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#1619524 - 02/14/11 04:11 AM New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change
faulhorn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 107
For another musical instrument that I am well versed in, the acoustic guitar, I select new instruments in part with a ear towards what the tone will become. The greatest changes are in the first few dozen hours, and then the rest of the year. If a guitars sounds 'just right' at the beginning in its balance and tonal color, I anticipate that the guitar will become too 'muddy' in time. Guitars get warmer as it breaks in which is opposite of the piano.

I wonder if you do the same for pianos. If a piano sounded just 'perfect' (I know, a bit of an exaggeration), once the hammer harden, would not the tone then become too bright/hard? Do you select a piano with a slightly warmer/muddier tone, anticipating that it will brighten?

And how fast does a new piano's tone changes? Is there an early time period when the greatest changes come?

We are having an absolutely wonderful time as a family looking at pianos and encountering just the most wonderful people in the industry. At the end of our journey, we'll have a lot of people to thank for their help but that will be a different post.

F

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#1619545 - 02/14/11 05:27 AM Re: New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change [Re: faulhorn]
Bunneh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 398
Loc: Berlin
I doubt many people do...
If such a change happens, it happens very gradually and can be reversed or improved by voicing work from a skilled technician. Many high-end pianos even come with a free voicing in-home after the purchase to ensure you have the tone you want.

However, what does very much matter and should be taken into account is the acoustic properties of the room. A piano in a carpeted 2500 sq. ft. showroom will sound *nothing* like a piano in a hardwood floor 200 sq ft room. That is something you should take into account (and has nothing to do with piano size)
_________________________
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#1619557 - 02/14/11 07:00 AM Re: New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change [Re: Bunneh]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19099
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Bunneh
However, what does very much matter and should be taken into account is the acoustic properties of the room. A piano in a carpeted 2500 sq. ft. showroom will sound *nothing* like a piano in a hardwood floor 200 sq ft room. That is something you should take into account (and has nothing to do with piano size)
Somewhat of an exaggeration, I think. My Mason BB was tried out in a large showroom with hardwood floors but my living room is tiny and carpeted. Sound was very similar IMO.

It is so complicated to try and predict how a piano may sound in a different environment that the only thing I think one should avoid is a very large or very loud piano that will be placed in a small completely enclosed space. Otherwise, in general one should choose a piano whose sound is most appealing in the showroom.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/14/11 08:19 AM)

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#1619573 - 02/14/11 07:41 AM Re: New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change [Re: faulhorn]
Rotom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/10
Posts: 1670
I tried to predict what my piano would sound like in a small carpeted room compared to a large warehouse. I think it worked, as it sounds the same as it sounded in the showroom. but it is probably a trial and error thing and I just got lucky. also, the tone changed quite quickly after I started playing it regularly, but that may be the effect of 4 hours a day on it for 3 weeks straight. but of course, choose what sounds best in the showroom. That's usually the most accurate thing to do. Use your senses!
rotom

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#1619579 - 02/14/11 07:55 AM Re: New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change [Re: faulhorn]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8076
Loc: Georgia, USA
Yes, the hammers will become compacted and hard over time… hammer voicing is usually part of a routine maintenance plan with the best piano technicians. Some piano tuners do not attempt voicing.

The need for voicing depends on how much and how hard you play… but, don’t let that stop you from enjoying a fine acoustic piano. They are a lot of fun, if you like music of all kinds.

Best regards,

Rick
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Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1619585 - 02/14/11 08:05 AM Re: New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change [Re: faulhorn]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Voicing changes with time and playing. Yes, the hammer compacts more and the felt tends to harden but, there is no way that any one of us can tell or even begin to guess just how much and to what degree this will take place. It all depends on the piano, who is playing it, how hard it is being played and how many hours a day. The more use it receives, the more it will likely change as will the tuning and regulation.
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Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1619624 - 02/14/11 09:12 AM Re: New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change [Re: faulhorn]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10342
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Just to add to Jerry's great answer above, what kind of hammers and how they have been treated is another variable. Some hammers "hold" voicing better than others.

One should really like the sound in the showrrom. Over time a good tech can "craft" the tone in the home to "optimize" the piano for both the room and the players desires.
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Since 1937.

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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1619656 - 02/14/11 10:19 AM Re: New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change [Re: faulhorn]
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2557
Loc: western Wisconsin
For home use, I'd pick what I thought was close to "perfect" in the showroom, taking into account how the showroom differs from the size/materials/shape/placement of the room in which it will ultimately live.

I did make a different decision with the (incoming) piano for my office at the university, though. The dealer had 3 Steinway A's in their smallish selection room. One was very well-prepped, but was voiced on the hotter/brighter side...probably too much so for my office (better for a large living room). I opted to work with a good technician at their store for several hours to refine a relatively unprepped model A that was a bit darker/mellower. The result was an instrument that was just slightly mellower than I prefer-- given the many hours of use it will see every weekday and the expected level of maintenance it will receive, I expect its voice will open up to a reasonable level for my office in a short time.

The delivery is slated for Wednesday, so I guess we'll see soon enough if I made the right decision!
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Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
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Schimmel 130T #339100, on loan

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#1619668 - 02/14/11 10:44 AM Re: New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change [Re: faulhorn]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8076
Loc: Georgia, USA
This is just my opinion, but something to keep in mind… based on my own experience (which is not a lot) I would say that voicing doesn’t really change the basic tone signature of a piano… it merely makes the tone that is already there either mellower or brighter (whether you are voicing down or up).

Some techs will temporarily adjust the una corda pedal some in lieu of voicing to buy some time.

It seems to me that the only way to really change the basic tone signature of a piano is to replace the hammers.

Of course, I could be wrong...

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1620116 - 02/14/11 09:00 PM Re: New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change [Re: Rickster]
faulhorn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 107
Thanks for the responses. Appreciated.

I'd still like to:

1. Get a sense of how much sense in general does the tone change for a new grand - is it clearly noticeable in the first 6 months to a year, or is it a very subtle change?

2. A the store, is there a huge difference in perception of tone with a piano in the middle of the floor versus one along a wall? Would the one along the wall sound 'muddier' but more warm?

Thanks,
F

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#1620170 - 02/14/11 09:54 PM Re: New Piano - Do you take into account anticipated tone change [Re: faulhorn]
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2557
Loc: western Wisconsin
Hi Faulhorn,

I would imagine the change in tone would be commensurate with the type/quality of hammer used (beyond my ability to speak about authoritatively) and the frequency/intensity of use. Two years ago, a new set of hammers was hung on one piano in my office, while the other piano's hammers were filed and voiced a bit. It took a year for the tone to change, but those pianos are played roughly 4 hours a day, except in summer. This would take much longer than a year in a typical home situation.

With regard to tone in a store vs. in a home, that's probably a really complex answer; I probably would ask to have a piano moved out of a corner (for example) to make sure what I'm hearing is the piano and not some weird bunch of phase relationships. I think there was an article about piano placement in the Piano Buyer, and hopefully some of the folks who work in sales will chime in with some helpful info.
_________________________
Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Casio px-200, Bechstein A190 #192939 @ home
Steinway A #585209, B #416809 @ work
Schimmel 130T #339100, on loan

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