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#1414144 - 04/09/10 11:07 AM Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers?
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Dear technicians,

I'd like to buy a tuning hammer, for touching up unisons on my piano, and possibly, over the next few years, gradually practice tuning.

I have seen NewOctave tuning hammers, "made in the USA", with a lifetime warranty, in numerous online shops. See, for example, here:
http://www.pianosupply.com/tuningkits/
http://www.kspiano.com/pianotuningkits.html
http://howardpianoindustries.com/piano-tuning-tools-kits/piano-tuning-tools.html

A "professional" hammer costs about US $ 40 - 50, and an extendable one about US $ 70-90. This is obviously much cheaper than Jahn, Hale etc.

So I wanted to ask everyone here: does someone have practical experience with NewOctave's hammers? I'd be interested in their durability, since the pictures seem to indicate the typical high-gloss chrome-plated steel of cheaper tools... On the other hand, the manufacturer writes: "All NewOctave GlobalTM tuning lever tips & heads are made from hard tool steel and chrome plated for a better look and a longer life. Nickel plating by other manufacturers is quick and cheap, but will result in rust and/or corrosion over time."

Please, I'd like to read about practical experiences - if anyone here has bought such a tuning hammer.
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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
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#1414161 - 04/09/10 11:50 AM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Mark R.]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3886
Get the best tuning hammer you can. The professional model might be ok, if the extension system is beefy enough so it doesn't flex. I would not get the "apprentice" model if you are a serious tuner. My extension hammer cost about $120, and my concert tuning hammer cost more than $250. A good tuning hammer makes for good tunings.
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#1414194 - 04/09/10 12:24 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Bob]
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1730
Loc: Colorado
I used the New Octave nylon handled hammer for awhile, then I tried a friend's Schaff that he'd used for 30 years to tune one unison.

No comparison. The Schaff was off the charts better. In fact, the Schaff gave me so much more control over the tuning pin, it helps with accuracy and saves time.

If you are going to tune pianos a great deal or with any regularity, get the better hammer.

Glen
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#1414324 - 04/09/10 04:16 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Inlanding]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Thanks to both of you, especially to Glen, for the feedback on an actual New Octave hammer. That's a clear answer. I'm not planning to make a career as a tuner, but I do see myself touching up unisons regularly, and like I said, perhaps even practising to do complete tunings.
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1414499 - 04/09/10 08:13 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Mark R.]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
Hi Mark,

The Schaff extension hammer is great, much better than the New Octave. That said, the New Octave extension hammer is ok for a start, and definitely better than the average music shop bargain hammer.

Starting out, I used a New Octave extension hammer.
Now I use a Watanabe hammer, and I also have a Fujan that I try to get used to. My brother bought a Schaff, and I've been trying it for a tuning. I highly recommend it. In fact, I have to get one myself... smile
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1414541 - 04/09/10 09:50 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: pppat]
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1730
Loc: Colorado
Patrick's been doing some shopping! wink

There are several threads on which tuning hammer to get, which is better, etc., as everyone has their favorite for one good reason or another.

What I noticed about the Schaff 6" extendable rosewood-handled tuning hammer on the first set of tunings, is that it cut my time to do a full tuning by a significant amount. I spent much less time "searching", if that is the right word for it. I can feel the pin much better and setting it is far easier than with the longer nylon starter hammer - consequently, it appears my tunings are much more stable and my technique is improving all the time. It's good to have a back-up, so I use the New Octave hammer with a long tip for some uprights and hard to reach pins, so I don't have to change tips on the good hammer. I might have been lucky because the tip on the Schaff hammer fits the pins like a glove - there is so little play. I did go through a few tips on the New Octave hammer before I settled on one with it, as some were not up to snuff.

Look forward to knowing your experience after you make the selection of a better quality hammer. It is worth it, no question!

Glen
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#1414542 - 04/09/10 09:53 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Inlanding]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2463
Loc: Olympia, WA
My opinion is the new Levitan lever from Pianotek $135 is the best for the money. It approaches the Fujan in stiffness and lightness (I compared this myself at Steve Fujan's booth last year in Grand Rapids) but at a fraction of the cost.

Dan Levitan put a lot of thought into its design. He is one of the most respected tuning instructors of our time. Give it a try!


Edited by rysowers (04/09/10 09:55 PM)
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Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
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#1414564 - 04/09/10 10:39 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: rysowers]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2176
Loc: Maine
Ryan, I saw the Jahn hammers on the site, but couldn't find anything related to a Levitan lever.

Can you give a URL, or a PDF pointer?

nevermind - I found it under "New Items". 'Looks like a nice concept.
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Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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#1414667 - 04/10/10 07:27 AM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: David Jenson]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
I noticed that some tips are not star shaped all inside but only on a strip within the tip. This may certainly not help for the good fitting.

Are those Hale, or Sole tips, that are done that way ? how are the New octave tips ?
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#1414692 - 04/10/10 09:39 AM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Olek]
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1730
Loc: Colorado
Hi Issac,
The #2 New Octave tips I tried were not a good fit at all. I ordered three of them and none were what I considered a good fit. The Schaff/Hale tips are all much better machined, but there are small variances in their production so it seems, so some are a better fit than others. The one that landed on the 6" Rosewood extension lever is a really good fit for all the pianos I've been tuning since getting it three months ago.

Everyone's results vary, and each has a hammer they prefer, and for all the reasons they see fit. Mine works like a charm for me. It's a worthy investment and really not that expensive when considering how often it gets used.

Glen
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A Bit of YouTube
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#1414835 - 04/10/10 03:15 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Inlanding]
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2084
I am a 'hobby' tuner in that I tune my own two pianos and have tuned a friend's piano. I first bought the so-called 'gooseneck' lever (manufacturer unknown) for probably about 30 dollars. This was slightly above the absolute cheapest levers. Immediately I noticed the fit was not adequate and I sent it back.

The second hammer I bought was the New Octave extension hammer with the nylon handle. I've been very satisfied with this hammer, for my purposes. The fit is snug on the three pianos I've used it on. But I don't have experience with the higher-end hammers. I felt it was worth the money for me but I will consider a higher-end hammer down the road, likely, given what others here say.

One thing I noticed is that the 'marbling' appearance on the nylon handle has come off in a few spots so that the white nylon is visible beneath it. Since I use the hammer only a few times a month, these tiny spots have not gotten larger, but I'm sure that if I were a pro, the handle would not look pretty at all, after much use.

The metal parts strike me as very high quality.

If I could go back and order again, I probably would have gone with the real wood handle. My bet is that this would make the hammer slightly stiffer, and of course would avoid the appearance problems with the handle. The hammer seems stiff to me as it is, but I have to believe what others here say about other hammers being more stiff.
_________________________
Charles Lang

Baldwin Model R; Hardman 5'9" grand; Rieger-Kloss vertical

Jazz, pop and classical

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#1499220 - 08/19/10 11:53 AM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: charleslang]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Hi all,

I decided to resurrect this thread, to ask all of you a question: how important do you deem it that a tuning hammer be extendable? I'm strongly considerung a Schaff hammer (professional, rosewood, with exchangeable head and tips), but the extension hammer is significantly more expensive than the rigid one.

Those of you that have an extension hammer, do you find yourselves using it mostly in extended mode? I'm tending towards the non-extension model.
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1499321 - 08/19/10 02:29 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Mark R.]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
Mark,

I and many others use extension hammers just because we like their heavy weight, we never actually extend them...

If this is the 'default' use for them (which I highly suspect might be the case), maybe they should just be called 'weighted hammers' instead? smile
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1499322 - 08/19/10 02:30 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Mark R.]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21811
Loc: Oakland
I use extension hammers, not to extend, but because they are stiffer, and because the shafts are replaceable. If the thread wears out, the handle is still good. These days they are threaded at both ends, so you just reverse them, and get twice as much use.
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#1499335 - 08/19/10 02:49 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: BDB]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4223
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Originally Posted By: BDB
I use extension hammers, not to extend, but because they are stiffer, and because the shafts are replaceable. If the thread wears out, the handle is still good. These days they are threaded at both ends, so you just reverse them, and get twice as much use.


Agreed. Mark buy the extension hammer. You will eventually encounter a situation( tall upright) where you will require extending the handle.
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www.silverwoodpianos.com
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1499342 - 08/19/10 03:13 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Les Koltvedt Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/05
Posts: 3195
Loc: Canton, MI
I have the extension hammer and purchased a couple of extra shafts, heads and tips, so all I have to do is exchange the shaft when I need a longer or shorter tip. If your going to purchase from Schaff, ask about their premium tips, Watanabe. Only a few $$'s more, but they fit the pin a lot better...imho

All heads are 5 degree/w #2 tips. A stnd head/w stnd tip, extended head/w stnd tip & long head w/long tip for stringing.
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LK Piano
Servicing the S. Eastern Michigan Area
PTG Associate

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#1499358 - 08/19/10 03:47 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Mark Davis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/08
Posts: 664
Hello Mark

I have a Hale extension lever , which is slightly extended from the shortest position and I never adjust it. Maybe i dont adjust it because nut and thread are jammed. I loosened it (with vice grips and leather)last year sometime, put some lubricant on the thread and voila, its jammed again. I have read that one extends the lever for smooth push/pulling and for very tight pins. On the other hand, shorten the lever for jerking movements.

Kent Swafford in his article, Every Which Way Temperament, says with regard to tuning levers - " Light overall weight allows long hours of use with less fatigue..."

The Schaff compact rosewood extension lever looks good and seems to be good value for money, otherwise try Baumagartel and buy a Hale.

Best regards
_________________________
Mark Davis
Piano Tuner & Technician

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#1499636 - 08/20/10 12:33 AM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Mark Davis]
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2398
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Mark, I would like to add my experiences here with tuning hammers.

As you probably know, I am not a pro tuner. I have had though, about 5+ years tuning my own piano and a few friends.

When Fujan first came out with his hammer, I bought it and liked it very much. I have the original metal tube style with a #2 Watanabe tip. It has worked well for me.

On Bill's 2 trips to tune my piano, I noticed his tuning hammer and asked him about it. It's made by Joe Goss of http://www.mothergoosetools.com/ What I liked about Bill's hammer was the feel/balance/weight and the stiffness. It's a solid piece of metal (steel?) and is very rigid. The knob is a very dense wood, lignum vitae, hardest wood around, and it fits/feels great in my hand.

I ordered the #110 kit Plateau hammer with a #3 tip and a 20deg angle, same as Bills'.....could not be happier. It has replaced my Fujan. I seem to have better control and feel of the pin. I am very careful, since it is at 20deg, to make sure I 'turn' the pin as opposed to bending it. The #3 tip also fits these 2ot german pins better, perhaps due to the german Sole tip. Even taking that into consideration, I like the feel and control of the hammer better.

I would consider it....:)

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#1499728 - 08/20/10 06:38 AM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Grandpianoman]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Thanks for all the new replies.

I think I have to draw a line somewhere. Budgets tend to explode, once you get enticed by attractive catalogs...

My plan is not to tune 500 or 1000 pianos a year for the next 25 years. Rather, it's more like Grandpianoman's (albeit my piano and homestead are much more modest) : to tune my own piano(s) and a few friends'. Perhaps I'll offer free tunings to my church in due course, should I ever become proficient enough.

Yes, I tend to be a perfectionist, yes, I can agonize over each note, and I do appreciate that there are really fantastic tools out there, for "him who needs to do the best job reliably, five times a day, year-in-year-out". It's the same with any job, e.g. a full-time mechanic who needs to torque machine bolts on a daily basis. He'd better buy the best tool first time round! And I do appreciate that those best tools come at a price. But I use my torque wrench perhaps 5 times a year, and I think it was wise not to over-spend on it.

For example, I'm just a tad shocked to see that Joe Goss charges more for a wooden knob than what Schaff charges for a (hopefully) pretty decent craftsman's lever.

"Buy the best hammer you can afford." Now that sounds simple, but it's not! Yes, I could "afford" to pay $ 150 or even 200 for a lever. But that price doesn't feel commensurate to my pianos, my proficiency and my frequency of use. It's not only about affording, but justifying the expense through appropriate use of the tool.

Decisions, decisions!

I'll be sure to let you know when I'm done agonizing and have parted with my sorely earned Rands (one of which only gets me 14 US Cents).
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Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1594986 - 01/10/11 08:55 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Mike86 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 92
What model number is the Schaff extendable? Is it s-21? Does it come in 5, 10, 15 degrees? Is 15 degrees the standard angle?

Thanks.

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#1595112 - 01/11/11 02:46 AM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Mark R.]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
The Schaff extension lever (which I bought in the end) is listed in their catalog as item no. 21 (rosewood handle) or 16 (nylon handle). It comes with a 5 degrees angle (which seems to be the standard) and a #2 tuning tip, and the rosewood version also includes a tip-changing wrench and a carrying case/bag.
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1595908 - 01/12/11 09:16 AM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Mark R.]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Five degrees is OK for uprights, but you'll have trouble clearing plate struts on grands. Less of an angle gives you better control.

I'd say that 12 to 15 degrees is probably the standard.

--Cy--
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Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
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Albuquerque, New Mexico

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#1600373 - 01/18/11 09:22 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Mark R.]
Mike86 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 92
Thank you kindly, gentlemen. I've ordered the Nylon one as I'll be working on my upright. I assume I'll be able to buy a new head to make it 12 or 15 degrees, if needed.

Mike86


Edited by Mike86 (01/18/11 09:22 PM)

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#1600517 - 01/19/11 02:04 AM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Mark R.]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Yes, the supply houses normally offer the various heads, tips and combinations separately.
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1602907 - 01/22/11 12:49 PM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: pppat]
Pianosaurus Rex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/12/10
Posts: 305
Originally Posted By: pppat
Mark,

I and many others use extension hammers just because we like their heavy weight, we never actually extend them...

If this is the 'default' use for them (which I highly suspect might be the case), maybe they should just be called 'weighted hammers' instead? smile


Yeah, that's how I use mine as well.
They're great for scratching your back though, an often overlooked use of extension hammers!
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Student/apprentice technician

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#1604338 - 01/24/11 02:57 AM Re: Any experience with NewOctave tuning hammers? [Re: Mark R.]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Well, I've also taken to using my extension hammer in the retracted position, but I'll keep the back-scratching function in mind! smile
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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