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#1125514 - 03/26/04 12:28 AM tons of tension
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
i should know the answer to this, but i can't find it anywhere.

a quick question:

how many tons of tension/pressure are on a grand piano's strings?
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#1125515 - 03/26/04 12:34 AM Re: tons of tension
jodi Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
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Loc: The Evergreen State (WA)
The answer is right under your nose! ;\)


Tons of Tension (# 4 - 6)

\:\) Jodi

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#1125516 - 03/26/04 06:25 AM Re: tons of tension
Rich Galassini Offline
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Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
But remember jodi, the tension increases if the piano is stressed. ;\)
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#1125517 - 03/26/04 09:24 AM Re: tons of tension
RKVS1 Offline
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Registered: 07/07/01
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Loc: Topeka, Kansas
I'm not sure which of these three would better know the answer to this technical question, but isn't a nice naked mango pack effective in the relief of tension?

Bob

(And are European mangoes of higher quality than their Asian counterparts, even though they are now using German seeds and stem parts?)

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#1125518 - 03/26/04 09:31 AM Re: tons of tension
jodi Offline
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Bob, you lurker you. (And thanks for the tip, Rich - no wonder my practicing sounded terrible yesterday!)

\:D Jodi (queen of the naked mangos :p )

hey, let's start a band! I've got a great name...now we just have to fight over who gets to play the keyboard. ;\)

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#1125519 - 03/26/04 10:52 AM Re: tons of tension
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
thanks, jodi,
i knew i had read that somewhere, but couldn't remember where. and the rest of the list is great to have, too.
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#1125520 - 03/26/04 10:53 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by piqu:
i should know the answer to this, but i can't find it anywhere.

a quick question:

how many tons of tension/pressure are on a grand piano's strings? [/b]
More like a trick question. And the answer is -- it depends.

In the modern piano (regardless of type) the total scale tension varies from a low of approximately 34,000 lbf. to a high of approximately 50,000 lbf. Historically there have been a few that have gone some higher. The highest I have encountered was an eight foot something Sohmer grand that measured out at 67,000 plus lbf. (That is when it came in. It went out at somewhat less than that.)

And now I'm curious...why do your ask?

Del
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#1125521 - 03/26/04 10:56 AM Re: tons of tension
RKVS1 Offline
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Jodi, my favorite unused band name was always "Kewi,Kawai and the Bald Koalas...jammen at the Barbie".

Crocodile DunBobb

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#1125522 - 03/26/04 11:07 AM Re: tons of tension
RKVS1 Offline
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Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 3192
Loc: Topeka, Kansas
And more on the subject:
Del, how DOES one actually make a measurement of the total tension? I assume its a calculation of the totals of measurements made on each of the strings, but how are THOSE measurements made? Torque on the tuning pins? (probably not) Measured force needed to deflect the strings a standard distance vertically? Of do you just cut all the strings simultaneously and analyze the sound of the "Boinggggg"? (I think I'm getting colder \:\) )

Bob

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#1125523 - 03/26/04 11:24 AM Re: tons of tension
BDB Offline
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I calculate the tensions, at least on treble strings. There's a formula for it, and nowadays it's a spreadsheet operation.

My M & H A, after fiddling with it, has about 31000 lbs. of tension on the treble strings. Bass strings are probably about 6000 more, but that's more of an estimate.
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#1125524 - 03/26/04 12:23 PM Re: tons of tension
jdsher Offline
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Loc: Plano, Texas
Sorry to be slightly off topic, but the Steinway dealer was trying to explain to me that they use low tension versus the high tension strings that are used in "lesser" manufacturers. And the effect of this is better resonance and ease of tuning? Would someone mind explaining why one is better or worse?
Thanks
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#1125525 - 03/26/04 12:46 PM Re: tons of tension
KlavierBauer Offline
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Loc: Boulder, Colorado
jdsher:
I think you heard what happens when technical terms make it into a sales person's head.

There are all sorts of manufacturers of varying quality levels designing scales differently, some with higher, and some with lower tension.

Del just mentioned a Sohmer with a very high tension scale, but it wasn't a Steinway.

First it's important to understand why differnet tensions are needed/desired in relation to scale design.
I don't even want to touch on it with Del lurking around here. \:\) He certainly can explain the relationships between string tension, diameter, length, and so on better than I can.
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#1125526 - 03/26/04 12:50 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by RKVS1:
And more on the subject:
Del, how DOES one actually make a measurement of the total tension? I assume its a calculation of the totals of measurements made on each of the strings, but how are THOSE measurements made? Torque on the tuning pins? (probably not) Measured force needed to deflect the strings a standard distance vertically? Of do you just cut all the strings simultaneously and analyze the sound of the "Boinggggg"? (I think I'm getting colder \:\) )

Bob [/b]
Brrrr!

By measuring the speaking length and string diameter (in the bass both core diameter and overall diameter) of each unison, both bass and tenor/treble. It is then a relatively simple calculation. There are a couple of pre-packaged programs available for this. Or you can do what I (and many others) have done and build up your own program in a spreadsheet program such as Excel.

While this method is not exact it is quite close. With the plain steel strings the accuracy can be within one or two percent (depending on the accuracy with which the lengths are measured). With the wrapped bass strings there are a few more variables (the exact density of the copper wrap, the amount of wrap wire distortion, etc.) so the accuracy is not quite as good, perhaps only within four or five percent. But for real-world use that is generally close enough.

Del
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#1125527 - 03/26/04 12:56 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
I calculate the tensions, at least on treble strings. There's a formula for it, and nowadays it's a spreadsheet operation.

My M & H A, after fiddling with it, has about 31000 lbs. of tension on the treble strings. Bass strings are probably about 6000 more, but that's more of an estimate. [/b]
There are formula for both.

Del
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#1125528 - 03/26/04 01:09 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by jdsher:
Sorry to be slightly off topic, but the Steinway dealer was trying to explain to me that they use low tension versus the high tension strings that are used in "lesser" manufacturers. And the effect of this is better resonance and ease of tuning? Would someone mind explaining why one is better or worse?
Thanks [/b]
It depends on the model. The S, M and L have relatively low tension scales. The B is somewhat higher and the D is quite high. Now, before your dealer gets to bragging overly much about this you might ask how even those scales are. The answer is, not very.


This topic comes up from time to time and it is often used as a "quality" issue when it is really a "voice" issue. Piano voice is a matter of individual taste and experience. The fact that a piano has a high tension scale or a low tension scale says nothing about its inherent quality, only about its voice.

I happen to prefer the warm dynamics of lower tension scaling coupled with a lighter, more flexible soundboard. I happen to believe this is where the pianoforte was headed before it got sidetracked by the insatiable demand for absolute power. Others disagree and to each his/her own. Neither side is inherently right or wrong.

In very broad terms a low-tension scale will have a sweeter, more fundamental voice while a high-tension scale will have a brighter voice with more energy in the higher harmonics.

Del
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#1125529 - 03/26/04 01:30 PM Re: tons of tension
KlavierBauer Offline
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Registered: 11/06/02
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Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Thanks Del, I knew you'd give a much simpler, and more importantly, easier to understand explanation. \:\)
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#1125530 - 03/26/04 01:44 PM Re: tons of tension
jdsher Offline
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Thanks Del... The only thing I'm confused about is how is it possible to voice a high tension scaled piano if the desire is to have a "warmer" sound? In other words, if someone has a nice bright sounding Yamaha, can they really expect a technician to voice a mellower sound out of it. I apologize if this should be in the Piano technicians section.
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#1125531 - 03/26/04 01:47 PM Re: tons of tension
KlavierBauer Offline
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I think Del's referring to the inherent qualities of sound that can not be changed. Voicing is something that can be changed on any piano though, and any piano is capable of some range between mellow-bright.
In other words, you can have a mellower Grotrian, or a brighter Grotrian, each capable of the inherent qualities of the Grotrian
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#1125532 - 03/26/04 02:09 PM Re: tons of tension
Keith D Kerman Online   content
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Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3312
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by KlavierBauer:
I think Del's referring to the inherent qualities of sound that can not be changed. Voicing is something that can be changed on any piano though, and any piano is capable of some range between mellow-bright.
In other words, you can have a mellower Grotrian, or a brighter Grotrian, each capable of the inherent qualities of the Grotrian [/b]
I agree with KB's post. I would add to it that the design of the piano ( scale tension, soundboard impedence, hammer type, structure etc.) does work best with an appropriate voicing. I think Yamahas work best when they are relatively bright. As they get voiced down, they tend to die rather than sweeten. The Petrofs and Estonias I have seen, seemed to have lower tension designs (although I have not verified this), and work better with softer hammers.
FWIW, we find Mason & Hamlins and Steingraebers to be quite flexible. They can work beautifully with a large range of voicings, from very mellow and sweet to concert hall bright.
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#1125533 - 03/26/04 02:13 PM Re: tons of tension
KlavierBauer Offline
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Registered: 11/06/02
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Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Keith,
I agree with your post as well.

I would also agree that the Steingraeber is really capable of a huge range of color and voicing.
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#1125534 - 03/26/04 02:33 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by jdsher:
Thanks Del... The only thing I'm confused about is how is it possible to voice a high tension scaled piano if the desire is to have a "warmer" sound? In other words, if someone has a nice bright sounding Yamaha, can they really expect a technician to voice a mellower sound out of it. I apologize if this should be in the Piano technicians section. [/b]
If this is the only thing youre confused aboutmy hat is off!

No. It is not possible to voice a piano with a high-tension scale to have the 'same' voice as a piano having a low-tension scale. Nor is it possible to achieve this result by simply replacing the hammers, for example installing Steinway hammers on a Yamaha to make it sound like a Steinway. The scale (in combination with the soundboard assembly) is what it is.

It is, however, possible to voice each of these within some reasonable range of brightness and/or softness.

But this question brings up one of my standard points about piano buying. If you have a developed or developing taste in piano sound you should spend enough time with each instrument you are considering to be sure the voice it delivers falls within the range that excites you. You may be certain about a piano within minutes or it may take several hours, but you should be sure before you buy and it is delivered to your home. Do not believe any dealer who tells you this Yamaha can be voiced to sound just like a Steinway once it is paid for and delivered. Or for that, the dealer who tells you a Steinway can be voiced to sound just like a Yamaha. Neither attempt will be successful. The Yamaha is what it is and the Steinway is what it is. Now, the Yamaha can be voiced to sound a bit warmer than the norm just like the Steinway can be voiced to sound a bit brighter than its norm but each is built to a different design philosophy and never the twain shall meet.

During the 1970s and early 1980s I received many calls from folks owning relatively new Yamaha pianos with the common request to make my piano sound like a Steinway. More than a few of them did not take kindly to the news that it couldnt be done. Seems their dealer had assured them it would be no problem. Just buy the piano, play it for a few months and call in the piano tuner. Quite a few of these folks were of the impression they were purchasing a piano that was essentially a copy of the Steinway but at half the price. And who was I to tell them otherwise?

Del
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#1125535 - 03/26/04 03:11 PM Re: tons of tension
JohnC Offline
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Registered: 03/10/02
Posts: 1672
Loc: Lower Left Coast
 Quote:
Originally posted by jodi:

\:D Jodi (queen of the naked mangos :p )

[/QB]
Jodi, I too eat mangos while naked. They are soooooo messy! \:\)
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#1125536 - 03/26/04 03:52 PM Re: tons of tension
jdsher Offline
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Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
Maybe someone can answer something that has been plaguing me since my last visit to one of my local piano dealers. I played a Shigeru Kawai 5'10"(sk1?)about a month ago at an authorized Kawai dealer and just loved it. I played a repossesed one last week at a different dealer with the same size and found the sound to be lacking. At first I thought maybe it was the room acoustics, but the Estonia 190 sitting 10ft. away sounded great. Is this a situation where the prep was better at the authorized dealer, or could there be this much variation from one piano to the next?
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#1125537 - 03/26/04 04:01 PM Re: tons of tension
byebye Offline
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Posts: 1426
jdsher,

I ran into the same thing with two Boston 5' 10" pianos. The new one sounded okay but the one which was a few years old next to it sounded dreadful, with very short sustain. The dealer's tech was very highly regarded; he is my tech as well. I concluded that it wasn't prep, but rather that the piano deteriorated in a few years.

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#1125538 - 03/26/04 06:48 PM Re: tons of tension
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21431
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
There are formula for both.
I suspect if weight were used instead of diameter, the formula would be about the same. In any case, I'm not interested in winding my own strings, so it's academic for me. I'm just interested in doing the best with what I have to work with. Mostly I'm concerned with not having big leaps in tension. There's usually a big drop in tension at the break, which I try to minimize.
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#1125539 - 03/27/04 01:50 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
 Quote:
There are formula for both.
I suspect if weight were used instead of diameter, the formula would be about the same. In any case, I'm not interested in winding my own strings, so it's academic for me. I'm just interested in doing the best with what I have to work with. Mostly I'm concerned with not having big leaps in tension. There's usually a big drop in tension at the break, which I try to minimize. [/b]
They work with diameters.

And it's not necessary to wrap your own strings to take advantage of them. Most, if not all, string makers will now work to specified numbers. That is, you supply the numbers and they will wrap the strings. If you supply desired core wire diameters and desired overall diameters they will work out the appropriate wrap wire to give you a string very close to that diameter. Or you can do as we do and specify both the core diameter and the diameter of the wrap wire (or wires in the case of a double-wrapped string) and they will wrap the strings using those specific wires. In this case, of course, we must accept full responsibility for the overall diameter of the string so we best be right.

Del
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#1125540 - 03/27/04 02:27 AM Re: tons of tension
BDB Offline
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Interestingly enough, a little searching on the Internet turned up a paper on the design of the scale for a medium-sized Estonia grand: PDF file on scale design.
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#1125541 - 03/27/04 11:12 AM Re: tons of tension
Dan M Offline
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Loc: California
Oooh, good one BDB.
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#1125542 - 03/27/04 02:10 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
Interestingly enough, a little searching on the Internet turned up a paper on the design of the scale for a medium-sized Estonia grand: PDF file on scale design. [/b]
This article has been around for a while. Interesting, but based on a number of assumptions and conclusions of dubious validity and value. The scale developed in this article would certainly never appear in any piano I had anything to do with. Good math, though.

Another source of scaling information is The Calculating Technician which was published by (and might still be available from) the Piano Technicians Guild.

And, of course, the various formulas worked out by Al Sanderson are among the best ever developed for anyone interested in learning about or evaluating piano strings scales. They are (relatively) simple and accurate.

Del
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#1125543 - 03/27/04 04:47 PM Re: tons of tension
BDB Offline
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So what are the characteristics of the Estonia 190 that you don't like, Del?
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#1125544 - 03/27/04 05:41 PM Re: tons of tension
Grotriman Offline
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Registered: 03/07/04
Posts: 724
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 Quote:
Originally posted by KlavierBauer:
jdsher:
I think you heard what happens when technical terms make it into a sales person's head.

There are all sorts of manufacturers of varying quality levels designing scales differently, some with higher, and some with lower tension.

Del just mentioned a Sohmer with a very high tension scale, but it wasn't a Steinway.

First it's important to understand why differnet tensions are needed/desired in relation to scale design.
I don't even want to touch on it with Del lurking around here. \:\) He certainly can explain the relationships between string tension, diameter, length, and so on better than I can. [/b]
This would be fascinating info to know KlavierBauer (scale designs vs. tension). Is this info available anywhere on the 'net? Do higher tension scales have a larger dynamic range by any chance?

Thanks
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#1125545 - 03/27/04 05:50 PM Re: tons of tension
Luke's Dad Offline
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Loc: Mid Atlantic
Del, where does downbearing fit in? I've heard before that downbearing can actually be much more important a measure than scale tension. Is this true? What is an optimal amount of downbearing pressure, and what effects can it have if off?
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#1125546 - 03/27/04 06:07 PM Re: tons of tension
Dan M Offline
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Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 770
Loc: California
I would guess that dynamic range is limited by

A) How quietly a piano let's you play
B) How hard you can hit the strings.

Both depend on the design of the action. I wouldn't guess that scale has much to do with it, except for perceptive dynamic range. A piano that excites more higher harmonics on loud than on soft will have a higher perception of dynamic range I would guess.

All pianos give off more harmonics on louder, but to differing degrees.


 Quote:
Originally posted by Grotriman:
 Quote:
Originally posted by KlavierBauer:
jdsher:
I think you heard what happens when technical terms make it into a sales person's head.

There are all sorts of manufacturers of varying quality levels designing scales differently, some with higher, and some with lower tension.

Del just mentioned a Sohmer with a very high tension scale, but it wasn't a Steinway.

First it's important to understand why differnet tensions are needed/desired in relation to scale design.
I don't even want to touch on it with Del lurking around here. \:\) He certainly can explain the relationships between string tension, diameter, length, and so on better than I can. [/b]
This would be fascinating info to know KlavierBauer (scale designs vs. tension). Is this info available anywhere on the 'net? Do higher tension scales have a larger dynamic range by any chance?

Thanks [/b]
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#1125547 - 03/28/04 01:16 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
So what are the characteristics of the Estonia 190 that you don't like, Del? [/b]
It's not that I don't like the piano I do. It's just that it could easily be some better. I find it a bit weak. Especially in the high treble and the mid to lower tenor. Though this is a reasonably long scale at least down until it starts the tenor bridge hook it is a very low tension scale. Now I generally like lower tension scaling but this one, I think, is a bit too low. And that hook down at the lower end of the tenor bridge both loads up the diameters and drops tensions even further. The bass is a bit erratic and inharmonicity is all over the place making the poor tuner fight to get some semblance of clean octaves and intervals.

Sometimes good is the enemy of better.

Del
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
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Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1125548 - 03/28/04 01:25 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
[/qb][/QUOTE]This would be fascinating info to know KlavierBauer (scale designs vs. tension). Is this info available anywhere on the 'net? Do higher tension scales have a larger dynamic range by any chance?

Thanks [/QB][/QUOTE]


It depends on what you mean by "dynamic range." In very broad and general terms higher tension scales are capable of moderately greater absolute power. However, this comes at the expense of tonal dynamics. That is, the voice characteristic is more linear from pianissimo to forte more of the acoustic power is concentrated in the higher harmonics.

The lower tension scales may not have quite as much absolute power potential but their voice range is generally greater and there is more tone quality change between pianissimo and forte. Often, when there is no other piano nearby for direct comparison this gives the illusion of greater power.

Obviously, many other design and structural characteristics also affect the voice mix.

Del
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#1125549 - 03/28/04 01:32 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Luke's Dad:
Del, where does downbearing fit in? I've heard before that downbearing can actually be much more important a measure than scale tension. Is this true? What is an optimal amount of downbearing pressure, and what effects can it have if off? [/b]
It's not just the string bearing. The ideal amount of string bearing is a function of the overall string tensions, the backscale length and the soundboard assembly crown and stiffness characteristic.

Designs with longer backscale lengths can handle a bit more bearing. As can scales with lower tensions. Soundboards with a lot of crown but low stiffness can handle quite a lot of string bearing. Stiffer soundboards need less.

Its all relative.

Del
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#1125550 - 03/28/04 01:49 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Dan M:
I would guess that dynamic range is limited by

A) How quietly a piano let's you play
B) How hard you can hit the strings.

Both depend on the design of the action. I wouldn't guess that scale has much to do with it, except for perceptive dynamic range. A piano that excites more higher harmonics on loud than on soft will have a higher perception of dynamic range I would guess.

All pianos give off more harmonics on louder, but to differing degrees.

[/b]
The maximum power potential of any piano is limited by action saturation that is, the point at which hitting the key harder no longer any increase in hammer velocity. This being the case our perception of any given piano's relative loudness is determined by its dynamic range, or the difference between how softly it can be played and how loud it is at action saturation.

Action saturation is a function of how stiff the various levers are and how compliant the various felts and leathers are. In any given action this is a fixed point and can only be changed with some difficulty (and expense). It is relatively unaffected by action regulation.

As you say, how softly the piano can be played is a function of action design and (mostly) its regulation.

Our perception of both extremes is shaped by the characteristic voice of the piano and by our perception of piano sound. Even though the sound pressure level meter tells us otherwise, our ears tell us the piano with the warmer, more fundamental sound can be played more quietly more softly than the harder, brighter piano. As well, even though in most cases the SPL meter tells us the absolute power levels are about the same, our ears tell us the harder, brighter piano is also the louder, more powerful piano.

Del
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#1125551 - 03/28/04 03:25 AM Re: tons of tension
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 Quote:
As well, even though in most cases the SPL meter tells us the absolute power levels are about the same, our ears tell us the harder, brighter piano is also the louder, more powerful piano.
My perception is that this is true close to the piano, especially where the pianist sits, but that it is less of an effect farther away. It's probably because the higher harmonics don't travel as well.
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#1125552 - 03/28/04 09:21 AM Re: tons of tension
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What do you mean by the higher harmonics don't travel as well? They should attenuate just as much or as little as the fundamental.

I would guess that the piano, having a larger sound source (top reflected and bottom reflected soundboard) would sound more different farther away, then say a trumpet, which acts more like a point source.

 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
 Quote:
As well, even though in most cases the SPL meter tells us the absolute power levels are about the same, our ears tell us the harder, brighter piano is also the louder, more powerful piano.
My perception is that this is true close to the piano, especially where the pianist sits, but that it is less of an effect farther away. It's probably because the higher harmonics don't travel as well. [/b]
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#1125553 - 03/28/04 10:12 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Dan M:

I would guess that the piano, having a larger sound source (top reflected and bottom reflected soundboard) would sound more different farther away, then say a trumpet, which acts more like a point source.

[/b]
Hmmm...now that's an interesting thought. I've been working on generally reducing the excess size of the piano soundboard for efficiency and resonance control reasons -- never thought of it in terms of projection.

Del
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#1125554 - 03/28/04 10:34 AM Re: tons of tension
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I noticed this when auditioning pianos, how much different the sound is from the pianists position than the audience member. The pianist is getting a rather 'unintegrated' sound. Reminds me of when I used to play in the orchestra - never could hear the darn string section practically.

After 10 feet or so it should be a moot point, but I would expect that the piano would have the most variation of sound within that radius.

Thinking about instruments, the sound from brass instruments comes almost entirely from the bell, which can be easily verified. Woodwinds, such as the clarinet, are more complex. The sound comes mostly from the bell, but also strongly from the finger holes. Thats why a fully closed up position (low E say) is very directional from the bell, but an open position (G above middle c) comes mostly from the open holes.

Given it's size, the piano has to be one of the most complex sound sources.

Dan

 Quote:
Originally posted by Del:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dan M:

I would guess that the piano, having a larger sound source (top reflected and bottom reflected soundboard) would sound more different farther away, then say a trumpet, which acts more like a point source.

[/b]
Hmmm...now that's an interesting thought. I've been working on generally reducing the excess size of the piano soundboard for efficiency and resonance control reasons -- never thought of it in terms of projection.

Del [/b]
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#1125555 - 03/28/04 10:55 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Dan M:
I noticed this when auditioning pianos, how much different the sound is from the pianists position than the audience member. The pianist is getting a rather 'unintegrated' sound. Reminds me of when I used to play in the orchestra - never could hear the darn string section practically.

After 10 feet or so it should be a moot point, but I would expect that the piano would have the most variation of sound within that radius.

Thinking about instruments, the sound from brass instruments comes almost entirely from the bell, which can be easily verified. Woodwinds, such as the clarinet, are more complex. The sound comes mostly from the bell, but also strongly from the finger holes. Thats why a fully closed up position (low E say) is very directional from the bell, but an open position (G above middle c) comes mostly from the open holes.

Given it's size, the piano has to be one of the most complex sound sources.

Dan

[/b]
Well, yes, I know. This tonal dispersion effect is particularly noticeable at the keyboard with some of the shorter and wider pianos in which the low end of the tenor bridge and the top end of the bass bridge are located rather far apart. Playing across the bass/tenor break has sound coming at you from two quite widely separated areas.

This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that this widely dispersed wash of sound it is inherent to the piano (and certain other instruments such as the pipe organ) and is part of what makes it difficult to duplicate electronically. And a curse in that it can make the bass/tenor crossover rather difficult to blend and voice if these two points are too widely separated.

Still, I have assumed (when Ive thought about it at all) that this effect would diminish with distance. You're thinking not and I haven't a clue just yet. I wonder if any kind of testing has been done to quantify the energy projection capability of the two (point source vs. a dispersed source) at various distances.

Del
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#1125556 - 03/28/04 11:39 AM Re: tons of tension
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Higher frequencies get absorbed faster than lower frequencies. That's how whales and elephants can communicate over such great distances. It's why you hear the thump thump thump of a car stereo when you can't make out anything else.
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#1125557 - 03/28/04 12:10 PM Re: tons of tension
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Well, I haven't thought it through much myself, but I agree that the farther away from the piano you are, the more it approximates a point source, so the sound will tend to integrate better I would think. I confuse myself the more I think of it. The lid will tend to reflect higher frequencies better, so on axis will surely sound very different than off axis. I don't know.

My copy of "The Physics of Musical Instruments" (Springer-Verlag) is at work, but I bet there's a good chance something is in there. I also have access to the Acoustic procedings journal at work, I could see if there is anything there.


BDB. You are correct, but I had thought that in air the attenuation is low enough that it makes little difference. At least I believe that listening to a triangle or oboe (with lots of high harmonics) up close is not that much different than being up in the back row.

Dan

 Quote:
Originally posted by Del:
Still, I have assumed (when Ive thought about it at all) that this effect would diminish with distance. You're thinking not and I haven't a clue just yet. I wonder if any kind of testing has been done to quantify the energy projection capability of the two (point source vs. a dispersed source) at various distances.

Del
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#1125558 - 03/29/04 10:45 AM Re: tons of tension
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Don't want to open up a new can of worms, but I can't help myself.


How does scale tension affect inhamonicity? Do lower tension pianos have more inhamonicity and does it even matter that much?
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#1125559 - 03/30/04 12:02 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Ralph:
Don't want to open up a new can of worms, but I can't help myself.


How does scale tension affect inhamonicity? Do lower tension pianos have more inhamonicity and does it even matter that much? [/b]
You can only change tension in two ways; by changing the length of the string or by changing the diameter of the wire. (Well, you could also change the mass density of the wire but that is not really practical in the real world.) Both of these changes will change inharmonicity. Making the string longer (raising the tension) will lower the inharmonicity constant while increasing the wire diameter (also raising the tension) will raise the inharmonicity constant.

Increasing the speaking scale length and reducing the wire diameter while keeping the tension constant will lower the inharmonicity constant. For example, a 0.042 string that is 900 mm long and pulled to 155 lbs of tension will have an In4 of 3.2. A 0.041 string that is 920 mm long also pulled to 155 lbs of tension will have an In4 of 2.8. (That is, the 4th harmonic will be either 3.2 or 2.8 cents sharp of the fundamental.)

So much for the nuts and bolts the second part of your question is the more interesting: does it even matter all that much? The general answer is no, it doesnt matter all that much. Except, of course at the bass/tenor plate crossover or at the crossover point between plain steel and wrapped strings. Here it matters to the piano tuner. If there are appreciable discontinuities in inharmonicity across these points the piano will be some difficult to tune. It is also a good idea to keep the inharmonicity constant smoothly progressive for the same reasons. If there are dips and peaks in this curve it will affect how the tuner must stretch the tuning away from the temperment octave.

But, we do not hear inharmonicity as such. What we do hear is the effect of the same scaling choices that give inharmonicity its value, length, wire diameter (i.e., its stiffness) and tension. If we increase the length of the string, keeping the diameter the same, tension will increase and inharmonicity will go down. But it is the effect of the longer and higher tension string that we hear, not inharmonicity. Conversely, if increase the wire diameter both tension and inharmonicity will go up but it is the effect of the increased wire stiffness and tension that we hear, not the inharmonicity.

There will be substantial differences in potential tone quality between a short, stiff (and relatively high tension) scale and a long, flexible (and relatively low tension) scale. But it wont be because of differences in inharmonicity. (Note: I say potential because other factors such as the design and construction of the soundboard assembly, the rim or back structure, the hammers, etc., also affect the voice of the piano.)

Del
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#1125560 - 03/30/04 12:16 PM Re: tons of tension
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So........would it be optimal for a piano builder to build a piano with a scale design that supported the longest, thinnest and lowest tension string possible? That might make an easily tunable piano, but what about the tone? I'm sure there is a trade off at some point. The goal is to build a musical instrument, not a machine that tunes easily. When do you stop or start worring about inharmonicity as it relates to tension and diameter?
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#1125561 - 03/30/04 01:21 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Ralph:
So........would it be optimal for a piano builder to build a piano with a scale design that supported the longest, thinnest and lowest tension string possible? That might make an easily tunable piano, but what about the tone? I'm sure there is a trade off at some point. The goal is to build a musical instrument, not a machine that tunes easily. When do you stop or start worrying about inharmonicity as it relates to tension and diameter? [/b]
I don't worry about inharmonicity at all! It is way, way down on my list of scaling priorities. I don't know how else to say this you dont hear inharmonicity! You hear the effect of the choices you make long or short, high or low tension in coming up with a string scale. None of these choices are necessarily right or wrong. They are just different and viva la difference!. A smooth inharmonicity curve is a natural outcome of good string scaling practice and it is available with all of the above choices. It may be high, it may be low. But if it is smooth and consistent the piano will be tunable and the transitions will be acoustically transparent.

I don't know what an "optimal" scale length might be. It depends. Scale length and tension choices should made based on the desired performance goals, not on inharmonicity or on some preconceived notion of what is right or wrong. What would you like the voice of the piano to be like? Hard and bright? Warm and dynamic? Im not here to make value judgments. You must take your own pick and build your own piano. Or buy your own piano. Forget about inharmonicity. If anyone is going to worry about it let it be your piano tuner.

Del
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#1125562 - 03/30/04 02:38 PM Re: tons of tension
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#1125563 - 03/30/04 03:04 PM Re: tons of tension
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If you don't worry about inharmonicity, it's probably because your pianos have a superior guality scaling and you don't have to worry about it. As a pianist I can tell you that inharmonicity affects the color of the piano. Maybe it can't be heard when striking one note, but it's effects can be heard when multiple notes are played together. Those pianos that never quite sound in tune really aren't in tune because the IH is so bad . Conversely, a piano with no IH (impossible) or at least very little would be dull as hell. It would probably sound like an organ. No offense to you organ players out there.


Personally I think IH is the cause of my love/hate relationship with my piano. When in perfect tune and voice, it's unbelievable. A little off and it threatens becoming kindling wood.
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#1125564 - 03/30/04 03:19 PM Re: tons of tension
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Inharmonicity wasn't even discovered until Helmholtz, and really wasn't an issue at all until electronic tuning devices became common. It certainly isn't an issue unless you are playing with another instrument. The instrument that causes the worst problems is the ETD.

Tuning means having the intervals correct. They are correct when they sound good. If an ETD says a piano is tuned, and the intervals don't sound good, it is the ETD (or its use) that is wrong. It is wrong because tuning is not numbers, it is good-sounding intervals.

The classic book by J. Murray Barbour, Tuning and Temperament summed it up by pointing out that of all the instruments in the orchestra, only the harp theoretically is tuned exactly, and it goes out of tune so fast that it is probably out of tune by the time one has finished tuning it.

Inharmonicity has not been shown to be a distinguishing characteristic between the tone qualities of various instruments, not like harmonic content and the sound envelope. Somehow, people managed to live with inharmonicity for decades without noticing it. So I suspect that the problems that are ascribed to it are due to something else. It's usually lousy tuning.
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#1125565 - 03/30/04 03:58 PM Re: tons of tension
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Ralph:
If you don't worry about inharmonicity, it's probably because your pianos have a superior guality scaling and you don't have to worry about it. As a pianist I can tell you that inharmonicity affects the color of the piano. Maybe it can't be heard when striking one note, but it's effects can be heard when multiple notes are played together. Those pianos that never quite sound in tune really aren't in tune because the IH is so bad . Conversely, a piano with no IH (impossible) or at least very little would be dull as hell. It would probably sound like an organ. No offense to you organ players out there.


Personally I think IH is the cause of my love/hate relationship with my piano. When in perfect tune and voice, it's unbelievable. A little off and it threatens becoming kindling wood. [/b]
As you say, a piano with no inharmonicity is impossible so I dont devote a whole lot of time wondering what one would sound like. Inharmonicity exists. It is an effect of string stiffness and until piano strings are made without stiffness we will have to cope with it and/or enjoy it.

Perhaps this is only an issue of semantics, but you are still not hearing inharmonicity. You might well be hearing its effect in a piano that is difficult (perhaps impossible) to tune clearly and cleanly because of some anomaly in the continuity of inharmonicity curve but this is not due to its being either uniformly high or uniformly low. It is due to its being uneven within a given scale. And this is a whole other issue from the original question, at least as I understood it.

As noted in one of my earlier replies, an uneven inharmonicity curve within a given scale is the result of poor string scaling (usually) across the bass/tenor plate break or across the transition between tri-chord steel strings and wrapped strings. If this transition has been badly scaled it can, indeed, make tuning very difficult. But, these transitions can be scaled in such a way as to be acoustically transparent even on most existing pianos. If it is particularly obnoxious in your piano you might ask someone skilled in the process to take a look at it for you to determine what, if anything, can be done to improve matters for you. While this may involve a new set of bass strings and/or changing a few tri-chord steel strings to bi-chord wrapped strings the results may make the process worthwhile.

It is also possible that a tenor bridge sweep can be so uneven as to make tuning interesting through the tenor and treble regions, but usually a good tuner can bring this into a reasonable balance. As with most human endeavors some tuners will be better at this than others.

Del
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#1125566 - 03/30/04 11:28 PM Re: tons of tension
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del,
i find your explanations of the priorities in scale design and their effects to be fascinating.

just to be certain i understand you right--is this correct:

if you have a piano with a warm, resonant tone with lots of color and broad dynamic range, are those qualities--which to be succinct, i will call the piano's "personality"--does the piano's essential personality change when you change the hammers to a different brand?

would the piano's essential personality change if you voiced the hammers differently, say, made them brighter?

i'm asking for practical reasons. i believe i've noticed with my piano that no matter how it is voiced, there is something essentially its personality that remains. it can be out of tune, out of voice, and the personality is still clearly there.

i'm planning to replace the hammers on the piano. will i lose the piano's essential personality (which is what i fell in love with) when hammers of a different make than the original are installed?

and to answer you earlier question, i needed to know about the tons of tension for something i'm writing. \:\)
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#1125567 - 03/30/04 11:43 PM Re: tons of tension
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pique: i needed to know about the tons of tension for something I'm writing.[/b]

Still working on that reportage about on-line communities are you, pique? ;\)

Ariel (seriously, are you?)
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#1125568 - 03/30/04 11:48 PM Re: tons of tension
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no, unfortunately. the magazine said they'd covered that topic too much already.

this is for a another project.
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#1125569 - 03/31/04 12:43 AM Re: tons of tension
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I've found that there is something to the sound of a piano that lasts through a lot of things, including new hammers, rescaling, and everything else that you can imagine doing to one. My Mason & Hamlin has gone through all of that, and it still sounds like a M & H. The rescaling mitigated some of the problems I felt the original scale had, such as a pronounced weakening of the tone near the bass break due to the extreme drop-off in tension there, and a tendency for some bad harmonics to show up about G# above middle C, but really, rather than sounding radically different, it just sounds more like my ideal of the M & H sound.

I think the most radical rescaling I have done was on a Knabe grand. For the most part, it sounds like the same piano, but it is much easier to tune, and it stays in tune very well. The harmonics don't seem to be quite as screwy as I have experienced in other Knabes.

As for voicing, there are especially hard hammers that don't allow the true tone of the piano to develop. I think that has been covered in these forums before. But the magnificence of the Steinway tone is there with the very soft Steinway hammers even without hardening, for instance. And as Del as said, you just can't voice a Yamaha to sound like a Steinway, no matter how hard you try.
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#1125570 - 03/31/04 08:20 AM Re: tons of tension
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Even after a complete rebuild, and I mean total with only the case and plate as original, I still could tell it was the same piano. Much better mind you , but had the same personality. I didn't expect that. Not disappointing, just surprising.
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#1125571 - 03/31/04 09:15 AM Re: tons of tension
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piqu,

Why are you replacing your hammers? Isn't your Grotrian relatively new?
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#1125572 - 03/31/04 12:07 PM Re: tons of tension
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ralph,
perhaps that is the reason i have heard rebuilders say that the soul of the piano resides in the plate.

dan,
the hammers were never right, so this is a replacement under warranty. we've tried for two years to voice them, with very limited success. my tech finally said he thought they were probably not good hammers from the factory, or that something happened between when i first played the piano and when it was finally delivered to me (a period of about 3 months). he felt they had never responded the way renners should, and he is a renner tech with 30 years experience.

in any event, all i had to say to the dealer was that very conservative and careful voicing had not resolved the problem, and he volunteered to get me a new set. he's in germany now, and will bring them home with him.
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#1125573 - 03/31/04 12:55 PM Re: tons of tension
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Pique,

I am curious. Can you be more specific as to the problem you were having with your hammers? If you covered this in another thread, I missed it.
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#1125574 - 03/31/04 02:44 PM Re: tons of tension
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hi, kieth,
yes, it was covered extensively in many threads over the past couple of years, but the quick lowdown is that we determined, after much refinement of the regulation until it was as perfect as possible, and measuring crown and downbearing, etc etc all the things you do when the tone isn't right, and having one tech voice it to perfection only to have the tone fall apart again the next day.....

that the hammers are the cause of the poor tonal quality in the fifth octave, which has been very resistant to both conventional and creative solutions.

we've established that the desired tone is inherent in the piano, that it is not a design problem, as killer octave problems frequently are. so, after conferring with many experts, all came to the same conclusion--the hammers were either not of the usual quality, were defective in some way, or received some sort of treatment prior to delivery that didn't agree with them. we'll never know for certain.

a new set of hammers should do the trick, in any event. keep your fingers crossed for me.
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#1125575 - 03/31/04 08:01 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by piqu:
del,
i find your explanations of the priorities in scale design and their effects to be fascinating.

just to be certain i understand you right--is this correct:

if you have a piano with a warm, resonant tone with lots of color and broad dynamic range, are those qualities--which to be succinct, i will call the piano's "personality"--does the piano's essential personality change when you change the hammers to a different brand?

would the piano's essential personality change if you voiced the hammers differently, say, made them brighter?

i'm asking for practical reasons. i believe i've noticed with my piano that no matter how it is voiced, there is something essentially its personality that remains. it can be out of tune, out of voice, and the personality is still clearly there.

i'm planning to replace the hammers on the piano. will i lose the piano's essential personality (which is what i fell in love with) when hammers of a different make than the original are installed?

and to answer you earlier question, i needed to know about the tons of tension for something i'm writing. \:\) [/b]
What you are calling personality I am calling voice. The voice of the piano starts with the stringing scale and works out. The design of the soundboard assembly should be chosen to match the string scale philosophy. A high-tension scale will require a somewhat stiffer soundboard assembly than would be appropriate for a low-tension scale. Different scaling philosophies will have different voices.

The final step in the process is to select a hammer that is appropriate for the string scale, soundboard assembly, rim, etc. A high-tension scale will require a harder, more massive hammer. This same hammer would overpower a low-tension scale and you would be constantly trying to voice it down usually by needling. A more resilient, less massive hammer that would work well with a lower tension scale would wash out if used with a higher tension scale. You would be constantly be trying to voice it up usually by soaking it with some hardening solution.

Hammers will only take so much voicing either way. Over needling them will ultimately cause them to go completely dead. They lose all resiliency (of which they had precious little to begin with). They will end up soft but with little bounce. Over hardening them will ultimately cause them to lose all resiliency. They end up like little rocks. They can still be needled down some to make them softer but nothing can be done to restore their resiliency, their bounce.

The hammer must match the character of the piano and its scaling before the voicing process begins. The idea of voicing is to improve that match, not to make an inappropriate hammer match whatever scale it finds itself on. The voicer can only do so much.

The tendency over the past several decades for production and cost reasons has been toward harder and denser hammers leaving it to the voicer to bring them down to more-or-less suit whatever scale they happen to end up on. And many factory voicers have done a masterful job of this. But it has come at the expense of depth of tone, what I call dynamics.

The idea is that the range between pianissimo and forte should be covered by both a volume control and a tone control. The actual wave envelope should change. There should be more emphasis on the fundamental and the first few harmonics at pianissimo with more of the higher harmonics coming in at forte. In other words, the voice of the piano should change along with the volume. This character is sadly lacking in many modern pianos.

Del
_________________________
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#1125576 - 03/31/04 10:00 PM Re: tons of tension
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
thanks again for such a crystalline explanation.

now, based on what you just wrote, it is too tempting to ask you your opinion of my situation.

i take it from the above that you probably wouldn't care for most hot pressed hammers.

what is your opinion of the most appropriate hammer for a grotrian grand? i don't know if it is a higher or lower tension instrument. i do agree with you about the lack of color and what is being lost through the overuse of hot-pressed hammers.

i don't know yet which make of hammer is going to arrive for my grotrian. what would you recommend for that string scale?
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#1125577 - 03/31/04 10:28 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by piqu:
thanks again for such a crystalline explanation.

now, based on what you just wrote, it is too tempting to ask you your opinion of my situation.

i take it from the above that you probably wouldn't care for most hot pressed hammers.

what is your opinion of the most appropriate hammer for a grotrian grand? i don't know if it is a higher or lower tension instrument. i do agree with you about the lack of color and what is being lost through the overuse of hot-pressed hammers.

i don't know yet which make of hammer is going to arrive for my grotrian. what would you recommend for that string scale? [/b]
You are right -- I don't much care for hot-pressed hammers. I've been preaching on this subject for a couple of decades now and maybe, just maybe, it's finally having some effect. Abel is pressing much cooler now and I've heard Renner might be doing so Real Soon Now.

Sorry, I don't know enough about Grotrian's scaling or soundboard structure to give you anything resembling sage advice. Other than to discuss the issue with your technician before the new hammers go on.

I would guess that Grotrian uses Renner hammers (but that is only a guess, it could be Abel). Both Renner and Abel make a variety of hammers and there should be something in there that is appropriate for your piano.

Del
_________________________
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Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
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#1125578 - 04/01/04 09:25 AM Re: tons of tension
Dan M Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 770
Loc: California
Hi Del,
Also thanks for sharing such interesting information. You've got me curious now, what is so bad about hot pressed hammers? .

Come to think of it, I saw a picture of the S&S hammer press in a magazine article once. It has some kind of heating or cooling arrangement to the metal forms of the press.

Dan

 Quote:
Originally posted by Del:
 Quote:
Originally posted by piqu:
thanks again for such a crystalline explanation.

now, based on what you just wrote, it is too tempting to ask you your opinion of my situation.

i take it from the above that you probably wouldn't care for most hot pressed hammers.

what is your opinion of the most appropriate hammer for a grotrian grand? i don't know if it is a higher or lower tension instrument. i do agree with you about the lack of color and what is being lost through the overuse of hot-pressed hammers.

i don't know yet which make of hammer is going to arrive for my grotrian. what would you recommend for that string scale? [/b]
You are right -- I don't much care for hot-pressed hammers. I've been preaching on this subject for a couple of decades now and maybe, just maybe, it's finally having some effect. Abel is pressing much cooler now and I've heard Renner might be doing so Real Soon Now.

Sorry, I don't know enough about Grotrian's scaling or soundboard structure to give you anything resembling sage advice. Other than to discuss the issue with your technician before the new hammers go on.

I would guess that Grotrian uses Renner hammers (but that is only a guess, it could be Abel). Both Renner and Abel make a variety of hammers and there should be something in there that is appropriate for your piano.

Del [/b]
_________________________
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#1125579 - 04/01/04 10:17 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dan M:
Hi Del,
Also thanks for sharing such interesting information. You've got me curious now, what is so bad about hot pressed hammers? .

Come to think of it, I saw a picture of the S&S hammer press in a magazine article once. It has some kind of heating or cooling arrangement to the metal forms of the press.

Dan

[/b]
If Steinway is using heat at all it can't be much. They actually start out pressing a pretty good hammer. It's not until they start saturating them with hardening solutions that they run into trouble.

Excessive heat there is no absolute here, but in my experience excessive means anything much over 120 to 130 resets the wool fibers. This in much the same way as heat and moisture reset the wool fibers when a wool suit is pressed. When hammer felt is pressed into a caul it is seriously bent. The fibers on the outside of the felt strip are stretched and those on the inside are compressed. To keep the outside of the felt strip from literally breaking open the felt is saturated with moisture to make it more flexible. Combining this moisture saturation with heat resets the wool fiber resulting in a hard and dense hammer with little resiliency.

Felt breakage is not much of a problem with hammers of more moderate mass and density but hammer mass and density is an absolute necessity if one is going to end up with the loudest and most powerful piano on the block.

The primary function of the heat, by the way, has nothing to do with bending the felt. It is necessary to cure the thermal-setting adhesives used to bond the felt to the wood molding quickly and reliably. Thermal-setting adhesives usually kick over at about 170 F or so. Felt is a pretty good insulator so the side cauls must be some above this to get the glue-line up to the requisite temperature. The hammer maker walks a fine line between keeping the side cauls hot enough to set the adhesive quickly and burning the felt.

The problem is that heat migrates. It goes from the side cauls (where it is wanted) down to the bottom caul (where it is not wanted). At least it didnt used to be wanted down there. Nowadays it probably is considered desirable because it makes possible the incredible massive and dense hammers we are supposed to be getting used to.

As may be, the process is fast and predictable. The shape is consistent. And hammers with great hardness and more density can be pressed this way. It is then up to the voicer to do his/her best to tame these things down and attempt to make a musical piano in spite of them. Sometimes this works, sometimes not.

I have long maintained that any piano hammer shaped objects that requires 50 or 100 needle strokes to pre-voice them are not really piano hammers. I dont know just what they are but they do not belong on a piano. They should be put in a box and returned to their maker. (If they happen to already be attached to the piano you may need a larger box)

Del
_________________________
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Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
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#1125580 - 04/01/04 11:24 AM Re: tons of tension
Dan M Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 770
Loc: California
Hi Del,
I checked the Steinway picture again, it shows two hoses going to the bottom form, and hoses going to the two side forms. Obviously they can be setting any temperature they want. About Abel, it seems like they are enjoying some popularity right now, I wonder if it's because of the softer/cooler hammers, do you know when they started doing this?

I wonder why they use thermal setting glues then, if they cause so many problems? Wouldn't it be easier just to glue them up without all that heat?

Dan
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The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!

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#1125581 - 04/01/04 12:13 PM Re: tons of tension
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
so who makes hammers the way you like them, del?

and aren't there also some other problems with modern hammers, such as bleaching weakening the wool, and the poor quality of wool in the first place (due to environmental pollutants, i understand)?

and--what about the difficulties inherent in the old-style steinway hammer, the fact that once voiced, the job is so ephemeral and quickly breaks down. my impression is to have the optimal sound from your steinway hammers you'd either have to rent out the spare bedroom to the voicer so he could voice for you every day, or else never play your piano.

the hammers that are hardened by compression are at least not so high maintenance once they've been given their voice?

i'm very very far from an expert, but throwing out a few devil's advocacy questions here in order to learn more.
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#1125582 - 04/01/04 12:40 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dan M:
Hi Del,
I checked the Steinway picture again, it shows two hoses going to the bottom form, and hoses going to the two side forms. Obviously they can be setting any temperature they want. About Abel, it seems like they are enjoying some popularity right now, I wonder if it's because of the softer/cooler hammers, do you know when they started doing this?

I wonder why they use thermal setting glues then, if they cause so many problems? Wouldn't it be easier just to glue them up without all that heat?

Dan [/b]
I'd be interested in seeing that picture. At Baldwin I experimented some with cooling the bottom caul with good success. I wonder if that is what they are doing.

No, I dont know when Abel started cutting back on the temperatures. Its been a couple of years, though. Yes, I expect it is at least in part why their hammers are becoming somewhat more popular.

Thermal setting adhesives are used because they are fast. Once up to temperature they set up in two or three minutes.

Del
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1125583 - 04/01/04 12:54 PM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by piqu:
so who makes hammers the way you like them, del?

and aren't there also some other problems with modern hammers, such as bleaching weakening the wool, and the poor quality of wool in the first place (due to environmental pollutants, i understand)?

and--what about the difficulties inherent in the old-style steinway hammer, the fact that once voiced, the job is so ephemeral and quickly breaks down. my impression is to have the optimal sound from your steinway hammers you'd either have to rent out the spare bedroom to the voicer so he could voice for you every day, or else never play your piano.

the hammers that are hardened by compression are at least not so high maintenance once they've been given their voice?

i'm very very far from an expert, but throwing out a few devil's advocacy questions here in order to learn more. [/b]
Abel is getting there. Ronsen can make a good hammer when they put their minds to it. Steinway makes a good hammer then saturates them with something or other to get rid of all that wonderful resiliency.

Good wool is available if the hammer maker is willing to seek it out. And insist on it from the felter. And is willing to pay for it. We are, however, very small users of felt and felt products and dont exactly control the industry.

Old Steinway hammers (1900s through 1940s) were among the easiest hammers to voice ever made. They were not at all touchy. The bloody things could be warn to nubs and they were still voiceable! That is one of the inherent advantages of a hammer properly matched to the piano from the beginning.

My experience seems to be just the opposite of yours. I find a cold (or warm) pressed hammer of suitable density to be both easier to voice and longer lasting. That is, both the voicing and the physical hammer last longer. The resilient hammer bounces off the string more readily without cutting.

Hard-pressed hammers, on the other hand, are constantly giving trouble. Witness the many Asian pianos that keep the boat payments up to date for all those busy tuner/technicians out there.

Del
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
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#1125584 - 04/01/04 01:43 PM Re: tons of tension
Dan M Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 770
Loc: California
Hi Del,
No problem
http://www.sonic.net/howl/ss.jpg
It was an article in technology and innovation, that goes on and on about the 150 year old "mystery" of piano making at S&S. And it highlights the continued i"nnovation" there too \:\)
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#1125585 - 04/01/04 01:44 PM Re: tons of tension
Dan M Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 770
Loc: California
_________________________
The piano is my drug of choice.
Why are you reading this? Go play the piano! Why am I writing this? ARGGG!

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#1125586 - 04/01/04 02:34 PM Re: tons of tension
Ralph Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1298
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
The only two felt manutacturers that I know of are Bacon Felt and Wurzen. There may be others. As far as I know, Bacon supplies for S&S and Wurzen is used in Europe. Europeans love Wurzen felt and it's used in hot pressed hammers, although as Del said, all hammers makers use some heat to cure the glue. Del, I know you design your pianos with a very flexible soundboard. Most people go the other direction and, as you pointed out, require a harder hammer. Any thoughts on which felt is better?
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#1125587 - 04/02/04 12:52 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by Ralph:
The only two felt manutacturers that I know of are Bacon Felt and Wurzen. There may be others. As far as I know, Bacon supplies for S&S and Wurzen is used in Europe. Europeans love Wurzen felt and it's used in hot pressed hammers, although as Del said, all hammers makers use some heat to cure the glue. Del, I know you design your pianos with a very flexible soundboard. Most people go the other direction and, as you pointed out, require a harder hammer. Any thoughts on which felt is better? [/b]
Actually, there are a number of hammer felt suppliers. When we were doing our hammer making experiments in the late 1980s we had hammer felt from five different felt makers to work with.

I'm no longer convinced it really makes all that much difference. We found more performance differences resulting from how the hammers were made than we did from the different types of felt. As long as the felt had approximately the same mass density, was the same thickness, was cut the same way and pressed the same way hammers made from each type of felt sounded and voiced pretty much the same.

The noticeable differences became obvious when we started playing around with press temperatures, pressures, cycle times, caul shapes, etc.

Del
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#1125588 - 04/02/04 01:12 AM Re: tons of tension
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21431
Loc: Oakland
I guess in the old days, the temperature would have been set by the ideal temperature for spreading hide glue. Once the cauls were one, you would want it to set as fast as possible and still have a good bond. I bet that worked very well for the felt. It would be just hot enough to get those proteins flowing!
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#1125589 - 04/02/04 01:20 AM Re: tons of tension
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5242
Loc: Olympia, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
I guess in the old days, the temperature would have been set by the ideal temperature for spreading hide glue. Once the cauls were one, you would want it to set as fast as possible and still have a good bond. I bet that worked very well for the felt. It would be just hot enough to get those proteins flowing! [/b]
For the hide glue to set up the cauls would have to be rather cool. Any heat at all would prevent or, at least significantly retard, the glue's drying time.

ddf
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Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1125590 - 04/02/04 10:14 AM Re: tons of tension
Manitou Offline
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Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
Grotrian (as I recall) has a high-tension scale and typically Renners, though I thought in the last 4-5 years some had Abel as well.
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