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Topic Options
#1976997 - 10/22/12 07:28 AM Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
After repinning the hammer flanges on a grand with a "blah" tone and high friction (mid 60's downweight on many notes) the tone seemed to improve a great deal. But tone is such a subjective thing. I have heard tonal improvement when repinning hammers that were so loose that the grooves in the hammer were more like scuff marks, but I didn't expect an improvement from reducing the friction. I suppose it makes sense if you consider that high hammer center friction might keep the hammer in contact with the string longer than optimum.

Since tone is such a subjective thing, I expect this Topic to kind of ramble. Anyway, what experiences have other tuners had with hammer center friction and tone?
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Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1977028 - 10/22/12 09:42 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
James Carney Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/10
Posts: 440
Loc: new york city
Yes, correcting friction in center pinning, from either too loose or too tight, can improve tone, without a doubt.
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#1977035 - 10/22/12 10:17 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1344
Loc: Michigan
That is one of the reasons why there is a distinct tonal improvement with the WN&G shanks and flanges.
_________________________
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USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#1977057 - 10/22/12 11:28 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
Supply Offline
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Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
That is why you can only properly voice a piano after it has been properly regulated and has received a friction treatment, which includes checking and fixing action center problems.
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#1977061 - 10/22/12 11:32 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
UnrightTooner Offline
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Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Jurgen:

Do you think friction in other parts of the action affect the tone as much?
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1977084 - 10/22/12 12:33 PM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: Supply]
kpembrook Offline
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Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1344
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Supply
That is why you can only properly voice a piano after it has been properly regulated and has received a friction treatment, which includes checking and fixing action center problems.


Spot on!! thumb
_________________________
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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#1977147 - 10/22/12 03:03 PM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: kpembrook]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Originally Posted By: Supply
That is why you can only properly voice a piano after it has been properly regulated and has received a friction treatment, which includes checking and fixing action center problems.
Spot on!! thumb
Which, of course, means that voicing is the [final] and possibly most demanding in expertise of all the "dark arts" tiki . ..not a good place to start for DIYers....

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Do you think friction in other parts of the action affect the tone as much?
I would say no, not as much, but yes there can be a noticeable effect. Anything that affects touch can and will affect tone. The two are inseparable.

[edit: missing word]


Edited by Supply (10/23/12 02:44 AM)
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#1977225 - 10/22/12 06:15 PM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1241
Loc: Tennessee
Greetings,
The effect of shank pinning on piano tone is very much like the effect that a drummer's grip on the stick has on the sound of the drum. A loose connection at impact does one thing, a firmer connection, something else.

Once heard, the tone of a loosely pinned hammer is distinct. I have seen Roger Jolly point out the dozen or so loose pins in a relatively new piano, and sure enough, they were not loose enough to click, but loose enough to ruin the tone of the note. Once repinned, everything changed.
Regards,

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#1977435 - 10/23/12 06:11 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Ed,

I've just re-pinned the hammer butts and re-shaped the hammer heads of a Schwander upright action, but the pins weren't too loose, they were too tight. Nevertheless, I'm very interested in this topic.

Could you describe the characteristic sound of a loosely pinned hammer, all other things being equal (good hammer mating, clean unisons, little or no false beats...)
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#1977459 - 10/23/12 07:29 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: Mark R.]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1241
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: Mark R.
Ed,
Could you describe the characteristic sound of a loosely pinned hammer, all other things being equal (good hammer mating, clean unisons, little or no false beats...)


Greetings,
Hard question. Sensual qualities are not easily explained by words, (try to describe the emotional impact of a well-temperament or the taste of an avocado to those that have never experienced them...).

The first thought is that the tone is hollow. It loses "focus", which is another limping analogy trying to create an image of a sensation by describing sound in terms of what we know from the visual realm.
The second thought is that the fundamental is weaker with a loose pin, and the spectra seems to have most of its power in the middle frequencies, what engineers in town call "mid-rangy" or "woody" or "pocky".

I will now depart from what I know to what I think. I suspect that the looser pin allows the shank to vibrate at impact in a way that it wouldn't if pinned tighter. I imagine that, at the moment of impact, an instantaneous shock wave travels through the shank, setting it into some non-periodic motion, and if the shank is lightly damped, (loose pin), it's dwell time on the string is shorter, and the manner of energy transfer, to the string, is altered. Perhaps the change would be in the mode or manner of entrainment. I also imagine that there are others on this list with a more scientific explanation, which I would welcome!

That is little more than guessing, but this is a real way to deal with the results: the next time you have an older grand, with pinning that you know to be loose, pin a few at, say, 4 -6 grams, and listen for whatever changes you can. It is important to align the hammer exactly as it was, (or file the string grooves out before you begin). Once you have an image in your ears, go hunting for others that sound like that, and check their pinning. It doesn't take long before you are recognizing the sound. It is less attractive to the ear, and less responsive to changing the force of the blow.

It is a waste of time attempting fine voicing on a piano with loose hammershank pinning. I learned the expensive way to include the 2 hours it takes to repin a set of hammershanks in any voicing. And there is also no sense attempting a performance regulation without a consistent pinning of the shanks, (balanciers, too).
Regards,

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#1977463 - 10/23/12 07:37 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
BoseEric Offline
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Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
Wow, Ed. That's 1 1/2 minutes per flange! What's your technique?
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#1977491 - 10/23/12 09:06 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: BoseEric]
Ed Foote Offline
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Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1241
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: BoseEric
Wow, Ed. That's 1 1/2 minutes per flange! What's your technique?


Greetings,
My technique? I lifted it off of Don Mannino's class! I was already heading in that direction, but Don introduced me to the straight reamers.

I use a couple of chalk lines across the shanks to keep them in order, (it's faster than numbering them).
I lay a thin slat under and above the shanks and then use a high speed screwdriver to undo all 88 screws.
If the entire set is loose, I select a pin size that is bigger than what is in there, and ream everybody with that size reamer without checking anything. This gang reaming is only a push through and back, maybe twice if the situation calls for it. I use my pin tool to push all the pins out in one pass, I test my ream and fit on a couple of flanges, then ream through the entire set without testing anything. I want it to be either perfect or slightly tight. My target is a hammer that will swing between 5 and 7 swings, so after this first pass, I hope to be just below that, even after flexing the joint with some push and pull.

I then go back and assemble the flanges. The secret here is a pair of brass lined jewelers pliers that never leave my hand during the assembly. They allow me to control the pin without damaging the surface, which saves a step later on. I hold the pin with them in the same hand I have the reamer. I press the pin into bushings, feel what it feels like, and then a single pass with the reamer if necessary and try again. After 35 years, and over 10 lbs of pinning, (I have saved the scraps my whole career), my fingers tell me when I am on target. I push the pin in, all the way through until the end is flush and set the shank down.
After every body is done, I get out the clippers and cut all the pins off as one operation. Then it is a simple matter to screw them back on and keep moving.

David Betts and Bill Garlick taught us at North Bennett, to individually pin flanges with only as large a pin as was needed for that flange. This is, of course, the most refined approach, and for any museum piece, or unlimited budget, would be the preferred course. However, when the aim is to deliver a performance level regulation and voicing for a working venue,(ie, recording studio or concert stage), I just up the pin size to a size that doesn't require me to measure each one, but rather, allows me to ream to specific sizes en masse. This is the basis of what I took from Don's class (thanks Man.). There are budgetary aspects to doing high end work, and using this approach allows me to get the pinning done for $200. On a $2000 action set-up ,(common price point), it represents a great investment in the ultimate quality of the job.
I don't place much priority on saving the shanks on working performance instruments, since they are are not going to be used for more than a couple of hammer sets, at most. I am not concerned with leaving "headroom" in the pinning dept for later repinning, as the odds of that happening are slim. Even so, here at Vanderbilt, I have repinned an action twice, and it is going into its sunset years with size 24 pins, top to bottom. I won't be around when that actin needs to be replaced, but we sure got maximum value out of the job.
Regards,

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#1977526 - 10/23/12 10:33 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Ed,

I wonder, from my limited experience:

Seeing you don't burnish after reaming, does the new center pin burnish (press, flatten, lay down) the freshly reamed cloth? In other words, do you find that a freshly re-pinned action (using your method) "runs in" after a few hours of use? Or is the re-pinned center's tightness constant from the start?
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1977549 - 10/23/12 11:34 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: Mark R.]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1241
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: Mark R.

Seeing you don't burnish after reaming, does the new center pin burnish (press, flatten, lay down) the freshly reamed cloth? In other words, do you find that a freshly re-pinned action (using your method) "runs in" after a few hours of use? Or is the re-pinned center's tightness constant from the start?


Greetings,
I burnish with the new pin after assembly. I ream for a firm enough fit so that a flexing of the joint leaves me where I want to be. Compressing the bushing can be accomplished by firmly wiggling the joint after pinning, or using a larger pin to compress the bushing before pinning. Another reason to leave the pins uncut until the end, it allows me to once again stress the joint back and forth, check the swings, then cut. If I did need to go up a size, (time loss), the uncut pin lets me do that without disturbing the felt with a burr passing through it. I

It is possible that the reaming technique determines how much effect burnishing has. I always twist it in the same direction, if I twist it when reaming. The friction is durable, judging by what I see in the school setting.
Regards,

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#1977554 - 10/23/12 11:42 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Thanks all for the responses and continuing discussion.

I have an additional question, now that it is widely confirmed that pinning affects tone. Does it also affect the ability of the pianist to changed the tone? In other words does it change the "tonal range" of the piano, so that when you play softly it sounds more mellow and when you play loudly it sounds brighter? I am thinking so, and there is an optimum friction for the best control (4-5 grams?). When the pinning is too loose I think you loose power: the tone is "weak" (that is how I would describe it, Mark.)
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1977616 - 10/23/12 03:21 PM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
Tunewerk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/11
Posts: 425
Loc: Boston, MA
Your topics never fail to incite controversy or responses, Jeff! This is no exception; a really interesting discussion.

Thanks, Ed, for your thoughtful and well-informed response. I learned a lot. One thing that has always been an impediment for me doing more center work is the time and therefore cost involved. I may end up using a version of your method to help make center work more cost effective.
_________________________
www.tunewerk.com

Unity of tone through applied research.

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#1977624 - 10/23/12 03:47 PM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2481
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Thanks all for the responses and continuing discussion.

I have an additional question, now that it is widely confirmed that pinning affects tone. Does it also affect the ability of the pianist to changed the tone? In other words does it change the "tonal range" of the piano, so that when you play softly it sounds more mellow and when you play loudly it sounds brighter? I am thinking so, and there is an optimum friction for the best control (4-5 grams?). When the pinning is too loose I think you loose power: the tone is "weak" (that is how I would describe it, Mark.)


I am not sure if loose pinning would effect the tone the same way for different hammer density or the wools compression. If a hammer is too hard and dense it will rebound too quickly imparting louder partials in higher frequency. A hammer too soft will dwell on the string too long and not rebound with enough speed to leave enough high frequency partials in the mix.

When the jack forces the hammer into motion with a loose center pin, it will force that pin into a part of the bushing off axis that lies in the direction of the force vector. It will stay in that portion of the bushing until at least escapement, likely past it because of momentum. that pin might shift a bit in the direction of the heavy hammer head because of centrifugal force also...the hammer is rotating on a pivot. When the hammer meets the strings resistance that pin will shift into a direction opposite of that resistance, likely during the contact phase, robbing a little bit of the power. The pin will again change position when the hammer changes direction on rebound. It is this critical point that I am guessing that a hammer that is too hard might benefit from that additional play on the pin and possibly stay in contact with the string a touch longer. A hammer that is on the soft side might see even more of the higher partials dampened out from that increased contact time.


Edited by Emmery (10/23/12 03:49 PM)
Edit Reason: added info
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#1977815 - 10/24/12 01:15 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
Dale Fox Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1081
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
It's not the friction. It's the firmness of the center. The lack of side to side lash. The WNG shanks have very low friction but excellent firmness, something that is harder to attain with a cloth bushing without additional friction. At least that is my evaluation of why the WNG shanks seem to work better while maintaining lower friction than the standard wood/cloth center.

Just a slightly different view.
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Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#1977844 - 10/24/12 03:36 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
the hammer center if too low friction make the contact loss between roller and jack sooner.

accepted level of friction are very low, 2-4 g



Edited by Kamin (10/24/12 03:38 AM)
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#1977886 - 10/24/12 07:33 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: Dale Fox]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted By: Dale Fox
It's not the friction. It's the firmness of the center. The lack of side to side lash. The WNG shanks have very low friction but excellent firmness, something that is harder to attain with a cloth bushing without additional friction. At least that is my evaluation of why the WNG shanks seem to work better while maintaining lower friction than the standard wood/cloth center.

Just a slightly different view.


I have had the same thought, especially while pinning. You get a pin a hair loose and then the hammer wants to flop side to side. The size of the hole for the bushing cloth is critical. I forget now what the standard kit from Schaff is, but I think it is way too big. I think the cloth from renner is too thick, too. By the time you get it "ragged" down by pulling it through the holes in the tool so that it fits the hole, you wonder wht sort of trash you are bushing with.

I guess Steinway had the same idea of low friction, with low sideways motion by using teflon centers. I have never dealt with them. Just making an observation.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1977899 - 10/24/12 08:14 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Originally Posted By: Dale Fox
It's not the friction. It's the firmness of the center. The lack of side to side lash. The WNG shanks have very low friction but excellent firmness, something that is harder to attain with a cloth bushing without additional friction. At least that is my evaluation of why the WNG shanks seem to work better while maintaining lower friction than the standard wood/cloth center.

Just a slightly different view.


I have had the same thought, especially while pinning. You get a pin a hair loose and then the hammer wants to flop side to side. The size of the hole for the bushing cloth is critical. I forget now what the standard kit from Schaff is, but I think it is way too big. I think the cloth from renner is too thick, too. By the time you get it "ragged" down by pulling it through the holes in the tool so that it fits the hole, you wonder wht sort of trash you are bushing with.

I guess Steinway had the same idea of low friction, with low sideways motion by using teflon centers. I have never dealt with them. Just making an observation.


you need to tear some threads from the sides, depending of the size of the hole, (cleaned with a long drill dedicated to that) but the cloth itself is not too thick as it compress once glued and will accommodate a 1300 center soon enough.
use a small center while the glue set 1100 is good..
the compression obtained with the water alcohol treatment makes a firm but low friction bushing. this cloth is pure wool (meaning possibly other bushing cloths they sell are not ?)

you even cant tear some thread before passing thru the 3 holes, that will guarantee you dont break apart the strip.

I was told that the teared sides make abetter joint, also..


Edited by Kamin (10/24/12 08:17 AM)
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#1977901 - 10/24/12 08:29 AM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: Ed Foote]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: Mark R.

Seeing you don't burnish after reaming, does the new center pin burnish (press, flatten, lay down) the freshly reamed cloth? In other words, do you find that a freshly re-pinned action (using your method) "runs in" after a few hours of use? Or is the re-pinned center's tightness constant from the start?


Greetings,
I burnish with the new pin after assembly. I ream for a firm enough fit so that a flexing of the joint leaves me where I want to be. Compressing the bushing can be accomplished by firmly wiggling the joint after pinning, or using a larger pin to compress the bushing before pinning. Another reason to leave the pins uncut until the end, it allows me to once again stress the joint back and forth, check the swings, then cut. If I did need to go up a size, (time loss), the uncut pin lets me do that without disturbing the felt with a burr passing through it. I

It is possible that the reaming technique determines how much effect burnishing has. I always twist it in the same direction, if I twist it when reaming. The friction is durable, judging by what I see in the school setting.
Regards,


interesting description .. no one mention the direction of the insertion of pins.

most of the time, the play is due to cloth compression, due to misalignment or effort on one side more than the other.

I have no idea of the numbers of the centers you use, but a too thick center is raising friction within seasonal changes, I rarely use more than 1350 mm.

also to be noticed is the surface treatment gone (grey strips on the pin) the metal is then within the bushing cloth, hence not very consistent results with some pinning.

a recent enough bushing cloth is easy to work with, good cloth resiliency. an old one does not react as much to reaming and water alcohol treatment..


grand hammer pinning is one of the most difficult job to be done well, in my opinion


Edited by Kamin (10/24/12 08:30 AM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#1978538 - 10/25/12 03:28 PM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
BoseEric Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
Thanks for the description Ed. I like Dons reamers and your approach.
_________________________
RPT. In the business: Feurich pianos, Neupert harpsichords, Hidrau benches, piano technician

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#1978652 - 10/25/12 08:36 PM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
jim ialeggio Offline
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Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 746
Loc: shirley, MA
Ed,

I'm curious, since it sounds like you've used WNG parts a bit as of late, Bruce Clark, a least at the beginning of the WNG launch was saying that, as you have alluded to somewhere above, that the vibration, shimmy, or whatever you call it at impact is detrimental to tone. He was saying that its not necessarily, in theory the pinning's fault, if, using a different material than wood and felt bushings, say like composite, offering tight tolerance flanges and hard bushings, and stiffer beam shank sections, you could achieve less impact shimmy, without the usual higher friction values.

Since you've used the WNG parts a bit, are you finding tonally, that the shank pinning can function well at lower friction levels than the friction levels that traditional materials require?

Jim Ialeggio


Edited by jim ialeggio (10/25/12 08:37 PM)
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#1978666 - 10/25/12 09:40 PM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: jim ialeggio]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1344
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: jim ialeggio
Ed,
Since you've used the WNG parts a bit, are you finding tonally, that the shank pinning can function well at lower friction levels than the friction levels that traditional materials require?
Jim Ialeggio


Not Ed, but answering for myself, yes. The joint is more solid that felt ever could hope to be and yet can swing 10 or 12 times.
_________________________
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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#1978686 - 10/25/12 10:31 PM Re: Hammer Center Pinning Effect on Tone [Re: UnrightTooner]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1241
Loc: Tennessee
Greetings,
I find the pinning to be stable. not much break-in involved in them. The hammerline friction is light,around 2 grams, but the hard plastic is waaaayyy ahead of felt in controlling the hammer. I haven't been able to compare much tonally, as the actions are in practice rooms, and in that environment, the voicing needles are no match for endless rotations of students roaring on these things. One of the D's is going to be due for a new hammer/shank set in the next year or two, and I am looking forward to seeing what difference the new shanks might have on stage.

I am more interested, right now, on the level of maintenance needed with the WNG parts. With a school full pianos, (58 grnds, 90 uprights), having parts that don't warp or twist, or pinning that doesn't change, can make a huge difference in how much time is available to see that everybody is kept up. Freedom from straightening things up will allow more time for tuning and voicing, which are always in short supply in school situations.
So far, players feel like these actions are tremendously "precise". I may be getting too old to get the maximum out of the voicing, but in terms of control and consistency, I think these composite parts are going to do to wooden ones what carbon fiber did to wooden golf clubs and tennis rackets.
I think we have a clear choice between tradition and performance, here...
Regards,


Edited by Ed Foote (10/25/12 10:33 PM)

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