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Roy 123,
You are actually making a strong case for using the F/R weightbench system than against. Its simply an accurate action analysis tool which also measures the inertia. You set the parameters you want and the F/R weightbench gives you the means to accomplish your standards accurately everytime. Even light hammer protocols can be duplicated. Three numbers tell everything about any grand action 1. AR, 2. SW, 3. ITF ( those are Action Ratio, Strike Weight, Inertial Touch Factor).

A couple of examples:
I like AR 5.5, SW 8.8, ITF 220 a moderately light action.
a recent Baldwin was AR 6.1 SW 9.5 ITF 299 A little too heavy for me. I would be inclined to lower the AR and SW to achieve a lower ITF.

A light Hammer action on record is AR 5.7, SW 5.9, ITF 93
This last set of numbers shows that any parameter you want to set is possible, however after years of study, the normal range falls on the ITF scale which is between 200 - 300.

-chris


"Where TONE is Key, and Mammoths are not extinct."

Youtube https://tinyurl.com/5aw83b73


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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Roy 123,
You are actually making a strong case for using the F/R weightbench system than against. Its simply an accurate action analysis tool which also measures the inertia. You set the parameters you want and the F/R weightbench gives you the means to accomplish your standards accurately everytime. Even light hammer protocols can be duplicated. Three numbers tell everything about any grand action 1. AR, 2. SW, 3. ITF ( those are Action Ratio, Strike Weight, Inertial Touch Factor).

A couple of examples:
I like AR 5.5, SW 8.8, ITF 220 a moderately light action.
a recent Baldwin was AR 6.1 SW 9.5 ITF 299 A little too heavy for me. I would be inclined to lower the AR and SW to achieve a lower ITF.

A light Hammer action on record is AR 5.7, SW 5.9, ITF 93
This last set of numbers shows that any parameter you want to set is possible, however after years of study, the normal range falls on the ITF scale which is between 200 - 300.

-chris

Thanks for the additional information. What is the ITF? It seems to be a single number even though the strike weight changes continually as one goes up the key compass?

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Roy 123,

The F/R weightbench system is a three part process.
1. Analysis- which is of 5 notes consisting of #47-#51 to obtain AR, SW, ITF
2. Making necessary adjustments to obtain the desired Inertia either of you own preferences or using the recommendations.
3. Keybalancing which uses mushroom weights and distance to input DW and UW info into the computer. The computer charts a graph of the entire action and calculates the amount of lead each key needs to balance the action to your preferences.

The ITF is a measurement of the inertia (obtained from the 5 notes) as part of the analysis.

-chris


"Where TONE is Key, and Mammoths are not extinct."

Youtube https://tinyurl.com/5aw83b73


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What you cite as "normal" inertia is exactly what pianists have trouble with.

Darrell Fandrich's ability as a pianist was modest indeed. His playing style, while musically interesting, ignored rapid note successions and arpeggios. Thus I find his conclusions about action playability erroneous and this is from much personal experience with his work.

One will have quite limited success with pianists if you ignore how they play. And the industry is doing just that. Producing instruments that exhibit quite unstable regulation and tonal qualities if you actually dare to play them a lot. Pianos that will not play at all if the slightest friction arises. Pianos produced with so much slop in the parts they self destruct after a few years of use. Slop put in there deliberately because the action won't function with any friction.

Piano actions with high upweight and low inertia are not tiring to play AT ALL! I have proven this over the last forty years of my work.

A great feeling piano action feels firm but smooth when played softly and feels like total freedom when you press it to the max in dynamics and velocity across the compass.

A great feeling action accomplishes escapement rapidly.

A great feeling action will check the hammers on even the softest blows.

A great feeling action lets you rapidly sense the velocity you are imparting to the hammer by the first movement of the key. At the beginning of the keystroke.

A great feeling action will have key return rapid enough that the relaxed finger will be lifted for you after striking the key.

In short, a great feeling action keeps your finger quickly informed about what state the hammer and key are in and allows rapid input into the hammer. This saves time for the pianist to be ready to move on the the next notes in the music. If one must spend too much time with a key to deliver the desired input, you run out of time for the next notes requirements. This induces great muscle tension in the fingers/hand/wrist/arm/shoulder/neck/back.


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ED,
If you only didn't have to start with a falsehood and followed by an insult of someone life's work i would have let it go. I'm also personally aware of your animosity of Darrel, but surprised that it continues even after his death. Let it Go!

First, how fast does an action have to be? With a standard Renner action model with a 11g hammer, balanced and regulated, repetition speed is clocked at 18 blows per second. I personally can't think of a piece of music requiring that kind of speed.So having an upweight going up up and up from there really becomes redundant and defeats your argument of finger info time.

For others following this thread here is Darrell Fandrich's description regarding the purpose of inertia in an action.

"Inertial follow through describes the ability of a key to follow through and play after a partial key stroke. This quality is enhanced by the keystick inertia contributed by the keyweights. Pianists often describe inertial follow through as ....."this piano almost plays itself!"

"Rapid key return is naively equated to assisting rapid repetition,but the actual effects are quite different. High upweight is fatiguing. Both result in increased action wear and noise. Key inertia should not be minimized as it moderates excessively rapid key return"
DF

Second, i have had incredible pianists in my shop, fast playing, fatigue, and barnstorming arpeggios were not even close to being a problem.
I offer this video.


So ED your argument that a standard action isn't up to the task is false. Tearing down others work to place yours up on a pedestal is unconvincing. The pianist will complain when an action has high friction, or hasn't been serviced properly, or was of poor quality to begin with.
-chris


"Where TONE is Key, and Mammoths are not extinct."

Youtube https://tinyurl.com/5aw83b73


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You seem so confused Chris. I did not "tear" Darrel down. I critiqued his work not his person.

You are guilty of what you charge me for. But perhaps that is your style of temperament.

Claiming key leads allow follow through completely misses how pianists actually play. No pianist wants their fingers to be "stuck" at the bottom of the key.

Follow through is enhanced by having high leverage which reduces the amount of keystroke involved in escapement. It is all about escaping, and light hammers escape faster from the string.


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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Follow through is enhanced by having high leverage which reduces the amount of keystroke involved in escapement. It is all about escaping, and light hammers escape faster from the string.

My experience also. Higher ratio, lower mass hammers.

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Hi Steve,
Can you provide some numbers for clarity of what you mean by low mass and high ratio?

For example, when I buy a set of hammers, common is 10g-11g. I usually get them down to 8.5 -9g which i think is a light hammer for modern actions. I aim for #49 to be -AR 5.5, SW 8.7, ITF 215. This usually provides a DW of 50-52g, UW 25-30g, Friction 10-12g.

I believe Ed refuses to provide numbers. But on record is SW 5.9g
Would you put a hammer that small on a MHAA Steve?

-Chris


"Where TONE is Key, and Mammoths are not extinct."

Youtube https://tinyurl.com/5aw83b73


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Hi Chris.

My approach is different. I 1st try to decide what the best hammer is for the tone I seek. AR is dependent on the hammers. Often I'll move knuckles, capstans, but i try to remove mass, and not just from the hammers.

Depending on the piano and my goal, AR can be from 5.35 to 6.1. Different pianos from different eras have different parameters, but I start with tone profile I want to achieve on a given piano and modify and remove mass if needed ans alter other parameters including after touch to achieve this. An 1885 Hardman will not be treated like a 1963 Baldwin. Right now I'm considering a 1888 Pleyel which is a serious challenge.

Being visually impaired and 2 of my mentors being blind, i use feel and take measurements after. In the end, the ar, dw, up, sw follow a progression but there are at times stubborn notes at breaks where i might cheat. I strongly admire your analytical technique and your high skill level, but i achieve the results another way. Just to add, I have recently prepared pianos, action and board mods for pianists who performed at Carnegie and have a number of demanding concert pianists with specific problems that require different approaches to meet their demands. One size does not fit all in this milieu.

Hope this helps

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Hi Steve,
I appreciate that you have your own unique process, but still, after your done, you end up with an action that can be measured. Can't you share a few measurements of a well known make and model you worked on?? You mentioned a 1963 Baldwin, i'd be curious as to what the end result was from your process. It just requires small gram weights for UW and DW and a gram scale for SW. And just a simple ruler if you want to measure for AR.

-chris


"Where TONE is Key, and Mammoths are not extinct."

Youtube https://tinyurl.com/5aw83b73


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One doesn't NEED to measure a touch to know if it is good. You just have to understand HOW to test it with different keystrokes.

One CAN use measurements to establish uniformity across the compass. But one CAN'T use measurements to determine touch quality unless you measure inertia.

Some of the best published material about piano action inertia was done by our own ROY123.

Last edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT; 06/20/22 11:48 PM.

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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Hi Steve,
I appreciate that you have your own unique process, but still, after your done, you end up with an action that can be measured. Can't you share a few measurements of a well known make and model you worked on?? You mentioned a 1963 Baldwin, i'd be curious as to what the end result was from your process. It just requires small gram weights for UW and DW and a gram scale for SW. And just a simple ruler if you want to measure for AR.

-chris

I hope you aren't being condescending with your telling me what tools i need to measure an action

It reminds me of an old timer we would joke about. He had 2 methods for everything. His way and the wrong way

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
I hope you aren't being condescending with your telling me what tools i need to measure an action

It reminds me of an old timer we would joke about. He had 2 methods for everything. His way and the wrong way

Steve, This is a public forum, others of all levels read the post. I was showing how EASY it is to provide the numbers that were being requested.

Which baffles me why the non compliance and dodging the question with an insult disguised as a fable.

-chris

Last edited by Chernobieff Piano; 06/21/22 08:18 AM.

"Where TONE is Key, and Mammoths are not extinct."

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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
I hope you aren't being condescending with your telling me what tools i need to measure an action

It reminds me of an old timer we would joke about. He had 2 methods for everything. His way and the wrong way

Steve, This is a public forum, others of all levels read the post. I was showing how EASY it is to provide the numbers that were being requested.

Which baffles me why the non compliance and dodging the question with an insult disguised as a fable.

-chris

This is a public forum for technicians and the methods of measuring show up regularly. As far as 'compliance' and 'dodging', what are you talking about? I explained my technique. I would not, for instance, consider getting a 12 gram hammer and reducing it to 8.5 grams. The design of the hammer is compromised in my opinion and of a few hammer makers. I worked in a hammer factory so have some insight to the design of cauls and the densities of felt on different sections of the set and why it different hammers have different mass. My approach, as explained, is to decide, what will produce the goal for the pianist and I prioritise tone. I don't have an action here to measure but I see no reason to do that just because of an online challenge. I was altering mass over 40 years ago, especially for Victorian era actions. I'm quite aware of Stanwood and Fandrich and adopt some techniques, but I find it somewhat backwards to my goals. It forces one to match tone producing parts, ie: hammers to a curve abd lowers the priority of tone and performance which may not fit on that curve. It's much the same thing, but prioritising a different aspect. Off my head, I just sent out a Kawai KG2D, with the old Schwander style action.
The original owner who trained as a concert pianist could never play pianissimo or do glissando. One look at the older KG2D action and you know why they have gone to great lengths to engineer their modern and I believe, mostly superior action. 8 leads in the bass, up to 4 in the top octave. Keys were very thin and AR was 5.35 with very heavy hard hammers and DW about 58, +-. Original SW not measured and I can't remember the finished SW because it wasn't important to me. Just by choosing lower mass hammers of different density, the DW went to 46, average. Glissando was effortless and pianissimo easy and natural. I offered to the owner to remove more mass and then some leads, but he declined due to the superior ability of the action. I have a video of the owner and a concert pianist testing glissando, pianissimo, FFF and repetition speed, all things that were barely capable before. Also, reduced blow distance and dip. These numbers are off my head but I don't often bother to measure if my goal was obtained, which is power, sustain and controllability of the 5 and 6 octave, non fatiguing action a little on the light and fast side and even tone and touch. If you find it important, I'll get numbers next time and send them to you for your perusal. I just don't find they matter to me, my customers or my work. It drives some of my students crazy as they want numbers, procedures, documents for regulation but I use none of the above. Seems you need these too, so at the appropriate time I'll do it, just for your benefit. It takes more than a few minutes because I only do a full measurement when it comes weigh off time and I need accurate numbers for that. As far as UW, I use that for friction measurements, not proof of concept. SW is useful for analysis but not as a goal because I start with the hammer 1st and work backwards.

As far as the insult I apologise.

On a final note, I restored an Ed Brown Chickering and this appeared at the Jerusalem Piano Festival. One concert I produced was playing the top 10 Gould recordings. The next day, 5 composers debuted their new pieces on this piano. One composer was able to play a controlled pianissimo like I've never heard in a concert setting. Beyond a whisper, no notes missed. He was surprised he could do it. Low mass. less complexity. None realised they were playing a different action. You can see a snippet on Youtube if you like.


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Hi Steve,
Thanks for sharing your process and the video. It featured one of my favorite pieces that I use to to play in high school. The numbers i requested are just a benchmark of how i can relate with what your process accomplishes. I was not trying to be condescending. One thing i noticed was the elimination of a key bounce upon key return. Not always easy to achieve. Kudos. The ultimate judge of our work is the client, when they are happy, then we should be too.
-chris


"Where TONE is Key, and Mammoths are not extinct."

Youtube https://tinyurl.com/5aw83b73


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I use the Bolduc thingy for UW and DW and a homemade Spurlock gauge for AR and a digital scale for SW and other uses. I think you'll find that my final results, for the mythical Baldwin 1963, to be remarkably similar to your ideal, but not quite the same perfect curve as the goal is tone over touch, end results are almost identical. However, on an 1885 Hardman, it will be way off the ideal curve because the original geometry is different.

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Unfortunately, inertia in a piano action, or more properly, moment of inertia, is very difficult to measure. I bet not a single tech that posts here has actually measured it. You would need a tester that could play notes at different velocities while recording the force required to do so throughout the stroke. Then those data would have to be put through an algorithm capable of separating friction, static force, and dynamic force from each other.

BTW, I still claim that any practically attainable upweight is not too high. Pianists that perform at a high level have spent thousands of hours at the keyboard. Of course, their technique is highly aligned, one might say, to a nominal action. If you gave such pianists a low friction, high upweight, low inertia action it would feel wrong and most of them would tell you they didn't like it. Let them practice on such a piano for a month and I bet they would love it, as they find certain pieces and passages much easier to play.

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
====SNIP====
On a final note, I restored an Ed Brown Chickering and this appeared at the Jerusalem Piano Festival. One concert I produced was playing the top 10 Gould recordings. The next day, 5 composers debuted their new pieces on this piano. One composer was able to play a controlled pianissimo like I've never heard in a concert setting. Beyond a whisper, no notes missed. He was surprised he could do it. Low mass. less complexity. None realised they were playing a different action. You can see a snippet on Youtube if you like.

Beautiful playing on a beautiful piano. Thanks, Steve, for posting.
Posts like yours are what keep me engaged with the Piano World community.
I knew about Chickering pianos.
I played a beautifully restored one ages ago in Bill Garlick's collection at NBSS, so I'm familiar with the sound.
I knew, if not in detail, about Chickering actions being... wonky.
But, until I saw your post, I never heard of, nor heard, an "Ed Brown Chickering".
I confess - I don't know what that is, but contextually I get that Mr. Brown replaced the Chickering action, and... you did more work on it to make it great?
Are there any pictures of the wippens, hammer shanks, flanges, etc you could share?
What hammers were hung on those shanks? Weight? Maker?

BTW - I really liked the sound of that instrument on the Bach Partita. It worked really well for that music IMO.

Good Evening to all.


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As I understand it (I've never worked on one) the Brown action is VERY good...however it must be regulated "just right", and it's a bit different from what we are generally accustomed to. One must become intimately familiar with it to make it work its magic.

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To answer some questions. Nee shanks were made for this action. I'll dig up sone photos. There are no whippens as we know it. Hammers and bass strings are Ari Isaac.

If i can dig up photos, I'll post them. I think pin block is Bokduc

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