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#2067722 - 04/20/13 05:52 PM HELP - how to make action heavier?
Loga Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/12
Posts: 37
Dear Members,

I am a pianist preparing to apply for the Music College of Miskolc (Hungary). Right now I have an upright piano, which had very light action when pressed the keys, so I called a technican (actually one of the bests in our capital) and asked him to make my keyboard's action heavier in order to strengthen my fingers more when practicing.

He made it, he fitted little steel orbs into the keys to make the action heavier. However, I was not completely satisfied. While pressing the keys became indeed heavier, sometime I felt the keys run out of my fingers.

Now I found an old but good grand for sale. It is cheap, it is old (from 1920s), but me and my teacher found that it has a good action. The only thing is that it is a little light... I want to improve as quick as I could, so I want stronger(heavier) action.

MY QUESTION: How much can one make the action of a grand heavier without using steel into the keys (just by setting the piano)? And if this (using steel in the keys) is the only way, will it make the action heavier BUT ALSO wrong in some way? What are the consequences?

Thank you very much!

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#2067776 - 04/20/13 08:10 PM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
RestorerPhil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 212
Loc: Georgia, USA
Adding weight to the back end of the keys, as you have already tried, is one method.

On an upright two other inexpensive ideas come to mind: One is to make the dampers lift a little early to give the illusion of a heavier action. To do this, the technician adjusts the spoons to move the damper levers earlier than normal. Another method would be to adjust the left-off (or set-off) too early. This robs power from the hammer assembly. For some people this will also give the impression that the piano is heavier, even though it is not.

Other changes involve quite a bit of labor, namely, repinning old worn flanges and rebushing the keys. A more snug fit in those areas does not create more weight, but does add friction. If you take your idea very far, you might as well just buy a new piano, or at least spend it on a piano that you really plan to use on through your studies.

On a grand piano some of the same ideas apply. An additional way would be to repack (bolster) the rollers (knuckles) on the old flanges so that they are a little lopsided on the side near you (proximal side). On an old grand the knuckles are probably flat and need attention anyway, if not worn out and needing complete replacement. The technician then adjusts the jacks nearer the player, a little "wrong" toward the proximal area of the window in the repetition lever. This changes the leverage of the assembly. It also will require considerable action regulation work. Repinning various parts can also add friction in the grand action, but: $$$$. Also, there are balance rail pins made with a spring. They could be installed to add resistance - doing the opposite task that many people would be using them for.

Again, these sorts of things are potentially expensive. If you could help with the labor of the jobs, your technician might work with you so as to make it less costly.

Perhaps your instructor can give you a simpler path to strong fingers. After all, flexibility, reach, and nimbleness are more important.


Edited by RestorerPhil (04/20/13 08:24 PM)
Edit Reason: A brain emission of greenhouse gases.
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#2067795 - 04/20/13 09:24 PM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
rysowers Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2505
Loc: Olympia, WA
One method is the use of binder clips. I haven't actually done this myself, but have friends who have tried it successfully and it is reversible.

David Stanwood has a bit of information about it on his website.


Edited by rysowers (04/20/13 09:25 PM)
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#2067796 - 04/20/13 09:46 PM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21925
Loc: Oakland
The only way to start is by regulating the action. That may be enough to suit you.
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#2067854 - 04/21/13 03:18 AM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
Loga Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/12
Posts: 37
Thank you for your reply! I checked the website and seemed very helpful!

Regarding to my original question: if a technician put those small steels into the back of the keys - does it make the action wronger in any ways?

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#2067865 - 04/21/13 04:57 AM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
pianolive Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 327
Loc: Europe
[quote=Regarding to my original question: if a technician put those small steels into the back of the keys - does it make the action wronger in any ways? [/quote]

The feeling of the touch being heavy or light depends on the design of the action.
Adding led into the keys is done to even out the static touch weight and is the last thing to do after a complete regulation. If you add too much weight on the back of the key it might go back too fast. There must be a balance between the down/up weight.

Like said before here, have the action regulated first and tell us about the result.

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#2067881 - 04/21/13 06:17 AM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
The clips are really making the weight higher, they will not help for expressiveness, but if you plan to make muscular work they could help and you can take them off afterthat.

WHen regulating the action it is possible to make it a little bit more heavy but most of the weight is in the hammer.

AN old piano will suffer from professional use with paper clips on the shanks so it should be only temporary

Those are the small clips to install a glass cover on a picture they are not too difficult to find. I can check the dimensions,that should be used.

Adding more lead in the keys is done when the hammers are more heavy, that could be a solution to install new hammers (on an old piano they can make the touch more heavy) but other points should be addressed at that time, so a relatively simple repair could have some unexpected cost.

http://magento.pumpup.fr/quincaillerie/q...re-6-5-c-6.html

It is sold in large quantities, not like here 6 by 6 !


Edited by Olek (04/21/13 09:50 AM)
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#2067965 - 04/21/13 11:06 AM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21925
Loc: Oakland
Adding or removing weights will affect the feel of the action, not necessarily for the better. For best results, you should have someone who has experience figure out what needs to be done and what it would cost. Try some of their work beforehand, and get an estimate. You will probably conclude that it is better to keep looking until you find the piano that you like without modification.
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#2067982 - 04/21/13 11:44 AM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
Brick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/06
Posts: 373
Originally Posted By: Loga
Regarding to my original question: if a technician put those small steels into the back of the keys - does it make the action wronger in any ways?


There is no absolute answer to that question. Anything you do to change the action will affect something in the performance. If he does nothing but add weights to the back of the keys, the key is going to return to the rest position with more force. The same would happen if you added weight at the hammer, but it would feel differently at the finger. Whether it makes it "wronger" or not is a matter of your opinion- another pianist may feel differently. And the perception of heavier/lighter can be caused by numerous things- not just weights added or subtracted, but also cumulative friction and the state of regulation.

My advice to you based on dealing with large numbers of pianists who have various dislikes about the "feel" of their piano, is to choose a piano with the kind of touch you want- OR be willing to support the expense (and time) to have technicians try various various methods until you find something you are happy with- which may or may not ever happen.

I think the best chance you will have at a "correct" feel, will be if you #1 Have the piano thoroughly regulated (or confirm the regulation is correct), then #2 Do a complete reweighting of the keyset such as what was done when the piano was built, in which you are setting both a new downweight, but also a new upweight that is in proper proportion to the downweight. This is much more work than simply adding weights to the back of the key. It is rather extensive work costing a significant amount of money, but should yield the best result (assuming your technician has the appropriate knowledge).

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#2068057 - 04/21/13 02:09 PM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Yes Brick but adding weight to tge key provide an interesting sensation, if the hammers are also mote heavy, if the leads are taken from the keys the playeablitly lowers the keys stick to the finget.

What the pianists need is resistance to acceleration of mass, and the lead in tge keys does not provide that, they mostly impact the initial resistance, then if the hammer is heavy, a massive key can be used but not all levels of play are possible then.
Apparently the mass of the key counts for less than 20% in the dynamics of the action. Heavy keys tend to brake the impact but they jump better by themselves to the bottom so it may not be a good solution to take the weights off. (as "lightening" an action by adding weight is some sort of nonsense.)

Anyway an old piano need pinning, new felts and leathers, new hammers, etc.

(new strings if new hammers are installed)

Old pianos are a bad choice for professional study, as even if they are in goid condition because not much played, they probably will suffer from 6-8 hours dayly play. This have to be known. Better find a 1970 grand and even more recent if possible..
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#2068064 - 04/21/13 02:24 PM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Yes Brick but adding weight to tge key provide an interesting sensation, if the hammers are also more heavy, if the leads are taken from the keys the playeablitly lowers the keys stick to the finger.

What the pianists need is resistance to acceleration of mass, and the lead in the keys does not provide that, they mostly impact the initial resistance, then if the hammer is heavy, a massive key can be used but not all levels of play are possible then.
Apparently the mass of the key counts for less than 20% in the dynamics of the action. Heavy keys tend to brake the impact but they jump better by themselves to the bottom so it may not be a good solution to take the weights off. (as "lightening" an action by adding weight is some sort of nonsense.)

Anyway an old piano need pinning, new felts and leathers, new hammers, etc.

(new strings if new hammers are installed)

Old pianos are a bad choice for professional study, as even if they are in good condition because not much played, they probably will suffer from 6-8 hours dayly play. This have to be known. Better find a 1970 grand and even more recent if possible..


Edited by Olek (04/21/13 06:30 PM)
_________________________
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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#2068128 - 04/21/13 04:27 PM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Olek]
Brick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/06
Posts: 373
Olek, we can argue what is logical or scientifically valid, and maybe we would agree- but we are also dealing with the psychology and world view of the pianists/piano owners, who ultimately decide what they are happy or not happy with. My personal experience is that their feelings and opinions about what they think makes a piano "good" is quite random and also very often in conflict with what we think as technicians to be "correct" or "better" based on physics or engineering. I have seen countless examples of pianists investing in various modifications to their pianos, chasing after improvements, and while many of them seem happy at first with the work done, after some time their unhappiness creeps back in. For instance, there is a very prominent pianist who had his piano "Stanwoodized" and spoke of being quite thrilled at first. In a later interview, he was complaining about it. So my comments are based as much in those experiences as anything else.


Edited by Brick (04/21/13 04:28 PM)

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#2068173 - 04/21/13 05:54 PM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
Loga Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/12
Posts: 37
Dear Members,

thank you for your efforts!

Olek described the situation very precisely: after adding weight to the keys in my upright piano, the _initial_ press became heavier, but then it goes still very easily - there is no resistance against acceleration. Now I understand that the same situation would happen with that grand I intended to buy after adding weight to the keys.

I know that such an old grand is not the best solution for tough practicing, however, my budget is very limited, and I found its action better than my upright's even if my upright is about 40 years old and has been regulated, and the grand is about 80-90.

On Tuesday my technician will check the grand and tell me, what can I expect from that instrument. I will get back to you after that.

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#2068184 - 04/21/13 06:40 PM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Brick]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Brick
Olek, we can argue what is logical or scientifically valid, and maybe we would agree- but we are also dealing with the psychology and world view of the pianists/piano owners, who ultimately decide what they are happy or not happy with. My personal experience is that their feelings and opinions about what they think makes a piano "good" is quite random and also very often in conflict with what we think as technicians to be "correct" or "better" based on physics or engineering. I have seen countless examples of pianists investing in various modifications to their pianos, chasing after improvements, and while many of them seem happy at first with the work done, after some time their unhappiness creeps back in. For instance, there is a very prominent pianist who had his piano "Stanwoodized" and spoke of being quite thrilled at first. In a later interview, he was complaining about it. So my comments are based as much in those experiences as anything else.


Hi Brick, I am not arguing with you, I also relate experience, and I am pianist too. I suppose you agree, above Lota state what I am saying.
The lead is interesting if it goes together with a more massive hammer, or a slightly tweaked action to have a little higher ratio (assuming the geometry stay good)

I agree Stanwoodisation is making too much in direction of theory and forget a part of the picture (can forget, some may be pleasing other give a not so valid results)

Generally speaking a grand action can be made more stiff by enlarging the spread and adding key dip and hammer travel) But also by having a smaller spread , which raise the action ratio, but the sensations are generally less good then, as too much UW arise, plus the acceleration is really short, asking for reduced key dip.

The dynamics of the piano is difficult to study, but experience helps to see what works better and what does not.

I have seen weights added at the back of grand pianos, that does not really help to study, plus the tone is really compromised, sort of damped (do not know why)
By far I prefer "too heavy" hammers , and enough weight on the front of the key to balance them (that is how numerous NY Steinways where setup for years, seem to me, anyway the few I have seen. (not with too heavy hammers but with a short leverage on the hammer shank)

Greetings




Edited by Olek (04/21/13 06:43 PM)
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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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#2068190 - 04/21/13 06:50 PM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Loga
Dear Members,

thank you for your efforts!

Olek described the situation very precisely: after adding weight to the keys in my upright piano, the _initial_ press became heavier, but then it goes still very easily - there is no resistance against acceleration. Now I understand that the same situation would happen with that grand I intended to buy after adding weight to the keys.

I know that such an old grand is not the best solution for tough practicing, however, my budget is very limited, and I found its action better than my upright's even if my upright is about 40 years old and has been regulated, and the grand is about 80-90.

On Tuesday my technician will check the grand and tell me, what can I expect from that instrument. I will get back to you after that.


Yes that is a good way to see things.

WHat I am saying more or less is that if you have more mass on the 2 sides there you can do muscular work, but the action must accept the added effort.

If the piano is decent, you may possibly finish to use part of the action once regulated, then see to have it repaired.

Not easy, anyway. You could find one of those extra small Tchekia or East German grands from the 80, they are cheap, and are heavy as expected (Miguel Angel Estrella had such a piano, 140 cm long Gehbr Niendorf, and used it to work with success)
They are really not expensive usually, and if not too much played they will resist way better than an old piano .

Good luck for all


Edited by Olek (04/21/13 06:51 PM)
_________________________
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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#2068466 - 04/22/13 05:07 AM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
Loga Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/12
Posts: 37
The situation is more difficult, because I am quite old, 33 yrs :), so I only can attend College after work, and the only course for that in Hungary is in a different city that I live in. So they offer summarized lesson in Fridays and Saturdays, and I have to travel there for the weekends. Therefore I had no chance to practice on the pianos of the College; I have to manage to have a (at least _useable_) piano at home, and practise after work. Difficult situation, and brings a lot to solve in my life smile But in the same time, I am very happy for the opportunity.

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#2068477 - 04/22/13 05:45 AM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
chopin_r_us Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 1015
Loc: UK
I started music college the same way at about the same age - good on ya! My advice, from quite limited experience though, is much as Brick's. With pianos what you feel is what you get. I'd look a lot harder for the right piano. Also, nothing wrong with uprights.

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#2068494 - 04/22/13 07:37 AM Re: HELP - how to make action heavier? [Re: Loga]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Uprights have little inertia, and their action is more efficient than the grand actions.

Higher efficiency at light level

Due to the low inertia, control on the hammer is different, and less good than on a grand

Lead is added (usually) at the back of the keys of uprights, to provide more braking at the beginning of the stroke, and a more efficient key return.

But I would prefer a good tall enough vertical to a worn out grand, of course.

AN upright can be made more heavy by rising a little the back side, or more "simply" by enlarging the hammer stroke.

Teachers say that the way you study is more important than the resistance provided by the keyboard. The inner hand have to strenghen, but first it have to be made free, as wrist, ankle, shoulders, etc..

An adult should begin to learn to dissociate well the muscles before enforcing the arch, in my not so authorized opinion.

And a good vertical with a Renner action can be perfect for that.
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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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