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#1970759 - 10/09/12 12:00 PM Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright
ERN Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 15
Loc: York, Pa.
I am rather new to the forum and I am sure this is a topic that has been talked about infinitum, and I have read a lot of the posts, but I am just curious on opinions, and I know this is an over simplification; would it be better (or easier) to take a mellow piano and try to make it brighter or a bright piano and make it mellower thru voicing. I recently purchased a Kawai KG-3 that was restrung about a year ago, and seems mellow to me, which I kind of like, but I sense that my tuner, who admits he likes the Yamaha sound, and whose opinion I do value, does not like. I would like just a bit more on the bright sound, but felt that I should just let things settle in, keep it tuned, and that as the hammers are used, and get a little more compacted, it will gradually move in that direction. Is that a reasonable expectation?
Randy

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#1970762 - 10/09/12 12:06 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5246
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: ERN
I am rather new to the forum and I am sure this is a topic that has been talked about infinitum, and I have read a lot of the posts, but I am just curious on opinions, and I know this is an over simplification; would it be better (or easier) to take a mellow piano and try to make it brighter or a bright piano and make it mellower thru voicing. I recently purchased a Kawai KG-3 that was restrung about a year ago, and seems mellow to me, which I kind of like, but I sense that my tuner, who admits he likes the Yamaha sound, and whose opinion I do value, does not like. I would like just a bit more on the bright sound, but felt that I should just let things settle in, keep it tuned, and that as the hammers are used, and get a little more compacted, it will gradually move in that direction. Is that a reasonable expectation?

Who plays the piano the most? You or your piano tuner?

There is no right or wrong here; the piano should be voiced to your taste, not that of the piano tuner/technician.

Personally I would prefer the warmer, or more mellow sound. But if my client wants it brighter it is my duty to either make it so or, if I think this would be somehow detrimental to the piano, explain why I think this and present options. I have, on rare occasions, suggested the owner might be happier with another technician if I am asked to do something to a piano that I personally find obnoxious.

It's your piano and your decision.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1970786 - 10/09/12 01:02 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
ERN Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 15
Loc: York, Pa.
Yes, thank you. I was not implying at all that I would let my tuner determine how my piano should sound, but he plays hundreds of pianos and I only play one. In the final analysis, my bottom line is if I like it, that all that matters. Being human, however, and curious, I am interested in other opinions especially as far as degree. My real question I guess is, can I expect it to get noticeably brighter in a reasonable amount of time on its own. What I don’t want to do is have it voiced brighter and then in a year or two find out it is overly bright. On the other hand, I am 64 so may not want to wait several years for a change in the sound. I do think that just in the year I have had it, maybe because of several tunings and keeping the humidity constant, it sounds a little brighter to me already. I have a tuning scheduled in a few weeks and I am trying to decide if I should address it or sit tight.

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#1970796 - 10/09/12 01:24 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
Steve Chandler Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2730
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Originally Posted By: ERN
<snip>My real question I guess is, can I expect it to get noticeably brighter in a reasonable amount of time on its own. What I don’t want to do is have it voiced brighter and then in a year or two find out it is overly bright. On the other hand, I am 64 so may not want to wait several years for a change in the sound. I do think that just in the year I have had it, maybe because of several tunings and keeping the humidity constant, it sounds a little brighter to me already. I have a tuning scheduled in a few weeks and I am trying to decide if I should address it or sit tight.

As a KG3 it was a used piano when you bought it, so it had been "played in" at least somewhat. However, if it has become brighter in the year that you've owned it then you've already experienced some of the bloom (as I've heard it referred to) that normally happens as the result of regular play. All pianos get brighter and the process doesn't stop. At some point the hammers will need to be reshaped and voiced to bring down the brightness.

In the old days Steinways were sold with hammers that had the consistency of Q-tips (okay that's an exaggeration). The expectation was that as the piano was played the sound would become brighter. American society being what it is, people were dissatisfied and Steinway developed a technique to make the hammers harder using chemicals.

I'd wait 6 months to see if the natural hardening process will be enough for you. Any hardening will eventually become too much.

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#1970797 - 10/09/12 01:26 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2307
Loc: SoCal
I'm no expert, but...my Kawai got about 5-6 hours of playing a week. After a couple of years of this, it had definitely gotten brighter. Your mileage may vary, but I'd think your piano will brighten in time.

If you decide to voice it, pick out a particular note on your piano that you like, and have your tech voice the other hammers to match.
_________________________
Gary

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#1970819 - 10/09/12 01:58 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: Plowboy]
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1222
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Hello Randy,
I would avoid having any hardening treatment of the hammers of your Kawai KG-3.
Personally, like you, I prefer a warm, mellow sound from a piano and I find that sound best for home playing.
Your tuner/technician should support your preference for the sound of your own piano.

Choosing a particular piano because you like the sound is a personal choice and that should be respected.

Keep the piano well-tuned as the strings are still newish and enjoy your Kawai KG-3, which is a very nice piano. Play it regularly and the sound will gradually brighten without any technical intervention.

Best wishes for years of musical pleasure with your KG-3!

Robert.


Edited by Robert 45 (10/09/12 02:06 PM)

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#1970839 - 10/09/12 02:29 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
ERN Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 15
Loc: York, Pa.
Wow, some great advice, thanks so much. First, I just can’t bring myself to want to put hardening agents on my piano. I can’t logically explain that, but one of the things I love about any piano is the naturalness, the wood, the felt, the strings. It all seems so amazing to me how it all comes together, develops its own character and personality and adding chemicals seems sort of a sacrilege. I am sure that is probably naive, but I just don’t like the sound of it. As far as voicing to a particular note, that does make perfect sense to me and I never thought of it. I will wait at least another 6 months and let the piano gods work their magic. I am not a great player, but really love the piano, my piano, almost any piano, despite my wife’s warning to never love anything that can not love you back. Who knows, I sense that my piano at least is starting to like me. Thanks guys.
Randy

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#1970849 - 10/09/12 02:52 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5246
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: ERN
Wow, some great advice, thanks so much. First, I just can’t bring myself to want to put hardening agents on my piano. I can’t logically explain that, but one of the things I love about any piano is the naturalness, the wood, the felt, the strings. It all seems so amazing to me how it all comes together, develops its own character and personality and adding chemicals seems sort of a sacrilege. I am sure that is probably naive, but I just don’t like the sound of it. As far as voicing to a particular note, that does make perfect sense to me and I never thought of it. I will wait at least another 6 months and let the piano gods work their magic. I am not a great player, but really love the piano, my piano, almost any piano, despite my wife’s warning to never love anything that can not love you back. Who knows, I sense that my piano at least is starting to like me. Thanks guys.
Randy

Ideally hammers should be moderately dense and resilient. That is, when the hammers strike the strings they should act as a non-linear spring. When hammers are chemically hardened they become harder and lose some (or all) of their resilience. Subsequent voicing--usually in the form of needling--can make the hammers softer but it cannot restore the original resilience. The hammers may still act as springs but now they act as linear springs. What is lost is some of the timbral change that should be a part of the piano's tone when going from pianissimo to forte.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1970850 - 10/09/12 02:56 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21444
Loc: Oakland
There are different hardening agents and different methods of application which give different results. Voicing is an art, and the results depend on each artist who does it.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1970853 - 10/09/12 03:03 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
pianonewb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/09
Posts: 220
Loc: No. Va.
I think you're making the right decision. I don't play anything anywhere near the quality of your Kawai.
The piano I play is fairly old. It's a Kohler and Campbell console made in the 50s. It plays well, and I personally love the sound. But it has to my knowledge never had a regulation, never been voiced, or any work other than regular tuning, which is done yearly, and it holds that tuning very well.
In talking with my tech, it seems he's of the opinion that it's not a very nice piano. He's never outright said that, but I get the jist of his feeling when I talk about how much I like it. I've even got the feeling that he thinks the piano is well past it's prime. I don't really care. I love it. It gives the perfect sound for the old timey, bluesy Gospel and hymns that we play in church(it is the church's piano), and imho it plays wonderfully.
But he's a great tuner, does a great job, and I'll be having him out to tune it again come May. I wish I could actually get him to do a proper regulation on the piano, as well as whatever else he thinks it might need, as I think it could probably benefit from it. But our church is small, doesn't have a lot of cash to throw around, and it would be near impossible to get authorization for the work. Unless the piano has an obvious problem that prevents it's being played, tuning is about all it will ever get.
The point is, I know he would probably recommend a new piano altogether, if I were to ask him. But I love this piano the way it is, and would not want to part with it unless there was no choice. I welcome his tuning, and his advice/help with any problems we might encounter, but I could care less what he thinks about the piano itself.
_________________________
Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


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#1970864 - 10/09/12 03:35 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19278
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: ERN
Yes, thank you. I was not implying at all that I would let my tuner determine how my piano should sound, but he plays hundreds of pianos and I only play one. In the final analysis, my bottom line is if I like it, that all that matters.
Ask your tuner which pianos to try in your local dealers that would be more the way he likes them. That way you can decide for yourself if you want to keep the piano as is or adjust the tone. You'll have a better idea what the options are and whether you not only like your piano's tone but whether you like your piano's tone more than the ones with a tone like your tuner is suggesting.

If you eventually decide to let him change the tone you could have him do it gradually.

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#1970939 - 10/09/12 06:38 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
ERN Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 15
Loc: York, Pa.
Hi Mike,
Regarding your Kohler and Campbell, the only other piano I ever owned or really played was a Kohler and Campbell 5’2” grand that I bought new in 1896. I played it, not a lot, but fairly consistently for 25 years and it always played well and sounded nice. In fact the same tuner would often comment on how well it sounded and how well it stayed in tune. I know for a fact that it was never voiced or regulated and I never once had a technician out for anything but tuning. Maybe that is part of why I am reluctant to fool with this one. I sort of got back into playing and wanted one more piano with a little more sound and depth, and worked a very nice deal on this rebuilt Kawai, but will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Kohler. Mine was one of the last to be made in the US, I believe, and I hope it found a nice home and gives someone else another 25 years of pleasure.

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#1970942 - 10/09/12 06:46 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
acortot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 473
Loc: Italy
I think that if a piano is voiced mellow, to sound good it probably has good quality felt with the proper tension in the various layers of felt

If you needle a hard hammer chances are you will break fibres and the felt will be fragmented and limp in the end
_________________________
rhythm must be inborn - Alfred Cortot

An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario

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#1970955 - 10/09/12 07:04 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21444
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: ERN
Hi Mike,
Regarding your Kohler and Campbell, the only other piano I ever owned or really played was a Kohler and Campbell 5’2” grand that I bought new in 1896.


So you must be the oldest person in the world!

American Kohler and Campbells are different pianos than the current Korean ones.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1971022 - 10/09/12 09:39 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
ERN Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 15
Loc: York, Pa.
Ooops. Yea right 1896, I guess that piano was even better than I thought. Not quite that old, sorry, try 1986, good piano regardless, but not much of a typist.

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#1971028 - 10/09/12 09:52 PM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: ERN]
TX-Dennis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 4126
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: ERN
Hi Mike,
the only other piano I ever owned or really played was a Kohler and Campbell 5’2” grand that I bought new in 1896.


Wow! You are probably PW's oldest member. grin
_________________________
Dennis

flickr


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#1971236 - 10/10/12 10:10 AM Re: Bright to Mellow or Mellow to Bright [Re: TX-Dennis]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19278
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: TX-Dennis
Originally Posted By: ERN
Hi Mike,
the only other piano I ever owned or really played was a Kohler and Campbell 5’2” grand that I bought new in 1896.


Wow! You are probably PW's oldest member. grin
That would be my Grandmother who is really 113.


Edited by pianoloverus (10/10/12 10:41 AM)

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