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#1415468 - 04/11/10 08:27 PM Touchrail solution to a heavy action
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1300
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
I recently had Scott Jones of Pitchlock install a Touchrail system on my S&S D to decrease the downweight of my action. I'm really amazed at the results.

http://www.pitchlock.com/

My downweight was weighing off at about 58 grams. Scott has a very clever and easy fix to the problem of static inertia. He invented a stop rail with springs that helps the player get past the problem of getting the key stroke started. I've been using it now for about a couple weeks and love it. I have chronic tendinits in my right hand and need a light action to prevent pain and fatigue. My downweight is down to 45 grams and I can play for hours without pain or getting tired. Here's a video of Scott installing the Touchrail in my piano.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X81soR9NqqE

It's a much easier solution than removing lead from the keys and redesigning the geometry of the action. It's definitely worth a look if you're action feels "heavy".

I'm also going to post this in the Pianist Corner.
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#1415479 - 04/11/10 08:55 PM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Ralph]
Dave Stahl Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/07
Posts: 1645
Thanks for the post, Ralph. Looks really interesting, particularly for those of us with clients who want a lighter action but don't have much money. I look forward to trying one out.

Kawai had an upright that had a rail with weights that slid back and forth in order to change the touch weight. I'm surprised it never took off.
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#1415809 - 04/12/10 11:33 AM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Dave Stahl]
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1300
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Dave,

I strongly recommend taking a look at this system if you have customers complaining of a heavy action. Assuming the geometry of their action is correct, this is a great way to remove the feeling of heaviness from the keys without rebuilding the action. Scott will have you do some measurements at the piano and send him a template of the stoprail. He'll talk you through it and has an instruction form. He'll send you the final Touchrail for you to install and its quite simple to do.
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#1416003 - 04/12/10 06:47 PM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Ralph]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
The Touchrail is covered in the most recent PTG Journal.

--Cy--
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#1416076 - 04/12/10 10:34 PM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Cy Shuster, RPT]
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1300
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Like most great ideas, it's a simple solution to a complicated problem. People use the words "heavy" and "light" to describe action problems which could be caused by a number of issues. Touchweight is complicated and it takes skill to diagnose the precise cause of the problem. I'm just offering this as a potential solution which is easy and economical compared to rebuilding an action or hanging new hammers. For all the techs out there, I know your customers will be very grateful for an alternative to gutting their piano action. It will enhance your service and your customers will appreciate you more.
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#1416120 - 04/12/10 11:55 PM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Ralph]
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1263
Loc: Tomball, Texas
I think it's neat as far as it goes, but for actions with higher than normal touchweights there are many times inertia issues that this system will do nothing to compensate for. If your action was playing at 58 grams even in the high treble that is indicative of friction issues or excessive hammerweight issues or even possibly the wrong action parts. It sort of strikes me as a high tech bandaid, that cleverly compensates for the problem but doesn't really fix the problem. It is sort of akin to the Renner turbo wippen with the assist spring. Once again, it compensates for other underlying issues, but doesn't get at the root cause.

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#1416321 - 04/13/10 08:55 AM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: John Pels]
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1300
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
My action was fine until it started getting hotter and humid in the northeast. Action feel, for me, is a dynamic and fluid process which changes depending on conditions and over time. I know my action geometery and hammers are correct. Its a new action and I know it was done correctly. Heavy actions could be due to wrong hammers, poor capstan position, tight center pin or bushings, too much lead, and so on. The only thing that really matters is the player's prececption of the action. You could correct all the issues and still have the customer say the action isn't right. I'm sure thats happened to you all. The Touchrail is a device that can be adjusted as the action wares and conditions dictate. It is not a solution to all action problems, but it directly addresses a problem that other solutions do not; that is, the players feel. Even after correting issues of geometery, I think a Touchrail would still be benificial. I have not seen any other system that allows the action feel to be adjusted so easily. It very simply makes the keys easier to push down. Weather the geometry is correct or not, that's specifically what is does and that's what many players want.


Edited by Ralph (04/13/10 09:00 AM)
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#1418233 - 04/15/10 11:32 PM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Ralph]
piano_tech chris Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 72
Loc: South Central PA
I'll be sure to give one a try. thanks for sharing!
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#1418268 - 04/16/10 01:46 AM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: piano_tech chris]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7872
Loc: France
I agree only partly with you Ralph, many players notice the difference between assist springs and lower action ratio (or a bit more lead in the keys)

Ease of play is appreciated but the lowering of hammer perception is not.

But indeed it may be a practical and i hope not so expensive solution, and even a way to experiment with action ratio. How are thoses springs ? are they in bronze or steel ? coils or blades ?

The friction zone may get noisy in time, because the force of the spring may be high to be efficient for a few grms at that not optimal position. It may more break the heaviness at the beginning of the stroke than really lighten the touch all along is not it ?
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#1418354 - 04/16/10 08:57 AM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Olek]
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1300
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Good questions Kamin. Yes, it does break the heaviness of the stroke at the beginning and has lesser of an influence later in the stroke. The potential for noise did concern me, but that's why I waited a couple weeks before posting my experience. I wanted to get through the "honeymoon period".

The springs look like regular coil springs to me. I don't know it they're bronze or steel. A few of the keys started "clicking", but a small adjustment one why or the other and a little Mclube 444a did the trick. Personally I love the Touchrail. I've had pain in my right hand for years and even had surgery about a year ago. I know the touchrail has made it possible for me to play again. I also know there are many people with painful hands and wrists that would benefit.

I wanted to pass my experience along to the pro tech community because I think it's valid and useful to you all. My suggetion would be to give the developer Scott Jones a call and discuss it with him. It's just one more thing you can offer your customers.


Edited by Ralph (04/16/10 09:00 AM)
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#1418389 - 04/16/10 09:58 AM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Ralph]
johnsfsr Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 16
Loc: Nelson, BC
Will it work with an upright action?

John Pengelly

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#1418442 - 04/16/10 11:31 AM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: johnsfsr]
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1300
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Good question. I don't know for sure, but after seeing how it works I would suspect the answer is yes. Send Scott an email.
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#1467040 - 07/02/10 01:14 PM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Ralph]
foxyw Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 298
Loc: New Hampshire
I just had one of these installed on our Steinway M. What a great product.
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#1467068 - 07/02/10 02:06 PM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: foxyw]
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1300
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Originally Posted By: foxyw
I just had one of these installed on our Steinway M. What a great product.



It really is. I still love mine.
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Do or do not. There is no try.

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#1467203 - 07/02/10 08:05 PM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: John Pels]
tds Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/06
Posts: 446
Loc: Bastrop, Texas
Originally Posted By: John Pels
I think it's neat as far as it goes, but for actions with higher than normal touchweights there are many times inertia issues that this system will do nothing to compensate for. If your action was playing at 58 grams even in the high treble that is indicative of friction issues or excessive hammerweight issues or even possibly the wrong action parts. It sort of strikes me as a high tech bandaid, that cleverly compensates for the problem but doesn't really fix the problem. It is sort of akin to the Renner turbo wippen with the assist spring. Once again, it compensates for other underlying issues, but doesn't get at the root cause.


Maybe you're right, but it makes the piano playable for a fraction of the cost of a new action.
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Stay tuned.

Tom Seay, Recovering Piano Technician
Bastrop, Texas

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#1467204 - 07/02/10 08:07 PM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Ralph]
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
If the root of the problem is in low up weight in ratio to the downweight than lowering the downweight is a big bandaid, but hey if you are content with the results, also being easily installed...that's all that matters. wink


Edited by pianobroker (07/02/10 08:08 PM)
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#1821555 - 01/09/12 02:24 PM Re: Touchrail solution to a heavy action [Re: Ralph]
ChengmaniaRPT Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 2
Loc: West Chester, PA
If you have questions I noticed Scott updated the website quite a bit.

Pitchlock.com or touchrail.com
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