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#2242124 - 03/06/14 09:43 AM Can the action in a grand be too low to be properly adjusted
TwoHandsDown Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/22/09
Posts: 7
Iíve recently acquired a ten year old Story and Clark baby grand that I understand to have been manufactured by Beijing Piano Company. Iíve mostly played keyboards in rock bands. Iím not an advanced player by any means so I wasnít willing to spend a lot of money on a piano. But, I do want to improve my playing skills on the real thing.

After getting it home, Iíve noticed that the dampers barely lift from the strings when I play. And, the action feels heavy compared to other acoustic pianos Iíve played. So, I went looking on the Internet to understand how they work and Iíve tinkered around with the action (only on a couple notes). Iíve come to a conclusion that action is too far away from the strings.

Iím having a highly recommended piano tech on the seventeenth come over to tune it up due to the move. Iíve asked him to look at the regulation too. Iím not one of those people that wants to do DIY work on the piano, Iíll get a pro for that, but I do have a curiosity. Have any of you seen a grand piano where the action is simply too low (far away from the strings) to be adjusted properly? Iíll ask my tech when he comes but I donít want to ask him a totally stupid question.

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#2242139 - 03/06/14 10:24 AM Re: Can the action in a grand be too low to be properly adjusted [Re: TwoHandsDown]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada


Originally Posted By: TwoHandsDown
Iím having a highly recommended piano tech on the seventeenth come over to tune it up due to the move. Iíve asked him to look at the regulation too.


Doesnít appear to be a stupid question when read outside of the paragraph it is found in.
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#2242142 - 03/06/14 10:29 AM Re: Can the action in a grand be too low to be properly adjusted [Re: TwoHandsDown]
Jon Page Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/09
Posts: 232
Loc: Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massac...
I have a 10 y/o S&C grand in my shop. Let the tech make the diagnosis :-) The late damper lift is an adjustable timing issue and not an indication that the action is too far away. The heaviness is caused by hammers that are too heavy, improper action spread and centers' elevation (geometry), the lack of proper key leading and key friction. I found excessive friction in the front rail, it turned out to be the mortice above the bushing. I used a Dremel Tool with an oval bit to route out the area above the bushings to relieve the binding on the key pin.

I tapered the hammers to remove weight and graduated their weight as to the Stanwood protocol. The top action needed to be raised 6 mm to raise the hammer center height for proper regulation and to cause the hammers not to overstrike but hit squarely; so in that instance the action was too low, just the top action and not the keyframe. The action spread and wippen center height needed adjusting too. Then the keys were releaded to achieve an even Balance Weight.

Most action centers needed to be repinned for better repetition of the player mechanism as there was too low friction on hammer and repetition lever centers and too much friction on jacks; wippen centers were OK.

It plays like a dream, and the player is much more responsive since the solenoids do not have to work so hard, much better repetition and low dymanics/volume control.

It takes a lot of work to make these top notch.


Edited by Jon Page (03/06/14 10:52 AM)
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#2242144 - 03/06/14 10:33 AM Re: Can the action in a grand be too low to be properly adjusted [Re: TwoHandsDown]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 663
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA

TwoHandsDown - One thing that is easy to check is the let-off. Push down on a note very slowly while watching the movement of the hammer to see where the note trips. You will feel this moment of escapement, as well as see it. If the hammer is tripping too early, the action will feel unresponsive. Ideally, the hammers should be lifted to within 1/8" of the strings before they are tripped. If the hammers are letting off at 1/4" to 1/2", an adjustment needs to be made.

Here's a link to an article that might help you talk with your technician a bit more knowledgeably. Best of luck. Chuck Behm
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#2242155 - 03/06/14 11:02 AM Re: Can the action in a grand be too low to be properly adjusted [Re: TwoHandsDown]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1887
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
As Jon Page pointed out-it is not uncommon to find grand pianos of Korean or Chinese manufacture that the action frame has been installed too low in relation to the strings- and this makes it impossible to properly regulate them until the frame is refit.
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#2242194 - 03/06/14 12:23 PM Re: Can the action in a grand be too low to be properly adjusted [Re: TwoHandsDown]
TwoHandsDown Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/22/09
Posts: 7
In response to Mr. Behm, when I adjust the let off on the keys I've experimented with they let-off when the hammer is about 1/2 inch from the strings. When I've tried to adjust them by raising the adjustment button to where the hammer is close, 1/8th inch or so from the strings, the let-off doesn't move at all. That's why, along with the late lifting dampers made me think that the action is "too short" for the piano. It's bizarre to me that any piano would leave a factory like that.

The tech that's coming to the house only works on actions during the summer. I suspect that's because he does most of the schools in town. I'll bet he can tell what's up while he's here though.

This piano doesn't have the player mechanism for some reason. Maybe it's before QRS started including players in all their pianos. I wouldn't know how to tell if it originally had one.

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#2242240 - 03/06/14 02:00 PM Re: Can the action in a grand be too low to be properly adjusted [Re: TwoHandsDown]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: TwoHandsDown
... I adjust the let off on the keys I've experimented with they let-off when the hammer is about 1/2 inch from the strings. When I've tried to adjust them by raising the adjustment button to where the hammer is close, 1/8th inch or so from the strings, the let-off doesn't move at all. That's why, along with the late lifting dampers made me think that the action is "too short" for the piano.
You are jumping to a conclusion without the understanding of the functioning of a grand action. Regulation adjustments are inter-active and the whole thing is much, much too complex to describe in a forum post.

There are a number of good books for background information and technical skill development, they get referenced all the time - search the archives.

Let the tech sort it out.
With some luck, you may not be in for a four figure job like the one Jon Page described.
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Piano Forte Supply
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Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2243225 - 03/08/14 03:01 PM Re: Can the action in a grand be too low to be properly adjusted [Re: TwoHandsDown]
TwoHandsDown Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/22/09
Posts: 7
Thanks all for your speedy and informative replies. As suggested, I'll ask the tech to sort it out. I will also take you up on the offers to learn more as I do like to know how things work. Take care.

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