My client wanted the Blue points for the Baldwin. It wasn't my choice. So I installed the Renner Blue Points as my client requested, and I am not personally excited about them. I had a Steinway M prepared for the Todd class, but Todd picked the Baldwin for the class. The rest is on the Video. And i'm glad that Todd did his magic, because when i delivered the piano, the client loved it!!!!!!

-chris
Posted By: ando Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/10/20 08:29 AM
Originally Posted by Roy123
No wrestling--just one application of a hardener, which seems like much less wrestling than the preneedling required of the Renners along with chemical treatments or additional needling. All the stabbing that hammers like the Renners require just seems all wrong. It's seems like proof that the hammers aren't a good match to the piano, or are simply too hard and dense to begin with. I also wonder how much resilience and longevity the hammers will have after all the needling, and I wonder if they will tend to go back to being too hard, and will therefore require a steady diet of voicing to maintain the desired tone? The Yamaha hammers on my U1 always seemed to need voicing. I also wonder how much excess weight that the very dense felt on those hot pressed hammers add. The Ronsens have been very even, and the Wurtzen felt, which is the densest felt that Ronsen uses, was a good match to the scale design of the U1. Everyone who has played my U1 with the Ronsen hammers has been impressed with the tone. Those hammers really lifted the piano to a new level of performance.
I'm quite excited to try the Ronsen hammers one day. My Yamaha U3 has the classic heavy, compacted factory hammer-syndrome. I have to needle and shape them annually to keep them manageable. I'm just a novice piano tech, but everybody has told me you're on a hiding to nothing with old Yamaha hammers. I'd love to buy a set of Ronsens and have at it. Unfortunately I live in a city with very little in terms of people to work on pianos, so getting them installed locally is a problem. I might consider doing it myself, I suppose - knowing full well that most of you proper techs would strongly advise me against it. I guess if I'm able to devise a way of meticulously measuring the bore angle and position and drill an identical angle and position on the Ronsens, it should be possible.
Guess I'll have to research that further.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/10/20 12:17 PM
Ando,

If you send Ray the first and last hammer/shank assembly of each section, and tell him where the angles change (if different from these samples), he will do all that work for you. Then the only thing you will need is the tools and knowledge for hammer installation. ☺

Pwg
Why would a professional technician ever place their client in the position to select a type of hammer for their piano? What meaningful knowledge and experience would the client have to make a distinction like that? If they "know" what kind of hammer their piano should have to meet their expectations of tone, touch and longevity; why wouldn't they do the job themselves?
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/10/20 03:33 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Originally Posted by Roy123
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Originally Posted by Roy123
All these conversations about ways to wrestle the bad tone out of hammers always makes me wonder why piano makers and rebuilders don't use hammers well mated to the scale design of the piano, that sound good right out of the box. I've owned and rebuilt several pianos over the years, but have kept my U1 through them all. About 10 years ago, after constantly fighting with the Yamaha hammers, and after researching and trying sample hammers from a number of manufacturers, I replaced the Yamaha hammers in the U1 with Ronsen Wurtzen felt hammers. Wow--what a change. The top octave or so needed a bit of juicing, but other than that the other hammers have hardly required any voicing at all. Here I am 10 years later, and they still sound excellent with hardly a touch of a voicing needle. The hammers hardly seem worn--they are displaying incredible resilience and resistance to grooving.

I present this result to show that a well made hammer, using the right felt, applied in right way, can produce superb results over many years, without all the manipulation described in this thread. Why wrestle with hammers that start out so far from ideal when there are options?

Sounded like you wrestled with the bad tone in the treble. I'm not sure that is a testimony to the point you were trying to make. Also, You are forgetting the human element to voicing. Some people may have a finer ear and require more evenness or brightness out of the Ronsens.
But that is what's great about good hammers, is that as a voicer, you have options to please the varied tastes.

-chris

No wrestling--just one application of a hardener, which seems like much less wrestling than the preneedling required of the Renners along with chemical treatments or additional needling. All the stabbing that hammers like the Renners require just seems all wrong. It's seems like proof that the hammers aren't a good match to the piano, or are simply too hard and dense to begin with. I also wonder how much resilience and longevity the hammers will have after all the needling, and I wonder if they will tend to go back to being too hard, and will therefore require a steady diet of voicing to maintain the desired tone? The Yamaha hammers on my U1 always seemed to need voicing. I also wonder how much excess weight that the very dense felt on those hot pressed hammers add. The Ronsens have been very even, and the Wurtzen felt, which is the densest felt that Ronsen uses, was a good match to the scale design of the U1. Everyone who has played my U1 with the Ronsen hammers has been impressed with the tone. Those hammers really lifted the piano to a new level of performance.

Roy123,
I agree with you regarding that the Renner are too hard, and I also am a big proponent of the Ronsens. But guess what, My client wanted the Blue points for the Baldwin. It wasn't my choice. So I installed the Renner Blue Points as my client requested, and I am not personally excited about them. I had a Steinway M prepared for the Todd class, but Todd picked the Baldwin for the class. The rest is on the Video. And i'm glad that Todd did his magic, because when i delivered the piano, the client loved it!!!!!!

-chris

That's interesting. One wonders why a client would decide he or she is so knowledgeable as to dictate a hammer type to an experienced rebuilder such as yourself.
I provide services to RPT's too. Many of them are just on the tuning and repair side of the trade and are not set up for soundboard and pinblock work. So when a piano comes in for those specialties, they often opt for me to do all of the work. Quite often they know what hammers and parts they want me to use and i tailor to their preferences. I'm glad that i have adopted that business model because I have built many friendships and have learned to work with other brands that i normally would not have used.

-chris
Posted By: ando Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/10/20 08:04 PM
Originally Posted by P W Grey
Ando,

If you send Ray the first and last hammer/shank assembly of each section, and tell him where the angles change (if different from these samples), he will do all that work for you. Then the only thing you will need is the tools and knowledge for hammer installation. ☺

Pwg
That's a great idea, Peter, thanks. I never considered that.
Professionals set standards.

The "Pure commerce model" will lead to "I sell whatever they want to buy."

The pure commerce standard is also another business model for prostitution.
The last few tunings with ugly sounding, harsh and brittle hammers in upright pianos I gave the fabric softener 1:2 solution and the B72 a try. B72 is in my bag for a longer time and I applied it on dull sounding hammers, a solution of 1,6 grams deluted in 100 cl acetone. That improves the impact on the strike point but never gives an ugly “ping”.

Now my question is: if you come across a piano and after analyzing sustain, sound quality and loudness, makes it sense to spray the shoulders and the tips with the 1:2 solution, let it dry for about 15 minutes, (doing some action work in the meantime), do a pitch correction, add B72, if needed and then do a fine tuning? That is a question for a “normal “ tuning appointment. What do you think, especially the ones that are common with Todd’s voicing method? Thanks.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/11/20 12:00 PM
Along the lines of Toni's question, I am wondering what to expect with mildly worn hammers (obviously with string grooves). Or would reshaping be a pre-requisite? Obviously not looking for tier one results...just a mild improvement.

Pwg
Chris
In what kind of alcohol does the paraloid b72 solve?
Here they tell me that it is not possible.
Thanks
Posted By: adamp88 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/12/20 01:38 PM
Toni, you can use ethanol or acetone. Acetone doesn't penetrate as well as ethanol, but is still quite effective.
Toni,

I was using the brand Everclear, but switched to Denatured Alcohol from Home Depot. Both are 190 proof. The alcohol takes longer to dissolved so make up a batch ahead of time. It can take a couple of days. Stir often.

Because of the wicking behavior, alcohol penetrates deeper, the acetone stays near the surface. Maybe that could be useful for different applications.
-chris
Thanks very much for your replies!! In the shop they told me that the paraloid will not solve, but I try it anyhow and see what happens.
Today I came across a very very ugly sounding grand with 12 mm grooves in the hammer. The customer complaints that the grand sounds loud and screaming. So I gave it a hammer filing and a regulation and a tuning. After filing the hammers I gave a good layer of 1:2 on the shoulders and the tips and after having dried it out for about an hour the harshness was gone and as expected the sustain came back and the harshness was gone. It was already quite even and I gave the tips in the middle and treble a few drops of paraloid b72. That really brought the thing back to life and when it was too much, I carefully added a slight coat of the 1:2 where needed on individual hammers.

In the end the customer was very happy and also me, the piano sounds amazing now. Soft tone in pp p range and a punch when increasing the volume and of course also the change of the color in the different loudnesses.
It was great.
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/12/20 05:33 PM
A good portion of the harsh tone of worn hammers comes from grooves, and specifically the edges of the grooves. This makes a hard angle in the waveform, and that sounds harsh.
Yes, that is absolutely right, the grooves are a part of the harsh tone. After filing I did listen to the sustain and the overall sound, witch was still harsh, surely a little bit less than at the beginning. But what was a big advantage of using the 1:2 was, that I almost didn’t use needles and I could avoid a long stabbing with the voicing tool. The piano was from a pianist, so you probably can imagine what that means for your hand and wrist when these hammers were never really served. It seems that they will be renewed in a few years.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/13/20 06:17 PM
Good report Toni.

1:2 Fabric softener:Alcohol?

Pwg
Exactly. One fabric softener, two parts alcohol.

Chris: is the paraloid solution you use not extremely strong? 1part paraloid and two parts of alcohol? Then you probably spray one a very thin layer over the tips. Didn’t you get a ping with this solution? And how sound the hammers before you add the paraloid? Are they sprayed with fabric softener every time you before you spray with paraloid?

Thanks!!
Hi Toni

If my conversions are accurate, your mixture is too weak (1.6g -100CL, this converts to 1.6g - 33 oz). I'm surprised that it made much a difference in tone.

I use (1 Tblsp B-72 : 2 oz alcohol) =( 4g: 2oz) = (4g: 6 CL). This is the Erwin Thick. I made a batch thick so i can thin it as my ear determines. That's important, that your ear is the determining factor, not a predetermined mixture ratio.

The medium is (4g : 4oz) = (4g : 12 CL)

The Thin is (4g : 8oz) = (4g : 24 CL)

I have been spraying the thick, but if i was using a hypo oiler, i would go with the thin to start. The reason is because the hypo oiler saturates and the sprayer atomizes.


-chris
I am getting close to the voicing stage of a Steinway A i'm working on for a client who lives in Kentucky. It has New untouched Ronsen hammers installed. I listened to them for the first time this afternoon. Remember these are cold pressed hammers. Right off the bat the tone is weak and the sustain is poor. I will be using the Spray method with the B-72 for hardening and the softener to build sustain. Kind of strange to say the tone weak and my first action i will take is to apply a softener. This is because the sustain is poor, this means the shoulders are too hard. Then i will be using the B-72 to build the volume and brighten them up.

I'll keep you posted on how this new method of voicing works on Ronsens and the steps i take.

-chris
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/15/20 12:12 PM
Chris, please do keep us posted.

Pwg
Posted By: RonTuner Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 05/16/20 11:13 PM
Thanks for posting this Chris - I've been able to test this protocol on some problem pianos and have found it a valuable tool to add to my kit!

Ron Koval
Welcome to the club Ron,

Lease let us know what protocol changes you may make, and any observations you want to share or any questions you may have.

-Chris
I have a few questions after having tried the method on some uprights with success, but of course there is improvement.

1. Do you spray several layers with the 1:2 solution or only a single one?
2. If more than once, how do you judge it?
3. Do you spray the hammers even if you don’t have time to reshape them? ( I did it and it improved the sustain quite a good amount).
4. If you harden the hammers with hairspray or paraloid b72, do you go too far and then soften again? If yes, how? With the 1:2 or 1:1:1 or simply 190 proof alcohol?
5. Does 190 proof alcohol soften hard tips?
6. can you imagine, soften harsh sounding hammers with the 1:2 solution during a tuning appointment? Or with alcohol 96%?

Thanks for answering my questions if possible.

BTW I got a huge positive reaction from a customer I tried it and she was completely happy with the sound of her grand.
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
I have a few questions after having tried the method on some uprights with success, but of course there is improvement.

1. Do you spray several layers with the 1:2 solution or only a single one?
2. If more than once, how do you judge it?
3. Do you spray the hammers even if you don’t have time to reshape them? ( I did it and it improved the sustain quite a good amount).
4. If you harden the hammers with hairspray or paraloid b72, do you go too far and then soften again? If yes, how? With the 1:2 or 1:1:1 or simply 190 proof alcohol?
5. Does 190 proof alcohol soften hard tips?
6. can you imagine, soften harsh sounding hammers with the 1:2 solution during a tuning appointment? Or with alcohol 96%?

Thanks for answering my questions if possible.

BTW I got a huge positive reaction from a customer I tried it and she was completely happy with the sound of her grand.

Good Questions.

1 and 2) Only your ear can be the judge. For example, i have some new Ronsen hammers to voice soon. The problem (from listening to them) is that the tone is too soft and at the same time the sustain drops off the cliff. This means the low shoulders are too hard and the tips too soft. My first order of business, will be to spray the 1: 2 softener to build sustain. After i get that, then i will use the 4g-2oz. B-72 solution to build color and volume from the top. To build volume, I'll spray slowly to saturate 10-2 o'clock. After volume, its quick spraying to build the color(tips).

3) Reshaping is always a good idea, good practice, and can often improve the tone by itself.

4) Yes, i have found that you can go back and forth between the B-72 solution and the 1:2 softener solution. ONLY, use the 1:1:1 to correct extreme hardness and denseness. Otherwise the other solutions will be the go to's.

5) I haven't tried that yet. I suppose it could dilute and evaporate what was applied. I mostly think of it as a carrier in this application.

6) I think the 1:2 is good for that. Don't forget sugarcoating the strike points too with a short fine needle, or reshaping.
Here is a video Todd Scott just posted on youtube of Dino Kartsonakis playing on a Norberg 9 foot Grand. I asked him about the hammers and how they were treated. He said that they are Abel Natural felt and treated with Big red sexy hairspray and the All Fabric softener. He did mention that he wished that he had softened them up a little more.

Anyways a fairly good example of this system in use on the concert stage.

-chris

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C56...LGrOxejP2jx2nCk-P4Gy_gfUond5EZrVCzldoFy4
Hi Chris

It is difficult to say anything about the sound quality of the grand in the video. For me it sounds a bit pingy.

Another question: I found out that a 1 part all and three parts of alcohol give me a „sugar coating“ solution. What is your recipe?
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/03/20 07:10 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Here is a video Todd Scott just posted on youtube of Dino Kartsonakis playing on a Norberg 9 foot Grand. I asked him about the hammers and how they were treated. He said that they are Abel Natural felt and treated with Big red sexy hairspray and the All Fabric softener. He did mention that he wished that he had softened them up a little more.

Anyways a fairly good example of this system in use on the concert stage.

-chris

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C56...LGrOxejP2jx2nCk-P4Gy_gfUond5EZrVCzldoFy4

I am left speechless.
Hi Toni,

I agree it was on the bright side, as you may know, those pianists love to be heard. I have heard Todds 9 footer in other settings and its not as bright as it was in the Dino video. So he must tailor the voicing to the room and to the needs of the pianist.

I seem to have settled on the 1 to 2. I can vary how much it saturates into the hammer by the speed of the pass when spraying.

If you are using a hypo oiler the tendency is to heavily saturate with those. If that's the case, then a weaker solution may be what's applicable.

The final arbiter is your ear.

-chris
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/03/20 11:32 PM
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
Hi Chris

It is difficult to say anything about the sound quality of the grand in the video. For me it sounds a bit pingy.

Another question: I found out that a 1 part all and three parts of alcohol give me a „sugar coating“ solution. What is your recipe?

Toni,

Are you using 190 proof vodka or denatured alcohol?

How quickly does it cause a response, and have you tried applying it at the start of a tuning (as you had suggested earlier)?

Peter Grey Piano Doctor (Pwg)
My report on using this spray system on Ronsen Wurtzen felt hammers on a Steinway A.

I spent the last two days tuning, leveling strings mating hammers to strings and all the usual detailed prep work. I did encounter an unusual noise which turned out to be that my new stringer fellow left the agraffes at an angle to the strings. I'll have to talk to him about that LOL

Got it to the point that the hammers/pianos character is coming out. My first observation was that the tone was on the thin side (no bloom) and there were quite a few sustain drop offs. So being a cold pressed hammer I started with the 1-2 on the shoulders. Then i let it sit for 15 minutes. Then I went through it again and picked out notes that i thought were beautiful already to have as markers. Played up and down the compass and marked out the notes that needed to be brought up in power and color. Made two passes with the B-72.

These hammers are probably Ronsens best. The tone of them are magical, but there were uneven sections as pointed out above. A few years ago i would have been happy with just leaving them alone, they were that good.

Just played on the piano a couple minutes ago, and the tone has become sweeter and much more even and open. Never in my wildest dreams would i have thought to use a softener on a cold pressed hammer but when the sustain drops off like that, its the right solution to the problem.

So anyways i have made a total of four passes two with the softener on the shoulders, and two on the selected tops to blend and it made an amazing difference. And it only took a matter of minutes for the actual voicing once all the prep work was done.


Hope you all have the same experience improving the tone of your pianos like i have.

-chris
I am using denatured alcohol, 96%. At least that’s the strongest one I can buy here in Switzerland. It is not for drinking (btw😉) and not for creating drinks. So I think it is denatured.
When coming to a new customer I first look at the hammers. If needed I give them a ten minutes filing, only breaking the string groove edges a bit. So the mating remains and the tone improves. Then I mellow down the peaks by adding the 1-1-1 with a paint brush carefully. The goal is to have the tone already now quite similar. Time about 15 minutes, filing included.
Next listen to the sustain. Spray if needed with the 1:2 solution.
Start tuning and pitch correction. 15 minutes later decide what to do: listen to the sustain,
Listen to the tone quality and power. If the overall sound is too harsh, spray tips with 1:2 solution. Keep on tuning for about 15 minutes. Recheck sound. Now the sound is mostly on the mellow side, but that is ok.
Then I add the paraloid on the 10 and 2 o’clock area of the hammer. Now the important thing comes: depending on the actual mellow sound I add the paraloid more or less near the strike point on both sides of it. So it can saturate quasi under the strike point adding power and a bit brightness to the strike point. That gives me very nice results and hardly ever a pinging. If I add paraloid directly to the strike point, then only a very very weak solution.
I think the whole improvement should not last longer than 20 minutes. But with the system you can do a huge amount of improvement in the given time.
Here a sound example of a Seiler upright I was never happy with.
The piano is not fine tuned jet. After the shoulder treatment with the 1:2 the sustain improved. Also the top treble was too weak and the midrange didn’t sing. Also the tenor break is much more better now. The video is made with my iPhone 6.

Any comments are welcome.

https://youtu.be/po_xBuF4vD8
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/04/20 07:19 PM
Sounds very nice Toni, good job. Nice playing too.

BTW, I think you do a combination of spraying and painting? Do you find much of a difference between the two methods? I'm thinking of applying the B72 with a hypo oiler so I can be more precise in the amount and location applied to the hammers. Generalized spraying of the shoulders for softening and infusing fabric softener makes sense to me, but hardening parts of the hammer would benefit from more precision I would think.
Toni,
I enjoyed the composition myself. In fact i forwarded a link to Todd. Thanks for sharing that . I was a bit surprised hearing you used the 1-1-1 on the tips, but i can't argue with the results. Hammers must have been in a bad state.

Emery,

The spraying can be applied to a single hammer. In my work i am staying with just spraying. Mostly because of evenness. On the last piano i voiced (Steinway M) I used various methods of applications, but i think it complicates, because different methods require different ratios of the solutions. By staying with the spraying i have gained better control of the result. The Steinway A i just posted about, I used no needles and just my little spray gun. I'll post a picture of it because I had to alter it as i had dropped it and the container broke. So i made a mini container out of a hypo-oiler. And it holds enough to make 2 passes. Anyways saved me from having to buy another spray gun.

-chris
The 1-1-1 is applied with a brush and very very carefully only on single notes. It is really a tiny amount! It is sugar coating with a brush.
Toni,
For applying micro amounts to the strike line, you may want to try pipettes.

-chris
Here are a couple pics i promised.

First I listen to every note and mark with chalk.
[Linked Image]

Then I isolate the hammers according to the chalk marks. Then i place a shield to protect parts from spray.
[Linked Image]

This spraygun i use just for voicing.
[Linked Image]

-chris
Posted By: Gretel Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/06/20 06:10 AM
Maybe a quick question from a non-tech: I frequently see videos and pictures about voicing a grand, with the action taken out. All hammers are then easily accessible. What about an upright? Is it significantly more effort to apply the solutions here? Or maybe not realistically possible so that other techniques would be preferred? Thanks in advance.
Posted By: David Boyce Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/06/20 08:42 AM
It's not difficult to take an upright action out! (unless it's a spinet).
Gretel,

In this thread Toni was voicing an upright piano . Maybe you could direct a question to him.

-chris
Posted By: Seeker Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/06/20 01:41 PM
Toni - I really liked your piece and the way you played it. You've got some beautiful music in you.

Regarding the piano - I liked everything I heard until the final flourish before the top Ab(?) You played a little ascending arpeggio, then paused before playing the final note.

I thought the notes in that range - top 8ve and a half of the piano? - sounded kind of tinny? glassy? I'm not a voicing expert, but my experience is that there is a loudness point, beyond which, if we voice the piano to be louder, the tone degrades. The piano simply has a "smaller voice", and if we make it louder, it sounds like it's yelling.

Sorry if this is not very technical, but I don't have the language to describe it otherwise.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/06/20 02:06 PM
Andrew,

Bear in mind that Toni is discussing taking a piano that basically sounds BAD to pleasant and enjoyable in short order. Not every nuance can be be addressed in such a procedure. Now, I think you are aware of this but I'm saying it so that others do not get the wrong idea. And since everyone hears things differently, and recordings do not reflect the true acoustic situation...you know what I mean.

I too have been experimenting with this procedure and initial results are highly satisfactory...as Chris stated 'never in my wildest dreams...so quickly and effectively...' Pretty amazing stuff.

Pwg
Interesting development of the Ronsen hammers. After i had selected some notes as targets and was voicing to even out the tone across the keyboard, i was having trouble in the 5th octave and All the Unichords.

First the 5th octave:
I have now made 3 passes with the B-72 and I let it sit overnight. Checking this morning, all notes except for two have just started to have a ping sound. The power came with it so now i just have to remove the ping and those notes will blend nicely to the target notes. The two notes that are different have brighten up some but sound odd at a ff blow. This is telling me that i need to do a soaking pass to have the B-72 wich a little farther down to build the power. One more pass should do it.

The Unichords:

The 4th pass finally brought the notes up to actually also create a ping. Funny thing about a ping noise in the bass, it kinda sounds like an agraffe whining problem. Which is not the case because i heard the notes before i started voicing. So now i'll use a little softener. I think i will try Toni's technique of applying a small amount in the string line.

-chris
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/06/20 07:16 PM
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.
Scientific methods allow for empirical observations of things for which the mechanism is not understood. Scientific explanations of the tone of a Stradivarius violin are fairly recent and still incomplete, but violinists would not reject such an instrument due to lack of scientific explanation for the instrument’s sound.
Chris

I could use the brush with the 1-1-1 solution for the final even out of the tone. I would recommend only one short stroke over the strike point. I somehow massage with my finger the strike point after application of the 1-1-1 solution, like rubbing the hammer dry with my finger. I had good success with somewhat pingy notes.
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/06/20 10:43 PM
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.
Scientific methods allow for empirical observations of things for which the mechanism is not understood. Scientific explanations of the tone of a Stradivarius violin are fairly recent and still incomplete, but violinists would not reject such an instrument due to lack of scientific explanation for the instrument’s sound.

So, a stenciled Chinese concert grand equipped with natural felt Abel hammers that were treated with unknown chemical substances such as softeners and hair spray as hardeners is now the equivalent to a Stradivarius?

As I said before, I am left speechless.
In the videos, Todd used a technique that I was not in agreement with.

The steel wire brush.

Turns out I needed it today. Building up the tone with the B-72 (as mentioned in a previous post) pings were just starting to develop on a couple notes. I was getting ready to try Toni's technique to remove the pings and i grabbed the hammer to apply some softener on the strike point. But, as i grabbed the hammer i felt they were crusty( overspray?). All of them were. So i grabbed the steel brush and brushed all the hammers. Not like Todd though. He was vigorous and brushed to and fro. I decided to take it easy and brush lightly in one direction (towards me). I put the piano back in and gave it a try. It removed all the pings and softened the tone a little. Worked great!!

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/06/20 11:02 PM
Do you guys have any opinions on storage? It would be nice to mix up larger batches of the solutions beforehand, but I don't know how well they keep, especially the B72. Does it come out of solution if it sits for a while?
Hi Emery,

I keep a batch in a 32oz Mason Jar. I have noticed a little settling, but a quick shake fixed it. I also use the squeeze containers from pianotek, that i squeeze directly into the spraygun with. A while back I had just filled two bottles, 1 with softener solution, the other with B-72. I got distracted with a phone call before i could label them. Luckily, they both have a different shade of color.
-chris
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/07/20 04:55 AM
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
But what exactly does it do? If there is a change, physics is involved. If using chemicals on a hammer changes the physical characteristics of the material, those changes should be looked at and described. So far it sounds like black magic and secret sauce.
Scientific methods allow for empirical observations of things for which the mechanism is not understood. Scientific explanations of the tone of a Stradivarius violin are fairly recent and still incomplete, but violinists would not reject such an instrument due to lack of scientific explanation for the instrument’s sound.

So, a stenciled Chinese concert grand equipped with natural felt Abel hammers that were treated with unknown chemical substances such as softeners and hair spray as hardeners is now the equivalent to a Stradivarius?

As I said before, I am left speechless.

I’m not sure what led to your inference, but it is not a valid inference from the text of mine that you quoted. If something works empirically, the fact that you don’t understand the mechanism of how it works does not invalidate the result. If the stenciled grand is made to sound and play beautifully, then that is valid. The top piano manufacturers are not exactly forthcoming with putting their designs and technology out in the open to be scrutinized by the scientific community.
Posted By: Gretel Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/07/20 05:33 AM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Gretel,

In this thread Toni was voicing an upright piano . Maybe you could direct a question to him.

-chris

Originally Posted by David Boyce
It's not difficult to take an upright action out! (unless it's a spinet).

Thanks to both of you. Looks like it‘s suitable also for an upright. BTW I also now saw this video above with Toni‘s upright. Thanks again.
In the video it sounds a bit glassy, but in reality it’s clear and warm. I should use an external microphone for recordings with the iPhone.
The voicing was done quickly before the tuning. I am looking for a way to do a “one” pass voicing procedure during a tuning appointment.
Today I came across a Bösendorfer upright bought NEW in December 2018. Its sustain was so short that even the customer could hear it immediately after I mentioned that sustain problem. I didn’t spray anything because the piano was 40 cents flat and time somewhat limited. But my question is: can you imagine only spraying the shoulders and take care of the strike point so that there no 1:2 solution will soak in? Only improving the sustain? That was done in a few minutes. She loves the way the piano sounds (color). So no need to go on the tips.
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/09/20 11:19 PM
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
Today I came across a Bösendorfer upright bought NEW in December 2018. Its sustain was so short that even the customer could hear it immediately after I mentioned that sustain problem. I didn’t spray anything because the piano was 40 cents flat and time somewhat limited. But my question is: can you imagine only spraying the shoulders and take care of the strike point so that there no 1:2 solution will soak in? Only improving the sustain? That was done in a few minutes. She loves the way the piano sounds (color). So no need to go on the tips.

Why don't you call the good people at Bösendorfer and ask them what they think the right way to treat their hammers in a piano is?
Toni,

Absolutely, Just spraying on the shoulders will improve the sustain without affecting the color of the tips. The only difficulty is in choosing the 1:2 solution or the 1:1:1. If you are concerned about the tips, a little trick you could try is to get a roll of 1/4" masking tape to cover the tips while spraying. Interesting, that a new piano would have sustain problems since that is easy to fix before it left the factory.

-chris
Update On the Steinway Model A I am voicing. I've been noticing that when i spray, i'm not getting into the volume area like i want to. By the time volume increases the color is to pingy. And then a back and forth ensues. I figured out that the 1 Tablespoon B-72 to 2oz Alcohol is great for spraying for color, but is too thick for manipulating the volume area. I therefore started reducing the mixture and made a small bottle of 1 Tablespoon B-72 to 6 oz. alcohol. This is so far proving to be a good ratio when wanting to build up volume and the color is too soft. If the color is bright and volume is low, then the only solution is to apply the 1 Tablespoon to 6oz B-72 from the sides trying to avoid it wicking up to the strike line. Also, applying this thinned mixture directly to the strike line when wanting to brighten the color is working for small tone changes.

When playing a couple pieces i realized that the bass was too loud as compared to the tenor and treble. I want to try a thinner version of the 1:2 All softener so i tried a 1: 4 and it worked very well because i wanted to make a small change in volume. 1 quick pass was all it took.

I'm only left with two notes that are causing me trouble. D5 and Eb5, the two notes on either side of the strut. It seems like i got to figure out how to reduce volume and increase the color at the same time. I applied softener to the sides of the two hammers in the volume section of the hammer and I will see if that had any effect tomorrow.

Here's a pic of after just applying the thin B-72 from the top into the volume area.
[Linked Image]

This picture is to help clarify the hammer voicing sections i use to describe were i apply hardners or softners.
[Linked Image]
For more volume I stopped spraying! I use a b72 solution and apply it with a pipette on 10 and 2 o’clock without letting it go up to the strike point. The result of this is more power and no change of color or only a slight change of color. If I need a brighter color I use my b72 1.6 grams to 100 cl. That is my magic wand in the middle and the treble. The bass needs a slightly stronger version.
To reduce the just too loud volume without changing color, I needle from the side at 2 and 10 o’clock half way between the hammer moulding and the hammer surface. One stitch on each side only!! So I have never a pingy sound.
Posted By: Andymania Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/10/20 08:57 AM
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
I needle from the side at 2 and 10 o’clock half way between the hammer moulding and the hammer surface.

You mean the flat side, not the round edge? That area, where the text is written on in the image above?
To the left and to the right of”Volume”. Always taking care and observe that it soaks not to the strike point. Sometimes a tiny bit to the edge of the strike point if the sound is already dull.
Posted By: Andymania Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/10/20 03:39 PM
I wrote about needleing.
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/10/20 11:09 PM
Originally Posted by Andymania
I wrote about needleing.

That makes you a heretic.
Andymania,

The locations on the hammer are close proximations of where to adjust for the desired effects. I, and many others have always felt that needling was destructive in nature. Needling is also more suited for hard pressed hammers than cold pressed hammers. Needle down the hardness and juice up with lacquer. What makes the Todd Scott method unique, that has been discussed on this thread, is a system that can be used on both types of hammers. The Todd Scott class was not that long ago and i am on my second piano (first with new cold pressed hammers) practicing with a new system for voicing. Thanks to Toni which has lead me to using much more diluted ratios which is necessary for deeper penetration into the volume area. I should also point out that I am finding it useful to voice from the bottom up. Sustain first, volume second, and finish with the color (brightness or softness).

-chris
Posted By: Andymania Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/11/20 09:09 AM
I explicite refered to this posting, where Toni Goldener writes about needleing.

My only question was, if he needles on the flat side:

[img]http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pianofortesupply.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2015%2F09%2FVoicing-PLiers.8.png&hash=e5d34dba774458115cb9128ec37ca435[/img]
Posted By: Andymania Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/11/20 09:23 AM
Hmmm...

[Linked Image]
I can do that. You live in Austria? Speaking German? I do.
Was nice to hear from you!😊
I still use needles to even out the tone, of course. I think for the really last even out using very short needles is my way. The spraying method is also quite new for me and I am still experimenting with the needed care. Till now I didn’t ruin a set of hammers, only improvement are the result of this new approach. Hairspray I quitted, gives me a pingy tone too fast, and for me not predictable.
What I use now is:

The 1:2 solution for the shoulders. That gives me the sustain I want.

If the tone is too weak I use paraloid b72 solved in alcohol, 4grams per 100 ml. That gives me the punch I am looking for, also in a pp blow. The “bite “.

For color paraloid b72, 1.6 grams solved in 100 ml acetone for the middle and treble. Less penetration and longer lasting than solved in alcohol (this solution I use since a longer time). Gives bo pingy sound. Repeat if needed. Important: being patient!!
In the bass and the high treble a 2 gram paraloid b72 in 100 ml acetone is needed. Adding carefully to avoid beginning pinging if the desired color is already existing.

Sugar coating with short needles.
That one I don’t use.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/11/20 07:10 PM
Hi Tony. Are you only painting on the B72, or do you spray it as well?
Posted By: Andymania Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/11/20 08:02 PM
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
That one I don’t use.

You still didn't answer, wether you stitch on the flat face or not! The shown tool ist only an example.

Da Du ja Deutsch sprichst: stichst Du in die flache Seite oder nicht?
Posted By: accordeur Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/11/20 08:19 PM
I'm following this thread with interest. I have used fabric softener/alcohol mixtures in the past with success, also plastic keytops in acetone.

Mr. Chernobieff, do you plan on making some kind of document that explains clearly the different mixtures, their uses and applications. Right now it seems you are still experimenting somewhat. I have bookmarked this thread, but a newcomer would have to read through it all to comprehend the different procedures.

If you have time at some point to either start a new thread with a complete original post, it would certainly be appreciated by myself and I am sure many others.

Thanks in advance,

Jean
Ja, seitlich in den Hammerkopf. Aber nur im Notfall.

Yes, voicing from the side of the hammer. Keith Akins wrote an article about side voicing.
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/11/20 08:56 PM
5 pages into this whole discussion and I am still waiting for ONE really well prepared and well recorded concert grand documented here.
accordeur,

Thank you for chiming in.
I am playing with the formulations right now and listening to the results. I am currently working with:
B-72 - Alcohol
2g- 1oz Erwin thick
2g - 4oz Erwin Medium
2g- 8oz Erwin Thin
2g- 160z Ultra thin
2g - 32oz (Toni's magic wand)

So far I have been using Erwin's thin the most for small change in volume. 4 hammers seem to need more to bring them up. So i am getting ready to try Erwin Medium. So far, I am thinking the Erwin thick will not be necessary or rare to use.

I have about 4 notes with plenty of volume, but the color is off from the rest (too mellow). I will at the next session be trying Toni's magic wand.


Also, I feel that the Softener solutions are too heavy and I will play with diluting them down. As a starting point i tried 1:4:1 instead of the 1:1:1, and it sure absorbs better. On cold pressed hammers with sustain drop off, a much more diluted version may work just fine. Even thinking of thinning the 1:2 as well.


I so far have been spending two week just voicing this Steinway. Mostly as a learning experience to learn a new method and at the same time take my skills to the next level. Practice, practice, practice.

Thank for your interest.

-chris
Posted By: accordeur Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/11/20 11:13 PM
Thank you.
Update:

Getting very close now to finishing the Voicing of the Steinway Grand piano. had much success with 2g -4oz solution and the 2g - 32oz toni's solution.


I was having trouble with notes D#55, E56, F57, F#58, G59, and G#60.

56-60 just had no volume and coming down directly from the top with the 2g-8oz solution just didn't seem to affect these notes. So i decided to go with the 2g-4oz solution. Since there was no volume and the color was not bad, i decided to apply the solution from the sides at the tip of the moulding and i applied 8 drops each side. Yes i took the hammer off to apply. After two application separated by 2 hours i had volume in those notes.

This left D#55 (next to the strut)which was the most difficult and I decided to leave it last because it just had a different sound than the rest of the piano. Here is why it presented a problem. It had a too mellow sound from pp-ff. Volume wasn't the problem as a lot of power was coming from the note. I decided to try Toni's 2g-32oz right on the tip (3drops from a pipette). An hour later it was blending beautifully with the rest of the notes.

Now just one more regulation pass, clean up the hammers, tuning, and there is going to be one happy customer. I may have time to get it recorded.


Recap: Ronsen hammers always presented a problem for me because it always seemed i would get those few notes that had a "felty sound in the tone and almost nothing seemed to fix it. It turns out that its a soft spot right above the moulding and the correct mixture ( in this case 2g-4oz) applied from the side corrects it. That's a huge tip for all you Ronsen hammer fans.

-chris
I am happy you got a fine result. Was nice to have a recording.
The last two uprights I came across for tuning had a small, thin tone and a short sustain witch is quite efficient to improve by spraying the shoulders on 9 and 3 o’clock. But how would you improve the body of the tone, how make a round fat tone out of a neaseling thin tone with the spraying technique? Is it possible?

Thanks
I have a new diagram and i think it will answer your question. It shows the areas you work to make changes to tonal qualities. There is overlap of course, but the diagram would be of little use if drawn that way. Interesting to note, all qualities can be changed from the surface inward, except the quality at an FF blow which can only be manipulated from the side if you don't want to affect the other qualities.
-chris

[Linked Image]
Open means harder, more power?
Can you describe open or closed, please? It more a language problem. Thanks.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/18/20 04:26 PM
Hi Chris. Thanks for the diagram. To make sure I understand how it works:

1. PP:
a. Add fabric softer to be able to play softer
b. Add B72 if tone is too soft

2. Open/Closed:
a. Add fabric softener to reduce power
b. Add B72 to increase power

3. FF:
a. Add fabric softener to decrease loudness
b. Add B72 to increase loudness

4. Sustain:
a. Add fabric softener to increase sustain. Almost always needed on hammers that have not been treated yet.

Is this right? Please correct the parts I got wrong. Thanks for doing this!
pp-FF:
The pp-ff is an imaginary vertical section from strike line down to the core. I play a note softly to hear pp then start playing that note harder and harder to hear the FF. I'm listening for its character throughout that dynamic range. For example the ronsens i'm working on, many notes failed this test. The FF was "felty -muted" sounding. I added B-72 (4g-4oz) from the sides to harden the area marked FF in the diagram. On hard pressed hammers, i would mimic Todd in the videos.

Open/closed:
and this may sound contradictory but,
If the tone is too powerful and open, B-72 is used to harden and thin(close) the tone. If the tone sounded thin (like many new hammers) you would either use the softener or needle to increase the power(bloom). When juicing this area, avoid it wicking into the other areas.

Sustain:
If the sustain has an immediate decay and no sustain (like the tone is going off a cliff), this means the sustain area is too hard. soften the sustain area just enough to get sustain and leave it be. I'm still baffled by some that suggest to harden this area as a pre-voicing procedure for cold pressed hammers.

-chris
Hi Chris and everyone else here

Thanks very much for your explanations and the diagram.
Today I used a solution with 1part all and 3 parts of alcohol. Applied on the lower shoulders for more sustain, especially in the bass. The rest of the piano was very very nice and I asked me, what the magic is behind the hammers in that mid class upright.
For the sustain in the bass I applied the solution with a pippett instead of spraying. One question I asked myself was, if the solution penetrates deeper with spraying or using the pippett. From looking at the side of the hammers it seems to be that the solution soaked in about 3-4 mm, I had the impression that it only softened the outside of the hammers.

For that stunning sound: even in the pp blow the tone had that “punch” behind it and in the ff blow the sound was still pleasing, not screaming or something like that.
The ff part in the diagram must be very hard, I think. What is your explanation for mid class upright hammers that sound exceptionally good?
Thanks.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/19/20 03:45 PM
Hi Chernobieff -Chris:

I've been doing up my kawai606 (year 2002-2003) upright lately. Everything is finally in tune thanks to all the help from generous tuners on this forum. However, I noticed that my hammers may have hardened too much. Their shape is normal, and the grooves are not that deep. But if I give them a pinch, they're almost rock like, and mostly uniformly hard. I guess I'll have to blame this mass produced Crap as Todd does from the 1st video.

The hammers were never voiced or treated in any way. Right now the problem is, I can not play softly at all. it basically goes from MF and up. Part of that may be the room.

How would you approach this problem. Which of the different mixtures 1:2, 111, b72, would you use, sprayed at what angle. My main goal is to get ppp out of it if possible.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/19/20 04:35 PM
Also, it may help to graph the difference. If the claim is that sustain is improved, it should be louder for longer. Perhaps an SPL logger could be of use. In this image I just played C4 through C5. Maybe chris can do a before and after measurement. Excuse the 55db room noise, the refrigerator currently compressing nearby.

[Linked Image]

It's from the SPL logger in the Room EQ wizard (freeware) which supports the popular Umik linear microphone as suggested by another tuner from my other thread. If the sustain is longer as the result of the softening, the shape of the decay should change or elongate near the bottom, the area under the curve should enlarge. You don't need to buy the Umik to use the app. the default microphone on laptops will work fine for this purpose.

There are phone apps as well, but it's probably best we all use PC apps so that everyone can get in on it. and no ads.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/19/20 06:37 PM
Jeffcat,

I have greatly benefited from this discussion overall and my experimentation has corroborated everything that Chris and Toni have presented. If it was me at your piano I would not hesitate to spray right on the strike point with 1:2 solution (or 1:3) as an initial application. I am using a spent Cory Key Cleaner spray bottle as my atomizer. I would move at a rate of about three hammers per pump using this. Then wait an hour or so and try it. You will notice a significant change for the better.

If you are afraid to do this then instead apply 1-3 drops per string groove instead using a very fine pipette or "hypo-oiler" (this is my other 'magic wand as it has been dubbed). Again wait an hour and try it. If you like that, but it's not enough, that may give you the courage to try step one above.

I have been amazed at the capacity of this solution to create a full round tone on even worn hammers and those not worth doing anything else to. I seem to have more reason to soften bright clanging hammers than to need to brighten up soft ones. In the past I have used VS-Profelt in a similar way with similar results, but I must wait 8 hours or more to hear the results. This stuff seems to do the same thing MUCH faster. Just yesterday I applied it to a set of pretty worn and very bright hammers (as in par. one above) about 10 minutes before tuning. Went ahead with the tuning and by the time I was done the piano had developed a gorgeous round tone (perfect for Debussy) and I did not need to do anything else. The owner was beyond happy (as was a previous spinet owner treated similarly).

I also like Toni's idea of massaging it in...kind of more hands on.


Anyway, that's my .02 on your dilemma.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/19/20 07:18 PM
Hi Jeff. Peter and Chris are the pros so whatever they say would be the way to go. Just to give you more info, I can tell you my experience with my Kawai GL10. I pretty much sprayed my hammers per Todd's instructions, using a pressurized aerosol sprayer. I bought them on Amazon, 3 for $16: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R5C669H/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I laid towels down to cover everything on the action except the hammers, then sprayed the mixture of 1 part ALL and 2 parts alcohol onto the shoulders from each side, at about 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock. I made 4 passes on each side, going about walking speed. Takes about 5-7 seconds to make a pass on all 88 hammers. The sprayers I got on Amazon will stay pressurized for about 20 seconds of continuous spraying. A regular pump sprayer should work, but Todd recommended a aerosol-type sprayer because they're more even.

I let everything dry for a couple hours, and when I played, it, I noticed a dramatic difference. PP became so much easier to play. The piano became quieter overall, but I could still get just as loud if I punched it. So the dynamic range increased by a lot. The effect wore away somewhat in about a week, so if things are too mellow for you, you may want to wait a week to see if it brightens up. If not, you can spray the tips with hairspray or B72.

It would be hard to spray hammers on an upright without removing the action, so I'd recommend you do that first.
Originally Posted by jeffcat
Hi Chernobieff -Chris:

I've been doing up my kawai606 (year 2002-2003) upright lately. Everything is finally in tune thanks to all the help from generous tuners on this forum. However, I noticed that my hammers may have hardened too much. Their shape is normal, and the grooves are not that deep. But if I give them a pinch, they're almost rock like, and mostly uniformly hard. I guess I'll have to blame this mass produced Crap as Todd does from the 1st video.

The hammers were never voiced or treated in any way. Right now the problem is, I can not play softly at all. it basically goes from MF and up. Part of that may be the room.

How would you approach this problem. Which of the different mixtures 1:2, 111, b72, would you use, sprayed at what angle. My main goal is to get ppp out of it if possible.

First line of offense in your case would be to use the 1:2 (All softener/Alcohol) and try one pass across the top of the hammers. And then listen to the results. If you like the way its going, you can stay or try another pass. Next you could try 1-1-1 (i add alcohol often to make it wick in better. currently using a 1-4-1 All-alcohol-water) apply with a hypo oiler and only put 1 drop on each strike point.

And yes, it best to remove the action, lay it down so the hammer tops are pointing upwards.


Those are some simple and the least invasive to try.

-chris
How is your letoff? Close enough? Key dip? Is your action regulated? Ic you can play only mf up you have probably an action that is not regulated or you are an inexperienced pianist.

Voicing is IMO something different than voicing. First you need a good regulation and then you voice your piano to your preferences.

Can you send a video of your action? Played very very slowly?
For these hard screaming hammers go directly to the strike point with the 1:2 solution. I personally like to massage the solution in the hammers instead of brushing with the wire brush. It is also easier to feel witch hammers feel drier or wetter and then you can add some extra 1:2 on the drier ones.
If it is too soft an hour later, I would recommend waiting till the next day. Often it brightens up a tiny amount then, and your ears are freshly, too. In many cases it feels right or at least you have a clearer picture in your mind of what to do next. For me the magic brighten up touching it my 1.6 grams/100cl paraloid solution.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/19/20 09:47 PM
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
How is your letoff? Close enough? Key dip? Is your action regulated? Ic you can play only mf up you have probably an action that is not regulated or you are an inexperienced pianist.

Voicing is IMO something different than voicing. First you need a good regulation and then you voice your piano to your preferences.

Thx for the tip Toni, I am not a piano voicer/technician, but I am a machinist. I went through the regulation manual from kawai, and all the numbers are within .5mm of their spec.

I remember how the hammers felt because I couldn't resist squeezing something fuzzy looking when I first bought the piano. Today they are ROCK HARD compared to my memory of how the hammers felt when new. I suspect the long years of non-use, moisture/ hot'n'cold cycling over time got them this way. The shape is fine, so I know it's not compaction from impact.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/19/20 09:51 PM
Just want to confirm, This is the-Stuff ?

ALL, are these sold in different concentrations, or is the product uniform.

https://www.amazon.com/all-Concentr...l+softener&qid=1592603421&sr=8-3

Bsxy Play Harder ?

https://www.amazon.com/SEXYHAIR-Spr...lay+harder&qid=1592603496&sr=8-5

Where do you guys buy the B-72 ?
Then go for the tips. Don’t worry about that. Spray them, probably more than you think.
You can create after drying your personal preferences. 😊
I bought it in a shop where you can buy acetone, alcohol or something like that.
If you like I can send me your address and I can put some in an envelope and send it to you.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/19/20 10:06 PM
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
I bought it in a shop where you can buy acetone, alcohol or something like that.
If you like I can send me your address and I can put some in an envelope and send it to you.

You are too kind Toni, I found some on ebay, it's probably cheaper in shipping than personal mail. Thanks very much..
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/19/20 10:12 PM
Originally Posted by P W Grey
If you are afraid to do this then instead apply 1-3 drops per string groove instead using a very fine pipette or "hypo-oiler" (this is my other 'magic wand as it has been dubbed). Again wait an hour and try it. If you like that, but it's not enough, that may give you the courage to try step one above.

I am not afraid to spray, but this seems like a good point to start testing and get a feel for the chemical. I fully intend to later Spray the thick shoulder section, the whole thing is hard.

When you say 1-3 drop per string groove, does that mean 2-6 drops for double grooves, and 3-9 drops for triple grooves.
Simply test it. Start with one drop per string groove. Let it dry. Listen. Repeat it needed.
Posted By: WBLynch Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/19/20 11:00 PM
I just read this whole thread and a couple of thoughts came to my mind.

There seems to be a lot of argument over the treatment of professional concert grands in a large performance setting. Then there is talk about setup of newly restored or re-hammered (unplayed) pianos.

But my thoughts are toward the utilization of the spray and play method on home pianos in the field.

I was an active tuner/tech in the 80s-90s but have been inactive for two decades. I had not heard of spraying hammers like this. Before it was lacquer and needles.

Now to my point, I always believed and practiced the concept of doing the most good possible within the time, budget and client’s taste. To be able to quickly and simply improve an instrument’s quality and character during a visit is valuable. It increases the owner’s pleasure and your reputation with them.

I tune customer’s pianos very rarely these days but attend to friend’s and family’s instruments from time to time. I also occasionally find project pianos for freshening up, to then return to the wild.

I am excited to try the spray and play method the next opportunity where a little effort can produce pleasing results.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/19/20 11:23 PM
Originally Posted by jeffcat
Just want to confirm, This is the-Stuff ?

ALL, are these sold in different concentrations, or is the product uniform.

https://www.amazon.com/all-Concentr...l+softener&qid=1592603421&sr=8-3

Bsxy Play Harder ?

https://www.amazon.com/SEXYHAIR-Spr...lay+harder&qid=1592603496&sr=8-5

Where do you guys buy the B-72 ?

Yes, that is the ALL fabric softener I bought. I got my B-72 here: https://www.talasonline.com/Paraloid-B-72. I didn't like the ping I got with the Big Sexy, but if you brush the crown afterward, it may work. I like the B-72 because you can adjust the dilution, and I sprayed mine at the medium dilution formula that Chris shares in this thread, which is 1 gram of B72 per fl. oz. of alcohol. Incidentally, that B-72 dissolves very slowly in alcohol, but it will dissolve. Took about 5 days to completely dissolve in my bottle of Everclear. My biggest worry was that someone would try drinking it in the meantime! Use a clear bottle so you can see when the pellets have dissolved. They tend to clump up at the bottom at first, then the clump slowly flattens out and disappears.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/20/20 12:41 AM
Originally Posted by WBLynch
There seems to be a lot of argument over the treatment of professional concert grands in a large performance setting. Then there is talk about setup of newly restored or re-hammered (unplayed) pianos.

I don't think the argument over professional concert use cases is necessary, even if it can work.

They're probably after consistency, they don't care about how much they spend on technicians, replacing hammers, rebuilding actions. So in that mindset there may be reluctance in changing what already works for them. It's like asking a formula 1 driver what he does to save on tires, probably not something which crosses his mind when the team buys 2x20million dollar cars every season.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/20/20 01:46 AM
Let me put this in my own words, and y'all correct me if I'm not reading the concept correctly.

If and when the piano hammer is too hard, such is the case with quote(Todd), these cheap ass-$hi7 they got now", they bounce off the string too-energetically not imparting the right tone. By softening the hammers, we are controlling the impact time the hammers make. Finally, by ear we successively tune the hardness to reach the sound we want.

The Hardener both in the volume area and on the crown is to add a non-linear dynamic to the behavior of the hammers, which allows the artist/player to then colorize the sound.

Also, is there full set of videos, besides the 2 linked ?
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/20/20 09:23 PM
Has anyone tried this,

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Klean-Strip-1-Gal-SLX-Denatured-Alcohol-Cleaner-GSL26/100139444
jeffcat,

I believe I mentioned earlier in the thread that denatured alcohol and everclear are both 190proof. Denatured alcohol has an additive so that its not for human consumption and thus is not subject to higher taxes. Thats why its cheaper. It works great for what we are using it for.

-chris
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/20/20 10:13 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
jeffcat,

I believe I mentioned earlier in the thread that denatured alcohol and everclear are both 190proof. Denatured alcohol has an additive so that its not for human consumption and thus is not subject to higher taxes. Thats why its cheaper. It works great for what we are using it for.

Good to hear, I can't find any of the other alcohols in stock anywhere.
I'm finding the use of chalk problematic. It seems that when i set targets, and try to fill in between the targets, that when i come back to the piano the next day, the targets don't sound as good as the newly juiced notes. So there must be a better way to track tonal qualities than chalk and memory. Maybe a diary?

I suspect on a couple notes that too much power was developed and i overshot my targets. So now how best to reduce the power a little? I'll see what alcohol alone will do, and after that maybe a couple drops of 1:2 applied from the side.

Obviously, I am tweeking the hammers to the nth degree to see the possibilities of this system for making back and forth changes to acquire a very fine voicing. I suppose practicing is just a matter of course to get good at something.

-chris
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/21/20 05:03 PM
Chris,

I am thinking that it is simply a matter of having to allow time and playing the opportunity to "even things out" (if you will) from the changes made. Since all voicing is temporary it needs continual tweaking with various methods to get what we want. Plus, since musicians generally don't play ALL the notes evenly this will by nature bring about uneveness (if that makes any sense).

Personally, I am interested in precisely WHY this works...specifically how and why the low shoulders affect sustain. I have proven to myself that it is a fact, but I just don't get WHY. Any ideas? All the rest I understand...just the input of the lower hammer parts mystifies me (unless it is by making the overall outer tension a bit more flexible...maybe?)

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/21/20 05:04 PM
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
Simply test it. Start with one drop per string groove. Let it dry. Listen. Repeat it needed.

Jeff,

This is the way to go.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Peter,

I don't know either, but once you experience the sustain decay and correct it with one application of softener, it's quite telling. And particularly eye opening towards an understanding of tone regulation. I'm aiming for the same experience with the other areas.


The diary method is working quite well. I bought a small notebook and designated a page to a hammer. Writing down notes of any changes I made is better than relying on memory. First i write down the target notes that sound beautiful and use those to check the ones i make changes to. Already coming up with a shorthand code. + 2 drops of 4/4 B72 to FF, +1 drop 1:2 to ff. brush F#6, + 4/2 b-72 To Sus and close.

Going by the quality of the evenness I am now getting, taking breaks and so things can dry before testing relies too much on memory.

-chris
Posted By: Seeker Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/21/20 11:49 PM
Hey Chris - if you have a laptop and Excel, we could make you a spreadsheet template to use.
Down the LH Side list the notes A0 to C8
Across the top - "n" Columns
"n" would be determined by the max # of times you are likely to treat an individual hammer + a few for "just in case"

Enter your codes into the boxes.

Easy to make one per piano for your records.

Others more skilled at spreadsheet programming, feel free to pitch in with a better way.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/23/20 12:33 PM
@ Chris,

You've mentioned using 40 psi, are you using a standard paint sprayer now. Could we get some action footage to get an idea of pace and deposition using this tool. I've decided to do the shoulder first, so that I don't end up making the upper volume section too soft, as recommended in the original 2 videos.

I've got lots of compressor use experience, but not for paints/sprays.
Jeffcat,

I am using a small spraygun with low psi and turned the lower knob so that the atomization mimicks a spraycan. There doesn't have to be a high psi anyways for this application.

I'll say it again, when starting the hammer voicing process, always start with sustain, listen for any sudden decay and fix that first before moving up the hammer.

Emery and others,
It was mentioned earlier about the B-72 sticking to the bottom of the jar. Here is a solution to that problem. Use a mason jar because you can hook a string over the top without it being chopped off due to the inner cap. And another benefit is no more stirring.

-chris

In the picture I am making a 16oz batch.

[Linked Image]
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/23/20 04:36 PM
Thanks Chris. Good idea with the tea bag.

Jeff, I used to do a lot of airbrushing in college but sadly don't have my trusty Paasche airbrush any more. If I were to do this more often, I'd get a double action airbrush with a bottom feed cup. This way you can easily alter the flow of the liquid, and it sprays very precisely. The spray pattern out of an airbrush would be ideal for spraying hammers, and they don't require as much cfm as larger paint guns.
Question: if you come across a piano that simply sounds ugly, not especially brittle or loud or dull, simply... ugly. How would you outsmart this piano? What way would you choose to bring out things, that are not there? I know, there are limits, but one should try the best. Using the different solutions and mixtures. Any suggestions?
Reshaping the hammers would be the first thing. After that its go by your ear to determine what ails the hammers, assuming everything else in the piano is up to par of course.


I seem to have settled on these mixtures.

B-72:
4g:4oz used at FF mostly 2 drops at a time between checks when volume is low or felty and no dynamics.
4g:8oz Juice from top (pp) down to FF. To increase volume and brighten the color and close the tone.
4g:16oz same as above. or on strike line
4g:32oz just on strike line.

Also use straight alcohol to blush it back a little


Softener:

1:2 (all,alcohol)
1:4:1(all, alcohol, water

The steel brush is very useful for evening out the tone and cleaning the hammer.

I usual finish off with 600, 1500 grit sandpaper.

-chris
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/24/20 07:55 PM
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
Question: if you come across a piano that simply sounds ugly, not especially brittle or loud or dull, simply... ugly. How would you outsmart this piano? What way would you choose to bring out things, that are not there? I know, there are limits, but one should try the best. Using the different solutions and mixtures. Any suggestions?

Slap a sticker on it that says, Tuned-For-Jazz, whenever someone comes to play it, just bob your head and make sounds like you've just eaten some Ben and Jerries Icecream.
4oz is about 1.2 dl, right?
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/24/20 10:07 PM
Dl stands for deciliter, right Toni? And cl stands for centiliter, right?

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/25/20 02:32 AM
4 fluid oz = 0.118294 liters, so move the decimal as needed.
Yes, dl is deciliter and cl is centiliter.
So 4 oz is 1.18 dl.
Chris,
The strongest solution is 4 grams to 1.18 dl. From there you add alcohol to make it thinner.
Your 4g:4oz is the main solution to create all the others.
So my 1.6 g:1dl is about your 4g:8oz, right? Once you mentioned that the 1.6g:1dl has hardly any effect, but your 4g:16oz and 4g:32oz are even much more thin, right?
Toni,

Yes, my strongest solution is the 4g:4oz. I have a little jar that has ounce markings on it, and so it is easy to add to the thick solution to make it thinner as needed. I also don't have to weigh the B-72 pellets anymore as the 4g is a heaping tablespoon.

I barely recall saying something about the thinner solution having no affect, but that was regarding spraying. Applying with a hypo oiler is a different story as it puts more product in the hammer. So when i started using a hypo oiler the solutions got thinner. You introduced the 1.6g:100cl =1.6g :33oz aka "toni's magic wand". Based on what you were saying I made a thin version 4g:32oz =4g:94cl (not quite as thin as yours, but easy and quick for me to make) and tried it like you suggested right on the strike point and found the small change in character to be of value in some applications when applied with a hypo oiler one drop each line.

-chris
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/25/20 03:26 PM
@ Chris, Is there a way to describe the relative firmness for the key areas of the hammers by hand-feel.

For example, when we lightly pinch the felt with our fingers, if ff is to be a 6, then pp would be a 4, the sustain 5, openclose 4, Something like this ?
Just had a grand that the whole bass section was fixed quickly. The bass was a touch too bright. I made one pass with with the 1:2 softener. After 15 minutes i judged it to be too soft. After listening, i decided the 4g:16oz B-72 would give it just enough bite. After one pass the whole bass got a "facelift". Still amazes me how fast this stuff is. And accurate once you get use to how the hammers react to the different ratios.


Here is another thing i am doing ( I may or may not have touched on this before).

I am adding Lavender essential oil to the B-72. The reason is because it has a rather industrial plastic smell i don't like. In a 32 oz. jar I am adding about 20 drops. Leaves the hammers smelling good too.

In the softener i am adding Titanium Dioxide powder. Just a pinch in a 4oz bottle. I'll have to calculate in the future how much that equates to in a 32 ounce jar. Off the top of my head i'm thinking about a 1/4 teaspoon for 32 oz. jar. Anyways, it should remain transparent and not become opaque like paint. The reason i am doing this is i have noticed that when the 1:2 sits in a jar it has a yellow color to it. Also, it will make the hammers have a yellow tint as well. The titanium dioxide fixes that. Plus having the softener and b-72 solutions a different color helps picking up the right bottle as they can look similar in small bottles.


-chris
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/26/20 03:45 PM
You are beginning to sound like the mad scientist in his lab! smile
Posted By: RonTuner Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/26/20 08:13 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
I have a new diagram and i think it will answer your question. It shows the areas you work to make changes to tonal qualities. There is overlap of course, but the diagram would be of little use if drawn that way. Interesting to note, all qualities can be changed from the surface inward, except the quality at an FF blow which can only be manipulated from the side if you don't want to affect the other qualities.
-chris

[Linked Image]

This picture has been a great help to me as I diagnose and make quick adjustments to the sound of the piano. Finally, an easy to follow diagnostic and adjustment tool for voicing. Just today, I came across a Baldwin grand - just above the stringing break there are a few unisons with wound strings. One had that "booming" sound - a bit of hairspray in the open/closed area allowed it to blend in with neighbors. I may have added about 10 minutes to tone down/even out/brighten up specific areas. The player was very appreciative. The one thing to pass along about using hairspray - go lighter, and leave it sounding "less than you want" - It will continue to change over the next day and can get too bright.

Ron Koval
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/26/20 08:37 PM
Originally Posted by BDB
You are beginning to sound like the mad scientist in his lab! smile


Frame this email Chris, you are the proud recipient of a smiley from BDB!

Also Ron: I too appreciate Chris's diagram, but was always a bit uncertain how the open/close section translated into the sound of the hammer. You hardened those areas with the hairspray, right? How did it affect the sound of the hammer? I take it if you were trying to cure "boominess," that it reduced volume. Any other tonal changes you noticed?

Thanks.
Posted By: RonTuner Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/26/20 10:14 PM
That was a new area for me! (In fact most of this was new to me, I'd only really sprayed right at the top to quickly reduce the bright hammers, along with brushing and/or steam)

Yes, I shot into that area to reduce the loudness, or "boom". It was the opposite of what I would've thought in the past! It did manage to bring down the tone more in line with the neighboring notes without any apparent tonal penalty. This was a quick treatment, so I didn't take the time for a lot of testing and adjusting over days.


I do have a Steinway upright in a church that has always sounded weak. The hammers feel very hard and were likely over-lacquered in the past. I will try to experiment with adding the softener/alc mix to this area next visit to see if it helps.

As with any new skill, experimentation and practice will be valuable over time.

Ron Koval
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/26/20 10:52 PM
Thanks Ron. OK, so the fact that hardening this area made things quieter confuses me. With needle voicing, you would needle the "open/close" parts on Chris's diagram to provide more cushion and soften an overly loud hammer. Then to make the hammer louder, you'd needle down nearer to the staple in what Oorbeck calls the "battery" area to release tension back up to Chris's "open/close" area and make it harder, thus a louder hammer.

Is that how you understand it too? If so, I don't understand how hardening that area with hairspray makes the sound softer. What am I missing?

Thanks.
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Originally Posted by BDB
You are beginning to sound like the mad scientist in his lab! smile


Frame this email Chris, you are the proud recipient of a smiley from BDB!



I will, maybe i should put that in my signature.


Regarding the open/close area. Open is booming, round, fluty, big. Closed is thin, nasal, reedy, small. It provides the character of the whole sound. That's the best i can describe it. If we were at the keyboard together describing the sounds, you would get it in just a few minute/seconds.

You need to harden the area when its open sounding to close it. And vice versa you would need to soften the area to open it up. i agree with Ron its the opposite of what i thought too.


The understand the vertical pp to ff you must play a note very softly to hear the pp, then gradually play the note harder to hear the FF. I usually repeat the note three times consecutively getting louder. This is extremely valuable for cold pressed hammers. I always find notes that do not get louder when playing it louder like they should. Applying 2-4 drops on FF will fix that.

Today I had a note that was giving just too much energy and plus the tone was open. I applied 4:4 B-72 to the shoulders to close it and applied 2 drops of the 1:2 softener at FF and that brought the note close to the others. On these notes, often next to the strut, the FF must be overpowering the pp as even the lightest stroke the energy goes through your ears.

Hope that helps.

-chris
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/27/20 01:37 AM
I may sound like a broken record, but where is the concert grand prepared by this method, played by an internationally renowned pianist and recorded by a set up in terms of microphones, preamps, audio interface and a digital workstation that gives the world an idea about the superb superiority of putting chemicals into a hammer of a concert grand as opposed to voicing a piano without hairspray and plastic solutions?
Posted By: RonTuner Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/27/20 01:58 AM
Give it time.

It wasn't that long ago that we were told that ETD tunings could never be used for the concert stage, or that CA glue in a pinblock was only for 'junkers' or that changing the leads in keys or playing with the leverage parameters was best left to the manufacturers...

I don't think anyone is claiming superiority of sound - more talking about an alternate approach which may potentially be quicker and predictable than other methods. For those not working primarily on the concert stage, it gives the opportunity to improve the tone for those pianos without the budget to use traditional methods.

Acceptance comes slowly, often years after being successfully used by techs in the field.

Ron Koval
Peter,

You provide the internationally known pianist, the recording equipment, and fly them to my shop, and we'll get her done.


Hairspray is nothing more than lacquer. Steinway ( the leader of the concert stage) has been using lacquer in their hammers since lacquer was invented. Before that, they used shellac in the hammers. The hairspray is a way of spraying lacquer in the home. The fabric softener for piano technology has been around a short time, and Todd has been on the innovative cutting edge with coming up with a system that is quick and effective. The 1:2 and the 1:1:1 are his ideas. But using chemicals to manipulate the felt is an old idea.

Since this is a Piano Technicians forum, and not the Piano Forum, it is encouraged that you try the method and ideas yourself. That way you can bypass the digital filter of a recording and hear the difference in real life. Like the other Technicians that have participated here in this thread are doing.

It really works, and that is why people are trying it, and coming back with their positive feedback and interjecting even further new ideas.

-chris
Posted By: David Boyce Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/27/20 08:10 AM
I guess that, when you think about it, sheep's wool is treated with chemicals from the moment it leaves the sheep. (Actually while still on the sheep, since they go through Sheep Dip).

Chemicals are used to clean the newly-shorn fleece, other chemicals to remove lanolin (sheep sebum), etc etc.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/27/20 01:56 PM
They probably don't recommend the chemical treatment as a default because it's difficult to express How Much.

With the needle, the manufacturer can give you a uniformly applicable number. 5 stabs here, don't stab here, 1mm here 5 times.

For the chemical, if your spray gun is running a higher psi, or the nozzle is different, or the alcohol you're using is different, and for whatever reason methanol works different on their wool vs ethanol, they can't really hand out instructions on this, even if it can work in similar ways to the needling.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 06/27/20 02:45 PM
It's like adjusting nosebolts. The factory says DON'T EVER do it, yet they do it all the time. And for good reason...give em an inch and they'll take a mile...and then blame you when things go wrong.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
It’s quite similar to the amount of turning the pin. How much overpull? None, quasi none, a tiny amount?
You can tune a stable tuning, but it needs experience, training and a feeling for your work. Can be the same with chemical voicing. And that is probably why we share our experience here.
Hi Folks,

I can now add two more techniques that are quite nice to know with using these chemicals.

1st, the use of the steel brush.

Lets say you had applied some B-72 to the shoulders to close up the tone, but after waiting and then listening you found that you went just a little too far, too thin. Just a couple of swipes on the shoulders with the steel brush can bring back just a little fullness. Brush from the top (edge of strike lines) down to 2:00/10:00.

2nd,

Applying B-72 4:4 with a hypo-oiler is not as effective as B-72 4:8 is when applied to FF. The reason is because with the 4:4, you are inclined to do 2 drops at a time and build up in small increments, thus it is applied in a small circle. If you apply the thinner solution, apply it in a larger circle thus you are putting less material, but getting more "bang for the buck".


-chris
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/01/20 12:07 AM
More voodoo - and no recording of it being applied to a professionally recorded concert grand.
Peter,

If you put up $60,000 I can get Yuja Wang or Khatia B and a professional recording studio to meet your demands. PM me and I'll tell you were to send the check.

Thanks,
-chris
Posted By: OE1FEU Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/01/20 08:27 AM
Chris,

you're the pro here and you're praising something into the sky that so far hasn't seen any professional environment. It strikes me as odd that you are now coming up with an unreasonable suggestion instead of just getting yourself a decent concert grand, a place to put and a decent pair of microphones and an audio interface on to it.

Currently I don't have a need for you chemical stuff, because all the concert grands I encounter are being prepared by European technicians who prepare such a piano the traditional way with precise tuning, regulation and voicing. And voicing is done by filing and needling - with results that make me really, really happy and that are good enough for the Vienna Musikverein and Austria public radio. If you want to listen to a concert grand prepared this way, just visit https://oe1.orf.at/programm/20200716#604719 on July 16.
Posted By: Farfisakid Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/01/20 10:41 AM
Hi Chris, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time and effort to share your experience and on going development of your craft (along with the other professional technicians/tuners who have posted their experience with it on this message board) regarding chemical voicing. Please keep it coming ...
Posted By: Farfisakid Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/01/20 11:00 AM
Sorry, should have thanked as well the non or semi-professionals - like Emery Wang - wherever you may fit in smile - for sharing their experiences on this topic. Looking forward to more ...
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
I may sound like a broken record, but where is the concert grand prepared by this method, played by an internationally renowned pianist and recorded by a set up in terms of microphones, preamps, audio interface and a digital workstation that gives the world an idea about the superb superiority of putting chemicals into a hammer of a concert grand as opposed to voicing a piano without hairspray and plastic solutions?

No, you don't sound like a broken record, just a closed minded uninformed professional.

To start with, Steinway, way back in the 1880s, made a huge discovery to what we know as the modern piano sound. It's called the reinforced hammer, and to distinguish this, they used a grey dye. Perhaps you have seen it. It was, I believe, patented system of strengthening the shoulders of hammers using chemical hardeners. Perhaps you have heard a Steinway D in concert and recorded by well known pianists? More recently, another Steinway patent is a technique of using chemical hardener treatment on the felt before making the hammer. If you have heard a modern D in concert, you have heard this. Many concert technicians, myself included, use an array of chemicals, needles, sandpaper or the green cheese the moon is made of to prepare a piano for recording and concerts.

Just because an album liner does not include voicing notes from the piano technician, doesn't mean you haven't heard it.

Steve
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Chris,

you're the pro here and you're praising something into the sky that so far hasn't seen any professional environment. It strikes me as odd that you are now coming up with an unreasonable suggestion instead of just getting yourself a decent concert grand, a place to put and a decent pair of microphones and an audio interface on to it.

Currently I don't have a need for you chemical stuff, because all the concert grands I encounter are being prepared by European technicians who prepare such a piano the traditional way with precise tuning, regulation and voicing. And voicing is done by filing and needling - with results that make me really, really happy and that are good enough for the Vienna Musikverein and Austria public radio. If you want to listen to a concert grand prepared this way, just visit https://oe1.orf.at/programm/20200716#604719 on July 16.

Since the modern piano was invented in America by Americans (and no, I'm not American) and the technique was later adopted in Europe and known as the "American Method" I have to admit I'm quite tired of the European arrogance and know it all attitude. Since almost every concert pianist plays an American piano, and some play Japanese, Italian or Austrian, perhaps you can become like a person who attains wisdom by learning from everyone instead of making proclamations that are certainly not made by any piano technician preparing a concert piano. I will suggest you have no honest idea of what the concert technicians are doing and if they indeed are only using those techniques, they are doing an inferior job.


Steve
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Currently I don't have a need for you chemical stuff... voicing is done by filing and needling -

Peter,
Didn't the voodoo witch doctors use the needles?

In the interest of making you happy Peter, What "internationally known artist" do you recommend? This piano is going back to the owner soon, so your chosen artist will have to be willing to go to Kentucky to play the piano. They might charge you more for that.

-chris
Posted By: adamp88 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/01/20 01:53 PM
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
I may sound like a broken record, but where is the concert grand prepared by this method, played by an internationally renowned pianist and recorded by a set up in terms of microphones, preamps, audio interface and a digital workstation that gives the world an idea about the superb superiority of putting chemicals into a hammer of a concert grand as opposed to voicing a piano without hairspray and plastic solutions?

No, you don't sound like a broken record, just a closed minded uninformed professional.

To start with, Steinway, way back in the 1880s, made a huge discovery to what we know as the modern piano sound. It's called the reinforced hammer, and to distinguish this, they used a grey dye. Perhaps you have seen it. It was, I believe, patented system of strengthening the shoulders of hammers using chemical hardeners. Perhaps you have heard a Steinway D in concert and recorded by well known pianists? More recently, another Steinway patent is a technique of using chemical hardener treatment on the felt before making the hammer. If you have heard a modern D in concert, you have heard this. Many concert technicians, myself included, use an array of chemicals, needles, sandpaper or the green cheese the moon is made of to prepare a piano for recording and concerts.

Just because an album liner does not include voicing notes from the piano technician, doesn't mean you haven't heard it.

Steve

Well said. To my knowledge, OE1FEU is employed by a piano maker but is not actually a technician, so perhaps his ignorance on matters regarding voicing can be excused.

The simple fact of the matter is that if you have ever heard a recording where a NY Steinway was used, you have heard a piano that owes its voice in part to chemical hardeners. Calling it voodoo simply because you a) aren't familiar with it, b)don't understand how it works and/or c) don't know whether you've heard a piano voiced with it doesn't make you right, it makes you close-minded.

I'll go ahead and put up a recording of a NY Steinway D, with Abel Natural hammers, voiced with an assortment of methods from traditional to "voodoo" (filing, polishing with fine-grit sandpaper, ironing hammers, using B72 solutions to bring up weaker areas that didn't respond to traditional efforts). I will say that B72 proved particularly crucial in balancing out the tone.

Neither the piano, nor the voicing, nor the tuning, nor the recording are perfect (the tuning was a couple days old by the recording, in a university hall with less than ideal climate control - and the recording itself is too bass heavy), but I think at a minimum it shows that using chemical hardeners is not just some wacky far-out idea with no merit.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/0ia8cwpnh...ro%20maestoso-Johannes%20Brahms.mp3?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/312tjol5k...%20espressivo-Johannes%20Brahms.mp3?dl=0
Originally Posted by adamp88
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
I may sound like a broken record, but where is the concert grand prepared by this method, played by an internationally renowned pianist and recorded by a set up in terms of microphones, preamps, audio interface and a digital workstation that gives the world an idea about the superb superiority of putting chemicals into a hammer of a concert grand as opposed to voicing a piano without hairspray and plastic solutions?

No, you don't sound like a broken record, just a closed minded uninformed professional.

To start with, Steinway, way back in the 1880s, made a huge discovery to what we know as the modern piano sound. It's called the reinforced hammer, and to distinguish this, they used a grey dye. Perhaps you have seen it. It was, I believe, patented system of strengthening the shoulders of hammers using chemical hardeners. Perhaps you have heard a Steinway D in concert and recorded by well known pianists? More recently, another Steinway patent is a technique of using chemical hardener treatment on the felt before making the hammer. If you have heard a modern D in concert, you have heard this. Many concert technicians, myself included, use an array of chemicals, needles, sandpaper or the green cheese the moon is made of to prepare a piano for recording and concerts.

Just because an album liner does not include voicing notes from the piano technician, doesn't mean you haven't heard it.

Steve

Well said. To my knowledge, OE1FEU is employed by a piano maker but is not actually a technician, so perhaps his ignorance on matters regarding voicing can be excused.

The simple fact of the matter is that if you have ever heard a recording where a NY Steinway was used, you have heard a piano that owes its voice in part to chemical hardeners. Calling it voodoo simply because you a) aren't familiar with it, b)don't understand how it works and/or c) don't know whether you've heard a piano voiced with it doesn't make you right, it makes you close-minded.

I'll go ahead and put up a recording of a NY Steinway D, with Abel Natural hammers, voiced with an assortment of methods from traditional to "voodoo" (filing, polishing with fine-grit sandpaper, ironing hammers, using B72 solutions to bring up weaker areas that didn't respond to traditional efforts). I will say that B72 proved particularly crucial in balancing out the tone.

Neither the piano, nor the voicing, nor the tuning, nor the recording are perfect (the tuning was a couple days old by the recording, in a university hall with less than ideal climate control - and the recording itself is too bass heavy), but I think at a minimum it shows that using chemical hardeners is not just some wacky far-out idea with no merit.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/0ia8cwpnh...ro%20maestoso-Johannes%20Brahms.mp3?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/312tjol5k...%20espressivo-Johannes%20Brahms.mp3?dl=0

Any trained technician is aware of the chemical hardener that Franz Mohr concocted for Horowitz. I still find uses for this formulation today, amongst many others tools in the voicing kit.

Let OE1FEU listen to a Horowitz recording to prove himself wrong.

If he is a manufacturer representative than he should note that so all know.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/01/20 07:13 PM
In actual fact, the use of fabric softener, alcohol, lacquer, shellac, acrylic, acetone, etc all go back a long way. They are often shrouded in mystery (to protect the users secrets). The specifics of use here for fabric softener, and now B-72 are worth noting. I have been experimenting with them myself and I am quite amazed at how little is needed in targeted areas to achieve very good results. I have found that it even does work on worn hammers (much to my surprise) to an extent. I appreciate the exposure of this information here on the forum.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Here's an example of hammers voiced using the Non OE1FEU approved techniques. There's a reason that almost no concert pianist perform on the German pianos voiced the OE1FEU way.

https://youtu.be/RKM58jz9NHw
Personally I am very open minded to new techniques, tools or whatever can be of interest. The way for me is to test these things, try them out and add it to my toolbox or not. But it is not my job here on PW to educate the other users. They should make their own experiences and then decide, what to do or not. I have often realized here on PW, that a discussion started and after a short time it drifted away from the main theme because of someone who finds the theme of the discussion goes in the wrong way. That is very annoying.
My suggestion is that everyone who will never use or is against the chemical voicing should not discuss here and make life harder to these who are open minded, means not silly!!

For me, for example, the thinner lotion on the ff part of the hammers, as Chris mentioned a few posts ago, saved an upright piano yesterday!
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/02/20 01:31 PM
I too have been able to bring a smile to several owner's faces (and mine) due to the judicious application of this information.

Toni, I agree with you 100%.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Posted By: WBLynch Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/02/20 04:19 PM
I have to wonder. With the constant needling, filing, sanding, ironing, lacquering and who knows what other abuse those concert grands go through to please each artist, how often are complete hammer replacements required?

I am more happy to hear reports like from Toni Goldener above:
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
For me, for example, the thinner lotion on the ff part of the hammers, as Chris mentioned a few posts ago, saved an upright piano yesterday!
Originally Posted by WBLynch
I have to wonder. With the constant needling, filing, sanding, ironing, lacquering and who knows what other abuse those concert grands go through to please each artist, how often are complete hammer replacements required?

I am more happy to hear reports like from Toni Goldener above:
Originally Posted by Toni Goldener
For me, for example, the thinner lotion on the ff part of the hammers, as Chris mentioned a few posts ago, saved an upright piano yesterday!

They need regular replacement when they cannot be serviced to the highest level, often within a year for a well used high performance piano. Also, key leads are modified to set the touch for certain artists and at some point a new keyset can be ordered. Think F1 car.
A little more info on Big Sexy Play Harder Hairspray.

Todd had experimented with all brands before choosing it. He didn't know why, but it just worked better than the others.

I asked my wife (Carron) why she wasn't using it. She told me that she just didn't like the way it feels. She had also talked to her stylist about it, and the stylist also hates it. The stylist said its the only hairspray that leaves a film. So apparently its good for hammers, and not hair.

-chris
Do you use it in any way?
Posted By: RonTuner Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/04/20 01:41 PM
Pretty sure he's moved to B72 pellets in alcohol for his hardener. Easier to mix different ratios.

I still use the Big and Sexy spray because I bought a big can and that should last me a good long time! I will suggest when using the hairspray to stop before you reach your "goal tone" because it does harden up over the next day and will continue to change the tone.

Ron Koval
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/07/20 06:18 PM
All my internet stuff Finally arrived. Shipping times are insane now.

Rewatching the videos now. @ Chris, could you make a short clip of the right type of sustain we're looking for. The 2 previous videos have alot of information that's all convoluted together.

So for example, if you could find 2 keys near each other where 1 is Proper and treated, while the other has that Dead tone.

And then for the tip-Harden section, also 2 different keys , where one is not hard enough, and one is treated ?
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/07/20 09:21 PM
I made a video testing the deposition rate @ 40psi on this harborfreight sprayer, it's the $12 one. Using fixed focus on the camera made it much easier to film so it didn't change focus to my hand. Hopefully the 4K option works.

Chris, could you possibly spray some cardboard on your end and tell me if you're laying down more or less material Per pass, and how fast you're going from end to end.

I think it's important that people have some points of reference, because we are dealing with a liquid, and it's easy to spray too much.

Jeffcat,
Thanks for thinking of me.

Sustain:
Video/Audio doesn't seem to capture it too well. When Todd demonstrated it, in person its as plain as day, but on the video i could barely tell. I can tell you its more prominent on hard hammers because when the low shoulders are too hard it affects the sustain. On the cold pressed hammers i am working on, sustain was great, but volume and dynamics are not there too much. Maybe you, and any of your technician friends, can get together and discuss how hard low shoulders creates a sustain issue.
Maybe Dr. Peter Grey can chime in with suggestions.

Spray atomization:
It's totally your call, and play with different settings to find one you like. I suggest that you get a can of Big Sexy Play Harder because its very easy to use in a clients home. At first my pressure suggestion was my way to mimic the spray atomization out of the Big Sexy can. But its also based on this "just enough to atomize , and any more than that just wastes material". Once you get the spray atomization the way you like it, the pass speed is also your call. Any speed is most likely ok, what matters is evenness.

Keep us informed of your progress.
Appreciate it.

-chris
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/08/20 01:53 AM
when doing the shoulders for the sustain, how deeply does the soak-through happen, 5-6 mm ?
If I remember correctly, in just one pass with the softener, the hammers went from no sustain to having a nice long sustain. It was pretty impressive. So it shouldn't take too much to hear a difference. One pass ain't going to soak too far.

-chris
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/08/20 04:57 AM
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
I may sound like a broken record, but where is the concert grand prepared by this method, played by an internationally renowned pianist and recorded by a set up in terms of microphones, preamps, audio interface and a digital workstation that gives the world an idea about the superb superiority of putting chemicals into a hammer of a concert grand as opposed to voicing a piano without hairspray and plastic solutions?

Your posting completely misses the point. If fabric softener instead of needles can bring the tone of a vintage piano back to life, that is a wonderful thing. Well, it is wonderful for the owner of the piano, but maybe less wonderful for a piano manufacturer that wants to sell the person a new piano.

Applying a light lacquer treatment to hammers is an analogous thing, and NY Steinways with lacquered hammers are in use in concert halls throughout N. America and have been for a long time as far as I know.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/08/20 11:46 AM
I've been thinking about why they would make such hard hammers to begin with, it's probably not an issue of production cost. It may be a pragmatic reason to increase the overall durability of the hammers. If they're Harder, they will deform less over time, EVEN IF that comes at the expense of worse sound. They'd rather have it stay consistent for longer, because the general consumer would be averse to any expensive tuning/voicing/ buying new sets of hammers.

Looking at old hammers in old pianos, many are clearly blown in and apple shaped. A harder felt would sustain its shape better than a softer one.

But don't worry guys, JEFFCAT is not getting cold feet, when the time comes I am perfectly ok with buying a whole new set of hammers, drilling all 88 and installing them myself, FOR SCIENCE !

On the concert arena, it prolly doesn't matter, because the piano won't be played as hard or as often, and they'd pay whatever is necessary to redo the action, or just buy another one all together, so regardless of what condition it comes out at the factory, the system will get the full treatment at destination..
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/09/20 01:24 AM
I think hammers on vintage pianos were softer than on modern pisnos when the pianos were new. The hammers almost surely were made by hand 100 years ago. I assume that is still true on high end pianos today.
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/09/20 01:53 AM
I do not know what you might mean by "made by hand." The great revolution in hammer manufacture came from Alfred Dolge, who wrote about it. You can probably find his books on Gutenberg, definitely from Dover, and if you are interested, you should read them.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/09/20 03:03 AM
I am using a very small gauge hypo oiler for application, or also a recycled CA bottle (cleaned out first with acetone, and with a very fine tip extender) rather than spray. I do have a pump sprayer but find it a bit messy (but I will use it if lots is needed fast).

For the sustain issue I am applying it in kind of a tight zigzag pattern on the lower shoulders, just enough to penetrate about 1 or 2 mm. If, after listening and drying I think more is needed on selected hammers I will apply more at about 3:00 and 9:00. Not enough to penetrate to the core.

From what I am seeing and hearing, this process affects the overall outer layer(s) of felt making them more flexible and bouncy without killing the volume. Best done on a well shaped hammer.

If I need to do serious softening of tone I will spray it healthily right on the strike point.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
So I tracked down another cause of a hammer sound i was complaining about. I had an f#5 that sounded "felty" and out of place in the scale. Which is odd because I was working on the entire octave all in the same manner. I played the note softly to hear the pp section and yes its too soft. I also listened to the ff and it was also a little soft. So I start adding B-72 to the strike lines and ff, waited to hear if it would brighten up a little.

Nothing.

I figured, I used too weak a solution, and i added more to the strike lines and ff. Gained a little ff this time, but still felty.

I ended up adding 4:8 all the way from 9:00-3:00 up to the peak. Checked it an hour later and the tone was thinner(closed), ff good but still hard to get on a hard blow, overall still "felty". You would think that adding this much B-72 from the peak down it would brighten up pp, but nope.

So, after adding so much hardener and not hearing an improvement, i was beginning to think that the sustain area was too soft.

I decided to pull the action out and began feeling the hammers for differences in density. When i came to the f#5 it felt different. I decided to sand a layer off,instead of adding hardener to the sustain area, put it back in and the felty sound was gone. I had to actually open it up a little. But now its sounded like its neighboring notes.

So when you have a situation like i describe (too soft and no dynamics and hardener doesn't have an affect), here is the cause. Its the tension of the outer layer of the felt. I find this quite common with Ronsens in the sets i have received. Always one or two notes with the felty sound you can't get rid of.

Mystery solved. Next, i'm working on the "slappy" sound. I think this is caused when the layers just below pp are harder than ff. But still working on it.

-chris
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/09/20 04:11 AM
If the string grooves are not that deep, how do you guys puff them out a little.
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/09/20 08:31 PM
Did a first run, end to end, I hit the very tip 1 pass, hit the meaty shoulder part 2 passes. Finally can roll out some pp.

As for the sustain changes, I'm not sure it's done much. I watched the soak pattern very carefully, it's going in at most 3mm and only the very rim, I don't think it's penetrating deeply.

The bulk of the sound transformation likely occurs at the tip. This might just be my particular hammers though, because the inner layers are extremely hard.

The B2 is still dissolving I will spray some when that finishes.

Overall, it works exactly as advertised without pokey pokey.
Amazing isn't it!

Regarding the string grooves. it best to leave them and just remove excess felt.

Do you know the brand of hammer?

-chris
Posted By: jeffcat Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/09/20 11:45 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Do you know the brand of hammer?
-chris

It's just the cheap crap (Todd) that came with my piano stock. kwai
Did you try the 1-1-1 in the low shoulders? If its not penetrating with a sprayer, a hypo can saturate better. Also, i have used a 1-4-1(1 part water, 4 parts alcohol, 1 part water) with good results. Please remember, this is only used when you hear a sustain drop because of the hard shoulder. Listen to each hammer's sustain and see if one stands out that has a quick decay and then find one with a good sustain. Apply the softener solution to the one with a quick decay and use the good sustain hammer as a comparison to see if there was an improvement.

-chris
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
So I tracked down another cause of a hammer sound i was complaining about. I had an f#5 that sounded "felty" and out of place in the scale. Which is odd because I was working on the entire octave all in the same manner. I played the note softly to hear the pp section and yes its too soft. I also listened to the ff and it was also a little soft. So I start adding B-72 to the strike lines and ff, waited to hear if it would brighten up a little.

Nothing.

I figured, I used too weak a solution, and i added more to the strike lines and ff. Gained a little ff this time, but still felty.

I ended up adding 4:8 all the way from 9:00-3:00 up to the peak. Checked it an hour later and the tone was thinner(closed), ff good but still hard to get on a hard blow, overall still "felty". You would think that adding this much B-72 from the peak down it would brighten up pp, but nope.

So, after adding so much hardener and not hearing an improvement, i was beginning to think that the sustain area was too soft.

I decided to pull the action out and began feeling the hammers for differences in density. When i came to the f#5 it felt different. I decided to sand a layer off,instead of adding hardener to the sustain area, put it back in and the felty sound was gone. I had to actually open it up a little. But now its sounded like its neighboring notes.

So when you have a situation like i describe (too soft and no dynamics and hardener doesn't have an affect), here is the cause. Its the tension of the outer layer of the felt. I find this quite common with Ronsens in the sets i have received. Always one or two notes with the felty sound you can't get rid of.

Mystery solved. Next, i'm working on the "slappy" sound. I think this is caused when the layers just below pp are harder than ff. But still working on it.

-chris

In the good old days, carding and ironing new hammers was mandatory. Maybe it still is
Update:
So as you guys know I have been playing with the B-72 as a hardener. It characteristic is that it remains flexible. Well this isn't always desirable. The Big Sexy hairspray hardener leaves a crisper film. This came in handy today in bringing 4 notes that sounded open and just a little softer than their neighbors. I did 1 pass at the peaks and another pass on the shoulders with the Big Sexy and perfecto!

So its good to know the characteristics of both hardeners.

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/10/20 10:07 PM
Chris, good to know my bottle of Big Sexy is not wasted. Like your wife, mine will not put it in her hair.

Did you have to wire brush the tips after applying to remove any ping?

Thanks.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/10/20 11:22 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Did you try the 1-1-1 in the low shoulders? If its not penetrating with a sprayer, a hypo can saturate better. Also, i have used a 1-4-1(1 part water, 4 parts alcohol, 1 part water) with good results.

-chris

Chris I am assuming this was a typo. 1-4-1 (1 part ALL, 4 parts alcohol, 1 part water) correct...yes?

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Emery,
Glad to our wives are in sync. Most of the time i brush, sometimes it don't want it. But i like using the brush. I have 3 i use. The steel brush (course) and plastic bristle brush(fine) and a toothbrush (extra fine). I don't recommend using a brass brush, for some reason it wants to blacken the felt.

Peter Grey,
No typo. I add more alcohol when i want more penetration into the hammer felt.

I do have an experiment in mind. This is top secret so don't tell anyone. I am going to be trying DMSO on piano hammers. No one is using it in the piano industry. But in the health industry it has amazing qualities like absorbing into substances quickly at the cellular level. If anything can bring old dead hammers back to life, then perhaps DMSO can. If anyone wants to get ahead of me with this experiment, then go for it. I'll let you know what i discover after i try it on old hammers. Cutting edge though, and fun stuff this voicing is.

-chris
Did a quick video with my iphone.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4U_ZeSEfcc

And a picture after delivery to the happy customers home.


[Linked Image]

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 07/27/20 01:42 AM
Very nice Chris. The piano sounds awesome and looks great. Nice playing, Straw hat completes the look!
Posted By: tirta Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 08/09/20 09:32 AM
Hi Guys,

I have just find this interesting thread.
I have an old yamaha GH1 which I always find too bright sounding.
I have needled it to death, and it always sounds better and mellower after needling.

however, the sound always get brighter with use, so I have to repeat the needling every 2 - 3 months.

Is this voicing process using fabric softener suitable for my yamaha hammers?
Welcome tirta,
Yamaha hammers are indeed a hard, bright hot pressed hammer. The real fix is a better hammer of course. Cold pressed hammers have been used on Yamahas with great success.

However in the meantime, Try the 1 part All : 2 Parts Alcohol mixture. I pass on each shoulder (10:00 and 2:00 o'clock), And another pass on the tips. Wait an hour and listen to the results. If the change is dramatic, then this is probably enough and then just maintain it. If there was little change, then I would switch to a hypo-oiler and apply the 1:2 directly on the tops(pp) and soak it. As it penetrates it will form a semi circle which will go into the (open /closed area), let it penetrate down to the moulding (ff). Again wait at least an hour or longer and listen to the results.

Keep us updated.

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 08/09/20 05:35 PM
Tirta, I don't know how your Yamaha hammers compare to the ones on Kawai GL10. However, I had some overly bright notes in the upper treble that no amount of needling could fix. The 1:2 Fabric softener : alcohol mixture fixed it. I sprayed 4 passes on the shoulders only. I think that is how Todd did it in the video. Chris, however, has honed the process even more.

Good luck!
Posted By: tirta Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 08/09/20 05:53 PM
Chris and Emery, thanks for the reply.

Since I am in Indonesia, I have difficulty finding the same brand that you use.
Is it ok to use another brand?

Can you tell me the real ingredients of ALL fabric softener?
What kind of fabric softener should I look?
Tirta,
I was afraid of that. I cannot recommend any other brand. Todd experimented with many brands before selecting All Fabric Softener. If you try another brand you are on your own path, whereas with All, you have others as feedback. If you do try another brand , avoid ones with dyes that will discolor the hammers. All is white in color. Maybe you could order it over the internet if not available locally.
-chris
Hammer felt, to produce the expected tone color change with dynamics, must rebound from a slight compression quicker than it does to a more forceful one. In simpler terms the hammer must "seem" harder to the string when struck harder than when stuck softly.
Posted By: tirta Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 08/10/20 05:47 AM
Chris,

is Todd still on this forum?
I would like to know what other brands he has tried and what is his reasoning of choosing ALL.
CMIIAW I think the base ingredients of all fabric softeners should be the same, right?

After searching internet, this is the only ALL product that I can find in Indonesia:

https://www.tokopedia.com/yenzy/all-softener-2x-stainlifter-1-47lt

it is not the white ALL, can I use this one instead?
Tirta,
I asked Todd and he said All Fabric Softener works the best and that the others will work too. He also said Rosewater will act like a softener. The link you shared seems to be a detergent and stainlifter, not a fabric softener. He also said that even if they are colored, that they won't stain much when diluted. Maybe when you select a softener to try, you could test it on a spare hammer or two?

-chris
Posted By: dogperson Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 08/10/20 01:54 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Tirta,
I asked Todd and he said All Fabric Softener works the best and that the others will work too. He also said Rosewater will act like a softener. The link you shared seems to be a detergent and stainlifter, not a fabric softener. He also said that even if they are colored, that they won't stain much when diluted. Maybe when you select a softener to try, you could test it on a spare hammer or two?

-chris

Here is a link to the ingredients
https://nationaleczema.org/accepted-eczema-products/free-clear-liquid-fabric-softener/
Dogperson,
Thank you for sharing that.
It would be nice if a chemist would look over those ingredients and offer a natural alternative. After just a brief glance, looks like maybe the the coconut fatty acid salt is coating and softening the fibers?? As the rest of the ingredients seem to be cleaners and surfactants.
-chris
Posted By: tirta Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 08/10/20 06:52 PM
thanks Chris & dogperson.

I am not familiar with rosewater.
is it the one described here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_water ?

yes, looking at the ALL ingredients at that link,
it seems that the lanolin is substituted with coconut fatty acid salt?
Posted By: WBLynch Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 08/11/20 06:02 AM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
.... Yamaha hammers are indeed a hard, bright hot pressed hammer. The real fix is a better hammer of course. Cold pressed hammers have been used on Yamahas with great success.
.....

-chris

Hi Chris, out of curiosity what hammers would you recommend for a 30 year old Yamaha G1, which doesn’t need new hammers but could benefit from a nicer tone?

Thanks, Bill
I have always used Ronsen Hammers in the past. Especially on C7's. That alone often got me repeat business. I'm not the only one to have noticed as many techs also have switched out the hammers. You'll get more power, warmth, and a wider dynamic range.

Lately, i have become a big fan of the Abel Natural Felt Hammers, as there is a silky sound to them i really like. I would easily try them next on a Yamaha.
-chris
Posted By: WBLynch Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 08/11/20 10:33 PM
Thanks Chris.

I’ll take it under advisement. I know with Ronsen there are several versions available. Is “natural felt” enough to identify the Abel set I should pursue? I have a full second set of new Yamaha factory hung hammers for this piano so any disappointments with the experiment would be low risk. I can tune, repair and regulate but I am not a good voicer.

Before I do swap hammers I think I will experiment with the spray and play to see what I can learn.

-Bill
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/14/20 01:15 AM
Well OE1FEU, not a concert piano or pianist by any stretch of the imagination, but here's a video of a before and after fabric softener voicing of my piano. Not sure if the subtle difference after voicing will come thru in the YouTube audio, but this voicing method really took the faint glassy edge off my Petrof hammers without dulling the clear tone of this piano and I'm quite happy with the results.

Posted By: accordeur Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/14/20 01:26 AM
Very good job. I can definitely hear the difference. Good that you played the same piece. Nice playing too!
Great Video Emery.
Wish I could edit like that. The tone became warmer and the pings i heard in the before were gone. I also noticed you were able to to express a wider range of dynamics. I enjoyed the whole thing.
Could you share a link to the sprayer, i like that one.
And thank you for the mention at the end of the video, i wasn't expecting it so i was surprised. I forwarded a link to Todd, so he will get to see it as well.
Many thanks.
-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/14/20 03:51 AM
Here's a link to the sprayer Chris.

Thanks again for letting us know about this voicing method, it's really expanded my toolkit for improving the performance of my pianos. Your posts here and Tony's have been invaluable.
Posted By: WBLynch Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/14/20 04:25 AM
Emery that is excellent. Your playing is wonderful too. Thanks for posting this. I have a candidate for this treatment now and I’m going to give it a try.

I actually have a second candidate that is too muffled. That one will need some surface sanding and polishing of the felt first and I can try the hairspray technique to bring it up.
Posted By: D.P. Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/14/20 05:32 AM
Very informative video with great playing by the Mr. Wang!

I have a old piano with very hard feelings hammers that I decided to try this out on. Sadly I only have my phone for recording so any recordings I make sound kind of muffled. I used the origin 1:1:1 ratio of softener, alcohol, and water. Before the felts on the hammer felt very hard when I tried to dig my nail into it or squeeze it. Tone was a bit bright and loud but the trebel above C6 and up lacked power and sustain. Especially at the very top notes. I figured it was due to many issues because the piano is in poor shape. After spraying I left it for a day and came back and noticed the tone is mellower and the upper notes are much louder with noticably better sustain. The hammers themselves feel like a thin soft layer on the outside now but still very dense underneath. The piano is in poor shape, but I at least noticed an improvement.
Thanks very much for that video. I really appreciate your work and your playing. In the meantime I use the 1:2 nearly on every piano I tune, sometimes on sections only, sometimes on single notes applied with my index finger, for stand out notes or only for sugar coating.
Even a small upright became such a rich tone and also the customer said that he loves that piano because of its richness. Btw the voicing on this upright was done in only a few minutes. That is great. If you are familiar with this voicing method, it works wonders.
And I also was able to order my first big sexy hair spray here in Switzerland. Sometimes wonder happens.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/17/20 04:43 AM
Thanks Toni. Your application of the solution has been very interesting, as Todd only discusses spraying. If you had to do a lot of hammers, would you spray, or still use the finger/paintbrush application methods? Do you spray to get the solution into the shoulders of the hammers?
If the overall sound of the hammers is brittle and harsh , I spray a layer on the tips of the hammers first and listen to the result after it’s dried. I am able to better hear then, how sustain is. If needed, I spray the shoulders at 9 and 3 for better sustain. For both I use the 1:2 solution.

I also use a sprayer for individual sections, let’s say the first five or six notes on the long bridge are ugly, I spray only these. The amount of solution I spray, I regulate by how fast I move the sprayer from one note to the other and the distance from the hammers. Now my index finger is “trained” to the sprayer so it is mostly quite what I want.
The paintbrush/finger application is for even out small amounts , let’s say sugar coating. Also using the 1:2 solution.

What works for me best is to make things a tiny bit too mellow first and then use my paraloid b72 solutions on the tips or wherever it is needed.

I now have my big sexy hair spray, but no experience yet. That will take some time now. I have tried other hairspray, but they all gave me a pingy sound although the hammers were mellow first. With the paraloid applied by drops I never had the problem. I hope the big sexy will be different.
Where I am still not sure how to use is the wire brush. Maybe someone has good experience here.
Thanks!
Posted By: RonTuner Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/17/20 12:48 PM
The wire brush helps reduce the ping if you've gone a little heavy with the lacquer (hairspray). Always start with less than you think you need with the hairspray and then wait some time before thinking of adding more.

Best case is if you can return for a quick visit the next day and lightly brush across the ones that are too bright and possibly add a quick spray to the ones that need to come up more.

Ron Koval
Just for the fun of it, i posed the question to Todd, here is what he said:

"Scrub the surface back and forth from hammer to hammer to get the hard spots off the surface. Evens out tone from note to note."

I'll throw in that it should be thought of as a sugar-coating tool. I found it's not needed with the b-72 so much, but will be needed with the Hairspray. I think its also a good idea to have and use both hardeners as each has a different effect.

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/17/20 04:37 PM
My question is what your customers' reactions are when you pull out that big red bottle of Big & Sexy hairspray. I imagine it would be either "cool, rock on dude" or "wait a minute, are you sure you're a real piano technician?" wink
Use the hairspray only when the customer left the room 😂
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/17/20 06:11 PM
I listened to Emery's recording, but if I closed my eyes, I do not think that I could tell where the "before" recording became the "after."
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/17/20 08:32 PM
Must be my piano playing skilz made me subconsciously alter my playing so that the change is less noticeable cool
Posted By: BDB Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/17/20 08:58 PM
When I voice pianos, I use a copious amount of chromatic scales, to highlight differences between individual notes. Evenness is my primary concern. A remarkable number of pianos sound bad due to just a few notes standing out among the rest.
Posted By: David Boyce Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/17/20 09:39 PM
Emery, thank you very mucn for recording your lovely playing. I have listened through my HiFi with good speakers, and can definitely hear the improvement; the hard 'edge' has gone, but the richness is there. That beautiful piece is from a Morricone film score isn't it? Cinema Paradiso I think.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/17/20 10:03 PM
Originally Posted by BDB
When I voice pianos, I use a copious amount of chromatic scales, to highlight differences between individual notes. Evenness is my primary concern. A remarkable number of pianos sound bad due to just a few notes standing out among the rest.

Agreed. A few of the notes in the middle register of my piano are a little loud/odd sounding. I plan to do an indecent amount of massaging of these hammers with the 1:2 per Toni's recommendations.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/17/20 10:05 PM
Originally Posted by David Boyce
Emery, thank you very mucn for recording your lovely playing. I have listened through my HiFi with good speakers, and can definitely hear the improvement; the hard 'edge' has gone, but the richness is there. That beautiful piece is from a Morricone film score isn't it? Cinema Paradiso I think.

Thanks David. Still working on that piece. Yes, it is the theme song of Cinema Paradiso.
I'm currently working on Jurassic Park at the moment, the Patrick Peitschmen piano arrangement is so beautiful. Over the years i have added many movie themes to the rep.

I received my spray bottles today and they are perfect. I believe Todd is also getting them. One thing though, be careful if you use them with the b-72 and always run just pure alcohol afterwards to clean them out, otherwise they would clog up quickly.

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/18/20 12:14 AM
Indeed they do. Sometimes the button is wonky, however, and you think they're clogged when you just need to wiggle the button when pushing. But yes, I always run just alcohol thru them at the end.

Glad they're working out for you Chris.
I have 4 pianos I am restoring right now. 2 Baldwin R's that will be getting Renner Blue points. A Mason and Hamlin AA that will have Ronsen Hammers, and an upright piano that will have Abel hammers installed. All have new boards except the upright will have the original board. All will be voiced with the All Fabric softener/b-72 as needed. Then I will try to make recordings using nice equipment. I'll try to hustle up some local pianists for the recordings. We'll see if the various soundboards and hammers all voiced the same way will give a further testament to this method.
-chris
Posted By: trigalg693 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/18/20 07:15 PM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
It would be nice if a chemist would look over those ingredients and offer a natural alternative. After just a brief glance, looks like maybe the the coconut fatty acid salt is coating and softening the fibers?? As the rest of the ingredients seem to be cleaners and surfactants.
-chris

Not a chemist, but I think I understood my chemistry classes...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabric_softener#Cationic_fabric_softeners
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polydimethylsiloxane

They just lubricate the fibers, there's nothing more to fabric softener as far as I can tell from looking up research papers. I don't think anything "natural" is going to do a better job than those two, and commercial fabric softener should use those chemicals. The differences between brands probably has something to do with concentration.
trigalg693,
Don't sell yourself short, that was a very helpful post. I followed your two links and it turns out Silicone oil is the ingredient that does ALL the work. I shared this with Todd and as i was talking to him he ordered a gallon of the stuff. Looks like he and I will be experimenting with it and once we come up with a formula we like we'll pass it on to you guys. My thinking is to just use it 100% and add alcohol until it wicks real nice. Then i'll add some lavender essential oil. I have a feeling Todd will add Rosewater.

I'll be in touch.
-chris
And the reason we wash clothes is to remove oils. Companies figured out that they could convince people to "oil" their clean clothes just to solve the static electricity issue. Stupid people. I don't allow the stuff in my house.

Companies also figured out they could take filtered tap water and put it in plastic bottles, ship it around the world and sell it to people. Stupid people buy that too.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/19/20 12:26 PM
Interesting revelation about silicone. Although I am amazed at how this concoction works, I am now thinking that perhaps the method of atomizing it to apply it might not be such a good idea, particularly right in the vicinity of the piano. Dropper or brush application might be safer (though slower). If the spray application was made far enough away from the body of the piano that might be better.

OTOH I have no PROOF that any harm could result either. Just my .02

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/19/20 02:54 PM
Good point Peter. Having sprayed hammers a few times in my kitchen, the overspray does make the floor quite slippery. Fortunately the fabric softener is easily cleaned up with a wet rag. I may spray my friend's hammers at his house soon, and I'm thinking that in addition to covering the action to protect it, I may also have him hold a bath towel like a curtain to catch the overspray.
The only over spray problem i have had is with the big red sexy. I turned the action around in the action cavity to spray. The over spray went on the finish of the piano and was immediately starting to melt it. So be careful of that one. I do most of my work in a shop, so i'm not as aware of it as you guys are. One thing for sure, the evenness spraying offers voicing is big plus. I use the spraying for sustain building and building tone as in a final pass or two on the tips. But, i use hypos when i want to build dynamics such as in new hammers, because i can apply it from the side directly where its needed.
-chris
Unfortunately the big sexy hairspray doesn’t work for me. Somehow I always get these pingy sounds I don’t like. Paraloid b72 is in my case much more controllable and give me the sound quality I prefer.
Lately I came across some very weak high treble hammers and nothing worked to bring them up, means having brilliance and full body. Maybe someone has a good advice for me.
In the meantime I use the 1:2 also for final voicing in and pump sprayer for individual hammer spraying. Varying the distance from the hammers give me the right „strength“ of sugar coating.
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 09/25/20 11:48 PM
Toni,

I would consider strike point. Have you played around with that? (Of course if it's a vertical that's not so easy).

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Here is a new diagram i came up with today that i believe is very helpful. I studied a book last night about Enrico Caruso's singing technique. In the book it discussing tone production. I found it very useful comparing the piano tone and the human voice.

ATTACK:
There are three types of attack Metallic, pure, and breathy. Metallic (harsh)tone is caused by faulty technique called coup de glotte. We call it bright or pingy. Breathy is when a singer breathes out before starting the tone. We call it soft or mellow. Finally a pure tone is obtained when the singer breathes out and produces the tone at the same time. Something like that anyway.

SUSTAIN:
There are three types of sustain. LIVELY, which we call bloom, but singers call it messa di voce. The sustain will seem to rise in volume in the piano. This is really the goal of voicing. The other sustains are a gradual boring decay or a quick immediate decay.

I highlighted the appropriate areas in the hammer for manipulating. Hope this is useful to someone out there.
-chris
[Linked Image]
I'm sorry, Chris. I can't resist. Where should I needle if I want a gradual boring decay? :-)
Posted By: David Boyce Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 10/16/20 07:16 PM
It comes to most of us naturally, without needling....
I think I was needling....

So the tone of the piano sounds like Eeyore when you are done?
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 10/16/20 08:12 PM
This may help explain why, when I'm spraying hammers in a vertical (like I did today), trying to hit the strike point, I also end up getting it on the upper shoulder which has been giving me an effect of "bloom" (or something like that) that I did not expect. It is very nice...I massage it in and everyone is happy. It seems to work better on hammers with less wear (for obvious reasons).

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Posted By: Gretel Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 10/16/20 08:31 PM
So you sprayed it on the hammers without taking out the whole action first?
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 10/16/20 09:21 PM
I curve my fingers around the hammers to shield the innards from the pump sprayer. Then I massage the entire surface working whats on my hand into the crown and opposite shoulder.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
I'm sorry, Chris. I can't resist. Where should I needle if I want a gradual boring decay? :-)

Actually, you'll want to harden 9 and 3 0'clock.
Originally Posted by P W Grey
This may help explain why, when I'm spraying hammers in a vertical (like I did today), trying to hit the strike point, I also end up getting it on the upper shoulder which has been giving me an effect of "bloom" (or something like that) that I did not expect. It is very nice...I massage it in and everyone is happy. It seems to work better on hammers with less wear (for obvious reasons).

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Peter, I hope you are hearing when the sustain has an energy pulse to it, as that will take your voicing skills to a whole new level. I'm currently working on a set of Ronsens at the moment. And they have horrible dynamics. So far i have had to apply juice (B-72, 4-16) at FF as the primary procedure. A couple notes had hard shoulders otherwise most have a slow decay and no bloom. Hence, the reason for studying Caruso's book.

-chris
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 10/17/20 04:23 AM
Chris, concerning Ronsens and other "voice up" hammers: I have used Todd's method to soften and add sustain to the shoulders of hard hammers. On Ronsens, where the hammers are soft to begin with, I've heard that voicers usually juice the shoulders to harden them, which seems the opposite of what the fabric softener would do. Would you mind sharing the differences in how you treat the two different types of hammers using Todd's methods?

Thanks!
I'm working on a set right now.

Using the diagram above, what i am hearing is:

The attack is very breathy.
The dynamics does not go to FF on individual notes
The sustain decays slowly. However i am fortunate that a couple notes are very good and they give me targets to match too.
There were a couple notes that had a quick decay of the sustain and i applied a couple drops of softener right above the staple and that fixed it.
With these characteristics, i'm really thinking i either got a bad set, or these are not the right hammers for the piano. I certainly have heard better Ronsens. So i'll see what manipulation can do on this set.

The instrument sounds very nice at the keyboard, but it makes me use more pedal than i usually do on the familiar pieces. Also, when listening across the room the piano sound weak.

One octave(beginning of the capo) i suspect the strike point is off. which i will be fixing. I suspect this because of a slight woody sound that is not a hammer sound.

My current approach is to address the dynamics first with this piano. So i have been pulling the action out, leaning it on its side, and using B-72 I am applying about 8 drops on the FF point. I make sure it doesn't affect the attack. That's were i'm at on this piano. My goal is to get the sustain on each note to bloom. So i'll see how it sounds after the dynamics are were i want it to be to decide how to proceed.

To answer your question. At this stage it seems using a hypo-oiler and applying hardner from the side at ff is the best technique for Ronsens as a first step.

I still plan on finishing off with light spraying to create evenness across the keyboard.

Thanks for the question Emery.

-chris
Chris, I am honestly trying to understand what you are experiencing with the piano. I am not finding the vocal descriptions particularly useful as a descriptor of what you are hearing. So I will take it to mean that you are saying that the attack is too soft or mellow. Do you also mean that the attack sounds unfocused and lacks clarity? The next thing you say is that the dynamics do not go to ff. And you also say that you find yourself using more pedal than usual. The piano sounds weak across the room.

My sense is that there may be more than one thing going on here, related to the hammers. I suspect that the felt on the top of the hammer may be too soft. I make no judgment on your approach with various chemicals (I certainly use them where called for) but there are certain things I typically would do first. Before I reached for hardeners, I would do a test filing on a few notes to see if that starts to bring the tone into better focus. LIkely, it will do that, you will have to see how far that takes you. If you dope hammers where the felt is considerably too soft, it will brighten the hammer, but it won't sound as good as it would had you removed enough top felt by filing, and then doped the hammer as needed. it will be brighter, it will also sound vague and distant, and certainly not exciting.

As counterintuitive as it might seem with what is probably a pretty soft set of hammers, I would take a few test notes and do some test shoulder needling. If no needles have touched these hammers, the likelihood of overdoing is quite small. Starting at 9:30, deep needling 3 sets of 3 up towards the crown. Slide the action in and listen. You may want to add another 2 or 3 sets of 3 towards the crown. If there is what I call available compression in the felt, then the tone will increase in volume, gain a sense of bloom after the attack, and sustain longer. It appears that the big sexy hairspray has value in our world as voicers, but it may not always be the best tool for a particular problem.

Another thing that I would do is to pluck strings. That takes the hammer out of the picture. I find it a very useful analytic tool. It can tell us a lot about what the board is giving to the tone or conversely, not giving. It can tell you a lot about the attack phase, the transition into the sustaining period, the character of that sustain over time, pitch stability, and the gradual decay to nothing. A good board will give a sense of push in the sustain. If the board has it, you will get the exciting swell in volume after the attack. If the board does not give that to you, the hammers won't either.

I am making no judgment on the quality of the new soundboard in this piano.

I use the Ronsen Weikert felt hammers quite a bit, and I find them to be one of the best hammers out there. Most people do little needling to them, but I have found that they get even better when I do that.
I need to bring up a Grotrian upright that someone voiced down too much. I juiced the dynamic section under the strike point, but it didn’t seem to improve power. I also sprayed the shoulders with no success.
Any other suggestions? Thanks very much!
Toni, Do you know how a hammer should feel? Almost like squeezing a tennis ball. Some springiness should be present. If they needled the "Blank" out of them, then there is not much you can do past a certain point

-chris
Posted By: piano411 Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 10/21/20 10:05 PM
I would try an iron.
Posted By: Emery Wang Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 10/21/20 11:16 PM
Would sanding off the top layer of felt help? And if not, then B-72 to the tips?
Posted By: P W Grey Re: Dissecting the Tone of Piano Hammers - 10/22/20 12:32 PM
I would reshape the hammers, and try the iron.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor
Thanks for all your advice. I try to file the hammers before using b72.
Chris:

We have not heard back from you on where your voicing has ended up after your further efforts. Since a number of people are following this discussion, it may be of value to fill us in.

The hammer shown in your illustration looks to be Weikert felt. I have used this felt quite a bit, and early on I found that the amount of the felt over the crown area could vary a fair amount. It was my experience that I often had to do a fair amount of filing to get down to felt I considered hard enough to begin my voicing protocols. Typically, I would pre-file and shape the hammers in a jig prior to boring and hanging them. David Love worked with Ray Negron over a period of time by having Ray do the pre-filing and shaping and arrived at a system whereby the hammers out of the box were very close to where they needed to be in terms of hardness. I do some filing as needed to dial it in some areas of the scale. Ray and David call it the David Love low profile hammer. This iteration is used by a number of top technicians and sounds very good on Steinways. i have always find that these hammers really shine with a moderate amount of needling that brings them to best voice. For those of you interested in hammers of lighter weight, this is a good choice, as the shaping and filing reduces the weight while optimizing the tonal start point.

One thing that has not been discussed is just how variable felt density can be within a set of hammers, and even from neighbor to neighbor. These are things that one can experience in needling a set of hammers and match the variability that we can hear in a set or the isolated note that seems so much brighter than its neighbors. It is surprising just how much a skilled voicer can sense in hammers just by how the needles go into the felt.

Where one chooses to voice hammers by way of chemicals, whether it be lacquer, keytop solution, B-72, or other means; felt density still remains a factor. Lower density hammers have a lower threshold before brilliance becomes shrill and thin, and higher density hammers will be less responsive to brightening. Chemically hardened hammers will respond differently to needling than hammers that have not been exposed to adulterants.

All techniques we use in voicing have consequences, whether they be good or bad. As we progress through voicing, the choices we make along the way dictate the range and direction of the choices that will follow. No technique is completely reversible in the sense that it cannot be taken all the way back to an exact starting point. This means making wise choices along the way and making only small mistakes.
All good points William. There are quite a bit of experiments going on in my shop at the moment, all of which focus on bringing out the pianos full potential. I'm fortunate that I have stayed busy and that i have several pianos to play with.

So for me, the voicing starts all the way back in the links of the acoustic chain. So first the soundboard- I have a new rib design for my compression soundboards. They are asymmetrically shaped which became necessary to adjust the acoustic driving point under the bridge. The driving points on the panel are also adjusted after its installed. All of this means that the bridge becomes the acoustic center of amplitude in the piano. No one else does this that i know of, but its very important for developing a full round tone.

Next is the string scale. I have focused on bringing more clarity to the treble section. I have what i call the Chernoplex scale. I remove the duplex, specifically the front string rest. Then i lengthen the scale and segments, use a harder wood on the cap on the bridge.

Interestingly enough, downbearing setting methods have come into the discussion in my shop. It looks like its very easy to set too much and that the Wolfenden model of 1.5 degrees is way too much. I have been pretty much setting bearing following the Gravagne guidelines from his articles, but again too much. I have a method now that guarantees not to set too much bearing and choke the tone in any way, worthy an article in itself. This may be the main cause of why it can be difficult to achieve a messa di voce sustain which is my goal and why all the modifications.

Next is the hammers. Todd and I are both independently working on using Silicone oil. He is experimenting with 99% Rubbing Alcohol. I am working with various other chemicals. So far the best solvent was Xylene with complete swelling. But i don't like the smell. So i am currently trying Ethyl Acetate. The swell is fair and could be a good choice as the smell isn't terrible. There are are couple of further chemicals to try that swell better but other factors determine their use. Todd seems to like the use of rubbing alcohol with the silicone oil, but its not on any swelling chart. So i am waiting to hear his results. Dispersing and diluting are two different things. All fabric softener is fine, but it has several unknown ingredients and so making a softener that just has the working ingredient is desirable to Todd and I.

I am stringing another Mason and Hamlin today and can't wait to get to the voicing stage.

After i put all of these elements together, i want to make some good videos. My future plans are to rebuild my Mason and Hamlin BB and use it as a demo to take around to the various chapters. Hopefully, that will become a thing to do again.

-chris
In the past I have used one of the liquids the old timers used to use - flexible collodion. Collodion is a mixture of nitrocellulose , alcohol, and ether. Whereas nitrocellolose will dry hard, collodion remains flexible. It gives a warmer, creamy, and more rounded tone than our nitrocellulose concoctions. It is extremely flammable and volatile. And it has ether. Not so great to work around, which is why I rarely use it these days.

I have heard of Ethyl Acetate being used in voicing but have never tried it. What kind of sound are you getting?

Regarding downbearing, i know several rebuilders who have hundreds of soundboard installations under their belt who, over time, have moved towards thinner panels and lighter ribbing. They have also reduced the amount of downbearing they use. One thing that is really useful with downbearing are adjustable perimeter bolts. They give you more flexibility when globally setting downbearing for a new board (or an older one). If you do not like the bearing you have set initially, you can raise or lower the plate, or even cant it slightly if need be. You can make your own, but Wessell, Nickel, and Gross sells them for about $9 per bolt. Nickel plated, so they make the plate look like a million bucks.

Regarding clarity in the mid treble up, hammer weight becomes very important here. Most hammer sets would benefit from a diet in this area.
In the past I have used one of the liquids the old timers used to use - flexible collodion. Collodion is a mixture of nitrocellulose , alcohol, and ether. Whereas nitrocellolose will dry hard, collodion remains flexible. It gives a warmer, creamy, and more rounded tone than our nitrocellulose concoctions. It is extremely flammable and volatile. And it has ether. Not so great to work around, which is why I rarely use it these days.

I have heard of Ethyl Acetate being used in voicing but have never tried it. What kind of sound are you getting?

Regarding downbearing, i know several rebuilders who have hundreds of soundboard installations under their belt who, over time, have moved towards thinner panels and lighter ribbing. They have also reduced the amount of downbearing they use. One thing that is really useful with downbearing are adjustable perimeter bolts. They give you more flexibility when globally setting downbearing for a new board (or an older one). If you do not like the bearing you have set initially, you can raise or lower the plate, or even cant it slightly if need be. You can make your own, but Wessell, Nickel, and Gross sells them for about $9 per bolt. Nickel plated, so they make the plate look like a million bucks.

Regarding clarity in the mid treble up, hammer weight becomes very important here. Most hammer sets would benefit from a diet in this area.
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