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Topic Options
#2015752 - 01/16/13 08:01 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
So does having a tune up on a car and replacing a bunch of stuff on it. Pianos last a ton longer than a car and cost a fraction of the cost, over the course of 50 years.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#2015757 - 01/16/13 08:09 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21426
Loc: Oakland
I think that although you can reasonably expect a car engine to last only 10-15 years before it becomes especially troublesome and expensive, unless you are doing a lot of hard driving. Much longer than that requires more frequent repairs, and the costs go way up. Our car is getting old, and the service it has required in the past few years has cost more than the service on our pianos would have cost since they were rebuilt. Actually, rebuilding them, excluding refinishing, probably would have cost less. (The car could stand refinishing!)

In contrast, most of the action parts on my pianos were original for the first 50+ years, and except for those in the parts that I replaced, all of the bushings other than the pedal bearings are original after about 90 years.

This is one of the things that has people leery about new materials for pianos. Felt and wood can last a long, long time. Many of the other materials that have been tried have suffered material failure (as opposed to wearing out) or developed other problems long before the traditional materials did.

I am not opposed to new materials, but I cannot say for certain that their longevity is any better than time-tested materials.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2015793 - 01/16/13 09:12 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
RestorerPhil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 212
Loc: Georgia, USA
I'll be using the WNG parts for a small grand soon. The instrument has a crazy action, so I need the versatility of their system to help create a conventional action. The decision was based on this need, rather than other considerations. It is good to hear (again) good things about the WNG system.

Concerning felt bushings and re-bushing/repinning, there are certainly times for it. In certain circumstances, some flange repinning and knuckle "bolstering" can make a great improvement in conjunction with a serious regulating job, while saving parts money (for parts that may not be so good and be in need of work themselves). Of course, that is assuming that the hammers have enough life left in them.

The synthetics will truly have to do well if they are to compete with the longevity of...
good old wool felt, a hole through some good wood, and a brass pin,
no?! wink
_________________________
Lavender Piano Services
Established 1977
Tuning, Concert Maintenance,
Rebuilding & Restoration

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#2015810 - 01/16/13 09:57 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
CHAS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/03
Posts: 521
Loc: Ski Country of Colorado
Had a Kawai with the Millenium II action. Now I have a one year old M&H. The carbon fiber action feels vastly superior to me.
Was considering a Haessler that was near the M&H. The action was a a large factor in the purchase.
Played a carbon fiber cello for two years. Would like to try a piano with a carbon fiber soundboard.

The world is round. It circles the sun. Don't see many powdered wigs in the concert halls these days. The climate is changing. Many women are liberated.
Carbon fiber and other plastics make great piano action. etc. etc.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A

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#2015827 - 01/16/13 10:46 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 622
Well, the point is more that cars are run in a very harsh environment but are still very reliable and trouble free (unless you have an Audi/VW :P), and pianos will give you problems even if they're babied. These days, the drivetrain is expected to be trouble-free for 200000 miles *minimum*.

The difference between car maintenance and piano maintenance is this:

Changing oil is really easy, you unscrew the plug, unscrew the filter, pop a new one on, pour new oil, and it's done. Changing say an oxygen sensor is really easy, you buy a new one, get a 6 dollar sensor wrench, unscrew the old one, screw the new one on. Changing tires takes more effort but you can get the place where you bought your tires from to mount them for very little money. Basically, a lot of maintenance stuff is a matter of buying a new part and turning a few bolts, which anyone who's done so much as held a wrench before can do. Don't want to do it yourself? Take it to a shop, not the stealership, and it's not that bad in terms of cost.

For a piano, it's completely different. Everything is entrusted to the technician to the tune of [large sum of money] per hour, on top of part costs, and since things aren't as simple as bolt it on, it tends to take quite a few high dollar hours to get anything done. My piano has had almost 2000 dollars of such "maintenance" already, and the technician pointed out that the hammer bushings are in pretty bad shape and should be replaced, and something else in the action is extremely worn down and should be replaced too.


Edited by trigalg693 (01/16/13 10:56 PM)

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#2015845 - 01/16/13 11:32 PM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: trigalg693]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1308
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: trigalg693
Well, the point is more that cars are run in a very harsh environment but are still very reliable and trouble free (unless you have an Audi/VW :P), and pianos will give you problems even if they're babied. These days, the drivetrain is expected to be trouble-free for 200000 miles *minimum*.

The difference between car maintenance and piano maintenance is this:

Changing oil is really easy, you unscrew the plug, unscrew the filter, pop a new one on, pour new oil, and it's done. Changing say an oxygen sensor is really easy, you buy a new one, get a 6 dollar sensor wrench, unscrew the old one, screw the new one on. Changing tires takes more effort but you can get the place where you bought your tires from to mount them for very little money. Basically, a lot of maintenance stuff is a matter of buying a new part and turning a few bolts, which anyone who's done so much as held a wrench before can do. Don't want to do it yourself? Take it to a shop, not the stealership, and it's not that bad in terms of cost.

For a piano, it's completely different. Everything is entrusted to the technician to the tune of [large sum of money] per hour, on top of part costs, and since things aren't as simple as bolt it on, it tends to take quite a few high dollar hours to get anything done. My piano has had almost 2000 dollars of such "maintenance" already, and the technician pointed out that the hammer bushings are in pretty bad shape and should be replaced, and something else in the action is extremely worn down and should be replaced too.


I'm not quite sure what you are getting at. The piano action is made of wood, felt and leather with just a bit of metal. Which part of "inherently unstable system" would be hard to understand? What is amazing is not that it needs periodic service but that it works as well as it does.

Given that the system is inherently unstable, and also given that there are no precise specifications or automated way to achieve them, clearly a trained professional will be the choice most people will make to keep the thing running.

However, DIY remains an option for those who wish to invest the time into understanding the process and perhaps working under the guidance of a seasoned professional.

We are working on reliability. That is one of the reasons for the use of the carbon fiber parts. They are demonstrating a much higher level of reliability and requiring much lower service costs. The same can be said for premium quality hammers which last longer and require less voicing and other service.
_________________________
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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#2015859 - 01/17/13 12:19 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 622
I'm just lamenting that the design of a piano action (a relatively simple, high tolerance machine) is so inherently unstable. Poor engineering that enables piano technicians to make a living :P


Edited by trigalg693 (01/17/13 12:20 AM)

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#2015860 - 01/17/13 12:23 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Phil D Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 551
Loc: London, England
You're pushing too hard on the car metaphor here. You can't expect the same service requirements.

However, having said that...

You don't mention what kind of piano you have. The service requirements on a normal 5 year old family saloon car will be what you mentioned, but a 40 year old one? How about a 5 year old sports car?

What about if you want your 5 year old family saloon to run as it did new? How about the 40 year old one? How about the 40 year old sports car??
_________________________
Phil Dickson
The Cycling Piano Tuner

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#2015862 - 01/17/13 12:26 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21426
Loc: Oakland
A piano action is very stable, a lot more stable than a car. People just do not drive cars with as much precision as they play pianos.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2015866 - 01/17/13 12:44 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 622
I guess I am pushing the car comparison a bit far, but my point is that a car is designed to be easily serviced, and the things that are not easily serviced are designed to last far past the useful lifespan of the car. On the other hand, it seems like a piano's action (difficult to service, I liken it to the engine) doesn't just need tuning up, the "bearings" inevitably wear out.

I have a 41 year old Kawai KG-3C, but my point is more that the wear on the expensive to replace parts in a piano action seems to happen quickly enough that it becomes a problem for more demanding pianists in say 10 years time, and that is startlingly fast (I just bought a 140k mile, 13 year old car, and the drivetrain runs like clockwork). For example at KU (went there for IIYM) the practice room pianos are maintained by a technician who probably adjusts the actions more often than the typical home piano gets adjustment, yet a lot of them are still really sloppy; I'm no technician and I don't pull the actions to look at them, but I'm guessing the issue is wear, because what else could it be? I know actions are different, and some are just worse than others, but I've played enough pianos (and enough models of pianos) to know that those weren't in good shape.

Frankly, I'm surprised that wool, leather, and wood performs as well as it does, but at the same time, the mechanical strength demands on piano action parts are really quite pathetic, and it would make me really happy to see some better material choices.


Edited by trigalg693 (01/17/13 12:51 AM)

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#2015872 - 01/17/13 01:10 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: trigalg693]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5237
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: trigalg693
For a piano, it's completely different. Everything is entrusted to the technician to the tune of [large sum of money] per hour, on top of part costs, and since things aren't as simple as bolt it on, it tends to take quite a few high dollar hours to get anything done. My piano has had almost 2000 dollars of such "maintenance" already, and the technician pointed out that the hammer bushings are in pretty bad shape and should be replaced, and something else in the action is extremely worn down and should be replaced too.

Doesn’t have to be. There is nothing all that mysterious about piano actions. Witness the 6,000 to 10,000 (nobody knows for sure) piano technicians servicing them just in the U.S. Some with more skill and expertise than others but that is also true of car mechanics.

There is no law prohibiting the private owner from learning to service his or her own piano. Indeed, several members of this forum do just that.

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

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

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#2015874 - 01/17/13 01:15 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: trigalg693]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5237
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: trigalg693
Frankly, I'm surprised that wool, leather, and wood performs as well as it does, but at the same time, the mechanical strength demands on piano action parts are really quite pathetic, and it would make me really happy to see some better material choices.

And you’ve measured this how?

Actually the mechanical stress on piano action components such as felt action center bushings, leather knuckles, etc. is quite high. You’re right about one thing, though, it is surprising that wool and leather perform as well as they do for as long as they do.

ddf


Edited by Del (01/17/13 01:26 PM)
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

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

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#2015876 - 01/17/13 01:23 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: trigalg693]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5237
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: trigalg693
I guess I am pushing the car comparison a bit far, but my point is that a car is designed to be easily serviced, and the things that are not easily serviced are designed to last far past the useful lifespan of the car. On the other hand, it seems like a piano's action (difficult to service, I liken it to the engine) doesn't just need tuning up, the "bearings" inevitably wear out.

It takes loosening two screws and about a minute to pull the modern piano action out of the piano. That’s pretty easy.

And not everything on a car that requires regular servicing is all that inexpensive. Tires wear out and are not cheap to replace. Brake pads wear out, as do brake discs. And some of those “regularly scheduled maintenance” procedures are hardly what I’d call inexpensive.

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

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

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#2015880 - 01/17/13 01:39 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21426
Loc: Oakland
Also, it might be fairer to compare a heavily used piano with a heavily used car, like a drag racer, where major components are changed much more often than those in one's personal car.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2015911 - 01/17/13 03:41 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: trigalg693]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3321
Originally Posted By: trigalg693
Well, the point is more that cars are run in a very harsh environment but are still very reliable and trouble free (unless you have an Audi/VW :P), and pianos will give you problems even if they're babied. These days, the drivetrain is expected to be trouble-free for 200000 miles *minimum*.

The difference between car maintenance and piano maintenance is this:

Changing oil is really easy, you unscrew the plug, unscrew the filter, pop a new one on, pour new oil, and it's done. Changing say an oxygen sensor is really easy, you buy a new one, get a 6 dollar sensor wrench, unscrew the old one, screw the new one on. Changing tires takes more effort but you can get the place where you bought your tires from to mount them for very little money. Basically, a lot of maintenance stuff is a matter of buying a new part and turning a few bolts, which anyone who's done so much as held a wrench before can do. Don't want to do it yourself? Take it to a shop, not the stealership, and it's not that bad in terms of cost.

For a piano, it's completely different. Everything is entrusted to the technician to the tune of [large sum of money] per hour, on top of part costs, and since things aren't as simple as bolt it on, it tends to take quite a few high dollar hours to get anything done. My piano has had almost 2000 dollars of such "maintenance" already, and the technician pointed out that the hammer bushings are in pretty bad shape and should be replaced, and something else in the action is extremely worn down and should be replaced too.


Pianos are easy. Buy a Saab. It will put repair annoyances into perspective for you. Don't ask how I know.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2015922 - 01/17/13 04:26 AM Re: carbon fiber action [Re: ico]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1950
Loc: Philadelphia area
People generally take much better care of their cars than they care for their pianos. As a tech, ordering that Mercedes is not happening any time soon.

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