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Joined: Jan 2021
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Hello All,

Let's assume that a technician has over-needled an Abel natural hammer (in treble section) and it has lost a significant amount of power. I'm hoping a bit of play-in will bring it back to the ideal but if not, is replacing individual hammers ever a reasonable thing to do? I know there are ways to bring up the voicing but i've also heard and read many times that a hammer CAN be over-needled and permanently lose it's power. Can you buy individual hammers? And if so, is replacing 1 or 2 hammers a time-consuming (or expensive) job?

Thanks for the tips!

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Dusty1920,

It would be difficult to do what you are asking. Getting one or two hammers with the same bore angle, bore distance, and scale placement is a very tall order.

If it was me doing the work, first I would file and shape the hammer to try to remove screwed up felt on the outer areas. Then I would probably put a few drops of VS-Profelt on the hammer (this will allow some compression release from the inside coupled with tension on the outside) and let things equalize for a day or two. Then if still too soft I would judiciously apply lacquer to the shoulders to firm them up, and see what effect that has on the tone (wait time too). If more was needed I would apply more a little closer to the crown but not over it. If utvstill needed more I would hammer it. If it still needed more I might put a little B-72 right on the crown. The point is that there ARE ways of resurrecting a dead hammer. If, of course none of this works perfectly you're no worse off than before.

Ideally we try not to do anything to hammers that cannot be reversed somehow. Not everyone knows all the tricks to do it though (including me).

HTH a little,

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
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Thanks for those tips Peter! Good info to have. It's a new grand piano (1 year old) so I assumed putting a new hammer on (provided by the manufacturer to ensure match) would be fairly simple. But thanks for your perspective!

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I would start with Peter's suggestion of filing the hammer. I've found Abels to respond well to filing.


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Try ironing the hammers

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Originally Posted by dusty1920
Let's assume that a technician has over-needled an Abel natural hammer

OK, sure. Seeing that...

Originally Posted by dusty1920
It's a new grand piano (1 year old)

I'd be interested in what two people have to say about this:
1) the technician whose mistake you asked us to assume;
2) the technician / dealer responsible for honouring what is left of the instrument's warranty. (I would think that a grand which is good enough to deserve Abel hammers would have some form of warranty.)


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Is it possible that the person doing the "voicing" was inadvertently trying to fix a problem that in fact the hammer was not responsible for? (Sometimes at the owners request)? There are voice issues that come from soundboards, scale design, room acoustics, pinning, etc. If misdiagnosed as a hammer problem...well it just doesn't go away no matter how much you chase it. BTDT!

Just thinking "out loud".

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Thanks for the tips everyone. This was just a standard voicing. It was among a group of notes I wanted voiced because they were a bit too "ringy" and with this particular one I mentioned "a hair, if anything at all" and I ended up with a noticeable loss of power that doesn't please me on that note only. I didn't immediately tell him it was too much after he did it because it's hard to fully assess in the 30 seconds you play after someone voices.

And yes, it has a warranty. One way or the other this will be resolved (whether through filing, play-in, etc...). That's not my concern. My questioning was just to get a better understanding of possible solutions. If budget wasn't a consideration and only absolute best sound is the priority, I just wanted to know how hard/expensive it is to replace 1 hammer on a fairly new piano and what people thought of that as a solution. That's why I basically said "Hypothetically if you were faced with a pretty much new piano and a particular hammer had been over-needled and lost too much power, would replacing the hammer be an option."

Because after perusing over tech forums, I can't count how many times I've read professional techs say "keep all foreign substances like lacquer away from Abel-type hammers". And i've read just as many times that you CAN over-needle a hammer past the point of no return. So essentially this is just me getting a full understanding of all the options.

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And on the topic of voicing down hammers, could any of you kind gentlemen please explain one thing to me? When listening to a note in the mid-range or treble and we hear a kind of "cat's meow" overtone, what exactly is going on there? I hope i'm using correct language here but i'm trying my best. So when i listen to notes, I hear the main fundamental tone and then hear the very high-pitched kind of tone, which is I guess part of the normal range of desired overtones one desires in a piano. However, I find some of the notes have a stable overtone that sounds nice while others have an overtone that "meows" in a down-to-up fashion, which is less desirable.

Understanding this kind of stuff really helps me when I try to communicate with my tech what I am wanting.

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Originally Posted by dusty1920
And on the topic of voicing down hammers, could any of you kind gentlemen please explain one thing to me? When listening to a note in the mid-range or treble and we hear a kind of "cat's meow" overtone, what exactly is going on there? I hope i'm using correct language here but i'm trying my best. So when i listen to notes, I hear the main fundamental tone and then hear the very high-pitched kind of tone, which is I guess part of the normal range of desired overtones one desires in a piano. However, I find some of the notes have a stable overtone that sounds nice while others have an overtone that "meows" in a down-to-up fashion, which is less desirable.

Understanding this kind of stuff really helps me when I try to communicate with my tech what I am wanting.
Sounds like straightforward unison tuning problems. If the harmonics don't line up you get the meow.
I would tune it again paying particular attention to the unisons.
Nick


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Excellent! Thanks for that.

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I would agree with Nick. Slightly uneven hammer mating can exacerbate this too.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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