Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#2014567 - 01/14/13 05:47 PM carbon fiber action
ico Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/13/13
Posts: 7
Loc: Brazil
What is your opinion about carbon fiber action used in pianos like Kawai and M&H?

Top
(ad PTG 568) Win a Year Journal Subscription
PTG 57th Annual Convention - Atlanta
#2014573 - 01/14/13 06:12 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
This is settled debate. They are as good or better than wood components. As to whether or not they perform well, that will depend on whether or not the action has been regulated well, which is just as true for wood parts.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

Top
#2014585 - 01/14/13 06:30 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: beethoven986]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1098
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
This is settled debate. They are as good or better than wood components. As to whether or not they perform well, that will depend on whether or not the action has been regulated well, which is just as true for wood parts.


Greetings,
I don't think it is settled, at all. Tradition has its proponents, and that will not change. Controversy will surround these new parts for a while, but they are certainly proving themselves in use. There is a large industry, heavily invested in wooden parts that can only view them as a threat, and we should expect to hear a lot of reasons for staying with what is traditional, (wood is the traditional material for golf clubs, too) None of them impress me or my customers.

I have begun using them, and there is no comparison between them and wood. One is stable,the other warps and twists. One is consistent, the other, never. but the biggest reason is the pinning. Technical to work with, (more so than cloth), it provides greater stability with far less friction, and with a consistency that traditional pinning has never, in my experience, approached.
Things like stability and consistency are more important than staying with 200 year old materials, and I do believe that Cristofori would never have used wood if he had had carbon fiber or nylon.
Regards,

Top
#2014621 - 01/14/13 08:16 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Ed Foote]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1294
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote

I don't think it is settled, at all.
Regards,


That may be. However, no one has managed to suggest any credible design criterion where wood excels over the currently available synthetic components. It is possible to say that a person likes wood because it has mystical vibrations but it is not possible to say that wood is preferable because it is more durable, more stable, more consistent or any other pragmatic factor that matters.

Also, I'm finding synthetic parts in pianos well over 40 years old that are showing no problems whatsoever. Good synthetic is definitely not new and unproven.
In fact, there is only one example of plastic in pianos that failed -- the first polystyrene (or whatever) that was used in the '40s and '50s in jacks, flanges, damper levers, backchecks and, most notably, elbows. Everything used since still works -- even S&S teflon that's still around.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

Top
#2014628 - 01/14/13 08:31 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
With well regulated actions, I don't notice much difference as a pianist. If they are better from a maintenance standpoint, why not? Some people get all wrapped up in tradition. I like real Christmas trees, but I'm open to new things too.

I haven't played the WNG yet, but the Kawai BLK is great.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

Top
#2014642 - 01/14/13 09:13 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: kpembrook]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: kpembrook
...Also, I'm finding synthetic parts in pianos well over 40 years old that are showing no problems whatsoever..
You may indeed be finding this, on occasion I find it too. However, it is exactly the countless problems and poor lifespan and performance of all kinds of synthetic parts and materials in pianos over 40 years old that has scared consumers and put so much grist to the mill of those who prefer wooden action parts. So I think that pointing to the plastics of over 40 years ago as a positive example does not do justice to modern plastics, which are certainly much more durable and dependable.

Ico, if you search the archives (top left hand corner of every page) you will find many discussions and some good information about the question you ask.
Welcome to Piano World. Are you a piano technician?
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

Top
#2014644 - 01/14/13 09:25 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1901
Loc: Philadelphia area
Everyone compares mechanical aspects. But, how different do they sound? My thinking follows with Kawai keeping the wooden shanks.

Has anyone experimented with composite hammer moldings?

Top
#2014648 - 01/14/13 09:37 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Dave B]
ico Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/13/13
Posts: 7
Loc: Brazil
Supply,

I'm not a piano technician but an amateur pianist.
I thank you all for the informations, which will be very important in my decision to buy a grand piano.

Top
#2014650 - 01/14/13 09:43 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Dave B]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
Originally Posted By: Dave B
Everyone compares mechanical aspects. But, how different do they sound? My thinking follows with Kawai keeping the wooden shanks.


This is only an issue with higher frequencies, and in my experience, it is mitigated by using less firm hammers. Even with harder hammers, it is probably not something most people would notice.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

Top
#2014653 - 01/14/13 09:51 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1881
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I have put WNG shank/flanges on several pianos over the last four years. They are definitely superior to felt bushed wood. The increased stiffness and stability keep the tone-regulation very precise. No drifting of spacing and unison phasing. The greater rotational stiffness mostly eliminates the loss of unison phasing that wood shanks are prone to when playing with great force. Across the compass the even dynamic response is a joy to feel. If the tone regulator reduces the treble hammer mass properly when installing hammers-the tone is open and singing.

Some techs have complained about click noises but I think they probably cracked the shank, glue-starved a hammer joint, and/or damaged the bushing without realizing it.

The action centers are very stable. If you need to re-pin them (which will probably only be needed if you damage them installing hammers or servicing the action), the factory method is slow and cumbersome.

I have found it possible to use a heat gun to stress relieve the tight side or sides of a WNG hard-bushed action center. You simply put in the pin that fits the loosest side properly, pin the shank to the flange, and then heat the tight side to about 150 degrees for a second or two. They resize and do not creep from there.

The gel super glue WNG sends to install hammers is a bother. I use their drill bit to bore the hammers then dry fit the hammers into position and then wick thin super glue from the front and back of the hammer hole. Protect the action parts below with a barrier so no errant drips land on whippens, keys, felts, etc. You do not get a glue collar but If my reputation suffers for that sin-you can put your opinion where the sun don't shine!

The knuckles are squeakless so far and the hammer return noise is very low.

The first generation parts with the wool bushing I would not use because they reacted to humidity at almost twice the rate of change that a wood/felt combination does. I was very pleasantly surprised at how quickly they changed gears on the wool action centers. It wasn't six months after I reported to Mark Burgett the results of a comparative humidity response test that I performed on the cloth-bushed parts that WNG introduced the hard bushing.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

Top
#2014657 - 01/14/13 10:02 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Supply]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1294
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Supply
Originally Posted By: kpembrook
...Also, I'm finding synthetic parts in pianos well over 40 years old that are showing no problems whatsoever..
You may indeed be finding this, on occasion I find it too. However, it is exactly the countless problems and poor lifespan and performance of all kinds of synthetic parts and materials in pianos over 40 years old that has scared consumers and put so much grist to the mill of those who prefer wooden action parts. So I think that pointing to the plastics of over 40 years ago as a positive example does not do justice to modern plastics, which are certainly much more durable and dependable.

Ico, if you search the archives (top left hand corner of every page) you will find many discussions and some good information about the question you ask.
Welcome to Piano World. Are you a piano technician?


The synthetics of 40 years ago I was speaking of are "modern". I was surprised to see a nylon jack in a Yamaha and checked the age. It was over 40 years. Also, Kawai's styran has been around over 40 years. They only started putting black pigment in it more recently, but what they are using now is similar to the styran they started with. (Styran and styrene are not the same, btw, just to be clear).

This is not to say that the formulas haven't been tweaked but that the basic chemistry of modern plastics can be found in pianos that old. Carbon fiber reinforced epoxy is new in pianos, of course.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

Top
#2014664 - 01/14/13 10:23 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1294
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Some techs have complained about click noises but I think they probably cracked the shank, glue-starved a hammer joint, and/or damaged the bushing without realizing it.


Yes, I have had a couple of clicks that turned out to be from glue-starved hammer joints. Getting a proper joint takes a little extra attention and a change from wood-glue technique.

Quote:

The action centers are very stable. If you need to re-pin them (which will probably only be needed if you damage them installing hammers or servicing the action), the factory method is slow and cumbersome.

I have found it possible to use a heat gun to stress relieve the tight side or sides of a WNG hard-bushed action center. You simply put in the pin that fits the loosest side properly, pin the shank to the flange, and then heat the tight side to about 150 degrees for a second or two. They resize and do not creep from there.


Yes, the factory method is slow, but not outrageously so. WNG has deprecated the heat approach to freeing up bushings. Mark says the bushings don't look pretty under a microscope after doing that. I personally have not found the heat gun approach to be reliable. The chemistry is such that heat actually expands the material.

Quote:

The gel super glue WNG sends to install hammers is a bother. I use their drill bit to bore the hammers then dry fit the hammers into position and then wick thin super glue from the front and back of the hammer hole.


Interesting approach! I have been playing with using two different viscosities of glue -- their gel and a "thick" liquid CA. I would personally be inclined to use wood glue as they originally did. They deprecated that practice, but the problem was in the installation -- once the glue starts to dry, you can't touch the hammer until it is completely dry.

Quote:

I was very pleasantly surprised at how quickly they changed gears on the wool action centers. It wasn't six months after I reported to Mark Burgett the results of a comparative humidity response test that I performed on the cloth-bushed parts that WNG introduced the hard bushing.


I think their intention was always to use hard centers. I think their development and testing must have already been in progress when you made your report because I believe they spent much more than 6 months in development. But, yes, they are very responsive to technician input and I'm sure your report was helpful to them. I know they were quick to respond with a little groove in the top of the shank butt when I reported that the hammers wouldn't stay in an upright position to get access to regulating the wippen with some models of shanks.

Certainly the WNG parts have not been without their minor issues, but service and responsiveness has been stellar. Much better than the "we made it so you must be wrong" attitude that prevails in some other places.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

Top
#2014737 - 01/15/13 02:49 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Mark R. Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 1937
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Ed,

Are these "hard" bushings essentially just a hole of the exact dimension, or is there some type of lining (sleeve) between the hole and the center pin, made of a different material than the flange?
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

Top
#2014742 - 01/15/13 03:19 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Mark R.]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
Originally Posted By: Mark R.
Ed,

Are these "hard" bushings essentially just a hole of the exact dimension, or is there some type of lining (sleeve) between the hole and the center pin, made of a different material than the flange?


WNG uses a proprietary material for bushing; they don't disclose what it is, but it is not Teflon, and it is not the same material as the flange.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

Top
#2014819 - 01/15/13 08:12 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7216
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: ico
What is your opinion about carbon fiber action used in pianos like Kawai and M&H?


They are 2 different things as Kawai kept the wood for the hammer shank.

An action can be too powerful or give the impression of bein.
I believe the shank flex is providing a part of the spectrum modification we have at the piano (by changing strike point, and eventually the direction the hammer is licking the wire.

As you are a pianist, what will matter to you is to have a manageable tone, so I suggest you try pianos installed with those actions and think in terms of tone dynamics and colour/touch change.
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

Top
#2014868 - 01/15/13 10:48 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Olek]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1294
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Kamin
Originally Posted By: ico
What is your opinion about carbon fiber action used in pianos like Kawai and M&H?


They are 2 different things as Kawai kept the wood for the hammer shank.

An action can be too powerful or give the impression of bein.
I believe the shank flex is providing a part of the spectrum modification we have at the piano (by changing strike point, and eventually the direction the hammer is licking the wire.


It may not be quite correct to say Kawai "kept" wood. Looking at their gradual implementation of synthetic materials in actions for over 30 years, it is clear the direction they have been moving -- which is toward an all synthetic action. It may be more correct to say that Kawai hasn't yet made the decision to change the shank as they move to a completely synthetic action.

One reason may be the assembly process itself. As has been mentioned in other threads, there have been minor issues to be overcome in gluing on hammers with the CF shanks. No real challenge for an individual technician to make adaptations but much more of a challenge in a mass production setting -- and where getting not one, but hundreds or thousands of problems out in the field would be a disaster -- both in terms of cost and negative publicity. Or, it could be they just haven't figured out the solid bushings -- which apparently are needed because the problems with wool felt bushings are increased in a synthetic structure. In any event, it is not compelling logic to offer the current state of Kawai's ongoing action development process as "proof" of anything.

Regarding "flex" . . .
There may be different opinions about the value of "flex" in the hammershank. What cannot be disputed, however, is that the flex in wooden shanks is erratically variable from note to note. Anyone familiar with wood knows that every single piece of wood is different. (If that is questioned, just cut apart several different high-quality wooden shanks and one can see for themselves.) It is simply not scientific to suppose that 88 pieces of wood with different grain structure and density will all perform the same.

It is possible to engineer CF shanks to have different amounts of "flex" -- which WN&G does with their different wall thicknesses of the CF tube for different parts of the scale. What is absolutely impossible - is to engineer wood components to be consistent. They are inherently erratic.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

Top
#2014892 - 01/15/13 12:02 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7216
Loc: France
I find the carbon shank to send too much power. Makes in the end a difference in tone managment (more straight)

I was just saying the 2 actions are different because of that.

That said I will not take Kawai as my referent tone quality, an, due to the tone I heard on the pianos find on your continent, I will tend to stick with my actual references and culture.

I just cant understand why we are looking for a sound that have some transparency, while visibly you are happy as soon as the tone is long and powerful.
So yes, the US market will be the first to accept all carbon shanks probably.

But did you think that you are may be listening differently ? Judging tone differently ? (I for sure do so, due to my third ear wink )

Pretending that wood shanks have a whole range of resiliency in s hammer set is only partially true.

Stiffnes can be categorized in 3 ranges at large in a set, an that is enough for us we test that prior to installation, then tune the shanks by scraping them.
(that change their flexibility)


I agree that syntetics can be more even in resiliency, which is evident, but is it so important ?

If the carbon can produce a similar result than wood I ll go for it. At the moment I find it too stiff.

Plus the usual problems with wood of the molding changing with moisture, may be we should glue the felt on carbon core, to obtain hammers ?

Kawai have a huge R&D dept, they could use carbon fiber if they where finding an advantage to it, as they use synthetic parts for so long..
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

Top
#2014914 - 01/15/13 01:02 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Olek]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1294
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Kamin
I find the carbon shank to send too much power. Makes in the end a difference in tone managment (more straight)


I think more efficient and more uniform is better.

Quote:

I just cant understand why we are looking for a sound that have some transparency, while visibly you are happy as soon as the tone is long and powerful.
So yes, the US market will be the first to accept all carbon shanks probably.


Not sure what you are meaning here. Can you explain more?


Quote:

I agree that syntetics can be more even in resiliency, which is evident, but is it so important ?

The difference is dramatic, like night and day. As soon as you use carbon you notice it right away. What we accepted as "normal" or "natural" is immediately shown to be erratic and irregular.

Quote:

Kawai have a huge R&D dept, they could use carbon fiber if they where finding an advantage to it, as they use synthetic parts for so long..


No, this is not automatically true. It is like the difference between sailing a small motorboat and a large oil tanker. The small motorboat can turn on a point while the large tanker takes miles to change course. Kawai has known the advantages of synthetic for a long time. They could easily have made their current action 15 years ago. They have adopted a very cautious step-by-step evolution of their actions. They are not finished.

It is the same in manufacturing. The small individual technicians and small companies are more agile than the large companies. (M&H is tiny compared to Kawai).

For example if I make a mistake, I go out and fix it. No big deal. If M&H has a production glitch, maybe they have to fix 25 pianos. If Kawai has a problem, maybe they have to fix 25,000 pianos (or 250,000). Big companies must be much more cautious in areas that affect production complexity. They don't have to worry about synthetic components because it is all controlled and uniform. But attaching wood to synthetic takes more skill and the process is not as easily absorbed into mass production procedures.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

Top
#2015299 - 01/16/13 06:35 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 562
Just a curious pianist here, has Kawai really gone to solid bushings? Do you technicians out there think we'll see more solid bushings and synthetic action components from the companies that are still stubbornly sticking to wood?

I wonder because a huge issue with my 41 year old piano (I got it when it was a young 37 year old) is that the felt bushings are all shot, making for an extremely sloppy action. But it's not just me, I know someone who had an action rebuild after just 6 years on a brand new Steinway (though he does practice more than me). I've played on a lot of pianos, and while most are not in a good state of regulation, feeling the difference between my piano after regulation and a new piano, something tells me that it's not just lack of regulation holding a lot of older pianos back, but wear.

This sort of short maintenance interval is rather annoying and silly considering the magnitude of forces these parts experience, and I'd be really glad if someday when I'm looking for a high end piano, that they'll all have a trouble free synthetic action that doesn't do weird things because the temperature dropped a little and needs new bushings several times in its lifespan.


Edited by trigalg693 (01/16/13 06:37 AM)

Top
#2015331 - 01/16/13 08:04 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7216
Loc: France
HelloTrigalg I am unsure which bushing you talk of.

The ones that drive the keys (mortise bushings) wear and are to be changed from time to time (the ones in leather last very very long but the touch is less smooth, more noisy, a little)

The cloth bushings that are in the flanges are indeed a sensible component , as the wood used to produce the flanges.

WHen a center takes too much play (generally because the bushing have compressed on ones sie, on more old parts because the center lost a little of its surface treatment, or corroded) , then new centers are used , a little bigger.

AT some point also the solution to make the part new is really to "change the bushing" , but this is done exceptionally by rebuilders, most often they prefer to use new parts.

Some subcontractors as Abel propose to change the bushing cloth in flanges, some technicians do the job themselves but this is only when the original parts HAVE to be retained (for dimensions or availability question)

beforethen some used some oil in the bushings, and that cause problems in time when the oil change to a sticky material.

Today most technicians use Teflon based products in the bushing cloth, I stopped doing so as the Teflon can also cause other problems, as loosening the grip of the part in the wood, or asking for a new treatment every year.

We have parts quality problems when it come sto the bushing cloth, all action manufacturers have to come with solutions.
The cloth swell with moisture, 1 to 2/10 mm which are really enough to slow or stop a part.

The "plastic" flanges oblige the maker to use a very soft cloth, and to find a mix of fabrics that is not too much sensitive to moisture.

Then, (as can be noticed on Kawai) , the parts are not as tight , laterally, as with traditional wood/cloth.

Using hard bushings is not new, and seem to be difficult to set up. Many techs are saying here that the WnG hard bushings are holding well in time.

I believe they also reflect much of the impact energy in the shank, when the hammer hit the strings ( part of the energy is adbsorbed in the cloth, with the usual bushings.

Is if in fine better for the tone, I dont know, as I did not play much of those actions.

Comparisons have to be done between similar pianos with the 2 actions, I suppose this can be the caseon M&H grands.
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

Top
#2015335 - 01/16/13 08:14 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: trigalg693]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7216
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: trigalg693
Just a curious pianist here, has Kawai really gone to solid bushings? Do you technicians out there think we'll see more solid bushings and synthetic action components from the companies that are still stubbornly sticking to wood?

I wonder because a huge issue with my 41 year old piano (I got it when it was a young 37 year old) is that the felt bushings are all shot, making for an extremely sloppy action. But it's not just me, I know someone who had an action rebuild after just 6 years on a brand new Steinway (though he does practice more than me). I've played on a lot of pianos, and while most are not in a good state of regulation, feeling the difference between my piano after regulation and a new piano, something tells me that it's not just lack of regulation holding a lot of older pianos back, but wear.


Is not your car in need of some new components from time to time ?

Prior to regulation, the technician check the centers condition. on a 40 years old piano there is alot to do before regulation, but the tooners prefer to be paid to regulate (which make the piano works a little better)

To have the feel of a new or recent action is possible once the wear is adressed. if not the regulation is not holding nicely

example on a 1908 Steinway (which is due for a large job later)
https://picasaweb.google.com/10530274585...feat=directlink

On a more recent 1930 mod B , I changed 66 hammer centers prior to any work (and those parts where may be 35 years old


If you cound on parts that last all the life of the piano I suggest it is not prone to arrive, on the contrary, most of the things we buy today have a reduced life span, sometime volontarly. Some can be repaired, most have to be thrown out and new ones baught.
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

Top
#2015356 - 01/16/13 09:08 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Olek]
Bruce Clark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 26
If you think about the technical history of the piano, much of the development over time was to make the instrument 1. More powerful and 2. Reliable at that level of power. Thus the evolution of brass wire to steel wire and the older wooden structure to a cast iron plate.

I'm not quite sure how one makes an action too powerful or even what that means. In my view an action would be too powerful when it breaks strings.

We have extensively tested our actions in real pianos. That is actuating real strings at full volume, using PianoDisc technology to assure consistency in the testing. In our testing we have not encountered string breakage except in one instance where let-off was inadvertently adjusted above the string.

We did find it interesting that instead of breaking action parts we broke strings. However, almost no one would actually play a piano so poorly regulated.

Pianist have really loved the consistency from note to note that composite shanks give compared to the inconsistency of wooden shanks.

If the test for acceptability is they must be exactly like wooden parts than no they are not. However, if the test is, do composite parts make a better piano than the answer is yes, they do.

We view composite parts as just continuing the development of the instrument in a manner typical of the late 19th century after meaningful improvement stagnated for nearly all of the 20th century.
_________________________
Lead Design Engineer
Mason & Hamlin / Wessell Nickel & Gross

Bruce Clark

Top
#2015434 - 01/16/13 11:43 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1881
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Regarding a Steinway action getting very loose after 6 years of hard use; for the last thirty years most new Steinways, (and some other makes as well) have come from the factory with spongy, loose action centers and over eased key-bushings. Makers fear of a stuck key drives a lot of that. Almost every set of new replacement parts from Steinway, (and other makers) that I use when rebuilding has to be sized and re-pinned to meet the performance and durability that I want to provide to my clients.

Compounding the pinning issues is the hammer mass. Most newer hammers are heavier than the type used from 1850 to around 1940. If the tone-regulation does not use hammer mass reduction techniques a piano action is far less tolerant of tight pinning. With low overall inertia in an action, higher friction is not detrimental- in fact it helps the dynamics and evens the tone and improves soft playing.

Most new Steinways (and others makes) I see need re-pining, re-bushed keys, hammer shaping to reduce weight without reducing the felt where it strikes string-and reduction in the number of front placed key-leads, and adding a back lead to the higher treble keys. Then they become far more durable regarding tone and feel-and are much easier to service.

With the WNG shank/flange on the market now-I do not use a wood shank on any Steinway I am rebuilding now. They are superior and I am not compensated in any way to make this remark.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

Top
#2015467 - 01/16/13 12:53 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7216
Loc: France
Well if the ^pinning problem is solved it is wonderful.

remain the tone question.

I agree that all the NY Steinway I have seen have much more lead than the German ones, (I have seen 4-5 leads in the mediums, 7 in the basses)I dont understand why , unless it is to produce more tone. May be you are not very well deserved with the pianos you find on your market.


Pinning on usual actions is sensitive to climate indeed, but the instruments we have are generally in good condition on that aspect (a testing is necessary, pinning problems may arise a few years later, -10-15 years for instance, and many actions have no problem with pinning)

Of course the hammer have a weight in relation with the power expected, the scaling, the soundboard.

I like light hammers and fast action but there is less nuances possibilities, particularly on old soundboards, so I stick with medium weight hammers

About the cloth bushings, I believe that the inner vibrations of the shanks are not so much reflected to the hammer with them, but I can be wrong.

Yes the flexibility of shanks when made progressive , have abhuge impact on the tone.

Just test a first grade grand from the best factories, by impacting the shank near the head on a plane or a metal piece. You will notice how the resonance is the same on all notes (progressively changing)

A shank sounding differently have to be replaced. It is not as even than the resonance of carbone shanks but it can be noticed that things have been processed.

Yamaha hammers have a very even shank resonance also, due to the wood selected. (also to the use of a soft glue)

A too stiff shank will give more power but straighten the tone (the attack is shortened)

A very supple shank will open the tone to the max, providing very nice pianissimo nuances, but will limit the power as it will flex too much.

AN idea just passed my mind : wooden shanks could be impregnated with an acrylic resin to compensate too much suppleness.

I will try that soon... we have acrylic resins that are easy to use with all kind of solvents.


When gluing a hammer with white glue, among others glued with hide glue, it can be noticed that the impact tone is less crisp with the white glue.

So I believe there is an important relation between shank and hammer, tone wise, noticed in the impact quality. A lot of inner vibrations may arise in the shank when the string is impacted, the way they are reflected in the strings may change the attack quality.



Edited by Kamin (01/16/13 01:08 PM)
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

Top
#2015502 - 01/16/13 01:47 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Bruce Clark]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5174
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Bruce Clark
I'm not quite sure how one makes an action too powerful or even what that means. In my view an action would be too powerful when it breaks strings.

I think what was meant here is that an action can be too stiff. Wood action components—most noticeably hammershanks—inherently have a certain amount of compliance. This compliance is something pianists are used to and adjust for as they play the piano.

Along with the compliance of the keys these are the two most significant factors in determining an action’s saturation level and, by extension, its ability to drive a piano to high levels of acoustic power. A piano action with flexible keys and hammershanks will reach saturation with only moderate key force. Steinway Ds from the 1960 (give or take a decade) are classic examples of this. Well before the playing level reached forte those actions ran out of “power.” No matter how much harder the keys were pressed there was simply no more acoustical power to be had. They clearly demonstrated that piano actions can have too much compliance; i.e., they can be too flexible. In this case the chief culprit was the spectacularly inept Pratt, Read keyset that made the piano virtually unplayable as a concert instrument. It did, however, have the unintended benefit of teaching us at least the basics of piano action energy transfer.

Encouraged by our experience with these actions we just had to find out just where the opposite limits might be; if keys could be too flexible was it possible that they could also be too stiff? And, indeed, subsequent lab experiments using aluminum keys taught us that actions can also be too stiff. When they are too stiff the transfer of energy from the human finger to the hammer striking the strings is very fast and efficient but it is also very hard on the finger. No human pianist could play this piano for any length of time.

And this brings up Kamin’s point which is, I think, that piano actions using carbon fiber hammershanks might be too stiff. I think, though, that this observation is based on acoustical concerns, not purely physical ones. The assumption seems to be that because carbon fiber composites are reputed to be very stiff then any hammer shank made of carbon fiber is going to be stiffer and therefore less than optimal at transferring energy from the wippen to the hammer when compared to traditional wood hammershanks. “Optimal” in this case being exactly identical to wood. Exactly which wood hammershank might be selected as the standard might present a challenge since there is rather a lot of variability to choose from. In other words, there can be rather a lot of variability in wood-based hammershanks.

No matter. Wood is a natural material and is therefore perceived as inherently superior carbon fiber which, as we all know, is an artificial material. The bigger problem here, I think, is that wood is a familiar material. It is traditional. It is organic and comfortable. Carbon fiber, on the other hand, is new. It is exotic, unknown and unfamiliar. Most of us don’t really know much about it except for what we might have read about it in the popular press. We might know it is used in airplane wings or sailboats. From these sources we know that carbon fiber is incredibly stiff, right? Few of us have any hands-on practical experience with the stuff. We've never gone out to the shop and cut into a piece of carbon fiber. But we do know that it is inherently much stiffer than natural wood—everybody says so—so we can be certain that any hammershank made of carbon fiber is going to be much, much stiffer than its wood counterpart. Right?

And now to burst this little fantasy—and please correct me if I’m wrong here—aren’t the current Wessel, Nickel & Gross hammershanks sized to approximate the average stiffness of their wood counterparts? Though without the variability common to the wood shanks? I’m not the most experienced Wessel, Nickel & Gross action installer here—and I’ve done no exhaustive testing—but based on my simple “feel” test they certainly “feel” about the same. And if one takes the trouble to weigh them it will quickly be seen that their weight is much more consistent.

Most of our fears about these new actions—be it the now almost traditional Kawai or the new Wessel, Nickel & Gross—are based partly on our popular, but incomplete, perceptions of the materials from which they are made and on our still-limited experience with them.

Any new material or technology is at an initial disadvantage when compared with a traditional material or technology. In the case of wood action components the industry has something over 300 years of experience with the stuff. Wood piano actions have evolved about as far as they are going to. We are not going to get much more precision out of the machinery. Nor would it do much to improve the performance of wood-based actions if we could. We’re not going to be able to do anything—at least not in practical terms—to improve their stability in varying climate conditions; wood is hygroscopic and there is nothing we’re going to be able to do about that. As well, we’re probably not going to be able to do anything to solve the variability inherent in felt bushings. And we’re probably not going to go down the road of plastic bushings in wood parts again; Steinway’s mishandling of the Teflon fiasco pretty much took care of that. So the wood-based piano action is now what is called “a mature technology.” It’s not going anywhere soon.

In contrast we’re still on a learning curve with actions made of alternate materials. In spite of Kawai’s now forty years of successful experience with them most pianists (and many piano technicians) have never encountered piano actions made of anything but wood. This is especially true with those whose experience is with and whose preference is for those instruments made in the 1800s and early 1900s. Here anything that smacks of “modern” is to be rejected simply because it is, well, modern. Specifically developments such as this are seen as attempts to draw even more power out of an instrument that has already been pushed to levels of power that can, over the long term, be damaging to human hearing.

Anyone who has followed my work over the years knows that I have taken another path. For some decades now I’ve been preaching the benefits of toning down the harsh and strident sounds of pianos that have been pushed beyond what I see as their natural limits. In my work I stress the importance of reliable performance at the softest limits of pianissimo. And it is for precisely this reason that I welcome the Wessel, Nickel & Gross action. At forte levels of play even relatively large variations in the stiffness of materials are of little consequence. If they are extreme—which is rare—they might be noticed but for the most part the pianist just plays along at levels often exceeding action saturation. It is at pianissimo where even slight variations is regulation consistency and materials consistency become critical. And it is here that I find the Wessel, Nickel & Gross action to be superior to any wood action I’ve ever used. (I would like to have one more hammershank tube with an even thinner wall, though, for those really light treble hammers I usually use.)

My advice to the critics is simply this: Don’t write these things off without a fair trial. You don’t have to give up your acoustical goals no matter what they are. I know some rebuilders who use these parts because they can get more power out the piano. I know others, myself included, who use them because they allow me to further expand the low end of the spectrum. In either case you will find improved consistency and stability.

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

Top
#2015545 - 01/16/13 03:09 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Del]
Bruce Clark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 26
To Del, statistically in a "normal" set of wooden shanks there should be about two that are quite similar to WNG composite shanks in strength. The rest will be weaker. Some quite weak.

To Kamin, the tone a wooden shank makes when tapped on a table only somewhat predicts the strength. Early on we studied wooden parts in substantial detail so we could understand what our new composite parts really needed to do. Truthfully, we learned more about wooden parts than we knew going into this project.

As part of that process we measured a number of sets of shanks from several different makers as well as our own. After knowing the strength of different shanks we then tested them using the tap method technicians commonly employ.

What we learned was that the "pitch" test partially predicts the strength however, not entirely. No amount of tapping will allow you so sort the set of wooden shanks so that strength evenly tapers from one end to the other.

Comments we have heard from really good pianists echo Del's comment concerning pianissimo. That is, they really like the evenness when playing soft.

Bruce Clark
_________________________
Lead Design Engineer
Mason & Hamlin / Wessell Nickel & Gross

Bruce Clark

Top
#2015549 - 01/16/13 03:12 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7216
Loc: France
Del, I respect to the max the innovations and was often enthusiastic about some tools , methods, and other technical facts I have seen developed in the USA.

Sorry if it sound politically incorrect to state that I am often surprised by the sound quality I hear (on You tube, indeed) from many instruments available in USA.

This really surprises me as some of my colleagues, but immediately, not after a particular listening. And this really makes me wonder where the source of those differences in listening is.

But, evidently there are also very good instruments and tuners very certainly.

I try regularly to find typical US pianos recorded , and I am afraid to said that I find too little of them sounding really nice. When I see a dealer showing his nice rebuild instrument, half of the time he ^play arpeggios with the sustain pedal engaged, this cannot be a demonstration of the tone.

M&H seem to be excellent instruments , with a large scale and a good balance of tone (the treble is a little acid but well present), but yesterday I chased for nice recordings on Internet and I find finally one piano correctly tuned, most others have a straight and square tone that make listening difficult, the singing quality of tone does not seem to be looked for.

I hear you when you say most pianist play in the action saturation zone, I dont know how you backup that information with studies, but I will trust that as being around the FF zone (not the mF dont joke please !).

I would believe that in that case we need that zone, probably because it allow more tone effects, there is a level in FFFF where a "hidden tone" appears that cannot be heard under that level. may be the hammer strike the strings at another point (certainly) .
I tried that action with the carbon shanks, and was indeed surprised not to hear "stiff shanks" as I was expecting, if there is more stiffness it is not as sensible as it may sound.

Then in the end the piano have too much volume at lower level of play and the attack is so fast, the tone is then more clear, a little like when the hammers are impregnated (meaning you find that clear composite always)

The evenness is highly noticeable, and certainly can be appreciated . may be that is only the "woody tone " part that misses my ear.

What you are developping in tone seem to be very interesting, I heard lately a pianist customer of mine saying he was impressed with a recent YC grand, I would suppose you worked on those instruments, possibly.

Where can I hear your instruments please ? I heard yet the vertical which seem to have a very sonorous behavior, and a perfect action. However I like more transparency in tone, The tone of your piano refer to me to the GAVEAU brand in France, reputed until the end, those instruments have a somehow dark tone at the same time a little compact, if you see what I mean. http://youtu.be/4GcGw4wLeOk

I hope you will enjoy the recording.

Best regards
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

Top
#2015713 - 01/16/13 06:58 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: Olek]
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 562
Originally Posted By: Kamin

Is not your car in need of some new components from time to time ?


Yes. But I think on a car, it's a bit more reasonable. The shocks might need changing once in the lifetime of the car. The engine and transmission (mechanical components at least) should last beyond the lifetime of the car. Tires need changing, but they are actively being scrubbed against the road. Fluids need changing, but I liken that to tuning a piano (it costs less to change the oil in a car than to get the piano tuned at the recommended intervals!). Once in the lifetime of the car some of the sensors might need replacing, and on a manual transmission one time in the life of the car the clutch (this one is replaced possibly more often than that) and synchros might need replacing.

A piano needs its strings replaced eventually, which is a lot of money but it's not a big deal. However a piano's action needing so much work can be likened to needing an engine overhaul every few years, like an aggressively run motorcycle engine. That's sort of crazy to me.

Anyways, it's always interesting hearing you technicians talk about this stuff, we pianists don't have any clue at all, we just think 99% of pianos out there are terrible XD

Regarding the shank stiffness thing, I guess I'll throw another word in, I've never played a concert grand that feels like the soft tones are hard to control, but I've almost always wished that they had more power at least in some registers. Additionally, while most concert pianos are in pretty good shape, I distinctly remember 2 pianos having a particularly easy to control and consistent action; One was a Shigeru Kawai SK-9, another was a Bosendorfer 225? (don't know if they changed the sizes from 4 years ago), both were brand new. I've played a M&H BB with the composite action though, and wasn't impressed (might have been the room's acoustics though).


Edited by trigalg693 (01/16/13 07:01 PM)

Top
#2015725 - 01/16/13 07:12 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: trigalg693]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21285
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: trigalg693

A piano needs its strings replaced eventually, which is a lot of money but it's not a big deal. However a piano's action needing so much work can be likened to needing an engine overhaul every few years, like an aggressively run motorcycle engine. That's sort of crazy to me.


No, the amount of regulation needed for actions is akin to getting a tune-up on a car. It should not be a big deal, although there are techs who like to make a big deal of it. I spent an hour or two touching up one of my pianos' regulation today.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

Top
#2015747 - 01/16/13 07:46 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: BDB]
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 562
Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: trigalg693

A piano needs its strings replaced eventually, which is a lot of money but it's not a big deal. However a piano's action needing so much work can be likened to needing an engine overhaul every few years, like an aggressively run motorcycle engine. That's sort of crazy to me.


No, the amount of regulation needed for actions is akin to getting a tune-up on a car. It should not be a big deal, although there are techs who like to make a big deal of it. I spent an hour or two touching up one of my pianos' regulation today.


So I did see the thing about action centers or bushings or whatever they're called coming loose from the factory, if they're tight though, how many years can they go without replacement? Everything in a car engine that needs replacement is easy to access and cheap, unless you had oil starvation problems or something that destroyed a bearing. Properly maintained engines these days are expected to last decades. heck, they even test the engines at maximum speed for hundreds of hours and they don't fail.

On the other hand, paying a technician to replace the bushings on the hammers or whatever costs a *ton* of money.


Edited by trigalg693 (01/16/13 07:49 PM)

Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Moderator:  Piano World 
What's Hot!!
Our latest Issue is available now...
Piano News - Interesting & Fun Piano Related Newsletter! (free)
-------------------
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
109 registered (36251, angga888, anotherscott, AndrewJCW, Art_Vandelay, Abby Pianoman, 31 invisible), 1507 Guests and 19 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
75553 Members
42 Forums
156221 Topics
2294316 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Kawai Cp200 repair needed
by Walks
07/28/14 08:52 AM
BALDWIN R vs. STEINWAY M
by Karl Watson
07/28/14 08:11 AM
Best Digital Piano for Touch
by JoeCPiano
07/28/14 04:50 AM
Happy Birthday Cinnamonbear!
by Kuanpiano
07/27/14 11:17 PM
Finger "Tapes": Purpose?
by CleverName
07/27/14 10:56 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission