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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2707510
01/22/18 04:34 PM
01/22/18 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Colin Dunn

It seems these no-name concert grands are somewhat rare. But what I find disconcerting is that discerning piano critics don't review these particular instruments. That would settle the question about whether it's just a scaled-up consumer-level baby grand, or if these companies actually lavish better materials and more attention on these models.

I want to see reviews of pianos the way audiophile magazines review stereo gear. Use the best and most expensive as a "reference," then compare the piano being reviewed against that baseline. Go into details about how the action compares to a Steinway, how the tone compares to Bösendorfer, how the quality of construction compares to Mason & Hamlin, etc. Don't just say it's low-rated consumer junk unless it truly is. But that assessment needs to come from reviewing a piano in-depth, not just making sweeping generalizations based on brand name rankings, country of origin, etc.


It's probably hard to review something that is rare. The product has to be available to a reviewer to make an assessment of it. If the piano is only available in say China and not readily available in the US or Europe it might be impossible for critics to critique these pianos. The snob-appeal brands make many instruments so it's not hard to find one to review. I've read a lot of information on many piano brands across the spectrum, and I don't recall any being called low-rated consumer junk. In fact, I find that many reviewers seem to value the brands with less "snob appeal" very favorably when considering the price point, acknowledging that many of the pianos built in Korea, Indonesia, and China have come a long way in quality from where they started.

Do you have some specific models of no-name concert grands that you'd like more information on? You might get some information here on PW from individuals who have experience with them if you started another thread naming the specific pianos.

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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2707519
01/22/18 04:57 PM
01/22/18 04:57 PM
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I went back through this thread. These are the non-snobby concert grands that came up:

Vintage Knabe 9' (this was a good brand but went out of business and the name got sold to Asian concerns)
Vintage Chickering 9' (similar story as Knabe)
Baldwin SD10 (a good brand but reputation suffered due to corner-cutting in the '70s and later)

* These three would represent what most on this forum would consider a good choice for a concert grand buyer on a tight budget.

Albert Weber AG-275 (a Young Chang product)
Pearl River GP-275
George Steck 9'2" (279.4cm) (Sejung?)

I Googled for reviews of these three as I searched for the new concert grand with the lowest MSRP and street price. I didn't find a detailed review of any of the current-production Chinese/Korean ones. Just the "Piano Book" type rankings placing these brands in the lower tiers.


Colin Dunn
2018 Sight-Reading Challenge Longest Winning Streak: 21 days
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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2707528
01/22/18 05:33 PM
01/22/18 05:33 PM
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The only modern Geo Steck pianos that I tried were under 6 feet, because that's what the distributors and dealers were promoting. I played both Sejung and Moutrie-manufactured ones. Like many emerging piano makers that export to our market, it seems they reached proficiency with their vertical pianos sooner than they did with their grands in terms of satisfactory musical performance attributes.

The Piano Buyer doesn't review entry level concert grands because we tend to focus on what shoppers for home-oriented instruments are interested in, and the sales data you can read in the Music Trades is pretty clear: people are most interested in small grands, digitals, and midsized verticals. The economy-priced makers don't build many concert grands, their dealers have little interest in tying up floor inventory with them, and institutions (who are the primary consumers of concert grand pianos) aren't that interested because they have no track record for performance or durability. With such low production numbers and/or changes in ownership and distribution, it has happened that getting items like replacement case parts can be difficult or impossible both during and after the warranty period. The combination of all these factors tend to make for a piano with a low resale value that is difficult to resell, before we've even said much about how the pianos perform. Every big piano will a modern design will have a big, visceral low bass register, but not all of them will have smooth transitions or balance, good sustain in the "killer" octave, good tone quality at all dynamic levels, actions that were built with great materials and precision, or just being subject to enough final "prep" work to show their full capability in the first place. In one of the ads you linked, the shop is offering to rip out a brand new action and replace it with a different, higher performing one, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the initial build quality!


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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2707538
01/22/18 05:57 PM
01/22/18 05:57 PM
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Quote

The Piano Buyer doesn't review entry level concert grands because we tend to focus on what shoppers for home-oriented instruments are interested in, and the sales data you can read in the Music Trades is pretty clear: people are most interested in small grands, digitals, and midsized verticals. The economy-priced makers don't build many concert grands, their dealers have little interest in tying up floor inventory with them, and institutions (who are the primary consumers of concert grand pianos) aren't that interested because they have no track record for performance or durability. With such low production numbers and/or changes in ownership and distribution, it has happened that getting items like replacement case parts can be difficult or impossible both during and after the warranty period.


Interesting. I have noticed that small grands sometimes have higher resale value than ones in the 6'-7' range. People want a "nice baby grand" in their living room. And that is comparing within a brand or between equals, not my crazy Tier 1 vs. Tier 7 comparisons.

I guess I really am an odd duck. One of a handful of people in the world who wants an "entry-level" concert grand. I would throw a mattress under the piano and sleep there before settling for an overpriced vertical.

I am surprised people want mid-sized uprights. If I only had space for a vertical piano, I would go digital because then I would be playing samples from a 9' Yamaha CFIII or Steinway D instead of a 42-46" upright. The upright action is also not as good as the grand action (with few exceptions, all very expensive). Also, uprights seem to have poor resale value these days. I'm beginning to think vertical acoustic pianos are obsolete. The future is digital at the low end, grand at the high end.

It would be a hassle if there are issues with parts availability. I thought most piano parts that require maintenance were fairly generic. Strings, hammers, and action parts can all be replaced with only a few companies supplying all piano makers in the world. What parts tend to be more unique to a specific brand/model of piano? Things like hardware for operation of the fallboard? Legs? Casters? Music desk? The lid prop stick? Something else I haven't thought of?

"Low resale value" is music to my ears, because I'm never the first buyer ... I'm the second or third. The guy who pays far less than the piano should be worth. smile Maybe in 10-20 years I will pick up one of those Steck concerts for $2,500. smile

What is the "killer" octave? Any advice on how to evaluate its sustain when trying out pianos?

The tragedy here is that these business/economic factors mean that people who may want a concert grand in their home don't get that option. Outside the expensive coastal cities, living spaces are more generous and a dedicated hobbyist can have room for a 7' to 9' grand piano. But obviously, these sales data mean the market does not cater to dedicated hobbyists, but rather people living in small spaces.


Colin Dunn
2018 Sight-Reading Challenge Longest Winning Streak: 21 days
Organizer, Denver Area Piano Group (https://www.meetup.com/Denver-Area-Piano-Group/)

Starr Artist Grand
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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2707555
01/22/18 07:21 PM
01/22/18 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Colin: You seem to think that just because a piano is big the bigness will compensate for the other short comings of some of the very lowest rated consumer pianos. I don't think this is true.


I know "bigness" doesn't always compensate for other shortcomings. I overall preferred a friend's 5'8" Mason & Hamlin to my own piano (a rebuilt Starr that is 7'11"). However, I do have a general bigger-is-better mentality for grand pianos because in the price range that I can afford (think 4 figures, not 5-6), that yields the biggest upgrade in sound quality.
Bigger is better only has meaning everything else being equal as your comparison with a Mason A and your piano illustrates. I think bigness usually doesn't compensate for other shortcomings. And, knowing Masons, it may be true that the 5'8" Mason even has a better bass than your much bigger piano.
Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
Who else, besides me, would want a no-name 9-footer? I immediately think that many working pianists or piano teachers would want one (as long as it plays well and is not just a big "furniture" piece). Most pianists and piano teachers are not wealthy, more like barely middle-class. I can see them spending $25K to get a concert grand where all the money went into building a piano, rather than paying multiples of the price for a status symbol.
Most people, including teachers, don't want a 9' piano in their home because of its physical size and possible volume problems. While it's true that for some makes ones pays extra for its status, the article I linked you to earlier about high end pianos explains what these pianos have that other pianos don't have. Of course, as with any commodity, one should not assume that a piano that costs twice as much is "twice as good". My guess is that many piano teachers on a limited budget would choose a piano that is mid range in quality and mid range in size.

Concert grands by lower quality makers are not reviewed because so few private individuals buy concert grands of any size. That's why the Piano Buyer does not review concert grands. People looking to buy concert grands are usually buying for a performance space where the potential power of that size piano is desirable.Those buyers are not usually on a very limited budget.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/22/18 07:37 PM.
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: pianoloverus] #2707561
01/22/18 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus

Bigger is better only has meaning everything else being equal as your comparison with a Mason A and your piano illustrates. I think bigness usually doesn't compensate for other shortcomings. And, knowing Masons, it may be true that the 5'8" Mason even has a better bass than your much bigger piano.


Actually, I would give the edge on bass to the Starr. The Mason was better for action responsiveness and tone quality for the midrange and treble.
Yet, it didn't make me totally regret buying the piano I did. The Mason was far more expensive. It showed me some of what you get when you go up in cost, but it didn't cause an existential crisis for me.

I had a piano teacher when I was about 11-12 years old who had a 9' concert grand in his 12x15 living room. It took up the entire wall and visually dominated the room. My mother thought that was too much piano for the room. I liked the sound of his piano but thought the action was stiff. But I was practicing on a Kimball spinet at home, not getting used to the action of a "real" concert grand piano. Also, I did not know at the time, but heavy action is not necessarily related to the size of the piano. A concert grand can be set up with light action.

I don't remember the brand. I think it was either a Steinway or a Baldwin. This was before the Asian invasion of the piano market.


Colin Dunn
2018 Sight-Reading Challenge Longest Winning Streak: 21 days
Organizer, Denver Area Piano Group (https://www.meetup.com/Denver-Area-Piano-Group/)

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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2707563
01/22/18 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
I went back through this thread. These are the non-snobby concert grands that came up:

Vintage Knabe 9' (this was a good brand but went out of business and the name got sold to Asian concerns)
Vintage Chickering 9' (similar story as Knabe)
Baldwin SD10 (a good brand but reputation suffered due to corner-cutting in the '70s and later)


Yes, and there are lots of them in the used/rebuilt market 50 - 100 years old. Their prices are low because the supply is high and the demand is low. It makes no sense for new makers to try to compete in that space.


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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Rickster] #2707608
01/23/18 01:26 AM
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It seems to me that some manufacturing concepts and methods in any mass production assembly process is similar, whether pianos or automobiles. If you want to know, I worked at a General Motors assembly plant for 13 years back when I was younger. Hence, my comments about the assembly process and how things can go wrong that affects many units, whether pianos or automobiles. Again, I was speaking in generalities and similarities to basic manufacturing processes.


I had been intending to weigh in on the original topic, but thought I'd comment here first. (And hope that throwing an additional "Keith" into the mix won't add to the confusion.) shocked smile

This is an assumption that I encounter often in my DIY piano repair consultation which is often with bright people who tend to be engineers or competent "shade-tree mechanics". What people have difficulty understanding is that the variability of piano manufacture is somewhat intrinsic and not just a result of poor manufacturing process. And, the process is different from most manufacturing standards of today. Let me explain ...

1) Piano building is done to a performance standard rather than to any kind of metric. Measurements are nice but the desired result is performance, so adjustments are made to achieve a level of performance -- both tonal and key response. Measurements help get "in the zone" but qualitative judgement rather than static specification achieves the bullseye of the target. Almost all other manufacturing is done by metrics or specifications. If components are made to a given tolerance, the item should perform as expected if it is just assembled correctly. This is not so in the piano making world. One place this is explicitly stated is in the regulating manuals supplied by manufacturers of which Steinway is only one. They state that measurements are supplied as a guide only and that correct performance will require variation from printed specs according to informed and experienced judgement.

2)Therein lies one of the problems. Factory workers are not (at least for the most part and perhaps not at all--depending on the factory) highly skilled piano technicians. Their job is to take a bunch of parts and turn it into a reasonably functioning instrument but when deviation from specification is required they may not have the diagnostic capability or technical knowledge to do what is best. In fact, the variability happening within the factory may not even be on their radar. They get it close most of the time perhaps but never perfect all the time.

3) Additionally, variability is intrinsic because wood is a variable material. At the deepest and most essential level, that includes the soundboard -- from which everything else depends. As we all know, each piece of wood is different from any other. It's strength and rate of moisture absorbtion (to name two variables) will vary from one piece to another -- even from the same tree and certainly from a different tree. So then, the crown of a completed board will vary. Since the crown varies, the plate location will vary (or other adaptations will be made -- or, perhaps, none). In any event, there are consequences...
If the plate height varies, then regulating specifications will have to be adjusted accordingly. And so on ....
But it's not just the soundboard. No indeed. It's every piece of wood which was perhaps cut square yesterday but today the humidity is different and each of these square pieces are now not square. And, the variation is not consistent because wood angle is not consistent, either. Ideal may be for vertical grain orientation but actually the grain in any given piece may be 80º, 60º, or even 45º -- or any number in between, each deforming to slightly different trapezoids even though they were cut at 90º with superb accuracy and consistency on the day they were milled. And never mind additional factors like the fact that drill bits will "follow" grain patterns in wood -- again which is different on each single piece.

This relates to another comment about the pianos that Steinway's C&A department gets. They are able to cherry-pick the instruments where everything is coming together right as--in effect-- their "raw material". Then, as highly competent piano technicians, they proceed to function as "internal rebuilders/customizers" within the factory setting and turn consistently turn these instruments into pianos that are desired by the top level performers in the world. But even there, you have variability -- as one pianist will select one for it's particular response and voice while another top pianist will select another.

So, should we be astonished that pianos vary so much? No, we should be astonished that so many are assembled into functional instruments with a good number standing at the apex of their particular company's design standard.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2707617
01/23/18 02:24 AM
01/23/18 02:24 AM
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Insightful, and well said!


I M A G I N A T I O N is more important than knowledge -Albert Einstein
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: kpembrook] #2707793
01/23/18 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook

1) Piano building is done to a performance standard rather than to any kind of metric. Measurements are nice but the desired result is performance, so adjustments are made to achieve a level of performance -- both tonal and key response. Measurements help get "in the zone" but qualitative judgement rather than static specification achieves the bullseye of the target. Almost all other manufacturing is done by metrics or specifications. If components are made to a given tolerance, the item should perform as expected if it is just assembled correctly. This is not so in the piano making world. One place this is explicitly stated is in the regulating manuals supplied by manufacturers of which Steinway is only one. They state that measurements are supplied as a guide only and that correct performance will require variation from printed specs according to informed and experienced judgement.

Following on with your comment about parts not being equal and congruent and behaving differently, it's interesting to note that the David Stanwood route (PTD) is all about taking account of these differences to achieve a desired uniformity of touch and response across all 88 keys. I think any sensible engineer or "shade-tree mechanic" would understand that well enough if pointed out. Using modern materials (ie not just wood and felt) has had a fairly checkered career, and now that we've got very reliable alternatives that aren't prone to changes of humidity and temperature in the WNG offerings, I wonder if we can't expect those makers who use them to turn out a better level of consistency out of the factory gates.

I believe that Standwood spent 4 days with NY Steinway some years ago, and while they admired his handiwork, they felt unable to implement it in the factory. (This may be apocryphal).


Still trying to play the piano properly ...
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Fareham] #2707808
01/23/18 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Fareham
Originally Posted by kpembrook

1) Piano building is done to a performance standard rather than to any kind of metric. Measurements are nice but the desired result is performance, so adjustments are made to achieve a level of performance -- both tonal and key response. Measurements help get "in the zone" but qualitative judgement rather than static specification achieves the bullseye of the target. Almost all other manufacturing is done by metrics or specifications. If components are made to a given tolerance, the item should perform as expected if it is just assembled correctly. This is not so in the piano making world. One place this is explicitly stated is in the regulating manuals supplied by manufacturers of which Steinway is only one. They state that measurements are supplied as a guide only and that correct performance will require variation from printed specs according to informed and experienced judgement.

Following on with your comment about parts not being equal and congruent and behaving differently, it's interesting to note that the David Stanwood route (PTD) is all about taking account of these differences to achieve a desired uniformity of touch and response across all 88 keys. I think any sensible engineer or "shade-tree mechanic" would understand that well enough if pointed out. Using modern materials (ie not just wood and felt) has had a fairly checkered career, and now that we've got very reliable alternatives that aren't prone to changes of humidity and temperature in the WNG offerings, I wonder if we can't expect those makers who use them to turn out a better level of consistency out of the factory gates.

I believe that Standwood spent 4 days with NY Steinway some years ago, and while they admired his handiwork, they felt unable to implement it in the factory. (This may be apocryphal).



Certainly, moving away from wooden action parts is a big step. (I no longer use them in my work). However, we are still some way from getting away from wooden soundboards at this point.

Regarding the Stanwood procedure ....
Stanwood is to be credited with bringing touch resistance issues to the attention of a wide scope of piano technicians and users. However, there are some serious and glaring errors in the Stanwood approach as patented. One difficulty with any static approach is that it cannot reliably predict dynamic response. Hence, some people with that procedure are elated and others not so much. It's probably good that S&S didn't bite.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
Editor Emeritus, Piano Technicians Journal
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2707810
01/23/18 04:01 PM
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OK, I looked up the "killer octave" as I had not heard of it until this thread.
Link: http://jackspiano.blogspot.com/2011/07/piano-killer-octave.html

It is the range of notes approximately keys #55-70, or F5 to F6.
The highest F on the keyboard is F7.
So this range is about 2-1/2 octaves below the highest C.

Off to play those notes on my pianos and see how they compare...I've never really been unhappy about those notes though.


Colin Dunn
2018 Sight-Reading Challenge Longest Winning Streak: 21 days
Organizer, Denver Area Piano Group (https://www.meetup.com/Denver-Area-Piano-Group/)

Starr Artist Grand
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Schafer & Sons SS-69
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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2707852
01/23/18 06:18 PM
01/23/18 06:18 PM
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For me, it’s the 5th and 6th octaves— the elusive combination of long sustain (slow decay), diversity of tone color through the dynamic spectrum, adequate power to match the rest of the instrument, along with a minimum of objectionable noises from the front duplex (or hammer mating or voicing issues) that make individual notes “stick out” compared with their neighbors.

Most of the lesser pianos I play have a few, or all of these problems. The better ones might have only 1 of the problems on that list. Almost none at any price are perfect in this regard, though I’ve become more picky about this as my technician’s skill set (and ears) have developed.


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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2707889
01/23/18 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
For me, it’s the 5th and 6th octaves— the elusive combination of long sustain (slow decay), diversity of tone color through the dynamic spectrum, adequate power to match the rest of the instrument, along with a minimum of objectionable noises from the front duplex (or hammer mating or voicing issues) that make individual notes “stick out” compared with their neighbors.

This describes the upper (killer) octaves on my Yamaha C7 to the tee...

Bright, but not too bright; loud, but not too loud; boisterous, but not too boisterous, stand outish, but not too stand outish. In fact, I just played it a few minutes ago, and had a ball! I was practicing up a bit for a performance tomorrow afternoon. I'll be playing the piano for a United Way fund raiser event at the community college where I work. I honestly didn't think I could actually play a piano very well, and still think that; but they keep inviting me back. Maybe they just like my smile. smile

But, yea, I like that killer octave too.

Rick


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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: kpembrook] #2707970
01/24/18 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook

Regarding the Stanwood procedure ....
Stanwood is to be credited with bringing touch resistance issues to the attention of a wide scope of piano technicians and users. However, there are some serious and glaring errors in the Stanwood approach as patented. One difficulty with any static approach is that it cannot reliably predict dynamic response. Hence, some people with that procedure are elated and others not so much. It's probably good that S&S didn't bite.

Could you identify what the 'serious and glaring errors' are in his patent ?


Still trying to play the piano properly ...
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Fareham] #2708028
01/24/18 11:34 AM
01/24/18 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Fareham


Did you consider having your 'refreshed' action PTD'd (Google David Stanwood).

Did you use (or contemplate) using WNG action ?


Sorry Farham, I never responded to you. I went with WNG action with the Flex 2 Shank and Ronsen Weickert hammers. I think my tech based some of the rebuild on the Stanwood method, but I don't think he stuck to it 100%. He had to remove quite a bit of weight from the keys from the Teflon era. He's been doing this a very long time. It plays beautifully.

Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: GC13] #2708076
01/24/18 01:21 PM
01/24/18 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by GC13
Originally Posted by Fareham


Did you consider having your 'refreshed' action PTD'd (Google David Stanwood).

Did you use (or contemplate) using WNG action ?


Sorry Farham, I never responded to you. I went with WNG action with the Flex 2 Shank and Ronsen Weickert hammers. I think my tech based some of the rebuild on the Stanwood method, but I don't think he stuck to it 100%. He had to remove quite a bit of weight from the keys from the Teflon era. He's been doing this a very long time. It plays beautifully.

I'm wondering if the WNG action makes the PTD methodology that much easier to apply. I did ask Bruce Clark of M&H and his opinion was that it probably didn't, but then again, it might, marginally.

We don't get the Ronsen / Weickart hammer combination over this side of the pond. In any event, I'm sufficiently happy with the Abel / Natural hammer to go with that, particularly as it's a 'known' to me. I'm curious as to why you went with the Flex 2 shanks, rather than the standard ones. Both of the techs. I'm contemplating using don't see the point of the Flex (and probably have never used them).

I suspect that the PTD procedure is a more sympathetic understanding of the relationship between hammer and key weights, and if nothing else has prompted experienced techs. to think and experiment a little more than they might otherwise. Given the lack of penetration of PTD in the UK, I'd much rather pay someone to implement PTD 'out of the box' rather than ask them to plough their variant furrow, as you suspect your guy did.

Technical thoughts : Stanwood's equations are not dimensionally correct, but that doesn't mean they're not applicable. It's likely that other components (e.g. second and higher order) which probably ought to be there are swamped by the first order effect - very common in enginering problem soutions, allowing you to arrive at simplified, but very useful results. Interestingly do you use mass (linear) or inertia (rotational) to work out hammer vectors: it probably doesn't matter since the rotational arcs are fractions of a radian, and so first moment of inertia (momentum) becomes pretty indisinguishable from the second, particulaly as it's essentially a pendulum problem on its side.


Still trying to play the piano properly ...
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Fareham] #2708104
01/24/18 02:53 PM
01/24/18 02:53 PM
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GC13 Offline
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Originally Posted by Fareham
Originally Posted by GC13
Originally Posted by Fareham


Did you consider having your 'refreshed' action PTD'd (Google David Stanwood).

Did you use (or contemplate) using WNG action ?


Sorry Farham, I never responded to you. I went with WNG action with the Flex 2 Shank and Ronsen Weickert hammers. I think my tech based some of the rebuild on the Stanwood method, but I don't think he stuck to it 100%. He had to remove quite a bit of weight from the keys from the Teflon era. He's been doing this a very long time. It plays beautifully.

I'm wondering if the WNG action makes the PTD methodology that much easier to apply. I did ask Bruce Clark of M&H and his opinion was that it probably didn't, but then again, it might, marginally.

We don't get the Ronsen / Weickart hammer combination over this side of the pond. In any event, I'm sufficiently happy with the Abel / Natural hammer to go with that, particularly as it's a 'known' to me. I'm curious as to why you went with the Flex 2 shanks, rather than the standard ones. Both of the techs. I'm contemplating using don't see the point of the Flex (and probably have never used them).

I suspect that the PTD procedure is a more sympathetic understanding of the relationship between hammer and key weights, and if nothing else has prompted experienced techs. to think and experiment a little more than they might otherwise. Given the lack of penetration of PTD in the UK, I'd much rather pay someone to implement PTD 'out of the box' rather than ask them to plough their variant furrow, as you suspect your guy did.

Technical thoughts : Stanwood's equations are not dimensionally correct, but that doesn't mean they're not applicable. It's likely that other components (e.g. second and higher order) which probably ought to be there are swamped by the first order effect - very common in enginering problem soutions, allowing you to arrive at simplified, but very useful results. Interestingly do you use mass (linear) or inertia (rotational) to work out hammer vectors: it probably doesn't matter since the rotational arcs are fractions of a radian, and so first moment of inertia (momentum) becomes pretty indisinguishable from the second, particulaly as it's essentially a pendulum problem on its side.


Farham, my decision to go with the Flex 2 was simply a "safe choice" for me. My tech told me that I might not feel much difference. Theoretically, there's a little more natural flex, so they feel (to the pianists who can tell) a little more like a good high quality wood shank with a little flex in it. According to my tech, the WNG parts regulate much like a good Renner or NY Steinway action, and I believe the actual weight of the parts is similar. Therefore, I'd think they fit into PTD methodology about the same as other brands if a tech is using it. The difference is their 100% consistency in construction and durability and their resisitance to the affects of humidity. My tech said the big difference was boring the hole in the hammer tail for the tapered shank and then working with the special glue to attach them. He also said that spacing and traveling hammers is much easier. The shanks react to heat very easily and then settle into position immediately after bending them. He said, "they stay where I put them."

I detailed this in another post, but he had just finished the complete rebuild on another NY S&S B of the same vintage as mine, also a former C&A piano with the Ronsen Wieckert hammers. I had already decided on the hammers, and intrigued by the idea of the WNG action. So, I went to his shop and played the S&S B and an M&H BB in the shop, both having the Flex 2 shank. I thoroughly enjoyed playing them, so I said, "do that to mine", thus my "safe choice."

Turns out, the WNG parts were on back order for quite some time. The Flex 2 shank was a part of the delay. He felt I'd be happy with the standard shank, and I agreed. We were going to change the order, but they filled my order with Flex 2 so we stuck with the plan.

Since my rebuild, I've had the opportunity to play 4 or 5 other NY S&S B's, a couple brand new, and a couple of older ones with original parts. I can say that I love my WNG action! It's so predictable and consistent, hands down. I understand the basic premise of the PTD methodology, but I'm no expert. I'm not sure how much he deviated, but the results are exceptional in my opinion. It's going thru some settling right now, and he'll have some adjustments to make in a couple of months, but I'm extremely pleased. Now I'm saving up for restringing to complete the job down the line.

Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: GC13] #2708214
01/24/18 07:51 PM
01/24/18 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by GC13


Farham, my decision to go with the Flex 2 was simply a "safe choice" for me. My tech told me that I might not feel much difference. Theoretically, there's a little more natural flex, so they feel (to the pianists who can tell) a little more like a good high quality wood shank with a little flex in it. According to my tech, the WNG parts regulate much like a good Renner or NY Steinway action, and I believe the actual weight of the parts is similar.


It's not really possible to "feel" a wooden shank, other than maybe feeling the flex which translates into lost power (which is not a good thing). That's getting a little nitpicky though, having played Renner vs WNG pianos side by side whatever difference hammer flex contributes is only a small effect in the grand scheme of things, so you probably won't be able to tell, but I think stiffer shanks are objectively better. Flex changes the angle at which the hammers hit the strings, which creates harshness at lower hammer velocity. If you ever wished you had more sound to work with (and I usually do), this is really bad.

I believe WNG parts are actually heavier than Renner, perhaps due to glass fiber fill. The Kawai Millennium III might be slightly lighter than wooden parts since they use carbon fiber instead. Again one of those things you wouldn't really be able to tell unless someone told you, because there's so many other things contributing to inertia and down weight. I think most of the feel difference comes down to action geometry, but there are small measurable improvements that obviously add up.

Last edited by trigalg693; 01/24/18 07:55 PM.
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2709401
01/28/18 08:45 AM
01/28/18 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
I am surprised people want mid-sized uprights.

I am not.


Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
If I only had space for a vertical piano, I would go digital because then I would be playing samples from a 9' Yamaha CFIII or Steinway D instead of a 42-46" upright.

And you'd be playing it with the action of a digital piano, and (lack of) resonance of a digital piano.


Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
The upright action is also not as good as the grand action (with few exceptions, all very expensive).

But, on average, at least as good as the action of a Digital Piano.


Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
I'm beginning to think vertical acoustic pianos are obsolete. The future is digital at the low end, grand at the high end.

Two sentences that contradict each other.
The second sentence might be true; but what is between the low end and the high end? Answer: Room for verticals.

Plus, what makes verticals attractive is silent systems. Here you combine the best of the acoustic and digital world. A good sound with good resonance; a fairly good action, and the possibility to play without annoying the neighbours. And verticals still take less space than grands.

So I don't believe that good verticals with silent systems will become obsolete anytime soon. Consoles and spinets maybe; but studios and uprights?
And I haven't even mentioned acoustic hybrid pianos, like the Yamaha TransAcoustic or the Blüthner e-volution. More interesting options for people who want digital and acoustic in one instrument, and lack space in their appartments and houses.

Last edited by patH; 01/28/18 08:46 AM.

Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2709403
01/28/18 08:52 AM
01/28/18 08:52 AM
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I think one of the things which is going to determine the future of pianos is room space. And it is likely to differ from country to country - see below. Whatever aspirations I might have for a grand piano I have never lived in a house big enough to house one and the last 2 have been 4 bedroom ones.

Colin

The interior design site took a look at average house sizes around the world and determined that Australian homes are the largest, while homes in China are the smallest, at just over 500 square feet.

Although they didn't survey every country in the world, they did provide information on the average home size of the following ten countries, which are presented in order from biggest to smallest:

Australia
United States of America
Canada
Denmark
France
Germany
Spain
Japan
The United Kingdom
China

The infographic also includes Hong Kong, which although technically a part of China, maintains a high degree of autonomy, and has even tinier homes than the average Chinese abode. In fact, exactly 22.6 Hong Kong homes could fit into the average Australian residence.


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2709410
01/28/18 09:47 AM
01/28/18 09:47 AM
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London, UK
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kevinb Offline
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Everybody I know who has a full-sized grand in a domestic house stores stuff on it, under it, and around it. The tiny houses we have in the London area don't allow the luxury of empty rooms, or rooms with just a piano in. In practice, so long as the room is physically large enough to accommodate the piano and the pianist, even though it stretches from wall to wall, it won't necessarily consume more working space than an upright.

Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Miles] #2709412
01/28/18 09:57 AM
01/28/18 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
I think one of the things which is going to determine the future of pianos is room space. And it is likely to differ from country to country - see below. Whatever aspirations I might have for a grand piano I have never lived in a house big enough to house one and the last 2 have been 4 bedroom ones.

Colin

The interior design site took a look at average house sizes around the world and determined that Australian homes are the largest, while homes in China are the smallest, at just over 500 square feet.

Although they didn't survey every country in the world, they did provide information on the average home size of the following ten countries, which are presented in order from biggest to smallest:

Australia
United States of America
Canada
Denmark
France
Germany
Spain
Japan
The United Kingdom
China

The infographic also includes Hong Kong, which although technically a part of China, maintains a high degree of autonomy, and has even tinier homes than the average Chinese abode. In fact, exactly 22.6 Hong Kong homes could fit into the average Australian residence.


I think you'll find that those figures are for new builds. All thoses countries, with the possible exception of Denmark, Germany, Japan and China, have huge stocks of existing houses that go back centuries in some cases. The sizes have decreased by around a third since WWI - see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/4186787/New-homes-have-shrunk-by-a-third-since-the-1920s.html


Still trying to play the piano properly ...
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Miles] #2709421
01/28/18 10:43 AM
01/28/18 10:43 AM
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David Farley Offline
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
I think one of the things which is going to determine the future of pianos is room space. And it is likely to differ from country to country - see below. Whatever aspirations I might have for a grand piano I have never lived in a house big enough to house one and the last 2 have been 4 bedroom ones.

Colin

The interior design site took a look at average house sizes around the world and determined that Australian homes are the largest, while homes in China are the smallest, at just over 500 square feet.

Although they didn't survey every country in the world, they did provide information on the average home size of the following ten countries, which are presented in order from biggest to smallest:

Australia
United States of America
Canada
Denmark
France
Germany
Spain
Japan
The United Kingdom
China

The infographic also includes Hong Kong, which although technically a part of China, maintains a high degree of autonomy, and has even tinier homes than the average Chinese abode. In fact, exactly 22.6 Hong Kong homes could fit into the average Australian residence.


The Hong Kong figures might be skewed by the percentage of population that lives in micro apartments that are barely big enough to turn around in.

In the US, console and spinet uprights only became popular (and maybe more or less didn't exist) only after WWII, when families were moving into smaller houses and apartments.

Although the piano industry took a hard hit in 1929 when the stock market crashed, up until WWII it was the style to have a small grand if one wanted a piano. Manufacturers were building and marketing smaller and smaller grands ("apartment grands") that nobody would want to buy today. Uprights were full-height.

It's still pretty easy to find pre-WWII full-size uprights and baby grands for sale. The quality varies.

Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: patH] #2709504
01/28/18 04:27 PM
01/28/18 04:27 PM
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Osho Offline
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Originally Posted by patH
Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
If I only had space for a vertical piano, I would go digital because then I would be playing samples from a 9' Yamaha CFIII or Steinway D instead of a 42-46" upright.

And you'd be playing it with the action of a digital piano, and (lack of) resonance of a digital piano.

This is not true for 'top hybrid pianos' - e.g. Yamaha AvantGrand N1/N2/N3/N3X or Kawai Novus NV10 digital pianos. These have real acoustic grand action and do a great job of modelling resonances. Also, one can always use VSTs to improve sound significantly. And can use headphones.

Originally Posted by patH
Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
The upright action is also not as good as the grand action (with few exceptions, all very expensive).

But, on average, at least as good as the action of a Digital Piano.

Again, not true for 'top hybrid pianos' listed above. I would prefer the acoustic grand action in these DPs over any acoustic vertical action.

Originally Posted by patH
Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
I'm beginning to think vertical acoustic pianos are obsolete. The future is digital at the low end, grand at the high end.

Two sentences that contradict each other.
The second sentence might be true; but what is between the low end and the high end? Answer: Room for verticals.

I tend to agree with Colin. I slowly see more and more hybrid digital pianos coming into market that offer significant advantage over vertical pianos (headphones, grand acoustic action, really good 9' sound, easier to record etc.). I don't think they will replace the grand acoustics yet - but definitely most of the verticals.

Originally Posted by patH
Plus, what makes verticals attractive is silent systems. Here you combine the best of the acoustic and digital world. A good sound with good resonance; a fairly good action, and the possibility to play without annoying the neighbours. And verticals still take less space than grands.

I am very disappointed with the quality of the piano sounds coming from the silent system boxes (in vertical or grand acoustics) - they are 5+ years behind the sounds from the top-end DP despite costing several thousands.

Osho


Mason & Hamlin BB
Kawai CA-67 + Garritan CFX/Pianoteq 6
Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: David Farley] #2709756
01/29/18 11:03 AM
01/29/18 11:03 AM
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JohnSprung Offline
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Originally Posted by David Farley
Although the piano industry took a hard hit in 1929 when the stock market crashed, up until WWII it was the style to have a small grand if one wanted a piano. .


At least here in the U.S., the late 19th and early 20th century was the golden age of uprights. There were thousands of companies making them.


-- J.S.

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Re: In praise of big pianos with no snob appeal [Re: Colin Dunn] #2714709
02/16/18 12:45 AM
02/16/18 12:45 AM
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Maintenance has been mentioned, but what about quality of materials and assembly? I play weekly a Young Chang grand that undoubtedly was bought (by a country club) because it is pretty. But the piano is beat up because it is used by whomever has a meeting (I play for Rotary Club events) or otherwise wants to bang on it, and/or yank on the parts. Plus, it is on a wheel contraption and gets shoved around the building all the time. This Young Chang is not holding up.

It plays OK But it sounds dull, even with the lid open, though I try to get it on the short stick to have a slight chance at musical presence. But using either stick is difficult because the lid hinges have ripped entirely off the case, which seems to be particle board. I'd say the resonance of sawdust and glue is very poor.

I doubt if the country club will replace the piano until it falls on the floor, which might be soon since the legs wobble too. But then they'll again buy for looks (and price) with no regard to musical qualities or reliability.

The point of this sad tale is, piano reviews rarely mention the construction and ruggedness of a piano. Probably there's no practical way to evaluate this, though determining the materials used would be a start.

For comparison, at home I'm fortunate to have my wife's great grandmother's bought-new in 1921 Steinway. It was not given TLC over the years, and has been in several homes, but everything works as it should and seems very solid, and it sounds great. Could 97 years of service and more have been predicted?


My band: The California Cogs
My instruments:
Roland RD-700GX
Casio PX-350
Steinway
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