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#1223332 - 06/26/09 09:03 PM replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof
Ragtimeyears Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 24
Loc: New Jersey (Cape May area)
I have been attempting to get the voicing on my Weinbach squared away. My tech tuned it shortly after I took posession. A couple weeks later he did some light needling, steam application on a few choice hammers and some hammer shaping. The effort paid off for about a day and a half and the metalic overtones came back. A few weeks later he did some more voicing and it seemed to help but the next day, many keys took on a fairly dead response. I think the hammers may be dead. The piano is a 6'4", 2002 model that was in the southwest for the better part of its life. I am about ready to pull the trigger on new hammers. The best I (and my tech) can tell, the current hammers are Abel's. I am reluctant to go back to them so I am soliciting advise from anyone that may have an opinion regarding what type of hammers this type of piano would respond to. Petrof's are generally known to be very bright, and requiring a fair amount of voicing. Has anyone had any experience with hammer voicing or replacement on Petrofs or Weinbachs?

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#1223342 - 06/26/09 09:27 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Ragtimeyears]
David Jenson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 1949
Loc: Maine
Google Ari Isaac. I've had great results with his hammers on Young Changs of the same size.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#1223367 - 06/26/09 10:39 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: David Jenson]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
This may be simplistic, but have you thought of asking the manufacturer or their representative what they would advise...
Am I understanding correctly that you will use the guy who didn't know how to voice your current hammers to install your new ones??
There are techniques for voicing a european hammer which require considerable skill and practice....
What is going on here?
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#1223405 - 06/27/09 12:27 AM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
RALPH LYNCH Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/21/09
Posts: 1
Loc: WEST VIRGINIA, USA
Is there a special chemical or solvent sold for softening hammerheads that may have been overjuiced in manfacturing.
This can cause a metalic overtone. I read somewhere in the forum to use vodka, to brush the hammers. Is this so? or
will 100 proof alcohol work? Is there a homemade solution any one knows of.


Edited by RALPH LYNCH (06/27/09 12:30 AM)

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#1223412 - 06/27/09 12:56 AM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: RALPH LYNCH]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
Rubbing alcohol should work as well as vodka. The point is that it is a mixture of water and alcohol. However, the best chemical depends on what was used originally.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1223498 - 06/27/09 09:54 AM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
Ragtimeyears Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 24
Loc: New Jersey (Cape May area)
I have attempted to go directly to Petrof but received no response. It occurs that they may have turned a page in their business and are not looking back.

The tech I ultimately use is not the issue right now.

My question was strictly a question about recommended hammers for the piano I descibed in my post. And if anyone had experience with the specific issue I asked about.

There is "nothing going on here". Just a question.

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#1223500 - 06/27/09 09:56 AM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: David Jenson]
Ragtimeyears Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 24
Loc: New Jersey (Cape May area)
Thanks for the response David.

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#1223548 - 06/27/09 12:27 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Ragtimeyears]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
The tech you ultimately use has a huge bearing on your satisfaction with the job in hand.
I find that most pianists get the technician they deserve.
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#1223604 - 06/27/09 02:18 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
Ragtimeyears Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 24
Loc: New Jersey (Cape May area)
Thanks for your insights. I guess the trick with selecting a tech is not only that they know what they are doing but they have an ability to listen to what the customer is saying, or asking.

I have found my technician to be very good as listening to what I am trying to convey to him regarding the tonal issues. But even more important to me is that he doesn't seem to get off track at all. I.E., he seems to able to remain objective. I guess a good doctor, auto mechanic, counselor etc all have the ability to listen. I suppose it is true for good piano techs too. So again thanks for your perspective.

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#1223711 - 06/27/09 06:40 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Ragtimeyears]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
I think your hesitation to use Abel's is unwarranted. Abel hammers are used by many top European piano makers. They have been very popular with many piano technicians and re builders. They are famous for being very voicable and consistent.

A skilled voicer should be able to make just about any set of decent hammers sound good. It sounds like the tech was unable to voice the hammers and left you with an unsatisfying result. This is not the hammers' fault. Steaming a German hammer is generally a very bad idea. The fact that this was the tech's first approach is a red flag.

I appreciate the fact that your tech is a good listener. But this is not a substitute for actually knowing what you're doing.

I would consult with Brooks Ltd. They have been importing and working with Abel hammers for decades and are an excellent resource. There are many options available with Abels.

The other hammer that seems to be all the rage right now is the Wurzen felt hammers from Ronsen. If you are looking for a warmer, mellower sound this may be a good option.

Putting a new set of hammers on is a big job. You will change the touch-weight characteristics of the piano, and the regulation as well. If it's done well it should easily cost $3000+.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1223744 - 06/27/09 09:36 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: rysowers]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
Before pulling the trigger on new hammers, call a good piano rebuilder and see if these hammers can be saved. Steaming "a few choice hammers" tells me your tech has no idea of how to voice. Nothing against him - voicing takes lots of experience. Too much steam will kill a hammer - and you steam a whole section, not a few here and there, and I'd try needling before steaming. If the hammers are indeed dead, there is a needling technique that can brighten them by restoring tension.

Weinbachs from that time period arrived at the stores very bright, especially in the high treble. I was able to needle them down, but it took a while.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#1223750 - 06/27/09 10:00 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: rysowers]
Ragtimeyears Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 24
Loc: New Jersey (Cape May area)
Ryan
Thanks for the response. Can you tell me why steaming a German hammer is a bad idea? Is there something unique about a German hammer that would prohibit this approach? Does it have to do with a density issue?

Have you had any experience with Petrof's, particularly voicing the Abel or any other hammer that Petrof may have used?

It occurs to me after reading some much on this and other forums that some pianos respond better (for various reasons), to specific hammers.

What I am trying to find out is if anyone out there has worked hammer related issues with the Petrof/Weinbachs. (my model in particular) so if I do elect to replace the hammers, I'll have some tangible evidence of what works and what doesn't.

Thanks again
JD

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#1223754 - 06/27/09 10:29 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Ragtimeyears]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
This is a difficult subject (butting in again here)...
I don't think there is any particular hammer that has any particular tendencies that a GOOD technician cannot deal with....
Finding an appropriate hammer isn't really the question....
Your original hammers were appropriate...Petrof put them on because they were appropriate....why would they sell something that didn't work?
Many manufacturers place a burden on technicians to work on the instruments in the store and voice them to the environment in which a buyer/client lives.
. I personally love this idea and have made a good living out of being able to make a Steinway sing and go around corners really quickly.
Some reasons for inadequate abilities are....
Many technicians out there don't get the chance to practice what they read or learn at convention due to their own personal circumstances....and some tech/dealer relationships are wobbly at the best of times so no new pianos to play with....but I digress....

Certainly ask about replacement hammers and take the advice others have given here...I might even suggest having the hammers pre-voiced so that your tech doesn't have to do the deep shoulder needling that most european designed hammers need...

If you want to go into the designs of these hammers and why we do what we do, you might get more info than you know what to do with, You sound like you are bright and inquisitive...but there are professionals out there...there really are some good ones....who can voice ANY hammer in ANY direction to produce GREATresults.

Forgive the lecture here.....good luck....PM if you wish....
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#1223760 - 06/27/09 10:53 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
I suggest you wait a while before deciding what to do. Hammers can change quite a bit after voicing, particularly if they sound dull, and they may come back.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1223789 - 06/28/09 12:17 AM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Ragtimeyears]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
Originally Posted By: Ragtimeyears
Ryan
Thanks for the response. Can you tell me why steaming a German hammer is a bad idea? Is there something unique about a German hammer that would prohibit this approach? Does it have to do with a density issue?

Have you had any experience with Petrof's, particularly voicing the Abel or any other hammer that Petrof may have used?

It occurs to me after reading some much on this and other forums that some pianos respond better (for various reasons), to specific hammers.

What I am trying to find out is if anyone out there has worked hammer related issues with the Petrof/Weinbachs. (my model in particular) so if I do elect to replace the hammers, I'll have some tangible evidence of what works and what doesn't.

Thanks again
JD



I have seen numerous cases of the felt becoming "pinched" at the crown. Quite a few years ago I worked on a Bosendorfer that had been steamed by a "master" technician. It really sounded subdued and was difficult to get beyond mezzo-forte. Not having much experience with this type of piano I hired Steve Brady (one of the best in the business) to come down and consult with me about it. It was he who recognized that the hammers had been steamed and commented "you should never steam a hammer like this!".

Since then, I have come across this from time to time. It can distort the felt, and it's difficult to control. I suppose its somewhat like using a Dremel tool to reshape hammers. I suppose it is possible to get reasonably good results, but it can surely be dangerous in the hands of the inexperienced.

I have limited experience with Weinbach's and Petrofs. But I have worked with Abels many times and they have been my hammer of choice when replacing hammers on older instruments. I have met the Abel brothers and seen their presentation on their manufacturing techniques. They are a great company with a lot of integrity. I highly recommend them.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1223793 - 06/28/09 12:22 AM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: BDB]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
Originally Posted By: BDB
I suggest you wait a while before deciding what to do. Hammers can change quite a bit after voicing, particularly if they sound dull, and they may come back.


One thing you might try is to "pound in" the hammers. I often do this to check the stability of my voicing work. I mute out the strings with my left hand and then deliver 5 or 6 ffff blows to the keys. You might even try up to 10 blows. You could be surprised at how much brightness returns to the tone.

Also regarding steam: Steaming will often cause "cupping" of the felt and will tend to mess up hammer to string mating.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1224404 - 06/29/09 11:03 AM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: BDB]
Ragtimeyears Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 24
Loc: New Jersey (Cape May area)
I think waiting and doing nothing is a pretty risk-free strategy. Each day the tonal qualities seem to fluctuate. Some of the dull or dead notes seem to gaining brightness. I did try muting the strings and hammering away pretty stongly. That may have been the catalyst to get them back in shape.

All good inputs from everyone. I do appreciate the recommendations.

JD

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#1224659 - 06/29/09 06:34 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Bob]
Ragtimeyears Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 24
Loc: New Jersey (Cape May area)

Bob,
I used a poor choice of words when describing the steaming my tech did. He actually did about two and a half octaves total. He used the damp linen and just placed the heat on very, very briefly. I can live nicely with a bright piano, but it's the twangy overtones that are tough to deal with. When I play softly, this is almost not noticeable, but when any force is required it is pretty annoying. The needling, steaming and very light shaving seemed to get the piano in the ball park but it still has some way to go. My hope now is that with targeted needling I can get it to a point where it will be pleasing across the keyboard.

Thank you
JD

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#1225521 - 07/01/09 10:04 AM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Ragtimeyears]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada


About a month ago I had to voice a Petrof instrument with the original hammer set. I found that after the standard voicing procedure was completed, I had to abstract by cross stitching and some various crown stitching. This involved certain hammer groups in particular areas, (mostly the center) and removed the twangy after tones you have referred to…………

When I was leaving I mentioned to the owner that I thought it might need a further visit in about 6 weeks. She has already called and needs a return visit. Sometimes the initial voicing does not clear all the poor tones up. Often times after shaping and voicing, the technician needs to have the hammer set played a bit to discover where the heavy traffic areas are……
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1227012 - 07/04/09 01:29 PM Re: replacement hammers for Weinbach/Petrof [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Ragtimeyears Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 24
Loc: New Jersey (Cape May area)
Thanks Dan.
Appreciate the real world exprience feedback.
JD

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