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#1970554 - 10/08/12 10:59 PM Any warning about changing hammers?
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Hello again esteemed techs,

I may be purchasing a Mason BB very soon, but wanted to know if anyone here, for any reason, would be concerned about switching from a Renner Blue to a pre-hung (hammers installed on the shanks supplied) Isaac Cadenza 165 in the quest for increasing the piano's timbre range. Am I being too optimistic in this venture? Any cautions?

Thank you to all in advance for all that are kind enough to offer advice.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1970560 - 10/08/12 11:17 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1293
Loc: Michigan
I assume you've heard the recordings. You can expect a significant improvement from custom made, premium, high-energy hammers as opposed to the production hammers used by factories.

You could benefit from the Cadenza 165, Cadenza 180 or the Classical West hammers.

If you want more info, send me a PM.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#1970651 - 10/09/12 03:48 AM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1917
Loc: Suffolk, England
I am sure Keith's hammers will transform a piano from one you like into one you like even more.

But I am not so sure any hammers will transform the Mason BB in question to one you really like.

My reservations have nothing to do with hammers but the rest of the piano. When you compare the frequency spectrum of the vibrations produced by the hammers in a string with that of the sound you hear, you will see that they are not quite the same. That's because the bridge and soundboard, together with the rest of the piano, colour the sound.

It is clear from the postings about this piano, and all the recordings, that Mason and Hamlin pianos have their own character. That must be due in large part to the way the soundboard acts as a transducer. You will not be changing that.

What would concern me is that a significant amount of the energy you expect to go into producing a timbral or tonal change, whatever you want to call it, actually goes into colouration. I guess that is the main reason for the differences in accentuation between your BB recording and those in your signature link. If that is the case the BB will never produce the dynamics you may be looking for.

On the other hand your BB should be a very fine piano in its own right.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#1970784 - 10/09/12 12:56 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: Withindale]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: Withindale


My reservations have nothing to do with hammers but the rest of the piano. When you compare the frequency spectrum of the vibrations produced by the hammers in a string with that of the sound you hear, you will see that they are not quite the same. That's because the bridge and soundboard, together with the rest of the piano, colour the sound.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. How does one compare the frequency spectrum with what one hears? I get that you're saying the bridge and soundboard colour the sound, but are you suggesting more colour is impossible with better hammers?
Originally Posted By: Withdale

It is clear from the postings about this piano, and all the recordings, that Mason and Hamlin pianos have their own character. That must be due in large part to the way the soundboard acts as a transducer. You will not be changing that.

Not looking to change the character, but to bring it out more. More changes in timbre within each dynamic.
Originally Posted By: Withindale

What would concern me is that a significant amount of the energy you expect to go into producing a timbral or tonal change, whatever you want to call it, actually goes into colouration.

I don't really understand what you mean here, either. Energy initiated by the hammer striking the string? And what is the difference between timbral change and colouration?

What Kamin said in another thread is that in the 2 Masons he's heard ( I assume both with Renner Blues), that the dynamic range, or ability to play very softly to very loudly is there, but the piano didn't exhibit very different colours from soft to loud. But the question remains: What if different hammers were put on?

Has anyone the experience of changing hammers from heat pressed to cold pressed, or cold pressed premium hammers, and has found that the piano finally opened up its tonal range?
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1970812 - 10/09/12 01:49 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy
Am I being too optimistic in this venture? Any cautions?


The hammer set is only one component of a system that produces sound. The piano is a fixed tone instrument meaning that the tone is set by the manufacturer. Little can be done to change this; subtle changes can be made with voicing or changing out the hammer set to produce a slightly differing sound but basically it is still the same tone.

This is one of the things that many fail to understand about voicing. Voicing allows the technician to enhance or bring out the good sounds or tones while masking the poor quality tones. The poor quality tones are still there but until such time as the hammer set wears you are prevented from hearing them by needle voicing or other voicing procedures.

There may be some noticeable improvement moving towards what you are looking for but in the end why not look for the instrument that already has the tone you are looking for then most of that problem is solved…..without forcing an instrument to sound the way you want it to go..this is always risky and what then if you see no change or minimal improvements after spending a lot of funds to replace components.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1970917 - 10/09/12 05:31 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1917
Loc: Suffolk, England
I'd echo what Dan says in general but, in another thread, you said you are happy with the tone.

What you are after is "more changes in timbre within each dynamic" because, as I understand it, the BB does not give you the "timbral response" you got from the Shigeru. This, as Dan says, has little to do with hammers but the design and construction of the piano.

Kawai have a state of the art research and development facility where everything is analysed meticulously. They have published a video of a Shigeru in an anechoic chamber with their engineers looking at the frequency spectra I mentioned. Undoubtedly one result of their endeavours is the piano's "timbral response".

What they must have done, in essence, is make the vibrations of the soundboard follow the vibrations of the strings as closely as possible. When the pianist plays middle C the piano responds with as much middle C sound as the engineers can reasonably get it to produce, fundamental and overtones.

Mason & Hamlin say, "the distinctive Mason & Hamlin tone is the result of a piano that is built using original Boston era designs with scrupulous attention to detail and accuracy. The full, powerful bass, lyrical tenor, bell-like treble tones, and the tremendous sustain are qualities that can only be found in a Mason & Hamlin piano."

As you have found, when a pianist plays middle C on a BB it will respond with middle C sounds plus other sounds that give the piano its distinctive tone. The designer has shared out the sound energy and there is nothing the pianist can do about it. The tone you like must inevitably be at the expense of the response you want.

Hope this helps a bit.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#1971045 - 10/09/12 10:38 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Thanks to Keith, Ian and Dan for sharing your insight.

I have just found out today what the problem is with the Masons I've auditioned. It has nothing to do with timbral range, but more so has to do with the colours when attempting to play the dynamic piano or below. Since I'm used to playing very lightly, what I've found is that the same force I apply on other instruments to produce piano comes out quite loud, probably closer to what I'd think is mf.
So, today after discussing the whole 'tonal limitations' thing with the local Mason dealer, and him saying that he doesn't find that they are limited, I decided to try harder to find these colours when playing the pianos. I still couldn't. That is, until I decided to put my noise attenuation earplugs (musicians earplugs) in that I use for work. Well, when they were in, all the Masons there sounded amazing, with all the range I was hoping for.
So, what does this mean for me? It probably means I can't get a Mason, unless I moved to a detached house, and only practiced when my family was not here. Or covered the piano with blankets, and had padding under the piano.
These pianos really perform well--but all of the dynamics are much higher than other pianos of the same size. I can't imagine playing forte or above without the earplugs in! I took them out for a minute to see the difference, and the sound hurt my ears, except when I put on the soft pedal.
I'm not sure the pianos can be better regulated so as to play quieter, and even if they could, I suppose what I'm experiencing at the Mason pianissimo is the limitation for how dark, or mellow it can sound. But unfortunately, if I wanted to play normally the piano would be excessively loud--especially so in my house.

So, I think my search continues for another brand unless I've missed something?
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1971075 - 10/09/12 11:30 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1293
Loc: Michigan
Well maybe, but what you describe is also characteristic of inadequate hammers.

I've played M&H BB and CC and really like them, but the new ones could do much better with something other than production hammers.

This gets into the whole hard hammer/soft hammer discussion which is largely irrelevant. A pillow is soft and a brick is hard but what is a basketball? It's not just some kind of in-between hardness level along the pillow-to-brick hardness scale. It's capabilities are of a different kind than either the pillow or the brick. You can never make a basketball by hardening a pillow or softening the brick. The more a hammer has that "basketball" quality -- whatever you want to call it -- the more effective that hammer will be in eliciting the tonal capabilities that are present in the belly. And some hammers definitely have more of that "basketball" quality than others.

I believe you've heard Grandpianoman's recordings. If you are not hearing the kind of thing you want to hear in those recordings, then keep looking. If what you hear on those recordings is similar to what you want to hear, I can assure you that that sound can be forthcoming.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#1971077 - 10/09/12 11:35 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
We've already talked about this quite a bit, but I'll give you some closing thoughts.

I can certainly sympathize with your difficulty controlling the sound at low volume levels. During school, when I had to practice four hours a day in a small depressing room with shrill sounding Yamahas and Kawais, I actually did use musicians earplugs because that was the only way I could tolerate playing! My piano prof (during undergrad) had a Steinway B that I hated, and a Mason & Hamlin BB (of similar vintage to the one you're looking at) that I hated less. The touch was on the heavier side and the tone was sharp and uninspiring with a less than adequate bass.

After working on pianos as a tech for a few years (in a university environment), I've gotten to see several brands of piano (Steinway, Baldwin, Yamaha, Kawai, etc.) with different sets of hammers and subjected to different voicing techniques. Due to the heavy use environment, we'd have to change hammers, so I got to see lots of before, during, and after with respect to hammer replacement. IMO, this is a fixable problem with hammer replacement or voicing. The Isaac hammers should get you where you want to go. But, if that's not an adventure you want to take, then you should absolutely not consider this piano. Good luck.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1971103 - 10/10/12 12:12 AM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy
I took them out for a minute to see the difference, and the sound hurt my ears, except when I put on the soft pedal.


I just finished voicing the Grotrian 223 you saw me working on. The soft pedal voicing is so different from the rest position voicing. Same hammer, two sounds. Some set the soft pedal to play two stings.
I set mine to hit all three but soften the hammer in the shifted position.
The piano leaves Friday if you want to hear the difference.

My thought is perhaps you need the hammers on whatever you purchase to be voiced as if they are in shift position and have the hammers voiced more when it is indeed shifted.
Hope that makes sense.
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
Verhnjak Pianos Facebook


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#1971120 - 10/10/12 12:46 AM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: kpembrook]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: kpembrook

I believe you've heard Grandpianoman's recordings. If you are not hearing the kind of thing you want to hear in those recordings, then keep looking. If what you hear on those recordings is similar to what you want to hear, I can assure you that that sound can be forthcoming.

I absolutely love what I hear on Grandpianoman's recordings. But I wonder if the decibel level is noticeably higher when played live?
In comparison, I also played the Shigeru VI today, along with a bunch of other Kawais, and a Steinway B, and not one seemed too loud. I also found though, that I could enjoy playing softly on these, not needing to play much harder or softer to get a variety in tonal colour.
I suppose I like whatever the sound is that Kawai produces (dark? mellow? muted?)
I also like other 'bright' pianos, too, but haven't really noticed the volume to be an issue on any bright piano as much as I have on the Masons in this showroom. My room is similar to the showroom too in that it has hardwood throughout, and glass on one end.

I'm still planning on seeing the Mason BB in question tomorrow night with my tech, so will consider everything that has been suggested here.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1971123 - 10/10/12 12:47 AM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: beethoven986]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
The Isaac hammers should get you where you want to go. But, if that's not an adventure you want to take, then you should absolutely not consider this piano. Good luck.

Adventure is right. This whole thing is driving me nuts.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



Top
#1971126 - 10/10/12 12:53 AM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak

My thought is perhaps you need the hammers on whatever you purchase to be voiced as if they are in shift position and have the hammers voiced more when it is indeed shifted.
Hope that makes sense.

It does make sense. My Shigeru was voiced down in my home quite a bit because it came across at times as quite harsh. Even then I had to play with the lid down, blanket on top (mostly for the cat), and with some rugs underneath.
I just don't want to get a huge sounding piano that only has a limited voice when played quietly.

By the way, your Charles Walter 190 was a real pleasure to play. So, contrary to what people might think, I can appreciate a bright piano too. It had lots of character, and definitely lots of timbre range.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1971167 - 10/10/12 04:46 AM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Phil D Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 551
Loc: London, England
Not personal advice, as I've never been through the process of changing hammers in this kind of situation, but viewing this question like a sport, with two opposing sides battling it out, I'm firmly on the side of the 'change the hammers' camp smile

The fact that you needed your Shigeru voiced way down sways it for me. You're getting a tone at piano that you want kept in reserve for forte playing. Changing the partial structure to reduce higher partials at medium and low velocities will improve this, and from the description of many very experienced workshop technicians here, this can be achieved with the right hammers and voicing.

You seem quite attached to this piano already - the adventure will be very rewarding!
_________________________
Phil Dickson
The Cycling Piano Tuner

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#1971249 - 10/10/12 10:33 AM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2303
Loc: Portland, Oregon
About the recordings I have made....they were done with the mics fairly close to the open lid, with very little room resonance, if any. One can play very softly with the Isaac hammers, however, recordings made with a "closed-mic" position as in my case, the piano will seem louder than it actually is then if you were hearing it live.

One other point....I always record with very little gain, so as not to cause any distortion when the piano is played loudly. In Audacity, when converting it from a .wav file to an .mp3, Audacity ups the volume and balances both channels. This will make the p/mp passages seem a bit louder.

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#1971269 - 10/10/12 11:26 AM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy

I have just found out today what the problem is with the Masons I've auditioned. It has nothing to do with timbral range, but more so has to do with the colours when attempting to play the dynamic piano or below. Since I'm used to playing very lightly, what I've found is that the same force I apply on other instruments to produce piano comes out quite loud, probably closer to what I'd think is mf.


This part could be due to action geometry which makes one instrument more efficient upon strike then another with the same force applied.

Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy

So, today after discussing the whole 'tonal limitations' thing with the local Mason dealer, and him saying that he doesn't find that they are limited, I decided to try harder to find these colours when playing the pianos. I still couldn't. That is, until I decided to put my noise attenuation earplugs (musician’s earplugs) in that I use for work. Well, when they were in, all the Masons there sounded amazing, with all the range I was hoping for.

So, what does this mean for me? It probably means I can't get a Mason, unless I moved to a detached house, and only practiced when my family was not here. Or covered the piano with blankets, and had padding under the piano.


So the plugs clean up the sound and produce more of what you are looking for. This tells me that the piano room needs to be set up similar to a studio recording session with soft walls, acoustic panels, tapestry hangings etc etc. More the work of a sound engineer to get the sound that is desired. (acoustics)

Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy

These pianos really perform well--but all of the dynamics are much higher than other pianos of the same size. I can't imagine playing forte or above without the earplugs in! I took them out for a minute to see the difference, and the sound hurt my ears, except when I put on the soft pedal.

I'm not sure the pianos can be better regulated so as to play quieter, and even if they could, I suppose what I'm experiencing at the Mason pianissimo is the limitation for how dark, or mellow it can sound. But unfortunately, if I wanted to play normally the piano would be excessively loud--especially so in my house.

So, I think my search continues for another brand unless I've missed something?


I believe this entire posting reveals two separate issues; one is tone quality and the other is volume.

Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy

But unfortunately, if I wanted to play normally the piano would be excessively loud--especially so in my house.


Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy

I took them out for a minute to see the difference, and the sound hurt my ears, except when I put on the soft pedal.


Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy

It probably means I can't get a Mason, unless I moved to a detached house, and only practiced when my family was not here. Or covered the piano with blankets, and had padding under the piano.


This is the volume part of the equation....

Similar to the motor car engine it is wise to buy more horsepower then you will use. This way the motor does not work so hard and has a longer lifespan.

I don’t believe the instrument you buy will be totally suitable for your situation. There will be adjustments with any instrument to knock down the volume to acceptable levels and to get rid of unwanted tones.

Changing the hammer set out will do nothing for the volume part of the equation. It may under certain circumstances produce a noticeable change in tonal qualities; whether or not that is beneficial is the unknown.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1971273 - 10/10/12 11:37 AM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2303
Loc: Portland, Oregon
About the Isaac hammers....one thing I did not mention before, is the fact that on my M&H BB, once his hammers were on there and voiced, the color/tonal palette was fantastic, you can hear it in the recordings...in other words, the hammers brought out what the piano was capable of, regardless of any room acoustics etc.

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#1971292 - 10/10/12 12:10 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21249
Loc: Oakland
I believe all avenues of voicing should be exhausted before changing hammers.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1971301 - 10/10/12 12:31 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1917
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy

So, today after discussing the whole 'tonal limitations' thing with the local Mason dealer, and him saying that he doesn't find that they are limited, I decided to try harder to find these colours when playing the pianos. I still couldn't. That is, until I decided to put my noise attenuation earplugs (musician’s earplugs) in that I use for work. Well, when they were in, all the Masons there sounded amazing, with all the range I was hoping for.


So the plugs clean up the sound and produce more of what you are looking for. This tells me that the piano room needs to be set up similar to a studio recording session with soft walls, acoustic panels, tapestry hangings etc etc. More the work of a sound engineer to get the sound that is desired. (acoustics)


Doesn't this also indicate that the plugs are filtering out some of the high frequency sounds in the attack that are responsible for the 'tonal limitations'?

No doubt suitable hammers, appropriately voiced, can achieve a similar effect but doesn't that risk some deadening of the notes (by cutting down on the higher partials as well as the other high frequency stuff emanating from the piano)?

I can see the BB would be an interesting adventure but, for my money, I'd look for a piano that is a pleasure to play 'out the box'.


Edited by Withindale (10/10/12 02:18 PM)
Edit Reason: Removed reference to Charles Walter in last sentence
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#1971312 - 10/10/12 01:06 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

This is the volume part of the equation....

Similar to the motor car engine it is wise to buy more horsepower then you will use. This way the motor does not work so hard and has a longer lifespan.

I don’t believe the instrument you buy will be totally suitable for your situation. There will be adjustments with any instrument to knock down the volume to acceptable levels and to get rid of unwanted tones.

These two sentences seem to contradict each other. The extra 'horsepower' is either good, or it is not good. If it is good, then the instrument would be suitable if the volume issue was dealt with without sacrificing tone. Perhaps you are saying that it is impossible to "knock down the volume" without some sacrifice of tone quality?

Another thing I've noticed from my recordings is that this particular BB is much mellower than those at the store yesterday. That is ironically made me question its 'voice.' Since it was mellower, and perhaps quieter too, it gave the impression of a smaller tonal palette.

Changing the hammer set out will do nothing for the volume part of the equation. It may under certain circumstances produce a noticeable change in tonal qualities; whether or not that is beneficial is the unknown.

[/quote]
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1971319 - 10/10/12 01:19 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: Withindale]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: Withindale


Doesn't this also indicate that the plugs are filtering out some of the high frequency sounds in the attack that are responsible for the 'tonal limitations'?

In theory the musicians earplugs are supposed to attenuate the volume, leaving the tonal spectrum the same. Not the same as cotton balls or wax stuffed into the ears. In practice, I'm sure they cut some of the highs out.
Originally Posted By: Withindale

No doubt suitable hammers, appropriately voiced, can achieve a similar effect but doesn't that risk some deadening of the notes (by cutting down on the higher partials as well as the other high frequency stuff emanating from the piano)?

Yes, this is the risk that I'm wondering about, too. I've recently played a Mason A with Weikert felt hammers, that seemed to have no tonal range at all. They had a beautiful sound at piano dynamics, but the tone remained almost exactly the same at all other dynamics, including ff. The BB in question has a far, far larger tonal range than this A, but given I am looking at putting on hammers similar to this A, I'd hate to get a piano that has even LESS of a tonal range than it currently does.
Originally Posted By: Withindale

I can see it would be an interesting adventure but, for my money, I'd look for a piano that does the job 'out the box' like the Charles Walter.

Well, to be honest, although I enjoyed playing the Walter, I'd also want softer hammers on there as well. As well, there is no substitute for a 7' bass in a piano, and I realize that all the other pianos that I've enjoyed playing have given me the same pause when I reach the lower bass notes. Most everything else sounds great down to about C1, but only this particular Mason BB has the entire bass range to A0.
My Shigeru was an absolute joy to play, as long as I didn't spend much time in the lower bass region trying to play forte.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1971327 - 10/10/12 01:32 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2333
Loc: Lowell MA
I don't recommend prehung hammers under any circumstances.

When changing hammers you are essentially changing the design of the action.

Weather altering the design, weight, strike line, alternate boring, decisions need to be reviewed for impact and result. These are important factors and deserve deliberate attention.

My advice .. do not buy and install prehung hammers.

FWIW, I am fan of softer hammers or more specifically, cold pressed.

_________________________
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#1971328 - 10/10/12 01:32 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
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Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
The volume issue can be dealt with in the same way it is dealt with in a studio setting. You won’t find many studios changing out the piano components to get the sound they want.

But you will find them adjusting the room acoustics to get a particular sound. I just completed an opera recording in West Van where the room had to be “fixed” to produce a particular sound. We did not rebuild part of the piano to get there. The piano had the right tone just too much of it….so we cut down the volume by using ways that I have previously stated. Still the piano has the horsepower …..just that it isn’t being used for that situation.

Then, once finished, the room was dismantled and the piano sounded like it did originally. If you are looking for a particular sound it is best not to limit the instrument by making it sound one way all the time. That would limit the instrument's capabilities to a particular music or genre.
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#1971424 - 10/10/12 04:38 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: scepticalforumguy

These pianos really perform well--but all of the dynamics are much higher than other pianos of the same size.
As I've mentioned several times on your other threads I have no problem playing softly on my five year old BB that sits in a smallish 12' by 18' room. I don't think what you say about the dynamics of the BB are correct. In fact, this wasn't a problem on any of the BB's I tried.

The posters on this thread who said that you should be trying to find a piano you like as it sounds in the showroom, rather than buying an expensive piano and hoping a change in hammers will give you the sound you want, are correct IMO.

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#1971431 - 10/10/12 04:54 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: pianoloverus]
scepticalforumguy Offline
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Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
As I've mentioned several times on your other threads I have no problem playing softly on my five year old BB that sits in a smallish 12' by 18' room. I don't think what you say about the dynamics of the BB are correct. In fact, this wasn't a problem on any of the BB's I tried.

Well, this runs contrary to my experience. As well, every single person I've talked to that has sold these pianos, or currently sells them has confirmed that Masons are indeed louder than other pianos. I don't dispute that they can be played softly, but softly for a Mason is different than softly for an Estonia, wouldn't you agree?
Originally Posted By: PL

The posters on this thread who said that you should be trying to find a piano you like as it sounds in the showroom, rather than buying an expensive piano and hoping a change in hammers will give you the sound you want, are correct IMO.

They are not correct, but more prudent I'd say. My natural inclination is towards finding something I love in the showroom too, but this has been harder to do than you might think. Lots of Yamahas and lower end Kawais, and turn of the century used instruments, but not much in between around here. The rare Steinway that turns up is usually over 50K and is comparable to those sold at 30-35K in the States.

The only local piano that I almost love, save for the lowest bass notes (again!) is the Shigeru VI, but the price is now way out of my limit. At this point, even if I could afford it I'd hesitate because I sold my last Shigeru because of the same bass issue. There is no denying that the rest of the piano is superb though.
This all leads me back to the Mason. If the tech, who now cannot come tonight, but probably next week, gives the go ahead for the basic integrity of the instrument I may take the chance with it.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1971437 - 10/10/12 05:01 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
If you are looking for a particular sound it is best not to limit the instrument by making it sound one way all the time. That would limit the instrument's capabilities to a particular music or genre.

I'm not looking to limit the sound, but to have a wider tonal range. What made you think I wanted a limited sound?
In any case, from what I understand from the supporters of hammer change is that, indeed, changing from a hard Renner Blue, heat pressed hammer, to a softer, cold pressed hammer would allow this Mason, and perhaps many pianos with similar heat pressed hammers, to have a larger tonal palette. I understand the risks of pre-hung hammers too, but these seem to be manageable risks. That being said, I'm not completely certain I want to take that risk, and would probably look at trying to voice the current Blues as much as possible. This in combination with a great regulation job may help.
It would be much simpler if I could do this on the piano before purchase, of course.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1971439 - 10/10/12 05:02 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2333
Loc: Lowell MA
There is a way to evaluate the dynamic capability of the Mason's sound board independently of the hammers that are on it.

I am presuming you are discussing the new hammers with this piano?
_________________________
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E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
facebook.com/E. J. Buck & Sons Performances

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#1971457 - 10/10/12 05:36 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: pianoloverus]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1917
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
The posters on this thread who said that you should be trying to find a piano you like ... are correct IMO.


This BB clearly is that piano.

The best advice I have read on this forum is to do absolutely everything else first before doing any voicing at all.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#1971495 - 10/10/12 07:04 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
I find it interesting I have a M&H BB in the shop we installed Renner blues on around 16 years ago.
Very smooth and wonderful tone. I am restringing the piano for the client right now.

I also have a Steinway "M" we rebuilt around the same time here for sale. We also installed the Renner Blues of that time. Also a very smooth and wonderful tone.

We stopped using the blues at one time because we found them bright from what we use to get.

Scep, they are as mellow as the two other pianos you played here, with the other hammers. And I know we voiced them back then. Surprisingly they did not get bright over time.

I am also not a fan of prehung parts, we install all our hammers in house.

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Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
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#1971514 - 10/10/12 07:43 PM Re: Any warning about changing hammers? [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak


We stopped using the blues at one time because we found them bright from what we use to get.

Hi Rod,

Well, the new Masons are very bright out of the box. The one I'm looking at that is not at the showroom is not bright at all. I'd call it mellow but without the range I'd thought it would've had.
That being said, there is a Mason A at the showroom that, although not mellow, definitely has more warmth than the AA, BB, or CC beside it.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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