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#1781512 - 11/02/11 12:55 AM Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference?
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
We're having a discussion over in the digital piano forum about the differences between (acoustic) grand & upright actions.

Regarding the let-off feel, which is mostly noticable when playing softly, is there anything about the let-off feel in a grand piano that is superior to that of an upright, that allows the player to play very softly? We are not talking about soft repeats (for which double escapement helps on the grand) - just normal, soft playing.

If a grand is better for soft playing, and it's not due to the let-off, why is it better?

Thanks,
Greg.

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#1781605 - 11/02/11 07:46 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Yes, there can be a difference in the feel of let off.

At the point of let off both the upright and the grand have the jack tender contacting the let off button. But on the grand the rep lever is also contacting the drop screw. Well, at about the same time... So there is more, or can be more, feel of let off on a grand. Also the jack can be adjusted for what position on the knuckle it pushes before let off. So this is another place where the feel of let off can be adjusted on a grand that is not available on an upright.

But there is a much more basic thing involved. on a grand the hammers are lifted against gravity. On an upright, they are mostly pushed against a spring, but also are near their balance point. In fact, the bass hammers have enough weight that the difference in the balance point is significant.

So I would say that a grand can be better for soft playing because there are more adjustments available, which may or may not be correct. And when these adjustments are at their optimum a grand will be able to be played with more control when play softly because the gravity working more evenly on the hammers than it does on the hammers of an upright.

But good voicing can make a world of difference, too...

Anyway that’s what I think.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1781662 - 11/02/11 10:46 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Thanks Jeff - much appreciated.

I read in another thread about the importance of having the hammer to string distance at let-off as small as possible, to aid soft playing. Aside from all the things you have already mentioned, is it perhaps possible for a grand to have a smaller hammer to string distance than an upright?

Greg.

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#1781664 - 11/02/11 10:54 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Yes, it is possible to have let off closer to the strings on a grand. But I think the most bang-for-the-buck is good voicing. When the notes sound softer when payed softer, playing softer sounds softer. (Say that 3 times fast wink )
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1781910 - 11/02/11 06:18 PM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: sullivang
We're having a discussion over in the digital piano forum about the differences between (acoustic) grand & upright actions...
Interesting forum to discuss that kind of thing. Over here on the "real piano" forum [am I in hot water now?] f we don't spend too much breath discussing the action on digital keyboards... whistle
...but I think you got the answer to your question...
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
... When the notes sound softer when payed softer, playing softer sounds softer. (Say that 3 times fast wink )
And I'll add: when the louder playing sounds louder, the louder is louder. laugh
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1782218 - 11/03/11 07:09 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Where is Yogi Berra when you need him?
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1782309 - 11/03/11 10:55 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
I'll duck the smarty-pants comments wink and ask another serious question: (it may as well go here, because it's related)

Is it true that piano manufacturers have been trying to eliminate the let-off feel (which is especially noticable for soft playing), because it's considered to be a flaw?

Thanks again, superior ones. smile

Greg.

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#1782548 - 11/03/11 06:05 PM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
I think I can now answer my own question. Here is a patent from Yamaha dated 2008 that appears to be for a mechanism that completely eliminates let-off feel/friction:
http://www.google.com/patents/about/11_237_702_Friction_in_a_grand_piano_com.html?id=SnSbAAAAEBAJ

This says to me that let-off is UNDESIRABLE. It also says to me that most digital piano actions are superior in this regard to real pianos! Ha ha - take that. ;^)

EDIT: Sorry - I've been a bit over zealous I think. Let-off has not been eliminated, but the build-up of friction that is mostly felt when playing softly has been eliminated. (although no mention of the repetition lever resistance when it hits the drop screw in that patent)

Greg. (running away and hiding)


Edited by sullivang (11/03/11 06:25 PM)

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#1782565 - 11/03/11 06:26 PM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
accordeur Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1229
Loc: Qubec, Canada
http://www.mmdigest.com/Gallery/Tech/HickmanAction/analysis.html

I've always felt let-off was a good thing, especially as a piano player since childhood. I like the progressive friction, damper first, then let-off. I feel that it allows for greater control. I could be wrong.

I would love to try a Hickman action, see what the let-off would feel on it. Would it still be as progressive in resistance as a traditional action? I think so as far as the damper is concerned, less with the let-off, but maybe enough to still feel it?

I know for a fact that I dislike digital pianos actions. Especially because they don't have that extra bit of friction/resistance at the bottom of the keystroke.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca

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#1782569 - 11/03/11 06:30 PM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
accordeur Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1229
Loc: Qubec, Canada
"If a grand is better for soft playing, and it's not due to the let-off, why is it better?"

Because you are working against gravity.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca

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#1782922 - 11/04/11 07:55 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted By: sullivang
I think I can now answer my own question. Here is a patent from Yamaha dated 2008 that appears to be for a mechanism that completely eliminates let-off feel/friction:
http://www.google.com/patents/about/11_237_702_Friction_in_a_grand_piano_com.html?id=SnSbAAAAEBAJ

This says to me that let-off is UNDESIRABLE. It also says to me that most digital piano actions are superior in this regard to real pianos! Ha ha - take that. ;^)

EDIT: Sorry - I've been a bit over zealous I think. Let-off has not been eliminated, but the build-up of friction that is mostly felt when playing softly has been eliminated. (although no mention of the repetition lever resistance when it hits the drop screw in that patent)

Greg. (running away and hiding)


Uh, Roland makes a digital piano that has some kind of rubber fingers to simulate the feel of let off. I agree with Jean. The feeling of let off is desirable.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1782927 - 11/04/11 08:13 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: UnrightTooner]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner

Uh, Roland makes a digital piano that has some kind of rubber fingers to simulate the feel of let off. I agree with Jean. The feeling of let off is desirable.


Yes, but that proves nothing IMHO, because some players will want the defects as well, so that it is easy to move between digital and acoustic, for example. I.e - it seems to be a worthwhile goal to make some digital pianos behave as closely as possible to a real piano, even if that means emulating the flaws.

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (11/04/11 08:19 AM)

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#1782944 - 11/04/11 08:41 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
So by the same sort of logic, the "defect" of diminishing volume (decay) is a flaw that is emulated in digital pianos, but not digital organs?

Bah!
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1782952 - 11/04/11 08:58 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: UnrightTooner]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
I can't see anything wrong with my logic whatsoever. Real pianos are still important (very important!), so given this, it seems very worthwhile to make digital pianos that behave as closely as possible to real pianos, so that players can practise on digital pianos when real pianos are not available. Any discrepancy between digital and acoustic will make it more difficult to transfer from a digital to an acoustic, and vice versa.

Another "flaw" that is often carried over to digital pianos is the graduated weight. Is that really something that we all want in a piano action, or, perhaps, is it something that is very difficult to eliminate from real pianos, due to the fact that it has larger hammers in the bass, which are necessary to create the same loudness as the treble notes?

Greg.

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#1782973 - 11/04/11 09:34 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Seems like a good question for the digital piano forum.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1782979 - 11/04/11 09:41 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
I found another patent related to reducing jack/knuckle friction, FWIW:

http://www.patents.com/us-5511454.html

Greg.

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#1783023 - 11/04/11 10:51 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Quote from: http://convention.ptg.org/Class%20materials/FromthePointofView.pdf

"One hallmark of fine regulation is “playing off the jack.”
a. Resting the fingers lightly on the keys at drop/let off contact, press through very
rapidly.
b. Each key should sound, a very light pianissimo, next to impossible to achieve
otherwise.
c. Close let off is the major factor.
d. Some pianists use this on occasion in performance – if the piano is regulated so
that it will work."

So this little "trick" appears to be one advantage of having the build-up of resistance - i.e - without the tactile feedback, the pianist would not readily know how far down to press the keys in order to position them optimally for this style of playing. Very interesting!

Greg.

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#1783034 - 11/04/11 11:10 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
TunerJeff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 498
Loc: Oregon Coast
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fsy5sz17PzU

Try that one. Yamaha has a digital keyboard...which uses a grand-action as the controller. You want a real piano 'feel'? Can't beat this. Lead weights in place of the actual hammer, but the keyboard itself is from a Conservatory-series grand.

Grands generally have a longer key than uprights (better leverage), let-off can be pushed closer to the strings, good knuckles, geometry, and good regulation can make let-off very light in a grand. No comparison; grands have greater control in ppp-playing. When you add the shift-pedal, and the various shadings in the hammer-felt for expression (the shift-pedal is not just on/off) a grand allows for a much wider degree of expression at low levels. Really! It's an aspect of playing/expression/control that digital pianos cannot touch....yet.
_________________________
Jeffrey T. Hickey, RPT
Oregon Coast Piano Services
TunerJeff440@aol.com

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#1783442 - 11/04/11 11:55 PM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Thanks again Jeff. (Of course, we now have the AvantGrand, which is presumably a step up from the GranTouch)

Here is another patent for reducing jack/knuckle friction: http://www.patentgenius.com/patent/6232537.html It appears to be sort of similar to the Hickman action, in that it has an articulated jack.

Greg.

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#1783477 - 11/05/11 01:39 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
TunerJeff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 498
Loc: Oregon Coast
Wow! I checked out that link on the 'articulated jack'. It is amazing what people come up with. That one actually kinda makes sense.

After reading through the endless minutia of the patent application I reached the description. Basically; don't scrape the jack across the knuckle for let-off. Just fold that puppy in the center and fold it out of the way. Very nearly no friction at all, it just cracks in half and collapses away from the knuckle. Spiffy!

I note that the guy seems to work for Baldwin...wonder if it will get any use in the real world. Good ideas, with extra parts, means expense. Builders don't like expense or we'd still see lost-motion compensators and working sostenutos in vertical pianos.(sigh)
_________________________
Jeffrey T. Hickey, RPT
Oregon Coast Piano Services
TunerJeff440@aol.com

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#1783487 - 11/05/11 02:44 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: TunerJeff]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Quote:
.... Basically; don't scrape the jack across the knuckle for let-off.
There is the Meingast roller-knuckle, which is an option in Steingraeber pianos. No scraping jack there - the knuckle is a firm felt roller which rotates as the jack escapes. Essentially 0 friction. An interesting feel, but not everyone likes it. It seems some friction is preferable for a controlled touch.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1783508 - 11/05/11 05:22 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Thanks for the heads up on the rolling knuckle. FWIW, I found this thread which has some discussion about it:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ite_id/1#import

Maybe it will slowly catch on.

Greg.

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#1783574 - 11/05/11 09:26 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Found a comment from David Stanwood re: the rolling knuckles:

http://mail.ptg.org/pipermail/pianotech/2003-April/131820.html

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (11/05/11 09:27 AM)

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#1783663 - 11/05/11 12:37 PM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
sunslight Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 106
Loc: Provo, Utah, USA
For me, IMHO, I like the let-off as close as possible, and some friction (not too much though), so I know where I am. I do use the technique of "playing off the jack." Of course, the jack has to contact the knuckle a little or nothing will happen, but it is ever so slight.

then I thought, but if I am looking for a certain amount of friction to let me know where I am, in a digital piano, I'm just supposing here, it would always be at the same place: the bottom of the key? Thus, I don't need to feel the friction.

However, if you are going to play ppp or an ethereal whisper, would it be possible on a digital? On the grand, once past escapement, the jack can be controlled by amount & velocity of release of the aftertouch, to come back to barely touch the knuckle. If all the friction is removed how will you know where that is?
_________________________
__________
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A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.

PTG member. BA in music theory; graduate work in musicology, voice & piano major instruments.

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#1783684 - 11/05/11 01:06 PM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21928
Loc: Oakland
There are two, barely noticeable, differences in grand actions. The first is the repetition lever, but it mostly affects how the action feels after the note has been played. The second is that they are usually made to closer tolerances than upright actions.

There is a third, which is much more noticeable, but only happens when the actions are not properly regulated. Upright actions get excessive lost motion right away. Grand actions do not have lost motion unless the action is terribly neglected, which does happen often enough.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1783815 - 11/05/11 05:54 PM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sunslight]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2238
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: sunslight
For me, IMHO, I like the let-off as close as possible, and some friction (not too much though), so I know where I am.


Yes, I think I know what you mean. I do have an instrument with let-off (a beaten up old Wurlitzer electric piano with, I guess, a very simplified real piano action), and I did a bit of testing. When playing soft chords, I have a sense of all my fingers lining up perfectly just before the hammers are released. I.e - I feel like the click is helping to minimise arpeggiation when I want to play all the notes softly and at exactly the same time. Now, whether this is actually helping, or whether it's an illusion, I don't know, but I do like it.
On the other hand, when playing single notes, it feels awkward after my digital piano (that does not have let-off simulation)
I know this test doesn't mean much because this action is light years away from a fine grand.

Greg.

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#1784571 - 11/07/11 08:06 AM Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference? [Re: sullivang]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
The articulated jack "over-centers". It may reduce friction, but it will increase resistance by momentarily changing the action ratio. Might be good, bad or indifferent.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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