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#2189183 - 11/27/13 12:24 PM Cost/Benefit Ratio
Jolly Offline
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Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14051
Loc: Louisiana
To Stanwood, or not?

That is the question. Is it worth it, on anything less than a Tier 1 piano?
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#2189187 - 11/27/13 12:29 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: Jolly]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1754
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: Jolly
To Stanwood, or not?

That is the question. Is it worth it, on anything less than a Tier 1 piano?


And if it's a Tier One piano that deserves the ranking, why would you do it?
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#2189189 - 11/27/13 12:33 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: ClsscLib]
Jolly Offline
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Registered: 06/20/01
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Loc: Louisiana
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Originally Posted By: Jolly
To Stanwood, or not?

That is the question. Is it worth it, on anything less than a Tier 1 piano?


And if it's a Tier One piano that deserves the ranking, why would you do it?


Just because it is a Tier 1 piano, does not mean the pianist cannot benefit from action customization.

Ever play Horowitz's piano?
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#2189201 - 11/27/13 12:59 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: ClsscLib]
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9222
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib

And if it's a Tier One piano that deserves the ranking, why would you do it?


The goal of the Stanwood method is to achieve the point where each note possesses the exact proportions of hammer weight, hammer leverage, key balancing weight, and frictional resistance. Once calibrated to these specifications, the piano takes on the expected characteristic feel, with an extremely consistent response from note to note.

There are a few very expensive pianos that can benefit tremendously from this work. Additionally, I have never seen a piano that has not had some improvement in consistency, however minimal, from this sort of engineered touch.

David has also been a welcome consultant to manufacturers and designers. Although not all of them agree with his approach, they are all aware of it.

My 2 cents,
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#2189205 - 11/27/13 01:04 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: Jolly]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
I think it could be worth it on even a less than a tier 3 piano depending on the reason. For example, if a piano had a very difficult to play, e.g. very heavy action, and if much more basic methods don't improve the touch enough, then
Stanwoodizing would be less expensive than buying a new piano. Or if a pianist is particularly fussy about the touch but not so fussy about the tone it could be worth it.

Each person has to make the decision about how much money they will spend and where they will spend it.


Edited by pianoloverus (11/27/13 01:08 PM)

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#2189212 - 11/27/13 01:15 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: ClsscLib]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19338
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Originally Posted By: Jolly
To Stanwood, or not?

That is the question. Is it worth it, on anything less than a Tier 1 piano?


And if it's a Tier One piano that deserves the ranking, why would you do it?
As I understand it there are two basic reasons Stanwoodizing is used.

One is to fix actions that have some major flaw for whatever reason and are very difficult to play on. The other, which could be used on even some ultimate tier one piano, is when the pianist wants/requires a degree of perfection or consistency that even the tier 1 pianos don't come with.

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#2189229 - 11/27/13 01:32 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: Jolly]
BDB Online   content
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Registered: 06/07/03
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Loc: Oakland
There is another reason that someone may want it: because they are convinced that there is some way that they can spend money to improve their playing, rather that working at it.
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#2189370 - 11/27/13 07:27 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: BDB]
Karl Watson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 333
Friends:

I hope that members have not grown weary of my very strong support of the Stanwood system. In my case it was applied to a piano that was FAR from being in the first tier: a new 194cm Petrof from the mid-90s. I played that piano just once with its original action (NOT Renner) and it was hog-like. However, the tone was fine, from top to bottom, with a distinctive, dark beauty all its own.

David Stanwood completely re-did the action, including that extra little spring, and, to this day, I've yet to play another piano whose action was its equal. It is THAT good.

After David delivered the action, my local tech, Michael Miccio, did extensive fine regulation and voicing over a 3-month period. As the piano was ridiculously inexpensive, the extra costs were hardly out of line. Result: a piano of real distinction and beauty, admired by every pianist who played it.

But it is important to state that there was never any possibility of a financial return on investment. It was always just for my pleasure. That piano was always a bit rough around the edges, not comparable in its fit and finish to one of the three Bs.

Just my random thoughts and not intended to provoke anyone to riot or to inspire crushing rejoinders from South of the Mason-Dixon line.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

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#2189392 - 11/27/13 08:44 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: Rich Galassini]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5287
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Rich Galassini
The goal of the Stanwood method is to achieve the point where each note possesses the exact proportions of hammer weight, hammer leverage, key balancing weight, and frictional resistance. Once calibrated to these specifications, the piano takes on the expected characteristic feel, with an extremely consistent response from note to note.

There are a few very expensive pianos that can benefit tremendously from this work. Additionally, I have never seen a piano that has not had some improvement in consistency, however minimal, from this sort of engineered touch.

One can almost make the case that the more expensive the piano the more likely it is to have an uneven touch as it comes from the factory. The problem is the randomness of the key leading as the action is “weighed off” during the final stages of construction. The downweight of each key is tested and leads are positioned and installed to even out key downweight. The problem is that there are frequently significant variations in friction within the action and keyset and the positioning of leads is used to compensate for these variations.

Friction, of course, varies within an action unless great care is taken to optimize it. Even then friction is going to vary as the action is played in and as it cycles through variations in climate.

A better approach—in my opinion, at least—is to use an engineered key leading scheme in which the key leading sequence is designed to balance the anticipated cumulative masses within each given key mechanism while using some optimized or theoretical standard for friction. And then stick to that sequence during production. If (when?) variations are then found in downweight and/or upweight it will point to those friction variations which can then be corrected as needed.

Ironically only very inexpensive pianos come close to this procedure. Some of the so-called “entry-level” pianos still use what is basically an engineered leading standard. Sadly, they also leave out that critical last step of correcting for friction variations. More expensive pianos promote the practice of “individually weight-off keys,” touting this as a desirable construction practice and leaving it to the dealer’s technician or the field technician to take a more rational approach to balancing the action whether that be Stanwood’s technique or simply evening out the leading, cleaning up variations in friction, optimizing hammer mass and fine regulating the action.

ddf
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#2189441 - 11/27/13 11:04 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: Jolly]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2054
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
In a galaxy far, far away and long, long ago an intrepid piano technician developed a tone regulation protocol that develops the tonal resources and touch response of a piano action concurrently. It's antecedents are Cristofori and Steinway. It is called LightHammer Tone Regulation.

LightHammer Tone Regulation adjusts the mass of the hammer in proportion to the leverage a particular action has. It does this in a way that eliminates the need for almost all the front key weights. The result is an action that feels heaviest when you play it slowly and softly and lightest when you play it fast and loud.

Low mass, high leverage actions are remarkably insensitive to friction variation.

In a factory setting, accelerometers could be employed to sense the rate of speed change of the hammer in relation to the rate of change a known force is applied to the key. In both the descending and ascending direction. I use my hands to sense this just like a pianist does when they play.

In recent years many excellent studies have been done by other intrepid piano technicians to develop a regulation system that accounts for inertia-but all that I am aware of say nothing about the resultant tone. The two must be united to achieve consistent success.


Edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT (11/27/13 11:05 PM)
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#2189443 - 11/27/13 11:14 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: Jolly]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21518
Loc: Oakland
Once someone puts a name on a maintenance process, the cost goes up without any increased benefit.
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#2189466 - 11/28/13 12:47 AM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: Jolly]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2054
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Well BDB,
You often have an opinion, but I wonder how much rebuilding experience you have?

Do you think there is no way to improve a pianos action response and dynamic/color beyond just simple maintenance? Do you ever wonder why some piano actions are so much more durable than others? Do you think that proper research has been done regarding how a piano action facilitates a pianists control?
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#2189474 - 11/28/13 01:26 AM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21518
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Well BDB,
You often have an opinion, but I wonder how much rebuilding experience you have?


It is probably less than people who make a full time business out of rebuilding, and even some people who do it less often, since I often get such good results with less than rebuilding that pianos I work on go a long time without more extensive work.

Quote:
Do you think there is no way to improve a pianos action response and dynamic/color beyond just simple maintenance?


Doing something well is not often simple. In any case, so few pianos receive any maintenance beyond tuning. if they get that, that the question usually moot. More people need to have the simple maintenance done, and have it done well.

Quote:
Do you ever wonder why some piano actions are so much more durable than others?


No, because I know there is no way to assess durability of piano actions. Some things wear out due to a lot of usage, some wear out due to bad design, some wear out due to physical damage. Some are worn out when parts break, others wear, but the parts that wear out can be replaced, and among those, some are worth fixing and some are not.

Quote:
Do you think that proper research has been done regarding how a piano action facilitates a pianists control?


No, because there is very little proper research done regarding anything, let alone pianos. But I do not need research to tell me that the name of a process does not make it any more valuable. The process might, but the name does not.
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#2189600 - 11/28/13 11:18 AM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: BDB]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2054
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Thanks for responding BDB,
Naming something is a way to clarify a difference from the prior reality. If people followed your credo-no one would get any credit for invention. Do you think Baldwin deserved the right to name "Accu-just" hitch pins? Or Steinway to name "Diaphragmatic Soundboard"? To state just a couple of names and to keep the subject on pianos.
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2189609 - 11/28/13 11:36 AM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: Jolly]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21518
Loc: Oakland
They can name things. What I said was a warning to consumers: A name may be valuable to the seller from an advertising viewpoint, but it does not necessarily convey any special value to the buyer.
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Semipro Tech

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#2189622 - 11/28/13 11:56 AM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: Jolly]
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2676
Loc: western Wisconsin
To the original question, I've never been able to do an honest A/B or before & after comparison test, though I have played a few Steinways with these action modifications.

When I think back on the handful of "best" piano actions I've ever played, one of them might have had this modification, while the rest were OEM, tier one makers using Renners (and fussed over them a lot at the factory level).
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#2189634 - 11/28/13 12:20 PM Re: Cost/Benefit Ratio [Re: BDB]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2054
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Well BDB,
I have been doing my trademarked "LightHammer Tone Regulation" for 30 years now and I have experienced how well they hold up compared to those pianos with more traditional, (I might say "unorganized") tone regulation protocols.

My wife has been playing one some four hours a day that I can see every morning and evening.

If you want to "warn" consumers why not suggest they do a thorough comparison between competing methods? Why contaminate everyone with cynicism?

I do share your general antipathy towards excessive mercantilism-the massive media machine that drives the sharing of information is a corrosive behemoth against civilization.
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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