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#1268266 09/14/09 06:20 PM
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Rich, you wrote a while ago:

[I love the original Knabes and consider their designs and scales to be world class. We rebuild them on a regular basis and are in the middle of a 6'4" rosewood right now.]

What hammers do you think sound the best on vintage Knabes, especially on a 6'4" parlor grand? What hammers do you favor for your Knabe rebuilding jobs? Are Abel Select too heavy?

There was also a discussion about whether there was a distinct Bosendorfer sound. There was no consensus as I recall. Someone replied that not every Bosendorfer sounded like a Bosendorfer. I happen to think that there is a distinct Bosendorfer sound. Having said that, I'm puzzled by these clips of restored old Knabes on Youtube. They don't sound anything alike to my ear:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QMYO-NNxwM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYsoBStaLjI&feature=related

The new Knabe sounds like a different animal again:

http://www.knabepianos.com/

This perhaps sounds the closest to mine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF9kLREMNoM

Any insights, anyone?

Thanks!




Last edited by moss; 09/14/09 06:27 PM.

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Originally Posted by moss
Rich, you wrote a while ago:

[I love the original Knabes and consider their designs and scales to be world class. We rebuild them on a regular basis and are in the middle of a 6'4" rosewood right now.]

What hammers do you think sound the best on vintage Knabes, especially on a 6'4" parlor grand? What hammers do you favor for your Knabe rebuilding jobs? Are Abel Select too heavy?

… Any insights, everyone?

Thanks!

moss, I share your admiration for old Knabe pianos. My selection of hammers depends on what other work I am doing on the piano. Probably the closest to the original that is available today is a Ronsen hammer made with Bacon felt. The largest he can press. Most folks today, however, will probably want something a little stronger even though it doesn’t match the original intent of the factory. In these cases I generally use another Ronsen, this time made with Wurzen felt. They are a little more dense and give a somewhat stronger sound.

For my taste most of the European (and all of the Japanese) hammers are too dense and (usually) too heavy for these pianos. If I were to use an Abel it would be their “Natural Felt” in its “medium” pressing. Not sure where these are obtainable in the States—PianoTek? I’d have to do a little research.

ddf


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I would agree with Del on the Ronsen with Wurzen felt.Make sure Ray cooks them a bit longer.They still need juicing though. I just tried the Abel natural on a 1912 Mason BB we recently finished with a new soundboard,bridges,ribs etc. Pretty nice as for surprisingly needing minimal voicing. Ari Issac's are nice also as for the cold pressed hammers. I guess it's what floats your boat in the end. The most important thing is finding one who is familiar with your hammer of choice. You don't want someone experimenting on your dollar$. shocked

Last edited by pianobroker; 09/14/09 07:09 PM.

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Originally Posted by pianobroker
I would agree with Del on the Ronsen with Wurzen felt. Make sure Ray cooks them a bit longer. They still need juicing though.

In Ray’s case the word “cook” may not be the best choice. One of the advantages of Ronsen hammers is that they are pressed pretty cool.

As to whether or not they need juice depends some on the scaling and the soundboard of the piano. I have generally had to needle them down some when put on pianos that have been redesigned with new scales and soundboard systems.

Quote
I just tried the Abel natural on a 1912 Mason BB we recently finished with a new soundboard,bridges,ribs etc. Pretty nice as for surprisingly needing minimal voicing. Ari Issac's are nice also as for the cold pressed hammers. I guess it's what floats your boat in the end. The most important thing is finding one who is familiar with your hammer of choice. You don't want someone experimenting on your dollar$. shocked

So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong! It has long been my philosophy that I should do my experimenting on my own dollar. It’s what’s kept me broke most of my life. Of course, my experimenting is possibly a little more radical than most….

ddf


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Thanks, Del and PB.

Are European and Japanese hammers too heavy for the sound or the action, or perhaps both? Can voicing and action modification take care of the problems if a technician is more comfortable working with European hammers?



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From my experience with old Knabes, I would suggest worrying less about the hammers and more about the scaling.


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Originally Posted by moss
Thanks, Del and PB.

Are European and Japanese hammers too heavy for the sound or the action, or perhaps both? Can voicing and action modification take care of the problems if a technician is more comfortable working with European hammers?


Well, you asked what hammers would sound "best" and I gave you what I believe to be my best answer. I made my suggestion based on my evaluation of the old, original Knabe hammers I've encountered as well as my personal experience in replacing hammers on these pianos. European and Japanese hammers do tend to be more massive and they generally press with somewhat more density (less resiliency).

Your technician (with your permission, of course) is free to use whatever hammers he/she feels "more comfortable with." You can then spend more money making whatever action modifications may be necessary to accommodate the additional mass and more money having the hammers voiced to get the sound to approximate the sound of a good, cold-pressed hammer but in the end, no, they won't sound the same. They may sound good to somebody’s ears--even yours--but they won't have the richness and depth of that great old Knabe.

And, yes, if you're having the piano restrung BDB’s suggestion is a good one: it would be wise to have someone familiar with scale analysis and redesign take a look at the scaling. Some early Knabe scales were adequate but, like most manufacturers both then and now, some left quite a lot to be desired. The idea is to do this with some subtlety—not trying to change the whole character of the piano but rather to just smooth over the rough areas.

ddf


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It's interesting as for this hot pressed /cold pressed differential as it effects the resiliancy of the hammer. Personally I'd like to know myself as for what real difference it makes if any at all. Now that I got Del's attention It's free advice time from the authority. grin
When I asked one authority of one hammer manufacturer about this hot pressed /cold pressed differential, he just laughed and turned up the dial. grin

This hammer issue is really a very personal,subjective prefernce within the individual pianist and sometimes not so subjective or personal as for the reasoning of the piano manufacture.

I do all the variable hammers on my spec inventory and there is always a split decision as for what persons prefer. Though when a cold pressed hammer is prepared and voiced to the max it can be a very appealing sound to the discriminate pianist. But I gotta say the consistency of a hot pressed ex. Renner Premium Blue is tuff to beat especially of a quanitative output of a piano manufacture. I deal with pianists on a daily basis as for this restoration variable and I must say, a vast majority prefer the consistency,power and overall tone of this voiced hot pressed Renner Premium Blue. Hey it's back to whatever floats your boat as for the individual.

As for the piano manufacture,I couldn't imagine a piano manufacture dealing with the inconsistency of a cold pressed hammer other than maybe Steinway. wink

Last edited by pianobroker; 09/15/09 11:34 PM.

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Del,

I see your point. It makes a lot of sense. I'll keep it in mind, and I'll also discuss rescaling with my tech.

I am wondering about the Knabe sound though. The old rebuilt Knabes on Youtube sound totally different from one another, at least to me. Nor do they sound like the new reincarnation by Samick. The hammers on mine had been replaced--not sure about the make; could have been Ronsen even my tech speculated. The sound was quite powerful, a bit like this piano:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF9kLREMNoM

This Knabe, on the other hand, has a much more subtle and I think quite beautiful sound, similar to a very old, unrestored Knabe that I came across many years ago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvsgAzSc3f0

I realize you have to factor in pedaling and music choices when comparing the two. Even so, is the sound in the second example more "authentic"?

Besides mellow, I've heard people describe vintage Knabes as big and powerful because of their larger soundboards. What tonal characteristics should one aim for? I can imagine someone say, "authenticity be damned, whatever floats your boat!"

Wait, someone did say that--sort of. Not a bad philosophy, come to think of it.




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Moss, can you turn on your PM's I would like to send you one...thanks, GP

Last edited by grandpianoman; 09/16/09 12:19 AM.
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I have a older Knabe(1921) that has Classical West hammers by Peter Clark-I like the results very much.

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I've heard good things about his hammers from my bellyman David Rubenstein. Basically an Ari Issac hammer with a rubber strip around the molding. Sounds interesting! I think I got it right.


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Funny that the new Knabes use the original scales on some of their grands but they use Renner Blue hammers.


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Originally Posted by charleslang
Funny that the new Knabes use the original scales on some of their grands but they use Renner Blue hammers.

Funny? Well, if you say so....

There is a lot more to capturing the character and soul an original anything than just copying the stringing scale. I've never been a subscriber to the notion that you can transport a rim shape and a stringing scale from one country to another, build it on entirely different equipment using entirely different materials and think that somehow you are recreating anything like the original instrument. You may well be building a quite nice piano in its own right, but it's really going to be nothing like the original.

ddf


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Originally Posted by moss
Del,
I realize you have to factor in pedaling and music choices when comparing the two. Even so, is the sound in the second example more "authentic"?

Besides mellow, I've heard people describe vintage Knabes as big and powerful because of their larger soundboards. What tonal characteristics should one aim for? I can imagine someone say, "authenticity be damned, whatever floats your boat!"

Wait, someone did say that--sort of. Not a bad philosophy, come to think of it.


I'm not where I can reliably receive exotic audio and video files so I'll have to speculate--

I'm not all that concerned with authenticity. It’s just that unless you’re wanting to change out the original soundboard, ribs and bridges along with the original scaling these things tend to sound strident with hammers that are some on the dense and heavy side. At least that has been my experience. If you’re wanting a sound that is a bit stronger and brighter (or if your technician is one who would automatically start laying on the chemical hardener) you might want to go with something like a Ronsen/Wurzen hammer. Still cold pressed without excessive mass but a little more density and pop to the sound.

ddf


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Apparently, there's a new line of hammers--Ronsen with Wurzen Weickert felt?


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Originally Posted by Del
Originally Posted by charleslang
Funny that the new Knabes use the original scales on some of their grands but they use Renner Blue hammers.

Funny? Well, if you say so....

There is a lot more to capturing the character and soul an original anything than just copying the stringing scale. I've never been a subscriber to the notion that you can transport a rim shape and a stringing scale from one country to another, build it on entirely different equipment using entirely different materials and think that somehow you are recreating anything like the original instrument. You may well be building a quite nice piano in its own right, but it's really going to be nothing like the original.

ddf


Yes that is what I meant, more or less -- but what I meant by 'funny' is that it would seem like if there is a hammer available today that is judged by everyone to be more like the original than Renner Blue hammers, and the cost is comparable to them, it seems strange that Knabe would opt for the Renners. I guess various factors are at work, such as the brand recognition of Renner, and maybe the evolution of the general expectation for the loudness of pianos.


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Originally Posted by charleslang
I guess various factors are at work, such as the brand recognition of Renner, and maybe the evolution of the general expectation for the loudness of pianos.
That's the problem, all right.

The threads which appear on PW re volume tend to result from pianos which are too loud. Rooms can be voiced, of course, but maybe it'd be better if manufacturers would provide guidance to dealers/reps re how to demonstrate the virtues of pianofortés, especially for people who will be playing at home.




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Originally Posted by moss
Apparently, there's a new line of hammers--Ronsen with Wurzen Weickert felt?


I think that Ronsen produces three cold pressed hammers. From lightest to heaviest it's Bacon, Wurzen, Weikert.


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By the way, why are you considering having this work done by someone who does not know what hammers to use?


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